Monthly Archives: December 2013

20131230 Devout soul spends time with God 把時間獻給天主

St. Francis de Sales recommended mental prayer early in the morning, when our mind is less cumbered and more vigorous after the night’s rest. St. Alphonsus Liguori said, “It is morally impossible for him who neglects meditation to live without sin.”

Fifteen minutes
St. Teresa was prepared to pledge salvation to anyone who would spend a quarter of an hour daily in meditation. Our Lady asked the faithful to keep her company for a quarter of an hour on the first Saturday of the month, meditating on the 15 mysteries of the rosary, in reparation for sins.
It is a good practice, therefore, to spend at least 15 minutes each morning in meditation.
Good meditation books are valuable resources for spiritual growth. I warmly recommend the following sets of meditation books: In Conversation with God, by Father Francis Fernandez Carvajal, Divine Intimacy, by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, and Biblical Meditations, by Father Carroll Stuhlmueller.
One can prepare for meditation by reading from a meditation book the evening before, highlighting points for meditation, and using those points during meditation.
Meditation on the passion of Christ is very pleasing to God. Our Lord told St. Faustina: “There is more merit to one hour of meditation on my sorrowful passion than there is to a whole year of flagellation that draws blood; the contemplation of my painful wounds is of great profit to you, and it brings me great joy.”
On another occasion, Our Lord said, “There are few souls who contemplate my passion with true feeling; I give great graces to souls who meditate devoutly on my passion.”
Devotional practices such as the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary, and the Stations of the Cross help the faithful to form the habit of meditating on the passion of Christ.

Daily prayer
St. Francis de Sales taught the faithful to sanctify the day through morning and evening prayer.
During morning prayer, we should offer the whole day to God. We may do so by praying the “Morning Offering.” Here is a “Morning Offering” recited daily by members of the World Apostolate of Fatima:
“O my God, in union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer Thee the Precious Blood of Jesus from all the altars throughout the world, joining with it the offering of my every thought, word, and action of this day.
“O my Jesus, I desire today to gain every indulgence and merit I can, and I offer them, together with myself, to Mary Immaculate, that she may best apply them to the interests of Thy Most Sacred Heart.
“Precious Blood of Jesus, save us! Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us! Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!”
St. Francis de Sales exhorted the faithful to make an examination of conscience in the evening before going to rest. We should thank God for preserving us through the day and examine how we have conducted ourselves through the day.
If we have done anything good, we should thank God for it. If we have sinned in thought, word, deed, or omission, we should ask for forgiveness and resolve to amend our lives.
St. Anthony of Padua was one of the first to recommend the recitation of three Hail Marys in the morning and in the evening, which is a beautiful practice. St. Leonard of Port-Maurice had the three Hail Marys recited morning and evening to obtain the grace of avoiding all mortal sins during the day or night.
St. Alphonsus of Liguori exhorted parents and confessors to watch carefully that children be faithful in reciting each day their three Hail Marys, morning and evening.

























20131216 Devout soul meditates 熱心作默想

In the first part of An Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales points out that devotion and charity are inseparable. Devotion requires purification from mortal sin, affection for sin, and imperfections.
In the second part of the book, St. Francis describes the practice of prayer in the devout life. Prayer opens our mind and will to God. It helps to purify the soul.
St. Francis especially recommends mental prayer drawn from the contemplation of the life and Passion of Christ. We should begin all prayer, whether mental or vocal, by placing ourselves in the presence of God.

St. Francis suggests four methods for placing ourselves in the presence of God: first, realizing in a lively, earnest way that God’s presence is universal; second, calling to mind that God is very specially present in our heart and mind; third, dwelling upon the thought of Christ looking down upon all people from heaven; fourth, picturing Jesus at our side.
However, when the Blessed Sacrament is there, then this Presence is no longer imaginary, but most real.
Having placed ourselves in the presence of God, we should invoke His divine assistance to make a proper meditation. We can also invoke our guardian angel and those saints most especially connected with the subject of meditation.

Depending on the subject of meditation, the practice of “composition of place” may be used to set forth the mystery.
Composition of place is “simply kindling a vivid picture of the mystery to be meditated within your imagination, even as though you were actually beholding it. For instance, if you wish to meditate upon Our Lord on His cross, you will place yourself in imagination on Mount Calvary, as though you saw and heard all that occurred there during the Passion.”
According to St. Francis de Sales, meditations are “certain considerations by which we raise the affections to God and heavenly things.”
“Meditation differs therein from study and ordinary methods of thought which have not the Love of God or growth in holiness for their object, but some other end, such as the acquisition of learning or power of argument.”
Meditative considerations should lead to affections and resolutions. St. Francis writes, “You must not stop short in general affections, without turning them into special resolutions for your own correction and amendment.”
Resolutions should be practical and concrete. We should strive to retain them on our return to active duties.

We should make three acts at the conclusion of meditation: first, an act thanksgiving for the graces received during meditation; second, an act of oblation to offer our affections and resolutions; third, an act of intercession for the fulfilment of our resolutions and for the needs of others.
We should select a few points from meditation to dwell on them from time to time during the day. If we experience dryness during meditation we may use vocal prayer or a spiritual book to help us meditate.
A nun went to St. Teresa of Avila in great discouragement because she thought she could not practise mental prayer. The saint asked the nun how she tried to pray. She told St. Teresa that she merely said over and over again the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary,” thinking of Our Lord in some scene of His Passion.
On further questioning, St. Teresa found that in her vocal prayers the nun enjoyed pure contemplation, and occasionally God lifted her to perfect union with Himself. If prayed well, the rosary can become pure contemplative prayer.
Meditative reading is one of the methods of mental prayer. St. Benedict set apart two hours each day for reading Sacred Scripture and the writings of the Fathers. We listen to God in holy reading.

方濟.沙雷的「導入虔敬的生活」神修巨箸,其第一部份指出,熱心與愛德不可分割。熱心要求淨化: 棄絕罪惡、擯除對大小罪的情趣、清除靈魂的不完善。



























20131209 Grace purifies the soul 聖寵淨潔靈魂

St. Francis de Sales pointed out that the first step in the devout life is the purification of the soul. We need to be patient, for “ordinary purification and healing, whether of body or soul, are accomplished little by little, progressing slowly, and often hardly at all.”
On the spiritual journey, failures and setbacks are inevitable; we should not be discouraged by them, nor should we overlook and ignore them.
St. Francis pointed out that our perfection consists in struggling against our spiritual infirmities, “which we cannot do unless we perceive them, neither can we conquer unless we come into collision with them. Victory does not lie in ignoring our infirmities, but in resisting them.”

General confession
The first thing we must purify ourselves of is sin, especially mortal sin, and the means to purify ourselves is the sacrament of penance. We are obliged to confess all our mortal sins committed since baptism. St. Francis de Sales recommended the practice of general confession.
A general confession is a repetition of all previous confessions, or at least of some of them. General confession is necessary if a person has made a bad confession in the past by purposely omitting a mortal sin.
For others, general confession is recommended as conducive to greater self-knowledge, to deeper humility, and to increased peace of mind. It is good to make a general confession annually after a retreat. This is called a confession of devotion.
Regarding general confession, St. Francis wrote, “Hesitate not, then, to open your heart fully in confession, for in proportion as your sins go forth, the precious merits of Christ’s passion will come in and fill you with all blessings.”

Deep contrition
To make progress in the spiritual life, we must be purified both from sin and from affection for sin.
St. Francis wrote, “Some penitents, though they forsake sin outwardly, do not forsake the love of sin; that is to say, they resolve to sin no more, but it is with reluctance that they abstain from the fatal delights of sin. Their hearts renounce it, and seek to depart, but they frequently look longingly behind them, as did Lot’s wife.”
Hence we should strive to achieve deep contrition, which not only serves to purify us from actual sin, but also serves to purify us from all affection for sin. A hearty and vigorous contrition helps a person to lose all delight in everything appertaining to sin. An effective means to achieve this kind of contrition is the exercise of meditation.
St. Francis de Sales suggested the faithful meditate on the following: creation, why God made us, the mercies and favours of God, sin, death, judgment, hell, paradise, and the choice of a devout life.
Meditation, deep contrition, and sincere confession serve to purify the soul from mortal sins and affection for them. However we should also strive to purify ourselves from affection for venial sins.
St. Francis pointed out that though we can never be wholly free from venial sins, we can be free from affection for them. “There is a wide difference between a chance falsehood concerning some trivial matter, which is the result of carelessness, and taking pleasure in falsehood or deliberately telling lies.”
Inclinations to mortal sin are opposed to charity, and inclinations to venial sin are opposed to devotion. Mortal sin kills the soul spiritually, while deliberate venial sin wounds it grievously.
Detachment is an important aspect of purification. We should not let ourselves be absorbed by activities such as sports, balls, festivities, display, and drama.
St. Francis wrote, “The evil lies not in doing the thing, but in caring for it.” We should leave our heart free for God and for the interior life.

























20131202 Devotion adds flame to charity 虔誠熾熱愛心

In the last few months we have looked at the lives of the children of Fatima, modern saints and blesseds, and founders of ecclesial movements and communities. The teachings and examples of these holy people point to the “universal call to holiness.”
You can review these articles at my personal site ( Starting this week, we are going to explore the spiritual life based on the spiritual classic of St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622): An Introduction to the Devout Life.
Devotion and love of God are inseparable. St. Francis wrote, “As charity leads us to obey and fulfill all God’s commandments, so devotion leads us to obey them with promptitude and diligence.”
The saint pointed out that charity and devotion differ no more than flame and fire. “Charity is a spiritual fire which, when it flames brightly, becomes devotion; and devotion adds to the fire of charity a flame which renders it ready, active, and diligent, not only in keeping His commandments, but in carrying out His heavenly inspirations and counsels of perfection.”
St. Therese of Lisieux said, “Sanctity does not consist in this or that practice, but in a disposition of heart which makes us humble and small in the arms of God.”
Holiness consists not in the multiplication of devotional practices, but in the fulfillment of the will of God in the ordinariness of daily life.

Devotion is joyful
St. Francis de Sales pointed out that a devout life is not sad and gloomy, but happy and lovely. St. Teresa of Avila said, “A sad nun is a bad nun. I am more afraid of one unhappy sister than a crowd of evil spirits.”
“What would happen if we hid what little sense of humour we have? Let each of us humbly use this to cheer others.” She prayed, “God deliver me from sad-faced saints.”
Saints are not sad. They are people filled with joy, which is the fruit of charity.
“Devotion” is spiritual sugar which gives sweetness to mortification, disciplines, penance, sacrifice, and suffering. The devout life is like a ladder which allows us to descend in action to the aid of neighbour and to ascend in contemplation to a loving union with God. Living the devout life means finding true happiness in God, and sharing this happiness with others.

Devotion is universal
The “universal call to holiness” is an important theme of the Second Vatican Council and the Pontificate of Blessed John Paul II.
St. Francis de Sales pointed out that devotion is suitable to all kinds of vocations and professions. “The practice of devotion must be adapted to the capabilities, the engagements, and the duties of each individual,” for “true devotion hinders no one, but rather it perfects everything, and whenever it is out of keeping with any person’s legitimate vocation, it must be spurious.”
To live the devout life, one must fulfill one’s daily duties out of love for God. St. Josemaria Escriva teaches us that all the faithful are called to be holy through work.
He wrote, “It is we, men walking in the street, ordinary Christians immersed in the bloodstream of society, whom Our Lord wants to be saints and apostles, in the very midst of our professional work; that is, sanctifying our job in life, sanctifying ourselves in it, and through it, helping others to sanctify themselves as well.”
“Do everything for Love. Thus there will be no little things: everything will be big. Perseverance in little things for Love is heroism.”
Blessed John Paul II said, “True holiness does not mean a flight from the world; rather it lies in the effort to incarnate the Gospel in everyday life: in the family, at school and at work, and in social and political involvement.”






聖方濟.沙雷指出,虔誠的生活不是哀愁憂鬱,反而是快樂可愛。聖女大德蘭說:「愁眉苦臉的修女,不會是個好的修女。我怕一個不快樂的修女,多過怕一群凶惡的魔鬼… 把內心僅有的幽默感都收藏起來,你可想像情況會怎樣?讓我們每個人,謙卑地運用自己的幽默,以娛他人。」她祈禱說:「天主,救我於苦臉的聖人。」聖人不會是憂鬱的人,他們是充滿喜樂,因為那是愛德的果實。




要渡虔誠的生活,必需每天為愛天主而善盡本份。聖施禮華神父教我們,信友們是在他們的工作中被召叫成聖。聖人寫道:「那就是我們,每天活在社群中,在街上與別人無異地熙來攘往,被天主召叫在我們的專業工作中成聖人和使徒。我們要在生命中聖化工作,在工作中聖化自己,並藉工作幫助他人成聖。」「 為了愛而做每一件事。因而將沒有微不足道的事:每件事都是偉大的。為了愛而在小事情上恆心到底是英雄的表現。」


20131125 St. Josemaria promoted holiness 施禮華宣揚成聖

St. Josemaria Escriva was born in Barbastro, Spain, Jan. 9, 1902. He was the second of six children of a devout family.
In 1904, Josemaria was gravely ill and the doctors gave up on him. However, he was cured unexpectedly; his parents attributed the cure to the intercession of Our Lady of Torreciudad, and took him on a pilgrimage of thanksgiving.
On April 23, 1912, Josemaria made his first Communion. In preparation, a friar had taught him a beautiful prayer for spiritual communion which he remembered all his life: “I wish, Lord, to receive You with the purity, humility, and devotion with which Your most holy mother received you, with the spirit and fervour of the saints.”
Josemaria’s three sisters died in 1910, 1912, and 1913. His father’s business failed in 1914. These tragic events taught Josemaria the meaning of suffering and brought him to maturity. The family moved to Logrono, where his father had found new employment.

Founding of Opus Dei
During the Christmas vacation of 1917, Josemaria saw the bare footprints of a Carmelite friar. Josemaria asked himself, “If other people make such sacrifices for God and neighbour, can’t I offer Him something?”
He intuited that God wanted something of him, although he didn’t know exactly what. He decided to become a priest in order to be available for whatever God wanted of him. In 1918, he began his studies; he was ordained March 28, 1925.
On Oct. 2, 1928, while he was on retreat in Madrid, Father Escriva was inspired by God to found Opus Dei, an institution within the Catholic Church dedicated to helping people in all walks of life to follow Christ and to seek holiness in their daily lives.
In 1930 Father Escriva started Opus Dei (the two Latin words mean “Work of God”) for women, making it clear that they had the same responsibility as men to serve the Church and society.
While celebrating Mass on Feb. 14, 1943, Father Escriva was inspired to found the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross. On June 25, 1944, three members of Opus Dei were ordained priests.

Spreading the fire of love
Father Escriva moved to Rome in 1946 and became the driving force behind the spreading of Opus Dei around the world. In 1948 full membership in Opus Dei was opened to married people. On June 16, 1950, Pope Pius XII granted definitive papal approval of Opus Dei.
In 1951 Father Escriva consecrated the families of Opus Dei members to the Holy Family. He also consecrated Opus Dei to the Most Sweet Heart of Mary. During the 1950s, in answer to the needs of the world, he promoted universities, training schools, agricultural colleges, hospitals, and clinics.
During the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), the council fathers sought the advice of Father Escriva on themes such as the universal call to holiness and the function of lay people in the mission of the Church.
In 1969 Father Escriva travelled to shrines of Our Lady, praying for the Church and for world peace. He visited the Marian shrines of Lourdes, Sonsoles, El Pilar, La Merced, Einsiedeln and Loreto.
Between 1970 and 1975 Father Escriva undertook catechetical trips throughout Europe and Latin America, teaching Christian doctrine and Christian living to many people.
Father Escriva died in his office in Rome June 26, 1975. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II May 17, 1992, and canonized by him Oct. 6, 2002.
“Sanctity is made up of heroic acts. Therefore in our work we are asked for the heroism of finishing properly the tasks committed to us, day after day, even though they are the same tasks. If we don’t, then we do not want to be saints.”


20131118 Dorothy promoted peace 杜洛菲宣揚和平

Dorothy Day (1897-1980), the foundress of the Catholic Worker movement, was born in Brooklyn and was baptized at an Episcopal church in Chicago. In 1916 she settled in New York and worked for Socialist publications. In 1949 Dorothy described herself as an “ex-Communist.”

Road to Catholicism
As a young journalist in New York, Dorothy would sometimes visit a Catholic church at night. The Catholic climate of worship and spiritual discipline appealed to her. She saw the Catholic Church as “the church of the immigrants, the church of the poor.”
In 1922 Dorothy worked as a reporter in Chicago. She lived with three young women who went to Mass every Sunday and prayed each day. Dorothy was convinced that “worship, adoration, thanksgiving, supplication were the noblest acts of which we are capable in this life.”
In 1924 Dorothy bought a property in the New York borough of Staten Island. She started to live common law with Forster Batterham, who was anti-religion and anti-marriage. Dorothy’s growing interest in Catholicism often led to quarrels.
Unexpectedly, Dorothy discovered that she was pregnant. Despite the opposition of Forster, Dorothy kept the child and had her baptized in a Catholic church. After breaking up with Forster, Dorothy herself was received into the Catholic Church on Dec. 28, 1926.

Catholic Worker movement
On Dec. 9, 1932, Dorothy met Peter Maurin, who encouraged her to start a newspaper to “bring the best of Catholic thought to the man in the street in the language of the man in the street.”
In May 1933 the first issue of The Catholic Worker was printed. By December, 100,000 copies were being printed each month. The paper didn’t merely complain but called on its readers to make personal responses.
In his essays, Peter opposed the idea that Christians should take care only of their friends and leave the care of strangers to impersonal charitable agencies. Every home should have its “Christ Room” and every parish a house of hospitality ready to receive the “ambassadors of God.”
Eventually the editors of the paper started to welcome poor and homeless strangers, and by 1936 there were 33 Catholic Worker houses spread across the U.S.
A social worker asked Dorothy how long her “clients” were permitted to stay. Dorothy answered, “We let them stay forever.”
She explained, “They live with us, they die with us, and we give them a Christian burial. We pray for them after they are dead. Once they are taken in, they become members of the family, or rather they always were members of the family. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Pacifism: opposition to war and violence, was Dorothy’s position. She urged friends and associates of the Catholic Worker movement “to the caring for the sick and the wounded, to the growing of food for the hungry, to the continuance of all our works of mercy in our houses and on our farms.”
The Catholic Worker movement supported works of mercy, but not works of war.
In 1965 Dorothy went to Rome to take part in a fast, praying that the Second Vatican Council would issue a clear statement against war and violence. In December, the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World was approved by the bishops.
The council described as “a crime against God and humanity” any act of war “directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants.” The council called on states to make legal provision for conscientious objectors while describing as “criminal” those who obey commands which condemn the innocent and defenceless.
Dorothy died on Nov. 29, 1980. Cardinal John O’Connor of New York launched the canonization process in 1997, the 100th anniversary of Dorothy’s birth.

杜洛菲.戴爾 (1897-1980) 是「公教勞工運動」的創始者,美國布魯克林區出生,在芝加哥接受過基督教洗禮;1916年居於紐約,曾在多間出版社工作。




















1965年,杜洛菲到羅馬參加齋戒,祈求梵蒂崗第二次大公會議,會發表反戰及反暴力宣言。12月,主教們通過「現代教會憲章」,指出:「任何戰爭行為, 毫不辨別地消滅整個都市或廣闊地區及其居民,是反對天主及人類的罪行,應堅決而不猶豫地加以譴責」。大公會議又促請各國,制定法律來保障反戰者的良心。大公會議指出:盲目地服從不義的命令去壓害無辜及無助者是罪犯的行為。




20131111 Mystic suffered 50 years 五十年的痛苦

Marthe Robin was born on March 13, 1902, in Chateauneuf de Galaure, France. In May 1918 she began to experience painful headaches. As Marthe’s illness progressed, her spiritual life blossomed. On Oct. 15, 1925, Marthe felt inspired to make an “Act of Abandonment to the Love and the Will of God.”
In October 1926 Marthe spent three weeks in a coma. She experienced three apparitions of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. The saint revealed to her that she would not die yet, but recover and extend her mission throughout the entire world.

Suffered with Christ
On March 25, 1928, Marthe’s legs became completely paralyzed. Henceforth she was bedridden for life. From 1928 to 1981 she experienced the grace of total abstinence from all food and drink, and she did not consume anything except Holy Communion. In addition to her absolute fast, she entirely ceased to sleep.
On Feb. 2, 1929, Marthe lost the use of her hands, which she had offered to the Lord. She learned to write with a pencil in her mouth. She remained in an uncomfortable and unchangeable position, without drinking, without eating, and without sleeping, for more than 50 years.
Towards the end of September 1930, Jesus appeared to Marthe and asked her, “Do you wish to be like Me?” Marthe consented to the request of Jesus.
In early October Jesus appeared to her and gave her the stigmata. She bled from her hands, her feet, and her heart. Later Jesus imprinted His crown of thorns on Marthe’s head. On the Friday after receiving the stigmata, she began to relive the Passion of Jesus.
People started coming to see her. The apostolate of welcoming visitors would continue for 50 years, until the end of her life. A visitor would wait in the kitchen in the company of Marthe’s mother, then enter her room and chat with her. Marthe would send the gifts given to her by visitors to the poor and to missionaries.
Marthe suffered in her body. She suffered great physical pain each time the bed linen had to be changed. She suffered in her heart to see that her parents were tormented by not being able to do anything for her. Above all, she suffered in her soul because of the sinfulness and lukewarmness of mankind.
Every week Marthe relived the Passion of Christ, beginning with the agony on Thursday night. The torment continued from Thursday night throughout the whole of Friday. She relived all the scenes of the Passion.

Inspired projects
Marthe was inspired to build a Christian school for girls. Most of the priests thought the idea was “crazy” because the area was dominated by freethinkers. It took two years for Marthe to convince her spiritual director to take the first step for the project.
Finally, on Oct. 12, 1934, the Chateauneuf de Galaure school was opened. Today there are two secondary schools and an agricultural school, with a total of about 1,000 students.
Another project Marthe was inspired to undertake was the “Foyers de Charite” (Houses of Charity). They are retreat houses built and organized by consecrated lay people and directed by a priest.
The first retreat took place on Sept. 7, 1936, preached by one of Marthe’s close friends, Father Finet. By 2006 there were 75 Foyers in 41 countries.
After 50 years of suffering in union with Jesus for the conversion of souls, Marthe died on Feb. 6, 1981.
“Oh Virgin Mary, let me each day be more docile, more patient, more simple; unnoticed and forgotten. I do not ask that God bring about in me things that are visible, but only that I be a small, lowly child, sweet and humble of heart,” said Marthe.