Saint Benedict Center's main site is An online Journal edited by the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Richmond, New Hampshire.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Kelly Forum: Keep Our Fires Burning, O Lord

By Brian Kelly
After Christmas, with the days getting longer in the Northern Hemisphere, one would expect that the temperatures would start rising. Instead, the days actually grow colder in January and February than they do in December. One reason for this is because of water. Three quarters of the earth is water.
That percentage is somewhat less in the Northern Hemisphere (60%) and greater in the Southern (80%). It takes water a longer time to cool and freeze than the ground. So, you’ll notice that, usually, ponds and lakes do not freeze until after the winter solstice. And they retain their frozenness long into the winter months even as the days grow longer. Just as it takes water longer to freeze than land, so does it take it longer to warm. It is the water temperature that affects weather more than the length of the day. Another reason is that, for the Northern Hemisphere countries, the continental landmass has to have time to bottle up cold air from lack of sunlight and increased snow cover. This bottling up begins to occur in October and reaches its full level of frigidity in December. At this point temperatures plummet and the cold air moves south. My meteorologist nephew informed me about this “bottling up” effect, explaining, too, that even the Artic air in Siberia can reach the U.S.

Still, naturally speaking, the longer days do nothing to warm the spirit since the weather is so cold and there’s nothing outside but snow and ice and run-down cars to deal with. All these things we do deal with so that we can go to work, feed the family, feed the oil and gas tanks, pay a ton of bills, pay taxes, and pay mechanics so they can feed their families. Wouldn’t it be nice if it could be otherwise?

The best place my car takes me is to Mass. There, I can be pampered with a liturgy, which brings warmth to the mystical hearth as “the Orient on high” visits us at Christmas, opens His arms to us at His Epiphany, is baptized for us, walks among us teaching and working miracles during the weeks of Lent, suffers and dies for us on Good Friday, and rises from the dead for us on Easter Sunday. By this time, liturgically, it is April or May on the monthly calendar and the weather begins to warm and nature begins to blossom back to life. How much colder winter would be without the liturgy and the daily sacrifice of the altar! Indeed, as Saint Padre Pio said, “It would be easier for the world to exist without the sun than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”

How much colder, too, would winter be without Our Lady! She it was whose fiat opened the heavens so the clouds could rain down the Just One and the earth bud forth a Savior. Mary, the New Eve, would bring forth a Savior, whereas the Old Eve brought forth death.

This is our Introit for the last Sunday of Advent: “Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just: let the earth be opened, and bud forth a saviour” (Isaias 45:8).

In Our Lord’s extended life in His Mystical Body, the Church, it seems that we, His members, may be living in the winter years. Of all the things that Jesus said in His answer to His Apostles’ questions about the latter times, the following revelation is most disturbing to me. Why? Because it seems that it is coming to pass before our eyes and may be even knocking at the door of our soul. “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall seduce many. And because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold” (Matt 24:11, 12).

For those of us who are entering into the winter years of our life, who have kept the traditional Catholic Faith and tried, however weakly, to live it, for those of us who may be going through whatever degrees of acedia that go with our own personal “battle fatigue,” there may be a temptation to pull in the oars and just coast along.

Coast along? How can we be so ungrateful to entertain the thought? The everlasting “coast” may be over the horizon, or just beyond the thick mist that has enveloped our spirits. When it was suggested to Saint Francis Xavier, after his hair turned gray and he passed his fiftieth birthday, to slow down and let younger missionaries do the field work, he replied: Does the captain of the ship pull in his oars when, after a long voyage, he sees the coast in view? No, rather, with renewed energy, he rows with more gusto, so great is his yearning to reach the shore.

Such ought to be our spirit. But it cannot be our spirit until we open ourselves with abandon to the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit. Through His transforming grace let us allow His spouse, the Blessed Mother, to form Christ more fully in our souls. In so doing we can be more effective servants and slaves of her Immaculate Heart.

Veni Sancte Spiritus, fove quod est frigidum: Come, Holy Ghost, warm the coldness of my soul. Do not let my charity die in this dark and icy winter, which threatens to dehydrate my spirit. Riga quod est aridum: Refresh what is barren.

In his book, True Devotion to Mary, Saint Louis Marie de Montfort writes of a more blessed day, a day that will see all coldness disappear from our hearts. I will conclude my column with his inspiring words:

“‘When will that happy day come,’ asks a saintly man of our own day whose life was completely wrapped up in Mary, ‘when God's Mother is enthroned in men's hearts as Queen, subjecting them to the dominion of her great and princely Son? When will souls breathe Mary as the body breathes air?’ When that time comes wonderful things will happen on earth. The Holy Spirit, finding his dear Spouse present again in souls, will come down into them with great power. He will fill them with his gifts, especially wisdom, by which they will produce wonders of grace. My dear friend, when will that happy time come, that age of Mary, when many souls, chosen by Mary and given her by the most High God, will hide themselves completely in the depths of her soul, becoming living copies of her, loving and glorifying Jesus? That day will dawn only when the devotion I teach is understood and put into practice. Ut adveniat regnum tuum, adveniat regnum Mariae: ‘Lord, that your kingdom may come, may the reign of Mary come!’”

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