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Beato Fra Angelico

February 28th, 2020

Beato Fra Angelico

Beato Fra Angelico (1400-1455) - Patron of Artists - feastday 18 February
“Freely you were given, freely give.” St Matthew 10:8
“On June 23, 1983, Pope St. John Paul II granted official cultus to Fra Angelico, who is now Blessed with an office, a Mass and obligatory memory as Patron of Artists. Fra Angelico, baptized Guido di Pietro, was born around 1400 in Vicchio, a Tuscan town near Florence. At the age of twenty, he entered the Dominican Order at the Priory of San Domenico in Fiesole . He took the religious name of John whence the appellation Fra Giovanni de Fiesole. He died in Rome on February 18, 1455, and is buried in Santa Maria Sopra Minerva where his tomb remains an object of veneration...was this remarkable priest a painter of the Middle Ages or the Renaissance? The answer varies with the preconceptions of the critics, many of whom consider him a painter of transition.”
John Rubba, OP, “Fra Angelico”
“Fra Angelico’s life, by evidence, ran its course without a question, without a doubt, in uninterrupted service to God in the exercise of a God-given talent...Fra Angelico managed, as if without trying, to simplify the sometimes rather fussy pageantry of late-medieval painting without thinning it -he weeded it and gave it room to grow-and to unite heavenly sweetness with earthly truth as if any question as to their identity were ridiculous...Because of his gentleness, Fra Angelico is often underestimated as an artist even by his admirers, who tend to settle for his sweetness without recognizing his strength...Fra Angelico reconciled revolution and tradition by reconciling Massaccio’s realism-the projection of figures in light and space on a monumental scale-with the essentially miniature technique of the late-medievalists such as his probable teacher, Lorenzo Monaco.”
John Canaday, “The Lives of the Painters”
The Dominican motto, along with “Veritas,” is “Contemplata aliis tradrere,” (which is to share what you have seen or contemplated), reaches its zenith in Beato Angelico. Our great contemporary Swiss medical doctor and mystic, Adrienne von Speyr (20 September 1902-17 September 1967) sees Fra Angelico, while she is in an ecstatic state under obedience to her spiritual director, Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar, who was also her companion in a Mission, in fact he once said, you cannot separate my theology from hers. She said of Fra Angelico, “I see him (Adrienne smiles). He loves the Way that leads to God and is held in a continual contemplation of this Way. And if he paints, then he paints this Way. The saints he paints, the angels he presents, are all for him the expression of this Way. And in everything he experiences - even theological, philosophical, even if it is something extreme that remains incomprehensible to him -he can only concur if it can be brought into harmony with this Way. As soon as he comes to the Way, everything is clear to him, and he would be very capable of drawing very subtle distinctions. It is as if God had designated him to represent this Way to Him. So everything is also related that is given to him in contemplation, everything that he experiences in prayer and in daily life, everything is referred to this Way leading to God. It is the Way of being like a child, of childlikeness, of the childhood of God. It is the Way of holiness, the Way of renunciation in love of neighbor, which is so far developed that always the Lord and His holiness are seen in the neighbor. Art is given to him. He has not exactly chosen it. It is so much his talent and corresponds to him so much that it chose him more than he chose it. But for him it is one with religion, with love for God...he is one of his smiling saints.”
Adrienne von Speyr, “The Book of All Saints”
A blessed feast of Beato Fra Angelico to everyone especially - all who devote their lives to the vocation and work of Art. And a special thank you to my artist sister, Marjory McNichols Wilson who posts these blogs and helps me in every way!
Fr Bill McNichols - February 2020

The Kenosis of St Bernadette of Lourdes

February 28th, 2020

The Kenosis of St Bernadette of Lourdes

The Kenosis (self-emptying) of St Bernadette of Lourdes
“Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.”
Barry Lopez from his fable “Crow and Weasel”
“Wastefulness is the original Christian attitude...The entire Passion occurs under the sign of this complete self-wasting of God’s love for the world.”
From “Light of the Word” by Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar
“The Virgin used me as a broom to remove dust. When the work is done, the broom is put behind the door again. “
St Bernadette
“At my third request she (the Blessed Mother) put on a serious air and appeared to humiliate herself. She joined her hands, raising them above her breast. She looked towards heaven, then she slowly separated her hands, leaned towards me and said with a trembling voice: ‘I am the Immaculate Conception.’ “
From “Bernadette: The Only Witness” by Fr John Lynch, SM
“There was a child named Bernadette
I heard the story long ago
She saw the Queen of Heaven once
And kept the vision in her soul
No one believed what she had seen
No one believed what she heard
But there were sorrows to be healed
And mercy, mercy in this world...
We’ve been around, we fall, we fly
We mostly fall, we mostly run
And every now and then we try
To mend the damage that we’ve done
Tonight, tonight I just can’t rest
I’ve got this joy here inside my breast
To think that I did not forget
That child, that song of Bernadette...”
A truly inspiring, lovely song by the great Leonard Cohen (recorded beautifully by Jennifer Warnes in 1986)
In 1943 Jennifer Jones won the Oscar for her luminous portrayal of St Bernadette, in the film “The Song of Bernadette,” based on the 1941 novel of the same name by Franz Werfel. If you watch the incredible transformation on Jennifer Jones’ face when she first sees Our Lady of Lourdes, you see why she won. Her face goes from a shock-like fear, to disbelief or clearly bewildered...then into wonder and finally, total love. Her radiant face reflects the Woman she sees. It helps us all feel how we might feel if we were privileged to see the Mother of God. This icon was commissioned by the church of the Shrine of St Bernadette, here in Albuquerque in the early 1990’s. They asked for Bernadette to be in her religious habit of the Sisters of Charity of Nevers; the order she joined in 1866. I placed a candelabra behind her with 11 candles to signify the first time she saw Mary, February 11th, 1858. She is holding a bowl of water to signify the healing waters of Lourdes. When she was diagnosed with tuberculosis she refused the offer to be taken back from Nevers to Lourdes because she knew the healing waters were not for her. She is shown pouring them out of a bowl, symbolically emptying her life. She died on April 16, 1879 at the age of thirty five. St. John Paul II designated 11 February as World Day of the Sick in May of 1992. He wrote “a special time of prayer and sharing, of offering one’s suffering for the good of the Church and of reminding us to see in our sick brothers and sisters the face of Christ...” I’ll end with a most hopeful quote from St Bernadette: “If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again. We can always start all over again. Enjoy God’s amazing opportunities bestowed on us. Have faith in Him always.”
Fr Bill McNichols 💟 February 2020

The Silence of St Thomas Aquinas

February 28th, 2020

The Silence of St Thomas Aquinas

The Silence of St Thomas Aquinas (feast day January 28)
“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”
St Thomas Aquinas
My Father, Stephen McNichols, was born on the old feast of St Thomas Aquinas, March 7, and so from my earliest childhood, I felt a connection between this saint and my Dad. He used to tell me stories about a dinner Thomas was invited to with St Louis IX and St Bonaventure. At dinner Thomas was so caught up with solving a problem, that suddenly, when he found the answer he burst out loud with it and everyone was embarrassed for him. But Good King St Louis had a scribe rush over to where Thomas was seated to be sure his thought was taken down in writing. There is another great story that in Thomas’ youth his classmates called him the dumb ox, because his silence was thought to be stupidity.
His holy teacher, the Dominican and scientist, St Albert the Great, (feastday November 15) told the students that one day they would hear a great roar from this dumb ox. As we all know, the world continues to learn from the genius of St Thomas, but who was quite controversial in his own lifetime. It was near the end of his life, on the feast of St Nicholas, December 6, while saying Mass that he had an experience of God so profound, that he gave up writing and said “All that I have written is straw...” (in comparison to his mystical vision or experience). And so Thomas “went into silence.” Another thing I hope we’ve all experienced is a teacher who can change your life. A woman or man who “sees you” and can bring out your God-given gifts. Just recently, a couple of you tubes popped up on my phone. It was two short videos of The Book of Revelation by two young men who call themselves “The Bible Project.” Because they were short I thought, I’ll give them a try and was amazed at the brilliance, masterful teaching, delightful graphics, and the depth they manage to achieve in just a few minutes. Since then I’ve listened to and watched Isaiah, Haggai, Habakkuk, Esther, Job, Ecclesiastes, Proverbs (the Protestant Bible only contains 3 of the Wisdom Books) .... Matthew, Psalms, Mark and many more, like the ones on just a Hebrew word, or concept, such as “holiness.” I can’t say enough about these wonderful teachers who open books of the Bible for you and then you can meditate on them with reverence “in a prayer.”
In my six year apprenticeship with master Iconographer, Friar Robert Lentz, OFM, I began to experience the importance of the silent mystery in so many enigmatic icons, such as “Mother of God Similar to Fire,” “Mother of God Your Lap Has Become the Holy Table,” or “Jesus Christ Redeemer Holy Silence.” I think in the West we are uncomfortable with mystery and silence. We want an immediate explanation of what we are looking at in a work of art, but that kind of impatience will only frustrate the viewer of icons.
This icon of Thomas Aquinas deferring to an apparition of Holy Wisdom, is the result of reading two books on the Angelic Doctor:
“Aquinas Search For Wisdom” by Vernon Bourke and “The Silence of St Thomas” by Josef Pieper.
(we ) “...man, in his philosophical inquiry, is faced again and again with the experience that reality is unfathomable and Being is mystery- an experience, it is true, which urges him not so much to communicate as to silence. But it would not be the silence of resignation, and still less the silence of despair. It would be the silence of reverence."
J. Pieper
Happy Feast Day Angelic Doctor St Thomas Aquinas!
Fr Bill McNichols 2020

St Agnes of Rome

February 28th, 2020

St Agnes of Rome

St Agnes of Rome
(b 291-martyred January 21, 304 AD)
“The end is not an event but a person.” GB Caird
When I was around age 5 I received a set of 4 small books called “Little Lives of the Saints” by Fr Daniel Lord, SJ. One of the first things I did when I entered theJesuit Novitiate in Florissant, Missouri on September 1st 1968, was to find Fr Lord’s grave and pray over it, thanking him for leading me to the saints. There is another indelible book, a novel, by Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman, called “Fabiola” originally published in 1854. It reimagined the lives of the early young martyrs including Agnes, Emerentiana , Sebastian, Tarcisius, and Pancratius.
When you’re 7 or 8, a twelve or thirteen year old is a teenager, when you’re that young they seem very mature and impressive! Now when I think of them they seem very young and vulnerable. Just days ago, a thirteen year old girl was kidnapped in Springfield, Massachusetts and luckily a couple paid attention to the amber alert and followed the car, going a hundred miles an hour, all the while calling the police.
Thank God, because of that couple she was released unharmed after 6 hours.
We hear of these stories way too often. Sadly, tragically, rarely do they have a happy ending. The child martyrs like Agnes and Pancratius inspired me during a rough childhood of bullying. I can’t imagine what it must be like now for kids who are bullied through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, cell phones etc. I wonder if I’d have made it. So, in my childhood, I identified with the early martyrs and they were like my “imaginary friends” (see also the scholarly, very readable and brilliant book “The Cult of the Saints” by Peter Brown) who kept me alive and hoping. They taught me naturally, to pray by learning to talk with Jesus and His Mother, and our brothers and sisters, the saints. In this icon a young Agnes (whose name comes from the Latin, Agnus, which means lamb) is standing on a shining mandala. Inside is the martyred Lamb of God, standing on the Book of the Apocalypse (Revelation) with its seven seals, and the Lamb carries a green Cross of Victory. I love to speak in homilies, especially at funerals, comparing the vision of a powerful, frightening God in Isaiah 6, with the final scriptural vision of God in Revelation which is a Lamb. GB Caird taught me so much about the Lamb in his genius commentary “The Revelation of St John the (theologian) Divine” which I read with so much joy and interest when I was in my thirties as an art student at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Today you hear of a possible Apocalypse all the time. I would suggest Caird’s book, but also Craig Koester’s book “Revelation and the End of All Things.” But if you want, you can look at two brilliant very short videos on you tube by two young masterful teachers, who make short videos on every book of the Bible. They call themselves “the Bible Project.” I can’t say enough good about them. Agnes is patron of young girls, and there are so many centuries of beautiful paintings, statues or sculptures of her. She remains much beloved, through almost every century of Christianity; a sign of the Lamb of the Apocalypse, who conquers not by physical power but with the miraculous power of the Cross and this way of Love.
A blessed St Agnes Day !
Fr Bill McNichols - January 21, 2020

Dedication of the year 2020 to the Most Holy Trinity

February 28th, 2020

Dedication of the year 2020 to the Most Holy Trinity

Dedication of the year 2020 to the Most Holy Trinity
“The arms of God be around my shoulders,
the touch of the Holy Spirit upon my head,
the sign of Christ’s Cross upon my forehead,
the sound of the Holy Spirit in my ears,
the fragrance of the Holy Spirit in my nostrils,
the vision of Heaven’s company on my lips,
the work of God’s church in my hands,
the service of God and the neighbor in my feet,
a home for God in my heart,
and to God, the Father of all, my entire being,
Amen
Ancient Celtic Prayer
The Apparition of the Most Holy Trinity in Arroyo Seco, New Mexico
“There exists a legend here in the village as to why the parish is named La Santisima Trinidad. The original settlement was not in the area of the current plaza. It was much higher up, toward the foot of the mountain called El Salto de las Aguas, where the five waterfalls stream down from the mountain.
Two families from Abiquiu were the original settlers in this part of the Taos Valley, which was dangerous because of the tribes who attacked the Taos Indian Pueblo and Spanish settlements. The families lived in a large fortified complex at the foot of El Salto. The remains of three torreones can still be seen. The parents would leave the fortified compound during the day to clear the lower fields for cultivation with firm parental instruction to their children to stay within the safety of the walled hacienda and not go wandering off. The children, being children, left the protection of their home and wandered down the Rio Lucero (Arroyo Seco Creek) where one day they encountered two strange men. Surprised to see men who appeared to be Spanish settlers, the children asked where the men lived, for they thought they were the only Spanish settlers in this part of the valley. The men responded that they lived further on down the river. When the children asked if the men got frightened, living so exposed in the open of the lower valley, they responded that they were not frightened. And besides, the men said, a white dove lived in the tall trees near them and made loud cooing noises whenever anyone approached, thereby serving as a warning of approaching danger.
Departing, the children returned home and told their parents of their encounter with the two neighbors. The parents, knowing they were the only Spanish settlers in this part of the valley, decided to investigate for themselves. The two families walked downriver. Soon, the children spotted the white dove in a treetop. They immediately recognized the bird the two men had told them about. As the bird flew from tree to tree the two families followed it. At last the bird landed in an open area on a large rock and then flew off. The people noticed the rock was somehow different-luminescent. They turned the rock over and discovered an ancient bulto, or wood carving , of La Santisima Trinidad. When the children spotted the bulto they immediately cried out, ‘Those are the two men we saw!’ The families recognized that it was the actual Trinity, God the Father, Son and Spirit(the dove ) who had appeared to the children. The current church is built over the site of the rock. The Arroyo Seco Plaza was built around the church, and the ancient bulto is enshrined in a side altar.”
This legend is narrated by Fr Vincent Paul Chavez former pastor of Most Holy Trinity Parish.
I am personally dedicating this year of 2020 to the Holy Trinity in hopes of a recreation and renewal of our endangered planet, also praying for all peoples who are looking for a safe home, and all of us that we can learn to listen, have patience and begin again each day to love one another.
A Blessed New Year !
Fr Bill McNichols

The Incarnation - illustration from 1997

December 23rd, 2019

The Incarnation - illustration from 1997

The Incarnation : illustration from 1997
“There it was - the true Light coming into the world, the genuine, perfect, steadfast Light that illumines every person...” The Gospel of St. John 1:9 (from the Amplified Bible)
I can’t remember now if it was a poem or an article I was asked by America Magazine to illustrate in November 1997. But I do remember that my Father, Stephen McNichols (7 March 1914 - 25 November 1997) was slowly fading into the Light, inside a hospital in Denver at that time. I had flown in from NYC the 24th and was sitting by his bedside, talking with him about everything, while doing this illustration because I had a deadline. He was very peaceful and it did not seem to me at all, that he would die in the early hours of the 25th. So Dad will always be connected to this illustration of The Incarnation. In it I imagined the hand of God the Father lighting a candle of The Light of the World and the Child being the Light coming down from Heaven inside the flame. Sometimes you do things in a way that people call “being in the zone” or almost completely directed by the unconscious imagination. But I like to believe the Holy Spirit who sees all things, including the exact situation you are in at that moment, guides your heart and hand to produce an image that mysteriously ministers to you, and also goes out into the world as something that is a contemplation for others to feel inside their souls too. For me this has become an image of the beginning of a life that would dramatically change all history, all of creation, and point to the night of the end of life on earth, and into the life of Eternity. This is how it is with all of us. We have this brief life here but we will live forever. I have felt both my Father and Mother’s hands still lighting my life, with the beautiful examples of their lives, and their steadfast love. But most of all, I think we all remember our parents,siblings, friends, large or small extended families, with great love, and if need be, the lovely generosity of forgiveness during this Holy Season of Advent and Christmas.
Fr Bill McNichols:the fourth week of Advent 2019

The Feminine Name of God - Shekhinah

December 23rd, 2019

The Feminine Name of God - Shekhinah

The Feminine Name of God : Shekhinah
“....here is the deepest secret nobody knows...and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)”
e e cummings 1952
“We may well prefer the dark secret of our own existence to the whole range of this purely economic glory of God, i.e. to the unknown quantity, the inscrutable being who is concealed by it. But in the end it would be deadly for faith if God were not the God of Glory...In His manifestations God presents Himself as one who dwells, one who descends, one who comes and goes and finally, as a fellow-traveler...YHWH descends in the form of fire...the pillar of cloud...at the consecration of the tabernacle, the glory descends definitively to abide (shakan, whence shekina) within the camp (Exodus 33,35,40).”
from “The Glory of the Lord: Volume 6” by
Holy Theologian Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988)
Here we go. This blog may seem like a list of a whole lot of books, but I don’t know how to introduce you to Shekhinah in any other way, except to invite you on a prayerful, loving pilgrimage. Also, there is another clearly written explanation of this Hebrew calligraphy by Professor John Dadosky, in the book, “Image to Insight.”
In the early 90’s while I was just beginning my six year apprenticeship of iconography with the Russian American Master Iconographer, Friar Robert Lentz, OFM, I slowly read through all the volumes of “The Glory of the Lord.” I had been introduced to von Balthasar at age 19 by our Novice Master, Fr Vincent O’Flaherty, who had us read the book “Prayer” by the great theologian, and later reintroduced to him, and the mystic Adrienne von Speyr, by my deceased friend, Fr Eddie Oakes, who happened to be writing his truly amazing and holy book on von Balthasar, in the late 80’s, called “Pattern of Redemption” while I was living with him at the 98th Street Jesuit Community in New York City.
But it was later, in Albuquerque , in Volume 6 that I first came across the word, shekina. This led to a journey I’m still on, or a ‘condition’ of sitting inside this mystery, and feeling, or sensing something almost indescribable. Then, when I met Rabbi Leah Novick, after reading her scholarly, beautiful book, “On the Wings of Shekhinah : Rediscovering Judaism’s Divine Feminine” I think I gradually gained more and more understanding. But like the feminine concept of Hagia Sophia or Holy Wisdom, throughout the five Wisdom Books In Scripture (see Kathleen O’Connor’s book, “The Wisdom Literature” and the brilliant “Sophia : the Hidden Christ of Thomas Merton” by Christopher Pramuk) I understood there are somethings that simply cannot be apprehended by the mind, but must be sought in the heart of loving prayer, and often ask, like Icons, for a kind of distance or respectful patience, and as with the Most Blessed Trinity, always remain a holy mystery. As much as I try to describe this pilgrimage to seek and find Shekhinah, it’s like trying to see or explain the Holy Spirit. Yet, I do feel the presence of Shekhinah descend in a palpable way, in late November and during Advent, and reach “Her zenith” on Christmas Eve. As Marcellus says in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” that “Some say that ever ‘gainst that season comes, wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated, this bird of dawning singeth all night long; and then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad, the nights are so wholesome,then no planets strike, no fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm, so hallow’d and so gracious is the time.” I think we used to refer to this sensation as the “Christmas Spirit,” but as I got a better sense of Shekhinah I believe it is this mystery of the Feminine presence of God. I also believe you can feel this presence too if you become aware of the existence of this beautiful mystery, of one more way, as von Balthasar says, of the manifestations of God, “who descends definitively to abide,” as God with us.
“O Come, O Come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer, our spirits by Thine Advent here. Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death’s dark shadow put to flight. Rejoice, Rejoice! O Israel, to thee shall come Emmanuel.”
Fr Bill McNichols for the first week of Advent 2019

La Gloriosa Venida de Cristo Rey- The Glorious Coming of Christ the King

December 23rd, 2019

La Gloriosa Venida de Cristo Rey- The Glorious Coming of Christ the King

La Gloriosa Venida de Cristo Rey (The Glorious Coming of Christ the King)
“For as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to another, so will the Son of Man be in His day.” Luke 17:24
St John Paul II’s inspiration to call the “kairos time” of his papacy “the New Advent”, appeared at the beginning of his first encyclical “Redemptor Hominis,” 2 March 1979. Two years earlier, in 1977 Holy Theologian William Stringfellow had written two articles of great power, wisdom, and Biblical insight about how we are to live as Christians in this time of the Second Advent of the Lord. Apparitions of the Mother of God since the time of the ones given to St Catherine Laboure’ of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, in Paris 1830, all seem to be calling to us with basically the same heavenly care and message. These include (in our time) Fatima, Portugal, Amsterdam, Holland, Akita, Japan, Medjugorje, Bosnia, and Kibeho, Rwanda; begging for peace among all people, and they all seem to point to the Second Coming of Christ the King. Probably the most dramatic, loving and radiant of these come from Poland, also in our time, to St Faustina Kowalska. The Lord Himself came to Faustina asking for deep trust and devotion to His Divine Mercy; which He said is as “uncountable” as the grains of sand on the beaches near the oceans.
Jesus calls us to be awake with our lights ( the love inside) lit, awaiting Him, who is Our Lord and Bridegroom. All through this time I had wanted to portray the return of Christ the King, and the Jesuits of Santa Clara University gave me this opportunity in 2004. November 24, 2019 is the last Sunday of the Church’s Liturgical Year, and the feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. If you feel an emptiness or deep deep longing in your heart, during Advent especially, it is probably this ancient prayer of begging for the coming of the Messiah that many holy women and men, like St Simeon and St Anna felt, in the first Advent, portrayed in chapter 2:25-36, in St.Luke’s Gospel.
“Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!” Revelation 22:20
“Jesus, make my heart like unto Yours, or rather transform it into Your own heart that I may sense the needs of other hearts, especially those who are sad and suffering. May the Rays of Divine Mercy rest in my heart.”
From the Diary of St Faustina Kowalska
Fr Bill McNichols November 2019

Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich 1774-1824

December 23rd, 2019

Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich 1774-1824

Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich 1774-1824
“... Ismeria remained barren for some eighteen years. When she again became pregnant by God’s blessing, I saw that Ismeria was given a revelation at night. She saw an angel beside her bed writing a letter on the wall. It seems to me that it was again that letter M. Ismeria told her husband of it; he also had seen it in his sleep, but now, while awake, they both saw the sign on the wall. After three months Ismeria gave birth to St Anne, who came into the world with that sign on her body.
In her fifth year Anna was, like Our Lady, taken to the school of the Temple, where she remained twelve years. She was brought home again in her seventeenth year...”
Page 18
The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary by
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich
“Anne Catherine Emmerich was told by Our Lord that her gift of seeing the past, present, and future in mystic vision was greater than that possessed by anyone else in history. Born at Flamschen, Westphalia, Germany, on September 8, 1774, she became a nun of the Augustinian Order at Dulmen... From 1802 until her death, she bore the wounds of the Crown of Thorns, and from 1812, the full stigmata of Our Lord, including a cross over her heart and the wound from the lance... Clemens Brentano, a poet, a man of extensive learning and experience, and the literary darling of Europe at that time, went to see Anne Catherine Emmerich on a challenge and never left; rather he returned to the faith and spent the rest of his life transcribing her revelations and preparing them for publication...”
From The Life and Revelations of
Anne Catherine Emmerich
By Carl Schmoger, CSSR
We were always told, actually warned, in school and the seminary, about private revelations. Warned that some “spiritually immature” people would place them above the 4 Gospels and Scripture in general. But also told that we could read them as you would any spiritual writing, life of a saint, theological work, or novel of the Life of Christ etc... as long as you knew these were not the same as Scripture. Some very holy people like the “father of modern poetry,” Gerard Manley Hopkins, have found the revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich to be a most rewarding source for prayer. As we get closer to Advent I offer this icon of a holy woman to you; an image of her being instructed by the Holy Child Jesus, symbolic of the narratives she was given about the first Advent and the Infancy of “... this child destined for the fall and rising of many...” Luke 2:34. Blessed Anne died at age 49 on 9 February 1824 in Dulmen, Germany.
She was beatified 3 October 2004
by St John Paul II
Dear Blessed Anne
Help us to see into the life of Our Savior
not so much with the gifts you were given, but
with the devotion and love for His Life; a gift available to us all. Then help us take this Light, this beautiful Infant, into a world that daily, expresses its sorrow, tragedies, fear, depression and darkness.
We were all born purposely at this time, for this time, to be Lights. So dear friend, intercede for us to have the zeal and courage to bring all our gifts into the world, especially during this coming season of Advent 2019.
Fr Bill McNichols
18 November, feast of Philippine Duchesne

Holy Bishop St Martin of Tours

December 23rd, 2019

Holy Bishop St Martin of Tours

Holy Bishop St Martin of Tours
“We must obey God, rather than men.” Acts of the Apostles 5:29
“Martin (d.397 CE), named for the Roman god of war, grew up strong and handsome, earning himself a position in the elite Praetorian Guard. But at age 20, he carved up his uniform in order to clothe a freezing beggar. That night, he had a vision of Christ, who proclaimed before the heavenly host; ‘Here is Martin, not even baptized, who has clothed me.’ The very next day, Martin was baptized into the newly legalized Christian religion. He persevered in his reluctant service until it came into conflict with his faith. At the Battle of Worms in 356, he found himself on the eve of war. As Caesar Julian came down the line, he thought of Jesus’ disarming of Peter in Gethsemane. As the most powerful man in the known world stood before him, Martin declared loudly; ‘ I have served as your soldier long enough, let me now serve God; I am a soldier of Christ, it is not lawful for me to fight.’ Christian’s do not pray for victory, but for hostilities to cease. Martin did so behind bars,as a prisoner of conscience, after Caesar jailed him for refusing to fight. However, the enemy negotiated for peace and Martin was discharged from the military; the first soldier saint to escape martyrdom...”
Written by the veteran Logan Mehl-Laituri
“...he brings all his concerns before God with the awareness that God will hear them. And God constantly hears him...He cannot turn down a single request of his. His prayer is good and full of love, and he does not have to lead himself into prayer or be led; his entire life is a prayer...Even his work for the Church is a labor of love, of love for God and for his neighbor. He occasionally suffers because of the Church...And he always imagines that the Lord suffers much more...(And what is his death like?) I see anxieties regarding death. And afterward, in the midst of dying, perfect surrender...”
Adrienne von Speyr page 226
The Book of All Saints
Every year I have a desire to begin Advent earlier, and I usually pick St Albert’s day which is 40 days to Christmas, November 15. But I always feel Martin sounds the joyful bell on his feast; that Christ is coming to be born inside us again and again. I have a special love for St Martin, which goes back to childhood seeing paintings of him clothing the beggar, and now buying the candles of him at the grocery store where he is called “San Martin Caballero.”
I bought some today to give as gifts. Each saint has a gift for you if you simply look into their lives. Many even teach us with their faults as well as their virtues.
Dear St Martin,
Teach us, like our friend, St Philippine Duchesne, to live in a prayer. So that our requests out of love for anyone we pray for, like St Martin, will be heard by You, dear Lord. That our simple love for You can ease the terrible suffering we see every day around us. And also, please, dear Lord, prepare an empty place within us, as St Therese of Lisieux once said, a manger, in our souls where the Infant King can be born-again.
Fr Bill McNichols
11 November 2019

 

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