You Think We've Got Problems Now. . . .
by Thomas A. Droleskey
With all of the battles raging in this time of apostasy and betrayal as former friends and associates either fight with each other or no longer speak with each or hold each other in mutual disdain without remembering Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ's injunction to pray for one's enemies and to do good for those who hate you, I thought that it would be instructive on this feast day of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, March 25, 2010, to take a step back from the battles that are going on between traditionalists and conservatives, between "conservative" conciliarists and "progressive" conciliarists, between Motu adherents and sedevacantists and among the various factions of sedevacantists scattered across the world in order to remember that even in the world of Christendom there were still difficulties among and battles among believing Catholics.
The vestigial after-effects of Original Sin and the effects of our own Actual Sins darken our intellects and weakens our wills, inclining us to sin and disordering the balance between our highly rational faculties and our lower sensual passions in favor of the latter. One of the prayers in the Miraculous Medal Novena reminds of a basic truth of our faith, namely, that we must do penance for our sins to repair the damage they have done to our intellects and our wills and as they have further disordered us to act according to our passions rather than to our reason enlightened by the Holy Faith:
Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ Jesus and Our Mother, penetrated with the most lively confidence in Thine all-powerful and ever-failing intercession, manifested so often through the Miraculous Medal, we Thy loving and trustful children implore Tee to obtain for us the graces and favors we ask during this novena, if they be beneficial to our immortal souls, and the souls for whom we pray.
(Mention your petition)
You know, O Mary, how often our souls have been the sanctuaries of Thy Son who hates iniquity. Obtain for us then a deep hatred of sin and that purity of heart which will attach us to God alone so that our every thought, word and deed may tend to His greater glory. Obtain for us also a spirit of prayer and self-denial that we may recover by penance what we have lost by sin and at length attain to that blessed abode where Thou art the Queen of angels and of men. Amen.
Our efforts during this season of Lent are all directed to strengthening our interior lives as we pray more fervently and live more penitentially, making sure to perform the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy as we do so. Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ cannot reign as King of nations if He does not reign first as the King of our own hearts and souls, if His rule of love is not the center of our very family lives. The path to let Him reign as the King of our hearts is, of course, that of suffering. We must suffer the rocks that are throw at us and the arrows and bullets that are shot at with peace, joy, equanimity and gratitude for being more fully conformed to the Our Divine Redeemer's Most Holy Cross with every beat of our hearts, consecrated as they must be to His Most Sacred Heart through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of His Most Blessed Mother.
Understood By God Alone discussed the long path of suffering that was embraced by Saint John of God. I urge those who have not read this synopsis of Saint John of God's life to do so as the life of this suffering soul makes for excellent meditation during Passiontide. For present purposes, however, I want to focus on the life of a little known blessed of the family of Saint Dominic de Guzman, Blessed Lucy of Narni (1476-1544), whose life of suffering and misunderstanding can be something of a consolation to those who have have fought--and perhaps lost--pitched battles with family members or friends or associates over the ecclesiastical crises in which God in His Holy Providence has seen fit from all eternity to place us.
Here is a brief excerpt from Sister Mary Jean Dorcy's account of the life and sufferings of Blessed Lucy of Narni in Saint Dominic's Family:
When Lucy departed for the desert to become an anchorite, and returned next day, saying that St. Dominic had brought her home, Pietro's patience finally gave out. He had has young wife locked up. Here she remained for the season of Lent; sympathetic servants brought her food until Easter. Perhaps they both decided that Lucy could not live the life God had planned for her in Pietro's house. She returned to her mother's house and put on the habit of a Dominican tertiary.
Shortly after this, Lucy went to Viterbo and joined a group of Third Order sisters. She tried very hard to hide her spiritual favors, because they complicated her life wherever she went. She had the stigmata visibly, and she was usually in ecstasy, which meant a steady stream of curious people who wanted to question her, investigate her, or just stare at her. Even the sisters were nervous about her methods of prayer. Once they called in the bishop, and he watched with them for twelve hours, while Lucy went through the drama of the Passion.
The bishop hesitated to pass judgment and called in the inquisition. From here, she was referred to the pope. After talking to her, the pope pronounced in her favor and told her to go home and pray for him. Here the hard-pressed Pietro had his final appearance in Lucy's life. He made a last effort to persuade Lucy to change her plans and come back to him. Finally he decided to become a Franciscan, and, in later years, he was a famous preacher.
When Lucy returned to Viterbo, she may have thought her troubles were over, but they were just getting a good start. The duke of Ferrara, in the manner of other wealthy nobles with a guilty conscience, decided to build a monastery and, hearing of the fame of the mystic of Viterbo, demanded that come there and be prioress. Lucy had been praying for some time that a means would be found to build a new convent of strict observance, and she agreed to go to the new convent at Narni.
This touched off a two-year battle between the towns. Viterbo had the mystic and did not want to lose her, the duke of Ferrara sent his troops to take her by force, and much blood was shed before she was finally brought to Narni. The shock and grief of this violent action was a new trial for Lucy. The duke sent his daughter-in-law, Lucretia Borgia, to find postulants for the new convent. The records say, sedately: "Many of these did not persevere."
The duke of Ferrara liked to show off the convent he had founded. He brought all his guests to see it. One time, he arrived with a troop of dancing girls, who had been entertaining at a banquet, and demanded that Lucy show them her stigmata and, if possible, go into an ecstasy. It is not surprising that such events would upset religious life, and that sooner or later something would have to be done about it. Some of the sisters, naturally, thought it was Lucy's fault.
The petitioned the bishop, and he sent six nuns from the Second Order to reform the community. Lucy's foundation was of the Third Order; exactly what the difference was, we do not know. The second Order nuns, according to the chronicle, "brought in the very folds their veils the seed of war"; nuns of the Second Order wore black veils, a privilege not allowed to Third Order Sisters.
The uneasy episode ended when one of the visitors was made prioress. Lucy was placed on penance. The nature of her fault is not mentioned, nor is there any explanation of the fact that, until her death, thirty-nine years later, she was never allowed to speak anyone but a confessor, who was chosen by the prioress. The Dominican provincial, probably nervous for the prestige of the Order, would not let any member of the Order go to see her. Her stigmata disappeared, too late to do her any good, and vindictive companions said: "See, she was a fraud all the time." When she died, in 1544, people thought she had been dead for many years.
It is hard to understand now anyone not a saint could have so long endured such a life. Lucy's only friends during her thirty-nine years of exile were heavenly ones; the Dominican, Catherine of Racconigi, sometimes visited her--evidently by bi-location--and her heavenly friends often came to brighten her lonely cell.
Lucy was buried without honors, but miracles occurring at her tomb soon made it possible to transfer her to a more accessible place. She was re-buried, first in the monastery church, later in the Cathedral. In 1720, she was beatified. (Sister Mary Jean D'Orcy, O.P., Saint Dominic's Family, Dubuque, Iowa: Priory Press, 1964, pp. 268-270.)
Our goal is not to be understood or accepted in this passing, mortal vale of tears. The more that we are humiliated and castigated and rejected and mocked and scorned is the more that we can have our pride and our stubbornness beaten down and ground up is the more that we can make reparation for our sins, recognizing that our sins, having transcended time, were responsible for crowning the King of Kings with that Crown of Thorns to mock His Kingship over us. We need to take on that crown of thorns in our own lives so that we can share in the sufferings of Christ the King, Who was made Incarnate on this day, March 25 (which is also the traditional date for the creation of the world and for the Crucifixion and the date on which some believe that the end of the world will occur), and help to plant yet a few seeds for the restoration of His Social Kingship over men and their nations as the fruit of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
No matter the difficulties of the present moment, which are certainly intense, we must always remember that the history of the Church resonates with examples of heroic patience demonstrated for love of the Most Blessed Trinity in times of difficulties, whether they be personal, social, international or ecclesiastical--or a combination of all of them at the same time. The path to Heaven runs through the Holy Cross, from which there is no escape and from which flows the life-giving graces that make it possible for us to please God and to save our souls. The Cross is the only true standard of authentic human liberty as It frees us from the power of sin and eternal death. And it was to die on the Holy Cross to pay back the debt of human sin that Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity came down from Heaven this very day to become Incarnate in the Virginal and Immaculate Womb of His Most Blessed Mother by the power of the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, God the Holy Ghost.
We must always embrace the Cross, love the Cross, lift high the Cross, and exult in the power of the Cross as the means by which we can pay Our Lord pack for what our sins caused Him--and His Most Blessed Mother--to suffer during His Passion and Death and for how they have wounded our own souls and the Church Militant here on earth today.
We have been given the Communion of the Saints to help us to get home to Heaven as members of the Catholic Church. The members of the Church Triumphant suffered, either on earth or in Purgatory or both, to get home to Heaven. The members of the Church Suffering are indeed suffering at this moment to get home to Heaven. We can and must embrace our sufferings with joy here in the Church Militant on earth as we ask the help of Our Lady, who made possible our salvation on this very day with her perfect Fiat to the will of God the Father, by meditating more fervently on the mysteries contained in her Most Holy Rosary, asking her to stand with us as we carry our daily crosses as she stood so valiantly at the foot of her Divine Son's Most Holy Cross on Good Friday.
The difficulties of today mean nothing when compared to the glories of Heaven. Always keep that in mind, especially as we prepare to make the best Holy Week of our lives (as this could be the last Holy Week of our lives!).
Today is the Feast of the Annunciation. Tomorrow is the Feast of the Seven Dolors of Our Lady in Lent. We need Our Lady to get home to Heaven. We need Our Lady, she who is the handmaid of the Lord, to help us to be humble as we accept with meekness and gratitude the sorrows and difficulties of this life so that we can be united with her in Heaven in the presence of the Beatific Vision of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost for all eternity in an an unending Easter Sunday of glory.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, triumph soon.
Viva Cristo Rey! Vivat Christus Rex!
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, pray for us.
Saint Gertrude the Great, pray for us.
Blessed Lucy of Narni, pray for us.
See also: A Litany of Saints