May Saints – 2019

Saints Celebrated in the Month of May:

May 1: St. Joseph the Worker

This is St. Joseph’s second feast day on the Church calendar of celebrations. We honor him also on March 19. St. Joseph is a very important saint. He is the husband of Our Lady and the foster-father of Jesus.

Today we celebrate his witness of hard work. He was a carpenter who worked long hours in his little shop. St. Joseph teaches us that the work we do is important. Through it we give our contribution and our service to our family and society. But even more than that. As Christians we realize that our work is like a mirror of ourselves. That is why we want our work to be done with diligence.

Many countries set aside one day a year to honor workers. This encourages the dignity and appreciation of work. The Church has given us a wonderful model of work, St. Joseph. In 1955, Pope Pius XII proclaimed this feast of St. Joseph the Worker to be celebrated every year.

Reflection: St. Joseph teaches us that the work we do is very important, because we give our contribution and our service to our family and society.

May 3 – Saints Philip and James, Apostles – Feast

Feast: Liturgical Color: Red

The Popes follow one another chronologically just like the presidents of the United States. One after another, after another, each inheriting the powers and responsibilities of his office. President John F. Kennedy followed President Dwight D. Eisenhower, just as Pope St. John Paul II followed The Venerable Pope John Paul I. But there is a difference. Jesus’ placing of St. Peter as the symbolic and jurisdictional head of the universal Church is, of course, more significant than the popular election of a political leader. The papacy is different in that every Pope is, theologically speaking, the “direct successor” of St. Peter, the first Pope. From this perspective, every Pope after St. Peter is a second Pope. So, for example, the two hundredth Pope, chronologically, was still the second Pope, theologically.  No president would claim he is the direct successor of George Washington. He is the successor of his predecessor. Theological truths transcend space and time, since their source, God, exists outside of space and time. The office of St. Peter is theologically guaranteed by the easy-to-find, on-the-surface-of-the-text words of Christ Himself in the gospel. Today’s Pope, and every Pope, occupies that same office, is protected by that same divine guarantee, and immediately succeeds St. Peter when he is chosen by the Holy Spirit to occupy his chair.

What pertains to the office of the Bishop of Rome also pertains to the office of the Twelve Apostles. Today’s saints, Philip and James, were called by name by Christ Himself. And after being called, they took the step that many who are called never take. They followed! The Twelve walked at Christ’s side on dusty trails during His years of public ministry. They ate and drank with Him by the fire. They slept under the cold desert sky with Him. And Jesus looked right into their eyes, and only their eyes, and spoke directly to their faces, and only their faces, when He said on a Thursday night, “Do this in memory of me.” And then they did that in memory of Him, and many other things besides, for the rest of their lives.

The four marks of the true Church serve as a trademark. One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic form the four corners of the trademark stamp of the Church founded by Jesus Christ. The mark of “One” means the Church is visibly one in spite of its many tongues, nations, classes, and races. The Church is one in her doctrine, her Sacraments, and her hierarchy. This oneness is not theoretical. It is tangible, real, and identifiable even to those without a doctorate in theology. This one, Christ-founded Church began with twelve followers who gathered as one around Jesus. These Twelve eventually appointed their own successors, who then, in turn, appointed successors, and so on through the centuries down to the present.

 

The universal college of Bishops, the successor body to the Twelve Apostles, is the means by which the Oneness, or unity, of the Church is expressed, protected, and guaranteed. Bishops are not a secondary attribute or development of Christianity. They are embedded into, and conjoined with, the Word of God in one complex reality. They are not an outside source of authority external to Scripture. There simply would be no Scripture without that pre-existing authority to have nurtured it, developed it, and chosen it. The Church was the incubator of the New Testament.

 

Not much is known with certainty about the Apostles Philip and James, apart from their names and some few references in the New Testament. And that is just fine. It is more important to understand that their lives were the bedrock upon which the Church on earth still rests. Their theological legacy continues today in every Bishop who teaches, sanctifies, and governs the baptized people of God.

 

Saints Philip and James, your hidden witness to Christ is less well-known than that of other Apostles, but is eloquent testimony to your quiet fidelity to building the Church after the Ascension. From your exalted place in Heaven, intercede for all who seek your assistance.

 

May 14 – Saint Matthias the Apostle – Feast

Conservative Muslims believe that any territory that was once settled and governed by the adherents of Mohammed pertains forever and always to the Caliphate. Once Islamic, always Islamic. The greater part of the Iberian peninsula was occupied and governed by Muslims for many centuries. It took generations of fighting for the Islamic fist to loosen its grip on Spain. By 1492, native Spanish armies had slowly pushed the Muslim armies back into the waters of the Mediterranean, which they first crossed in 711. Nevertheless, some strict followers of Mohammed dream of former glories and hope that Al-Andalus (Muslim Spain) will one day re-emerge.

 

Catholicism harbors no such illusions of glory for formerly Catholic lands, but it does practice a theological form of “Once Catholic, Always Catholic.” Many Bishops who serve in the Roman Curia exercise no authority over a diocese. Auxiliary bishops likewise share in episcopal authority but lack a territory themselves. These two categories of bishops are thus given a “titular” episcopal see. It is a see in name, or title, only of an ancient diocese that ceased to exist due to, typically, Muslim invasion. These “titular” sees were formerly called sees “in partibus infidelium,” or “in the lands of the unbelievers.” Although this Latin term is no longer used by the Holy See, its meaning is contained in the term “titular.” This custom not only preserves the memory of lost peoples and dioceses, it also has some theological support. A bishop and his diocese are married like spouses. And a diocese, once created, cannot remain a widow. A new bishop is always appointed to join himself to it. A diocese must have a spouse, even if he is a long way from home in distance and time.

 

The tradition that all bishops, beginning with the Apostles, must have successors is rooted not just in the early Church but in Judaism. The Twelve Apostles are more often referred to in the New Testament by their number than their names. They are, simply,  “The Twelve.” This custom is rooted in the twelve tribes who settled Israel after the Exodus from Egypt. These tribes were founded by the twelve sons of the Patriarch Jacob, later renamed Israel. It was inside of this Old Testament Jewish tradition that Jesus Christ acted when He chose twelve men upon whom to found His Church. Jesus specifically states that His followers will sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Mt. 19:28, Lk. 22:30). And the Book of Revelation states that the names of the twelve tribes of Israel will be written on the gates of the Heavenly Jerusalem (Rev. 21:12 ff).

 

It was fitting, then, when “The Twelve” were reduced to “The Eleven” after Judas’ self murder, that the fullness of the biblical number had to be restored. And this is where today’s saint steps out from the shadows to play his role in Christian history. The first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, the great history book of the early Church, tells us that, after the Ascension, the eleven Apostles returned to Jerusalem. There, Peter “stood up among the believers” to tell them that someone who had “accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us… must become a witness with us to his resurrection.” Two names were proposed to replace Judas: Matthias and Joseph called Barsabbas. Then the Eleven prayed to the Lord to show them the way. They cast lots. Matthias was chosen. An Apostle, for the first time, had a successor. And, of equal significance, the appointment came from the group, or college, of Apostles, led by Peter. Thus was established, just days after Christ left the earth, a form of Church preservation and growth which would be repeated, and is still repeated, tens of thousand of times in Christian history.

 

The Church has placed the Feast of St. Matthias purposefully close to the Feast of the Ascension, just as his election in Acts occurred so soon after that event in the Bible. The Holy Spirit was yet to descend at Pentecost, and still the Church performed the will of God with authority. It was all there in the beginning. It is still here all around us. The miracle of the Church and her Apostles continues. It will always continue.

 

St. Matthias, we beg your intercession from your powerful throne in the Heavenly Jerusalem, that you fortify all who govern your Church to emulate “The Twelve” in their wisdom, trust, prudence, and daring in leading and spreading the Faith.

 

May 31 – Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Feast

THE angel Gabriel, in the mystery of the Annunciation, informed the Mother of God that her cousin Elizabeth had miraculously conceived, and was then pregnant with a son who was to be the precursor of the Messias. The Blessed Virgin out of humility concealed the wonderful dignity to which she was raised by the incarnation of the Son of God in her womb, but, in the transport of her holy joy and gratitude, determined she would go to congratulate the mother of the Baptist.

“Mary therefore arose,” saith St. Luke, “and with haste went into the hilly country into a city of Judea, and entering into the house of Zachary, saluted Elizabeth.” What a blessing did the presence of the God-man bring to this house, the first which He honored in His humanity with His visit! But Mary is the instrument and means by which He imparts to it His divine benediction, to show us that she is a channel through which He delights to communicate to us His graces, and to en, courage us to ask them of Him through her intercession. At the voice of the Mother of God, but by the power and grace of her divine Son in her womb, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost, and the Infant in her womb conceived so great a joy as to leap and exult. At the same time Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost, and by His infused light she understood the great mystery of the Incarnation which God had wrought in Mary, whom humility prevented from disclosing it even to a Saint, and an intimate friend. In raptures of astonishment Elizabeth pronounced her blessed above all other women, and cried out, “Whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Mary, hearing her own praise, sunk the lower in the abyss of her nothingness, and in the transport of her humility, and melting in an ecstasy of love and gratitude, burst into that admirable canticle, the Magnificat. Mary stayed with her cousin almost three months, after which she returned to Nazareth.

 

Reflection.—Whilst with the Church we praise God for the mercies and wonders which He wrought in this mystery, we ought to apply ourselves to the imitation of the virtues of which Mary sets us a perfect example. From her we ought particularly to learn the lessons by which we shall sanctify our visits and conversation, actions which are to so many Christians the sources of innumerable dangers and sins.

Sunday June 9’th Pentecost

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Sources: https://mycatholic.life/saints/saints-of-the-liturgical-year/

Edited by: Evan Macklin

March – April 2019

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

 

The Solemnity of the Annunciation celebrates the coming of the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary to announce to her the special mission God had chosen for her in being the mother of His only son.

The Annunciation always falls on March 25, exactly nine months before the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas. However, the celebration of the feast is transferred to a different date if it falls on a Sunday of Lent, during Holy Week, or during the octave of Easter.

We are continually reminded of the importance of this feast to our salvation in various devotional prayers. Two examples that highlight the importance of this feast are the joyous mysteries of the Rosary and the Angelus.

The feast of the Annunciation began to be celebrated on this day during the fourth and fifth centuries, soon after the date for celebrating Christmas was universalized throughout the Church. This feast celebrates the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity and the salvation of all mankind. This point of our salvation was deeply discussed by many of the Church fathers, to explain it to the faithful and to show the deep love God has for us. Some of the Church fathers who wrote on this were St. Athanasius, St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Augustine.

Lent: April 11th

Memorial of St. Stanislaus, bishop & martyr

Stanislaus was born of noble parents on July 26th at Szczepanow near Cracow, Poland. He was educated at Gnesen and was ordained there. He was given a canonry by Bishop Lampert Zula of Cracow, who made him his preacher, and soon he became noted for his preaching. He became a much sought after spiritual adviser. He was successful in his reforming efforts, and in 1072 was named Bishop of Cracow. He incurred the enmity of King Boleslaus the Bold when he denounced the King’s cruelties and injustices and especially his kidnapping of the beautiful wife of a nobleman. When Stanislaus excommunicated the King and stopped services at the Cathedral when Boleslaus entered, Boleslaus himself killed Stanislaus while the Bishop was saying Mass in a chapel outside the city on April 11. Stanislaus has long been the symbol of Polish nationhood. He was canonized by Pope Innocent IV in 1253 and is the principle patron of Cracow. His feast day is April 11th.

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Holy Week

On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week, with the greatest tragedy and sorrow of the year.

Jesus’ triumphant return to Jerusalem is only one side of the story.

By now many of the Jews are filled with hate for Our Lord. They want to see him stoned, calling Him a blasphemer, especially after offering proof of His Divinity during a winter visit to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Dedication.

After this, Jesus went to Perea, where he was summoned to Bethany. There he raised Lazarus from the dead, a miracle which wins Him such renown among certain Pharisees that they decided finally to end His life.

Jesus took refuge at Ephrem returning six days before Passover to Bethany, triumphantly entering Jerusalem. That evening, He leaves Jerusalem and returns Monday. He spent time with Gentiles in the Temple, and on Wednesday left for the Mount of Olives. Here he foretold the apostles the events of the next several days, including His impending death.

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Holy Thursday

is the commemoration of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ, when he established the sacrament of Holy Communion prior to his arrest and crucifixion. It also commemorates His institution of the priesthood. The holy day falls on the Thursday before Easter and is part of Holy Week. Jesus celebrated the dinner as a Passover feast. Christ would fulfill His role as the Christian victim of the Passover for all to be saved by His final sacrifice.

The Last Supper was the final meal Jesus shared with his Disciples in Jerusalem. During the meal, Jesus predicts his betrayal.

The central observance of Holy Thursday is the ritual reenactment of the Last Supper at Mass. This event is celebrated at every Mass, as party of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, but it is specially commemorated on Holy Thursday.

He also establishes the special priesthood for his disciples, which is distinct from the “priesthood of all believers.” Christ washed the feet of his Disciples, who would become the first priests.

This establishment of the priesthood reenacted at Mass with the priest washing the feet of several parishioners.

During the Passover meal, Jesus breaks bread and gives it to his Disciples, uttering the words, “This is my body, which is given for you.” Subsequently, he passes a cup filled with wine. He then says, “This is my blood…” It is believed those who eat of Christ’s flesh and blood shall have eternal life.

During the Mass, Catholics rightly believe, as an article of faith, that the unleavened bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ through a process known as transubstantiation. There have been notable Eucharistic miracles attributed to this event, such as bleeding hosts (communion wafers).

The Last Supper is celebrated daily in the Catholic Church as part of every Mass for it is through Christ’s sacrifice that we have been saved.

On the night of Holy Thursday, Eucharistic Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament takes place where the faithful remain in the presence of the Eucharist just as the Disciples kept a vigil with Christ.

Following the Last Supper, the disciples went with Jesus to the Mount of Olives, where he would be betrayed by Judas.

At every hour of every day, somewhere around the world, Mass is being said and Communion taken. This has been happening incessantly for at least several hundred years. For nearly the past two thousand years, not a single day has gone by without a Mass being celebrated in some fashion. Therefore, anyone who celebrates the Mass participates in a daily tradition that is essentially two thousand years old.

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Good Friday

is the day on which Catholics commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Catholics are joined by almost all other Christians in solemn commemoration on this day. It is also a legal holiday around much of the world.

According to the gospels, Jesus was betrayed by Judas on the night of the Last Supper, commemorated on Holy Thursday. The morning following Christ’s arrest, he was brought before Annas, a powerful Jewish cleric. Annas condemned Jesus for blasphemy for refusing to repudiate Annas’ words that He was the Son of God. From there, Jesus was sent to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of the province.

Pontius Pilate questioned Jesus but found no reason to condemn Him. Instead, he suggested Jewish leaders deal with Jesus according to their own law. But under Roman law, they could not execute Jesus, so they appealed to Pilate to issue the order to kill Jesus.

Pilate appealed to King Herod, who found no guilt in Jesus and sent Him back to Pilate once again. Pilate declared Jesus to be innocent, and washed his hands to show that he wanted nothing to do with Jesus, but the crowds were enraged. To prevent a riot and to protect his station, Pilate reluctantly agreed to execute Jesus and sentenced him to crucifixion. Jesus was convicted of proclaiming himself to be the King of the Jews.

Before his execution, Jesus was flogged, which was a customary practice intended to weaken a victim before crucifixion. Crucifixion was an especially painful method of execution and was perfected by the Romans as such. It was reserved for the worst criminals, and generally Roman citizens, women, and soldiers were exempt in most cases.

During his flogging, the soldiers tormented Jesus, crowning Him with thorns and ridicule.

Following his flogging, Jesus was compelled to carry his cross to the place of His execution, at Calvary. During his walk to the site of His execution, Jesus fell three times and the Roman guards randomly selected Simon, a Cyrene, to help Jesus.

After arrival at Calvary, Jesus was nailed to the cross and crucified between two thieves. One of the thieves repented of his sins and accepted Christ while on the cross beside Him. A titulus, or sign, was posted above Christ to indicate His supposed crime. The titulus read, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” It is commonly abbreviated in Latin as “INRI” (Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum).

During Christ’s last few hours on the cross, darkness fell over the whole land. Jesus was given a sponge with sour wine mixed with gall, a weak, bitter painkiller often given to crucified victims.

Prior to death, Jesus spoke His last words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This line is the opening of Psalm 22, and it may have been common practice to recite lines of songs to deliver a greater message. Properly understood, the last words of Christ were triumphant. Guards then lanced Jesus’ side to ensure He was dead.

At the moment of Christ’s death, an earthquake occurred, powerful enough to open tombs. The long, thick curtain at the Temple was said to have torn from top to bottom.

Following the incredible events of the day, the body of Christ was removed from the cross and laid in a donated tomb, buried according to custom.

The events of Good Friday are commemorated in the Stations of the Cross, a 14-step devotion often performed by Catholics during Lent and especially on Good Friday. The Stations of the Cross are commonly recited on Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent. Another devotional, the Acts of Reparation, may also be prayed.

Good Friday is a day of fasting within the Church. Traditionally, there is no Mass and no celebration of the Eucharist on Good Friday. A liturgy may still be performed and communion, if taken, comes from hosts consecrated on Holy Thursday. Baptism, penance, and anointing of the sick may be performed, but only in unusual circumstances. Church bells are silent. Altars are left bare.

The solemn, muted atmosphere is preserved until the Easter Vigil.  Many Catholics attend Easter Vigil at midnight, although the services can be lengthy because many sacraments are performed, such as baptisms and Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, during the Mass. Services during the daytime on Easter are shorter and well attended.

Easter

is the celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. It is celebrated on Sunday, and marks the end of Holy Week, the end of Lent, the last day of the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday), and is the beginning of the Easter season of the liturgical year.

As we know from the Gospels, Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day following his crucifixion, which would be Sunday. His resurrection marks the triumph of good over evil, sin and death. It is the singular event which proves that those who trust in God and accept Christ will be raised from the dead.

Since Easter represents the fulfillment of God’s promises to mankind, it is the most important holiday on the Christian calendar.

The Easter date is movable and always falls on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25. Easter in the Roman Catholic Church is always on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox.

All of this is done by our Lord for forgiveness of our sins, and for life everlasting with Him.

God so loved us, that He sent His only begotten Son to die for us, so that our sins maybe forgiven.

Pentecost: Coming of the spirit

 

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Sources:

https://www.catholic.org/lent/easter.php

https://www.catholic.org/lent/thurs.php

https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=207

Edited by: Evan Macklin

Spring Time and Lent

SPRING TIME AND LENT – EASTER FUN FACTS

WATCH: Lent in Three Minutes

  1. The pretzel was a symbol of Easter at one time. Envision a big soft pretzel. The twists can be seen as arms crossing in prayer. In fact, back in the day, there were pretzel hunts instead of egg hunts. Some even believe that pretzels were invented with Lent in mind, as they could be baked without the use of animal parts.
  2. Time of Easter – movable feast, after the first Sunday after the full moon, which happens on, or after March 21, the Spring Equinox, follows the Jewish feast of Passover, or full moon of the Pashal.
  3. Penitential season of Lent, with three practices: prayer; fasting, and almsgiving.

Jesus, in Matthew’s Gospel, calls us to pray, to fast, and to give alms: “when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites,” “when you fast, do not look gloomy,” “when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing” (Mt 6:5, 16, 3, respectively). As a Church, we ponder and pray over this call every Ash Wednesday. In a most profound way, the three spiritual exercises identified by Jesus are directed toward the nurturing of relationships.

Prayer:  That process of listening to and responding to God’s daily call, sustains and nurtures our relationship with our triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Without prayer, personal and communal, this relationship is diminished, sometimes to the point of complete silence on our part. Every day the Spirit of Jesus invites us to enter into that serious conversion that leads to blessed communion. The Seven Penitential Psalms and the Songs of the Suffering Servant from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah are traditionally used for meditation and prayer during Lent.

The Stations of the Cross are traditionally prayed on the Fridays of Lent. The Stations of the Cross originated during the crusades when it was popular to visit Jerusalem to follow the steps to Calvary. After the Holy Land was captured, pilgrimages became a very dangerous affair. A desire arose to reproduce these holy places in other lands as a substitute pilgrimage.

It soon became popular to have outdoor markers indicate not only the scenes in Christ’s path to Golgotha, but also the actual distances from location to location. Crude markers eventually gave way to elaborate artwork depicting the events of Jesus’ trial, torture and execution. By the mid-18th century, the Stations were allowed inside the church and served as a focus for Lenten devotions.

The Stations help the participant make a spiritual pilgrimage to the major scenes of Christ’s sufferings and death. Prayers are said until the entire route is complete, enabling the faithful to more literally take up their cross and follow Jesus.

Fasting: A very special form of penance, and Jesus’ second call, has been a consistent part of our Catholic tradition. Fasting assists us in getting our own house in order. All of us have to deal with areas of servitude, whether in regard to smoking or alcohol consumption, misused sexuality, uncontrolled gambling, psychological hang-ups, spiritual obsessions, use of stimulants, immoderate use of the Internet, excessive amounts of television watching, or preoccupations with other forms of entertainment. By fasting and self-denial, by living lives of moderation, we have more energy to devote to God’s purposes and a better self-esteem that helps us to be more concerned with the well-being of others.  .Although often used interchangeably, fasting refers to the amount of food consumed, while abstinence describes the type of food denied such as meat on Fridays. These forms of physical self-denial are practiced during Lent, as are other pious customs.

Almsgiving:  The third call of the Lord is to give alms. Jesus was always concerned about those who were poor and in need. He was impressed by the widow who, though having so little, shared her resources with others: “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood” (Lk 21:3-4). To be a disciple of Christ means to live a life of charity. To be a disciple of Jesus is to live a life of stewardship, generously giving of our time, talent, and treasure.

  1. Spring – first signs of the season – You may see a robin that has returned North from its flight South for the winter months. Bright colors like yellow and green as well as pretty pastel shades are often associated with Easter as well as the many popular symbols such as eggs, spring lambs, bunnies and flowers. All of these things tend to symbolize and represent new life, growth and all of the joy that comes with the onset of the spring season months.

It is a traditional period where, for many countries, there is a definite move away from the cold, damp and bleak weather on to warmer and lighter days. There are colorful flowers growing such as crocuses, and new animals such as lambs and chicks being born.

The White Lily is the official flower of Easter.  As they represent grace and purity, many churches and homes have chosen to decorate with the white lily for the holiday. In fact, they’re commonly known best as “Easter lilies.”

Even though it is known as a religious holiday, it still holds much joy and excitement for anyone who really looks forward to all the beautiful flowers of spring and the warm days of summer ahead.

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Why are the statues covered during Lent in my parish?
Another Lenten custom is the draping of statues and crucifixes in purple cloth as a sign of mourning. This symbolically hides the heavenly glory realized by the saints. Occurring on the fifth Sunday of Lent, the covering of the sacred images adds to the sense of introspection and contrition.

Why is there no Gloria or Alleluia sung at Mass?
The Church teaches by absence as well as by presence, and Lent is a time of great loss. Eating is diminished and some foods forbidden a fast of the body. Music is scaled back, bells are silenced and the Gloria and Alleluia are dropped from the liturgy a fast of hearing. Statues are veiled and flowers and decorations disappear a fast of sight. Depriving the senses helps the faithful maintain focus on the internal condition of the soul rather than on externals.

www.miamiarch.org/2013_adom/CatholicDiocese.php?

  1.  Patrick’s Day: It’s a global celebration of Irish culture on or around March 17. It particularly remembers St Patrick, one of Ireland’s patron saints, who is credited with spreading Christianity in Ireland during the fifth century. The anniversary of St. Patrick’s death on March 17 became a feast day in the Catholic Church.

The most common St. Patrick’s Day symbol is the shamrock. The shamrock is the leaf of the clover plant and a symbol of the Holy Trinity. According to legend, St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to pagans. “The wearing of the green” refers to the custom of wearing green clothes or a shamrock, the national flower of Ireland, in your lapel.

Celtic, folk and traditional Irish pub songs will help get you in the St. Patrick’s Day spirit! Look for compilation CDs of traditional Irish songs or download some individual songs by The Chieftains, The Dubliners or other Irish bands.

  1. 6. Feast Day of St. Joseph: Baking of fresh rolls – bread.
    Every March 19th New Orleans Catholics celebrate St. Joseph’s Day by constructing elaborate altars to honor the relief St. Joseph provided during a famine in Sicily. The tradition began in the late 1800’s when Sicilian immigrants settled in New Orleans.

Silence is golden… St. Joseph, the model of humility, and one of the world’s greatest saints, is often mentioned as being silent. This silence speaks volumes. In it, the Church realizes his faithfulness, his love and his acceptance of the Holy Will of God. St. Joseph was not a man of many words: he was a man of action. We have only one direct statement about his personality: in Matthew’s Gospel, he is described as “a righteous man” (Matthew 1:19). His actions alone reveal everything else we know about him. He brings Mary and the Child she bears into his home when, in the sight of the world, he would be justified in divorcing her. He leads the expectant Mary into Bethlehem and flees with her and her Child into Egypt. When it is safe, he returns with the two into Galilee. He does all of this, because God asks it of him. He never hesitates. Each time we read that the angel spoke to Joseph, the following sentence begins with the action St. Joseph took. “Joseph awoke,” “Joseph rose,” “He went.” Each time he received a summons, his reaction was to follow the call immediately. Never once did he hesitate.

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Sources: http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/lent/penitential-practices-for-todays-catholics.cfm

https://holidappy.com/holidays/Easter

www.miamiarch.org/2013_adom/CatholicDiocese.php?

https://www.cleveland.com/insideout/index.ssf/2015/03/a_st_patricks_day_qa_the_real_saint_leprechaun_lore_and_how_to_drown_a_shamrock.html

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/saints/saints-whose-feast-days-fall-within-lent-2017.cfm

Edited by: Evan Macklin

Ordinary Time – Feast Days of February – Valentines Day

The Apparitions of The Blessed Virgin to Bernadette at Lourdes.

February 11, 2019,

marks the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1858 to fourteen-year-old Marie Bernade (St. Bernadette) Soubirous. Between February 11 and July 16, 1858, the Blessed Virgin appeared eighteen times, and showed herself to St. Bernadette in the hollow of the rock at Lourdes. On March 25 she said to the little shepherdess who was only fourteen years of age: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Since then Lourdes has become a place of pilgrimage and many cures and conversions have taken place. The message of Lourdes is a call to personal conversion, prayer, and charity.

The many miracles which have been performed through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin at Lourdes prompted the Church to institute a special commemorative feast, the “Apparition of the Immaculate Virgin Mary.” The Office gives the historical background. Four years after the promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (1854), the Blessed Virgin appeared a number of times to a very poor and holy girl named Bernadette. The actual spot was in a grotto on the bank of the Gave River near Lourdes.

The Immaculate Conception had a youthful appearance and was clothed in a pure white gown and mantle, with an azure blue girdle. A golden rose adorned each of her bare feet. On her first apparition, February 11, 1858, the Blessed Virgin bade the girl make the sign of the Cross piously and say the rosary with her. Bernadette saw her take the rosary that was hanging from her arms into her hands. This was repeated in subsequent ap With childlike simplicity Bernadette once sprinkled holy water on the vision, fearing that it was a deception of the evil spirit; but the Blessed Virgin smiled pleasantly, and her face became even more lovely. The third time Mary appeared she invited the girl to come to the grotto daily for two weeks. Now she frequently spoke to Bernadette. On one occasion she ordered her to tell the ecclesiastical authorities to build a church on the spot and to organize processions. Bernadette also was told to drink and wash at the spring still hidden under the sand.

Finally, on the feast of the Annunciation, the beautiful Lady announced her name, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

The report of cures occurring at the grotto spread quickly and the more it spread, the greater the number of Christians who visited the hallowed place. The publicity given these miraculous events on the one hand and the seeming sincerity and innocence of the girl on the other made it necessary for the bishop of Tarbes to institute a judicial inquiry. Four years later he declared the apparitions to be supernatural and permitted the public veneration of the Immaculate Conception in the grotto. Soon a chapel was erected, and since that time countless pilgrims come every year to Lourdes to fulfill promises or to beg graces.

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Valentine’s Day

Originally a Christian holiday, Valentine’s Day is a celebration of romantic love occurring annually on February 14.

Although its origin is associated by legend Saint Valentine in Roman Catholicism, the fact is Valentine’s Day is not a religious holiday and never really has been. Valentine’s Day has historical roots mainly in Greco-Roman pagan fertility festivals and the medieval notion that birds pair off to mate on February 14.

The history of exchanging cards and other tokens of love on February 14 began to develop in England and France in the 14th and 15th centuries and became especially popular in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries.

History of Valentine’s Day?

The origin of associating the middle of February with love and fertility dates to ancient times. In ancient Athens, the period between mid-January and mid-February was the month of Gamelion, which was dedicated to the sacred marriage of Zeus and Hera.

In ancient Rome, February 15 was Lupercalia, the festival of Lupercus (or Faunus), the god of fertility. As part of the purification ritual, the priests of Lupercus would sacrifice goats and a dog to the god, and after drinking wine, they would run through the streets of Rome striking anyone they met with pieces of the goat skin. Young women would come forth voluntarily for the occasion, believing that being touched by the goat skin would render them fertile. Young men would also draw names from an urn, choosing their “blind date” for the coming year. In 494 AD the Christian church under Pope Gelasius I appropriated the same aspects of the rite as the Feast of the Purification.

In Christianity, at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early lives of the saints under the date of February 14. Two of the Valentines lived in Italy in the third century: one as a priest at Rome, the other as bishop of Terni. They are both said to have been martyred in Rome and buried on the Flaminian Way. A third St. Valentine was martyred in North Africa and very little else is known of him.

Several legends have developed around one or more of these Valentines, two of which are especially popular. According to one account, Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for all young men because he believed unmarried men made better soldiers. Valentine defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young couples and was put to death by the emperor for it. A related legend has Valentine writing letters from prison to his beloved, signing them “From your Valentine.”

However, the connection between St. Valentine and romantic love is not mentioned in any early histories and is regarded by historians as purely a matter of legend. The feast of St. Valentine was first declared to be on February 14 by Pope Gelasius I around 498. It is said the pope created the day to counter the practice held on Lupercalia, but this is not attested in any sources from that era.

The first recorded association of St. Valentine’s Day with romantic love was in the 14th century in England and France, where it was believed that February 14 was the day on which birds paired off to mate.  Thus, we read in Geoffrey Chaucer’s (c. 1343-1400) Parliament of Fowls, believed to be the first Valentine’s Day poem:

For this was on saint Valentine’s day, when every fowl comes there to choose his mate. It became common during that era for lovers to exchange notes on Valentine’s Day and to call each other their “Valentines.” The first Valentine card was sent by Charles, duke of Orleans, to his wife in 1415 when he was a prisoner in the Tower of London. Valentine’s Day love notes were often given anonymously. It is probable that many of the legends about St. Valentine developed during this period (see above). By the 1700s, verses like “Roses are red, violets are blue” became popular. By the 1850s, romantics in France began embellishing their valentine cards with gilt paper, ribbons and lace.

Valentine’s Day was probably imported into North America in the 19th century with settlers from Britain. In the United States, the first mass-produced valentines of embossed paper lace were produced and sold shortly after 1847 by Esther A. Howland (1828 – 1904) of Worcester, Massachusetts. Her father operated a large book and stationery store, and she took her inspiration from an English valentine she had received.

In the 19th century, relics of St. Valentine were donated by Pope Gregory XVI to the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland, which has become a popular place of pilgrimage on February 14.

But in 1969, as part of a larger effort to pare down the number of saint days of legendary origin, the Church removed St. Valentine’s Day as an official holiday from its calendar.

http://www.religionfacts.com/valentines-day

Saint Valentine, officially known as Saint Valentine of Rome, is a third-century Roman saint widely celebrated on February 14 and commonly associated with “courtly love.”

Although not much of St. Valentine’s life is reliably known, and whether or not the stories involve two different saints by the same name is also not officially decided, it is highly agreed that St. Valentine was martyred and then buried on the Via Flaminia to the north of Rome.

In 1969, the Roman Catholic Church removed St. Valentine from the General Roman Calendar, because so little is known about him. However, the church still recognizes him as a saint, listing him in the February 14 spot of Roman Martyrolgy.

The legends attributed to the mysterious saint are as inconsistent as the actual identification of the man.

One common story about St. Valentine is that in one point of his life, as the former Bishop of Terni, Narnia and Amelia, he was on house arrest with Judge Asterius. While discussing religion and faith with the Judge, Valentine pledged the validity of Jesus. The judge immediately put Valentine and his faith to the test.

St. Valentine was presented with the judge’s blind daughter and told to restore her sight. If he succeeded, the judge vowed to do anything for Valentine. Placing his hands onto her eyes, Valentine restored the child’s vision.

Judge Asterius was humbled and obeyed Valentine’s requests. Asterius broke all the idols around his house, fasted for three days and became baptized, along with his family and entire 44-member household. The now faithful judge then freed all of his Christian inmates.

St. Valentine was later arrested again for continuing to try to convert people to Christianity. He was sent to Rome under the emperor Claudius Gothicus (Claudius II). According to the popular hagiographical identity, and what is believed to be the first representation of St. Valentine, the Nuremberg Chronicle, St. Valentine was a Roman priest martyred during Claudius’ reign. The story tells that St. Valentine was imprisoned for marrying Christian couples and aiding Christians being persecuted by Claudius in Rome. Both acts were considered serious crimes. A relationship between the saint and emperor began to grow, until Valentine attempted to convince Claudius of Christianity. Claudius became raged and sentenced Valentine to death, commanding him to renounce his faith or be beaten with clubs and beheaded.

St. Valentine refused to renounce his faith and Christianity and was executed outside the Flaminian Gate on February 14, 269. However, other tales of St. Valentine’s life claim he was executed either in the year 269, 270, 273 or 280. Other depictions of St. Valentine’s arrests tell that he secretly married couples so husbands wouldn’t have to go to war. Another variation of the legend of St. Valentine says he refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, was imprisoned and while imprisoned he healed the jailer’s blind daughter. On the day of his execution, he left the girl a note signed, “Your Valentine.”

Pope Julius I is said to have built a church near Ponte Mole in his memory, which for a long time gave name to the gate now called Porta del Popolo, formerly, Porta Valetini.

The romantic nature of Valentine’s Day may have derived during the Middle Ages, when it was believed that birds paired couples in mid-February. According to English 18th-century antiquarians Alban Butler and Francis Douce, Valentine’s Day was most likely created to overpower the pagan holiday, Lupercalia.

Although the exact origin of the holiday is not widely agreed upon, it is widely recognized as a day for love, devotion and romance.

Whoever he was, Valentine did really exist, because archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to St. Valentine. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom.

St. Valentine is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travelers, and young people. He is represented in pictures with birds and roses and his feast day is celebrated on February 14.

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Ordinary Time

Christmas Time and Easter Time highlight the central mysteries of the Paschal Mystery, namely, the incarnation, death on the cross, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The Sundays and weeks of Ordinary Time, on the other hand, take us through the life of Christ. This is the time of conversion. This is living the life of Christ.

Ordinary Time is a time for growth and maturation, a time in which the mystery of Christ is called to penetrate ever more deeply into history until all things are finally caught up in Christ. The goal, toward which all of history is directed, is represented by the final Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

Easter season, which begins with the Easter Vigil Mass, is followed by the 40 days leading to the Ascension, and then concludes 10 days later with Pentecost. After Pentecost, Ordinary Time resumes and concludes with the solemnity of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the liturgical year.

The rhythm of the liturgical seasons reflects the rhythm of life — with its celebrations of anniversaries and its seasons of quiet growth and maturing.

Ordinary Time, meaning ordered or numbered time, is celebrated in two segments: from the Monday following the Baptism of Our Lord up to Ash Wednesday; and from Pentecost Monday to the First Sunday of Advent. This makes it the largest season of the Liturgical Year.

In vestments usually green, the color of hope and growth, the Church counts the thirty-three or thirty-four Sundays of Ordinary Time, inviting her children to meditate upon the whole mystery of Christ – his life, miracles and teachings – in the light of his Resurrection.

If the faithful are to mature in the spiritual life and increase in faith, they must descend the great mountain peaks of Easter and Christmas in order to “pasture” in the vast verdant meadows of tempus per annum, or Ordinary Time.

Sunday by Sunday, the Pilgrim Church marks her journey through the tempus per annum as she processes through time toward eternity.

The Easter Mystery Celebrated in Ordinary Time

Parents are challenged to keep the Easter mystery alive in their families throughout the season of Ordinary Time; to focus on the mysteries of Christ which the Church sets before them in the weekly Mass readings and to apply those readings to their daily lives.

In this way, faith will bear fruit within their homes, intensifying through the fertile weeks of Ordinary time until its conclusion, the crowning feast of Christ the King.

Joyful Expectation at Year’s End

At the close of every Liturgical Year may we look forward with renewed hope to Christ’s coming again in glory to reign as Lord forever. For it is Jesus Christ we seek when we strive to live the Liturgical Year with the Church. He is the “Lord of time; he is its beginning and its end; every year, every day and every moment are embraced by his Incarnation and resurrection, and thus become part of the ‘fullness of time’.”

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Sources:

www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar

https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint

http://www.religionfacts.com/valentines-day

www.catholicculture.org

Edited by: Evan Macklin

 

Christmas Eve/Day + Epiphany + MLK Service Day And Feast of St. Paul

Christmas Eve

-refers to the evening or entire day preceding Christmas Day, the main day of Christmas, a widely celebrated festival commemorating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth that takes place on December 25. It is a culturally significant celebration for most of the Western world and is widely observed as a full or partial holiday in anticipation of Christmas Day.

One reason celebrations occur on Christmas Eve is because the traditional Christian liturgical day starts at sunset, an inheritance from Jewish tradition. This liturgical day is followed for all days in the Eastern rite[8] and the custom of beginning Christmas celebration (as well as Sunday and the other major festivals) in the preceding evening is preserved in western Churches that have altered the liturgical day to start at midnight, for example the Roman Catholic Church. Many churches still ring their church bells and hold prayers in the evening before holidays.

Since Christian tradition holds that Jesus was born at night, Midnight Mass is celebrated on Christmas Eve, traditionally at midnight, in commemoration of his birth. The idea of Jesus being born at night is reflected in the fact that Christmas Eve is referred to as “Heilige Nacht” (“Holy Night”) in German, “Nochebuena” (“the Good Night”) in Spanish and similarly in other expressions of Christmas spirituality, such as the song “Silent Night, Holy Night”.

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Christmas Day

Christmas Day or Christmas is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ, celebrated generally on December 25 as a religious and cultural holiday by billions of people around the world.

Christmas Day is the beginning of Christmastide and the Twelve Days of Christmas (also sometimes called Twelvetide) that continues until Epiphany Eve on January 5. It is preceded by Christmas Eve which in some countries is the day of the actual Christmas celebration. In many countries it is followed by a second public holiday on December 26 that goes by different names, eg. Boxing DaySt. Stephen’s Day or “Second Christmas Day”.

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Christmastide

Christmastide (“Christmas time”), more commonly called The Twelve Days of Christmas and sometimes referred to as Twelvetide (“Twelve time”), is the festive Christmas season celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It starts on Christmas Day, December 25, considered the “First Day of Christmas”, and ends on January 5 of the following year, on Epiphany Eve (also known as Twelfth Night).

Christmastide encompasses a number of important religious and secular celebrations, including Christmas Day on December 25, St. Stephen’s Day/Boxing Day on December 26, Childermas (or the Feast of the Holy Innocents) on December 28, New Year’s Eve on December 31, New Year’s Day on January 1, and Epiphany Eve (Twelfth Night) on the evening of January 5. However, Christmas Eve on December 24 and Epiphany on January 6 are not part of Christmastide.

Christmastide follows the Advent season and is followed by Epiphanytide (“Epiphany time”), the season of Epiphany.

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Epiphany

Epiphany is a Christian feast day celebrated annually on January 6 that is also known as Three Kings Day and Theophany. Epiphany means “manifestation” as it commemorates the first time Jesus’ divinity manifested itself through the visit of the Three Kings (also known as the Magi or Wise Men) and through his baptism in the river Jordan. It is a significant event in the church calendar as the celebration of the Baptism of Jesus.

Epiphany is the starting day of Epiphanytide (the Epiphany season), the liturgical period that follows Christmastide (the Christmas season) and continues until Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent (the Lenten season). It is preceded by Epiphany Eve on January 5.

Many churches celebrate Epiphany on the Sunday before or after, especially in countries where Epiphany is not a public holiday.

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MLK DAY OF SERVICE

Make it a Day ON, Not a Day Off! There are many ways you can participate in the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. You can join a project already planned in your community; you can develop your own project with family, friends, and neighbors; or if you work for an organization that mobilizes volunteers, you can make King Day the day you train new volunteers to be deployed throughout the year.

MLK Day of Service is a federal holiday (Celebrated in 2019 on January 21st) dedicated to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in honor of his legacy and passion for serving others.

Legislation signed in 1983 marked the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a federal holiday. In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading this effort. Each year, on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is observed as a “day on, not a day off.” MLK Day of Service is intended to empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers, create solutions to social problems, and move us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in a nation of freedom and justice for all, and encouraged all citizens to live up to the purpose and potential of America by applying the principles of nonviolence. MLK Day of Service is a way to honor his life and teachings by engaging in community action that continues to solve social problems. Service breaks down barriers by bringing people from different experiences together – volunteering can unite Americans of all ages and backgrounds while building stronger communities.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a vital figure of the modern era and a pivotal figure in the Civil Rights Movement. His lectures and dialogues stirred the concern and sparked the conscience of a generation. His charismatic leadership inspired men and women, young and old, in this nation and around the world.

Following in the footsteps of his father, in February 1948, at the age of 19, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. entered the Christian ministry and was ordained at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

In 1954, upon completion of graduate studies at Boston University, he accepted a call to serve at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. While there, he was an instrumental leader in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, made famous by the nonviolent resistance and arrest of Rosa Parks. He resigned this position in 1959 and moved back to Atlanta to direct the activities of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

From 1960 until his death in 1968, he served as co-pastor with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee and died on April 4, 1968.

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The Conversion of St. Paul

St. Paul, known as the Apostle to the Gentiles, was born in the city of Tarsus, a Roman city, thereby giving him Roman citizenship. At his circumcision, he was given the Hebrew name Saul. At a young age his parents sent him to Jerusalem to be instructed in the Mosaic Law under the greatest Rabbi of his time, Gamaliel.

Saul was an excellent student and as a Pharisee was respected for his great intellect and zeal for the Jewish faith and traditions. Because the Jews had a rule that their children should learn a trade along with their studies, Saul learned to make tents.  This is a trade that provided him with the finances he needed later in his life to travel and evangelize. Because of Saul’s great zeal for Jewish law and traditions, he was very upset about his Jewish brethren who were following the New Way, as Christianity was first called. So, thinking that he was serving God, Saul became the worst enemy of Christians. He hunted them down and dragged them out of their homes, imprisoning them and even having them killed. In fact, Saul was a witness to the stoning of the first Christian martyr, St. Stephen. Because Saul was a leader, he stood by and watched as those stoning Stephen laid their cloaks at his feet. It’s very likely that Saul ordered Stephen to be stoned.

Saint Luke’s recording of this story in his book of Acts is not merely an historical account. While drawing his last breath, Stephen called out to God to forgive those that were stoning him. St. Augustine later declared that had Stephen not prayed, the Church would have never had the great Apostle Paul. For it was Stephen’s prayer that planted the seed which later helped Saul on his path to conversion.

Saul’s conversion occurred when he was on his way to the city of Damascus. He had gone to the high priest and the Sanhedrin for a commission to allow him to go where he knew there were many new Christians, to arrest them and take them back to Jerusalem for trial. The journey to Damascus took about two days by horseback. When he and his men were very near the city, they were suddenly surrounded by a light so bright that it knocked Saul to the ground. The account of what happened then is related in the book of Acts, chapter 9. “They heard a voice from heaven that said: ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?’ And Saul said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting; but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’ The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul arose from the ground and when his eyes were opened he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.

“For three days he was without sight and neither ate nor drank. There was a disciple there named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘Rise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul; for behold, he is praying.  And he has seen a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.’ But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to thy saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon thy name.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of My name.’

“So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me that you may regain you sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ And immediately, something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized, took food and was strengthened.” From that time forth, Saul went on to preach about Christ. Because he was so well-known as a Pharisee and was now evangelizing for Christ, Saul began being persecuted by his Jewish brethren in the same way he had been persecuting the Christians. At some point he decided to start using his Roman name, Paul.

After spending some time with the disciples of Christ in Damascus, God called Paul to Arabia where he spent at least two years or more in the desert. It is believed that this is where Paul had visions much like the vision St. John writes about in his book of Revelation. The Lord prepared Paul to teach the Gospel, and when Paul returned from the desert, after a short stay in Damascus, he went directly to Jerusalem where he met with Peter, our first pope, and some of the other Apostles, to receive Peter’s blessing before he started on his ministry. Paul spent the rest of his life traveling and spreading the Gospel of Jesus, establishing churches and teaching others to lead in his absence. Paul’s epistles to the churches that he established make up over one-fourth of the New Testament. He truly is the greatest missionary in Church history.

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Sources:

http://www.calendarpedia.com/when-is/christmas-day.html

https://www.nationalservice.gov/serve-your-community/mlk-day-service

www.catholicexchange.com/the-conversion-of-st-paul

Edited by: Evan Macklin

Advent and Christmas 2018

What is Advent?

Advent is the name of the season in which Christians prepare for the celebration that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, Christmas. The word Advent comes from the Latin phrase “Adventus Domini”, meaning arrival of the Lord.

The Advent season is of variable length, and the start date changes every year. It starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day (also known as Advent Sunday and First Sunday of Advent), which can fall between November 27 and December 3, and always ends on Christmas Eve.

Common customs observed in churches and at home during Advent are the decoration of the house with an Advent wreath adorned with candles and the keeping of an Advent calendar.

Advent Calendar

Jesse Tree – Salvation History from Adam and Eve to the birth of Christ using figures from scripture.

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Immaculate Conception and Assumption

The Marian doctrines are, for Fundamentalists, among the most bothersome of the Catholic Church’s teachings. In this tract we’ll examine briefly two Marian doctrines that Fundamentalist writers frequently object to—the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption.

 

The Immaculate Conception

It’s important to understand what the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is and what it is not. Some people think the term refers to Christ’s conception in Mary’s womb without the intervention of a human father; but that is the Virgin Birth. Others think the Immaculate Conception means Mary was conceived “by the power of the Holy Spirit,” in the way Jesus was, but that, too, is incorrect. The Immaculate Conception means that Mary, whose conception was brought about the normal way, was conceived without original sin or its stain—that’s what “immaculate” means: without stain. The essence of original sin consists in the deprivation of sanctifying grace, and its stain is a corrupt nature. Mary was preserved from these defects by God’s grace; from the first instant of her existence she was in the state of sanctifying grace and was free from the corrupt nature original sin brings.

When discussing the Immaculate Conception, an implicit reference may be found in the angel’s greeting to Mary. The angel Gabriel said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). The phrase “full of grace” is a translation of the Greek word kecharitomene. It therefore expresses a characteristic quality of Mary.

The traditional translation, “full of grace,” is better than the one found in many recent versions of the New Testament, which give something along the lines of “highly favored daughter.” Mary was indeed a highly favored daughter of God, but the Greek implies more than that (and it never mentions the word for “daughter”). The grace given to Mary is at once permanent and of a unique kind. Kecharitomene is a perfect passive participle of charitoo, meaning “to fill or endow with grace.” Since this term is in the perfect tense, it indicates that Mary was graced in the past but with continuing effects in the present. So, the grace Mary enjoyed was not a result of the angel’s visit. In fact, Catholics hold, it extended over the whole of her life, from conception onward. She was in a state of sanctifying grace from the first moment of her existence.

Fundamentalists’ Objections
Fundamentalists’ chief reason for objecting to the Immaculate Conception and Mary’s consequent sinlessness is that we are told that “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23). Besides, they say, Mary said her “spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:47), and only a sinner needs a Savior.

Let’s take the second citation first. Mary, too, required a Savior. Like all other descendants of Adam, she was subject to the necessity of contracting original sin. But by a special intervention of God, undertaken at the instant she was conceived, she was preserved from the stain of original sin and its consequences. She was therefore redeemed by the grace of Christ, but in a special way—by anticipation.

Consider an analogy: Suppose a man falls into a deep pit, and someone reaches down to pull him out. The man has been “saved” from the pit. Now imagine a woman walking along, and she too is about to topple into the pit, but at the very moment that she is to fall in, someone holds her back and prevents her. She too has been saved from the pit, but in an even better way: She was not simply taken out of the pit, she was prevented from getting stained by the mud in the first place. This is the illustration Christians have used for a thousand years to explain how Mary was saved by Christ. By receiving Christ’s grace at her conception, she had his grace applied to her before she was able to become mired in original sin and its stain.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that she was “redeemed in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son” (CCC 492). She has more reason to call God her Savior than we do, because he saved her in an even more glorious manner!

But what about Romans 3:23, “all have sinned”? Have all people committed actual sins? Consider a child below the age of reason. By definition he can’t sin, since sinning requires the ability to reason and the ability to intend to sin. This is indicated by Paul later in the letter to the Romans when he speaks of the time when Jacob and Esau were unborn babies as a time when they “had done nothing either good or bad” (Rom. 9:11).

We also know of another very prominent exception to the rule: Jesus (Heb. 4:15). So if Paul’s statement in Romans 3 includes an exception for the New Adam (Jesus), one may argue that an exception for the New Eve (Mary) can also be made.

Paul’s comment seems to have one of two meanings. It might be that it refers not to absolutely everyone, but just to the mass of mankind (which means young children and other special cases, like Jesus and Mary, would be excluded without having to be singled out). If not that, then it would mean that everyone, without exception, is subject to original sin, which is true for a young child, for the unborn, even for Mary—but she, though due to be subject to it, was preserved by God from it and its stain.

The objection is also raised that if Mary were without sin, she would be equal to God. In the beginning, God created Adam, Eve, and the angels without sin, but none were equal to God. Most of the angels never sinned, and all souls in heaven are without sin. This does not detract from the glory of God but manifests it by the work he has done in sanctifying his creation. Sinning does not make one human. On the contrary, it is when man is without sin that he is most fully what God intends him to be.

The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was officially defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854. When Fundamentalists claim that the doctrine was “invented” at this time, they misunderstand both the history of dogmas and what prompts the Church to issue, from time to time, definitive pronouncements regarding faith or morals. They are under the impression that no doctrine is believed until the pope or an ecumenical council issues a formal statement about it.

Actually, doctrines are defined formally only when there is a controversy that needs to be cleared up or when the magisterium (the Church in its office as teacher; cf. Matt. 28:18–20; 1 Tim. 3:15, 4:11) thinks the faithful can be helped by particular emphasis being drawn to some already-existing belief. The definition of the Immaculate Conception was prompted by the latter motive; it did not come about because there were widespread doubts about the doctrine. In fact, the Vatican was deluged with requests from people desiring the doctrine to be officially proclaimed. Pope Pius IX, who was highly devoted to the Blessed Virgin, hoped the definition would inspire others in their devotion to her.

 

The Assumption
The doctrine of the Assumption says that at the end of her life on earth Mary was assumed, body and soul, into heaven, just as Enoch, Elijah, and perhaps others had been before her. It’s also necessary to keep in mind what the Assumption is not. Some people think Catholics believe Mary “ascended” into heaven. That’s not correct. Christ, by his own power, ascended into heaven. Mary was assumed or taken up into heaven by God. She didn’t do it under her own power.

The Church has never formally defined whether she died or not, and the integrity of the doctrine of the Assumption would not be impaired if she did not in fact die, but the almost universal consensus is that she did die. Pope Pius XII, in Munificentissimus Deus (1950), defined that Mary, “after the completion of her earthly life” (note the silence regarding her death), “was assumed body and soul into the glory of heaven.”

The possibility of a bodily assumption before the Second Coming is suggested by Matthew 27:52–53: “[T]he tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.”  Did all these Old Testament saints die and have to be buried all over again? There is no record of that, but it is recorded by early Church writers that they were assumed into heaven, or at least into that temporary state of rest and happiness often called “paradise,” where the righteous people from the Old Testament era waited until Christ’s resurrection (cf. Luke 16:22, 23:43; Heb. 11:1–40; 1 Pet. 4:6), after which they were brought into the eternal bliss of heaven.
No Remains
There is also what might be called the negative historical proof for Mary’s Assumption. It is easy to document that, from the first, Christians gave homage to saints, including many about whom we now know little or nothing. Cities vied for the title of the last resting place of the most famous saints. Rome, for example, houses the tombs of Peter and Paul, Peter’s tomb being under the high altar of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. In the early Christian centuries relics of saints were zealously guarded and highly prized. The bones of those martyred in the Coliseum, for instance, were quickly gathered up and preserved—there are many accounts of this in the biographies of those who gave their lives for the faith.

It is agreed upon that Mary ended her life in Jerusalem, or perhaps in Ephesus. However, neither those cities nor any other claimed her remains, though there are claims about possessing her (temporary) tomb. And why did no city claim the bones of Mary? Apparently because there weren’t any bones to claim, and people knew it. Here was Mary, certainly the most privileged of all the saints, certainly the most saintly, but we have no record of her bodily remains being venerated anywhere.

 

Complement to the Immaculate Conception
Over the centuries, the Fathers and the Doctors of the Church spoke often about the fittingness of the privilege of Mary’s Assumption. The speculative grounds considered include Mary’s freedom from sin, her Motherhood of God, her perpetual virginity, and—the key—her union with the salvific work of Christ.

The dogma is especially fitting when one examines the honor that was given to the ark of the covenant. It contained the manna (bread from heaven), stone tablets of the ten commandments (the word of God), and the staff of Aaron (a symbol of Israel’s high priesthood). Because of its contents, it was made of incorruptible wood, and Psalm 132:8 said, “Arise, O Lord, and go to thy resting place, thou and the ark of thy might.” If this vessel was given such honor, how much more should Mary be kept from corruption, since she is the new ark—who carried the real bread from heaven, the Word of God, and the high priest of the New Covenant, Jesus Christ.

Some argue that the new ark is not Mary, but the body of Jesus. Even if this were the case, it is worth noting that 1 Chronicles 15:14 records that the persons who bore the ark were to be sanctified. There would be no sense in sanctifying men who carried a box, and not sanctifying the womb who carried God himself! After all, wisdom will not dwell “in a body under debt of sin” (Wis. 1:4 NAB).

But there is more than just fittingness. After all, if Mary is immaculately conceived, then it would follow that she would not suffer the corruption in the grave, which is a consequence of sin [Gen. 3:17, 19].

 

Mary’s Cooperation
Mary freely and actively cooperated in a unique way with God’s plan of salvation (Luke 1:38; Gal. 4:4). Like any mother, she was never separated from the suffering of her Son (Luke 2:35), and Scripture promises that those who share in the sufferings of Christ will share in his glory (Rom. 8:17). Since she suffered a unique interior martyrdom, it is appropriate that Jesus would honor her with a unique glory.

All Christians believe that one day we will all be raised in a glorious form and then caught up and rendered immaculate to be with Jesus forever (1 Thess. 4:17; Rev. 21:27). As the first person to say “yes” to the good news of Jesus (Luke 1:38), Mary is in a sense the prototypical Christian, and received early the blessings we will all one day be given.

 

The Bible Only?
Since the Immaculate Conception and Assumption are not explicit in Scripture, Fundamentalists conclude that the doctrines are false. Here, of course, we get into an entirely separate matter, the question of sola scriptura, or the Protestant “Bible only” theory. There is no room in this tract to consider that idea. Let it just be said that if the position of the Catholic Church is true, then the notion of sola scriptura is false. There is then no problem with the Church officially defining a doctrine which is not explicitly in Scripture, so long as it is not in contradiction to Scripture.

The Catholic Church was commissioned by Christ to teach all nations and to teach them infallibly—guided, as he promised, by the Holy Spirit until the end of the world (John 14:26, 16:13). The mere fact that the Church teaches that something is definitely true is a guarantee that it is true (cf. Matt. 28:18-20, Luke 10:16, 1 Tim. 3:15).

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Sources:

https://www.catholic.com/tract/immaculate-conception-and-assumption

usccb.org/advent.

Edited by: Evan Macklin

October Feast days and Canonization Mass

Our Lady of the Rosary

Saint of the Day for October 7

The Story of Our Lady of the Rosary

Saint Pius V established this feast in 1573. The purpose was to thank God for the victory of Christians over the Turks at Lepanto—a victory attributed to the praying of the rosary. Clement XI extended the feast to the universal Church in 1716.

The development of the rosary has a long history. First a practice developed of praying 150 Our Fathers in imitation of the 150 Psalms. Then there was a parallel practice of praying 150 Hail Marys. Soon a mystery of Jesus’ life was attached to each Hail Mary. Though Mary’s giving of the rosary to Saint Dominic is recognized as a legend, the development of this prayer form owes much to the followers of Saint Dominic. One of them, Alan de la Roche, was known as “the apostle of the rosary.” He founded the first Confraternity of the Rosary in the 15th century. In the 16th century, the rosary was developed to its present form—with the 15 mysteries: joyful, sorrowful and glorious. In 2002, Pope John Paul II added five Mysteries of Light to this devotion.

Reflection

The purpose of the rosary is to help us meditate on the great mysteries of our salvation. Pius XII called it a compendium of the gospel. The main focus is on Jesus—his birth, life, death, and resurrection. The Our Fathers remind us that Jesus’ Father is the initiator of salvation. The Hail Marys remind us to join with Mary in contemplating these mysteries. They also make us aware that Mary was and is intimately joined with her Son in all the mysteries of his earthly and heavenly existence. The Glory Bes remind us that the purpose of all life is the glory of the Trinity.

The rosary appeals to many. It is simple. The constant repetition of words helps create an atmosphere in which to contemplate the mysteries of God. We sense that Jesus and Mary are with us in the joys and sorrows of life. We grow in hope that God will bring us to share in the glory of Jesus and Mary forever.

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St. John XXIII

Feast day: October 11
Patron of Papal delegates, Patriarchy of Venice, Second Vatican Council
Birth: 1881
Death: 1963
Beatified By: 3 September 2000 by Pope John Paul II
Canonized By: 27 April 2014 Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City by Pope Francis

The man who would be Pope John XXIII was born in the small village of Sotto il Monte in Italy, on November 25, 1881. He was the fourth of fourteen children born to poor parents who made their living by sharecropping. Named Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, the baby would eventually become one of the most influential popes in recent history, changing the Church forever.

Roncalli’s career within the Church began in 1904 when he graduated from university with a doctorate in theology. He was ordained a priest thereafter and soon met Pope Pius X in Rome.

By the following year, 1905, Roncalli was appointed to act as secretary for his bishop, Giacomo Radini-Tedeschi. He continued working as the bishop’s secretary until the bishop died in August 1914. The bishop’s last words to Roncalli were, “Pray for peace.”

Such words mattered in August 1914 as the world teetered on the brink of World War I. Italy was eventually drawn into the war and Roncalli was drafted into the Italian Army as a stretcher bearer and chaplain.

Roncalli did his duty and was eventually discharged from the army in 1919. Free to serve the Church in new capacities he was appointed to be the Italian president of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, handpicked by Pope Benedict XV.

Then in February 1925, Roncalli was summoned to the Vatican and given a new mission. This time he was sent to Bulgaria as the Apostolic Visitor to that country. Later, he was appointed aspostolic delegate to Turkey and Greece and made archbishop of Mesembria.

Beginning in 1935, racial tensions and anti-Jewish sentiment began to explode into actual acts of violence against the Jews and other ethnic minorities. Roncalli started using his influence to save what people he could from the depredation of both local authorities and later the Nazis. During his tenure as archbishop, Roncalli saved thousands of Jews, enough that he was named a “Righteous Gentile” following the war.

In late 1944, the Church was anxious to remove clergy in France that had collaborated with the Nazis in various forms. Roncalli was appointed as the new papal Nuncio and sent to France to negotiate the retirement of bishops who were involved with the Nazis.

In 1952, Roncalli was offered a new position, this time as Patriarch of Venice. At the same time he assumed his new title, Roncalli became the Cardinal-Priest of Santa Prisca. He assumed his new responsibilities on March 15, 1953.

Roncalli’s papal predecessor died on October 9, 1958 and he was soon summoned to Rome where he was to participate in the process of selecting a new pope. The College eventually settled on Roncalli for election and he accepted, saying “I will be called John,” a surprising choice because of that name’s association with schism.

As Pope John XXIII, he immediately began to change the culture in the Vatican. On Christmas, 1958, he resumed the papal practice of making visits to the community within the official Diocese of Rome. He visited the sick, the poor, and prisoners. He apologized for episodes of anti-Semitism within the Church carried on by some of his predecessors.

It was originally expected that Pope John XXIII would only serve a short time before passing away and that he would make no significant changes to Church practice. However, Pope John XXIII was a man of great mercy and kindness and much like Pope Francis of today, he did many things that created sensation in the streets and pews.

Perhaps his most influential decision was the call for an ecumenical council which would be known as Vatican II. As a result of this council, many practices of the classic Church would be altered with a new emphasis on ecumenism and a new liturgy.

Pope John XXIII addressed several topic of importance to Catholics around the world. He prohibited the use of contraceptives which interfere with the procreative will of God. He upheld the traditional view that married couples may not divorce. He also moved to protect the Church from scandal, ordering confidentiality when dealing with matters of clergy accused of the sexual abuse of children. How his request to the bishops of his time was interpreted remains subject to debate.

By late 1962, Pope John XXIII has executed most of the work for which he would be known. He was, like his own sister before him, diagnosed with stomach cancer, which was a terminal diagnosis for that time.

In his last months, he offered to negotiate peace between the Soviet Union and the United States, then at the height of the Cold War. The offer, although declined, was popular in both countries. In the wake of the news, John XXIII was the first pope to be honored as the Time Magazine Man of the Year.

Pope John XXIII did the best he could although his health and doctors were failing. On June 3, 1963, Pope John XXIII died in his bed at age 81.

The world mourned John XXIII and he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Johnson in December 1963.

Pope John XXIII generally maintained a good reputation among those who remembered him and he was often titled “the Good.”

On September 3, 2000, Pope John Paul beatified him. Miracles were attributed to him and his body was found to be in an uncorrupted state, a phenomenon consistent with sainthood. His body was put on display for the veneration of the faithful.

Pope Francis approved John XXIII for canonization on June 3, 2013, the 50th anniversary of his death.

Bl. Pope John XXIII was canonized on April 27, 2014 alongside Bl. Pope John Paul II in a historic ceremony presided by Pope Emeritus Benedict and Pope Francis. It was n historic ceremony with two living men with the title of pontiff presiding together.

Pope John XXIII’s feast day is October 11, as opposed to the day of his death, which is June 3. This special feast day is intended as a commemoration of the opening of the Second Vatican Council on October 11, 1962.

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St. Luke’s Feast Day

 
St. Luke Portrays the Virgin

Saint Luke, an early convert of paganism to Christianity was a physician who was born in Antioch, Syria. Luke was a close companion of St. Paul, whom he accompanied in prison at Rome on two different occasions. St. Luke is the writer of the third Gospel and of the Acts of the Apostles, his account of events is firsthand history.

Saint Luke is often portrayed as painting portraits of Mary. According to tradition, Luke was believed to have painted portraits of both Mary and Jesus. Centuries later, it was proven that Luke did not paint such images but he is still considered the patron saint of artists because of this tradition.

Saint Luke is also portrayed with pen in hand because he recorded the third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. He is often shown with an ox, which is a symbol of sacrifice – the sacrifice Jesus made for the world.

Saint Luke’s Feast Day is celebrated on October 18th. It can be celebrated by reading the Acts of Apostles and praying the three canticles he preserved for us – the Benedictus, the Magnificat and the Nunc Dimittis.

As the first Christian physician, Saint Luke is the patron saint of physicians and surgeons. For this reason, we honor Saint Luke on his feast day by praying through his intercession for doctors and those who care for the sick.

October 18 is also known as “St. Luke’s Little Summer,” which is a period of summer like days that occur around the 18th of October, similar to “Indian Summer.”

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St. Margaret Mary Alacoque                   

  

Feast Day: October 17

Daughter of Claude Alacoque and Philiberte Lamyn, Margaret was born on July 22, at L’Hautecour, Burgundy, France, was sent to the Poor Clares school at Charolles on the death of her father, a notary, when she was eight years old. She was bedridden for five years with rheumatic fever until she was fifteen and early developed a devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. She refused marriage, and in 1671 she entered the Visitation convent at Paray-le-Monial and was professed the next year. From the time she was twenty, she experienced visions of Christ, and on December 27, 1673, she began a series of revelations that were to continue over the next year and a half. In them Christ informed her that she was His chosen instrument to spread devotion to His Sacred Heart, instructed her in a devotion that was to become known as the Nine Fridays and the Holy Hour, and asked that the feast of the Sacred Heart be established. Rebuffed by her superior, Mother de Saumaise, in her efforts to follow the instruction she had received in the visions, she eventually won her over but was unable to convince a group of theologians of the validity of her apparitions, nor was she any more successful with many of the members of her community. She received the support of Blessed Claude La Colombiere, the community’s confessor for a time, who declared that the visions were genuine. In 1683, opposition in the community ended when Mother Melin was elected Superior and named Margaret Mary her assistant. She later became Novice Mistress, saw the convent observe the feast of the Sacred Heart privately beginning in 1686, and two years later, a chapel was built at the Paray-le-Monial to honor the Sacred Heart; soon observation of the feast of the Sacred Heart spread to other Visitation convents. Margaret Mary died at the Paray-le-Monial on October 17, and was canonized in 1920. She, St. John Eudes, and Blessed Claude La Colombiere are called the “Saints of the Sacred Heart”; the devotion was officially recognized and approved by Pope Clement XIII in 1765, seventy-five years after her death. Her feast day is observed on October 17.

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Pope Francis at Canonization Mass Oct. 14, 2018

Vatican City, Oct 14, 2018 / 05:19 am (CNA/EWTN News).- “Jesus is radical,” Pope Francis said in his homily at the canonization of Pope Paul VI, Oscar Romero, and five other new saints.

“He gives all and he asks all: he gives a love that is total and asks for an undivided heart,” the pope told the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 14.

Christ “gives himself to us as the living bread; can we give him crumbs in exchange?” the pope asked.

Francis officially recognized Pope Paul VI, Oscar Romero, Vincent Romano, Francesco Spinelli, Nunzio Sulprizio, Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa, and Maria Katharina Kasper as saints at the Mass.

“All these saints, in different contexts, put today’s word into practice in their lives, without lukewarmness, without calculation, with the passion to risk everything and to leave it all behind. May the Lord help us to imitate their example,” Pope Francis said at their canonization.

Oscar Romero, who was beatified by Pope Francis in El Salvador in 2015, was the archbishop of the nation’s capital city of San Salvador. He was shot while celebrating Mass March 24, 1980, during the birth of a civil war between leftist guerrilla forces and the dictatorial government of the right.

n outspoken critic of the violence and injustices being committed at the time, Romero was declared a martyr who was killed in hatred of the faith for his vocal defense of human rights.

Saint Oscar Romero “left the security of the world, even his own safety, in order to give his life according to the Gospel, close to the poor and to his people, with a heart drawn to Jesus and his brothers and sisters,” Pope Francis said in his homily Sunday.

“Let us ask ourselves where we are in our story of love with God. Do we content ourselves with a few commandments or do we follow Jesus as lovers, really prepared to leave behind something for him?” the pope asked.

Pope Saint Paul VI, like St. Paul, his namesake, “spent his life for Christ’s Gospel, crossing new boundaries and becoming its witness in proclamation and in dialogue, a prophet of a Church turned outwards, looking to those far away and taking care of the poor,” Francis said.

As pope, Paul VI oversaw much of the Second Vatican Council, which had been opened by Pope St. John XXIII, and in 1969 promulgated a new Roman Missal. He died in 1978, and was beatified by Pope Francis Oct. 19, 2014.

Apart from his role in the council, Paul VI is most widely known for his landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae, which was published in 1968 and reaffirmed the Church’s teaching against contraception in wake of the sexual revolution. This year marks the 50th anniversary the encyclical.

“Pope Saint Paul VI wrote: ‘It is indeed in the midst of their distress that our fellow men need to know joy, to hear its song,’” Pope Francis said.

“Today Jesus invites us to return to the source of joy, which is the encounter with him, the courageous choice to risk everything to follow him, the satisfaction of leaving something behind in order to embrace his way. The saints have travelled this path,” he continued.

The pope encouraged Catholics to imitate the saints’ detachment, “Is Jesus enough for us or do we look for many worldly securities?”

“Let us ask for the grace always to leave things behind for love of the Lord: to leave behind wealth, the yearning for status and power, structures that are no longer adequate for proclaiming the Gospel, those weights that slow down our mission, the strings that tie us to the world,” he said.

“Without a leap forward in love, our life and our Church become sick from ‘complacency and self-indulgence,’” he continued.

“The problem is on our part: our having too much, our wanting too much suffocates our hearts and makes us incapable of loving,” the pope said.

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Sources:

www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-at-canonization-mass-

www.franciscanmedia.org/our-lady-of-the-rosary/

http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint

Edited by: Evan Macklin

 

May Saints – 2018

May 1: St. Joseph the Worker

This is St. Joseph’s second feast day on the Church calendar of celebrations. We honor him also on March 19. St. Joseph is a very important saint. He is the husband of Our Lady and the foster-father of Jesus.

Today we celebrate his witness of hard work. He was a carpenter who worked long hours in his little shop. St. Joseph teaches us that the work we do is important. Through it we give our contribution and our service to our family and society. But even more than that. As Christians we realize that our work is like a mirror of ourselves. That is why we want our work to be done with diligence.

Many countries set aside one day a year to honor workers. This encourages the dignity and appreciation of work. The Church has given us a wonderful model of work, St. Joseph. In 1955, Pope Pius XII proclaimed this feast of St. Joseph the Worker to be celebrated every year.

Reflection: St. Joseph teaches us that the work we do is very important, because we give our contribution and our service to our family and society.

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May 3 – Saints Philip and James, Apostles – Feast

Feast: Liturgical Color: Red

The Popes follow one another chronologically just like the presidents of the United States. One after another, after another, each inheriting the powers and responsibilities of his office. President John F. Kennedy followed President Dwight D. Eisenhower, just as Pope St. John Paul II followed The Venerable Pope John Paul I. But there is a difference. Jesus’ placing of St. Peter as the symbolic and jurisdictional head of the universal Church is, of course, more significant than the popular election of a political leader. The papacy is different in that every Pope is, theologically speaking, the “direct successor” of St. Peter, the first Pope. From this perspective, every Pope after St. Peter is a second Pope. So, for example, the two hundredth Pope, chronologically, was still the second Pope, theologically.  No president would claim he is the direct successor of George Washington. He is the successor of his predecessor. Theological truths transcend space and time, since their source, God, exists outside of space and time. The office of St. Peter is theologically guaranteed by the easy-to-find, on-the-surface-of-the-text words of Christ Himself in the gospel. Today’s Pope, and every Pope, occupies that same office, is protected by that same divine guarantee, and immediately succeeds St. Peter when he is chosen by the Holy Spirit to occupy his chair.

What pertains to the office of the Bishop of Rome also pertains to the office of the Twelve Apostles. Today’s saints, Philip and James, were called by name by Christ Himself. And after being called, they took the step that many who are called never take. They followed! The Twelve walked at Christ’s side on dusty trails during His years of public ministry. They ate and drank with Him by the fire. They slept under the cold desert sky with Him. And Jesus looked right into their eyes, and only their eyes, and spoke directly to their faces, and only their faces, when He said on a Thursday night, “Do this in memory of me.” And then they did that in memory of Him, and many other things besides, for the rest of their lives.

The four marks of the true Church serve as a trademark. One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic form the four corners of the trademark stamp of the Church founded by Jesus Christ. The mark of “One” means the Church is visibly one in spite of its many tongues, nations, classes, and races. The Church is one in her doctrine, her Sacraments, and her hierarchy. This oneness is not theoretical. It is tangible, real, and identifiable even to those without a doctorate in theology. This one, Christ-founded Church began with twelve followers who gathered as one around Jesus. These Twelve eventually appointed their own successors, who then, in turn, appointed successors, and so on through the centuries down to the present.

 

The universal college of Bishops, the successor body to the Twelve Apostles, is the means by which the Oneness, or unity, of the Church is expressed, protected, and guaranteed. Bishops are not a secondary attribute or development of Christianity. They are embedded into, and conjoined with, the Word of God in one complex reality. They are not an outside source of authority external to Scripture. There simply would be no Scripture without that pre-existing authority to have nurtured it, developed it, and chosen it. The Church was the incubator of the New Testament.

 

Not much is known with certainty about the Apostles Philip and James, apart from their names and some few references in the New Testament. And that is just fine. It is more important to understand that their lives were the bedrock upon which the Church on earth still rests. Their theological legacy continues today in every Bishop who teaches, sanctifies, and governs the baptized people of God.

 

Saints Philip and James, your hidden witness to Christ is less well-known than that of other Apostles, but is eloquent testimony to your quiet fidelity to building the Church after the Ascension. From your exalted place in Heaven, intercede for all who seek your assistance.

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May 14 – Saint Matthias the Apostle – Feast

Conservative Muslims believe that any territory that was once settled and governed by the adherents of Mohammed pertains forever and always to the Caliphate. Once Islamic, always Islamic. The greater part of the Iberian peninsula was occupied and governed by Muslims for many centuries. It took generations of fighting for the Islamic fist to loosen its grip on Spain. By 1492, native Spanish armies had slowly pushed the Muslim armies back into the waters of the Mediterranean, which they first crossed in 711. Nevertheless, some strict followers of Mohammed dream of former glories and hope that Al-Andalus (Muslim Spain) will one day re-emerge.

 

Catholicism harbors no such illusions of glory for formerly Catholic lands, but it does practice a theological form of “Once Catholic, Always Catholic.” Many Bishops who serve in the Roman Curia exercise no authority over a diocese. Auxiliary bishops likewise share in episcopal authority but lack a territory themselves. These two categories of bishops are thus given a “titular” episcopal see. It is a see in name, or title, only of an ancient diocese that ceased to exist due to, typically, Muslim invasion. These “titular” sees were formerly called sees “in partibus infidelium,” or “in the lands of the unbelievers.” Although this Latin term is no longer used by the Holy See, its meaning is contained in the term “titular.” This custom not only preserves the memory of lost peoples and dioceses, it also has some theological support. A bishop and his diocese are married like spouses. And a diocese, once created, cannot remain a widow. A new bishop is always appointed to join himself to it. A diocese must have a spouse, even if he is a long way from home in distance and time.

 

The tradition that all bishops, beginning with the Apostles, must have successors is rooted not just in the early Church but in Judaism. The Twelve Apostles are more often referred to in the New Testament by their number than their names. They are, simply,  “The Twelve.” This custom is rooted in the twelve tribes who settled Israel after the Exodus from Egypt. These tribes were founded by the twelve sons of the Patriarch Jacob, later renamed Israel. It was inside of this Old Testament Jewish tradition that Jesus Christ acted when He chose twelve men upon whom to found His Church. Jesus specifically states that His followers will sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Mt. 19:28, Lk. 22:30). And the Book of Revelation states that the names of the twelve tribes of Israel will be written on the gates of the Heavenly Jerusalem (Rev. 21:12 ff).

 

It was fitting, then, when “The Twelve” were reduced to “The Eleven” after Judas’ self murder, that the fullness of the biblical number had to be restored. And this is where today’s saint steps out from the shadows to play his role in Christian history. The first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, the great history book of the early Church, tells us that, after the Ascension, the eleven Apostles returned to Jerusalem. There, Peter “stood up among the believers” to tell them that someone who had “accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us… must become a witness with us to his resurrection.” Two names were proposed to replace Judas: Matthias and Joseph called Barsabbas. Then the Eleven prayed to the Lord to show them the way. They cast lots. Matthias was chosen. An Apostle, for the first time, had a successor. And, of equal significance, the appointment came from the group, or college, of Apostles, led by Peter. Thus was established, just days after Christ left the earth, a form of Church preservation and growth which would be repeated, and is still repeated, tens of thousand of times in Christian history.

 

The Church has placed the Feast of St. Matthias purposefully close to the Feast of the Ascension, just as his election in Acts occurred so soon after that event in the Bible. The Holy Spirit was yet to descend at Pentecost, and still the Church performed the will of God with authority. It was all there in the beginning. It is still here all around us. The miracle of the Church and her Apostles continues. It will always continue.

Reflection: St. Matthias, we beg your intercession from your powerful throne in the Heavenly Jerusalem, that you fortify all who govern your Church to emulate “The Twelve” in their wisdom, trust, prudence, and daring in leading and spreading the Faith.

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May 31 – Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Feast

THE angel Gabriel, in the mystery of the Annunciation, informed the Mother of God that her cousin Elizabeth had miraculously conceived, and was then pregnant with a son who was to be the precursor of the Messiah. The Blessed Virgin out of humility concealed the wonderful dignity to which she was raised by the incarnation of the Son of God in her womb, but, in the transport of her holy joy and gratitude, determined she would go to congratulate the mother of the Baptist.

“Mary therefore arose,” saith St. Luke, “and with haste went into the hilly country into a city of Judea, and entering into the house of Zachary, saluted Elizabeth.” What a blessing did the presence of the God-man bring to this house, the first which He honored in His humanity with His visit! But Mary is the instrument and means by which He imparts to it His divine benediction, to show us that she is a channel through which He delights to communicate to us His graces, and to en, courage us to ask them of Him through her intercession. At the voice of the Mother of God, but by the power and grace of her divine Son in her womb, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost, and the Infant in her womb conceived so great a joy as to leap and exult. At the same time Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost, and by His infused light she understood the great mystery of the Incarnation which God had wrought in Mary, whom humility prevented from disclosing it even to a Saint, and an intimate friend. In raptures of astonishment Elizabeth pronounced her blessed above all other women, and cried out, “Whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Mary, hearing her own praise, sunk the lower in the abyss of her nothingness, and in the transport of her humility, and melting in an ecstasy of love and gratitude, burst into that admirable canticle, the Magnificat. Mary stayed with her cousin almost three months, after which she returned to Nazareth.

Reflection.—Whilst with the Church we praise God for the mercies and wonders which He wrought in this mystery, we ought to apply ourselves to the imitation of the virtues of which Mary sets us a perfect example. From her we ought particularly to learn the lessons by which we shall sanctify our visits and conversation, actions which are to so many Christians the sources of innumerable dangers and sins.

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Pentecost

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References:

www.mycatholic.life

www.mycatholiclife.com

www.catholic.org

https://www.sadlier.com/religion/

Edited by: Evan Macklin

April – May 2018

Easter Sunday – April 1, 2018

Easter is the celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. It is celebrated on Sunday, and marks the end of Holy Week, the end of Lent, the last day of the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday), and is the beginning of the Easter season of the liturgical year.

As we know from the Gospels, Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day following his crucifixion, which would be Sunday. His resurrection marks the triumph of good over evil, sin and death. It is the singular event which proves that those who trust in God and accept Christ will be raised from the dead.

Since Easter represents the fulfillment of God’s promises to mankind, it is the most important holiday on the Christian calendar.

In the Gospels, the precise details of the Easter narrative vary slightly, but none of these variances are critical to the main story. In fact, it is argued that the variances are simply matters of style and not substance. Despite the variances, the key aspects of the Easter story all match. Above all, they agree that the tomb of Christ was indeed empty, which is the most essential fact.

Based on direct evidence from the mid-second century, it is believed that Easter was regularly celebrated from the earliest days of the Church. The Easter date is movable and always falls on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25. Easter in the Roman Catholic Church is always on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox.

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St. Mark

Feastday: April 25
Patron of notaries, Venice, Barristers 
Birth: 1st Century
Death: April 25, 68 AD

Much of what we know about St. Mark, the author of the Second Gospel, comes largely from the New Testament and early Christian traditions. Mark the Evangelist is believed to be the ‘John Mark’ referred to in the Acts of the Apostles, the history of the early Church found in the Canon of the New Testament.

He was the son of Mary of Jerusalem (Acts 12:12) whose home became a meeting place for the apostles. He is also the cousin of St. Barnabas (Colossians 4:10), a Levite and a Cypriot.

Mark joined St. Paul and St. Barnabas on their first missionary journey to Antioch in 44 A.D. When the group reached Cyprus, Christian tradition holds that Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem, possibly because he was missing his home (Acts 13:13). This incident may have caused Paul to question whether Mark could be a reliable missionary. This created a disagreement between Paul and Barnabas and led Paul to refuse Mark’s accompaniment on their second journey to the churches of Cilicia and the rest of Asia Minor.

However, it can be assumed the troubles between Paul and Mark did not last long, because when Paul was first imprisoned, Mark, who was at the time in Rome with plans of visiting Asia Minor, visited him as one of his trusted companions (Col 4:10).

Mark’s hopes to visit Asia Minor were most likely carried out, because during Paul’s second captivity and just before his martyrdom, Paul wrote to Timothy at Ephesus advising him to “take Mark and bring him with you [to Rome], for he is profitable to me for the ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11). If Mark returned to Rome at this time, he was probably there when Paul was martyred.

According to Christian tradition, Mark also held a close relationship with St. Peter, who referred to Mark has ‘his son’ in his letter addressed to a number of churches in Asia Minor (1 Peter 5:13). Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus and Papias all indicate that Mark was an interpreter for Peter.

Although Papias states Mark had not personally heard the Lord speak firsthand and, like Luke, Mark was not one of the twelve apostles, some believe Mark was likely speaking of himself when he wrote the description of Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemani. “Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked” (Mark 14:51-52).

St. Mark lived for years in Alexandria, where he died as a martyr while being dragged through the streets.

Mark’s Gospel was probably written between 60 and 70 A.D., and was based upon the teachings of St. Peter. It is believed Mark provided both Luke and Matthew with basic sources for their Gospel’s.

He was probably the first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt and the founder of the Church of Alexandria, although he is not mentioned in connection to the city by either Clement of Alexandria nor by Origen.

In 828, relics of St. Mark were stolen from Alexandria and taken to Venice, Italy. There they are enshrined in a beautiful cathedral dedicated to the saint.

St. Mark’s symbol is a winged lion. This is believed to be derived from his description of St. John the Baptist, as “a voice of one crying out in the desert” (Mark 1:3). The wings come from Ezekiel’s vision of four winged creatures as the evangelists.

He is often depicted as writing or holding his Gospel. He is sometimes shown as a bishop on a throne or as a man helping Venetian sailors.

St. Mark is the patron saint of Venice. His feast day is celebrated on April 25.

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21’st Anniversary!

 

On St.Marks feast day, our pastor, Father Richard Allen was ordained into the priesthood on the 5’th of April. Happy 21’st anniversary!

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Ascension Day: Ascension of Our Lord

“HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN AND IS SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER”

 

The Feast of the Ascension of the Lord Jesus helps to explain the Christian vocation. It points to the ongoing plan of redemption for each of us. It gives us a glimpse of the loving plan of God for the whole of creation.

This Feast also points us toward a deeper understanding of the Feast of Pentecost which we will soon celebrate. The very Breath of God, His Holy Spirit, has been breathed into the Body of Christ, the Church – and into each one of us as members of that Body.

That Spirit makes it possible for us to live differently – beginning right now. It is at work within us, transforming us more and more into His Image and Likeness, as we cooperate with the gift of grace.

That Spirit empowers and equips us to participate in the ongoing redemptive mission of Jesus Christ, as it continues through His Body, the Church.

We have ascended with Jesus Christ – and are called to live on this earth the very realities of heaven. This is meant to begin in the here and now, to be completed in the fullness of time.

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May 20, 2018 – Pentecost Sunday

Happy birthday to the Catholic Church! Happy birthday to you, who are the body of the Church!

We’re all familiar with our own birthdays, and we celebrate them because they mark the day of the year in which we entered into this life. But did you know you have a second birthday?

Because you are part of the body of the Church, Pentecost is the Church’s birthday, and yours as well. And like any birthday, it’s a cause for celebration.

The word Pentecost is Greek and it means “50th day.” Fifty days after Easter Sunday, we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and their followers, and the beginning of their Earthly ministry to make disciples of all nations.

Pentecost is also a Jewish holiday, which the Jews use to celebrate the end of Passover. Jews celebrate the gift of the law to Moses at Mt. Sinai on this day. But we, as Catholics celebrate the birth of our Church.

At Pentecost, the Apostles and their followers were gathered in a room. Jews from all over the world were gathered with Peter, the leader of the Apostles and the Eleven. At this time, a great wind blew and a flame appeared as a tongue of fire, which split itself into many individual flames above the heads of all those present. The Holy Spirit came upon these people and each began to speak in tongues. Despite the fact many had no common language, they were perfectly able to understand one another.

Others who were not so blessed, accused those speaking in tongues of being drunk, but Peter arose and addressed the crowd, explaining that it was only 9 o’clock, and that this phenomenon was not intoxication, but rather this was the work of the Holy Spirit, prophesized in the scripture.

Peter then called all those present to be baptized and about three thousand people were baptized that day.

These people were among the first Catholics, and Peter is the first pope of the Catholic Church.

The symbols of Pentecost are the flame, wind, and the dove, which represents the Holy Spirit. The color of Pentecost is red and the priest wears red vestments on this day. Parishioners are also invited to wear red on this day. Red decorations as well as celebrations are appropriate, similar to any other birthday. Special prayers are often said just for Pentecost.

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1 COR 12:3B-7, 12-13

Brothers and sisters:
No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.

As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

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This is a helpful article of five ways we can pursue peace in our daily lives.

https://www.dayspring.com/articles/category/peace/in-pursuit-of-peace

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Sources: https://www.catholic.org/lent/easter.php

https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=305

https://www.catholic.org/lent/ascension.php

https://www.catholic.org/lent/pentecost.php

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052018-mass-during-day.cfm

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Edited by: Evan Macklin

 

March Feast Days

History of St. Joseph’s Day

 

St. Joseph’s Day, also known as the Feast of Saint Joseph, is the feast day for St. Joseph – which falls on March 19th each year. Saint Joseph is believed by Christians to have been the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the step-father of Jesus Christ.  In Poland and Canada, it is a Patronal Feast Day and is Father’s Day in some Catholic countries such as Italy and Spain. In Switzerland, it is a public holiday.

St. Joseph is pictured hold a Lily to signify his purity and marriage to Mary, along with caring for the holy family.

St. Joseph’s Day is celebrated all over the world. In Sicily, participants usually wear red and build what is known as “St. Joseph’s Table.” This table is often decorated with flowers and candles, and people place wine and foods on it that are considered lucky. Some of these lucky foods include fava beans, lemons, and foods that contain sawdust. All of these foods have symbolic meanings. Fava beans were the only things that survived a drought during the Middle Ages in Italy – which is why it is considered lucky. Breadcrumbs are worked into the recipes of the dishes because St. Joseph was a carpenter and the breadcrumbs represent sawdust. Some people place fish and seafood on the altar as well. However, what is not placed on St. Joseph’s Table is any dish which contains meat. That’s because this holiday occurs during Lent.

 

The Origins of St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the Roman Catholic feast day of the patron saint of Ireland. St. Patrick died on March 17, 461. But did you know that he wasn’t even Irish? Here are some fun facts about St. Patrick.

History:

Patrick’s birth name was Maewyn. He was born in Roman Britain. He was kidnapped into slavery and brought to Ireland.

He escapted to a monastery in Gaul (France) and converted to Christianity. He went back to Ireland in 432 as a missionary. While Christianity had already taken hold in the country, tradition has it that Patrick confronted the Druids at Tara and abolished their pagan rites, making Christianity more widespread.

Patrick became a bishop and after his death was named Ireland’s patron saint. Celebrations in Ireland were understated though. When the Irish emigrated to the U.S., they created the bigger celebrations and parades known today.

Eighteenth century Irish soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War held the first St. Patrick Day parades. The celebrations became a way for the Irish to connect with their roots after they moved to America.

Fun Facts:

The shamrock: According to legend St. Patrick used the three leaf clover (or shamrock) to explain the Trinity.

Dyeing the river green: The practice of dyeing the river green started in Chicago in 1962, when city officials decided to dye a portion of the Chicago River green.

Corn beef and cabbage: This is an Irish American dish. Irish Americans were so poor they could not afford certain meals. On St. Patrick’s Day, the best meal they could afford was beef and cabbage. It became a staple for the holiday.

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Sources: http://www.holidayscalendar.com/event/st-josephs-day/

Edited by: Evan Macklin