Blog Post - December 10th
Pope S. Melchiades| The Holy House of Loreto| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
Today in the Latin Calendar we commemorate S. Melchiades. A story about this commemoration can be found by Clicking Here.
St. Melchiades, Pope of Rome
We live in tumultuous times. The constant threat of terrorism, fear of the spread of nuclear weapons, worldwide economic instability, and frequent natural disasters often keep us on edge and prevent us from feeling the peace and security we all desire.
But there have been worse times for many. St. Melchiades (or Miltiades) lived in another tumultuous time, from the late third to the early fourth centuries. The details of his birth and youth are unknown, but it is certain that Melchiades was of African heritage. He was living in Rome during the violent persecution of Christians in the time of the Emperor Diocletian. He suffered through – and managed to survive – the times when Christians were forced to pay worship to the Emperor and to turn over copies of the Holy Scriptures and other objects used in Christian worship. Christians were deprived of voting privileges, they had no recourse to the law courts and they were not allowed to hold office. Buildings used as churches were confiscated or burned. For those who resisted any of this or refused to follow the orders of the emperors, torture and death (by burning or crucifixion) awaited.
Sometimes, the lives of Christian leaders were spared but they were removed from their flocks. Bishop Eusebius of Rome was sent into exile in 309 but soon died, and Rome was without a bishop until the election of Melchiades in 311. In the following year, the military leader Constantine defeated Maxentius, gaining control of Rome, and things began to look up for the Christian community. Constantine, along with Galerius and Licinius who shared imperial power, issued an edict allowing for religious toleration. As a result, Christians were once again allowed to worship freely and to restore their church buildings. (Unfortunately during this time, Maximinus Daia, who ruled in the East, did not extend toleration to Christians so persecutions continued there.)
In October of 312, the fate of Christians throughout the world became even more secure, when Constantine won the battle of the Milvian Bridge after his dramatic vision of victory through the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christianity soon became the favored religion of the empire. Constantine even donated the Lateran Palace to the Christian community for use as a center for the administration of church affairs. Bishop Melchiades could rejoice in the freedom and protection which the Church now enjoyed.
But the devil wasted no time in stepping in to disrupt this freedom. Controversy arose – primarily in Africa – over the validity of the sacraments by those bishops and priests who had weakened during the persecutions. The African bishops considered those who had relinquished the Scriptures or made other concessions in order to remain alive as traitors. They said that Bishop Caecilian of Carthage had been consecrated by such traitors and should, therefore, be removed from office and they appealed to Emperor Constantine to settle their dispute. He wisely referred it back to the bishops, asking Pope Melchiades to preside at a council for judgement on the issue. With several bishops from Gaul (where there had been fewer persecutions so those bishops were thought to be more objective) and others from Italy, the council decreed that Caecilian was a legitimate bishop and should remain in office. This resulted in a schism by those who followed the leading dissident, Donatus. The Donatists set up a rival sect and even wrongly accused Pope Melchiades of having been a traitor during the persecutions.
After a pontificate of only three years, Pope Melchiades fell asleep in the Lord in January of 314. His relics were buried in the catacombs of Callistus and he was immediately declared a saint by the people. His life had been full of tumult, but he had bravely served our Lord in his Church and could be assured of hearing His words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Holy Melchiades, pray for us.
Also today in the Latin Calendar there is an Optional Memorial honoring The Holy House of Loreto.
The Miracle of the Holy House of Loreto
THE MOST TREASURED and venerated Shrine of our Lady throughout the world is that of the Holy House of Nazareth in the Basilica at Loreto, Italy. And rightly so, for according to tradition, to testimonies of Popes and Saints this is where the "recreation"-----our redemption-----began. Over the past several centuries, people from all parts of the world have traveled to this shrine to pray and seek Our Lady's help. Thousands of miracles attributed to Our Lady have been recorded at Loreto.
The tradition and history of the Holy House goes back to Apostolic times. From the earliest days of Christianity, the little house and the grotto which formed one side of the Holy House have been a place of worship and pilgrimage. Shortly after the year 313, Constantine the Great had a large Basilica built over the Holy House of Nazareth. The Holy House and the grotto formed part of the crypt of the new church. About the year 1090, the Saracens invaded the Holy Land, plundering and destroying many of the shrines sacred to Christians. One of these was the Basilica in Nazareth, but the Holy House and grotto in the crypt were left intact.
When St. Francis of Assisi visited the Holy Land (1219-1220) he prayed at the Holy House. St. Louis IX, King of France, also visited and received Holy Communion in the shrine when he was leading a crusade to liberate the Holy Land from the Moslems. Another Basilica was built during the 12th century to protect the Holy House and offer ample room for pilgrims. This second Basilica was destroyed when the Moslems overpowered the crusaders in 1263. Again the Holy House escaped destruction and was left intact under the ruins of the Basilica. Finally, in 1291 the crusaders were completely driven out of the Holy Land and it was at this point in history that the Holy House disappeared from Palestine and made its appearance in what is now known as present day Croatia, where a most important shrine was erected, Our Lady of Trsat (Tersatto in Italian pronunciation).
Tradition tells us that on May 10, 1291, the Holy House of Nazareth was raised from its foundations in Nazareth and transported by Angels across the Mediterranean from Palestine to Dalmatia to the small town of Tersatto. The pastor of the Church of St. George, at Tersatto, Alexander Georgevich, was puzzled by the sudden presence of what looked like a tiny church and prayed for enlightenment. His prayers were answered when the Blessed Virgin appeared to him in sleep and told him that this was indeed the Holy House of Nazareth where the Annunciation took place and it was brought here through the power of God. To confirm what she was telling him, he would be restored to health. At that moment, Father Alexander was cured of an illness which he had suffered for many years.
With the Moslems taking over Albania in 1294 and the possibility of profanation, the House disappeared from Tersatto. According to some shepherds, it was seen on December 10, 1294, being borne aloft by Angels across the Adriatic sea and came to rest in a wooded area four miles from Recanati, Italy. The news spread fast and thousands came to examine the tiny house which resembled a church. The House became a place of pilgrimage and many miracles took place there. Bandits from the nearby wooded area began to plague the pilgrims, so the House was borne to a safer spot a short distance away. But the spot where the House was finally to rest was still not settled since the two brothers who owned the land were quarreling. The House was moved a third time to the site it now occupies. The brothers became reconciled as soon as the House settled in its final location. Incidentally, wherever it landed, the Holy House rested miraculously on the ground, without a foundation.
Once again miracles attended the presence of the House, and the townspeople sent a deputation of men to Tersatto and then to Nazareth to determine for certain the origin of the Holy House. Sixteen men, all reliable citizens, took with them measurements and full details of the House, and after several months arrived back with the report that in their opinion, the House had really come from Nazareth.
Over the centuries, many Pontiffs have testified to the authenticity of the Holy House and the miracles that have been attributed to it. The devotion and respect of the Pontiffs for the Holy House may be gathered from the numerous indulgences granted to those visiting the Holy House. The first were granted by Pope Benedict XII, then followed by Urban VI who granted certain indulgences for the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. These indulgences were confirmed by Popes Boniface IX and Martin V: An enumeration of the many popes over the centuries that have shown special interest and support of the authenticity of Loreto by their words and actions.
. . . Wherever there is a genuine shrine of Our Lady or miraculous image, you may be sure there will be many miracles. This is particularly true at the Holy House, where there have been so many they no longer are recorded. In fact, three popes were miraculously cured at the shrine of the Holy House of Loreto.
More than two thousand persons who have been canonized, beatified or made venerable by the Church have visited the Holy House. St. Therese of Lisieux made a momentous pilgrimage before entering the Carmelites, to which she alludes at length in her autobiography. St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. Frances Cabrini, Cardinal Newman, St. John Neumann, and St. Francis de Sales, to name but a few, have visited the Holy House.
St. Francis of Assisi in the early years of the 13th century established a monastery at Sirolo, north of Recanati. To a group of puzzled friars, Francis foretold that before the close of that century, a sanctuary would be built near there which would be more renowned than Rome or Jerusalem and that the faithful would come from all over the world to visit this Holy Sanctuary. This prophecy proved true when the Holy House of Loreto arrived on Dec. 10, 1294.
Turn to God:
If we find ourselves in a negative situation, we can trust that God has already provided what we need to fulfill our role. We can keep turning to God and then keep taking the next step. We can be who we are. God can use us when we are true to our own nature.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
How good this Holy Spirit, this Comforter, is to all, but how supremely good he is to those who seek him.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook Six: 327-365
We enter, now, the last of the six notebooks that Saint Faustina filled with revelations from our Lord about His unfathomable and perfect Mercy. At this point, the Message of Mercy should be clear and evoking of a deep trust in the incomprehensible love of God. All that has been shared to this point reveals that God is relentless in His pursuit of you, seeking only to love you unconditionally and to draw you into His glorious life for all eternity.
The greatest obstacle to this call to holiness is sin. But it is abundantly clear that sin is no match for the Mercy of God. His Mercy dispels your sin in an instant, disposing of your past errors forever. God’s only desire is the present moment, for in this present moment He comes to you, descending from the heights of Heaven, entering into the inner core of your soul so as to form a perfect communion with you, lifting you up to share in His divine life.
This final notebook will be reflected upon as a summary of all that has been reflected upon thus far. Just like the reflections on the first notebook, the reflections for this notebook will be short and to the point. Once you finish this chapter you are invited to return to it often as a way of quickly and easily reminding yourself of the abundant Mercy of God. The Lord’s love is perfect in every way. Allow Him to speak this truth to you with clarity and conviction.
Reflection 344: Stop Worrying About Sin
That may sound like an unusual heading. You should be concerned about sin inasmuch as you should diligently seek to avoid it. But if you were to realize that your understanding of the Mercy of God is but a drop of water compared to the ocean, you would not allow your concerns to turn into worries. To be concerned is to be conscientious and being conscientious is a grace. But when you look at your sin, honestly and thoroughly, in the light of the Mercy of God, you will never worry that your sin is too much for God. His greatest desire is to wipe it away in an instant, forever (See Diary #1665).
Reflect upon whether you are comfortable facing your sins with exceptional honesty. If you are not then that is a sign that you do not understand His infinite Mercy. Know that comprehending His Mercy is the best cure for every sin.
Lord, I see my sin but I want to see it more clearly. Give me the grace of knowing Your perfect Mercy so that I can face my sin without worry and without fear. Jesus, I trust in You.