Thursday, February 04, 2016

St. Agatha: Patroness of those with Breast Cancer



The saint of the day for February 5 is St. Agatha, the patroness of those who suffer from breast cancer.

Agatha was born in Sicily, the daughter of rich and pious parents. At a young age, she consecrated herself to God. She grew to be a virtuous Christian woman, known for her remarkable beauty, but resisted the advances of men. The Roman Senator Quintianus, who governed Sicily, had heard of her great beauty and wealth, and planned on seducing her. Consequently, he made laws against the Christians in order to trick her into coming to him.

When she was apprehended, Agatha prayed: "Jesus Christ, Lord of all things, you see my heart, you know my desire-possess alone all that I am. I am your sheep, make me worthy to overcome the devil." She wept, and prayed for courage and strength. Quintianus made advances toward her, and when she refused them, he ordered her to be put into the hands of Aphrodisia, a woman who ran a brothel. Agatha refused to be influenced by the seductiveness of this wicked woman and her environment. She remained firm in the convictions of her Christian faith.

Quintianus then had her beaten, imprisoned, and subjected to cruel tortures. He ordered that her breasts be cut off and that she receive neither food nor medical care for four days. But the holy virgin was consoled by a vision of St. Peter, who miraculously healed her.

Quintianus, not the least bit moved by the miraculous cure of her wounds, ordered that she be stretched out on a rack and rolled naked over live coals mixed with broken glass. Dying, she prayed: "Lord, my Creator, you have ever protected me from the cradle; you have taken me from the love of the world, and given me patience to suffer: receive now my soul."

Lessons learned from St. Agatha

St. Agatha is an excellent model of chastity and purity for us today. We live in a society of hyper-sensuality, where Christians are mocked for their morality and struggle to defend that which is sacred. We are constantly bombarded by the sensual temptations in our culture. While we do not suffer the physical torture that Agatha did, most of us do indeed experience the spiritual and psychological torment of living in a decadent culture.

Like St. Agatha, prayer will help us to remain strong and courageous. Today, we are blessed with many more opportunities for grace than in Agatha's time. The sacraments, the Rosary, and Eucharistic Adoration are  powerful weapons in the spiritual battle. If we follow the example of our crucified Lord and look to Him for all our needs, we will receive the strength we need to endure all of life’s daily trials and not grow weary on the way.


~ copyright Jean M. Heimann February 2016


Patronage

against breast cancer
against breast disease
against earthquakes
against fire
against natural disasters
against sterility
against volcanic eruptions
fire prevention
jewelers
martyrs
nurses
rape victims
single laywomen
torture victims
wet-nurses

Prayer to St. Agatha for healing of breast cancer

St. Agatha, woman of valor, from your own suffering we have been moved to ask your prayers for those of us who suffer from breast cancer. We place the name (s) before you, and ask you to intercede on their behalf. From where you stand in the health of life eternal- all wounds healed, and all tears wiped away- pray for ____________________, and all of us. Pray God will give us His holy benediction of health and healing. And, we remember you were a victim of torture and that you learned, first hand, of human cruelty and inhumanity. We ask you to pray for our entire world. Ask God to enlighten us with a “genius for peace and understanding.” Ask Him to send us His Spirit of Serenity, and ask Him to help us share that peace with all we meet. From what you learned from your own path of pain, ask God to give us the Grace we need to remain holy in difficulties, not allowing our anger or our bitterness to overtake us. Pray that we will be more peaceful and more charitable. And from your holy pace in our mystical body, the Church, pray that we, in our place and time will, together, create a world of justice and peace. Amen.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

St. Joan of Valois, patron of those in difficult circumstances




On February 4, the Church commemorates St. Joan of Valois (also known as Jane, Jeanne, Joanna of France). The second daughter of Louis X1, King of France, and Charlotte of Savoy, she was born on April 23, 1464. Joan's father hated her from birth, partly because of her sex and partly because she was sickly and deformed.  Joan had a hump on her back and walked with a limp, suggesting that she had curvature of the spine.

 At the age of five, she was sent away to be brought up by guardians in a lonely country home, deprived of common comforts and sometimes even necessities. The neglected child offered her whole heart to God, and yearned to do some special service in honor of His blessed Mother. She developed a deep devotion to Our Lady, praying the Angelus daily.

At the age of two months Joan was betrothed to Louis, Duke of Orleans, the future King Louis XII, and the marriage took place when she was just nine years old. The marriage was forced upon Louis and was never consummated.

After her marriage, Joan suffered even more than before. The duke hated the fact that she was imposed on him in the marriage, and even publicly insulted and humiliated her. In spite of this, Joan loved him and remained a devoted and faithful wife for twenty-two years. Joan saved her husband's life when her brother, King Charles VIII decided to execute him for rebellion. When the duke ascended to the throne in 1498 and wanted to marry Ann of Brittany, he had Pope Alexander VI declare his marriage to Joan null.  Joan offered no objections and accepted the situation with the patience that marked her entire life.  “If so it is to be, praised be the Lord”, was her remark on this occasion. With humility, in imitation of Our Lady, she accepted the will of God.

In 1500, along with her Franciscan director, Gilbert Nicolas, Joan founded the Order of the Annunciation, a community whose chief rule was to imitate the virtues of Mary, as shown in the Gospels. Jane died in heroic sanctity at the age of 41 on February 4, 1505, and was buried in the royal crown and purple, beneath which lay the habit of her Order. She was canonized in 1950 by Pope Pius XII. Many miracles, particularly of healing, followed her death. St. Joan is the patron of those in difficult circumstances.

Quote:  “I am ugly in body but I want a beautiful soul.” – St. Joan of Valois

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

St. Blaise and the Blessing of Throats




On February 3, we commemorate St. Blaise, a physician and Bishop of Sebaste, Armenia in the 4th century. He lived in a cave on Mount Argeus and was a healer of men and animals. Legend tells us that sick animals would come to him on their own for help, but would never disturb him at prayer.

As bishop, Blaise became a healer of souls and taught his people how to live a holy life by his example. His great virtues and sanctity were confirmed by many miracles.  Crowds came to him for the cure of both bodily and spiritual afflictions.

Agricola, the governor of Cappadocio, came to Sebaste to persecute Christians. His hunters discovered Blaise praying while seeking wild animals for the arena and arrested him as a Christian. Blaise was taken to prison, but on the way there he interceded to God on the behalf of a child who was choking to death on a fish bone. The child was cured, which led to the blessing of throats on Blaise's feast day.

Thrown into a lake to drown, Blaise stood on the water's surface and invited his persecutors to walk out and prove the power of their gods; they drowned. When he returned to land, he was martyred by being beaten, his flesh torn with wool combs (which led to his association with and patronage of those involved in the wool trade), and then beheaded.

In the holy wars, his relics were dispersed over Europe and veneration of St. Blaise was increased by many miraculous cures, especially of sore or diseased throats. Thus, he is the patron of those suffering from throat ailments.

One of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, St. Blaise became one of the most popular saints of the Middle Ages.  His feast is celebrated as a holy day in some Eastern Churches. In 1222, the Council of Oxford banned servile work (heavy manual labor) in England on Blaise’s feast day. The Germans and Slavs are particularly devoted to him. Many United States Catholics have their throats blessed on his feast day annually.

Candles crossed in a special candelabrum used to bless throats.


Blessing of the Throats

This is the day when we, as Catholics, participate in the beautiful sacramental of having our throats blessed. The rite of the blessing of throats may take place before or after Mass.
 The aid of St. Blaise is asked in delivering the faithful from throat ailments and other evils.To do this, the priest consecrates two candles, generally by a prayer, and then holds each in a crossed position on the throat of the person being blessed. At the same time the following blessing is given: "Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from ailments of the throat and from every other evil. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

I have always enjoyed this day, not only because it is the time of year when I am prone to sore throats, but it shows how the Church is truly concerned with the bodily needs of the person as well as the spiritual needs.

Prayer to Saint Blaise

Dear bishop and lover of souls, you willingly bore heavy crosses in faithful imitation of Jesus. Similarly, with Christlike compassion you cured many sufferers. Then after undergoing horrible torture, you died as a martyr for Christ. Obtain a cure for these {describe the afflictions} ills if this is agreeable to God. Amen.

Monday, February 01, 2016

The Presentation of the Lord: Candlemas



Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which occurs forty days after the birth of Jesus and is also known as Candlemas day, since the blessing and procession of candles is included in today's liturgy.

The Feast of the Presentation, often called Candlemas, commemorates the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the presentation of Christ in the temple, which took place 40 days after his birth as Jewish law required. According to Mosaic law, a mother who had given birth to a boy was considered unclean for seven days. Also, she was to remain 33 days "in the blood of her purification." Luke tells us, quoting Exodus 13:2,12, that Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Jerusalem because every firstborn child was to be dedicated to the Lord. They also went to sacrifice a pair of doves or two young pigeons, showing that Mary and Joseph were poor. Once in the temple, Jesus was purified by the prayer of Simeon, in the presence of Anna the prophetess. Simeon, upon seeing the Messiah, gave thanks to the Lord, singing a hymn now called the Nunc Dimittis:

Lord, now you let your servant go in peace,
your word has been fulfilled:
My own eyes have seen the salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of every people:
a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.

Simeon told Mary, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against, (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed." Simeon thus foreshadowed the crucifixion and the sorrows of Mary at seeing the death of her Son.

The name Candlemas comes from the activities associated with the feast. It came to be known as the Candle Mass. In the Western Church, a procession with lighted candles is the distinctive rite. According to post Vatican-II discipline, (if possible) the beeswax candles are to be blessed somewhere other than where the Mass is held. Often your local parish will hand out candles, or you may bring your own, to be blessed before the procession. These may be saved for later use in your home. After an antiphon, during which the candles held by the people are lighted, there is a procession into the church. During the procession to the church, the Nunc Dimittis is sung, with the antiphon "Lumen ad revelationem" (Luke 2:32). This procession into the church for Mass commemorates Christ's entrance into the temple. Since Vatican II, the feast is reckoned a feast of the Lord (as opposed to a feast of Mary), and officially designated "The presentation of the Lord."

History

Egeria, writing around AD 380, attests to a feast of the Presentation in the Jerusalem Church. It was kept on February 14th. The day was kept by a procession to the Constantinian basilica of the Resurrection, with a homily on Luke 2:22-39. However, the feast had no proper name at this point; it was simply called the 40th day after Epiphany. This shows that the Jerusalem church celebrated Jesus' birth on the Epiphany Feast (as is common in some Eastern Churches today).

In regions where Christ's birth was celebrated on December 25th, the feast began to be celebrated on February 2nd, where it is kept in the West today. In 542, the Emperor Justinian introduced the feast to the entire Eastern Roman empire in thanksgiving for the end to a great pestilence afflicting the city of Constantinople. Perhaps this is when Pope Gregory I brought the feast to Rome. Either way, by the 7th century, it is contained in the Gelasianum Sacramentary. Pope Sergius (687-701) introduced the procession to the Candlemas service. The blessing of candles did not come into common use until the 11th century.

While some scholars have asserted that the Candlemas feast was developed in the Middle Ages to counteract the pagan feasts of Imbolc and Lupercalia, many scholars reject this, based on Medieval documents. While the feast does coincide with these two pagan holidays, the origins of the feast are based in Scriptural chronology. Some superstitions developed about Candlemas, including the belief that if one does not take down Christmas decorations by Candlemas, traces of the holly and berries will bring about the death of the person involved. In past times, Candlemas was seen as the end of the Christmas season.

Candlemas Day was also the day when some cultures predicted weather patterns. Farmers believed that the remainder of winter would be the opposite of whatever the weather was like on Candlemas Day. An old English song goes:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas bring clouds and rain,
Go winter, and come not again.

Thus if the sun cast a shadow on Candlemas day, more winter was on the way; if there was no shadow, winter was thought to be ending soon. This practice led to the folklore behind "Groundhog's Day," which falls on Candlemas Day.

Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes Begins




On February 11, 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous in a cave at Massabielle near Lourdes, France. By July 16, she had appeared 18 times and proclaimed that she was the Immaculate Conception.  In 1862, the Church confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions. The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes became worldwide in 1907.

Lourdes has become a place of pilgrimage and healing, but even more of faith. The water of Lourdes is readily available to all pilgrims, and Church authorities have documented over 60 miraculous cures as well as conversions to the faith because of these miracles. Our Lady of Lourdes is the patroness of sick people and bodily ills.

Novena Dates February 2-10, Feast Day February 11

Opening Prayer (To be prayed each day at the beginning of the novena of by itself for a shorter version of the novena)

Be blessed, O most pure Virgin, for having vouchsafed to manifest your shining with life, sweetness and beauty, in the Grotto of Lourdes, saying to the child, St. Bernadette: "I am the Immaculate Conception." A thousand times we congratulate you upon your Immaculate Conception. And now, O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of mercy, Health of the sick, Refuge of sinners, Comforter of the afflicted, you know our wants, our troubles, our sufferings deign to cast upon us a look of mercy.

By appearing in the Grotto of Lourdes, you were pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary, whence you dispense your favors, and already many have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and physical. We come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession. Obtain for us, O loving Mother, the granting of our request.
  (state your request)

 Through gratitude for your favors, we will endeavor to imitate your virtues, that we may one day share your glory.

Our Lady of Lourdes, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your divine son while upon earth. You have the same influence now in Heaven. Pray for us; obtain for us from your Divine Son our special requests if it be the Divine Will. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

NINE DAY NOVENA TO OUR LADY OF LOURDES

DAY ONE 
O Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, virgin and mother, queen of heaven, chosen from all eternity to be the Mother of the Eternal Word and in virtue of this title preserved from original sin, we kneel before you as did little Bernadette at Lourdes and pray with childlike trust in you that as we contemplate your glorious appearance at Lourdes, you will look with mercy on our present petition and secure for us a favorable answer to the request for which we are making this novena.

(make your request)

O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

DAY TWO
Be blessed, O most pure Virgin, for having vouchsafed to manifest yourself shining with light, sweetness and beauty, in the Grotto of Lourdes, saying to the child Saint Bernadette: "I am the Immaculate Conception!" O Mary Immaculate, inflame our hearts with one ray of the burning love of your pure heart Let them be consumed with love for Jesus and for you, in order that we may merit one day to enjoy your glorious eternity. O dispenser of His graces here below, take into your keeping and present to your Divine Son the petition for which we are making this novena.

(make your request)

O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your  assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

DAY THREE 
"You are all fair, O Mary, and there is in you no stain of original sin." O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. O brilliant star of sanctity, as on that lovely day, upon a rough rock in Lourdes you spoke to the child Bernadette and a fountain broke from the plain earth and miracles happened and the great shrine of Lourdes began, so now I beseech you to hear our fervent prayer and do, we beseech you, grant us the petition we now so earnestly seek.

(make your request)

O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious  in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

DAY FOUR
O Immaculate Queen of Heaven, we your wayward, erring children, join our unworthy prayers of praise and thanksgiving to those of the angels and saints and your own-the One, Holy, and Undivided Trinity may be glorified in heaven and on earth. Our Lady of Lourdes, as you looked down with love and mercy upon Bernadette as she prayed her rosary in the grotto, look down now, we beseech you, with love and mercy upon us. From the abundance of graces granted you by your Divine Son, sweet Mother of God, give to each of us all that your motherly heart sees we need and at this moment look with special favor on the grace we seek in this novena.

(make your request)

O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your  assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

DAY FIVE 
O Mary Immaculate, Mother of God and our mother, from the heights of your dignity look down mercifully upon us while we, full of confidence in your unbounded goodness and confident that your Divine Son will look favorably upon any request you make of Him in our behalf, we beseech you to come to our aid and secure for us the favor we seek in this novena.
(make your request)

O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your  assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

DAY SIX 
O glorious Mother of God, so powerful under your special title of Our Lady of Lourdes, to you we raise our hearts and hands to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the gracious Heart of Jesus all the helps and graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare and for the special favor we so earnestly seek in this novena.

(make your request)

O Lady of Bernadette, with the stars of heaven in your hair and the roses of earth at your feet, look with compassion upon us today as you did so long ago on Bernadette in the Grotto of Lourdes.

O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious  in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

DAY SEVEN 
O Almighty God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary did prepare a worthy dwelling place for your Son, we humbly beseech you that as we contemplate the apparition of Our Lady in the Grotto of Lourdes, we may be blessed with health of mind and body.  O most gracious Mother Mary, beloved Mother of Our Lord and Redeemer, look with favor upon us as you did that day on Bernadette and intercede with him for us that the favor we now so earnestly seek may be granted to us.
(make your request)

O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your  assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

DAY EIGHT 
O Immaculate Mother of God, from heaven itself you came to appear to the little Bernadette in the rough Grotto of Lourdes! And as Bernadette knelt at your feet and the miraculous  spring burst forth and as multitudes have knelt ever since before your shrine, O Mother of God, we kneel before you today to ask that in your mercy you plead with your Divine Son to grant the special favor we seek in this novena.

(make your request)

O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

DAY NINE 
O glorious Mother of God, to you we raise our hearts and hands to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the benign Heart of Jesus all the graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly for the grace of a happy death. O Mother of our Divine Lord, as we conclude this novena for the special favor we seek at this time.
(make your request)

Mary and Bernadette
We feel animated with confidence that your prayers in our behalf will be graciously heard. O Mother of My Lord, through the love you bear to Jesus Christ and for the glory of His Name, hear our prayers and obtain our petitions.
O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your  assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

St. Brigid of Ireland: Healer and Miracle Worker



Today, February 1 is the feast of St. Brigid of Ireland, a fifth century convert to Christianity, who was inspired by the preaching of St Patrick. As an abbess and Catholic nun, she founded a double monastery, of monks and nuns, at Kildare, the first women’s monastic community in Ireland. St. Brigid is the patron saint of: babies, children whose parents are not married, dairy workers, midwives, nuns, poets, poultry farmers, printing presses, sailors, scholars, and travelers. Brigid is often called the Mary of the Gael.

Around 453 AD, a child was born out of wedlock between Dubhtach and one of his Christian slaves named Brocessa. The slave girl was sent to a cabin at the foot of the Cooley Mountains near Dundalk, Co Louth, to have the child. The baby was a healthy girl which was no great joy to Dubhtach who wanted a son. The mother was sold to a Chieftain in Connaught, and the child was given to a Druid to be raised and educated.

As a child, Brigid vomited when the Druid tried to feed her. She was nourished solely by the milk of a white cow with red ears. During her life, Brigid performed many miracles, including healing and feeding the poor. According to one story, she once gave away her mother's entire store of butter to the poor. The butter was then miraculously replaced in answer to Brigid's prayers.

At the age of ten, she was returned as a household slave to her father, where her charitable and generous nature caused her to donate his possessions to anyone who asked. Dubthach was so angry with her that he took her in a chariot to the king of Leinster, to sell her. However, while Dubthach was speaking to the king, Brigid gave away his jeweled sword to a beggar to exchange it for food to feed his family. The king acknowledged her holiness and convinced Dubthach to give his daughter her freedom.

The exact circumstance of her conversion to Christianity is unknown, though it is certain that her Christian mother was a guiding influence.

Around 480, Brigid founded a monastery at Kildare, "Church of the Oak", on the site of an older pagan shrine to the Celtic goddess Brigid. The site chosen was under a large oak tree. Brigid, with a group of seven companions, founded the first consecrated religious order for women in Ireland. She founded two monastic institutions, one for men, and the other for women, and invited Conleth, a hermit, to assist her in Kildare as spiritual pastor. Conleth subsequently became the Bishop of Kildare. Thus, for centuries, Kildare was ruled by a double line of abbot-bishops and of abbesses, with the Abbess of Kildare serving as superior general of the monasteries in Ireland.

Brigid’s wisdom and generosity became legend, and people traveled from all over the country to share her wisdom. Her monastery at Kildare became one of the greatest centers of learning in Europe. She continued her holy and charitable work until her death in 525 AD, when she was laid to rest in a jeweled casket at Kil Dara. In 835, her remains were moved to protect them from Norse invaders, and interred in the same grave that holds the remains of St Patrick and St Columcille at Downpatrick.

Many miracles have been attributed to St. Brigid that involve physical healing. For example, on one occasion, Brigid was travelling to see a physician for her headache. She stayed at the house of a couple who had two mute daughters. The daughters were travelling with Brigid when her horse startled, causing her to fall off and injure her head on a rock. When the girls touched her bloodied wound, they were both healed.

Quote from St. Brigid

"I would like the angels of Heaven to be among us. I would like an abundance of peace. I would like full vessels of charity. I would like rich treasures of mercy. I would like cheerfulness to preside over all. I would like Jesus to be present. I would like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us. I would like the friends of Heaven to be gathered around us from all parts. I would like myself to be a rent payer to the Lord; that I should suffer distress, that he would bestow a good blessing upon me. I would like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings. I would like to be watching Heaven's family drinking it through all eternity."

Prayer to St. Brigid of Ireland

St. Brigid,
You were a woman of peace.
You brought harmony where there was conflict.
You brought light to the darkness.
You brought hope to the downcast.

May the mantle of your peace cover those who are troubled and anxious,
And may peace be firmly rooted in our hearts and in our world.
Inspire us to act justly and to reverence all God has made.

Brigid you were a voice for the wounded and the weary.
Strengthen what is weak within us.
Calm us into a quietness that heals and listens.
May we grow each day into greater wholeness in mind, body and spirit.
Amen.

Friday, January 29, 2016

7 QT: Spiritual and Corporal Conditioning


1.  2016 is off to a healthy start! I have been working out at the gym daily, have been eating healthier, and have already lost five pounds!






2. Here is one example of the healthier meals I have been eating: baked cod fish, baked sweet potato fries, and a tossed salad sans dessert. I have increased the amount of veggies and seafood in my diet and reduced the amount of sugar I consume.

3. Lent is less than two weeks away! I am already beginning a list of Lenten books and devotionals for that time. I need to re-read the Life of St. Teresa of Avila and am currently reading the Autobiography of Blessed Dina Belanger. I will be using my Lenten Magnificat as a devotional. I am still deciding on the activity I will be performing this Lent.


4. I have been unbelievably busy as I work on self-publishing my new book, which I hope to release in March. This has been my main writing project. I will keep you informed on its progress. I think you may be a bit surprised by the genre.


5.  This past week, I wrote and posted about some of my favorite saints: St. Agnes of Rome, Model of Charity, The Conversion of St. Paul, St. Angela Merici, and St. Thomas Aquinas.

6.  Today we celebrate the feast of St. Gildas, a sixth century British monk who is  the patron of churches and monasteries in France and other locations. He is regarded as the earliest British historian.

7.  I will leave you with this video by Fr. Robert Barron:



Have a wonderful weekend!
Jean

For more Quick Takes visit Kelly at This Aint the Lyceum.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

St. Thomas Aquinas: The Angelic Doctor



January 28 is the feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas, a 13th century Dominican priest, philosopher, and theologian. As a Doctor of the Church, he has been given the title "Angelic Doctor" and is the patron saint of apologists, Catholic schools, chastity, learning, philosophers, publishers, students, theologians, and universities.  St. Thomas ranks among the greatest writers and theologians of all time. His most important work, the Summa Theologiae, a theological summary and explanation of all the teachings of the Catholic Church, has been standard for centuries, even to our own day. St. Thomas reflected the Dominican ideal. He was a true contemplative who shared the fruits of contemplation with others.

Born of a noble family in southern Italy, Thomas was educated by the Benedictines. He was a superior student and surpassed his classmates in learning as well as in the practice of virtue.

When he became old enough to choose his state of life, Thomas renounced the things of this world and chose to enter the Dominican Order in spite of the opposition of his family, who had expected him to become a Benedictine. At the age of seventeen, he joined the Dominicans of Naples. His mother, determined to change this, rushed to Naples to consult with her son, but the Dominicans sent him to Rome, on the way to Paris or Cologne. She then instructed his brothers to capture Thomas and confine him in the fortress of San Giovanni at Rocca Secca. He remained "imprisoned" by family members for a two year period in an attempt to prevent him from assuming the Dominican habit and to force him into renouncing his decision. They even went so far as to tempt him with a prostitute. When the woman entered his room, Thomas chased her out with a piece of burning wood from the fire.

Following this event, he prayed to God, asking for purity of mind and body. Two angels appeared to him in a dream, to assure him that his prayers had been answered and that God was giving him the gift of perfect chastity. Thus, he earned the title 'Angelic Doctor.' All of the family's efforts proved to be in vain, as Thomas was given the grace to remain pure and to persevere in his vocation.

Thomas studied in Paris and in Cologne under the great philosopher St Albert the Great. Here he was nicknamed the "dumb ox" because of his silent ways and huge size, but he was actually a brilliant student. At the age of twenty-two, he was appointed to teach in the same city. At the same time, he also began to publish his first works. After four years he was sent to Paris. The saint was then a priest. At the age of thirty-one, he received his doctorate.

Thomas spent the rest of his life studying, praying, teaching, writing, composing hymns, and traveling. During his lifetime, he produced 60 works within less than 50 years.

Thomas made a great synthesis of philosophy and theology. He combined the revelation of scriptures with a "framework" of Aristotle and the notion of participation of Plato. This synthesis is called Thomistic philosophy or "Scholasticism" and has remained the official theology of the Church since the 13th century.

He died on March 7, 1274 and was canonized by Pope John XXII on July 18, 1323 - less than 50 years after his death.

Related Posts

St. Thomas Aquinas: My Favorite Quotes and A Spiritual Meditation

Prayer to Saint Thomas Aquinas for Catholic Schools



St. Angela Merici: Emancipator of Women



Today is the feast of St. Angela Merici, the foundress of the Ursulines, the the first teaching congregation of women in the Church. It was a new, almost revolutionary foundation for its time, as it focused primarily on the education of women. Her foundation led to the emancipation of women not only in the Church, but in society as well. Women were educated so as to transform society by educating their own family in the faith and living out that faith in their lives.

 Angela was born to a family of minor nobility on March 21, 1474 at Desenzano, Lake Garda, Italy and died on January 27, 1540 in Brescia. She worked diligently on her father’s farm and was also taught by her family the habits of prayer and fasting — which she continued to practice her entire life. Her parents died when she was only ten years old. Together, with her older sister, she moved to the nearby town of Salo, to live with her uncle. When her sister died quite suddenly without receiving the last sacraments, Angela was deeply upset. At the age of 15, she became a third order Franciscan and increased her prayers and sacrifices for the repose of her sister's soul.  When she asked God to reveal to her the condition of her deceased sister, He answered her prayer by showing her a vision of her sister in heaven.

When her uncle died, she returned to live at Desenzano to make a life for herself. She was convinced of the need for women to be educated in their faith and converted her home into a school where she daily gathered all the girls of Desenzano to teach them the basics of Christianity. It was at this time that she received a vision, which led her to found a religious order who were to devote their lives to the spiritual education of young women. Angela's school at Desenzano was so successful that she was invited to the neighboring city of Brescia, to establish a school there. Angela gladly accepted the invitation.

In 1524, during a pilgrimage to Holy Land, while visiting Crete, Angela was struck blind. This did not interrupt her trip, however, but she continued on the journey, visiting the shrines with as much dedication and zeal as if she still had her sight. On the way home, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was miraculously restored at the same place where it had been lost.

In 1525, Pope Clement VII, who had heard of her great holiness and her success as a religious teacher of young girls, invited her to remain in Rome; however, Angela returned to Brescia to live a quiet life, away from the limelight.

At the age of 57, Angela chose twelve young women to assist her in catechetical work. Four years later, the group had increased to 28. She formed them into the Company of St. Ursula, commonly known as the Ursulines, for the purpose of re-Christianizing family life through the solid Christian education of future wives and mothers.

She died only five years later. St. Angela's body is incorrupt and lies buried in the Church of St. Afra at Brescia. She was beatified in 1768 by Pope Clement XIII and canonized in 1807 by Pope Pius VII.

St. Angela Merici is the patron saint of physically challenged people, sick people, and of those who have lost their parents.

Quotes From St. Angela Merci

"Disorder in society is the result of disorder in the family."

"We must give alms. Charity wins souls and draws them to virtue."

"Mothers of children, even if they have a thousand, carry each and every one fixed in their hearts, and because of the strength of their love they do not forget any of them. In fact, it seems that the more children they have the more their love and care for each one is increased."

"As our Savior says: 'A good tree is not able to produce bad fruit.'  He says: A good tree, that is, a good heart as well as a soul on fire with charity, can do nothing but good and holy works. For this reason Saint Augustine said: "Love, and do what you will," namely, possess love and charity and then do what you will. It is as if he had said: Charity is not able to sin."

"Be sincerely kind to every one according to the words of our Lord: 'Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart.' Thus you are imitating God, of whom it is said: 'He has disposed all things pleasantly.' And again Jesus said: 'My yoke is easy and my burden light.'

- From Spiritual Testament by Saint Angela Merici

St. Angela Merici -- A Prayer of Remembrance

Angela, a valiant woman, inspire us today to be people of faith,
people of action, people in love with God and all creation.
May we be makers of peace in a wounded world.
May we be creators of justice in a broken world.
May we be passionate and compassionate in a indifferent world.
You who traveled the road before us, be with us as you promised.
May the example of your pilgrim heart encourage us on our journey.
Amen.

~ Author Unknown

Monday, January 25, 2016

Saints Titus and Timothy: Enthusiastic Evangelizers for the Lord



Today, January 26, is the memorial of Sts. Timothy and Titus. Both men were close colleagues with St. Paul in his missionary journeys and perpetuated his work among the Gentiles.

Timothy and Titus were converted to Christianity by Paul, and became his companions and helpers. Paul made both men bishops and assigned Timothy to the Church in Ephesus, and Titus to the Church in Crete. He wrote them “pastoral” epistles, giving advice for both pastors and parishioners.

Timothy, “brother and co-worker for God in the gospel of Christ” (1 Thes 3:2) was young (Paul writes “Let no one have contempt for your youth” in 1 Timothy 4:12a), and somewhat shy, but had great zeal for spreading the faith. He has been viewed by some as the "angel of the church of Ephesus" (Rev 2:1-17). He joined Paul in the joy of the privilege of preaching the gospel, but also  suffered much because of it. St. Timothy was stoned to death thirty years after St. Paul's martyrdom for refusing to worship the goddess Diana.

Titus, Paul’s “partner and co-worker” (2Cor 8:23) was the mediator or peacemaker, the one St. Paul sent to clear up misunderstandings, settle differences, and to establish a new Church. He was sent to evangelize the inhabitants of Crete, who were known to be “liars, vicious beasts, and lazy gluttons” (Timothy 1:12). He received a letter from St. Paul, which encouraged Christians to live temperate, moral, and virtuous lives, while awaiting the coming of Christ. Tradition tells us that St. Titus died a natural death at the age of 94, having lived in the state of virginity his entire life.

St. Timothy is the patron saint of intestinal disorders and stomach diseases. St. Titus is the patron of Crete.

Collect: God our Father, you gave your saints Timothy and Titus the courage and wisdom of the apostles: may their prayers help us to live holy lives and lead us to heaven, our true home. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Quote:
“But when the kindness and generous love of God our Savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life. This saying is trustworthy” ~Titus 3:4-8

Reflection:
The lives of Sts Timothy and Titus reveal that evangelization is a task that requires courage, patience, perseverance, and zeal. There is both joy and suffering involved in spreading the gospel message. Today, let us pray to the Holy Spirit asking for the grace to fulfill our Christian mission of sharing the "Good News" with others in imitation of Sts. Timothy and Titus.

~ copyright Jean M. Heimann January 2016.

Novena to Our Lady of Good Success




The Novena to Our Lady of Good Success begins today and continues for the next eight days.

* Hail Mary Most Holy, Beloved Daughter of God the Father
Through the intercession of Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres,
grant thy good success to this request (name request)...
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be...
Saint Michael, pray for us.

* Hail Mary Most Holy, Admirable Mother of God the Son
Through the intercession of Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres,
grant thy good success to this request (name request) ...
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be...
Saint Gabriel, pray for us.

* Hail Mary Most Holy, Most Faithful Spouse of the Holy Ghost
Through the intercession of Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres,
grant thy good success to this request (name request) ...
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be...
Saint Raphael, pray for us.

* Hail Mary Most Holy, Temple and Sacrarium of the Most Holy Trinity.
St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, pray for us.

Our Lady of Good Success, thou who art the all-powerful intercessor before the Most Holy Trinity, deign to hear and answer my request, so long as it contributes to the salvation of my soul and the glory and exaltation of Holy Mother Church.
Hail Holy Queen...

The Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle



Happy Feast day of the Conversion of St. Paul!

The conversion of Saul, persecutor of the early church, was of pivotal importance for the worldwide development of Christianity. Paul means much for our faith and for the New Testament. Today we celebrate that significant event on the road to Damascus when Saul, fallen to amazement at a great light from heaven, spoke with the risen Savior and arose as Paul, to become the Apostle to the Gentiles.

Paul was born at Tarsus, the capital of Cilia around 4 A.D. A Jew, he spoke Greek and he held Roman citizenship. He belonged to the tribe of Benjamin and was given the name Saul at the time of his circumcision. As a Roman citizen from birth, he also had the Latin name Paul. He learned to be a tent maker from his father, or rather to make the material of which the tents were made (goat's wool or linen fibers).  At the age of 12 or 13, he left home and was sent to Jerusalem to be educated by Rabbi Gamaliel the Elder, where he acquired a great love for the Mosaic Torah. As a devout Jew, he viewed Christianity as a threat to Jewish identity and orthodoxy. Thus, he fiercely persecuted the "Church of God". He took an active part in the stoning of Stephen, the Church's first martyr.

Around 35 or 36 AD, Paul met Jesus on his way to Damascus, who asked why he was persecuting Him through His followers. Jesus then told him to go into the city where he would be told what to do. Paul was blinded for three days, and was taken into Damascus where the Lord told Ananius, a disciple, to go to Paul and heal him. At that point, “something like scales fell from Paul's eyes,” he was healed and he became baptized, and started preaching about Jesus in the synagogues. (His conversion is described in Acts in three different versions.)

Following his conversion, Paul went to Arabia to pray for three years, then went to visit Peter, after which he began to travel to preach the good news that Jesus was the "Messiah and the Son of God." He became a tireless "Apostle for the Gospel." He was martyred as an Apostle in Rome around 65 AD.

Paul is the patron saint of:  authors, the Cursillo movement, evangelists, hospital public relations, journalists, lay people, missionary bishops, musicians, public relations personnel,public relations work, publishers, reporters, and writers.

Quote: "That dear preacher Paul...was a wolf, but he became a lamb, a gracious vessel of love--and the fire with which Christ filled his vessel, he carried throughout the whole world." -- St. Catherine of Siena (Via Magnificat, January 2016, page 345)

Prayer to Saint Paul the Apostle

O Glorious Saint Paul, after persecuting the Church you became by God's grace its most zealous Apostle. To carry the knowledge of Jesus, our divine Savior, to the uttermost parts of the earth you joyfully endured prison, scourgings, stonings, and shipwreck, as well as all manner of persecutions culminating in the shedding of the last drop of your blood for our Lord Jesus Christ.

Obtain for us the grace to labor strenuously to being the faith to others and to accept any trials and tribulations that may come our way. Help us to be inspired by your Epistles and to partake of your indomitable love for Jesus, so that after we have finished our course we may join you in praising him in heaven for all eternity. Amen.

Novena to St. Blaise Begins




The feast of St. Blaise is February 3. He is one of fourteen holy helpers and is invoked against throat diseases and against many other illnesses, including: angina, bladder diseases, blisters, coughs, dermatitis, dropsy, eczema, edema, fever, goiters, headaches, impetigo, respiratory diseases, skin diseases, snake bites, stomach pain, teething pain, toothaches, ulcers, and whooping cough.

Pray the following prayers, once a day, especially on January 25 and ending on February 2.

PREPARATORY PRAYER 
Almighty and Eternal God! With lively faith and reverently worshiping Thy Divine Majesty, I prostrate myself before Thee and invoke with filial trust Thy supreme bounty and mercy. Illumine the darkness of my intellect with a ray of Thy heavenly light and inflame my heart with the fire of Thy divine love, that I may contemplate the great virtues and merits of the saint in whose honor I make this novena, and following his example imitate, like him, the life of Thy divine Son.

Moreover, I beseech Thee to grant graciously, through the merits and intercession of this powerful Helper, the petition which through him I humbly place before Thee, devoutly saving, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Vouchsafe graciously to hear it, if it redounds to Thy greater glory and to the salvation of my soul. Amen.

Prayer in honor of St. Blaise
O GOD, deliver us through the intercession of Thy holy bishop and martyr Blase, from all evil of soul and body, especially from all ills of the throat; and grant us the grace to make a good confession in the confident hope of obtaining Thy pardon, and ever to praise with worthy lips Thy most holy name. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Invocation of St. Blaise
St. BLASE, gracious benefactor of mankind and faithful servant of God, who for the love of our Savior did suffer so many tortures with patience and resignation; I invoke thy powerful intercession. Preserve me from all evils of soul and body. Because of thy great merits God endowed thee with the special grace to help those that suffer from ills of the throat; relieve and preserve me from them, so that I may always be able to fulfill my duties, and with the aid of God's grace perform good works. I invoke thy help as special physician of souls, that I may confess my sins sincerely in the holy sacrament of Penance and obtain their forgiveness. I recommend to thy merciful intercession also those who unfortunately concealed a sin in confession. Obtain for them the grace to accuse themselves sincerely and contritely of the sin they concealed, of the sacrilegious confessions and communions they made, and of all the sins they committed since then, so that they may receive pardon, the grace of God, and the remission of the eternal punishment. Amen.

Prayer
My LORD and my God! I offer up to Thee my petition in union with the bitter passion and death of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, together with the merits of His immaculate and blessed Mother, Mary ever virgin, and of all the saints, particularly with those of the holy Helper in whose honor I make this novena.

Look down upon me, merciful Lord! Grant me Thy grace and Thy love, and graciously hear my prayer. Amen.