Book Review: Moments Divine Before the Blessed Sacrament

“Though an assent of Catholic faith be not due to them (miracles), they deserve a human assent according to the rules of prudence by which they are probable and piously credible.” Pope Benedict XIV

Moments Divine’ is a little book (pocket sized) of about thirty chapters containing accounts of Eucharistic miracles, prayers, and act of contrition, a reading regarding the Sacred Heart, and a prayer for spiritual communion. The end also contains a small section with litanies and other prayers, as well as prayers for Benediction. And at the very end there are a few pages with quotes from various Saints and theologians on visions and miracles. ‘Moments Divine’ can be a good preparation for Adoration, especially if you need a little something to help you turn your mind to God and holy things. Its size is fairly compact, which makes it easy to keep in your car, purse, or pocket.

Both the miraculous accounts and the Sacred Heart readings are documented by way of footnotes, and the Eucharistic miracles are titled by location and date such that it would be relatively easy to look up more information about a particular account at a later time.

“There are two sorts of apparitions, and both of them true, supernatural and divine, the handiwork of God. First of all, God by His absolute power can make such an impression on the senses of His servant, that while others see the absolute whiteness, roundness, thinness and quality of the sacramental species, he beholds a beautiful vision of the Babe of Bethlehem presented to him by the Divine Will; and it is no deceit; for as St. Augustine says, a fiction which is referred to as signification is not a falsehood, but a figure of the truth. Or again, when it is God’s will that a whole multitude should behold the vision, instead of miraculously impressing their senses, He may please to change all the accidents of the Host, its commensurable quantity excepted– which is the root and support of all the accidents– and may convert them into this appearance; and thus the laws of the Sacrament are not injured, falsified, or fundamentally disturbed, the dimensions remaining inviolate… These, as appearances of flesh and blood, are astounding evidences of the truth of the Blessed Sacrament; these apparitions of an infant are literally types, figures of its spirit, manifestations of its sweetness, disclosures of the devotional character which is apt to form.”Father Frederick Faber

I wrote this review of Moments Divine Before the Blessed Sacrament for the free Catholic book review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, your source for Baptism Gifts and First Communion Gifts.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

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The Guardian Angels

“See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 18:10

Today, October 2nd is the Feast Day for all our Guardian Angels. While there are traditionally believed to be 9 choirs of Angels in Heaven (Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones, the Dominations, Virtues and Powers, the Principalities, Archangels and Angels), it is the lowest class–the Angels– who are sent to be our Guardian Angels. However, lest anyone take offense that the lowest class of Angels are given to us as Guardians we would do well to remember the great power of the Angels; and that Satan (/Lucifer) was defeated by the Archangel Michael (Revelation 12:7+).

The existence of Angels is a Biblical fact. The Old Testament shows God’s Angels as His ministers who carried out His Will, and who were at times given special commissions. In Genesis 28-29, Angels act as the executors of God’s wrath against the cities of the plain, and they also deliver Lot from danger. In Exodus 12-13, an Angel is the appointed leader of the host of Israel, and in 32:34, God tells Moses: “my Angel shall go before thee”. We also have the story of Tobias where the Angel Raphael intimately and expressly guides and helps Tobias and his family through (seemingly) ordinary human affairs (marriage, sickness). Angels are also mentioned in the Psalms: Psalm 90:11: “For he hath given his Angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways.” (Cf. Psalm 33:8 and 34:5.) Lastly, in Daniel 10 Angels are entrusted with the care of particular districts; one is called “prince of the kingdom of the Persians”, and Michael is termed “one of the chief princes”; cf. Deuteronomy 32:8; and Ecclesiasticus 17:17.

The New Testament reveals the mission of the Angels more clearly, as Hebrews 11:1 sums up nicely: “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them, who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?” Angels are to help us, if we let them, get to Heaven. I quoted above where Our Lord spoke directly about the Angels– and that passage is traditionally used to defend Guardian Angels. At our Baptism (some theologians argue birth), we are given an Angel to guard and protect us– to help us on our way to salvation. In Luke 22:43 an Angel strengthens Our Lord in His agony. And in Acts 5:19 an Angel of the Lord led St. Paul and the Apostles out of prison, and later on in Acts 12:7+ an Angel helps St. Peter escape from prison. It’s interesting to note that the mention of Angels in the New Testament is equal to their mention in the Old. It was the privilege of Angels to announce God’s plan of salvation to Mary, Zechariah, and the Shepherds; and Angels were present and ministering to Christ all throughout His life (He conversed with them, they ministered to Him after the Temptation, they assisted Him in His agony, and they were witnesses to His Resurrection).

(The above is most definitely not an exhaustive reference to Angels in the Sacred Scriptures… indeed, their presence is numerous!)

So, in honor of today’s feast do not forget to pray to your Guardian Angel today (and then make this [praying] a habit for every day!). To help me remember, I added the Guardian Angel prayer to the last prayers after reciting the Rosary (ex. Salve Regina, “O God whose only begotten Son…”, St. Michael Prayer, Prayer to my Guardian Angel, etc.)

(For those seeking marriage, you would also do well to remember that the Angels have played important roles in aiding some of the most important marriages in history: Isaac and Rebecca (Genesis 24:7), Tobias and Sara (Book of Tobias), and Our Lady and St. Joseph (Matthew 1:20+)… so it would be especially beneficial to remember the holy Angels!)

There are also several good philosophical reasons for believing in the existence of Angels… but I’ll save that for a later time (…and check out my reading suggestions if you are interested).

Prayer to your Holy Guardian Angel:

Angel of God, my Guardian dear,
to whom His love commits me here,
ever this day be at my side,
to light and guard, to rule and guide, Amen.

Latin:

Ángele Dei,
qui custos es mei,
me, tibi commíssum pietáte supérna,
illúmina, custódi,
rege et gubérna.
Amen.

Good Reads for today:
The Book of Tobias (found in complete (Catholic) Bibles)
Treatise on Angels by St. Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologica I, Q. 50-64)
The Angels and Us by Mortimer Adler

Miracles

He that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do; and greater than these shall he do.

John 14:12

Reading Fr. Hebert’s Saints Who Raised the Dead and now enjoying Joan Carroll Cruz’s Mysteries, Marvels, Miracles in the Lives of the Saints has been enlightening and reassuring. It certainly has proved very interesting as well. The sheer volume of miraculous events, confirmed by doctors, non-believers, etc. is staggering.

I’ve always been a rather cautious (some might say “overly cautious”) person, and I think a healthy dose of skepticism is all right. Not skepticism in the sense that all things are impossible, but in the sense that natural causes and reasons should be considered. Attributing the miraculous to everything right away would be cause for accusations of gullibility, and a lessening of belief, as well as occasions of mockery (think of people who claim to see pictures of the Blessed Virgin Mary in perishable things like toast). So, I do think we have to be careful. But I also see the need to recognize that we ought to give credit where credit is due. When it has been determined that there is no natural explanation for an event, it’s safe to term it ‘miraculous’ and give thanks to God through Whom all things are possible.

It is disturbing that there is a definite trend in modern “scholarship” to deny the miraculous. Instead of believing that Our Lord miraculously mulitplied the loaves and fishes, many modern “scholars”/”theologians” ask us to believe that there were traveling bread caravans that provided the extra food, or that everyone really had their own food and shared to make sure others had enough. Really?! Why would the Gospel writers feel the need to fabricate miracles after witnessing the greatest miracle of all? It does not make sense. When we start denying the miraclous in little things, we doubt the big things, and eventually… everything.

Miracles are real. Miracles are not impossible. God is still present and very much active in the world today. We need to refresh our memories with the history of our Salvation and the awesome things God has accomplished.

Read up on miracles. Read some good accounts of the miraculous (such as has been recorded in the 2 books I mentioned above). Pray, and give thanks.

July: Dedicated to the Precious Blood

You were not redeemed with corruptible things as gold or silver… but with the Precious Blood of Christ

1 Peter 1:18-19

July is traditionally dedicated to the Precious Blood of Christ. During this month we should especially focus on the passion of Our Lord on the Cross, the Precious Blood poured out for our salvation in His crucifixion. One practice is to dedicate each day of the week to one of the seven times Christ shed His Blood: (1) His circumcision, (2) in the garden of Gethsemani, (3) the scourging at the pillar, (4)the crowning with thorns, (5) the way of the Cross, (6) the Crucifixion, and (7) the piercing of His Heart. It’s a great devotion to follow devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (a very natural flow). We have been redeemed by the Precious Blood of Christ! This devotion should increase our love and devotion to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (the Eucharist). The Eucharist IS the Body and the Blood of Our Lord. And our participation in the Eucharist is a participation in the Blood of Christ, the propitiation for our sins (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, Romans 3:25).

Those who are oppressed by the memory of their sins, diffident about the efficacy of their prayers or doubtful about their salvation, should experience an awakening of confidence through devotion to the Precious Blood.

Fr. Max Walz, C.PP.S

Good Reads for July:
On Promoting Devotion to the Most Precious Blood by Pope John XXXIII
Glories of the Precious Blood by Fr. Max Walz C.PP.S (Formerly published under the title, “Why Is Thy Apparel Red?”)
The Precious Blood by Fr. Frederick Faber

Father Zuhlsdorf (Fr. Z) has a great PODCAzT about the Precious Blood as well: http://wdtprs.com/blog/2010/07/podcazt-107-most-precious-blood-and-your-sins-interview-with-fr-finigan/

Corpus Christi

Tantum ergo Sacramentum
Veneremur cernui:
Et antiquum documentum
Novo cedat ritui:
Praestet fides supplementum
Sensuum defectui.

Genitori, Genitoque
Laus et iubilatio,
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio:
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio.
Amen.

V. Panem de caelo praestitisti eis. Alleluia
R. Omne delectamentum in se habentem. Alleluia

Oremus: Deus, qui nobis sub sacramento mirabili, passionis tuae memoriam reliquisti: tribue, quaesumus, ita nos corporis et sanguinis tui sacra mysteria venerari, ut redemptionis tuae fructum in nobis iugiter sentiamus. Qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum.

Amen.

Down in adoration falling,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail,
Lo! oe’r ancient forms departing
Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith for all defects supplying,
Where the feeble senses fail.

To the everlasting Father,
And the Son Who reigns on high
With the Holy Spirit proceeding
Forth from each eternally,
Be salvation, honor blessing,
Might and endless majesty.

Amen.

V. Thou hast given them bread from heaven Alleluia
R. Having within it all sweetness Alleluia

Let us pray: O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament left us a memorial of Thy Passion: grant, we implore Thee, that we may so venerate the sacred mysteries of Thy Body and Blood, as always to be conscious of the fruit of Thy Redemption. Thou who livest and reignest forever and ever.

Amen.

“Every Consecrated Host is made to burn Itself up with love in a human heart,”

~St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars

“It is not possible to “eat” the Risen One, present under the sign of bread, as if it were a simple piece of bread. To eat this Bread is to communicate, to enter into communion with the person of the living Lord. This communion, this act of “eating”, is truly an encounter between two persons, it is allowing our lives to be penetrated by the life of the One who is the Lord, of the One who is my Creator and Redeemer.

The purpose of this communion, of this partaking, is the assimilation of my life with his, my transformation and conformation into he who is living Love. Therefore, this communion implies adoration, it implies the will to follow Christ, to follow the One who goes ahead of us. Adoration and procession thereby make up a single gesture of communion; they answer his mandate: “Take and eat”.”

~ Pope Benedict XVI, Corpus Christi homily 26 May 2005

“In today’s celebration of the Eucharist, the Son of God has also been given to us. Those who have received Holy Communion, in a special way, carry the Risen Lord within themselves. Just as Mary bore him in her womb — a defenceless little child, totally dependent on the love of his Mother — so Jesus Christ, under the species of bread, has entrusted himself to us, dear brothers and sisters. Let us love this Jesus who gives himself so completely into our hands! Let us love him as Mary loved him! And let us bring him to others, just as Mary brought him to Elizabeth as the source of joyful exultation! The Virgin gave the Word of God a human body, and thus enabled him to come into the world as a man. Let us give our own bodies to the Lord, and let them become ever more fully instruments of God’s love, temples of the Holy Spirit! Let us bring Sunday, and its immense gift, into the world!”

~Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus Address, 9 September 2007

“In those days, when the destroying angel saw the blood on the doors he did not dare to enter, so how much less will the devil approach now when he sees, not that figurative blood on the doors, but the true blood on the lips of believers, the doors of the temple of Christ.”

~St. John Chrysostom, Catechesis

“If Christ did not want to dismiss the Jews without food in the desert for fear that they would collapse on the way, it was to teach us that it is dangerous to try to get to heaven without the Bread of Heaven.”

~St. Jerome

“If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.”

~St. Maximilian Kolbe

“By a beautiful paradox of Divine love, God makes His Cross the very means of our salvation and our life. We have slain Him; we have nailed Him there and crucified Him; but the Love in His eternal heart could not be extinguished. He willed to give us the very life we slew; to give us the very Food we destroyed; to nourish us with the very Bread we buried, and the very Blood we poured forth. He made our very crime into a happy fault; He turned a Crucifixion into a Redemption; a Consecration into a Communion; a death into Life Everlasting,”

~Bishop Fulton Sheen, This is the Mass

“The Blessed Eucharist means nothing to a man who thinks other people can get along without It. The Blessed Eucharist means nothing to a communicant who thinks he needs It but someone else does not. The Blessed Eucharist means nothing to a communicant who offers any charity ahead of this Charity of the Bread of Life.”

~Father Leonard Feeney, Bread of Life

Good reads for the feast of Corpus Christi:
The Blessed Eucharist: Our Greatest Treasure by Fr. Michael Muller, CSSR
Eucharistic Miracles by Joan Carroll Cruz
God is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (/Pope Benedict XVI)

June: Dedicated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto Thine!

June is traditionally dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the liturgical Feast of the Sacred Heart falls on June 11th this year (next Friday!).

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is characterized by two elements: consecration and reparation. We consecrate ourselves to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and enthrone Him there as King and resolve to serve Him. And we make reparation to His Sacred Heart for all of the indifferences and ingratitudes He suffers daily.

A great (unofficial) prayer for this month I offer to my readers comes from the martyrdom of St. John Houghton, who, upon having his heart ripped out of his chest and seeing it in the hands of his executioner cried out to the Lord, “O Sweet Jesus, what will you do with my heart?”. Though there are several ways a person could interpret this,  I once heard a priest give a beautiful homily on the martyrdom of St. John Houghton and his final words as an offering of his death to Christ. We should strive to offer this month (and really every day of our lives) our hearts to the loving Lord, and upon offering them, ask Him boldly what He would have us do and then follow His holy Will… “O Sweet Jesus, what will you do with my heart?”

Good reads on the Sacred Heart of Jesus:
The Encyclical letter of Pope Pius XII “Haurietis Aquas”
The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Fr. John Croiset
Love, Peace, and Joy: Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus According to St. Gertrude by Fr. Andre Prevot

Pentecost

“Know you not, that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”

1 Corinthians 3:16

Here is the tract from Holy Mass today:

VENI, Sancte Spiritus,
et emitte caelitus
lucis tuae radium.
COME, Holy Ghost,
send down those beams,
which sweetly flow in silent streams
from Thy bright throne above.
Veni, pater pauperum,
veni, dator munerum
veni, lumen cordium.
O come, Thou Father of the poor;
O come, Thou source of all our store,
come, fill our hearts with love.
Consolator optime,
dulcis hospes animae,
dulce refrigerium.
O Thou, of comforters the best,
O Thou, the soul’s delightful guest,
the pilgrim’s sweet relief.
In labore requies,
in aestu temperies
in fletu solatium.
Rest art Thou in our toil, most sweet
refreshment in the noonday heat;
and solace in our grief.
O lux beatissima,
reple cordis intima
tuorum fidelium.
O blessed Light of life Thou art;
fill with Thy light the inmost heart
of those who hope in Thee.
Sine tuo numine,
nihil est in homine,
nihil est innoxium.
Without Thy Godhead nothing can,
have any price or worth in man,
nothing can harmless be.
Lava quod est sordidum,
riga quod est aridum,
sana quod est saucium.
Lord, wash our sinful stains away,
refresh from heaven our barren clay,
our wounds and bruises heal.
Flecte quod est rigidum,
fove quod est frigidum,
rege quod est devium.
To Thy sweet yoke our stiff necks bow,
warm with Thy fire our hearts of snow,
our wandering feet recall.
Da tuis fidelibus,
in te confidentibus,
sacrum septenarium.
Grant to Thy faithful, dearest Lord,
whose only hope is Thy sure word,
the sevenfold gifts of grace.
Da virtutis meritum,
da salutis exitum,
da perenne gaudium,
Amen, Alleluia.
Grant us in life Thy grace that we,
in peace may die and ever be,
in joy before Thy face.
Amen. Alleluia.

Good Reads for Pentecost:
The Holy Ghost Our Greatest Friend by Fr. Paul O’Sullivan
Swift Victory by Fr. Walter Ferrell, OP and Fr. Dominic Hughes, OP