The Secret of St. Patrick’s Prayer, 2023

Some thoughts on prayer from Dom Eugene Boylan for today . . .

Jesus knows well our distaste for penance; He understands perfectly our dislike of suffering; nay, more, He sympathizes with us in these difficulties. True, He wishes us to help Him to carry His cross, but He also wishes to help us to do so. So sweet is His aid, so enthralling His companionship, that St. Teresa found that it was only the first of her crosses that was really hard; once she had embraced the nettle of her cross she found herself in close union with Jesus.


There is no joy in this life to equal that of sharing the cross with Jesus. It needs courage, it needs grace, it needs perhaps a special call; but the truth is that this path of suffering and of penance – penance, be it well understood, undertaken or accepted according to God’s will and not our own – is the road of highest joy, and the sure path to the heights of prayer. The importance of mortification is not so much that it hurts us, but that it gives Jesus a new life in us; we only put ourselves to death – that is what “mortification” means – in order to clear the way for Christ. That is at once the motive of mortification and its measure. If it only serves to make us more self–satisfied and proud, then it is no longer mortification of self; it is rather the mortification of Jesus.

The true principle of mortification was laid down by St. John the Baptist when he said: “He must increase, I must decrease.” Perhaps a somewhat far–fetched comparison may help to put this process in its true light. The bread and wine that are changed into the Body and Blood of Our Lord at Mass once graced the earth in a glory of purple and gold; they were cut down, beaten and bruised, ground and pressed out of all recognition. Not until many changes had been made in them could the priest say over them the words that would make them the Flesh and Blood of Christ.

Now, in so far as the Mass is a changing of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus – it is, of course, much more than that; it might be said that Our Lord says Mass with us and our lives as the bread and wine, but it is a Mass in which the grinding of the wheat and the pressing of the grape, the baking of the bread and the maturing of the wine, the offering of the Host and the oblation of the Chalice, the consecration of both and their conversion into the living Body and Blood of Christ, are all going on at the same time.

Every time that we deny ourselves in any way and to that extent offer ourselves to Jesus, He comes and takes possession of us to that same extent, and says: “This is My Body”.  More than that: He takes compassion on our cowardice, and sends us trials and humiliations that grind us and press us and make us into suitable bread and wine to become part of Himself. “My meat”, He said, “is to do the will of Him that sent Me”. So it is that everything done in accordance with the Divine will gives new life to Jesus in our souls, for He feeds on the doing of His Father’s will.

Every action we do, every suffering we undergo, whatever it be, as long as it is according to the will of God, is an act of communion with Jesus, an act that is no mere desire, but a positive advance in our union with Him; it gives Him new matter over which He can pronounce the saving words: “This is My Body.”
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St. Patrick’s Prophecy and the Message of Fatima

St. Patrick and Sister Lucia of Fatima, Two Prophecies

Previously posted in March, 2015 and several times subsequently, by evensong

Let’s ignore, if possible, the discouraging aspects of the secular desecrations of great Saint Patrick’s Feast Day, and focus instead on his prophecy and how it may fit in with that of Fatima, and the Chastisement which pertains to us today.

St. Patrick is reputed by some accounts to have lived 120 years and to have raised no less than 33 people back to life, many of whom had been dead years. His penances, sacrifices, miracles and conversions were astounding and there are also a couple of prophecies attributed to him. The first is not of good provenance, but relates that the faith he brought to Ireland will blaze throughout the island for a period of time, then gradually dim and eventually appear to be almost extinguished, with but a few glowing embers; but then will gradually resurge, beginning in the north and eventually returning throughout Ireland. Although that might be of some comfort to faithful Catholics in Ireland today, today we will consider another prophecy of the great saint of Ireland.

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The Weight of Sin

Yesterday’s post on sin by Ven. Archbishop Sheen was so well received that it seems an opportune time to second it with another essay, this time on the suffering which Our Blessed Lord endured because of sin; this time by St. John Henry Newman. I have added some emphasis. We begin with Our Lord’s Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane:

And now, my brethren, what was it (Jesus) had to bear, when He thus opened upon His soul the torrent of this predestinated pain? Alas! He had to bear what is well known to us, what is familiar to us, but what to Him was woe unutterable. He had to bear that which is so easy a thing to us, so natural, so welcome, that we cannot conceive of it as a great endurance, but which to Him had the scent and the poison of death. He had, my dear brethren, to bear the weight of sin; He had to bear our sins; He had to bear the sins of the whole world.

Sin is an easy thing to us; we think little of it; we cannot bring our imagination to believe that it deserves retribution, and, when even in this world punishments follow upon it, we explain them away or turn our minds from them. But consider what sin is in itself; it is rebellion against God; it is a traitor’s act who aims at the overthrow and death of his sovereign: it is that, if I may use a strong expression, which, could the Divine Governor of the world cease to be, would be sufficient to bring it about. Sin is the mortal enemy of the All-holy, so that He and it cannot be together; and as the All-holy drives it from His presence into the outer darkness; so, if God could be less than God, it is sin that would have power to make Him less.

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The Death of Life

previously posted on : March 22, 2021  by : evensong

Today, we offer a Lenten essay on sin by Venerable Fulton Sheen.

The gravest danger facing modern society, one which has brought the ruin of older civilizations and is destined to effect the collapse of our own unless we prevent it, is the loss of the sense of sin.

Remorse is almost an unknown passion, and penitent shame is but rarely felt. The burden of guilt does not rest on even a criminal’s heart, and even good men look on deeds of infamy and acts of gross injustice and are not shocked. This is not because they are innocent, but because no sense of sin possesses their souls. There is a general denial that anything is wrong or that anything is right, and a general affirmation that what the older theological generation called “sin” is only a psychic evil or a fall in the evolutionary process. Two principles inspire much of the personal and social dealings of many a citizen in our land; namely, “What can I get out of it?” and “Can I get away with it?”

Evil is confused with good, and good is confused with evil. Revolting books against virtue are termed “courageous”; those against morality are advertised as “daring and forward-looking”; and those against God are called “progressive and epoch-making.” It has always been the characteristic of a generation in decay to paint the gates of hell with the gold of paradise. In a word, much of the so-called wisdom of our day is made up of that which once nailed our Blessed Lord to the cross.
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A Novena to Saint Joseph

Today we have our  Novena for Saint Joseph, to begin on March 10, and complete the Eve of his feast day. I’m trying to restore our many other posts on this great saint, favorite of readers and favorite of our family too.


The feast day of our favorite saint, dear Saint Joseph is coming up soon and in preparation we have a Novena for St. Joseph from two of Father Lasance’s Prayer Books. First, Father Lasance’s “Prayer Book for Religious: A Complete Manual of Prayers and Devotions for the Use of the Members of All Religious Communities” from 1904. The second book is “With God: A Book of Prayers and Reflections” from 1911. In the latter book, we note,

“The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX, by a rescript of the Sacred Congregation of Indulgences, Nov. 28, 1876, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite heart, devoutly make at any time during the year the novena in honor of St. Joseph, spouse of Mary most holy, with any formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority, an indulgence of 300 days, once a day; a plenary indulgence, during the course of the novena, if, being truly penitent, having confessed and communicated, they pray for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.”

Thus, we may use any approved prayer to St. Joseph for our novena and this is usually coupled with the Litany to Saint Joseph, as Father Lasance does. And so we offer several prayers to St. Joseph for you to choose from followed by St. Joseph’s Litany. In our own family, we pray a perpetual Novena to St. Joseph for the spiritual healing of our family, our parish and the Church, which consists of the Litany followed by the Memorare to St. Joseph. But in March, his month, we also include more prayers and devotions such as the ones we offer today. If you begin St. Joseph’s Novena on March 10, it will conclude on March 18, the Eve of his feast day, which is a good time to renew your Consecration also. An excellent practice is to begin each day with the Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and then follow with St. Joseph’s brief Consecration (as in the sidebar on right). When combined with Spiritual Communion (for the many of us who are not able to attend Mass daily), you have a great way to start each day.

NOTE: This year, St. Joseph’s feast day is observed the following day, due to falling on a Sunday, however, I am keeping the Novena as always, so that we can conclude it with Holy Mass and confession and Holy Communion.
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Saint Joseph’s Pre-eminence, 2023

previously posted March 4, 2020 by evensong

“An exceptional divine mission calls for a corresponding degree of grace.”

Thus does Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange begin to explain St. Joseph’s pre-eminence. He continues,

To understand it we must add one remark: Those whom God Himself chooses directly and immediately to be His exceptional ministers in the work of redemption receive from Him grace proportionate to their vocation. This was the case with St. Joseph. He must have received a relative fulness of grace proportionate to his mission since he was chosen not by men nor by any creature but by God Himself and by God alone to fulfill a mission unique in the world. We cannot say at what precise moment St. Joseph’s sanctification took place. But we can say that, from the time of his marriage to Our Lady, he was confirmed in grace, because of his special mission.

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Saint Joseph and Dismas


Today we have for you a new post about St. Joseph, by Edward Healy Thompson, from his book, “The Life and Glories of Saint Joseph” and in this one, he tells us of the surprising connection between the Holy Family and Dismas.

“SCRIPTURE does not tell us by what road the Holy Family fled into Egypt, but there can be little doubt that it was by the way that goeth down from Jerusalem to Gaza, which, as we read in Acts 8:26, was desert. It was by that road that the minister of Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians, was returning to his country when Philip overtook him. But he was a great man, seated at ease in his chariot, where he could beguile the way by reading, and surrounded by his servants, ready to minister to his wants. How different was the case of the Holy Family, alone, without attendance, and with the most scanty provision for their needs! But they had to face a worse desert after leaving Gaza. Passing through the land of the Philistines, they directed their steps, as is commonly believed, to Heliopolis. This was the easiest, shortest, and least perilous road; nevertheless, the holy travellers would have to traverse full seventy leagues, of which about fifty were solitary and desert.”

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Consecration to Saint Joseph and the Holy Family

“Saint Joseph will come with the Child Jesus, to give peace to the world.”

This was the promise of Our Lady of the Rosary on August 19, 1917 in her fourth visit to the little saints of Fatima at Valinhos.  In this visit, we see Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother welcoming us into the safety and security of their own Holy Family. Let’s make use of this blessing! Note here, however, that devotion to this great saint is best expressed in conjunction with devotion to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts. Let us not be misled.


(For Private use)
O Jesus, sweetest and most adorable Savior! True God and true man, I adore Thee profoundly in the most Holy Trinity during eternity; and I adore Thee also in the virginal bosom of Mary, Thy most immaculate Mother, and in the arms of St Joseph, Thy virginal Father.

I give Thee thanks that Thou hast delivered me from the cruel slavery of the devil. On earth, Thou didst submit Thyself to Mary and Joseph in all things; grant that I may be Thy faithful slave through humble submission to them. My sweet Jesus, I have failed Thee many times, but now I beg Thee the grace to submit myself in all things to Thy foster father St. Joseph and to Thy most pure and merciful Mother.

Oh most tender and sweet Mother; I love thee with my whole soul and my whole strength. I leave in thy pure hands all that I possess and shall possess – my heart, my soul, my merits, my acts, thoughts and desires; even my defects and my sins. All is thine and always will be thine, my most dear Mother. Love thou Jesus on my behalf and intercede for me. Alas, dearest, sweetest Mother, I have failed thee often in the past, but now I beseech thee to direct my heart and my mind to consecrate myself this day to thy most chaste spouse St. Joseph, that I might love thee through him; console thee through him; repair the offenses against thine Immaculate Heart through him; so that once I am living in his arms he may offer on my behalf all that I have given to thee, and all that I have not been able to give thee.

Oh my dear Father St. Joseph! To thee do I turn, asking thee to take thy child, this poor sinner, under the protection of thy most chaste heart; I entrust to thee my Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, thy beloved Spouse and my consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, thy Son, my Savior. I am but a weak and foolish sinner, but I trust in thee, for I am thy child as well, dear Father.

I deliver and consecrate to thee, as thy slave, my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions, past, present and future; leaving to thee the entire and full right of disposing of myself and of all that belongs to me, without exception, according to thy good pleasure, for the greatest glory of God and the greatest joy of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in time and in eternity.

Receive, O Virgin Father, this little offering of my slavery, in honor of and in union with that subjection which our Lord and Savior deigned to have to Mary and to thee, in homage to the power which this thy Holy Family has over this poor sinner, and in thanksgiving for the privileges with which the Holy Trinity has favored thee and thy Immaculate Spouse. I declare that I wish henceforth, as thy true slave, to seek thine honor and to obey thee in all things.

O most loving Father, preserve me from all blight of error and corruption. Protect me from the powers of darkness. Shield me ever under thy patronage, that, imitating thine example and strengthened by thy help, I may lead a holy life, die a happy death, and attain to everlasting bliss in Heaven. Amen.

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Seven Words to the Cross


Our Lord spoke seven words from the Cross; but there were also seven words spoken to Our Lord on the Cross.


Some never remain near the Cross long enough to absorb the mercy which flows from the Crucified. They are known as the “passers-by.”
The passers-by blasphemed against Him, tossing their heads; Come now, they said,
Thou who wouldst destroy the temple and build it up in three days, rescue Thyself; come down from that cross, If Thou art the Son of God. (Matt. 27:39, 40)

The Lord was no sooner on the Cross than they asked Him to come down. “Come down from the Cross” is the most typical demand of an unregenerate world in the face of self-denial and abnegation: a religion without a Cross.

As He, the Son of God, was praying for the executioners, “Father forgive,” they sneered: “If Thou art the Son of God.” If He had obeyed their taunt “Come down,” in whom would they believe? How could Love be Love if it costs not the Lover?

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St Francis de Sales in Lent

A reader’s comment mentioned St. Francis de Sales,  and that set me to looking  through our draft archives. Sure enough, I found this unfinished post which  may not be all that it could have been , but hope it will suffice:

I was won over to St. Francis de Sales when I obtained a battered paperback copy of his “Introduction to the Devout Life” for 25 cents in the parish church thrift shop many  years ago, and recently have been reading an ebook of his as part of my Lenten reading.  “The Saint Francis de Sales Collection, 16 Books”, by Catholic Way)

Here are some excerpts from this great Saint:

A Time of Fear

What words can oppose the flood of thoughts troubling your heart? Do not attempt to stop them; that will only make the pain worse. Do not try to conquer the temptations; the effort will only make them stronger. Disdain them, and do not dwell on them. Bring to mind an image of Jesus Christ crucified and say, “Here is my hope; here is the flowing fountain of my happiness. Here is the heart of my soul and the soul of my heart.” Hear our Lord say to Abraham and to you: “Be not afraid; I am your protector” (cf. Gen. 15:1). What is it that you seek upon the earth other than your God? And you already possess Him.

Be firm in your resolutions. Stay in the boat. Let the storm come. While Jesus lives, you will not die. He is sleeping, but He will awaken to calm the storm at the right time (Matt. 8:24-26). St. Peter, the Scriptures tell us, saw the great storm and was afraid, and as soon as he was afraid, he began to sink and drown. Whereupon he cried out, “O Lord, save me!” And our Lord took him by the hand and said to him, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:29-31). See this great apostle: he walked with dry feet upon the water, protected from wind and wave, but the fear of the wind and the wave would have killed him had not his Master relieved him.

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