St. Philip Neri and the God Who Dwells With Men

The Vision of St. Philip Neri, Giovanni Camillo Sagrestani (Source)

“Behold the tabernacle of God with men, and he will dwell with them. And they shall be his people; and God himself with them shall be their God.” – Revelation 21:3

St. Philip’s feast always falls within that sunny period of the Church’s year when, passing from Easter to Ascensiontide and following on to Pentecost and Corpus Christi, we find our days running over with the majesty of these great mysteries. The days grow longer, and so they seem to grow more golden with the ever-descending light of the Holy Ghost. We are in a season of peculiar glory. The culminating lesson of these mysteries is clear: God has made his dwelling among men, and in the midst of His people shall He reign.

St. Philip receives the Holy Ghost while at prayer in the catacombs. (Source)

St. Philip knew this truth well. His whole life could well be described as a journey between Pentecost and Corpus Christi, the two feasts that most clearly teach us of God’s enduring presence in His Church. It was on the Vigil of Pentecost, 1544, that St. Philip received the grace that would define his vocation and the character of his sanctity. While praying in the catacombs of San Sebastiano, the Holy Ghost descended into St. Philip’s heart visibly and sensibly in the form of a ball of fire. This experience, which provided as much heat and pain as rapturous joy, marked the true beginning of St. Philip’s active ministry. In St. Philip, the Holy Ghost once again made His dwelling among men.

St. Philip Neri Receiving the Holy Spirit in the Catacombs of St. Sebastian, Francesco Solimena (Source)

From then on, St. Philip’s whole life would be marked by a singular union with the Holy Ghost. He became the “tabernacle of the Most High” and a living fountain of graces. His many miracles testify to the indwelling of the Spirit within him. So does his manifest oddity, his clear and salutary estrangement from the ways and works of ordinary men. The prophet writes, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” So does the Holy Ghost speak from the heart of St. Philip. For this reason, the Church applies the words of St. Paul to the new Apostle of Rome:

The love of God has been poured into our hearts
through the Spirit of God dwelling within us

Introit for the Feast of St. Philip Neri

St. Philip’s priestly life was marked by the overwhelming presence of God. Everything about him spoke to the present reality of the supernatural. This reality took two chief forms. The most famous were the astounding miracles wrought by St. Philip – most notably the raising of Prince Paolo Massimo from the dead. But there was also St. Philip’s profound adoration of the Eucharist. His popularization of the Forty Hours’ Devotion was but the visible extension of his love of the Blessed Sacrament. So too were the Eucharistic ecstasies to which he was increasingly susceptible as he became older. St. Philip knew no sweeter hours than those that he spent at Mass as an old man, kneeling in darkness before the altar, lost in the rarefied heights of a contemplation we can barely begin to fathom.

Engraving of St. Philip Neri, Hieronymus Frezza (Source)

One particularly perceptive observer has written:

In recalling the holiness of Saint Philip, it occurs to me that it was essentially this: he was all priest. He was always and everywhere a priest. His priesthood suffused his very being, making him incandescent with the fire of the Cross and of the altar.

Vultus Christi

St. Philip’s extraordinary endowment with the Spirit was ordered towards his life as a priest – namely, towards the glory of God in the Eucharist. This is the case with all of us. The Spirit, God in us, is given precisely for us to receive the Eucharist, God with us. Confirmation, like all the other sacraments, exists with the Eucharist as its proper telos.

The Mass of St. Philip Neri, Circle of Giovanni Battista Piazzetta (Source)

How fitting, then, that St. Philip should pass into eternal life when he did. May the 25th, 1595, was the feast of Corpus Christi. As Fr. Faber has it,

Day set on Rome! its golden morn
Had seen the world’s Creator borne
Around St. Peter’s square
Trembling and weeping all the way,
God’s Vicar with his God that day
Made pageant brave and rare!

“St. Philip’s Death,” F.W. Faber

Providence often grants the saints a Christ-like death. It is a sign that, even in suffering and death, God is still dwelling with us. St. Benedict died in choro during a liturgy, just as Christ died in the fulfillment of His high priesthood. Many martyrdoms were accompanied by strange signs and mystical evocations of the Sacrifice of Christ. It should be no surprise that God would take St. Philip in a similarly edifying manner.

The Death of St. Benedict, F. Rosaspina, 1830, after D.M. Canuti. (Source)

In his death, St. Philip reminds us that we are all meant to imitate Christ in His Sacrifice, that is, in the Blessed Sacrament. There is no more perfect pedagogue in the life of the Spirit than the Son, who has presented Himself to us on all the altars of the world. Would that we might take this lesson to heart!

St. Philip died when he did because, by a singular grace of Providence, God was pleased to mark His servant’s passing with the Church’s celebration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Just as St. Philip honored the Eucharistic God in his life, so did the Eucharistic God honor him in his death.

We, too, can honor the saint best by cleaving to the Lord. St. Philip’s words to a spiritual daughter are as true today as they once were:

“Let us concentrate ourselves so completely in the divine love, and enter so far into the living fountain of wisdom, through the wounded Side of our Incarnate God, that we may deny ourselves and our self-love, and so be unable to find our way out of that Wound again.”

St. Philip Neri

God dwells with us just as He once dwelt in the blessed heart of St. Philip. He comes to us just as He came once to the priestly hands of St. Philip. Let us abide in Him, just as St. Philip did once and does forevermore in the heights of Heaven.

Votive image of St. Philip Neri from the British Museum. As they have it: “St Philip Neri kneeling on a cloud in front of altar; angel to right holding tray with burning hearts and ascending towards Holy Trinity; Virgin Mary mediating surrounded by angels, after Maella. 1801 Engraving, printed on silk.” Note the Eucharist enthroned in a monstrance. (Source)
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Litany of the French Saints

In the wake of recent tragic events, here is a litany (adapted from here) to the saints of France. May they pray for us, for France, and for the faithful of that great nation.

Notre Dame de Paris, priez pour nous! (Source)

V. Kyrie, eléison.
R. Christe, eléison.
V. Kyrie, eléison.

V. Christe, audi nos.
R. Christe, exáudi nos.

V. Pater de cælis, Deus.
R. Miserére nobis.

V. Spíritus Sancte, Deus.
R. Miserére nobis.

V. Sancta Trínitas, unus Deus.
R. Miserére nobis.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.
St. Michael, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, pray for us.
St. Raphael, pray for us.
All you Holy Angels and Archangels, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, pray for us.
St. Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin, pray for us.
All you Holy Patriarchs and Prophets, pray for us. Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.
Our Lady of Paris, pray for us.
Our Lady of La Salette, pray for us.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, pray for us.
Our Lady of Rocamadour, pray for us.
Our Lady of Pontmain, pray for us.

St. Peter, pray for us.
St. Paul, pray for us.
St. Andrew, pray for us.
St. James, pray for us.
St. John, pray for us.
St. Thomas, pray for us.
St. James, pray for us.
St. Philip, pray for us.
St. Bartholomew, pray for us.
St. Matthew, pray for us.
St. Simon, pray for us.
St. Jude, pray for us.
St. Matthias, pray for us.
St. Barnabas, pray for us.
St. Luke, pray for us.
St. Mark, pray for us.
St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us.
All you holy Apostles and Evangelists, pray for us.
All you holy Disciples of the Lord, pray for us.
All you holy Innocents, pray for us.
All you holy Virgins, pray for us.

St. Abbo of Fleury , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Adelaide of Italy , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Adelelmus of Burgos , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Adelelmus of Flanders , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Adelin of Séez , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Aderald , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Aimo , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Albert of Montecorvino , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Alexander (martyr) , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Andrew of Trier , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Anselm of Canterbury , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Anthony the Hermit , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Antoninus of Pamiers , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Artaldus , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Ascelina , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Auspicius of Toul , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Auspicius of Trier , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Aventinus of Tours , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Leonie Aviat , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Aymard of Cluny , pray for France and the whole world.

St. Baldwin of Rieti , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Madeleine Sophie Barat , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux
St. Bernard of Thiron , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Siméon-François Berneux , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Berno of Cluny , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Bertrand of Comminges , pray for France and the whole world.
St.Joan Elizabeth Bichier des Ages , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Julie Billiart , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Jean-Louis Bonnard , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Pierre Dumoulin-Borie Bourgeoys , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Jean de Brébeuf , pray for France and the whole world.

St. Canus Natus , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Clotilde, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Noël Chabanel , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Peter Chanel , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Jane Frances de Chantal , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Colette of Corbie , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Jean-Charles Cornay , pray for France and the whole world.

St. Antoine Daniel , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Marie-Nicolas-Antoine Daveluy , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Denis, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Dionysius of Vienne , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Domnin, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Pierre-Henri Dorie , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Louis Gabriel Taurin Dufresse, pray for France and the whole world.

St. Ebontius , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Élisabeth of the Trinity, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Elzéar of Sabran , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Émilie de Villeneuve , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Émilien of Nantes, pray for France and of the whole world.
St. Estelle , pray for France and the whole world.
St. John Eudes , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Peter Julian Eymard , pray for France and the whole world.

SS. Peter Faber, Felix, Fortunatus, and Achilleus, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Floribert of Liège, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Pierre Fourier, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Andrew Fournet , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Frederick of Liege , pray for France and the whole world.

St. François-Isidore Gagelin , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Charles Garnier , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Gaugericus , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Geneviève, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Gens, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Gérard of Brogne , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Goneri of Brittany , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Goswin , pray for France and the whole world.
St. René Goupil , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Guarinus of Sitten , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Théodore Guérin , pray for France and the whole world.
St Guirec , pray for France and the whole world.

St. Hilary of Poitiers , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Hugh of Noara , pray for France and the whole world.

St. Laurent-Joseph-Marius Imbert , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Isabelle of France , pray for France and the whole world.

St. Joan of Arc, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Joan of France, Duchess of Berry , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Isaac Jogues , pray for France and the whole world.
St. John of the Grating , pray for France and of the whole world.
St. Judoc , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Julian the Hospitaller , pray for France and the whole world.

St. Jean-Baptiste de La Salle , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Catherine Labouré , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Benedict Joseph Labre , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Jean de Lalande , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Gabriel Lalemant , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Lambert of Vence, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Jeanne de Lestonnac, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Leudwinus, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Louis IX, King of France, pray for France and the whole world.

St. Magloire, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Jeanne-Marie de Maille , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Malo, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Joseph Marchand, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Marie of the Incarnation, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Louise de Marillac, pray for France and the whole world.
SS. Louis Martin and Marie-Azélie Guérin, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Maurice of Carnoet Méen, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Louis de Montfort, pray for France and the whole world.

St. Nazarius, pray for France and the whole world.

St. Odo of Cluny, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Ormond, pray for France and the whole world.

St. Paternus of Auch Patiens, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Vincent de Paul, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Paulinus of Trier , pray for France and the whole world.
St Mary Euphrasia Pelletier , pray for France and the whole world.
St. John Gabriel Perboyre , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Peter of Juilly , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Peter of Tarentaise , pray for France and the whole world.
St. William Pinchon , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Prosper of Aquitaine , pray for France and the whole world.

St. Quintian of Rodez , pray for France and the whole world.

St. Raymond of Barbastro , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Raymond of Toulouse , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Richard of Vaucelles , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Richardis, pray for France and of the whole world.
St. Roch , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Émilie de Rodat , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Benildus Romançon , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Elizabeth Rose , pray for France and the whole world.

St. Francis de Sales , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Saturnina , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Augustin Schoeffler , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Serenus the Gardener, pray for France and the whole world.
SS Severinus, Exuperius, and Felician, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Sigo , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Bernadette Soubirous , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Stephen of Obazine , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Theobald of Dorat , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Theodard , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Theophilus of Corte , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Thérèse Couderc, pray for France and the whole world.
St. Claudine Thévenet , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Joan Antidea Thouret , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Tironensian Order , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Torpes of Pisa , pray for France and the whole world.

St. Marie Thérèse Vauzou , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Venant de Viviers , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Théophane Vénard , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Veranus of Vence , pray for France and the whole world.
Sy. Emily de Vialar , pray for France and the whole world.
St. John Vianney , pray for France and the whole world.
St Vincent of Digne , pray for France and the whole world.

St. Walric, abbot of Leuconay , pray for France and the whole world.
St. William of Æbelholt , pray for France and the whole world.
St. William of Breteuil , pray for France and the whole world.
St. William of Donjeon , pray for France and the whole world.
St. William of Gellone , pray for France and the whole world.
St. William of Pontoise , pray for France and the whole world.
St. Wivina, pray for France and the whole world.

St. Zachary of Vienne, pray for France and the whole world.

Louis XVI, pray for France and the whole world.
Marie-Antoinette, pray for France and the whole world.
Cardinal Bérulle, pray for France and the whole world.
Monsieur Olier, pray for France and the whole world.
Madame Élisabeth, pray for France and the whole world.
Mère Thérèse de Saint-Augustin, pray for France and the whole world.
Mère Mectilde de Bar, pray for France and the whole world.
Mère Yvonne-Aimeé de Jésus, pray for France and the whole world.

All ye holy martyrs, pray for France
All ye holy kings and queens, pray for France and the whole world.
All ye holy bishops, pray for France and the whole world.
All ye holy priests and deacons, pray for France and the whole world.
All ye holy monks and nuns, pray for France and the whole world.
All ye holy virgins, pray for France and the whole world.
All ye holy men and women, pray for France and the whole world.

PRAY FOR FRANCE.

Ye holy men and women, Saints of God,
R. intercede for us.
Be merciful
R. spare us, O Lord.
Be merciful
R. graciously hear us, O Lord.
From all evil,
R. deliver us, O Lord.
From all sin,
R. deliver us, O Lord.
From Thy wrath,
R. deliver us, O Lord.
From sudden and unprovided death,
R. deliver us, O Lord.
From the snares of the devil,
R. deliver us, O Lord.

From anger, hatred, and all ill-will,
R. deliver us, O Lord.
From the spirit of fornication,
R. deliver us, O Lord.
From lightning and tempest,
R. deliver us, O Lord.
From the scourge of earthquake,
R. deliver us, O Lord.
From plague, famine and war,
R. deliver us, O Lord.
From everlasting death,
R. deliver us, O Lord.
. Through the mystery of Thy holy Incarnation,
R. deliver us, O Lord.
Through Thy coming,
R. deliver us, O Lord.
Through Thy nativity,
R. deliver us, O Lord.
Through Thy Baptism and holy fasting,
R. deliver us, O Lord.
Through Thy Cross and Passion,
R. deliver us, O Lord.
Through Thy Death and Burial,
R. deliver us, O Lord.
Through Thy Holy Resurrection,
R. deliver us, O Lord.
Through Thy wondrous Ascension,
R. deliver us, O Lord.
Through the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete,
In the day of judgment,
R. deliver us, O Lord.

SUPPLICATION FOR VARIOUS NEEDS

We sinners,
R. we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst spare us,
R. we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst pardon us,
R. we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst bring us to true repentance,
R. we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst govern and preserve Thy Holy Church,
R. we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst preserve the Bishop of the Apostolic See, and all orders of the Church in holy religion,
R. we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst humble the enemies of Holy Church,
R. we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst grant peace and true concord to Christian kings and princes,
R. we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst grant peace and unity to all Christian peoples
R. we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst call back to the unity of the Church all who have strayed from her fold, and to guide all unbelievers into the light of the Gospel
R. we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst confirm and preserve us in Thy holy service,
R. we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst lift up our minds to heavenly desires,
R. we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst render eternal blessing to all our benefactors,
R. we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst deliver our souls and the souls of our brethren, relations and benefactors from eternal damnation,
R. we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst grant and preserve the fruits of the earth,
R. we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst grant eternal rest to all the faithful departed,
R. we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst graciously hear us,
R. we beseech Thee, hear us.

Son of God,
R. we beseech Thee, hear us.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. have mercy on us.
Christ,
R. hear us.
Christ,
R. graciously hear us.
Kyrie, eleison.
R. Kyrie, eleison. Kyrie, eleison.
R. Kyrie, eleison.
Christe, eleison.
R. Christe, eleison. Christe, eleison.
R. Christe, eleison.
Kyrie, eleison.
R. Kyrie, eleison. Kyrie, eleison.
R. Kyrie, eleison.

Our Father (in silence until)
And lead us not into temptation,
R. but deliver us from evil.

V. O God, come to my assistance;
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.
V. Let them be confounded and ashamed;
R. those who seek my life.
V. Let them be rebuffed and disgraced,
R. those who wish me evil.
V. Let them be turned away blushing for shame,
R. those who say unto me: Aha! Aha!.
But let all those who seek Thee:
R. rejoice and be glad in Thee.
And may they always say: “Great is the Lord”,
R. all those who delight in Thy salvation.
V. But I am afflicted and poor ,
R. O God, help me.
Thou art my helper and deliverer,
R. O Lord, do not delay.
Amen. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
V. Save Thy servants.
R. My God, who hope in Thee.
V. Be unto us, O Lord, a tower of strength.
R. In the face of the enemy.

V. Let not the enemy prevail against us.
R. Nor the son of iniquity have power to harm us.
. V. O Lord, deal not with us according to our sins.
R. Nor render unto us according to our sins.

V. Let us pray for our Sovereign Pontiff Holy Father Pope Francis.

R. That The Lord preserve him and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.
V. Let us pray for our benefactors.
R. Deign to grant, O Lord, for the sake of Thy Name, eternal life to all those who do good to us.
V. Let us pray for the faithful departed.
R. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord: and let perpetual light shine upon them.

R. Amen. V. May they rest in peace.
R. Amen.
V. For our absent brethren.
R. Save Thy servants who hope in Thee, O my God.
V. Send them help, O Lord, from Thy holy place.
R. And from Sion protect them.

V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Collects: Let us pray:

O God, Whose property is always to have mercy and to spare, receive our petition; that we and all Thy servants who are bound by the chain of sin may, by the compassion of Thy goodness mercifully be absolved.

Graciously hear, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the prayers of Thy supplicants and pardon the sins of those who confess to Thee: that in Thy bounty Thou mayest grant us both pardon and peace.
In Thy clemency, O Lord, show unto us Thine ineffabile mercy; that Thou mayest both free us from sins and deliver us from the punishments which we deserve for them.

O God, who by sin art offended, and by penance appeased, mercifully regard the prayers of Thy people making supplication to Thee; and turn away the scourges of Thy wrath which we deserve for our sins.

Almighty and everlasting God, have mercy upon Thy servant, N, our Sovereign Pontiff: and direct him according to Thy clemency into the way of everlasting salvation: that, by Thy grace, he may desire those things which are pleasing to Thee, and accomplish them with all his strength.

O God, from Whom are holy desires, right counsels, and just works: grant to Thy servants the peace which the world cannot give; that our hearts may be devoted to the keeping of Thy commandments, and that, being removed from the fear of our enemies, our times may be peaceful through Thy protection.

Inflame, O Lord, with the fire of the Holy Spirit, our hearts and our desires; that we may serve Thee with a chaste body and please Thee with a clean heart.

O God, the Creator and redeemer of all the faithful, grant to the souls of Thy departed servants the remission of all their sins; that through pious supplications they may obtain the pardon they have always desired.

Direct, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our actions by Thy holy inspirations and carry them on by Thy gracious assistance; that every prayer and work of ours may always begin with Thee and through Thee be happily ended.

Almighty and everlasting God, Who hast dominion over the living and the dead, and art merciful to all whom Thou foreknowest shall be Thine by faith and good works: we humbly beseech Thee; that they for whom we intend to pour forth our prayers, whether this present world still detains them in the flesh, or the world to come has already received them out of their bodies, may, through the intercession of all Thy Saints, and in Thy compassionate goodness, obtain the pardon of all their sins. Through Christ our Lord.

The Lord be with you.
R. And with Thy spirit.

R. Amen. V. May the almighty and most merciful Lord graciously hear us.
R. Amen.

R. Amen. V. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
R. Amen.

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.

Amen.

Prayer of Pius XII for France (1937)


Mère céleste, Notre-Dame, vous qui avez donné à cette nation tant de gages insignes de votre prédilection, implorez pour elle votre divin Fils ; ramenez-la au berceau spirituel de son antique grandeur. Aidez-la à recouvrer, sous la lumineuse et douce étoile de la Foi et de la vie chrétienne, sa félicité passée. Regina pacis ! Oh ! Oui ! Soyez vraiment au milieu de ce peuple qui est vôtre la Reine de la paix, écrasez de votre pied virginal le démon de la haine et de la discorde. Faites comprendre au monde, où tant d’âmes droites s’évertuent à édifier le temple de la paix, le secret qui seul assurera le succès de leurs efforts : établir au centre de ce temple le trône royal de votre divin Fils et rendre hommage à sa loi sainte, en laquelle la justice et l’amour s’unissent en un chaste baiser. Et que par Vous la France, fidèle à sa vocation, soutenue dans son action par la puissance de la prière, par la concorde dans la charité, par une ferme et indéfectible vigilance, exalte dans le monde le triomphe et le Règne du Christ, Prince de la Paix, Roi des rois et Seigneur des seigneurs.

Amen.

May the prayers of Our Lady see this house rebuilt swiftly and mightily again! (Source)

The Hidden Wound of Christ

Christ Carrying the Cross, Titian, c. 1560 (Source)

In Holy Week, we edge ever closer to the Paschal Mystery that begins on Maundy Thursday and does not end until the joy of Easter Morning. Or, more rightly, the joy that never ends. The Paschal Mystery is always present on our altars. Christ deigns to give us all of the glory and drama of those frightful, baffling, sacred days in the course of every single Mass. The reverse is also true. Our meditation on the events of the first Holy Week must be impregnated by a sense of the profound Eucharisticity of it all. Everywhere, be it in the shadowed garden or the iniquitous court or the clamorous street or the desolate mount where Our Lord died, we discover hints of Eucharistic air. We cannot approach these scenes without catching a whiff of incense.

This scent of paradise would seem to waft from the very wounds of Christ as from the most fragrant flowers on earth. For they are the vessels of the new creation, the blooms of the new Eden, and the stars in the new Heaven. If we would have an idea of paradise, we must study the shape and depth and hue and feel and – in the Eucharist – the taste of these wounds. They are our gates to Heaven. They are our safe passage through the sea of tohu-va-bohu, the chaos of this sinful world. Yet, one must not carry the comparison too far. If the Israelites reached the Mountain of God kept dry of the waters of the Red Sea, the Christian must do quite the opposite. He finds God by drowning in that very different red sea, Christ’s Precious Blood. He must die there in that flood, just as His Savior did. But this death brings new life – and that everlasting.

Christ the True Vine. (Source)

It is thus the peculiar mission of the Christian soul to devote herself to the Holy Wounds. Few devotions are more perfect, for few are so closely bound to the very quick and marrow of our salvation. Indeed, devotion to the Holy Wounds is little more than devotion to Christ precisely as Redeemer of Mankind, and thus as our Prophet, Priest, and King, as Victim and Altar, as the Word Incarnate – in short, to Christ Himself.

It also inevitably means devotion to Christ in the Eucharist. All of the Holy Wounds remind us of the Blessed Sacrament. We find them there, on the altar, and we discover the shadow of the tabernacle falling over each wound in turn.

Anyone who has seen the Medieval materials produced around this devotion (including the flag of the doomed and valorous Pilgrimage of Grace) will know that, typically, there were five Holy Wounds: two feet, two hands, and heart. One could bring this count up to six if the wound in the side were considered separately from the heart. Yet St. Bernard of Clairvaux suggests there is another wound, rarely depicted, that gave Our Lord exquisite dolors unrecognized by men. Once, in conversation with Jesus, the Mellifluous Doctor asked him about his greatest unrecorded suffering. Jesus answered,

“I had on My Shoulder while I bore My Cross on the Way of Sorrows, a grievous Wound that was more painful than the others, and which is not recorded by men. Honor this Wound with thy devotion, and I will grant thee whatsoever thou dost ask through its virtue and merit. And in regard to all those who shall venerate this Wound, I will remit to them all their venial sins and will no longer remember their mortal sins.”

From the Annals of Clairvaux

A prayer to the Holy Shoulder Wound, bearing the imprimatur of Thomas D. Beaven, Bishop of Springfield, has circulated on the internet. It reads:

O most loving Jesus, meek lamb of God, I, a miserable sinner,
salute and worship the most sacred Wound of Thy Shoulder
on which Thou didst bear Thy heavy Cross, which so
tore Thy flesh and laid bare Thy bones as to inflict on Thee
an anguish greater than any other wound of Thy most blessed body.
I adore Thee, O Jesus most sorrowful; I praise and glorify Thee,
and give Thee thanks for this most sacred and painful
Wound, beseeching Thee by that exceeding pain, and by
the crushing burden of Thy heavy Cross, to be merciful to me,
a sinner, and to forgive me all my mortal and venial sins, and
to lead me on toward Heaven along the Way of the Cross. Amen.

Prayer to the Holy Shoulder Wound

All the wounds of Jesus teach us something of his Eucharistic life. The wounds and the Blessed Sacrament are mutually illuminating. If we would understand the Eucharist, we can look to the wounds; if we desire to penetrate those wounds more deeply, we must adore and receive the Eucharist. This can be seen in each of the typical wounds. The feet remind us of the absolute fixity as well as the global universality of the Blessed Sacrament. The hands remind us of Christ’s priesthood. The Wounds in the side and heart of Jesus speak to the burning charity which motivated the institution of the Sacrament as well as its generative power; along with Baptism, it makes mortal men into Sons of God.

A medieval image of the Holy Wounds and instruments of the Passion. (Source)

The shoulder wound, however, tells us something different. It points to the veil of the Eucharist. It reminds us of the hiddenness of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. It is a silent and unseen wound, and it tells us about the silent and unseen God who becomes present for us, silently and invisibly, in the Eucharist. It was this wound, so St. Bernard tells us, that caused Our Lord such terrible pain in His Passion.

Consider the duty of the Christian soul towards this admirable wound. She must make reparation to the Father for this wound on the unblemished Son; she can only do this by uniting her own sorrows to His. She must prayerfully let the Holy Spirit mold her hidden suffering into the very likeness of the shoulder wound. No suffering is too great for this transfiguration, nor any soul too far gone in sin for this empowerment. All that is needed is a penitent heart, a sacramental life, and humble prayer before the Father. The Almighty is merciful, and His mercy comes to us through the Wounds of Jesus Christ. In fact, we find here one of the great paradoxes of the Christian faith. If we would behold the mercy of the Father, we must look at the wounds of the Son – they are His mercy.

The Christian must burrow into them. We must bury ourselves in the wounds of Christ. We cannot be stingy with this self-offering. Every part of the soul belongs to God. The hidden wound of the shoulder reminds us that, even those parts we wish to keep away from the eyes of the world, those most interior sins, those most private sufferings, those darkest sorrows and temptations – all these unseen afflictions of body and soul – all must be given over to God. Nothing can remain outside His grasp. In the words of the Evangelist, “there is nothing hid which shall not become manifest, nor secret which shall not be known and come to light” (Luke 8:17 DRA). It is fruitless to hide from God, just as it was when our first parents fled from His voice in the Garden. And so, the hidden wound of Christ reminds us that we will be judged, even as it offers us mercy.

These considerations must spur us to a more authentically Eucharistic life. We cannot hope to save ourselves. Christ has died for us, and to take on His dying life, we must cleave to the Blessed Sacrament. Acts of Reparation, Adoration, and frequent reception of communion are all ways to press our souls into the sacrifice of Christ.

Have you sanctified the Holy Wounds in your heart? (Source)

In this sacred time of year, let us make a special effort to hallow the Holy Wounds in our heart, to unite our sufferings to those endured by our Savior, and to make reparation for the offenses that sin has wrought. And above all, let us praise God the Father Almighty, the author of these Holy Wounds, for His infinite mercy.

Fénelon on Perseverance in Prayer

In Lent, I often return to the words of the great Bishop of Cambrai, François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon. He is a perennially refreshing source of spiritual wisdom and guidance. Since we are finally in Passiontide, I thought this excerpt from Fénelon’s sermon on prayer, “The Saints Converse with God,” would be greatly edifying for all those of my readers keeping up with the Lenten Spirituality Series.

A portrait of Fénelon in excellent blue-purple episcopal garb (Source)

We must pray with perseverance. The perfect heart is never weary of seeking God. Ought we to complain if God sometimes leaves us to obscurity, and doubt, and temptation? Trials purify humble souls, and they serve to expiate the faults of the unfaithful. They confound those who, even in their prayers, have flattered their cowardice and pride. If an innocent soul, devoted to God, suffer from any secret disturbance, it should be humble, adore the designs of God, and redouble its prayers and its fervor. How often do we hear those who every day have to reproach themselves with unfaithfulness toward God complain that He refuses to answer their prayers! Ought they not to acknowledge that it is their sins which have formed a thick cloud between Heaven and them, and that God has justly hidden Himself from them? How often has He recalled us from our wanderings! How often, ungrateful as we are, have we been deaf to His voice and insensible to His goodness! He would make us feel that we are blind and miserable when we forsake Him. He would teach us, by privation, the value of the blessings that we have slighted. And shall we not bear our punishment with patience? Who can boast of having done all that he ought to have done; of having repaired all his past errors; of having purified his heart, so that he may claim as a right that God should listen to his prayer? Most truly, all our pride, great as it is, would not be sufficient to inspire such presumption! If then, the Almighty do not grant our petitions, let us adore His justice, let us be silent, let us humble ourselves, and let us pray without ceasing. This humble perseverance will obtain from Him what we should never obtain by our own merit. It will make us pass happily from darkness to light; for know, says St. Augustine, that God is near to us even when He appears far from us.

Crashaw on the Vision of God

Richard Crashaw, one of the great Catholic poets of the seventeenth century, is a perennial source of inspiration. His verse preserves a mystical sensibility that is as refreshing today as it was when it was first composed in the Baroque era. This selection, “A Song,” is one of my favorites. I first had to memorize it many years ago in an English class on prayers (at Mr. Jefferson’s famously secular University, no less). I keep returning to it only to find new riches and new consolations. It seems eminently suited to our mid-Lenten moment, when the faithful yearn to see the face of the Resurrected and Glorified Christ.

Fra Angelico, Christ the Judge (detail) – (Source)

LORD, when the sense of thy sweet grace
Sends up my soul to seek thy face.
Thy blessed eyes breed such desire,
I dy in love’s delicious Fire.

O love, I am thy Sacrifice.
Be still triumphant, blessed eyes.
Still shine on me, fair suns! that I
Still may behold, though still I dy.

Though still I dy, I live again;
Still longing so to be still slain,
So gainfull is such losse of breath.
I dy even in desire of death.

Still live in me this loving strife
Of living Death and dying Life.
For while thou sweetly slayest me
Dead to my selfe, I live in Thee.


Dame Julian of Norwich on the Thirst of Christ

Christ on the Cross, from the Isenheim Altarpiece of Matthias Grünewald (Source)

As part of my Lenten Spirituality Series, here is Dame Julian of Norwich’s meditation on the thirst of Christ, Chapter XVII of Revelations of Divine Love:

“How might any pain be more to me than to see Him that is all my life, and all my bliss, and all my joy suffer?

And in this dying was brought to my mind the words of Christ: I thirst.

For I saw in Christ a double thirst: one bodily; another spiritual…

For this word was shewed for the bodily thirst: the which I understood was caused by failing of moisture. For the blessed flesh and bones was left all alone without blood and moisture. The blessed body dried alone long time with wringing of the nails and weight of the body. For I understood that for tenderness of the sweet hands and of the sweet feet, by the greatness, hardness, and grievousness of the nails the wounds waxed wide and the body sagged, for weight by long time hanging. And [therewith was] piercing and pressing of the head, and binding of the Crown all baked with dry blood, with the sweet hair clinging, and the dry flesh, to the thorns, and the thorns to the flesh drying; and in the beginning while the flesh was fresh and bleeding, the continual sitting of the thorns made the wounds wide. And furthermore I saw that the sweet skin and the tender flesh, with the hair and the blood, was all raised and loosed about from the bone, with the thorns where-through it were rent in many pieces, as a cloth that were sagging, as if it would hastily have fallen off, for heaviness and looseness, while it had natural moisture. And that was great sorrow and dread to me: for methought I would not for my life have seen it fall. How it was done I saw not; but understood it was with the sharp thorns and the violent and grievous setting on of the Garland of Thorns, unsparingly and without pity. This continued awhile, and soon it began to change, and I beheld and marvelled how it might be. And then I saw it was because it began to dry, and stint a part of the weight, and set about the Garland. And thus it encircled all about, as it were garland upon garland. The Garland of the Thorns was dyed with the blood, and that other garland [of Blood] and the head, all was one colour, as clotted blood when it is dry. The skin of the flesh that shewed (of the face and of the body), was small-rimpled [1] with a tanned colour, like a dry board when it is aged; and the face more brown than the body.

I saw four manner of dryings: the first was bloodlessness; the second was pain following after; the third, hanging up in the air, as men hang a cloth to dry; the fourth, that the bodily Kind asked liquid and there was no manner of comfort ministered to Him in all His woe and distress. Ah! hard and grievous was his pain, but much more hard and grievous it was when the moisture failed and began to dry thus, shrivelling.

These were the pains that shewed in the blessed head: the first wrought to the dying, while it had moisture; and that other, slow, with shrinking drying, [and] with blowing of the wind from without, that dried and pained Him with cold more than mine heart can think.

And other pains—for which pains I saw that all is too little that I can say: for it may not be told.

The which Shewing of Christ’s pains filled me full of pain. For I wist well He suffered but once, but [this was as if] He would shew it me and fill me with mind as I had afore desired. And in all this time of Christ’s pains I felt no pain but for Christ’s pains. Then thought-me: I knew but little what pain it was that I asked; and, as a wretch, repented me, thinking: If I had wist what it had been, loth me had been to have prayed it. For methought it passed bodily death, my pains.

I thought: Is any pain like this? And I was answered in my reason: Hell is another pain: for there is despair. But of all pains that lead to salvation this is the most pain, to see thy Love suffer. How might any pain be more to me than to see Him that is all my life, all my bliss, and all my joy, suffer? Here felt I soothfastly [2] that I loved Christ so much above myself that there was no pain that might be suffered like to that sorrow that I had to [see] Him in pain.

[1] or shrivelled.

[2] in sure verity.

St. Francis de Sales on Aridity in Prayer

This Lent, I will post a spiritual lesson every Friday. I start the series with a short passage out of St. Francis de Sales’ famous Introduction to the Devout Life, Part II, Chapter 9

Let the Gentleman Saint help you this Lent. (Source)

SHOULD it happen sometimes, my daughter, that you have no taste for or consolation in your meditation, I entreat you not to be troubled, but seek relief in vocal prayer, bemoan yourself to our Lord, confess your unworthiness, implore His Aid, kiss His Image, if it be beside you, and say in the words of Jacob, “I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me;” or with the Canaanitish woman, “Yes, Lord, I am as a dog before Thee, but the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.”

Or you can take a book, and read attentively till such time as your mind is calmed and quickened; or sometimes you may find help from external actions, such as prostrating yourself folding your hands upon your breast, kissing your Crucifix,—that is, supposing you are alone. But if, after all this, you are still unrelieved, do not be disturbed at your dryness, however great it be, but continue striving after a devout attitude in God’s Sight. What numbers of courtiers appear a hundred times at court without any hope of a word from their king, but merely to pay their homage and be seen of him. Just so, my daughter, we ought to enter upon mental prayer purely to fulfil our duty and testify our loyalty. If it pleases God’s Divine Majesty to speak to us, and discourse in our hearts by His Holy Inspirations and inward consolations, it is doubtless a great honour, and very sweet to our soul; but if He does not vouchsafe such favours, but makes as though He saw us not,—as though we were not in His Presence,—nevertheless we must not quit it, but on the contrary we must remain calmly and devoutly before Him, and He is certain to accept our patient waiting, and give heed to our assiduity and perseverance; so that another time He will impart to us His consolations, and let us taste all the sweetness of holy meditation. But even were it not so, let us, my child, be satisfied with the privilege of being in His Presence and seen of Him.


“Reversed Thunder, Christ-Side-Piercing Spear”

The holy side-wound of Christ, from a Book of Hours (Source)

Today is the Anglican commemoration of George Herbert, the great English cleric and metaphysical poet of the 17th century. He died on March 1st, 1633. In honor of this bard of the spirit, I offer to my readers one of my favorite Herbert poems. Every time I return to it, I find new edification.

“Prayer (1)”

George Herbert

Prayer the church’s banquet, angel’s age,
God’s breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth
Engine against th’ Almighty, sinner’s tow’r,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six-days world transposing in an hour,
A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;
Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
Exalted manna, gladness of the best,
Heaven in ordinary, man well drest,
The milky way, the bird of Paradise,
Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul’s blood,
The land of spices; something understood.

Words of Consolation

The mosaic of Fr. Faber in the nave of the Brompton Oratory. (Source)

I have just been made aware of a very exciting new social media apostlate, Consoling Thoughts From Fr. Faber. This Facebook page posts various pious meditations and, as the title would suggest, consoling passages from Fr. Faber. Those who share my devotion to the Apostle of London will no doubt find this page a serious and salutary addition to their diet of spiritual content. It has my full endorsement.

A Prayer to the Incarnate Word

The infant High Priest (Source)

O Wisdom, be enthroned in my heart,
O Adonai, inflame my heart,
O Root of Jesse, bloom in my heart,
O Key of David, unlock my heart,
O Dayspring, shine in my heart,
O King of Nations, reign in my heart,
O Emmanuel, abide in my heart,
Now and forevermore.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

Amen.