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Br. Maximillian and Sr. Mary Elizabeth of the Fraternity of St. Mary of the Angels made a pilgrimage a couple of weeks ago to Quito, Ecuador to visit the Royal Convent of the Immaculate Conception in which the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Good Success is publicly displayed on Feast of the Purification (among other times).  They were so gracious to supply us with several pictures taken during their visit. Thank you!

 

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Main Entrance to the Conceptionist Convent

Private Chapel of the Convent Containing the Incorrupt Bodies of Three of the Founding Sisters

Private Chapel of the Convent Containing the Incorrupt Bodies of Three of the Founding Sisters

Interior Courtyards of the Convent

Interior Courtyards of the Convent

Convent’s Interior Walls behind Which Were Recently Discovered Five Additional Incorrupt Bodies of Saintly Sisters

Convent’s Interior Walls behind Which Were Recently Discovered Five Additional Incorrupt Bodies of Saintly Sisters

Elegant, but Mysterious Painting on a Stone Which Was Discovered within One of the Convent Walls during Renovations

Elegant, but Mysterious Painting on a Stone Which Was Discovered within One of the Convent Walls during Renovations

Upper Choir Showing the Resting Place for the Statue of Our Lady of Good Success When Not Venerated on the Main Altar.  Also Where the Sisters Sing the Divine Office.

Upper Choir Showing the Resting Place for the Statue of Our Lady of Good Success When Not Venerated on the Main Altar. Also Where the Sisters Sing the Divine Office.

Altar in the Upper Choir with Statue of St. Francis of Assisi.  Behind the Lattice Screen Is the Main Church.

Altar in the Upper Choir with Statue of St. Francis of Assisi. Behind the Lattice Screen Is the Main Church.

Statue of the Infant Jesus Which Was Brought over to the New World from Spain with the Convent Foundresses

Statue of the Infant Jesus Which Was Brought over to the New World from Spain with the Convent Foundresses

Main Altar of the Convent.  Note the Window to the Upper Left of the Altar behind which Was Mother Mariana’s Cell Where She Could Continually View the Blessed Sacrament.

Main Altar of the Convent. Note the Window to the Upper Left of the Altar behind which Was Mother Mariana’s Cell Where She Could Continually View the Blessed Sacrament.

Miraculous Statue of Our Lady of Good Success

Miraculous Statue of Our Lady of Good Success

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Ideas for Lenten Penances

15 February 2015

With Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent coming this week, here you may find ideas for Lenten penances.

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Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.
 
Take away the supernatural, and what remains is the unnatural.

 
Before you pull any fence down, always pause long enough to find out why it was put there in the first place.

 
At the funeral of an atheist, an onlooker who noticed how nattily the deceased was attired, commented to Chesterton, “All dressed up, with nowhere to go!” Chesterton replied grimly, “I bet he wishes that were so.”
 
A saint is one who exaggerates what the world neglects.
 

“Contributed by” G.K. Chesterton

 

Pax et Bonum – Sister Constance

 

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The Curé d’Ars, first published in 1927, is an excellent study of the life of St Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianney and of his contribution to the Catholic cause in the aftermath of the French Revolution. The author, Fr Francis Trochu, whose life spanned a good part of the 19th and the early part of the 20th century, knew from a first hand experience what life in the post-Revolution France was like. He no doubt understood that the Revolution was preparing for the next major coup. Only this time the target was to be none other than the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
 
But God never leaves his children orphaned and always provides a remedy: The remedy God provided for the 19th century was the Curé d’Ars.
 
The following extracts are taken from Chapters II and III. Note that while these extracts describe specific historical events, these same events could well describe our Catholic past and, no doubt, our future.

 
In January, 1791, the civil constitution of the clergy began to be enforced in the province of Lyons. Jean-Marie had not yet completed his fifth year. Messire Jacques Rey, cure of Dardilly during the past thirty-nine years, was weak enough to take the schismatic oath. However, if we may believe local tradition, enlightened by the example of his curate and the neighbouring clergy, who refused the oath, he soon came to understand and disavow his fault. He continued for a time to reside in his parish, saying Mass in a private house. Eventually he retired to Lyons, and from there he went to Italy. The disappearance of M. Rey did not pass unnoticed, yet Dardilly was not as much upset as might have been expected. The church remained open because another cure was sent by the new bishop of Lyons, M. Lamourette, a friend of Mirabeau’s, who, without any brief from Rome, had been installed by the Constituent Assembly, in succession to the venerable Mrg. de Marbeuf. The new parish priest, like the new bishop, had duly taken the oath. But how were the good folk of Dardilly to suspect that the civil constitution, of which, perhaps, they did not so much as know the name, would lead to schism and heresy? There was no outward change in the ceremonies and customs with which they had so long been familiar. For a time, at least, these simple people did not scruple to assist at the Mass of the juror-priest. Matthieu Vianney and his family acted thus in all good faith.
 
After a while, however, their eyes were opened to realities. Though barely twelve years old at the time, Catherine, the eldest of the girls, was the first to scent danger. In the pulpit the new pastor did not speak quite like M. Rey, nor on the same topics. His sermons were interlarded with the words citizen, civism, and constitution. He so far forgot himself as to criticize his predecessors: “These people,” he used to say, “are no more parish priests than my shoe!” The congregation was more promiscuous and scantier than of yore: persons who were noted for their fervour were no longer seen in the church – where did they go to Mass on Sundays? – others, on the contrary, were there and occupied the best seats, who previously had hardly ever darkened the threshold of the sacred edifice. Catherine felt anxious, and she confided her secret fears to her mother.
 
In the meantime, a relative living at Ecully paid a visit to the Vianneys. “What are you doing?” she exclaimed on hearing that they attended the Mass of the juror; “all good priests have refused the oath, and in consequence are being hunted and persecuted and driven into exile. Happily at Ecully we still have some good priests. It is to these you must go. By taking the oath your new parish priest has separated himself from the Catholic Church; he is not your true shepherd and you cannot make yourselves his abettors.”
 
This staggering revelation drove Mme. Vianney almost frantic. She did not hesitate to speak to the unfortunate priest, reproaching him with having severed himself from the true Church. When she reminded him of the saying of the Gospel that the branch that is cut off from the vine shall be cast into the fire, the priest owned to the truth of her words: “True, madam, the vine is better than the branch.”
 
Marie Vianney must have informed her family of the state of affairs, because we are told that little Jean-Marie “showed his horror of sin from the day when he began to avoid the juror-priest.” From that moment the Vianneys ceased to attend the parish church…. In point of fact, the sacred edifice was soon closed altogether.
 
A cruel persecution was now raging. Priests who had refused the oath ran the risk of arrest and execution…. A reward of 100 francs was paid to anyone denouncing the [non juror-priests].

 
However, there still remained brave priests who did not abandon their flock. And so we read:
 
On certain days trusty messengers would arrive from Ecully and call on Catholic households. They brought information of the secret spot where, on the following night, the Holy Mysteries would be celebrated. As soon as darkness fell, the Vianneys set out in deepest silence. In his happiness at being allowed to accompany his parents, Jean-Marie stepped out bravely. “His brothers and sisters grumbled at times, thinking the distance too great; then their mother would say: ‘Can you not be like Jean-Marie, who is always the keenest of all?’ “.
 
When they reached the appointed place they were led into a barn or some retired room, where hardly a light was allowed. They saw kneeling at a plain table a tired-looking stranger of gentle mien. The stranger met the newcomers with outstretched hand. Then, in the farthest corner of the room, behind an improvised partition, the good priest, speaking in whispers, exercised his ministry of counsel, comfort, and pardon. Sometimes he would also have to bless marriages. And then followed the Mass, the Mass so keenly longed for by young and old.
 
The priest placed on the table the altar stone he had brought, the Missal, the chalice, and several small altar breads, for to-night he would not be the only communicant. Quickly he donned the sacred vestments, faded and crumpled in consequence of much hasty folding. Amid deep silence he began the prayers of the Liturgy: Introibo ad altare Dei. What fervour there was in his voice, what recollection, what emotion in the congregation! Sobs mingled with the prayers. It was like being at Mass in the Roman Catacombs, before arrest and martyrdom.
 
[How did the small Jean-Marie spend the days during] “those terrible months”? Twice daily he drove out the donkey, the cows, and the sheep to graze, leading by the hand his little sister Gothon…. [There, in those meadows] “he found time to pray to the good God and to think of his soul”. [His priestly vocation was being formed:] On reaching the meadow, brother and sister, obedient to their mother’s advice, went down upon their knees in order to dedicate to God the task they were about to perform…. Jean-Marie told [his sister] stories out of the Old and New Testament; he also taught her prayers and gave her sundry spiritual counsels….
 
On the bank of the stream there stood a willow tree, old and worm-eaten. In the hollow of the trunk Jean-Marie sometimes placed his little statue, and after surrounding it with moss, branches of trees and flowers, he knelt down to say his rosary. Thus did the river bank take the place of the church to which people no longer went to pray.
 
At other times he erected a kind of shrine for his statue. With clay from the river bank he constructed diminutive chapels or moulded effigies of saints and priests. He possessed a natural deftness which might have been greatly developed by intuition. In this way he made a statue of the Blessed Virgin, which was judged quite good; in fact, his father had it hardened in the oven, and it was long kept at the Vianneys’ house. As soon as the altar was ready, he and Gothon, with vague memories of processions and festivals now suppressed, sang together what snatches of religious canticles they could remember.
 
Other young shepherds [who] tended their flocks in the same district [came]…to look at the shrine. Jean-Marie replied to their questions without either embarrassment or annoyance. But how was it that these children, who were of the same age as our saint, were yet ignorant of the meaning of those images? Alas! less devout and attentive, they had already forgotten the beautiful ceremonies of Sundays and holidays. All unawares little Vianney became the teacher of these poor children. He constituted himself their catechist. Taking his stand before the rustic altar, he gave utterance to the thoughts that came to his mind in the silent hours of the night, and taught them the prayers he had learned at his mother’s knee…. A priestly vocation had sprung up in the peaceful vale of Chante-Merle!
 
The “congregation” proving somewhat restless, the sermon had of necessity to be short. But the youthful preacher bethought himself of other means by which he hoped to retain his audience. He organized processions. Thus it came about that in this unknown dale, whilst throughout France religious ceremonies were being suppressed, a band of children might have been seen walking in procession behind a cross formed of two sticks. The rosary was recited, and childish hymns were sung…”.
 
In closing the churches the Convention had sought to destroy divine  worship; but it was unable to repress one of the most touching manifestations of religion – charity (p 11- 9).

 
The priests risked all to bring the sacraments to the people for the love of God; the people risked all to support the priests for the love of God.
 
The sad reality is that “France was now a missionary country; in some respects she was worse off than that. The need of some sort of organization was painfully felt” (p 23-24).
 
The heroic priests who remained “disguised and in hiding” had an organized approach:
 
All these priests lived at Ecully, lodging in separate houses, and by way of additional precaution they took up some trade, even though they may not have been keen in its pursuit. Thus M. Balley acted as a carpenter and M. Groboz as a cook. Their tools and implements furnished a plausible explanation of their movements. Moreover, they only went abroad at nightfall and avoided the highway when going to the house which had been selected for the celebration of Mass (p 24).
 
With what emotion and reverence did not little Vianney look up to these men as they stood at the altar? They had grown old before their time, and their faces bore the tell-tale traces of the labours and privations which they had endured for the love of souls (p 24).
 
And the little Vianney went on to become one of the greatest saints. If he is extraordinary, it is because he remained an ordinary Catholic at a time when it was politically incorrect to do so. And because God often uses the ordinary to achieve extraordinary results, He used the simple Curé to put the Revolution to shame.
 
Source: The Curé d’Ars  St. Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianney by Abbé Francis Trochu, Tan Books and Publishers, Illinois USA, 1977
 
P.S.  The Curé d’Ars was a huge promoter of the Third Order of St Francis and literally brought it back to life in post-Revolution France.

Pax et Bonum

 

Sister Constance TOSF

 

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Brother Andrew contributed this article. Notice in particular the red box.
 
 
20150126073538 1
 
20150126073538 2
 

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Happy St. Valentine’s Day!

13 February 2015

Happy St. Valentine's Day

 
 

Here also is a recording of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen reciting this poem:

 

 

 
 

  

Praise be to Thee

  

From The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Photos are added.
 
Click the picture to see a larger version.

  

Pax et Bonum

 

Sister Constance TOSF

 
 

Emily Scan0026

 

Emily from Alberta

BETH AND THE TRIDENTINE MASS

11 February 2015

Today Beth visited the immaculately clean, Espinoza Ranch stables where a few horses were being groomed, the tack saddle soaped and silver ornaments polished. It had a nice, fresh smell of drying grass. Beth noticed a beautiful photograph of Isabella when she was quite young, with her father, in their bright Escaramuza costumes. There was another photograph of the girls circling their horses in unison. Isabella appeared from the tack room and smiled. “Hi. You look nice,” she said, noticing Beth’s skirt. Then the girls were off on another adventure. They skipped down to the creek to catch pollywogs.
 
The path was steep, so they stepped carefully past jutting gray rocks, grasping thick clumps of lush river grass, to keep their balance. It was nice to have a private stretch of creek flowing through the ranch. The water was clear, with pebbles of pale colors-gold, sand and jade green, seen as through an old, wavy pane of glass. Brown marbles with wiggly tails shot from rock shadows across pebbled stream bed.
 
The girls had brought glass jars with them to capture the skittery amphibians. They took off their sandals and tied their flowing skirts just above their knees at the side. Then they waded in the water and stood still, a short distance from each other. Soon the tadpoles grew brave and swam between the girls. A few nibbled at these strange pillars invading their watery abode.
 
Beth scooped up a large tadpole. Then Isabella scooped up two small ones. Adding some moss to the jars, the girls replaced the lids, stepped onto the sandy bank, untied their skirts, put on their sandals, and walked home from the willow lined water.
 
On the way back, Isabella asked, “Did you ask your parents if you could come to Mass with me?” “Yes, and they said I could, just this once,” Beth said. “Oh good,” Isabella beamed. “My father said he could pick you up at your house. We should be there at 9 am tomorrow.
 
A now tamed (well, half tamed!) Beth, dressed in her little peach colored suit, which her mother had sewn for her, with the slightly puffed sleeved jacket and a soft A-lined skirt. She had a turquoise, silk scarf in a little poof tied at her neck. As they arrived at the pretty church, Isabella brought out a beautiful, lacy, cream colored mantilla and arranged it on Beth’s head with a little white comb. Isabella had a lovely bright white lacy mantilla that fell to her waist, secured with a tortoise shell comb. It complemented her white dress with the pink waist band.
 
As soon as Beth entered the Church, she noticed everyone dipping their fingers in a little bowl of water, kneeling and making a sort of sign. She wondered what she should do. Mrs. Espinoza whispered, “You are our guest. You are not expected to do anything but sit and listen”. It smelled nice in the church. The chanting was comforting. A soft glow seemed to radiate throughout that place. Beth grew quite comfortable, enjoying the music and strange words for a time.
 
All of a sudden, the row of people in front of her got up and started leaving! Then the Espinoza family, filling the row, stood up. Beth wondered where everyone was going and stood up to follow. Mrs. Espinoza leaned over and whispered gently and kindly, “No, Beth. You may not come with us. We are going up to the Altar and only Catholics may come”. Beth felt very deserted and flushed with embarrassment. Noticing Beth’s look of consternation, Mrs. Espinoza whispered, “Don’t worry. We will come back in a few minutes. We won’t leave you alone.”
 
Beth sat down. The pew was now empty. She felt so alone! “Strange,” she thought, “I usually like being alone.” She looked past the rows of people in the pews in front of her, but she couldn’t see Isabella or her family. She longed to be with them and had never felt such a deep longing before. What were they going to this “Altar” for? What was there? She sighed, resigned to just wait and not be foolish. It was only a short wait.
 
She closed her eyes, deciding to just enjoy the atmosphere. As she opened her eyes and gazed, she saw the most beautiful stained glass window past many glowing candles. She had not noticed the candles and window before. Now two figures seemed to come out of the most brilliant ultramarine blue and ruby red glass panels. A man seen from the waist up with a beard and long brown hair and soft brown eyes, seemed to move forward, like a royal, living person. A red glow seemed to move and pulsate in his chest, beating, very etheric and pure A lady was beside him, resembling the man somewhat in features, yet softer and very womanly and as a gracious, kind yet noble lady. She too moved forward, beside and with him, as a living person, also with a glowing red pulsar at her chest. Colors of blue, gold and ruby with turquoise, little flames of yellow and other glints of color animated the scene. It was the most remarkable stained glass window Beth had ever seen. She wondered if these were Saints.
Then the Espinoza family filed back. Beth hardly noticed them and sat in a golden, rosy glow until it was time to leave. As they started to leave the pew, towards the back entrance, Beth wanted terribly to see the stained glass window close up. She suddenly turned away from the family and, against all the people leaving the church, she weaved past them to a railing. She looked intently, but she did not see the window! She only saw a white wall past ordinary candles on a rather ordinary shelf. They must have extinguished the other candles and taken them away. “So quickly!” thought Beth. She looked to the left. Maybe it was in a side aisle and was reflected at the back which would explain its motion on the wall.
 
Isabella was right after her and took her by the hand, firmly. “What are you doing? We leave by the same way we came in!” Beth said, “I’m looking for the stained glass window. It’s so beautiful. Where is it?” Isabella just looked at her, incredulous. “It must be in the side aisle and reflected on the wall. Where is the entrance to the side aisle? There must be pillars there to go past. Where are the pillars? The people must be covering them, there are so many people.” Isabella said very firmly, “There is no side aisle! There is no stained glass window reflecting on the wall behind the altar!” Come on with me! She held Beth’s hand very strongly and pulled her puzzled friend out of the church.
 
Back at Isabella’s home, refreshments were served. Beth wandered into Isabella’s room, still wondering that no one knew where the stained glass window was. Then she saw a small card, flat, on Isabella’s dresser. It looked kind of like the two people in the window, but very painted, pale and pasty. Hardly real at all.
 
Isabella came in with a stern look on her face and sat on her ruffled bed under the canopy. “Now,” she said, “tell me exactly what you saw!” When Beth described the two people, Isabella’s eyes expanded into shock, then grew moist, tears forming in big droplets, falling on her flushed cheeks. “Mama!” she cried out, running from the room. Beth looked in wonderment after her friend. What did she do wrong? She heard Isabella down the hall, crying with anger. She had never seen her friend angry before, not ever! Not composed Isabella! Isabella cried out to her mother, “How can she see Them? Why her? I pray every day to Our Lady, longing for Her to appear to me! She’s never even been to Mass before and She appears to her with Him!!” Sobs followed. Beth was so sad. She was so sad for her friend, tears formed. She must have done a terrible thing. She still felt that gold glow, but was hurting for her friend and quite confused.
 
She heard Mamacita speaking softly to Isabella. Soon Isabella stopped crying. She spoke softly to her mother. Then she walked slowly into her bedroom where Beth was sitting on the vanity chair. Beth said, “I’m so sorry I ran to the altar and that you didn’t see the stained glass. Maybe we should go back to the church and look for it.” Isabella smiled understandingly. She said, “No, Beth. It was a vision of Our Lord Jesus and Our Lady Mary and their Sacred and Immaculate Hearts and it was meant for you. I did not have it because I have Mass every Sunday, every day if I like, and my Rosary. You don’t have these things so you need this vision to be with you until you can. I’m happy that you have it.”
 
Beth felt very relieved. Then Mrs. Espinoza came in and asked Beth to tell her what she saw. Beth did and Mrs. Espinoza said, “Well, Beth, I feel that it will be a long time for you because of your circumstances. Your parents have only allowed you one Mass and you must obey your parents. However,” and then Mrs. Espinoza looked very seriously into Beth’s eyes, “Our Lady Always Triumphs!”
 
It seemed as if these words seared an indelible impression into Beth’s heart and she treasured them, remembering a distant sentence heard as a small child. Mary had kept things secret in her own heart. She would keep this a secret in hers. Then she got up and everything was normal. Yet, she always remembered this vision when life’s troubles came and it always calmed her.
 
To be continued….
 
God bless,
Bernadette
 

Photo #1 Escaramuza father-daughter. #2 Escaramuza #3 Veils #4 Latin Mass.
 

escuramuza-father-daughter

escarmuza-purple

veil-red hair

worship-beth