September 29, 2016

Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux 2016 | Day 9

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

September 30, 2016

Saint Therese of Lisieux, you said that you would spend your time in heaven doing good on earth.

Your trust in God was complete. Pray that He may increase my trust in His goodness and mercy as I ask for the following petitions…

(State your intentions)

Pray for me that I, like you, may have great and innocent confidence in the loving promises of our God. Pray that I may live my life in union with God’s plan for me, and one day see the Face of God whom you loved so deeply.

Saint Therese, you were faithful to God even unto the moment of your death. Pray for me that I may be faithful to our loving God. May my life bring peace and love to the world through faithful endurance in love for God our savior. Amen.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux Novena Day Nine

Loving God, St. Therese never doubted that her life had meaning. Help me to see how I can bless and love everyone in my life. Especially…

I love your people, Lord. Help me to love them more!
I reflect you to the world, Lord. Help me to reflect you more clearly!
I rely on you, Lord. Help me to rely on you more!
I accept your will, Lord. Help me to accept your will every day!
I try to forgive, Lord. Help me to forgive 70 times 7 times!
I am humble, Lord. Give me more humility!
I see you, Lord. Help me to see you more!
I trust you, Lord. Help me to trust you more!
I love you, Lord. Help me to love you more!

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Glory Be…

O God, who opened your Kingdom to those who are humble and to little ones, lead us to follow trustingly in the little way of St. Thérèse, so that through her intercession we may see your eternal glory revealed and spend eternity with you in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Saint Jerome, Latin Father and Doctor of the Church

St. Jerome
Saint Jerome and the Angel, Simon Vouet, c. 1622/1625.
Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.
— St. Jerome

September 30th, is the feast day of Saint Jerome, one of the four original doctors of the Latin Church, who is best known for translating the Bible from Greek (the Septuagint) into Latin (the Vulgate). He is widely regarded as the most learned of the Latin Fathers. A remarkable scholar and a sometimes prickly man, St. Jerome nevertheless believed deeply in the mercy of Christ.
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One of the greatest Biblical scholars of Christendom, Saint Jerome was born of Christian parents at Stridon in Dalmatia around the year 345. Educated at the local school, he then studied rhetoric in Rome for eight years, before returning to Aquilea to set up a community of ascetics. When that community broke up after three years Jerome went to the east. He met an old hermit named Malchus, who inspired the saint to live in a bare cell, dressed in sackcloth, studying the Scriptures.

He learned Hebrew from a rabbi. Then he returned to Antioch and was reluctantly ordained priest. With his bishop he visited Constantinople and became friendly with Saints Gregory Nazianzen and Gregory of Nyssa. And then in 382 he went again to Rome, to become the personal secretary of Pope Damasus. Here he met his dearest friends, a wealthy woman called Paula, her daughter Eustochium and another wealthy woman named Marcella.

Here too he began his finest work. Commissioned by the pope, he began to revise the Latin version of the psalms and the New Testament, with immense care and scholarship. Jerome eventually translated the whole of the Bible into the Latin version which is known as the Vulgate. But when Damasus died, his enemies forced the saint to leave Rome.

Accompanied by Paula and Eustochium, Jerome went to Bethlehem. There he lived for thirty-four years till his death in 420, building a monastery over which he presided and a convent headed first by Paula and after her death by Eustochium. The saint set up a hospice for the countless pilgrims to that place. His scholarship, his polemics, his treatises and letters often provoked anger and always stimulated those who read them. 'Plato located the soul of man in the head,' he wrote, 'Christ located it in the heart.'

Excerpted from A Calendar of Saints by James Bentley.

Prayer of Saint Jerome for Christ's Mercy

O Lord, show Your mercy to me and gladden my heart. I am like the man on the way to Jericho who was overtaken by robbers, wounded and left for dead. O Good Samaritan, come to my aid. I am like the sheep that went astray. O Good Shepherd, seek me out and bring me home in accord with Your will. Let me dwell in Your house all the days of my life and praise You for ever and ever with those who are there. Amen.

(St. Jerome is the patron saint of: Archeologists, archivists, Bible scholars, librarians, libraries, schoolchildren, students, translators.)

Saint Gregory the Great's Homily on the Archangels of Scripture for the Feast of the Archangels

 Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels

"You should be aware that the word 'angel' denotes a function rather than a nature. Those holy spirits of heaven have indeed always been spirits. They can only be called angels when they deliver some message. Moreover, those who deliver messages of lesser importance are called angels; and those who proclaim messages of supreme importance are called archangels. And so it was that not merely an angel but the archangel Gabriel was sent to the Virgin Mary. It was only fitting that the highest angel should come to announce the greatest of all messages.

Some angels are given proper names to denote the service they are empowered to perform. In that holy city, where perfect knowledge flows from the vision of almighty God, those who have no names may easily be known. But personal names are assigned to some, not because they could not be known without them, but rather to denote their ministry when they came among us. Thus, Michael means 'Who is like God'; Gabriel is 'The Strength of God'; and Raphael is 'God’s Remedy.'

Whenever some act of wondrous power must be performed, Michael is sent, so that his action and his name may make it clear that no one can do what God does by his superior power. So also our ancient foe desired in his pride to be like God, saying: I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of heaven; I will be like the Most High. He will be allowed to remain in power until the end of the world when he will be destroyed in the final punishment. Then, he will fight with the archangel Michael, as we are told by John: A battle was fought with Michael the archangel.

So too Gabriel, who is called God’s strength, was sent to Mary. He came to announce the One who appeared as a humble man to quell the cosmic powers. Thus God’s strength announced the coming of the Lord of the heavenly powers, mighty in battle. Raphael means, as I have said, God’s remedy, for when he touched Tobit’s eyes in order to cure him, he banished the darkness of his blindness. Thus, since he is to heal, he is rightly called God’s remedy."

Excerpted from a homily on the Gospels by St. Gregory the Great from the Divine Office for the Memorial of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels.

Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux 2016 | Day 8

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

September 29, 2016

Saint Therese of Lisieux, you said that you would spend your time in heaven doing good on earth.

Your trust in God was complete. Pray that He may increase my trust in His goodness and mercy as I ask for the following petitions…

(State your intentions)

Pray for me that I, like you, may have great and innocent confidence in the loving promises of our God. Pray that I may live my life in union with God’s plan for me, and one day see the Face of God whom you loved so deeply.

Saint Therese, you were faithful to God even unto the moment of your death. Pray for me that I may be faithful to our loving God. May my life bring peace and love to the world through faithful endurance in love for God our savior. Amen.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux Novena Day Eight

Loving God, You loved St. Therese with a powerful love and made her a source of strength to those who had lost faith in You. Help me to pray with confidence for those in my life who do not believe they can be loved.

I reflect you to the world, Lord. Help me to reflect you more clearly!
I rely on you, Lord. Help me to rely on you more!
I accept your will, Lord. Help me to accept your will every day!
I try to forgive, Lord. Help me to forgive 70 times 7 times!
I am humble, Lord. Give me more humility!
I see you, Lord. Help me to see you more!
I trust you, Lord. Help me to trust you more!
I love you, Lord. Help me to love you more!

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Glory Be…

O God, who opened your Kingdom to those who are humble and to little ones, lead us to follow trustingly in the little way of St. Thérèse, so that through her intercession we may see your eternal glory revealed and spend eternity with you in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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September 28, 2016

Feast of the Archangels — Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael

The Archangels — Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael

September 29th, the Church celebrates the feast of the archangels. Angels are purely incorporeal, rational beings, extensions of God himself, personifying His grace, majesty and intellect. The Angelic Doctor explains that each individual angel is its own species within the genus "angel". Archangels have important roles in the history of salvation. There is no doubt that the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael — the only angels named in Sacred Scripture, have been instrumental in advancing God's divine plan, both in heaven and on earth.

Saint Michael 

St. Michael, the "Prince of the Heavenly Host", is second only to the Mother of God in leading the angels. His name in Hebrew means "Who is like God?". It was Michael who commanded heaven's forces in casting down Lucifer and the fallen angels into hell. In 1886, after receiving a prophetic vision of the evil to be visited upon the world in the 20th century, Pope Leo XIII instituted a prayer invoking St. Michael's protection. Scripture mentions him four times (in Daniel 10:13-21 and 12:1, in Jude 1:9 and in Revelation 12:7-9).

The Church recognizes four distinct offices of St. Michael; 1.) to oppose Satan, 2.) to defend the souls of the faithful against the power of Satan, especially at the hour of death. 3.) to champion God's people, 4.) to accompany souls to their particular judgment, bring them to purgatory, and present them to God following their purgation before entering heaven.

Patron saint: against temptations, against powers of evil, artists, radiologists, bakers, bankers, battle, cemeteries, endangered children, dying, emergency medical technicians, holy death, paramedics, paratroopers, police officers, sailors, the sick, security forces, soldiers, and against storms at sea, among others.

Saint Gabriel

Saint Gabriel's name means "God's strength". He is mentioned in Scripture four times. Gabriel is the archangel most affiliated with the Incarnation and earthly ministry of Christ. Twice in Luke's Gospel, he foretells the arrival of consequential figures: the birth of John the Baptist to his father Zacharias (Luke 1:11–25) and the birth of the Savior to the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:26–38.).

Tradition holds that Gabriel appeared to Saint Joseph and to the shepherds, and that he "strengthened" Christ during his agony in the garden of Gethsemane.

Patron saint: ambassadors, broadcasting, childbirth, clergy, communications, diplomats, messengers, philatelists, postal workers, public relations, radio workers, secular clergy, stamp collectors and telecommunications, among others.

Saint Raphael

All that we know of Saint Raphael, whose name means "God has healed", comes from the Book of Tobit in which he heals Tobias' blindness. His office, according to popular piety, is that of healing and facilitating acts of mercy. He is affiliated with young people venturing into world, particularly concerning learning and marriage.

The angel in John's Gospel who descended to the pool of Bethesda and imbued it with healing powers so that the first to enter it after it moved would be healed of whatever infirmity they possessed is identified with Raphael (John 5:1-4).

Patron saint: physicians, medical workers, love, lovers, mental illness, nurses, pharmacists, shepherds, against sickness, therapists, travelers, young people; young people leaving home for the first time, the blind, happy meetings, matchmakers, Christian marriage, and Catholic studies, among others.

Almighty and everliving God, who disposes in marvelous order ministries both angelic and human, graciously grant that our life on earth may be defended by those who watch over us as they minister perpetually to you in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

September 27, 2016

Saint Wenceslaus, Duke of Bohemia, Martyr

St. Wenceslas
September 28th, is the optional memorial of Saint Wenceslaus of Bohemia (c. 907-929). He was the son of Vratislav I, Duke of Bohemia, whose family was converted by Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius, and Drahomira, daughter of a pagan chief; she was baptized on her wedding day, but never abandoned her pagan beliefs. His paternal grandmother, Saint Ludmila of Bohemia, was Wenceslaus' teacher. She instructed him in the faith and to be a wise leader. It was from her that Wenceslas received his commitment to imitate Christ. He completed his education at the university at Budweis.

When Wenceslas was 13, his father was killed during a pagan reprisal against Christianity, and his grandmother became regent. Jealous of the influence that Ludmila had on Wenceslas, Drahomíra conspired to have her killed. Ludmila was placed under house arrest. A short time later, three henchmen strangled her with her veil while she prayed in her private chapel. After Ludmila’s murder, Drahomíra assumed the role of regent and immediately began persecuting the Christian population. So arbitrary and cruel were her actions, that Wenceslaus was compelled, on behalf of his oppressed subjects, to succeed her posthaste.

In 925, at the age of 18, the good king Wenceslaus (as he is referred to in the popular Christmas carol) ascended to the throne. A devout Christian, and gifted ruler, he worked in collaboration with the Church to end the persecution of Christians, convert pagans, build churches and return exiled priests. Wenceslaus was renowned for his selfless charity. He was a father to his subjects, generous toward orphans, widows, and the poor. He carried wood to the houses of the needy, attended the funerals of the poor, ransomed captives, and visited those in prison. Filled with a deep reverence toward the clergy, he attended Mass daily.

The more Wenceslas was loved and honored, the more his enemies hated him. In September 935, nobles opposed to Wenceslas allied with his mother and younger brother, Boleslas, to assassinate him. His martyrdom is recorded in Lives of the Saints: "Boleslas had become father of a son, and Wenceslas was invited to be present at the baptism of the young prince. Although the holy king had reason to suppose that this invitation covered other intentions, he accepted it, in order not to manifest any distrust of his brother. Having gone to confession and Holy Communion, he went fearlessly to the palace of Boleslas. He was received with great honor and magnificently entertained. At midnight, before the banquet was ended, the Saint quietly left the hall, and went, according to his custom, into the Church. Drahomira seized this opportunity, and calling Boleslas aside, told him that the hour was now come when he could revenge himself and make the royal crown his own. … Seizing his sword, he [Boleslas] hastened, with some attendants, into the Church and stabbed his holy brother with such brutal force, that the blood bespattered the wall, where it is yet to be seen at this day."

Before he died, Wenceslaus forgave his brother and asked for God's mercy on his soul. While his death was for political reasons, Wenceslaus is considered a martyr since the politics arose from the Faith. The Roman Martyrology says of him: "In Bohemia, St. Wenceslas, duke of Bohemia and martyr, renowned for holiness and miracles. Being murdered by the deceit of his brother, he went triumphantly to heaven." The shrine of King Wenceslas is the site of numerous miracles. He is the patron saint of the Czech Republic where his feast is a national holiday, and is the first Slav to be canonized. O God, who taught the Martyr St. Wenceslaus to place the heavenly Kingdom before any earthly one, grant through his prayers that we, in denying ourselves, may hold fast to you with all our heart.

Last Words of Filipino Martyr Saint Lorenzo Ruiz

St. Lorenzo Ruiz

St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino to be canonized a saint, was ordered to recant his Catholic faith or face torture and certain death. He had heard the screams and witnessed the horror as his companions were brutalized. Even while being crushed to death, he refused to renounce his faith. These are his last words:
I am a Catholic and wholeheartedly do accept death for God; Had I a thousand lives, all these to Him shall I offer.
St. Lorenzo Ruiz, help us be faithful even unto the last measure of our lives.

Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux 2016 | Day 7

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

September 28, 2016

Saint Therese of Lisieux, you said that you would spend your time in heaven doing good on earth.

Your trust in God was complete. Pray that He may increase my trust in His goodness and mercy as I ask for the following petitions…

(State your intentions)

Pray for me that I, like you, may have great and innocent confidence in the loving promises of our God. Pray that I may live my life in union with God’s plan for me, and one day see the Face of God whom you loved so deeply.

Saint Therese, you were faithful to God even unto the moment of your death. Pray for me that I may be faithful to our loving God. May my life bring peace and love to the world through faithful endurance in love for God our savior. Amen.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux Novena Day Seven

Loving God, St. Therese offered to You her weakness. Help me to see in my weakness an opportunity to rely completely on you.

I rely on you, Lord. Help me to rely on you more!
I accept your will, Lord. Help me to accept your will every day!
I try to forgive, Lord. Help me to forgive 70 times 7 times!
I am humble, Lord. Give me more humility!
I see you, Lord. Help me to see you more!
I trust you, Lord. Help me to trust you more!
I love you, Lord. Help me to love you more!

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Glory Be…

O God, who opened your Kingdom to those who are humble and to little ones, lead us to follow trustingly in the little way of St. Thérèse, so that through her intercession we may see your eternal glory revealed and spend eternity with you in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs

St. Lorenzo Ruiz
On September 28th, the Church celebrates the optional memorial of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions. Ruiz was born in Manila, around the year 1600, the son of a Chinese father and a Tagala mother, both devout Catholics. His spiritual formation included serving as an altar boy and sacristan in the Dominican run parish church of Saint Gabriel in Binondo.

Educated by Dominican friars, Ruiz earned the title of escribano (calligrapher) due to his expert penmanship. He spoke Chinese, Tagalog and Spanish [the latter he learned from the Dominicans]. He married Rosario, a native, and they had two sons and a daughter. Ruiz was a member of the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary. He is the first Filipino saint.

In 1636, his life was altered abruptly when he was falsely accused of killing a Spaniard while working as a clerk. Little else is known about the charge except the testimony of two Dominican priests that "he was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide to which he was present or which was attributed to him." If captured, as a Catholic felon, Ruiz faced brutal torture and certain death.

He sought asylum on a ship carrying three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet, and Miguel de Aozaraza, a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Only at sea did they learn they were going to Japan where Catholics at the time were systematically persecuted.

They landed at Okinawa, were questioned, arrested, and then taken to Nagasaki. There they were subjected to a series of unspeakable tortures: After the forced consumption of huge amounts of water, they were made to lie down. Long boards were placed on their stomachs which guards then stepped, on causing water to shoot violently from their mouth, nose and ears. Bamboo needles were inserted under their fingernails and pounded into the quick. Most of the martyrs succumbed to these torments. Those who remained, including Ruiz, were put to death by being hung upside down over a pit. This was extremely painful: though the victim could recant and gain release. Ruiz refused to do so, and died from blood loss and suffocation. His remains were cremated and thrown into the sea.

There were nine priests, two religious, two sisters, and three laymen, (among the latter, Lawrence Ruiz) who received the crown of martyrdom. St. John Paul II’s homily for the Beatification of Lorenzo Ruiz extols Ruiz’s heroic witness: "The example of Lorenzo Ruiz, the son of a Chinese father and Tagala mother, reminds us that everyone's life and the whole of one's life must be at Christ's disposal. Christianity means daily giving, in response to the gift of Christ who came into the world so that all might have life and have it to the full. ...To die for the faith is a gift to some; to live the faith is a call for all." Grant us, we pray, Lord God, the same perseverance shown by your holy Martyrs Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and his companions in serving you and their neighbor, since those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness are forever blessed in your heavenly Kingdom.

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for October 2016

Pope Francis' coat of arms Please remember the Holy Father Pope Francis' intentions in prayer through the month of October:

Universal: Journalists


That journalists, in carrying out their work, may always be motivated by respect for truth and a strong sense of ethics.

Evangelization: World Mission Day

That World Mission Day may renew within all Christian communities the joy of the Gospel and the responsibility to announce it.

September 26, 2016

Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux 2016 | Day 6

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

September 27, 2016

Saint Therese of Lisieux, you said that you would spend your time in heaven doing good on earth.

Your trust in God was complete. Pray that He may increase my trust in His goodness and mercy as I ask for the following petitions…

(State your intentions)

Pray for me that I, like you, may have great and innocent confidence in the loving promises of our God. Pray that I may live my life in union with God’s plan for me, and one day see the Face of God whom you loved so deeply.

Saint Therese, you were faithful to God even unto the moment of your death. Pray for me that I may be faithful to our loving God. May my life bring peace and love to the world through faithful endurance in love for God our savior. Amen.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux Novena Day Six

Loving God, St. Therese experienced every day as a gift from You. She saw it as a time to love You through other people. May I, too, see every day as an opportunity to say yes to You.

I accept your will, Lord. Help me to accept your will every day!
I try to forgive, Lord. Help me to forgive 70 times 7 times!
I am humble, Lord. Give me more humility!
I see you, Lord. Help me to see you more!
I trust you, Lord. Help me to trust you more!
I love you, Lord. Help me to love you more!

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Glory Be…

O God, who opened your Kingdom to those who are humble and to little ones, lead us to follow trustingly in the little way of St. Thérèse, so that through her intercession we may see your eternal glory revealed and spend eternity with you in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Saint Vincent de Paul, Founder, Apostle of Charity

St. Vincent de Paul
September 27th, is the memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul (1576 -1660). He was born in Gascony, France, a poor farming community, the third of six children to Jean and Bertrande de Paul. Although he exhibited an early predilection for reading and writing, his formal education began at 15, when he was sent to a Franciscan seminary to study theology. Vincent's interest in the priesthood was largely to establish a successful ministry and obtain a benefice, with which he could retire and support his family. Providential experiences would move the future saint’s heart to help the impoverished, the sick, the enslaved, the abandoned and the marginalized. Far from living a comfortable life, St. Vincent undertook the apostolic work of charity instead.

Accepted into the local Franciscan seminary, he excelled immensely. Eventually, Vincent tutored the children of local nobles, and used the proceeds to continue his theological studies at the University of Toulose. He was ordained in 1600. In 1605, he was captured by Moorish pirates on a ship traveling from Marseilles to Narbone and sold as a slave in Tunis [Africa]. After two years in captivity he and his master [whom Vincent converted] escaped and returned to France.

At Avignon, Vincent continued his studies. While there he became a chaplain to the Count of Goigny and was placed in charge of charitable efforts for the poor. It was the Countess de Gondi (whose servant he had helped) who persuaded her husband to endow and support a group of able and zealous missionaries who would work among the poor, the vassals and tenants and the country people in general. Vincent was too humble to accept leadership at first, but after working for some time in Paris among imprisoned galley-slaves, he returned to be the leader of what is now known as the Congregation of the Mission, or the Vincentians. These priests, with vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability, were to devote themselves entirely to the people in smaller towns and villages.

Later, Vincent established confraternities of charity for the spiritual and physical relief of the poor and sick of each parish. From these, with the help of St. Louise de Marillac, came the Sisters of Charity, "Whose convent is the sickroom, whose chapel is the parish church, whose cloister is the streets of the city." He organized the rich women of Paris to collect funds for his missionary projects, founded several hospitals, collected relief funds for the victims of war and ransomed over 1200 galley slaves from North Africa. He was zealous in conducting retreats for clergy at a time when there was great laxity, abuse, and ignorance among them. He was a pioneer in clerical training and instrumental in establishing seminaries.

St. Vincent worked tirelessly to help those in need. He died at Saint Lazarus's house, Paris on September 27, 1660. Pope Benedict XIII beatified him in 1729. On June 16, 1737 he was canonized by Pope Leo XIII who declared St. Vincent the patron saint of charitable societies. His motto was: "God sees you." O God, who for the relief of the poor and the formation of the clergy endowed the Priest St. Vincent de Paul with apostolic virtues, grant, we pray, that, afire with that same spirit, we may love what he loved and put into practice what he taught.

September 25, 2016

Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux 2016 | Day 5

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

September 26, 2016

Saint Therese of Lisieux, you said that you would spend your time in heaven doing good on earth.

Your trust in God was complete. Pray that He may increase my trust in His goodness and mercy as I ask for the following petitions…

(State your intentions)

Pray for me that I, like you, may have great and innocent confidence in the loving promises of our God. Pray that I may live my life in union with God’s plan for me, and one day see the Face of God whom you loved so deeply.

Saint Therese, you were faithful to God even unto the moment of your death. Pray for me that I may be faithful to our loving God. May my life bring peace and love to the world through faithful endurance in love for God our savior. Amen.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux Novena Day Five

Loving God, You gave St. Therese the gift of forgiving others even when she felt hurt and betrayed. Help me to be able to forgive others who have wounded me, especially…

I try to forgive, Lord. Help me to forgive 70 times 7 times!
I am humble, Lord. Give me more humility!
I see you, Lord. Help me to see you more!
I trust you, Lord. Help me to trust you more!
I love you, Lord. Help me to love you more!

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Glory Be…

O God, who opened your Kingdom to those who are humble and to little ones, lead us to follow trustingly in the little way of St. Thérèse, so that through her intercession we may see your eternal glory revealed and spend eternity with you in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Optional Memorial of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, Martyrs

The martyrdom of Sts. Cosmas and Damian
Beheading Of Saint Cosmas And Saint Damian, Fra Angelico, c. 1439.

September 26th, is the feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian, 3rd century martyrs, and brothers born in Arabia, who became skilled physicians, greatly revered in both the Orthodox and Latin rites. Little is known about them, but popular piety attests they were twin siblings and medical doctors, never charging a fee for their services. For this they were lauded, "Unmercenaries". By virtue of their charity and altruistic healing, they led many to the Christian faith. The esteem in which they are held and the antiquity of their veneration indicate the memory of early Christians, who after the Diocletian persecution, received a new cult of witnesses.

As gifted physicians, Sts. Cosmas and Damian obeyed the words of our Savior: “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” (Matthew 10:8) Numerous cures resulted from their intervention. On one occasion, they were summoned to a grievously ill woman named Palladia, whose condition was seemingly hopeless. Through the brother’s fervent prayer, the Lord healed the deadly disease and Palladia’s heath was restored. Immediately, she got up from her bed and gave thanks to God. According to legend, their most famous healing was grafting the leg from a recently deceased Ethiopian to replace another patient's cancerous leg. This miraculous procedure is depicted in many paintings and illuminations showing Sts. Cosmas and Damian performing the surgery.

Their renown in the Christian communities of Asia Minor was such that when the persecution under Diocletian began, Cosmas and Damian were targeted. In 287, by order of, Lysias, the Prefect of Cilicia, Cosmas and Damian were arrested and ordered to deny their faith. They refused and underwent a series of tortures including stoning, crucifixion and being shot by arrows. They received the crown of martyrdom by beheading. Their younger brothers, Anthimus, Leontius and Euprepius, who were close to them throughout life, shared in their martyrdom.

The Miraculous Intercession of Sts. Cosmas and Damian

Many miracles were worked following the martyrdoms of Sts. Cosmas and Damian. The Orthodox Church recounts several intercessions owed to them, including this one: There lived in Thereman, near the church of Cosmas and Damian, a man named Malchus. One day, he departed on an extended journey, leaving his wife behind. Before doing so, he prayed to Sts. Cosmas and Damian, entrusting her to their heavenly protection. A demon assumed the appearance of one of Malchus’ friends in an attempt to kill her. The demon called on the woman, saying that Malchus had sent him to bring her to him. Believing him, she went along. The demon brought her to a solitary place with the intention of ending her life. Sensing mortal danger was imminent, the woman prayed to God for help.

Suddenly, two fearsome men appeared. The devil let go of the woman, fleeing in such haste, he fell off a cliff. The men accompanied the woman home where she thanked them effusively saying “My deliverers, to whom I shall be grateful to the end of my days, what are your names?” They replied, “We are the servants of Christ, Cosmas and Damian,” before disappearing. The woman joyously told everyone about what had happened to her. In the church of Cosmas and Damian, she went up to the icon of the holy brothers, and Glorifying God, tearfully offered prayers of thanksgiving for her deliverance. From that on, time the holy brothers were seen as protectors of the inviolability of marriage, and conjugal harmony.

Together with Saint Luke, Sts. Cosmas and Damian are the patron saints of doctors and the medical profession. They are invoked in the Canon of the Mass, in the prayer known as the, Communicantes, and in the Litany of Saints. Their example as men of profound faith and science learning exemplifies God's blessing upon the art of healing and that respect for every form of science, which is an important part of Christian tradition. May you be magnified, Almighty Lord, by the memory of your Sts. Cosmas and Damian, for with providence beyond words, you have conferred upon them everlasting glory, and on us, your unfailing love.

Homily for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 2, 2016, Year C

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing

The prophet Habakkuk
(Click here for today’s readings)

During the last sixty or seventy years there has been among us a tremendous loss in our willingness to trust others. Beginning with the Vietnam War and immediately thereafter with Watergate, our confidence and faith in our governmental leaders has demonstrably diminished. The huge increases in divorce are symptomatic of our general loss of trust in others. It was once believed that science and technology would make our world a better place, and education was supposed to be the key to making us better people. Education was supposed to cause us to respect others and treat others better than had been the case in past human history. But they all have failed us; we don’t trust them much any more to improve our human lot.

Presently we find ourselves with diminishing faith in our political institutions. Both the Congress and the Presidency are at all-time lows in terms of polls measuring the confidence that American voters have in them. In recent years there has been a crisis of faith in our Church leaders although that seems to be turning around due to the leadership of Pope Francis. Everywhere we hear of elevating hopes because of Pope Francis and his vision. Truly he is a good father figure for all Catholics… and some non-Catholics as well.

Then there is the faith required for successful human relations. Our everyday dealings with others depend on trust. Unfortunately, people betray that trust, either by momentary weakness, or by premeditated deception, or when they run hidden agendas on us. The corporate scandals of recent years show us that humans can deceive in monstrous ways. Because of such sad experiences, as we grow older, we become more circumspect and tend to have only a few really close friends. If we are not to wind up completely isolated we need to deliberately cultivate trust and refuse to abandon faith in others and have greater faith in God’s providence.

The prophet Habakkuk lived about 600 years before Christ, around the time of the Babylonian capture of Jerusalem. The Jews were in desperate shape, threatened by their enemies and falling apart internally. Their moral fiber was unraveling. Corruption beset them. Their religious practices had diminished to the point where they were only empty and formal rites which they merely externally observed. Spiritually they were in near collapse.

Habakkuk had the temerity to call God into an accounting, crying out:

How long, Lord, must I call for help,
    but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
    but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
    Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
    there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
    and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
    so that justice is perverted.

How many of us have heard those words in our own day? How many of us have heard them whispered in our own hearts and souls?

If we mature enough spiritually to cast cynicism aside, if we reject constant mistrust of others, and if we throw away our perpetual attitudes of disbelief, life will quickly change for us. We will begin to see others, reality and life in a whole new way. Light will enter into our dark world. We will have moved mountains, the mountains of darkness that smother our hearts and souls.

One of the wonderful gifts that comes with being a priest is the continual encounters we priests have with people of faith. Many times I go into a home or into a hospital room where a person is dying. You might think that this would be a terrible scene, something very difficult to do. Usually, however, it is not. People of faith, in the midst of tears, are most often ready to let go and trust God to care for their loved ones. Many times the dying person himself or herself has such a deep faith that he or she radiates a peace in what would otherwise be empty despair and paralyzing fear of death. Many a priest realizes that he is among people whose service to the Lord is so strong that they serve the Lord even in crises, particularly in their own personal sufferings and crises. So often I realize that these same people have spent their lives saying their prayers, performing acts of Christian charity, coming to Mass, and receiving the Sacraments and living beautiful lives in their confidence and their faith in God. Their faith life is so strong in their daily lives that it is their sure support in all of their times of crises.

Let’s you and I now stand in the shoes of the apostles who in today’s gospel account said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” And let’s also hear Him say to us “If your faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” In other words Jesus is telling them, “Don’t let yourselves off the hook! You have plenty of faith to accomplish all I ask.” This text is often misinterpreted as meaning, “O ye of little faith!” as a put-down of the disciples for not even having the faith of a tiny seed. On the contrary! The disciples are suggesting that God needs to give them more faith. Jesus tells them that they have plenty of faith already. The text of the original Greek is clear that the sense of the “if” clause is the one that implies that the situation is already true. “If you have faith – and you DO!” is its meaning. It takes a faith just the size of the teensiest mustard seen to move aside mountains of cynicism and despair. Jesus is telling us, “You have plenty of faith to accomplish all I ask, so stop making excuses for yourselves.”

Today we need to take hold of the truth that we do have faith and that if we dare to use it we can change our lives. He’s telling us that we really don’t need more faith, we simply have it; it’s God’s gift to us and we should rely on it. If we do, we will be useful and productive.

 If Republicans and Democrats recover faith in each other’s best intentions and if the President and the Congress do likewise, then there are no limits to the mountains they can move and to what they can accomplish. Do we believe in ourselves and in God, or do we rely only on our own power and our own politics?