Tuesday, October 17, 2017

SIMILAR NAMES- BOTH OF THE ELECT

One of our nuns here is Mother Dilecta. Many years ago we had a young man from the Czech Republic come and spend summers with us while he was at school in the USA.


When I was able to go to Prague a few years later he was my guide, taking me to many of the wonderful monuments of his homeland. He had always been fascinated by Mother Dilecta’s name and wondered if it was related to a nun from Prague who lived in the 17th century named Elekta.  He took me to her convent where I was able to meet her as well as one of the nuns.

One of them sits in a chair in the Church of St. Benedict at Hradčanské Square in Prague and exalts sacred respect not only among the faithful, but also among experts. The body of the VENERABLE ABBESS MARIE ELECTA (1605-1663) is miraculously preserved even 350 years after death!

 
Mother Marie Elekta died in 1663, seven years after establishing a new order of  Carmelites in Prague. This Italian-born nun, Caterina Tramazzoli, was greatly respected as a superior  by the other nuns for her devotional and humble nature. After her death the nuns often went to her grave in St. Elijah's Chapel to pray, and then things started to happen.

One of the sisters always smelled violets, and another would see a heavenly glow. Others, when touching their heads on the gravestone were  relieved of headaches.  In 1666 the grave was opened and according to the original reports, the cavity of the tomb and the coffin itself were flooded with black, smelly water. The body of Mother Marie Electa remained intact, which those present considered a miracle. When they washed it with vinegar and a mixture of herbs (which is why her body is dark today), they found it still flexible. So they tried to sit her down in a chair. At first it did not work, but then she began to bend. Her neck had been broken when they stuffed her into a too small coffin, but she raised her head  in obedience to her nuns.
 
The Carmelite Monastery 


Inside the Church
As early as 1677, 14 years after her death,  her body was studied by physicians and professors at the Medical Faculty of Charles University . And, according to the surviving protocol of that time, the body of Marie Electa was found to be "perfectly intact, having skin completely preserved, brown or chestnut, and all limbs bendable and spouting a liquid of jasmine scent." The integrity of the body unanimously declared "totally miraculous and all natural forces beyond".

A similar conclusion was reached by a panel of leading experts from the same faculty more than 300 years later when they wrote in their 2003 report: "The Commission regards the survival of the intact body  as remarkable and extremely rare.”
 

Her Hands

Venerable Marie Electa miraculously survived during the period of Communism, when the nuns had to leave their monastery in 1950, being sent  to either factories or internment camps. At first  they  did not want to leave without the abbess, but the the Archbishop of Prague told them: "Leave her here if she is holy, she will take care of herself and her monastery." 

And  so she stayed all through the years the Communist regime, while the monastery was converted into a hotel, sitting in her niche waiting the return of the Carmelites in 1992.   When I saw her in 1998 she was behind the glass and grate in the niche to the right of the altar of the church. She has slightly open eyes and she looks as if like she is still smiling, letting us know she has seen things we can only dream of.



Friday, October 13, 2017

DISCIPLE OF A SAINT- A BENEDICTINE FAMILY

In  a Blog last week I  wrote of the great Benedictine Bl. Dom Marmion. While he is  well known for his writings, many are unaware of his disciples and the correspondence he conducted with men and women throughout the world, especially religious men and women who turned to him for spiritual direction.
I have just finished his biography and am astounded that someone in his position had the time to write so much.

One of his  disciples was a monk, DOM PIUS de HEMPTINNE who left behind precious spiritual writings of his own. In a recent reading of the life of Bl. Marmion, I came across this monk and wondered who he was, especially since he had the same last name as the then abbot.

This holy young monk lived from 1897-1907 in the Abbey of Maredsous. I cannot find much more about him, though know he was the nephew of  Dom Hildebrand de Hemptinne, the  second Abbot  (and later first Abbot primate of the Benedictine Order) of the Belgian Abbey where Bl. Marmion became the 3rd Abbot.  This young monk's aunt, Dame Cecile de Hemptinne, was the first abbess of St. Scholastica's Abbey at Maredret (just a few miles from Maredsous).  He also had a brother, Dom Jean, who was a monk in the same abbey.

Born of a noble Belgian family in 1880 he died at the age of  27, of an illness I could not determine. After his ordination to the priesthood he was made housemaster at the abbey school.  He was always fail in health and in his last months he returned home to be nursed by family (not uncommon in those days). Dom Marmion was with him in his last days, giving him solace and blessings.      


Some of his treasured writings, which I share, I found from the monks at Silverstream in Meath, Ireland. His prayers and meditations are magnificent, though sometimes highly intricate and stylized. Many of his spiritual thoughts were inspired by the conferences and lectures of Bl. Marmion.


Dom Pius  gave expression to a profoundly Benedictine fusion of liturgy, personal prayer, and the whole of life, including the message of the natural world. His message encourages us to live ever more deeply the meaning of the sacred mysteries, never mind the wording, which is from another era- the message is timeless!

His famous relatives: Dom Hildebrand &  Aunt Agnes (Cecile)


O Jesus, from this day forward grant that the souls given into my care may drawn from my poor heart the grace that Thou givest me. It is Thou Thyself who hungerest; eat, then, and drink all that Thou findest in my poor house. May my soul be a manger where Thy lambs can be filled with Thee. (1902, pp. 148–49)

Most holy and eternal Father, your divine Son has taught us that no one can come to Him unless you draw him, and that none shall be lost of those whom you have given Him. I beg of you, therefore, in the name of the mutual love you bear to Him and He to you, to offer me and all whom I love to this divine Son, begotten of you, so that being born again in Him, your Word, we may have a share in the eternal glory which He gives to you, and that we may thus be sanctified in you.




 Eternal Son, whose holiness is equal to that of the Father, you have promised that “when lifted up from the earth, you would draw all to yourself.” Draw me, then, to you, O well-beloved of my soul, that being fed by you I may live by you, even as you live by your Father.

 Holy Spirit, who descended upon the Virgin to accomplish the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word, come down upon me, O joy of my heart and strength of my soul! Impregnate me, to the end that Jesus Christ may grow in me, so that by your power, the closest union may be effected between my Savior and my poor soul, inflamed by your love.


O adorable Trinity, look down and behold how I burn with longing to glorify you — see how my soul shrinks into nothingness — see how little it is — how it abandons itself utterly to you! . . . I love you by the Heart of Jesus and by every one of the souls on earth, and therefore I will bring them all to you. To this end, Christ Jesus, only object of my desires, I take refuge in the bosom of your Father, and in His Name I give you all these precious souls, that not one of them may perish. Uniting myself to you, I offer them all to the Father, for the eternal honor and glory of the most adorable Trinity. Amen. (1901)








Tuesday, October 10, 2017

DOMINICAN ARTIST


On the feast of the Holy Rosary, I posted a very modern, very lovely painting by an artist I had never heard of, but I think deserves mention. She was SISTER MARY of the COMPASSION, a Dominican nun born Mary Constance  Rowe in 1908. 

She was the daughter of Victor Weston Rowe, a Music Hall Artiste and Melfredine Josephine Fournier Rowe. She showed great promise as an artist and, after the Clapham School of Art, studied at the Royal College of Art in London and won the Prix de Rome in 1932 for mural painting. The prize money gave her two years of further study in Rome. While there became interested in the Catholic faith and later took instructions at the Brompton Oratory (The Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary) and was baptized there on 8 September 1931 as Constance Dorothy Mary Rowe.

In 1935  she traveled to New York only to find her way to Union City, a place where she would remain for the rest of her life.  She entered the Community of the Dominican Nuns of the Perpetual Rosary, also known as the Blue Chapel, in Union City, N.J. in 1938.

Sister Mary worked in many media types including textile, mosaic, and clothing. Her paintings include use of water colors, oil, and gold leaf  on textures such as paper and wood. Echoing the style of Renaissance painters before her, Sister Mary painted portraits of the Madonna and important events such as Christ's removal from the cross.


One of her major works was a painting of Dominican saints surrounding a crucified Christ. The life-size painting (8 by 4 feet) is currently housed at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.

According to Sister Maria of the Cross of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Summit; Sister Mary was commissioned by the House of Studies during the '50s to paint an artwork there. The painting adorns the refectory of the house, regarded by some as the largest, most ambitious painting embarked on by Sister Mary.

Pictures of hers were included in a 1939 New York exhibition of work by Catholic artists staged for the benefit of refugees who had arrived in the USA from Germany. Another of her ventures was the design of costumes and sets for an opera performed by the Music Department of Hunter College, New York. She also wrote a short book called “An Artist's Notebook”, in which she gave her thoughts on how art should be approached and how she approached it, offering occasional comments on the work of some artists. 

Jesus with Mary Magdalene
Sister Mary of the Compassion died in 1977 after a medical checkup a week prior deemed "nothing wrong" with her. She died at the age of 69. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

FATIMA- 100 YEARS- NOT THE END

Artist- Sr. Mary of the Compassion, OP ( Constance Mary Rowe)

This year we celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the Marian apparitions at Fatima, Portugal, witnessed by three shepherd children who reported that they saw visions of Mary beginning on May 13, 1917.

Whatever the significance of the Fatima apparitions is for each us personally, this 100-year anniversary of the apparitions is a reminder of the central message of the Gospels, calling everyone to conversion and bringing us closer to Christ. In our mad, mad world, in which things so often seem upside down, it is good to take the time to reflect on our Mother Mary’s message to us all-  love my Son, love me!

In the joy of the Gospel, we will be the Church robed in white,
the whiteness washed in the blood of the Lamb,
blood that today too is shed in the wars tearing our world apart.
And so we will be, like you, an image of the column of light
that illumines the ways of the world,
making God known to all,
making known to all that God exists,
that God dwells in the midst of his people,
yesterday, today and for all eternity.
                  (Pope Francis)

Monday, October 2, 2017

BENEDICTINE FEAST



Sometimes when I read something written by a saint, I wonder why I even try to utter a word- they can say so much more eloquently what is in my heart than anything I could ever do, and they inspire me by their faithfulness and love of Christ.  One of my favorites (see Blog May 8, 2017) is BLESSED COLUMBA MARMION whose feast is tomorrow. Picking up our theme of adoration in the Eucharist:

'We show our adoration by going to visit Christ in the tabernacle or exposed monstrance. Would it not indeed be a failing in respect to neglect the Divine Guest who awaits us? He dwells there, really present. He who was in the crib, at Nazareth, upon the mountains of Judea, in the supper-room, upon the Cross. It is the same Jesus who said to the Samaritan woman, 'If you knew the gift of God.'.

Bl. Columba Marmion, whom Fr. Benedict Groeschel called "this great and original spiritual writer," has much to teach Catholics of the 21st century. I recommend  “Christ, the Life of the Soul” to all. Father Grosehel further added, “ he was deeply imbued with the Church Fathers, and particularly St. Augustine. He built everything on the Church Fathers and offered to us a very beautiful foundation."

Although Bl. Marmion has been somewhat forgotten in recent time, it is important to remember that his books were bestsellers, and were translated into about a dozen languages. As a retreat master, he was in great demand, and was even a confessor to Belgium’s Cardinal Désiré-Joseph Mercier (Blog 5/11/17).  Pope Benedict XV kept his book, "Christ the Life of the Soul", on his nightstand. 

This brilliant, yet humble abbot is still alive and well and has much to teach those seeking to have a deeper relationship with Christ and like St. Benedict himself, I think he is definitely a man for our times!.




Tuesday, September 26, 2017

THE TARHEEL APOSTLE

 Today at Mass we prayed especially for missionaries, which reminded me of this apostle in the south of our own country. Recently we did a Blog on the foundress of Maryknoll Sisters, Mother Joseph Rogers  (6/7/17) and here is another related founder to the Order.


SERVANT of GOD  THOMAS PRICE, MM, known as The Tarheel Apostle, for his missionary zeal in North Carolina,
 was born on August 19, 1860, in Wilmington, North Carolina the eighth child of Alfred & Clarissa Price, both converts to the Catholic faith. He was raised as a devout Catholic in the midst of Southern apathy toward Catholicism.

With his religious background, he felt an attraction to the priesthood.  En route to the seminary by ship, Thomas escaped death in the shipwreck of the Rebecca Clyde. He attributed his survival to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. After the accident, he returned home until January 1877. He was ordained in 1886. Father Price was the first native North Carolinian to be ordained to the Priesthood and was assigned to missionary work in the eastern section of his home state.

In 1898 he established Nazareth Orphanage. His plan was first to help the underprivileged of an area and thereby win the favor of the general population, who would then be more inclined to listen to the message of Christ. Following the success of the Nazareth Orphanage, he organized summer catechizing teams of seminarians.

Nazareth

In 1902, Father Price opened a missionary training house at Nazareth. It was a preparatory seminary whose sole purpose was the education and formation of missioners for the home missions. It was called Regina Apostolorum. He acted as its primary teacher and spiritual director. As time went on, Father Price began to emphasize more and more  the need of a seminary for the training of young American men for the foreign missions.

At the same time, Father James Anthony Walsh, of Boston, was developing the same idea. At the Eucharistic Congress in Montreal in 1910, the two priests met and began to formulate plans for the establishment of a seminary for foreign missioners. With the approval of the American hierarchy, the two priests traveled to Rome in June 1911 to receive final approval from Pope St. Pius X for their project.


Property was purchased at Ossining, New York, for the site of the new foundation, the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America (popularly known as Maryknoll).  Father Price made a countrywide tour of America to gain support for the new endeavor. By 1918, three young priests 
 (James Edward Walsh, Francis Xavier Ford, and Bernard F. Meyer) 
were ready for the foreign missions in China. On September 7, Father Price went with them as superior to the new mission. From the time of the foundation of Maryknoll, Father Price had understood that Walsh was the one capable of administering and directing the seminary itself, while he himself had always hoped to be chosen as one of Maryknoll's first missioners, and his dream was realized.

Fr. Price on left with Fr. Walsh
This group of first four American missioners in China arrived in Hong Kong in October 1918. They then settled down in Yeungkong (now called Yangjiang) on the South China Coast. Because of his age and its complexity, Father  Price had great difficulty learning the Chinese language and he also  suffered from physical ailments. Towards the latter part of 1919, he became seriously ill. As there were no adequate medical facilities in that area, he was brought to Hong Kong for hospitalization. 

After a trying trip, he arrived in the British Colony and was immediately taken to St. Paul's Hospital in Causeway Bay, an institution conducted by the Sisters of St. Paul de Chartre. The long and arduous journey by primitive means of travel aggravated  advanced and serious case of appendicitis. He was operated on 8 September 1919, but  it was too late and on 12 September, the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, he died as a result of a burst appendix. His body was buried in the priests’ plot in St. Michael’s Cemetery in Happy Valley, Hong Kong. The date of his death was rather significant, as he had great devotion to Our Lady. He was only 59. 

Father Price was known by many for his great love of God, his holiness of life, his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and his faithful dedication to priestly ministry.





Friday, September 22, 2017

PATRONESS OF SUFFERING


So many ask our prayers- illnesses of all kinds, family troubles, etc - so I am always on the look out for new saints that can intercede for those in dire straits. One I had never heard of is ST. ALICE OF SCHAERBEEK (ADELAIDE or ALEYDIS).

She was born at Schaerbeek, near Brussels, then in the Duchy of Brabant, in 1204. A frail child, at the age of seven, she was sent to be boarded and educated at the Cistercian La Cambre Abbey, where she remained for the rest of her life. The name of the abbey is derived from the Latin: Camera Sanctae Mariae (Chamber of Our Lady).

Alice was a very pretty girl, soon showed a high intelligence and a great love for God. She became a laysister at the abbey. However, at an early age, she contracted leprosy and had to be isolated. The disease caused her intense suffering, which she offered for the salvation of sinners and the souls in purgatory.

Eventually she became paralyzed and afflicted with blindness. Her greatest consolation came from reception of the Holy Eucharist, although she was not allowed to drink from the chalice because of the presumed danger of contamination. However, it is said that the Lord appeared to her with assurance that He was in both the consecrated bread and the wine. She died in 1250, at the age of 46.

By decree of July 1, 1702 Pope Clement XI granted to the monks of the Congregation of St. Bernard Fuliensi the faculty to celebrate the cultus of Alice. Devotion to Alice as a saint was approved in 1907 by Pope Pius X.

 
Thomas Merton wrote that the life of St Alice should be placed in the hands of every monk. He presented her as the perfect illustration of Chapter Seven of the Rule of Saint Benedict, "On the Degrees of Humility".

Father Chrysogonus Waddell (another monk of  Gethsemani)  ranked her with Sts. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and Elizabeth of Trinity. He saw her as the icon of that particular stream of Cistercian spirituality that expresses Jesus crucified.


There is much sickness and related suffering in our world today. We pray that like St. Alice, we to turn our suffering into good, praying that the Lord in His Mercy will give us the strength to endure and that we know the consolation found in His Body.