Over at Torch of the Faith, there is a delightful little story about the author and his wife's wedding anniversary pilgrimage to our beloved local shrine of St Winefride at Holywell. You can read it here.
It is really heart warming to see how St Winefride has touched so may souls, mine included.
They have even been kind enough (as they often do) to promote the Traditional Mass at Holywell on the 4th Sunday. They are quite right that on the 4th Sunday in July there is no Mass at St Winefride's Church - this is replaced by a Sung Mass up the hill at St David's, Pantasaph at 5.15pm - this Mass starts off a whole week of the Latin Mass at St David's, the schedule can be seen here.
In addition, there is also the July LMS National Pilgrimage to the Holywell, this year on the 2nd July, see poster below:
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” Jn. 10:11
The liturgy today sums up in the gentle figure of the Good Shepherd all that Jesus has done for our souls. The shepherd is everything to his flock; their life, their sustenance, and their care is entirely in his hands, and if the shepherd is good, they will have nothing to fear under his protection, and they will want for nothing. Jesus is pre-eminently the Good Shepherd: He not only loves, feeds, and guards His sheep, but He also gives them life at the cost of His own. In the mystery of the Incarnation, the Son of God comes to earth in search of men who, like stray sheep, have wandered away from the sheepfold and have become lost in the dark valley of sin. He comes as a most loving Shepherd who, in order to take better care of His flock, is not afraid to share their lot. Today’s Epistle (I Pt. 2:21-25) shows Him to us as He takes our sins upon Himself that He may heal us by His Passion: ‘Who His own self bore our sins in His Body upon the tree that we, being dead to sin, should live to justice; by whose stripes you were healed. For you were as sheep going astray; but you are now converted to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.’ (I Pt. 2:24-5). Jesus said, ‘I am the Good Shepherd, and I give my life for my sheep.’ (cf. Jn. 10:11) In the Office for Paschaltime, the Church chants many times: ‘The Good Shepherd is risen, He who gave His life for His sheep and who died for His flock.’ What could be a better synthesis of the whole work of the Redemption? It seems still more wonderful when we hear Jesus declare: ‘I am come that they may have life and may have it more abundantly.’ (Jn. 10:10) In truth, He could well repeat to each one of us: ‘What more could I have done for you that I have not done?’ (cf. Is. 5:4) Oh, would that our generosity in giving ourselves to Him had no limits, after the pattern of His own liberality in giving Himself to us!
Again, Jesus said: “ I am the good shepherd I know Mine, and Mine know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father.’ (Jn. 10: 14-15) Although there is no question here of equality, but merely that of a simple comparison, it is nevertheless very consoling and glorious for us to see how Jesus likes to compare His relations with us to those He has with His Father. At the Last Supper also, He said: ‘As the Father hath loved Me, I also have loved you,’ (Jn, 15:9) and again: ‘...as Thou Father, in Me, and I in Thee; that they also may be one in Us.’ (Jn. 17:21) This shows that between us, the sheep, and Jesus, our Shepherd, there is not only a relation of acquaintance, but also one of love, and better still, of communion of life, similar to that which exists between the Son and the Father. It is by means of the grace, faith, and charity, which the Good Shepherd acquires for us by His death, that we arrive at such intimacy with our God—so deep that it makes us share in His own divine life.”
A close relationship of loving knowledge is here established between the Good Shepherd and His sheep—one so intimate that the Shepherd knows His sheep one by one and can call them by name; and they recognize His voice and follow Him with docility. Each soul can say: Jesus knows me and loves me, not in a general abstract way but in the concrete aspect of my needs, of my desires, and of my life; for Him to know me and to love me is to do me good, to encompass me more and more with His grace, and to sanctify me. Precisely because He loves me, Jesus calls me by name: He calls me when in prayer He opens to me new horizons of the spiritual life, or when He enables me to know my faults and weaknesses better; He calls me when He reprimands me or purifies me by aridity, as well as when He consoles and encourages me by filling me with new fervour; He calls me when He makes me feel the need of greater generosity, and when He asks me for sacrifices or gives me joys, and still more, when He awakens in me a deeper love for Him. Hearing His call, my attitude should be that of a loving little sheep who recognizes the voice of its Shepherd and follows Him always.
O good Lord Jesus Christ, my sweet Shepherd, what return shall I make to You for all that You have given me? What shall I give You in exchange for Your gift of Yourself to me? Even if I could give myself to You a thousand times, it would still be nothing, since I am nothing in comparison with You. You, so great, have loved me so much and so gratuitously, I who am so small, so wicked and ungrateful. I know, O Lord, that Your love tends toward the immense, the infinite, because You are immense and infinite. Please tell me, O Lord, how I ought to love You.
My Love, Oh Lord, is not gratuitous, it is owed to you... Although I cannot love You as much as I should, You accept my weak love. I can love You more when You condescend to increase my virtue, but I can never give You what You deserve. Give me then, Your most ardent love by which, with your grace, I shall love You, please You, serve You, and fulfil Your commands. May I never be separated from You, either in time or in eternity, but abide, united to You in love, forever and ever.” (Ven. R. Jourdain)
(from Divine Intimacy - Fr. Gabriel of St. Magdalene, OCD)
Mass for Low Sunday will be celebrated at St Winefride's, Holywell at 1130am tomorrow, 23rd April 2017.
Without faith, we can do nothing supernaturally meritorious. Faith, however, is not something that we can give to ourselves; it is a gift from God. This fact leaves many confused or conflicted regarding the supernatural life of our souls.
Faith, is not something that is static, but is similar, in a manner, to charity; it grows and develops the more that we nourish it. We are each given a natural goodness from the moment of our creation. If we live accordingly (being naturally good and living according to the natural law and right reason) God will then instil in us a supernatural grace of Faith. If we continue in this natural and supernatural goodness and faith, our faith will grow stronger. This is also true of all the other virtues. As we grow in faith, we necessarily grow in hope and charity. As one virtue increases or decreases, so do all the others.
This grace of Faith is given by God in the sacrament of Baptism. Those to be baptized are questioned as to what they desire from Baptism and the answer is Faith. To desire Baptism requires Faith, yet Faith is the gift of Baptism. Once again, we see that God has given a modicum of Faith, which fills those to be baptized with an appetite for even more Faith.
Protestants love to ask us, "how we know that we are saved?" We typically respond with St. Paul that we do not know that we are saved, but work out our salvation in fear and trembling. (Philippians 2, 12) Next, they wish to prove that good works are not necessary by pointing out to us that the Good Thief who died on a cross next to Our Lord performed no good deed, yet was promised Heaven. (St. Luke 23, 43) This special grace given by Jesus, was given as a response to the Good Thief's confession and faith. It is true that God gave him the first grace (as He does to us all), but it was necessary that this man cooperate with this grace, and it was in cooperating with this grace that he was given even greater graces. By his supreme act of charity, he "merited" the gift of God. He accepted his suffering as a just punishment for his sins and so, he not only confessed, but also did penance. Jesus has told us that we must each do likewise. (St. Luke 13, 5) We must therefore, not only believe (have faith), but we must put that faith into action. "Faith without works is dead." (St. James 2, 26)
The first germ of grace is given to us by God without our deserving or even asking for it. However, our labours (cooperation) are necessary to make the germ of grace grow and mature in our hearts. As this grace enters and we do our part to develop it, we see that we likewise increase in the other virtues as well.
St. Thomas in today's Gospel, believed because he had seen. Jesus tells him, and us, that those are more blessed who believe without seeing. Hearing about Jesus was a grace from God, but St. Thomas required more; he wanted to see Jesus. God granted this extra grace to St. Thomas, and displayed His Goodness and eagerness to save us. Very often God, not only gives us the initial grace, but quite frequently, He adds graces to this to make it even easier for us to do our part in cooperating with Him in our own salvation. He is more eager to save us than we are eager to be saved.
We have received a great grace in being able to believe without seeing. We should be very grateful to God for this. However, we must not become complacent, imagining that there is nothing more for us to do; nor should be become proud or boastful, thinking that we have accomplished some great work when we have actually done nothing.
Faith is the beginning, not the end of our spiritual progress. Faith gives us reason to hope. Faith and Hope work together to enkindle true Charity in our hearts. The measure of our Charity is what is most important, or as St. Paul tells us, it is the greatest of the virtues. We see that the Good Thief was given the first grains of Faith, and that even in the short time left of his life, he nurtured this Faith and developed Hope, and with Faith and Hope, his love of God matured to the point of opening up heaven to him. The same is true of St. Thomas. He was given the grace of Faith in hearing of the Resurrection of Jesus. He did not as yet believe, but he cooperated to the extent that he desired to believe and so we see that the next time Jesus appeared, Thomas was there. In seeing Jesus, Thomas was able to Hope, but more importantly, Thomas loved Jesus. Ultimately, it is this love that saved the Good Thief, and St. Thomas.
It must be so with us also. We have heard, as did St. Thomas and the Good Thief. We must act upon this grace of Faith as they did. We can be hesitant and slow as St. Thomas, or we can race quickly forward as did the Good Thief. Once we correspond with the Faith that is given us, we will be given more graces, and we will then be able to hope, and with this Hope will come Charity. Once we are filled with these graces, as well as all the others, we will find the gates of Heaven open up for us also. We must not, however, ever assume that there is nothing for us to do on our part. Nor, must we ever proudly boast that we have earned grace by our own efforts alone.
The Latin Mass Society in Wrexham wishes all readers of this blog, a very blessed Easter.
The pious Angelus Silesius wrote:
"God is a Lamb that avails you not, my Christian,
If you become not also a lamb of God.
The cross on Golgotha redeems not from evil,
If it is not also erected in thee;
The dear Christ's death aids you not, my Christian,
Until in Him and for Him you also have died."
While we have reason to celebrate Christ's resurrection, we must remind ourselves that we must now do our part. The word for Easter in Latin is "Pascha" and signifies the passing over. Its historical origin is from the Israelites being spared from the Angel of death as he came through all of Egypt. The Angel of death passed over and did not enter the houses of the Israelites that were marked with the blood of a lamb. God imposed several obligations upon the Israelites to prepare them for the Passover, and He has similarly imposed upon us the Lenten fasting and penance, before the merits of Christ are to be applied to our own souls.
We have been spared many times by the mercy of God. How many times could we have died in grievous sin, and yet God graciously gave us more time? We have been through many Easter Passovers, but are we any better for it?
We are still not home free. Our labours are not over yet. St. Paul tells us that we must throw out all the old leaven so that we can become new dough. We are not to live as we did before, but we are to change our very selves. It is certain that Christ, by His death on the cross, has rendered perfect satisfaction, and effected our redemption; (Heb. ix, 12.) but we must not imagine that there is no further need of doing penance, or of working out our salvation. As the children of Israel, though freed from Pharao's bondage, had to fight long and hard against many enemies in order to gain the Promised Land, so also must we, though freed by Christ from the servitude of the devil, battle against our enemies to the end of our lives to obtain the promised, heavenly land. We cannot be crowned unless we properly fight (2 Tim. 2, 5).
We have worked hard during Lent to turn away from evil, now we must begin to build up a new life of virtue. We are encouraged to rise spiritually with Christ and live henceforth a new life which we do if we not only renounce sin, but also flee from all its occasions, lay aside our bad habits, subdue our corrupt inclinations, and aim after virtue and heavenly things.
Before we can build up a house, we first tear down and dig into the earth to make a solid and firm foundation. In the same manner, before we can build up our spiritual lives we must tear down and dig down to a solid foundation. The Lenten fasting and penances have hopefully humbled us and torn down our pride and vanity at least to a small degree. We cannot safely begin to build until we remove all the soft, and loose soil and get down to solid and stable earth. The same is true in the spiritual life. We cannot safely build up our souls with grace and virtues, until we have removed, at least, the grievous sins and transgressions.
The Easter Season is now the time to begin building up our spiritual lives, but we must remember not to undermine the foundation that we have worked so hard to obtain by casting out our concupiscence and vices. We are to focus our attention upon the practice of virtue and the increasing of grace. The best means for this is in the frequent reception of the sacraments.
We have hopefully made a good confession and have worthily received Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. We must continue in this same manner. Confession helps us to keep the foundation of our spiritual edifices clear of shifting sands that are always entering in to weaken our souls. The Holy Eucharist is the building up of grace in our souls. In building we place a foundation and then place one brick upon another gradually constructing the walls higher and higher. The same must be done in our souls. We must continue to build up grace and life through the reception of the Holy Eucharist. It is true that the Holy Eucharist is of infinite value, and we should be able to live forever after just receiving once, but our human weakness prevents this, so we must return frequently, even daily, to the source of all life to maintain the life of grace in our souls.
A sermon for Easter Sunday given in years gone by and for which I give due credit to the author, whoever they maybe.
Palm Sunday reflection
Jesus entered Jerusalem as was prophesised, meek and humble, riding upon an ass. The King entered the city and was recognized by those who have seen or heard of the wondrous works and words of Jesus. They welcomed Him by making a pathway for the ass with their own clothing and branches from the trees. Most importantly, however, they welcomed Him with the salutation "Hosanna". St. John Chrysostom tells us that this word is translated to mean "we beseech You save us." The people cry out to Jesus as their King greeting Him with a welcome that is also a prayer and plea.
To indicate to us that this plea was not for worldly or material things, we read further that they cried out: "Hosanna in the highest." The highest is not in this earth but in Heaven. They are asking for a spiritual and eternal salvation. God's grace is with them, because this is precisely what Jesus desires to do.
It is not long now and Jesus will open up the gates of Heaven so that men may enter in. The Hosanna in the Highest is about to take place. The means for this to be accomplished is hidden from the view of the people. What they have envisioned and what God envisioned are two vastly different things. The people of Jerusalem are expecting a worldly material kingdom to be established that will be eternal. They expect Jesus to rise up and put down all His enemies with Divine power.
Jesus keeps His divinity hidden from them and from the devils. If the devils were aware what the Sacrifice of Jesus was to accomplish, they would rather have desired that Jesus should never make It. As the populace later witnessed Jesus captured and imprisoned and doing nothing to protect Himself, they began to doubt Him. (Even St. Peter, who had seen Jesus in all His glory as He was transfigured upon the mountain, faltered.)
The ultimate sacrifice of the Divinity is beyond our comprehension. It seems that it was even beyond the comprehension of all the demons of Hell. In crying out for His Blood, the devils sought to put an end to the good that Jesus was doing. The devils were succeeding in making people doubt, deny, and even turn away from Jesus. Many were led so far as to cry out for His Blood.
This great evil of Deicide was in the Divine plan. It is God's will that Jesus should suffer all this. From this, perhaps greatest of evils of mankind, God has drawn forth the greatest blessing and good for mankind.
The devils and their human counterparts willed and acted to commit Deicide, and God accepted their desires for the deed. They are therefore guilty and culpable of this great crime. They, however, did not nor could they kill God. Jesus' life was not taken away from Him. He freely laid down His life, and he freely took it up again.
We have followed Jesus this season of Lent in our own mortifications and sacrifices. The devils have brought forth their attacks and temptations against us. Some of us have faltered or doubted, and maybe even fallen under this assault just as our ancestors in the faith had. Let us not fear or hesitate in this assault, but rather take courage. The victory of Jesus is already complete. We know that at the end of the world Jesus will return in all power and majesty. The demons and all those who followed them will be cast forever into Hell. The outcome of this war is certain. Heaven wins and Hell loses.
The only question is: where will we find ourselves on that last day? The apparent success of the world will prove to be just that: "apparent" and not real. Will we find ourselves among the just in Heaven or among the unjust in Hell? Will we be among those who love God, or among those who will forever hate Him?
While there is still life in our bodies we are given the choice and chance to choose which side we wish to be on. The assaults of the devils, while they may appear to destroy us and beat us down, will turn out to be the very instruments that God will use to lift the just up and exalt them. As soldiers of Christ, we must not fear this attack, but rather take courage and consolation from the assault; knowing that we must be heading in the right direction or else the devils would not be trying so hard to turn us around.
May we therefore today cry out with the ancient Judeans: "Hosanna in the Highest," and resolve not to be turned away from Jesus, no matter how great the assault becomes against us. Let us not fear, but rather trust in God. He promised us that all things work for the good of those who love Him.
As this year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Fátima apparitions of the Virgin Mary which will also see the canonisation of Blessed Jacinta and Francisco Marto, two of the seers to whom Our Lady appeared and spoke, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei (PCED) has made a ruling on how the feast can be celebrated in the Old Rite.
In the Novus Ordo, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima is celebrated on the 13th May.
According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the 13th May is the feast of St. Robert Bellarmine.
The PCED has just published the following decree concerning the celebration of a Votive Mass of Our Lady on the day of the centenary.
“Since many of the Christian faithful who are attached to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite have a particular and fervent devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary of Fatima, as the centenary of Her first apparition approaches, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, having considered the General Rubrics of the Roman Missal published in 1962 (and especially no. 341), and wishing to encourage the devotion of the faithful to the Blessed Virgin Mary of Fatima, by the force of the ordinary power which it enjoys in this regard (see Universae Ecclesiae no. 9), grants and permits that on May 13th, 2017, a votive Mass of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (as on August 22nd) may be licitly and freely celebrated as a Votive Mass of the Second Class (which is explained in numbers 341 and 343 of the General Rubrics), by any priest of the Latin Rite, whether secular or regular, in accord with the other General Rubrics that pertain to Votive Masses of the Second Class and to commemorations. All things to the contrary notwithstanding.
Given at Rome from the offices of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, April 5th, 2017. ”
(Signed by Card. Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faithful, and Archbishop Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Commission.)
St Robert should not be forgotten in however! Section 343a of the General Rubrics provide that Votive Masses of the 2nd Class allow one commemoration and therefore the commemoration of St Robert should not to be omitted by those Priests who do avail of the permission granted by the PCED.
Letter of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” to the Ordinaries of the Episcopal Conferences concerned on the faculties for the celebration of marriages of the faithful of the Society Saint Pius X, 04.04.2017
As you are aware, for some time various meetings and other initiatives have been ongoing in order to bring the Society of St. Pius X into full communion. Recently, the Holy Father decided, for example, to grant all priests of said Society the faculty to validly administer the Sacrament of Penance to the faithful (Letter Misericordia et misera, n.12), such as to ensure the validity and liceity of the Sacrament and allay any concerns on the part of the faithful.
Following the same pastoral outlook which seeks to reassure the conscience of the faithful, despite the objective persistence of the canonical irregularity in which for the time being the Society of St. Pius X finds itself, the Holy Father, following a proposal by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, has decided to authorize Local Ordinaries the possibility to grant faculties for the celebration of marriages of faithful who follow the pastoral activity of the Society, according to the following provisions.
Insofar as possible, the Local Ordinary is to grant the delegation to assist at the marriage to a priest of the Diocese (or in any event, to a fully regular priest), such that the priest may receive the consent of the parties during the marriage rite, followed, in keeping with the liturgy of the Vetus ordo, by the celebration of Mass, which may be celebrated by a priest of the Society.
Where the above is not possible, or if there are no priests in the Diocese able to receive the consent of the parties, the Ordinary may grant the necessary faculties to the priest of the Society who is also to celebrate the Holy Mass, reminding him of the duty to forward the relevant documents to the Diocesan Curia as soon as possible.
To the Ordinaries
of the Episcopal Conferences concerned
Certain that in this way any uneasiness of conscience on the part of the faithful who adhere to the Society of St. Pius X as well as any uncertainty regarding the validity of the sacrament of marriage may be alleviated, and at the same time that the process towards full institutional regularization may be facilitated, this Dicastery relies on Your cooperation.
The Sovereign Pontiff Francis, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei on 24 March 2017, confirmed his approval of the present letter and ordered its publication.
Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 27 March 2017.
Gerhard Card. L. Müller
+ Guido Pozzo
Titular Archbishop of Bagnoregio
Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Francisco: Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius.
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui facis mirabilia magna solus: praetende super famulos tuos, et super congregationes illis commissas, spiritum gratiae salutaris; et, ut in veritate tibi complaceant, perpetuum eis rorem tuae benedictionis infunde.
Kevin Jones is the local representative for the Latin Mass Society in Wrexham Diocese. Any views expressed neither represent those of the Latin Mass Society or the Diocese of Wrexham.