July 26, 2016

Pray for Fr. Jacques Hamel, the French Priest Martyred at the Hands of ISIS

Fr. Jacques Hamel

This morning in Normandy, France, Father Jacques Hamel was killed while saying Mass. Interrupting the liturgy, two ISIS terrorists took Fr. Hamel, an 84-year-old priest, two nuns, and two parishioners hostage inside a Catholic church. Police arrived quickly to the scene and a hostage situation began. During the standoff Fr. Hamel's throat was slit by the terrorists. One of the other hostages, a nun, is in serious condition; the other three were left unharmed.

Fr. Jacques Hamel, a revered and devoted priest, is a martyr for the faith. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him! May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Prayer for the Persecuted Church

O great cloud of witnesses. O host of Angels and Saints worshiping God for all eternity! O holy ones in heaven above, Pray for us.

You who were once part of the Church on earth, you who were faithful servants of the Church Militant, you who suffered for the love of God, Pray for us.

In all ages, the Church is persecuted and hated. We pray, O Lord, through your holy Saints, that we may be blessed with the freedom to worship and adore you at all times! We pray that you may bless your Church throughout the world and me, personally, with your grace to persevere with love in the face of persecution just as You did on the Cross. Amen. Sts. Perpetua and Felicity pray for us.

July 25, 2016

The Miraculous Discovery of Saint Anne's Relics

St. Anne with Mary
While touring his kingdom at the close of the 8th century, Charlemagne found himself in the town of Apt in the south of France. He was there for the dedication of the church on Easter Sunday. Charlemagne had his notary record the events of that day in a letter which still exists, addressed to Pope Saint Leo III. The church had been built on the site of an ancient chapel

Besides Charlemagne and his party there was a huge crowd of nobleman, clergy and people from surrounding villages. This included a 14-year-old boy, the son of a local nobleman, who had been deaf, blind and mute since birth.  In the middle of the ceremony, the young boy suddenly walked onto the alter and began banging over and over again on an alter step. This commotion caused great embarrassment, especially on so solemn an occasion. Despite being led away and admonished by onlookers, he did this twice more during the Mass.

Charlemagne pondered the young boy’s actions. After Mass, he commanded that the step the boy had been banging on be lifted up to see what might lie beneath. Work men lifted up the step as well as the huge stones underneath it. To everyone's amazement, as they started moving the huge stones they uncovered a door. When they open it up, they discovered an aging stairway descending down to the crypt where centuries before Masses had been said during a time of great persecution.

The boy led Charlemagne down to the underground crypt. There he began to bang on a wall. When the wall was opened up, it revealed a long dark passageway. The young boy led Charlemagne and the onlookers down the pathway until they came to another crypt from which escaped rays of light. The light came from a burning vigil lamp. All who witnessed this were astonished. Suddenly, the light was extinguished. Instantly, the boy miraculously obtained the use of his senses. He cried out: "In this crypt rests the body of Saint Anne, Mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary." Moments later a reliquary case was found inscribed with the words: "This is the body of Blessed Anne, Mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary." When the case was opened, it emitted a sweet perfume. Emperor Charlemagne led all present in venerating the sacred relic.

St. Teresa of Avila on St. Anne, the Mother of Mary

St. Teresa of Avila
We know and are convinced that our good mother St. Anne helps in all needs, dangers, and tribulations, for our Lord wishes to show us that He will do in Heaven what she asks of Him for us.
 — St. Teresa of Avila

Mary herself once said that those who honor her mother "will obtain great aid in every need, especially at the hour of death."

July 26th: The Memorial of Sts. Joachim and Anne

Sts. Joachim and Anne with the Blessed Virgin Mary

Saints Joachim and Anne where the parents of the most holy Virgin Mary. Sacred Scripture does not mentioned them. Much of what we know of them comes from pious tradition. Among holy parents Joachim and Anne are unique. By God's divine grace their daughter was born the Immaculately Conception. From them Mary received her training to be the Mother of God. Devotion to Ann and Joachim is an extension of the honor accorded our Blessed Mother. They serve as the consummate role models for parents. As the grandparents of Jesus, they have a direct bloodline to Christ Incarnate. In their devotion to God and Our Lady, they should be revered and emulated. By virtue of their intimacy with the Holy Family, Sts. Joaquin and Anne are the most powerful of intercessors. (See homily below.)

The Lives of Sts. Joachim and Anne

Who does not know about the great shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupre in Canada, where miracles abound, where cured cripples leave their crutches, and where people come from thousands of miles to pray to the grandmother of Jesus? At one time, July 26 was the feast of St. Anne only, but with the new calendar the two feasts of the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary have been joined and are celebrated today. Our information about Mary's parents comes from an apocryphal Christian writing, the Protoevangelium Jacobi (or Gospel of James), written about the year 170. According to this story, Joachim was a prominent and respected man who had no children, and he and his wife, Anne, looked upon this as a punishment from God. In answer to their prayers, Mary was born and was dedicated to God at a very early age.

From this early Christian writing have come several of the feast days of Mary, particularly the Immaculate Conception, the Nativity of Mary, and her Assumption into Heaven. Very early also came feast days in honor of SS. Joachim and Anne, and in the Middle Ages numerous churches, chapels, and confraternities were dedicated to St. Anne. The couple early became models of Christian marriage, and their meeting at the Golden Gate in Jerusalem has been a favorite subject of Christian artists.

Anne is often shown in paintings with Jesus and Mary and is considered a subject that attracts attention, since Anne is the grandmother of Jesus. Her two great shrines — that of Ste. Anne d'Auray in Britanny, France, and that of Ste. Anne de Beaupre near Quebec in Canada — are very popular. We know little else about the lives of Mary's parents, but considering the person of Mary, they must have been two very remarkable people to have been given such a daughter and to have played so important a part in the work of the Redemption.

There is a church of St. Anne in Jerusalem and it is believed to be built on the site of the home of SS. Joachim and Anne, when they lived in Jerusalem.

Excerpted from The One Year Book of Saints, Rev. Clifford Stevens.

Collect Prayer

O Lord, God of our Fathers, who bestowed on Saints Joachim and Anne this grace, that of them should be born the Mother of your incarnate Son, grant, through the prayers of both, that we may attain the salvation you have promised to your people. 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.

Homily: Sts. Joachim and Anne

July 24, 2016

Saint Anne Novena | 2016 | Day 9

St. Anne and the Theotokos

July 25, 2016

Day 9 - St. Anne Novena

Most holy mother of the Virgin Mary, glorious Saint Anne, I, a miserable sinner, confiding in your kindness, choose you today as my special advocate. I offer all my interests to your care and maternal solicitude. O my very good mother and advocate, deign to accept me and to adopt me as your child.

O glorious Saint Anne, I beg you, by the passion of my most loving Jesus, the Son of Mary, your most holy daughter, to assist me in all the necessities both of my body and my soul. Venerable Mother, I beg you to obtain for me the favor I seek in this novena…

(State your intention here.)

…and the grace of leading a life perfectly conformable in all things to the Divine Will. I place my soul in your hands and in those of your kind daughter. I ask for your favor in order that, appearing under your patronage before the Supreme Judge, He may find me worthy of enjoying His Divine Presence in your holy companionship in Heaven. Amen.

Pray for us, Saint Anne, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

O Lord, God of our Fathers, who bestowed on Saints Joachim and Anne this grace, that of them should be born the Mother of your incarnate Son, grant, through the prayers of both, that we may attain the salvation you have promised to your people. 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.

For more on this novena and daily email reminders go to PrayMoreNovenas.com.

All of Pope Paul VI’s Warnings About Artificial Birth Control in Humanae vitae Have Come True. And a Reason for Hope

Pope Paul VI

July 25th marks the 48 year anniversary of the publication of Pope Paul VI's landmark encyclical Humanae vitae (Of Human Life: On the Regulation of Birth). It reaffirmed the Church's teaching on the immorality of artificial birth control, the meaning/purpose of conjugal love between husband and wife and the sanctity of marriage. The encyclical was greeted with criticism in many circles, but was applauded by others, including St. Padre Pio, who days before his death conveyed his support in a letter to Paul VI.

Pope Paul VI’s seventh and last encyclical, in addition to affirming the Church’s long held prohibition against artificial contraception, articulates a vision of marriage and responsible parenthood that underscores the immense dignity and divine calling of husband and wife. Paul VI spoke of marriage as "the wise institution of the Creator to realize in mankind His design of love" (HV 8). Marriage properly understood, is the conjugal union of a man and woman for life, of exclusive and mutual fidelity, for the procreation and education of children. The dual purpose of sexual union is unitive: the bonding of spouses in greater love and intimacy, and, procreative: to collaborate freely and responsibly with God in the transmission of human life so as to be open to the blessing of children.

In addition to discussing the joys and challenges of matrimony, Pope Paul IV enumerates four consequences should the Church's teaching on contraception be dismissed. They are: infidelity and moral decay; a loss of respect for women by men; the abuse of power and; unlimited dominion, the coercive use of reproductive technologies by governments. (The text from Humanae vitae cited below is from paragraph 17 of the encyclical.)

1. Infidelity and Moral Decay

Five decades after Humanae vitae's release, the number of divorces, abortions, our-of-wedlock pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases have skyrocketed. Paul VI's observation that: "Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards," has only grown more prescient with the passage of time.

2. Loss of Respect for Women by Men

Even when women were second class citizens, their role as mothers, wives and nurturers was widely valued. Every effort was made to honor and protect their virtue. With the advent of artificial birth control, men increasingly view pregnancy as their female partner’s responsibility and refuse to marry even after fathering children. Paul VI's words have proved to be prophetic. "Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection."

3. The Abuse of Power

Paul VI contends that the widespread acceptance of contraception would be a "dangerous weapon... in the hands of those public authorities who take no heed of moral exigencies." Many parts of the world face underpopulation; whereby the birth rate is far less than the number of deaths annually. Such societies face "demographic suicide" amid an "anti-child" mentality that discourages large families and putting children ahead of career. Paul VI predicted public authorities embracing such a mindset:

"Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law... Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? ...

It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife."

4. Unlimited Dominion

Test-tube-babies, gender reassignment surgery, frozen embryos, and the passage of euthanasia laws all reflect our attempts to conform nature to our desires instead of cooperating with it. Paul VI's insight presages these developments: "Consequently, unless we are willing that the responsibility of procreating life should be left to the arbitrary decision of men, we must accept that there are certain limits, beyond which it is wrong to go, to the power of man over his own body and its natural functions—limits, let it be said, which no one, whether as a private individual or as a public authority, can lawfully exceed."

A Reason for Hope

Paul VI makes a positive observation about the good that comes from following Church teaching on contraception. While acknowledging that spouses may face difficulties acquiring the self-discipline needed to practice periodic abstinence, he nonetheless affirms such self-discipline is possible, with the help of sacramental graces. In paragraph 21, he states:

"For if with the aid of reason and of free will they are to control their natural drives, there can be no doubt at all of the need for self-denial. Only then will the expression of love, essential to married life, conform to right order. This is especially clear in the practice of periodic continence. Self-discipline of this kind is a shining witness to the chastity of husband and wife and, far from being a hindrance to their love of one another, transforms it by giving it a more truly human character. And if this self-discipline does demand that they persevere in their purpose and efforts, it has at the same time the salutary effect of enabling husband and wife to develop to their personalities and to be enriched with spiritual blessings. For it brings to family life abundant fruits of tranquility and peace."

Paul VI's positive vision of self-discipline between spouses is further explicated by Saint John Paul II in his Theology of the Body. Moreover, the proliferation of information and interest about natural family planning and its increasing use among Christians of every denomination is proof that it is a viable alternative to artificial contraception. Paul VI's vision of married love is a powerful response to the excesses and moral depravity of the "Sexual Revolution."

Feast of Saint James the Greater, Apostle

St. James the Greater
July 25th is the Feast of Saint James, son of Zebedee, also known as James the Greater, an Apostle of Jesus, and the first Apostle to be martyred. He was a son of Zebedee and Salome, the brother of St. John the Apostle. It was Jesus who called St. James and his brother St. John, "sons of thunder". James (with Peter and John) had the privilege of witnessing the Transfiguration, the raising to life of Jairus’ daughter and Our Lord’s agony in the garden of Gethsemane. James was a fisherman by trade when Jesus called him to be a disciple. He preached the Gospel in Iberia (the present day country of Georgia), Spain and the Holy Land. Tradition holds that Mary appeared to St. James before her Assumption.

He was beheaded in Jerusalem in 44 AD at the order of Herod Agrippa. The Roman officer who guarded James watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial. Later, the officer walked beside James to the place of execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James to accept beheading as a Christian. St. James is mentioned in the Roman Canon of the Mass. He is the patron saint of Spain. James the Greater is not to be confused with James the Lesser or with the author of the Letter of James.

The Life of St. James

In Spain, he is called El Senor Santiago, the patron saint of horsemen and soldiers, and his great shrine at Santiago de Compostela in that country has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries. He is one of those that Jesus called Boanerges, "son of thunder," the brother of John the Evangelist and the son of Zebedee the fisherman from Galilee.

St. James the Greater and his brother John were apparently partners with those other two brothers, Peter and Andrew, and lived in Bethsaida, on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. How and where James first met Jesus, we do not know; but there is an old legend that makes Salome, his mother, a sister of Mary, and if this were the case, he would have known Jesus from childhood.

Along with Peter and his brother John, James was part of the inner circle of Jesus, who witnessed the Transfiguration, were witnesses to certain of His miracles, like the raising of the daughter of Jairus, and accompanied Him to the Garden of Gethsemani. Like his brother, he was active in the work of evangelization after the death of Jesus, and one legend, very unlikely, even has him going to Spain after Jesus' resurrection.

His prominence and his presence in Jerusalem must have been well known, for scarcely a dozen years after the Resurrection, he became involved in the political maneuverings of the day and was arrested and executed by King Herod Agrippa. This was followed by the arrest of Peter also, so his death must have been part of a purge of Christian leaders by Agrippa, who saw the new Christian movement as a threat to Judaism.

Jesus had foretold this kind of fate when He prophesied that James and his brother John would "drink of the same chalice" of suffering as Himself. The two brothers had asked to be seated at the right of Jesus and at His left in His kingdom, and Jesus told them that they would be with Him in a far different way than they expected.

James's death is the only biblical record we have of the death of one of the Apostles, and he was the first of that chosen band to give his life for his Master.

Excerpted from The One Year Book of Saints, Rev. Clifford Stevens

Collect Prayer

Almighty ever-living God, who consecrated the first fruits of your Apostles by the blood of Saint James, grant, we pray, that your Church may be strengthened by his confession of faith and constantly sustained by his protection. 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.

Homily for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 31, 2016, Year C

Orthodox icon - The parable of the rich fool

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing

(Click here for today’s readings)

"Vain" is one of those words that has multiple meanings and can be used in several different ways. We use it when talking about someone who is arrogant and self-centered. One thinks of Hollywood movies stars or perhaps of some TV talk show hosts who are hollow and conceited.. Home furnishings called “vanity tables” are built for the purpose of holding mirrors and various beauty aids. “Vain” can be used when describing our efforts that end up being worthless. Folks that are constantly letting you know about their accomplishments are vain and conceited. When we strive for something that is hollow or worthless we eventually realize that all of our efforts were spent in vain.

In today’s first reading taken from the Book of Wisdom the word vanity is applied to everything that is not directed toward God, everything that is directed toward the things of this world.

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity! Here is one who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill, and yet to another who has not labored over it, he must leave property. This also is vanity and a great misfortune. For what profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heart with which he has labored under the sun? All his days sorrow and grief are his occupation; even at night his mind is not at rest. This also is vanity.

That’s practical advice. How many sleepless nights have we spent tossing and turning with worries and concerns that either have not come to pass or which we eventually realize were ultimately worthless?

St. Paul likewise gives us wise advice found in today’s second reading when he tells us we should rid ourselves of immorality, impurity, passion, lustful desires and all of the fool’s gold offered us by the worldly. Why? Because in the long run all such things are worthless and empty and all of our energies devoted to those things will be vain. Is lusting the path to happiness? What will it all mean and what value will it have when we meet Christ face to face?

We live in a very competitive world, a world that tells us we are really somebody when we are popular, when we have clothes or money, or look more beautiful than others, a world that judges our value on what we have or how we appear. Our professions, the advertising industry¸ the world of fashion, and even our academic institutions are all built on measures of value that have nothing to do with how God sees us and values us. Who does not want to be Number One? Who among us in our competitive world does not want to come out on top? Who among us does not want to be the most popular? But the question you need to face and I need to face is: Who is measuring our value?

In the end, like the man Jesus was talking about in today’s Gospel account, the man who was so concerned about the things of this world, we may hear God saying to us: ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Jesus gives us fair warning in telling us: Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”

On the day we die, what can we give back to God that came to us from this life, a life that He gave to you and to me? Will it be our real estate holdings? A big bank account? Our popularity? Fine clothes? A fancy car? Death, the great leveler, will render what this world values to be valueless. Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!

God wants us to die rich; He wants us to give Him a life that has value, a life that was lived well, rich in meaning and not lived in vain. What He wants and what we can give Him, regardless of our economic position or our social status, is a spirit, a soul that is richly adorned with attitudes and personality characteristics that are similar to those of Jesus Christ. The riches of this world are extrinsic to our souls rather than intrinsic. We should be pursing what is intrinsic and will be part of us forever rather than what is extrinsic and will disappear when we die.

Some Christians advocate a certain false sort of piety, one based on the notion that we are nothing and ought to consider ourselves to be nothing. It’s a sort of so-called humility that falsifies the riches that God wants us to have. We must be rich in the eyes of God. It’s true that by ourselves we can do nothing but it is also true that with God there is nothing we cannot do. After all, God wants us to grow, to mature, to develop characteristics that are rich in the gifts that God has given to us. God does not create junk and He does not want us to consider ourselves to be junk. We do not honor God our Father in heaven by considering ourselves to be worthless.

Worldly people are afraid to die. Their feelings of self-worth are centered on things, not on virtues. The worldly would have us think the only place to have happiness is here in this world. They adorn themselves with the cosmetics of this world and attempt to cover death with cosmetics. The world values us by what we have of this world’s trinkets rather than by what we can give to God when we die.

We stew too much, stew over what we don’t have. We stew over our losses, about preserving what we’ve got. But the truth is that each day has its own gains, its own gifts along with some losses. We need to value what really matters, what is of lasting value, not what is passing. We need to value the love we have given, the love of God that can be present in the love we have given to others.

Each of our days is filled with the presence of the Son of God. The risen Christ is present in the each days rising sun. Every sun rising carries within it the Resurrection of Jesus. Likewise each tomorrow brings with it a fresh start, a new beginning, and the opportunity to live in the new life given us in the death and resurrection of Jesus. True, there will be gains and losses, just as there were in the life of Jesus. The crucial thing is for you and me to find Him in our today's and tomorrows so that we can receive and share His presence with those around us. With that vision we can wake up from the night of death and rise in the presence of God where we will find that our losses in this world and our gains in the life God has given us will not have been in vain.

In the music of the Psalm response between today’s first and second reading we heard: Fill us at daybreak with your kindness, that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days. And may the gracious care of the Lord our God be ours; prosper the work of our hands for us! Prosper the work of our hands!

Without God we can do nothing of lasting value. With God everything we do will have great value. May God prosper the work of your hands so that nothing you do will have been done in vain.

July 23, 2016

Saint Anne Novena | 2016 | Day 8

St. Anne and the Theotokos

July 24, 2016

Day 8 - St. Anne Novena

Remember, O Saint Anne, you whose name signifies grace and mercy, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, and sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto you, good, and kind mother; I take refuge at your feet, burdened with the weight of my sins. O holy mother of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, despise not my petition…

(State your intention here.)

But hear me and grant my prayer. Amen.

Pray for us, Saint Anne, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

O Lord, God of our Fathers, who bestowed on Saints Joachim and Anne this grace, that of them should be born the Mother of your incarnate Son, grant, through the prayers of both, that we may attain the salvation you have promised to your people. 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.

For more on this novena and daily email reminders go to PrayMoreNovenas.com.

Fr. Butler's Homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 24, 2016, Year C

Fr. René J. Butler, M.S.
Provincial Superior, La Salette Missionaries of North America
Hartford, Connecticut

Christ teaching the disciples to pray (Click here for today’s readings)

About 30 years ago I worked at a seminary. We had a librarian named Sr. Frances. Whenever she would remind me of something I had promised to do, I would answer, “In due time.” To which she always replied with a paraphrase of Luke 16:22: “In due time the beggar died.”

Most of us know the type. They ask for something. They remind us the next day. And the next, and the next... Until we do it, convenient or not, just to make it stop!

Today’s story of Abraham has a brief prologue that is not included in the lectionary.  “With Abraham walking with them to see them on their way, the men set out from there and looked down toward Sodom. The LORD considered: Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, now that he is to become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth are to find blessing in him? So the LORD said”—and here begins our text, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great,” etc.

God actually shows no impatience with Abraham. Not only doesn’t he “make it stop”, but as we have just see he sets the stage himself. He wants Abraham to intercede. We mustn’t think this discussion lasted only a few minutes. It not doubt followed a leisurely ancient Middle Eastern pace.

Note that Abraham asks nothing for himself, not even for his nephew Lot’s family.

Hearing the gospel, we might wonder: Didn’t the disciples know how to pray? They had the example of Abraham. They probably knew all the Psalms by heart. In fact, every phrase in the Lord’s prayer (except the promise to forgive as we are forgiven) has a correspondence in the Psalms. In Psalm 103, for example, we read: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.” This is just like the fathers Jesus speaks of in the gospel, who know how to give good gifts to their children. Note that it is not a matter of just giving them what they want. No matter how much the child might want to play with a scorpion, no parent could grant that request.

We need to ask for the right things, for “good gifts.” In pleading for the remaining ten just people of Sodom, Abraham asked for a good gift. If the conditions had been right, God was ready to give it to him.

We would expect Jesus to say that the Father will give good things to those who know how to give good things to their children. That is in fact what we find in Matthew 7:11. But today’s gospel says that the Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. This is similar to Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the Kingdom of God.” There is a good gift that includes all other good gifts. That is the Holy Spirit. Or we might say the Holy Spirit is the criterion. Anything we ask for that the Holy Spirit dwelling in us can ask for is a good gift.

To sum up, in this long discourse on prayer Jesus reminds us who it is we are addressing (the Father), who we are (needy children), how to pray (persistently, insistently), and what to ask for (good gifts, most especially the Holy Spirit). It’s a lot more than just saying certain words.

July 22, 2016

Saint Anne Novena | 20016 | Day 7

St. Anne and the Theotokos

July 23, 2016

Day 7 - St. Anne Novena

O Good Saint Anne, so justly called the mother of the infirm, the cure for those who suffer from disease, look kindly upon the sick for whom I pray.

Alleviate their sufferings; cause them to sanctify their sufferings by patience and complete submission to the Divine Will; finally deign to obtain health for them and with it the firm resolution to honor Jesus, Mary, and yourself by the faithful performance of duties.

But, merciful Saint Anne, I ask you above all for the salvation of my soul, rather than bodily health, for I am convinced that this fleeting life is given us solely to assure us a better one. I cannot obtain that better life without the help of God\’s graces. I earnestly beg them of you for the sick and for myself, especially the petition for which I am making in this novena…

(State your intention here.)

Through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, through the intercession of His Immaculate Mother, and through your efficacious and powerful mediation, I pray. Amen.

Pray for us, Saint Anne, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

O Lord, God of our Fathers, who bestowed on Saints Joachim and Anne this grace, that of them should be born the Mother of your incarnate Son, grant, through the prayers of both, that we may attain the salvation you have promised to your people. 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.

For more on this novena and daily email reminders go to PrayMoreNovenas.com.

Christ's Revelation to Saint Bridget in Which the Devil is Ingeniously Described

The Devil

Saint Bridget is best known for the Revelations, the divinely inspired messages she received from God the Father, Jesus, the Virgin Mary and numerous saints over a period of 30 years. Although the Revelations consist of several hundred pages and discuss a wide variety of subjects, throughout the work are messages which are of utmost importance for today. In one revelation, Christ told Saint Bridget that she was to be His spiritual bride. He refers to her as such below in describing the malevolent deceit of the Devil.

"The Bridegroom of the kingdom of Heaven, Jesus, spoke to his bride in a parable presenting the example of a frog and said: “Once there was a sorcerer who had the most shining gold. A simple and mild man came to him and wanted to buy this gold from him. The sorcerer said to the simple man: ‘You will not receive this gold, unless you give me better gold and in larger quantity.’ The man said: ‘I have such a great desire for your gold that I will give you what you want rather than losing it.’ He then gave the sorcerer better gold and in larger quantity and received the shining gold from him and put it in a casket, thinking of making himself a ring from it for his finger.

After a short time, the sorcerer approached that simple man and said: ‘The gold you bought from me and laid in your casket is not gold, as you thought, but the most ugly frog. It has been fostered in my chest and fed with my food. And in order for you to test and know that this is true, you may open the casket and you will see how the frog will jump to my chest where it was fostered.’ When the man wanted to open it and find out if it was true, the frog appeared in the casket. The cover of the casket was hanging on four hinges that were about to break and fall off soon. Immediately when the cover of the casket was opened, the frog saw the sorcerer and jumped into his chest.

When the servants and friends of the simple man saw this, they said to him: ‘Lord, this most fine gold is in the frog, and if you want, you can easily get the gold.’ The man said: ‘How can I get it?’ They replied: ‘If someone took a sharp and heated spear and thrust it into the hollow part of the frog’s back, he would quickly get the gold out. But if he cannot find any hollow in the frog, he should then, with the greatest force and effort, thrust his spear into it, and this is how you will get back the gold you bought.’

Who is this sorcerer if not the devil, inciting and counseling mankind to fleshly lusts and honor, which are nothing else but vanity and destruction? He promises that what is false is true and makes what is true seem to be false. He possesses this most precious gold, namely, the soul, who I, through my divine power, created more precious than all the stars and planets. I created it immortal and imperishable and more pleasing to me than everything else and I prepared for her an eternal resting place with me. I bought her from the violence of the devil with better and more valuable gold when I gave my own flesh for her, spotless from every sin, and suffered such a bitter torment that none of my limbs were without wounds or pain. I placed the redeemed soul in the body as in a casket, until the time when I would place her in the presence of my divine honor and glory in the kingdom of Heaven. But now, the redeemed soul of man has become like the most ugly and shameless frog, jumping in its arrogance and living in filth through its sensuality. She has taken my gold away from me, that is, all my justice."