Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sacrifice's reward

 Come unto Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, 
and I will give you rest. - Matthew 11:28

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“Take great care to go to Holy Mass,
even on weekdays;  and for such a cause
be willing to put up with some inconvenience.
Thereby you will obtain
every kind of blessing from the Lord.”

  St John Bosco
Priest, Educator, Founder of Salesian Society
 Italy ~ Aug 16, 1815 - Jan 31, 1888
"Father and Teacher of Youth"
FEAST DAY - January 31
“When tempted, invoke your Angel. He is more eager to help you than you are to be helped! Ignore the devil and do not be afraid of him: He trembles and flees at the sight of your Guardian Angel.”  ~ St. John Bosco
St John Bosco, pray for us!
Venerable Mama Margaret is the beloved and holy mother of St John Bosco. The sanctity and holiness of St John Bosco was first nurtured by a mother's prayer, a mother's example.  From Mama Margaret to her son:

"When you came into the world I consecrated you to the Blessed Virgin Mary. When you began your studies, I inculcated this devotion in you. Now I want you to belong totally to her. Make your companions those who are devoted to Mary; and if you reach ordination, never cease to inculcate and spread this devotion."

"I have nothing to say regarding your vocation, except that you should do what God inspires you to do. Do not be concerned on my behalf. You owe me nothing. Never forget that I was born in poor circumstances, have lived in poverty all my life; and I am happy to die poor; and I say this seriously to you: if you ever become  wealthy, I shall never set foot on your doorstep."

"Dear John, you have taken the priestly habit and I am as happy as any mother could be. But never forget that it is not the habit that matters, but the effort to progress in virtue. If you ever come to have doubts about your vocation, be sure you never dishonor that priestly garb. Put it aside immediately. I would rather a poor peasant son than a priest who neglected his sacred calling".

"John, you are now a priest; you will be saying Mass; so from henceforth you will be closer to Jesus. Remember that to begin to celebrate Mass means also to begin to suffer. You will not realize this immediately, but little by little you will see that what your mother has told you is the truth."

Friday, January 30, 2015

Every Mass: three kisses

At every Mass the priest offers three kisses...
*On first approaching the altar
*After the reading of the Gospel
*After the Concluding Rites, prior to Recessional
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 "The one who is to sing the Mass kisses the altar on first approaching it. 
He does this so that he may speak words of true peace to the people. 
And coming, he preached peace to you that were far off,
and peace to them that were nigh."~ St Albert (+1280)
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Fr Jason Schumer ~ St Louis, MO ~ USA  (Altar made by Fr Schumer's father)
"The priest kisses the sacred altar to show
that when Christ came to us, 
He joined holy Church to Himself:
as it is said in the bridal song,
Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth. 
And he places his hands upon the altar
to show that charity, which is denoted by the kiss,
must be supported by good works."
Bishop of Mende, France (+1296)
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Archbishop Tagle, Manila
"Those who proclaim the Gospel are lightening bolts
who shine by their good examples
and thunder with their words, and return to our Lord 
when they thank Him for the progress they make. 
And the giver of sanctity kisses the book,
that he may say with the Apostle, I am delighted 
with the law of God, according to the inward man. 
Thus ends the reading of the holy Gospel, which is 
salvation for us, and defense against the devil."
St Albert
 Dominican friar, Bishop, Doctor of the Church (+1280)
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Pope Francis, Roma
 "It is a kiss of gladness,
that he should have been granted
the honour  and happiness
of celebrating the Mass."
Bl Hyacinth Cormier (+1916)
Dominican Friar and Master-General
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Perhaps in addition to merely observing these beautiful
and symbolic kisses of the Mass,
let us intentionally pray for the priest at that time of observing...
that he may... more and more... love Jesus...
both in the holy sacrifice of the Mass and in the words of the Gospel.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Holy Viaticum

Is any among you sick? Let him call for the presbyters of
the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with
oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith 
will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; 
and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. -  James 5:14-15

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC):

1524  In addition to the Anointing of the Sick, the Church offers those who are about to leave this life the Eucharist as viaticum. Communion in the body and blood of Christ, received at this moment of "passing over" to the Father, has a particular significance and importance. It is the seed of eternal life and the power of resurrection, according to the words of the Lord: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." The sacrament of Christ once dead and now risen, the Eucharist is here the sacrament of passing over from death to life, from this world to the Father.

1525 Thus, just as the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist form a unity called "the sacraments of Christian initiation," so too it can be said that Penance, the Anointing of the Sick and the Eucharist as viaticum constitute at the end of Christian life "the sacraments that prepare for our heavenly homeland" or the sacraments that complete the earthly pilgrimage.

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Continue reading about this beautiful Sacrament and gift of the Church
See Catechism of the Catholic Church - Sections 1499-1532
Please call a priest for this holy time of preparation and passage.

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Viaticum angels - wood engraving, France - 1891

"The world's thy ship and not thy home." - St Thérèse of Lisieux

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Jesus, my all in all !

 "The Eucharist is the sacrament of love:
it signifies love, it produces love." - St Thomas Aquinas

"Almighty and Eternal God, behold I come to the Sacrament of Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. As one sick, I come to the Physician of life; unclean, to the Fountain of mercy; blind, to the Light of eternal splendor; poor and needy, to the Lord of heaven and earth.

Therefore, I beg of You, through Your infinite mercy and generosity, heal my weakness, wash my uncleanness, give light to my blindness, enrich my poverty, and clothe my nakedness.

May I thus receive the Bread of Angels, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, with such reverence and humility, contrition and devotion, purity and faith, purpose and intention, as shall aid my soul's salvation ..."

St Thomas Aquinas
Italy ~ 1225-1274
Dominican monk
Theologian, philosopher, professor
Prolific writer, Hymn composer
Doctor of the Church
FEAST DAY - January 28
(Happy Feast Day, Fr Howe!)

"Material food first changes into the one who eats it, and then, as a consequence, restores to him lost strength and increases his vitality. Spiritual food, on the other hand, changes the person who eats it into itself.  Thus the effect proper to this Sacrament is the con­ver­sion of a man into Christ, so that he may no longer live, but Christ lives in him; conse­quent­ly, it has the double effect of restoring the spiritual strength he had lost by his sins and defects, and of increasing the strength of his virtues." ~ St Thomas Aquinas,  Commentary on Book IV of the Sentences, d.12, q.2, a.11

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"Beware the man of one book." - St Thomas Aquinas

  St Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Pure intentions

 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions
 and in truth.  This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, 
and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence… I John 3:18-19 

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"In the fulfillment of your duties, 
let your intentions be so pure 
that you reject from your actions
any other motive than the glory of God 
and the salvation of souls." 

St Angela Merici
Italy ~ 1470 -1540
Foundress:  Ursiline Order *
*For the education of girls and for the missions
First teaching Order of Nuns
outside confines of convent enclosure
Feast Day - Jan 27

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When Angela reached the age of 70, the day and hour of her death were revealed to her. While on her deathbed she counseled: "Whatever you would wish at your dying hour to have done in health, that do now while you may."

She received the last sacraments with great fervor, and was rapt in ecstasy. While pronouncing the holy name of Jesus, she departed this life on January 27, 1540, in the very hour that had been foretold to her.

St Angela Merici, pray for us!

Monday, January 26, 2015

His look rests upon you...

"What happiness do we not feel in the presence of God, when we find ourselves alone at His feet, before the holy tabernacle! …
‘Come, my soul, redouble your ardor!
You are here alone to adore your God!
His look rests on you alone!’

Ah! if we only had the angels' eyes!  Seeing our Lord Jesus Christ here, on that altar, and looking at us, how we should love Him! We should want to stay always at His feet; it would be a foretaste of heaven; everything else would become insipid to us."

St John Vianney

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Simplest truth, pure reality

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing
after another.  For the law was given through Moses;
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. - John 1: 16-17
Stained glass:  Waltham Abbey ~England

"This is my Body" ~ "This is my Blood"; under no circumstance may the is in these holiest of sentences be interpreted as "means" or "is a symbol of" my Body and Blood.  If ever the Lord's admonition, "Let your speech be, 'Yes, yes';'No,no'; and whatever is beyond these comes from the evil one" (Matthew 5:37) was deeply urgent, it is here.

    It is not only wrong but sacrilegious to tamper with these words.  What they express is simplest truth, and what takes place pure realityHe who speaks is neither a great nor the greatest religious personality of the millennia, but the Son of God.

    His words are no expression of mystical profundity, but a command of Him who has all earthly and heavenly power.  They have no equivalent in human speech, for they are words of Omnipotence.  We can compare them only with other words of the Lord, when "He arose and rebuked the wind and the sea, and there came a great calm" (Matthew 8:26); or, to the leper: "I will, be thou made clean" (Matthew 8:3); or to Jairus' dead child, "Girl, arise!" (Luke 8:54).  Their real equivalent is the Father's "Be!" (light made) from which creation itself emerged (Genesis 1:3).

Romano Guardini 
Meditations Before Mass (Sophia Press, 1993)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Beautiful, pure and good - you!

"During the course of the day, recall as often as possible that you are in God's presence. Consider what God does and what you are doing.  You will see His eyes turned toward you and constantly fixed on you with incomparable love." - St Francis de Sales

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"As mountain hares become white in winter
because they neither see nor eat anything but snow,

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so by adoring and feeding on beauty, purity
and goodness itself in the Eucharist you will
become altogether beautiful, pure, and good."

St Francis de Sales
Bishop and Doctor of the Church
France ~ 1567-1622
Author of Introduction to the Devout Life
and A Treatise on the Love of God
Co-Founder of Sisters of the Visitation
Patron of authors, writers, deaf persons
a.k.a. the "Gentleman Saint"
(due to his patience and gentleness)
FEAST DAY - January 24

"After having conferred Holy Orders on a pious young man, St Francis de Sales noticed that the newly ordained priest hesitated before a door as if to let someone pass before him.  'Why do you pause?' asked the saint.  'God favors me with the sight of my guardian angel, ' replied the priest.  'Before I was ordained to the holy priesthood, my angel always remained at my right and preceded me.  Now he walks at the left and refuses to go before me.' 

Such is the great veneration which the angelic spirits show even God's ministers because of their reverence for the Blessed Sacrament.' ~ From The Guardian Angels:  Our Heavenly Companions

St Francis de Sales, pray for us!

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Look of Love

Of the Blessed Sacrament Saint Bernard has written:
"The divine is hidden; the human is hidden;
love alone is left for all to see."
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"To participate in the Mass here and now is not a matter of looking down or looking around, but of looking up - it's a taste of what awaits us, through the grace and mercy of God, for all eternity.  

True worship, like true love, doesn't mean looking into each other's eyes; it means looking together, in love, at the One who is Love all the way through."
 George Weigel 
Letters to a Young Catholic (2004)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

May kindness and truth meet

Day of Penance* for Violations
to the Dignity of the Human Person
*In all the dioceses of the United States of America, January 22
(or January 23, when the 22nd falls on a Sunday) shall be
observed as a particular day of penance for violations to the
dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion,
and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the
right to life.
--- General Instruction of the Roman Missal (U.S.), 2003, n. 373
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven. - Ps 85:10,11
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Federico Barocci ~ Ultima Cena - The Last Supper
“Devotion to the Eucharist leads one to a devotion to life
and a devotion to life leads one to the Eucharist….
We receive our strength for our labors for life from the
Good News of Jesus Christ and from the Holy Eucharist.
This is the food that nourishes us for the tasks at hand….
The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith
and respect for life is our faith's first precept.”
Justin Cardinal Rigali
3 October 2004 

"In the Bread which came down from heaven, the family will 
be able to find the support that will keep it united in the face 
of today's threats and will preserve it as a bastion of life, 
steadfast against the culture of death." - St John Paul II

"If people spent one hour per week in Eucharistic Adoration,
abortion would be ended."~ Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Fruit of Friendship

The martyrdoms of the saints have taught us and do teach us how to conquer the world, with all of its fallacies, fervors, and fears." - St Augustine

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"In martyrdom, Agnes also seals the other crucial element of her life, virginity for Christ and for the Church. The total gift of martyrdom is prepared, in fact, by the conscious, free and mature choice of virginity, a witness to the will to belong totally to Christ. If martyrdom is a final heroic act, virginity is the result of a long friendship with Jesus that has matured in the constant hearing of His Word, in the dialogue of prayer, in the Eucharistic encounter."

Pope Benedict XVI
Address at the Almo Collegio Capranica, Roma,
for the Feast of St. Agnes ~ Jan 20, 2012
St Agnes
Virgin, Martyr
291-304 AD
FEAST DAY - January 21
"This is a virgin's birthday; let us follow the example of her chastity. It is a martyr's birthday; let us offer sacrifices; it is the birthday of holy Agnes: let men be filled with wonder, little ones with hope, married woman with awe, and the unmarried with emulation. It seems to me that this child, holy beyond her years and courageous beyond human nature, received the name of Agnes (Greek: pure) not as an earthly designation but as a revelation from God of what she was to be."~ St. Augustine

A Roman maid of tender years … St Agnes died for Christ … Steadfast in faith, and ever chaste … She could not be enticed … Although the pagans tortured her … Their efforts were in vain … As piously and patiently … She gloried in her pain … Not even all their insults and … Humiliating acts … Could cause her vigil of the soul … To lessen or relax … When she was only thirteen years … She died beneath the sword … True to her vow to be a spouse … And virgin of our Lord … And now her soul is honored as … The little lamb of Christ … This Roman maid who kept the faith … And nobly sacrificed. Excerpt from: Poem Portraits of the Saints, James Metcalfe (pg 28)
The lamb, as a symbol of purity, is one of the symbols of St. Agnes. In Rome on this day, the Holy Father will bless two crowned lambs, brought to the Church of St. Agnes in two baskets, decorated in red (martyrdom) and white (purity), by Trappists of the Tre Fontane Monastery. The lambs are blessed and then taken to the Convent of St. Cecilia, where the Sisters care for them and use their wool to weave the palliums worn by the Pope and his Archbishops. The palliums are conferred on new archbishops -- those appointed as archbishops during the preceding year -- on the Feast of SS. Peter and Paul on 29 June. Because of St. Agnes's association with lambs, a lamb-shaped cake would be nice today. Think of using coconut for the wool...
St. Agnes, like St. Valentine, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and St. Anthony of Padua, is invoked by single women in search of a husband -- and today is a good day to pray such a prayer.  In fact, Medieval folklore says that on St. Agnes Eve, girls are often granted visions of their future husbands. Scottish girls would meet in a crop field at midnight, throw grain onto the soil, and pray:

Agnes sweet and Agnes fair, Hither, hither, now repair;
Bonny Agnes, let me see, The lad who is to marry me.

St Agnes, pray for us!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fire aflame

 "I am making my retreat with the Eucharistic Heart.  
I am on fire,burning with the desire to love God 
and to bring others to love Him." - Bl Dina Belanger

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 “The Eucharist strikes such fire within us 
that we are compelled by our actions and our presence to
warm the people we live among and to melt the ice
of hate, discrimination, indifference, injustice
and isolation. 'Can a man hide fire in his bosom
and his garments not burn?' " (Proverbs 6:27)

 Fr Franklyn M McAfee
 Excerpt from “They Have Been with Jesus

St Sebastian
Italy ~ 288 +
 Defender of the Faith, Martyr
Patron of archers, athletes and soldiers
Feast Day - January 20

St Sebastian, Captain of the Praetorian Guard of the Roman Emperor, was condemned to death for professing his Faith. He was shot with arrows and left for dead, but when the widow of St. Castulus went to recover his body, she found he was still alive and nursed him back to health. Soon after, Sebastian intercepted the Emperor Diocletian, denounced him for his cruelty to Christians, but was beaten to death on the Emperor’s orders. 

St Sebastian, pray for us!

Monday, January 19, 2015

The victory of vigilance!

"Please, let us not do business with the devil!  He seeks to return 
home to take possession of us ... Do not relativize;  be vigilant!
And always be with Jesus!" - Pope Francis

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"Worship is a spiritual weapon. When we worship God, we enter into His presence in a powerful way. Because demons tremble at His presence, they are reluctant to follow us there.

No doubt the Devil is busy tempting us and trying to distract us even when we attend Mass. But if we give ourselves wholly to participating in the Mass, he has little room to operate. In fact, true worship focuses our attention on God: praising Him for who He is and thanking Him for what He has done.

When our minds and hearts are centered on God, the Enemy’s provocations and enticements lose their power. Frequent Mass attendance, then, is an effective weapon of our warfare." 

Paul Thigpen
Manual for Spiritual Warfare, pg 38

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Go ... just as you are ...

(Jesus) "... reign in the most secret recesses of my heart, there where
my most secret thoughts are conceived, where You alone have free access,
in this deepest sanctuary where human thought cannot penetrate."
- St Faustina (Diary, 1721)
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Painting:  Candlemas Day ~ Marianne Stokes
Go to our Lord just as you are.
Be natural in your meditation.
He wants the thought and prayer of that heart
as the genuine expression of its love for Him.
Saint Peter Julian Eymard

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Putting the devil to flight!

"The priest says, 'In the name of the Father and of the Son and
of the Holy Spirit', thus declaring that he offers the sacrifice 
by the authority of the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity."- St Alphonsus

"Let the sign of the cross be continually made on the heart,
on the mouth, on the forehead, at table, at the bath, in bed,
coming in and going out, in joy and sadness, sitting, standing, 
speaking, walking ... in short, in all our actions. Let us make it on
our breasts and all our members, that we may be entirely covered 
with this invincible armor of Christians." - St Gaudentius

 The greeting of every Mass:

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

"The devil is afraid of us when we pray
and make sacrifices.  He is also afraid
when we are humble and good. 
He is especially afraid when
we love Jesus very much. 
He runs away when
we make the sign of the cross."

St Anthony the Abbott
a.k.a. - Anthony of Egypt, Anthony of the Desert,
Anthony the Anchorite
"Patriarch of Monks"
251-356 (105 y/o)
Feast Day - January 17

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St. Anthony's talents at spiritual direction were famous, and many people traveled to the desert to seek his advise.  St Athanasius, who knew Anthony and wrote his biography, said, "Anthony was not known for his writings nor for his worldly wisdom, nor for any art, but simply for his reverence toward God."
St Anthony, pray for us!