We are now up to 36 Doctors of the Latin Church, and this doctor is an Armenian monk who lived from about A.D. 950 to 1003. Pope Francis declared him a Doctor on February 23.

His famous book of Lamentations, also called “Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart,” contains 95 prayers. They are really quite impressive. The style is somewhat similar to St. Anselm of Canterbury, who was born 30 years after St. Gregory died.

The prayers are available in English in an online edition. Here’s an example from prayer 5:

You made me in your glorious image,
favoring a weak being like me
with your sublime likeness,
adorning me with speech,
and burnishing me with your breath,
enriching me with thought,
cultivating me with wisdom,
establishing me with ingenuity,
setting me apart from the animals,
endowing my character with a thinking soul,
embellishing me with a sovereign individuality,
giving birth as a father, nurturing as a nurse,
caring for me as a guardian,
You sowed a wayward being in your courtyard,
irrigated me with the water of life,
cleansed me with the dew of the baptismal fount,
nourished me with heavenly bread,
quenched my thirst with your blood,
acquainted me with the impalpable and
unreachable,
emboldened my earthly eyes to seek you,
embraced me in your glorious light,
permitted my unclean earthly hands to
make offerings to you,
honored my base, mortal ashes,
like a flicker of light,
imprinted upon a worthless wretch like me
your father’s image, awesome and blessed,
out of your love for mankind.

_____________________________________________________

This is a small taste of the profound humility and thought contained in these prayers. It’s good to get a new Doctor once in a while, so we can appreciate writings that we haven’t heard of.

The Marians of the Immaculate Conception received Pontifical status in 1699, but did not get their own rule at the time. Instead, they were put under The Rule of Ten Virtues (modified for a male community), a rule for a community called The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and more commonly known as the Annunciade (Annunciation Sisters).

They were founded in 1501 by St. Joan of France (the family name de Valois) with the support and counsel of a Franciscan, Fr. Gilbert Nicolas, also known by the name of Blessed Gabriel Maria.

The first convent of the Annunciades was founded in 1501 at Bourges – the seat of the Duchess of Berry. St. Joan died in 1505, but the evangelical work begun by her grew, producing over fifty convents that existed up until the time of the French Revolution, which destroyed nearly all of them.

Today the Order numbers around eighty nuns living in eight convents in France, Belgium and Costa Rica. A new foundation has begun at the Marian Shrine in Liche?, Poland, which the Marians administer.

For further information (in English, no less!), you can check out this website started by the sisters in Poland: The Annunciade.

That Emile Berliner really started something with his “gramophone.” Recently I got a “Premium Gramophone,” which is a kit from Japan that allows one to play 78 RPM records in a way very similar to the early days of Berliner’s gramophone, an image of which was used on the RCA label for a long time (now owned by Sony).

78 RPM records help one to understand the history of music, at least for a little over 100 years. There have been lots of trends and shifts in style, but sometimes I think they were more clever in the early days with novel uses of language (an old Jazz piece is called “Celery Stalks at Midnight”). Yes, problems like racism show up in these old discs, but also the value of prayer is prominent, even in some pop tunes. They had their pluses and minuses.

We are more advanced technologically, but our new-fangled forms need electricity. The old gramophone just needs lots of needles and energy from the hand to turn a crank. There’s a certain refreshing “newness” to this liberation from the grid, even if sound quality ain’t all that great. There are definitely things to learn from the old discs and the completely mechanical process of sound reproduction. Sometimes things don’t have to be as complicated as you think they do.

The picture below shows the gramophone playing a Columbia Symphony Series 12 inch record–with a great looking label from the 1910s era.

The Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception have been promoting devotion to Divine Mercy since 1941. They promoted St. Faustina’s messages from 1941-1959, but then a ban was put on them by the Vatican because of faulty translations and the inability to access the original Diary at the time. Thanks to the work of Archbishop Karol Wojtyla, the objections were resolved and the ban was lifted in 1978, six months before he would become Pope John Paul II.

Once again able to talk about Sister Faustina, the Marians worked to edit her Diary in the original Polish and then produce an English translation. They knew a film should be made about her life and the message of Divine Mercy. This was done in 1987. The film, Divine Mercy No Escape, premiered on September 15, 1987 at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. There was a good reason for this. At the time, Pope John Paul II was making a papal visit to the United States and meeting with various groups. One of the groups was all of the bishops of the United States. He met with them in Los Angeles on September 16 at the Minor Seminary of Our Lady of the Angels. The day before, the Marians took the opportunity to invite the bishops to the premiere. All together, 67 of the bishops were able to attend, along with several hundred people who were benefactors of the film.

This is all well and good, but it is now 27 1/2 years later. That was the first and last showing of Divine Mercy No Escape in Hollywood.

Now, I’ve been given the opportunity to have a small showing of the original film at Family Theater Productions, Sunset Blvd. Hollywood. You may know of this place as the result of Fr. Patrick Peyton’s work to promote Family Prayer, and in particular to enlist the help of people in Hollywood for this cause. Many radio and television programs have been produced there over the years.

I’m showing the movie as an example, with all the aspects that work, and attention also to things that don’t work or have become dated. The movie is very much a product of its age. It does introduce people to St. Faustina and the Divine Mercy message, but also tries to show mercy in action through examples from its time. The movie has a certain effectiveness, and certain scenes are still quite powerful, but some parts can be seen as a bit “quaint” by today’s standards.

I want to show the movie primarily to Catholics that live and work in the Hollywood area to show both goals to shoot for and pitfalls to avoid. Perhaps the movie has a message for them–something unexpected. The point of the movie is spiritual enrichment, but it can also help foster new ideas to promote spiritual enrichment among those who work in media.

The screening is on January 27, 2015. There will be social time at 6 PM with light fare and the movie will begin at 7 PM. Space is limited. Contact lbilleci@familytheater.org if you are interested.

I have to remind myself–it’s the year of consecrated life as designated by Pope Francis from Nov. 30, 2014 to Feb. 2, 2016. So, it’s really about a year and 2 months.

In general, the promotion of such a thing falls upon consecrated individuals and communities.

Pope Francis is asking religious to “wake up the world.”

I have some ideas, but, you know, it’s really all within the realm of divine providence. In the end, God has to provide the means, but we also have to cooperate.

Note that Jesus gave St. Faustina a very tall order: “My daughter. Speak to the world about My mercy; let all mankind recognize My unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the end times; after it will come the day of justice. While there is still time, let them have recourse to the fount of My mercy; let them profit from the Blood and Water which gushed forth for them.” (Diary 848)

Speak to the world? What sort of platform did she have? She wrote things in notebooks, and much of her Diary would not be published until the 1980s. Speak to the world?

That call to “speak to the world” is a call that lots of folks have been involved in since St. Faustina received that message. We Marians are involved in that call by publishing her diary in English and Spanish. But it takes helpers to help, intercessors to intercede. We need others to get the message out.

So, the call of Pope Francis to “wake up the world” is a call that Jesus gave St. Faustina. Fortunately, when Jesus gives such a call, He also gives great means, although not necessarily in the timely fashion we would like. But if we are part of the means, we have to do our part. Is Jesus telling you to speak about this message of His Divine Mercy?

You probably don’t know that the song “Faith of Our Fathers” was written by a Catholic priest and the “fathers” were those who were martyred in England when Catholicism was illegal.

And… the original version has a verse that goes like this…

Faith of our fathers, Mary’s prayers
Shall win our country back to Thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
England shall then indeed be free.

During October, the month of the Rosary, Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth, England, is distributing free copies of a Rosary CD and asking the faithful to pray for the evangelization and conversion of England.

Zenit Article

I agree! Let’s ask Our Lady to pray for the revival of the Catholic faith in England.

The chaplain to the Solidarity Movement was killed October 19, 1984. It looked bad for the Solidarity Movement.

But, meanwhile in Rome…

Today, the feast day of St. John Paul II, seems an opportune moment to remember how tough things really were in Poland, even with John Paul II as Pope. But, of course, we know how the story ends–at least in Poland.

Here’s a little article on the 30th anniversary: When the Communists Murdered a Priest

According to Amazon and other sources, many Schoenstatt books are out of print.

Well, actually, they aren’t. They are very much in print and available quite inexpensively.

Schoenstatt has not gone with the ISBN system, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

However, it makes the books fairly “invisible.”

You can order books like Mary Our Mother and Educator, Everyday Sanctity, God My Father, Marian Instrument Piety, The Marian Person, With Mary into the New Millennium, etc. from the Schoenstatt Sisters in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Click here to order books.

So, the mean Vatican is opposed to the religious sisters of the US! Isn’t this awful.

Well, that’s what a Time Magazine opinion article explains. But is this the whole story? Nope. This situation has been around a while now, and attempts to give a particular spin continue, but not all religious sisters are on the same page.

Or even planet, it seems. Universe?

I don’t think I need to go over the differences between the CMSWR and the LCWR and all that. I did in a previous post that has picked up some “hits” lately, probably due in part to the Time article.

Consider the Institute on Religious Life. This site is the antithesis of the Time article. Just look, and everything about it is the opposite of what the article says. Truly, this is a different universe. Take a look at the upcoming women’s retreats. No angst over Vatican investigations here. No Vatican investigations, in fact. These are CMSWR communities. Totally out of touch with the “times,” (and Time Magazine for that matter) but growing in real time (with a particular focus on eternity).

Carl Olson gave a response to the Time article, but really, all this digital ink doesn’t make a difference in particular communities. The battle lines were drawn long ago. The demographics continue to unfold (or unravel), and the reality, while being raged against on one side, is simply a matter of time.

Nancy Schreck, OSF, really did say something of the cold, harsh reality in many LCWR communities in her keynote address at the 2014 LCWR Assembly: “As a leader I believe that ‘God is doing something new,’ but what fills my days are: funerals, data on declining demographics, leadership team decisions to discontinue a precious ministry of the Congregation, worry about our sisters in Liberia and in North India, selling property, taking down buildings in trying to right size property and holdings. I believe that ‘God is doing something new,’ but when being called to address the congregation at Chapter I wonder what to say that can provide hope and encouragement.”

The encouragement is over at the Institute for Religious Life site with lots of young smiling faces, but it is a stinging rebuke to LCWR leaders. They never intended to die out, but based on the results, you would think that was the goal.

Certain prophets could see it coming a mile away. And among them is the famous Fr. Thomas Dubay, who said years ago “For religious, in their apostolates, giving a saintly example has a profound external impact. The best thing you religious can do for your community is to live a life of holiness. This is the problem with the lack of vocations. It is the elephant in our parlor, the problem we can’t address, but which is obviously there. We don’t discuss the main problems we have in our communities. Our communities are struggling and are not drawing new vocations, but we don’t discuss why!”

I think there are holy sisters in LCWR communities–sisters that have been completely ignored. They knew what to do and had the answers, but holiness (which includes piety) was seen as old fashioned. Activism–that was the most important thing. As the Time article points out, you don’t need to be a religious sister to be an activist. It was true 50 years ago, and it is definitely true today.

Purchase info: buy here.

This little book is worth its weight in gold. As a Marian of the Immaculate Conception (which is not related to the Schoenstatt movement, but we can certainly appreciate it), I am just blown away by the profound insights of Fr. Joseph Kentenich.

The book consists in conferences from 1924 and two sermons from 1965. They work together quite well. The key to this book is the definition Fr. Kentenich gives of the “Marian person:”

The Marian person is the person who understands as deeply as possible, in the spirit and light of faith, Mary’s role in the work of redemption, and allows her to permanently impact his practical life even to the last consequence, so as to become a holy apostle (pg. 21).

Anyone devoted to the Blessed Virgin should read this little book.

Purchase info: buy here.

I’ve just discovered the writings of Fr. Joseph Kentenich, founder of the Schoenstatt movement. Wow. He has some incredible insights. And, his Mariology is quite practical, focusing on Our Lady’s intercession today, here and now, with us, including the idea of her educating us.

This book is quite helpful, since it gives an overview of how Fr. Kentenich sees Mary working in our lives:

As a side note… Fr. Kentenich also has some profound thoughts on humility, including the humility of Our Lady in a short book called He Exalts the Lowly.

A meditation for Holy Saturday…
From Volume II of the book by Rev. Henry Coleridge. London: Burns and Oates, 1876.

Still there was no provision made for the solemn entombment of our Lord. The disciples were still scattered and in hiding. St. John alone was there, with our Blessed Lady, St. Mary Magdalene, and some others of the holy women. They had no influence to obtain the sacred Body, no strength or means for taking it down from the Cross. But now the power of the Cross, which had worked so wonderfully in the conversion of the penitent thief, began to show itself among the very classes which had been prominent in the plots against our Lord. Joseph of Arimathea, a man of noble birth and high position, who had taken no part in the condemnation of our Lord, though he had kept his faith in Him hidden for fear of excommunication, went courageously to Pilate and asked for the Body of our Lord. Pilate ascertained from the centurion that He was already dead, and then gave Joseph full leave. Another hidden disciple, Nicodemus, came forward with a large quantity of myrrh and aloes for the embalming. The sacred Body was reverently lowered from the Cross and
carefully washed. It rested first in the arms of His Blessed Mother, and then was wrapped in a long clean linen sheet with the aromatic herbs. This was not a regular embalmment, for which there was no time, but it was as much as could be done then, and our Lord had already said that [Mary of Bethany] had anointed His Body for His burial. Joseph had a small garden close at hand, in which he had made a new sepulchre for himself. No one had yet lain in it. It was an excavation in the rock, with a slab inside, on which the sacred Body was now laid. Joseph with the others rolled a huge stone to the mouth of the sepulchre, and then, as the sun was setting and the Sabbath beginning, he went home with the rest. The women lingered the last. Our Blessed Lady was conducted by St. John to the house of the Cenacle, which became, as it seems, the first home of the Church. Some of the other women went into the city and prepared some aromatic spices and unguents before the Sabbath began. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph sat down over against the sepulchre and watched it as night fell. They came back again on the following evening, after the Sabbath was over, and saw that all was as it had been left. But in the meanwhile, the priests, who were still full of alarm, begged of Pilate that a guard might be stationed around the spot until the third day came. They had heard of our Lord s prophecy that He would rise again the third day, and so, by the Providence of God, they set to work to secure the truth of the fulfillment of that prophecy against all possible cavil, thinking at the time that they were only preventing the possibility of the Body being removed by His disciples.

My commentary: When Jesus dies, there is no definite place to put the body. Just as there is no definite place that He will be born, there is no definite place that He will be buried, but Providence is at work in each case, and in each cave. He was born in a cave He “did not own” and was buried in a cave He “did not own,” although He really owned the whole universe.