Thursday, January 31, 2013

Daily Strength - "Do you want Our Lord to give you many graces?

"Do you want Our Lord to give you many graces? Visit Him often. Do you want Him to give you few graces? Visit him seldom. Visits to the Blessed Sacrament are powerful and indispensable means of overcoming the attacks of the devil. Make frequent visits to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and the devil will be powerless against you.”

St. John Bosco

Benedict XVI call to prayer in February for migrants, victims of armed conflict



The Vatican released the Pope's prayer intentions for the month of February, focusing on migrant families, as well as people living under armed conflict.

For the general prayer intentions, Benedict XVI asks to pray for the migrants families, but especially for the mothers, to help get them through difficult situations.

For the missionary intentions, the Pope called for prayer for all the peoples living in war zones or armed conflict, to aid them in becoming agents for peace.

St. John Bosco

John Bosco was born near Castelnuovo in the archdiocese of Turin, Italy, in 1815. His father died when John was only two years old and it was his mother Margaret who provided him with a good humanistic and Christian education. His early years were financially difficult but at the age of twenty he entered the major seminary, thanks to the financial help received from Louis Guala, founder and rector of the ecclesiastical residence St. Francis of Assisi in Turin. John Bosco was ordained a priest on June 5, 1846, and with the help of John Borel he founded the oratory of St. Francis de Sales.

At this time the city of Turin was on the threshold of the industrial revolution and as a result there were many challenges and problems, especially for young men. Gifted as he was as an educator and a leader, Don Bosco formulated a system of education based on "reason, religion and kindness." In spite of the criticism and violent attacks of the anti-clericals, he conducted workshops for the tradesmen and manual laborers, schools of arts and sciences for young workers, and schools of the liberal arts for those preparing for the priesthood. In 1868 there were 800 students involved in this educational system. To ensure the continuation of his work, Don Bosco founded the Society of St. Francis de Sales (Salesians), which was approved in 1869. Also, with the help of Sister Mary Dominic Mazzarello, he founded the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Auxiliatrix.

In 1875 a wave of emigration to Latin America began, and this prompted the inauguration of the Salesian missionary apostolate. Don Bosco became a traveller throughout Europe, seeking funds for the missions. Some of the reports referred to him as "the new St. Vincent de Paul." He also found time to write popular catechetical pamphlets, which were distributed throughout Italy, as was his Salesian Bulletin. This great apostle of youth died on January 31, 1888, and was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1934. Pope John Paul II named him "teacher and father to the young."

— Excerpted from Saints of the Roman Calendar by Enzo Lodi

Patron: Apprentices; boys; editors; Mexican young people; laborers; schoolchildren; students; young people.

Quotes from St. John Bosco:

"Do you want Our Lord to give you many graces? Visit Him often. Do you want Him to give you few graces? Visit him seldom. Visits to the Blessed Sacrament are powerful and indispensable means of overcoming the attacks of the devil. Make frequent visits to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and the devil will be powerless against you.”

“This was the method that Jesus used with the apostles. He put up with their ignorance and roughness and even their infidelity. He treated sinners with a kindness and affection that caused some to be shocked, others to be scandalized and still others to hope for God’s mercy. And so He bade us to be gentle and humble of heart.”

“Your reward in heaven will make up completely for all your pain and suffering.”

"All for God and for His Glory. In whatever you do, think of the Glory of God as your main goal."

"Everything and everyone is won by the sweetness of our words and works."

"Every virtue in your soul is a precious ornament which makes you dear to God and to man. But holy purity, the queen of virtues, the angelic virtue, is a jewel so precious that those who possess it become like the angels of God in Heaven, even though clothed in mortal flesh."

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Worth a Thousand Words

Story of Golden Locks (c.1870). Seymour Joseph Guy (American, 1824–1910). Oil on canvas.


In this canvas, a girl reads the titular story to two little boys, presumably her brothers. Her menacing shadow on the attic bedroom’s wall and the boys’ wide eyes suggest that she is recounting the story’s most frightening moment. Fairy tales were appreciated for their moral content at this time, and Goldilocks and the Three Bears was valued as warning children not to wander off on their own.

'Super Antonio' champions inclusion, becomes viral hit on YouTube



Antonio, a small child from San Fernando in southern Spain, has become a phenomenon on YouTube. His video, listed under the name Super Antonio, has gained thousands of views. 

It shows how Antonio Lopez, despite his disability, has become completely integrated with his classmates. A few days after it was released, it has surpassed a half million views. 

The agency estamosgrabando.com and the teachers that took part in the video say they are overwhelmed by, “the dimensions it has reached, but very happy because the message is sticking on.”

St. Martina

She was a noble Roman virgin, who glorified God, suffering many torments and a cruel death for her faith, in the capital city of the world, in the third century. There stood a chapel consecrated to her memory in Rome, which was frequented with great devotion in the time of St. Gregory the Great. Her relics were discovered in a vault, in the ruins of her old church and translated with great pomp in the year 1634, under the Pope Urban VIII, who built a new church in her honor, and composed himself the hymns used in her office in the Roman Breviary. The city of Rome ranks her among its particular patrons. The history of the discovery of her relics was published by Honoratus of Viterbo, an Oratorian.

— Taken from Vol. I of The Lives or the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints by the Rev. Alban Butler, the 1864 edition published by D. & J. Sadlier, & Company.

Patron: Nursing mothers; Rome, Italy.

Symbols: Maiden with a lion; being beheaded by a sword; tortured by being hung on a two-pronged hook; receiving a lily and the palm of martyrdom from the Virgin and Child.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pope 'shocked' by death of at least 231 inside Brazilian nightclub, offers condolences


Benedict XVI expressed his sorrow and condolences for the victims, and the families of those killed in a large nightclub blaze in Brazil over the weekend.

The Vatican's Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, sent a telegram on behalf of the Pope to Archbishop Helio Adelar Rubert, who leads the diocese in Santa Maria, the city where fire broke out early Sunday morning, killing at least 231 people.

In the telegram the Pope says he was “shocked by the tragic death of hundreds of young people.” It also states that Benedict XVI will pray for the healing of the wounded and for consolation for everyone affected.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Indulgences for the World Day of the Sick

(via Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI will grant Plenary Indulgence to the faithful participating in the 21st World Day of the Sick to be celebrated 7–11 February, in Altotting, Germany according to a decree published today and signed by Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro and Bishop Krzysztof Nykiel, respectively penitentiary major and regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

Persons following the example of the Good Samaritan, who "with a spirit of faith and a merciful soul, put themselves at the service of their brothers and sisters who are suffering or who, if sick, endure the pains and hardships of life … bearing witness to the faith through the path of the Gospel of suffering" will obtain the Plenary Indulgence, once a day and under the usual conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer in keeping with the intentions of the Holy Father), applicable also to the souls of deceased faithful: 

A) each time from 7–11 February, in the Marian Shrine of Altotting or at any other place decided by the ecclesiastical authorities, that they participate in a ceremony held to beseech God to grant the goals of the World Day of the Sick, praying the Our Father, the Creed, and an invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

Faithful in public hospitals or any private house who, like the Good Samaritan, charitably assist the ill and who, because of such service, cannot attend the aforementioned celebrations, will obtain the same gift of Plenary Indulgence if, for at least a few hours on that day, they generously provide their charitable assistance to the sick as if they were tending to Christ the Lord Himself and pray the Our Father, the Creed, and an invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, with their soul removed from attachment to any form of sin and with the intention of carrying out as soon as possible that which is necessary to obtain the plenary indulgence. 

The faithful who because of illness, advance age, or other similar reasons cannot take part in the aforementioned celebrations will obtain the Plenary Indulgence if, with their soul removed from attachment to any form of sin and with the intention of carrying out as soon as possible the usual conditions, spiritually participating in the sacred events of the determined days, particularly through liturgical celebrations and the Supreme Pontiff's message broadcast by television or radio, they pray for all the sick and offer their physical and spiritual suffering to God through the Virgin Mary, 'Salus Infirmorum' (Health of the Sick). 

B) Partial Indulgence will be conceded to all the faithful who, between the indicated days, with a contrite heart raise devout prayers to the merciful Lord beseeching assistance for the sick in spirit during this Year of Faith.

Daily Strength - Seize the day in which God is calling you


Before we can speak of God and with God, we need to listen, and the liturgy of the Church is the "school" of this listening to the Lord who speaks to us. 
Finally, he tells us that every moment can be propitious for our conversion. 
Every day can become the today of our salvation, because salvation is a story that continues for the Church and for every disciple of Christ. 
This is the Christian meaning of "carpe diem": seize the day in which God is calling you to give you salvation!

Pope Benedict XVI

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas ranks among the greatest writers and theologians of all time. His most important work, the Summa Theologiae, an explanation and summary of the entire body of Catholic teaching, has been standard for centuries, even to our own day. At the Council of Trent it was consulted after the Bible.

To a deeply speculative mind, he joined a remarkable life of prayer, a precious memento of which has been left to us in the Office of Corpus Christi. Reputed as great already in life, he nevertheless remained modest, a perfect model of childlike simplicity and goodness. He was mild in word and kind in deed. He believed everyone was as innocent as he himself was. When someone sinned through weakness, Thomas bemoaned the sin as if it were his own. The goodness of his heart shone in his face, no one could look upon him and remain disconsolate. How he suffered with the poor and the needy was most inspiring. Whatever clothing or other items he could give away, he gladly did. He kept nothing superfluous in his efforts to alleviate the needs of others.

After he died his lifelong companion and confessor testified, "I have always known him to be as innocent as a five-year-old child. Never did a carnal temptation soil his soul, never did he consent to a mortal sin." He cherished a most tender devotion to St. Agnes, constantly carrying relics of this virgin martyr on his person. He died in 1274, at the age of fifty, in the abbey of Fossa Nuova. He is the patron saint of schools and of sacred theology.

— Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: Academics; against storms; against lightning; apologists; book sellers; Catholic academies; Catholic schools; Catholic universities; chastity; colleges; learning; lightning; pencil makers; philosophers; publishers; scholars; schools; storms; students; theologians; universities; University of Vigo.

Symbols: Chalice; monstrance; ox; star; sun; teacher with pagan philosophers at his feet; teaching.

St. Thomas of Aquinas quotes:

"The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Love; It signifies Love, It produces love. The Eucharist is the consummation of the whole spiritual life."

"Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious. "

"A man has free choice to the extent that he is rational."

"To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible."

"To convert somebody, go and take them by the hand and guide them."

"Peace is the work of justice indirectly, in so far as justice removes the obstacles to peace; but it is the work of charity (love) directly, since charity, according to its very notion, causes peace."

"In order for a war to be just, three things are necessary. First, the authority of the sovereign. Secondly, a just cause. Thirdly, a rightful intention."

"Beware the man of one book."

"The things that we love tell us what we are."

"Good can exist without evil, whereas evil cannot exist without good."

"Human salvation demands the divine disclosure of truths surpassing reason."

"The end of all my labors has come. All that I have written appears to me as much straw after the things that have been revealed to me."

"A person is disposed to an act of choice by an angel ... in two ways: Sometimes, a man's understanding is enlightened by an angel to know what is good, but it is not instructed as to the reason why ... But sometimes he is instructed by angelic illumination, both that this act is good and as to the reason why it is good."

"Happiness is secured through virtue; it is a good attained by man's own will."

"Most men seem to live according to sense rather than reason."

"Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables."

"Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder."

"Well-ordered self-love is right and natural."

"It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes."

"There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship."






Thursday, January 24, 2013

Daily Strength - We must carry Jesus in our hearts


We must carry Jesus in our hearts to wherever He wants to go, and there are many places to which He may never go unless we take Him to them. 

None of us knows when the loveliest hour of our life is striking. 

It may be when we take Christ for the first time to that grey office in the city where we work, to the wretched lodging of that poor man who is an outcast, to the nursery of that pampered child, to that battleship, airfield, or camp... 

- Caryll Houselander

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sick Day


What do you do when you have a sore throat and a cold coming on? Any advice?

I’m feeling a under the weather. It all started with a sore throat on Sunday night. I thought perhaps I was just tired. But when Monday rolled around, I realized it was more than that. 


I’d rather be taking a warm bath right now than running around getting the kids ready for school. 


You’ll be happy to know I am drinking lots of tea and getting in some extra time in bed wherever I can.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New appointments in Vatican communications



(Vatican Radio) On Tuesday changes were announced in the Vatican’s communications offices. Pope Benedict appointed Fr. Edoardo Viganò director of the Vatican Television Centre and layman Angelo Scelzo (see photo), vice director of the Vatican Press Office. 

Fr. Viganò is a lecturer at the Pontifical Lateran University and a cinema expert. He replaces Fr. Federico Lombardi, who continues his role as director of the Vatican Press Office and Vatican Radio. 

Angelo Scelzo is an Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. A former journalist, Scelzo will work with Vatican Press Office vice director, Fr. Ciro Benedettini. He will manage the accreditation for the use of audiovisual material, which had previously come under the jurisdiction of the Pontifical Council.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Fr. Barron: What books should every Catholic read?

St. Agnes

Agnes is one of the most glorious saints in the calendar of the Roman Church. The greatest Church Fathers vie with one another in sounding her praise and glory. St. Jerome writes: "All nations, especially their Christian communities, praise in word and writing the life of St. Agnes. She triumphed over her tender age as well as over the merciless tyrant. To the crown of spotless innocence she added the glory of martyrdom."

One day when Agnes, then thirteen years old, was returning home from school, she happened to meet Symphronius, a son of the city prefect. At once he became passionately attracted to her and tried to win her by precious gifts. Agnes repelled him, saying: "Away from me, food of death, for I have already found another lover" (r. Ant.). "With His ring my Lord Jesus Christ has betrothed me, and He has adorned me with the bridal crown" (3. Ant., Lauds). "My right hand and my neck He has encircled with precious stones, and has given me earrings with priceless pearls; He has decked me with lovely, glittering gems" (2. Ant.). "The Lord has clothed me with a robe of gold, He has adorned me with priceless jewels" (4. Ant.). "Honey and milk have I received from His mouth, and His blood has reddened my cheeks" (5. Ant.). "I love Christ, into whose chamber I shall enter, whose Mother is a virgin, whose Father knows not woman, whose music and melody are sweet to my ears. When I love Him, I remain chaste; when I touch Him, I remain pure; when I possess Him, I remain a virgin" (2. Resp.). "I am betrothed to Him whom the angels serve, whose beauty the sun and moon admire" (9. Ant.). "For Him alone I keep my troth, to Him I surrender with all my heart" (6. Ant.).

Incensed by her rebuff, Symphronius denounced Agnes to his father, the city prefect. When he threatened her with commitment to a house of ill fame, Agnes replied: "At my side I have a protector of my body, an angel of the Lord" (2. Ant., Lauds). "When Agnes entered the house of shame, she found an angel of the Lord ready to protect her" (1. Ant., Lauds). A light enveloped her and blinded all who tried to approach. Then another judge condemned her to the stake because the pagan priests accused her of sorcery.

Surrounded by flames she prayed with outstretched arms: "I beseech You, Father almighty, most worthy of awe and adoration. Through Your most holy Son I escaped the threats of the impious tyrant and passed through Satan's filth with feet unsullied. Behold, I now come to You, whom I have loved, whom I have sought, whom I have always desired." She gave thanks as follows: "O You, the almighty One, who must be adored, worshipped, feared - I praise You because through Your only begotten Son I have escaped the threats of wicked men and have walked through the filth of sin with feet unsullied. I extol You with my lips, and I desire You with all my heart and strength."

After the flames died out, she continued: "I praise You, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, because by Your Son the fire around me was extinguished" (4. Ant., Lauds). And now she longed for union with Christ: "Behold, what I yearned for, I already see; what I hoped for, I already hold in embrace; with Him I am united in heaven whom on earth I loved with all my heart" (Ben. Ant.). Her wish was granted; the judge ordered her beheaded. —The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: Affianced couples; betrothed couples; bodily purity; chastity; Children of Mary; Colegio Capranica of Rome; crops; engaged couples; gardeners; Girl Scouts; girls; rape victims; diocese of Rockville Centre, New York; virgins.

Symbols: Lamb; woman with long hair and a lamb, sometimes with a sword at her throat; woman with a dove which holds a ring in its beak; woman with a lamb at her side.

Prayer
Almighty, ever-living God,
you choose what is weak in the world to shame what is strong.
Grant that, as we celebrate the martyrdom of Saint Agnes,
we may follow her example of steadfastness in faith.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Daily Strength - It is Jesus that you seek


“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; 

He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; 

He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; 

It is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; 

It is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; 

It is He who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. 

It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.” 

Friday, January 18, 2013

You must, must, must watch this video if you haven’t already seen it.

St. Prisca

Prisca, who is also known as Priscilla, was a child martyr of the early Roman Church. Born to Christian parents of a noble family, Prisca was raised during the reign of the Roman emperor Claudius. While Claudius did not persecute Christians with the same fervor as other Roman emperors, Christians still did not practice their faith openly. In fact, Prisca's parents went to great lengths to conceal their faith, and thus they were not suspected of being Christians.

Prisca, however, did not feel the need to take precaution. The young girl openly professed her dedication to Christ, and eventually, she was reported to the emperor. Claudius had her arrested, and commanded her to make a sacrifice to Apollo, the pagan god of the sun.

According to the legend, Prisca refused, and was tortured for disobeying. Then, suddenly, a bright, yellow light shone about her, and she appeared to be a little star.

Claudius ordered that Prisca be taken away to prison, in the hopes that she would abandon Christ. When all efforts to change her mind were unsuccessful, she was taken to an amphitheatre and thrown in with a lion.

As the crowd watched, Prisca stood fearless. According to legend, the lion walked toward the barefoot girl, and then gently licked her feet. Disgusted by his thwarted efforts to dissuade Prisca, Claudius had her beheaded.

Seventh-century accounts of the grave sites of Roman martyrs refer to the discovery of an epitaph of a Roman Christian named Priscilla in a large catacomb and identifies her place of interment on the Via Salaria as the Catacomb of Priscilla.

— Excerpted from Ordinary People Extraordinary Lives.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

St. Anthony "the Great", the "Father of Monks"

Anthony "the Great", the "Father of Monks", ranks with those saints whose life exercised a profound influence upon succeeding generations. He was born in Middle Egypt (about 250) of distinguished parents. After their untimely deaths, he dedicated himself wholly to acts of mortification. 

One day while in church he heard the words of the Gospel: "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give it to the poor" (Matt. 19:21). It seemed as if Christ had spoken to him personally, giving a command he must obey. Without delay he sold his property, gave the proceeds to the poor, and went into the desert (about 270). When overcome by fatigue, his bed was the hard ground. He fasted rigorously, ate only bread and salt, and drank only water. Nor would he take food before sundown; at times he passed two days without any nourishment. Often, too, he spent whole nights in prayer.

The saint suffered repeatedly from diabolical attacks, but these merely made him more steadfast in virtue. He would encourage his disciples in their struggle with the devil with such words: "Believe me; the devil fears the vigils of pious souls, and their fastings, their voluntary poverty, their loving compassion, their humility, but most of all their ardent love of Christ our Lord. As soon as he sees the sign of the Cross, he flees in terror." He died in 356 on Mount Kolzin by the Red Sea, 105 years old. A year later his friend, the fearless bishop and confessor St. Athanasius, wrote his biography, which for centuries became the classic handbook of ascetics. As seen by St. Anthony, the purpose of asceticism is not to destroy the body but to bring it into subjection, re-establishing man's original harmonious integrity, his true God-given nature.

St. Anthony lived in solitude for about twenty years. "His was a perfectly purified soul. No pain could annoy him, no pleasure bind him. In him was neither laughter nor sadness. The sight of the crowd did not trouble him, and the warm greetings of so many men did not move him. In a word, he was thoroughly immune to the vanities of the world, like a man unswervingly governed by reason, established in inner peace and harmony."

Here are a few of his famous sayings to monks. "Let it be your supreme and common purpose not to grow weary in the work you have begun, and in time of trial and affliction not to lose courage and say: Oh, how long already have we been mortifying ourselves! Rather, we should daily begin anew and constantly increase our fervor. For man's whole life is short when measured against the time to come, so short, in fact, that it is as nothing in comparison with eternity. . . . Therefore, my children, let us persevere in our acts of asceticism. And that we may not become weary and disheartened, it is good to meditate on the words of the apostle: 'I die daily.' If we live with the picture of death always before our eyes, we will not sin. The apostle's words tell us that we should so awaken in the morning as though we would not live to evening, and so fall asleep as if there were to be no awakening. For our life is by nature uncertain and is daily meted out to us by Providence. If we are convinced of this and live each day as the apostle suggests, then we will not fall into sin; no desire will enslave us, no anger move us, no treasure bind us to earth; we will await death with unfettered hearts."

— Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: Amputees; animals; basket makers; basket weavers; brushmakers; butchers; cemetery workers; domestic animals; eczema; epilepsy; epileptics; ergotism (Saint Anthony's fire); erysipelas; gravediggers; hermits; hogs; monks; pigs; relief from pestilence; skin diseases; skin rashes; swine; swineherds.

Symbols: Bell; pig; t-shaped staff; tau cross with a bell on the end; man with a pig at his side.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Death of our dear priest Fr. Henry Charles


I just learnt of the death of our dear priest Fr. Henry Charles who died of a heart attack today. 

Fr. Charles was the parish priest of St. Mary's Church in St. James, Trinidad. 

In addition to being a priest, Fr. Charles was a qualified lawyer, holding a law degree from the George Washington University in the United States (US) and an LLM from the University of London. He attended St Mary’s College, Port-of-Spain and won an island scholarship in languages. He took an honours degree in Classics from University College Dublin, followed by a master’s degree from the Gregorian University, Rome. 

He went on to do further graduate studies in the US, with a master’s in Ethics from Harvard Divinity School and a PhD in Ethics from Yale Graduate School. He later taught ethics, theology and literature at the Regional Seminary in Trinidad, the University of the West Indies and at St Louis University, Missouri. 

“My career has not been planned; I didn't set out to have all these degrees,” Charles said. 

Prayer 

O God, Thou didst raise Thy servant, Fr. Henry Charles  to the sacred priesthood of Jesus Christ, according to the Order of Melchisedech, giving him the sublime power to offer the Eternal Sacrifice, to bring the Body and Blood of Thy Son Jesus Christ down upon the altar, and to absolve the sins of men in Thine own Holy Name. We beseech Thee to reward his faithfulness and to forget his faults, admitting him speedily into Thy Holy Presence, there to enjoy forever the recompense of his labors. This we ask through Jesus Christ Thy Son, our Lord. Amen.

St. Paul, the first hermit

St. Paul is called "the first hermit" in the Missal and Breviary, a rare distinction, for such titles are seldom appended. Our saint was the standard-bearer of those courageous men who for the love of Christ left the world and entered the wilderness to dedicate themselves wholly to contemplation amid all the privations of desert life. The hermits were the great men of prayer in those difficult times when the Church was locked in fierce struggle with heresy after heresy. For centuries the example of their lives served as the school of Christian perfection. Their action set the background for the rise of monasticism and religious orders in the Church.

The Breviary retains an edifying legend concerning today's saint. One day St. Anthony, then ninety, was divinely inspired to visit the hermit Paul. Though they had never met previously, each greeted the other correctly by name. While they were conversing at length on spiritual matters, the raven that had always brought Paul half a loaf of bread, came with a whole loaf. As the raven flew away, Paul said: "See, the Lord, who is truly good and merciful, has sent us food. Every day for sixty years I have received half a loaf, but with your arrival Christ sent His servants a double ration." Giving thanks, they ate by a spring.

After a brief rest, they again gave thanks, as was their custom, and spent the whole night praising God. At daybreak Paul informed Anthony of his approaching death and asked him to fetch the cloak he had received from St. Athanasius, that he might wrap himself in it. Later, as Anthony was returning from his visit, he saw Paul's soul ascending to heaven escorted by choirs of angels and surrounded by prophets and apostles. Further traditional matter may be found in The Life of Paul the Hermit, written by St. Jerome about the year 376.

Patron: Clothing industry; weavers.

Symbols: Dead man whose grave is being dug by a lion; man being brought food by a bird; man clad in rough garments made of leaves or skins; old man, clothed with palm-leaves, and seated under a palm-tree, near which are a river and loaf of bread; with Saint Anthony the Abbot.

Monday, January 14, 2013

St. Felix

In one of the early persecutions the priest Felix was first tortured on the rack, then thrown into a dungeon. While lying chained on broken glass, an angel appeared, loosed his bonds, and led him out to freedom. Later, when the persecution had subsided, he converted many to the Christian faith by his preaching and holy example. However, when he resumed his denunciation of pagan gods and false worship, he was again singled out for arrest and torture; this time he escaped by hiding in a secret recess between two adjacent walls. No sooner had he disappeared into the nook than a thick veil of cobwebs formed over the entrance so that no one suspected he was there. Three months later he died in peace (260), and is therefore a martyr only in the wider sense of the word.

St. Paulinus of Nola (see June 22), who cherished a special devotion toward St. Felix, composed fourteen hymns (carmina natalicia) in his honor. In his day (fifth century) the saint's tomb was visited by pilgrims from far and wide and was noted for its miraculous cures.

— The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: Against eye disease; against eye trouble; against false witness; against lies; against perjury; domestic animals; eyes.

Symbols: Cobweb; deacon in prison; spiderweb; young priest carrying an old man (Maximus) on his shoulders; young priest chained in prison with a pitcher and potsherds near him; young priest with a bunch of grapes (symbolizes his care of the aged Maximus); young priest with a spider; young priest with an angel removing his chains.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Feast of the Baptism of Christ


Today we celebrate the baptism of Christ in the Jordan. This is the second epiphany, or manifestation, of the Lord. The past, the present, and the future are made manifest in this epiphany.

The most holy one placed Himself among us, the unclean and sinners. The Son of God freely humbled Himself at the hand of the Baptist. By His baptism in the Jordan, Christ manifests His humility and dedicates Himself to the redemption of man. He takes upon Himself the sins of the whole world and buries them in the waters of the Jordan. — The Light of the World by Benedict Baur, O.S.B.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Daily Strength - Humility


'If, when stung by slander or ill-nature, we wax proud and swell with anger, it is a proof that our gentleness and humility are unreal, and mere artificial show.'

St. François de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Daily Strength - In Becoming Holy We Transform History


Our first duty, therefore, precisely in order to heal this world, is to be holy, configured to God; in this way we emanate a healing and transforming power that also acts on others, on history. ... In this regard, it is useful to reflect that the Twelve Apostles were not perfect men, chosen for their moral and religious irreproachability. They were indeed believers, full of enthusiasm and zeal but at the same time marked by their human limitations, which were sometimes even serious. Therefore Jesus did not call them because they were already holy, complete, perfect, but so that they might become so, so that they might thereby also transform history, as it is for us, as it is for all Christians. -- Homily at Port of Brindisi, Italy (June 15, 2008)

Think About It

Is my own holiness my top priority?
Do I deal patiently with the shortcomings of others, discreetly helping them to improve?
God is working now to transform me and my coworkers, and thereby transform history.
[...]

Mike Aquilina and Fr. Kris D. Stubna, 
Take Five: Meditations with Pope Benedict XVI

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Contemporary translation of the Anima Christi


Here is David Fleming’s contemporary translation of the Anima Christi. Ignatius loved this prayer. 

Jesus, may all that is you flow into me.
May your body and blood be my food and drink.
May your passion and death be my strength and life.
Jesus, with you by my side, enough has been given.
May the shelter I seek be the shadow your cross.
Let me not run from the love which you offer,
But hold me safe from the forces of evil.
On each my dyings shed your light and your love.
Keep calling to me until that day comes, when, with your saints,
I may praise you forever. Amen.

Venerable Pauline-Marie Jaricot

Pauline Marie Jaricot was born to a very pious Catholic family in Lyons, France, July 22, 1799, and grew up dreaming of becoming a great missionary. Through her brother she developed a real concern for the Asian missions, and at age 17, she began to lead a life of unusual abnegation and self-sacrifice, and on Christmas Day, 1816, took a vow of perpetual virginity. At age 18, she composed a treatise on the Infinite Love of the Divine Eucharist.

In order to repair the sins of neglect and ingratitude committed against the Sacred Heart of Jesus, she established a union of prayer among pious servant girls, the members of which were known as the "Réparatrices du Sacré-Coeur de Jésus-Christ".

During an extended visit to her married sister at Saint-Vallier (Drôme), she succeeded in effecting a complete transformation in the licentious lives of the numerous girls employed by her brother-in-law. It was among them and the "Réparatrices" that she first solicited offerings for the foreign missions. Her systematic organization of such collections dates back to 1819 when she asked each of her intimate friends to act as a promoter by finding ten associates willing to contribute one cent each week to the propagation of the Faith. One out of every ten promoters gathered the collections of their fellow-promoters; through a logical extention of this system, all the offerings were ultimately remitted to one central treasurer. The Society for the Propagation of Faith at its official foundation (3 May 1822) adopted this method, and easily triumphed over the opposition which had sought from the very start to thwart the realization of Pauline Jaricot's plans.

In 1826 she founded the Association of the Living Rosary. The fifteen decades of the Rosary were divided among fifteen associates, each of whom had to recite daily only one determined decade. A second object of the new foundation was the spread of good books and articles of piety. An undertaking of Pauline's in the interest of social reform, though begun with prudence, involved her in considerable financial difficulties and ended in failure. She died on January 9, 1862 and was declared venerable on February 25, 1963.

Patron: Against poverty; impoverishment; poverty.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Fifteenth Day of Christmas

Dawn is the time of day in which the first rays of light begin to glimmer, to illumine and dispel the darkness. . . Christ’s actual birth in Bethlehem shows forth the beautiful reality that God works with things according to their nature. Simply put, it makes perfect sense that a darkened world istangibly illumined by divine, supernatural intervention upon the natural. — Father Wade L. J. Menezes, CPM

Candles are a symbol of Christ, the Light of the World. The wax is regarded as typifying in a most appropriate way the flesh of Jesus Christ born of a virgin mother. From this has sprung the further conception that the wick symbolizes more particularly the soul of Jesus Christ and the flame the Divinity which absorbs and dominates both. — Catholic Encyclopedia

Monday, January 7, 2013

Daily Strength - How close Our Lord is to our lives


We are perhaps in danger of not realizing fully how close Our Lord is to our lives because God presents himself to us under the insignificant appearance of a piece of bread, because he does not reveal himself in his glory, because he does not impose himself irresistibly, because he slips into our life like a shadow, instead of making his power resound at the summit of all things ... How many souls are troubled because God does not show himself in the way they expected! 

(J. Leclerq, A Year with the Liturgy)

The Fourteenth Day of Christmas - St. Raymond of Penafort


St. Raymond devoted much of his life to helping the poor. The famous incident which is recounted in the story of Raymond's life took place when he went with King James to Majorca. The King dismissed Raymond's request to return home. Relying on his faith and love of God, Raymond walked on the waves to his ship, spread his cloak to make a sail, made the sign of the cross then sailed to the distant harbor of Barcelona.

For St. Raymond's feast we should remember that, "carolling and story telling belong to the whole Christmas season. Hospitality and giving to others also must continue if true Christmas joy is to remain. An outing to which friends are invited or a party that includes a round of carolling become perhaps even more appropriate with the approach of Epiphany." — Excerpted from The Twelve Days of Christmas

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Feast of the Epiphany

The Feast of the Epiphany (epiphany means "manifestation", "revelation") is the oldest of the Christmas feasts and is still celebrated on January 6th as the major feast of the season by the eastern Christian churches. The feast probably began in those churches in the Middle East strongly influenced by the Gospel of John, who proclaimed of Jesus Christ:


And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory of the Father's only Son,
full of grace and truth. (John 1, 14 )

As "the true light, which enlightens everyone " come into the world, Jesus came not only that we might see his glory but also that we might share in it. "From his fullness we have all received, grace for grace." (John 1,16) His baptism in the Jordan and his presence at the marriage feast of Cana in Galilee ( two themes from John's gospel still closely connected with the Feast of the Epiphany) portray Jesus revealed as God's Son and uniting humanity to himself.right: engraving from German bible, c. 1920

From earliest times the Feast of the Epiphany, like Easter, was a day for baptizing those who believed in his name. To them, "he gave power to become children of God." (John 1, 12) The story of the Magi, from Matthew's gospel, celebrates the call of God to all peoples to share in the grace of Jesus Christ. "The Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Jesus Christ through the gospel." (Ephesians 3, 5-6)

Adoration of the Magi
Adoration of the Magi, Perugino

Historians see the Feast of the Epiphany originating from early Jewish-Christian celebrations of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, which celebrated God's glory in covenant, light and water. In John's gospel this same Jewish feast often becomes the setting for the question: Who is Jesus Christ? (cf John 7-10) The gospel affirms, as does this feast, he is God's divine Son.

In some regions the Feast of the Epiphany is also called the Feast of the Holy Kings or Three King's Day. Gifts are given in memory of the Magi's gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Homes are blessed with holy water, in remembrance of that blessed home where the Magi found the Child and his mother. The Feast of the Baptism of Jesus usually follows the celebration of this feast in the western church.Spacer

Catholics Come Home launches new version of their website


A newly redesigned website aims to reconnect people in the English-speaking world with Catholicism. The website is titled catholicscomehome.org. It's mission is just that. During this Year of Faith they want to bring Catholics closer to their faith. 

The revamped site allows them to focus on three groups of people, exemplified by these three doors. The first are the people that do not consider themselves Catholic. It includes those from denominations, religions, or that have no affiliation. 

The second door is for nominally Catholic people, those who don't practice the faith. And the third one is for proud Catholics. Behind each other is information and video explaining the Catholic Church and how their teaching can apply to everyday life.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Twelfth Day of Christmas - St. John Neumann

John Nepomucene Neumann was born on March 28, 1811, the third of six children of a stocking knitter and his wife in the village of Prachatitz in Bohemia. From his mother he acquired the spirit of piety and through her encouragement entered the Seminary at Budweis.

During his seminary years, he yearned to be a foreign missionary in America. He left his native land and was ordained in June, 1836 by Bishop John Dubois in New York. He spent four years in Buffalo and the surrounding area building churches and establishing schools.

In 1840, he joined the Redemptorists. Eight years later he became a United States citizen. By order of Pope Pius IX in 1852 he was consecrated fourth Bishop of Philadelphia. His mastery of eight languages proved extremely helpful in his quest for souls. He was a pioneer promoter of the Parochial School System in America.

One of the highlights of Saint John Neumann's life was his participation, in Rome, in the Proclamation of the Dogma of our Blessed Mother's Immaculate Conception. Through his efforts, the Forty Hours Devotion was introduced in the Philadelphia Diocese. He founded the first church in America for Italian-speaking people. He also founded the Glen Riddle group of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis.

At 48 years of age, completely exhausted from all his apostolic endeavors, he collapsed in the street on January 5, 1860. He is buried beneath the altar of the lower Church in St. Peter's Church in Philadelphia.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Eleventh Day of Christmas - St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

This wife, mother and foundress of a religious congregation was born Elizabeth Ann Bayley on August 28, 1774 in New York City, the daughter of an eminent physician and professor at what is now Columbia University. Brought up as an Episcopalian, she received an excellent education, and from her early years she manifested an unusual concern for the poor.

In 1794 Elizabeth married William Seton, with whom she had five children. The loss of their fortune so affected William's health that in 1803 Elizabeth and William went to stay with Catholic friends at Livorno, Italy. William died six weeks after their arrival, and when Elizabeth returned to New York City some six months later, she was already a convinced Catholic. She met with stern opposition from her Episcopalian friends but was received into full communion with the Catholic Church on March 4, 1805.

Abandoned by her friends and relatives, Elizabeth was invited by the superior of the Sulpicians in Baltimore to found a school for girls in that city. The school prospered, and eventually the Sulpician superior, with the approval of Bishop Carroll, gave Elizabeth and her assistants a rule of life. They were also permitted to make religious profession and to wear a religious habit.

In 1809 Elizabeth moved her young community to Emmitsburg, Maryland, where she adopted as a rule of life an adaptation of the rule observed by the Sisters of Charity, founded by St. Vincent de Paul. Although she did not neglect the ministry to the poor, and especially to Negroes, she actually laid the foundation for what became the American parochial school system. She trained teachers and prepared textbooks for use in the schools; she also opened orphanages in Philadelphia and New York City.

She died at Emmitsburg on January 4, 1821, was beatified by Pope John XXIII in 1963, and was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1975.

Excerpted from Saints of the Roman Calendar by Enzo Lodi

Patron: Death of children; in-law problems; loss of parents; opposition of Church authorities; people ridiculed for their piety; Diocese of Shreveport, Louisiana; widows.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Ten things you should know about new head of papal household

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI will ordain his longtime secretary an archbishop Jan. 6, the feast of the Epiphany. The pope named his closest aide to be prefect of the papal household, a job that involves organizing the pope's daily round of audiences and meetings.

Here is a list of 10 things to know about Archbishop-designate Georg Ganswein:

1. Impervious to criticism: When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope in 2005, his longtime secretary, Msgr. Georg Ganswein, was propelled along with him onto the world stage. Catty gossip and jealous accusations of being power hungry dogged the monsignor. But after realizing the Vatican is also "a courtly state" and there would be petty "court chatter," the archbishop-designate said he learned how to handle the rumors and become immune to the poisoned arrows.

2. Super organized and precise: When he was called to take the stand during the "VatiLeaks" trial of the papal butler, Paolo Gabriele, this summer, the 56-year-old Archbishop-designate Ganswein was asked by a Vatican judge whether he was well-organized and would have noticed any missing documents. The papal secretary replied, "I am a meticulous person, indeed, extremely meticulous."

3. Well-trusted papal aide: Archbishop-designate Ganswein has been working with the pope since 1996 when he went to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He became then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's personal secretary in 2003. A short time later, the archbishop-designate already proved his ability to handle PR for the future pope when journalists overheard the cardinal ask some visitors to pray for then-Pope John Paul II because he was "in a bad way." The cardinal's secretary beat back the media frenzy, which assumed the pope's immediate demise, and said it was obvious the pope wasn't well, but there was no reason for alarm.

4. Sporty: Growing up, sports was one of his favorite hobbies, particularly soccer and skiing, and he worked at his local ski club as a ski instructor. Archbishop-designate Ganswein is still quite fit and always accompanies the Holy Father on his afternoon walks in the Vatican Gardens each day, praying the rosary and enjoying the fresh air.

5. Small-town boy: The archbishop-designate was born in a tiny village in the Black Forest. He is the oldest of five children; their father was a blacksmith and mother a stay-at-home mom. He's credited growing up in the middle of nature with giving him "an instinct that helps tell the genuine from the fake."

6. Typical teenager: Being a teenager during the '70s, his favorite musical artists were Pink Floyd, Cat Stevens and the Beatles, he has said. He also let his curly hair grow out "pretty long" back then, which led to clashes with his father about going to the barber. He said that rebel phase ended pretty quickly, though he admits that giving-in still isn't a strong point. He saved up for college working as a mailman and dreamed of becoming a stock broker.

7. Brainy with the brawn: Lots has been written or said -- for example, in People Magazine or by Italian designer Donatella Versace -- about the archbishop-designate's good looks. But under the "bello" there is a brain. He knew he was bright and clever enough to work in the world of finance, but deeper questions about life intrigued him more and he fell in love with philosophy and theology. He's said the compliments and love letters are "flattering," but wishes people would "also acknowledge the substance." He did remark that if all the attention he gets helped people "look at the faith I'm trying to convey, then it's a good thing."

8. Does nothing half-baked: His attraction to theology got to the point where he felt "I couldn't drive at half speed" -- either he had to pursue those studies completely or not at all. In his mind, doing "a little theology" wasn't possible, and he started considering the priesthood. As a priest, he was sent to Munich to study canon law -- a subject he said he found at the time to be dry and boring even though he loved to study. He was ready to give up, but said he was grateful when his professor helped him gain a new perspective on the subject and finish his doctorate.

9. Papal gatekeeper: When the newly elected Pope Benedict moved into the papal apartments, his secretary got a crash course from his predecessor, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, in what the new job would entail. The outgoing papal secretary told him that the hardest part of the job would be to make sure the pope isn't "suffocated" by anything or anyone. The archbishop-designate said requests for "just a minute" with the pope were endless and he discovered he had to "put in a stronger filter." The danger of "suffocation" and isolation also affects him, too, the secretary has said, and to counteract that he makes sure he gets out and spends time with friends.

10. Kid-friendly: It would be hard to not to have your heart melt when you're handed a cute baby during a papal audience. But Archbishop-designate Ganswein displays a natural ease and radiant joy every time he's passed an infant of any size or emotional state (bawling or gurgling, he shows no fear). One child described him as "like a very nice uncle" when he chatted with kids and townsfolk outside the pope's house in Pentling, Germany, in 2006. During his years as a young assistant pastor in Germany, the archbishop-designate was in charge of children's liturgies; he's said kids are "unforgiving" if a priest is superficial or insincere. He's co-authored a children's book about the pope titled, "Why Does the Pope Wear Red Shoes?" and wrote the preface to another kid's book about the pope told from the point of view of an orange cat.

The Tenth Day of Christmas - The Most Holy Name of Jesus

The feast is meant to impress on us Christians the dignity of the Holy Name. It is a relatively new feast, stemming out of devotional piety. Nevertheless, it is not difficult to find in it some liturgical or ancient Christian dogma. What did a name signify originally? The name should express the nature of a thing. Thus Adam in paradise gave the animals names in accordance with their being. Among the Jews God's name expressed His essence, Yahweh, i.e., I (alone) am who am (and cause all else to be). The Jews had the highest respect for the name of God, a reverence that finds continuation in the Our Father: "Hallowed be Thy Name."

Persons who played prominent roles in the history of salvation often received their names from God Himself. Adam — man of the earth; Eve — mother of all the living; Abraham — father of many nations; Peter — the rock. The Savior's precursor was given the name God assigned him. According to divine precedent, then, the name of the Redeemer should not be accidental, of human choosing, but given by God Himself. For His name should express His mission. We read in Sacred Scripture how the angel Gabriel revealed that name to Mary: "You shall call His name Jesus." And to St. Joseph the angel not merely revealed the name but explained its meaning: "You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins." The Messiah should not only be the savior, but should be called Savior. With Jesus, therefore, the name actually tells the purpose of His existence. This is why we must esteem His name as sacred. Whenever we pronounce it, we ought to bow our heads; for the very name reminds us of the greatest favor we have ever received, salvation.

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Ninth Day of Christmas - St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen

St. Basil was born about 330, the oldest of four sons; three of his brothers became bishops, one of whom was St. Gregory of Nyssa. His pious grandmother Macrina exercised a great influence upon his religious education: "Never shall I forget the deep impression that the words and example of this venerable woman made upon my soul." Between St. Basil and St. Gregory of Nazianzen an intimate friendship existed from youth to old age. Of Western monasticism St. Benedict was the father and founder, of Eastern monasticism, St. Basil.

As bishop, Basil was a courageous and heroic champion of the Catholic faith against the Arian heresy. In 372 Emperor Valens sent Modestus, the prefect, to Cappadocia to introduce Arianism as the state religion. Modestus approached the holy bishop, upbraided him for his teaching, and threatened despoliation, exile, martyrdom, and death. To these words of the Byzantine despot, Basil replied with the peace of divine faith: "Is that all? Nothing of what you mentioned touches me. We possess nothing, we can be robbed of nothing. Exile will be impossible, since everywhere on God's earth I am at home. Torments cannot afflict me, for I have no body. And death is welcome, for it will bring me more quickly to God. To a great extent I am already dead; for a long time I have been hastening to the grave." Astonished, the prefect remarked: "Till today no one has ever spoken to me so courageously." "Perhaps," rejoined Basil, "you have never before met a bishop." Modestus hastened back to Valens. "Emperor," he said, "we are bested by this leader of the Church. He is too strong for threats, too firm for words, too clever for persuasion."

Basil was a strong character, a burning lamp during his time. But as the fire from this lamp illumined and warmed the world, it consumed itself; as the saint's spiritual stature grew, his body wasted away, and at the early age of forty-nine his appearance was that of an old man. In every phase of ecclesiastical activity he showed superior talent and zeal. He was a great theologian, a powerful preacher, a gifted writer, the author of two rules for monastic life, a reformer of the Oriental liturgy. He died in 379, hardly forty-nine years old, yet so emaciated that only skin and bones remained, as though he had stayed alive in soul alone.

Patron: Cappadocia; hospital administrators; reformers; Russia.

Symbols: Supernatural fire, often with a dove present.

St. Gregory Nazianzen

Gregory, surnamed the "Theologian" by the Greeks, was born at Nazianz in Cappadocia in 339. He was one of the "Three Lights of the Church from Cappadocia." To his mother, St. Nonna, is due the foundation for his saintly life as an adult. He was educated at the most famous schools of his time - Caesarea, Alexandria, Athens. At Athens he formed that storied bond of friendship with St. Basil which was still flaming with all the fervor of youthful enthusiasm when he delivered the funeral oration at the grave of his friend in 381.

Gregory was baptized in 360, and for a while lived the quiet life of a hermit. In 372 he was consecrated bishop by St. Basil. At the urgent wish of Gregory, his father and bishop of Nazianz, he assisted him in the care of souls. In 381 he accepted the see of Constantinople, but grieved by the constant controversies retired again to the quiet life he cherished so highly and dedicated himself entirely to contemplation.

During his life span the pendulum was continually swinging back and forth between contemplation and the active ministry. He longed for solitude, but the exigencies of the times called him repeatedly to do pastoral work and to participate in the ecclesiastical movements of the day. He was unquestionably one of the greatest orators of Christian antiquity; his many and great accomplishments were due in great measure to his exceptional eloquence. His writings have merited for him the title of "Doctor of the Church."

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.