Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What is the Total Consecration of St. Louis de Montfort?

“Here is a secret, chosen soul, which the most High God taught me and which I have not found in any book, ancient or modern. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, I am confiding it to you, with these conditions:
“That you share it only with people who deserve to know it, that you use this secret to become holy and worthy of heaven, and that you thank God every day of your life for the grace he has given you in letting you into a secret that you do not deserve to know.”
From the opening of The Secret of Mary, by St. Louis-Marie de Montfort

Monday, February 27, 2012

Because water washes, baptism forgives sins

1st Sunday of Lent, I Peter 3:18-22
[The Flood] prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body, but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
During the season of Lent the Church militant joins with those to be baptized at the Easter Vigil in contemplating the mystery of the sacrament of baptism. Lent is a time for a renewal of our baptismal vows and a rekindling of the grace that was given us in the sacrament.
Thus, we must consider what it is that happened in our own baptism. To this end, the Church gives us to read from the First Letter of St. Peter, in which the waters of baptism are compared to the waters of the flood. Further, the Vicar of Christ speaks of the bodily washing effected through water, and the spiritual washing brought about through baptism.

Friday, February 24, 2012

If Christ could not sin, how was he tempted in the desert?

1st Sunday of Lent, Mark 1:12-15
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.
We know that Jesus was truly tempted in the desert, for such is the teaching of Sacred Scripture. And yet, it should be clear that Our Savior could not – he simply could not – sin. The Lord Jesus is impeccable, he cannot sin.
If the Church teaches that Jesus could not possibly sin, in what sense can we affirm that he was tempted in the desert?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

L.A. Times reporter promotes Total Consecration for Lent

Sometimes it seems that the media is dead set against the Church, and then you come across an article like this one [“Lent 2012 offers a rare way to honor Mary and Jesus at the same time”, here], written by L.A. Times staff writer Rene Lynch.
Referring to the rare circumstances which allow the preparation for the Total Consecration to begin on Ash Wednesday, concluding on the Solemnity of the Annunciation (this year, March 26th), the article states, “Christians can use this year's Lent to also follow in the footsteps of St. Louis-Marie de Montfort. He was a French priest known for his deep commitment to Mary, and came up with a series of short prayers and spiritual practices to honor her called the Total Consecration.”
Let us all offer a prayer of gratitude to the Good Lord for spreading this devotion. Also, say a prayer for Rene Lynch and for all who read her article, that the grace of Christ given through Mary will indeed make this their best Lent ever.
Join the Total Consecration page on Facebook [here].
Also, [here] is a how-to guide for making the Total Consecration this Lent, together with prayers for the first twelve days.

Monday, February 20, 2012

How to make the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary, Lent 2012

The Total Consecration is principally an interior devotion – it does not consist primarily in the recitation of many prayers, but in offering all that we do to Jesus through his Mother. Jesus has given us all things, including himself, through Mary; let us then give to this same Jesus all things, including ourselves, through Mary!
However, St. Louis-Marie de Montfort directs us to prepare for this act of Total Consecration with thirty-three days of short prayers and spiritual practices. By a unique set of circumstances, this preparation period begins this year on Ash Wednesday (February 22nd) in order to make the consecration on the Solemnity of the Annunciation (this year, March 26th) – for more about this rare parallel between the beginning of Lent and the preparation for the Total Consecration, see our earlier article [here].
In this article, we will consider what exactly we do in these preparation days. What prayers do I say each day, starting on Ash Wednesday, in order to unite this Lent with the Total Consecration?
Also, consider joining with others in the Total Consecration through Facebook [here].

Make this your best Lent ever, with St. Louis de Montfort

The season of Lent is meant to be a time of a great renewal in our baptismal vows. As the catechumens prepare to enter fully into the Church at the Easter Vigil, all of Christ’s faithful take this time as an opportunity to renew the grace of our own baptism.
Happily, this is precisely the goal of St. Louis-Marie de Montfort’s “Total Consecration” to Jesus through Mary. We have a unique opportunity this year to unite our Lenten devotion with the Total Consecration, since (on account of the rarest of circumstances) the thirty-three day preparation period for the consecration begins on February 22nd, Ash Wednesday.
The Total Consecration has only fit together with the beginning of Lent twelve times since de Montfort’s death, and it will not happen again until 2075. Hence, this is truly a most rare opportunity for us to consecrate this Lent to Jesus through Mary.
Please spread the word through Facebook [here]!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Consecrate this Lent to Jesus through Mary, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort recommended a particular method of consecrating oneself wholly and entirely to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary and, through Mary, to Jesus our Savior. This method includes thirty-three days of preparation, followed by the act of consecration itself. St. Louis de Montfort most especially recommends that this consecration be made on the feast of the Annunciation, though other days are also acceptable.
This Lent provides us with a most rare opportunity to consecrate ourselves to Mary according to de Montfort’s method. Due to highly exceptional circumstances, one could begin the preparation this year on Ash Wednesday (February 22) and complete the consecration on the feast of the Annunciation (this year, March 26). What a wonderful way to make this our best Lent ever! (to consider why Lent is a perfect time to make the total consecration, please see our short article [here])

Friday, February 17, 2012

When does Anointing of the Sick cause physical healing?

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Mark 2:1-12
“Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth” – he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.”
We have all heard that some people have been physically healed through the reception of the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, but we wonder why this occurs only sometimes and not always. Why is it that God heals one, but allows another to die? What makes Anointing here cause physical healing, but there only spiritual healing?
This Sunday’s Gospel gives us the beginning of an explanation to this complex question.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why can't deacons confer Anointing of the Sick?

Deacons can baptize and they can witness marriages, they can even distribute communion as an ordinary minister, and yet the Church does not allow deacons (nor any who are not priests) to confer the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.
A brief consideration of this question – Why can’t a deacon confer Anointing of the Sick? – will teach us a great deal about this sacrament.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Is Anointing the sacrament of the dying? Yes and no

February 11th, World Day of the Sick
Anointing of the Sick is surely the most misunderstood sacrament in today’s Church. However, I do not think it is so much that the faithful are too reserved in requesting it (as was the case in ages past), but rather it seems that the sacrament is far too often used in cases when it is not really appropriate. It is clear that the very close connection between Anointing and death has largely been lost over the past fifty years.
The Ecumenical Council of Trent declared that Anointing is the “sacrament of the dying”, and even Vatican II says that Anointing can still be called “Extreme Unction” (though admitting that “Anointing of the Sick” is better). Pope Paul VI specified that the “sick” who are to be anointed are those who are seriously ill. The Church’s teaching from Vatican II, to Pope Paul VI, to the Code of Canon Law specifies that Anointing of the sick is only to be given to those who have begun to be “in danger of death” whether from sickness or old age.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Three men who loved lepers: Jesus, Francis, and Damien

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Mark 1:40-45
A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.”
Though not the first miracle of his public ministry, Jesus’ healing of the leper is certainly the first miracle he worked after relating the Sermon on the Mount (as is clear from St. Matthew [8:1]). Thus, it is striking to note that, immediately after preaching the great sermon which collects all of his message into one, he shows us the meaning of this preaching by touching a leper with love.
This act – taking pity upon, touching, and healing the leper – teaches us by example those same truths which our Savior had taught by words in the Sermon on the Mount.
Thus, it will be no surprise that the conversion of St. Francis of Assisi began with a leper. Further, we do well to recall the memory of St. Damien of Molokai, who so loved lepers as to become a leper himself – much as Christ loved us and became one like us in all things but sin.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The difference between martyrdom and suicide

February 9th, Feast of St. Apollonia
Many of the martyrs speak of their desire for death with a greater zeal than we desire life – for they would suffer untold torments in order to achieve their death, but far too often we would rather die than suffer greatly in order to live.
And yet, without intending any dishonor to the martyrs, we may wonder: How is martyrdom different from suicide? Indeed, many of the ancient martyrs longed for death and even put themselves in harm’s way in order to achieve martyrdom – is this not, in some respect, similar to suicide?
The case of St. Apollonia (whose memory is commemorated this day, though not in the general calendar) will give great insight into this question – she voluntarily threw herself into the fires which her persecutors had prepared for her.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Can a pregnant woman be anointed on behalf of her dying unborn child?

Saturday, February 11th – World Day of the Sick
This coming Saturday, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, is designated as the World Day of the Sick. In preparation for this day, we will be considering several questions regarding the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, or Extreme Unction.
Today, I wish to consider the particular question of anointing a pregnant woman on behalf of her unborn child who is in danger of death – there are several reasons why such an anointing would be a sacrilege and invalid, though (of course) we would not assign any fault to the woman but rather to the priest. This particular case will teach us a great deal about the sacrament.
We have already considered several important aspects of this sacrament: That it can only be given to those who are in a real danger of death (“How sick is sick?” [here]), that surgery cannot ever be the reason for Anointing but can be the occasion (“Should Anointing of the Sick be given before surgery?” [here]), and that young children cannot receive this sacrament [here].

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The heroic minute, immediately upon waking - the first battle of the day

A Carthusian monk, from the film "Into Great Silence"

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Mark 1:29-39
Rising very early before dawn, [Jesus] left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.
After exorcising a demoniac, healing St. Peter’s mother-in-law, and curing many others, Jesus teaches us the absolute primacy of the interior life by rising early the next morning, before it was day, so as to go to a deserted place and pray.
Fr. Conrelius a’ Lapide tells us: “Learn here from Christ to give the early morning to prayer, and to rise up with the dawn, so as to have leisure for meditation, and to give the first-fruits of the day to God. For the dawn of day is a friend of the Muses, but a greater friend of God and the angels.”

Thursday, February 2, 2012

If Christ did not "open the womb" of his Mother, why was he presented in the Temple?

February 2nd, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord”. (Luke 2:22-23)
The Church teaches, as a matter of dogma (de fide) which every Catholic must believe, that Mary was a virgin not only before birth and after birth, but also during birth. This dogma states that Mary, even during the very act of giving birth, remained a virgin – hence, the word “virgin” refers not merely to refraining from sexual pleasure, but also to physical integrity.
Mary, as ever-virgin, suffered no harm to the physical closure of her virginal womb when she brought forth the Savior. Rather, he came forth from her as he came forth from the sealed tomb and as he entered the closed upper-room. The Church Fathers and Doctors (as well as the great mystics) tell us that Our Lord passed through the virginal cloister of Mary’s womb as thought proceeding from intellect and as light passing through glass. [we have already discussed this in previous articles – here, here, and here (in this last, we show that Jesus is still human even though he was born miraculously)]
However, the above verse from St. Luke’s Gospel seems to be against the Catholic dogma of Mary’s perpetual (physical) virginity. It seems that the Evangelist is telling us that Jesus was presented in the Temple precisely because he had opened the womb of his Mother, violating her physical integrity. How can the Catholic answer this objection?