February 24, 2019

The Fourteenth Saturday: The Fourth Glorious Mystery - The Assumption of Mary into Heaven

MEDITATION

1. Consider, my soul: for Mary also the hour of departure from this valley of darkness has arrived. Finally, after so many torments, she too can repeat the words of her Beloved: All is fulfilled: the prophecies, the spread of the Church of Jesus Christ, the heroism of all the virtues.

After the Ascension of her divine Son, she lived in Jerusalem with St. John the Evangelist, with whom she then retired into Ephesus. She later returned to Jerusalem where she lived until her death.

As in every other place, here too her life was dedicated to the love of God, to uninterrupted prayer and to the perfect practice of every virtue, especially that of most ardent charity towards her neighbour. She would often visit the places sanctified by the Mysteries and the presence of her divine Son, and was the consolation, Teacher and Mother of his Church.

The moment finally came which she so ardently desired, that of being for ever united to the Sovereign Good. Her spirit rejoiced in the love and desire of its Lord, and most wholeheartedly offered itself to happily return to its principle.

And you, my soul, bound to the misery of this earth, why do you not aspire to your homeland? Why do you so greatly fear leaving this life? What does this world offer you? What enchants you in this valley of tears? Pray to Mary, that she obtain for you detachment from the earth and the desire of everlasting treasures, and prepare you for death by the ardour of her holy examples!

When John heard from the Blessed Virgin that she was about to depart from this life, we read that her relatives and friends, and the Disciples, came in a great number to Mount Sion where the Mother of God then was, to contemplate her yet another time, express their love to her, listen to her last memories and recommend themselves to her prayers. Indeed, by divine providence, as St. Dionysius the Areopagite tells us, the holy Apostles too were there, who at that time were scattered throughout the world to preach the faith of Jesus Christ. All were weeping over the loss of so gracious a Mother, and so powerful an Advocate and Teacher, as the Damascene writes, and the Blessed Virgin was consoling everyone with her sweetest love, promising them all her help and intercession. 

May you too draw near this most gracious Lady, express your needs to her, seek her help, and through the merits of those holy Disciples ask that she obtain for you all the graces you desire. Have confidence, do not doubt, that our dear Mother will hear you. But remember the love of neighbour and the saving of souls, helping them as much as possible by your good example, by suitable warning, by patience, by charity and by praying to God for all the world. If you pay this homage to Mary, you can be sure that she will always be favourable to you.

O my sweet Mother, if only it had been my lot to be present at your felicitous passage! If only I could have kissed your sacred feet and recommended myself to your protection! However, because I did not have the pleasure of beseeching you then, I now kneel before the throne of your Majesty and recommend myself to you, glorious and immortal.

May you be present, I pray, at my bitter death and assist me in that tremendous moment on which depends my eternity, for the sake of this adored hour of your passage and triumph.

2. Consider how, the hour of Mary’s passage having arrived, her Divine Son came down from heaven accompanied by innumerable hosts of Seraphim. Think how He must have whispered the words of the Canticle “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for lo, the winter is past…” (Song 2:10). Quit the valley of tears where you have so greatly suffered for my sake. The voice of the turtledove, of your yearning heart, is heard in our land (cf. Song 2:12). Mary rejoiced exceedingly at this loving apparition, and her spirit was glad in Jesus her divine Son. And after receiving the Most Holy Eucharist from the very hands of Jesus, as St. John Damascene says, full of joy she said: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me once again according to your word. Into thy hands, O Son, I commit my spirit.” (ck. Lk 1:38; Lk 23:46). You gather to yourself this soul whom You created in your image and preserved from sin.

Behold, my soul, Mary is already departing for heaven; turning to those before her, she gives them her dear maternal blessing. You too draw near her feet and seek her blessing.

O dear Mother, I rejoice with you over your destiny and happiness, your glory and greatness. You well deserved, O Mary, to be so highly loved and glorified by God, for throughout life you thought only of loving and glorifying God.

However, I shall not quit this place till you will have blessed me. This is the last memory of the Mother who is about to leave her children orphaned and downcast. Recommend me to Jesus Christ, and have mercy on my misery. A loving glance from you, a kind recommendation, a word, a sound is sufficient to obtain every grace for me. Have pity on my mortal life, and at the hour of my death do not forget me, rush to my aid and assist me in my bitter agony.

My soul, if in death you wish to experience Mary the Mother of love, in life be a faithful child of Mary’s love. And if you desire that your death be accompanied by Jesus’ assistance, do not sever your heart from Jesus. Happy am I, should I love Jesus and Mary throughout my life! Blessed am I, should I die in their arms!

I promise you, O my God, to love no one but you, to think of no one but you alone. I recommend to you, O Mary, the tremendous passage of my soul.

A sweet melody resounded in the air accompanied by an angelic song which said: “Mary has been taken up into heaven amidst the rejoicing of Angels, who bless the Lord for having glorified their Queen. Open, O eternal gates, for the King of glory enters, and is leading his Beloved and our Queen.” The others were saying: “Who is she who comes from Lebanon leaning on her Beloved, like the Dawn appearing, beautiful as the Moon, shining as the Sun? She is a perfume sending out the fragrance of every virtue. She is a majestic olive tree, radiant in grace and beauty.”

Understand then, my soul: the Blessed Virgin, being free of original sin and any trace of present fault, does not lose her beauty; and the Lord wished that she rise into heaven, not by her own power, as Jesus, but by the power of God.

The glorification of her body in advance was a seal of the privileges of God’s Mother and of her Immaculate Conception. She was conceived in the blood of Adam, but through a very special grace without a shadow of his sin, completely pure, completely beautiful and immaculate. She became a mother while remaining the purest Virgin, a unique privilege granted to no other woman. It was therefore even more just that the glorification of her immaculate body be anticipated, this living temple of the Holy Spirit, with all the qualities of glorious bodies: agility, lightness, impassability and luminosity.

3. The light could not be divided from the sun. The light was Mary’s soul, rich in grace from the very moment of its creation; and the sun was her immaculate body, in which the Holy Spirit had formed the humanity assumed by the Word. The Church calls the Virgin choice as the Sun because she was privileged above all other creatures. And as the sun when setting leaves behind a golden light, so Mary at the setting of her mortal journey left to us the light of her examples, in all the theological and cardinal virtues, and especially in her fourfold purity: 1st. Purity of her body, by which she became the Mother of God. 2nd. Purity of her heart, by which she was the delight of the Holy Spirit in all the purest affections of her soul. 3rd. Purity in her faith in God which she preserved inviolate and fervent, and consequently she was teacher to the Apostles, consolation to new Christians and the seat of wisdom. 4th. Purity of intention, by which she directed everything to God and received everything from his hands, as a faithful handmaiden: joys and sorrows, humiliations and triumphs. She is therefore compared to the Cedar of Lebanon and to the Cypress of Mount Sion with its trunk towering towards heaven, and to the Palm in Cades.

Purity does not only regard the body, which is called chastity, but is the whole of all the virtues, which excludes any vice. As a result it belongs more to the soul, as the Psalmist says: “O Lord, who shall sojourn in thy tent? Who shall dwell on thy holy hill? He who walks blamelessly, and does what is right, and speaks truth from his heart” (Psalm 15:1-2).

In fact, God’s blessing has been promised to the one who keeps his or her conscience pure: “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false, and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord, and vindication from the God his salvation” (Psalm 24:3-5).

All of Mary’s glory, therefore, proceeds from her being Immaculate and from being from the very first moment superior to the very Angels. And from that moment God was looking towards our age, when after nineteen centuries the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and her Assumption into Heaven were to be defined.

O holy immaculate Virginity of Mary, together with the Church I too shall exclaim that I know not with what words I may praise you!

O my sweetest Lady, you have already left earth, and have arrived in your kingdom where you reign Queen over all the choirs of Angels. I congratulate you for the very lofty privilege of your Assumption into Heaven. But remember, it was on behalf of us sinners that you were raised to such dignity and glory; you therefore have not lost, indeed have increased, your compassion towards us poor children of Adam. And so, from the great throne upon which you reign turn your merciful gaze upon me too, O Mary, and have pity on me. See me, help me. Observe what storms and dangers I must encounter until arriving at my life’s end. Through the merits of your blessed death, therefore, obtain for me love of perfection with purity of faith, of conscience, of heart and intention, that I may end my days in the grace of God. And on the day of the Lord may my body too rise glorious and come to kiss your feet in paradise, as I join the blessed Spirits in praising you and in singing your glories, as You deserve. Amen.

***

VIRTUE – Purity.

REFLECTION – The best way to glorify Mary on earth is to imitate her virtues, especially purity of conscience, avoiding every offence against God. To obtain this, for ever struggle against the most frequent and deliberated venial sin, and make every effort to avoid it. Strive to overcome your passions and acquire perfection, thinking that you will gain Mary’s special protection and love. This is the way to go straight to heaven and avoid purgatory. Pray to her every day to obtain for you her fourfold purity; that is, purity of the body, purity of the heart, purity of intention and purity of faith.

EJACULATION – O Mary, Mother of divine love, let me die to the world and live only for You.

* * * * * * * * * *

A READING
A FAVOUR OF THE VIRGIN OF THE ROSARY OF POMPEII

IN MALTAThe conversion of a Protestant woman, Anna Charles, through the Fifteen Saturdays to the Virgin of Pompeii.

Anna Charles, of the Protestant faith, had been living in Malta for over twenty years. She married a teacher, Giuseppe Misued, who was Catholic, and they had a son.

The good Giuseppe and his sisters, also very fervent Catholics, had done everything in their power to persuade Anna to abandon her sect and embrace the Catholic religion, but she did not want to hear of it; indeed, she held their religion in contempt, and in particular the Sacraments of Confession and of Communion.

Quite a few learned priests were concerned about her conversion, in particular the late Fr. Alfonso Micalles of the Capuchins who worked for her conversion for years and years, but in vain.

In 1887 Anna became very ill. It was hoped that her very grave condition, the loving and concerned cares of those surrounding her, and the endless prayers addressed to God for her conversion would lead her to wiser counsel.

Since her health did not improve, the doctors ordered a very painful operation. In the Central Hospital of Malta Anna underwent a horrible amputation. She was reduced to an extreme state.

Once the wound was healed she left the hospital and passed several months of convalescence at home, still tenaciously clinging to her false religion.

Then, at the end of August of 1888, she became sick once again.

Therefore Giuseppe’s family begged the priest Andrea Debono, of Misida, a great devotee of the Virgin of Pompeii, to come and visit the poor sick woman and speak to her about religion.

He went, and had several conversations with her about this subject, but from what the obstinate woman asserted he understood that speaking with her was impossible. She demonstrated an implacable hatred toward her own husband and his family, toward the Maltese and their religion; in particular, she despised the Sacraments of Confession and Communion. Furthermore, her hatred became so diabolic that as soon as someone began speaking to her about religion, she would immediately break off all conversation.

Notwithstanding this, the pious Priest did not lose all hope, trusting in the power of the Virgin of the Rosary honoured in her very dear Shrine of Pompeii. He therefore recommended to his penitents to pray for this woman, to make Novenas to the Virgin of Pompeii, and to apply many Communions on her behalf.

A sister-in-law of Anna’s, Maria Misued, a woman of strong faith, asked Rev. Debono to celebrate a Mass in order to obtain the desired conversion. It was established that the mass would be celebrated on the following Saturday, September 15th, during the ceremony of the Fifteen Saturdays which were practiced there.

Meanwhile they wrote to Avv. Bartolo Longo in the Valley of Pompeii, asking him to have the young Orphans of the Rosary in the Shrine of Pompeii pray, to obtain the greatly desired conversion.

The days of the Novena made by these young orphans passed, and September 29th arrived, the fourteenth of the Fifteen Saturdays, on which Mary’s blessed death was commemorated, or better, her happy passage from this to eternal life. That was the day chosen by the merciful Queen of Pompeii to save from Satan’s clutches this soul for whom so many of Mary’s children were endlessly praying.

All that Saturday night Anna was not able to close her eyes in sleep. Mary’s eye was upon her, grace was working on that unhappy heart. Then came dawn of Sunday, the day of the Lord, and this Protestant woman, having hit the very bottom, was already changed into another. Quite suddenly and to everyone’s surprise she asked:

“Where is that priest? Hurry and call him, I want to see him as soon as possible!”

And then, as if a blindfold had fallen from her eyes, serene in countenance but with a certain urgency in her soul:

“I want to be baptized,” she cried, “I want to die a Catholic!”

At these unexpected words everyone burst into tears of consolation, and almost did not believe what they were seeing with their own eyes.

Fr. Debono was immediately sent for; however, he was on the point of ascending the pulpit in Misida. He answered that he would come immediately after his sermon.

But Anna, prompted by Mary’s grace, did not want to wait and so had him called a second time.

Meanwhile the Rev. Provost of the Birchircara Collegiate Church was sent. With indescribable feelings he received the abjuration of the Protestant convert, and immediately baptized her in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

“Amen”, all those present responded, with warm tears of tenderness and compunction.

At that moment the reverend Debono entered the house. At first glance she no longer appeared a mortal creature, but an angel.

She received him with extraordinary joy and asked his pardon for not having awaited him.

They began preparing her for Confirmation, without delay. The Excellent Msgr. Antonio Maria Buhagiar, as a loving father, came that night to the bedside of the dying woman, and as the Lord’s anointed laid his hands on the newly baptized woman: upon this soul which the baptismal waters had purified the Sanctifying Spirit descended.

There now only remained the final Sacrament of Extreme Unction to make the soul of Anna Charles blissful unto eternity. This too was administered to her with the holy Indulgences and all the other blessings of the Catholic Religion.

After fifteen hours of the sweetest agony, perfectly resigned to God’s most holy will, with the Beads of the Holy Rosary in her hands and embracing the Crucifix, Anna peacefully gave up her soul to her Creator.

Our great Queen of Heaven and of the earth never denies a grace of any sort, when honoured with the efficacious practice of the Fifteen Saturdays, and at the same time invoked by the title so pleasing to her maternal Heart, the title of the Queen of the Rosary, of the Valley of Pompeii.

(From the magazine IL ROSARIO E LA NUOVA POMPEI)

February 18, 2019

The Thirteenth Saturday: The Third Glorious Mystery - The Descent of the Holy Spirit

Gospel ReadingLuke 24 (Click Here to Read)
Other Scripture Readings: 

MEDITATION

1. Jesus, before his Ascension, had said to the Apostles: “John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5)… “When they had entered (Jerusalem), they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of JamesAll these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren” (Acts 1:13-14).

“And they were continually in the temple blessing God” (Lk 24:53).

My soul, penetrate into the Upper Room. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is praying with the Apostles and the Disciples, who with confidence join this Holy Virgin in prayer to hurry the coming of the Holy Spirit. And we, what must we hope for in our petitions when we wish to invoke so great an Advocate? She is the Mother of Jesus; this very title is a pledge of her goodness and her power.

Let us contemplate them all together, as their hearts and spirits intimately enter into prayer; they express themselves powerfully, their desires and love forming one and the same language. What faith, what reverence, what concentration!

Here is the efficacious and necessary disposition to receive the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit: devotion to the Blessed Virgin, the Holy Spirit’s most beloved Bride, and fervent and constant prayer, especially in common because this reveals a union of faith and charity with the Catholic Church, in which all the faithful are members of one body with the Pope as the visible Head.

O Mary, who have always been a Teacher of the Church, and full of all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, teach me to pray well. Pray on my behalf, and from the depths of my heart draw forth those groans and sighs which have the power of attracting the Holy Spirit to me. Inspire in my soul and place on my lips those prayers most in conformity with your Heart, that they may please you and be fully satisfied by this bountiful God.

Spirit of Goodness and Love, penetrate my heart and pierce it with the dart of your divine fire, that it may never cease praying, according to the counsel of the Saviour, with ardent faith, concentration, deep humility, steadfast trust, generous perseverance, and above all with a love so fervent that it may never be weakened. Jesus himself promised: “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Lk 11:10).

2. Consider, my soul: just as the Patriarchs and the Prophets contributed by their sighs to draw on earth the Divine Word, so too the Holy Spirit wishes to be invoked by our desires. Let us therefore open to him not only our mouths, but our whole heart and our soul as well, saying with the Psalmist: “With open mouth I pant, because I long for thy commandments” (Psalm 119:131).

But this bountiful God always anticipates his creatures: I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore, moved to compassion by your sufferings, I have drawn you to me (cf. Jer 31:3). And Jesus said to his disciples: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (Jn 12:32).

Therefore often repeat, my soul, with the Bride of the Sacred Songs: Draw me, O Lord, after you, and we shall follow the fragrance of your oils (cf. Song 1:3-4).

Contemplate, my soul, what took place on the day of Pentecost. “They were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:1-2). Understand that, as the wind scatters the clouds and purifies the air, so by entering the soul the Holy Spirit first cleanses the mind of all its evil thoughts and the heart of its earthly affections. It disperses the shadows of the intellect and then restores the soul to a wholly divine life. By his breath He gave life to humanity and to the Church of God, and by his breath shall preserve the Church throughout the centuries. “And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:3-4).

Behold these tongues of fire, lofty, shining bright, parted and resting on each one of these Saints…

These are the expressions of divine Goodness. This Spirit descends under the symbol of tongues. Man’s arrogance was the cause of the confusing of tongues at the Tower of Babel, which separated them from one another. The coming of the Holy Spirit brought to the Apostles the gift of tongues, by which the people of every nation were united in a unity of Faith and Baptism, in the Catholic Church. And a tongue of fire is the Holy Spirit, because He is a living source of love. Just as fire purifies metal by destroying any impurity, so the Holy Spirit is a burning fire purifying the soul of all its defilement. He consumes every obstacle, as attachment to ephemeral things, human honours, vanity and the comforts of life. He then raises the affections of the heart and the thoughts of the mind to heaven, and loosens the tongue to divine praises.

He is a bright fire illuminating our spirit as He sheds light on our sins and our thanklessness towards God, our Benefactor. He is a gentle fire insinuating itself in our heart, penetrating it and setting it on fire. Finally, He is a fire rising to heaven with its flames, a fire of love. This is essential to his nature, as He proceeds from the Father and from the Son by means of love. Therefore He longs to communicate what he possesses, indeed, what He is, and He pours charity and zeal into our soul.

Oh, the greatness and goodness of God! He propagates his truth and his Church through twelve Judean fishermen, deemed foolish and unrefined by the world in comparison to the wisdom of the Greeks and the Romans! These rough, ignorant and timid men, who so cowardly forsook their Master at the time of his Passion, inflamed by this divine fire communicated to them by the Holy Spirit, now confess the glories of his name in every language.

“And they began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).

They preach Jesus Crucified in Jerusalem, and the Gospel to all the nations of the earth. “Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language” (Acts 2:5-6).

They announce to the world the greatness and wonders of Jesus of Nazareth. They fight like heroes, and prompted by burning zeal encounter torments and expose themselves to death. Finally, by suffering death they triumph over all the wisdom and powers of man, and cause even the tyrants to tremble.

We know well how to imitate the Apostles in their infidelity, cowardice and flight, but we do not wish to imitate them in their composure and incessant prayers. Therefore my soul, pray most fervently to the Holy Spirit, that He descend upon you this very day. From him seek a spirit of fervour and the fruit of zeal.

3. Fervour, the Holy Fathers say, is a supernatural movement of the soul which endlessly aims at becoming united with God by means of love, overcoming any obstacle rendering this union less than perfect. It is a divine fire, a heavenly flame coming from the Holy Spirit which generates zeal; that is, it readies the soul and renders it courageous in undertaking and fulfilling whatever God orders it, notwithstanding the difficulties. By multiplying acts of love the heart becomes so joined to God that, like the Apostle, it defies all creatures to separate them. “Who shall separate me from the love of Christ?” (cf. Rom 8:35). Neither the sword, nor hunger, nor the tyranny of man or of the passions.

Ever vigilant, the soul corrects all worldly gratification in itself: an indiscreet word it considers a tacit reproach; it allows itself not even a curious glance at creatures. Its gaze is directed to God alone whom it loves.

The soul moans with St. Paul in finding itself on earth still. Its exile weighs it down, yet its impassioned yearning incessantly raises it towards heaven. Whether advancing, says St. Bernard, or remaining still, whether acting or resting, it never strays from the loving presence of its Beloved.

It longs for everyone to burn for love of him. Yet, ever benevolent and compassionate, it prays and suffers for others.

This spirit of holiness and purity will not sanctify us if we fail to offer sacrifices in proportion to the sinful secrets and longings of our heart. This heart cannot remain empty: as soon as it becomes empty of itself and of creatures, God fills it with his spirit. But alas, I am so sensitive to any word which displeases me that I easily become disturbed and upset. I am so pusillanimous that I do not dare rebuke the blasphemies of others, or reproach any mockeries against God, the Virgin and the Pope.

O divine Spirit, inflame my heart with your irresistible love. But alas, how many times did your voice speak to my soul, yet I listened not! Had I been faithful to you, how many vices I should have uprooted, how many virtues acquired, and what rapid progress should I have made in the perfection of my state! I would be quite full of you, O my God; instead, I find I am only full of myself and all the things of this miserable world! I would be burning with your divine love, while instead I am so languid that I dare not even say I love you! O divine Spirit, forgive my past infidelity entirely, which I so bitterly deplore. Break my chains, draw me to you, for I have resolved to be faithful to you. Bow the heavens and descend even to my nothingness: let yourself be possessed by so mean a creature. I shall welcome you with joy, and faithfully keep you. Heavenly fire, purify my heart.

O holy Apostles, pray for me, communicate to me your ardour, your living faith, your burning zeal. Grant me a share in the gifts you received from this Sovereign Spirit of goodness and love, that like you I too may firmly believe and zealously work for Jesus, and with you may come to enjoy him in heaven for ever. Amen.

***

VIRTUE – Zeal.

REFLECTION – Today offer many acts of love to God. Do not be ashamed of openly showing that you are Catholic, and encourage others to love God. Show that you are devoted to Mary by uncovering your head at the ringing of the Angelus.
As often as you can prevent any blasphemies or offences made against Her.
Mary is very pleased when we rescue girls and orphans from being lost. Remember that if you save a soul, you shall have also saved your own.

EJACULATION – O Mary, Bride of the Holy Spirit, renew my heart and offer it to God.

* * * * * * * * * *

A READING
A FAVOUR OF THE VIRGIN OF THE ROSARY OF POMPEII

IN POLICASTRODoctor Vincenzo Mangia, of Policastro, is miraculously healed of consumption by the Virgin of Pompeii.

This time it is a doctor confirming the miracle of his own healing.

This favour has already been published in Il Rosario e la Nuova Pompei.

“I have received from the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary, who is venerated at Pompeii, the special grace of still being counted among the living.

The illness I suffered began with suppuration in the front area of the neck, whereby I was forced to undergo a painful operation. I was operated on by the famous Prof. Frusci, three times on three separate days in the second half of August, 1886; he was assisted by my very dear friend from childhood and colleague, Dr. Michele Capoa.

The wound was slowly healing when on September 10th I was struck by exudative pleurisy on the left, that is, on the same side of my neck lesion.

Prof. Frusci, having become suspicious regarding the nature of this newest ailment, discovered some Koch bacilli, proof of the tubercular nature of the lesion.

The Professors Fazio, D’Ambrosio and Cacciapuoti confirmed the diagnosis of tubercular pleurisy: recognizing the gravity of the illness, they all advised a return to my native town, for it seemed easier for me to accept death with my relatives close by.

Having arrived in Policastro, the disease did not delay in spreading to the lungs; and a fatal bronchial-alveolitis was the natural consequence of the tubercular pleurisy.

Fever, cough, sputum, haemoptysis, bedsores, extreme loss of weight, all foretold my approaching inevitable end.

I could not fool myself, being a doctor, so tried to find the serenity needed in such moments: I prepared myself for death which was close at hand. Doctor Fatigati turned to my wife and said,

“Mrs. Mangia, I must painfully confess that there is no longer any hope of recovery for your husband.”

“Doctor Mangia already has one foot in the grave,” Doctor Pugliese sadly reported to the Rev. Rector of the Diocesan Seminary, Fr. Tommaso Granata…

My companion in studies, Doctor Gregorio Falconi, publicly announced to various friends:

“All the resources of science have been exhausted, death is certain.”

The Most Excellent Bishop of this Diocese, Msgr. Giuseppe Maria Cione, paid me a visit, and today I still remember with gratitude his comforting, divine words.

Finally Doctor Furiasi said to my mother:

“Mrs. Mangia, you must get used to the idea of losing him.”

January 12th arrived. My cheeks had become cyanotic, my lips livid, my eyes assumed a stony expression, breathing was difficult; the agony was advancing in giant steps.

All my relatives were gathered around my bed. In a whisper, in the magazine Il Rosario e la Nuova Pompei, my sister was reading about the favours granted by the Virgin of the Rosary of Pompeii. I was contemplating her image, and every so often kissed the blessed roses of this universal Shrine.

How incredible! In a flash all of my sufferings ceased.

The clock was striking 1pm on that same day; the fever, the sputum, the cough, everything vanished quite suddenly. Immediately everyone shouted “a miracle!”, being unable to explain by means of human reason my instantaneous recovery from a disease declared incurable, and which had already brought me to the edge of the grave.

For my part, I wanted to allow a year to pass before announcing the above-mentioned miracle accomplished by the Most Blessed Virgin of the Rosary of Pompeii, so that no one, seeing me now alive, well and as healthy as before, could oppose the evidence. Furthermore, this luminous truth has been confirmed by the citing of many illustrious names, persons whom I invite to deny, if they can, that the facts are as I have reported them.

From Policastro Bussentino (Salerno), written and signed in my own hand.

24 August 1890

DOCTOR VINCENZO MANGIA”

(From the publication IL ROSARIO E LA NUOVA POMPEI, Year VII, 1890)

February 17, 2019

The Twelfth Saturday: The Second Glorious Mystery - The Ascension of Jesus to Heaven

Gospel ReadingLuke 24 (Click Here to Read)
Other Scripture Reading: Acts 1 (Click Here to Read)

MEDITATION

1. Consider, my soul, how the risen Jesus wished to remain on earth for forty days in his glorious state, and show himself visibly to his Disciples, to confirm their faith in his real and true Resurrection. Yet He did not always wish to be manifest, so that without seeing him they would nevertheless believe in him, just as we believe him present everywhere as God, and as God-Man in the Eucharist.

The glorious Lord desired to remain on earth forty days, as though to compensate for the many tears and sighs of the just throughout the forty centuries they had awaited him.

The fixed time came: after giving every power to the Apostles, and commanding them to teach the nations and baptize them, He ordered them to gather together on Mount Olivet.

“And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me… before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth’” (Acts 1:4-8).

My soul, adore your Saviour who is about to ascend to Heaven. Rejoice with him for the glorious triumph and honours which He is going to receive from his heavenly Father and from all the blessed Spirits. From this moment and with ardour ask him for the spirit of faith. With this spirit go to Jerusalem: observe how your Saviour departs from this ungrateful town and sets out for the Mount of Olives, accompanied by his divine Mother, the Apostles, his first Disciples and by many pious Women, more than five hundred in number. The Lord wanted such a multitude of chosen witnesses to strengthen man’s belief in his Ascension to Heaven, where he was to be our Advocate by his Father, and our great Pontiff, taking pity on our miseries as He had done during his earthly life. Join Mary, pray that she grant you a share in her faith and follow her all the way to Mount Olivet.

Here, with profound respect and veneration, listen to Jesus’ final words as he upbraids the Apostles for their lack of faith in his resurrection and in the promise of the Holy Spirit. Turn a tender and respectful gaze upon Jesus who is about to ascend into heaven: his divine eyes which had shed so many tears, and were languid and dying on the cross, are now more blazing than the sun. His venerable head is no longer drenched in blood, nor crowned with thorns, but with immortal glory. All the wounds that formerly disfigured his body now cover him in divine splendour; no longer a motive of shame and infamy, they contribute to his glory and to the splendour of his triumph. With Mary and the Apostles, inflamed with celestial ardour and sustained by quick hope, observe Jesus: having become visible to them all, he raises his hands and blesses them, and then is most gently lifted into the air.

2. “Lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven” (Lk 24:50).

What a spectacle! What a marvel! The disciples had never seen anything so wondrous. They had seen him walking on water before his death. He had come in their midst in the supper-room behind closed doors. But here Jesus is with them: they speak with him, He speaks with them, then is lifted up into the air. They gaze after him but no longer possess him: a white cloud has surrounded him and removed him from their sight. They know where He is going for He had so often told them. He is lifted to heaven, from whence He descended; He returns to his Father who had sent him to earth. He goes where they cannot go for now, but one day shall go. He goes to occupy the place reserved for him, and prepare the places He has merited for them and for all of us. He goes to sit at the right hand of his Father, and rest in his bosom, until He calls us to be with him. Why is my heart not moved by such a spectacle? My cold heart, open yourself to this surest hope; separate yourself forever from the earth to become more firmly established in heaven.

The Angels, the Archangels and all the heavenly Powers come before their King. All the just who have been dead from the beginning of the world, and all those who have risen with Jesus Christ, come together to accompany his glorious triumph. Adam, Eve, Abel, Matusalemme, Job, Tobias, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the holy Prophets with Isaiah and Jeremiah, the holy Kings with David; St. Joseph, St. Anne, St. Joachim, St. John the Baptist, Zechariah and Elizabeth, the holy Wise Men, the old venerable Simeon and Anna, the good Thief. The flesh had been thrown out of the earthly paradise, but in the person of the Word made flesh it is now lifted into Heaven. “Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty” (Psalm 24:7-8). He is the Lamb of God who was killed; He is the victorious Lion, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Lord of hosts, the King of glory. This is the title with which Jesus Christ goes to sit at the right hand of the Father, and seats all those whom He has delivered. And there He shall await all those who will believe in him and profit from his redemption. How many are those already seated there! And how they observe the earth and all that keeps man occupied!

Towards heaven, then, O my soul! Keep your heart and mind forever directed towards heaven, as the end of your mortal journey, the place of your repose.

Faith teaches you: “Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come” (Heb 13:14). Therefore be lifted up through faith, keeping in mind that earth is not your home; a citizen of heaven, here you are only journeying as a pilgrim, always in expectation of your return up above. Accordingly, busy yourself today, strengthen your faith in the Christian virtues, which are opposed to false earthly possessions and vain illusions which corrupt the heart.

Faith is the eye and reason of the Christian, it is the foundation of the entire edifice of our eternal salvation: “the assurance of things hoped for” (Heb 11:1). The reward of faith is paradise. He that believeth shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be condemned.  Through faith Jesus dwells in us, and we in him. Through faith Jesus works in us, and through faith his Mysteries and his Life are communicated to us.

3. My soul, if you look toward the promised reward, you will consider every burden light and will succeed in bearing poverty and the privation of life’s comforts. Peacefully you will accept insults and injury, and close your eyes to the false splendour of the world, that it may not dazzle you, remembering always that all worldly pomp and glory is doomed to end as dust in the grave. The soul separated from the body will carry with itself nothing but its works: unto its glory, if good; unto its confusion, if bad. So as to lose not the thought of eternity, Macarius, Anthony and the Stylite abandoned the towns to go live in the desert. Benedict, Bernard, Dominic and Francis withdrew to cloisters and, by sanctifying themselves, sanctified their neighbour!...

Now consider, my soul, what the affection of a soul touched by the desire of eternal life must be, which directs its every thought and action to Jesus Christ, as the Apostles did.

“And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:10-11).

The Apostles, therefore, stood very still in that moment, unaware of everything happening about them, incapable of the least distraction, inflamed by heavenly ardour and sustained by joyous hope. Though they no longer saw Jesus, they could not quit gazing into heaven.

“And they worshipped him, and then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away” (Lk 24:52 and Acts 1:12).

Spiritual joy is therefore the fruit of obedience, which causes prayer to follow action, and action to follow prayer. The Apostles obeyed the command of the Angel… Just as you must obey your superiors who stand in the place of the Angel. Be obedient to your duties which are God’s will over you. Do not fear leaving the Holy Mount, that is, contemplation, to return to the Town, that is to say, the ordinary occupations God demands of you.

Remember that your Jesus entered into heaven from the top of Mount Olivet, at the foot of which he had begun his Passion. At the foot of this divine mount the Master was seen prostrate, in agony, then seized, tied and led forth like a criminal… From humiliation and suffering, therefore, which humble you in the sight of man, you will ascend to the mount of glory which is in heaven.

O my Jesus, full of love and gratitude I rejoice with you over your glory and triumph. But remember, O my divine Saviour: to redeem me you spilt all of your precious blood, and have ascended into heaven to prepare a place for me, as You yourself said. Make me worthy of occupying this place one day. Sustain me by your grace, that I may come to this heavenly and long-desired kingdom. Supply me with your strength, that I may overcome all my enemies wishing to be an obstacle along the way.

Mary, Mother of this beautiful hope, with your love and your grace pave the way which lead me to heaven. Amen.

***

VIRTUE – The desire of heaven.

REFLECTION – Following the example of the first Christians, show in all your actions the faith which animates you. “The just person lives by faith”: therefore do not attach your heart to vain speech and appearances. Spurn the distractions of the world in the hope of everlasting joy and the company of the Apostles.
In every disagreeable event say: “All must pass away; we do not have a permanent dwelling here, but aspire to one that is to come.” During the day repeat three times: “When, O Lord, shall I see your beautiful countenance?”.

EJACULATION – O Mary, the stairway of heaven, draw me with you to things of everlasting beauty.

* * * * * * * * * *

A READING
A FAVOUR OF THE VIRGIN OF THE ROSARY OF POMPEII

IN SERRANOA life saved in a fire owing to the Medal of the Virgin of Pompeii.

Rev. Fr. Antonio Sindico, from Serrano in the Province of Lecce, on 1 March 1887 sent the following declaration to Avv. Bartolo Longo, the Editor of Il Rosario e la Nuova Pompei, asking that it be published in the magazine of Our Lady of Pompeii.

Dear Advocate,

It is my desire and duty to come before the Altar of this great Queen of Victories in her chosen Valley to offer her my heartfelt thanks for a favour granted to me.

As you may remember, on January 14th you sent me a wonderful silver Medal of the most miraculous Virgin of Pompeii.

I cannot describe my joy upon receiving it! I put it on along with the Rosary Beads which encircle my neck day and night.

Mary acknowledged this proof of my love, and wanted to reward me on the same day, and in the following manner:

It was a quarter past ten in the evening when I, as was my habit, said good night to my small family and went to my room to sleep. After getting in bed I had the desire to read. I put out the oil lamp and lit a candle which I placed at the head of my bed…

While reading I grew drowsy and then fell asleep, without blowing out the candle. It burnt down and then set the cover and mattress on fire.

In that moment I was peacefully sleeping, though the unpleasant smell of smoke and burning wool reached my mother who was three rooms away from mine. I slept very profoundly throughout the night, and even woke up late.

Feeling refreshed from such a peaceful sleep, I began rising from bed. But as soon as I turned over I noticed that the bed was completely burnt to charcoal!...

A shudder of horror ran through me as I realized the danger. But who had put out the fire and rescued me from being burnt alive, or suffocating? I thought for a moment, when behold, I became aware of the precious medal of the Virgin of Pompeii, which along with the beads of the Rosary I had hung around my neck!

I then said to myself:

“I was saved from the fire through a miracle of Mary and her Rosary.”

I immediately went down into the church to celebrate the holy Sacrifice of the Mass in giving thanks to the Virgin of Pompeii for the favour I had obtained.

Out of gratitude to our common Benefactress I began having the Rosary recited publicly every evening. From the great number of devotees participating, I am sure that we shall reap great benefits from such devotion. I intend to persevere in this holy practice, in order to be numbered among the most fervent and zealous propagators of Mary’s Rosary and of her dear Shrine in Pompeii.

Serrano (Lecce), 1 March 1887.

FR. ANTONIO SINDICO”