Wednesday, 20 March 2019

'The Glories of Mary' by St. Alphonsus de Liguori C.Ss.R. (1696-1787)

                             'Virgin and Child in landscape' (c1500)  
                                  by Master of the Embroidered Foliage.


For my Lenten reading, I have turned  to  The Glories of Mary’, written  by  St Alphonsus de Liguori, and  first published in 1750 at Naples.  St Alphonsus was then fifty-four years old.
In the introduction to his book St. Alphonsus writes, ‘ I have seen innumerable works of all sizes, which treat of the glories of Mary, but finding that they were either rare, voluminous, or did not answer the object I had in mind, I endeavoured to collect from as many authors as I could lay my hands on, the choicest passages, extracted from Fathers and theologians, and those which seem to me to be the most to the point, and have put them together in this book, in order that the devout may with little trouble and expense be able to inflame themselves with the love of Mary, and more particularly to furnish priests with matter for their sermons, wherewith to excite others to devotion towards this divine Mother.’

That everyone may be persuaded how important it is, both for his own good and that of others, to promote devotion towards  Mary, it is useful to know what theologians say on the subject.
St Bonaventure says that those who make a point of announcing to others the glories of Mary are certain of heaven;  and this opinion is confirmed by Richard of St.Laurence,  who declares, “that to honour this Queen of Angels is to gain eternal life”; and he adds, “that this most gracious Lady will honour in the next world those who honour her in this”.  And who is ignorant of the promise made by Mary herself, in the words of Ecclesiastes, to those who endeavour to make her known and loved here below, “they that explain me shall have life everlasting”, for this passage is applied to her by the Church, in the office of the Immaculate Conception.  “Rejoice then,” exclaims St Bonaventure   (who did so much to make the glories of Mary known), “rejoice my soul, and be glad in her; for many good things are prepared for those who praise her”; and he says that the whole of the sacred Scriptures speak in praise of Mary:  let us therefore always with our heart and tongue, honour this divine Mother, in order that we may be conducted by her into the kingdom of the blessed.”

‘The devout Blosius declares that “she is the only refuge of those who have offended God, the asylum of all who are oppressed by temptation, calamity, or persecution.  This Mother is all mercy, benignity, and sweetness, not only to the just but also to despairing sinners;  so that no sooner does she perceive them coming to her, and seeking her health from their hearts, than she aids them, welcomes them, and obtains their pardon from her Son.  She knows not how to despise anyone,  however unworthy he may be of mercy, and therefore denies her protection to none;   she consoles all, and is no sooner called upon than she helps whoever it may be that invokes her.  She by her sweetness often awakens and draws sinners to her devotion who are the most at enmity with God and the most deeply plunged in the lethargy of sin;  and then, by the same means, she excites them effectually, and prepares them for grace, and thus renders them fit for the kingdom of heaven.  God has created this his beloved daughter of so compassionate and sweet a disposition, that no one can fear to have recourse to her.”  The pious author concludes in these words: “ It is impossible for any one to perish who attentively and with humility, cultivates devotion towards this  divine Mother.”
Basil of Seleucia encourages sinners, saying, “O sinner, be not discouraged, but have recourse to Mary in all thy necessities; call her to thine assistance, for thou wilt always find her ready to help thee;  for such is the divine will that she should help all in every kind of necessity.”

The Blessed Virgin herself revealed to St Bridget, 'that there is no sinner in the world, however much he may be at enmity with God, who does not return to Him and recover his grace, if he has recourse to her and asks her assistance.'  The same St Bridget one day heard Jesus Christ address His mother, and say that 'she would be ready to obtain the grace of God for Lucifer himself, if only he humbled himself so far as to seek her aid.'  That proud spirit will never humble himself so far as to implore the protection of Mary; but if such a thing were possible, Mary would be sufficiently compassionate, and her prayers would have sufficient power to obtain both forgiveness and salvation for him from God.  But that which cannot be verified with regard to the devil, is verified in the case of sinners who have recourse to this compassionate mother.
It was then, not without reason that St Bernard addressed the Blessed Virgin, saying, “Thou, O Lady, does not reject any sinner who approaches thee, however loathsome and repugnant he may be.  If he asks thy assistance, thou dost not disdain to extend thy compassionate hand to him, to extricate him from the gulf of despair.”   May our God be eternally blessed and thanked, O most amiable Mary, for having created thee so sweet and benign, even towards the most miserable sinners!  Truly unfortunate is he who loves thee not, and who, having it in his power to obtain thy assistance, has no confidence in thee.  He who has not recourse to Mary is lost; but who was ever lost that had recourse to the most Blessed Virgin?

The above extracts are but a taste of the spiritual riches to be found in the 'Glories of Mary'. 

The whole book is divided into five sections:-
Part the First, an explanation of the  'Salve Regina' (Hail Holy Queen), divided into ten chapters, each concentrated on separate aspects of Our Lady as recited in the prayer.

Part the Second, with Discourses on the Principal Feasts of Mary  1. Mary's Immaculate Conception.
2. The Birth of Mary.  3.The Presentation of Mary.  4.  The Annunciation of Mary.  5. The Visitation of Mary.  6.  The Purification of Mary.  7. The Assumption of Mary.  8. Second discourse on the Assumption of Mary. 

Part the Third, the Dolours of Mary - Reflections on each of the seven dolours of Mary.  1. St Simeons prophecy.  2.  The flight of Jesus into Egypt.  3.  The loss of Jesus in the Temple.  4. The meeting of Mary and Jesus when He was carrying His Cross to Calvary.  5.  The death of Jesus.     6.  The piercing of the side of Jesus and His taking down from the cross. 7.  The burial of Jesus.

Part the Fourth, the Virtues of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary - 1. Mary's humility.  2. Mary's love of God.  3.  Mary's love of her neighbour. 4. Mary's faith.  5.  Mary's hope.  6.  Mary's chastity.
7.  Mary's poverty.  8.  Mary's obedience. 9. Mary's patience. 10. The spirit of prayer and meditation in Mary. 

 Part the Fifth, practices of devotion in honour of the Divine Mother - 1. The Hail Mary.
2. Novenas.  3. The Rosary and the Office of our Blessed Lady. 4.  Fasting.  5.  The visiting of the images of Mary.  6.  The scapular.  7.  The confraternities of our Blessed Lady. 8. The alms given in Mary's honour.  9. Frequent recourse to Mary. 10. Several other practices in honour of Mary.

                                               St Alphonsus de Liguori (1696-1787)


Sunday, 10 February 2019

'Orate Fratres'- Rev Bernard Basset S.J.

Nearly seventy years ago, I was a young teenager attending Wimbledon College in south-west London, a State aided Grammar School for boys run by the Jesuits. Whilst there I had the good fortune to attend a Retreat for our age group, given by Father Bernard Basset S.J., a much sought after Retreat Master. I found his talks on the Faith stimulating, clear and balanced, and sprinkled always with a generous dressing of humour.

                Recently I came across a second-hand, small paper-back book, entitled ‘The Seven Deadly Virtues and Other Stories’ by Bernard Basset S.J., published by Sands & Co., which I am reading and thoroughly enjoying.

                I reproduce one of the stories, ‘Orate Fratres’, which I hope that you enjoy as much as I do.


‘Orate Fratres’

‘The early morning Mass was over.  The minute server had extinguished the last of the very tall candles, and had retired to the sacristy carrying the missal, the cruets, the altar cards and the extinguisher.  He had not dropped anything but he had gone off rattling like a four wheeler, and the sound of voices in the sacristy led one to believe that the sacristan had told him not once but a hundred times not to do that again.

                Mrs Reid liked to hear the voices in the distance.  It made the church seem less empty and it filled up part of the thanksgiving time.  Mind you, she did not tell herself this in so many words, but it was a fact all the same.

                The church was now very dim and peaceful, and Mrs Reid felt that the moment had come to get down to her prayers, but much as she loved the Lord she could not get started.  What with the - ‘Jimmy Mason’ film she had seen yesterday, and the candles all askew on the high altar, she could neither open nor shut her eyes without distraction. She took up her missal and glanced hurriedly through it, but it was too much like a Bradshaw to give her any consolation except on the very biggest and most straight- forward feasts.  Besides it had a map of the Roman Basilicas at the beginning, and only yesterday she had found herself on the Appian Way when the Sanctus bell sounded.  Mrs Reid shut her missal with a bang.

                Her knees were hurting and so she decided to sit down, but this manoeuvre hurled her umbrella to the ground.  Heavens, how the rubber band at the top was worn!  She would buy another on the way to the oculist and would also have the button sewn on properly.  Mrs Reid picked it up and began to roll it up when she suddenly recalled that she was in church.

                “Gracious me, what am I up to?” she whispered, horrified, as she clapped down the umbrella and picked up her other prayer book.  “Dear Lord, forgive me, what can I say to You?”

                She always brought the other prayer book to church every day though she never knew why.  It was stuffed with holy pictures and mortuary cards, and one or two less pious objects.  There was a bus ticket and a list of successful candidates  for the London Matriculation.  Her boy had passed well and his name was underlined in red. Last Sunday by mistake she had taken out the cutting during Benediction, and without thinking had started to read through all the names.

                She had got down to the Ks when she saw that odious Miss Perkins looking at her across the aisle.  On that occasion she had audibly whispered  a ‘Glory be to the Father’ and made a Sign of the Cross before putting the cutting away, just to teach the other not to judge her neighbours, but now she felt it was playing with fire to get near the Matriculation results again.

                So Mrs Reid fell back on her rosary.  She fished it out from her coat pocket – no, it was in her bag after all, funny – and settled down to say her beads.  She started correctly but after a few minutes the beads were shooting by too quickly.  Hail Marys cannot be said at that speed.  Mrs Reid pulled herself up.  Where was she, not at the third mystery already?  Why she didn’t remember whether it was the Joyful or the Glorious.

                “Dear Lord, I’m hopeless,” she said for the hundredth time before going off on to another distraction.

                There was the Canon kneeling on the other side of the church making his thanksgiving after Mass.  He knelt so still, with bowed head and joined hands. Never a movement.  Mrs Reid stared at him quite openly.

                “Dear Lord,”” she said, “I’m hopeless at prayer; if only I could pray like the Canon.  He is a priest so I suppose it is easier for him, because they are taught how to pray in the seminaries.  I expect he is having a vision at this very moment.  Dear Lord, I am so useless, can’t I pray like that?”

                Mrs Reid put down her rosary, joined her hands, shut her eyes and tried to pray like the Canon.

                Yes, the Canon knelt very still, and he kept his eyes shut, but that was because he had been taught at the seminary that it was not hypocrisy but good example to look devout even when he did not feel it.  But as he knelt there his mind wandered from the leak in the roof of St Joseph’s chapel to the Archbishop’s cold, and from the archiepiscopal cold to the way his server sniffed during Mass.  Really he must summon up courage to tell the boy even if it led to an attack of sulks and no server for a week.  Perhaps he could ask Mrs Reid to say the responses , she was always regular in the mornings.  The Canon knew she was here now for he could hear her rosary rattling against the bench.

                “Dear Lord,” said the Canon, “I’m hopeless.  Here I am wandering about thinking of roofs and sniffs when I should be thanking You for the honour given me each morning of holding in my hands the living God.  Here am I, a useless shepherd, wasting my time thinking of money and temporal trivialities, while one of my own parishioners is praying as I ought to be.  O Lord, if only I could pray like Mrs Reid.  I’m hopeless.”

                The old Canon fumbled in his pocket and drew out his rosary beads.

                And from on high the Son of God looked down on them with love, for although He now enjoys eternity, He has not forgotten just how long a quarter of an hour can be.  And just as it is the time and trouble taken that makes a letter from a friend so welcome, so it is the time and trouble taken that makes prayer acceptable to God.  For prayer is not unlike a letter to a loved one, beginning with a big Beloved and then skipping from triviality to triviality till it reaches the triumphant conclusion “Yours very devotedly”.  This is what pleases God.’

Ack. ‘The Seven Deadly Virtues, and Other Stories’ by Rev Bernard Bassett S.J. (published by Sands & Co. – with permission to publish in book form  from  Stella Maris and Southwark Record in which they first appeared.)

Friday, 28 December 2018

'As the Little Child' - Rev D. Considine S.J.(1925)

The following extract is taken from ‘Delight in the Lord’, notes of Spiritual Direction and Exhortation by Rev Daniel Considine S.J. , published in 1925 by Burns, Oates, & Washbourne Ltd.

The article is taken from a Retreat given by Father Considine to I think cloistered nuns, but his deeply spiritual exhortations  surely apply to us all.

‘The world is utterly mistaken when it thinks of the service of God as dull and gloomy.  It is a service most full of joy. God tells us we are to “delight in the Lord,” and he never tells us to do what is impossible. When Our Lord was on Earth , he was not morose or hard to please; he was the most delightful of companions. We can see this from the Gospels. He could not get the crowds to leave him alone. They thronged him on every side so that he had not so much as time to eat. His disciples were perfectly happy in his society and wanted nothing else. …………’

                  'Christ with children'  by Carl H Bloch 

‘When the Apostles wanted to know who were the great ones in God’s Kingdom, Our Lord set before them as the model of the highest sanctity, a little child.

                If you want to please Our Lord and to be very near to him, take him completely at his word, as he meant to be taken, and be really as a little child with him and with others.

               1. Little children are simple and direct. They say exactly what they think without pose or affectation. Do you say things exactly as they are to God? He loves straightforwardness and simplicity. So if you have done wrong tell him so – own up simply and courageously, like a trusting child, and he will love you all the more for it. Don’t be making excuses or finding reasons to palliate your fault.

                2. Little children are perfectly confiding and trustful. They believe whatever you tell them and expect you to keep your promises. So believe in Our Lord as a little child believes in its father and mother. Look upon him as absolutely and infinitely wise, powerful and loving, as indeed he is, and expect from him all sorts of wonderful surprises and you will get them. Believe firmly that he will keep his promises, and you will see their fulfilment.

                3. A little child does not attempt to provide for itself – has no anxious foresight. So lean on God and look to him for everything. Don’t trust in your own strength or wisdom or judgement any more than a tiny child does, but say, “The Lord rules me, and I shall want for nothing.”

                4. Little children obey unquestioningly and don’t expect to understand everything. So be pliable in the hands of God, following his appointments without attempting to understand them. Go trustfully wherever he leads you. Don’t arrange things for yourself, but let him fashion your life and make you holy in his own way.

                5. Little children recover quickly from their faults and their other troubles. When they do wrong and are reprimanded, they kiss their father and mother, and a minute later they have forgotten all about it and are quite at their ease with them. So never have any misgivings about God’s forgiveness, his tenderness, his love. Recover quickly from your faults. Tell Our Lord you are sorry, and then forget all about it and go on as if nothing had happened. Little children never worry themselves wondering if their parents will ever be the same towards them again, whether they will love and take care of them as much as before. Such doubts never enter their heads. They take their forgiveness as a matter of course, and it only serves to make their loving relations with their parents stronger and more intimate than ever.

                6. Little children run to their parents in all their troubles and fears – and confide in them and look to them to put everything right. Never be so foolish as to imagine that any difficulty of character or circumstances, or any mistake you have made, is beyond the goodness and wisdom and power of your heavenly Father. God is ten thousand times more willing to help you than you are to be helped. But you must make it possible by trusting him.

                7. Little children are open-hearted and affectionate, and if their baby caresses and words of love are a joy to their parents, so are our affectionate words and thoughts pleasing to our most loving and tender-hearted Lord.

                8. Little children are affectionate and friendly to all. They are without suspicion or guile. Everyone is a friend to them. They have no ulterior motives- but are frank and open-hearted – so ought we to be with others.

                9. Little children are joyous and easily pleased – full of wonderment, fresh and happy. So let us be happy and delighted with God’s wonderful love and the magnificent gifts he gives us, and rejoice in his service like loving children.

                                        If our love were but more simple

                                        We should take him at his word

                                        And our lives would be all sunshine

                                        In the sweetness of Our Lord.


             10. Little children are not critical. They accept circumstances and people unquestioningly, because they know no better. Everything seems all right to them. If only we could be content to look with their trustful, uncritical gaze on everything which it is not our direct duty to attend to, knowing that God is overall, that he is wiser and more powerful than we can understand, and that he can be trusted with the management of his own creation.’


 ‘Come, ye monarchs and emperors, come, all ye princes of the world, come and adore your highest King, who for love of you is now born, and born in such poverty in a cave. But who appears?  No one.  The Son of God has indeed come into the world; but the world will not acknowledge him.’

     ‘Thoughts from St Alphonsus’  by  Rev C McNeiry C.SS.R.’



       "Wishing one and all a very blessed and happy New Year"

Monday, 22 October 2018

Father William Doyle S.J. (1873-1917) - good priest, courageous man, true shepherd of souls.

The article below was first posted ten years ago, on 19th October, 2008, on my blog 'whitesmokeahoy'. I feel it appropriate to remind ourselves of this holy and courageous priest, a true shepherd of his flock. 

Good day friends of the Pro Papa League.

We have recently received the latest edition of ‘Catholic’ published by the F.SS.R Transalpine Redemptorists, Golgotha Monastery, Papa Stronsay. This is the first edition published since the reconciliation with Rome, and it maintains the high standards that we have come to expect over the years. There is an excellent editorial by Fr Michael Mary FSSR, Superior General, together with the usual wide range of learned and interesting articles, Church news past and present, announcements, photographs, quiz, etc. I fully recommend this publication, which maintains its traditional Catholic ethos, to those who have not yet subscribed. Each edition of ‘Catholic’ includes a book of specifically Catholic interest, abridged and reprinted in soft-back format, produced by ‘The Desert Will Flower’ Press. The latest book is ‘Trench Priest, The Life of Fr William Doyle, S.J.’ This is the abridged biography of an Irish Jesuit priest who died in 1917, aged 44 years, nr Ypres, on the battlefields of Belgium, whilst serving as Chaplain to several Irish regiments. This book vividly brings to life the selfless devotion and courage shown by Fr Doyle in the terrible blood-bath and horror of the Western Front, an account of heroic faith and true charity which genuinely brought tears to my eyes. The deep faith, trust in God, selfless love for others of whatever creed, courage, and devotion to duty, exhibited by Fr Doyle in all circumstances, shines like a beacon in the darkness of hell. It is only possible to include here a few extracts from this absorbing book, but it is appropriate to do so, particularly as we will soon be in November, the month of ‘All Saints’ and the ‘Holy Souls’, and I have absolutely no doubt that ‘Fr William Doyle S.J.’ is inscribed on the Roll of Honour for both.

‘All through the worst hours an Irish Padre went about among the dead and dying, giving Absolution to his boys. Once he came back to headquarters, but he would not take a bite of food or stay, though his friends urged him. He went back to the field to minister to those who were glad to see him, bending over them in their last agony. Four men were killed by shell-fire as he knelt beside them, and he was not touched – not touched until his own turn came. A shell burst close by, and the Padre fell dead’ ( Philip Gibbs, in the Daily Chronicle and Daily Telegraph)

‘The Orangemen will not forget a certain Roman Catholic chaplain who lies in a soldier’s grave in that sinister plain beyond Ypres. He went forward and back over the battlefield with bullets whining about him, seeking out the dying and kneeling in the mud beside them to give them Absolution, walking with death with a smile on his face , watched by his men with reverence and a kind of awe until a shell burst near him and he was killed. His familiar figure was seen and welcomed by hundreds of Irishmen who lay in that bloody place. Each time he came back across the field he was begged to remain in comparative safety. Smilingly he shook his head and went again into the storm. He had been with his boys at Ginchy and through other times of stress, and he would not desert them in their agony. They remember him as a saint – they speak his name with tears’ (Percival Phillips, in the Daily Express and Morning Post)

‘Fr Doyle felt fear deeply. He had a highly- strung nervous system and a vivid imagination that visualised danger fully, and realised the risk before him – all the physical elements of cowardice were his. He went out to perils, not at the word of command that meant death to disobey, not with the lust of battle surging in his veins and sweeping him along with a primitive savage longing to kill, not in the company of cheering, sustaining comrades. Fr Doyle had no word of command but his conscience and his sense of duty. He had no violent emotions to blind him to danger. Usually he had no comrade to bear him company save grim Death, who walked very close to him at times. It may sound a paradox, but it is perfect truth: Fr Doyle was the biggest coward in the 16th Division, and the bravest man in the British Army! An even more striking description was given by one of his men,, who declared emphatically that Fr Doyle was ‘the bravest man in the war’. (A Colonel who knew him intimately)

Fr Doyle was awarded the Military Cross at the battle of the Somme,, recommended for the D.S.O. at Wytschaete, and the Victoria Cross at Frezenberg. Though recommended for the VC by his Commanding Officer, by his Brigadier, and by General Hickie, commander of 16th Division, ‘superior authority’ did not agree. Possibly the fact that he was an Irish Roman Catholic priest influenced the decision of those ‘superior authorities’? Beyond the tributes of this world, numerous favours and cures have been attributed to his intercession, and to the use of his relics. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. To order please use the ‘Transalpine Redemptorist’ link on my sidebar which will take you straight to their blogsite.


More from ‘Thoughts from St Alphonsus’ by Rev C McNeiry CSSR

‘Humiliation is the touchstone of sanctity. You will acquire
more merit by meekly receiving an affront, than by fasting ten
days on bread and water.’ (October 24th)        

‘Ecclesiasticus says that her bonds are a healthful binding,
and that in the latter end thou shalt find rest in her. You will
be indeed fortunate if at death you are bound with the sweet
chains of the love of the Mother of God. These chains are chains
of salvation.’ (November 17th)

All ye holy angels and saints, guide and protect our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVIth
O Holy Mother of Christ, pray for our Holy Father and for us thy children.

 Much has happened in the Church over the past ten years. We enjoyed many blessings during the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, most importantly the 'Motu Proprio' (2007) which confirmed that the traditional Latin Mass prior to Vatican II had never been abolished, and that priests were free to celebrate this Mass whenever they wished without the need to first obtain the permission of their bishop. The Ordinariate was officially set up which has brought many good clerics and laity into the Church, with many ordained as Catholic priests, and the Ordinariate playing an increasingly active and important role in the life of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. This spiritually invigorating state of affairs came to an abrupt halt with the unexpected resignation/retirement of Pope Benedict XVI in 2013, and the advent of a new papacy under Pope Francis. We know what has happened over the past five years; the papal attack on Church tradition in all its forms; the disgraceful political machinations in the Synod on the Family; the selection of certain bishops and cardinals known to share the Pope's views on various matters, not least the  LGBT influence within  the Church; the ambiguous wording of papal encyclicals opening the door to sacrilegious practice regarding receipt of Holy Communion by those in invalid 'marriages'; aggressive persecution of any opposition to papal authority eg. the Knights of Malta fiasco; the sexual abuse scandal in the Church, particularly in Vatican circles and in the upper hierarchy of the Church world-wide, which while clearly developing over several decades, has not been helped by the Pope's response, or to be precise his lack of response; also his choice of inner circle of advisers several of whom have themselves been subject to investigations for various matters;  the financial scandals which have been under scrutiny for many years, the latest involving a thirteen million dollar donation to a Vatican hospital already suspected of serious financial mismanagement. The list goes on, and as we approach the final days of the Youth Synod, one wonders what surprises lie in store. Rumour has it, and it may be no more than rumour, that Pope Francis plans to introduce a new form of the Mass sympathetic to Protestant thinking, originally devised by Pope Paul VI during Vatican II, but not actually celebrated.  Throughout this pontificate it would seem that Pope Francis has little time for tradition within the Church, instead steering the barque of Peter into the dark and dangerous waters of contemporary thinking, sowing cockle in the wheat-fields of the Faith. We will not lose heart, for we know from Our Lord’s words the outcome of the parable of the cockle and the wheat, and we also know from Our Lord that a good tree will bring forth good fruit, and a bad tree bad fruit. Future generations will be aware of the history of this pontificate with all its ramifications, and will make their own judgment. I fully accept, respect and honour the See of Peter, and pray for the incumbent whoever that may be. However, humanly speaking, I do not hold all incumbents in the same esteem, if at all.

Friday, 7 September 2018

St Padre Pio - Saint of our times.

Padre Pio - born Francesco Forgione, 25.5.1887, in Pietrelcina, Beneventu, Italy.
  Died 23.9.1968 in San Giovanni Rotondo, Foggia, Italy.
  Beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1999.

Canonised by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

Feast Day -  23 September

Padre Pio - Roberto Dughetti/Lucia Dughetti  (1966) (Wikipedia)

I have recently finished reading ‘Padre Pio, Man of Hope’ by Renzo Allegri, published by Servant Books, St Anthony Messenger Press, Ohio, which I thoroughly enjoyed and strongly recommend.

My knowledge of St Padre Pio and his life was minimal,  limited to the facts that he was an Italian Franciscan priest, renowned for his holiness,  who bore the Stigmata throughout his religious life.

Having read this book I now know much more, particularly with regard  to Padre Pio’s great  love of God and his love of people, and his  holy acceptance of suffering,  physical and moral.  As well as the pain experienced from the Stigmata, Padre Pio suffered  from generally poor health throughout his life. Additionally he was the innocent victim of malicious rumours spread by certain secular clergy, resulting in the Holy Office imposing humiliating restrictions on his priestly freedom, restrictions which lasted for many years.  Padre Pio was finally and completely exonerated from any wrong-doing, and his accusers shamed.

Padre Pio first received the Stigmata when he was 23 years old, shortly after his ordination to the priesthood. This remained with him until his death in 1968, aged 81 years. When preparing his body for burial no trace of the stigmata was found. Perhaps this was not so surprising, for when he first received the Stigmata , he prayed in his humility, that it be hidden from view of others, without any lessening of the pain endured by him. At the end his prayer was answered.

In his life, Padre Pio always looked to the future in a spirit of optimism, faith and love, with  incredible, some would say miraculous, results. An example of this was the planning and overseeing, with others, of  the construction of the 'House for the Relief of Suffering’, a hospital for everyone rich and poor, which today is one of the largest, most well-equipped and efficient hospitals in the south of Italy.


 'House for the Relief of Suffering', San Giovanni Rotondo. (Mazaki)  (Wikileaks)

Of Padre Pio’s spiritual stature, Cardinal Siri had this to say; “With the Stigmata which he bore throughout his life and with the other physical and moral sufferings he endured, Padre Pio calls our attention to the body of Christ as a means of salvation. Jesus died on the cross for us, and the entire theology of redemption rests on this truth, one of the principal tenets of our faith. This truth is so important … and men have forgotten it…. and God has sent us this man with the task of calling us back to the truth.” (ack. ‘Padre Pio, Man of Hope’)

Bilocation, levitation, mind-reading, premonition, and clairvoyance, are some of the phenomena known to have been associated with Padre Pio during his life, as were numerous miracles.

In his monastic cell, on many occasions he suffered violent physical assaults by devils, also continual  spiritual torments.

 I have only touched the tip of the iceberg as far as Padre Pio’s life is concerned. For a fuller introduction you need to read this book or any of the many books written about this humble Saint.

Even the little I have learnt has truly been a revelation, and I intend to try to deepen my faith by learning more of Padre Pio’s life, and praying for his intercession to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother, for myself and all those dear to me.

This post is just a brief introduction to Padre Pio, but I include at the end a video recording events, people, and places, during and after his life, which is fascinating and occasionally very moving.   I urge you to make time to watch it, or at least some of it, if you possibly can. You will not regret it.


Saint Padre Pio, pray for us.

Posted by umblepie at 17:57

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Thursday, 5 July 2018

'The Hail Mary' by Marigold Hunt; 'He is the Boy' by GK Chesterton.

Marigold Hunt born in the United Kingdom in 1905 was a speaker for the Catholic Evidence Guild and served for many years as advertising manager of Sheed and Ward publishing company.   She wrote several children's books, mostly on religious themes, in which she excelled in sharing her great love for her faith and God's creation in a manner attractive to young children and all those 'young at heart'. She spent her final years in Somerset, Massachusetts, USA, with her friends Patricia and Owen McGowan. She died on December 15, 1994, and is buried at St Patrick's cemetery, Somerset, MA.  

'The   Hail   Mary'
      Marigold Hunt
Hail, full of Grace” (Luke 1. 28)
          Our Lady helped her mother
        To wash the breakfast things,
        And in the garden Gabriel
        Waited, with folded wings.
        Our Lady came to the garden
        For lettuces and peas,
        And Gabriel knelt to worship her
        Humbly, on his knees.

        Our Lady’s soul was shining,
        The light was in her face ---
        “Hail, full of grace,” said Gabriel,
        “Hail, full of grace.”

        He began a prayer
        For you and me.
        “Hail, Mary, full of grace
        The Lord is with thee.”


“And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:  And she cried
out with a loud voice,  and said:  Blessed art thou among women
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb”  (Luke 1. 41-42).

        Our Lady had a cousin
        Who was getting rather old,
        Her name was Elizabeth
        And she was good as gold.
        Our Lady loved Elizabeth,
        So God let her see
        Who Our Lady was, and whose
        Mother she would be.

        “Blessed art thou among women,”
        St. Elizabeth said,
        “And blessed the fruit of thy womb,
        Jesus.”  Bow your head.

        An angel and a saint
        Showed us the way
        Of greeting Our Lady
        And what we should say.


         “Behold a virgin…. shall bring forth a son, and they shall call
his name Emmanuel,  which being interpreted is,  God with us  (Matt. i. 28, quoting Isaias vii. 14)

        When Our Lord was a little new baby
        And lay on Our Lady’s knees,
        He heard the bees in the clover,
        He heard the wind in the trees.

        He remembered making the clover,
        And telling the wind to blow,
        He remembered putting the hum in a bee
        And setting the trees to grow.

        He remembered making Our Lady
        To be Queen of Everything,
        The Crown of the World, and His mother,
        He, her son and her king ----

        The angels call her holy,
        And we will do the same,
        “Holy Mary, Mother of God,”
        Our Lord made her name.


“He was subject to them” (Luke ii.51)

         Every day at Nazareth
         St. Joseph sawed and chipped,
         Our Lady bound his fingers up
         When the chisel slipped.

         Every day at Nazareth
         Playing with the chips,
         Our Lord made Our Lady
         Boxes and ships.

         Every day at Nazareth
         Our Lady knelt to pray
         For Joseph; and for you and me
         Who must be good to-day.

         “Pray for us sinners, now,
         Dear Our Lady, please,
         While we are safe and happy
         And can go on our knees.


         “But he, taking her by the hand, cried out, saying: Maid, arise.
And her spirit returned, and she arose immediately.  And he bid them
give her to eat  (Luke viii. 54-5).

         A friend of Our Lord’s in Galilee
         Had a dear little girl who died.
         Her mother was sad, and her father was sad,
         And everybody cried,

         Our Lord was coming to make her well,
         But she died before he came,
         So they told him not to bother,
         But he bothered all the same.

         He took the little girl’s hand in His,
         And said: “Little maid, arise!”
         And the little girl came to life again,
         Sat up, and opened her eyes!

         Death must come to stay at last
         And sorrow hard to bear,
         But it doesn’t really matter,
         So long as Our Lord is there.

                    So we ask Our Lady
                    To pray for us then,
                    And come to us and bring her Son
                    “At the hour of our death


   He is the Boy

G.K. Chesterton

‘I have little doubt that the return of liberty and prosperity to Ireland will mean the development of that Christian craftsmanship, in which Our Lady once taught the world in the decorative designs of the Dark Ages.  Any impression so atmospheric must appear arbitrary, and it would be idle to mention the multitude of small experiences that have seemed to me to point to such a destiny.  I will only mention two things out of a thousand; one an old story which I heard and even recorded long ago; the other a small incident that quite recently happened to myself’ but in both of which is expressed with a certain emotional exactitude the shade of fact and feeling that I mean.  The first is a story that I heard in Donegal twelve years ago; but I know nothing of the origin of the story.  It told how someone had met in the rocky wastes a beautiful peasant woman carrying a child, who on being asked for her name, answered simply:  I am the Mother of God, and this is Himself, and He is the boy you will all be wanting at the last.”  I had never forgotten this phrase, which expresses the spirit of which I speak in a language which is a natural literature; and I remembered it suddenly long afterwards, when I fancied I had found something that expressed it also, not in literature but in sculpture.

          I was looking about for an image of Our Lady which I wished to give to the new church in our neighbourhood, and I was shown a variety of very beautiful and often costly examples in one of the most famous and fashionable Catholic shops in London.  It was a very good shop, and the proprietor was not to blame if the nature of the find was something of a parable. It is the glory of the great Cult of Mary that she has appeared to painters and sculptors under a variety of bodily types almost wider than the actual variety of all the women in the world.  She has been the patroness of so many lands and cities that she has become the centre or the prop of every scheme of ornament or school of architecture; and her garments have been made of all the materials of the world.  Here there was everything, from what some would call the conventional dolls of the Repository to what some would call the harshest caricatures of the Primitives. But somehow I felt fastidious, for the first time in my life; and felt that the one kind was too conventional to be sincere and the other too primitive to be popular. There were the types of the bronze Byzantine gloom and types of the cereal Flemish exuberance; extravagances of Renaissance drapery, wrought in enamel or in metal, sprawling like a wheel of wings yet poised like a pillar;  delicate figures in ivory or dark figures in ebony; all the multi-form manifestations of the most profound inspiration of the arts of our race. But, for some reason, as I have said, they left me not indeed cold, but vague, and I ended prosaically by following the proprietor to an upper floor, on some matter of mere business; the receipting of an old bill or what not. But the upper room was a sort of lumber room, full of packages and things partially unpacked, and it seemed suddenly that she was standing there, amid planks and shavings and sawdust, as she stood in the carpenter’s shop in Nazareth.  I said something, and the proprietor answered rather casually:  “Oh, that’s only just been unpacked;  I’ve hardly looked at it. It’s from Ireland!”

          The colours were traditional; but the colours were not conventional;  a wave of green sea had passed through the blue and a shadow of brown earth through the crimson, as in the work of the ancient colourists.  The conception was common and more than common, and yet never merely uncommon.  She was a peasant and she was a queen, and in that sense she was a lady; but not the sort of sham lady who pretends to be a peasant, nor the sort of sham peasant who pretends to be a lady.  She was barefoot like any colleen on the hills; yet there was nothing merely local about her simplicity.  I have never known who was the artist and I doubt if anybody knows; I only know that it is Irish, and I almost think that I should have known without being told. I have heard of on other man who felt as I do, and went miles out of his way at intervals to revisit the little church where the image stands. She looks across the little church with an intense earnestness in which there is something of endless youth; and I have sometimes started, as if I had actually heard the words spoken across that emptiness; I am the Mother of God and this is Himself, and He is the boy  you will all be wanting at the last.
     ‘Christendom in Dublin’ by GK Chesterton (1932)


'Christendom in Dublin', a classic novel written by G.K. Chesterton, records his impressions of the 31st Eucharistic Congress held in Dublin in 1932.

The Catholic Church in Ireland has suffered terribly over recent decades. The disastrous liturgical and other changes imposed after Vatican II, combined with  the on-going clerical abuse scandals, damaged the faith and trust of so many people, Catholic and non-Catholic, that the Church today in Ireland compared to 1932 when Chesterton wrote the above, is but a shadow of its former self. 
We Catholics in the United Kingdom owe a tremendous amount to our fellow Catholics from Ireland, who over many decades have been the backbone of our parishes and Catholic organisations. We  pray for our Irish friends and for the Church in Ireland.