November 22, 2017

Plenary Indulgence on Solemnity of Christ the King

Christ the King

A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who participate in the public recitation of the "Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ King."

Requirements for Obtaining a Plenary Indulgence on the Feast of Christ the King:

◗ Publicly recite the prayer, "Most Sweet Jesus, Redeemer – Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ King" (see below)

◗ Say one "Our Father" and one "Hail Mary" for the Pope’s intentions (those intentions designated by the Holy Father each month).

◗ Worthily receive Holy Communion (ideally on the same day).

◗ Make a sacramental confession within 20 days of the Feast of Christ the King.

◗ For a plenary indulgence, be free from all attachment to sin, even venial sin (or the indulgence is partial, not plenary).

You may gain one plenary indulgence a day.

Most Sweet Jesus, Redeemer - Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ the King (Iesu dulcissime, Redemptor)

Most Sweet Jesus, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us humbly prostrate before You. We are Yours, and Yours we wish to be; but to be more surely united with You, behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today to Your Most Sacred Heart. Many indeed have never known You; many, too, despising Your precepts, have rejected You. Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus, and draw them to Your Sacred Heart.

Be King, O Lord, not only of the faithful who have never forsaken You, but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned You; grant that they may quickly return to their Father’s house, lest they die of wretchedness and hunger.

Be King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof, and call them back to the harbor of Truth and the unity of Faith, so that soon there may be but one flock and one Shepherd.

Grant, O Lord, to Your Church assurance of freedom and immunity from harm; give tranquility of order to all nations; make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: Praise to the Divine Heart that wrought our salvation; to It be glory and honor forever. Amen.
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27. A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful, who piously recite the above Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ the King, if it is recited publicly on the feast of our Lord Jesus Christ the King, and piously carry out the precepts in Norm 23...

A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful, who piously recite the above Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ King.

From the Enchiridion of Indulgences.

November 21, 2017

Praying for the Church Suffering: A Method of Reciting the Rosary for the Poor Souls in Purgatory

Purgatory

Here we pray the Sorrowful Mysteries. Before each decade, we pray what concerns the particular mystery, and instead of ending the decades with Glory Be…, we pray:

Lord, grant them eternal rest and let perpetual light shine upon them!

Begin the Rosary normally, and then before the first decade is prayed, but after the 1st Sorrowful Mystery is stated, pray: Lord, Jesus Christ, through Thy bloody sweat of fear that Thou didst shed on the Mount of Olives, we ask Thee to have mercy on the Poor Souls in Purgatory. Deliver them from their fear and pain and console them with the cup of heavenly comfort!

Before the second decade is prayed, but after the 2nd Sorrowful Mystery is stated, pray: Lord Jesus Christ, through Thy painful Scourging which Thou didst tolerate so patiently for us sinners, we ask Thee to have mercy on the Poor Souls in Purgatory. Retract from them the pain of Thy anger and give them eternal rest!

Before the third decade is prayed, but after the 3rd Sorrowful Mystery is stated, pray: Lord Jesus Christ, through Thy painful Crowning which Thou didst suffer so patiently for us sinners, we ask Thee to have mercy on the Poor Souls in Purgatory, and give them the crown of eternal delight!

Before the fourth decade is prayed, but after the 4th Sorrowful Mystery is stated, pray: Lord Jesus Christ, through Thy painful Carrying of the Cross, which Thou didst suffer so patiently for us sinners, we ask Thee to have mercy on the Poor Souls in Purgatory. Remove from them the heavy burden of suffering and lead them into eternal peace!

Before the fifth decade is prayed, but after the 5th Sorrowful Mystery is stated, pray: Lord Jesus Christ, through Thy painful Crucifixion, which Thou didst suffer so patiently for us sinners, we ask Thee to have mercy on the Poor Souls in Purgatory. Turn Thy Holy Face toward them and let them today be in Paradise with Thee!

After praying the last decade, we pray: Lord Jesus Christ, through Thy five Holy Wounds and through all of Thy Sacred Blood that Thou didst shed, we ask Thee to have mercy on the Poor Souls in Purgatory, and in particular for our parents, relatives, spiritual guides, and benefactors. Heal their painful wounds and let them enjoy and participate fully in Thy Salvation. Amen.

Christ the King Novena 2017 | Day 6

Christ the King of the Universe

November 22, 2017

Today, let us continue to pray that God will reign in our will, above all else, and that our will may be aligned with His Will. "Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Christ the King Novena Prayer - Day 6

Christ, our Savior and our King, renew in me allegiance to Your Kingship.

I pray that You will reign in my will.

O Prince of Peace, may Your reign be complete in my life and in the life of the world. Christ, my King, please answer these petitions if they be in accordance with Your Holy Will…

[Mention your intentions here]

As I reflect on Your second, glorious coming and the judgment of all mankind, I beg You to show me mercy and give me the grace to become a great saint. I pray that not only will I spend eternity with You but that You may use me – a sinner – to bring others into Your Kingdom for Your glory.

Christ the King, Your Kingdom come. Amen.

Almighty ever-living God, whose will is to restore all things in Your beloved Son, the King of the universe, grant, we pray, that the whole creation, set free from slavery, may render Your majesty service and ceaselessly proclaim Your praise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns together with You, and in the unity of the Holy Spirit one God all powerful and loving, forever. Amen.

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St. Alphonsus Liguori on Praying for the Holy Souls

Saint Alphonsus Liguori

The practice of recommending to God the souls in Purgatory, that He may mitigate the great pains which they suffer, and that He may soon bring them to His glory, is most pleasing to the Lord and most profitable to us. For these blessed souls are His eternal spouses, and most grateful are they to those who obtain their deliverance from prison, or even a mitigation of their torments. When, therefore, they arrive in Heaven, they will be sure to remember all who have prayed for them.

— St. Alphonsus Liguori 
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Prayer to Release Souls from Purgatory

Our Lord told St. Gertrude the Great, that the following prayer would release 1,000 souls from Purgatory each time it is said. The prayer was extended to include living sinners which would alleviate the indebtedness accrued to them:

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the Universal Church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen. [Poor souls, upon attaining heaven, pray that I may also experience holy beatitude at the close of my earthly life.]

Saint Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr

Saint Cecilia

Memorial - November 22nd 

When Saint Augustine famously said, "One who sings prays twice," he may have been thinking of the early Church martyr most often associated with music. Saint Cecilia has often been depicted in art with either an organ or a viola since at least the time of the Renaissance. She is the patron saint of music and musicians, and especially those engaged in the composition and performance of sacred hymns.

Much of her story is actually legend, and authentic material related to her life is scarce. We know that she was a Christian woman of high rank who was martyred in either the 2nd or 3rd century. The daughter of patrician Roman Christians, she was given in marriage to a rich young nobleman, Valerian of Trastevere, despite desiring to remain a virgin. By the designs of Providence, her innocence was preserved. There was a feast in her honor celebrated in the Church as early as 545, and at least one church was dedicated in her name in the late 4th century.

Her association with music arises from popular piety surrounding her wedding. According to tradition, during the ceremony she heard heavenly music and informed her new husband, Valerian, that she was betrothed to an angel, who jealously guarded her virginity. Under her influence, not only was he converted to Christianity, but his brother Tiburtius was as well. All three were martyred during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. This is how St. Cecilia's holy martyrdom occurred.

The prefect commanded that Cecilia be suffocated in the baths. To that end, she was shut in for one night and one day, as fires were stoked, but she miraculously survived. Upon emerging she exclaimed: "I thank You, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, that through Your Son the fire was extinguished at my side." Next, it was ordered that Cecilia be beheaded. Three attempts to do so failed, but she was left mortally wounded. She would live for three days, singing hymns of praise to God.

When her friends came to seek her final blessings, never did she renounce her faith in Christ. In 817, her grave was discovered, and her body moved to the church of Saint Cecilia in Rome. When her crypt was opened in 1599, her body was found incorrupt. O God, who gladdens your Church with the feast of your handmaid St. Cecilia, grant that what has been handed down concerning her may help us to proclaim the wonders worked in his servants by Christ your Son. Who reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Prayer to St. Cecilia

Saint Cecilia, glorious Virgin and Martyr of Jesus Christ, I honor your courage with which you professed your faith in the face of severe persecution, and the generous love with which you offered your life in witness to your belief in the Blessed Trinity. I thank God for the wonderful graces He bestowed upon you to make your life holy and pleasing to Him even in the midst of great suffering. I thank Him for the privilege offered to you of receiving the crown of martyrdom.

Saint Cecilia, I admire the purity of love that bound you to the Savior, which was greater in your eyes than any human affection, so that you declared before the enemies of the Church, "I am the bride of my Lord Jesus Christ." Pray for me that I keep my body pure and my soul holy, and that I love Christ with all my heart.

In these times so full of pleasure seeking and bereft of faith, teach us to profess our faith courageously and to be willing to sacrifice ourselves in practicing it, so that our example may lead others closer to Christ and the Church He founded.

In thanksgiving to God for the graces he bestowed on St Cecilia: Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory be. St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr of Jesus Christ, pray for us. Amen.

November 20, 2017

Blessed John Henry Newman on Satan’s Deception

Blessed John Henry Newman

Do you think Satan is so unskillful in his craft, as to ask you openly and plainly to join him in his warfare against the Truth? He scoffs at morals, and at every institution which reveres them. He prompts you what to say, and then listens to you, and praises you, and encourages you. He shows you how to rise and become as gods. Then he laughs and jokes with you; he takes your hand, and gets his fingers between yours, and grasps them, and then you are his.

— Blessed John Henry Newman
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Prayer for the Canonization of Bl. John Henry Newman

Eternal Father, You led John Henry Newman to follow the kindly light of Truth, and he obediently responded to your heavenly calls at any cost. As writer, preacher, counsellor and educator, as pastor, Oratorian, and servant of the poor he labored to build up your Kingdom. Grant that through your Vicar on Earth we may hear the words, 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter into the company of the canonized saints.' In the name of Jesus Christ your only Son our Lord. Amen.

Christ the King Novena 2017 | Day 5

Christ the King of the Universe

November 21, 2017

Today, let us continue pray that God will reign in our minds and hearts, and that we will love Him above all things. Lord we ask for the grace to place you above the powers of this world in all things, to obey you before any civic authority and to fervently bring about your Kingdom in my family, community and the world.

Christ the King Novena Prayer - Day 5

Christ, our Savior and our King, renew in me allegiance to Your Kingship.

I pray that You will reign in my heart.

O Prince of Peace, may Your reign be complete in my life and in the life of the world. Christ, my King, please answer these petitions if they be in accordance with Your Holy Will…

[Mention your intentions here]

As I reflect on Your second, glorious coming and the judgment of all mankind, I beg You to show me mercy and give me the grace to become a great saint. I pray that not only will I spend eternity with You but that You may use me – a sinner – to bring others into Your Kingdom for Your glory.

Christ the King, Your Kingdom come. Amen.

Almighty ever-living God, whose will is to restore all things in Your beloved Son, the King of the universe, grant, we pray, that the whole creation, set free from slavery, may render Your majesty service and ceaselessly proclaim Your praise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns together with You, and in the unity of the Holy Spirit one God all powerful and loving, forever. Amen.

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Feast of the Presentation of Mary (The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple)

The Presentation of Mary

November 21st is the memorial of the presentation of the Blessed Virgin. Sacred Scripture contains no text concerning the event commemorated in today's liturgy. For something of a historical background, one may consult the apocryphal works, particularly the Protoevangelium of St. James (ch. 4:1ff). After an angel had revealed her pregnancy, Anna is said to have vowed her child Mary to the Lord.

Soon after birth the infant was brought to the sacred precincts at which only the best of Israel's daughters were admitted. At the age of three the Theotokos, was transferred to the temple proper (7:2). According to legend, here she was reared like a dove and received her nourishment from the hand of an angel (8:1).

In the East, where the feast, celebrated since the 8th century, is kept as a public holiday, it bears the name, 'The Entrance of the Mother of God (Theotokos) into the Temple'. It was introduced at Rome by a Cypriotic legate to the papal court of Avignon in 1371. In 1472, Sixtus IV extended its observance to the full universal Church. Abolished by Pius V, it was eventually reintroduced years later (1585)."

The feast is dedicated to those who belong to contemplative religious orders who consecrate themselves to God in prayer and devout labors. As we venerate the glorious memory of the most holy Virgin Mary, grant, we pray, O Lord, through her intercession, that we may merit to receive from the fullness of your grace. Blessed Theotokos, our mother, pray for us, now, and at the hour of our death.

Adapted excerpt from The Church's Year of Grace, Father Pius Parsch, 1963.

Collect for the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin

V. Allow me to praise you, O Most Holy Virgin.

R. Give me strength against your enemies.

Let us pray.

God, Who was pleased that on this day the Blessed Virgin, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, should be presented in the Temple, grant, we beseech Thee, that, by her intercession, we may deserve to be presented in the temple of Thy glory. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Our Lord, Who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Latin

V. Dignáre me laudáre te, Virgo sacráta.

R. Da mihi virtútem contra hostes tuos.

Oremus.

Deus, qui beátam Maríam semper Vírginem, Spíritus Sancti habitáculum, hodiérna die in templo præsentári voluísti: præsta, quæsumus; ut, ejus intercessióne, in templo glóriæ tuæ præsentári mereámur. Per Dóminum nostrum Iesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte ejúsdem Spíritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Daily Consecration to Mary

My Queen and my Mother, I give myself entirely to you and, in evidence of my affection, I consecrate to you my soul, my mind, my will, my heart my body with all its senses, my past, my present and my future. I solemnly consecrate to you my vocation, my vows, my graces, merits and virtues and all that God does or accomplishes through me. I give you my whole being without reserve. Since I am your own, keep me and guard me as your own property and possession. Amen.

November 19, 2017

Christ the King Novena 2017 | Day 4

Christ the King of the Universe

November 20, 2017

"No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24). Today let us pray that God alone will reign in our minds, and that we will accept the Church's teachings with total obedience and firm belief.

Christ the King Novena Prayer - Day 4

Christ, our Savior and our King, renew in me allegiance to Your Kingship.

I pray that You will reign in my mind.

O Prince of Peace, may Your reign be complete in my life and in the life of the world. Christ, my King, please answer these petitions if they be in accordance with Your Holy Will…

[Mention your intentions here]

As I reflect on Your second, glorious coming and the judgment of all mankind, I beg You to show me mercy and give me the grace to become a great saint. I pray that not only will I spend eternity with You but that You may use me – a sinner – to bring others into Your Kingdom for Your glory.

Christ the King, Your Kingdom come. Amen.

Almighty ever-living God, whose will is to restore all things in Your beloved Son, the King of the universe, grant, we pray, that the whole creation, set free from slavery, may render Your majesty service and ceaselessly proclaim Your praise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns together with You, and in the unity of the Holy Spirit one God all powerful and loving, forever. Amen.

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St. Felix of Valois, Co-Founder of the Trinitarian Order

Saint Felix of Valois

According to the 1962 Missal of Saint John XXIII, November 20th is the feast of St. Felix of Valois, the companion of St. John of Matha in founding the Trinitarian Order for the redemption of Muslim captives. St. Felix died in 1212, in Cerfroid. The Trinitarian Order's motto inscribed in the heart of Trinitarians is, "Gloria Tibi Trinitas et captivis libertas." (Glory to you O Trinity and liberty to the captives.)
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St. Felix of Valois was born in 1127. Together with St. John of Matha, he founded the Order of Trinitarians for liberating captured Christians from Saracen (Muslim) slavery. He belonged to the royal family of Valois. The breviary recounts several marvelous events from his life. As a boy he frequently gave away his clothes to clothe the naked. He pleaded for the life of a murderer condemned to death and foretold that he would reform and lead a highly edifying life-which proved true.

With St. John of Matha he journeyed to Rome at the bidding of an angel and requested permission from Pope Innocent III to found a religious Order (1198). During holy Mass the Pope was granted a revelation regarding the proposed foundation; an angel appeared to him clothed in white with a red and blue cross. At Innocent's bidding the Order took the name of the Blessed Trinity. The last fifteen years of Felix's life were spent in developing his growing congregation.

In the newly-founded monastery at Cerfroid, Felix was favored with a visit by the Blessed Virgin. During the night preceding the feast of Our Lady's Nativity all the brethren there slept through Matins by a special divine dispensation. Felix alone appeared at choir, where he found the Blessed Virgin clothed in the habit of the Trinitarians, accompanied by a great throng of angels similarly so adorned.

United with them, with Mary as choir leader, Felix recited the Divine Office as usual. When he was about to leave the earthly choirs to join those of heaven, an angel told him the day of his departure. Admonishing his brethren to persevere in love, he died on November 4, 1212, mature in age and merit. Almighty God, You inspired Saint Felix to leave his hermitage to devote himself to the ransoming of prisoners; grant we pray, that by his intercession, through Your grace we may be feed from sin and born to heavenly glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Adapted excerpt from The Church's Year of Grace, Father Pius Parsch.

Like King, Like Queen: A Reflection for the Solemnity of Christ the King, Year A

Christ the King

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

(Ezekiel 34:11-17; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28; Matthew 25:31-46)

Hungry, thirsty, naked, stranger, sick, in prison. That’s the checklist Jesus uses in the famous judgment scene in Matthew’s gospel. There is another list, in today’s reading from Ezekiel, where the Lord catalogues all the things he will do for his sheep which, as we find in the preceding verses (not included), the official shepherds have failed to do.

But, as with other lists in the Scriptures, these are not exhaustive. They point us in a certain direction and allow us to see beyond the list, to draw up “new, improved” lists according to the world we live in. This is exactly how many Religious Orders came into existence. Some literally feed the hungry and clothe the naked. Some meet other, equally urgent, needs.

Interestingly, though hunger and sickness are specifically mentioned in the message of La Salette, the perspective is quite different. There they are seen as the consequence of sin.

When people bring misfortune on themselves, we can be “judgmental,” content to blame them. But we are not dispensed from reaching out to them in their need. Jesus identifies himself with “the least,” the lowest of the low, whom we might think of as “those people.” What we do or fail to do—even for them—we do or fail to do for him. Jesus says that none of us has the right to look the other way when confronted by the essential needs of others.

Our Lady, whom we also call the “Queen of La Salette,” not content to blame her people, saw beyond their sufferings. She came to “seek out the lost and bring back the strayed,” (cf. Ezekiel) promising abundance “if they are converted.”

She spoke of Lent. How can we adopt Lenten practices, and not be aware of the death of children and the famines that continue to occur in our world? If we are converted, we will not turn a blind eye.

In the Gospel, it is clear that the failure to respond to the needs of others reflects a failure to grasp the full implications of discipleship.

Once again, the message of Our Lady of La Salette is remarkably close to the message of Christ. King and Queen are in perfect accord.

Reflection for the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, November 26, 2017, Year A

Christ the King

Msgr. Bernard Bourgeois

Exodus 34:11-12, 15-17; Psalm 23; 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28; 
Matthew 25:31-46

"Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least
brethren of mine, you did for me." (Mt 25:40)

This feast of Christ the King is a paradox. Here is the King of kings who associates with tax collectors, the sick, and the outcast. Here is the Lord of lords whose primary mission was to conquer all sin, suffering, and death. Here is the monarch who died the death of a common criminal. And here is the king who taught his subjects—you and me—to be sure we are taking care of the poor, homeless, hungry, thirsty, naked, and estranged. Why should we share our resources with anyone in these groups? Because this King lives in them. Instead of inhabiting a castle filled with riches, this King chooses to live in the hearts and souls of the poor, oppressed, and those who cry out in suffering. God does things differently than humans do.

The Gospel for this weekend is the familiar Parable of the Last Judgment. In this story, the people are separated as sheep from goats. The Judge places on his right those worthy of entering the kingdom of God. They have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the sick and the imprisoned, sheltered the homeless, and given drink to the thirsty. They will go off to eternal salvation. The goats on the other hand did not take care of anyone in these groups and thus will go off to eternal punishment. Obviously, the judge in the story is Jesus. You and I will be either sheep or goats. We hope to be sheep. In fulfilling the basic needs of any of these people we are doing it for Jesus himself. He identifies with the poor and the suffering.

The human person ought to take great solace and comfort in this truth of the Christian faith. In the poor, it is Jesus himself who seeks food, drink, clothing, shelter, and friendship. What good news! So when you or I hunger, thirst, or seek clothing, shelter, or friendship, the Lord identifies with us. Maybe you have experienced the lack of basic human needs. Quite possibly your hunger or thirst goes beyond physical needs into the realm of spiritual or emotional hunger and thirst. Most people feel lost, abandoned, or hungry at some point in life. It is great comfort to know that in these low moments the Lord identifies and sees himself in the person. Many people suffer from depression and loneliness; it is in these moments that people can experience the nearness of a caring God.

Seeing this parable from this angle helps the disciple of Jesus to consider his or her own generosity in reaching out to others in love and support. If Jesus is with me in my suffering, hunger, and thirst, and I have felt his presence, then I need to be of help to others who are in the same predicament. Hopefully this is the motive of human generosity. Empathy with the hungry, lonely, and imprisoned is felt because at some point everyone has been there either physically or in some analogical way. It works like this: if Jesus is in the midst of suffering, and I have felt his presence in my hunger and thirst, then I am motivated to reach out to others in generosity when they are in similar situations, knowing that I am tending Christ himself in the poor.

The Parable of the Last Judgment inspires all of the followers of Jesus to be generous. The formula is not complicated. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Visit the sick and imprisoned. In doing so, not only are aid and comfort brought to the suffering, but Jesus himself is served. This King of kings reigns by identifying with the poor and suffering. Thank God! In reigning among the hungry and homeless he reigns within the hearts of all who suffer, your heart and mine.

Homily for the Solemnity of Christ the King, November 26, 2017, Year A

The Last Judgment

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing


Parables are teaching devices used by rabbis for instructional purposes. The wonderful thing about a parable is that we can identify ourselves with one or more of the characters in the story.

Read one or hear one and it’s sort of like seeing yourself reflected back, perhaps as in a mirror with some fuzziness, not with a whole lot of precision, but the general image is there. “This one’s about me” is the usual reaction.

You’ve just now heard one of the most famous of all of the parables used by Jesus. There are those on the right, and those on the left; there are the sheep and the goats, the saved and the damned.

But everyone in each group is surprised! When, they ask, did we treat you, or not treat you, in these ways? And Jesus then tells them.

What about you? Where do you see yourself in the story? Do you belong to those that care, the ones on the right, or those who simply didn’t have enough time to be bothered, those on the left? I daresay that you, like me, find yourself in both camps. We’ve given of our time, our treasure, and our talent – and we’ve withheld them, depending upon a number of factors, some of which we’d be ashamed to identify.

But there’s another group that we overlook. The parable’s message is so simple that we fail to see its big point. There were those who helped, those who couldn’t be bothered, and there were those who needed help!

Let me ask you this question, and it’s a big one. Perhaps your salvation hangs on its answer. When have you seen yourself as one who needed help? The answer is awfully important because Jesus identified Himself as one of those. And He didn’t identify Himself as one among those, no! He identified Himself as existing in them, as living in them! He was born poor and helpless, born in need and died in need. He lived and moved and had His being in need. And on the Day of Judgement the surprised will discover Him there.

Have you discovered your being in His? Have you admitted that you exist in need, that you’re not self-sufficient, that you`re on spiritual welfare, and that you and Jesus find each other in need?

That’s the big point of this parable – and it’s always missed! At the Last Judgment Jesus will be found in those who were in need. These are mine, and I am theirs, and they are in me, and I live in them. Jesus did not speak of them in the third person. No, He spoke of them in the first person.

And lets be honest with each other here. Isn’t it true that in most of the major instances in our life when we have refused to admit that we don’t have the answers, when we’ve refused to admit that we might be wrong, when we’ve refused to admit that we need our wife’s help, our husband’s help, and yes, even our children’s help, we’ve gotten into a whole lot of trouble? Isn’t it precisely true that a whole lot of trouble, pain, hurt, and estrangement have come to us when we’ve been arrogant, stubborn, and have refused to admit that we need help?

The great poet John Donne wrote a famous poem that I’m sure you’ve all read, called “No Man Is An Island“. No one of us is self-sufficient. No one of us is a god or a goddess (in spite of our own interior opinion of ourselves). You need my help, and I need your help. You need your spouse’s help, and even your children’s help, and they need yours.

Hell on earth enters the scene when either you or one of the characters in your life refuses to admit that simple, basic truth, and refuses to care. Whenever you encounter that, you get a taste of damnation.

So which group DO you belong to in the parable? Just how DO you identify yourself in it? And could it be true that you just might have to change how you identify yourself not only in the parable but in real life? In your relationship with those around you?

Perhaps this is a moment of grace for you; perhaps you and I are being touched again by God here in His house in the Presence of His Christ and in the life of His Holy Spirit.

Christ the King Novena 2017 | Day 3

Christ the King of the Universe

November 19, 2017

"Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand." Both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ declared the arrival of God’s kingdom (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:15). It is our calling as Christians to make the kingdom of Christ a reality here on earth. Today, we pray for the grace to carry out this mission in imitation of Our Lord.

Christ the King Novena Prayer - Day 3

Christ, our Savior and our King, renew in me allegiance to Your Kingship.

I pray for the grace to fervently bring about Your Kingdom in my family and community.

O Prince of Peace, may Your reign be complete in my life and in the life of the world. Christ, my King, please answer these petitions if they be in accordance with Your Holy Will…

[Mention your intentions here]

As I reflect on Your second, glorious coming and the judgment of all mankind, I beg You to show me mercy and give me the grace to become a great saint. I pray that not only will I spend eternity with You but that You may use me – a sinner – to bring others into Your Kingdom for Your glory.

Christ the King, Your Kingdom come. Amen.

Almighty ever-living God, whose will is to restore all things in Your beloved Son, the King of the universe, grant, we pray, that the whole creation, set free from slavery, may render Your majesty service and ceaselessly proclaim Your praise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns together with You, and in the unity of the Holy Spirit one God all powerful and loving, forever. Amen.

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Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, November 19, 2017, Year A

Parable of The Talents

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing


The gospel accounts of last weekend, this weekend and next weekend are all taken from the 24th and 25th chapters of St. Matthew. The teachings presented in them by Christ are his last ones before he was to enter into Jerusalem and there be put to death. They are his final testament to his disciples, intended to guide them and us in the “already but not yet” time, that time between his presence here on earth and his Second Coming at the end of the world. These final teachings are therefore of great importance. And, when you plumb them to their depths, they are challenging – even menacing.

Last week’s parable told us about the five wise and the five foolish virgins. The foolish ones did not look ahead and make provision for the coming of the bridegroom. They were guilty of the sin of presumption – presuming that in their lack of oil for their lamps the wise ones would provide for them. Their even greater presumption was that once they finally arrived at the banquet the bridegroom would let them, along with the others who had prepared themselves, into the wedding feast. They found the door slammed in their faces.

Today’s parable is about the servant who lacked courage, and who being fear-driven, was consequently unproductive, excusing himself by accusing his master of being a hard man. This servant, like the foolish virgins, was looking for an excuse. He was in a state of denial, denying his own responsibilities.

Next weekend we will be hearing about others who were do-nothings, who were unproductive, and who found themselves to be outsiders because they ignored all that God had given them.

God has given us enormous treasures, talents, in Christ his Son. We have a powerful currency, the powers that God has given us. Christ is interested in productivity. He isn’t looking for passive dependent persons to follow him, to be his post-Ascension agents here on earth. He wants, rather, gamblers and risk-takers to be his followers and to vivify his Church. Doesn’t it strike you that the parables of Jesus center on farming, fishing and business activities, all involving risk–taking? Remember the man who found the pearl of great price and then risked all of his net worth to acquire it? Remember the fishing episodes when Jesus asked Peter to throw out his nets yet again even though he had gone through the whole night without catching a single fish? And remember, too, that episode when Jesus came upon a poor little fig tree that produced nothing and thereupon was going to annihilate it, but held back when the landscaper asked him to wait a year so he could manure it, tend it, and bring it to bear fruit.

Christianity without courage is Christianity without blood and spirit. God encourages us to jump into life and run the risk of growing. It doesn’t take courage to hide in our fear. It takes courage to risk something new.

All around us these days we hear talk about our sluggish economy. Experts, pundits, and commentators incessantly present us tiny bits of evidence upon which they predict that our economy is turning around and will come roaring back in another year. Productivity figures are bandied about. The University of Michigan Consumer Confidence Index is cited over and over again by Wall Street analysts and commentators.

What are our economists all looking for? Risk-takers! Go out and spend, they tell us. Invest, buy and get the currency changing hands again, they insist.

I hope you also notice that they are all asking us to have faith, to make faith-based decisions, to act, and act boldly, on faith.

Well, Christ is giving us the same challenge. He’s telling us that faith isn’t something we can get and keep all to ourselves. Rather it is the currency of the Divine Economy, the engine that drives it. And faith isn’t something we can hide, clutch, and hold only unto ourselves. It needs to be invested in the lives of others and thereby multiplied. Only then can it possibly bear fruit. Only then can our world get better. We were given the Faith not simply to save our own skins… but to save the world!

Turning the other cheek is a profound risk. It requires a tremendous investment in self-confidence to turn the other cheek. So does forgiving seventy-times seven times. One takes a tremendous risk when one tells another “I love you” and “I want to belong to you for the rest of our lives.” Assuming that others, even your adversaries, are acting in good faith requires a great expenditure of your spiritual capital. Showing compassion and giving tender loving care to those who are anything but loveable, who are self-concerned, self-centered and grasping, requires an investment of your own risk capital.

Having the courage to be openly Catholic is something that is personally demanding to each one of us here. It’s not easy to stand up for good priests and defend them in the face of the withering scorn directed at them and our Church these days, especially by the cultured despisers of religion and who are regular opinion columnists in our elite media.

Coming to Mass, especially when it’s not convenient, requires a risk, a risk that must be made in order to increase your own spiritual productivity, not the sort of productivity that benefits just you yourself, but that which is productive of good fruit in the lives of those around you.

There’s a lot of talk these days about accountability, usually the accountability that must be made by others – Enron executives, WorldCom executives, Wall Street banking and investment house officials, and Roman Catholic bishops. And I’m happy that they are being called into account.

But what about us? Do we realize that we too will face our own Day of Judgment; that our own little world will one day come to an end? What about our own productivity and accountability? Are our decisions fear-based or faith-based?

These last Sundays, bringing us to the end of the Church year, ought to challenge us – even disturb us. While it is true that Jesus is meek and mild, boundlessly compassionate and merciful, and that he loves us unconditionally, it is likewise true that he has great and high expectations of us. After all, God our Father didn’t create us to do nothing. It’s what he created us for that ought to occupy our attention, disturb our conscience, and prod us into spiritual productivity.

How else can we reveal God’s kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven?

November 17, 2017

The Last Words of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne was a 19th century educator and missionary. Born in Grenoble, France, she would join the Society of the Sacred Heart and travel to America where together with her Order, she ministered to the native population. At a mission school in Saint Charles, Missouri, she spent her final hours. On the verge of her holy death, St. Rose looked toward heaven and joyously proclaimed:
Jesus, Mary, Joseph, I give you my heart, my soul, and my life – oh, yes, my life, generously.
— St. Rose Philippine Duchesne
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Prayer for St. Rose Philippine Duchesne's Intercession

Almighty God, who filled the heart of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne with charity and missionary zeal, and gave her the desire to make you known among all your people, grant us to follow her way and by her intercession, fill us with that same love and zeal to extend your Kingdom to the ends of the earth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen.

Christ the King Novena 2017 | Day 2

Christ the King of the Universe

November 18, 2017

The feast of Christ the King was created by Pope Pius XI in order to help the faithful remember that allegiance to Jesus Christ is above any other allegiance whether to the government, a cause or an ideology. Today, let us pray that we may always be loyal to, and a devoted disciple of, Our Lord, the King of kings.

Christ the King Novena Prayer - Day 2

Christ, our Savior and our King, renew in me allegiance to Your Kingship.

I pray for the grace to obey You before any civic authority.

O Prince of Peace, may Your reign be complete in my life and in the life of the world. Christ, my King, please answer these petitions if they be in accordance with Your Holy Will…

[Mention your intentions here]

As I reflect on Your second, glorious coming and the judgment of all mankind, I beg You to show me mercy and give me the grace to become a great saint. I pray that not only will I spend eternity with You but that You may use me – a sinner – to bring others into Your Kingdom for Your glory.

Christ the King, Your Kingdom come. Amen.

Almighty ever-living God, whose will is to restore all things in Your beloved Son, the King of the universe, grant, we pray, that the whole creation, set free from slavery, may render Your majesty service and ceaselessly proclaim Your praise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns together with You, and in the unity of the Holy Spirit one God all powerful and loving, forever. Amen.

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Dedication of the Churches of Saints Peter and Paul

Saint Peter and Saint Paul

On November 18th, the Church celebrates the dedication of the two great Roman basilicas of St. Peter at the Vatican and of St. Paul-outside-the-Walls. The basilica of St. Peter stands on the site of the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles, where stood Nero's circus. It was here that St. Peter was executed. St. Paul-outside-the-Walls, at the other end of the city, is built near where St. Paul was martyred.
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Today's feast is a spiritual journey to two holy tombs, that of St. Peter and that of St. Paul in Rome. These two basilicas, marking the place of each apostle's holy martyrdom, are the common heritage and glory of Christendom; it is, therefore, easily seen why the whole universal Church solemnly observes their dedication.

Abbot Herwegen makes the following observations on St. Peter's in Rome. The Eternal City has two principal churches, St. John Lateran and St. Peter's. Since ancient times the Lateran basilica, the mother of all churches on earth, has been the church proper to the bishop of Rome in his role as head of the local diocese. Here the Lenten season was commenced and the Easter liturgy solemnized.

The basilica of St. Peter, on the other hand, was the church of non-Romans, of pilgrims who journeyed to the city where the two great apostles were martyred. Here those celebrations were held which expressed the universal character of the Roman Church, e.g., Epiphany and the noon Mass on Christmas. The various Introits, Lessons, and chants of both these important feasts are best explained as proclaiming Christ's universal dominion His Kingship and His royal majesty.

The third lesson gives the history regarding the construction of the two basilicas. Among the holy places which the first Christians held in honor, those sites were especially dear where the bodies of holy martyrs lay. Great veneration was accorded that area of the Vatican Hill where the grave of St. Peter was located. From all lands Christians made pilgrimages to it as to the rock of faith and the foundation of the Church. In due time the legend arose that Emperor Constantine the Great, eight days after his baptism, took off his diadem, threw himself humbly upon the earth, and shed many tears. Then with pick and shovel he started digging and, in memory of the twelve apostles, carried away twelve baskets of ground. He thus set the boundaries of the basilica to be built in honor of St. Peter. When finished, the edifice was consecrated by Pope Sylvester I.

Pope Sylvester had ordered the altar to be of stone; he anointed it with chrism and decreed that in the future only stone altars were to be used. A new church, the present St. Peter's, was consecrated by Pope Urban VIII on November 18, 1626. The ancient basilica of St. Paul was destroyed by fire in 1823; a new structure was consecrated by Pius IX on December 10, 1854, the occasion of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.

In the perspective of the liturgy, the two churches honored today are prime examples connoting the heavenly Jerusalem. The liturgy excels in the pedagogy of passing from the material to the supernatural — the precedent for which on the point in question was already set by the author of the Apocalypse. Defend your Church, O Lord, by the protection of the holy Apostles, that, as she received from them the beginnings of her knowledge of things divine, so through them she may receive, even to the end of the world, an increase in heavenly grace. Amen.

Adapted excerpt from The Church's Year of Grace, Father Pius Parsch.

Optional Memorial of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Feast Day - November 18th 

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne was born August 29, 1769, in Grenoble, France. She was the daughter of Pierre Francois Duchesne, a successful lawyer and a leader of the French Revolution and Rose Perier, an intelligent, practical, Christian woman. When Rose was twelve, she was sent to boarding school at Ste. Marie d’en Haut. Here she was educated by the Visitation nuns and drawn to their life of contemplation. She entered their congregation at the age of eighteen, but shortly thereafter, the Revolution in France forced the Nuns to disperse. Rose nursed prisoners, found shelter for orphans, and helped give food to the poor.

In December 1804, she joined the Society of the Sacred Heart upon meeting Madeline Sophie Barat, the foundress of this Society. Often, during the next eleven years, Rose discussed with Mother Barat her long held dream of becoming a missionary to the American Indians in the New World. The Dream was ignited when Bishop Du Bourg visited the motherhouse in Paris to solicit the Nuns to establish schools for the Indians and French children in his diocese of St. Louis. Mother Barat gave consent to Rose, who pleaded on her knees for this mission.

On March 14, 1818, Rose left Bordeaux with four other nuns on the sailing vessel Rebecca which has an immortal place in the story of her life. The Atlantic crossing was a stormy and hazardous journey which lasted seventy days. Rose compared the noise, confusion, and terror to Judgment Day. Finally, on May 29, 1818, they anchored in New Orleans. After spending several months with the Ursulines, they sailed up the Mississippi on a steamboat to St. Louis, a trip which took 40 days.

Upon their arrival in St. Louis, they discovered Bishop Du Bourg had rented a frontier home for them in St. Charles which was a settlement of about 500 families. Here, Rose would in time open a school in a log cabin which was the first free school west of the Mississippi. The school at St. Charles did not meet with much success as parents were reluctant to send their children to school in this remote village. After a year at St. Charles, the Bishop moved them to Florissant where he assured them they would obtain students. Until their new house was ready for occupancy, the nuns and the five children with them lived on the Bishop’s farm in a log cabin more miserable than their home in St. Charles.

Progress was made at Florissant. Both a free school and a boarding school and later a novitiate were established. Life in these schools was much like that of the schools in France, although the future saint quickly realized that life on the American frontier was different from her one in Paris and exceptions had to be made. With an increase in the religious community, new schools were established in Grand Coteau, Louisiana in 1821, St. Michael’s in Louisiana in 1825, City House in St. Louis in 1827, and in 1828 St. Charles was reopened. Though her schools were prospering, the saint did not forget her desire to work among the Indians.

Finally, in June, 1841, at the age of seventy-one, she had the opportunity for real mission work with the Indians and went to serve the Potawatomi at Sugar Creek, Kansas. She was old, feeble, and unable to learn the language, but made an impression on the Potawatomi who named her "The Woman Who Prays Always". Frail health forced her to return to St. Charles where she spent her final days.

In her thirty-four years on the American frontier, St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, in addition to teaching and administrative duties, undertook the hardest tasks that needed doing. She tended livestock, chopped wood, dug potatoes, mended shoes and clothing, nursed the sick, and ministered piously. She endured loneliness, yellow fever, and feelings of failure. Almighty God, who filled the heart of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne with charity and missionary zeal, may you fill us with that same love and zeal to extend your Kingdom to all the ends of the earth.

Prayer for the Canonization of Fr. Solanus Casey

Solanus Casey

On the occasion of Father Solanus Casey's beatification, November 18, 2017, the following prayer for the canonization of this extraordinary Capuchin Franciscan priest and miracle worker may be recited for the cause of Blessed Casey and for one's own personal intentions. Blessed Father Solanus Casey, intercede for us.

Jesus, you made Fr. Solanus Casey an example
of humility, charity and selflessness.
He taught us that every human life
has value and dignity.
May we follow him in serving
the poor. the sick, the dying,
the despondent and the desperate.
Grant us, by his intercession,
and according to Your will,
the graces we implore...,
knowing that he will soon be
numbered among Your saints.

We ask this in Your name, 
through the intercession of Mary, 
Your Mother, Queen of heaven and earth. Amen.

Bl. Solanus Casey, you overcame adversity with humility in answering God’s call to the priesthood. May we, inspired by your example, persevere with equal love. 

November 16, 2017

Christ the King Novena 2017 | Day 1

Christ the King of the Universe

November 17, 2017

This novena is focused on letting God reign supreme, among all nations, among all people, and most especially within us. To start, we would like to pray for your personal intentions. If there is any one particular area of your life that you have given over to sin return it to God during this novena. Christ our King, pray for us.

Christ the King Novena Prayer - Day 1

Christ, our Savior and our King, renew in me allegiance to Your Kingship.

I pray for the grace to place You above the powers of this world in all things.

O Prince of Peace, may Your reign be complete in my life and in the life of the world. Christ, my King, please answer these petitions if they be in accordance with Your Holy Will…

[Mention your intentions here]

As I reflect on Your second, glorious coming and the judgment of all mankind, I beg You to show me mercy and give me the grace to become a great saint. I pray that not only will I spend eternity with You but that You may use me – a sinner – to bring others into Your Kingdom for Your glory.

Christ the King, Your Kingdom come. Amen.

Almighty ever-living God, whose will is to restore all things in Your beloved Son, the King of the universe, grant, we pray, that the whole creation, set free from slavery, may render Your majesty service and ceaselessly proclaim Your praise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns together with You, and in the unity of the Holy Spirit one God all powerful and loving, forever. Amen.

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Saint Gregory the Wonderworker on Humility

Saint Gregory the Wonderworker

Saint Gregory, the 3rd century bishop of Neocaesarea in Asia Minor, is usually remembered for his piety, pastoral wisdom and miracles. Known in his life as "Thaumaturgus", the wonderworker, he defended the doctrines of the Church against heretical attacks. Here he encourages all Christians to act with humility:
They who keep the commandment ought to keep it without any sordid covetousness, demanding neither recompense, nor reward, nor fee, nor anything else that bears the name of acknowledgment.
— St. Gregory Thaumaturgus 
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Prayer for St. Gregory the Wonderworker's Intercession

O holy Saint Gregory, confessor and priest of the Lord, I pray that you would intercede with God on my behalf, that, being purified from all vice, I may please Him in all things, and that He will grant me also the peace possessed by all His servants. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. To Him be all glory and honor. Amen.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Her Life and Miracles

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Optional Memorial - November 16th 

There are people who make a lasting impact on the world even though their earthly lives are very short. Saint Elizabeth of Hungary or Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia was just such a person. Both a king’s daughter and a king’s wife, her love and care for the poor led her to be beloved by the common people during her life, and resulted in her canonization a mere four years after her death.

Elizabeth, daughter of the king of Hungary, was born in 1207. In 1221, at the age of 14, she married Louis IV of Thuringia (Germany), He ascended the Thuringian throne at the age of 16. Over the next six years Elizabeth would bear him three children. The couple were deeply in love and very devoted to each other. Louis fully supported his young wife in her spiritual life and in her prodigious efforts aiding the destitute. This included selling state treasures to assist the needy.

Tragically, in 1227, Louis died on the Sixth Crusade after promising Emperor Frederick II he would take up the cross and accompany him to the Holy Land. Elizabeth was devastated. When an uncle arranged a second marriage for her the following year, she fled to the city of Marburg where she joined the Third Order of Saint Francis. There, she built a hospital for the indigent and the sick with money from her dowry. She continued to minister to the poor until her death in 1231.

Miracles attributed to her during her life and at her grave coupled with the love ordinary people felt for her led Pope Gregory IX to canonize her in 1235. Popular piety records two miracles of note. In the miracle of the roses, a young Elizabeth hides in her shawl food for the indigent from her family's' table. Upon entering the slums, she is met by her future husband (Louis) who inquires as to what she is hiding. Embarrassed, Elizabeth opens her mantle to reveal a bouquet of roses.

Another miracle associated with Elizabeth tells how she cared for the leper Helias of Eisenach in the bed she shared with her husband. Her shocked mother-in-law, informed Louis on his return. When Louis unwrapped the bandages from the convalescing figure on the bed, "Almighty God opened the eyes of his soul, and instead of a leper he saw the figure of Christ crucified stretched upon the bed."

Prayer for St. Elizabeth of Hungary's Intercession

St. Elizabeth of Hungary is the patron of Catholic charities and bakers. Almighty ever-loving God, by whose gift St. Elizabeth of Hungary recognized and revered Christ in the poor, grant, through her intercession, that we may serve with all unfailing charity the needy and afflicted. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. St. Elizabeth, inspired by your example, may we duly love the Christ in others.

November 15, 2017

St. Gertrude the Great on the Merit of Suffering

Saint Gertrude the Great

St. Gertrude the Great of Helfta was a 12th century German Benedictine nun, mystic and theologian. Graced with visions of Christ, her spiritual insights into mystical union with God, Purgatory, and the eternal value of suffering for our souls are a treasure for the Church. Here she speaks to the merit of suffering.
Bodily and spiritual affliction are the surest sign of Divine predilection. Gratitude for suffering is a precious jewel for our heavenly crown... Man should always firmly believe that God sends just that trial which is most beneficial for him.
— St. Gertrude the Great
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Prayer for St. Gertrude the Great's Intercession

O God, who prepared a delightful dwelling for yourself in the heart of the Virgin Saint Gertrude, graciously bring light, through her intercession, to the darkness of our hearts, that we may joyfully experience you present and at work within us always. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns together with you, and in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Christ the King Novena Begins November 17th

The Christ the King

This feast day was instituted by Pope Pius XI on December 11th, in 1925, within the encyclical letter Quas Primas. The Holy Father was responding to the fact that the world was becoming increasingly nationalistic and secular. Governments were claiming more and more allegiance from citizens and attempting to replace God.
While nations insult the beloved name of our Redeemer by suppressing all mention of it in their conferences and parliaments, we must all the more loudly proclaim his kingly dignity and power, all the more universally affirm his rights. – Quas Primas, 25
Pope Pius XI, therefore, created the feast of Christ the King to help the faithful to remember that our allegiance to Christ is above any allegiance to the government of a nation. Often, as society has grown increasingly secular, one pledges fidelity to ideas, ideologies or movements, in the hopes of fitting-in or winning favor:

"The faithful...by meditating upon these truths, will gain much strength and courage, enabling them to form their lives after the true Christian ideal. If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God." Quas Primas, 33

It is particularly important to recognize the words of the encyclical in today’s climate of government intrusion on the Church. The pressures on Holy Mother Church and the faithful are becoming increasing increasingly maniacal and oppressive. Let us remain firm in our Faith and in imitation of Christ our King.

“When we pay honor to the princely dignity of Christ, men will doubtless be reminded that the Church, founded by Christ as a perfect society, has a natural and inalienable right to perfect freedom and immunity from the power of the state; and that in fulfilling the task committed to her by God of teaching, ruling, and guiding to eternal bliss those who belong to the kingdom of Christ, she cannot be subject to any external power.” – Quas Primas, 31

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Homily for the Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, November 19, 2017, Year A

The Parable of the talents

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


If there is anybody here whose grandmother was (or is) a lousy cook, you may well be in a minority of one. Grandma’s (or Nana’s or Mémère’s or Nonna’s) cooking is the stuff of family memories and legends. No one cooks the way she did.

The “worthy wife” of the first reading is that kind of person. The text concludes, “Let her works praise her at the city gates.” The image here is a little foreign to us, so I’ll explain it briefly. In ancient times the city gates were the place where you were most likely to run into friends and catch up on the latest news and gossip. But when you spoke of “Mrs. Worthy,” you would be praising her, for her talents and her character, and everyone would think what a lucky man “Mr. Worthy” was.

In this context, you could reasonably take the “talents” of today’s parable to mean whatever you happen to be good at. That is not really so far off the mark, since that is the modern meaning of a word which in Jesus’ time meant an extremely large amount of money.

“Mrs. Worthy,” however, also helps us understand talents both as what you are good at, and as something that has significant value. I dare say many of you have talents that meet that criterion.

That said, the parable can’t really be just about developing our skills and using them well. That’s because the parable isn’t only about us. Yes, we can see ourselves as the “servants,” but there is also the “Master.” The parable is about both, about the relationship between them.

It’s especially the third servant, the one who hid his master’s money, that makes the point for us. His relationship toward the master was one of fear—not the abiding respect that is called “fear of the Lord,” one of the qualities we find in the worthy wife—but genuine craven fear. “I knew you were a demanding person,” he says, and so he chose not to take the risk of losing the one talent. The master had shown him, according to his abilities, equal trust with the other two servants; but he, the servant, apparently did not share his master’s trust in him.

The other two understood what was expected of them, and doubled their master’s money. Fear of the master did not paralyze them. On the contrary, they were highly motivated, perhaps because they anticipated some reward, or perhaps simply because they wished to please him.

Back to ourselves, we need to ask the same question. Not just, how can I best develop the talents have I been given, and use them? but, more importantly, why? St. Paul gives us one possible version of the answer: “The day of the Lord will come like a thief at night... Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do.”

The motivation is that we need to be ready when the Master returns, to give him an accounting of our stewardship. What we have received isn’t given to us only for ourselves. We are servants, after all, ideally eager to serve and anxious to show off how we have served.

Going back to Grandma’s cooking, what really made it so very special, after all? Secret spices? No. Fresh ingredients? No. Precise measurements? Certainly not!

It was the love, the same love that set the “worthy wife” apart, the same love that needs to set us apart as “good and faithful servants.”

The day came when Grandma wasn’t up to cooking any more. She minded that terribly, not because of the food, but because she could no longer demonstrate her love in that particular way.

When and if the time comes that we can no longer exercise the skills we have used in the Master’s service, we will lay down our various tools of the trade, and all that will be left is love. And the Master will still be well served, and well pleased.

Saint Margaret of Scotland, A Model of Virtue

Saint Margaret of Scotland

November 16th, the Church celebrates the optional memorial of Saint Margaret of Scotland, also known as Margaret of Wessex. According to Divine Providence, a shipwreck near Scotland turned out to be good fortune for both that country and its monarch, because it brought the virtuous young woman to their shores. She proved to be a model mother and exemplary queen who worked hard to improve the morality of her subjects. St. Margaret is the secondary patroness of Scotland.

Margaret was born sometime around the year 1050, in Hungary, where her father was living in exile, and likewise spent her childhood there as an unusually devout and pious girl. While her birth date is uncertain, her lineage is unmistakable. The daughter of Princess Agatha of Hungary and Prince Edward Atheling, she was brought up in the court of her great uncle, Edward the Confessor, who was King of England. Her father died suddenly in 1057, the year they returned to England.

When William the Conqueror invaded that country in 1066, the family intended to flee to the continent to escape him.  A storm, however, drove their ship north to Scotland, where King Malcolm took them under his protection. It wasn’t long before Malcolm fell in love with the beautiful and gracious Margaret. The couple was married in 1070, and they had eight children, raised diligently in the Faith.

Although he had a good heart, King Malcolm — and indeed, many of his people — were rough in their manners. Margaret exuded such goodness and piety that they soon followed her example, and before long, the Scottish court was known for both its virtue and great civility. According to the Roman Breviary: "Her most remarkable virtue was love of neighbor, particularly love toward the poor. Her alms supported countless unfortunates; she provided food for three hundred and shared in the work of serving them washing their feet and kissing their wounds."

Already ill, St. Margaret died in 1093, four days after her husband and eldest son were killed in the Battle of Alnwick. Her death was occasioned by a life of near constant austerity and fasting. She was solemnly interred before the high altar in Dunfermline Abbey in Fife, Scotland. Almighty God, who made Saint Margaret of Scotland wonderful in her outstanding charity towards the destitute, grant that through her intercession and example we may reflect among all humanity the image of your divine goodness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. Amen.

St. Gertrude the Great, German Mystic and Theologian


November 16th is the optional memorial of Saint Gertrude the Great. A 12th century Benedictine nun of the monastery of Helfta, in Saxony, she is regarded as one of the great mystics of the Middle Ages. Our Savior favored her with visions. Her book Revelations is her marvelous account of them. St. Gertrude introduced the devotion to the Sacred Heart which, four centuries later, Saint Margaret Mary spread throughout the Church. She died at the beginning of the 13th century.

One of the most lovable German saints from medieval times, Gertrude, through her writings, will remain for all ages a guide to the interior life. She was born in 1256 at Eisleben and at the age of five taken to the convent at Rossdorf, where Gertrude of Hackeborn was abbess. Similarity in name has caused confusion between the two Gertrudes. St. Gertrude the Great never functioned as superior.

In spite of much ill-health, Gertrude used her exceptional natural talents well, such as her fluency in Latin. In 1281, when she was twenty-five years old, Our Lord began to appear to her and to disclose to her the secrets of mystical union. Obeying a divine wish, she recorded the graces bestowed upon her. Her most important work, Legatus Divinae Pietatis, "The Herald of Divine Love," is marked by theological profundity, sublime poetry, and great clarity. Reading it stimulates love of God. Abbot Blosius is said to have read it piously twelve times each year.

St. Gertrude died in 1302, more consumed by the fire of God's love than by fever. She is especially remembered for her devotion to the poor souls in Purgatory and her prayer on behalf of the Church Suffering (see below) O God, who prepared a delightful dwelling for yourself in the heart of the Virgin St. Gertrude, graciously bring light, through her intercession, to the darkness of our hearts, that we may joyfully experience you at work within us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Prayer to Release Souls from Purgatory

Our Lord told St. Gertrude the Great, that the following prayer would release 1,000 souls from Purgatory each time it is said. The prayer was extended to include living sinners which would alleviate the indebtedness accrued to them:

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the Universal Church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen. [Poor souls, upon attaining heaven, pray that I may also experience holy beatitude at the close of my earthly life.]

Adapted excerpt from The Church's Year of Grace, Father Pius Parsch.

November 14, 2017

For Your Information: The Divinum Officium

Christ the King

From the Divinum Officium site:

"This web site and these programs were developed, managed, and maintained by Laszlo Kiss, as his own work, until his death in 2011. It is now maintained by The Divinum Officium Project It represents no official order, nor the view or opinion of any group. Laszlo wrote: I tried to follow my sources, but naturally the more I work on this project the more mistakes I make. Such a project can be done only by teamwork. I keep doing this in the hope that a team will pick up the idea, and will use the computers in their entirety to worship God. Since August 2011, The Divinum Officium Project continues Laszlo Kiss's work and keeps his hope alive."

Words of caution:

Those who are obliged to recite the office should do so from canonically approved books (Can 276.2.3). According to the motu proprio Summorum Pontificium Cura of Pope Benedict XVI (7 July 2007), the 1962 books are accepted as the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The Project makes every effort to maintain in this website the Rubrics 1960 version to be identical with the 1962 typical edition. The website is seeking ecclesiastical approbation as such.

General Rubrics of the Roman Missal

I - General Notions and Norms

269. The most holy sacrifice of the Mass, celebrated according to the canons and rubrics, is an act of public worship, rendered to God in the name of Christ and of the Church...

270. The Mass with the divine office constitutes the highest expression of Christian worship. Hence, the Mass itself should agree with the office of the day.

Masses outside the order of the office are also allowed, however, namely votive Masses or Masses of the dead. (Note the caution above, but visit this site.)

Saint Albert the Great, the "Doctor Universalis"

Saint Albert the Great

On November 15th, the Church celebrates the optional memorial of Saint Albert the Great. The son of a German nobleman, he was studying at Padua when the Master General of the Dominicans, Jordan of Saxony, succeeded in attracting him to that Order. He was to become one of the Dominicans' greatest glories. After taking his degrees at the University of Paris, he taught philosophy and theology at Paris and then in Cologne. Saint Thomas Aquinas was among his pupils.

St. Albert, the "light of Germany," called the Great because of his encyclopedic knowledge, was born in 1193 at Lauingen, Donau. He joined the newly-founded Order of Preachers in 1223. Soon he was sent to Germany where he taught in various cities. In 1248 he received the honor of Master in Sacred Theology at Paris. Throngs attended his lectures, drawn by his piety and towering intellect.

In 1254, Albert was chosen provincial of his Order in Germany. For a time, he lived at the court of Pope Alexander II, who in 1260, made him the bishop of Regensburg. Two years later, however, he returned to his community at Cologne. There he acted as counselor, peacemaker and shepherd of souls with enormous success. He died at the age of 87. Pope Pius XI numbered him among the saints on December 16, 1931, solemnly declaring him a Doctor of the universal Church.

Much of his life was given to writing. His twenty-one folio volumes are devoted to commentaries on Aristotle (whose works were just then becoming known in the West) and the Bible. Legend credits him with drawing the ground plans for the cathedral at Cologne. Albert, the greatest German scholar of the Middle Ages, was outstanding in the disciplines of natural science, theology, and philosophy.

O God, who made the Bishop Saint Albert great by his joining of human wisdom to divine faith, grant, we pray, that we may so adhere to the truths he taught, that through progress in learning we may come to a deeper knowledge and love of you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever. Amen. Saint Albert the Great, pray for us.