Jesus, The Model of Brotherly Love

Jesus Christ mosaic from the Hagia Sophia

This is from the Office of Readings from the Liturgy of the Hours for today on the iBreviary app. I found today’s readings very helpful and profound for meditation during Lent.

From the Mirror of Love by Saint Aelred, abbot (His writings are considered among the finest produced in England during the Middle Ages. He died in 1167 AD.)

Christ, The Model of Brotherly Love

The perfection of brotherly love lies in the love of one’s enemies. We can find no greater inspiration for this than grateful remembrance of the wonderful patience of Christ. He who is more fair than all the sons of men offered his fair face to be spat upon by sinful men; he allowed those eyes that rule the universe to be blindfolded by wicked men; he bared his back to the scourges; he submitted that head which strikes terror in principalities and powers to the sharpness of the thorns; he gave himself up to be mocked and reviled, and at the end endured the cross, the nails, the lance, the gall, the vinegar, remaining always gentle, meek and full of peace.

In short, he was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb before the shearers he kept silent, and did not open his mouth.

Who could listen to that wonderful prayer, so full of warmth, of love, of unshakeable serenity—Father, forgive them—and hesitate to embrace his enemies with overflowing love? Father, he says, forgive them. Is any gentleness, any love, lacking in this prayer?

Yet he put into it something more. It was not enough to pray for them: he wanted also to make excuses for them. Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. They are great sinners, yes, but they have little judgment; therefore, Father, forgive them. They are nailing me to the cross, but they do not know who it is that they are nailing to the cross: if they had known, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory; therefore, Father, forgive them. They think it is a lawbreaker, an impostor claiming to be God, a seducer of the people. I have hidden my face from them, and they do not recognize my glory; therefore, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

If someone wishes to love himself he must not allow himself to be corrupted by indulging his sinful nature. If he wishes to resist the promptings of his sinful nature he must enlarge the whole horizon of his love to contemplate the loving gentleness of the humanity of the Lord. Further, if he wishes to savor the joy of brotherly love with greater perfection and delight, he must extend even to his enemies the embrace of true love.

But if he wishes to prevent this fire of divine love from growing cold because of injuries received, let him keep the eyes of his soul always fixed on the serene patience of his beloved Lord and Savior.

Spend Lent With St. Teresa of Avila

St. Teresa of Avila small portrait

Wow, Lent. Again.

Usually I look forward to Lent every year. But this year, 2021, it seems like last year’s Lent never ended. Pandemic, tragedy, violence. We need Lent this year, but it has taken on a whole new, more serious, meaning for me – and I’m sure you as well. We still are sorta in quarantine. No hugs with friends. But God is always there, and now we have an opportunity to get to the business of a deeper, more substantial, relationship with him.

It’s my plan to help you get ready for Lent. The first resource I thought you might find helpful is St. Teresa of Avila. ICS Publications, the official publisher of the Discalced Carmelites, has a show entitled CarmelCast. It is both a video series on YouTube and a podcast, which you can listen on any podcast player.

This Lent, ICS is starting a series dedicated to teaching you how to pray using St. Teresa’s spiritual classic The Way of Perfection. They will have a series of shows studying this amazing book, using the Study Edition, which I highly recommend. This is my first recommendation this year, to give you time to order the book before Lent starts. If you order the book from the publisher ICS you can get 40% off by using the code CarmelCast at check out. Click Here for more details on this book.

To go along with this study, I highly recommend you also listen to the podcast series about The Way of Perfection at the Discerning Hearts Website, with Dr. Anthony Lilles. I’m just finishing up listening to this amazing series, and I cannot recommend it enough. If you can’t find time to read the book, you should at the very least listen to this podcast series. I read and studied the book a couple of years ago and I really got a lot out of this podcast series. I listen to it on their app, but you can probably use the podcast player of your choice.

Also available is a podcast series from Dr. Lilles for St. Teresa’s book Interior Castle, that you can move on to after you listen to The Way of Perfection series.

ICS has a brand new 2nd edition Study Guide version of Interior Castle that is excellent. I am studying it now and am so impressed by how everything is explained so well. But you should surely read The Way of Perfection first.

If you are still in a Carmelite frame of mind, you can also sign up for an online Lenten retreat by email. Click here for details and to sign up for this free email which is a collaboration with the Paris and Austrian Carmelites, translated into English by Br. Pier Giorgio Pacelli, OCD.

I will have more Lenten resources coming in future posts.

Is St. Corona Really The Patron of Epidemics?

Sts Corona and Victor

There’s been some controversy over whether St. Corona, a very early martyr, was a patron of epidemics. We usually think of a saint as one that gets official patronages from Rome, but throughout history patrons were more regional because the faith was, as was everything, especially in early times, more local. So while Corona, some of whose relics are in northern Italy, wasn’t a patron of epidemics there, she WAS the patron of epidemics in Aachen, Austria where the rest of her relics are buried – along with Charlemagne, in Aachen Cathedral, an historic coronation site for German kings and queens.

The point to take away is that all saints are seeing the face of God in heaven, and can pray for us to Jesus about any matter. Apparently, St. Corona has been invoked in the past for protection against epidemics and, one would imagine, has come through with that help, that is why she is a patron in Austria. So we can surely ask her for her prayers today. If she wasn’t the “official” patron before, she certainly is now.

There’s no need for controversy, all of heaven sees our distress, pain, and confusion here on earth, and they are all praying for us. This controversy certainly has been an interesting lesson in saints and their patronages. Really, any place or group, or even an individual, can adopt someone as their patron. And, as a profound thought, there are no coincidences with God. If this virus is named a “coronavirus,” and the saint was named “Corona” there’s a reason for it.

I thought you would find this one link helpful on this topic. It isn’t a Catholic source, but does have some helpful information. Stay safe – and stay home!

Photo: Sts. Corona & Victor undergoing martyrdom in 176 AD, from an Illuminated miniature in a Book of Hours, France (Paris), ca. 1480.

The Whole World Awaits Mary’s Reply: A Meditation for Advent & Christmas

The Annunciation, Caravaggio, 1608 (Wikimedia Commons)

This is a beautiful meditation from St. Bernard of Clairvaux that was in today’s Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours (iBreviary). May it be a blessing to you as it was to me.

From a homily In Praise of the Virgin Mother by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, abbot, (died 1153.)

The whole world awaits Mary’s reply.

You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.

The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die. In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life.

Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.

Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.

Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary. Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. If he should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek him afresh, the One whom your soul loves. Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word.