In Conspectu Angelorum (A Michaelmas Post)

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Bless the Lord, all ye His Angels: you that are mighty in strength, and execute His word, hearkening to the voice of His orders. (Psalm) Bless the Lord, O my soul: and let all that is within me bless His holy name. Glory be to the Father. Bless the Lord . . .

Alleluia, alleluia. Holy Archangel Michael, defend us in battle: that we may not perish in the dreadful judgment. Alleluia.

A happy and blessed Michaelmas! Upon first waking up, I was so supremely excited about wishing everyone in the house a happy Michaelmas . . . but by the time I got downstairs I was so distracted by the prospect of some toast and almond butter for breakfast that I kind of forgot about it  . . . only to let loose a howl of agony when Lena beat me to it, minutes later. Such is life in a traditional Catholic household.

I find that one of the most delightful things about the Old Calendar is that the Archangels each have their own feasts. St. Raphael (to whom I will always have a special devotion) falls on October 24th; and St. Gabriel falls on the exquisitely perfect March 24th (the day before the feast of the Annunciation).

Today, however, is St. Michael’s feast; St. Michael’s Mass; Michaelmas!

A first-class feast in the Old Calendar (I didn’t realize it used to be first-class until today!), full of splendor: in the Latin Mass, St. Michael is hailed in every Confiteor, and at High Mass, thus:

May the Lord, by the intercession of blessed Michael the Archangel, who standeth at the right side of the altar of incense, and of all His elect, vouchsafe to bless this incense and receive it as an odor of sweetness.

Earlier today, there was a High Mass in Fribourg and Lena and I took a break from the vigorous vicissitudes of housecleaning and watched as much as we could, up to the French homily which was unfortunately lost upon us . . .

On this day, I never fail to think of the irrepressible Mrs. Jennings. Surely you know Mrs. Jennings? Sense and Sensibility, of course! “If I do not have the three of you {girls} married by Michaelmas, it will not be my fault!” But I digress. I do think she would have done better to extend her matchmaking plans through the feast of St. Raphael, but alas . . .

Sorry. Moving on.Michael1

O most glorious prince Michael Archangel, be mindful of us, and here and everywhere entreat the Son of God for us. Alleluia, alleluia. (Antiphon at the Magnificat, Second Vespers)

As I mentioned yesterday, I was once immersed in writing a (still unfinished) novel that had to do with St. Michael, underground Catholicism and had at least a dozen points of view. During this spell of creativity, I displayed more common sense than usual and actually embarked on some research on St. Michael and the traditional theology of Angels. I wanted to share a patchwork of assorted facts and ponderings with you all today!

The Propers and Vespers for St. Michael are wonderfully illuminating enough (in the Missal beginning on page 1424, by the way!), but in particular I also wanted to share several excerpts, beginning with one from Mother Angelica’s Sons of Light:

Then came the staggering proclamation from the Most High: the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity would become Man and, as the God-Man, be their superior —their Lord and King!

This however was not all of the test: the God-Man would have a Mother—a Woman—and she too would be raised above them!

Like a flash of lightning, Lucifer the greatest of all Angels, the one most like the Most High, the one called “Angel of Light”—cried out with a voice of thunder, “I will not serve!” Other Angels of every class and degree of intelligence all cried out together, “We will not serve!”

Then began the battle between pride and humility. Michael rose above all the others and thundered, “Who is like God!” The battle they fought was not one of swords—swords that make one bleed and die. No, it was a more deadly battle—a battle of intellects, of wills, of ideas and loyalties . . .

As the debate raged on Lucifer become more adamant. It was not fair for the Word to take on human nature and continue being Lord. Human nature was gross and inferior and the Most High had no right to make such an unjust decree. If the Word became man, all mankind would have the opportunity to become sons of God. Was not Lucifer the greatest of all Angels? Was not his intellect superior to them all? Yes, he, Lucifer, would be Lord and King of Angels and Men.

He would not bow before an Incarnate Word; neither would he accept a Woman, the Mother of the Incarnate Word, as Queen of Heaven.

The blow of all blows would be the fact that since the Word would become flesh, all mankind would have the opportunity to arrive at great heights of sanctity—heights above some of the Angels themselves. Yes, they would become brothers because they would share the same Father.

Lucifer and his cohorts would not accept such a humiliation . . .

Michael3Michael rose to the defense of God: God alone is Holy he reasoned; God alone is Lord; God alone is Most High; He does as He pleases . . . Was it not more important that God be glorified than that they as pure spirits be glorified? Was it not God’s privilege to give as He willed since all Goodness came from Him alone? They were all brought out of nothingness and they owed God eternal thanksgiving for the least amount of grace and glory.

No, it was not a humiliation—it was a truth . . .

As the battle raged, Angels from the different choirs began to take sides—some agreeing with Michael, others with Lucifer. Lucifer’s arguments were very convincing and he “dragged a third of the stars from the heavens” with him. (Apoc. 12:4)

The longer the battle went on, the more entrenched each side became until finally Lucifer said, “I will set my throne above the Most High.” (Is. 14:13) At this final blasphemy Michael cried out, “Who is like God! Victory and power and empire forever have been won by our God and all authority for His Christ.) (Apoc 12:10) . . .

Christ looked at them and said, “I watched Satan fall like lightning from Heaven.” . . .

Michael and the other spirits who rallied to the cause of truth and the glory of the Most High entered into the Beatific Vision. They saw the One they had fought for with such courage, for their wills were forever set on God . . .

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Here are a few excerpts from FishEaters:

There are seven Archangels in all, but only the three mentioned in Sacred Scripture are commemorated liturgically; St. Gabriel’s Feast is on 24 March, and St. Raphael’s Feast is on 24 October (the Guardian Angels are remembered on 2 October. The other archangels, whom we know from the Book of Enoch, are Uriel, Raguel, Sariel, and Jeramiel.) Today, though, we honor St. Michael the Archangel, whose very name in Hebrew means, “Who is Like God.” St. Michael is described in the Golden Legend, written in A.D. 1275 by Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa, thus:

For like as Daniel witnesseth, he shall arise and address in the time of Antichrist against him, and shall stand as a defender and keeper for them that be chosen. [Daniel 10:13, 12]

He also fought with the dragon and his angels, and casting them out of heaven, had a great victory. [Apocalypse 12:7-9]

He also had a great plea and altercation with the devil for the body of Moses, because he would not show it; for the children of Israel should have adored and worshipped it. [Jude 1]

He received the souls of saints and brought them into the paradise of exultation and joy.

He was prince of the synagogue of the Jews, but now he is established of our Lord, prince of the church of Jesu Christ.

Michael2And as it is said, he made the plagues of Egypt, he departed and divided the Red Sea, he led the people of Israel by the desert and set them in the land of promission, he is had among the company of holy angels as bannerer. And bearing the sign of our Lord, he shall slay by the commandment of God, right puissantly, Antichrist that shall be in the Mount of Olivet. And dead men shall arise at the voice of this same archangel. And he shall show at the day of judgment the Cross, the spear, the nails and the crown of thorns of Jesu Christ.

Expounding on St. Michael’s final victory over the Antichrist, the Golden Legend continues:

The fourth victory is that the archangel Michael shall have of Antichrist when he shall slay him. Then Michael, the great prince, shall arise, as it is said Danielis xii.: “He shall arise for them that be chosen as a helper and a protector, and shall strongly stand against Antichrist.” And after, as the Gloss saith: “Antichrist shall feign him to be dead, and shall hide him three days,” and after, he shall appear saying that he is risen from death to life, and the devils shall bear him by art magic, and shall mount up into the air, and all the people shall marvel and worship him. And at the last he shall mount up on the Mount of Olivet, and when he shall be in a pavilion, in his siege [seat], entered into that place where our Lord ascended, Michael shall come and shall slay him. Of which victory is understood, after St. Gregory, that which is said in the Apocalypse. The battle is made in heaven.

This word of the treble battle in heaven is expounded of the battle that he had with Lucifer when he expulsed him out of heaven, and of the battle that he had with the devils that torment us.

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Also, this excerpt concerning Angels in general still fills me with awe in considering the glory of St. Michael and all the heavenly hosts which throng about the altar at every Holy Mass:

Now, Moses tells us in Exodus 20:11 that “in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them.” From this we know that the angels, too, were created during those six days (whether those “days” were literal, 24-hour days or metaphorical isn’t the point of this article). Futher, the angels were created before the earth was made, as Job 38:1-7 speaks of how the “sons of God made a joyful melody” when the “corner stone” of the earth was laid. What must be believed, then, is that the angels were created by God, in time, and at some point before the creation of all other things. 2

So, before He created the natural world that we can readily see and touch and hear and taste, He created the praeternatural realm — the realm inhabited by the creatures we call angels. They were created to adore God, implement His will, and to reveal His will to men. This last purpose is the origin of the very word “angel,” which comes from the Greek “aggelos,” meaning “messenger” (“malak” in Hebrew).

They are beings without bodies like ours. The Fathers and Doctors disagree as to whether they are absolutely “pure spirit,” like God, and so are completely bodiless, or whether they possess “subtle matter,” 3 but in either case they can sometimes be seen, either because of the nature of subtle matter, if that is the case, or, as St. Thomas Aquinas believed, in the same sort of way that “air” can seem to “condense” to form clouds. 4

In either case, angels were created immortal, and with great power and intelligence — an intelligence so great that angels are sometimes referred to as “intelligences.” They are not omniscient, however, but according to St. Thomas Aquinas, God infuses them with knowledge according to their rank (see below). Neither can they read our minds, but God may reveal to them our secret thoughts — and they are able to perceive the material world and to understand our thoughts by the things we do and the way we appear. As an example, most of us are unable to read others’ thoughts in some telepathic way, but we are quite able to see sadness in someone’s face. Angels can do this, too, but are able to discern such things much better than we because of their astounding intelligence. They are able to act on our imagination, senses, and the intellect, but not directly on our will.

SongoftheAngelsThey are able to affect the material world, too, just as you and I can, only with much more strength. Remember how, on Easter morning, it was two angels who rolled away the great rock that was placed in front of Our Lord’s tomb by Joseph of Arimethea. The stone was so “very great” that the three women who went to the tomb were wondering how they could move it — but they arrived to find it moved away, and a “man” sitting on it, with another “man” inside the tomb.

Brilliant, powerful, awesome in appearance, and they are numerous, like the stars. Psalm 67 tells us how the “chariot of God is attended by ten thousands; thousands of them that rejoice.” Daniel 7:9-10 describes God, the Ancient of Days, and how “thousands of thousands ministered to Him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before Him.” St. John writes in his Apocalypse:

And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the living creatures, and the ancients; and the number of them was thousands of thousands.

St. Thomas Aquinas and the Scholastics that followed taught that angels are pure spirit and not corporeal in any way. The earlier, more Platonic belief of most of the Church Fathers is that only God is pure Spirit, and that, though angels are not corporeal in the way that we are, they are, in a limited sense, “corporeal” in that they are made, in part, of “subtle matter” which is unlike matter in the physical world. Most Catholics tend to believe that angels are totally incorporeal, a belief that stems from the fact that this is what was taught in the good ole “Penny Catechisms” of better times, but a Catholic may believe that angels possess subtle matter.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I-I-51-2: “Although air as long as it is in a state of rarefaction has neither shape nor color, yet when condensed it can both be shaped and colored as appears in the clouds. Even so the angels assume bodies of air, condensing it by the Divine power in so far as is needful for forming the assumed body.”

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Isn’t that so fascinating? And as for the ranks of angels, mentioned above, I thought this was marvelous food for thought:

AngelThe 1st triad :
Angels, Archangels, and Principalities: concern themselves with the minute ordering of the universe and specific causes, including the welfare of people. Each human being, each church, and each country has a Guardian Angel.

The 2nd triad
Powers, Virtues and Dominions: known as the “angels of creation” because they concern themselves with the ordering of the universe and a plurality of causes.

The 3rd triad
Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim: concern themselves with contemplating the glory of God. It is the 6-winged Seraphim — “The Burning Ones,” aglow with Love for God — who sing the Sanctus, “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts” (Isaias 6:3).

So yes . . . the richness and awe-inspiring splendor of the Faith shines forth so beautifully on the feast of St. Michael! Let’s all endeavor to be mindful of the presence of the angels who continually behold and adore the face of God. In fact, let’s all pray Psalm 137 and rejoice in their intercession on our behalf, especially that of St. Michael!

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I will praise Thee, O Lord, with my whole heart: because Thou hast heard the words of my mouth.
I will sing praise to Thee in the sight of the Angels: I will worship toward Thy holy temple, and I will give glory to Thy name.
For Thy mercy, and for Thy truth: for Thou hast magnified Thy holy name above all.
In what day soever I shall call upon Thee, hear me: Thou shalt multiply strength in my soul.
May all the kings of the earth give glory, O Lord, for they have heard all the words of Thy mouth.
And let them sing in the ways of the Lord: that great is the glory of the Lord.
For the Lord is high, and looketh on the low: and the high He knoweth afar off.
If I shall walk in the midst of tribulation, Thou wilt quicken me: and Thou hast stretched forth Thy hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and Thy right hand hath saved me.
The Lord will repay for me; Thy mercy, O Lord, endureth forever: O despise not the works of Thy hands.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
I will sing praise to Thee in the sight of the Angels, O my God.
I will worship towards Thy holy temple, and I will give glory to Thy name.

Sig2

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Woman at Home Daybook :: Vol. 1

Daybook

(Faithfully providing proof that I am a blog-post-series addict.)

This day in the Liturgical Year . . . Thursday, September 28th, 2017; third-class Feast of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr.

From the missal:

St. Wenceslaus, duke of Bohemia, was persecuted by his unnatural mother Drahomira and his impious brother and successor, Boleslas, out of hatred for the Faith. He was murdered by the latter in a church where he was praying in 938.

My computer was experiencing an internet glitch earlier this morning, so we all crowded around Mom’s computer in the school room to stream the Mass. Unfortunately, the stream dropped right around Communion, so we had to finish by reading aloud the rest of the Propers and praying our handful of customary prayers after Mass, but it was still beautiful, and especially so heart-warming to see dear Fr. Dupre again; the first time since Irma!

Also, it’s the fifth day in the novena to St. Therese of Lisieux (if you’re celebrating her feast on October 3rd, as it is in the Old Calendar) . . . I, erm, had to pray two days’ worth of the novena yesterday once I realized I’d forgotten to pray the day before . . . sigh . . . a classic exemplification of my normal scattered-ness.

Outside my window . . . Cheery sun, a rich blue sky, and general late September loveliness. If the breeze hits just right, all the leaves on our nine acres of land are starting to caper and spiral down in a way that always makes me think of Narnia . . . though I don’t exactly have a rational reason for that. Mayhap, it’s because the sight of falling leaves make me think of when the Kings and Queens of Old find the Wardrobe again at the very end of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It’s autumn then, the music is fancifully dancing, they’re wearing gorgeous royal robes, Peter has grown a beard, and the leaves are falling. (I am sanguinely captivated by appearances and sounds. Hold on a second . . . let me put on Harry’s “Only the Beginning of the Adventure” . . . sigh. Now we’re good.)

Did you know I desperately wanted to find Narnia as a child? (That desire was probably aided more than slightly by my helpless crush on Peter Pevensie, as played by William Moseley. And I mean helpless. But I digress.) Did you know that I wrote a whole novel which was essentially a copy of Narnia? Only it was a stag, not a lion. I did have a shred of conscience.

And maybe my yearly autumnal Narnia fancy also has something to do with the fact that we have an actual lamppost in our front yard, and are densely surrounded by trees. Ah, yes, I need to show you our lamppost sometime!

Anyhow, I have just consulted the weather and have been informed that it’s 74 degrees outside. That is lovely. What am I doing here? Right–listening to Harry Gregson-Williams.

Sounds throughout the house . . . Downstairs, school-related discussions are going on. Footsteps. Up here, Lena is typing on her side of the room, I am typing on mine. Click-clack. That, and Harry Gregson-Williams. And now Lena singing “Homeward Bound,” which she learned for a voice recital years ago.

I am wearing . . . SEC Football t-shirt, jean capris (really, jeans that have been rolled up so as to mercifully relieve the potential itching of the thirty-odd chigger bites on my shins and feet. Remind me to wear bug spray the next time I venture outdoors. This is called living in the South).

Attempts in the kitchen . . . We are embarking on a rather Whole30-way of cooking over here (I can’t say it’s 100%, but it’s close). Some of us are dealing with prolonged digestive issues of varying levels, and I’ve personally been noticing/ignoring ongoing negative reactions to dairy and inflammatory things like grain and sugar (cue Requiem for Ice Cream and Brownies, Both of Which I Was Craving Last Night, and Neither of Which I Had).

So this week, we’ve been eating really clean (for us), and have already noticed a huge improvement. I’ve volunteered to spend much more time in the kitchen previously, learning how to craft all these new recipes. Not only is it marvelously constructive for my hopes to daily grow in domesticity, but it’s also a whole lot of fun. This week’s areas of particular pride encompass my learning how to poach eggs, and season ground beef like Italian sausage.

A note on projects . . . Cooking, blogging, and doing little things to help prepare for our diocese’s Missa Cantata in celebration of Summorum Pontificum, which is coming up this Saturday and which I am so very looking forward to. Yesterday I caught up on my sorry inbox and sent nearly fifteen emails. And as I have been recently blessed to enter a courtship with a wonderful young man, I found myself sitting down and starting to write up (typically long-winded) thoughts on courtship in general, as well as my family’s traditions for the practice and my own personal beliefs on it. Not finished yet . . . but maybe there will be things I can share here as time goes on 😉

I am reading . . . Well, my brother just came upstairs and happily displayed his totally pride-worthy math test score, so technically I have just read that. Go brother!

And speaking of my brother, every afternoon I’ve been reading aloud to him the marvelous Men of Iron. I can’t describe how much I enjoy this book (and how excited I am to reach certain parts that we’ve yet to get to!). I read it in school years ago, and to be able to revisit my beloved Myles and Francis has been such a joy; watching my brother grow progressively more immersed in the story, and for us to laugh or grow tense together as the plot winds and escalates is so special. When Myles gives Francis the knife . . . happiest sigh!

Reason number 135,234 for homeschooling: you get to read aloud Men of Iron!

Thinking about femininity . . . “A desire to be beautiful is not unwomanly. A woman who is not beautiful cannot properly fill her place. But, mark you, true beauty is not of the face, but of the soul. There is a beauty so deep and lasting that it will shine out of the homeliest face and make it comely. This is the beauty to be first sought and admired. It is a quality of the mind and heart and is manifested in word and deed.” – Beautiful Girlhood, Mabel Hale

Here’s to daily trying to cultivate that lasting beauty of soul, and renewing our world through true Catholic womanhood!

On the Faith . . . I am so looking forward to Michaelmas tomorrow! The Feast of St. Michael the Archangel! I have random little snippets of research, collected from when I was immersed in writing a (still unfinished) novel that had to do with him, which hopefully I’ll be able to share tomorrow.

Prayerfully . . . Collect from today’s Mass:

O God, Who by the palm of martyrdom didst remove blessed Wenceslaus from an earthly princedom to the glory of heaven: keep us by his prayers from all adversity, and grant that we may rejoice in everlasting fellowship with him.

A picture to share . . .

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My first attempt at a poached egg with hot sauce on top of thick sweet potato slices (browned in olive oil), sauteed spinach and garlic, and bacon (in this case, turkey bacon).

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You can tell a lot about a woman by the contents of her missal . . .

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(Fans of The Incredibles will obligingly smile at my misquote and now proceed to read this post.)

On this fine autumnal Tuesday morning, having already missed my weekly opportunity to add another brilliant installment to my 7 Rambling Monday Takes series, and having been completely absent from the blogging sphere due for the past six days due to things like snuggling a newborn baby, helping decorate for a fantastic western dance at our parish, poring through Whole30 cookbooks and getting ready to flex some culinary muscles, laundering, and the hundred other things that make up my current process of living . . . I sat down this morning and realized I really did need to show you all what my missal looks like on the inside.

You see, a missal can be a whole lot more than a beautiful book of the Ordinary and Propers of the Mass. Overtime, it has the potential to become a chapel, of sorts, for its owner to bury her head in, to pray in. If you’re an enthusiastic female like me, it eventually becomes peppered with all sorts of holy cards, notes, and special ribbon placements.

So I thought I would pull out my camera, choose the worst tungsten lighting possible (that is, my desk and its glaring lamp, due to its inarguably convenient location), and give you a visual tour of my little chapel.

The picture above depicts what I first see upon unzipping my missal cover: a reminder of the lovely woman who crafted my cover! And the photo below reveals the first holy card belonging inside my missal: that of the Madonna and Child from Portraits of Saints.

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My beautiful St. Joseph missal cover proclaims, Virginum Custos et Pater – Guardian of Virgins and Father, and so it seemed appropriate to me to tuck in an image of the Virgin and Child whom good St. Joseph guarded throughout his earthly life.

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Next, on the inside of the  very first page of my missal, I have hand-copied several Latin ejaculations that are particularly inspiring and helpful to me and my spiritual life.

The first comes from the blessing of the bride in the traditional Nuptial Mass:

Nihil in ea ex actibus suis ille auctor praevaricationis usurpet.
Let not the author of deceit work any of his evil deeds in her.

The second comes from the Epistle for the Feast of St. Anne (Proverbs 31):

Mulierem fortem quis inveniet?
Who shall find a valiant woman?

And the third comes from the Gospel of St. Luke (as well as, by proxy, the Angelus):

Ecce ancilla Domini.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord.

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And now I get to show you how I use my ribbons!

My missal has five ribbons: violet, white, red, black and green. I am perhaps nonsensically particular as to how I use them. The violet ribbon currently marks the prayers before Communion (found on page 82), which I’m trying to form the habit of praying while I am in our parish’s long and slow-moving Communion line, in an attempt to ward off my propensity to distraction. My favorite of these prayers is the Act of Hope:

Since Thou vouchsafest to come and dwell within me, O my Redeemer, what may I not expect from Thy bounty! I therefore present myself before Thee with that lively confidence which Thine infinite goodness inspires. Thou not only knowest all my wants, by Thou art also willing and able to relieve them. Thou hast not only invited me, but also promised me Thy gracious assistance: “Come to Me all ye that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you.” Behold, then, O Lord, I accept Thy gracious invitation; I lay before Thee all my wants, my misery, and my blindness, and confidently hope, without the fear of being disappointed, that Thou wilt enable me to persevere, unto the end of my life, in Thy service. “In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped: I shall not be confounded forever.”

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And directly opposite my purple ribbon is a holy card from the FSSP which recently arrived in the mail. I . . . sort of stole it. Although it’s available in my missal for anyone in the family who might desire it. I just didn’t want it to go to waste.

It’s a beautiful depiction of the Church Triumphant, Militant, and Suffering, gathered in adoration and supplication around the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. On the back is a prayer for the dying, which to me seemed wholly appropriate for after Communion:

O most merciful Jesus, Lover of souls, I pray Thee by the agony of Thy most Sacred Heart, and by the sorrows of Thine Immaculate Mother, wash in Thy Blood the sinners of the whole world who are now in their last agony, and are to die this day. Amen.

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And now we proceed to my white ribbon! In my little world, it always marks the Propers for the current or upcoming Sunday or Feast included in the section before the section dedicated to the Ordinary of the Mass.

The only time I move it is if there is a weekday feast or commemoration whose Propers are so scattered in different places throughout the missal that I run out of holy cards to mark the places I need and absolutely have to use the white ribbon. But that hardly ever happens . . . in fact, it may have only happened once . . . or maybe that was the green ribbon I moved . . . can’t remember . . .

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My red ribbon, without any exception ever, marks the Ordinary of the Mass. It is my sacrosanct ribbon 🙂

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Directly after the Ordinary of the Mass, I have a beautiful holy card of Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs, made for me by an ingenious friend. I use it to mark my prayers for after Communion.

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My green ribbon always marks the Propers for weekday feasts and commemorations throughout the liturgical year. Today, along with being the Feast of the North American Martyrs (in the very, very back of the missal on page 1812), is also the Commemoration of Ss. Cyprian and Justina, so that’s where my green ribbon currently lies.

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My black ribbon is the most versatile, and so I used it to mark the Propers for the North American Martyrs this morning. However, if I don’t have a pressing need for it, I keep it tucked in the Marriage Service and Nuptial Mass, for occasional (by which I mean every day or every other day) reading and reflection. Cough. It’s probably something that only unmarried traditional Catholic girls who have discerned this vocation do . . .

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And now we have arrived at the back of my missal, with my little holy card stash! They serve as an armory for, Looks like this commemoration has its Propers scattered all over the place. Holy cards to the rescue!

First, a Christ the King holy card (identical to the one I mentioned in this post), commemorating our diocese’s upcoming celebration of Summorum Pontificum this Saturday.

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Secondly, a holy card depicting Our Lady succoring the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

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Thirdly, a tri-folded meditation before the Blessed Sacrament. It’s a beautiful meditation, but it also is my handiest inclusion in my stash. Because it’s folded, I can use it to mark two separate places in my missal at once (as long as they’re not too far apart), which makes flipping back and forth between various Propers an absolute breeze.

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See below how I’ve got several pages tucked into my folded-up meditation?

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And finally, a holy card of the Sorrowful Heart of Mary. As it’s rather large, I don’t use it for marking very often, but I always keep it in my missal since Lena and I pray the devotions together every evening, and thus I always know where it is.

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And so we conclude this tour of my missal! Needless to say, it’s one of my most precious possessions and is the first material thing I’d snatch from a house fire 😉 Have a blessed Tuesday!

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Gathering Up Links for Michaelmas Embertide

Autumn Leaves, 1856 (oil on canvas)

A blessed Embertide to everyone! I’m still so new to the practice of Ember Days that I look forward to the day when I’ve accumulated enough simple knowledge and repetitive experience of the Ember Days that I will actually feel prepared 😉 Hopefully by the time I’m trying to teach my future children about them, anyway . . . that would be ideal.

But in the meantime, here’s to building up my simple knowledge and repetitive experience, by reading up on some informative Ember links (below) and practicing the traditional fasting and abstinence, and simply being excited about it!

Last night, I set out a frozen leftover loaf of Fasting Bread (gosh, I really do need to find and share that recipe), which has endured in our downstairs freezer since Holy Week earlier this year (five months! Amazing!), and which will supply my “small fasting meals” for today, Friday and Saturday.

By the way, I think this is an old picture of the identical loaf, then freshly baked, now freshly thawed, which I hacked into this morning. Almost an eerie feeling. But I digress.

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This morning began with yet another Mass from lovely Warrington. Ember Masses are simply beautiful; violet-garbed, solemn, special. More lessons from Scripture, more Collects, more kneeling. It certainly feels like a consecration, an embarkation, a beginning.

And this time, it’s fall! I already feel the urge to decorate and turn on some of Jay Ungar’s Harvest Home. But of course, spiritual preparation takes first place . . . that, and as six huge plastic bins have been plopped ceremoniously on my bed, I have the feeling we’ll be going through our fall and winter clothes as well.

At the beginning of the four seasons of the Ecclesiastical Year, the Ember Days have been instituted by the Church to thank God for blessings obtained during the past year and to implore further graces for the new season. Their importance in the Church was formerly very great . . . They are intended, too, to consecrate to God the various seasons in nature, and to prepare by penance those who are about to be ordained . . . The faithful ought to pray on these days for good priests . . .

1962 Missal

Below are a handful of links I’ve gathered this morning; some I’ve already read, some I’ll be reading later. “The Glow of the Ember Days” is particularly fantastic and I highly recommend it if you only have time for one link today! It engagingly describes the entire ‘why’ behind the Ember Days, and how they aren’t merely random days of traditional fasting and abstinence, but are infused with beauty, far-reaching tradition and meaning. The Church is truly so amazing!

The Ember days, then, stand out as the only days in the supernatural seasons of the Church that commemorate the natural seasons of the earth. This is appropriate, for since the liturgical year annually renews our initiation into the mystery of redemption, it should have some special mention of the very thing which grace perfects.

The Glow of the Ember Days by Michael P. Foley

Ember Days – Our Plans by Jennifer Mackintosh

Ember Days and Seasonal Thanksgiving by Jennifer Mackintosh

Liturgical Notes on the Ember Days of September by Gregory diPippo

September Ember Days this Week from the Minute Missive

A quick recap of the traditional practice of the Ember fasts: Wednesday and Saturday are days of fasting (one full meal, two small meals not equal to another full meal) and partial abstinence (meat may be taken at the principal meal); Friday is a day of fasting and total abstinence.

If you own a Missal, do explore the Propers for the Ember Days in September (in my 1962 Missal from Angelus Press, they begin on page 778), or hop on over to Sancta Missa (which contains both the Ordinaries and Propers for the day’s Mass, so you’ll need to scroll to locate the Propers: Introit, Lesson, Gradual, Collect, Epistle, Gradual, Gospel, Offertory, Secret, Communion and Postcommunion). In my mind, reading the Propers is a wonderful way to interiorly cultivate the dispositions encouraged by the Church for the Ember Days.

And as today is the 20th of September, a very happy feast of St. Eustace and Companions! Visit Lena for his heroic story . . .

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7 Rambling Monday Takes (Vol. 3)

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1.

Maybe it’s a womanly thing, an impulsive sanguine thing, or perhaps a Guardian Angel thing. But have you ever felt strongly compelled, suddenly, to do something, when a moment before the thought hadn’t been anywhere near your mind? (Besides consume chocolate, I mean. I experience those moments frequently.)

Yesterday would have been my maternal grandfather’s 68th birthday. A Vietnam veteran and loving grandfather, he passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of 61, when I was 14. After Low Mass and third Sunday potluck yesterday (where we all were handed beautiful Christ the King holy cards in commemoration of Summorum Pontificum), my family and I drove down to the cemetery to pray at his grave and sing him happy birthday. The sky was beautifully, crisply blue, the sun boiling hot. (Alas for an autumn not yet arrived!)

As we came to the end of our visit with Pap-pow, my family began taking note of the surrounding grave markers (we always seem to do this); the names, the years lived, the loving tributes left by family members. “Look, so-and-so was a Marine; so-and-so played piano; someone left so-and-so a handwritten note: I love you and miss you so much.

And then we came upon the tiny grave marker of a year-old baby boy.

Someone had tried to tape up some artificial blue flowers on the marker using duck tape, but the flowers were upended on the ground, with the tape left dangling in the wind. (Not surprising after all the tropical storm-induced weather that hit us over the past week.)

Lena and I stared sadly, then bent and slowly began rearranging the flowers, using some of the mangled tape to bind the plastic stems together and laying the flowers neatly under the marker. Something about the grief of this baby’s family permeated us. I can’t even remember how long it had been since he passed away; I don’t think it was more than a few years.

As Lena and I were mending the flowers, words spilled into my mind, clear and commanding. Leave a holy card.

Unable to ignore the idea, I brought it up aloud and my brother instantly pulled out his Summorum Pontificum Christ the King card from his pocket. I was able to tuck it snugly against the edge of the baby boy’s grave marker. We all looked at it for a moment, then stood up and walked back to the car.

I have no idea if the family or anyone at all will ever see the holy card. But I did know we were supposed to leave one there. Regardless of the persuasions of this small baby’s family, the King of Heaven and Earth who cares for each sparrow also cares tenderly for them.

2.

May the efficacy of the heavenly Gift, we beseech Thee, O Lord, possess our minds and bodies: so that its effects, and not our own impulses, may ever prevail in us.

-Postcommunion from the 15th Sunday after Pentecost

Ever since being introduced to the four temperaments and discovering my own, self-knowledge has seemed far closer to being in my grasp than it ever was before. (Authentic self-knowledge is, ahem, hard for the naturally superficial sanguine . . .)

Not long after I posted about being drawn to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in Latin, I felt inspired to research wholesome ways to combat a tendency to the sin of vanity, which is something I’ve noticed in myself virtually my whole life.

After some initial research, I first found and read a helpful article written by a Catholic young woman, who eloquently described the habit of sinning through vanity, either by being over-caring about your physical looks, or worrying too much about the opinions of other people concerning yourself. (Both of which can ring all too true for me if I’m not careful. Alas, I’m not often careful.)

So why is vanity a sin? It is a sin because we become consumed by other’s opinions of our self, rather than concerning ourselves with the opinion of God. Indeed, vanity assures us that the cares of the world are more important than those of God. When we begin thinking this way, we are drawn away from God.

It was an enlightening and inspiring read. The young woman mentioned how, after she once confessed vanity, her confessor instructed her to pray Psalm 8 in penance, and I have since making an effort to pray it every morning.

O Lord, our Lord, how admirable is thy name in the whole earth! For thy magnificence is elevated above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings thou hast perfected praise, because of thy enemies, that thou mayst destroy the enemy and the avenger.
For I will behold thy heavens, the works of thy fingers: the moon and the stars which thou hast founded.
What is man that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him?
Thou hast made him a little less than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honour: and hast set him over the works of thy hands.
Thou hast subjected all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen: moreover the beasts also of the fields.
The birds of the air, and the fishes of the sea, that pass through the paths of the sea.
O Lord our Lord, how admirable is thy name in all the earth!

3.

And after reading this initial article, I progressed to find something even more helpful from Totus Tuus’ website. This particular article recommended that those who struggle with habitual vanity to meditate daily on the Passion of Christ; “looking for the fruit of being convinced of Christ’s love for me and, thus, I do not need to look for love and approval in any other place.” This seemed to be a nod from Our Lord, given my recent inspiration to pick up not only the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, but also meditations on the Stations of the Cross.

They also suggested that the one who struggles with vanity should contemplate as an ideal, “Christ crucified for love of me,” and that they should make their motto, “For me to live is Christ; to die is gain.”

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So I am endeavoring to do this more. It can be very difficult to be honest with oneself about one’s root sin, and once you have been honest, to not be discouraged but rather to be courageous and press forward seeking a remedy. Looking over my life and to the present day, I am compelled to admit how much vanity has played a role in my frequent failings in pure-hearted love of God. But at the same time, I am so grateful for His abundant grace (coming through the hands of Our Lady) which is motivating me to seek tools so as to weed out this root vice of mine. I know it will be a long road requiring perseverance and prayer, but ultimately you only fail if you stop striving, so . . . here’s to striving! 🙂

4.

Speaking of the Stations of the Cross, I have to say that the most beautiful form that I have encountered so far is the form for Stations found in the 1962 Missal, beginning on page 34.

Among the devotional exercises which have for their object meditation on the Passion, Crucifixion, and Death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, one of the chief has been the exercise commonly called the Way of the Cross. This devotion arose first in Jerusalem, among the Christians who dwelt there, out of veneration for those sacred places which were sanctified by the sufferings of our divine Redeemer. From that time, as we learn from St. Jerome, Christians visited the holy places in crowds. The gathering of the faithful, he says, even from the farthest corners of the earth, to visit the holy places, continued to his own times. From Jerusalem this devout exercise began to be introduced into Europe by various pious and holy persons, who had traveled to the Holy Land to satisfy their devotion. Pope Clement XII extended this devotion to the whole Catholic world.

These Stations are almost entirely Scriptural (with the rich, stunning language of the Douay-Rheims and Callan-McHugh versions), and yet compiled in such a way that often, prophecies from Lamentations, Isaias and the Psalms are presented as being in Christ’s first-person narrative; the pronouns are capitalized to denote Divinity. (This, by far, is the most moving way to contemplate the Passion that I have ever discovered.) There are also inclusions from the Improperia of Good Friday, the Stabat Mater, and various old hymns from traditional lauds and such.

O Father, I am afflicted and greatly humbled, I cry aloud because of the sorrow of My heart. Lord, all My longing is known to Thee, and My sighs are not hidden from Thee. My Heart beats furiously, My strength is gone, Mine eyes are dim and dull with weeping and pain. My friends and My companions come within sight of Me, but stand aloof, and My neighbors keep far from Me.

The arrows of Thy judgment have sunk deep in Me, and Thy hand is pressing heavily upon Me. There is no soundness in My body because of Thine anger. The iniquities of My people, like a flood, have overwhelmed Me; like a crushing burden they weigh upon Me.

-Psalm 37, Third Station: Jesus Falls the First Time

5.

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The Ember Days are upon us this Wednesday, Friday and Saturday! Since this set of Ember Days occurs just prior to the Feast of St. Michael on the 29th, they’re called the “Michaelmas Embertide.”

There’s no better place to read about the Ember Days in general than the ever-helpful Fish Eaters, but I’ve gone ahead and quoted the most relevant excerpts below. While we are no longer obliged by Canon Law to fast and abstain (partially on Wednesday and Saturday, completely on Friday) on the Ember Days, it is worthwhile to try and do it if we can, or at least to select some sacrifice to make on these days.

Four times a year, the Church sets aside three days to focus on God through His marvelous creation. These quarterly periods take place around the beginnings of the four natural seasons that “like some virgins dancing in a circle, succeed one another with the happiest harmony,” as St. John Chrysostom wrote . . .

These times are spent fasting and partially abstaining (voluntary since the new Code of Canon Law) in penance and with the intentions of thanking God for the gifts He gives us in nature and beseeching Him for the discipline to use them in moderation. The fasts, known as “Jejunia quatuor temporum,” or “the fast of the four seasons,” are rooted in Old Testament practices of fasting four times a year.

Our Israelite ancestors once fasted weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but Christians changed the fast days to Wednesdays (the day on which Christ was betrayed) and Fridays (the day on which He was crucified). The weekly two day fasts were later amended in the Roman Church to keeping only Fridays as penitential days, but during Embertides, the older, two-day fasts are restored. Saturdays (the day He was entombed) were added to these Ember times of fasting and are seen as a sort of culmination of the Ember Days . . .

Ember Days are days favored for priestly ordinations, prayer for priests, first Communions, almsgiving and other penitential and charitable acts, and prayer for the souls in Purgatory. Note that medieval lore says that during Embertides, the souls in Purgatory are allowed to appear visibly to those on earth who pray for them.

Because of the days’ focus on nature, they are also traditional times for women to pray for children and safe deliveries.

6.

Our family was worried when we learned that Sarasota, FL was directly in the path of Irma last week: Sarasota being the home of the FSSP’s Christ the King Chapel and our beloved Fr. Dupre and Fr. Bartholomew (“beloved,” that is, thanks to LiveMass.net 😉 )

We were so relieved to hear this morning, after Dad made a phone call, that they were left entirely unscathed, and should be back to broadcasting their 8am CT Mass within a few days! God is so good!

In the meantime, we have been praying along with the Mass offered in Warrington, England, at Our Lady’s Shrine. A beautiful screen capture from a Mass last week:

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Oh, don’t you want to fly there for a day, your missal in hand? 🙂 Look at that High Altar! Look at that light pouring down on the good priest and altar boys! It was almost blinding by the moment of Consecration . . . need I say more . . .

7.

My musical recommendation for the week is, without a doubt, Lux by Voces8. I have been listening to the entire album near-constantly on Spotify for the past week.

Simply put, Voces8’s offerings of sacred music are about as sublime and soul-stirring as you can find this side of Heaven. Wholly sublime. I believe a person would convert to the Faith simply by listening to Gjeilo’s Ubi Caritas and Dubra’s Ave Maria 1; but I may be a touch biased 😉

A blessed Feast of dear St. Joseph of Cupertino! And if you have The Reluctant Saint, by all means, watch it today–it is fabulous and one of my family’s all-time favorites!

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