24 February 2021

Talks on the Sacramentals, by Msgr Arthur Tonne - Devotions

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights, with whom there is no change or shadow of alteration." St. James, 1:17.

Back in May of 1891 a crew of men began drilling for gas on the property of an orphan home at Lackawanna, New York, the site of the famous institutions of mercy under the protection of Our Lady of Victory.

"Father Baker must be mad."

"This is folly, sheer folly."

Many remarks like these were made, because no one expected to find gas in that region, no one except good Father Baker, the saintly founder of these institutions. His fuel bill had mounted beyond his financial abilities. He decided to drill for gas.

Weeks ran into months. They were down 600 feet, and still no gas. Father Baker and his charges made one novena after another. They were attending Benediction on the eighth day of the novena before the Assumption of our Blessed Mother. A boy suddenly burst into the chapel, tiptoed up to the kneeling priest, and whispered something into his ear.

There was a thrill in father's announcement that gas had been discovered at a depth of 1,145 feet. The flow was so plentiful that it supplied not only the buildings and needs of Father Baker, but also those of many neighbors.

Instances like this, of answer to prayer in the form of novenas and other religious practices could be multiplied by the thousands. Such a novena to our Blessed Mother is one of many popular devotions in the Church. Each of these devotions taps the well of God's blessings in a material and a spiritual way. Such devotions are sacramentals; they are religious practices approved by Mother Church and calculated to nourish piety. They are so varied and numerous that it would be impossible to mention all of them in one talk. We will, therefore, give some general divisions, with emphasis upon those which are more popular and appealing. We might divide all devotions into three classes according as they refer to our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, or to the Saints.

1. Among the principal devotions to our Savior we mention:

a. Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament:

i. Frequent Communion aims to give the Eucharistic Christ love for love by cooperating with His burning desire to give Himself to us.

ii. Communion of Reparation attempts to make amends to Him for the indifference, ingratitude, and insults offered to the Eucharist.

iii. Visits to the Blessed Sacrament offer Him adoration, thanks, petitions and reparation.

iv. Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament brings us the blessing of our Lord Himself.

v. Perpetual Adoration is an effort to have someone continually before the Blessed Sacrament.

vi. Forty Hours tries to do the same thing throughout a diocese.

vii. The Holy Hour is a time spent with others before the exposed Blessed Sacrament.

b. Devotion to the Holy Childhood refers to the Child Jesus in His birth, circumcision, Epiphany, Presentation, and among the doctors of the temple.

c. Devotion to the Passion of Christ takes the form of:

i. Honoring the mysteries and phases of his passion and death.

ii. Recalling His passion every Friday, the day on which He died for us.

iii. Honoring His Precious Blood.

iv. Venerating the cross.

v. Making the Way of the Cross or the Stations.

d. Devotion to the Sacred Heart, especially by making the Nine First Fridays.

2. Devotion to the Blessed Virgin expresses itself in:

a. Celebrating her feasts and privileges.

b. Consecrating every Saturday to her.

c. Keeping the month of May and October.

d. Reciting her Rosary or her Little Office.

e. Saying the Angelus.

f. Wearing the scapular and the miraculous medal.

g. Belonging to some confraternity or congregation in her honor, like the Sodality.

h. Honoring her sorrows.

i. Honoring her joys. This is a Franciscan devotion which we followers of St. Francis keep by honoring the seven principal joys of Mary in the Franciscan Crown or Rosary of seven decades.

3. Devotion to the saints:

a. St. Joseph is honored as the foster-father of the Son of God, spouse of the Blessed Virgin, and universal patron of the Church.

b. The Apostles Peter and Paul as co-founders of the Church.

c. St. Francis of Assisi as the closest follower of Christ.

d. St. Anthony of Padua as the Wonder-worker.

e. Each religious order or group has its favorite devotion to its favorite saint.

f. Devotion to one's patron saint or the patron of one's church.

g. Devotion to the Guardian Angels.

h. Remembrance of the Poor Souls.

4. These devotional practices take the form of wearing emblems, attending novenas, saying special prayers, keeping certain feasts, joining associations, making pilgrimages, etc. Such practices feed and develop devotion, when they are approved and encouraged by Mother Church.

Yes, they bring the good and perfect gifts from above, from the Father of all. They open up the well of God's goodness, just as the novena of Father Baker opened up an actual gas well on his property.

Do not attempt to adopt all these practices. Choose one or the other and be faithful to it. It will nourish your piety. It will nourish your love of God, His mother and the saints. Amen.

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