November 30, 2017

Bl. Charles de Foucauld on Priestly Evangelization

Blessed Charles de Foucauld

Blessed Charles de Foucauld desired to be a disciple of Jesus by witnessing to God's great love for all people and "proclaiming the Gospel with his whole life." Fr. Foucauld understood his call to be that of following Jesus of Nazareth. His priesthood was a life of prayer, pious adoration, poverty and radical humility.
The evangelisation that I am called to live is not through the word but through the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, the offering of the sacrifice of the Mass. It is through prayer and penance and the practice of the Gospel virtues... fraternal and universal love, sharing even my last mouthful of bread with every poor person, with every visitor, every stranger, and welcoming each person as a beloved brother or sister.
— Bl. Charles de Foucauld
____________________________________

Prayer of Abandonment by Bl. Charles de Foucauld 

Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you: I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures - I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into your hands I commend my soul: I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father. Amen.

Immaculate Conception Novena 2017 | Day 3

The Immaculate Conception

December 1, 2016

Today we pray in thanksgiving to God for the gift of His mother, Mary. She is a perfect example for us in living a life that is fully devoted to Christ. To thee, O Virgin Mother, who was never touched by any spot of original or actual sin, we commend and entrust the purity of our hearts. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever.

Immaculate Conception Novena - Day 3

O most pure Virgin Mary conceived without sin, from the very first instant, you were entirely immaculate. O glorious Mary full of grace, you are the mother of my God – the Queen of Angels and of men. I humbly venerate you as the chosen mother of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

The Prince of Peace and the Lord of Lords chose you for the singular grace and honor of being His beloved mother. By the power of His Cross, He preserved you from all sin. Therefore, by His power and love, I have hope and bold confidence in your prayers for my holiness and salvation.

I pray that your prayers will bring me to imitate your holiness and submission to Jesus and the Divine Will.

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

Now, Queen of Heaven, I beg you to beg my Savior to grant me these requests…

(Mention your intentions)

My holy Mother, I know that you were obedient to the will of God. In making this petition, I know that God’s will is more perfect than mine. So, grant that I may receive God’s grace with humility like you.

As my final request, I ask that you pray for me to increase in faith in our risen Lord; I ask that you pray for me to increase in hope in our risen Lord; I ask that you pray for me to increase in love for the risen Jesus!

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Click to sign up for daily reminders to pray the Immaculate Conception Novena.

Saint Edmund Campion, English Martyr

Saint Edmund Campion

The feast of Saint Edmund Campion (1540-1581), the Jesuit priest and English martyr, is celebrated on December 1st. He was born the son of a bookseller in Paternoster row, just behind Saint Paul's Cathedral in London. He grew up amid the religious strife of the 16th century following the dispute between King Henry VIII and Rome. He is venerated among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

Campion enrolled in the local grammar school and then, at age 12, attended the new Christ's Hospital school for orphans and the poor. In August 1553, he was selected to deliver a ceremonial address to Queen Mary as she passed through London. Campion was able academically and went to St John's College, Oxford, at the age of 15. He was awarded a degree in 1564 and became a fellow of the University. In 1566, he was again chosen to make a formal speech of welcome before the new Queen, Elizabeth I, as she visited Oxford. Much impressed with Campion, Queen Elizabeth ensured he had friends and patrons within the Court.

Ordained a deacon in the Anglican Church, Campion came to believe that the Protestant church was not the true continuation of the Christian faith and that only in the Catholic Church would he find a home. He soon resigned his position at Oxford. Traveling to Dublin in 1570, he helped establish a university there.

With the excommunication of Elizabeth I by Pope Pius V in 1570, Catholics and people like Campion who wavered in their religious affiliations were persecuted. Campion became a Catholic and went to the new seminary for English Catholics at Douai in France. He was ordained subdeacon and then walked, barefoot, to Rome to become a Jesuit in April 1573. Campion pursued his studies and taught in the Jesuit College in Prague. Finally, he was ordained a priest in 1578.

Campion was persuaded, against his better judgment, to join the new mission to England. On June 16, 1580, Fr Robert Persons S.J. landed at Dover, the Superior of the mission. On June 24th, Campion followed, disguised as a jewel merchant. He moved between the houses of Catholics (the Recusants) who practised their religion in secret. At one such house, Lyford Grange in Oxfordshire, Campion was betrayed and arrested on July 17, 1581, a year after he returned to England.

He was imprisoned and tortured in the Tower of London and tried at Westminster Hall in November 1581. Condemned for treason, he was dragged on a hurdle to Tyburn where he was martyred with Fr Alexander Briant SJ and Fr Ralph Sherwin. He was hanged and then, before he was dead, his genitals cut off, his entrails ripped out and burned before him, his head hacked off and his body quartered.

The feast of Saint Edmund Campion is solemnly observed among many English Catholics. With him are remembered his fellow martyr Saint Alexander Briant SJ, and Saint Robert Southwell SJ who was martyred on February 21, 1595. All were made saints by Pope Paul VI in 1970 along with thirty-seven others (the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales). O God, who gave light to your Church through St. Edmund Campion, grant that we may follow him to know your eternal Beatitude.

Blessed Charles de Foucauld, Missionary and Priest

Bl. Charles de Foucauld

December 1st is the feast of Blessed Charles Eugène de Foucauld, also known as Fr. Charles de Jésus, a French Catholic religious and priest who lived among the Tuareg in the Sahara in Algeria. Fr. Foucauld was martyred in 1916 outside the door of the fort he built for the protection of the indigenous Tuareg villagers. His witness and writings led to the founding of the Little Brothers of Jesus Order.
________________________________________

Blessed Charles de Foucauld was born in Strasbourg, France on September 15, 1858. Orphaned at the age of six, he and his sister Marie were raised by their grandfather in whose footsteps he followed by pursuing a military career. The recipient of a large inheritance, Charles lived a worldly life. His taste for the things of this world was well known and would result in the loss of his faith.

While serving in the French Army he was stationed for a time in Algeria. This was the beginning of his fascination with North Africa. Subsequent to his enlistment, he traveled throughout Morocco. Seeing the way Muslims expressed their faith stirred his heart and he began asking, "My God, if you exist, let me know you."

On his return to France, the warm, respectful welcome he received from his deeply Christian family, spurred Charles to renew his own religious commitments. On October 29, 1886, he spoke with Father Huvelin at St. Augustine’s Church. After confessing his sins and receiving holy communion, Charles experienced a spiritual epiphany. He wrote:  "As soon as I believed in God, I understood that I could not do otherwise than to live for him alone." He was then 28 years old.

Fr. Huvelin encouraged Charles to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The journey inspired Charles to imitate the "hidden life" of Jesus of Nazareth. This was the life Our Lord lived before His public ministry, a life characterized by silence, obscurity, humble work, and simple joys. Charles would spend seven years as a Trappist, first in France and then at Akbès in Syria. Later, he led a life of prayer and adoration, in solitude, near a convent of Poor Clares in Nazareth.

In 1901, at the age of 43, he was ordained a priest and left for the Sahara as a missionary, living at first in Beni Abbès and later at Tamanrasset among the Tuaregs of the Hoggar. He wanted to be among those who were, "the furthest removed, the most abandoned." All those close to him found in him, "a universal brother." Out of respect for the culture and faith of those with whom he lived, he strived to "shout the Gospel with his life". "I would like to be sufficiently good that people would say, 'If such is the servant, what must the Master be like?'"

On the evening of December 1, 1916, he was killed by a band of marauders who had encircled his house. Bl. Charles de Foucauld had always dreamed of sharing his vocation with others. After having written several rules for religious life, he came to the conclusion that this "life of Nazareth" could be led by all. Today the "spiritual family of Charles de Foucauld" encompasses several associations of the faithful, religious communities and secular institutes for the laity and priests.

November 29, 2017

Homily for the 1st Sunday of Advent, December 3, 2017, Year B

Christ's agony in the Garden

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


I have a revelation to make.

What does that statement make you expect? A personal confession? Some new scandal in the Church? An interesting secret, or some news that will amaze or disappoint you?

One way or another, the statement probably sparked your interest.

In today’s reading from St. Paul, we find a similar idea: “You are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Christians of Corinth, who are already believers, are waiting for another revelation.

As we begin a new year in the life of the Church, we do so with a sense of anticipation. In this respect Advent is quite different from Lent. Both use purple vestments, both omit the Gloria at Mass, both are meant to be a sober preparation for a great feast to follow. Still, have you ever heard of making “Advent resolutions”?

For whatever reason, Advent isn’t usually experienced as a time for taking stock, for conversion. From that point of view, today’s first reading from Isaiah comes as a surprise with its heavily penitential tone: “Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful; all of us have become like unclean people... and our guilt carries us away like the wind.”

In Advent we look less inward than outward. Instead of recurring themes of mercy and forgiveness, we sing “O come, O come, Emmanuel!” In the responsorial Psalm we read, “Rouse your power and come to save us.” Even Isaiah cries out: “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!”

This is definitely an upbeat season. It is time for God to act. We perceive ourselves as needing only to be ready and waiting.

Now it is just possible that this need to be ready and waiting may challenge us to make some important changes in our life. There are, after all, so many distractions. Christmas itself, since it involves shopping and decorations and parties, becomes a distraction from Advent. These things are inevitable, so we do have to make a serious effort to maintain the focus on the revelation that is to come.

There is an almost seamless transition from the end of one liturgical year and the beginning of the next. Just last Sunday we had the perspective of the final coming of Christ as Judge. The week before that we had the parable of the master returning and settling accounts with his servants. Today we are told to be like servants expecting the master’s return.

There is a difference, nonetheless. Over the last few weeks we have been anticipating the final and definitive revelation in the Second Coming of Christ. As we say in the Creed: “He will come again in glory... and his kingdom will have no end.” This is the faith of the Church.

In Advent, our horizon is not so vast. While waiting for the Ultimate Revelation, we also live in expectation of what we might call intermediate revelations.

I am not talking about any new public or private revelation as distinct from that already received and transmitted by the Church. What I mean is that Advent is a perfect time for us to be especially attentive, for example, to the readings at Mass, so that we might experience that revelation in a new, personal way.

Ideally this would become our way of life as Christians, not limited to these four weeks. As Jesus says: “May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.”

Advent teaches us to expect God to surprise us, to expect him to say, “I have a revelation to make.” That should spark our interest!

Immaculate Conception Novena 2017 | Day 2

The Immaculate Conception Novena

November 30, 2016

Today we pray for the universal Church. To thee, O Virgin Mother, who was never touched by any spot of original or actual sin, we commend and entrust the purity of our hearts. Also, pray that we never take anything, or anyone, for granted.

Immaculate Conception Novena - Day 2

O most pure Virgin Mary conceived without sin, from the very first instant, you were entirely immaculate. O glorious Mary full of grace, you are the mother of my God – the Queen of Angels and of men. I humbly venerate you as the chosen mother of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

The Prince of Peace and the Lord of Lords chose you for the singular grace and honor of being His beloved mother. By the power of His Cross, He preserved you from all sin. Therefore, by His power and love, I have hope and bold confidence in your prayers for my holiness and salvation.

I pray that your prayers will bring me to imitate your holiness and submission to Jesus and the Divine Will.

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

Now, Queen of Heaven, I beg you to beg my Savior to grant me these requests…

(Mention your intentions)

My holy Mother, I know that you were obedient to the will of God. In making this petition, I know that God’s will is more perfect than mine. So, grant that I may receive God’s grace with humility like you.

As my final request, I ask that you pray for me to increase in faith in our risen Lord; I ask that you pray for me to increase in hope in our risen Lord; I ask that you pray for me to increase in love for the risen Jesus!

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Click to sign up for daily reminders to pray the Immaculate Conception Novena.

A Reflection for the Feast of St. Andrew: The Calling of the Apostles Peter, Andrew, James, John (and You)

The Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew

The following reflection is excerpted from an article for the feast of Saint Andrew by blog contributor Msgr. Bernard W. Bourgeois. The calling of the apostles Peter, Andrew, James and John by Christ is a seminal event in Our Lord's ministry. But God's call to discipleship is not consigned to apostles, priests and religious alone. It's our sacred duty, the divine summons of human beings, including ourselves.
 ________________________________________

A Reflection for the Feast of St. Andrew

Msgr. Bernard Bourgeois

The calling of Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John, all fishermen, fascinates today’s Christians. Could it really be true that Jesus could just walk along and expect these four men to abandon their families and careers? From all that is found in the Gospels, it seems so. They were overwhelmed by the aura and power of Christ. They had no choice but to follow Him; they knew it in the depths of their hearts and souls. Following Jesus wholeheartedly was not unique to these four apostles; you and I are called in much the same way. Leaving everything behind and following Christ unencumbered by worldly concerns is the journey of every Christian….

To have a deep relationship with Christ, the disciple must first get rid of sin and sinful tendencies. This lifelong struggle can only happen in prayer. A life based in Jesus demands that the person continually examines her life so that she may shed that which is not of Christ. Sin can easily creep into a person’s life unless that person is watching his actions carefully. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is needed in the life of faith in order to rid the heart and soul of sin and start anew. Sin draws the person away from Christ. Sin must go!

Pride must be dealt with as well. A relationship with Christ can only occur if the person knows he needs Christ. Freely choosing to obey Christ, the faithful disciple knows he cannot do it alone. It takes the community of the Church and the presence of the Holy Spirit found in conscience to help form that important relationship. Pride can steer a person away from Christ.

Lastly, reckless ambition and greed are not of Christ. Power and money become one’s god when ambition and greed hold him prisoner. They can never be satisfied—there is always more power and more money that could be attained. Money is necessary to provide for oneself and one’s family. Balance is the key. While the disciple of Christ must provide for his family, he needs to realize that his relationship with Christ trumps all else. Christ teaches us to treat others with kindness and respect and not to lord it over them. If the person trusts in God, he will not worry about having enough money; he is in God’s hands….

Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle

Saint Andrew

The Feast of Saint Andrew, one of the twelve apostles selected by Our Lord, is November 30th. Andrew has the distinction of introducing his brother Peter to Jesus, saying, "We have found the Messiah." Overshadowed henceforth by his brother, Andrew nevertheless appears again in the Gospels as introducing souls to Christ. After Pentecost, Andrew took up the apostolate on a much wider scale, and is said to have been martyred at Patras in southern Greece on a cross which was in the form of an "X". This type of cross is known as a "St. Andrew's cross."

Andrew did not belong to the inner circle of the apostles, Peter, James and John, and the evangelists record nothing extraordinary concerning him [John 6:8]; but tradition extols his great love for the Cross and for the Savior. The Church distinguishes him in the Mass [his name occurs in the Canon and in the Libera since the time of Pope Saint Gregory I] as well as in the Divine Office.

The story of his martyrdom comes to us from popular piety. The pagan judge exhorted him to sacrifice to the gods. Andrew replied: "I sacrifice daily to almighty God, the one, true God. Not the flesh of oxen and the blood of goats, but the unspotted Lamb upon the altar. All the faithful partake of His flesh, yet the Lamb remains unharmed and living." Angered by this reply, King Aegeas commanded him to be thrown into prison. The people would have liberated him, but Andrew calmed the mob and persuaded them not to agitate for his release.

Early texts describe Andrew as bound, not nailed, to a Latin cross of the kind on which Jesus is said to have been crucified. Yet a tradition developed that Andrew was crucified on a cross of the form called Crux decussata (X-shaped cross, or "saltire"), supposedly at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be martyred on the same type of cross upon which the Lord had been crucified.

When Andrew was led to the place of martyrdom, on seeing the cross from a distance he cried: "O good Cross, so long desired and now set up for my longing soul I confident and rejoicing come to you; exultingly receive me, a disciple of Him who hung on you." According to one account, after being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. Once secured to the cross Andrew hung there for two whole days, unceasingly proclaiming the Good News of Christ to his tormentors until his holy death.

We humbly implore your majesty, O Lord, that, just as the blessed Apostle St. Andrew was for your Church a preacher and pastor, so too may he be for us a constant intercessor before you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever. Amen. Holy Saint Andrew, disciple of Our Lord and Apostle of His Church, pray for us.

A Step by Step Guide for Making a Good Confession

Confessional

The penitent and the priest begin with the sign of the Cross, saying: 

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

The priest urges the penitent to have confidence in God with these or similar words: 

May the Lord be in your heart and help you to confess your sins with true sorrow.

The priest may recite a passage from Sacred Scripture after which the penitent then states: 

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been (however many days, weeks, months or years) since my last confession.

The penitent then states his sins. For the confession to be valid, the penitent must confess all of the mortal sins he is aware of having committed since the last confession, be sorry for them, and have a firm purpose of amendment to try not to commit the same sins in the future.

After this, the priest will generally give some advice to the penitent and impose a penance. Then he will ask the penitent to make an Act of Contrition. The penitent may do so in his own words, or may say a memorized act of contrition like the following:

Act of Contrition 

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.

After this the priest will absolve the penitent in the following words:

God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.*

The penitent makes the sign of the Cross and answers: Amen.

The priest will then dismiss the penitent with a short prayer and encouragement. The penitent should then fulfill the penance in a timely manner.
____________________________________________

*You receive spiritual, psychological, and physical healing in the Sacrament of Reconciliation because Jesus is present in the person of the priest (In persona Christi).

November 28, 2017

Immaculate Conception Novena 2017 | Day 1

The Immaculate Conception

November 29, 2017

Today we pray for all those who suffer material poverty and go unnoticed and uncared for, that God will provide for them through us. Also, may we not take anything, or anyone, for granted in our lives.

Immaculate Conception Novena - Day 1

O most pure Virgin Mary conceived without sin, from the very first instant, you were entirely immaculate. O glorious Mary full of grace, you are the mother of my God – the Queen of Angels and of men. I humbly venerate you as the chosen mother of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

The Prince of Peace and the Lord of Lords chose you for the singular grace and honor of being His beloved mother. By the power of His Cross, He preserved you from all sin. Therefore, by His power and love, I have hope and bold confidence in your prayers for my holiness and salvation.

I pray that your prayers will bring me to imitate your holiness and submission to Jesus and the Divine Will.

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

Now, Queen of Heaven, I beg you to beg my Savior to grant me these requests…

(Mention your intentions)

My holy Mother, I know that you were obedient to the will of God. In making this petition, I know that God’s will is more perfect than mine. So, grant that I may receive God’s grace with humility like you.

As my final request, I ask that you pray for me to increase in faith in our risen Lord; I ask that you pray for me to increase in hope in our risen Lord; I ask that you pray for me to increase in love for the risen Jesus!

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Click to sign up for daily reminders to pray the Immaculate Conception Novena.

Prayers for Deceased Loved Ones and Others

Prayers for the Deceased

Prayer for the Deceased

Lord, God of holiness and light, You do not allow any shadow of darkness or evil in Your sight, and so in Your mercy You grant to those who have left this world burdened with sin, a time of purification, applying to them the spiritual treasurers of Your holy Church.

Hear my prayer, and through the merits of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin, the saints, and all Your faithful people bring to an end this time of waiting for our beloved dead, especially _____.

In Your providence You have chosen Saint Nicholas as a special intercessor on behalf of the departed. Hear also his fervent prayer for those whom I recommend to You through his intercession. Amen.

Prayer for the Deceased #2

Lord Jesus, our Redeemer, You willingly gave Yourself up to death so that all people might be saved and pass from death into a new life. Listen to our prayers; look with love on Your people who mourn and pray for their dead brother/sister. Lord Jesus, You alone are holy and compassionate; forgive our brother/sister his/her sins.

By dying You opened the gates of life for those who believe in You; do not let Your brother/sister be parted from You, but by Your glorious power give him/her light, joy, and peace in heaven where You live for ever and ever. Amen.

For Our Mother and Father 

Ever-loving God, who has commanded us to honor our father and mother, have compassion in Thy mercy on the souls of my father and mother; forgive them their sins, and grant that I may see them in the joy of eternal brightness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Brethren and Friends

O God, Who art ever ready to forgive sins and Who ever seekest the salvation of men: we most humbly entreat of Thy mercy that, through the intercession of Blessed Mary, ever a Virgin and of all Thy saints, the brethren, friends, and benefactors of our congregation, who have passed out of this world, may together enjoy that happiness which hath no end. Amen.

For Our Own Beloved Dead

Good Jesus, Whose loving Heart was ever troubled by the sorrows of others, look with pity on the souls of our dear ones in Purgatory. O Thou, Who “Loved Thine Own,” hear our cry for mercy, and grant that those whom Thou called from our homes and hearts, may soon enjoy everlasting rest in the home of Thy Love in Heaven. Amen.

Eternal rest, grant unto them, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine on them. Amen. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Commemoration of the Dead 

O Father of mercies, in the name of Jesus, Thy beloved Son, in memory of His bitter passion and cruel death, in virtue of the wound of His Sacred Heart, and in consideration also of the sorrows of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, of the heroic deeds of all the saints and of the torments of all the martyrs; I implore Thee to have pity on the souls of the faithful departed now suffering in purgatory.

To Thy mercy I recommend especially the souls of my relatives, friends, and benefactors, and of all those for whom I have promised to pray. Amen.

Saint Saturninus, Apostle to the Gauls

St. Saturninus

According to the 1962 Missal of Saint John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, November 28th is the feast day of Saint Saturninus, the early 3rd century bishop. missionary and martyr. Saturninus lived heroic virtue in imitation of Christ. The first named prelate in Gaul, he is called the Apostle to the Gauls.
________________________________________

The Life and Holy Martyrdom of St. Saturninus 

Saturninus went from Rome, by direction of Pope Fabian, about the year 245, to preach the faith in Gaul. He fixed his episcopal see at Toulouse, and thus became the first Christian bishop of that city. There were but few Christians in the place. However, their number grew fast after the coming of the Saint; and his power was felt by the spirits of evil, who received the worship of the heathen. His power was felt the more because he had to pass daily through the capitol, the high place of the heathen worship, on the way to his own church. One day a great multitude was gathered by an alter, where a bull stood ready for the sacrifice. A man in the crowd pointed out Saturninus, who was passing by, and the people would have forced him to idolatry; but the holy bishop answered: "I know but on God, and to Him I will offer the sacrifice of praise. How can I fear gods who, as you say, are afraid of me?" On this he was fastened to the bull, which was driven down the capitol. [According to tradition] The brains of the Saint were scattered on the steps. His mangled body was taken up and buried by two devout women.

Collect Prayer

O God, Who grants us to be gladdened by the heroic witness of Your bishop Saint Satruninus, Your Martyr, vouchsafe that we may be helped by his merits. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever. Amen. St. Satruninus, pray that we may be faithful.

Adapted excerpt from Butler's Lives of the Saints, Fr. Alban Butler, 1878.

Pro ISIS Group Posts 'Beheading' Image of Pope Francis. Vows Terrorism Against Vatican and 'Christmas Blood'

The Vatican

In late 2014, an online book began circulating in jihadist circles entitled, Black Flags from Rome. It discusses the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in Europe with the expressed goal of sacking Rome and destroying the Vatican. Stressing Muslim grievances against the West, including the Crusades, Black Flags from Rome states: "the Islamic State’s secret weapon = secret white converts," and "recruits" sympathetic to their cause "will give intelligence, share weapons and do undercover work for the Muslims to pave the way for the conquest of Rome."

Islamic militants frequently threaten the Pope and symbols of Catholicism. A pro-ISIS media group, the Wafa' Media Foundation, recently told its followers: "The Crusaders' feast is approaching... show them the meaning of terrorism." The message includes a chilling image of smoke rising from Rome with a fighter jet overhead and a jihadist standing next to the sort of makeshift armored vehicle ISIS uses for suicide bombings in Iraq and Syria. A caption reads: "The date is approaching o worshippers of the cross," according to PJ Media, who write:

"The ISIS magazine Rumiyah -- or Rome, reflecting the group's apocalyptic vision and ultimate plans to sack the Vatican, hasn't published a new issue since September. Their early e-book (Black Flags... ) detailing the Rome conquest strategy predicted mob bosses would put up tough resistance: 'There is no doubt that if Muslims want to take over Italy, the Islamic State European fighters will have to ally with other militias to fight the Mafia before the conquest of Rome.'"

Pope Francis and Christianity have been increasingly singled out by ISIS and groups affiliated with it. In August ISIS released a disturbing video predicting violence against the Vatican itself. Fox News reported that the video features: "ISIS militants wrecking decorations in a church, including statues of Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph. 'Remember this, you kuffar, we will be in Rome, we will be in Rome, inshallah,' a supposed terrorist named 'Abu Jindal' says to the camera. Photos of Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI are shown being ripped in half."

The video menacingly blames Christians for today's Islamic terrorism: "After all their efforts, it would be the religion of the cross that would be broken," the narrator says as footage of a church in flames rolls. "The crusader's enmity toward the Muslims only served to embolden a generation of [Islamist] youth." Indeed, Pope Francis has correctly called our current crisis a "Third World War".
____________________________________________

Prayer For Persecuted Christians

O God of all the nations, the One God who is and was and always will be, in your providence you willed that your Church be united to the suffering of your Son. Look with mercy on your servants who are persecuted for their faith in you. Grant them perseverance and courage to be worthy imitators of Christ. Bring your wisdom upon leaders of nations to work for peace among all peoples. May your Spirit open conversion for those who contradict your will, that we may live in harmony. Give us the grace to be united in truth, and to always seek your will in our lives. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us.

November 27, 2017

St. Catherine Labouré on Why God Uses the Lowly

Saint Catherine Labouré

Traditionally November 28th is the feast of Saint Catherine Labouré, the 19th century nun and mystic. She responded to God’s divine call by entering the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in Paris. Here, the Blessed Virgin Mary, revealed to her the mission of having the Miraculous Medal made and spread throughout the world. St. Catherine’s life was one of deep humility.
I knew nothing. I was nothing. For this reason, God picked me out. 
— St. Catherine Labouré
____________________________________

Prayer for St. Catherine Labouré's Intercession 

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who has deigned to strengthen the Virgin, Saint Catherine, by a wonderful vision of Your Immaculate Mother; grant, we pray, that after the examples of tender devotion shown us by the same blessed Catherine, by her intercession, we may so honor Your holy Mother as to obtain the joys of eternal life. Who reigns with God the Father, and with the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen.

St. Catherine Labouré and the Miraculous Medal

St. Catherine Labouré

No wonder the miraculous medal wins extraordinary graces for those who wear it and pray for Mary's intercession and assistance. It was designed by the Blessed Mother herself. The first in a series of visions that revealed the design of the medal was on July 18th when Sister Catherine Labouré was led by her guardian angel to the chapel in the community of the Daughters of Charity in Paris. There she met the Blessed Mother who declared, "My child, I am giving you a mission."

The mission was given to Sr. Catherine in a vision on November 27th 1830 during her evening meditation. Our Lady told Catherine that she obtains grace for those who ask, but sadly nobody has asked. During the third apparition, Sr. Catherine Labouré beheld Our Lady as she stood on a globe with her arms outstretched, dazzling rays of light streaming from her fingers. Framing her was an inscription: 'O Mary conceived without sin pray for us who have recourse to thee.'

Here we see the Virgin Mary standing upon a globe representing that she is the Queen of Heaven and Earth. As she crushes the serpent beneath her foot she declares that Satan and all his followers are helpless before her. The vision turned to show the reverse side of the medal. Here twelve stars encircled the large M, from which arose a cross. The 12 stars are the apostles of Jesus that represent the Universal Church surrounding Mary. On the other hand, the cross symbolizes Christ and our redemption, while the interweaving M beneath it stands for Mary who is closely linked to Jesus and the world. In this we see Mary's role as Mother of the Church. The two hearts represent the love of Jesus and Mary for all of us.

Through these visions Mary instructed Sr. Catherine Labouré to have a medal struck upon this model. Those who wear it will receive an immense store of graces. Our Lady commissioned Catherine to spread this devotion to every person in the world. The miraculous medal is not a good-luck charm. Rather, it is a great testimony to faith and the power of prayer. Its greatest miracles are those of patience, forgiveness, repentance and faith. God uses sacramentals like this, not as a sacrament, but as an instrument to effect results, according to His will.

Miraculous Medal Prayer

O Virgin Mother of God, Mary Immaculate, We dedicate and consecrate ourselves to you under the title of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. May this Medal be for each one of us a sure sign of your affection for us and a constant reminder of our duties toward you. While wearing it, may we be blessed by your loving protection and preserved in the grace of your Son. O Most Powerful Virgin, Mary Mother of Our Savior, keep us close to you every moment of our lives. Obtain for us, your children, a holy death; so that we may enjoy the bliss of Heaven forever. Amen.

St. James of the Marches, Defender of the Faith

St. James of the Marches

Feast Day - November 28th  

To call Saint James of the Marches zealous is an understatement. He was born James Gangala into a poor family at Monteprandone, a small town in eastern Italy, in the year 1394. He is called "St. James of the Marches" because he was from the March, or coast of the Adriatic Sea. His personal piety, prayerfulness and powerful sermons in defense of the Faith won innumerable souls to Christ.

His lowly origins did not prevent him from studying at the University of Perugia, where he earned doctorates in both civil and canon law. He then went to study theology with Saint John of Capistrano and, at age 22, joined the Franciscans at Assisi. His entry into said Order occurred thusly: When traveling one day near Assisi, James entered the Church of the Portiuncula to pray. Moved by the fervor of the holy men who served God there and by the example of their founder Saint Francis, he petitioned in that very place for the habit of the Order. James soon became known for following a particularly austere way of life, so much so that fellow Franciscan, Saint Bernardine of Siena, cautioned him toward moderation.

St. James of the Marches' zeal enabled him to become a persuasive preacher. In his lifetime, he traveled throughout Italy and thirteen other countries, converting nearly a quarter of a million people. In 1426, he and St. John of Capistrano were named Inquisitors against the Fraticelli, proponents of a Franciscan rule that was so extreme they were eventually declared heretical by the solemn decree of Pope Martin V.  James himself tangled with the Dominican Inquisitors over a sermon he preached in Brescia, Italy, in 1462, but no decision was rendered in the case.

Various miracles are credited to his ministry. Msgr. Paul Guérin writes: "At Buda he effected the miraculous cessation of a furious sedition by simply showing the crucifix to the people; the rebels themselves took him upon their shoulders and carried him through the streets of the city. At Prague he brought back to God many who had fallen into error, and when a magician wanted to dispute [the future saint], he rendered him mute and thus obliged him to retire in confusion."

In the Franciscan convent of the Holy Trinity near Naples, to which city the Holy Father had sent him at the behest of King Ferdinand, St. James of the Marches died on November 28, 1476. He was 90 years old, having spent seventy of those years in complete service to God. He was beatified by Pope Urban VIII in 1624, and canonized by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726. The saint's earthly remains were translated to Monteprandone, where his incorrupt body is visible to the public. St. James of the Marches, pray that our faithful witness will bring others to God.

November 26, 2017

The 2017 Immaculate Conception of Mary Novena

The Immaculate Conception

We remind you that the Immaculate Conception Novena begins November 29th. The solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is an important day to reflect on Mary’s life and selfless devotion. It is essential for us to strive to imitate the Blessed Virgin as the ideal example of Christian discipleship. This novena is an opportunity to petition Mary for the grace to emulate her deep love for God.

"Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854: The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin. " (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 492)

Invocation to be Said Every Day of the Novena:

Thou art all fair, O Mary,
The Original Stain is not in thee.
Thou art the glory of Jerusalem,
Thou, the joy of Israel,
Thou, the great honor of our people
Thou, the advocate of sinners.
O Mary, 
O Mary, 
Virgin most prudent,
Mother most merciful,
Pray for us, 
Intercede for us with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Almighty Father, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, did prepare a worthy dwelling place for Your Son, we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of this, Your Son, You did preserve Her from all stain, so too You would permit us, purified through Her intercession, to come unto You. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen. Holy Mother, intercede for us.

Click to sign up for daily reminders to pray the Immaculate Conception Novena.

Prayer for the Advent Wreath Week One

Advent

The lighting of the Advent candles symbolizes the hope that the coming Messiah represents in a world that very often seems dark, forbidding and hopeless. We do so because we are a people living in faith that our Divine Master will come again in glory at the end of time to dispense peace and justice. The joyous anticipation of the season of Advent is captured in the teachings of the prophets from the Old Testament: "Exult greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! Behold: your king is coming to you, a just savior is he…" (Zechariah 9:9)

Advent Wreath Prayer - First Week

By Msgr. Bernard Bourgeois

Dear Heavenly Father: in this first week of Advent, I look at my wreath with four shiny new candles on it, none of which are lit. I will light one candle for this first week of Advent. That is all. It reminds me that I am called to slow down, pray and patiently wait for your intervention in my life. I am not a patient person, Lord. But you know that; you know me better than I know myself. In the lighting of this one candle, Lord, inspire me to pray always and seek you in all that I do. In your own time, Lord, you will show me the way. Open my heart in this first week of Advent to find your way, for you are the way, truth, and life. Amen.
________________________________________

Collect Prayer First Sunday of Advent

Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly Kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who reigns with you and in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

***

Lord, our God, we praise You for Your Son, Jesus Christ, for He is Emmanuel, the Hope of all people. He is the Wisdom that teaches and guides us. He is the Savior of all. May He come quickly and not delay. We ask this in His holy name. Amen.

The Feast of Our Lord Christ the King

Christ the King

November 26, 2017 

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, formerly referred to as "Christ the King," was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as an antidote to secularism, a way of life which leaves God out of man's thinking and living and organizes his life as if God did not exist. The feast is intended to proclaim in a solemn, striking and effective manner Christ's sovereign royalty and holy reign over individuals, families, causes, ideologies, society, governments, and nations.

It is no accident that this solemnity occurs immediately before the beginning of Advent. As Fr. Pius Parsch explains: "With an ever-growing desire, all Advent awaits the 'coming King'; in the chants of the breviary we find repeated again and again the two expressions 'King' and 'is coming.' On Christmas the Church would greet, not the Child of Bethlehem, but the Rex Pacificus — 'the King of peace gloriously reigning.' Within a fortnight, there follows a feast which belongs to the greatest of the feasts of the Church year -- the Epiphany. As in ancient times oriental monarchs visited their principalities (theophany), so the divine King appears in His city, the Church; from its sacred precincts He casts His glance over all the world....On the final feast of the Christmas cycle, the Presentation in the Temple, holy Church meets her royal Bridegroom with virginal love: 'Adorn your bridal chamber, O Sion, and receive Christ your King!' The burden of the Christmas cycle may be summed up in these words: Christ the King establishes His Kingdom of light upon earth!" (The Church's Year of Grace, Fr. Pius Parsch)

"The annual and universal celebration of the feast of the Kingship of Christ will draw attention to the evils which anticlericalism has brought upon society in drawing men away from Christ... While nations insult the beloved name of our Redeemer... we must all the more loudly proclaim his kingly dignity and power..."

— Pope Pius XI
____________________________________

Collect Prayer

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 with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever, true King and Judge. Amen.

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.

November 24, 2017

Christ the King Novena 2017 | Day 9

Christ the King of the Universe

November 25, 2017

On this final day of the Christ the King novena, let us pray that God may reign sovereign in every part of our lives, especially those areas we find hardest to let go of or that are pervaded by sin, selfishness or despair born of a lack of faith.

Christ the King Novena Prayer - Day 9

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

I pray that You will reign in every area of my life.

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.

Sign up to receive daily email reminders to pray the Christ the King Novena.

Rushing Toward Gomorrah? Millennials are Abandoning Religion for Satanism and Astrology

The Devil

Enter any given high school and you will encounter students wearing all black clothing, makeup and accessories often featuring Satanic or Wiccan imagery. Such is the morbid ensemble of the "Goth culture", a subculture marked by rebellion against authority, rejection of morality and experimentation, whose adherents typically embrace death metal, drugs and all things occult. "Goths" may celebrate their contrarianism by reveling in vice and flaunting convention.

Not all millennial’s share in the Goth culture’s tastes or sentiments, but increasing numbers have abandoned Christianity in favor of Satanism, witchcraft, the occult and astrology. Since the turn of the century doubt about God has grown steadily among millennials. Their rejection of Judeo-Christian morality and concomitant embrace of moral relativism has left many millennials searching for meaning. Dr. Joseph Atkinson of the St. John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage explains:
Within the last 40 years or so society has soundly rejected this Judeo-Christian understanding (of human dignity) and replaced it with an increasingly materialistic one. Just look at the evidence: we destroy human life in the womb and think nothing of it, we kill the aged for convenience. The uniqueness and giftedness of man and woman as man and woman is rejected... 
The repudiation of Christian principles has led to our current culture where each individual arrives at his own personal moral code, accountable only to himself. In such an environment, competing visions of reality vie with others for supremacy. Atkinson observes: "There are competing visions of reality that seek to form society with the all too serious consequences which we do not like. Sadly, in the West at least, these forces often reject the spiritual dimension to life itself."

The Goth's search for meaning in that which is dark and diabolical is a counterfeit vision, diametrically opposed to Christianity's call to love. The Goth phenomena reflects the prevailing cultural zeitgeist among millennials. To wit; Pagan student groups are becoming more prevalent on college campuses across the country. More than one-third of millennials now say they are unaffiliated with any faith, up 10 percentage points since 2007. Many of these unaffiliated, or so called "nones", identify as agnostic or atheist, and dabble in alternate beliefs. Thus, astrology, spiritualism and witchcraft are growing pursuits and lucrative business: "Whether it be spell-casting, tarot, astrology, meditation and trance, or herbalism, these traditions offer tangible ways for people to enact change in their lives," observed Melissa Jayne, the owner of the "Metaphysical Boutique," in Brooklyn, New York.

The Kingdom of Darkness and Forbidden Power

The prophet Isaiah declared, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness..." (Isaiah 5:20) As more and more millennials forsake religion in favor of witchcraft, superstitious magic and the like, the effect on society will be stark. The coarsening of our culture will continue apace. Violence and attacks on human dignity will proliferate. The evidence is clearly seen in the dramatic rise of exorcisms and demonic activity. The occult, devil worship, and New Age rituals provide gateways for evil that may lead to demonic attachment and possession. (See here, here, here and here.)

Bishop Donald W. Montrose's pastoral letter, "Spiritual Warfare: The Occult Has Demonic Influence," speaks directly to the dangers posed by such activity. He writes, "If you want to live in the Kingdom of God, renounce horoscopes and all other means of fortune telling. Any playing cards, Ouija boards, or other things used for fortune telling should be destroyed." Bishop Montrose explains that:

"Witchcraft or superstitious magic is used to produce effects that are beyond the power of man. These effects may be good or bad and are brought about by the use of magical words or gestures, or the use of magical herbs, powders, liquids or similar things. There is often a specific invocation of the devil. Physical evils are directed against individuals because of hatred or jealousy. We have all heard about sticking pins in dolls, the evil eye, the eating of cursed food or drinking a liquid, that through the power of darkness is to cause harm, sickness, or death. This is witchcraft. Today, witches can be found almost everywhere, and often they are presented in a positive light. ...everyone involved in false worship, seeking forbidden knowledge, or using forbidden power should be absolutely avoided."

Even if the battle against Satan concerns all men and all times, there is no doubt that Satan's power is felt more intensely during certain periods of history when the sinfulness of a society is more evident. Fortunately, there is reason for hope. The late Father Gabriele Amorth confronted evil almost daily as the Vatican's chief exorcist. He stated that, "The believer who lives in the presence of the Trinity and is certain of its life within himself knows that he also has a mother, God's own Mother, who ceaselessly helps him. He knows that he can always count on the help of the angels and of the saints. It is also clear that the believer must be faithful to God and must fear sin. This is the basis of our strength... If sometimes our weakness leads us to fall, we must immediately pick ourselves up with that great gift of God's mercy: repentance and confession."

St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr

Saint Catherine Of Alexandria

November 25th is the optional memorial of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, the brilliant 4th century apologist and virgin, whose arguments and courageous witness for the Faith won many souls for Christ. Popular piety memorializes her heroic virtue and holy death. She is the patron of apologists and philosophers.
______________________________________

The account of her martyrdom is legendary and defies every attempt to cull out the historical kernel. Old Oriental sources make no mention of her. In the West her cult does not appear before the 11th century, when the crusaders made it popular. She became the patroness of philosophical faculties; she is one of the "Fourteen Holy Helpers" [invoked against disease]. The Breviary offers this:

Catherine, virgin of Alexandria, devoted herself to the pursuit of knowledge; at the age of 18, she surpassed all her contemporaries in science. Upon seeing how the Christians were being tortured, she went before Emperor Maximin, upbraided him for his cruelty, and with convincing reasons demonstrated the necessity of Christian faith in order to be saved. Astounded by her great wisdom, the Emperor ordered her to be kept confined, and having summoned the most learned and astute philosophers, promised them magnificent rewards if they could confound the virgin and turn her from belief in Christ. Far from being successful in that pursuit, a considerable number of the philosophers were inflamed by the sound reasons and persuasiveness of Catherine's speech with such a love for Jesus Christ that they declared themselves willing to offer their lives for the Gospel.

Then the Emperor attempted to win her by flattery and by promises, but his efforts proved equally fruitless. He ordered her whipped with rods, scourged with leaden nodules, and then left to languish eleven days without food in prison. The Emperor's wife and Porphyrius, general of the army, visited Catherine in prison; her words brought both to Christ and later they too proved their love in blood. Catherine's next torture consisted of being placed upon a wheel with pointed knives; from her lacerated body prayers ascended to heaven and the infernal machine fell to pieces. Many who witnessed this miracle embraced the faith. Finally, on November 25 Christ's servant was beheaded. By the hands of angels her body was carried to Mt. Sinai and interred in the convent bearing her name.

The Miraculous Translation of St. Catherine's Remains

After her martyrdom by the imperial Romans in Alexandria, St. Catherine's body was reputedly carried by angels to a mountaintop in Sinai, near where Moses had received the tablets bearing the Ten Commandments. Almost four hundred years later, monks supposedly discovered her uncorrupted body. The nearby monastery named after her, where her earthly remains were preserved, became a pilgrimage destination in the region second only to the holy places of Palestine. Almighty and ever-living God, who gave St. Catherine of Alexandria to your people as a Virgin and an invincible Martyr, grant that by her intercession we may be strengthened in faith and spend ourselves without reserve for the unity of the Church. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for December 2017

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

The Elderly

That the elderly, sustained by families and Christian communities, may apply their wisdom and experience to spreading the faith and forming the new generations.

Specific Intention - To be Announced

Pope Francis has decided to keep one monthly prayer intention. He is no longer proposing an urgent prayer intention. Each Sunday on which he gives an Angelus address, he will request prayers for specific people and situations that are of deep concern to him and to the universal Church.

November 23, 2017

Christ the King Novena 2017 | Day 8

Christ the King of the Universe

November 24, 2017

The Feast of Christ the King was first promulgated in a world that was becoming increasingly nationalistic and secular. Pope Pius XI observed, "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, (and) all the more universally affirm His rights." Today, we pray that God will reign sovereign within our hearts and throughout the world.

Christ the King Novena Prayer - Day 8

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

I pray that You will reign throughout all the world.

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.

Sign up to receive daily email reminders to pray the Christ the King Novena.

St. Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions, Martyrs

Saint Andrew Dung-Lac

On November 24th the Church celebrates the memorial of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, a 19th century Vietnamese priest and companions, who lost their lives for the Faith. St. Andrew was one of 117 people who were martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. The last of these martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. The suffering they endured was barbaric.

Christianity came to Vietnam through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. The emperor Minh-Mang, banned all foreign missionaries and commanded Vietnamese Catholics to renounce their religion by trampling on a crucifix. Their churches were destroyed and catechesis forbidden.

Christians were branded on the face with the words ta dao (false religion) and Christian families and villages were destroyed. Like the priest holes in Ireland during English persecution, many Catholics were offered sanctuary in the homes of the faithful. Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century after 1820. Between 100,000 and 300,000 Vietnamese Catholics were killed or subjected to hardship. Missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society and Spanish Dominican priest and tertiaries.

Persecution would break out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected religious missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with the rebellion of one of his sons. Many endured extreme privations and hardship; many more were put to death for their allegiance to the Church. In 1860, a treaty with France would guarantee religious freedom to Catholics, but it would not stop all persecution.

Members of the Vietnamese martyrs, Andrew Dung-Lac and companions, were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All 117 martyrs were canonized in Rome on June 19, 1988 by Pope Saint John Paul II. Among them, 76 were beheaded, 21 were suffocated, 6 burnt alive, 5 mutilated and 9 died in prison as a result of torture. O God, who kept the Martyrs Saint Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions faithful to the Cross of your Son, even unto death, grant by their intercession, that we may be your children in name and in truth.

November 22, 2017

Blessed Fr. Miguel Pro on the Grace of Suffering

Blessed Fr. Miguel Pro

Throughout his ministry, Father Pro experienced great suffering and adversity. Yet, despite the systematic persecution of Catholics by the secular authorities, this humble priest was a source strength who exuded the love of Jesus Christ.
Here in the midst of the vortex I am amazed by the special aid of God, the very special graces He grants us in such perils, and how His Presence is now more intimately felt when discouragement comes to make our souls smaller.
— Blessed Father Miguel Pro
____________________________________

Prayer for Blessed Miguel Pro's Intercession

Our God and Father, who conferred upon your servant Blessed Father Miguel Pro the grace of ardently seeking your greater glory and the salvation of all souls, grant, through his holy intercession and example, that by faithfully and joyfully performing our daily duties and effectively assisting those around us, we may serve you with zeal and ever seek your glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever. Amen.

Christ the King Novena 2017 | Day 7

Christ the King of the Universe

November 23, 2017

Pope Pius XI wrote that our bodies, "should 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." Today, let us pray that God will reign in our bodies, and that our very bodies will glorify Him forever. Christ our King guide us always unto you.

Christ the King Novena Prayer - Day 7

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

I pray that You will reign in my body.

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.

Sign up to receive daily email reminders to pray the Christ the King Novena.

Thanksgiving 2017 | A Proclamation And A Prayer


President Abraham Lincoln instituted Thanksgiving in 1863 during the Civil War in order for Americans to celebrate their blessings and good fortune as a sign of unity and thanksgiving to God. His formal proclamation expressly calls upon all citizens to observe the holiday in prayerful gratitude to Our Father and Creator:

"I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."

— President Abraham Lincoln, Proclamation, October 3, 1863

We celebrate Thanksgiving as a sign of American unity and thanksgiving to God. No holiday so nearly reminds us of the symbolism and meaning of the Eucharist. Here is a Thanksgiving day table blessing by Msgr. Bernard W. Bourgeois:

Thanksgiving Day Table Blessing

God our Father, on this Thanksgiving Day, we as family and friends pause from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives to give thanks to you for the blessings you have bestowed upon us.

We thank you for the gifts of life, family, friendship and love. We thank you for the opportunities of life in which we find fulfillment, purpose and peace. Most of all, we thank you for the people sitting around this Thanksgiving table. We remember those loved ones unable to be with us here today, most especially those who are now seated at the banquet of eternal life with you.

On this Thanksgiving Day, we pledge our love and support for one another, and dedicate ourselves to serve our neighbors in need. We ask you to bless this food, those who prepared it, and keep us ever mindful of those who are without love or food today. All of this we ask through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Miguel Pro, Martyr, "Long Live Christ the King!"

Blessed Miguel Pro

Father Miguel Pro was a courageous witness to the Faith during his government’s brutal oppression of Catholicism. His magnanimity in death earned him the crown of martyrdom and renown among Mexican Catholics and those across the world. On November 23rd, the Church celebrates his remarkable devotion and example.
______________________________________

José Ramón Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez, also known as Blessed Miguel Pro, the eldest son of Miguel Pro and Josefa Juarez, was born in Guadalupe, Mexico, on January 12, 1891, into a wealthy family. His father was a mining executive in the state of Zacatecas. As a young boy, he was distinguished for his great sense of humor and personal piety. He wrote comics, played the guitar and was especially attuned to the poor. These qualities would help him immensely throughout his priestly ministry. Miguel was particularly close to his older sister, who joined a cloistered convent. This prompted him to discern his own calling to religious life.

He entered the Jesuit novitiate in El Llano, Michoacan at the age of 20, during the Mexican Revolution. Due to growing anti-Catholic sentiment, he fled to Belgium where, in 1925, he was ordained a priest. Father Pro suffered repeated bouts of acute stomach irritation and when, after several operations his health did not improve, in 1926, his superiors allowed him to return to Mexico in spite of the religious persecution there. He went back to his native homeland, knowing that the Church was being singled out and that he would be in mortal danger as the government continued its systematic campaign to abolish Catholicism.

Amid great difficulties Father Pro exercised his priesthood, wearing disguises in order to bring communion to the faithful and to avoid the police. He was known for celebrating Mass at places he had secretly set up. He would also show up in the middle of the night – dressed as a beggar or a street sweeper – to baptize infants, hear confessions, distribute Communion, or perform marriages. Several times, disguised as a policeman, he would slip unnoticed into the police headquarters to bring the sacraments to prisoners before their execution.

In 1927, he was falsely accused of conspiracy in an alleged attack on the Mexican dictator and was condemned to death. Before being shot, on November 23, 1927, Fr. Pro forgave his executioners before praying silently. Refusing a blindfold, he faced the firing squad with his arms outstretched in the form of a cross. A crucifix in one hand a rosary in the other, Fr. Pro cried out, "May God have mercy on you! God bless you! Lord, You know that I am innocent! With all my heart I forgive my enemies!" He died declaring, "Viva Cristo Rey!" (Long live Christ the King!).

He was beatified by Saint John Paul II on September 25, 1988. Almighty God and Father, who conferred upon your servant Blessed Migueal Agustin Pro the grace of ardently seeking your greater glory and the salvation of others, grant, through his intercession and example, that by faithfully performing our daily duties and serving those around us, we may serve you with zeal and seek your glory. Amen.