Sunday, May 31, 2020

Pentecost: The Coming of the Holy Spirit

The coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was not an isolated event in the Church's life. The Paraclete sanctifies it continually as He also sanctifies every soul. This He does through all the innumerable inspirations which are all the attractions, motions, rebukes and interior compunctions, lights and intuitions which God works in us. So He strengthens our heart with his blessings, with his care and fatherly love, so as to arouse us, move us, impel us and draw us to holy virtues, to heavenly love, to good resolutions: in short, to all that leads us to our eternal life. (St. Francis de Sales) His action in the soul is gentle and mild ... He comes to save, to cure, to enlighten. (St. Cyril of Jerusalem)
In Conversation With God Vol 2: Lent and Eastertide
Our priest said once in a scripture study class that God loves us so much that He went to the trouble of plugging a translator right into our hearts. If we take the time and trouble to listen for that whisper, we hear the Holy Spirit there within us ... and He is there to help us speak to God in turn. What a fantastic image and it is one that I think of often. Talk about going the extra mile! God has done everything that one could imagine to help us get the point, to communicate, to talk to Him and be in relationship with Him.

I also like the way that same point was said by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household, "the only person allowed to preach to the Pope." He's served John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis in that capacity.
When the Holy Spirit takes possession of a heart, a change comes about. If before there was a "secret rancor against God" in the depths of a man's heart now the Spirit comes to him from God and attests that God is truly favorable and benign, that he is his ally and not his enemy. He opens his eyes to all that God has been capable of doing for him and to the fact that he did not spare his only Son for him. The Spirit puts "God's love" into man's heart (see Rom 5:5). In this way he makes him a new man who loves God and who willingly does what God asks of him. God, in fact, no longer limits himself to telling man what he should do or not do, but he himself does it with him and in him. The new law, the Spirit, is much more than an indication of a will; it is an action, a living and active principle. The new law is new life. That is why it is more often called grace than law: "You are not under law but under grace" (Rom 6:14).
Life in Christ: A Spiritual Commentary on the Letter to the Romans
Amen ... I can testify to that!

 Pentecost -- The Cry of Release from Meditations on the Passion
Under copyright by Iain McKillip and used by permission

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Novena to the Holy Spirit: Day 9

Oldest of all novenas, this is still the only one officially prescribed by the Church.
This is the last day of the novena and tomorrow is Pentecost!

Netherlandish Master, The Spirit, c. 1500.

(Saturday, Vigil of Pentecost)
When the soul is docile to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, it becomes that good tree which is known by its fruits. These fruits enrich the Christian's life and are manifestations of the glory of God: By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, Jesus says at the Last Supper (John 15:8).
In Conversation With God Vol 2: Lent and Eastertide
Prayer: The Fruits of the Holy Spirit

Thou, on those who evermore
Thee confess and thee adore,
In thy sevenfold gifts, descend:
Give them comfort when they die;
Give them life with thee on high;
Give them joy which never ends. Amen.

The Fruits of the Holy Spirit
The gifts of the Holy Spirit perfect the supernatural virtues by enabling us to practice them with greater docility to divine inspiration. As we grow in the knowledge and love of God under the direction of the Holy Spirit, our service becomes more sincere and generous, the practice of virtue more perfect. Such acts of virtue leave the heart filled with joy and consolation and are known as Fruits of the Holy Spirit. These Fruits in turn render the practice of virtue more attractive and become a powerful incentive for still greater efforts in the service of God, to serve Whom is to reign.

Come, O Divine Spirit, fill my heart with Your heavenly fruits, Your charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, faith, mildness, and temperance, that I may never weary in the service of God, but by continued faithful submission to Your inspiration may merit to be united eternally with You in the love of the Father and the Son. Amen.

Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE.

Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES.

Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Friday, May 29, 2020

I am chasing a dream.

I am chasing a dream. I want the unattainable. Other artists paint a bridge, a house, a boat; and that’s the end. They’ve finished. I want to paint the AIR which surrounds the bridge, the house, the boat; the beauty of the air in which these objects are located; and that is nothing short of impossible. If only I could satisfy myself with what is possible.

Claude Monet
(Monet at Giverny by Caroline Holmes)

Woman in the Garden

Woman in the Garden
a study in the effect of sunlight and shadow on colour
Claude Monet

Novena to the Holy Spirit: Day 8

Oldest of all novenas, this is still the only one officially prescribed by the Church.

Ottonian Master Pentecost, C. 1030-40

(Friday, 7th Week of Easter)
The gift of wisdom gives us a loving, penetrating faith, and a clarity and understanding of the unfathomable mystery of God which we never thought possible. It can have to do with the presence and nearness of God, or the Real Presence of Christ in the tabernacle, which produce an extraordinary happiness. ...

The more usual thing, however, will be to find God in everyday life, with no special effects but the the intimate certainty that God watches over us, sees what we are doing, cares for us as for his children, at work or at home. The Holy Spirit teaches us that if we are faithful to his grace, our everyday affairs are the normal way to God, there we serve him in this life and prepare ourselves to contemplate him in Heaven for all eternity.
In Conversation With God Vol 2: Lent and Eastertide

Prayer: The Gift of Wisdom

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray!

The Gift of Wisdom
Embodying all the other gifts, as charity embraces all the other virtues, Wisdom is the most perfect of the gifts. Of wisdom it is written "all good things came to me with her, and innumerable riches through her hands." It is the gift of Wisdom that strengthens our faith, fortifies hope, perfects charity, and promotes the practice of virtue in the highest degree. Wisdom enlightens the mind to discern and relish things divine, in the appreciation of which earthly joys lose their savor, whilst the Cross of Christ yields a divine sweetness according to the words of the Saviour: "Take up thy cross and follow me, for my yoke is sweet and my burden light.

Come, O Spirit of Wisdom, and reveal to my soul the mysteries of heavenly things, their exceeding greatness, power and beauty. Teach me to love them above and beyond all the passing joys and satisfactions of earth. Help me to attain them and possess them for ever. Amen.

Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE.

Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES.

Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Madame Monet in a Japanese kimono

Madame Monet in a Japanese kimono, Claude Monet

Gospel of Matthew: Struck with Awe

Matthew 9:1-8

Chapter 9 opens with the people bringing Jesus a paralytic for healing, Jesus forgiving the man's sins, and with his chiding the scribes for saying that he was blaspheming. Very familiar and most of us know it well from a different telling when the man's friends lower him through the roof to Jesus.

Once again, the details are all important in helping us to really grasp fully what Matthew is communicating to us. And, once again, I never considered the bit that Martin brings up in "glorified God" discussion. Thought provoking and fabulous.

Hey, check out this mosaic of the paralytic taking up his mat to leave. I always thought of it like a padded quilt. The cot type bed the man is holding makes much more sense in terms of his friends being able to get him to the roof and through the ceiling without him slipping out of their grasp. Also — and you know I had to say it — this is often what we see in Bollywood movies for the beds in the homes of the poor or on rooftops for summer sleeping. So it hit me where I lived.

Mosaic in Sant’Apollinare Nuovo – Ravenna
8 When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe. This is the first mention of crowds being present and witnessing what was happening. The Greek for were struck with awe can also be translated "became afraid." The people of Capernaum had already seen Jesus heal many people (8:14-17), so we can ponder why this particular healing aroused awe and fear. Its only unique feature was that it was done as a sign that Jesus had the authority to forgive sins. The crowd was struck with awe that Jesus had demonstrated that he had such authority; Jesus was a man who could forgive as God could forgive. Joseph had been told that Jesus would "save his people from their sins" (1:21), and the people of Capernaum had just witnessed a down payment.

Consequently they glorified God who had given such authority to human beings. They recognized that Jesus' authority to forgive sins came from God, for only God could forgive sins. They glorified God for sharing his authority with Jesus, bringing his forgiveness to earth (verse 6). Matthew writes that they glorified God for giving authority to forgive sins to human beings rather than simply to Jesus. Matthew's wording foreshadows Jesus' sharing his authority to forgive sins with his disciples and the church (see 16:19; 18:18; James 5:16). Matthew's first readers experienced forgiveness of sins through the church, and they could join in glorifying God for giving such authority to human beings.

For reflection: How have I experienced Jesus' forgiveness through the church? Where am I most in need of forgiveness?

The disciples had wondered about Jesus, "What sort of man is this?" (8:27), and more pieces of the answer are falling into place. Jesus not only has authority over disease (8:1-17), over the physical world (8:23-27), and over demons (8:28-34); he also sees into human hearts (verses 2, 4) and has the authority to forgive sins (verse 6).
Quote is from Bringing the Gospel of Matthew to Life. This series first ran in 2008. I'm refreshing it as I go.

Novena to the Holy Spirit: Day 7

Oldest of all novenas, this is still the only one officially prescribed by the Church.

PETRUS de Raimbaucourt, The Descent of the Spirit, 1323

(Thursday, 7th Week of Easter)
There are many moments when we could stray from the path which leads to God. There are many side tracks we could wander down. But God has reassured us with these words: I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you (Ps. 32:8). The Holy Spirit is our best Adviser, our best teacher, our best Guide. Our Lord's promise to his Apostles for when they might find themselves in very difficult situations, is very heartening: When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you (Matt. 10:19-20). They were to have the special assistance of the Holy Spirit as would Christians through the centuries when placed in similar circumstances. ...

The gift of counsel presupposes that we have used all the other means necessary to act prudently: to obtain the necessary data; to foresee the possible consequences of our actions, to learn from the experience of similar situations in the past, to ask advice when the moment comes. this is natural prudence which is then reinforced by grace. Along with supernatural prudence we receive this gift of counsel which allows us to make a sure and quick decision regarding the means to be used, or the reply to be given, or the way to be followed. ...
In Conversation With God Vol 2: Lent and Eastertide
Prayer: The Gift of Counsel

Heal our wounds -- our strength renew;
On our dryness pour thy dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away!

The Gift of Counsel
The gift of Counsel endows the soul with supernatural prudence, enabling it to judge promptly and rightly what must done, especially in difficult circumstances. Counsel applies the principles furnished by Knowledge and Understanding to the innumerable concrete cases that confront us in the course of our daily duty as parents, teachers, public servants, and Christian citizens. Counsel is supernatural common sense, a priceless treasure in the quest of salvation. "Above all these things, pray to the Most High, that He may direct thy way in truth."

Come, O Spirit of Counsel, help and guide me in all my ways, that I may always do Your holy will. Incline my heart to that which is good; turn it away from all that is evil, and direct me by the straight path of Your commandments to that goal of eternal life for which I long. Amen.

Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE.

Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES.

Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Night Butterflies

Night butterflies, Edward Okuń

The joy of "assigned" reading and book talk

Sometimes I find myself reading a lot of books I didn't intend, faster than I meant to, and it's all because they were chosen by people for discussion ... or, in other words, "assigned." There's nothing like interesting book talk to pull me into a book. Even if I don't love the book, I always get something from the conversation.

Sometimes these are real life discussions. Sometimes they are favorite podcasts that are diving deep. Either way, I usually can't wait to go from one to another.

Here's the latest batch I'm juggling — which is a ton of fun, I must say.


Assigned by: A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast

To be fair, this is my selection so I'm not complaining.

Like a lot of us, I first read it in high school where I had the common dislike for the boring book. Then when my high school age daughters both loved it, I took another run at it and fell in love myself. Both with the book and with Nathaniel Hawthorne's incredible writing style.

I'm always struck by how modern it feels toward toward the end when Hester and her lover are in the woods. She has this moment of "I've never felt so alive!" that just knocks me out. The last few chapters almost turn into a thriller as we are pulling for them while worrying about what their enemy is going to do.


Assigned by: my Catholic women's book club

I'm reading twenty-five pages a day (roughly 3 short chapters) and will get done the day before. Of course, this isn't my first time through and that helps with quick reading. Which I'm naturally good at anyway.

I always enjoy this immensely as an extremely logical and understandable explanation to which anyone can relate. One need not agree with the author about Christianity or God, but one gets an excellent description of how a Christian understands the world. And that is a valuable thing these days, it seems to me. It is also a good devotional as I was reminded of many of the basics upon which my life is based and to which I aspire.


Assigned by: the Close Reads podcast

I've had a sneaking attraction to this book for over a year. Which really surprised me since I hated The Brothers Karamazov (please, no comments about that - let's just move on). But I'd been told that this was a very different book, a very modern feeling book, and numerous people had urged it on me.

When I saw Close Reads was covering this as part of their Patreon extra book I signed right up. I can't quit reading - except to listen to the episode covering the chapters I just read. I've been loving it more all the time! Finally, a Russian novel I can love (so far anyway - I'm not promising anything until I've finished).

I listen to Close Reads off and on in their regular podcast, depending on what they're reading. They are working from a classical education perspective, which feeds into a homeschooling, Christian audience. That is reflected in their Facebook page which has varied and lively discussions and I regularly check in there too.


Assigned by: The Literary Life podcast

This is a bit of a cheat since I'm not reading the book along with them. I know it really well so listening to the conversation is enough. But I wanted to let anyone reading this know about the podcast, especially in covering this book. So I slipped it in here — and I really am juggling it with the others!

As with Close Reads, I listen  off and on to The Literary Life, depending on what they're discussing. They also are working from a classical education perspective, which feeds into a homeschooling, Christian audience. That is reflected in their Facebook page which has varied and lively discussions and I regularly check in there too.


Assigned by:  Mythgard Academy as I relisten to their free classes

I admit it. I'm addicted to Corey Olsen's classes. Of all the book talk-ers on this page, I think he is the best because he focuses on what the text is telling us, not on what we know will happen later in the book or getting sidetracked into tangential ideas.

I usually have something of his on my iPod. I'm not as interested in the lesser known Tolkien writings as he is, so I am often relistening to a class while waiting for him to finish up obscure Tolkien-iana and begin a book I'm interested in. I only read Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell once (while listening to the Mythgard classes) and find it is the perfect fantasy to reread during a pandemic quarantine. That makes these classes my perfect "assignment."

Coming Soon

Assigned by: the CraftLit podcast

I'll begin this as soon as I finish either Crime and Punishment or Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

You know, it's that book by the other Bronte sister. The one whose name no one can ever remember. I did sample the first chapter. Heather Ordover has gotten two excellent readers to do the audiobook and, as always, her commentary is great. It can be a bit "women's issues" oriented which isn't really my cup of tea but it's not so much that it is overly intrusive.

Novena to the Holy Spirit: Day 6

Oldest of all novenas, this is still the only one officially prescribed by the Church.

Sacramentaire Pentecote, Illustration de la Bible de Jérusalem

(Wednesday, 7th Week of Easter)
The gift of understanding enables us to grasp the deeper meaning of the Scriptures, the life of grace, the presence of Christ in each sacrament, and in a real substantial way in the Blessed Eucharist. It gives us, as it were, an instinct for what is supernatural in the world. For the eyes of one of Christ's faithful, illumined by the Holy Spirit, there is a whole new universe to be discovered. The mysteries of the Most Blessed trinity, the Incarnation, the Redemption, and the church become living realities affecting the day-to-day life of the Christian. They have a decisive influence on his work, on his family life and friendships. Prayer becomes deeper and easier.
In Conversation With God Vol 2: Lent and Eastertide
Prayer: The Gift of Understanding

If thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay,
All his good is turned to ill.

The Gift of Understanding
Understanding, as a gift of the Holy Spirit, helps us to grasp the meaning of the truths of our holy religion BY faith we know them, but by Understanding we learn to appreciate and relish them. It enables us to penetrate the inner meaning of revealed truths and through them to be quickened to newness of life. Our faith ceases to be sterile and inactive, but inspires a mode of life that bears eloquent testimony to the faith that is in us; we begin to "walk worthy of God in all things pleasing, and increasing in the knowledge of God."

Come, O Spirit of Understanding, and enlighten our minds, that we may know and believe all the mysteries of salvation; and may merit at last to see the eternal light in Your Light; and in the light of glory to have a clear vision of You, Holy Spirit and the Father and the Son. Amen.

Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE.

Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES.

Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

St. Philip Neri's Feast Day or "Did Laughing At Yourself Help At All?"

I have always been attracted to this saint without too much of a specific reason other than I knew that he loved to laugh. Then I read a bit more about him and saw that was reason enough. Joy and gaiety were so much a part of his normal disposition that Goethe, who esteemed him highly, called him the "humorous saint." It was his gay, blithe spirit that opened for him the hearts of children. "Philip Neri, learned and wise, by sharing the pranks of children himself became a child again" (epitaph). (from Catholic Culture.)

So it is no wonder that he appeals to me.

One of the stories that attracted me to him is this one from Beginning to Pray by Anthony Bloom. This is one of those classic saint tales that remind us no one is perfect ... so there is hope for each of us.
It is absolutely pointless to ask God for something which we ourselves are not prepared to do. If we say "O God, make me free from this or that temptation" while at the same time seeking every possible way of falling to just such a temptation, hoping now that God is in control, that He will get us out of it, then we do not stand much chance. God gives us strength but we must use it. When, in our prayers, we ask God to give us strength to do something in His Name, we are not asking Him to do it instead of us because we are too feeble to be willing to do it for ourselves.

The lives of the saints are enlightening in this respect, and in the life of St. Philip Neri just such an occasion is described. He was an irascible man who quarreled easily and had violent outbursts of anger and of course endured violent outbursts from his brothers. One day he felt that it could not go on. Whether it was virtue or whether he could no longer endure his brothers his Vita does not tell us. The fact is that he ran to the chapel, fell down before a statue of Christ and begged Him to free him of his anger. He then walked out full of hope. The first person he met was one of the brothers who had never aroused the slightest anger in him, but for the first time in his life this brother was offensive and unpleasant to him. So Philip burst out with anger and went on, full of rage, to meet another of his brothers, who had always been a source of consolation and happiness to him. Yet even this man answered him gruffly. So Philip ran back to the chapel, cast himself before the statue of Christ and said "O Lord have I not asked you to free me from this anger?" And the Lord answered "Yes, Philip, and for this reason I am multiplying the occasions for you to learn."
We need to remember to laugh. And then to ask ourselves, "did laughing at yourself help at all?"

It almost always does. A sense of the ridiculous, especially one's own ridiculousness, is extremely helpful in regaining perspective.


Bertha Lum, Kites

Novena to the Holy Spirit: Day 5

Oldest of all novenas, this is still the only one officially prescribed by the Church.

Descent of the Holy Spirit, Dore

(Tuesday, 7th Week of Easter)
The gift of knowledge enables man to understand created things as signs which led to God, and the meaning of their elevation to the supernatural order. Through the world of nature and grace the Holy Spirit enables us to perceive and contemplate the infinite wisdom, power and goodness of God. God's nature is reflected in created things. Like the gifts of understanding and of wisdom, the gift of knowledge is a contemplative gift enabling us to see into the very mystery of God (M.M. Philipon).

Through the gift of knowledge the Christian who is docile to the Holy Spirit will learn to discern perfectly between what leads to God and what separates from him, in the field of arts, of fashion, and in the world of ideas. Truly he will be able to say that wisdom guided him on straight paths; she showed him the kingdom of God, and gave him knowledge of angels (cf Wis 10:10). The Holy Spirit himself will warn us when what is good and true in itself is in danger of becoming bad by leading us away from our last supernatural end. It could be a disordered desire for material possessions, or an attachment to these goods in a way that does not leave the heart free to serve God.
Prayer: The Gift of Knowledge

Light immortal! Light divine!
Visit thou these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill.

The Gift of Knowledge
The gift of Knowledge enables the soul to evaluate created things at their true worth--in their relation to God. Knowledge unmasks the pretense of creatures, reveals their emptiness, and points out their only true purpose as instruments in the service of God. It shows us the loving care of God even in adversity, and directs us to glorify Him in every circumstance of life. Guided by its light, we put first things first, and prize the friendship of God beyond all else. "Knowledge is a fountain of life to him that possesseth it."

Come, O Blessed Spirit of Knowledge, and grant that I may perceive the will of the Father; show me the nothingness of earthly things, that I may realize their vanity and use them only for Your glory and my own salvation, looking ever beyond them to You, and Your eternal rewards. Amen.

Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE.

Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES.

Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Monday, May 25, 2020

Jo Walton, St. Zenobius, and Me: Joyful and Triumphant

Rerunning this piece because the sentiments still apply even though my birthday is on a Monday this year and skates in under the wire as still being in Easter. I am delighted to have made St. Zenobius's acquaintance, especially via Jo Walton.

  • Common attributes: Bishop
  • Occasional attributes: Florentine red fleur de lis, flowering tree
  • Patron saint of: Florence
  • Patron of places: Florence
  • Feast days: May 25
  • Most often depicted: Standing around with other saints, resurrecting somebody
  • Close relationships: St. Ambrose, St. Eugene and St. Crescentius
  • Relics: Florence, Santa Reparata crypt
Saint Zenobius was the first bishop of Florence. He supported St. Ambrose in battling the Arian heresy. He brought several people back from the dead, and his relics resurrected a dead elm tree. He used to be buried in San Lorenzo in Florence, but was later moved to Santa Reparata/the Duomo.

Saint Zenobius is one of these cases of an early Christian who did a good job and was pious and therefore got to be a saint just for that, without getting martyred or founding a giant order or anything. I support this, but it means his primary role was in Christianizing Florence and putting it on the map, so he is not and never will be particularly beloved outside his native town.

Photo and text: Ex Urbe blog

(where there is much more about St. Zenobius ... and also St. Reparta!)
My road to St. Zenobius is a long and fascinating one. At least to me.

A long, long time ago (in 2015!), Scott and I had our first guest on A Good Story is Hard to Find. We were thrilled to talk with Br. Guy Consolmagno, Vatican Astronomer, about his book selection, Among Others by Jo Walton.

Recently Scott was at a local con and met Walton, telling her about our degree of connection and thoughtfully sending me a signed copy of her new short story collection, Starlings.

I've got to admit it is a bit offputting to read an introduction where the author spends so much time talking about how everyone agrees she just can't write a decent short story. So I did put it off for a while. Finally I bravely flipped open Starlings and landed on the first page of Joyful and Triumphant: St. Zenobius and the Aliens. It is told by St. Zenobius and blew me away with how accurately it portrayed sainthood, God ... and the point of the whole thing. (You can read it here.) While I was reading her Brother Guy connection floated in the back of my mind. I figured that she'd just naturally get this right and she really, really did.

Interestingly, about the time I read this story I realized that my birthday this year will be on a Friday. And after Pentecost. So Easter will be officially ended and it will be back to meatless Fridays for us. I've been rueing this since we always go out to eat in celebration — so I looked up saints whose days are on my birthday, thus justifying fried chicken (my traditional birthday choice).

Now there are saints for every day of the year. But if I'm looking to get around the rules then I seriously study the saint I find. I've got to have a real connection otherwise I've just got to put up with those rules. No freebies.

Who did my eye fall on first out of the long, long list? Of course. St. Zenobius. Who I didn't really know was a real saint. Just thought Walton made him up.

I feel as if this was a long way to go for him to wrangle an introduction, but I also feel as if that is what he did.  Looking around recently I saw that there is a much better known saint on May 25, St. Bede. But that's not who stepped up and shook my hand, after using all the things I love to get my attention.

I love the saints who fought against the Arian heresy. It went on so long and was so pervasive that I feel as if it is like the waves of secularism that are battering faith these days. And that's what St. Zenobius did. He was close to St. Ambrose, who I admire so much. Any friend of St. Ambrose is a friend of mine.

Now when I lift that piece of chicken, it will be with true admiration for a great saint!

Novena to the Holy Spirit: Day 4

Oldest of all novenas, this is still the only one officially prescribed by the Church.

Descent of the Holy Ghost (Pentecost), Durer

(Monday, 7th Week of Easter)
The virtue of fortitude, perfected by the gift of the Holy Spirit, enables us to overcome the obstacles that in one way or another we encounter along the path of holiness, but it doesn't remove the weakness of human nature, the fear of danger, pain or weariness. A person who is strong can still experience fear, but can overcome it thanks to love. Precisely because of love, a Christian is able to face greater risks, even though one may feel repugnance not only at the beginning, but also for as long as the trial lasts or the desired-for object is still being sought. Fortitude does not always eliminate the deficiencies inherent in all created beings.

This virtue can bring one to offer one's life willingly in witness to the faith if our Lord so desires it. Martyrdom is the supreme act of fortitude, and God has demanded it of many of the faithful throughout the history of the Church. The martyrs have been -- and are -- the Church's crown, another testimony to her divine origin and her holiness. Every Christian ought to be prepared to give his or her life for Christ if circumstances demand it. The Holy Spirit would then give one the strength and courage to face this supreme test. Normally, though, what is asked of us is heroism in the little things, in the daily fulfillment of our duties.
In Conversation With God Vol 2: Lent and Eastertide
Prayer: The Gift of Fortitude

Thou in toil art comfort sweet,
Pleasant coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

The Gift of Fortitude

By the gift of Fortitude the soul is strengthened against natural fear, and supported to the end in the performance of duty. Fortitude imparts to the will an impulse and energy which move it to under take without hesitancy the most arduous tasks, to face dangers, to trample under foot human respect, and to endure without complaint the slow martyrdom of even lifelong tribulation. "He that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved."

Come, O Blessed Spirit of Fortitude, uphold my soul in time of trouble and adversity, sustain my efforts after holiness, strengthen my weakness, give me courage against all the assaults of my enemies, that I may never be overcome and separated from You, my God and greatest Good. Amen.

Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE.

Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES.

Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit