is today. There is information on her here. To any Bridgettines out there, blessed feast day !
It is also the feast of St. John Cassian, Abbot. His writings, especially the Conferences, were favorite reading for St. Philip and the early Oratorians.
From the life of Nârwen. Catholic. Secular Oratorian. Rat Fan. And oh, yes, Tolkien Nut.
Commonly, as if more intimately to associate them with their brethren, and to make the fulness of His favours to them a ground of hope and an encouragement to the penitent sinner, those who have ended in being miracles of sanctity, and heroes in the Church, have passed a time in wilful disobedience, have thrown themselves out of the light of God's countenance, have been led captive by this or that sin, by this or that religious error, till at length they were in various ways recovered, slowly or suddenly, and regained the state of grace, or rather a much higher state, than that which they had forfeited. Such was the blessed Magdalen, who had lived a life of shame; so much so, that even to be touched by her was, according to the religious judgment of her day, a pollution. Happy in this world's goods, young and passionate, she had given her heart to the creature, before the grace of God prevailed with her. Then she cut off her long hair, and put aside her gay apparel, and became so utterly what she had not been, that, had you known her before and after, you had said it was two persons you had seen, not one; for there was no trace of the sinner in the penitent, except the affectionate heart, now set on heaven and Christ; no trace besides, no memory of that glittering and seductive apparition, in the modest form, the serene countenance, the composed gait, and the gentle voice of her who in the garden sought and found her Risen Saviour.
Consider our Lord's allusion to the Manna. Persons there are who explain our eating Christ's flesh and blood, as merely meaning our receiving a pledge of the effects of the passion of His Body and Blood; that is, in other words, of the favour of Almighty God: but how can Christ's giving us His Body and Blood mean merely His giving us a pledge of His favour? Surely these awful words are far too clear and precise to be thus carelessly treated. Christ, as I have said, surely would not use such definite terms, did He intend to convey an idea so far removed from their meaning and so easy of expression in simple language. Now it increases the force of this consideration to observe that the manna, to which He compares His gift, was not a figure of speech, but a something definite and particular, really given, really received. The manna was not simply health, or life, or God's favour, but a certain something which caused health, continued life, and betokened God's favour. The manna was a gift external to the Israelites, and external also to God's own judgment of them and resolve concerning them, a gift created by Him and partaken by His people. And Christ, in like manner, says, that He Himself is to us the true Manna, the true Bread that came down from heaven; not like that manna which could not save its partakers from death, but a life-imparting manna. What therefore the manna was in the wilderness, that surely is the spiritual manna in the Christian Church; the manna in the wilderness was a real gift, taken and eaten; so is the manna in the Church. It is not God's mercy, or favour, or imputation; it is not a state of grace, or the promise of eternal life, or the privileges of the Gospel, or the new covenant; it is not, much less, the doctrine of the Gospel, or faith in that doctrine; but it is what our Lord says it is, the gift of His own precious Body and Blood, really given, taken, and eaten as the manna might be (though in a way unknown), at a certain particular time, and a certain particular spot; namely, as I have already made it evident, at the time and spot when and where the Holy Communion is celebrated.
I allow there are true charges which can be brought against us; certainly, not only do I not deny it, but I hardly could deny it without heresy. I say distinctly, did I take upon me to deny everything which could be said against us, I should be proving too much, I should startle the Catholic theologian as well as Protestants; for what would it be but implying that the Church contains none within her pale but the just and holy? This was the heresy of the Novatians and Donatists of old time; it was the heresy of our Lollards, and others, such as Luther, who maintained that bad men are not members of the Church, that none but the predestinate are her members. But this no Catholic asserts, every Catholic denies. Every Catholic has ever denied it, back to the very time of the Apostles and their Divine Master; and He and they deny it. Christ denies it, St. Paul denies it, the Catholic Church denies it; our Lord expressly said that the Church was to be like a net, which gathered of every kind, not only of the good, but of the bad too. Such was His Church; it does not prove then that we are not His Church, because we are like His Church; rather our being like the Primitive Christian body, is a reason for concluding that we are one with it. We cannot make His Church better than He made her; we must be content with her as He made her, or not pretend to follow Him. He said, "Many are called, few are chosen;" men come into the Church, and then they fall. They are not indeed sinning at the very time when they are brought into His family, at the time they are new born; but as children grow up, and converts live on, the time too frequently comes, when they fall under the power of one kind of temptation or other, and fall from grace, either for a while or for good. Thus, not indeed by the divine wish and intention, but by the divine permission, and man's perverseness, there is a vast load of moral evil existing in the Church; an enemy has sown weeds there, and those weeds remain among the wheat till the harvest. And this evil in the Church is not found only in the laity, but among the clergy too; there have been bad priests, bad bishops, bad monks, bad nuns, and bad Popes. If this, then, is the charge made against us, that we do not all live up to our calling, but that there are Catholics, lay and clerical, who may be proved to be worldly, revengeful, licentious, slothful, cruel, nay, may be unbelievers, we grant it at once. We not only grant it but we zealously maintain it. "In a great house," says St. Paul, "there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some indeed unto honour, but some unto dishonour." There are, alas, plenty of children of the Church, who by their bad lives insult and disgrace their Mother.