On January 21, Holy Mother Church honors St. Agnes, a young virgin martyr who gave her life in defense of her purity at the tender age of twelve in the year 304. What a beautiful model of purity and modesty is she for today’s girls, who live in a world where licentious behavior and immodest dress are exalted and upheld as the norm. Let us reflect upon her life, and see the beauty and strength of this pure young girl, whose love for Christ overcame all the threats and temptations that assaulted her.
Sermon by St. Ambrose on St. Agnes (340-397 A.D.)
It is the birthday of a martyr, let us offer the victim. It is the birthday of St. Agnes, let men admire, let children take courage, let the married be astounded, let the unmarried take an example. But what can I say worthy of her whose very name was not devoid of bright praise? In devotion beyond her age, in virtue above nature, she seems to me to have borne not so much a human name, as a token of martyrdom, whereby she showed what she was to be.
But I have that which may assist me. The name of virgin is a title of modesty. I will call upon the martyr, I will proclaim the virgin. That panegyric is long enough which needs no elaboration, but is within our grasp. Let then labour cease, eloquence be silent. One word is praise enough. This word old men and young and boys chant. No one is more praiseworthy than he who can be praised by all. There are as many heralds as there are men, who when they speak proclaim the martyr.
She is said to have suffered martyrdom when twelve years old. The more hateful was the cruelty, which spared not so tender an age, the greater in truth was the power of faith which found evidence even in that age. Was there room for a wound in that small body? And she who had no room for the blow of the steel had that wherewith to conquer the steel. But maidens of that age are unable to bear even the angry looks of parents, and are wont to cry at the pricks of a needle as though they were wounds. She was fearless under the cruel hands of the executioners, she was unmoved by the heavy weight of the creaking chains, offering her whole body to the sword of the raging soldier, as yet ignorant of death, but ready for it. Or if she were unwillingly hurried to the altars, she was ready to stretch forth her hands to Christ at the sacrificial fires, and at the sacrilegious altars themselves, to make the sign of the Lord the Conqueror, or again to place her neck and both her hands in the iron bands, but no band could enclose such slender limbs.
A new kind of martyrdom! Not yet of fit age for punishment but already ripe for victory, difficult to contend with but easy to be crowned, she filled the office of teaching valour while having the disadvantage of youth. She would not as a bride so hasten to the couch, as being a virgin she joyfully went to the place of punishment with hurrying step, her head not adorned with plaited hair, but with Christ. All wept, she alone was without a tear. All wondered that she was so readily prodigal of her life, which she had not yet enjoyed, and now gave up as though she had gone through it. Every one was astounded that there was now one to bear witness to the Godhead, who as yet could not, because of her age, dispose of herself. And she brought it to pass that she should be believed concerning God, whose evidence concerning man would not be accepted. For that which is beyond nature is from the Author of nature.
What threats the executioner used to make her fear him, what allurements to persuade her, how many desired that she would come to them in marriage! But she answered: It would be an injury to my spouse to look on any one as likely to please me. He who chose me first for Himself shall receive me. Why are you delaying, executioner? Let this body perish which can be loved by eyes which I would not. She stood, she prayed, she bent down her neck. You could see the executioner tremble, as though he himself had been condemned, and his right hand shake, his face grow pale, as he feared the peril of another, while the maiden feared not for her own. You have then in one victim a twofold martyrdom, of modesty and of religion. She both remained a virgin and she obtained martyrdom.
Since January is the month dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus, let us remind ourselves of the great power of the Most Holy Name of Jesus with these excerpts from Fr. Paul O’Sullivan’s beautiful booklet, The Wonders of the Holy Name:
St. Paul tells us in his own beautiful way two great truths about the Name of Jesus. First of all, he tells us of the infinite power of this Name. “In the Name of Jesus every knee shall bend in Heaven, on Earth and in Hell.” Every time we say, “Jesus,” we give infinite joy to God, to all Heaven, to God’s Blessed Mother and to the Angels and Saints. Secondly, he tells us how to use it. “Whatever you do in word or in work, do all in the Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” He adds: Whether you eat or whether you drink, or whatever else you do, do all in the Name of Jesus.
This advice all the Saints followed, so that their every act was done for love of Jesus, and therefore their every act and thought won them graces and merits. It was by this Name that they became Saints. If we follow this same advice of the Apostle, we too shall reach a very high degree of sanctity. How are we to do everything in the Name of Jesus? By acquiring the habit, as we have said, of repeating the Name of Jesus frequently in the course of the day. This presents no difficulty — it only demands good will.
St. Augustine, the great Doctor of the Church, found his delight in repeating the Holy Name. He himself tells us that he found much pleasure in books which made frequent mention of this all-consoling Name.
St. Bernard felt a wonderful joy and consolation in repeating the Name of Jesus. He felt it, as he says, like honey in his mouth and a delicious peace in his heart. We too shall feel immense consolation and shall feel peace steal into our souls if we imitate St. Bernard and repeat frequently this Holy Name.
St. Dominic spent his days preaching and discussing with heretics. He always went on foot from place to place, as well in the oppressive heats of the summer as in the cold and rain of winter. The Albigensian heretics, whom he tried to convert, were more like demons let loose from Hell than mortal men. Their doctrine was infamous and their crimes enormous. Yet, as another St. Paul, he converted 100,000 of these wicked men, so that many of them became eminent for sanctity. Wearied at night with his labors, he asked only for one reward, which was to pass the night before the Blessed Sacrament, pouring out his soul in love for Jesus. When his poor body could resist no longer, he leaned his head against the altar and rested a little, after which he began once more his intimate converse with Jesus. In the morning, he celebrated Mass with the ardor of a seraph so that at times his body was raised in the air in an ecstasy of love. The Name of Jesus filled his soul with joy and delight.
St. Francis of Assisi, that burning Seraph of love, found his delight in repeating the loved Name of Jesus. St. Bonaventure says that his face lit up with joy and his voice showed by its tender accents how much he loved to invoke this all-Holy Name. No wonder, then, that he received on his hands and feet and side the marks of the five wounds of Our Lord, a reward of his burning love.
St. Ignatius of Loyola was second to none in his love for the Holy Name. He gave to his great order not his own name, but rather he called it the “Society of Jesus.” This divine Name has been, as it were, a shield and defense of the Order against its enemies and a guarantee of the holiness and sanctity of its members. Glorious, indeed is the great Society of Jesus.
St. Francis de Sales has no hesitation in saying that those who have the custom of repeating the Holy Name frequently may feel certain of dying a holy and happy death. And indeed there can be no doubt of this, because every time we say, “Jesus,” we apply the saving Blood of Jesus to our souls, while at the same time we implore God to do as He has promised, granting us everything we ask in His Name. All who desire a holy death can secure it by repeating the Name of Jesus. Not only will this practice obtain for us a holy death, but it will lessen notably our time in Purgatory and may very possibly deliver us altogether from that dreadful fire.
Many Saints spent their last days repeating constantly, “Jesus, Jesus.”
All the Doctors of the Church agree in telling us that the devil reserves his fiercest temptations for our last moments, and then he fills the mind of the dying person with doubts, fears and dreadful temptations — in the hope, at last, of carrying the unfortunate soul to Hell. Happy those who in life have made sure of acquiring the habit of calling on the Name of Jesus.
We, therefore, sinful as we are, can, with this Omnipotent Name, obtain every favor and every grace. The weakest mortals can become strong, the most afflicted find in it consolation and joy. Who then can be so foolish or negligent as not to acquire the habit of repeating, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” constantly. It robs us of no time, presents no difficulty and is an infallible remedy for every evil.
Jesu Dulcis Memoria
Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills my breast,
But sweeter far Thy face to see
And in Thy presence rest.
Nor voice can sing nor heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find
A sweeter sound than Thy blest name,
O Savior of mankind.
O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek to those who fall,
How kind Thou art,
How good to those who seek!
But what to those who find?
Ah, this nor tongue nor pen can show;
The love of Jesus, what it is
His loved ones only know.
Jesus our only joy be Thou
As Thou our prize wilt be;
O Jesus, be our glory now
And through eternity. Amen.
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- Send your intentions for Our Lady of Guadalupe novena
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If you haven’t already done so, be sure to browse through our Christmas mailer so that you can properly observe the holy season of Advent in your home. Of course, it also includes Christmas cards, nativities, ornaments and gift ideas. And yes, we are offering free Angelinas for orders over $75 again this year.
Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe
On December 4, the Sisters of Mary Immaculate Queen will begin our annual Novena in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas. We invite you to join us in honoring this most merciful of Mothers, and if you wish, to send us any intentions that may be weighing upon your heart at this time. The Sisters will be happy to commend your petitions in our prayers in a special way.
To send us your intentions, follow this link (it will open in a new tab).
About Our Lady of Guadalupe
The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, miraculously imprinted on a burlap-like fabric made of cactus fibers, dates back to 1531, when the Mother of God appeared near Mexico City to a poor Indian named Juan Diego. It was the cause of the conversion of ten million of Aztecs to the Catholic Faith in the next ten years, and continues to be a living miracle to this day. Not only should it have disintegrated within a few years, but the image is not produced by any method known to man, and there are many, many other facts about it that simply cannot be explained by science. Our purpose, however, here is simply to inspire you with a greater devotion and love for our dear Heavenly Mother, whose words to Juan Diego are so tender and consoling. May they touch your heart as you read them slowly:
“Know and understand well, littlest of my sons, that I am the ever-virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God for whom we live, of the Creator of all things, Lord of heaven and the earth. I wish that a temple be erected here quickly, so I may therein exhibit and give all my love, compassion, help, and protection, because I am your merciful mother, to you, and to all the inhabitants on this land and all the rest who love me, invoke and confide in me; listen there to their lamentations, and remedy all their miseries, afflictions and sorrows…
“Hark, my little son, you must understand that I have many servants and messengers, to whom I must entrust the delivery of my message, and carry my wish, but it is of precise detail that you yourself solicit and assist and that through your mediation my wish be complied. I earnestly implore, littlest of my sons, and I firmly command that you again go tomorrow and see the bishop. Go in my name, and make known my wish in its entirety that he has to start the erection of a temple which I ask of him. And again tell him that I, in person, the ever-virgin Holy Mary, Mother of God, sent you.
“Hear me and understand well, my little son, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear this sickness of your uncle, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more? Let nothing else worry you, disturb you.”
With the First Sunday of Advent less than two weeks away, you still have time to make sure you have what you need for a proper observance of this holy season in your home. Please look over our selection of traditional Catholic Advent wreaths and Advent calendars, as well as prayers, reading materials to help you prepare your hearts and homes for the coming of Our Lord. (Of course, our 2016 Christmas Mailer also includes Christmas cards, nativities, ornaments and gift ideas.)
It isn’t easy to preserve the quiet spirit of prayerful preparation for the Birth of Our Lord in today’s modern, ultra-wired, technological jungle, but God will give us the grace to do so if we make the effort — and such effort surely involves a certain amount of sacrifice. The goal is not to just give up things because that’s what you do during Advent; the goal is to make room in our lives and in our hearts for Our Lord, Who too often has been crowded out or driven out by our attachment to material or sensual things. Giving up sweets or little luxuries is a good start, for if we can’t give up these little things, how will we have the will power to give up those bigger things that keep us from loving Our Lord with all our hearts?
So let us ponder, and pray, and come up with a few things that we can do (or refrain from doing) to prepare the way of the Lord. Gathering the family to light the Advent wreath and pray the Advent prayers in the evening can do much to transform the atmosphere of a home from a noisy, worldly setting to a quiet calm. Perhaps you could make the sacrifice as a family of keeping the televisions turned off and playing Advent music, at least on certain days. In the area of sacrifices and penances, let us not be too ambitious and take on too much, driving ourselves into a state of irritability and impatience with others. Rather let us humbly recognize our weakness and take on just one or two things that cost us without imposing a hardship on others, and turn to Jesus and Mary for the grace to be faithful and generous in our resolutions.
Our Lady can make even the most "impossible" dreams come true![meteor_slideshow slideshow="fatima-pilgrimage"]
The Sisters' pilgrimage to Fatima will take place from June 7 - 16, 2016. We will be happy to take along your intentions to present at Our Lady's shrine and the other holy places we will be visiting. You may use the form below to send us your prayer intentions.
For Catholics, Spring is a Season of Sacraments!
Just as in nature, spring is a time of renewal, so too is it in the spiritual world. One reason for this is because of the sacraments often received for the first time in the spring. During the Easter Vigil, catechumens are baptized, and the faithful renew their baptismal promises. Around this time children make their first confessions in the sacrament of Penance, and shortly after, receive Jesus for the first time in their First Communion. Older children also receive a “new” sacrament — that of Confirmation, in which the Holy Ghost comes into their souls with His gifts. And then in many parishes there begins a series of weddings, in which couples come to kneel before the altar to receive the sacrament of Matrimony.
Along with graduations, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, spring is full of events for celebrations and reunions of family and friends as well as a time to renew our fervor and our appreciation for each of these sacraments. And let’s not forget that May is a month specially dedicated to our Blessed Mother. For the Sisters, it is also a time of preparation for the renewal of our De Montfort Total Consecration to Our Lady on May 31, the feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (We begin our 33-day preparation on April 28, the feast of St. Louis Marie de Montfort.)
With all this in mind, the Sisters have put together our Spring Highlights Flyer, a selection of religious articles and books that we hope you will find useful for your spiritual needs and for keeping alive a Catholic culture in your family life. Devotional aids and spiritual reading to nourish our souls are an important part of this. A small gift or holy memento for your niece making her First Communion, a sick call crucifix for your best friend who is getting married, a chaplet for your mother on Mother’s Day — all these are things that help to keep a Catholic atmosphere in your home. And don’t forget about our Clearance Sale on selected Jeweled Cross crucifixes — 15% off while supplies last!
The holy season of Lent has begun, that time during which Holy Mother Church pours out abundant graces upon her children that we may turn our hearts wholly to God and do penance for our sins. To inspire and support you through these forty holy days and to help you make a holier Lent, the Sisters have put together a special selection of devotional aids and spiritual reading in our Lenten mailer. You may have already received the printed version, but we are also making this PDF version of it available to you for your convenience. To inspire you and support you over the next several weeks, the Sisters have put together a special selection of devotional aids and spiritual reading in our Lenten mailer. You may have already received the printed version, but we are also making this PDF version of it available to you for your convenience.
Just imagine you had somehow received a special revelation that this Lent was going to be different from every other Lent of your past life, that God had in store for you special graces which could completely transform your life that would never be available to you again. Suppose, too, that you knew that Our Blessed Mother would be there to help you all the way through Lent in a very special way, and that with her help you could make spiritual progress in a short time that you never thought possible. Can you imagine what a wonderful Lent it would be? Nothing would ever be the same for you, and you would always remember this beautiful, special Lent as a turning point in your life.
The fact of the matter is that it is TRUE that God has unique graces in store for you during this holy season, and it is also TRUE that Our Lady will be there to help you every step of the way. Too often we take for granted the graces that we have at our fingertips, and float along in our spiritual life in a lazy, half-asleep sort of way. That is why we so desperately need the holy season of Lent. We need to do penance, to spend extra time in silent prayer, reading and reflection. We need to resolutely turn away from sin. That is why we need the holy and penitential season of Lent to rejuvenate our souls.
But if you think of Lent only in terms of hardship and pain, as an ordeal to be endured, you are not likely to get much out of it. Instead, try to think of it in terms of what God wants to give you. Our Divine Lord looked forward with eagerness to His Passion, because by suffering and dying He would not only redeem our souls, but He would show us how much He loves us. Let us, in turn, be eager to show our love and gratitude to Him by making the most of the graces of this Lent. By doing so, we will find this holy season to be not an ordeal and a burden, but a blessing — and even a joy, and a real turning point in our lives.
Consider these samplings from our Lenten selection:
Through the Cross to Victory: Do beautiful pictures make it easier for you to pray? This colorful devotional prayerbook has at least one color picture on every page. It includes the Stations of the Cross and Sorrowful Mother chaplet by St. Alphonsus Liguori, the Thirty Days Prayer to St. Joseph, the Litany for a Happy Death, and other traditional prayers, as well as short readings on hell, purgatory and forgiveness, with inspiring quotes from Our Lord and the saints. Large-type edition.
The Shroud of Turin – 3 Films – Collector’s Edition: This is one of those cases where scientific, historical, and archeological facts can actually inspire your love and devotion for Jesus Christ! These three stunning films detail the latest research on the burial cloth of Our Lord, uncovering details about His suffering, death and Resurrection that we could not have known before.
The Sermons of St. Francis de Sales for Lent: This saint was known for his gentleness, and he knew how to explain the true meaning of Lent and how it can have a wonderful, positive effect on our spiritual lives.
The Sinner’s Return to God – The Prodigal Son: We are all sinners, and we all have our struggles with amendment of life. But if you are one of those who sometimes feel that God could never again have a place in His Heart for you, think again and read this book. You will find within its pages true stories of how and why people lost the Faith, and the intense and loving desire God has for them to return to Him.
The Foot of the Cross: The Sisters recorded this collection of Lenten hymns gathered in front of a beautiful life-size crucifix at Mount St. Michael. There is something about the singing of religious who have devoted their lives to God and who put their love and devotion into their music that carries with it a special grace. Let the Sisters’ singing inspire you with a spirit of penitence and loving gratitude to our Crucified Savior.
Please be sure that we will be praying for you in a special way as we make our own Lenten observance in the convent. We will be counting on your prayers and sacrifices as well.
January 6 is the feast of the Epiphany, the Twelfth Day of Christmas and one of the greatest feasts of the Church year. On this day Holy Mother Church honors the memory of the Magi coming from the East to adore the newborn Savior. At His birth the angels announced His coming to the shepherds, who were Jews, but now the Magi, who represent the Gentile world, also come to adore Him as well.
The Sisters have just returned from taking a break from their usual duties over the Twelve Days of Christmas (Dec. 25-Jan. 6), during which our mission Sisters came home to the motherhouse for several days so that we could all spend some time together. You may be assured that we remembered you at Christmas Midnight Mass and at our other prayers and observances during this holy season, including at the High Mass in honor of the Epiphany today.
Before the month is over, the holy season of Advent will upon us. Every Catholic home should have an Advent wreath, lighted each day either during dinner or with the family Rosary. We have replacement candles available, and if you don’t already have a wreath, this year we have a new base with gold accented pine cones. Add a few fresh evergreen branches, so rich in symbolism, and you will have a wreath fit for the King!
Of course, besides Advent wreaths we have many other beautiful things for both Advent and Christmas, so please take a few moments to browse through our Christmas flyer. If you have already received our printed mailer, then check out our New Christmas Items supplement below, which features a selection of items that came in after our Christmas flyer was sent out.
Oh yes — as our special gift, we’ll send you a free 5-inch Angelina Shell Angel with all orders $75 and more (before shipping and tax)!
During this month of November, which is traditionally dedicated to the Holy Souls, let us make use of the abundant means Holy Mother Church places at our disposal to come to the aid of the suffering souls in purgatory. To this end, please be sure to review the special indulgences that are available this month for this purpose. As you know, the Holy Souls are those who died in the state of grace, but were not sufficiently purified of the stains of sin and the debt of punishment due to their sins to enter immediately into Heaven. Since they can not pray for themselves, and must rely on others to help them by Masses, prayers, sacrifices and alms, they are sometimes referred to as the “poor” souls. Prayers for the faithful departed is an act of charity and is very pleasing to God. It also wins for us the gratitude and assistance of the souls we help by our suffrages, and brings down many graces upon our own souls.
The following are quotes from the saints on the Holy Souls in Purgatory:
St. Margaret Mary – “If only you knew with what great longing these holy souls yearn for relief from their suffering. Ingratitude has never entered Heaven.”
St. John Chrysostom – “Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice (Job 1:5), why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.”
This saint also recommended that every Catholic family have a box in their home in which they put pennies, and when enough coins are collected, to give them to the priest to have Masses offered for the Holy Souls.
St. Alphonsus Liguori – “[S]ince it is certain, and even of faith, that by our suffrages, and chiefly by our prayers, as particularly recommended and practiced by the Church, we can relieve those Holy Souls in Purgatory, I do not know how to excuse that man from sin who neglects to give them some assistance, at least by his prayers. If a sense of duty will not persuade us to succor them, let us think of the pleasure it will give Jesus Christ to see us endeavoring to deliver his beloved spouses from prison, in order that he may have them with Him in paradise. Let us think of the store of merit which we can lay up by practicing this great act of charity; let us think, too, that those souls are not ungrateful, and will never forget the great benefit we do them in relieving them of their pains, and in obtaining for them, by our prayers, anticipation of their entrance into glory; so that, when they are there they will never neglect to pray for us.
“And if God promises mercy to him who practices mercy towards his neighbor – “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt V:7)- he may reasonably expect to be saved who remembers to assist those souls so afflicted, and yet so dear to God…
“…So we may expect, that if any of us ever obtains, by his prayers, the liberation of a soul from Purgatory, that soul will say to God: “Lord, suffer not him who has delivered me from my torments to be lost.”…God will not refuse the salvation of a Christian to the prayers of a soul which is his own spouse. Moreover, St. Augustine says that God will cause those who in this life have most succored those holy souls, when they come to Purgatory themselves, to be most succored by others. I may here observe that, in practice, one of the best suffrages is to hear Mass for them, and during the Holy Sacrifice to recommend them to God by the merits and Passion of Jesus Christ.
St. Augustine – “But by the prayers of the Holy Church, and by the salvific sacrifice, and by the alms which are given for their spirits, there is no doubt that the dead are aided, that the Lord might deal more mercifully with them than their sins would deserve. The whole Church observes this practice which was handed down by the Fathers: that it prays for those who have died in the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, when they are commemorated in their own place in the sacrifice itself; and the sacrifice is offered also in memory of them, on their behalf. If, then, works of mercy are celebrated for the sake of those who are being remembered, who would hesitate to recommend them, on whose behalf prayers to God are not offered in vain? It is not at all to be doubted that such prayers are of profit to the dead; but for such of them as lived before their death in a way that makes it possible for these things to be useful to them after death.”
St. Augustine (The City of God 21:13) – “Temporal punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by some after death, by some both here and hereafter, but all of them before that last and strictest judgment. But not all who suffer temporal punishments after death will come to eternal punishments, which are to follow after that judgment”
St. John Vianney – “We must say many prayers for the souls of the faithful departed, for one must be so pure to enter heaven.”