Solemnity of Our Lady of the Angels
2 August 2020
“In me is all grace of the way and the truth, in me is all hope of life and strength.” Sirach 24:
Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Portiuncula (the little Portion). It is the Mother Church of all Franciscans, St. Mary of the Angels in Assisi. It is the Church which was so dear to St. Francis as it was the Church where the Franciscan Order started and increased, where St. Clare was received into the Franciscan Poor Clares and where St. Francis died, and it was the Church where St. Francis heard the angels praising God. All these blessings recall to us how Our Lady was instrumental in St. Francis’ vocation as a friar and the founder of the Franciscan Order. Of special note, St. Francis asked the Pope for a special blessing for all who came to this chapel on this day; a plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions, was granted at this day for all who visit this chapel. Later, it was extended to the universal Church for all churches.
A Marian Order
Most people do not usually associate the Franciscan Order with being a Marian Order. However, St. Francis owed the founding of the order to the grace given him by Our Lady. Also, the phenomenal growth of the order in the in 13th Century can only be attributed to Our Lady, the Mediatrix of All Graces. Recall, that at the Chapter of Mats which occurred only a few years after St. Francis had gathered his first twelve disciples to get the approval of Pope Innocent III, there were five thousand friars present in Assisi. St. Dominic asked St. Francis if he had made provisions for feeding them. St. Dominic was amazed when the people of Assisi came with all the food which was needed. St. Francis loved the little chapel (now within the basilica of St. Mary of the Angels on a plain down from the hills of Assisi) so much that he said to his followers: “See to it, my sons, that you never leave this place. If you are driven out by one door return by the other. For this is truly a holy place and God’s dwelling. Here when we were few, the Most High increased our number; here he enlightened the hearts of His poor with the light of his own wisdom; here He inflamed our wills with the fire of His love. He who prays here with devout heart will obtain His request, and he who offends here will be punished more severely. Therefore, my sons, consider this place God’s dwelling worthy of all honour, and with all your hearts and with loud cries of joy and thanksgiving praise the Lord in this place.” (From Thomas of Celano)
Blessings of this Chapel
St. Francis was truly blessed in this little chapel, and he could not sing the praises of his dear Mother Mary enough. From the Office of the Passion by St. Francis, we pray: “Holy Virgin Mary, there is no one like you among the women in the world; you are the Daughter of the Most High Supreme King and Father of Heaven, you are Mother of our most Holy Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Spouse of the Holy Spirit.” St. Francis was given infused knowledge to see the intimate relationship of Our Blessed Mother with the Most Blessed Trinity. Who can ever imagine what the Blessed Mother is really like? The great saints all agree that Our Lady is holier that anyone could ever imagine. In fact, Bl. Pius IX in the Bull for the Immaculate Conception, “Ineffabilis Deus”, said that “only God can comprehend Mary’s holiness.” She is Queen of All the Saints and Queen of the Angels.
Spouse of the Holy Spirit
St. Maximilian applied St. Francis’ belief in Our Lady as “Spouse of the Holy Spirit”. He understood her intimate union with the Holy Spirit by comparing it to the generation of the Holy Spirit within the inner life of the Blessed Trinity. (Recall what the spousal relationship is from scripture: “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.” Gen. 2:24) Also, Our Lady is created Immaculate Conception while the Holy Spirit is uncreated Immaculate Conception. The Holy Spirit proceeds and is generated by the love of the Father for the Son; He is the fruit of their love. Our Lady is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit in the same way as the hypostatic union. Both are part of the operation of the Holy Spirit: Mary conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit who “overshadowed” her. There are two natures in Christ—human and divine, but only one divine person. There are two natures, human and divine, in Our Lady and the Holy Spirit and there are two persons, human ( Our Lady) and divine (Holy Spirit). This mystery only hints at the plenitude of grace in our Lady. Another Franciscan, St. Bonaventure following the teachings of St. Francis said: “That of all created persons none could be more perfect than Mary. …incomparable to all others in which this perfection is found. She is a hierarchy in herself and above all others.” As Spouse of the Holy Spirit, we can only try to comprehend her perfection.
Franciscans have always taught the doctrine of Mary’s great purity and sinlessness. She would have to be perfectly pure to be the Mother of the Son of God. St. Francis understood this, and in his great prayer, “The Salutation to the Virgin,” he prayed, “Hail, O Lady, Holy Queen, Mary, Holy Mother of God. You are ever a virgin, chosen by the Most Holy Father in heaven whom He consecrated with His Most Holy Beloved Son and with the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete. In you there was and is all the fullness of grace and every good. Hail, His Palace! Hail, His Tabernacle! Hail, His Home! Hail, His Robe! Hail, His Handmaid! Hail, His Mother! And Hail, all you holy Virtues, which through you the grace and light of the Holy Spirit are poured into the Hearts of the faithful, so that healing those who are now unfaithful, you may make them all faithful to God.” From this prayer, future Franciscans would develop their theology. Bl. John Duns Scotus would see in the words, “In you there was and is all the fullness of grace and every good,” as the proof for his theological explanation of the Immaculate Conception that the Blessed Virgin Mary was preserved free from original sin because of the foreordained merits of Jesus Christ.” Blessed Pope Pius IX in his bull for the Immaculate Conception, “Ineffabilis Deus,” on December 8, 1854 wrote: “Through the foreseen merits of Jesus Christ she was preserved free from original sin.” St. Maximilian saw that the world was now ready for the second page of Franciscan History which would proclaim the Immaculate to all the world to transform the world for the Sacred Heart of Jesus. All hearts would change as St. Francis said: “And Hail, all you Holy virtues, which through the grace and light of the Holy Spirit are poured into the hearts of the faithful, so that healing those who are now unfaithful, you may make them all faithful to God.” St. Francis loved Our Lady and saw her as the means by which all hearts would be transformed into beloved sons and daughters of the Most High Father in heaven.
Plenary Indulgence: today, all those who visit this Chapel or any Church can receive the Portiuncula indulgence under the usual conditions (An Our Father and Apostles Creed for the Holy Father, confessions either eight days before or after today, Holy Communion and no attachment to sin). Originally, it was only in the Church in Assisi, but later it was extended to all churches. Take advantage of this special blessing for one of your relatives.
The First Saturday: 1 August 2020
Our Lady told Sr. Lucia in 1925 “…I promise to assist at the hour of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months go to confession and receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary and keep me company for a quarter of an hour while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me." If only we would do what Our Lady asks, we would be assured of eternal salvation. Our Lady promises us all the graces necessary for our salvation if we keep The Five First Saturdays!
The First Friday, 7 August 2020
Now is a good time to continue (or begin) the devotion to the “Nine First Fridays” of the Month. The Sacred Heart of Jesus promised to St. Margaret Mary: "I promise thee in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving the Sacraments; My Divine heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment." There is no better way of honouring the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus than in receiving Holy Communion on the “Nine First Fridays.”.
Day of Retreat:
Saturday, 22 August 2020
by Fr. George M. Roth
St Mary’s R. C. Church
32 High Street
Gosport, Hampshire P012 1DF
Saturday, 22 August 2020
9:00 AM: Holy Rosary
9:30 AM: Latin Mass in the Extraordinary Form
11:00 A. M. First Conference: “What Is Now and What Will Be: God’s Purification of Sin in Catholic Prophecy”
12:15 PM: Lunch Break (Blessing of Religious articles, holy water, salt, oil, candles, St. Benedict medals and crosses, etc.
1:30 PM: Part II of “What Is Now and What Will Be….”
3:00 P M: Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament
4:00 PM: Benediction
For those who cannot make it to St. Mary’s Church, the Mass and Talks will be “Live Streamed”.
(FYI. England is five hours ahead of EST in the USA)
Transportation: Train to Portsmouth Harbour and take Gosport Ferry to Gosport. Walk up the High Street to the Church.
Bus: National Express to Portsmouth Harbour and take the Ferry to Gosport. Walk up the High Street to the Church.