April 1, 2020

Addressing Procrustes

The hero Theseus giving Procrustes a taste of his own medicine
While out getting provisions the other day, I bumped into a regular detractor of mine who accused me of being (among other things) a Francophile, as if that were some kind of offense. He seems to think my admiration of French culture is somehow antithetical to our Duosiciliano identity. He would be right, of course, if my sympathies lied with the French Revolution, the Jacobins, Philosophes, Communards or some other iniquitous symptom of the Enlightenment. Instead our Procrustean (1) friend cited my affinity for the Ancien Régime, French Saints, and a handful of Catholic thinkers, as proof of my alleged faux pas. He forgot to mention my interests in Gallic cuisine, wine, art, and women, but I digress.

Considering my similar appreciation for German culture, he could have just as easily called me a Teutonophile; or for that matter a Hispanophile, Anglophile, Hellenophile, ad infinitum. “Stick to southern Italy,” he demanded, “I’m not interested in that French s#%t.” Since our content has been broad ranging from the beginning, I’m not sure what specifically brought on this latest infantilized outburst, especially at a time when people should be socially distancing themselves. Needless to say our critic didn’t appreciate my remedy for his problem: Stop visiting our site. If you’re not interested in what we have to say or you don’t like what we’re doing you can just stop coming; no one is forcing you to read our material or participate in our events. Good luck trying to find something you agree with completely.

Funny enough, even I don’t agree with everything that appears on our site. Barring a few egregious submissions, erstwhile guest-bloggers were given a platform to freely express their views without being harassed, at least by us. Despite the differences, we never asked any past contributor to stop writing; they each disengaged on their own accord. Even though we have been open to different opinions in the past, quite frankly, we are no longer willing to squander any more time or resources (proof reading, fact checking, editing, etc.) on contributors who aren’t on board with our mission. They already have innumerable outlets to share their viewpoints; they don’t need ours as well. Besides, they never afford us the same courtesy, so we finally put that ineffectual approach to rest.

Constructive criticism and feedback are always welcome, and to be sure we get plenty of it; however, we don’t take orders from our readers, especially disrespectful ones. We have no problem with good-natured ribbing or passionately discussing and debating talking points in cafés and beer halls, but incivility and nutters will not be tolerated. More discriminating now, the more easily offended are just going to have to cope with our editorial choices. If we lose a few readers because of it, so be it. We are not running a popularity contest.

I am very proud of my Duosiciliano heritage, and heaven knows there is plenty to be proud of; however, this doesn’t mean I don’t value aspects of other cultures as well. Sorry to disappoint, but I’m more interested in traditional guiding principles (faith, family, culture) than petty tribal loyalties (collectivism). We have no qualms with cultural exchange as long as it complements and strengthens our own ancient and revered way of life. For example, I feel a certain esprit de corps with Vilfredo Pareto, Joseph de Maistre, and, if I may be so bold, Giuseppe Sarto, aka Pope St. Pius X, among others. Am I suppose to dismiss them simply because they’re not Southern Italian? What utter rubbish. By the same token, just because Antonio Gramsci, Tommaso Campanella, and Giordano Bruno are southern Italians doesn’t mean I subscribe to their utopian worldview or pseudo-scientific falsehoods.

Sadly, too many are hung up on old hatreds and rivalries, some to an incredibly appalling degree. I recall once being chided for venerating Sant’Antonio da Padova because, of all things, he was “Northern Italian!” His widespread popularity in Southern Italy and the universality of the saints aside, the fact that St. Anthony was actually Portuguese fell on deaf ears. Far from an isolated incident, plenty of others have given me grief for similar trifles too numerous to mention here. I said it before and I’ll say it again, I harbor no ill will or animosity to our Northern neighbors, or to any others for that matter.

Clearly, I’m not saying we should forget the past and ignore historic transgressions; for example, villainous figures like Enrico Cialdini, Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, and Cesare Lombroso, are irredeemable, but we certainly need to resolve our differences and quickly, especially when you consider that we all have bigger fish to fry today. The Occidental world is in complete moral decline. Nihilism reigns, the liberal West’s materialist uniformity (globalism) and virulent secularism are in the ascendant. Assailed from within and without, the remnants of Christendom can ill afford to remain in the current state of disarray.

With all due respect to our critical friends, we will continue to celebrate the West’s shared patrimony, especially its High Culture, albeit with an emphasis on the Two Sicilies. In the meantime, stop trying to fit us into your narrow box. If I want to write about my childhood heroes Jacques-Yves Cousteau, St. Jeanne d’Arc, and the “Red Baron,” Manfred von Richthofen, I will. The same goes for anything else that catches my fancy. The heroic ideals evinced in the Song of Roland, the Poem of the Cid, and the Matter of Britain, not to mention the epics of Homer and Virgil, capture the imagination and speak to the soul as much as Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered, Basile’s Pentamerone, Vico’s New Science, and Aquinas’ Summa Thelogiae. This also holds true for Beethoven’s symphonies, Botticelli’s paintings, Chaucer’s poetry, Vanvitelli’s architecture, and all the other greats of the Western Canon. If you can’t discern this, that’s on you.

~ Giovanni di Napoli, March 31, Feast of St. Balbina of Rome

(1) Procrustes was an unhinged Attic highwayman who coerced unsuspecting travelers to lie on an iron bed and made them fit it by painfully stretching or amputating their limbs. Fittingly, he was killed in like manner by the Greek hero Theseus.

March 30, 2020

Feast of Saint Irene the Healer

Saint Sebastian Cured by Saint Irene by Luca Giordano (c.1665)
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
March 30th is the Feast Day of Saint Irene of Rome. She was the widow of Saint Castulus, who was martyred during the persecutions of Emperor Diocletian. She famously nursed Saint Sebastian back to health after he was left for dead, his body riddled with arrows. To commemorate the occasion I’m posting a Prayer to Saint Irene. The accompanying photo of Saint Sebastian Cured by Saint Irene by Luca Giordano was taken at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Prayer to Saint Irene
O Glorious Saint Irene you served God in humility and confidence on earth, now you enjoy His beatific vision in Heaven. Help me to strengthen my faith and protect me in conflict. Obtain for me the grace to live a holy life, so that one day I may join you in the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen

March 29, 2020

Passion Sunday

Santa Veronica, Vatican
The fifth Sunday of Lent is Passion Sunday and marks the beginning of Passiontide, the last two weeks of Lent. The first of the two weeks is known as Passion Week, and the second as Holy Week. During this period all sacred images (statues, icons, etc.), except for the Stations of the Cross, are veiled with violet cloth, signifying Christ’s hiding from the Jews (John 8:59) until he entered Jerusalem (commemorated on Palm Sunday). The Júdica Me psalm and Glória Patri doxology are omitted from the Masses for the same reason. The images will remain covered until the Glória is sung on Holy Saturday, which signals the ending of Lent and the beginning of Eastertide. During this solemn stretch, meditation on the Passion of Christ (the suffering and death of our Lord) is to be our principal point of focus.

In commemoration, I’m posting the anthem and prayer for Passiontide from Blessed Be God: A Complete Catholic Prayer Book by Very Rev. Charles J. Callan, OP., S.T.M. and Very Rev. John A. McHugh, OP., S.T.M (Preserving Christian Publications, 2010). The accompanying photo of Santa Veronica by Francesco Mochi was taken during my 2007 pilgrimage to St. Peter’s Basilica. On this day in Rome, the Sudarium, or Veil of Veronica, used to wipe the Volto Santo (Holy Face) of Jesus while He marched the Via Dolorossa (Sorrowful Path) to Golgotha is briefly revealed for veneration.

A Prayer for Passiontide

Ant. It behooves us to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, in Whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection, by Whom we are saved and delivered.
V. Spare, O Lord, spare Thy people.
R. Whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Precious Blood.

Let us pray
O God, Whom to love above all is righteousness, multiply in us the gifts of Thy ineffable grace; and since Thou hast given us, in the death of Thy Son, to hope for those things which we believe grant us in the Resurrection of the same to attain the end to which we aspire. Who liveth and reigneth forever and ever. Amen.

March 28, 2020

Feast of San Giovanni da Capestrano

Viva San Giovanni!
March 28th is the traditional Feast Day of San Giovanni da Capestrano, patron Saint of military chaplains and jurists. He is also the protector of Capestrano, a commune in the Province of L'Aquila (Abruzzo), where he was born in 1386. 
San Giovanni is revered as the "soldier saint" for his role in the valiant defense of Belgrade against the Ottoman Turks in 1456. With his fiery sermons, he helped raise a peasant army and assisted John Hunyadi, the heroic White Knight of Wallachia, in breaking the siege and routing the invaders. 
To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a Prayer in honor of St. John of Capistrano.
Prayer to St. John of Capistrano
Lord, you raised up Saint John of Capistrano to give your people comfort in their trials. May your Church enjoy unending peace and be secure in your protection. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Please Help Support the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George's Italian Hospital Relief Fund

Dear Confratelli and Consorelle, Friends and Supporters,

First and foremost, I pray that all of you, and your loved ones, are safe and well.

During these difficult times for the United States, Italy and the world, it is important that we remember our calling as Knights and Dames of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George is to serve those in need to the best of our abilities. Every nation, and surely every family, is dealing with this crisis every day, and Italy, the home of our Most Sacred Order for centuries, has suffered immensely.

To that end, our Grand Master, HRH Prince Carlo of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, has called on the Knights and Dames of the Constantinian Order around the world, and our friends and families, to help gather support for Italy’s hospitals and those working on the front lines in this global health emergency.

Many great efforts, and worthy fundraisers, have already been launched to support Italy’s most affected hospitals, but we are concerned about institutions and areas where the spread of this epidemic and a lack of intensive care equipment might have even more dramatic consequences, particularly in the South of Italy and Sicily, the spiritual homeland of our Constantinian Order.

Therefore, the Constantinian Order Charity Onlus, our Italian charitable arm, has launched fundraising initiative in which donations will be distributed equally among those under-supported hospitals so in need of additional equipment and intensive care capacity.

The Order's Headquarters in Rome, Italy has contributed a “Leadership Gift” of 50.000 euros to launch this initiative, and has called on Delegations like ours, around the world, to initiate their own efforts to help grow this important source of critical aid.

I am personally asking that those of you who can consider making a donation of ANY amount to this cause, and of equal importance, help us to spread the word through emails, social media postings, and any means by which you might engage a wider circle in our work.

Please consider making even a donation of even a few dollars, not only to help us raise as much as possible, but to send a message of solidarity from our American Delegation to our Confratelli and Consorelle leading this valuable initiative in Italy. As much as we seek to raise the greatest amount possible, is as much as we would love to see all off the Knights and Dames of the US Delegation participating with us.

The US Delegation has created the GoFundMe Charitable Campaign below. All gifts to the United States Delegation are fully tax-deductible, and every donation represents a significant contribution to our global effort to create hope in a time of hopelessness.

I sincerely thank you all for taking the time to read this, for helping our cause, for spreading this message, and for your continued support and confraternity.

I look forward to seeing you at the lighter end of this dark tunnel.

In This Sign, surely, We Will Conquer!


John M. Viola,
United States Delegate


The American Delegation Of The Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization located in New York, New York.

March 27, 2020

Meridiunalata XV: A Bilingual Offering of Duosiciliano Poetry

Inspired by Cav. Charles Sant'Elia's Meridiunalata/Southernade,* an evocative bilingual (Neapolitan / English) collection of poetry written between 1989 and 2010, we offer the reader an accessible introduction to vernacular (Neapolitan, Sicilian, et al.) verse with the aim of awakening enthusiasm for contemporary and historical poesia Duosiciliano.

In this installment, we're featuring the poetry of Giuseppantonio Cristofaro, native of Ripabottoni, Campobasso province, Molise.

Iè u tèmp' d' kièndà u rèndini(e)
Di Giuseppantonio Cristofaro

I ch'rash' r'sh'lé:(je)n'
'mmè:z' di frònn' l'ch'cu(e)jènt'
è 'll'uokki(e) m' z' kiud'n'.
A l'p'nèll' a méss' u p'nnakki(e)…
Pok' d'kkuà da fratt',
'mmèz' da kakkiètór'
d' nu p'd'léll' d' sèmmuk(e)
i kèrdill' z'ann' fatt' u nid',
tutt'i vò:t' k' pass'
i véd' eccu(e)zzè:t'.
M' tèmend'n' kindè v'léss'n' dich':
- Lass'ch' 'n pach'…
'Nnu vid' k' fèchém' a mamm'?
Nu str'ppa:r' Sp'rtéll'
K'mènz' è kèntà:
- Cucù.
- Cucù.
- Cucù!
Rispnn' u cucùl' du shtr'ppa:r' Nètièll',
du shtr'ppa:r' d' Jak'vèntuóni(e),
du shtr'ppà:r du Mèglian'…

Sott' a massèri(je) nn'ré(je) a mèjés'.

- M'k'lì, kant' u cucù.
- Tuòll' u p'zzuk' è jèm' a métt' u rèndin'(je)
- Oh, Mèdònnè mi(je)!
- N'ach'n a vòt', N'ach'n a vòt'…
Mò vè k' f'nim'.
- Cucù.
- Cucù.
- Cucù!
Z' sonn' sv'glièt' tutt' k' na vot', a d'spiètt'.
E M'k'li:n':
- Visht' mò tù!
- Nu chièll' sfat'ièt' m'à:dè mènnà a kièntà u rèndin'(je).

It is time to plant the corn
By Giuseppantonio Cristofaro

The cherries redden
between shiny leaves
and my eyes close.
The sainfoin has grown its plume.
A little beyond the hedge,
in the middle of the fork
of a little elderberry tree
the goldfinches have made a nest.
Each time I pass
I see them crouching.
They look at me as if they want to say:
Leave us in peace… Don’t you see that we’re being mothers?
In the "Sportella" brush begins the singing:
- Cuckoo.
- Cuckoo.
- Cuckoo!
The cuckoo from the Nètièll'’s brush responds,
the one from Giacovantonio’s brush,
the one from the Magliana brush…

Down by the farmhouse the fallow land is blackening.

- Michelino, the cuckoo is singing.
- Grab the dibble and let’s go plant the corn.
- Oh, Madonna mia!
- a grain at a time, a grain at a time…
- Now it is coming that we’ve finished…
- Cuckoo.
- Cuckoo.
- Cuckoo!
They’ve all woken up at once, for spite.
And Michelino:
Now you see!
A lazy bird must send me off to plant the corn.

Translated by Cav. Charles Sant’Elia

* Self-published in 2010, Meridiunalata/Southernade is a treasury of poems gleaned from Cav. Sant'Elia's previous collections (Nchiuso dint''o presente, 'A cuntrora, and 'O pino e l'éllera), which were circulated among friends in New York City and Naples. Special thanks to Cav. Sant'Elia for allowing us to reprint his poetry and translations.

March 26, 2020

Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George Fundraiser COVID-19 Emergency

HRH Prince Charles of Bourbon
Two Sicilies, Duke of Castro
Dear Knights and Dames,

we have to personally commit to support Italy during this hard moment for all of us and to especially help hospitals and those working on the front lines in the daily fight against this health emergency.

Several fundraisers have already been launched to support Italy’s most affected hospitals, but I am concerned about establishments where the spread of this epidemic and a lack of intensive care equipment might have even more dramatic consequences.

Our Order, which has always been engaged to help hospitals, through the Constantinian Order Charity Onlus has launched a fundraising initiative whose donations will be distributed equally among those healthcare structures with fewer resources which need to increase their equipment and intensive care capacity.

Each euro that you will donate will represent a glimmer of hope and a small drop of life that will help us overcome this adversity!

We do not want to set goals, let’s try to raise as much as we can. The first 50.000 euros have already been allocated.

Solidarity is an immense force. Let's join all together to help and support each other!

I sincerely thank you for your generosity and for the dissemination and sharing of this collection.

Charles of Bourbon Two Sicilies

 Donate Now 

March 25, 2020

Feast of the Annunciation

March 25th is the Feast of the Annunciation and the Mystery of the Incarnation, when the archangel Gabriel visited the Virgin Mary and announced she would conceive a Child by the Holy Spirit. The Feast is also the traditional day to make your Total Consecration to Jesus through the Blessed Virgin Mary. In celebration I'm posting The Angelus, a devotional prayer honoring the Blessed Mother's role in the Incarnation, which should be repeated three times daily (morning, midday and evening). The accompanying photo of the Annunciation was taken at St. Francis of Paola Church (219 Conselyea St.) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
The Angelus

Prayer at dawn:

The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary:
And she conceived by the Holy Spirit

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Prayer at noon:

Behold the handmaid of the Lord:
Be it done unto me according to Thy Word.
Hail Mary…

Prayer at twilight:

And the Word was made flesh:
And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary…

Conclusion after each prayer time:

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen

Infant Jesus of Prague Chaplet

On the 25th of every month, devotees of the Divine Infancy should pray the Chaplet of the Infant Jesus of Prague, which includes three Our Fathers and twelve Hail Marys in celebration of the Holy Family and the first twelve years of Our Lord’s childhood. The Chaplet was composed by Venerable Sister Marguerite Parigot of the Blessed Sacrament (March 6, 1590—May 24, 1660), a Discalced Carmelite nun with a strong devotion to the Christ Child. Pleased with the devotion, Our Lord revealed Himself to Sister Marguerite and promised special graces to all who piously recite the Chaplet. In 1855 Pope Pius IX granted an Indulgence of 300 days, applicable to the Poor Souls in Purgatory, for its devout recitation.* In celebration, I’m posting the Infant Jesus of Prague Chaplet. The accompanying photo is a detail of my late paternal Grandmother's statue the Infant Jesus of Prague. It came into my possession after my father's passing and is now a treasured part of my private oratory.

Infant Jesus of Prague Chaplet

Divine Infant Jesus, I adore Thy Cross and I accept all the crosses Thou wilt be pleased to send me. Adorable Trinity, I offer Thee for the glory of Thy Holy Name of God, all the adorations of the Sacred Heart of the Holy Infant Jesus.

(3x) “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us” and pray The Lord’s Prayer (Our Father)

(12x) “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us” and pray The Angelical Salutation (Hail Mary)

Holy Infant Jesus, bless and protect us. Amen.

Further reading:
* www.sistersofcarmel.com

Feast of the Madonna di Picciano

Evviva Maria!
March 25th is the Feast Day of the Madonna di Picciano and the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, protectress of the Santuario della Madonna overlooking the nearby hamlet of Picciano in Matera. Once guarded by the Knights Templar and later the Knights of Malta, the ancient sanctuary continues to draw pilgrims attracted to the miraculous image of the Blessed Mother, despite its suppression during the Napoleonic age. In celebration, I'm posting a Prayer for the Feast of the Annunciation. The accompanying photo of the sanctuary’s wooden processional statue comes courtesy of Andrew Giordano.

Prayer for the Feast of the Annunciation

O God, Who wast pleased that the eternal Word, according to the declaration of the angel, should take flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Give to our humble petitions; and grant that we, who believe her to be truly the Mother of God, may be helped by her prayers. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

March 24, 2020

Feast of San Gabriele Arcangelo

The Annunciation by Luca Giordano
March 24th is the Feast Day of San Gabriele Arcangelo (St. Gabriel the Archangel), the exalted messenger of God. He is the patron saint of postmen, diplomats, messengers and telecommunication workers. In celebration I’m posting a Prayer to Archangel Gabriel. The accompanying photo of The Annunciation by Luca Giordano was taken at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
A Prayer to the Archangel Gabriel
O Blessed Archangel Gabriel, we beseech thee, do thou intercede for us at the throne of divine Mercy in our present necessities, that as thou didst announce to Mary the mystery of the Incarnation, so through thy prayers and patronage in heaven we may obtain the benefits of the same, and sing the praise of God forever in the land of the living. Amen.

Feast of Sant’Aldemaro da Capua

The Abbey of Monte Cassino
March 24th is the Feast Day of Sant’Aldemaro il Saggio (St. Aldemar the Wise), Abbot and miracle worker. Born in Capua, as a young boy he was sent to the Abbey of Monte Cassino, where he became a Benedictine monk. Renowned for his wisdom and holiness, he was appointed rector of the Monastery of San Lorenzo di Capua, which was founded by the Lombard Princess Aloara (d.992). Performing many miracles, Sant’Aldemaro was eventually recalled to Monte Cassino by his superiors, which caused a bitter dispute between the Abbot Aligerno (949-86) and the Princess. Wanting no part in the quarrel, Sant’Aldemaro moved on to Boviano in Molise, where he miraculously escaped a crossbow attack by a man outraged by his brother’s generous donation of land to the Saint. Relocating again, Sant’Aldemaro settled in Bocchignano, Abruzzo, where he founded the Monastery of Santa Eufemia. Traveling around the Diocese of Chieti preaching and performing miracles, he built several more religious houses before dying in 1080.

To commemorate the occasion, I’m posting a prayer to St. Aldemar the Wise. The accompanying photo was taken during my 2007 pilgrimage to the Abbey of Monte Cassino in Southern Italy.

Prayer to St. Aldemar the Wise

Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that the examples of St. Aldemar the Wise may effectually move us to reform our lives; that while we celebrate his festival, we may also imitate his actions. Look upon our weakness, almighty God, and since the burden of our own deeds weighs heavily upon us, may the glorious intercession of St. Aldemar protect us. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

March 23, 2020

Photo of the Week: Votive Spire of the Immaculate Virgin, Napoli

Obelisco o Guglia dell’Immacolata, Piazza Gesu Nuovo, Napoli.
One of three "plague columns" erected after the plague of 1656
Photo by Andrew Giordano

March 22, 2020

Lætare Sunday

A bouquet of golden roses
Lætare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum lætitia, qui in tristitia fuistis: ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestræ. (Psalm) Lætatus sum in his, quae dicta sunt mihi: in domum Domini ibimus. Gloria Patri.(1)
The fourth and middle Sunday of Lent is called Lætare Sunday, after the incipit of the Mass Introit (entrance antiphon), Lætare Jerusalem, which in Latin means “Rejoice, O Jerusalem.” A joyful day, it is meant to console the faithful and encourage us to persevere to the end of our austere Lenten journey. Instead of the penitential violet, the sacred ministers wear rose-colored vestments, music is played at Mass, and flowers adorn the altar for the day. Also called Rose Sunday, after the customary blessing of the Golden Roses by the Pope, the resplendent bouquets were traditionally bestowed upon Catholic sovereigns or sacred institutions as a sign of the Holy Father's favor. It is said the roses allude to Our Lord's shining majesty.
In celebration, I’m posting the Collect for the Mass. The photo of the golden roses was taken at the Our Lady of the Snow Society clubhouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. To be clear, this bouquet was not a gift from the Pope, but since it is held by the statue of the Blessed Mother, I thought it would make a nice example of the symbolism of Christ's splendor.

Collect Prayer

O God, who through your Word reconcile the human race to yourself in a wonderful way, grant, we pray, that with prompt devotion and eager faith the Christian people may hasten toward the solemn celebrations to come. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

(1) Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation. (Psalm) I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord. Glory be to the Father.

March 21, 2020

Feast of San Benedetto da Nursia

Viva San Benedetto!
Photo courtesy of Andrew Giordano
March 21st is the Feast Day of San Benedetto da Nursia (St. Benedict of Nursia), Patriarch of Western monasticism. Patron saint of Europe and Pertosa in Salerno, he is also the protector of monks, architects, engineers, speleologists and spelunkers. To commemorate the occasion, I'm posting a Prayer to St. Benedict of Nursia. The accompanying photo was taken at the Monastery of Santa Maria di Picciano in Matera, Basilicata. 
A Prayer to Saint Benedict
Dear Saint Benedict, I thank God for showering you with His grace to love Him above all else and to establish a monastic rule that has helped so many of His children live full and holy lives. Through the cross of Jesus Christ, I ask you to please intercede that God might protect me, my loved ones, my home, property, possessions, and workplace today and always by your holy blessing, that we may never be separated from Jesus, Mary, and the company of all the blessed. Through your intercession may we be delivered from temptation, spiritual oppression, physical ills, and disease. Protect us from drug and alcohol abuse, impurity and immorality, objectionable companions, and negative attitudes. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Feast of Bl. Maria Candida of the Eucharist

Bl. Maria Candida, pray for us!
“When I was still a child, and before I was old enough to receive Jesus in Communion, I used to rush to the front door to greet my mother when she returned from Mass. There I stood on tiptoe to reach up to her and cried, 'I want God too!' My mother would bend down and softly breathe on my lips; I immediately left her, and placing my hands across my chest, full of joy and faith, jumping for joy I would keep repeating: 'I have received God too! I have received God too!”
March 21st is the Feast Day of Bl. Maria Candida of the Eucharist, Virgin and Mystic. Born on January 16, 1884 in Catanzaro, Calabria, Maria Barba felt the calling to a religious life at an early age, but was discouraged by her family. Receiving her First Holy Communion on April 3, 1894 in Palermo, Sicily (her parents' hometown), she had a strong devotion to the Eucharist. Finally entering the Order of the Discalced Carmelites in 1919, she assumed the name Maria Candida of the Eucharist and made her solemn profession on April 23, 1924. Eventually serving as Prioress and Mistress of Novices at her convent in Ragusa, Sicily, Mother Candida wrote extensively about the Mystery of the Eucharist. She died of cancer on June 12, 1949. 

Relic at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
Church in Newark, New Jersey
During his homily at the Beatification of Four Servants of God in St. Peter’s Square on March 21, 2004, the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Pope St. John Paul II said of her
Maria Barba became a 'new creature' who offered her entire life to God in Carmel, where she received the name Maria Candida of the Eucharist. She was an authentic mystic of the Eucharist; she made it the unifying centre of her entire life, following the Carmelite tradition and particularly the examples of St. Teresa of Jesus and of St. John of the Cross. 
She fell so deeply in love with the Eucharistic Jesus that she felt a constant, burning desire to be a tireless apostle of the Eucharist. I am sure that Bl. Maria Candida is continuing to help the Church from Heaven, to assure the growth of her sense of wonder at and love for this supreme Mystery of our faith.
In commemoration, I’m posting the Carmelite Prayer for Blessed Maria Candida. The photo of the relic of Bl. Maria Candida at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Newark, New Jersey comes courtesy of Eric Lavin.

Carmelite Prayer

All-powerful and ever-living God, Who, by the breath of the Spirit, inspired Blessed Maria Candida, virgin, to contemplate the riches of the Eucharist, by her intercession, grant we beseech you, that gratefully offering the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, in union with the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may always glorify You in this Sacrament, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen 

• http://www.meditationsfromcarmel.com/content/blessed-maria-candida-euchrist
• http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/homilies/2004/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_20040321_beatifications.html 

• http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/saints/ns_lit_doc_20040321_candida_en.html

Acts of Spiritual Communion

Monstrance with consecrated Host
When you do not receive communion and you do not attend Mass, you can make a spiritual communion, which is a most beneficial practice; by it the love of God will be greatly impressed on you. ~ St. Teresa of Ávila, The Way of Perfection
For those of us unable to attend the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass or communicate sacramentally, may I suggest making an Act of Spiritual Communion, which, as San Tommaso d'Aquino told us, was "an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament and in lovingly embracing Him as if we had actually received Him." Under normal circumstances the faithful are encouraged to practice Spiritual Communion as often as they desire; however, during these difficult times, when public Masses have been suspended and people are practicing "social distancing" due to the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic, it may be our best course of action to attain union with Our Lord. Thankfully, this can be done anywhere, anytime. To make an Act of Spiritual Communion, one must make the sign of the Cross, read the Mass Readings (if possible), and receive Jesus in your heart while reciting a Prayer of Spiritual Communion. The prayer can be your own or, if you prefer something more traditional, you can say the one composed by Sant'Alfonso Maria de' Liguori:
My Jesus, I believe that Thou art truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. I love Thee above all things and I desire to possess Thee within my soul. Since I am unable now to receive Thee sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace Thee as being already there, and unite myself wholly to Thee; never, never permit me to be separated from Thee. Jesus, my sweet love, wound, inflame this heart of mine, so that it may be always and all on fire for Thee. Amen.

March 19, 2020

Feast of San Giuseppe

Viva San Giuseppe!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
March 19th is Saint Joseph's Day. As a carpenter and spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster-father of the Infant Jesus, he is the patron saint of workers and protector of the family. He is also invoked in the fight against Communism and the grace of a happy death.
In Sicily the day is popularly celebrated with La Tavulata di San Giuseppe or Saint Joseph's Table. Dating back to Medieval times, the ritual meal is held in honor of the Saint's intercession during an especially bad famine. According to legend, a severe drought struck the island inflicting widespread suffering and starvation. Saint Joseph answered the peoples' prayers and relieved them from the dreadful plight. Continue reading

Happy Spring!

Photo by New York Scugnizzo
The March or vernal equinox marks the beginning of spring, a time of rebirth and fertility. In celebration of the new season I would like to share a poem by the great Sicilian poet and 1959 Nobel Laureate Salvatore Quasimodo from The Night Fountain: Selected Early Poems translated by Marco Sonzogni and Gerald Sawe, Arc Publications, 2008, p. 26-27. The accompanying photo of Primavera (Spring), or Flora, the goddess of fertility and springtime, from the Villa Arianna, Stabiae, first century AD, was taken at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli in 2010.
Wild Flowers

Blood clots hanging over torn green velvet:
the wounds of the fields!
Breathing in the sweet air, spring has broken
the veins of its swollen breasts.
Wind gusts with eager lips: a kiss!
Blood-red wild flowers float on threadlike
and foamless waves.


Grumi pensili di sangue sul lacero velluto verdognolo.
Oh le ferite dei prati!
La primavera respirando voluttuosamente l'aria soave, ha rotte
le vene del suo seno turgido.
Un fiotto di vento con le labbra avide; un bacio! E le
primule sanguigne galleggiano su l'onde filamentose e
senza spuma.

March 16, 2020

Novena to the Infant Jesus of Prague for the Nine Days Preceding the 25th of Each Month (16th–24th)

1. Eternal Father, I offer to Your honor and glory, for my eternal salvation and for the salvation of the whole world, the mystery of the birth of our Divine Redeemer. Glory be to the Father, etc.

2. Eternal Father, I offer to Your honor and glory, for my eternal salvation and that of the whole world, the sufferings of the most holy Virgin and St. Joseph on that long and weary journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. I offer Thee the sorrows of their hearts at not finding a place wherein to shelter themselves when the Saviour of the world was about to be born. Glory be to the Father, etc.

3. Eternal Father, I offer to Your honor and glory, for my eternal salvation and that of the whole world, the sufferings of Jesus in the manger where He was born, the cold He suffered, the swaddling clothes which bound Him, the tears He shed, and His tender infant cries. Glory be to the Father, etc.

4. Eternal Father, I offer to Your honor and glory, for my eternal salvation and that of the whole world, the pain which the Holy Child Jesus felt in His tender body when He submitted to the rite of circumcision. I offer Thee that Precious Blood which then for the first time He shed for the salvation of all mankind. Glory be to the Father, etc.

5. Eternal Father, I offer to Your honor and glory, for my eternal salvation and that of the whole world, the humility, mortification, patience, charity and all the virtues of the Child Jesus; and I thank Thee, and I love Thee, and I bless Thee without end for this ineffable mystery of the Incarnation of the Word of God. Glory be to the Father, etc.

V. The Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.

Let us Pray

O God, whose only-begotten Son was made manifest to us in the substance of our flesh, grant, we beseech Thee, that through Him, whom we acknowledge to have been outwardly like us, we may deserve to be renewed in our inward selves. Who lives and reigns with Thee forever and ever. Amen.

Source: Devotion to the Infant Jesus of Prague, TAN Books, 1990

Ponderable Quote: Francesc Tristany in a Letter to His Brother Rafael (From Byron to Bin Laden)

General Rafael Tristany
(March 16, 1814-June 17, 1899),
the hero of Monte Cataldo, Campo de Melle,
and Castello Nuovo in the Abruzzo, while

fighting in the service of King Francis II 
of the Two Sicilies against Garibaldi
We have no aspirations other than to continue to make those sacrifices, to the day we give our lives, if necessary, to defend the cause of our King. The sword that we brandished in Spain, we shall draw again to fight in favor of legitimacy wherever it becomes necessary: the revolutionaries are the same everywhere, and their plans are always iniquitous. The usurpation that has been committed to the detriment of the King of Naples cries out for deserved vengeance, and we consider it a great honor to lend a hand.*
* Francesc Tristany in a letter to his brother Rafael Tristany (pictured right), February 1861. Quoted in From Byron to Bin Laden: A History of Foreign War Volunteers by Nir Arielli, 2018, Harvard University Press, p. 115