The Human Life of Jesus was marked throughout by the firm filial confidence with which He trusted Himself to the Eternal Father, and relied upon His love. To be then an imitator of Him, this boundless trust must become ours too, and must animate all we undertake.
In nothing perhaps do the lives of the Saints give us more attractive examples than in this quiet invincible trust in God's help. They took, it is true, more pains than we do to know the will of God, but when they were sure of that, they did not know what it was to hesitate. Difficulties only made them braver, apparent impossibilites never stopped them, a passing failure became in their eyes a pledge of coming success. Thus the great St. Teresa, whose third centenary is being celebrated now with such joy and devotion all over the Church, was preparing to found a new convent with only one Spanish "real," a single coin in her treasury; to those who represented the impossibility of such an undertaking, she replied, It is true that Teresa and one "real" are small things enough, but Teresa, one "real," and God, make a great deal! These are indeed words of a Saint, but the spirit which made her say them—a spirit of confidence founded on the conviction that God was with her—this spirit ought to animate us all.
The secret of this strong confidence is not hard to find. All that we do for the honour of Jesus Christ, all that we undertake in order to do His will, must have the sympathy, the help, and the love of His Father, must therefore in the long run succeed.
The point in which we fail, which makes us so soon fainthearted when things go wrong, is that we only see His honour by halves, and in the rest we seek our own. We can trust well enough when all is prosperous and we are happy, but that sort of trust has but small merit, gives Him but small glory; but when, as so often happens, we are kept a very long time waiting for success, and things even seem only to go from bad to worse, there are very few, and their intentions are very pure, who know how to go on trusting with a bright face an unshaken heart, but it is they who earn the secret praise which He gives to them alone: You are they who have persevered with Me in My temptations* Who will not wish and strive to be of them.
PRAYER.Sacred Heart of Jesus! through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer Thee the prayers, labours, and crosses of this day, in expiation of our offences, and for all Thy other intentions.
I offer them especially to obtain for all our Associates a trust in Thee which no misfortunes may be able to shake. Free us, O Jesus, from all cowardice and discouragement, and from that unholy fear which makes us unworthy of Thy help. Amen.
* St. Luke xxii. 28.
For the triumph of the Church and Holy See, and the Catholic regeneration of nations.
Apostleship of Prayer
1. Only one plenary indulgence can be granted per day.SSPX reference
2. It is necessary to be in the state of grace, at least by completion of the work.
3. Freedom from attachment to sin, even venial sin, is necessary; otherwise the indulgence is only partial. (By this is meant attachment to a particular sin, not sin in general.)
4. Holy Communion must be received each time the indulgence is sought.
5. Prayers must he recited for the intentions of the Holy Father on each day the indulgence is sought. (No particular prayers are prescribed. One Our Father and one Hail Mary suffice, or other suitable prayers.
6. A sacramental concession must he made within a week of completion of the prescribed work. (One confession made during the week, made with the intention of gaining all the indulgences, suffices.)
Our Lady of the Pillar
IN incontestable tradition, resting upon the testimony of St. Jerome, St. Isidore, the ancient liturgies of Spain, and supported by a host of authorities and monuments, which treat it as a matter of history, tells us that St. James the Greater carried the Gospel to Spain. According to the best authorities, he undertook this mission soon after the martyrdom of St. Stephen. Thus, in the year following the ascension of our Lord, Spain had the Gospel preached to her.
But a more extraordinary legend is attached to this apostolic visit, which attributes to St. James himself the foundation of the church of our Lady del Pilar, venerated from time immemorial at Saragossa. Let us examine the foundation of this legend.
So many contradictions had arisen concerning the miraculous origin of the church, that Spain addressed herself to the Holy See, the guide of faith, to settle the controversy. Innocent XIII. then sat in St. Peter's chair. After a minute, exact, and careful investigation, the twelve car- dinals, in whose hands the affair rested, adopted the following account, which was approved by the * Notre Dame del Pilar.
Sacred Congregation of Rites on the 7th of August, 1723, and since inserted in the lessons of the office of the feast of our Lady del Pilar, celebrated on the 12th of October.
" Of all places which Spain offers to the veneration of the devout, the most illustrious is doubtless the sanctuary consecrated to God under the invocation of the Blessed Virgin, under the title of our Lady del Pilar, at Saragossa. " According to ancient and pious tradition, St. James the Greater, led by Providence into Spain, spent some time at Saragossa.* He there received a signal favour from the Blessed Virgin. As he was praying with his disciples one night, upon the banks of the Ebro, as the same tradition informs us, the Mother of God, who still lived, appeared to him, and commanded him to erect an oratory in that place.
" The apostle delayed not to obey this injunction, and with the assistance of his disciples soon constructed a small chapel. In the course of time a larger church was built and dedicated, which, with the dedication of St. Saviour's, is kept as a festival in the city and diocese of Saragossa on the 4th of October
Before the publication of this statement, Pope Calixtus III., in a bull dated 1456, had encouraged pilgrimages to our Lady del Pilar, acknowledged the miracles performed at her shrine, and the prodigy of its foundation. The popular legends, however, are much fuller than the one we have just given. They add that St. James, having visited Oviedo and other places, stopped for some time at Saragossa, where he increased the number of his disciples to such an extent that he assembled * Then called Caesar-Augusta. them every evening in a quiet spot on the banks of the Ebro, where he instructed them in the faith, and told them of the mysteries of the kingdom of God. When one evening, near midnight, the faithful who surrounded the holy apostle heard choirs of angels chanting Ave Maria gratia plena ; and at the same time they beheld, in the midst of the heavenly troop, the figure of a lady, of exquisite beauty, seated on a marble pillar. St. James, recognising the Mother of God, fell on his knees before her.
She* told him to erect a church on the spot where she appeared; and the marble pillar was allowed to remain as a testimony of the truth of the apparition. The apostle obeyed. A chapel was erected, and an image of the Blessed Virgin placed on the miraculous pillar, which still attracts the notice of pious pilgrims. Such is the tradition. The Blessed Virgin is represented erect with her Divine Son in her arms, who holds a dove in his hand.
The piety of the Spaniards afterwards erected a handsome church on this spot ; the ancient chapel now forms a crypt under the chancel. It is 36 feet long by 25 feet broad. Many believe it to be the original chapel ; but this is scarcely probable. It is splendidly decorated ; and though the wars in the early part of this century have despoiled it of a great portion of its wealth, it still remains a splendid sanctuary.*
* St. James returned from Spain to Jerusalem, where he was the first of the apostles to suffer martyrdom. It is said that he took with him some disciples from Spain who returned with his body to their native country. St. been a famous resort of pilgrims ; and there is no one who has not heard of Compostelo. The name of this city itself James is reverenced as the apostle of Spain, and has on many occasions specially protected that great Catholic country. The place where his relics are kept has long is a corruption of St. James the apostle. It was first called in Spanish Giacomo Apostolo, then Como Postolo, and finally Compostelo.
Among the many miracles which have been obtained by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin in her chapel at Saragossa, the following is perhaps the most remarkable and the most astonishing. We also are guided in our selection by the many proofs and testimonies which are attached to it, and to its being given by the Bollandists, whose learning and critical acumen we suppose no one will deny.
" The miracle we are about to record happened in our own time. It occurred to a young man who recovered the use of a leg through the intercession of our Lady of the Pillar.
" His name was Michael Pellicer. His parents were poor people of Calanda, in Arragon ; but he worked with one of his uncles in Valencia. At the age of nineteen, he fell from a cart, heavily laden with corn ; and the wheel passed over his right leg, which was broken. This happened in the year 1638. " The uncle and nephew being both poor, the wounded man was taken to the hospital at Valencia. Several remedies were applied to the broken limb without success. As he grew worse, they yielded to his entreaties to be taken to the great hospital at Saragossa, where his devotion to our Lady of the Pillar led him to hope for succour.
" Before entering the ward, he begged to be laid in the subterranean chapel before our Lady's venerated image. Suffering as he was, he made his confession, heard mass, and received the holy communion. He then, with perfect resignation, was conveyed to the hospital, and placed under the care of Dr. John D'Estranga, a surgeon of great eminence at that time.
" This surgeon was alarmed at the sight of his patient's leg, and instantly declared there was no hope, save in amputation. The leg was accordingly cut off a little below the knee, and the dead limb buried.
"Michael Pellicer thought that it had not pleased our Lady to heal him, and that he merited his sufferings, which he endured with the greatest patience and submission to the will of God. During the painful operation, the only exclamations heard to escape his lips were fervent aspirations to his dear Patroness — our Blessed Lady, whom he most tenderly loved. When the amputation was over, and the part bound up, he went on crutches to our Lady's shrine, and returned thanks for the strength given him to undergo the operation. While engaged in prayer, feeling his wound sore, he thought of rubbing it with some of the oil of the lamp which hung before the image, but was told it would do him harm, unless a miracle changed its nature. He, however, still persisted in applying the oil to his leg. The wound healed, and he lived for two years in Saragossa, well known for his devotion to our Blessed Lady, at the entrance to whose chapel he received the alms of the people.
" In the beginning of the year 1640, a good canon, hearing that the poor cripple greatly desired to visit his parents, gave him a little mule. Michael Pellicer mounted it, and returned to Calanda. As he passed through the neighbouring villages, he received alms from the people, and visited the different churches.
" One evening after his return (it was the 29th of March), feeling very fatigued, he placed his crutches by the fireside, where his parents sat, and went to bed. At eleven o' clock, before re- tiring to her room, the mother went to see whether her son was asleep, or whether his fatigues had made him unwell. She rubbed her eyes with astonishment at the sight of two feet at the end of the bed, having left her son three hours ago with but one leg. She thought that it might be one of the soldiers, then quartered in the town, who had taken possession of her son's bed, and ran to call her husband.
" He uncovered the face, and instantly recognised his son in the sleeping man. The noise of their movements awoke Michael, who exclaimed :
" ' Oh, why did you awaken me from so sweet a dream, and so beautiful a sight ? I was in the holy chapel of our Lady of the Pillar, and there, in the presence of my dear Protectress, two angels restored to me my lost leg in recompense for my persevering confidence in the Mother of my Lord.’
" ' Give thanks to God and our Lady, my dear son,’ cried both parents; 'you have not had a vain dream, for your leg is indeed restored to you.’
"Michael Pellicer was yet ignorant of the miracle which had been wrought upon him ; but he sprang out of bed, and the neighbours, hearing the cries of joy, ran in, and joining the good parents in their wish to render thanks for the miracle, conducted the young man in triumph to the church. " A singular circumstance was attached to this miraculous cure, and which it would seem to baffle the reasoning of the incredulous — the restored leg was reversed. Was it to afford another trial of the young man's faith? Was it a sign that certain extraordinary favours are only completed in the sanctuary? Was it to make the miracle more manifest? However we may judge, so it was. As soon as Michael Pellicer had prostrated him- self at the foot of our Lady's altar, and poured forth, in company with the rector, a fervent prayer, and while the people sung the Salve Regina, the leg turned to its proper position; and he rose and stood firm on both legs, who the day before could not move six steps without the aid of his crutches.
" Many of his friends accompanied him to Saragossa, where he went to return thanks in the chapel of our Lady of the Pillar. The miracle was juridically examined, and all the facts connected with it were attested by many witnesses, and authenticated by notaries, professors, and surgeons. A bright red line appeared round the leg, and remained there during the life of Pellicer. The miracle was authentically published on the 27th of April, 1641, by the Archbishop of Saragossa."
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