Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, MORNING Prayers, The BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

The Saint Who Influenced Pope St. John Paul II’s Profound Devotion to Mary

The Saint Who Influenced Pope St. John Paul II’s Profound Devotion to Mary

Pope St. John Paul II was well known for having a deep and abiding love for the Blessed Virgin Mary. His devotion to her was evident in all that he did: his teaching, his prayer life, even his papal motto and coat of arms were dedicated to the Blessed Mother.

When he was nearly fatally shot during his papacy he credited the intercession of the Virgin Mary, specifically Our Lady of Fatima, with the miraculous save of his life.

Pope St. John Paul II with an Our Lady of Fatima statue after the assasination attempt on his life

But how did he develop this life-long devotion to Mary?

In his book, Gift and Mystery, Blessed Pope John Paul II credits his home parish and the nearby Carmelites for their early influence on him. He also had a very devout father who regularly took him on pilgrimages to local Marian shrines.

However, as he matured in his faith as a young adult, he singles out one overwhelming influence which changed his life. He gleaned his profound devotion to Mary largely through the writings of one man: St. Louis de Montfort.

The book that changed Karol Wojtyla’s life was True Devotion to Mary. The Pope relates that,

“At one point I began to question my devotion to Mary, believing that, if it became too great, it might end up compromising the supremacy of the worship owed to Christ.  At that time, I was greatly helped by a book by Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort…

There I found the answers to my questions, Yes, Mary does bring us closer to Christ; she does lead us to him, provided that we live her mystery in Christ… The author was an outstanding theologian.  His Mariological thought is rooted in the mystery of the Trinity and in the truth of the Incarnation of the Word of God”.

Pope John Paul II thought so highly of the writing of St. Louis De Montfort that he spoke about the saint on many occasions. In addition, on December 8, 2003, he wrote a special letter on the occasion of the 160th Anniversary of De Montfort’s publication. In this letter he wrote: “I myself, in the years of my youth, found reading this book a great help.”


True Devotion to Mary had such a lasting influence on him that when he was elected Supreme Pontiff in 1978, he chose his papal motto, Totus Tuus, from words written by St. Louis De Montfort, as he describes below:

“As is well known, (in) my episcopal coat of arms … the motto Totus tuus is inspired by the teaching of St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort.  These two words express total belonging to Jesus through Mary: “Tuus totus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt.” (“I am all Yours, and all that I have is Yours.”) . . . “This Saint’s teaching has had a profound influence on the Marian devotion of many of the faithful and on my own life.”


There is no better way to advance quickly in holiness, no better way to please God, and no better way to guarantee one’s present sanctity and eternal salvation than with a true devotion to Mary.   Pope John Paul II learned this and demonstrated this truth in his life, proven now that he has been raised to the altars and numbered with the saints in heaven.

Posted in CONTEMPLATIVE Prayer, MORNING Prayers

Catholic Meditation and Contemplative Prayer: What’s the Difference?

Catholic Meditation and Contemplative Prayer: What’s the Difference?

To answer this question, let’s look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In the glossary, we find the following definitions (I’ve highlighted several words and phrases in each definition to help us parse out the difference):

First, for meditation:

MEDITATION: An exercise and a form of prayer in which we try to understand God’s revelation of the truths of faith and the purpose of the Christian life, and how it should be lived, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking.

And now, for contemplation:

CONTEMPLATION: A form of wordless prayer in which mind and heart focus on God’s greatness and goodness in affective, loving adoration; to look on Jesus and the mysteries of his life with faith and love.

So immediately we can see that Catholic meditation is a cognitive exercise — prayer seeking understanding; whereas contemplative prayer sets aside that kind of mental effort, seeking instead a wordless, loving adoration of Christ and his mysteries.

Put another way:  in meditation we think; in contemplation we rest our thoughts and simply love (and respond to love).

To unpack this a bit further, we can look into the body of the Catechism itself, for further insight into both meditation and contemplation.    In sections 2705-8 of the Catechism we find further insight into a Catholic understanding of meditation.    In the interest of brevity I’m only going to post a few key phrases but look it up in the Catechism and read the entire section:

Meditation is above all a quest.  The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking… To meditate on what we read helps us to make it our own by confronting it with ourselves… To the extent that we are humble and faithful, we discover in meditation the movements that stir the heart and we are able to discern them… Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire… This form of prayerful reflection is of great value but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him.

Immediately following this (sections 2709-19) is the Catechism’s discussion of contemplative prayer.   Once again, here are just a few key phrases:



Contemplative prayer seeks him “whom my soul loves.” … We seek him, because to desire him is always the beginning of love… In this inner prayer we can still meditate, but our attention is fixed on the Lord himself…. One cannot always meditate but one can always enter into inner prayer, independently of the conditions of health, work, or emotional state.   The heart is the place of this quest and encounter, in poverty and in faith… Entering into contemplative prayer is like entering into the Eucharistic liturgy:   we “gather up” the heart, recollect our whole being under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, abide in the dwelling place of the Lord which we are, awaken our faith in order to enter into the presence of him who awaits us… Contemplative prayer is the poor and humble surrender to the loving will of the Father in ever deeper union with his beloved Son… It is a gift, a grace; it can be accepted only in humility and poverty. Contemplative prayer is a covenant relationship established by God within our hearts. Contemplative prayer is a communion in which the Holy Trinity conforms man, the image of God, “to his likeness.”
Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus… Contemplative prayer is silence, the “symbol of the world to come” or “silent love.” Words in this kind of prayer are not speeches; they are like kindling that feeds the fire of love… Contemplative prayer is a communion of love bearing Life for the multitude, to the extent that it consents to abide in the night of faith… We must be willing to “keep watch with [him] one hour.”

The Catechism refuses to draw a hard and fast distinction between meditation and contemplation:  “in [contemplation] we can still meditate.”   Head and heart are both intimate parts of one being.   We may seek in contemplation to love and behold God in silence but thoughts will still dance in our minds.   But as “The Cloud of Unknowing” so helpfully teaches us, when meditative thoughts emerge during contemplative prayer, seek to be non-attached.   Let them arise and let them fall. Keep our focus “fixed on the Lord himself” — in contemplation our intent is to love God, not to think about God;   to know God rather than merely know about God.

Nevertheless, because meditation is an effortful prayer, there are times when we are simply too tired, or too angry, anxious, or whatever, to meditate.   Yet contemplative prayer, emphasising rest and silence, is always available to us.    Perhaps most important of all is the recognition that meditation is not the highest form of prayer: contemplation is.   Yet true contemplation is always a gift, a grace.   It’s not something we achieve, it’s something we receive.

To summarise:

  • Meditation is a quest;   contemplation involves rest.
  • Meditation is mental, cognitive, discursive;   contemplation is silent, heart-centered, beholding
  • Meditation is important, contemplation even more so.
Posted in MORNING Prayers, SAINT of the DAY

Thought for the Day – 19 May

Thought for the Day – 19 May

St Celestine V tasted bitterly his own failure but this did not prevent him from being a saint.   When he realised that he was in the wrong place, he quickly did something about it, whatever the consequences.   To admit failure, particularly in a place of importance and public scrutiny, takes a rare kind of courage and that kind of courage is the stuff that saints are made of.  Say no more!

St Pope Celestine V, please pray for us, that we may have the courage to admit our failures.



Quote of the Day – 19 May

Quote of the Day – 19 May

“All our perfection consists in being conformed,
united and consecrated to Jesus Christ;
and therefore the most perfect of all devotions is,
without any doubt, that which the most perfectly
conforms, unites and consecrates us to Jesus Christ.
Now Mary being the most conformed of all creatures to Jesus Christ,
it follows that, of all devotions that which most consecrates
and conforms the soul to Our Lord is devotion to His holy Mother
and the more a soul is consecrated to Mary,
the more it is consecrated to Jesus.
Hence it comes to pass that the most perfect consecration
to Jesus Christ is nothing else than a perfect and entire
consecration of ourselves to the Blessed Virgin.”

St Louis de Montfort


Posted in CATHOLIC DEVOTIONS of the Month, DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, MORNING Prayers, The BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 19 May

One Minute Reflection – 19 May

Those who love me I also love and those who seek me find me…….Proverbs 8:17

REFLECTION – “Blessed are those who abandon themselves into Our Lady’s hands. Their names are written in the Book of Life.”………………St Bonaventure (1217-74) Doctor seraphicus (Seraphic Doctor)

blessed are those who abandon-st bonaventure

PRAYER – Heavenly Father, make a devoted client of Your beloved Daughter, Mary.   Let me entrust myself always into her hands so that she may protect me as she took cate of Your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in His infancy, childhood and throughout His life.   Make me unto her, Lord my God!   Mary, my beloved Mother, give me your spirit and pray for us all amen!

mary beloved mother-pray for us all


Our Morning Offering – 19 May

Our Morning Offering – 19 May

Grant me your Spirit, my Beloved Mother

My powerful Queen,
you are all mine through your mercy,
and I am all yours.
Take away from me all that may displease God
and cultivate in me all that is pleasing to Him.
May the light of your faith
dispel the darkness of my mind,
your deep humility
take the place of my pride,
your continual sight of God
fill my memory with His presence.
May the first of the love of your heart
inflame the lukewarmness of my own heart.
May your virtues take the place of my sins.
May your merits be my enrichment
and make up for all
that is wanting in me before God.
My beloved Mother,
grant that I may have no other spirit but your spirit,
to know Jesus Christ and His Divine will
and to praise and glorify the Lord,
that I may love God with burning love like yours.

grant me your spirit-st louis de montfort

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 19 May – St Pope Celestine V

Saint of the Day – 19 May – St Pope Celestine V  Born 1210 at Isneria, Abruzzi, Italy as Pietro del Morrone;  Papal Ascension – 5 July 1294 – Papal Abdication – 13 December 1294.  Died:  • 19 May 1296 in Rome, Italy of natural causes.  St Celestine is buried in the church of Saint Agatha, Ferentino, Italy and re-interred in the Church of Saint Maria di Collemaggio, Aquila, Italy.  Monk, Hermit, Pope, Founder.  Patron of Bookbinders,Papal resignations, Aquila, Urbino, Molisem Sant’Angelo Limosano.   Attributes – Papal vestments, Papal tiara, Book


Peter Celestine, was Pope for five months from 5 July to 13 December 1294, when he resigned.   He was also a monk and hermit who founded the order of the Celestines as a branch of the Benedictine order.
He was elected pope in the Catholic Church’s last non-conclave papal election, ending a two-year impasse.   Among the only edicts of his to remain in force was the confirmation of the right of the pope to abdicate;  nearly all of his other official acts were annulled by his successor, Boniface VIII.   On 13 December 1294, a week after issuing the decree, Celestine resigned, stating his desire to return to his humble, pre-papal life.   He was subsequently imprisoned by Boniface in the castle of Fumone in the Campagna region, in order to prevent his potential installation as antipope.   He died in prison on 19 May 1296 at the age of 81.
St Celestine was canonized on 5 May 1313 by Pope Clement V.   No subsequent pope has taken the name Celestine.


Pietro Angelerio was born to parents Angelo Angelerio and Maria Leone in a town called Sant’Angelo Limosano, in the Kingdom of Sicilia (Sicily).   After his father’s death he began working in the fields.   His mother Maria was a key figure in Pietro’s spiritual development:  she imagined a different future for her deeply beloved son than becoming just a farmer or a shepherd.   From the time he was a child, he showed great intelligence and love for others.   He became a Benedictine monk at Faifoli in the Diocese of Benevento when he was 17.   He showed an extraordinary disposition toward asceticism and solitude and in 1239 retired to a solitary cavern on the mountain Morrone, hence his name (Peter of Morrone).   Five years later he left this retreat and went with two companions to a similar cave on the even more remote Mountain of Maiella in the Abruzzi region of central Italy, where he lived as strictly as possible according to the example of St. John the Baptist.   Accounts exist of the severity of his penitential practices.


The cardinals assembled at Perugia after the death of Pope Nicholas IV in April 1292. After more than two years, a consensus had still not been reached.   Pietro, well known to the cardinals as a Benedictine hermit, sent the cardinals a letter warning them that divine vengeance would fall upon them if they did not quickly elect a pope.   Latino Malabranca, the aged and ill dean of the College of Cardinals cried out, “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, I elect brother Pietro di Morrone.” The cardinals promptly ratified Malabranca’s desperate decision.   When sent for, Pietro obstinately refused to accept the papacy and even, as Petrarch says, tried to flee, until he was finally persuaded by a deputation of cardinals accompanied by the king of Naples and the pretender to the throne of Hungary.   Elected on 5 July 1294, at age 79, he was crowned at Santa Maria di Collemaggio in the city of Aquila in the Abruzzo on 29 August, taking the name Celestine V.

St Celestinus V 4

Shortly after assuming office, Celestine issued a papal bull granting a rare plenary indulgence to all pilgrims visiting Santa Maria di Collemaggio through its holy door on the anniversary of his papal coronation.   The Perdonanza Celestiniana festival is celebrated in L’Aquila every 28–29 August in commemoration of this event.

With no political experience, Celestine proved to be an especially weak and ineffectual pope.   He held his office in the Kingdom of Naples, out of contact with the Roman Curia and under the complete power of King Charles II.    He appointed the king’s favorites to church offices, sometimes several to the same office.   One of these was Louis of Toulouse, whom Celestine ordered given clerical tonsure and minor orders, although this was not carried out.   He renewed a decree of Pope Gregory X that had established stringent rules for papal conclaves after a similarly prolonged election.   In one decree, he appointed three cardinals to govern the church during Advent while he fasted, which was again refused.  Realizing his lack of authority and personal incompatibility with papal duties, he consulted with Cardinal Benedetto Caetani (his eventual successor) about the possibility of resignation.   This resulted in one final decree declaring the right of resignation, which he promptly exercised after five months and eight days in office, thus on 13 December 1294, Celestine V resigned.   In the formal instrument of renunciation, he recited as the causes moving him to the step: “The desire for humility, for a purer life, for a stainless conscience, the deficiencies of his own physical strength, his ignorance, the perverseness of the people, his longing for the tranquility of his former life”.   Having divested himself of every outward symbol of papal dignity, he slipped away from Naples and attempted to retire to his old life of solitude.

The next pope to resign of his own accord was Pope Benedict XVI in 2013, 719 years later.

The former Celestine, now reverted to Pietro Angelerio, was not allowed to become a hermit once again.   Various parties had opposed his resignation and the new Pope Boniface VIII had reason to worry that one of them might install him as an antipope.  To prevent this he ordered Pietro to accompany him to Rome.   Pietro escaped and hid in the woods before attempting to return to Sulmona to resume monastic life.   This proved impossible and Pietro was captured after an attempt to flee to Dalmatia was thwarted when a tempest forced his ship to return to port. Boniface imprisoned him in the castle of Fumone near Ferentino in Campagna, attended by two monks of his order, where Pietro died after 10 months at about the age of 81.   His supporters spread the allegation that Boniface had treated him harshly and ultimately executed Pietro but the historical evidence is lacking.   Pietro was buried at Ferentino but his body was subsequently removed to the Basilica Santa Maria di Collemaggio in Aquila.

Philip IV of France, who had supported Celestine and bitterly opposed Boniface, nominated Celestine for sainthood following the election of Pope Clement V.   The latter signed a decree of dispensation on 13 May 1306 to investigate the nomination.   He was canonised on 5 May 1313 after a consistory.   Most modern interest in Celestine V has focused on his resignation.   He was the first pope to formalise the resignation process and is often said to have been the first to resign.   In fact he was preceded in this by Pope Pontian (235), John XVIII (1009), Benedict IX (1045) and Gregory VI (1046).   As noted above, Celestine’s own decision was brought about by mild pressure from the Church establishment.   His reinstitution of Gregory X’s conclave system established by the papal bull Ubi periculum has been respected ever since.

A 1966 visit by Pope Paul VI to Celestine’s place of death in Ferentino along with his speech in homage of Celestine prompted speculation that the Pontiff was considering retirement.


Celestine’s remains survived the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake with one Italian spokesman saying it was “another great miracle by the pope”.   They were then recovered from the basilica shortly after the earthquake.   While inspecting the earthquake damage during a 28 April 2009 visit to the Aquila, Pope Benedict XVI visited Celestine’s remains in the badly damaged Santa Maria di Collemaggio and left the woolen pallium he wore during his papal inauguration in April 2005 on his glass casket as a gift.

To mark the 800th anniversary of Celestine’s birth, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed the Celestine year from 28 August 2009 through 29 August 2010.   Benedict XVI visited the Sulmona Cathedral, near Aquila, on 4 July 2010 as part of his observance of the Celestine year and prayed before the altar consecrated by Celestine containing his relics, on 10 October 1294.

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Saints – 19 May

St Alcuin of York
Bl Augustine Novello
St Calocerus of Rome
St Pope Celestine V
St Crispin of Viterbo
St Cyriaca of Nicomedia and Companions
St Cyril of Trèves
St Dunstan of Canterbury
St Evonio of Auvergne
St Hadulph of Saint-Vaast
Bl Humiliana de’ Cerchi
St Ivo Hélory of Kermartin
Bl Jean-Baptiste-Xavier Loir
Bl Józef Czempiel
Bl Juan of Cetina
Bl Louis Rafiringa
Bl Lucinio Fontanil Medina
St Parthenius of Rome
Bl Peter de Duenas
Bl Peter Wright
St Philoterus of Nicomedia
St Pudens of Rome
St Pudentiana of Rome
St Theophilus of Corte
Bl Verena Bütler