Living the Tradition of the Catholic Faith passed down through Apostolic succession from Jesus Himself.
Like the website, this is dedicated to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts.
However, this blog is also dedicated to my beloved parents:
To my Father who always said I had a book in me and to my Mother who never let me forget it! ;)
This blog is likely the closest I'll ever get to writing a book! ;)

BattleBeads has been featured in How-to-pray-the-rosary-everyday.com's "Rosary Promoter of the Month". To read the July 2010 interview, please visit here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The fact of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is related in Luke 1:26-38. The Evangelist tells us that in the sixth month after the conception of St. John the Baptist by Elizabeth, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to the Virgin Mary, at Nazareth, a small town in the mountains of Galilee. Mary was of the house of David, and was espoused (i.e. married) to Joseph, of the same royal family. She had, however, not yet entered the household of her spouse, but was still in her mother's house, working, perhaps, over her dowry. (Bardenhewer, Maria Verk., 69). And the angel having taken the figure and the form of man, came into the house and said to her: "Hail, full of grace (to whom is given grace, favored one), the Lord is with thee." Mary having heard the greeting words did not speak; she was troubled in spirit, since she knew not the angel, nor the cause of his coming, nor the meaning of the salutation.


And the angel continued and said: "Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end." The Virgin understood that there was question of the coming Redeemer. But, why should she be elected from amongst women for the splendid dignity of being the mother of the Messiah, having vowed her virginity to God? (St. Augustine). Therefore, not doubting the word of God like Zachary, but filled with fear and astonishment, she said: "How shall this be done, because I know not man?" 

The angel to remove Mary's anxiety and to assure her that her virginity would be spared, answered: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." In token of the truth of his word he made known to her the conception of St. John, the miraculous pregnancy of her relative now old and sterile: "And behold, thy cousin Elizabeth; she also has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: because no word shall be impossible with God." Mary may not yet have fully understood the meaning of the heavenly message and how the maternity might be reconciled with her vow of virginity, but clinging to the first words of the angel and trusting to the Omnipotence of God she said: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word." 

The Annunciation is the beginning of Jesus in His human nature. Through His mother He is a member of the human race. If the virginity of Mary before, during, and after the conception of her Divine Son was always considered part of the deposit of faith, this was done only on account of the historical facts and testimonials. The Incarnation of the Son of God did not in itself necessitate this exception from the laws of nature. Only reasons of expediency are given for it, chiefly, the end of the Incarnation. About to found a new generation of the children of God, The Redeemer does not arrive in the way of earthly generations: the power of the Holy Spirit enters the chaste womb of the Virgin, forming the humanity of Christ. Many holy fathers (Sts. Jerome, Cyril, Ephrem, Augustine) say that the consent of Mary was essential to the redemption. It was the will of God, St. Thomas says (Summa III:30), that the redemption of mankind should depend upon the consent of the Virgin Mary. This does not mean that God in His plans was bound by the will of a creature, and that man would not have been redeemed, if Mary had not consented. It only means that the consent of Mary was foreseen from all eternity, and therefore was received as essential into the design of God.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Feast of St. Joseph - the most forgotten Saint!

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Patron of the Universal Church

St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal church is commemorated on On March 19. He is one of the most important Saint in the Catholic Church, second to the Blessed Mother. He was faithful, patient man, obedient to the demands of God and willingly accepted the hardships. St. Matthew calls him "a just man", illustrated by his loyalty in protecting and providing for his family. In 1870, Pius IX declared him patron and protector of the universal family of the Church.


St. Joseph was an ordinary manual laborer although descended from the royal house of David. In the designs of Providence he was destined to become the spouse of the Mother of God. His high privilege is expressed in a single phrase, "Foster-father of Jesus." He was given the great privilege of taking care of God's own Son, Jesus. He had to work very hard in his carpenter shop, but he did not mind. He was happy to work for his little family. He loved Jesus and Mary so much. He took Mary in the mystery of her motherhood and acted in obedient faith. He was humble and pure, gentle and wise. Jesus and Mary loved him and obeyed him because God had placed him as the head of their family.

About him Sacred Scripture has little more to say than that he was a just man-an expression which indicates how faithfully he fulfilled his high trust of protecting and guarding God's greatest treasures upon earth, Jesus and Mary. We place our confidence in his protection because he protected the Church family just as he protected the Holy Family. St. Joseph is a great saint.


 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 

The Happy Death of Saint Joseph In the Visions of Venerable Mary Agreda from The Mystical City of God

Already eight years saint Joseph had been exercised by his infirmities and

sufferings, and his noble soul been purified more and more each day in the crucible of affliction and of divine love. As the time passed his bodily strength gradually diminished and he approached the unavoidable end, in which the stipend of death is paid by all of us children of Adam (Heb. 9, 27). In like manner also increased the care and solicitude of his heavenly Spouse, our Queen, assisting and serving him with unbroken punctuality. Perceiving, in her exalted wisdom, that the day and hour for his departure from this cumbrous earth was very near, the loving Lady betook Herself to her blessed Son and said to Him: "Lord God Most High, Son of the eternal Father and Savior of the world, by thy divine light I see the hour approaching which thou hast decreed for the death of thy servant Joseph. I beseech Thee, by thy ancient mercies and by thy infinite bounty, to assist him in that hour by thy almighty power. Let his death be as precious in thy eyes, as the uprightness of his life was pleasing to Thee, so that he may depart in peace and in the hope of the eternal reward to be given to him on the day in which Thou shalt open the gates of heaven for all the faithful. Be mindful, my Son, of the humility and love of thy servant; of his exceeding great merits and virtues; of the fidelity and solicitude by which this just man has supported Thee and me, thy humble handmaid, in the sweat of his brow."

Our Savior answered: "My Mother, thy request is pleasing to me, and the merits of Joseph are acceptable in my eyes. I will now assist him and will assign him a place among the princes of my people (Ps. 115, 15), so high that he will be the admiration of the angels and will cause them and all men to break forth in highest praise. With none of the human born shall I do as with thy spouse." The great Lady gave thanks to her sweetest Son for this promise; and, for nine days and nights before the death of saint Joseph he uninterruptedlyenjoyed the company and attendance of Mary or her divine Son. By command of the Lord the holy angels, three times on each of the nine days, furnished celestial music, mixing their hymns of praise with the benedictions of the sick man. Moreover, their humble but most precious dwelling was filled with the sweetest fragrance and odors so wonderful that they comforted not only saint Joseph, but invigorated all the numerous persons who happened to come near the house.

One day before he died, being wholly inflamed with divine love on account of these blessings, he was wrapped in an ecstasy which lasted twenty-four hours.

The Lord himself supplied Joseph the strength he needed for this miracle. In this ecstasy he saw clearly the divine Essence, and, manifested therein, all that he had believed by faith the incomprehensible Divinity, the mystery of the Incarnation and Redemption, the militant Church with all its Sacraments and mysteries. The blessed Trinity commissioned and assigned him as the messenger of our Savior to the holy Patriarchs and Prophets of limbo; and commanded him to prepare them for their issuing forth from this bosom of Abraham to eternal rest and happiness. All this most holy Mary saw reflected in the soul of her divine Son together with all the other mysteries, just as they had been made known to her beloved spouse and She offered her sincerest thanks for all this to her Lord.

When saint Joseph issued from this ecstasy his face shone with wonderful splendor and his soul was transformed by his vision of the essence of God. He asked his blessed Spouse to give him her benediction; but She requested her divine Son to bless him in her stead, which He did. Then the great Queen of humility, falling on her knees, besought saint Joseph to bless Her, as being her husband and head. Not without divine impulse the man of God fulfilled this request for the consolation of his most prudent Spouse. She kissed the hand with which he blessed Her and asked him to salute the just ones of limbo in her name. The most humble Joseph, sealing his life with an act of self-abasement, asked pardon of his heavenly Spouse for all his deficiencies in her service and love and begged Her to grant him her assistance and intercession in this hour of passing away. The holy man also rendered humblest thanks to her Son for all the blessings of his life and especially for those received during this sickness. The last words which saint Joseph spoke to his Spouse were: "Blessed art Thou among all women and elect of all the creatures. Let angels and men praise Thee; let all the generations know, praise and exalt thy dignity; and may in Thee be known, adored and exalted the name of the Most High through all the coming ages; may He be eternally praised for having created Thee so pleasing in his eyes and in the sight of all the blessed spirits. I hope to enjoy thy sight in the heavenly fatherland."

Then this man of God, turning toward Christ, our Lord, in profoundest reverence, wished to kneel before Him. But the sweetest Jesus, coming near, received him in his arms, where, reclining his head upon them, Joseph said: "My highest Lord and God, Son of the eternal Father, Creator and Redeemer of the World, give thy blessing to thy servant and the works of thy hand; pardon, O most merciful King, the faults which I have committed in thy service and interactions. I extol and magnify Thee and render eternal and heartfelt thanks to Thee for having, in thy ineffable condescension, chosen me to be the spouse of thy true Mother; let thy greatness and glory be my thanksgiving for all eternity." The Redeemer of the world gave him his benediction, saying: "My father, rest in peace and in the grace of my eternal Father and mine; and to the Prophets and Saints, who await thee in limbo, bring the joyful news of the approach of their redemption." At these words of Jesus, and reclining in his arms, the most fortunate saint Joseph expired and the Lord himself closed his eyes. At the same time the multitude of the angels, who attended upon their King and Queen, intoned hymns of praise in loud and harmonious voices. By command of the Lord they carried his most holy soul to the gathering-place of the Patriarchs and Prophets, where it was immediately recognized by all as clothed in the splendors of incomparable grace, as the putative father and the intimate friend of the Redeemer, worthy of highest veneration. Conformably to the will and mandate of the Lord, his arrival spread inutterable joy in this countless gathering of the saints by the announcement of their speedy rescue.

It is necessary to mention that the long sickness and sufferings which preceded the death of saint Joseph was not the sole cause and occasion of his passing away; for with all his infirmities he could have extended the term of his life, if to them he had not joined the fire of the intense love within his bosom. In order that his death might be more the triumph of his love than of the effects of original sin, the Lord suspended the special and miraculous assistance by which his natural forces were enabled to withstand the violence of his love during his lifetime. As soon as this divine assistance was withdrawn, nature was overcome by his love and the bonds and chains, by which this most holy soul was detained in its mortal body, were at once dissolved and the separation of the soul from the body in which death consists took place. Love was then the real cause of the death of saint Joseph, as I have said above. This was at the same time the greatest and most glorious of all his infirmities for in it death is but a sleep of the body and the beginning of real life.

The most fortunate of men, saint Joseph reached an age of sixty years and a few days. For at the age of thirty-three he espoused the blessed Virgin lived with Her a little longer than twenty-seven years as her husband. When saint Joseph died, She had completed the half of her forty-second year; for She was espoused to saint Joseph at the age of fourteen (as stated in the first part, book second, chapter twenty-second). The twenty-seven years of her married life completed her forty-first year, to which must be added the time from the eighth of September until the death of her blessed spouse. The Queen of heaven still remained in the same disposition of natural perfection as in her thirty-third year; for, as already stated in the thirteenth chapter of this book, She showed no signs of decline, or of more advanced age, or of weakness, but always in that same most perfect state of womanhood. She felt the natural sorrow due to the death of saint Joseph; for She loved him as her spouse, as a man pre-eminent in perfection and holiness, as her protector and benefactor.

I perceive a certain difference in the graces given to this great Patriarch and

those vouchsafed to other saints; for many saints were endowed with graces and gifts that are intended not for the increase of their own sanctity, but for the advance of the service of the Most High in other souls; they were, so to say, gifts and graces freely given and not dependent upon the holiness of the receiver. But in our blessed Patriarch all the divine favors were productive of personal virtue perfection; for the mysterious purpose, toward which they tended and helped along, was closely connected with the holiness of his own life. The more angelic and holy he grew to be, so much the more worthy was he to be the spouse of most holy Mary, the depository and treasure-house of heavenly sacraments. He was to be a miracle of holiness, as he really was. This marvelous holiness commenced with the formation of his body in the womb of his Mother. In this the providence of God himself interfered, regulating the composition of the four radical humors of his body with extreme nicety of proportion and securing for him that evenly tempered disposition which made his body a blessed earth fit for the abode of an exquisite soul and well-balanced mind (Wisdom 8, 19). He was sanctified in the womb of his mother seven months after his conception, and the leaven of sin was destroyed in him for the whole course of life, never having felt any impure or disorderly movement. Although he did not receive the use of his reason together with this first sanctification, which consisted principally in justification from original sin, yet his mother at the time felt a wonderful joy of the Holy Ghost. Without understanding entirely the mystery she elicited great acts of virtue and believed that her Son, or whomever she bore in her womb, would be wonderful in the sight of God and men.

The holy child Joseph was born most beautiful and perfect of body and caused in his parents and in his relations an extraordinary delight, something like that caused by the birth of saint John the Baptist, though the cause of it was more hidden. The Lord hastened the use of his reason, perfecting it in his third year, endowing it with infused science and augmenting his soul with new graces and virtues. From that time the child began to know God by faith, and also by natural reasoning and science, as the cause and Author of all things. He eagerly listened and understood profoundly all that was taught him in regard to God and his works. At this premature age he already practiced the highest kinds of prayer and contemplation and eagerly engaged in the exercise of the virtues proper to his youth ; so that, at the time when others come to the use of reason, at the age of seven years or more, saint Joseph was a perfect man in the use of it and in holiness. He was of a kind disposition, loving, affable, sincere, showing inclinations not only holy but angelic, growing in virtue and perfection and advancing toward his espousal with most holy Mary by an altogether irreproachable life.


For the confirmation and increase of his good qualities was then added the intercession of the blessed Lady; for as soon as She was informed that the Lord wished Her to enter the married state with him, She earnestly besought the Lord to sanctify saint Joseph and inspire him with most chaste thoughts and desires in conformity with her own. The Lord listened to her and permitted Her to see what great effects his right hand wrought in the mind and spirit of the patriarch saint Joseph. They were so copious, that they cannot be described in human words. He infused into his soul the most perfect habits of all the virtues and gifts. He balanced anew all his faculties and filled him with grace, confirming it in an admirable manner. In the virtue and perfection of chastity the holy spouse was elevated higher than the seraphim; for the purity, which they possessed without body, saint Joseph possessed in his earthly body and in mortal flesh; never did an image of the impurities of the animal and sensible nature engage, even for one moment, any of his faculties. This freedom from all such imaginations and his angelic simplicity fitted him for the companionship and presence of the most Pure among all creatures, and without this excellence he would not have been worthy of so great a dignity and rare excellence.

Also in the other virtues he was wonderfully distinguished, especially in charity; for he dwelt at the fountainhead of that living water, which flows on to eternal life (John 4, 14); he was in close proximity to that sphere of fire and was consumed without resistance. The best that can be said of the charity of our saint is what I have already said in the preceding chapter namely, that his love of God was really the cause of his mortal sickness and of his death. The manner of his death was a privilege of his singular love, for his sweet sighs of love surpassed and finally put an end to those of his sickness, being far more powerful. As the objects of his love, Christ and his Mother, were present with him always and as both of Them were more closely bound to him than to any of the woman-born, his most pure and faithful heart was unavoidably consumed by the loving effects of such a close union. Blessed be the Author of such great wonders and blessed be the most fortunate of mortals, saint Joseph, who so worthily corresponded to their love. He deserves to be known and extolled by all the generations of men and all nations since the Lord has wrought such things with no other man and to none has He shown such love.

The divine visions and revelations vouchsafed to saint Joseph, I have particularly

mentioned in the course of this history (Vol. II 422, 423, 471); but there were many more than can be described, and the greatest of them was his having known the mysteries of the relation between Christ and his Mother and his having lived in their company for so many years as the putative father of the Lord and as the true spouse of the Queen of heaven. But I have been informed concerning certain other privileges conferred upon saint Joseph by the Most High on account of his great holiness, which are especially important to those who ask his intercession in a proper manner. In virtue of these special privileges the intercession of saint Joseph is most powerful: first, for attaining the virtue of purity and overcoming the sensual inclinations of the flesh; secondly, for procuring powerful help to escape sin and return to the friendship of God; thirdly, for increasing the love and devotion to most holy Mary; fourthly, for securing the grace of a happy death and protection against the demons in that hour; fifthly, for inspiring the demons with terror at the mere mention of his name by his clients; sixthly, for gaining health of body and assistance in all kinds of difficulties; seventhly, for securing issue of children in families. These and many other favors God confers upon those who properly and with good disposition seek the intercession of the spouse of our Queen, saint Joseph. I beseech all the faithful children of the Church to be very devout to him and they will experience these favors in reality, if they dispose themselves as they should in order to receive and merit them.

WORDS OF THE QUEEN. (The Virgin Mary speaks to Sister Mary of Agreda, Spain.) My daughter, although thou hast described my spouse, saint Joseph, as the most noble among the princes and saints of the heavenly Jerusalem; yet neither canst thou properly manifest his eminent sanctity, nor can any of the mortals know it fully before they arrive at the vision of the Divinity. Then all of them will be filled with wonder and praise as the Lord will make them capable of understanding this sacrament. On the last day, when all men shall be judged, the damned will bitterly bewail their sins, which prevented them from appreciating this powerful means of their salvation, and availing themselves, as they easily could have, of this intercessor to gain the friendship of the just Judge. The whole human race has much undervalued the privileges and prerogatives conceded to my blessed spouse and they know not what his intercession with God is able to do. I assure thee, my dearest, that he is one of the greatly favored personages in the divine presence and has immense power to stay the arms of divine vengeance.

I desire that thou be very thankful to the divine condescension for vouchsafing thee so much light and knowledge regarding this mystery, and also for the favor which I am doing thee therein. From now on, during the rest of thy mortal life, see that thou advance in devotion and in hearty love toward my spouse, and that thou bless the Lord for thus having favored him with such high privileges and for having rejoiced me so much in the knowledge of all his excellences. In all thy necessities thou must avail thyself of his intercession. Thou shouldst induce many to venerate him and see that thy own religious distinguish themselves in their devotion. That which my spouse asks of the Lord in heaven is granted upon the earth and on his intercession depend many and extraordinary favors for men, if they do not make themselves unworthy of receiving them. All these privileges were to be a reward for the amiable perfection of this wonderful saint and for his great virtues; for divine clemency is favorably drawn forth by them and looks upon saint Joseph with generous liberality, ready to shower down its marvelous mercies upon all those who avail themselves of his intercession.

Prayers through intercession of St. Joseph:

Prayer for a Holy Death
O Christ, let me confess Your Name with my last breath. In Your great mercy receive me and do not disappoint me in my hope. Open the gates of life for me, and let the prince of darkness have no power over me. Protect me by Your kindness, shield me with Your might, and lead me by Your right Hand to the place of refreshment, the tabernacle You have prepared for Your servants and for those who revere You. Amen.
Prayer To St. Joseph for Protection
Gracious St. Joseph, protect me and my family from all evil as you did the Holy Family. Kindly keep us ever united in the love of Christ, ever fervent in imitation of the virtue of our Blessed Lady, your sinless spouse, and always faithful in devotion to you. Amen. 


Prayer to Saint Joseph to Know One's Vocation
O Great Saint Joseph, you were completely obedient to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Obtain for me the grace to know the state of life that God in his providence has chosen for me. Since my happiness on earth, and perhaps even my final happiness in heaven, depends on this choice, let me not be deceived in making it.

Obtain for me the light to know God's Will, to carry it out faithfully, and to choose the vocation which will lead me to a happy eternity. Amen.
Prayer To St. Joseph
Blessed Joseph, husband of Mary, be with us this day.
You protected and cherished the Virgin;
loving the Child Jesus as your son,
you rescued Him from danger of death.
Defend the Church, the household of God,
purchased by the blood of Christ.

Guardian of the Holy Family,
be with us in our trials.
May your prayers obtain for us
the strength to flee from error
and wrestle with the powers of corruption
so that in life we may grow in holiness
and in death rejoice in the crown of victory.
Amen.
(A partial indulgence.)

Prayer to St. Joseph as Consoler of the Afflicted

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.

O Saint Joseph, my patron and my advocate, to you do I have recourse that you may obtain for me that grace for which I humbly pray. It may well be that the disappointments and the bitterness in my life may be the just punishment for my sins. But even If I should have to recognize my own guilt, need I lose hope in obtaining the help of the Lord? ‘Oh no,’ would be the answer of your devoted client, Saint Theresa, ‘indeed, nor all you poor sinners. No matter how great your needs, turn to the powerful help of Saint Joseph. Go to Saint Joseph with sincere confidence and rest assured that your pleas will be heard.

Following the teaching of Saint Theresa, therefore, I present myself before your glorious throne, 0 Holy Saint Joseph and beg for your powerful intercession in my present tribulations.

Bring my petitions before the throne of God, that by your power and mercy I may obtain that which of myself I would not be worthy to receive. And grant that having obtained the favorable answer to my petition, I may return to your altar and there fulfill my devotion of praise end thanksgiving for your Intercession.

Remember O most merciful foster father of the Lord Jesus, that no one who has ever had recourse to you was left unaided. Countless are the graces and favors which you have obtained in answer to the prayers addressed to you. The sick, the oppressed, those who suffer injustice, the betrayed, the abandoned, in short, all who have had recourse to your protection were aided in their afflictions. O Holy Saint Joseph, do not leave me to be the only one to be deprived of your help. Show yourself kindly and generously even to me, so that my prayers of thanksgiving for your mercy may rebound for the greater glory of God.


O Saint Joseph, head of the Holy Family, I venerate you from the profoundest depth of my heart. To the afflicted who have appealed to you before me, you have granted comfort and peace. Console even my own poor afflicted soul. You know all my needs, Saint Joseph, even before I set them before you in prayers. O powerful Saint Joseph, you know how important this petition is for me. I place all my hope in your intercession.
Grant me the answer to the favor for which I so desperately pray and I pledge myself to spread your devotion everywhere and to support, within the limits of my abilities, those charities which, in your name, aid the afflicted and the dying throughout the world.

Saint Joseph, consoler of the afflicted, have mercy on my sorrow. Amen.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Patrick's Day



St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland was born around the year 390. His story
in regards to bringing Christianity to Ireland begins in 432 when he arrived as a missionary Bishop. He spent the rest of his life converting the population and organizing the Church before his death in Armagh in 461. It would take too long to enumerate the many accomplishments of Patrick. He was a tireless defender of the faith and his efforts have had a lasting effect on the Irish Church as well as the Church abroad.

The times St. Patrick lived in were rough and many opposed his "new foreign religion" (Catholic Christianity). One prayer or hymn ascribed to St. Patrick is known as St. Patrick's Breastplate, (also known as the Deer's Cry or Lorica.) It is thought that St. Patrick taught this prayer to his followers and would recite it to ask God's protection for them on their journeys.


I arise to-day Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, 
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Towards the Creator

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ with His Baptism,
Through the strength of His Crucifixion with his Burial,
Through the strength of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the Judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of Angels,
In the service of the Archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In innocence of Holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of Sun,
Radiance of Moon,
Splendor of Fire,
Speed of Lightning,
Swiftness of Wind,
Depth of Sea,
Stability of Earth,
Firmness of Rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to guide me,
God's Eye to look before me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to speak for me,
God's Hand to guard me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to protect me,
God's Host to secure me
against snares of devils,
against temptations of vices,
against inclinations of nature,
against everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and a-near,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and these evils,
against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
against incantations of false prophets,
against black laws of heathenry,
against false laws of heretics,
against craft of idolatry,
against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
against every knowledge that endangers man's body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
against poison, against burning,
against drowning, against wounding,
so that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ where I lie down, Christ where I sit down, Christ where I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness,
Towards the Creator of Creation.

Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of Christ.
May Thy Salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A NOVENA TO ST. JOSEPH ~ 3/10-3/19


This novena to St. Joseph requests divine assistance from someone close to our Lord, quite close indeed: His foster-father! Although he was from royal ancestry, a descendant of King David, St. Joseph has inspired the faithful for generations as a model of humility and service as a carpenter caring for his Holy Family. St. Bernard called him “the faithful and prudent servant whom the Lord appointed master over His household—His foster-father [and] the comfort and support of His Mother.”

Glorious St. Joseph, foster-father and protector of Jesus Christ! To you do I raise my heart and hands to implore your powerful intercession. Please obtain for me from the kind Heart of Jesus the help and graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare. I ask particularly for the grace of a happy death, and the special favor I now implore (name it).
Guardian of the Word Incarnate, I feel animated with confidence that your prayers in my behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God. 

V. O glorious St. Joseph, through the love you bear to Jesus Christ, and for the glory of His Name,
R. Hear my prayers and obtain my petitions. Amen.



3/10~Day 1 – St. Joseph Most Just, Pray for us!
3/11~Day 2 – St. Joseph Most Prudent, Pray for us!
3/12~Day 3 – St. Joseph Most Loving Husband, Pray for us!
3/13~Day 4 – St. Joseph Most Strong, Pray for us!
3/14~Day 5 – St. Joseph Most Obedient, Pray for us!
3/15~Day 6 – St. Joseph Most Faithful, Pray for us!
3/16~Day 7 – St. Joseph Pillar of Families, Pray for us!
3/17~Day 8 – St. Joseph Patron of the Dying, Pray for us!
3/18~Day 9 – St. Joseph Terror of Demons, Pray for us!
 
St. Thomas Aquinas, the preeminent 13th century theologian, and St. Teresa of Avila, the celebrated 16th century Carmelite nun, both praised St. Joseph’s ability to assist us in all our needs before God. Is it any wonder then that he is a patron saint of the Church, workers, families, home buyers and sellers, and, as we read in this novena, the grace of a happy death? Don’t be afraid to ask for his aid!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday
by Rev. James Luke Meagher, 1883

The fast of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts till Easter Sunday. During this time there are forty-six days, but as we do not fast on the six Sundays falling in this time, the fast lasts for forty days. For that reason it is called the forty days of Lent. In the Latin language of the Church it is called the Quadragesima, that is, forty. St. Peter, the first Pope, instituted the forty days of Lent. During the forty-six days from Ash Wednesday to Easter, we are to spend the time in fasting and in penance for our sins, building up the temple of the Lord within our hearts, after having come forth from the Babylon of this world by the rites and the services of the Septuagesima season. And as of old we read that the Jews, after having been delivered from their captivity in Babylon, spent forty-six years in building their temple in place of the grand edifice raised by Solomon and destroyed by the Babylonians, thus must we rebuild the temple of the Holy Ghost, built by God at the moment of our baptism, but destroyed by the sins of the past year. Again in the Old Testament the tenth part of all the substance of the Jews was given to the Lord (Exod. xxli. 29). Thus we must give him the tenth part of our time while on this earth. For forty days we fast, but taking out the Sundays of Lent, when there is no fast, it leaves thirty-six days, nearly the tenth part of the three hundred and sixty-five days of the year. According to Pope Gregory from the first Sunday of Lent to Easter, there are six weeks, making forty-two days, and when we take from Lent the six Sundays during which we do not fast, we have left thirty-six days, about the tenth part of the three hundred and sixty-five days of the year.

The forty days of fasting comes down to us from the Old Testament, for we read that Moses fasted forty days on the mount (Exod. xxiv. et xxxiv. 28). We are told that Elias fasted for forty days (III. Kings xix. 8), and again we see that our Lord fasted forty days in the desert (Math. iv.; Luke ix). We are to follow the example of these great men of the old law. But in order to make up the full fast of forty days of Moses, of Elias and of our Lord, Pope Gregory commanded the fast of Lent to begin on Ash Wednesday before the first Sunday of the Lenten season.

Christ began his fast of forty days after his baptism in the Jordan, on Epiphany, the twelfth of January, when he went forth into the desert. But we do not begin the Lent after Epiphany, because there are other feasts and seasons in which to celebrate the mysteries of the childhood of our Lord before we come to his fasting, and because during these forty days of Lent we celebrate the forty years of the Jews in the desert, who, when their wanderings were ended, they celebrated their Easter, while we hold ours after the days of Lent are finished. Again, during Lent, we celebrate the passion of our Lord, and as after His passion came His resurrection, thus we celebrate the glories of His resurrection at Easter.

During the services of Lent we read so often the words: "Humble
your heads before the Lord," and "let us bend our knees," because it is the time when we should humble ourselves before God and bend our knees in prayers. After the words, "Let us bend our knees," comes the word, "Arise." These words are never said on Sunday, but only on week days, for Sunday is dedicated to the resurrection of our Lord. Pope Gregory says: "Who bends the knee on Sunday denies God to have risen." We bend our knees and prostrate ourselves to the earth in prayer, to show the weakness of our bodies, which are made of earth; to show the weakness of our minds and imagination, which we cannot control; to show our shame for sin, for we cannot lift our eyes to heaven; to follow the example of our Lord, who came down from heaven and prostrated himself on the ground in the garden when in prayer (Matt. xxvi. 39); to show that we were driven from Paradise and that we are prone towards earthly things; to show that we follow the example of our father in the faith, Abraham, who, falling upon the earth, adored the Lord (Gen. xviii. 2). This was the custom from the beginning of the Christian Church, as Origen says: "The holy prophets when they were surrounded with trials fell upon their faces, that their sins might be purged by the affliction of their bodies." Thus following the words of St. Paul: "I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephes. iii. 14)," we prostrate ourselves and bend our knees in prayer. From Ash Wednesday to Passion Sunday the Preface of Lent is said every day, unless there comes a feast with a Preface of its own. That custom was in vogue as far back as the twelfth century.

At other times of the year, the clergy say the Office of Vespers after noon, but an ancient Council allowed Vespers to be commenced after Mass. This is when the Office is said altogether by the clergy in the choir. The same may be done by each clergyman when reciting privately his Office. This cannot be done on the Sundays of Lent, as they are not fasting days. The "Go, the dismissal is at hand," is not said, but in its place, "Let us bless the Lord," for, from the earliest times the clergy and the people remained in the church to sing the Vesper Office and to pray during this time of fasting and of penance.

We begin the fast of Lent on Wednesday, for the most ancient traditions of the Church tell us that while our Lord was born on Sunday, he was baptized on Tuesday, and began his fast in the desert on Wednesday. Again, Solomon began the building of his great temple on Wednesday, and we are to prepare our bodies by fasting, to become the temples of the Holy Ghost, as the Apostle says, "Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you (I. Cor. iii. 16)?" To begin well the Lent, one of the old Councils directed all the people with the clergy to come to the church on Ash Wednesday to assist at the Mass and the Vesper Offices and to give help to the poor, then they were allowed to go and break their fast.

The name Ash Wednesday comes from the ceremony of putting
ashes on the heads of the clergy and the people on this day. Let us understand the meaning of this rite. When man sinned by eating in the garden the forbidden fruit, God drove him from Paradise with the words: "For dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return (Gen. iii. 19)." Before his sin, Adam was not to die, but to be carried into heaven after a certain time of trial here upon this earth. But he sinned, and by that sin he brought upon himself and us, his children, death. Our bodies, then, are to return to the dust from which God made them, to which they are condemned by the sin of Adam. What wisdom the Church shows us when she invites us by these ceremonies to bring before our minds the dust and the corruption of the grave by putting ashes on our heads. We see the great men of old doing penance in sackcloth and ashes. Job did penance in dust and ashes (Job ii. 12). By the mouth of His prophet the Lord commanded the Jews "in the house of the dust sprinkle yourselves with dust (Mich. i. 10)." Abraham said, "I will speak to the Lord, for I am dust and ashes (Gen xviii. 27)." Joshua and all the ancients of Israel fell on their faces before the Lord and put dust upon their heads (Joshua vii. 6). When the ark of the covenant was taken by the Philistines, the soldier came to tell the sad story with his head covered with dust (I Kings iv. 12).

When Job's three friends came and found him in such affliction, "they sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven (Job ii. 12)." "The sorrows of the daughters of Israel are seen in the dust upon their heads (Lam. ii. 10)." Daniel said his prayers to the Lord his God in fasting, sackcloth and ashes (Dan. ix. 3). Our Lord tells us that if in Tyre and Sidon had been done the miracles seen in Judea, that they had long ago done penance in sackcloth and ashes (Matt. xi. 21; Luke x. 13). When the great city will be destroyed, its people will cry out with grief, putting dust upon their heads (Apoc. xviii. 19). From these parts of the Bible, the reader will see that dust and ashes were used by the people of old as a sign of deep sorrow for sin, and that when they fasted they covered their heads with ashes. From them the Church copied these ceremonies which have come down to us. And on this day, when we begin our fast, we put ashes on our heads with the words, "Remember, man, that thou art dust, and into dust thou shalt return (Gen. iii. 19)."

In the beginning of the Church the ceremony of putting the ashes on the heads of the people was only for those who were guilty of sin, and who were to spend the season of Lent in public penance. Before Mass they came to the church, confessed their sins, and received from the hands of the clergy the ashes on their heads. Then the clergy and all the people prostrated themselves upon the earth and there recited the seven penitential psalms. Rising, they formed into a procession with the penitents walking barefooted. When they came back the penitents were sent out of the church by the bishop, saying : "We drive you from the bosom of the Church on account of your sins and for your crimes, as Adam, the first man was driven from Paradise because of his sin." While the clergy were singing those parts of Genesis, where we read that God condemned our first parents to be driven from the garden and condemned to earn their bread by the sweat of their brow, the porters fastened the doors of the church on the penitents, who were not allowed to enter the temple of the Lord again till they finished their penance and came to be absolved on Holy Thursday (Gueranger, Le Temps de la Septuagesima, p. 242). After the eleventh century public penance began to be laid aside, but the custom of putting ashes on the heads of the clergy became more and more common, till at length it became part of the Latin Rite. Formerly they used to come up to the altar railing in their bare feet to receive the ashes, and that solemn notice of their death and of the nothingness of man. In the twelfth century the Pope and all his court came to the Church of St. Sabina, in Rome, walking all the way in his bare feet, from whence the title of the Mass said on Ash Wednesday is the Station at St. Sabina.
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The Mystery of Lent
from the Liturgical Year, 1870


Le
nt is filled with mystery. During the Septuagesima Time the number seventy recalls to our minds the seventy years of the captivity of the Jews in Babylon, where, after having purified themselves from their sins by penance, they returned again to their country and to their city of Jerusalem, then they celebrated their Easter. Now the holy Church, our Mother, brings before our minds the severe and mysterious number forty, that number which, as St Jerome says, is always filled with self-denial and with penance (In Ezech., c. xxix). When the race became corrupt, God wiped out the sin of man by the rain of forty days and forty nights upon the world, but after forty days Noah opened a window in the ark and found the water gone from the earth. When the Hebrews were called from the land of Egypt for forty years they fasted on manna, wandering in the desert, before they came to the promised land. When Moses went up the Mount of Sinai, for forty days and nights he fasted from food before he received the law graven on tablets of stone. When Elias came near to God, on Horeb, for forty days and nights he fasted (St. Augustine Sermon). Thus these two, the greatest men of old, whom the hand of the Lord hath raised up to do His mighty will, Moses on Mount Sinai, Elias on Mount Horeb, what do they figure but the law and the prophecy of the Old Testament pointing to the fast of forty days and nights of our Lord in the desert? Like shadowy forms they prefigured the Son of God, Who first established Lent when the Christians, His disciples, fast, following the example of our Master, when they keep the Lenten Services of the Church.

Let us follow our Lord in His Lent in the desert. "At that time," says the Gospel. When? The moment after his baptism, to show that the Christian after baptism must prepare for a life of self denial. When? Thirty years before, on the same day, the three Magi adored him, a little child in the manger. When? One year from that day, at his mother's request, he changed the water into wine. At that time, by contact with his most holy body, the waters of the earth received the power of washing the souls of men from sin in baptism. St. John the Baptist had preached penance from the banks of the Jordan. Now Christ was to preach penance from the sands of the desert. John had lived in fasting on locusts and wild honey from his twelfth year (Math. iii. 4). He alone was worthy of baptizing our Lord. Now Christ is led by the Spirit into the desert. By what spirit? By the Holy Spirit, to show that those who fast and do penance during Lent are led by the Holy Ghost. To show that the Church was led by the Holy Ghost in commanding all her children to fast during Lent. Into the desert He is led by the Holy Spirit, with the burning sun of Judea above His head by day, and the parched sands beneath His limbs by night; into the desert He is led, where the hot air burns His hallowed cheek, and the burning sands give way beneath His feet; into the desert He is led, where below Him stretches the Dead Sea, beneath whose stagnant, slimy waters lie the remains of Sodom, Gomorrah, Salem and the cities of the plains destroyed by God for their sins. Here comes our Lord to do penance and to fast for the sins of mankind. Here comes our Savior to keep the first Lent.

Not far from the banks of the Jordan rises a mountain harsh and savage in its outlines, which tradition calls the Lenten mountain (Gueranger, Le Careme, p. 46). From its rugged heights flow down the streams which water the plains of Jericho. From its rocky sides is seen the valley of the

Dead Sea. From its inhospitable crags stretches out the gloomy expanse of that spot where once the five smiling cities of the plains sat amid the fertile land, but now, of all places of the earth, marked with the curse of God for the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. There came the Son of God to establish Lent. There came the Savior to show by penance how to gain our everlasting crown by fasting for our sins. There, deep amid the desert fastness, in a cave formed by the ancient upheaval of the mountain, there He found a home. There He fasted forty days and forty nights. No water cooled His burning tongue, no food repaired His weakening strength. The wild beasts of the wilderness were His companions. The heat of the simoon from the burning desert poisoned the air He breathed. The hot sands burned His feet. The rocks became His bed. Such was the beginning of the Christian Lent.

"After He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards He 
was hungry;" for His nature was human, like ours. "And the tempter came." He prepared Himself for temptation by fasting, to show us that we must prepare ourselves by fasting for the temptations of this life, to show that by fasting and by penance we are to overcome the enemies of our salvation. He was not hungry till at the end of His forty days of fasting, to show that He was God, for no one can fast for that time without being hungry. At the end of forty days He was hungry, to show that He was man, with all the weakness of our nature. Our nature had been badly hurt by Adam eating the forbidden fruit. Christ came to restore our nature to its lost inheritance in heaven, and He begins His public life by fasting. And now, at the end of that fast, the devil, who was the cause of our fall, found Him weak and hungry. He came to tempt Him in the desert, as he came to tempt our first parents in the garden. Let us draw near and see the temptation of our Lord.

The devil had seen Him baptized in the Jordan, he had heard the words of the holy Baptist point Him out as the "Lamb of God." He had heard the words of the Father in heaven call Him His beloved Son. He had seen the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, with outspread wings overshadow Him. He says to himself, "Can this be the Son of God, this weak and hungry Man?" The demon is in doubt. He comes near to the person of Jesus Christ. He could not enter into His members as he can in ours, and tempt Him. He could only tempt Him from without, as he tempted our first parents from without. Coming near, he says, "If Thou be the Son of God, command these stones to be made bread." Mark well the words. It is a temptation of pride. "If thou be the Son of God," here is a chance to show your power. Long before the same demon came to our Mother Eve, and said, "In what day soever you shall eat thereof ... you shall be as gods." The temptation of pride. Thus He was tempted by being asked to eat, like our parents in the garden. Thus He was tempted by pride, as our mother Eve was tempted of old.

This life is a continual battle against temptation, and the Church, made up of the clergy and of the people, is like a great and powerful army in ceaseless battle array against our enemies. For that reason Lent is called the fighting time of the Church. For that reason, in the offices of the breviary we say the psalms, wherein is recalled that battle of the Christian against his old enemies, the powers of hell.

We are coming near to the sad sight of the death of our Lord. We are to see that rage of the Jews against Him which ended by His death on the cross. The Church prepares us beforehand, by celebrating certain feasts on each of the Fridays of Lent, which are like so many preparations for the tragedy of Good Friday. The Friday following the first Sunday of Lent we celebrate the memory of the holy Lance and Nails which pierced His Sacred Flesh; or, in some cases, the feast of the Crown of Thorns He wore upon His head. The Friday of the second week we say the office of the Linens, which Joseph and Nicodemus wrapped around His body when dead and laid in the tomb. On the third Friday we commemorate the memory of the five Wounds of our Lord; while the offices of the fourth Friday are devoted to the memory of the most precious Blood shed for our redemption (Brev. Rom.).

During the early ages of the Church, Lent was the time when the catechumens, that is, the newly converted Christians, prepared for baptism by fasting and by penance, before they were washed from their sins by the waters of regeneration on Holy Saturday. For many months they had been instructed for that holy rite by the saints of old, and in the Lenten Season they redoubled their penance and their prayers. Again, Lent was the time when the public penitents, those who were guilty of great sins, purged themselves from their crimes by public penance. From Ash Wednesday, when they were driven from the church, like Adam from Paradise, in sackcloth and in ashes, in tears and in fasting, they wept at the doors of the churches, till received again into the bosom of their mother, the Church, by confession and Communion on Holy Thursday. Because the people are no more saints like those of the early ages, although the Church in her motherly indulgence has changed these laws, still their traces are found in the ceremonies and the services of the Latin Rite.
Prayer


O my God! Who art all love, I thank Thee for having established the fast of Lent to purify my conscience, to strengthen my virtue, and to make me worthy of approaching Thy holy table. Grant me the grace to keep the fast as a Christian. I am resolved to love God above all things, and my neighbor as myself for the love of God; and, in testimony of this love, I will join fasting with prayer and alms. Amen

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Be of Strong Heart During Lent


A Letter from Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

Next Wednesday, Feb. 18, we begin the season of Lent, the time when we prepare ourselves to celebrate the Easter Mystery. It is a time of preparation which over the centuries has taken many different forms.
Bishop DiMarzio's Bio

In the Message for Lent that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has issued this year, he has taken the theme: “Make your hearts firm.” (Jas 5:8) The season of Lent is the time when we are asked to firm up our faith, when we are to give special attention to training our will so that we can love God all the more. The phrase “make your hearts firm” has special meaning to me because five-and-a-half years ago I underwent quadruple bypass surgery. One of the wonderful gifts one receives following this surgery is a red heart-shaped pillow which is needed to hold tight to your chest whenever you cough since you do feel that you are coming apart. Quadruple bypass surgery entails breaking the sternum, commonly called the breastbone, for the surgery. It takes many months for that bone to heal and to this day I still feel the wires which were put in place to keep it together.

The pillow has a special meaning, as it is called the “Brave Heart Pillow.” Yes, your heart must be brave to undergo that type of operation. And so it is with Lent, we have that brave heart, for without brave hearts we will have wills that are weak and we will not be allowed to follow the will of God. As Pope Francis says in his Lenten Message, “As a way of overcoming indifference and our pretensions of self-sufficiency, I would invite you all to live this Lent as an opportunity for engaging in what Benedict XVI called a formation of the heart (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 31). A merciful heart does not mean a weak heart. Anyone who wishes to be merciful must have a strong and steadfast heart, closed to the tempter but open to God. A head which lets itself be pieced by the Spirit so as to bring love along the roads that lead to our brothers and sisters. And, ultimately, a poor heart, one which realizes its own poverty and gives itself freely for others.”

Many times we see Lent as a time of mortification and that is good. To mortify means to kill, killing or deadening our wills through a set of good practices such as fasting, doing good works and trying to rein in our disordered appetites which hinder the full integration of our human person and to freely respond to the Holy Spirit. Sometimes this entails doing the things we do not want to do, which is the greatest kind of mortification. St. Paul tells us, “So then, my brothers, we have no obligation to human nature to be dominated by it. If you do live in that way, you are doomed to die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the habits originating in the body, you will have life.” (Rm 8-13) How important it is that we acquire good habits. It is unfortunate that bad habits are much easier to acquire. To change our bad habits into good habits is something that we all can work on during Lent.

The Lenten tradition of 40-days of preparation has its roots in the Old Testament. In the Book of Deuteronomy, 9-18, we hear that Moses falls prostrate before Yahweh and spent 40 days and 40 nights with nothing to eat or drink on account of all the sins which the people of Israel had committed. They had broken His Covenant and Moses tried to restore the Covenant by his personal fasting.

In the First Book of Kings, we hear of the Prophet Elijah who on his journey to Horeb, where he was to encounter God, ate and drank to be strengthened for his walk of 40 days and 40 nights to reach Horeb. And so we see that fasting can be positive or negative in preparing us for the journey of Lent. We can abstain or we can do good works.

Perhaps our greatest example, however, is the Lord, Himself, who we hear on this First Sunday of Lent being tempted in all of the synoptic Gospels. We see that the temptations that the Lord undergoes all have something to do with our human nature, and all of the temptations come from the devil. We know that He is tempted by the devil to turn stones into bread, as we are to satisfy our basic human needs and natural desire for pleasure. We see how Jesus was tempted to jump into the pinnacle of the Temple with the promise that God would save Him, testing God’s providence in enhancing the human pride that comes from testing God. And finally, Jesus is tempted to bow down and worship the devil, to make a concession so that Jesus can have the whole world as His Kingdom. Through the course of our lifetime, we experience ourselves all of these temptations in some way.

And so, we return to the practices of Lent and the mortification which I mentioned previously. We must deaden the will to the wrong appetites, enabling us to be active in doing certain good works and passive in accepting the contradictions and the difficulties of our daily life.

At times, we need to mortify our interior senses. Sometimes our intelligence, or imagination, leaves us daydreaming and wasting time and not being able to get rid of a thought which leads us nowhere. Exteriorly, this is fasting which sometimes helps us to be more cognizant of our relationship to God and enables us to be more positive by giving up something and seeking God in our lives.

Mortification has been described as the drawbridge that enables us to enter into the castle of prayer, because prayer is the ultimate goal of mortification. We are not masochists as Christians, yet we know that without mortification we will not find the true happiness which is ours on Earth. Only the person who understands mortification, who can live simply and enjoys the good things of life, will understand how to accept the suffering that is part of every human life. Another spiritual author said that a day without mortification is a day lost because we have not united ourselves to God.

Finally, Jesus came to the cross having prepared Himself for 33 years. His disciples who are most intimate with Him, do not understand the mystery of the cross, not until the Resurrection.

And so it is with us, as we put out into the deep of Lent, we will not understand the meaning of our mortification, our suffering, our good works. Only at the time of the Resurrection, this Easter for us, will we understand the deeper meaning of why we have undergone this period of preparation that is so much part of our faith which at the same time enlivens and challenges our faith.
From the Tablet

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Our Lady of Lourdes February 11th & Day of the Sick




Traditional prayer card, unknown artist
" I am the Immaculate Conception"

History | Readings | Litany of Our Lady of Lourdes | Lourdes Hymn
Homily of Pope John Paul II at Lourdes, August 15, 2004 |
Plenary Indulgence for the 150TH Anniversary of Lourdes [2008]


History of Our Lady of Lourdes
: The Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in southern France is the most visited pilgrimage site in the world -- principally because of the apparent healing properties of the waters of the spring that appeared during the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to a poor, fourteen-year-old girl, Bernadette Soubiroux.
The first apparition occurred February 11, 1858. There were eighteen in all; the last took place July 16, of the same year. Bernadette often fell into an ecstasy during these apparitions, as was witnessed by the hundreds who attended the later visions, though no one except Bernadette ever saw or heard the apparition.

The mysterious vision Bernadette saw in the hollow of the rock Massabielle, where she and friends had gone to gather firewood, was that of a young and beautiful lady. "Lovelier than I have ever seen" said the child. She described the Lady as clothed in white, with a blue ribbon sash and a Rosary hanging from her right arm. Now and then the apparition spoke to Bernadette.

One day, the Lady told the girl to drink of a mysterious fountain within the grotto itself, the existence of which was unknown, and of which there was no sign. But Bernadette scratched at the ground, and a spring immediately bubbled up and soon gushed forth. On another occasion the apparition bade Bernadette go and tell the priests she wished a chapel to be built on the spot and processions to be made to the grotto. At first the clergy were incredulous. The priest said he would not believe it unless the apparition gave Bernadette her name. After another apparition, Bernadette reported that the Lady told her, "I am the Immaculate Conception". Though the girl was unfamiliar with the term, the Pope had declared the doctrine of the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary in 1854.

Four years after Bernadette's visions, in 1862, the bishop of the diocese declared the faithful "justified in believing the reality of the apparition" of Our Lady. A basilica was built upon the rock of Massabielle by M. Peyramale, the parish priest. In 1873 the great "national" French pilgrimages were inaugurated. Three years later the basilica was consecrated and the statue solemnly crowned. In 1883 the foundation stone of another church was laid, as the first was no longer large enough. It was built at the foot of the basilica and was consecrated in 1901 and called the Church of the Rosary. Pope Leo XIII authorized a special office and a Mass, in commemoration of the apparition, and in 1907 Pius X extended the observance of this feast to the entire Church; it is now observed on February 11.

Miracles at Lourdes

Pope Benedict's address on the Day of the Sick