October 22, 2017

St. John of Capistrano on the Priesthood

Saint John of Capistrano

Saint John of Capistrano, the 14th century priest Franciscan priest and reformer was a brilliant homilist and staunch defender of the Church. He labored to restore the Order founded by Saint Francis of Assisi to its original charism and mission. His reflection on the pastors of souls below summarizes the sacred role of priests.

"Those who are called to the table of the Lord must glow with the brightness that comes from the good example of a praiseworthy and blameless life. They must completely remove from their lives the filth and uncleanness of vice. Their upright lives must make them like the salt of the earth for themselves and for the rest of mankind. The brightness of their wisdom must make them like the light of the world that brings light to others. They must learn from their eminent teacher, Jesus Christ, what he declared not only to his apostles and disciples, but also to all the priests and clerics who were to succeed them, when he said: You are the salt of the earth. But what if salt goes flat? How can you restore its flavor? Then it is good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot."

— St. John of Capistrano
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Prayer for St. John of Capistrano's Intercession

O God, who raised up Saint John of Capistrano to comfort your faithful people in tribulation, place us, we pray, under your safe protection and keep your Church in everlasting peace. Almighty ever-living God, grant that by his holy intercession we may live out your will and serve your majesty in sincerity of heart. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Novena to Saint Jude 2017 | Day 5

St. Jude icon

October 23, 2017

Today we remember marriages in distress and families that face hardships or are undergoing difficulty. We pray for reconciliation and peace. May Saint Jude guide them through each day and restore them so to exerience God's love and comfort.

Saint Jude Novena - Day 5

Most holy St. Jude, apostle, martyr and friend of Jesus, pray for me and my intentions. Intercede for me before the throne of God and plead for His favor.

(State your intentions here)

You are the patron of the impossible. Pray for my intentions St. Jude, that God’s grace and mercy will answer them. Pray for the impossible if it is God’s will.

Pray that I may have the grace to accept God’s holy will even if it is difficult.

St. Jude, you sacrificed for the Kingdom of God, pray that I may sacrifice like you.

O St. Jude, pray for me that I may grow in faith, hope and love and in the grace of Jesus Christ. Pray for these intentions, but most of all pray that I may join you in heaven together with God, seeing Him face to face for all eternity. Amen.

For more about the St. Jude novena including daily email reminders go HERE.

St. John of Capistrano, Franciscan Reformer and Defender of the Faith

Saint John of Capistrano

Optional Memorial - October 23rd

The times were anything but good. It was the 14th century, and Europe was in the grip of incredible turmoil. The bubonic plague was raging, leaving a third of the population dead. In Rome, the Great Schism was rocking the papacy, with two, and sometimes three men claiming the Chair of Peter at the same time. England and France were at war, and the city-states of Italy in constant conflict.

Into this gloomy picture stepped St. John Capistrano. Born in 1386, his extensive education in the law led to his appointment as governor of Perugia in 1412. In 1416, he was sent to broker a peace between that city and the city of Malatesta, a move that resulted in his imprisonment there. During his captivity, he decided to change his life completely. After his release, he entered the Franciscan Order.

John would became a disciple of Saint Bernardine of Siena. A great preacher, he reinvigorated the faith of innumerable Catholics, and aided St. Bernardine in his work reforming the Franciscans. Starting his mimistry as a deacon in 1420, he was a tireless servant. The Church at the time was in need of strong men to work for the salvation of souls. Thirty percent of the population was killed by the Black Plague, the Church was in schism and several men were claiming to be pontiff.

As an Itinerant priest throughout Italy, Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Russia, St. John preached to tens of thousands and established communities of Franciscan renewal. He reportedly healed the sick by making the Sign of the Cross over them. He also wrote extensively, mainly against the heresies of the day. John, together with his teacher, Bernardine, his colleague, James of the Marche, and Albert Berdini of Sarteano, are considered to be the four great pillars of the Observant reform honored among the Friars Minor.

In 1456, at the age of 70, he was commissioned by Pope Callistus III to preach and lead a crusade against the invading Muslim forces. He led a successful battle in Belgrade, defending the Christians there from the invading Turks. Worn out by his unceasing efforts on behalf of the Church, he fell prey to an infection, from which he died later that same year. O God, who raised up St. John of Capistrano to comfort your faithful people in tribulation, place us, we pray, under your safe protection and keep your Church in everlasting peace. Almighty ever-living God, grant that we may conform our will to yours and serve you in sincerity of heart.

Reflection for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Greatest Commandment

Sermon on the Moun

By Msgr. Bernard Bourgeois

Exodus 22:20-26; Psalm 18:11 Thessalonians 1:5c-10; Matthew 22:34-40

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” (Mt 22:36)

Americans like things summed up easily and in few words. We like short news bytes and easy to understand directions that pop up on our phones. Simple, quick, and easy are words we live by. At first glance, today’s Gospel from Matthew offers such a summary for today’s Catholic. A lawyer asks Jesus, “Which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Here is Jesus’ answer: "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments." Simple, quick, and easy—love God and love neighbor. It sums up everything Jesus teaches and is thus the center of the law of Christ.

As anyone who takes faith seriously knows, these two commands of Christ are anything but simple, quick, and easy. They’re easy to say and even to believe; they are something else to live. Indeed, loving God and neighbor is the work of a lifetime of prayer and service.

The requirement to love God and neighbor can be likened to the backdrop of a theatrical production. The backdrop gives form and context to what is happening in the front of the stage, namely, the actors performing the play. Loving God completely with all of one’s being and the admonition to love one’s neighbor, the backdrop of the Christian life, will help the person make daily decisions that are in accord with God’s law. In making those decisions, the faithful follower of Christ refers back to “loving God and neighbor” and uses that teaching as his guide.

Jesus teaches that loving God needs to come from the heart, soul, and mind. The totality of one’s being needs to be geared toward this relationship with God. St. Augustine has a beautiful meditation on the desire for God in his Confessions: “You [God] called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace” (Bk. 10, chap. 27.37). When the human person starts to sense God in his life, there is a desire for more! In realizing he has been created by God, called by God to a certain vocation and to a life of holiness, and when that same person feels God’s presence within him nudging him to pursue that which is good and avoid what is evil, he will respond as did St. Augustine. Knowing God brings with it great love and a desire to be even closer. A life of prayer will help the person grow in that love of God.

Love of neighbor comes from the same place as loving God, namely, one’s heart, mind, and soul. At some point in life, the person realizes that God is the Creator of all, including one’s very self. If the person sees that in herself, she then will see it in others. If I have been created in God’s image and likeness, so has every other human being. I am thus compelled to love those around me.

Love of neighbor is shown primarily through the virtues of kindness, forgiveness, acceptance, patience, and generosity, among other virtues. The Christian never comes to a plateau where she now “loves her neighbors” and there is no more work to do. Instead, attempting to love one’s neighbor is a daily resolution for the serious follower of Christ. It is easy to treat those one likes with respect and dignity; it is another story to respect those one dislikes. Yet that is the call of Christianity. Jesus does not say that his followers only had to love those whom they like. They are simply to love their neighbors. That’s a tall order!

While “loving God and neighbor” can seem quick and easy, it is not. With prayer and firm commitment to God, it can surely happen. Let each of us make a resolution every day that today, in this time and circumstance, I will love the God who created me and those around me, to the best of my ability.

Homily for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 29, 2017, Year A

Christ and the pharisees

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing


A fundamental theme that runs throughout the entire Bible is this: “God offers, we respond.” God’s offer of love for us is a given; His unconditional love is always offered to us no matter what. The result, however, is conditional. The result depends upon our response to His offer.

How, then, do we respond to Christ’s mandate that we love everyone as we love ourselves? First of all, we should take it for what it is – a mandate, a command. It is something we must choose to do with little regard for our feelings.

Feelings are important but feelings are not decisive. Convictions, things we are convinced of, are decisive. Feelings are not. More often than not, acting on our feelings leads us down wrong paths and into trouble. Then, too, we can be victimized by our feelings. We can feel sorry for ourselves and spend so much time pitying ourselves that we end up feeling like we are victims. We can imprison ourselves in a state of victimhood and seem unable to get of our self-made feelings of depression. They can even lead us into a state of self-rejection and even self-hatred.

At times, some feelings are good. But when it comes to giving ourselves to others in love we have to make decisions. No one can command you to have warm, fuzzy feelings toward another. Not even God commands that of us. We cannot even tell ourselves to have nice, warm, loving and intimate feelings toward another. Even if we could, would it matter? No. It’s what we do that matters, not how we feel. But Jesus is not speaking here of emotions and feelings. He knows how absolutely fickle and unreliable feelings really are. Feelings come and feelings go as they wish, leaving us quite alone with ourselves after they have left. Decisions can last.

“Falling in love” is a wonderful thing, even a beautiful thing. Young boys and girls fall in love. Young mothers and young fathers fall in love with their newborn babies. Emotions of affection and feelings of love are beautiful things, the stuff of songs and poems. There is nothing wrong with them.

Jesus is telling us here that love is something we do. Love is a choice, a decision, a commitment to do things. That is why Jesus is commanding us to love others. It’s what we do to others not how we feel toward them that matters.

When two people marry they promise to act toward each other in ways they will not act toward anyone else. They make a conscious choice to belong to each other, and to belong to each other exclusively.

Feelings come and feelings go – we have little control over them. Love and commitments, however, are choices. Furthermore, as psychologists tell us, feelings can be shaped by the way we act. Perhaps this is another reason why Jesus commands us to act toward others in a loving way, regardless of how we feel about them. Love makes commitments – feelings follow along.

All of us have feelings of fondness toward others. Even pagans feel fondness and affection. So there’s no particular Christian virtue in feelings of fondness for another person. It follows, then, that there is no sin in feelings of fondness toward another person. Virtue and sin are found in what we choose to do with other people.

Recall with me now the Last Judgment account depicted in St. Matthew’s Gospel. That Last Judgment account is all about deeds – feelings are not even mentioned. God does not say: “I was hungry, and you felt sorry for me. I was naked, and you felt embarrassment. I was sick and you had feelings of sympathy toward me.” God will be interested in what you have chosen to do for others, not in how you felt about them.

Having good feelings toward others is nice, and many preachers preach a gospel of nice feelings. For them, religion seems to be a matter of feeling nice toward others, of being polite and kind toward them. But isn’t Christianity something more than being nice or simply having nice feelings toward others? When did Jesus ever mention being nice toward others? Show me one place in the Bible where that was His teaching. The only thing that counted with Him was that the hungry were fed, the naked were clothed, and the lonely and abandoned were sought out and we stood by them.

Jesus Christ is the ultimate realist. He commands us, He mandates us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We are to especially love those who are unlovable, those who are particularly shunned and live out on the margins of our lives. He closes our little loopholes, our self-fashioned exceptions, and presents us with the most demanding of all Gospel messages, allowing us no compromises, no human “wiggle room.” The call from Jesus to us is to get extremely serious about what we do, not what we feel.

Christ’s mandate was an utterly simple one, one with no complexities whatsoever. It is sort of like a new income tax code that some are proposing in which the return can be sent in to the Internal Revenue Service on a postcard – 15% of all household income with no deductions, no special exemptions, no depreciation formulae, no wiggle room, one that is one that is simple, direct, straightforward and to the point.”

I don’t care how you feel, Jesus says to us, simply love your neighbors. Love them as your heavenly Father loves them. Love them, the good and the bad alike, with the unconditional love with which your Father in heaven loves them. Love all of your neighbors in what you do to them, in what you do for them, and in how you act toward them. All of those complicated and complex feelings of yours will eventually follow along. My religion, says Jesus, is a matter of what we do; it’s not a religion simply of nice feelings.

Saint John Paul II on Authentic Human Freedom

Saint John Paul II

Pope St. John Paul endured two brutal totalitarian regimes during his life: Nazi Germany and Soviet communism. He resisted the first and actively worked to undermine the second, both successfully. His tireless defense of human dignity, religious freedom and a culture of life animated his efforts as a scholar, pastor and Supreme Pontiff of God's Universal Church. His words remain true today.

Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.
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When freedom does not have a purpose, when it does not wish to know anything about the rule of law engraved in the hearts of men and women, when it does not listen to the voice of conscience, it turns against humanity and society.
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The historical experience of socialist countries has sadly demonstrated that collectivism does not do away with alienation but rather increases it, adding to it a lack of basic necessities and economic inefficiency.
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Pervading nationalism imposes its dominion on man today in many different forms and with an aggressiveness that spares no one. The challenge that is already with us is the temptation to accept as true freedom what in reality is only a new form of slavery.
— St. John Paul II
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Prayer for St. John Paul II's Intercession

O Blessed Trinity, we thank You for having graced the Church with Saint John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of Your Fatherly care, the glory of the cross of Christ, and the splendor of the Holy Spirit, to Shine through him. Grant us, by his intercession that we open our hearts to God. This we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

Homily for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 22, 2017, Year A

Render to Caesar what is Caesar's

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing


Every three years we are presented with today’s gospel, one that interests many of us because it deals with the question of separation between Church and State.

The first thing we should note is that the question put to Jesus was a lawyer’s trick question. It was not a question that sought enlightenment; it was not put to Jesus in order to learn from Him. No. It was put to Jesus to trap Him. Was He to be seen as an insurrectionist revolutionary and an enemy of the State or was He to be seen as a collaborator with the hated Roman authorities who so brutalized the Jewish people?

The Pharisees, the religious fundamentalists of the day, hated the Roman tax. The Herodians, those Jews who supported the Roman puppet King Herod, supported the tax. Both groups, the Pharisees and the Herodians, hated each other. But here we find them joined together in a combined effort to trap Jesus, to discredit Him, and thus do away with Him, each trying to trap Jesus for their own reasons.

With a canny response Jesus discredits them both. Both the Pharisees and the Herodians were Jews. Both groups, as Jews, rejected graven images as violations of the First Commandment. No Jew of any stripe would countenance the idea that idols were to be worshipped. Statues and images were totally forbidden as false, man-made gods.

Here we find Jesus in His response to their tricky question asking them for a coin, which they gave Him. Note that both they and Jesus were in the Temple area when this incident took place. Note, too, that the Roman coin had carved upon it the image of the infamous Tiberius Caesar, the one who had so desecrated the Jewish Temple. The coin also bore the inscription: “Tiberius Caesar – Son of the Divine Augustus”. On the coin’s other side it designated him as “Pontifex Maximus”, supreme priest. For Jews, this was blasphemous idolatry.

The fact that they had carried that coin with them into the Temple precincts tells us that they thereby discredited themselves. No good Jew would be caught with such a coin on the Temple’s grounds, the holiest site in all of Judaism.

Furthermore, we need to realize that Jesus’ response was directed at the precise issue of whether or not the Roman taxes should be paid. Jesus said nothing about the autonomy of Caesar in his secular role. Nor was Jesus making any statement at all about separating religion from society.

So these questions remain: What is Caesar’s, and what is God’s? Is there anything at all that is not God’s – is there anything at all in human activity that does not stand under God’s judgment? Are we, as modern-day Americans, exempting anything from God’s purview?

Separation of church and state has benefited us here in the United States. We have a democracy, not a theocracy, and that has served us well. We do not have a state religion; we have freedom of religion. We are free to practice our religious beliefs as we choose.

But where is it written that freedom of religion means freedom from religion? Are people of faith obliged not to express their beliefs and put them into practice in the public domain? We must remember that while rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s we must still render to God what is God’s.

Does God have expectations of us with regard to our civic order? Are our public policies to be exercised freed from God’s norms and apart from God’s will? What is to be kept from God’s purview?

Here are some examples of what concerns me.

One is found in the response our U.S. Congress made to the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. As bills for hurricane relief were being drafted in Congress, voices were raised objecting to giving any forms of relief to churches and other faith-based organizations. Such relief measures, intended for all citizens of these United States were, it was argued, to be denied to faith-based organizations. Why? Because giving them money, it was argued, would violate the principle of separation of church and state. In other words, church members were not to be considered among the citizenry of our country entitled to disaster relief!

By now we are all familiar with the Obamacare’s mandate administered by the Department of Health and Human Services requiring religious organizations employing more than fifty persons to provide their employees with insurance coverage for abortion, sterilization, and contraceptive services. We know, too, that this requirement was applied to the Little Sisters of the Poor. The Department of Justice prosecuted them. Their defense was that they objected to this governmental mandate by citing the Constitutions’ First Amendment guarantee of Freedom of Religion. In response to the Little Sisters’ appeal, a Federal judge suggested that the Little Sisters simply sign a form declaring that they are an exempt religious organization. Why don’t they just sign this meaningless little form? By doing so the problem will go away the court said.

Well, these little nuns are smart enough to recognize that signing the government’s form is not meaningless. Why? Because the government retains its claim to interfere with their right to freely practice what they believe. The Sisters are astute enough to recognize that the government can take away what it so graciously granted. The government’s claim in effect defines how one’s belief is exercised. The “meaningless little form” isn’t simply a minor exception.

Freedom of religion isn’t confined to how one worships on Sunday. People of belief should be able to practice in public what they hold to in Sunday worship free of governmental controls and mandates.

Another example occurs to me. Article VI, Clause 3 of our Constitution prescribes that “no religious test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

What disturbs me is that in recent times people running for public office or appointed to hold public office, particularly the judiciary, are being subjected to religious tests. Precisely because they hold certain religious beliefs they are being subjected to political attacks. If they strongly hold to certain religious beliefs they are being told they are fundamentalist fanatics and therefore unqualified to hold public office. We need look no further than to recent debates over nominees for Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Thomas Jefferson and many of our founding forbearers clearly held to the position that we must be a moral nation if our republic is to endure. The founders of our nation had strong religious beliefs and they founded our nation on firmly held positions that derived from their faith in the Almighty. Our Creator, they declared, endows unalienable human rights upon us.

Abraham Lincoln, in his monumental effort to preserve our union repeatedly appealed to the Almighty in his famous and powerful speeches. None of these men would subscribe to the notion that freedom of religion means freedom from religion in our civic life and in the fabric of our republic.

What, then, is Caesar’s and what is God’s? That question is being argued out in our times in a great debate over the importance and value of religion in our society. Reasonable people may differ in the application of answers to that question. But however much reasonable people may differ it is unreasonable to assert the notion that our American republic was built on the secularist mantra that freedom of religion in these United States means freedom from religion in our public affairs.

What is Caesar’s and what is God’s? The question is just as important to us now as it was when it was put to Jesus. And so is its answer. Your vote matters.

October 21, 2017

Novena to Saint Jude 2017 | Day 4

St. Jude icon

October 22, 2017

As we continue to pray to Saint Jude for impossible and hopeless causes, today we pray for all those who are burdened with debt, and those who constantly struggle to make ends meet. May they find relief from their financial burdens.

Saint Jude Novena - Day 4

Most holy St. Jude, apostle, martyr and friend of Jesus, pray for me and my intentions. Intercede for me before the throne of God and plead for His favor.

(State your intentions here)

You are the patron of the impossible. Pray for my intentions St. Jude, that God’s grace and mercy will answer them. Pray for the impossible if it is God’s will.

Pray that I may have the grace to accept God’s holy will even if it is difficult.

St. Jude, you are known for answering lost causes, pray for my most impossible needs.

O St. Jude, pray for me that I may grow in faith, hope and love and in the grace of Jesus Christ. Pray for these intentions, but most of all pray that I may join you in heaven together with God, seeing Him face to face for all eternity. Amen.

For more about the St. Jude novena including daily email reminders go HERE.

Optional Memorial of St. John Paul the Great

St. John Paul II

(In 2017, this feast is superseded by the Sunday liturgy.)

Karol Jozef Wojtyla was born in 1920 in Wadowice, Poland. After his ordination to the priesthood and theological studies in Rome, he returned to his homeland and resumed various pastoral and academic tasks. He became first auxiliary bishop and, in 1964, Archbishop of Krakow and took part in the Second Vatican Council. On October 16, 1978 he was elected pope and took the name John Paul II. His exceptional apostolic zeal, particularly for families, young people and the sick, led him to undertake numerous pastoral visits throughout the world as Pontiff.

Among the many fruits which he has left as a heritage to the Church are above all his rich Magisterium and the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as well as the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church and for the Eastern Churches. In Rome on April 2, 2005, the eve of the Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy), he died peacefully in the Lord who opened the doors of eternity.

Pope St. John Paul the Great's Achievements as Pontiff

On October 16, 1978, Cardinal Wojtyla was elected Pope and on October 22nd, began his ministry as universal Pastor of the Church.

Pope John Paul II made 146 pastoral visits in Italy and, as the Bishop of Rome, he visited 317 of the current 322 Roman parishes. His international apostolic journeys numbered 104 and were expressions of the constant pastoral solicitude of the Successor of Peter for all the Churches.

His principal documents include 14 Encyclicals, 15 Apostolic Exhortations, 11 Apostolic Constitutions and 45 Apostolic Letters. He also wrote five books: Crossing the Threshold of Hope (October 1994); Gift and Mystery: On the Fiftieth Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination (November 1996); Roman Triptych, meditations in poetry (March 2003); Rise, Let Us Be on Our Way (May 2004) and Memory and Identity (February 2005).

Pope John Paul II celebrated 147 beatifications, during which he proclaimed 1,338 blesseds, and 51 canonizations, for a total of 482 saints. He called 9 consistories, in which he created 231 Cardinals (plus one in pectore). He also presided at 6 plenary meetings of the College of Cardinals.

On May 3, 1981, an attempt was made on Pope John Paul II's life in Saint Peter's Square. Saved by the maternal hand of the Mother of God, following a lengthy stay in the hospital, he forgave the attempted assassin and, aware of having received a great gift, intensified his pastoral commitments with heroic generosity.

Pope John Paul II also demonstrated his pastoral concern by erecting numerous dioceses and ecclesiastical circumscriptions, and by promulgating Codes of Canon Law for the Latin and the Oriental Churches, as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He proclaimed the Year of Redemption, the Marian Year and the Year of the Eucharist as well as the Great Jubilee Year of 2000, in order to provide the People of God with particularly intense spiritual experiences. He also attracted young people by establishing the celebration of World Youth Day.

Coat of Arms of Pope John Paul II
Coat of Arms of  Pope John Paul II
No other Pope met as many people as Pope John Paul II. More than 17.6 million pilgrims attended his Wednesday General Audiences (which numbered over 1,160). This does not include any of the other special audiences and religious ceremonies (more than 8 million pilgrims in the Great Jubilee Year of 2000 alone). He met millions of the faithful in the course of his pastoral visits in Italy and throughout the world. He also received numerous government officials in audience, including 38 official visits and 738 audiences and meetings with Heads of State, as well as 246 audiences and meetings with Prime Ministers.

John Paul II was canonized in Saint Peter's Square on April 27, 2014 along with Pope John XXIII by Pope Francis (with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, his immediate successor who for many years was his valued collaborator as Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.) Holy God, who is rich in mercy and who willed that the St. John Paul II should preside as Pope over your universal Church, grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching, we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ, the sole Redeemer of humanity. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

October 20, 2017

St. Hilarion on the Christian Response to Suffering

Saint Hilarion of Gaza
We cannot live in such a way that no one grieves or offends us, for the Apostle Luke writes: we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22), and bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2). Let us therefore ask that we may bear sorrows with self-reproach and humility and not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good…
— St. Hilarion of Gaza
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Prayer for St. Hilarion's Intercession

Almighty God, who called Saint Hilarion to serve you by a wondrous way of life in the desert, grant, through his holy intercession that denying ourselves in humble solitude, we may always love you above all things, and look to you alone for our salvation. St. Hilarion, your pursuit of solitude and rejection of the world reminds us to spend time alone with God in prayer. Holy St. Hilarion of Gaza, pray for us.

Novena to Saint Jude 2017 | Day 3

St. Jude icon

October 21, 2017

Today we remember all those who are seeking employment. Let us pray for the unemployed or underemployed that God will provide for them and, through the intercession of Saint Jude, they will find purpose and meaning in their labors.

Saint Jude Novena - Day 3

Most holy St. Jude, apostle, martyr and friend of Jesus, pray for me and my intentions. Intercede for me before the throne of God and plead for His favor.

(State your intentions here)

You are the patron of the impossible. Pray for my intentions St. Jude, that God’s grace and mercy will answer them. Pray for the impossible if it is God’s will.

Pray that I may have the grace to accept God’s holy will even if it is difficult.

St. Jude, you labored for years, pray that I may have patience in my struggles.

O St. Jude, pray for me that I may grow in faith, hope and love and in the grace of Jesus Christ. Pray for these intentions, but most of all pray that I may join you in heaven together with God, seeing Him face to face for all eternity. Amen.

For more about the St. Jude novena including daily email reminders go HERE.

Sts. Ursula and Companions, Legendary Virgin Martyrs

Sts. Ursula and Companions

Commemoration - October 21st

According to a legend that appeared in the 10th century, Ursula was the daughter of a Christian King in Britain and was granted a three-year postponement from a marriage she refused to a pagan prince. With ten ladies in waiting, each attended by a thousand maidens, she set on a voyage across the North Sea, sailed the Rhine to Basle, and then went to Rome. On their return, they were massacred by pagan Huns at Cologne in 451 when Ursula refused to marry their chieftain.

According to another account, America was settled by British colonizers and soldiers after Emperor Magnus Clemens Maximus conquered Britain and Gaul in 383. The ruler of the settlers, Cynan Meiriadog, called upon King Dionotus of Cornwall for wives for the settlers. Dionotus sent his daughter Ursula, who was to marry Cynan, with eleven thousand noble maidens and sixty thousand common women. Their fleet was shipwrecked and the women were enslaved or murdered.

The legends are pious fictions, but what is true is that one Clematius, a senator, rebuilt a basilica in Cologne that had originally been constructed probably at the beginning of the 4th century, to honor a group of virgins who had been martyred at Cologne. They were evidently venerated enough to have had a church built in their honor, but who they were and how many of them there were are unknown. It is from these meager facts that the legend of St. Ursula developed and spread.

The 11,000 number probably resulted from a misreading of the term "11M" which indicated 11 Martyrs, but which a copyist took for a Roman numeral. St. Ursula is the namesake for the Ursuline Order, founded for the education of young Catholic girls and women. May your grace, O Lord, we pray, at all times go before us and make us ever more determined to carry out good works. Through our Lord Jesus Christ who reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever. Amen.

St. Hilarion, the Father of Middle Eastern Monasticism

Saint Hilarion of Gaza

According to the 1962 Missal of Saint John XXIII, October 21st is the feast of Saint Hilarion, the 3rd century monastic famous for his miracles and sanctity. Born to pagan parents, he studied in Alexandria, becoming a Christian at age 15. Following the example of Saint Anthony in Egypt, he became a hermit instructed by Anthony himself. Hilarion is the father of monasticism in Palestine and Syria.

St. Hilarion was born at Tabatha near Gaza, Palestine, in the year 291. His pagan parents sent him, while still a youth, to study at Alexandria. He was remarkable for his diligence and good manners, and soon became a convert to Christianity, making great progress in faith and charity. He was zealous in visiting churches, in fasting and prayer, in scorning all earthly joys and pleasures. Lured by the fame of St. Anthony, he entered the desert and for two months was his disciple.

While absent, his parents died. Now Hilarion gave all he had to the poor, and although hardly 15 years old, he returned to the desert, built a little hut scarcely large enough to accommodate himself, and slept on the bare ground. His time was spent reading and meditating upon holy Scripture. A few figs and soup from herbs sufficed for his nourishment. This he never consumed before the sun set.

Because of his mortifications and humility, he triumphed over fierce assaults by the evil one and healed many who were possessed. After founding numerous hermitages (he had two thousand followers) and working countless miracles, he became ill at the age of 80. In his last agony he encouraged himself by saying: "Go thither, my soul, why do you fear? Why do you tremble? Seventy years you have served Christ, and now you fear death?" The day of St. Hilarion's holy death is given as October 21st, 371. His was solemnly buried on the island of Cyprus.

Almighty God, who called Saint Hilarion to serve you by a wondrous way of life in the desert, grant, through his holy intercession that denying ourselves in humble solitude, we may always love you above all things, and look to you alone for our salvation. St. Hilarion, your pursuit of solitude and rejection of the world reminds us to spend time alone with God in prayer. Holy St. Hilarion of Gaza, pray for us.

October 19, 2017

Saint Paul of the Cross’ Counsel to Priests

Saint Paul of the Cross
God sends such purgations to you, directors of consciences, that you may acquire the science of the saints and the art of directing souls. You will suffer also in another way. Love will be your executioner. Let it do its work; it knows how. In this martyrdom we have need of extraordinary grace and strength; but God will bestow it. Without this divine help it would be impossible to bear up.
— St. Paul of the Cross
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Prayer for St. Paul of the Cross' Intercession

May your Priest Saint Paul, whose only love was the Cross, obtain for us your grace, O Lord, so that, urged on more strongly by his example and constant intercession, we may each embrace our own cross with unreserved courage and fidelity, so as to emulate our Divine Savior. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son who reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever. Amen.

Novena to Saint Jude 2017 | Day 2

St. Jude icon

October 20, 2017

Today, we remember those who are suffering whether mentally, physically or emotionally. Let us pray for a restoration to health of the unwell, and especially for those whose cases seem hopeless. Saint Jude, intercede on our behalf, that illnesses and catastrophic diseases that afflict mankind be cured or alleviated.

Saint Jude Novena - Day 2

Most holy St. Jude, apostle, martyr and friend of Jesus, pray for me and my intentions. Intercede for me before the throne of God and plead for His favor.

(State your intentions here)

You are the patron of the impossible. Pray for my intentions St. Jude, that God’s grace and mercy will answer them. Pray for the impossible if it is God’s will.

Pray that I may have the grace to accept God’s holy will even if it is difficult.

St. Jude, pray that I may have your zeal to preach the Gospel.

O St. Jude, pray for me that I may grow in faith, hope and love and in the grace of Jesus Christ. Pray for these intentions, but most of all pray that I may join you in heaven together with God, seeing Him face to face for all eternity. Amen.

For more about the St. Jude novena including daily email reminders go HERE.