Sunday, December 28, 2008

Feast of the Holy Family (Santa Familia)


+JMJ+
Today is the feast day of this blog and the feast day for all families...Happy feast day everybody!!!

Vocation of the Family Is to Support Each Other on the Road to Heaven
In the Gospel we do not find speeches on the family but an event that is worth more than any word: God willed to be born and to grow up in a human family. In this way, He has consecrated the family as the first and ordinary way of His encounter with humanity.
During His life in Nazareth, Jesus honored the Virgin Mary and righteous Joseph, being subject to their authority during the whole time of His infancy and adolescence (Luke 2:51-52). In this way, He made evident the primary value of the family in the education of a person. Jesus was introduced to the religious community by Mary and Joseph, frequenting the synagogue of Nazareth.

With them He learned how to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, as narrated in the Gospel passage that the liturgy of the day proposes for our meditation. When He was 12 years old, He stayed behind in the temple, and His parents took three days to find Him. With that gesture, He led them to understand that He had to "attend to His Father's business," that is, to the mission that God had entrusted to Him (Luke 2:41-52).

This Gospel episode reveals the most authentic and profound vocation of the family: that of supporting each one of its members on the path of discovery of God and of the plan he has ordained for them. Mary and Joseph educated Jesus above all by their example: From his parents, he learned all the beauty of the faith, of the love of God and of his law, as well as the exigencies of justice, which finds its fulfillment in love (Romans 13:10).

From them He learned first of all that one must do God's will, and that the spiritual bond is worth more than that of blood. The Holy Family is truly the "prototype" of every Christian family that, united in the sacrament of marriage and nourished by the Word and the Eucharist, is called to carry out the marvelous vocation and mission of being a living cell not only of society but of the Church, sign and instrument of unity for the whole human race.

Let us now invoke together the protection of Mary Most Holy and of St. Joseph for every family, especially for those in difficulty. May they be supported so that they will be able to resist the disintegrating impulses of a certain contemporary culture which undermines the very basis of the family institution. May they may help Christian families throughout the world to be the living image of the love of God.

Benedict XVI, Feast of the Holy Family 2006


Things to Do:

Let us imitate the Holy Family in our Christian families, and our family will be a cell and a prefiguration of the heavenly family. Say a prayer dedicating your family to the Holy Family. Also pray for all families and for our country to uphold the sanctity of the marriage bond which is under attack.

Read more about Pope Leo XIII who instituted the Feast of the Holy Family and read his encyclical On Christian Marriage. You can also check out the Vatican's page of Papal documents on the Family.

Read the explanation of Jesus' knowledge in the activities section. Read Pope Pius X's Syllabus of Errors which condemns the modernist assertion that Christ did not always possess the consciousness of His Messianic dignity.

Have the whole family participate in cooking dinner. You might try a Lebanese meal. Some suggestions: stuffed grape leaves, stuffed cabbage rolls, lentils and rice, spinach and meat pies, chicken and dumplings, hummus, Lebanese bread, tabbouleh — a Lebanese salad and kibbi, a traditional Lebanese dish of specially ground meat mixed with spices and cracked wheat. This is the same kind of food that Mary served Jesus and St. Joseph. It's healthy and delicious.

Taken from www.catholicculture.org

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Saint John, the evangelist

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St. John the Apostle
St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (Feast day - December 27th)

St. John, the son of Zebedee, and the brother of St. James the Great, was called to be an Apostle by our Lord in the first year of His public ministry. He became the "beloved disciple" and the only one of the Twelve who did not forsake the Savior in the hour of His Passion. He stood faithfully at the cross when the Savior made him the guardian of His Mother. His later life was passed chiefly in Jerusalem and at Ephesus. He founded many churches in Asia Minor. He wrote the fourth Gospel, and three Epistles, and the Book of Revelation is also attributed to him. Brought to Rome, tradition relates that he was by order of Emperor Dometian cast into a cauldron of boiling oil but came forth unhurt and was banished to the island of Pathmos for a year. He lived to an extreme old age, surviving all his fellow apostles, and died at Ephesus about the year 100.

St. John is called the Apostle of Charity, a virtue he had learned from his Divine Master, and which he constantly inculcated by word and example. The "beloved disciple" died at Ephesus, where a stately church was erected over his tomb. It was afterwards converted into a Mohammedan mosque.

John is credited with the authorship of three epistles and one Gospel, although many scholars believe that the final editing of the Gospel was done by others shortly after his death. He is also supposed by many to be the author of the book of Revelation, also called the Apocalypse, although this identification is less certain.

Taken from www.catholic.org

Friday, December 26, 2008

Saint Stephen, Protomartyr

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Stephen's name means "crown," and he was the first disciple of Jesus to receive the martyr's crown. Stephen was a deacon in the early Christian Church. The apostles had found that they needed helpers to look after the care of the widows and the poor. So they ordained seven deacons, and Stephen is the most famous of these.

God worked many miracles through St. Stephen and he spoke with such wisdom and grace that many of his hearers became followers of Jesus. The enemies of the Church of Jesus were furious to see how successful Stephen's preaching was. At last, they laid a plot for him. They could not answer his wise argument, so they got men to lie about him, saying that he had spoken sinfully against God. St. Stephen faced that great assembly of enemies without fear. In fact, the Holy Bible says that his face looked like the face of an angel.

The saint spoke about Jesus, showing that He is the Savior, God had promised to send. He scolded his enemies for not having believed in Jesus. At that, they rose up in great anger and shouted at him. But Stephen looked up to Heaven and said that he saw the heavens opening and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

His hearers plugged their ears and refused to listen to another word. They dragged St. Stephen outside the city of Jerusalem and stoned him to death. The saint prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" Then he fell to his knees and begged God not to punish his enemies for killing him.

After such an expression of love, the holy martyr went to his heavenly reward. His feast day is December 26th.

Taken from www.catholic.org
****************************************

I thought this Christmas Carol was most appropriate for today:

Good King Wenscslaus

Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even;
Brightly shone the moon that night, tho' the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight, gath'ring winter fuel.

"Hither, page, and stand by me, if thou know'st it, telling,
Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence, underneath the mountain;
Right against the forest fence, by Saint Agnes' fountain."

"Bring me flesh, and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither:
Thou and I will see him dine, when we bear them thither."
Page and monarch, forth they went, forth they went together;
Through the rude wind's wild lament and the bitter weather.

"Sire, the night is darker now, and the wind blows stronger;
Fails my heart, I know not how; I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, good my page. Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage freeze thy blood less coldly."

In his master's steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Benedict XVI's Christmas Message



"I Once More Joyfully Proclaim Christ's Birth"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 25, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's Christmas message, which he delivered from the main balcony of St. Peter's Basilica today at noon.

* * *

"The grace of God our Saviour has appeared to all" (Tit 2:11, Vulg.)

Dear brothers and sisters, in the words of the Apostle Paul, I once more joyfully proclaim Christ's Birth. Today "the grace of God our Saviour" has truly "appeared to all"!

It appeared! This is what the Church celebrates today. The grace of God, rich in goodness and love, is no longer hidden. It "appeared", it was manifested in the flesh, it showed its face. Where? In Bethlehem. When? Under Caesar Augustus, during the first census, which the Evangelist Luke also mentions. And who is the One who reveals it? A newborn Child, the Son of the Virgin Mary. In him the grace of God our Saviour has appeared. And so that Child is called Jehoshua, Jesus, which means: "God saves".

The grace of God has appeared. That is why Christmas is a feast of light. Not like the full daylight which illumines everything, but a glimmer beginning in the night and spreading out from a precise point in the universe: from the stable of Bethlehem, where the divine Child was born. Indeed, he is the light itself, which begins to radiate, as portrayed in so many paintings of the Nativity. He is the light whose appearance breaks through the gloom, dispels the darkness and enables us to understand the meaning and the value of our own lives and of all history. Every Christmas crib is a simple yet eloquent invitation to open our hearts and minds to the mystery of life. It is an encounter with the immortal Life which became mortal in the mystic scene of the Nativity: a scene which we can admire here too, in this Square, as in countless churches and chapels throughout the world, and in every house where the name of Jesus is adored.

The grace of God has appeared to all. Jesus – the face of the "God who saves", did not show himself only for a certain few, but for everyone. Although it is true that in the simple and lowly dwelling of Bethlehem few persons encountered him, still he came for all: Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, those near and those far away, believers and non-believers… for everyone. Supernatural grace, by God's will, is meant for every creature. Yet each human person needs to accept that grace, to utter his or her own "yes", like Mary, so that his or her heart can be illumined by a ray of that divine light. It was Mary and Joseph, who that night welcomed the incarnate Word, awaiting it with love, along with the shepherds who kept watch over their flocks (cf. Lk 2:1-20). A small community, in other words, which made haste to adore the Child Jesus; a tiny community which represents the Church and all people of good will. Today too those who await him, who seek him in their lives, encounter the God who out of love became our brother – all those who turn their hearts to him, who yearn to see his face and to contribute to the coming of his Kingdom. Jesus himself would say this in his preaching: these are the poor in spirit; those who mourn, the meek, those who thirst for justice; the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers, and those persecuted for righteousness' sake (cf. Mt 5:3-10). They are the ones who see in Jesus the face of God and then set out again, like the shepherds of Bethlehem, renewed in heart by the joy of his love.

Brothers and sisters, all you who are listening to my words: this proclamation of hope – the heart of the Christmas message – is meant for all men and women. Jesus was born for everyone, and just as Mary, in Bethlehem, offered him to the shepherds, so on this day the Church presents him to all humanity, so that each person and every human situation may come to know the power of God's saving grace, which alone can transform evil into good, which alone can change human hearts, making them oases of peace.

May the many people who continue to dwell in darkness and the shadow of death (cf. Lk 1:79) come to know the power of God's saving grace! May the divine Light of Bethlehem radiate throughout the Holy Land, where the horizon seems once again bleak for Israelis and Palestinians. May it spread throughout Lebanon, Iraq and the whole Middle East. May it bring forth rich fruit from the efforts of all those who, rather than resigning themselves to the twisted logic of conflict and violence, prefer instead the path of dialogue and negotiation as the means of resolving tensions within each country and finding just and lasting solutions to the conflicts troubling the region. This light, which brings transformation and renewal, is besought by the people of Zimbabwe, in Africa, trapped for all too long in a political and social crisis which, sadly, keeps worsening, as well as the men and women of the Democratic Republic of Congo, especially in the war-torn region of Kivu, Darfur, in Sudan, and Somalia, whose interminable sufferings are the tragic consequence of the lack of stability and peace. This light is awaited especially by the children living in those countries, and the children of all countries experiencing troubles, so that their future can once more be filled with hope.

Wherever the dignity and rights of the human person are trampled upon; wherever the selfishness of individuals and groups prevails over the common good; wherever fratricidal hatred and the exploitation of man by man risk being taken for granted; wherever internecine conflicts divide ethnic and social groups and disrupt peaceful coexistence; wherever terrorism continues to strike; wherever the basics needed for survival are lacking; wherever an increasingly uncertain future is regarded with apprehension, even in affluent nations: in each of these places may the Light of Christmas shine forth and encourage all people to do their part in a spirit of authentic solidarity. If people look only to their own interests, our world will certainly fall apart.

Dear brothers and sisters, today, "the grace of God our Saviour has appeared" (cf. Tit 2:11) in this world of ours, with all its potential and its frailty, its advances and crises, its hopes and travails. Today, there shines forth the light of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Most High and the son of the Virgin Mary: "God from God, light from light, true God from true God. For us men, and for our salvation, he came down from heaven". Let us adore him, this very day, in every corner of the world, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a lowly manger. Let us adore him in silence, while he, still a mere infant, seems to comfort us by saying: Do not be afraid, "I am God, and there is no other" (Is 45:22). Come to me, men and women, peoples and nations, come to me. Do not be afraid: I have come to bring you the love of the Father, and to show you the way of peace.

Let us go, then, brothers and sisters! Let us make haste, like the shepherds on that Bethlehem night. God has come to meet us; he has shown us his face, full of grace and mercy! May his coming to us not be in vain! Let us seek Jesus, let us be drawn to his light which dispels sadness and fear from every human heart. Let us draw near to him with confidence, and bow down in humility to adore him. Merry Christmas to all!

© Copyright 2008 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas novena - days 8 and 9

+JMJ+

I just realized that I posted these a day late, so I am posting two today!



Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas novena - day 2 and O Antiphons

+JMJ+

Here is today's novena:


Today also starts the "O Antiphons." For more information, click here

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas novena - day 1

+JMJ+
I plan on posting one video each day for this novena.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Saint Lucy

+JMJ+

St. Lucy Day

By: Julie M. Young

How to Celebrate St. Lucy Day

Saint Lucy Day (also known as Sankta Lucia or Santa Lucia Day) is a Lutheran, Catholic and Orthodox Christian holy day that’s celebrated throughout the world on December 13, particularly in Sweden, Scandinavia and Italy. St. Lucy Day celebrates, with Advent, the start of the Christmas season as well as the winter solstice (according to the Julian calendar).

Who was St. Lucy?

St. Lucy was a 4th century girl in Syracuse, Italy who was martyred for her Christian faith by the Romans under Diocletian, possibly because she refused marriage to devote her life to God. Not much else is known about her, but by the 6th century she was well-known throughout the Christian world, and many legends had taken root.

The name Lucy means “light,” which comes from the root for lucid and understanding. Thus, her holy day celebration was celebrated on the darkest day of the year. One legend has it that Lucy’s eyes were put out because of the Romans or a spurned suitor, but then her sight was restored by God. She’s often depicted holding a plate with her eyes on it, and is also a patron saint of the blind.

How to Celebrate in the Style of Sweden and Scandinavia

In Scandinavia, St. Lucy Day celebrates the “Festival of Lights.” Scandinavia has some of the darkest winters in the world, so a celebration of light holds much meaning.

The celebration begins on the morning of St. Lucy Day, when a girl child---the youngest or the oldest---portrays the Lucia Queen. She wears a white dress with a red sash and a wreath with white candles on her head (for safety reasons, people now use battery operated-candles). The Lucia Queen wakes the rest of her family with a tray of saffron buns (called Lussekatter) and coffee. The other girl children also dress in white and carry single candles while singing songs. Though the role was traditionally female, boys also now have a part in the celebration as Star Boys. They wear white pajamas and a conical hat with stars on it, and join the song and merriment.

In Denmark, St. Lucy Day took on a more political role during World War II. Called Luciadag, the celebration was a passive protest against the German occupation. It was meant to bring light in a time of darkness, and is still celebrated today.

How to Celebrate in the Style of Italy

Italy celebrates St. Lucy Day in a few different ways. In the north eastern areas of Italy, St. Lucy brings gifts to good children and coal to the bad ones on December 13. The children in turn must leave her a snack, and promise to not see St. Lucy (aided by her donkey) make her deliveries. Should a child see St. Lucy delivering the gifts, legend has it that Lucy throws ashes into the child’s eyes, blinding them.

In Sicily, St. Lucy’s home region, St. Lucy’s Day is celebrated with food---most notably, cuccia, a dish made of wheat berries, chocolate, sugar and milk. They also make Santa Lucia cookies, which are in the shape of eyes.

Holiday Party Checklist

If you’re planning on hosting St. Lucy Day festivities, you’ll need these items, depending on the country of choice.

Sweden and Scandinavia

Lussekatter (saffron buns)
Coffee
Wreath (for the table or a child’s head)
White Candles (battery-operated for the child’s head; tapers for the table)
White dress or pants for boys and girls.

Star hat
The song “Sankta Lucia.” Look for Holger Lissners version.


Italy


Cuccia
Santa Lucia cookies
Traditional Neapolitan song “Santa Lucia.” Look for the Enrico Caruso version.

Taken from http://www.doityourself.com/stry/saint-lucy-day

Friday, December 12, 2008

Our Lady of Guadalupe

+JMJ+

In 1531 a "Lady from Heaven" appeared to Saint Juan Diego, a poor Indian from Tepeyac, a hill northwest of Mexico City. She identified herself as the Mother of the True God and instructed him to have the bishop build a church on the site and left an image of herself imprinted miraculously on his tilma, a poor quality cactus-cloth. The tilma should have deteriorated within 20 years but shows no sign of decay after over 470 years. It to this day defies all scientific explanations of its origin.

Apparently the tilma in the eyes of Our Lady of Guadalupe, even reflects what was in front of her in 1531! Her message of love and compassion, and her universal promise of help and protection to all mankind, as well as the story of the apparitions, are described in the "Nican Mopohua," a 16th century document written in the native Nahuatl language.
There is reason to believe that at Tepeyac Mary came in her glorified body, and her actual physical hands rearranged the roses in Juan Diego’s tilma, which makes this apparition very special.

An incredible list of miracles, cures and interventions are attributed to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Each year an estimated 10 million people visit her Basilica, making her Mexico City home the most popular Marian shrine in the world, and the most visited Catholic church in the world after Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

Altogether 24 popes have officially honored Our Lady of Guadalupe. His Holiness John Paul II visited her Sanctuary four times: on his first apostolic trip outside Rome as Pope in 1979, and again in 1990, 1999 and 2002.

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on December 12th. In 1999, Pope John Paul II, in his homily given during the Solemn Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, his third visit to the sanctuary, declared the date of December the 12th as a Liturgical Holy Day for the whole continent. During the same visit Pope John Paul II entrusted the cause of life to her loving protection, and placed under her motherly care the innocent lives of children, especially those who are in danger of not being born.

Patronage: Americas, Central America, diocese of Colorado Springs Colorado, diocese of Corpus Christi Texas, diocese of Dodge City, Kansas, Estremadura Spain, diocese of Gallup New Mexico, Mexico, diocese of Nashville Tennessee, New Mexico, New World, diocese of Orange California, diocese of Phoenix Arizona, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, diocese of Sacramento, California, diocese of Sioux City Iowa, Spain.

Source: Sancta.org

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

+JMJ+

On the Immaculate Conception

"The Reflection of the Beauty That Saves the World"

ROME, DEC. 9, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Monday, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters:

The mystery of Mary's Immaculate Conception, which we celebrated solemnly today, reminds us of two fundamental truths of our faith: in the first place original sin, and then the victory of Christ's grace over it, a victory that shines sublimely in Mary Most Holy. The existence of what the Church calls "original sin" is, sadly, a crushing truth, suffice it to look around us and above all in our interior. The experience of evil is, in fact, so consistent, that it imposes itself and makes us ask the question: from whence does it come? For a believer especially, the question is even more profound: If God, who is absolute goodness, has created everything, where does evil come from?

The first pages of the Bible (Genesis 1-3) respond precisely to the fundamental question -- posed by every human generation -- with the account of creation and our parents' fall: God created everything so that it would exist, in particular he created man in his own image; he did not create death, rather, the latter entered the world because of the envy of the devil (cf. Wisdom 1:13-14; 2:23-24), who, rebelling against God, also attracted men with deceit, inducing them to rebellion. It is the drama of freedom, which God accepts totally out of love, but promising that there would be the son of a woman that would crush the head of the ancient serpent (Genesis 3:15).

Hence, from the beginning, the "eternal counsel" -- as Dante would say -- has a "fixed term" (Paradise, XXXIII, 3): The Woman predestined to be mother of the Redeemer, mother of him who humbled himself to the extreme to lead us back to our original dignity. In God's eyes, this Woman has always had a face and name: "full of grace" (Luke 1:28), as the Angel called her when visiting her in Nazareth. She is the new Eve, spouse of the new Adam, destined to be the mother of all the redeemed. Thus wrote St. Andrew of Crete: "The Theotokos Mary, the common refuge of all Christians, was the first to be delivered from the primitive fall of our parents" (Homily IV, on Christmas, PG 97, 880 A). And today's liturgy states that God has "prepared a worthy dwelling for his Son and, in anticipation of his death, preserved her from all stain of sin" (Collect Prayer).

Beloved, in Mary Immaculate we contemplate the reflection of the Beauty that saves the world: the beauty of God that shines on the face of Christ. In Mary, this beauty is totally pure, humble, free of all pride and presumption. The Virgin showed herself in this way to St. Bernadette 150 years ago in Lourdes, and in this way she is venerated in so many shrines. This afternoon, in keeping with tradition, I will also render her homage before the monument dedicated to her in the Piazza di Spagna. Let us now invoke the Immaculate Virgin with confidence, recalling with the Angelus the words of the Gospel, which today's liturgy proposes for our meditation.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims who are present today. The feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is an occasion for us all to rejoice in the radiant purity of the Mother of our Redeemer. She was chosen from among all women to be our pattern of holiness, a sign of favor to the Church at its beginning and the promise of its perfection as the spotless bride of Christ. May God bless you, your families and all those you love.

© Copyright 2008 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Saint Nicholas

+JMJ+

ST. NICHOLAS OF MYRA
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 06, 2008

Saint Nicholas was born in Lycia in Asia Minor.

He is one of the most popular saints of the Church, even though there is scarcely anything historically certain about him except that he was Bishop of Myra in the fourth century.

As a young man he is said to have made a pilgrimmage to Palestine and Egypt in order to study in the school of the Desert Fathers. On returning some years later he was almost immediately ordained Bishop of Myra.

He was imprisoned during the Diocletian persecution and only released when Constantine the Great came to power and made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.


He is also called Nicholas of Bari because his relics were taken to Bari by Italian merchants in 1087.

He is associated with Chirstmas because of the tradition that he had the custom of giving secret gifts to children, and is thus associated with Santa Claus in some countries.

He died on December 6th in 346.

For ideas for celebrating this feast day, please visit Saint Nicholas Center.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

1st Sunday in Advent

+JMJ+
In the secular world, Black Friday has come and gone, Christmas decorations are up, and kids are anxiously awaiting for Santa to come. But for us Catholics, Advent is a time to deepen our spiritual lives as we anticipate Christ's second coming, as well as the celebration of His Birth! Hopefully, your families celebrate these next four weeks with an Advent wreath, Advent Calender, Jesse Tree, or something similar. Below, I have posted links to some helpful resources to enhance your prayer life for the next 26 days:

Spiritual Crib
Advent with EWTN

In addition, I have posted a link to an Immaculate Conception Novena, which begins today: Immaculate Conception Novena

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The First Thanksgiving was CATHOLIC


+JMJ+
THE FIRST (REAL) THANKSGIVING
This history books will tell you that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the pilgrims in 1621. Not true.

An interesting bit of trivia is that the first American Thanksgiving was actually celebrated on September 8, 1565 in St. Augustine, Florida. The Native Americans and Spanish settlers held a feast and the Holy Mass was offered.

A second similar "Thanksgiving" celebration occurred on American soil on April 30, 1598 in Texas when Don Juan de Oñate declared a day of Thanksgiving to be commemorated by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The Catholic origins of Thanksgiving don't stop there. Squanto, the beloved hero of Thanksgiving, was the Native American man who mediated between the Puritan Pilgrims and the Native Americans. Squanto had been enslaved by the English but he was freed by Spanish Franciscans. Squanto thus received baptism and became a Catholic. So it was a baptized Catholic Native American who orchestrated what became known as Thanksgiving.

All that being said, Thanksgiving is traditional Protestant and marks the tradition of religious toleration (something in which the Puritan pilgrims did not actually believe - they set up a "theocracy").

My wife once taught at an high-church Episcopalian/Anglican classical school in Philadelphia. The school consciously played down the significance of Thanksgiving. Why? The reason is simple. At root, Thanksgiving commemorates the good fortune of political and ecclesiastical rebels against the Church of England and the Anglican tradition as a whole.

It all started with Richard Clyfton who was a Church of England parson in Nottinghamshire in the early 1600s. Clifton sympathized with the Separatists of that era. Separatists were Calvinistic non-conformists to the doctrine and liturgy of the Church of England. The Hampton Court Conference held by King James I (1604) condemned those who would not conform to the more outwardly Catholic usages in the Church of England (e.g. robes, candles, bowing the head at the name of Christ, processions). The result was that Richard Clyfton was “defrocked” and stripped of his clerical status in the Church of England. Shortly thereafter Richard Clyfton went to Amsterdam and was followed by his disciples: the Pilgrims.

These Pilgrims moved around a bit until finally coming to America in 1620. An interesting bit of trivia is that one child was born on board the Mayflower while at sea. The child was given the rather lame name: “Oceanus”. Poor child.

In 1621, the Pilgrims allegedly celebrated a happy meal with the Native Americans and the rest is history. So why would an Anglican school be against Thanksgiving? It celebrates those who defied the Church of England and the Crown of England.

Now that I’m a no longer an Anglican and now a Catholic, things are a bit different. The penal laws of England regarding non-conformists affected not only the rigorous Calvinistic Puritans in England, but also the English Catholic recusants. The Pilgrims shared the same lot as the Catholic faithful of England. Interestingly enough, the Catholics who lived in Nottinghamshire where the Pilgrims originated were persecuted mercilessly.

So while Thanksgiving may celebrate the Calvinists Separatists who fled England, Catholics might remember the same unjust laws that granted the crown of martyrdom to Thomas More, John Fisher, Edmund Campion, et al. are the same injustices that led the Pilgrims to Plymouth.

Another bit of trivia is that the truly “First Thanksgiving” celebration occurred on American soil on April 30, 1598 in Texas when Don Juan de Oñate declared a day of Thanksgiving to be commemorated by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

And let everyone remember that “Thanksgiving” in Greek is Eucharistia. Thus, the Body and Blood of Christ is the true “Thanksgiving Meal”.

Taken from http://cantuar.blogspot.com/2008/11/catholic-origins-of-thanksgiving.html

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hymns to Christ the King

+JMJ+
To Jesus Christ, our Sov'reign King
To Jesus Christ, our Sov'reign King,
Who is the world's salvation,
All praise and homage do we bring,
And thanks and adoration.

Refrain:
Christ Jesus Victor, Christ Jesus Ruler!
Christ Jesus, Lord and Redeemer!

2. Thy reign extend, O King benign,
To ev'ry land and nation,
For in Thy kingdom, Lord divine,
Alone we find salvation.
(Refrain)

3. To Thee and to Thy Church, great King,
We pledge our hearts' oblation,
Until before Thy throne we sing,
In endless jubilation.
(Refrain)

The King of Glory
Refrain
The King of glory comes,
the nation rejoices.
Open the gates before him,
lift up your voices.
1. Who is the King of glory;
how shall we call him?
He is Emmanuel,
the promised of ages.
2. In all of Galilee,
in city or village,
He goes among his people
curing their illness.
3. Sing then of David’s Son,
our Savior and brother;
In all of Galilee
was never another.
4. He gave his life for us,
the pledge of salvation,
He took upon himself
the sins of the nation.
5. He conquered sin and death;
he truly has risen,
And he will share with us
his heavenly vision.

Text: 12 12 with refrain. Text © 1967, William F. Jabusch. Administered by OCP. All rights reserved. Music: Trad. Israeli Folk Song.

Crown Him with Many Crowns
Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne.
Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee,
And hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity.

Crown Him the virgin’s Son, the God incarnate born,
Whose arm those crimson trophies won which now His brow adorn;
Fruit of the mystic rose, as of that rose the stem;
The root whence mercy ever flows, the Babe of Bethlehem.

Crown Him the Son of God, before the worlds began,
And ye who tread where He hath trod, crown Him the Son of Man;
Who every grief hath known that wrings the human breast,
And takes and bears them for His own, that all in Him may rest.

Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed over the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save.
His glories now we sing, who died, and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.

Crown Him the Lord of peace, whose power a scepter sways
From pole to pole, that wars may cease, and all be prayer and praise.
His reign shall know no end, and round His piercèd feet
Fair flowers of paradise extend their fragrance ever sweet.

Crown Him the Lord of love, behold His hands and side,
Those wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified.
No angel in the sky can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends his burning eye at mysteries so bright.

Crown Him the Lord of Heaven, enthroned in worlds above,
Crown Him the King to Whom is given the wondrous name of Love.
Crown Him with many crowns, as thrones before Him fall;
Crown Him, ye kings, with many crowns, for He is King of all.

Crown Him the Lord of lords, who over all doth reign,
Who once on earth, the incarnate Word, for ransomed sinners slain,
Now lives in realms of light, where saints with angels sing
Their songs before Him day and night, their God, Redeemer, King.

Crown Him the Lord of years, the Potentate of time,
Creator of the rolling spheres, ineffably sublime.
All hail, Redeemer, hail! For Thou has died for me;
Thy praise and glory shall not fail throughout eternity.

The King of Love My Shepherd Is
The King of love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never,
I nothing lack if I am His
And He is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow
My ransomed soul He leadeth,
And where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love He sought me,
And on His shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill
With Thee, dear Lord, beside me;
Thy rod and staff my comfort still,
Thy cross before to guide me.

Thou spread’st a table in my sight;
Thy unction grace bestoweth;
And O what transport of delight
From Thy pure chalice floweth!

And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise
Within Thy house forever.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

St. Cecilia

+JMJ+

In the fourth century appeared a Greek religious romance on the Loves of Cecilia and Valerian, written, like those of Chrysanthus and Daria, Julian and Basilissa, in glorification of the virginal life, and with the purpose of taking the place of the sensual romances of Daphnis and Chloe, Chereas and Callirhoe, etc., which were then popular. There may have been a foundation of fact on which the story was built up; but the Roman Calendar of the fourth century, and the Carthaginian Calendar of the fifth make no mention of Cecilia.

It is said, however, that there was a church dedicated to S. Cecilia in Rome in the fifth century, in which Pope Symmachus held a council in 500. But Symmachus held no council in that year. That held at Easter, 502, was in the "basilica Julii"; that on September 1, 505, was held in the "basilica Sessoriana"; that on October 23, 501, was in "porticu beati Petri apostoli que appelatur Palmaria." The next synod, November 6, 502, met in the church of St. Peter; that in 533, "ante confessionem beati Petri"; and that in 503 also in the basilica of S. Peter. Consequently, till better evidence is produced, we must conclude that S. Cecilia was not known or venerated in Rome till about the time when Pope Gelasius (496) introduced her name into his Sacramentary. In 821, however, there was an old church fallen into decay with the dedication to S. Cecilia; but Pope Paschal I dreamed that the body of the saint lay in the cemetery of S. Celestas, along with that of her husband Valerian. He accordingly looked for them and found them, or, at all events, some bodies, as was probable, in the catacombs, which he was pleased to regard as those of Cecilia nd Valerian. And he translated these relics to the church of S. Cecilia, and founded a monastery in their honor.

The story of S. Cecilia is not without beauty and merit. There was in the city of Rome a virgin named Cecilia, who was given in marriage to a youth named Valerian. She wore sackcloth next to her skin, and fasted, and invoked the saints and angels and virgins, beseeching them to guard her virginity. And she said to her husband, "I will tell you a secret if you will swear not to reveal it to anyone." And when he swore, she added, "There is an angel who watches me, and wards off from me any who would touch me." He said, "Dearest, if this be true, show me the angel." "That can only be if you will believe in one God, and be baptized."

She sent him to Pope S. Urban (223-230), who baptized him; and when he returned, he saw Cecilia praying in her chamber, and an angel by her with flaming wings, holding two crowns of roses and lilies, which he placed on their heads, and then vanished. Shortly after, Tibertius, the brother of Valerian, entered, and wondered at the fragrance and beauty of the flowers at that season of the year.

When he heard the story of how they had obtained these crowns, he also consented to be baptized. After their baptism the two brothers devoted themselves to burying the martyrs slain daily by the prefect of the city, Turcius Almachius. [There was no prefect of that name.] They were arrested and brought before the prefect, and when they refused to sacrifice to the gods were executed with the sword.

In the meantime, S. Cecilia, by preaching had converted four hundred persons, whom Pope Urban forthwith baptized. Then Cecilia was arrested, and condemned to be suffocated in the baths. She was shut in for a night and a day, and the fires were heaped up, and made to glow and roar their utmost, but Cecilia did not even break out into perspiration through the heat. When Almachius heard this he sent an executioner to cut off her head in the bath. The man struck thrice without being able to sever the head from the trunk. He left her bleeding, and she lived three days. Crowds came to her, and collected her blood with napkins and sponges, whilst she preached to them or prayed. At the end of that period she died, and was buried by Pope Urban and his deacons.

Alexander Severus, who was emperor when Urban was Pope, did not persecute the Church, though it is possible some Christians may have suffered in his reign. Herodian says that no person was condemned during the reign of Alexander, except according to the usual course of the law and by judges of the strictest integrity. A few Christians may have suffered, but there can have been no furious persecutions, such as is described in the Acts as waged by the apocryphal prefect, Turcius Almachius.

Urbanus was the prefect of the city, and Ulpian, who had much influence at the beginning of Alexander's reign as principal secretary of the emperor and commander of the Pretorian Guards, is thought to have encouraged persecution. Usuardus makes Cecilia suffer under Commodus. Molanus transfers the martyrdom to the reign of Marcus Aurelius. But it is idle to expect to extract history from romance.

In 1599 Cardinal Paul Emilius Sfondrati, nephew of Pope Gregory XIV, rebuilt the church of S. Cecilia.

St. Cecilia is regarded as the patroness of music [because of the story that she heard heavenly music in her heart when she was married], and is represented in art with an organ or organ-pipes in her hand.

From The Lives of the Saints by the Rev. S. Baring-Gould, M.A., published in 1914 in Edinburgh.

For another post about Saint Cecilia, please see April 3, 2008.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Presentation of Mary in the Temple

+JMJ+

RELIGIOUS parents never fail by devout prayer to consecrate their children to the divine service and love, both before and after their birth. Some amongst the Jews, not content with this general consecration of their children, offered them to God in their infancy, by the hands of the priests in the Temple, to be lodged in apartments belonging to the Temple, and brought up in attending the priests and Levites in the sacred ministry. It is an ancient tradition that the Blessed Virgin Mary was thus solemnly offered to God in the Temple in her infancy. This festival of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin the Church celebrates this day. The tender soul of Mary was then adorned with the most precious graces, an object of astonishment and praise to the angels, and of the highest complacence to the adorable Trinity; the Father looking upon her as His beloved daughter, the Son as one chosen and prepared to become His mother, and the Holy Ghost as His darling spouse. Mary was the first who set up the standard of virginity; and, by consecrating it by a perpetual vow to Our Lord, she opened the way to all virgins who have since followed her example.

Reflection.—Mary's first presentation to God was an offering most acceptable in His sight. Let our consecration of ourselves to God be made under her patronage, and assisted by her powerful intercession and the union of her merits.

Taken from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894], at sacred-texts.com

Sunday, November 9, 2008

DEDICATION OF ST. JOHN LATERAN

+JMJ+

This feast is celebrated by the entire Church and marks the dedication of the cathedral church of Rome by Pope Sylvester I in 324. This church is the cathedra (or chair) of the bishop of Rome, who is the Pope. A Latin inscription reads: “omnium ecclesiarum Urbis et Orbis mater et caput”. This translates to: The mother and head of all churches of the city and of the world.

It was originally named the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior. However, it is called St. John Lateran because it was built on property donated to the Church by the Laterani family, and because the monks from the monastery of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Divine served it.

Taken from catholicnewsagency.com

Friday, October 31, 2008

All Hallow's Eve

+JMJ+

When I was a child, my family always did the traditional Halloween thing...dress as ghosts and witches, go trick-or-treating, and attend school carnivals. All seemed well until seventh grade. I was attending a non-demoninational Christian school and most people there viewed Halloween as "Satan's Holiday." I asked my mom about this and she said that was going overboard. Ok, that made sense to me as a Catholic, especially since our own parish always had the typical run-of-the-mill Halloween Carnivals. I thought that solved the issue. However, when I was in college, I began notiving that some of my dear friends with whom I attended daily Mass also thought Halloween was "Satan's Holiday." Ok, by now I was confused. Sincde then, I have done some research to find out what the Church really thought about this...and I have found mixed opinions. I tend to like to use EWTN as a trustworthy resource when it comes to matters of Faith, so I looked in their FAQ section. Basically, it said that while doing traditional Halloween customes are fine, All Saints' Day Parties are becoming more and more popular. Below, I have posted some links to ideas for such parties, costumes, etc. Tell me what you think!
Alternative Halloween Party
Saint's Costumes

Friday, October 24, 2008

Saint Anthony Claret

+JMJ+
Anthony Claret was the founder of the Claretian order. He was born in 1807 in Spain. Saint Anthony was a weaver by trade, like his father, but studied Latin in his spare time. At 22, he entered the seminary and was ordained in 1835. He preached missions for 10 years before founding the Claretians in 1849. Shortly thereafter, he was named archbishop of Santiago, Cuba, where he reformed the clergy and the laity. In 1857, he returned to Spain to be Queen Isabella II’s confessor, to oversee his growing congregation, and to publish books.

In 1868, with the Spanish Revolution, both Archbishop Claret and the queen were exiled. After Vatican I, the archbishop sought refuge at a Cistercian monastery in France, where he died in 1870. He was canonized in 1950.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

St. Luke the Evangelist


+JMJ+
Patron of Physicians and Surgeons

Luke, the writer of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, has been identified with St. Paul's "Luke, the beloved physician" (Colossians 4:14). We know few other facts about Luke's life from Scripture and from early Church historians.

It is believed that Luke was born a Greek and a Gentile. In Colossians 10-14 speaks of those friends who are with him. He first mentions all those "of the circumcision" -- in other words, Jews -- and he does not include Luke in this group. Luke's gospel shows special sensitivity to evangelizing Gentiles. It is only in his gospel that we hear the parable of the Good Samaritan, that we hear Jesus praising the faith of Gentiles such as the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian (Lk.4:25-27), and that we hear the story of the one grateful leper who is a Samaritan (Lk.17:11-19). According to the early Church historian Eusebius Luke was born at Antioch in Syria.

In our day, it would be easy to assume that someone who was a doctor was rich, but scholars have argued that Luke might have been born a slave. It was not uncommon for families to educate slaves in medicine so that they would have a resident family physician. Not only do we have Paul's word, but Eusebius, Saint Jerome, Saint Irenaeus and Caius, a second-century writer, all refer to Luke as a physician.

We have to go to Acts to follow the trail of Luke's Christian ministry. We know nothing about his conversion but looking at the language of Acts we can see where he joined Saint Paul. The story of the Acts is written in the third person, as an historian recording facts, up until the sixteenth chapter. In Acts 16:8-9 we hear of Paul's company "So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us.' " Then suddenly in 16:10 "they" becomes "we": "When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them."

So Luke first joined Paul's company at Troas at about the year 51 and accompanied him into Macedonia where they traveled first to Samothrace, Neapolis, and finally Philippi. Luke then switches back to the third person which seems to indicate he was not thrown into prison with Paul and that when Paul left Philippi Luke stayed behind to encourage the Church there. Seven years passed before Paul returned to the area on his third missionary journey. In Acts 20:5, the switch to "we" tells us that Luke has left Philippi to rejoin Paul in Troas in 58 where they first met up. They traveled together through Miletus, Tyre, Caesarea, to Jerusalem.

Luke is the loyal comrade who stays with Paul when he is imprisoned in Rome about the year 61: "Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers" (Philemon 24). And after everyone else deserts Paul in his final imprisonment and sufferings, it is Luke who remains with Paul to the end: "Only Luke is with me" (2 Timothy 4:11).

Luke's inspiration and information for his Gospel and Acts came from his close association with Paul and his companions as he explains in his introduction to the Gospel: "Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus" (Luke 1:1-3).

Luke's unique perspective on Jesus can be seen in the six miracles and eighteen parables not found in the other gospels. Luke's is the gospel of the poor and of social justice. He is the one who tells the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man who ignored him. Luke is the one who uses "Blessed are the poor" instead of "Blessed are the poor in spirit" in the beatitudes. Only in Luke's gospel do we hear Mary 's Magnificat where she proclaims that God "has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty" (Luke 1:52-53).

Luke also has a special connection with the women in Jesus' life, especially Mary. It is only in Luke's gospel that we hear the story of the Annunciation, Mary's visit to Elizabeth including the Magnificat, the Presentation, and the story of Jesus' disappearance in Jerusalem. It is Luke that we have to thank for the Scriptural parts of the Hail Mary: "Hail Mary full of grace" spoken at the Annunciation and "Blessed are you and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus" spoken by her cousin Elizabeth.

Forgiveness and God's mercy to sinners is also of first importance to Luke. Only in Luke do we hear the story of the Prodigal Son welcomed back by the overjoyed father. Only in Luke do we hear the story of the forgiven woman disrupting the feast by washing Jesus' feet with her tears. Throughout Luke's gospel, Jesus takes the side of the sinner who wants to return to God's mercy.

Reading Luke's gospel gives a good idea of his character as one who loved the poor, who wanted the door to God's kingdom opened to all, who respected women, and who saw hope in God's mercy for everyone.

The reports of Luke's life after Paul's death are conflicting. Some early writers claim he was martyred, others say he lived a long life. Some say he preached in Greece, others in Gaul. The earliest tradition we have says that he died at 84 Boeotia after settling in Greece to write his Gospel.

A tradition that Luke was a painter seems to have no basis in fact. Several images of Mary appeared in later centuries claiming him as a painter but these claims were proved false. Because of this tradition, however, he is considered a patron of painters of pictures and is often portrayed as painting pictures of Mary.

He is often shown with an ox or a calf because these are the symbols of sacrifice -- the sacrifice Jesus made for all the world.

Luke is the patron of physicians and surgeons.

Taken form catholic.org.

Friday, October 17, 2008

St. Ignatius of Antioch


+JMJ+

St. Ignatius was a convert to the Faith and a disciple of St. John the Evangelist. St. Chrysostom says that St. Peter appointed him Bishop of Antioch, which See he governed for forty years. The saint longed to shed to shed his blood for Christ but the opportunity was not granted him during the persecution under Domitian. While the short reign of Nerva lasted the Church was in peace, but under Trajan persecution broke out anew. In the year 107, the Emperor came to Antioch. St. Ignatius was seized and brought before him. Having confessed Christ, he was condemned to be taken in chains to Rome, there to be exposed to the wild beasts. During this last journey he was welcomed by the faithful of Smyrna, Troas, and other places along the way. He arrived in Rome just as the public spectacles in the amphitheater were drawing to a close. The faithful of the city came out to meet him. He was at once hurried to the amphitheater, where two fierce lions immediately devoured him. He ended his saintly life by a glorious death, exclaiming, "May I become agreeable bread to the Lord." His remains were carried to Antioch, where they were interred. In the reign of Theodosius they were transferred to a church within the city. At present they are venerated in Rome. During his long journey he addressed seven epistles to various congregations, in which, as a disciple of the Apostles, he testifies to the dogmatic character of Apostolic Christianity.

Taken from catholic.org.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque


+JMJ+
Look at this Heart which has loved men so much, and yet men do not want to love Me in return. Through you My divine Heart wishes to spread its love everywhere on earth."
from Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque’s vision of Jesus

Born at Lehautecour, France, July 22, 1647; died at Paray-le-Monial, France, October 17, 1690; canonized by Pope Benedict XV in 1920.

Margaret Mary was born to virtuous parents, and was herself an uncommonly pious child, being intensly drawn to silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. She practiced severe physical mortifications after her first Communion at age nine until she was struck with paralysis and bed-ridden for four years.

After she made a vow to the Blessed Virgin to enter religious life, she was instantly cured. However, in the ensuing years she had become intent on living in the world following a request of her mother.

On returning from a ball one night she had a vision of Jesus during His scourging at the pillar, in which he reproached her for her infidelity to her vow. He had usually appeared to her throughout her childhood as the Crucified or being condemned to death. She decided to fulfill the vow she made to Mary and entered the Visitation Convent at Paray in 1671.

Her life in the convent was marked by intense suffering stemming from the harsh work she opted to do, and also by frequent visions and visits to her by Jesus who soon confided to her the mission to establish devotion to His Sacred Heart.

He promised that, in response to those who consecrate themselves and make reparations to His Sacred Heart, that:

· He will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
· He will establish peace in their homes.
· He will comfort them in all their afflictions.
· He will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.
· He will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
· Sinners will find in His Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
· Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.
· Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
· He will bless every place in which an image of His Heart is exposed and
honored.
· He will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
· Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in His
Heart.

· In the excessive mercy of His Heart that His all-powerful love will grant
to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine
consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in
His disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. His divine Heart
shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

The initial opposition and criticism she received from her congregation at the outset of this mission eventually turned into support due to her heroic example of obedience and charity, especially to the sisters most opposed to her. The devotion was violently opposed by the Jansenist heretics (who rejected the truth of God’s merciful love), but it is credited as having decisively defeated Jansenism in France.

When the tomb was opened after Margaret Mary’s death, miracles immediately took place, and she has obtained countless graces from the millions of pilgrims who have visited her resting place in the chapel of Paray-le-Monial since her death.

This divine heart is an abyss filled with all blessings, and into the poor should submerge all their needs. It is an abyss of joy in which all of us can immerse our sorrows. It is an abyss of lowliness to counteract our foolishness, an abyss of mercy for the wretched, an abyss of love to meet our every need.
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

St. Teresa of Avila


+JMJ+

“Let nothing trouble you, let nothing make you afraid. All things pass away. God never changes. Patience obtains everything. God alone is enough.”

Saint Teresa of Avila

Born at Avila, Old Castile, Spain on March 28, 1515; died at Alba de Tormes, October 4, 1582; canonized in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV; proclaimed Doctor of the Church in 1970 by Pope Paul VI.

Saint Teresa mother died when she was 14, leaving Teresa with her father, a holy man with serious intellectual interests.

On reading works of Saint Jerome, she decided to enter religious life, at the age of 20, believing it to the the safest path to salvation for someone like her. She suffered a serious illness in her youth from which she never fully recovered, it caused physical suffering for the rest of her life.

For her first twenty years in the convent, Teresa, in her own words, lived a mediocre prayer life. She said she had tried mental prayer but discontinued it because she could not tear herself away from the pettiness and worldliness of her conversations and desires, such as her desire to be held in good esteem by others.



However, an intense prayer experience before an image of Christ crucified helped her renounce her worldy attachments. Soon after, God began visiting her with tremendous “intellectual visions and locutions.”

The visions were so numerous and intense that it was thought they were the work of the devil. But on being examined by Saint Francis Borgia and Saint Peter of Alcantara, they were discerned to be God’s mystical action in her soul.

Her account of her spiritual life in her autobiography is extraordinary, even for a mystic. Her experience of intimate union with God manifested in her “spiritual espousals” and “mystical marriage,” and the “transverberation of her heart” (her heart was pierced as if by a surgeon’s knife while she was in prayer; upon her death it was discovered to have a scar – in an age when open heart surgery obviously did not exist – thus confirming what she recounted).

She also had a vision of the place destined for her in hell in the event that she be unfaithful to grace, which determined her to seek a more perfect life.

On August 24, 1562 she founded the convent of Discalced Carmelite Nuns, a reform of the Carmelite order so radical and strict that it caused much violent opposition. With the grace of God she prevailed and founded many other similar convents.

She befriended Saint John of the Cross and with him undertook similar reforms with the Carmelite friars.

Teresa died on October 4, 1582, having suffered to the end with painful illnesses and exhausted from carrying out God’s work. Her body and her transverberated heart are still incorrupt in Alba, Spain, where she died.

St. Teresa's writings on mystical theology are unique among spiritual writers in that she she is intensely personal, her system going exactly as far as her experiences, but not a step further.

On September 27, 1970 she was proclaimed the first ever woman Doctor in the history of the Church by Pope Paul VI.

“O my God! Source of all mercy! I acknowledge Your sovereign power. While recalling the wasted years that are past, I believe that You, Lord, can in an instant turn this loss to gain. Miserable as I am, yet I firmly believe that You can do all things. Please restore to me the time lost, giving me Your grace, both now and in the future, that I may appear before You in "wedding garments." Amen.”
Saint Teresa of Avila

Taken from www.catholicnewsagency.com

Monday, October 13, 2008

Our Lady of Fatima

+JMJ+ I posted this video in honor of Our Lady of Fatima and the miracle of the sun that occured on this day, October 13, 1917.

Columbus Day

+JMJ+

The Consequences of Columbus
ROBERT ROYAL
A condescending noblesse oblige continues to cloud our discussions of European and Native cultures.

Just when we were convinced that Newsweek, like its counterpart Time, is an essentially superficial magazine for hurried people who want information without having to think, the mail brought the Fall/Winter 1991 Columbus Special Issue. Produced in collaboration with the “Seeds of Change” exhibit on display at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History in Washington, the magazine provides over eighty pages of generally sound history and analysis of Columbus and of the vast changes in flora and fauna, diet and cultural patterns that followed 1492. Whatever else may be said of Columbus, write the editors, he had consequences, and those consequences “hold the key to the meaning of Columbus’ voyages.”
In strictly philosophical terms, this argument may come dangerously close to the consequentialism favored by some suspect philosophers and theologians. Newsweek and the Smithsonian clearly feel ill-equipped to face the partisan firestorm over Columbus per se and have taken the prudent course of describing instead 1492’s consequences, good and bad. Whatever the shortcomings of this approach, it at least has the merit of examining closely and impartially a wide variety of facts about the last five hundred years in the Americas and the world.
By comparison, the National Council of Churches’ document “A Faithful Response to the 500th Anniversary of the Arrival of Christopher Columbus,” published in 1990 amidst much controversy, was a far less morally serious text. Newsweek amply demonstrates the wealth of interesting and morally relevant material on Columbus, Native Americans, the Spanish settlements, disease, slavery, and a host of other issues available to anyone who takes the trouble to look. The NCC, however, apparently thought a “faithful response” means moralistic denunciation on the basis of a few vague references to what we all, of course, recognize as the historical impartiality of Howard Zinn and the moral finality of “Black Elk Speaks.”
In December of 1990, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) issued a far better informed and reasoned pastoral letter, “Heritage and Hope: Evangelization in America.” In it, besides proper rejection of past atrocities and present neglect of Native Americans, a picture emerges of the complex interaction between European and native peoples that began after 1492. Yet even the Catholic bishops tread gingerly around various questions. They seem so concerned to show their solidarity with the current plight of Native Americans that they make blanket statements about pre-Columbian Indian cultures that do not accurately reflect historical reality. In the bishops’ reading, the hundreds of different Native American cultures all had a natural piety already. The missionaries had only the modest task of explaining “how Christianity complemented their beliefs and challenged those things in their culture that conflicted with Christ’s message.”
The high Indian civilizations of the Aztecs, Mayas, and Incas in fact needed a far more vigorous spiritual liberation than that (see my “1492 and All That,” First Things, May 1991). And even some less-developed tribes were engaged in activities we would not speak about in the bishops’ measured tones were they still practiced today. For example, almost everyone deplores Columbus’ mistreatment of the gentle and peace-loving Arawaks he encountered in the Caribbean. But how many people are aware that one of the reasons the Arawaks welcomed the Europeans so warmly was their fear of the Carib Indians who were, as one modern historian puts it, “then expanding across the Lesser Antilles and literally eating the Arawaks up”?
A condescending noblesse oblige continues to cloud our discussions of European and Native cultures. Whether the issue is natives carrying out human sacrifice, torture, cannibalism, and environmental damage in the past, or Indians poised (in age-old custom) to burn tropical rain forests in the present, the tendency is to paint European sins all the blacker by whitewashing their native counterparts. Native spokesmen and their advocates in institutions like the NCC have a point, but fail at the morally important responsibility of identifying not only Europe’s sins, but those aspects of Native cultures that have been changed for the better by the encounter with Europe.
In fact, the very form of the typical moral argument against the European arrival presupposes some European principles that we have wrongly come to take for granted. European behavior in the New World is usually denounced for its cultural arrogance and its violation of universal human and political rights. Yet no other culture in the world conceived of universal respect for human persons and the embodiment of that principle in international law prior to European development of these doctrines-prodded in part by the encounter with American natives. We now blithely assume that all two-legged creatures who look like us are persons deserving human treatment, including a proper valuing of their cultures. But that realization was won by hard thinking in the face of some difficult circumstances.
China, for example, was a high ancient civilization that until the last century knew little about other cultures. It regarded itself as normative for the rest of the world and worried little about “rights.” Most other cultures felt more or less the same, particularly tribal societies, which were often at perpetual war with one another. Before 1492, Europe had had some contact with Jews, Muslims, and Asians, which forced it to develop some ideas about tolerance and pluralism in civic life. But the contact with America was the event that caused a profound rethinking of everything.
To begin with, there was a religious question. One of the controversies from the Middle Ages that Columbus’ voyage reignited was not whether the world was round (every educated person knew that), but whether people could exist at the antipodes (the ends of the Earth). Far from being the kind of idle speculation that some anti-medievalists associate with angels dancing on the heads of pins, this question had profound repercussions. Would God have created any people outside of all contact with the Old and New Testaments? One of the consequences of such a creation would be that the people would have been left without at least potential knowledge of what was needed for salvation. The problem arose, thus, not from ignorance, but from profound concern about the form of God’s universal charity.
This dispute had immediate importance for moral reflections on the Indians. Having lived separate from the Old World, they could not be held responsible for failure to accept the Gospel (as some thought Jews and Muslims could be held responsible). Bartolomea de las Casas, the widely acclaimed Dominican priest who defended the Indians, went so far as to argue that even human sacrifice and cannibalism among the natives should not be held against them because both practices showed deep reverence and a spirit of sacrifice towards the Almighty.
Las Casas’ defense was noble and in part effective, even though we may now think somewhat differently about the full moral and religious significance of these native practices. His work, however, forced Europe into unprecedented reflections on what constituted a rational being. Native religion and life were, whatever their shortcomings, clearly not the creation of irrational brutes. The Spanish crown was so sensitive to these moral arguments that in 1550 it ordered all military activity to cease in the Americas and created a royal commission at Valladolid to examine Spain’s behavior in the New World. No other growing empire in history has ever similarly interrupted itself to take up moral issues. Ultimately, greed and ineffective Spanish administration led to the abuses we know of, but the commission did bring about penalties for some of the worst offenders, as well as certain reforms in administration and policy.
At Valladolid, Las Casas argued against Juan Gineas de Sepualveda, another theologian, that Indians were human beings. Sepualveda rejected that argument, but to establish his case he had to try to prove that reason was so weak in the Indians that, left to themselves, they could not live according to reason. By commonly accepted Christian principles, only rational incapacity, not (as is often assumed) the mere assertion of European cultural superiority, could justify Spanish control of natives, and even then only for the good of the Indians. The judges of the debate did not reach a definite conclusion, but Valladolid represents a consolidation of Spanish and papal misgivings going back to 1500, and gross mistreatment of the Indians gradually lessened.
The second great moral result of the European arrival in the New World came in the area of international law. Again, we now take it for granted that even nations deeply alien to us have a right to their own territory and culture, but it is largely due to the reflections begun by Francisco de Vitoria, a Dominican theologian and friend of Las Casas, that we have such principles. Vitoria was highly respected by the Spanish king, who appointed him to several royal commissions (unfortunately, he died before the great debate at Valladolid). But Vitoria did not hesitate to tell the monarch that he had no right to lands occupied by Indians, nor could he make slaves out of rational beings. Furthermore, Vitoria went so far as to call the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, in which the Pope ceded lands to the Spanish and Portuguese, improper because the pontiff did not have temporal sovereignty over the earth, particularly over lands already occupied by natives.
In this, Vitoria was developing principles that were also coming to have an influence over Pope Pius III, who in response to reports from the New World proclaimed in his 1537 encyclical Sublimis Deus:
Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by the Christians are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ; and they may and should, freely and legitimately, enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property; nor should they be in any way enslaved; should the contrary happen it shall be null and of no effect. . . . By virtue of our apostolic authority we declare . . . that the said Indians and other peoples should be converted to the faith of Jesus Christ by preaching the word of God and by the example of good and holy living.
Christian sentiments like these led Vitoria to the elaboration of the beginnings of that system of global law that has borne fruit today.
Perhaps the most telling sign of the new moral reflection stimulated by contact with natives, however, is a little-known proposal by the first viceroy of New Spain, the shrewd and competent Antonio de Mendoza. In an attempt to deal with the various factions contending over the Indian question in the New World, Mendoza suggested a simple solution: “Treat the Indians like any other people and do not make special rules and regulations for them. There are few persons in these parts who are not motivated in their opinions of the Indians by some interest, good or bad.” In this early wisdom, the seeds of fair and impartial treatment for all, regardless of origin, begin to sprout-a strongly, almost uniquely, American trait necessitated by the rich mixture of various peoples on these shores.
When we are tallying up the moral accounts of the last five hundred years, a good practice periodically for any people, we should recall that ethical developments, too, are a consequence of Columbus. Newsweek and the Smithsonian might have treated more fully the significant stages in that story. Is it too much to hope that our churches, even in their current condition, will come to appreciate and to remind us how Christianity, in spite of a tortuous and tangled history, has contributed to the moral development of our still sadly underdeveloped humanity?

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
Royal, Robert. “Consequences of Columbus.” First Things 20 (February, 1992): 9-11.

Reprinted with permission of First Things, published by the Institute on Religion and Public Life, 156 Fifth Avenue, Suite 400, New York, NY 10010. To subscribe to First Things call 1-800-783-4903.
THE AUTHOR
Robert Royal is president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. Among his books are The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century: A Comprehensive Global History, Dante Alighieri: Divine Comedy, Divine Spirituality, The Pope's Army: 500 Years of the Papal Swiss Guard, 1492 and All That: Political Manipulations of History, The Virgin and the Dynamo: The Use and Abuse of Religion in Environmental Debates, and most recently, The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West. Robert Royal is on the advisory board of the Catholic Education Resource Center.

Copyright © 1992 FirstThings
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Why Did Columbus Sail?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Our Lady of Victory

+JMJ+
Here is a good homily relating to Our Lady of Victory and modern times:

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Respect Life Sunday


+JMJ+

Cardinal Rigali's Statement for Respect Life Sunday
10/3/2008
Zenit News Agency (www.zenit.org)

We face the threat of a federal bill that, if enacted, would obliterate virtually all the gains of the past 35 years and cause the abortion rate to skyrocket. The "Freedom of Choice Act."


"In this Respect Life Month, let us rededicate ourselves to defending the basic rights of those who are weakest and most marginalized: the poor, the homeless, the innocent unborn, and the frail and elderly who need our respect and our assistance. In this and in so many ways we will truly build a culture of life."
VATICAN CITY (Zenit) - Here is the statement ofCardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia,Chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities for this weekend's Respect Life Sunday. The theme for this year is "Hope and Trust in Life."

"On October 5, 2008, Catholics across the United States will again celebrate Respect Life Sunday. Throughout the month of October, Catholic parishes and organizations will sponsor hundreds of educational conferences, prayer services, and opportunities for public witness, as well as events to raise funds for programs assisting those in need. Such initiatives are integral to the Church's ongoing effort to help build a culture in which every human life without exception is respected and defended.

Education and advocacy during Respect Life Month address a broad range of moral and public policy issues. Among these, the care of persons with disabilities and those nearing the end of life is an enduring concern. Some medical ethicists wrongly promote ending the lives of patients with serious physical and mental disabilities by withdrawing their food and water, even though -- or in some cases precisely because -- they are not imminently dying. This November, the citizens of Washington State will vote on a ballot initiative to legalize doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. In neighboring Oregon, where assisted suicide is already legal, the state has refused to cover the cost of life-sustaining treatments for some patients facing terminal illness, while callously informing them that Oregon will pay for suicide pills. Such policies betray the ideal of America as a compassionate society honoring the inherent worth of every human
being.

Embryonic stem cell research also presents grave ethical concerns. The Catholic Church strongly supports promising and ethically sound stem cell research -- and strongly opposes killing week-old human embryos, or human beings at any stage, to extract their stem cells. We applaud the remarkable therapeutic successes that have been achieved using stem cells from cord blood and adult tissues. We vigorously oppose initiatives, like the one confronting Michigan voters in November, that would endorse the deliberate destruction of developing human beings for embryonic stem cell research.

Turning to abortion, we note that most Americans favor banning all abortion or permitting it only in very rare cases (danger to the mother's life or cases of rape or incest). Also encouraging is the finding of a recent Guttmacher Institute study that the U.S. abortion rate declined 26% between 1989 and 2004. The decline was steepest, 58%, among girls under 18. An important factor in this trend is that teens increasingly are choosing to remain abstinent until their late teens or early 20s. Regrettably, when they do become sexually active prior to marrying, many become pregnant and choose abortion -- the abortion rate increased among women aged 20 and older between 1974 and 2004, although the rate is now gradually declining.

Today, however, we face the threat of a federal bill that, if enacted, would obliterate virtually all the gains of the past 35 years and cause the abortion rate to skyrocket. The "Freedom of Choice Act" ("FOCA") has many Congressional sponsors, some of whom have pledged to act swiftly to help enact this proposed legislation when Congress reconvenes in January.FOCA establishes abortion as a "fundamental right" throughout the nine months of pregnancy, and forbids any law or policy that could "interfere" with that right or "discriminate" against it in public funding and programs. If FOCA became law, hundreds of reasonable, widely supported, and constitutionally sound abortion regulations now in place would be invalidated. Gone would be laws providing for informed consent, and parental consent or notification in the case of minors. Laws protecting women from unsafe abortion clinics and from abortion practitioners who are not physicians would be overridden.

Restrictions on partial-birth and other late-term abortions would be eliminated. FOCA would knock down laws protecting the conscience rights of nurses, doctors, and hospitals with moral objections to abortion, and force taxpayers to fund abortions throughout the United States. We cannot allow this to happen. We cannot tolerate an even greater loss of innocent human lives. We cannot subject more women and men to the post-abortion grief and suffering that our counselors and priests encounter daily in Project Rachel programs across America.

For twenty-four years, the Catholic Church has provided free, confidential counseling to individuals seeking emotional and spiritual healing after an abortion, whether their own or a loved one's. We look forward to the day when these counseling services are no longer needed, when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law. If FOCA is enacted, however, that day may recede into the very distant future.

In this Respect Life Month, let us rededicate ourselves to defending the basic rights of those who are weakest and most marginalized: the poor, the homeless, the innocent unborn, and the frail and elderly who need our respect and our assistance. In this and in so many ways we will truly build a culture of life.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Prayers of St. Francis of Assisi


+JMJ+
The following are some of the prayers that St Francis composed.

Peace Prayer of Saint Francis
Lord make me
an instrument of your peace

Where there is hatred,
Let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, Joy.

O Divine Master grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled
As to console;
To be understood,
As to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it is in dying that we are
Born to eternal life.
Amen


Salutations to the Blessed Mother:

Hail, O Lady,
Mary, holy Mother of God:
you are the Virgin made Church
and the one chosen by the
most holy Father in heaven
whom He consecrated
with His most holy beloved Son
and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete,
in whom there was and is
the fullness of grace and every good

Hail His Palace!
Hail His Tabernacle!
Hail His Home!
Hail His Robe!
Hail His Servant!
Hail His Mother!

And (hail) all you holy virtues which through the grace and light of the Holy Spirit are poured into the hearts of the faithful so that from their faithless state you may make them faithful to God.
AMEN

Prayer Before the San Damiano Crucifix
Most high, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness
of my heart and give me Lord,
a correct faith, a certain hope,
a perfect charity, sense and knowledge,
so that I may carry out
Your holy and true command.
AMEN

Here is a link to a beautifully orthodox, Franciscan and Marian community: Franciscans of the Immaculate.