Thursday, May 16, 2019

Saint May 17 St. Paschal Baylon - Patron of Eucharist Associations



St. Paschal Baylon
FRANCISCAN LAY BROTHER AND MYSTIC
Feast: May 17
Source Lives of the Saints
Born:1540, Torrehermosa, Aragon
Died:17 May 1592
Canonized:October 16, 1690 by Alexander VIII
Major Shrine:Royal Chapel in Villareal
Patron of:Patron of Eucharistic congresses and Eucharistic associations

The state of poverty was honored by the choice of our blessed Redeemer, and hath been favored with his special blessing. It removes men from many dangers and temptations, and furnishes them with perpetual occasions for the exercise of self-denial, patience, penance, resignation to the divine will, and every other heroic Christian virtue: yet these great means of salvation are by many, through ignorance, impatience, and inordinate desires, often perverted into occasions of  their temporal and eternal misery. Happy are they who, by making a right use of the spiritual advantages which this state, so dear to our divine Redeemer, offers them, procure to themselves present peace, joy, and every solid good; and make every circumstance of that condition in which providence hath placed them a step to perfect virtue and to everlasting happiness. This in an eminent degree was the privilege of St. Paschal Baylon. He was born in 1540, at Torre-Hermosa, a small country town in the kingdom of Aragon. His parents were day-laborers, and very virtuous; and to their example our saint was greatly indebted for the spirit of piety and devotion, which he seemed to have sucked in from his mother's milk. Their circumstances were too narrow to afford his being sent to school; but the pious child, out of an earnest desire of attaining to so great a means of instruction, carried a book with him into the fields where he watched the sheep, and desired those that he met to teach him the letters; and thus, in a short time, being yet very young, he learned to read. This advantage he made use of only to improve his soul in devotion and piety: books of amusement he never would look into; but the lives of the saints, and, above all, meditations on the life of Christ were his chiefest delight. He loved nothing but what was serious and of solid advantage, at a time of life in which many seem scarce susceptible of such impressions. When he was of a proper age, he engaged with a master to keep his flocks as under-shepherd: he was delighted with the innocent and quiet life his state permitted him to lead. That solitary life had charms for him. Whatever he saw was to him an object of faith and devotion. He read continually in the great book of nature; and from every object raised his soul to God, whom he contemplated and praised in all his works. Besides external objects, he had almost continually a spiritual book in his hands, which served to instruct and to inflame his veal in the love and practice of virtue. His master, who was a person of singular piety, was charmed with his edifying conduct, and made him an offer to adopt him for his son, and to make him his heir. But Paschal, who desired only the goods of another life, was afraid that those of this world would prove to him an incumbrance; he therefore modestly declined the favor, desiring always to remain his humble state, as being more conformable to that which Christ chose for himself on earth, who came not into the world to be served, but to serve. He was often discovered praying on his knees under some tree, while his flocks were browsing on the hills. It was by this secret entertainment of his soul with God, in the most profound humility, and perfect purity of his affections, that he acquired a most sublime science and experience in spiritual things, at which those who were the most advanced were struck with admiration. He could truly say with David: <Blessed is he whom thou thyself shalt instruct, O Lord.>1 He spoke of God and of virtue with an inimitable unction and experimental light, and with sentiments which the Holy Ghost alone forms in souls which are perfectly disengaged from earthly things, and replenished with his heavenly fire. Often was he seen ravished in holy prayer; and frequently was not able to conceal from the eyes of men the vehement ardor of the divine love with which his soul melted in an excess of heavenly sweetness. He felt in himself what many servants of God assure us of, that "the consolation which the Holy Ghost frequently infuses into pious souls, is greater than all the pleasures of the world together, could they be enjoyed by one man. It makes the heart to dissolve and melt through excess of joy, under which it is unable to contain itself." In these sentiments did this servant of God sing with David: <My soul shall rejoice in the Lord, and shall be delighted in his salvation. All my bones shall say, O Lord, who is like to thee!>2 The reward of virtue is reserved for heaven; but some comforts are not denied during the present time of trial. Even in this vale of tears, <God will make its desert as a place of pleasure; and its wilderness as the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness shall be found in it thanksgiving and the voice of praise.> Isa. li. 3. It is sufficiently understood that the saint did not receive these heavenly comforts without severe interior trials, and a constant practice of self-denial, by which his heart was crucified to the world. The dew of extraordinary spiritual comforts never falls on unmortified souls, which seek the delights of this world. St. Paschal in his poverty joined alms with his continual prayer; and not having any other means to relieve the poor, always gave them a good part of his own dinner which was sent him into the fields.

How great soever his love was for his profession, he found however several difficulties in it which made him think of leaving it. He was not able, notwithstanding all the care he could take, to hinder a flock of goats he had in charge from sometimes trespassing on another's ground. This occasioned his giving over the inspection of that flock. But he found other troubles in taking care of other cattle. Some of his companions, not baying the same piety with himself, were but too much addicted to cursing, quarrelling, and fighting; nor were they to be reclaimed by his gentle rebukes on these accounts. He was therefore determined to leave them, not to participate in their crimes. And to learn the will of God in this important choice of a state of life in which he might most faithfully serve him, he redoubled lids prayers, fasts, and other austerities. After some time spent in this manner, ho determined to become a religious man. Those to whom he first disclosed his inclination to a religious state, pointed out to him several convents richly endowed. But that circumstance alone was enough to disgust him; and his answer was: "I was born poor, and I am resolved to live and die in poverty arid penance." Being at that time twenty years of age he left his master, his friends, and his country, and went into the kingdom of Valentia, where was an austere convent of barefoot reformed Franciscans, called Soccolans, which stood in a desert solitude, but at no great distance from the town of Montfort. He addressed himself to the fathers of this house for spiritual advice; and, in the mean time, he entered into the service of certain farmers in the neighborhood to keep their sheep. He continued here his penitential and retired life in assiduous prayer, and was known in the whole country by the name of the Holy Shepherd. To sequester himself from the world, he made the more haste to petition for the habit of a lay-brother in the house above-mentioned: and was admitted in 1564. The fathers desired to persuade him to enter himself among the clerks, or those who aspired to holy orders, and sing  the divine office in the choir; but they were obliged to yield to his humility, and admit him among the lay-brothers of the community. He was not only a fervent novice, which we often see, but also a most fervent religious man, always advancing, and never losing ground. Though his rule was most austere, he added continually to its severity, but always with simplicity of heart, without the least attachment to his own will; and whenever he was admonished of any excess in his practices of mortification, he most readily confined himself to the letter of his rule. The meanest employments always gave him the highest satisfaction. Whenever he changed convents, according to the custom of his order, the better to prevent any secret attachments of the heart, he never complained of any thing, nor so much as said that he found any thing in one house more agreeable than in another; because, being entirely dead to himself; he everywhere sought only God. He never allowed himself a moment of repose between the Church and cloister duties, and his work; nor did his labor interrupt his prayer. He had never more than one habit, and that always threadbare. He walked without sandals in the snows, and in the roughest roads. He accommodated himself to all places and seasons, and was always content, cheerful, mild, affable, and full of respect for all. He thought himself honored if employed in any painful and low office to serve any one.
The general of the order happening to be at Paris, Paschal was sent thither to him about some necessary business of his province. Many of the cities through which he was to pass in France, were in the hands of the Huguenots, who were then in arms. Yet he offered himself to a martyrdom of obedience, travelled in his habit, and without so much as sandals on his feet, was often pursued by the Huguenots with sticks and stones, and received a wound on one shoulder of which he remained lame as long as he lived. He was twice taken for a spy; but God delivered him out of all dangers. On the very day on which he arrived at his convent from this tedious journey, he went out to his work and other duties as usual. He never spoke of any thing that had happened to him in his journey unless asked; and then was careful to suppress whatever might reflect on him the least honor or praise. He had a singular devotion to the mother of God, whose intercession he never ceased to implore that he might be preserved from sin. The holy sacrament of the altar was the object of his most tender devotion; also the passion of our divine Redeemer. He spent, especially towards the end of his life, a considerable part of the night at the foot of the altar on his knees, or prostrate on the ground. In prayer he was often favored with ecstasies and raptures. He died at Villa Reale, near Valentia, on the 17th of May, in 1592, being fifty-two years old. His corpse was exposed three days, during which time the great multitudes which from all parts visited the church, were witnesses to many miracles by which God attested the sanctity of his servant. St. Paschal was beatified by Pope Paul V. in 1618, and canonized by Alexander VIII. in 1690.

If Christians in every station endeavored with their whole strength continually to advance in virtue, the Church would be filled with saints. But alas! though it be an undoubted maxim, that not to go on in a spiritual life is to fall back, "Nothing is more rare," says St. Bernard, "than to find persons who always press forward. We see more converted from vice to virtue, than increase their fervor in virtue." This is something dreadful. The same father assigns two principal reasons. First, many who begin well, after some time grow again remiss in the exercises of mortification and prayer, and return to the amusements, pleasures, and vanities of a worldly life. Secondly, others who are regular and constant in exterior duties, neglect to watch over and cultivate their interior; so that some interior spiritual vice insinuates itself into their affections, and renders them an abomination in the eyes of God. "A man" says St. Bernard,4 "who gives himself up entirely to exterior exercises without looking seriously into his own heart to see what passes there, imposes upon himself, imagining that he is something while he is nothing. His eyes being always fixed on his exterior actions, he flatters himself that he goes on well, and neither sees nor feels the secret worm which gnaws and consumes his heart. He keeps all fasts, assists at all parts of the divine office, and fails in no exercise of piety or penance; yet God declares, '<His heart is far from me.>' He only employs his hands in fulfilling the precepts, and his heart is hard and dry. His duties are complied with by habit and a certain rotation: he omits not a single iota of all his exterior employments; but while he strains at a gnat, he swallows a camel. In his heart he is a slave to self-will, and is a prey to avarice, vain-glory, and ambition: one or other or all these vices together reign in his soul."

Pope Francis to Christian Schools " Looking to the Divine Master, you can more generously work in the service of the new evangelization..." Full Text


SPEECH OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS


TO THE COMMUNITY OF THE BROTHERS OF THE CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS

Sala Clementina
Thursday, 16 May 2019

Dear brothers and sisters!

I welcome you who represent the entire spiritual family founded by St. John the Baptist de La Salle, on the occasion of the third centenary of his death. I greet and thank Brother Robert Schieler, Superior General; I address my greeting with affection to each one of you and I would like you to reach all the Brothers of the Christian Schools who work in the Church with generosity, competence and faithful adherence to the Gospel. This important anniversary of your Founder is a favorable occasion for your Institute to highlight the figure of a pioneer in the field of education, who conceived an innovative educational system in his time. His example and testimony confirm the original timeliness of his message for today's Christian community, illuminating the way forward. He was a brilliant and creative innovator in the vision of the school, in the conception of the teacher, in teaching methods.

His vision of the school led him to develop ever more clearly the persuasion that education is a right for everyone, including the poor. For this he did not hesitate to give up the canonry and his rich family legacy, to devote himself entirely to the education of the lower social class. He gave life to a community of only laity to carry out his ideal, convinced that the Church cannot remain alien to the social contradictions of the times with which it is called to confront. It was this conviction that led him to establish an original experience of consecrated life: the presence of religious educators who, without being priests, interpreted in a new way the role of "lay monks", totally immersing themselves in the reality of their time and thus contributing to progress of civil society.

The daily contact with the world of school matured in him the awareness of identifying a new conception of the teacher. He was convinced, in fact, that school is a serious reality, for which people need to be adequately prepared; but he had before his eyes all the structural and functional deficiencies of a precarious institution that needed order and form. He then realized that teaching cannot be just a job, but a mission. He therefore surrounded himself with people suited to the popular school, inspired by Christianity, with attitudinal and natural qualities for education. He devoted all his energy to their formation, becoming himself an example and model for them, who had to exercise a service at the same time ecclesial and social, and working hard to promote what he called the "dignity of the master".

In order to give concrete answers to the demands of his time in the field of school, John  Baptiste de La Salle undertook bold reforms of teaching methods. In this he was moved by an extraordinary pedagogical realism. He replaced the French language with the Latin one, which was normally used in teaching; divided pupils into homogeneous learning groups for more effective work; set up Seminars for country masters, that is, for young people who wanted to become teachers without becoming part of any religious institution; he founded the Sunday Schools for adults and two Pensioners, one for young delinquents and the other for the recovery of prisoners. He dreamed of a school open to all, so he did not hesitate to face extreme educational needs, introducing a method of rehabilitation through school and work. In these formative realities he started a corrective pedagogy which, in contrast with the use of the times, brought study and work among the young as punishment, with craft activities, rather than the mere cell or lashes.

Dear spiritual children of John Baptist de La Salle, I urge you to deepen and imitate his passion for the last and the rejected. In the wake of his apostolic witness, you are the protagonists of a "culture of resurrection", especially in those existential contexts where the culture of death prevails. Do not get tired of looking for those who are in the modern "tombs" of loss, degradation, discomfort and poverty, to offer new life hope. The impetus for the educational mission, which made your Founder a teacher and witness for so many of his contemporaries, and his teaching, can still today feed your projects and your action.
His figure, always so timely, constitutes a gift for the Church and a precious stimulus for your Congregation, called to a renewed and enthusiastic adherence to Christ. Looking to the Divine Master, you can more generously work in the service of the new evangelization in which the whole Church is engaged today. The forms of the proclamation of the Gospel require to be adapted to the concrete situations of the different contexts, but this also entails an effort of fidelity to the origins, so that the apostolic style that is proper to your religious Family can continue to respond to people's expectations. I know this is the commitment that drives you and I urge you to walk with courage in this direction.

May you carry out your mission among the younger generations with renewed vigor, with that reforming boldness that characterized John Baptist de La Salle: he announced to all the Gospel of hope and charity. May the Holy Virgin always support you and obtain abundant apostolic fruits for you.

Dear brothers and sisters, I thank you for all that you do in the field of education. I accompany you with prayer and my blessing. And I ask you to please pray for me. Thank you!


FULL TEXT + Image Share from Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation

A Powerful Novena to St. Margaret of Cortona the Patron of Weight Loss - Insanity - Homeless and Prostitutes



O
glorious St. Margaret, you embarked on
a life of penance and poverty after you
repented of your sins. Jesus touched your heart,
and after imposing on yourself a rigorous life
of fasting, Jesus talked and conversed with
you, revealing to you his merciful heart that
rejoices whenever a sinner returns to him.
On controlling your appetite for food, you
managed to free yourself from all temptations,
including those of the flesh of which you were
a victim for many years. Listen then to our
petitions (here mention your petitions). May
you bring our petitions to Jesus. Amen.
Firstday
O
humble St. Margaret, when you decided
to follow Jesus radically by embarking
on a life of penance, your father and your
stepmother did not at all help you and all
your relatives abandon you. But you did not
get discouraged and you persisted on your
vocation, attracting the admiration of many
people, including the Pope himself. Your
sin inspired you to be holy because of the
humiliation you received. Make us believe that
God can draw straight in the crooked lines of
our sins. Do not make us dwell on our past
mistakes and sins, and inspire us to experience
God’s mercy so that we may look forward to
our glorious destination in heaven. Amen.
Daily Prayer
(3) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary, (3) Glory Be
(3) St. Margaret of Cortona, pray for us.
O
humble St. Margaret, you took the death
of your lover as a sign that God is asking
repentance from you. You left his home after
returning to his family the gifts that he gave
you. You were determined to begin anew and
though you had a son to take care of, you
decided to leave behind the life of sin. Help
us, dear saint, to detach ourselves from loving
too much material comforts and to give up our
values and virtues in exchange for material
possessions. Inspire us to live simply that we
may always sing God’s glory. Amen.
Daily Prayer
(3) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary, (3) Glory Be
(3) St. Margaret of Cortona, pray for us.
O
humble St. Margaret, you were not
discouraged when people laughed at
you after you embarked on a life of penance.
You did not mind them because you were
concentrated on pleasing Jesus to whom you
shed tears of repentance. It took some time
before people noticed that you were a saint.
But you were too concentrated on Jesus to be
aware of the praises people heaped on you.
Help us to make Jesus the most important person
in our life that we may not feel discouraged
when criticized or elated when praised. Inspire
us to serve him the way you did, and lead us to
the joy of his Kingdom. Amen.
Daily Prayer
(3) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary, (3) Glory Be
(3) St. Margaret of Cortona, pray for us.
O
glorious St. Margaret, you never ceased
to shed tears for the sins you committed in
your youth. But those tears were not only due
to sadness but also due to joy, knowing that
God’s grace is much stronger than the sins you
committed. You experienced an abundance of
God as you remembered your sins and asked
him for his forgiveness. You cried because
you felt the overpowering presence of God
and your intimate union with him attests that
sin indeed has no power over us. Help us
St. Margaret to experience God’s powerful and
loving presence. In this way, like you, we would
anticipate the joy of heaven on earth. Amen.
Daily Prayer
(3) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary, (3) Glory Be
(3) St. Margaret of Cortona, pray for us.
O
glorious St. Margaret, you did many
miracles in your lifetime. Through your
closeness to Jesus, you cured the sick and helped
many others with their problems. Your presence
was comforting and your words were sought
about by learned people. Your sanctity led you
to the hearts of many admirers, but you were
always aware of your unworthiness. Your glory
was your humility and you managed to enter
into the hearts of many because of this virtue.
Teach us to be humble, to seek the lowest place
so that we, too, may provide solace and peace
among our brothers and sisters. Amen.
Daily Prayer
(3) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary, (3) Glory Be
O
glorious St. Margaret, your son became
a priest, seeking holiness because of your
example. Your son was your special offering
to God. You follow the tradition of Catholic
mothers whose joy is to offer their children
in the service of God and the Church. We
remember the many mothers who are suffering
a lot because of problems caused by their
children. We offer to Jesus their pains and
ask you, dear saint, to intercede for them, that
these mothers may soon find consolation and
their wayward children returning to the fold of
Jesus. Amen.
Daily Prayer
(3) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary, (3) Glory Be
(3) St. Margaret of Cortona, pray for us.
O
glorious St. Margaret, to show total
repentance over your sins, you covered
your beautiful face with mud and dirt. You
did not want to tempt anyone, nor lead any
man to sin with your body. You realized that
your lack of modesty and simplicity in the past
caused many to think impurely. Your mission,
as you saw after your conversion, was to lead
people to virtue and piety. Help us, dear saint,
to live simply and modestly, and refrain us from
using clothes and other beautifying things that
will lead people to sin, to think of impurity.
Make us aware that our bodies are temples of
the Holy Spirit, holy instruments that must be
venerated. Amen.
Daily Prayer
(3) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary, (3) Glory Be
(3) St. Margaret of Cortona, pray for us.
O
glorious St. Margaret, you followed
St. Francis of Assisi in his life of poverty
by living on alms while taking care of the sick.
You knew the temptations of money and riches,
and you had the courage to return the money,
lands, and jewelries that your lover gave you to
his family. You wanted to be poor because you
wished to imitate Jesus. Inspire us, dear saint,
to believe that sanctity should simplify our lives,
that we should disdain from luxury and waste,
not to accept money from corruption and to
value only that which comes from our sweat
and work. Amen.
Daily Prayer
(3) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary, (3) Glory Be
(3) St. Margaret of Cortona, pray for us.
O
glorious St. Margaret, you loved to attend
parties and banquets when you were still
living with your lover. On your conversion, the
only banquet that you participated was the
Eucharistic sacrifice, and the only food that
you wanted was Jesus’ Body and Blood. You
lost weight and  became so thin that doctors
feared for your life. But you lived long enough.
Your being thin revealed the spiritual vigor and
health that you enjoyed. O dear saint, inspire
us to love the Eucharist and to receive Jesus’
Body and Blood every time we participate
in this banquet. May your spiritual vigor and
enthusiasm be with us. Amen.
Daily Prayer
(3) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary, (3) Glory Be
(3) St. Margaret of Cortona, pray for us.

Pope Francis says "..Jewish-Catholic dialogue has borne good fruit. We share a rich spiritual patrimony..." FULL TEXT


GREETING OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
TO THE 
"INTERNATIONAL CATHOLIC-JEWISH LIAISON COMMITTEE"
St Peter's Square
Wednesday, 15 May 2019


[Greeting submitted by the Holy Father at the conclusion of the Audience of Wednesday 15 May]
Dear Friends,
I offer you a warm welcome and I thank you for everything you do. Your gathering is something like a general assembly of all those professionally engaged in Jewish-Catholic dialogue. I am grateful to the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC), to the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, and to the Italian Episcopal Conference, for having made possible this twenty-fourth Meeting of your Committee.
From the promulgation of Nostra Aetate until now, Jewish-Catholic dialogue has borne good fruit. We share a rich spiritual patrimony that can and must be ever more esteemed and appreciated as we grow in mutual understanding, fraternity and shared commitment on behalf of others. In this regard, your Meeting aims to help develop points of convergence and to promote a greater degree of cooperation. It is fitting, too, that you deal with timely issues such as our approach to refugees and how best to help them, the fight against the troubling recrudescence of anti-Semitism, and concern for the persecution of Christians in various parts of the world. To say nothing of the state of Jewish-Catholic dialogue in Italy and in Israel, and its broader prospects.

I offer you my encouragement, for dialogue is the way to better understand one another and to work together in building a climate not only of tolerance but also of respect between religions. Our strength is the gentle strength of encounter, not of the extremism emerging in certain quarters today, which leads only to conflict. One never errs in seeking dialogue. Scripture points out that “deceit is in the mind of those who plan evil, but those who counsel peace have joy” (Prov 12:20). I pray that your gathering may be an encounter in peace and for peace. May the blessing of the Most High be with you, grant you the tenacity of gentleness and the courage of patience. Shalom!
FULL TEXT Share from Vatican.va - Official Translation - File photo - Google Images

RIP Sister Crescencia “Cres” Lucero - Death of Philippine Catholic Missionary Franciscan Nun


Sister Crescencia “Cres” Lucero, SFIC (1942-2019). COURTESY OF FR. DEXTER TOLEDO, OFM

By CBCP News

Sister Crescencia “Cres” Lucero, a known human rights defender, has died on Wednesday. She was 77.

Sr. Lucero, a missionary from the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, died after suffering a stroke the week before.

The nun was attending a convention on human rights with Forum-Asia in Jakara, Indonesia when she had a stroke, which caused cerebral hemorrhage.

She was rushed to Gatot Soebroto Army Hospital where she underwent surgery the following day.

Sr. Lucero was a long-time advocate for the oppressed and marginalized, and a fighter for human rights, peace and justice in the Philippines.

For many years, she led the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines as chairperson of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP).

She was also part of the Forum-Asia family for a long time, including serving as a member of the executive committee.

“We cannot express what a loss the passing of Sister Cres is for the human rights movement in the Philippines and in the rest of Asia,” the Forum-Asia said.

“We can only commit ourselves to continuing her struggle, and honor her by standing with, for and behind the grass-roots communities that she so wholeheartedly supported,” it added.

The AMRSP said Sr. Lucero was an inspiration for all those working for human rights and ecological advocacies.

“Her passing away is big loss for us, for the Church, and for our country especially in this dark time of our society,” said Fr. Angelito Cortez, AMRSP coexecutive secretary.

Sr. Lucero’s remains is expected to arrive in Manila on late Friday night or early Saturday morning.
FULL TEXT Release from CBCP News of the Bishops of the Philippines

What is the Brown Scapular - 5 Things to Share about the #BrownScapular + Enrollment Prayer and History



1. “Take this Scapular, it shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger and a pledge of peace. Whosoever dies wearing this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.” This is Mary’s promise made July 16, 1251 to Saint Simon Stock. Our Lady further says: “Wear the Scapular devoutly and perseveringly. It is my garment. To be clothed in it means you are continually thinking of me, and I in turn, am always thinking of you and helping you to secure eternal life.”
 2. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that sacramentals such as the Brown Scapular "do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the way that the sacraments do, but by the Church's prayer, they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it."
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3. According to the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship, the Brown Scapular is "an external sign of the filial relationship established between the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother and Queen of Mount Carmel, and the faithful who entrust themselves totally to her protection, who have recourse to her maternal intercession, who are mindful of the primacy of the spiritual life and the need for prayer."


4. The scapular must consist of two pieces of brown cloth with one segment hanging on the wearer's chest, and the other hanging on his/her back. These pieces are joined by two straps or strings which overlap each shoulder—hence the word "scapular" (shoulder blade). Images sewn onto the Brown Scapular are unnecessary. In the past the scapular was required to be 100% wool but this is no longer required.

5. Any Catholic priest may invest a baptised Catholic with the Brown Scapular. Lay people are unable to bless a Scapular. The most recent Rite for the Blessing of and Enrollment in the Scapular, approved in 1996 by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, is available in booklet form, the "Catechesis and Ritual for the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel". 
Enrollment in the Brown Scapular
The short form of the investiture is as follows: 
 Receive this Scapular, a sign of your special relationship with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, whom you pledge to imitate. May it be a reminder to you of your dignity as a Christian, in serving others and imitating Mary. Wear it as a sign of her protection and of belonging to the Family of Carmel, voluntarily doing the will of God and devoting yourself to building a world true to his plan of community, justice and peace.


HISTORY
 Old Testament History Mount Carmel is on the northwestern coast of Palestine. The Hebrew word for Carmel means 'Beautiful Garden Land'. The Origin of Carmel goes back to about 860 B.C. to the time of the prophet Elijah and his victory over the pagan prophets and their god, Baal. The account of this event is given in 1 Kings 18:19-40. Elijah stood firm and challenged the prophets of Baal to gather on Mount Carmel to determine which God, Baal or the Lord was the true God.



Later a community of prophets joined him. They dwelt in caves, praying to God, living in peace. Before coming into Europe, the Carmelites were hermits living on Mount Carmel in Palestine. St. Simon Stock, became the Vicar General of the Carmelite Order. Origianlly, the Scapular was two pieces of cloth joined at the shoulders and hanging down the back and breast had deep spiritual meaning. Our Lord said in the gospels, 'My yoke is sweet and my burden is light.' The monks by putting on this garment realized that the sweet burden of Divine service was upon him and the whole day was dedicated to God. Faith and actual living were one in the middle ages. The monk presented himself to God, His Divine Master.' Our Lady appears to St Simon Stock while praying, giving him the Brown Scapular and making this promise: "Take this Scapular, it shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger and a pledge of peace. Whosoever dies wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire." There are those today who say this apparition doesn't have the documentation to prove its validity. After Our Lady appeared to Saint Simon, almost immediately a miraculous change took place in the Order.  In the beginning only the Carmelites wore the scapular. But by the 14th century the privilege of wearing the scapular extended outside the order. Lay groups and third orders were formed. Some of these groups were called confraternities. Still Our Lady continued to favor the Carmelite Order and her scapular with further blessings and promises. In 1321, St. Peter Thomas was told by Our Heavenly Mother that 'the Order of  Carmel is destined to exist until the end of the world'. 

 According to a 1996 doctrinal statement approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, "Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is bound to the history and spiritual values of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and is expressed through the scapular. Thus, whoever receives the scapular becomes a member of the order and pledges him/herself to live according to its spirituality in accordance with the characteristics of his/her state in life." Faithful Anglicans who wish to wear the Brown Scapular are likewise invested by an Anglican priest.

BREAKING Ontario appeals court Rules Doctors must Refer Patients for Abortion and Euthanasia


The appeals court in Ontario has just ruled to uphold a College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario requirement that doctors in the province must give referrals for medical services including as assisted dying and abortion that violate their moral or religious beliefs.

The divisional court found the policy infringes doctors’ religious freedom, they explained the good of the public outweighs the freedom of physicians.
The Cardus Institute released the following statement - Full Text:
Rev. Dr. Andrew Bennett, Director of the Cardus Religious Freedom Institute, has released the following statement regarding today’s Ontario Court of Appeal ruling on health care workers’ conscience rights:

“Today’s decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal is a significant setback for the cause of conscience rights. Freedom of conscience is a fundamental freedom held by virtue of being human and is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. To demand that health care workers go against their consciences for the provision of a medical service is a violation of the human dignity of those workers. There is no freestanding Charter right to any medical service in Canada. The only Charter right at issue in this case was the freedom of conscience of health care workers.

The Court’s decision treats health care workers as merely servants of the state whose conscience rights are secondary to the demands of patients. Is it not the responsibility of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario to protect its members’ human rights? As regulators in other provinces have done, the College could create an online referral system, which would direct patients to a physician who would provide a demanded medical service while still preserving the fundamental freedom of conscience of all health care workers.”

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Thursday, May 16, 2019 - #Eucharist in Eastertide


Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Lectionary: 282


Reading 1ACTS 13:13-25

From Paphos, Paul and his companions
set sail and arrived at Perga in Pamphylia.
But John left them and returned to Jerusalem.
They continued on from Perga and reached Antioch in Pisidia.
On the sabbath they entered into the synagogue and took their seats.
After the reading of the law and the prophets,
the synagogue officials sent word to them,
"My brothers, if one of you has a word of exhortation
for the people, please speak."

So Paul got up, motioned with his hand, and said,
"Fellow children of Israel and you others who are God-fearing, listen.
The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors
and exalted the people during their sojourn in the land of Egypt.
With uplifted arm he led them out,
and for about forty years he put up with them in the desert.
When he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan,
he gave them their land as an inheritance
at the end of about four hundred and fifty years.
After these things he provided judges up to Samuel the prophet.
Then they asked for a king.
God gave them Saul, son of Kish,
a man from the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.
Then he removed him and raised up David as their king;
of him he testified,
I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart;
he will carry out my every wish.

From this man's descendants God, according to his promise,
has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.
John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance
to all the people of Israel;
and as John was completing his course, he would say,
'What do you suppose that I am? I am not he.
Behold, one is coming after me;
I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.'"

Responsorial PsalmPS 89:2-3, 21-22, 25 AND 27

R.(2) For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The favors of the LORD I will sing forever;
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.
For you have said, "My kindness is established forever";
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
"I have found David, my servant;
with my holy oil I have anointed him,
That my hand may be always with him,
and that my arm may make him strong."
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
"My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him,
and through my name shall his horn be exalted.
He shall say of me, 'You are my father,
my God, the Rock, my savior.'"
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaSEE RV 1:5AB

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus Christ, you are the faithful witness,
the firstborn of the dead,
you have loved us and freed us from our sins by your Blood.
R. Alleluia, alleluia

GospelJN 13:16-20

When Jesus had washed the disciples' feet, he said to them:
"Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master
nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him.
If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.
I am not speaking of all of you.
I know those whom I have chosen.
But so that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me.
From now on I am telling you before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe that I AM.
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send
receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me."

Saint May 16 : St. John of Nepomuk : Patron of Confessors

Born at Nepomuk about 1340; died 20 March, 1393.
The controversy concerning the identity of John of Pomuk or Nepomuk (a small town in the district of Pilsen, Bohemia), started in the eighteenth century, is not yet decided. The principal question at issue is whether there was only one John of Nepomuk, or whether two persons of that name lived in Prague in the second half of the fourteenth century and met with precisely the same fate. This inquiry leads naturally to the further question, as to the true cause of John's violent death. In a controversy of this character it is of primary importance to set down clearly the information given in the original sources. Extant documents, ecclesiastical records, and contemporaneous accounts of the second half of the fourteenth century relate in unmistakable fashion that in 1393 a certain John of Nepomuk was Vicar-General of the Archdiocese of Prague, and that on 20 March of the same year by command of King Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia he was thrown into the Moldau and drowned. This John was the son of Welflin (or Wölflin), a burger of Pomuk (Nepomuk), and studied theology and jurisprudence at the University of Prague. In 1373 he took orders and became public notary in the archiepiscopal chancery, and in 1374 was made prothonotary and first secretary of Archbishop John of Jenzenstein (Jenstein). In 1389 he received the parish of St. Gallus in Prague, and, continuing meanwhile his studies of jurisprudence at the university, was promoted in 1387 to the doctorate of canon law. He was also a canon in the church of St. Ægidius in Prague, and became in 1389 canon of the cathedral in Wyschehrad. In 1390 he gave up the parish of St. Gallus to become Archdeacon of Sasz, and at the same time canon of the Cathedral of St. Vitus, without receiving however any cathedral benefice. Shortly afterwards the archbishop named him president of the ecclesiastical court, and in 1393 his vicar-general. King Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia, wishing to found a new bishopric for one of his favourites, ordered that at the death of Abbot Rarek of Kladrau no new abbot should be elected, and that the abbey church should be turned into a cathedral. The archbishop's vicar-general, however, interposed energetically on this occasion in defence of canon law. When Abbot Rarek died in 1393, the monks of Kladrau immediately held a new election, the choice falling on the monk Odelenus, and John, as vicar-general, promptly confirmed this election without referring to the wishes of the king. Upon hearing this Wenceslaus fell into a violent rage, and had the vicar-general, the cathedral official, Provost Wenceslaus of Meissen, the archbishop's steward, and later the dean of the cathedral thrown into prison. The first four were even tortured on 4 March, but, although the others were thus brought to acquiesce in the wishes of the king and the official even proposed everlasting secrecy concerning all that had occurred, John of Nepomuk resisted to the last. He was made to undergo all manner of torture, including the burning of his sides with torches, but even this could not move him. Finally, the king ordered him to be put in chains, to be led through the city with a block of wood in his mouth, and to be thrown from the Karlsbrücke into the river Moldau. This cruel order was executed on 20 March, 1393.
 We possess four contemporaneous accounts concerning these proceedings. First of all, the extant bill of indictment against the king, presented to Benedict IX by Archbishop John of Jenzenstein, who went to Rome with the new Abbot of Kladrau on 23 April, 1393 (Pubitschka, Gesch., IV, app.; ed. Pelzel, "Geschichte König Wenzels", I: "Urkundenbuch", 143-63). Some years later Abbot Ladolf of Sagan gives an account of it in a somewhat abbreviated form in the catalogue of the Abbots of Sagan completed in 1398 (ed. Stenzel in "Script. rerum Silesiacarum", I, 1835, pp. 213 sqq.), as well as in the treatise "De longævo schismate", lib. VII, c. xix (Archiv für österreichische Geschichte, LX, 1880, pp. 418 sq.). A fourth reference is to be found in the "Chronik des Deutschordens", a chronicle of the Teutonic Knights which was compiled by John of Posilge who died in 1405 ("Scriptores rerum Prussicarum", III, Leipzig, 1860—, 87). For the discussion of the question it is important to remark that Archbishop John of Jenzenstein in his above-mentioned indictment (art. 26) calls John of Nepomuk "martyr sanctus", and that, in the biography of John of Jenzenstein by his chaplain, John of Nepomuk is described as "gloriosum Christi martyrem miraculisque coruscum". It is thus clear that his contemporaries had already begun to honour as a martyr and a saint the vicar-general put to death by the cruel and licentious tyrant for his defence of the law of the Church. The body of John of Nepomuk was drawn out of the Moldau and entombed in the cathedral of Prague, where in fact, as is proved by later documents, his grave was honoured. In his "Chronica regum Romanorum", finished in 1459, Thomas Ebendorfer (d. 1464) relates that King Wenceslaus had Magister John, the father confessor of his wife, drowned in the Moldau, not only because he had said that "only he who rules well is worthy of the name of king", but also because he had refused to violate the seal of the confessional. The refusal to violate the seal of the confessional is here for the first time given as the reason for John's violent death. The chronicler, who speaks of only the one John drowned by order of King Wenceslaus, evidently refers to the John of Pomuk put to death in 1393. In the other chronicles written in the second half of the fifteenth century, we find the reason regularly assigned for the execution of John, that he had refused to tell the king what the queen had confessed to him.
Paul Zidek's "Instructions for the King" (sc. George of Podiebrad), completed in 1471, contains still more details (cf. Schmude in "Zeitschrift für kathol. Theologie", 1883, 90 sqq.).
He says that King Wenceslaus suspected his wife, who was accustomed to confess to Magister John, and called upon the latter to declare the name of her paramour. On John's refusal to say anything, the king ordered him to be drowned. In this old account we do not find the name of the queen or any date assigned to this occurrence; a little later the year 1383 is given, when Wenceslaus's first wife, Johanna (d. 1389), still lived. In his "Annales Bohemorum" ("Kronika ceská", first printed in Bohemian, Prague, 1541; translated into Latin and published by Gel. Dobner in 6 vols., Prague, 1761-83) the Bohemian historian, Hajek von Liboczan (d. 1553), in view of these varying accounts, is the first to speak of two Johns of Nepomuk, who were put to death by order of King Wenceslaus: one, the queen's confessor, and martyred for refusing to violate the secret of the confessional, having been thrown into the Moldau in 1383; the other, auxiliary Bishop of Prague, drowned in 1393 because he confirmed the election of the monk Albert as Abbot of Kladrau. The later historians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries give more or less legendary details of the universally accepted martyrdom of John, because he refused to violate the secret of the confessional. Bohuslav Balbinus, S.J., in his "Vita b. Joannis Nepomuceni martyris" (Prague, 1670; "Acta SS.", III, May, 668-80) gives the most complete account. He relates with many details how on 16 May, 1383 (this date is already found in old accounts), John of Nepomuk, because he steadily refused to betray the confession of Queen Johanna to King Wenceslaus, was by order of the latter thrown into the Moldau and drowned. From the year 1675 the cathedral chapter of Prague repeatedly petitioned Rome for the canonization of Blessed John of Nepomuk, who enjoyed special veneration in Bohemia. In the years 1715-20 evidence was gathered and the cause examined; in 1721 followed the beatification, and in 1729 the canonization. The acts of the canonization are based on the statements, according to which John died on 16 May, 1383, a martyr to the secrecy of the confessional. But ever since 1777, when the Augustinian Hermit, Athanasius a Sancto Josepho, sought to prove by the testimony of Archbishop Jenzenstein's written accusation, which did not become known till 1752, that John of Pomuk was put to death by Wenceslaus in 1393 for the reason given above, the controversy has never ceased.
We still find defenders of the opinion advanced by Hajek, that there are two Johns of Pomuk. Most modern historians, however, are probably correct in regarding the vicar-general murdered in 1393 as the only historical personage. A few of these, however, do not look upon the confirmation of the election of the Abbot of Kladrau as the true reason for John's murder; they hold that Wenceslaus IV was already exasperated against John, because he would not violate the secret of the queen's confession, and took this opportunity for revenge. These details can in no way affect the validity of the canonization of the vicar-general, who had been recognized as a martyr immediately after his death. Consequently, when Protestant historians, as Abel, assert that the veneration of St. John Nepomucene was first introduced by the Jesuits to banish the cult of John Hus from Bohemia, their contention is both unhistorical and without justification: the veneration of John of Nepomuk was widespread long before the Jesuits ever existed. St. John Nepomucene is patron saint of Bohemia. When in 1719 his grave in the Prague cathedral was opened, his tongue was found to be uncorrupted though shrivelled. His feast is celebrated on 16 May. Text Shared from The Catholic Encyclopedia

Saint May 16 St. Margaret of Cortona - Patron of #Homeless, Insanity, Orphans and Prostitutes

St. Margaret of Cortona
FRANCISCAN TERTIARY, FOUNDRESS, MIRACLE WORKER
Feast: May 16
Information:

Feast Day:
May 16
Born:
1247, Tuscany, Italy
Died:
February 22, 1297, Cortona, Italy
Canonized:
May 16, 1728 by Pope Benedict XIII
Patron of:
gainst temptations; falsely accused people; hoboes; homeless people; insanity; loss of parents; mental illness; mentally ill people; midwives; penitent women; people ridiculed for their piety; reformed prostitutes; sexual temptation; single laywomen; third children; tramps
They were stirring times in Tuscany when Margaret was born. They were the days of Manfred and Conradin, of the Guelphs and Ghibellines in Italy, when passions of every kind ran high, and men lived at great extremes. They were times of great sinners, but also of great saints; Margaret lived to hear of the crowning and resignation of St. Celestine V, whose life and death are a vivid commentary on the spirits that raged throughout that generation. It was the age of St. Thomas in Paris, of Dante in Florence; of Cimabue and Giotto; of the great cathedrals and universities. In Tuscany itself, apart from the coming and going of soldiers, now of the Emperor, now of the Pope, keeping the countryside in a constant state of turmoil, and teaching the country-folk their ways, there were for ever rising little wars among the little cities themselves, which were exciting and disturbing enough. For instance, when Margaret was a child, the diocese in which she lived, Chiusi, owned a precious relic, the ring of the Blessed Virgin Mary. An Augustinian friar got possession of this relic, and carried it off to Perugia. This caused a war, Chiusi and Perugia fought for the treasure and Perugia won. Such was the spirit of her time, and of the people among whom she was brought up.

It was also a time of the great revival; when the new religious orders had begun to make their mark, and the old ones had renewed their strength. Franciscans and Dominicians had reached down to the people, and every town and village in the country had responded to their call to better things. St. Francis of Assisi had received the stigmata on Mount Alverno twenty years before, quite close to where Margaret was born; St. Clare died not far away, when Margaret was four years old. And there was the opposite extreme, the enthusiasts whose devotion degenerated into heresy. When Margaret was ten there arose in her own district the Flagellants, whose processions of men, women, and children, stripped to the waist and scourging themselves to blood, must have been a not uncommon sight to her and her young companions.
Margaret was born in Laviano, a little town in the diocese of Chiusi. Her parents were working people of the place; their child was very beautiful, and in their devotion, for she was the only one, they could scarcely help but spoil her. Thus from the first Margaret, as we would say, had much against her; she grew up very willful and, like most spoilt children, very restless and dissatisfied. Very soon her father's cottage was too small for her; she needed companions; she found more life and excitement in the streets of the town Next, in course of time the little town itself grew too small; there was a big world beyond about which she came to know, and Margaret longed to have a part in it. Moreover she soon learnt that she could have a part in it if she chose. For men took notice of her, not only men of her own station and surroundings, whom she could bend to her will as she pleased; but great and wealthy men from outside, who would sometimes ride through the village, and notice her, and twit her for her beautiful face. They would come again; they were glad to make her acquaintance, and sought to win her favor. Margaret quickly learned that she had only to command, and there were many ready to obey.

While she was yet very young her mother died; an event which seemed to deprive her of the only influence that had hitherto held her in check. Margaret records that she was taught by her mother a prayer she never forgot: "O Lord Jesus, I beseech thee, grant salvation to all those for whom thou wouldst have me pray." To make matters worse her father married again. He was a man of moods, at one time weak and indulgent, at another violent to excess, and yet with much in him that was lovable, as we shall have reason to see. But with the step-mother there was open and continued conflict. She was shocked at Margaret's willfulness and independence, and from her first coming to the house was determined to deal with them severely. Such treatment was fatal to Margaret. As a modern student has written of her: "Margaret's surroundings were such as to force to the surface the weaknesses of her character. As is clear from her own confessions, she was by nature one of those women who thirst for affection, in whom to be loved is the imperative need of their lives. She needed to be loved that her soul might be free, and in her home she found not what she wanted. Had she been of the weaker sort, either morally or physically, she would have accepted her lot, vegetated in spiritual barrenness, married eventually a husband of her father's choice, and lived an uneventful life with a measure of peace."

As it was she became only the more willful and reckless. If there was not happiness for her, either at home or elsewhere, there was pleasure and, with a little yielding on her part, as much of it as she would. In no long time her reputation in the town was one not to be envied; before she was seventeen years of age she had given herself up to a life of indulgence, let the consequences be what they might.

Living such a life it soon became evident that Margaret could not stay in Laviano. The circumstances which took her away are not very clear; we choose those which seem the most satisfactory. A certain nobleman, living out beyond Montepulciano, which in those days was far away, was in need of a servant in his castle. Margaret got the situation, there at least she was free from her step-mother and, within limits, could live as she pleased. But her master was young, and a sporting man, and no better than others of his kind. He could not fail to take notice of the handsome girl who went about his mansion, holding her head high as if she scorned the opinions of men, with an air of independence that seemed to belong to one above her station. He paid her attention; he made her nice presents, he would do her kindnesses even while she served him. And on her side, Margaret was skilled in her art; she was quick to discover that her master was as susceptible to her influence as were the other less distinguished men with whom she had done as she would in Laviano. Moreover this time she was herself attracted; she knew that this man loved her, and she returned it in her way. There were no other competitors in the field to distract her; there was no mother to warn her, no step-mother to abuse her. Soon Margaret found herself installed in the castle, not as her master's wife, for convention would never allow that, but as his mistress, which was more easily condoned. Some day, he  had promised her, they would be married, but the day never came. A child was born, and with that Margaret settled down to the situation.

For some years she accepted her lot, though every day what she had done grew upon her more and more. Apart from the evil life she was living, her liberty loving nature soon found that instead of freedom she had secured only slavery. The restless early days in Laviano seemed, in her present perspective, less unhappy than she had thought; the poverty and restraint of her father's cottage seemed preferable to the wealth and chains of gold she now endured. In her lonely hours, and they were many, the memory of her mother came up before her, and she could not look her shadow in the face. And with that revived the consciousness of sin, which of late she had defied, and had crushed down by sheer reckless living, but which now loomed up before her like a haunting ghost. She saw it all she hated it all, she hated herself because of it, but there was no escape. It was all misery, but she must endure it; she had made her own bed, and must henceforth lie upon it. In her solitary moments she would wander into the gloom of the forest, and there would dream of the life that might have been, a life of virtue and of the love of God. At her castle gate she would be bountiful; if she could not be happy herself, at least she could do something to help others. But for the rest she was defiant. She went about her castle with the airs of an unbeaten queen. None should know, not even the man who owned her, the agony that gnawed at her heart. From time to time there would come across her path those who had pity for her. They would try to speak to her, they would warn her of the risk she was running; but Margaret, with her every ready wit, would laugh at their warnings and tell them that some day she would be a saint.

 So things went on for nine years, till Margaret was twenty-seven. On a sudden there came an awakening. It chanced that her lord had to go away on a distant journey; in a few days, when the time arrived for his return, he did not appear. Instead there turned up at the castle gate his favorite hound, which he had taken with him. As soon as it had been given admittance it ran straight to Margaret's room, and there began to whine about her, and to tug at her dress as if it would drag her out of the room. Margaret saw that something was amiss.

Anxious, not daring to express to herself her own suspicions, she rose and followed the hound wherever it might lead; it drew her away down to a forest a little distance from the castle walls. At a point where a heap of faggots had been piled, apparently by wood-cutters, the hound stood still, whining more than ever, and poking beneath the faggots with its nose. Margaret, all trembling, set to work to pull the heaps away; in a hole beneath lay the corpse of her lord, evidently some days dead, for the maggots and worms had already begun their work upon it.

How he had come to his death was never known; after all, in those days of high passions, and family feuds, such murders were not uncommon. The careful way the body had been buried suggested foul play; that was all. But for Margaret the sight she saw was of something more than death. The old faith within her still lived, as we have already seen, and now insisted on asking questions. The body of the man she had loved and served was lying there before her, but what had become of his soul? If it had been condemned, and was now in hell, who was, in great part at least, responsible for its condemnation? Others might have murdered his body, but she had done infinitely worse Moreover there was herself to consider. She had known how, in the days past, she had stirred the rivalry and mutual hatred of men on her account and had gloried in it who knew but that this deed had been done by some rival because of her? Or again, her body might have been Lying there where his now lay, her fatal beauty being eaten by worms, and in that case where would her soul then have been? Of that she could have no sort of doubt. Her whole life came up before her, crying out now against her as she had never before permitted it to cry. Margaret rushed from the spot, beside herself in this double misery, back to her room, turned in an instant to a torture-chamber.
What should she do next? She was not long undecided. Though the castle might still be her home, she would not stay in it a moment longer. But where could she go? There was only one place of refuge that she knew, only one person in the world who was likely to have pity on her. Though her father's house had been disgraced in the eyes of all the village by what she had done, though the old man all these years had been bent beneath the shame she had brought upon him, still there was the memory of past kindness and love which he had always shown her. It was true sometimes he had been angry, especially when others had roused him against her and her ways; but always in the end, when she had gone to him, he had forgiven her and taken her back. She would arise and go to her father, and would ask him to forgive her once more; this time in her heart she knew she was in earnest--even if he failed her she would not turn back. Clothed as she was, holding her child in her arms, taking no heed of the spectacle she made, she left the castle, tramped over the ridge and down the valley to Laviano, came to her father's cottage, found him within alone and fell at his feet, confessing her guilt, imploring him with tears to give her shelter once again.
The old man easily recognized his daughter. The years of absence, the fine clothes she wore, the length of years which in some ways had only deepened the striking lines of her handsome face, could not take from his heart the picture of the child of whom once he had been so proud. To forgive was easy; it was easy to find reasons in abundance. Had he not indulged her in the early days, perhaps she would never have fallen. Had he made home a more satisfying place for a child of so yearning a nature, perhaps she would never have gone away. Had he been a more careful guardian, had he protected her from those who had lured her into evil ways long ago, she would never have wandered so far, she would never have brought this shame upon him and upon herself. She was repentant, she wished to make amends, she had proved it by this renunciation, she showed she loved and trusted him; he must give her a chance to recover. If he did not give it to her, who would?

So the old man argued with himself, and for a time his counsel prevailed. Margaret with her child was taken back; if she would live quietly at home the past might be lived down. But such was not according to Margaret's nature. She did not wish the past to be forgotten, it must be atoned. She had done great evil, she had given great scandal; she must prove to God and man that she had broken with the past, and that she meant to make amends. The spirit of fighting sin by public penance was in the air; the Dominican and Franciscan missionaries preached it, there were some in her neighborhood who were carrying it to a dangerous extreme. Margaret would let all the neighbors see that she did not shirk the shame that was her due. Every time she appeared in the church it was with a rope of penance round her waist; she would kneel at the church door that all might pass her by and despise her; since this did not win for her the scorn she desired, one day, when the people were gathered for mass, she stood up before the whole congregation and made public confession of the wickedness of her life.

But this did not please her old father. He had hoped she would lie quiet and let the scandal die; instead she kept the memory of it always alive. He had expected that soon all would be forgotten; instead she made of herself a public show. In a very short time his mind towards her changed. Indulgence turned to resentment, resentment to bitterness, bitterness to something like hatred. Besides, there was another in the house to be reckoned with; the step-mother, who from her first coming there had never been a friend of Margaret. She had endured her return because, for the moment, the old man would not be contradicted, but she had bided her time. Now when he wavered she brought her guns to bear; to the old man in secret, to Margaret before her face, she did not hesitate to use every argument she knew. This hussy who had shamed them all in the sight of the whole village had dared to cross her spotless threshold, and that with a baggage of a child in her arms. How often when she was a girl had she been warned where her reckless life would lead her! When she had gone away, in spite of every appeal, she had been told clearly enough what would be her end. All these years she had continued, never once relenting, never giving them a sign of recognition, knowing very well the disgrace she had brought upon them, while she enjoyed herself in luxury and ease. Let her look to it; let her take the consequences. That house had been shamed enough; it should not be shamed any more, by keeping such a creature under its roof. One day when things had reached a climax, without a word of pity Margaret and her child were driven out of the door. If she wished to do penance, let her go and join the fanatical Flagellants, who were making such a show of themselves not far away.

Margaret stood in the street, homeless, condemned by her own, an outcast. Those in the town looked on and did nothing; she was not one of the kind to whom it was either wise or safe to show pity, much less to take her into their own homes. And Margaret knew it; since her own father had rejected her she could appeal to no one else; she could only hide her head in shame, and find refuge in loneliness in the open lane. But what should she do next? For she had not only herself to care for; there was also the child in her arms. As she sat beneath a tree looking away from Laviano, her eyes wandered up the ridge on which stood Montepulciano. Over that ridge was the bright, gay world she had left, the world without a care, where she had been able to trample scandal underfoot and to live as a queen. There she had friends who loved her; rich friends who had condoned her situation, poor friends who had been beholden to her for the alms she had given them. Up in the castle there were still wealth and luxury waiting for her, and even peace of a kind, if only she would go back to them. Besides, from the castle what good she could do! She was now free; she could repent in silence and apart; with the wealth at her disposal she could help the poor yet more. Since she had determined to change her life, could she not best accomplish it up there, far away from the sight of men?

On the other hand, what was she doing here? She had tried to repent, and all her efforts had only come to this; she was a homeless outcast on the road, with all the world to glare at her as it passed her by. Among her own people, even if in the end she were forgiven and taken back, she could never be the same again. Then came a further thought. She knew herself well by this time. Did she wish that things should be the same again? In Laviano, among the old surroundings which she had long outgrown, among peasants and laborers whom she had long left behind, was it not likely that the old boredom would return, more burdensome now that she had known the delights of freedom? Would not the old temptations return, had they not returned already, had they not been with her all the time, and with all her good intentions was it not certain that she would never be able to resist? Then would her last state be worse than her first. How much better to be prudent, to take the opportunity as it was offered, perhaps to use for good the means and the gifts she had hitherto used only for evil? Thus, resting under a tree in her misery, a great longing came over Margaret, to have done with the penitence which had all gone wrong, to go back to the old life where all had gone well, and would henceforth go better, to solve her problems once and for all by the only way that seemed open to her. That lonely hour beneath the tree was the critical hour of her life.
Happily for her, and for many who have come after her, Margaret survived it: "I have put thee as a burning light," Our Lord said to her later, "to enlighten those who sit in the darkness.--I have set thee as an example to sinners, that in thee they may behold how my mercy awaits the sinner who is willing to repent; for as I have been merciful to thee, so will I be merciful to them." She had made up her mind long ago, and she would not go back now. She shook herself and rose to go; but where? The road down which she went led to Cortona; a voice within her seemed to tell her to go thither. She remembered that at Cortona was a monastery of Franciscans. It was famous all over the countryside; Brother Elias had built it, and had lived and died there; the friars, she knew, were everywhere described as the friends of sinners. She might go to them; perhaps they would have pity on her and find her shelter. But she was not sure. They would know her only too well, for she had long been the talk of the district, even as far as Cortona; was it not too much to expect that the Franciscan friars would so easily believe in so sudden and complete a conversion? Still she could only try; at the worst she could but again be turned into the street, and that would be more endurable from them than the treatment she had just received in Laviano.

Her fears were mistaken. Margaret knocked at the door of the monastery, and the friars did not turn her away. They took pity on her; they accepted her tale though, as was but to be expected, with caution. She made a general confession, with such a flood of tears that those who witnessed it were moved. It was decided that Margaret was, so far at least, sincere and harmless, and they found her a home. They put her in charge of two good matrons of the town, who spent their slender means in helping hard cases and who undertook to provide for her. Under their roof she began in earnest her life of penance. Margaret could not do things by halves; when she had chosen to sin she had defied the world in her sinning, now that she willed to do penance she was equally defiant of what men might think or say. She had reveled in rich clothing and jewels; henceforth, so far as her friends would permit her, she would clothe herself literally in rags. She had slept on luxurious couches; henceforth she would lie only on the hard ground. Her beauty, which had been her ruin, and the ruin of many others besides, and which even now, at twenty-seven, won for her many a glance of admiration as she passed down the street, she was determined to destroy. She cut her face, she injured it with bruises, till men would no longer care to look upon her. Nay, she would go abroad, and where she had sinned most she would make most amends. She would go to Montepulciano; there she would hire a woman to lead her like a beast with a rope round her neck, and cry: "Look at Margaret, the sinner." It needed a strong and wise confessor to keep her within bounds.
Nor was this done only to atone for the past. For years the old cravings were upon her; they had taken deep root and could not at once be rooted out; even to the end of her life she had reason to fear them. Sometimes she would ask herself how long she could continue the fight; sometimes it would be that there was no need, that she should live her life like ordinary mortals. Sometimes again, and this would often come from those about her, it would be suggested to her that all her efforts were only a proof of sheer pride. In many ways we are given to see that with all the sanctity and close union with God which she afterwards attained, Margaret to the end was very human; she was the same Margaret, however chastened, that she had been at the beginning. "My father," she said to her confessor one day, "do not ask me to give in to this body of mine. I cannot afford it. Between me and my body there must needs be a struggle until death."
The rest of Margaret's life is a wonderful record of the way God deals with his penitents. There were her child and herself to be kept, and the fathers wisely bade her earn her own bread. She began by nursing; soon she confined her nursing to the poor, herself living on alms. She retired to a cottage of her own; here, like St. Francis before her, she made it her rule to give her labor  to whoever sought it, and to receive in return whatever they chose to give. In return there grew in her a new understanding of that craving for love which had led her into danger. She saw that it never would be satisfied here on earth; she must have more than this world could give her or none at all. And here God was good to her. He gave her an intimate knowledge of Himself; we might say He humored her by letting her realize His love, His care, His watchfulness over her. With all her fear of herself, which was never far away, she grew in confidence because she knew that now she was loved by one who would not fail her. This became the character of her sanctity, founded on that natural trait which was at once her strength and her weakness.
And it is on this account, more than on account of the mere fact that she was a penitent, that she deserves the title of the Second Magdalene. Of the first Magdalene we know this, that she was an intense human being, seeking her own fulfillment at extremes, now in sin, now in repentance regardless of what men might think, uniting love and sorrow so closely that she is forgiven, not for her sorrow so much as for her love. We know that ever afterwards it was the same; the thought of her sin never kept her from her Lord, the knowledge of His love drew her ever closer to Him, till, after Calvary, she is honored the first among those to whom He would show Himself alone. And in that memorable scene we have the two traits which sum her up; He reveals Himself by calling her by her name: "Mary," and yet, when she would cling about His feet, as she had done long before, He bids her not to touch Him. In Margaret of Cortona the character, and the treatment, are parallel. She did not forget what she had been; but from the first the thought of this never for a moment kept her from Our Lord. She gave herself to penance, but the motive of her penance, as her revelations show, was love more than atonement. In her extremes of penance she had no regard for the opinions of men; she would brave any obstacle that she might draw the nearer to Him. At first He humored her; He drew her by revealing to her His appreciation of her love; He even condescended so far as to call her "Child," when she had  grown tired of being called "Poverella." But later, when the time for the greatest graces came, then He took her higher by seeming to draw more apart; it was the scene of "Noli me tangere" repeated.

This must suffice for an account of the wonderful graces and revelations that were poured out on Margaret during the last twenty-three years of her life. She came to Cortona as a penitent when she was twenty-seven. For three years the Franciscan fathers kept her on her trial, before they would admit her to the Third Order of St. Francis. She submitted to the condition; during that time she earned her bread, entirely in the service of others. Then she declined to earn it; while she labored in service no less, she would take in return only what was given to her in alms. Soon even this did not satisfy her; she was not content till the half of what was given her in charity was shared with others who seemed to her more needy. Then out of this there grew other things, for Margaret had a practical and organizing mind. She founded institutions of charity, she established an institution of ladies who would spend themselves in the service of the poor and suffering. She took a large part in the keeping of order in that turbulent countryside; even her warlike bishop was compelled to listen to her, and to surrender much of his plunder at her bidding. Like St. Catherine of Siena after her, Margaret is a wonderful instance, not only of the mystic combined with the soul of action, but more of the soul made one of action because it was a mystic, and by means of its mystical insight.

Margaret died in 1297, being just fifty years of age. Her confessor and first biographer tells us that one day, shortly before her death, she had a vision of St. Mary Magdalene, "most faithful of Christ's apostles, clothed in a robe as it were of silver, and crowned with a crown of precious gems, and surrounded by the holy angels." And whilst she was in this ecstasy Christ spoke to Margaret, saying: "My Eternal Father said of Me to the Baptist: This is My beloved Son; so do I say to thee of Magdalene: This is my beloved daughter." On another occasion we are told that "she was taken in spirit to the feet of Christ, which she washed with her tears as did Magdalene of old; and as she wiped His feet she desired greatly to behold His face, and prayed to the Lord to grant her this favor." Thus to the end we see she was the same; and yet the difference!
They buried her in the church of St. Basil in Cortona. Around her body, and later at her tomb, her confessor tells us that so many miracles, physical and spiritual, were worked that he could fill a volume with the record of those which he personally knew alone. And today Cortona boasts of nothing more sacred or more treasured than that same body, which lies there still incorrupt, after more than six centuries, for everyone to see.

source: "Saints are not Sad" by Frank Sheed