30 November 2020

Advent


The time of Advent has a sense of mystery all its own. We know it best as that time of waiting before the Solemnity of the Nativity, but it contains a more comprehensive expectation than mere preparation for Christmas. 

Truly, it collects the many strands of our faith, and weaves them into one fabric, for during Advent the cradle rests in expectation of the cross; the Child Redeemer speaks of the coming Judge resplendent in the clouds; the awaited birth of Jesus is the beginning of His passion; the swaddling-clothes prepared by the expectant Mother foretell the shroud of Christ's burial. 

Perhaps at no other time of the year is the totality of Christ's work put before us so distinctly as it is at this time of Advent.

29 November 2020

St. Andrew, Apostle


Andrew, like his brother Simon Peter, was a fisherman. He became a disciple of the great St. John the Baptist, but when John pointed to Jesus and said, "Behold the Lamb of God!" Andrew understood that Jesus was greater. At once he left John to follow the Divine Master. Jesus knew that Andrew was walking behind him, and turning back, he asked, "What do you seek?" When Andrew answered that he would like to know where Jesus lived, Our Lord replied, "Come and see." Andrew had been only a little time with Jesus when he realized that this was truly the Messiah.

From then on, he chose to follow Jesus, and became the first disciple of Christ. Next, Andrew brought his brother Simon (St. Peter) to Jesus and Jesus received him, too, as His disciple. At first the two brothers continued to carry on their fishing trade and family affairs, but later, the Lord called them to stay with Him all the time. He promised to make them fishers of men, and this time, they left their nets for good. It is believed that after Our Lord ascended into Heaven, St. Andrew went to Greece to preach the gospel. He is said to have been put to death on a cross, to which he was tied, not nailed. He lived two days, still preaching the Gospel to those who gathered around him in his last hours.

Almighty God, who didst give such grace unto thy holy Apostle Saint Andrew, that he readily obeyed the calling of thy Son Jesus Christ, and followed him without delay: grant unto us all; that we, being called by thy holy Word, may forthwith give up ourselves obediently to fulfil thy holy commandments; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

28 November 2020

Advent: Now is the time...


With the coming of Advent, a new liturgical year begins. This is a time of preparation so that our hearts can be made ready for the two advents of our Lord Jesus Christ; namely, His first advent, when He came "to visit us in great humility," and His second advent, when He will come "in a cloud with power and great glory." These advents of Christ are similar, in that it is the same Person who comes to us on both occasions: God the Son.

Both advents are preceded by a long delay. The first one took place "when the fulness of time was come;" in other words, time had to pass, and man had to experience the full effects of the Fall for him to know just how sick he was, and he needed to be humbled and to recognize his need for a Saviour. And before the second advent, the virtues and the effects of the Incarnation and Passion of Christ also require the passing of time, and why? So that the Gospel can be preached to every corner of the earth; so that mankind might choose whether to serve Christ, or not.

Both advents have a time of preparation leading up to them: before the first coming it was the Law. In the Law there was a "shadow of things to come." And there was the preaching of the prophets which culminated in the ministry of St. John the Baptist, who prepared the way for the Lord Jesus. And now, before the second coming of Christ, the ministry of the Church throughout the world will culminate in signs and wonders, in conversions and changed lives, which will all prepare mankind for Christ's return.

We see the similarities, but these two advents also form a contrast with one another. In the first advent, God the Son became visible by taking human nature into union with Himself: He took a human body and soul to be forever the shrine of His Divinity. The second advent, however, is an actual movement: the Sacred Humanity of Christ will come from one place to another. He will move from heaven to earth.

And the way of coming, too, is different. At the first advent He came in weakness as a child, hidden in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary; but at the second advent He will come "in a cloud, with power and great glory."

Notice, also, that the purpose of our Lord's coming is different in the two advents: the first time He came, it was to save the world by His passion, death, and resurrection; but the second time He comes, it will be to judge the living and the dead.

The Church forever holds these two advents in close relationship with one another. Christ's first advent has paved the way for His second coming. He came to us the first time so that we can be ready for Him when He comes again. We profess week by week in the Creed, that we believe Christ will come again. This time He won’t be hidden in Mary, being carried along by a humble beast of burden – no, this time it will be in triumph and He will be surrounded by the angels of heaven. No more being hidden from human view, no more wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger – but this time every eye shall see Him, and every tongue shall confess that He is the King and Saviour and Judge of all mankind. On that day, He will cast out all those who have refused His Gospel, all those who have been purposely unfaithful in what they have done, all those who have professed to be the servants of God but who have really served no one but themselves.

Our Holy Mother the Church gives us the season of Advent as a season of preparation, but it is to be a preparation for saying “yes” to the things of Christ. It is a time to decide if we will acknowledge Jesus as our Saviour and our King.

For too many people today, Christ is no different than He was to the vast majority of people in His own day. And that might even be the case for us. We hear of His life and of His wonderful works and of His words of grace. We hear of His love towards us, a love which led to the Cross where He offered Himself up as a sacrifice for our salvation. We hear of His coming again to judge us for all eternity, but it is possible that we hear without comprehending; that we see without really believing; that we hear without making it a reality in our lives.

Just as Christ taught those who had ears, but who did not hear, and eyes, but who did not see, so we have His glory and grace before us day after day, but sometimes we don’t discern them. We have had prayers answered, we have had sins forgiven, we have had grace bestowed, we have received His Body and Blood in the Blessed Sacrament, and the day will come when He will ask us, "What have you done with these things you have heard and seen and received?" The day will come when Christ will ask, "What do you really think of Me? Am I your King, or not? Will you have Me to rule over your hearts and souls, or not?" And on that day, we are going to have to answer "yes" or "no," and we will have to answer in earnest – not as we seem to now, "maybe yes" or "maybe no" – eager one day and lukewarm the next. Our true desire and intention will have to match our words, and we will have to have to say it once and for all.

As Christ came once as Saviour, so He will come again as Judge. How will we receive Him? The answer depends upon how we are receiving Him now, while He is still out of our sight. If we do not accord Him first place in our lives now, do we really think we will be able to welcome Him when He comes again?

Our time in this world is an opportunity which God has given us, a time for us to decide what and who Christ truly is for us. Either He is to be our Lord and Saviour, the King of our lives, and the One whom we seek to serve; or He is little more than a picture-book baby decorating Christmas cards. Either we will greet Him with joy as our long-awaited King, or we will tremble to hear that He has come again, and we will not be able to help shrinking away from His presence, afraid of what He will find in us.

As we stand at the beginning of another Christian year, this is the time to decide. If you have been holding back part of your life from Christ, now is the time to give it; if you have neglected any of the sacraments, now is the time to examine your soul and return through the confessional; if you have been drawing back from entering fully into the life of Christ's Body, the Church, now is the time to take that place He has made for you; if you have offended God or man, now is the time to seek forgiveness; if you have neglected your prayers, now is the time to sink to your knees; if you have ignored those who are in need, now is the time to be open-handed and generous; if your life has been empty, now is the time to let Christ fill it. And when that day comes, as it surely will, that the Son of God, our Saviour Jesus Christ, comes "in a cloud with power and great glory," we can know that the crown of righteousness awaits us, which the Lord, the just Judge, will award to us on that day – and not only to us, but to all who have longed for His appearing.

Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty, to judge both the quick and the dead; we may rise to the life immortal; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

25 November 2020

Thanksgiving Day


Our Lord teaches us that “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” So in giving thanks for the blessings of this life we should not unduly concern ourselves with the things of this world. 

We need to remember that we do not control life; rather, God does. No matter what our best-laid plans might be, they will be defeated unless they are in harmony with God’s plan for us. If God cares for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, we can certainly know that He cares for us. The birds are fed, the flowers are clothed, because all these things fulfill their nature – the purpose for which they were created. 

So then, if man fulfills his nature – not in idleness, but in trustful work; not in selfishly gathering things to himself, but in caring for those around him – God certainly will not fail in providing what we truly need to fulfill the purpose He has given us. 

We are created in God’s image, and our lives are to reflect the mystical life of the Holy Trinity. As God created all things, it is part of our proper nature to cooperate with God through our daily work. As God cares for us, so it is part of our proper nature to care for others, sharing in what God has given us. 

So on this Thanksgiving Day let us be patient and forgiving, being thankful for what we have been given by God in this life. And because what we have can never become an end in itself, be generous in sharing with others. With all we have to be thankful for, we should give thanks most of all for the love of our Heavenly Father, Who has provided for our needs, and Who has opened the way for our eternal salvation through His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. 

May God give us all a happy, joyful, and holy Thanksgiving Day. 

O ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who crownest the year with thy goodness, and hast given unto us the fruits of the earth in their season: give us grateful hearts, that we may unfeignedly thank thee for all thy loving-kindness, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

24 November 2020

St. Catherine of Alexandria


The account of the life and death of St. Catherine of Alexandria was recorded by Eusebius in about the year 320, just a few years after her martyrdom. Eusebius was the Bishop of Caesarea and is known as the "father of Church history."

Catherine was born into a noble family of Alexandria, and from childhood she had devoted herself to study. Through her reading she had learned a great deal about Christianity, and was subsequently converted after being given a vision of Our Lady and the Holy Child Jesus.

When the Emperor Maxentius began his persecution against the Church, Catherine went to him and gave him a firm rebuke for his cruelty, after which she told him about Christ and the Gospel. The emperor could not answer her arguments against his pagan gods, so he gathered together fifty philosophers to argue against her. Quite the opposite happened, and they were won over by her reasoning. When the emperor learned that they all had become Christians, he had them burned to death.

He then tried to seduce Catherine with an offer to be his consort. She refused him, so he had her beaten and imprisoned. The Emperor went off to inspect his military forces, but when he returned he discovered that his wife Faustina and one of his high officials had been visiting Catherine and had been converted, along with the soldiers of the guard. They too were put to death, and Catherine was sentenced to be killed on a spiked wheel. As soon as her body touched the instrument of torture, the wheel broke into pieces. That did not stop her martyrdom, however, because the emperor ordered that she be taken to a place of execution, where she was beheaded.

St. Catherine of Alexandria could just as well be called St. Catherine the Brilliant because of her intellect and wisdom, along with her ability to explain the Catholic faith with great conviction. As many in her day discovered, to hear her expound upon the Gospel meant almost certainly that those who listened would be converted to follow Christ.

O GOD, whose dwelling-place is in the pure of heart: grant we beseech thee; that we who venerate the memory of the martyr Catherine, thy faithful bride, may have grace to follow the example of her holiness and courage; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen .

23 November 2020

The Holy Martyrs of Vietnam


Saint Andrew Dung-Lac and the Holy Martyrs of Vietnam are 117 individuals who endured tremendous suffering and eventual death because of their Catholic Faith. They weren’t all martyred at the same time, but persecutions went on for nearly three hundred years. And there were far more than these 117 martyrs – there were some 100,000 people martyred for their faith, but their names are known only to God.

Christian missionaries first brought the Catholic faith to Vietnam during the 16th century. The traditional Vietnamese religion is Buddhism, mixed with elements of Taoism, Confucianism and the cult of ancestors. When Christianity came with missionaries early in the 16th century, it was seen as a foreign element and during those following three centuries the Faith became the object of persecution.

Over that time various emperors banned all foreign missionaries and ordered Vietnamese Christians to renounce Christianity by trampling on a crucifix. Churches were to be destroyed and teaching Christianity forbidden. Very many suffered death or extreme hardship.

Imprisoned bishops, hardly 30 years old, were mocked in prison, and were given a piece of bamboo as crozier and a paper mitre to wear – much like Jesus was mocked by the soldiers when he was arrested, and made to wear a crown of thorns. Older priests were put on display in cages to be publicly mocked, and simple poor peasants were murdered for refusing to trample on a crucifix. These tortures were barbaric and the persecutions have been compared with those of ancient Rome.

During the persecutions, Christians were marked on their faces with the words which meant “false religion,” husbands were separated from their wives, and children from their parents. Christian villages were destroyed and their possessions distributed. It wasn’t until 1862 that there was religious freedom, which marked the beginning of the end of the persecutions.

O God, by whose providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: Grant that we who remember before thee St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his Companions, the Holy Martyrs of Vietnam, may, like them, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ, to whom they gave obedience even unto death, and by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

22 November 2020

Pope St. Clement I, Martyr


St. Clement I of Rome (92-101) was one of the first popes. According to St. Ireneus, he was the third after Peter, following Pope Linus and Pope Cletus. Clement died as a martyr, but otherwise we know little about his life. He may be the one Paul mentions as his companion in Phil. 4:3. St. Clement wrote a letter to the Corinthians, and we have the text of that, in which he intervenes as the Pope to that community, which had a number of troubles going on – showing us very early the place of the successor of St. Peter in the Church.

Because of his zeal for souls, Pope Clement was banished from Rome to a distant place, where he found two-thousand Christians who had also been banished. When he came to these exiles he comforted them. "They all cried with one voice: Pray for us, blessed Clement, that we may become worthy of the promises of Christ. He replied: Without any merit of my own, the Lord sent me to you to share in your crowns." When they complained because they had to carry the water six miles, he encouraged them, "Let us all pray to the Lord Jesus Christ that He may open to His witnesses a fountain of water." "While blessed Clement was praying, the Lamb of God appeared to him; and at His feet a bubbling fountain of fresh water was flowing." Seeing the miracle, "All the pagans of the neighborhood began to believe."

When the Emperor Trajan heard of these marvels, he ordered Clement to be drowned with an iron anchor around his neck. "While he was making his way to the sea, the people cried with a loud voice: Lord Jesus Christ, save him! But Clement prayed in tears: Father, receive my spirit." At the shore the Christians asked God to give them the body. The sea receded for three miles and there they found the body of the saint in a stone coffin within a small marble chapel; alongside lay the anchor. The body was taken to Rome by Sts. Cyril and Methodius and placed in a church dedicated to his honor (S. Clemente). This is one of the most venerable of the churches in Rome because it retains all the liturgical arrangements of ancient times.

O Everlasting Shepherd, favourably look upon thy flock: and keep it with perpetual protection, through the intercession of blessed Clement thy Pope and Martyr, whom thou didst appoint to be shepherd of the whole Church; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Blessed Miguel Agustín Pro




A little over a century ago in Mexico an evil and militantly anti-Catholic government instituted and enforced laws against the Church in an attempt to completely erase the Catholic faith in that country. Baptisms were declared illegal; celebrating Mass was illegal; training men for the priesthood was illegal.

Resistance to this took different forms. Some were militant in their protests, taking up arms; others resisted peacefully. Huge numbers, both clergy and laity, were martyred. Today we remember one of them – a priest, Fr. Miguel Augustin Pro.

He was born in 1891, and from his childhood he was known for his happiness and his wonderful sense of humour. He was raised in a devoutly Catholic family, and at the age of twenty he became a Jesuit novice. He soon went into exile because of the Mexican revolution. He traveled to the United States, to Spain, to Nicaragua, and then to Belgium, where he was ordained to the priesthood in 1925.

He suffered greatly from a severe stomach problem which required several operations, but when his health did not improve, in 1926 his superiors allowed him to return to Mexico in spite of the religious persecution in the country.

The churches were closed and the priests ministered quietly and always in great danger. Father Pro spent the rest of his life in a secret ministry to the Faithful. In addition to fulfilling their spiritual needs, he also carried out the works of mercy by assisting the poor of Mexico City with their temporal needs. Many times he adopted disguises so that he could pass unnoticed.

The day came when he was betrayed to the police, being falsely accused of a bombing attempt. He was sentenced to death with no trial. On November 23rd, 1927, the day of his death, Father Pro forgave his executioners, he prayed, he refused the blindfold, and he died proclaiming “¡Viva Cristo Rey!,” (“Long live Christ the King!”).

The faith was not destroyed in Mexico. In fact, the Church continued to grow. The lively faith among the Catholics in Mexico today was purchased by the blood of brave souls like Blessed Miguel Pro, who would rather die than deny their faith in God.

Our God and Father, who didst confer upon thy servant Blessed Miguel Agustín Pro the grace of ardently seeking thy greater glory and the salvation of others: grant, through his intercession and example; that by faithfully and joyfully performing our daily duties and charitably assisting those around us, we may serve thee with zeal and ever seek thy glory; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

21 November 2020

Our Saviour King


Jesus Christ, our Saviour King,
unto thee thy people sing;
hear the prayers we humbly make,
hear them for thy mercy's sake.
Lord Jesus Christ, O Lamb Divine,
fill our souls, and make us thine.

Give us eyes that we may see;
give us hearts to worship thee;
give us ears that we may hear;
in thy love, Lord, draw us near.
Lord Jesus Christ, O Lamb Divine,
fill our souls, and make us thine.

In our darkness, shed thy light;
lift us to thy heav'nly height;
may we be thy dwelling-place:
tabernacles of thy grace.
Lord Jesus Christ, O Lamb Divine,
fill our souls, and make us thine.

In thy Kingdom grant us rest,
in Jerusalem the blest;
with the saints our lips shall sing,
with the angels echoing:
Lord Jesus Christ, O Lamb Divine,
thou dost reign, and we are thine!

Text: Fr. Christopher G. Phillips, 1990
Music: "Lucerna Laudoniæ" by David Evans (1874-1948)

20 November 2020

The Presentation of Mary


St. Joachim and St. Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, had prayed for a child, and part of their prayer was the promise that they would dedicate their child to the service of God. Little did they know at that time what great service would be given by their infant daughter.

When Mary reached the age of three, her parents fulfilled their vow. Together with their family and friends, they took her to the Temple. The High Priest and other Temple priests greeted the procession, and tradition says that the child was brought before the fifteen high steps which led to the sanctuary. It is said that the child Mary made her way to the stairs and, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, ascended all fifteen steps, coming to the Holy of Holies where only the High Priest could enter. Tradition then says that the High Priest, acting outside every rule he knew, led the Holy Virgin into the Holy of Holies, astonishing everyone present in the Temple. So it was that she, whose own womb would become the Holy of Holies, came into the presence of the God Whom she would bear.

St. Joachim and St. Anne returned to their home, but the Handmaid of the Lord remained in the Temple until her espousal, where she was prepared by God and protected by angels.

O God, who on this day didst vouchsafe that blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, the dwelling-place of the Holy Ghost, should be presented in the Temple: Grant, we beseech thee; that by her intercession we may be found worthy to be presented unto thee in the temple of thy glory; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

19 November 2020

St. Edmund, King and Martyr


On November 20th we commemorate St. Edmund, King and Martyr, who lived in the 9th century. He was the king of East Anglia, an independent kingdom within the confederation of kingdoms which comprised England at that time. His name, Edmund, meant “noble protection,” and as an earthly king he certainly lived up to his name. He had a reputation for compassion and the protection of the weak, of widows and of orphans. His greatest challenge, however, was the invasion of his kingdom by the Danish Vikings. They weren’t complete foreigners to the people of East Anglia. They were of the same race, and in fact, their languages were so similar that they were able to understand one another. No, there was only one essential difference between the Danish Vikings and the English - the Vikings were heathens, and the English were Christians.

The Vikings attacked and destroyed churches and monasteries, homes and villages, all throughout the kingdom. King Edmund fought side by side with the great Christian King Alfred. Edmund did his best, but he was finally overwhelmed by the huge numbers of Danes. At Hoxne in the north of Suffolk, King Edmund was captured. The Danes made him an offer: he could renounce his faith and become a puppet-king under them, or he could die. For King Edmund that was no choice at all. He would never renounce his Catholic faith, and so he chose death. There is an eyewitness report from that time, and it tells how he was scourged and bound, then tied to an oak-tree where the Danes fired arrows at him as for target practice. Finally, after suffering immensely from his many wounds, King Edmund was beheaded. His body was thrown to the wild beasts, but his loyal subjects secretly found his body, entombed him in a small chapel, and there he rested among his people. As they sought his heavenly intercession, God sent blessings upon them, and Edmund continued to be king in their hearts, as their faith in Christ the King grew stronger and stronger.

O God of ineffable mercy, thou didst give grace and fortitude to St. Edmund the king to triumph over the enemy of his people by nobly dying for thy Name: Bestow on us thy servants, we beseech thee, the shield of faith, wherewith we may withstand the assaults of our ancient enemy; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
____________________________________________________ 


During a parish pilgrimage to England a few years ago, we were able to celebrate Mass according to the Anglican Use, in the Lady Chapel of the Anglican Cathedral of Saint James in Bury St Edmunds.

The great Benedictine Abbey of Bury St Edmunds had been the destination of large numbers of pilgrims seeking to venerate the relics of St Edmund, the Anglo-Saxon king martyred in 869, whose body had been transferred there in the 10th century.

A church has stood on this site since at least 1065, when St Denis's Church was built within the precincts of Bury St Edmunds Abbey. In the early 12th century the Abbot Anselm had wanted to make a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. He was unable to complete the pilgrimage, and instead rebuilt St Denis's and dedicated the new church to Saint James, which served as the parish church for the north side of Bury St Edmunds. After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539, the Abbey fell into ruins, but the Church of St James remained and became the Anglican cathedral in 1914.

So far as is known, ours was the first celebration of a Catholic Mass on this site since the suppression of the Abbey in the 16th century.

17 November 2020

Basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul


We commemorate the Dedication of the Basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul because the Church wants us to remember the importance of consecrated places in which the worship of God takes place. It reminds us of the importance of the consecration of every Catholic Church throughout the world. It is a reminder to us of the incarnational principle on which our faith is based – that God extends His spiritual blessings to us through the use of physical things. He took human flesh upon Himself. He has instituted seven sacraments which use outward forms to communicate inward grace. He has established a hierarchical Church, with a physical presence in the world, to be a sign of His own presence with us.

Defend thy Church, O Lord, by the protection of the holy Apostles: that, as she received from them the beginnings of her knowledge of things divine; so through them she may receive, even to the end of the world, an increase in heavenly grace; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

16 November 2020

St. Elizabeth of Hungary


St. Elizabeth lived in the 13th century, and she was a princess, the daughter of the King of Hungary. She married the young man she had loved for as long as she could remember, Ludwig of Thuringia, and their life together was blessed with three children. St. Elizabeth took seriously her duties as wife and mother, and because of her deep love for Christ, she took seriously also her duty toward the poor. She embraced the words of our Lord, “Whatever you do to the least of these, you have done it to me.” She put herself at the service of widows and orphans, she cared for the sick and the needy. Her life was really an expression of her deep love – love for God, love for her husband and children, and love for those who had no one else to love them. Hers was a very beautiful life, and no doubt she would have liked it to go on like that forever.

But sometimes, things can change dramatically – we might not understand why, but it’s always for God’s purpose. St. Elizabeth experienced an especially painful change in her life when her husband, whom she so deeply loved, went off to the Crusades, and there he was killed. Elizabeth was devastated – and not only was she sorrowing for the death of her husband, but her husband’s family, who never approved of her charitable works, cast her and her children out of the family home, and left her with no means of support.

Here was Elizabeth, a princess and the widow of a nobleman, reduced to poverty, wandering with her children for a place to live, until a poor man whom she had helped previously was able to offer her shelter in an abandoned pig sty. Her faith sustained her – not only was she not bitter, but she put in even more effort to caring for the poor, with a renewed feeling for them, since she and her children were now counted among them. She supported herself and her children, as well as her works of charity, by spinning wool and making cloth to sell. She exhausted herself, and was only 24 years old when she died. Her feast day is November 16th.

O Lord God, who didst teach Saint Elizabeth of Hungary to recognize and to reverence Christ in the poor of this world: grant that we, being strengthened by her example and assisted by her prayers, may so love and serve the afflicted and those in need that we may honour thy Son, the servant King; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

15 November 2020

St. Margaret of Scotland


St. Margaret lived in the 11th century, and she was the great-niece of St. Edward the Confessor. She was a Saxon princess, but she was raised in Hungary in exile. Eventually, she and her parents returned to England, but she was forced flee once again after the Battle of Hastings. She went to the court of Malcolm, who was the King of Scotland.

Malcolm was an unrefined man, and Scotland was a wild place – but Margaret and Malcolm fell in love, and they were married. Margaret, in her gentle way and through her exemplary life, lived her Catholic faith in such a way that Malcolm and the people of Scotland gradually changed their ways to be more conformed to Christ’s teaching.

Margaret was a model mother and queen who brought up her eight children in an atmosphere of great devotion and she continued to work hard to improve the lives of the people of Scotland. She had a particular love for the poor, and provided for them out of her own resources, very often serving them herself.

O God, who didst call thy servant Margaret to an earthly throne that she might advance thy heavenly kingdom, and didst endue her with zeal for thy Church and charity towards thy people: mercifully grant that we who ask her prayers and commemorate her example may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious fellowship of thy Saints; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Sunday XXIII after Trinity


O GOD, our refuge and strength, who art the author of all godliness: be ready, we beseech thee, to hear the devout prayers of thy Church; and grant that those things which we ask faithfully we may obtain effectually; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

12 November 2020

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini


St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was the first American citizen to be canonized. She was a naturalized citizen, having been born in Italy in 1850. Her parents were simple farmers, accustomed to hard work and little money, but always ready to welcome another child. In fact, St. Frances was the thirteenth child, and her mother was fifty-two years old when she was born. It was a devout Catholic family in which she was raised, and at night after the day’s work was done, the children would listen to their father read them stories of the saints. Young Frances was especially fascinated by the saints who went on missions to foreign countries.

St. Frances had a great desire to help others, and after she finished school she assisted in the local parish by teaching catechism, and visiting the sick and the poor. She also taught school, and supervised the running of an orphanage, where she was assisted by a group of young women. Their work became so well-known that the bishop in a neighboring diocese heard of their work, and he asked Frances to establish a missionary institute to work in the area of education. Frances did as the bishop requested, and she called this new community the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. They opened an academy for girls, and before long the work spread with the establishment of new houses.

One day Frances was contacted by Bishop Scalabrini, an Italian bishop who had a great concern for the many immigrants who were leaving Italy for a new life in the United States. It was not easy for these immigrants, and upon their arrival in America they would endure tremendous hardships, and were not being given adequate spiritual care. As Bishop Scalabrini described the situation to Frances, she was very moved by what he said, but it did not occur to her that she might have a part in the solution. It was not until she had an audience with Pope Leo XIII about the future of her religious foundation that she changed her plans. It was her intention to receive papal permission to go to the missions of the orient, but the Holy Father had another suggestion. “Not to the East, but go to the West,” he said to her. “Go to America.”

Now known as Mother Cabrini, she had no hesitation when she heard the Pope’s words. To America she went, and she landed in New York in 1889, immediately establishing an orphanage, and then set about her life’s work – that of seeing a need, and then working for a solution. She built schools, places for child care, medical clinics, orphanages, and homes for abandoned babies. The poor had no place to go when they became seriously ill, so she built a number of hospitals for the needy. At the time of her death, there were more than five thousand children receiving care in the various institutions she built, and her religious community had grown to five hundred members in seventy houses throughout North and South America, France, Spain, and England.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was a frail woman, of a very small stature, but she amazed others with her energy and imagination. She was constantly traveling, sailing the Atlantic twenty-five times to visit her various religious houses and institutions. It was in 1909 that she adopted the United States as her country and formally became a citizen.

As she reached the end of her life, she had given thirty-seven years to the works of charity she loved so much. In her final illness she was admitted to a hospital in Chicago, Illinois. She died while making dolls to be given to orphans at an upcoming Christmas party, her last activity a simple act of charity. Mother Cabrini was beatified in 1938, and canonized in 1946 by Pope Pius XII.

God our Father, who didst call Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini from Italy to serve the immigrants of America: by her example, teach us to care for the stranger, the sick, and all those in need; and by her prayers help us to see Christ in all whom we meet; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

11 November 2020

St. Josaphat, Martyr for Unity


St. Josaphat was born about the year 1580 in what was the Polish province of Lithuania and was raised as an Eastern Rite Catholic. He had a deep devotion to the suffering of Christ, and looked at the schism between East and West as a wound in the Church as the Sacred Body of our Lord. As a young man in his mid-twenties he entered religious life, joining the Ukrainian Order of Saint Basil (known as the Basilians), and as a monk he gave himself over to penance and mortification, going barefoot even in winter, and eating only the poorest food.

In 1618, after living as a monk for nearly fifteen years, he was appointed to be archbishop of the Eastern Rite Diocese of Polotzk, and he devoted his energies to work for the reunion of the Church, all the while deepening the faith of his people through his preaching and his example. There were those in the Orthodox Church, not in union with Rome, who were very much against his work towards unity, and a group of them decided he must be stopped, making plans to assassinate him. In fact, St. Josaphat knew there were many who did not want unity, and he knew his life was in danger; however, he pressed forward in his work to heal the rift between East and West.

One day when he was visiting part of his diocese in territory which is now in Russia, his enemies made an attack on the place where he was staying, and many of those who were traveling with St. Josaphat were killed. Quietly and with humility, St. Josaphat went toward the attackers and asked them why they had done such a thing, saying to them, “If you have something against me, see, here I am.” The crowd screamed at him saying, “Kill the papist!” They ran towards him with their weapons, killing him with an axe-blow to his head.

St. Josaphat's body was thrown into the river, but it remained on the surface of the water, surrounded by rays of light, and was recovered. Those who had murdered him, when they were sentenced to death, repented of what they had done. Through the gentle example of St. Josaphat and helped by his heavenly intercession, through the grace of God they became Catholics.

Stir up in thy Church, we pray, O Lord, the Spirit that filled Saint Josaphat: that, as he laid down his life for the sheep; so through his intercession we, too, may be strengthened by the same Spirit and not fear to lay down our life for our brethren; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

10 November 2020

St. Martin of Tours


When he was merely a boy, Martin became a Christian catechumen against his parents' wishes, and at the age of fifteen he was forced by his father, a pagan soldier, to be enrolled in the army.

It was on a winter's day, while stationed at Amiens, that Martin met a beggar almost naked and frozen with cold. Having nothing to give him, Martin cut his cloak in two and gave poor man half.

That night in a dream Martin saw Our Lord clothed in the half cloak, and heard Him say to surrounding angels: "Martin, yet only a catechumen, has wrapped Me in this garment." He decided to be baptized, and shortly after this he left the army.

Martin succeeded in converting his mother, but he was driven from his home by the Arian heretics who were powerful in that place, and he took shelter with the bishop, St. Hilary. Near Poitiers they founded first monastery in France, and in the year 372 St. Martin was made Bishop of Tours. The people of that area, though Christian in name, were mostly still pagan in their hearts and in their daily practice. Unarmed and attended only by his monks, St. Martin destroyed the heathen temples and groves, and then completed this courageous act by preaching the Gospel.

After witnessing many miracles at the hand of their bishop St. Martin, there was a complete conversion of the people. St. Martin’s last eleven years were spent in the humble work of travelling throughout Gaul, preaching and manifesting the power of God through his works and by the purity of his life.

O God, who seest that we are not able to stand in our own strength: mercifully grant that, through the prayers of blessed Martin thy Confessor and Bishop, we may be defended from all adversities; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Veterans Day


November 11th is Veterans Day and was known originally as Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I at "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" in 1918. 

It is a day on which we honor all military veterans living today.  It should not be confused with Memorial Day which we keep in May, when we remember all those who gave their lives in defense of our nation. 
O Lord, we give You thanks for our veterans, for their willingness to risk all so that our nation might dwell in peace and safety. May they receive the honor and recognition they deserve. We pray for those who suffer from physical, spiritual, and psychological wounds, that they might know Your healing presence. We pray for our nation, that it may treasure the freedoms which have been won through the sacrifices and courage of those who have given themselves for the protection of others. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

09 November 2020

Pope St. Leo and Attila the Hun


Pope St. Leo reigned twenty-one years as pope in the 5th century, and is the first pope to be titled "the Great." He truly was a great Pope, defending the Faith, and confirming the primacy of the Successors of St. Peter. But perhaps the most exciting thing Pope Leo did was when he had a confrontation with the infamous and cruel military leader, Attila the Hun. This is the story.

The Huns were a nomadic people, originating probably in Mongolia, but they migrated westward, sacking and pillaging whatever cities or towns that were in their way. Until the time of Attila in the 5th century, the Huns were comprised of a loose confederation of tribes, not really a unified people at all – that is, until Attila came on the scene. He unified them, and they were making their sweep across Europe. By the time of Pope Leo, Attila the Hun was busy ransacking most of Italy, and his plan included the sack of Rome. Attila hoped to add it to his possessions, not only for the riches it would give him, but he was also trying add to his number of wives, and the young woman he had his eye on would be impressed with his taking Rome, or so he thought.

Pope Leo, of course, wanted to protect Rome and keep its citizens alive, but here was Attila, looking to attack and plunder the city, and destroy the Church. With the approach of Attila and his mob of soldiers, Pope Leo went into prayer, committing his papacy to the patronage and protection of St. Peter, the apostle and first pope, and then Leo did a very brave thing – he arranged a meeting with Attila just outside the city of Rome. Nobody thought this was a very good idea – in fact, everyone in Rome was sure that Pope Leo would be immediately martyred by this conqueror who never hesitated to murder and destroy anything or anyone who got in his way.

Nonetheless, Pope Leo went to meet Attila. And then, one of the most dramatic moments in Christian history takes place: Attila calls off the sack of Rome. And Leo goes safely back to Rome. What happened? What made Attila retreat?

This is the account of that meeting: while Attila and Leo were conversing, Attila was shaking in his boots, because that during that conversation, Attila saw a vision like he had never seen before! Attila saw St. Peter himself hovering over Leo's head . . . with a huge sword drawn and pointed directly at him! Attila was certain he would be immediately killed if he didn’t withdraw and leave the area, so to save his own skin, Attila ran away from the Pope, who was armed only with the Truth.

And that's the story of how Pope Leo the Great saved Rome from being destroyed.

O Lord Jesu Christ, who didst strengthen thy holy Bishop and Doctor, Pope Leo, to maintain both by word and deed the verity of thy sacred Humanity: grant, we beseech thee; that guided by the light of his doctrine, we may earnestly defend the faith of thy holy Incarnation; who livest and reignest with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

08 November 2020

Dedication of St. John Lateran


On November 9th the Catholic Church throughout the world celebrates the anniversary of the consecration of the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour in the city of Rome, known also as St. John Lateran. On the façade is carved the proud title “Omnium Urbis et Orbis Ecclesiarum Mater et Caput” – “The Mother and Head of all Churches of the City and of the World.” It is the cathedral of Rome – it is the Pope’s Cathedral, and so is, in a sense, the Cathedral of the world – senior in dignity even to St. Peter’s Basilica.

One of the reasons we celebrate this Feast is because the Church wants us to remember the importance of consecrated places in which the worship of God takes place. It reminds us of the importance of the consecration of every Catholic Church throughout the world. It is a reminder to us of the Incarnational principle on which our faith is based – that God extends His spiritual blessings to us through the use of physical things. He took human flesh upon Himself. He has instituted seven sacraments which use outward forms to communicate inward grace. He has established a hierarchical Church, with a physical presence in the world, to be a sign of His own presence with us.

O Most blessed Saviour, who didst vouchsafe thy gracious presence at the Feast of Dedication: be present with us at this time by thy Holy Spirit, and so possess our souls by thy grace; that we may be living temples, holy and acceptable unto thee; who livest and reignest with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

07 November 2020

"Watch therefore..." (Trinity XXII)


At that time: Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

- Saint Matthew 25:1-13 

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Painting: "The Ten Virgins" by John Melhuish Strudwick (1849-1937)

05 November 2020

Jesus, Our Loving Shepherd



Our Lord told a parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, `Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

When Jesus told this parable He was reflecting a picture already familiar to the Jews. The prophet Ezekiel (34:11, 12) had spoken about God searching out His sheep, rescuing them from the places in which they were lost:

“For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when some of his sheep have been scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered…”

Why had the sheep been scattered? It was because they had false shepherds over them, shepherds concerned mostly for themselves and their own comfort. Just before assuring Israel that He, the Lord God, would care for His sheep, He had said this:

“Ho, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fatlings; but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the crippled you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ, in His own Person, shows us the kind of shepherds He wants to have over us. Jesus our Shepherd is concerned about each one of us. Each one of us is precious to Him. He tends those who are wounded. He heals the sick. He searches out those who are lost. He even watches over those who are strong.

Jesus our Shepherd has an overwhelming love for each one of His sheep. Our shepherd is neither dictatorial nor is He weak; rather, He is a shepherd whom we want to follow, because He is a shepherd who comforts us, warding off danger and leading us on to safety. His sheep do not fear Him; rather, they return love for love, and they are obedient because they have seen His own obedience.

Oh, to have shepherds after Christ’s own Heart!

03 November 2020

St. Charles Borromeo


Charles Borromeo was born into an aristocratic, very wealthy Italian family. The family lived in a beautiful castle and lived lavishly, with an extravagant life of entertaining a court of noblemen. Charles was very good at athletics, music, art, and he enjoyed all the fine things that went along with the life of a rich and famous family. His mother was one of the Medici family, and one of his uncles was the pope. As was usual in those days, his uncle the pope made Charles a cardinal when he was only twenty-three and gave him many honours and titles. He was appointed papal legate to Bologna, the Low Countries, the cantons of Switzerland, and to the religious orders of St. Francis, the Carmelites, the Knights of Malta, and others.

When Charles’ father died, everyone thought that Charles would give up his ecclesiastical positions, and that he would marry some young noblewoman, and become the head of the Borromeo family. But Charles didn’t do that. Instead, he discerned a vocation to ordination, and he became a priest. Not long after, he was appointed bishop of Milan, a city that had not had a resident bishop for over eighty years.

Although he had been accustomed to a rich and extravagant life, when Charles was ordained and then became the Bishop of Milan, he spent much of his time dealing with hardship and suffering. There was a terrible famine in the year 1570 and he took on the responsibility of providing food to feed 3,000 people a day for three months. Six years later, another plague swept through the region. Bishop Borromeo organized his priests, religious, and lay volunteers to feed and care for the almost 70,000 people living in part of his diocese. He personally cared for many who were sick and dying, and he spent all his money doing it. In fact, he even ran up huge debts so that he could feed, clothe, and provide medical care, as well as build shelters for thousands of plague-stricken people.

He once ordered an atonement procession and led it with a rope about his neck, with bare and bloody feet, a cross upon his shoulder, thus presenting himself as an expiatory sacrifice for his people to ward off divine punishment. He died in 1584 at the age of forty-six, dressed in sackcloth and ashes, holding a picture of Jesus Crucified in his hands. His last words were, "See, Lord, I am coming, I am coming soon."

Keep, O Lord, thy Church by the continual protection of Saint Charles Borromeo: that as his zeal for thy flock did render him glorious; so his intercession may ever make us fervent in thy love; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

02 November 2020

St. Martin de Porres


St. Martin de Porres was born in very difficult circumstances. His mother was a woman who had been a slave, but now freed, and was of African background. His father was of Spanish nobility who was living in Peru. St. Martin’s parents were not married, but lived as common law man and wife, and they had two children, Martin and his sister. The children inherited the dark complexion and African features of their mother.  The father, who was cruel and shallow in his attitude towards race, left the family, and they were reduced to poverty. Because they were of mixed race, this meant that Martin and his sister were considered to be on the lowest level of Lima’s society.

When Martin was 12, his mother apprenticed him to a barber-surgeon. He learned how to cut hair and also how to give basic medical care, which was usual for barbers at that time. After a few years in this medical apostolate, St. Martin applied to the Dominicans to be a "lay helper," not feeling himself worthy to be a religious brother. After nine years, the example of his prayer and penance, charity and humility led the community to request him to make full religious profession. Many of his nights were spent in prayer and penitential practices; his days were filled with nursing the sick and caring for the poor. He treated all people regardless of their color, race or status. He was instrumental in founding an orphanage, took care of slaves brought from Africa and managed the daily alms of the priory with practicality as well as generosity. He became the procurator for both priory and city, whether it was a matter of "blankets, shirts, candles, candy, miracles or prayers!" When his priory was in debt, he said, "I am only a poor mulatto. Sell me. I am the property of the order. Sell me."

Side by side with his daily work in the kitchen, laundry and infirmary, Martin's life reflected God's extraordinary gifts: ecstasies that lifted him into the air, light filling the room where he prayed, bilocation, miraculous knowledge, instantaneous cures and a remarkable rapport with animals. His charity extended to beasts of the field and even to the vermin of the kitchen. He would excuse the raids of mice and rats on the grounds that they were underfed; he kept stray cats and dogs at his sister's house.

Many of his fellow religious took him as their spiritual director, but he continued to call himself a "poor slave." He was a good friend of another Dominican saint of Peru, Rose of Lima.

O God, who didst lead Saint Martin de Porres by the way of humility to heavenly glory: grant that we may so follow the example of his holiness; that we may be worthy to be exalted with him to heaven; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

01 November 2020

All Souls Day


A Decree was issued by the Apostolic Penitentiary concerning the plenary indulgence for the Faithful Departed.  Following is the pertinent information:

This year, in the current circumstances due to the “Covid-19” pandemic, the Plenary Indulgences for the deceased faithful will be extended throughout the entire month of November, with adaptation of works and conditions to guarantee the safety of the faithful. 
...the Apostolic Penitentiary, on the special mandate of His Holiness Pope Francis, willingly establishes and decides that this year, in order to avoid gatherings where they are forbidden:

a.- the Plenary Indulgence for those who visit a cemetery and pray for the deceased, even if only mentally, normally established only on the individual days from 1 to 8 November, may be transferred to other days of the same month, until its end. These days, freely chosen by the individual believers, may also be separate from each other;

b- the Plenary Indulgence of 2 November, established on the occasion of the Commemoration of all the deceased faithful for those who piously visit a church or oratory and recite the “Our Father” and the “Creed” there, may be transferred not only to the Sunday before or after or on the day of the Solemnity of All Saints, but also to another day of the month of November, freely chosen by the individual faithful.

The elderly, the sick and all those who for serious reasons cannot leave their homes, for example because of restrictions imposed by the competent authority in this time of the pandemic, in order to prevent numerous faithful from crowding into the holy places, will be able to obtain the Plenary Indulgence as long as they join spiritually with all the other faithful, completely detached from sin and with the intention of complying as soon as possible with the three usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the Holy Father's intentions), before an image of Jesus or the Blessed Virgin Mary, recite pious prayers for the deceased, for example, Lauds and Vespers of the Office of the Dead, the Marian Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, other prayers for the deceased dearest to the faithful, or occupy themselves in considered reading of one of the Gospel passages proposed by the liturgy of the deceased, or perform a work of mercy by offering to God the sorrows and hardships of their own lives.


O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all them that believe: grant unto the souls of thy servants and handmaids the remission of all their sins; that as they have ever desired thy merciful pardon, so by the supplications of their brethren they may receive the same; who livest and reignest with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.