William Warham

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William Warham

Archbishop of Canterbury, born at Church Oakley, Hampshire, about 1450; died at Hackington, near Canterbury, 22 August, 1532. He was educated at Winchester School and New College, Oxford, of which he became a fellow in 1475. Having taken his doctorate of laws he left Oxford in 1488, to become an advocate in the ecclesiastical courts in London, but two years later he returned to Oxford as principal of the school of civil law. His ability caused him to be employed to several foreign embassies, and his success obtained for him much ecclesiastical preferment. He became precentor of Wells (1493), rector of Barley (1495), archdeacon of Huntingdon (1497), and rector of Cottenham (1500). On 13 February, 1494, he had been appointed to the important legal office of Master of the Rolls. While absent on one of his frequent missions abroad he was elected Bishop of London (October, 1501), but was not consecrated till 25 September, 1502. In the interval he had resigned the office of Master of the Rolls, and had been appointed to the more important post of Keeper of the Great Seal. So great was his reputation for learning and ability that fresh honours followed rapidly. On 29 November, 1503, Pope Julius II nominated him as Archbishop of Canterbury, and on 21 January, 1504, the king made him Lord Chancellor of England. He received the pallium at Lambeth on Candlemas Day and was enthroned at Canterbury on 9 March. He took a leading part in all important national business, and his powers as an orator were in much demand on great occasions of state. His university of Oxford chose him as Chancellor in 1506. Continue reading

Saint Philip Benizi

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Saint Philip Benizi

Servite Priest
(1233-1285)

Saint Philip Benizi was born in Florence on the Feast of the Assumption, 1233. That same day the Order of Servites was founded by the Mother of God. As an infant one year old, Philip spoke when in the presence of these new religious, and announced the Servants of the Virgin. Amid all the temptations of his youth, he longed to become a Servant of Mary, and it was only the fear of his own unworthiness which made him yield to his father’s wish and begin to study medicine. He received the bonnet of a doctor of medicine at Padua.

After long and weary waiting, his doubts were solved one day by Our Lady Herself, who in a vision during a Mass in Florence offered in the Servite Chapel, bade him enter Her Order. Still Philip dared only offer himself as a lay brother; and saying nothing of his studies, in this humble state he strove to do penance for his sins. Two Dominican Fathers traveling with him one day recognized the great talents, wisdom and knowledge which he had succeeded in concealing. They talked to his Superiors, and he was told to prepare for the priesthood. As a priest he did immense good. He pacified many dissensions, common among the city-states of those days. One day he met a leper, almost naked, and having no money gave him his tunic. When the leper put it on, he was instantly cured.

Thereafter honors were accorded him in rapid succession; he became General of the Order and only by flight did he escape elevation to the Papal throne; he retired to a grotto in the mountains until the conclave had ended. His preaching restored peace to Italy, wasted by civil wars. He was sent not only to various cities of that country but to the Netherlands and Germany, where he converted many, not without opposition and even a flogging by rebels. At the Council of Lyons, he spoke to the assembled prelates with the gift of tongues. Amid all these favors Philip lived in extreme penitence, constantly examining his soul before God, and condemning himself as only fit for hell.

Saint Philip, though he was free from every stain of mortal sin, was never weary of beseeching God’s mercy. From the time he was ten years old he daily prayed the Penitential Psalms. On his deathbed he recited verses of the Miserere, his cheeks streaming with tears; during his agony he went through a terrible contest to overcome the fear of damnation. But a few minutes before he died, all his doubts disappeared and were succeeded by a holy trust. He uttered the responses to the final prayers in a low but audible voice; and when at last the Mother of God appeared before him, he lifted up his arms with joy and breathed a gentle sigh, as if placing his soul in Her hands. He died on the Octave of the Assumption, 1285.

Reflection: Endeavor so to act as you would wish to have acted when you stand before the Judge of your eternity. This is the rule of the Saints, and the only safe rule for all.

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).

The Immaculate Heart of Mary

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The Immaculate Heart of Mary

In 1917 the Mother of God appeared six times at Fatima in Portugal. After showing the three children a vision of hell, She informed Lucy of Fatima, the oldest of the visionaries: You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners will go. To save them, the Lord desires to establish devotion to My Immaculate Heart in the world. The Saviour Himself, when He appeared to Lucy again on December 10, 1925 with His Mother, indicating with His hand the Heart of His Mother, said: Have pity on this gentle Heart, continually martyred by the ingratitude of men.

Christians have long known that at the very origin of the world God threatened the ancient enemy, disguised under the form of a serpent, that the Woman he had seen in vision with Her Son, the Son of God, would eventually crush his head. I Myself, God told him, will place an irreducible enmity between Her race and your race. Thus Satan was informed at that moment, after he had just seduced the first human couple, that in the end, it would be this other Woman and Her Son, who would vanquish him. He had refused to honor the incarnate Son of God in His future human nature, inferior to his own angelic nature; his pride would not permit him to abase himself to serve God in that form. Christian hope has been nourished ever since by the prospect of this victory; nonetheless, the Mother of God wanted the twentieth century from its early years to understand that the time was drawing near when Her Immaculate Heart would triumph, as She explicitly said at Fatima, but that it was only through Her, uniquely by Her maternal aid, that this victory could be attained.

Mary is indispensable to the sanctification of each soul. This is the great truth which in the Latter Times must be better understood. For that purpose, consecration to Her Immaculate Heart was given us at Fatima, as the means She Herself desired, with the daily Rosary. Devotion to Her Heart is not new in the Church; Saint John Eudes, Saint Louis Mary de Montfort, how many others, in truth all the Saints have loved the Heart of their Mother in Heaven. But to know Her well, each one must individually establish the relationship of a child with its loving Mother. For this purpose She asks for our personal and effective consecration to Her Immaculate Heart. The child of Mary turns to Her constantly for counsel, force and courage, gentleness and humility in the affairs of daily life. Many prayers of consecration to Mary exist, in particular that of Montfort; but one may use any simple formula such as the following: Blessed and beloved Mother, I am Your child and I wish to belong to You; I give and consecrate myself forever to Your Immaculate Heart, renewing in Your hands my baptismal promises, and I ask You to ratify my filial homage to Your Immaculate Heart — that of my person and my activities, my temporal and spiritual goods, my resolution to have frequent recourse to Your maternal and merciful intercession. And, insofar as it is within my scope to do so, I offer You also my family, my homeland and all of humanity.

Pourquoi me consacrer au Coeur Immaculée de Marie? brochure by H. Desmullier, Montfort Father (Bonne Presse: Paris, 1955).

OUR LADY OF KNOCK

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OUR LADY OF KNOCK, QUEEN OF IRELAND

On the evening of August 21, 1879 Mary McLoughlin, the housekeeper to the parish priest of Knock, County Mayo, ireland, was astonished to see the outside south wall of the church bathed in a mysterious light; there were three figures standing in front of the wall, which she mistook for replacements of the stone figures destroyed in a storm. She rushed through the rain to her friend Margaret Byrne’s house.

After a half hour Mary decided to leave and Margaret’s sister Mary agreed to walk home with her. As they passed the church they saw and amazing vision very clearly: Standing out from the gable and to the west of it appeared the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph and St. John. The figure of the Blessed Virgin was life-size, while the others seemed to be neither as large nor as tall. They stood a little away from the gable wall about two feet from the ground. The Virgin was erect with her eyes toward Heaven, and she was wearing a large white cloak hanging in full folds; on her head was a large crown.

Mary Byrne ran to tell her family while Mary McLoughlin gazed at the apparition. Soon a crowd gathered and all saw the apparition. The parish priest, Archdeacon Cavanaugh, did not come out, however, and his absence was a disappointment to the devout villagers. Among the witnesses were Patrick Hill and John Curry. As Patrick later described the scene: ‘The figures were fully rounded, as if they had a body and life. They did not speak but, as we drew near, they retreated a little towards the wall.’ Patrick reported that he got close enough to make out the words in the book held by the figure of St. John.

An old woman named Bridget trench drew closer to embrace the feet of the Virgin, but the figure seemed always beyond reach. Others out in the fields and some distance away saw a strange light around the church. The vision lasted for about three hours and then faded.

The next day a group of villagers went to see the priest, who accepted the their report as genuine; he wrote to the diocesan Bishop of Tuam; then the Church set up a commission to interview a number of the people claiming to witness the apparition. The diocesan hierarchy was not convinced, and some members of the commission ridiculed the visionaries, alleging they were victims of a hoax perpetrated by the local Protestant constable! But the ordinary people were not so skeptical, and the first pilgrimages to knock began in 1880. Two years later Archbishop John Joseph Lynch of Toronto made a visit to the parish and claimed he had been healed by the Virgin of Knock.

In due course many of the witnesses died. But Mary Byrne married, raised six children, living her entire life in Knock. When interviewed again in 1936 at the age of eighty-six, her account did not vary from the first report she gave in 1879.

The village of Knock was transformed by the thousands who came to commemorate the vision and to ask for healing for others and themselves. The local church was too small to accommodate the crowds. In 1976 a new church, Our Lady Queen of Ireland, was erected. It holds more than two thousand and needs to, for each year more than a half million visitors arrive to pay their respects to the Blessed Virgin.

It is the opinion of many that the Apparition is more than probable, it is authentic; I believe that Our Lady was warning us about the changes in the Mass coming in the next century, in which much Catholic doctrine would be silenced, that is removed from the Mass itself. The marked decline in church attendance and knowledgeable Catholics provide ample evidence for such a thesis arising not only in this Catholic’s mind but others’, including some priests.

PRAYER TO OUR LADY OF KNOCK, IRELAND

Irish Litany of Mary
Eleventh Century

Great Mary,
Greatest of Marys,
Greatest of Women,
Mother of Eternal Glory,
Mother of the Golden Light,
Honor of the Sky,
Temple of the Divinity,
Fountain of the Gardens,
Serence as the Moon,
Bright as the Sun,
Garden Enclosed,
Temple of the Living God,
Light of Nazareth,
Beauty of the World,
Queen of Life,
Ladder of Heaven,
Mother of God.

Pray for us.

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal

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Saint Jane Frances de Chantal

Foundress of the Order of the Visitation of The Blessed Virgin Mary
(1572-1641)

At the age of sixteen, Jane Frances de Fremyot, already a motherless child, was placed under the care of a worldly-minded governess. In this crisis she offered herself to the Mother of God, and secured Mary’s protection for life. When a Protestant sought her hand in marriage, she steadily refused to marry an enemy of God and His Church. Later, as the loving and beloved wife of the noble Baron de Chantal, she made her house the pattern of a Christian home. But God had marked her for something higher than domestic sanctity. Two children and a dearly beloved sister died, and then, in the full tide of their prosperity, her husband’s life was ended by an accident, through the innocent hand of a friend, when a small group went hunting in the forest.

For seven years the sorrows of her widowhood were increased by ill usage from servants and inferiors, and the cruel importunities of those who urged her to marry again. Harassed almost to despair by their entreaties, she branded on her heart the name of Jesus, and in the end left her beloved home and children, to live for God alone. It was on the 19th of March, 1609, that Madame de Chantal bade farewell to her family and relatives. Pale and with tears in her eyes, she passed around the large room, sweetly and humbly taking leave of each one. Her son, a boy of fifteen, used every entreaty, every endearment, to induce his mother not to leave them, and finally flung himself passionately across the doorsill of the room. In an agony of distress, she passed over the body of her son to the embrace of her aged and disconsolate father. The anguish of that parting reached its height when, kneeling at the feet of the venerable old man, she sought and obtained his last blessing, promising to repay his sacrifice in her new life by her prayers.

Well might Saint Francis de Sales call her the valiant woman. She founded under his direction and patronage the great Order of the Visitation. Sickness, opposition and want beset her, and the deaths of children, friends, and of Saint Francis himself followed, while eighty-seven houses of the Visitation rose under her hand. Nine long years of interior desolation completed the work of God’s grace in her soul. The Congregation of the Visitation, whose purpose was to admit widows and persons of fragile health, not accepted elsewhere, was canonically established at Annecy on Trinity Sunday of 1610. The Order counted thirteen houses already in 1622, when Saint Francis de Sales died; and when the Foundress died in her seventieth year, there were eighty-six. Saint Vincent de Paul saw her soul rise up, like a ball of fire, to heaven. At her canonization in 1767, the Sisters in 164 houses of the Visitation rejoiced.

Reflection: Profit by the successive trials of life to gain the strength and courage of Saint Jane Frances, and difficulties will become stepping stones from earth to heaven.

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); The Catholic Encyclopedia, edited by C. G. Herbermann with numerous collaborators (Appleton Company: New York, 1908).