Adult Faith Formation Items
Last modified on 2018-01-31 20:30:57 GMT.
Ordinary Time: February 2nd
Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
Almighty ever-living God, we humbly implore your majesty that, just as your Only Begotten Son was presented on this day in the Temple in the substance of our flesh, so, by your grace, we may be presented to you with minds made pure. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Presentation of the Lord which occurs forty days after the birth of Jesus and is also known as Candlemas day, since the blessing and procession of candles is included in today’s liturgy.
According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is referred to as the “Purification of Mary.” This is known as a “Christmas feast” since it points back to the Solemnity of Christmas. Many Catholics practice the tradition of keeping out the Nativity creche or other Christmas decorations until this feast.
Today’s first reading gives us an important insight to understand profoundly the mystery of the Lord’s Presentation in the Temple by Mary and Joseph, in accordance with the canons of Mosaic Law. The text, taken from the Prophet Malachi says, ‘I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; and suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord who you seek’ (Mal 3:1). From all the Gospels, we know that it is the Precursor, St John the Baptist who was born 6 months before Jesus, that God sent to prepare His way. Putting these evangelical facts together, we can comprehend the words of the Prophet Malachi. The Lord God promised that He would send a Precursor to prepare His way. Since there is only 6 months between the birth of St John the Baptist and Jesus it is clear that the prophecy meant that suddenly after the Precursor, the Lord Himself will come. So, soon after the Baptist’s birth, God entered His temple. Jesus’ presentation signifies God’s entrance to His temple. God made man entered His temple, presenting Himself to those who were really searching for Him.
“In obedience to the Old Law, the Lord Jesus, the first-born, was presented in the Temple by his Blessed Mother and his foster father. This is another ‘epiphany’ celebration insofar as the Christ Child is revealed as the Messiah through the canticle and words of Simeon and the testimony of Anna the prophetess. Christ is the light of the nations, hence the blessing and procession of candles on this day. In the Middle Ages this feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or ‘Candlemas,’ was of great importance.
“The specific liturgy of this Candlemas feast, the blessing of candles, is not as widely celebrated as it should be, except of course whenever February 2 falls on a Sunday and thus takes precedence. There are two ways of celebrating the ceremony, either the Procession, which begins at a ‘gathering place’ outside the church, or the Solemn Entrance, celebrated within the church.”
Until 1969, the ancient feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, which is of Oriental origin, was known in the West as the feast of the Purification of Our Lady, and closed the Christmas Cycle, forty days after the Lord’s birth.
Gospel LK 2:22-40
When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:
“Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”
Edited by: Evan Macklin
Last modified on 2018-01-31 20:19:11 GMT.
January 2018 – Overview for the Month
Thou shalt call His Name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.
The month of January is dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus, which is celebrated on January 3. The first eight days of January fall during the liturgical season known as Christmas which is represented by the liturgical color white. The remaining days of January are the beginning of Ordinary Time. The liturgical color changes to green — a symbol of the hope of reaping the eternal harvest of heaven, especially the hope of a glorious resurrection.
January 1: Mary, Mother of God
Remember on Christmas morning how we found our way to the stable? It may have been the stable on the mantle or under the Christmas tree or in our parish church. We gazed at the baby in the manger just like the shepherds had done so long ago. Jesus was there with Mary and Joseph. Today we begin our new year at the Eucharistic Celebration. We thank God for Mary, Jesus’ mother, who brought the Savior into the world. Because she is the mother of Jesus, God’s Son, she truly is the Mother of God. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary conceived Jesus. Joseph was Jesus’ loving foster-father.
God chose Mary to be the mother of his Son. She was a teenager and her parents were Joachim and Anne. Mary loved God and her Jewish religion. She was probably considered ordinary by her neighbors. It would be God’s work in her that would make her so special, so blessed. God sent the Archangel Gabriel to Mary’s town of Nazareth. The angel asked her to accept a wonderful plan-wonderful for her and for all of us. Mary wanted to please God and she accepted the plan. She became Jesus’ mother. Mary and her husband, Joseph, tried to raise Jesus the best way they could and with great love. Jesus spent many happy, quiet years with Mary and Joseph in Nazareth.
When Jesus was about thirty years old, he began his preaching and healing ministry. This is usually called his public life. It seems that sometime before that Joseph had died. Jesus could not now stay just in the little home and carpenter shop at Nazareth. Mary frequently went with her friends to be near her Son. Mary attended a marriage celebration in Cana. Jesus and his disciples came too. When the wine was gone, Mary asked Jesus to do something. She wanted him to save the couple from being embarrassed in front of their guests. He worked the miracle of turning plain water into delicious wine. Mary loved Jesus and believed in him. She was there when he was nailed to the cross. In fact, she stayed right beneath the cross and received his dead body into her arms. After the resurrection, Mary waited with Jesus’ apostles for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. The apostles loved her. They knew they needed more courage to be real followers of Jesus. Mary prayed for them and encouraged them. She taught them how to be disciples of her Son. Mary’s feast days are special events that happen throughout the year. Today’s feast honors her as God’s Mother. She wants to be our mother, too.
January 25: Conversion of St. Paul
Paul lived at the time of Jesus but as far as we know they never met. Paul was first called Saul. As a young man, he was a very bright student of the Hebrew religion. When he grew older, he persecuted the followers of Jesus.
In the Bible’s Acts of the Apostles, we read about Saul’s amazing conversion (chapters 9, 22, 26). What happened? One day, Paul was on his way to the city of Damascus to hunt down more Christians. Suddenly, a great light shone all around him. As he fell to the ground blind, he heard a voice say, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Saul answered, “Who are you, Sir?” And the voice said, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting.” Saul was shocked and confused. After a few seconds, he asked, “What do you want me to do?” Jesus told him to continue on to Damascus and there he would be told what to do.
At that moment, through the power of God, Saul received the gift to believe in Jesus. Weak and trembling, he reached out for help. His companions led him into Damascus. The light had blinded him temporarily. Now that he was blind he could really “see” the truth. And Jesus had come personally to meet him, to invite him to conversion. Saul became a great lover of Jesus. After his baptism, he thought only of helping everyone know and love Jesus, the Savior.
We know Saul by his Roman name of Paul. He is called “the apostle.” He traveled all over the world, preaching the Good News. He led countless people to Jesus. He worked and suffered. His enemies tried to kill him several times. Yet nothing could stop him. When he was old and tired, he was once again put in prison and sentenced to die. Still St. Paul was happy to suffer and even die for Christ.
This great apostle wrote marvelous letters to the Christians. They are in the Bible. These letters, called epistles, are read frequently during the Liturgy of the Word at Mass.
January 26: St. Timothy and St. Titus
Besides being saints and bishops in the early Church, these two men have something else in common. Both received the gift of faith through the preaching of St. Paul.
Timothy was born in Lycaonia in Asia Minor. His mother was a Jew and his father was a Gentile. When Paul came to preach in Lycaonia, Timothy, his mother and his grandmother all became Christians. Several years later, Paul went back and found Timothy grown up. He felt that Timothy had a call from God to be a missionary. Paul invited him to join him in preaching the Gospel. So it was that Timothy left his home and parents to follow Paul. He was soon to share in Paul’s sufferings as well. They would have the joy of bringing the Word of God to many people. Timothy was the great apostle’s beloved disciple, like a son to him. He went everywhere with Paul until he became bishop of Ephesus. Then Timothy stayed there to shepherd his people. As St. Paul, Timothy, too, died a martyr.
Titus was a Gentile nonbeliever. He, too, became Paul’s disciple. Titus was generous and hard-working. He joyfully preached the Good News with Paul on their missionary travels. Because Titus was so trustworthy, Paul freely sent him on many “missions” to the Christian communities. Titus helped people strengthen their faith in Jesus. He was able to restore peace when there were arguments among the Christians. Titus had a special gift for being a peacemaker. Paul appreciated this gift in Titus and recognized it as the Holy Spirit’s work. Paul would send Titus to iron out difficulties. When Titus would arrive among a group of Christians, the guilty ones would feel sorry. They would ask forgiveness and would make up for what they had done. When peace was restored, Titus would go back and tell Paul about the good results. This brought Paul and the first Christians much happiness.
St. Paul made Titus bishop of the island of Crete, where he stayed until his death.
Reflection: “Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching.” (2 Tm 4:2)
Edited by: Evan Macklin
Last modified on 2018-01-31 20:11:01 GMT.
Why Catholics Believe in the Immaculate Conception
It was Mary’s closeness to Christ that made her receive God’s “fullness of grace” to be sinless. Without God’s grace, it would have been impossible for Mary to be sinless, and she too would be like the rest of humanity. However, because of her decision to say, “yes” in giving birth to Christ, she was given a special privilege by having no sin touch her. Catholics believe that God wanted a perfectly pure woman to carry His Son, the God of the universe, for nothing else short of perfection would do.
The Immaculate Conception of Mary continues to be a major disagreement point by other Christian denominations towards the Catholic faith. Many people say that the Immaculate Conception somehow takes away from Christ’s glory and message. Some will say that this belief in Mary is not found in the Bible, or that it blatantly contradicts the Bible’s words. There are also thousands of people who mistakenly believe what the Catholic Church teaches about the Immaculate Conception, which unfortunately has lead to many misguided opinions. What evidence do Catholics have to defend their belief in Mary’s Immaculate Conception?
Evidence from the Scriptures:
“And the angel came in unto her, and said, hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” – Luke 1:28
It is the term “full of grace” that is emphasized by the Church when dealing with Mary’s Immaculate Conception. The title “full of grace” comes from the Greek word kecharitomene, which describes a “perfection” and “abundance” of grace. In other words, Mary was proclaimed by the angel to be with a perfection of grace, which was a very powerful statement. How can Mary be completely and perfectly with God’s grace, yet still have sin left in her? Christians eventually came to recognize that it was extremely possible for Mary to be without sin, especially if she was completely filled with God’s grace. Luke 1:28 happens to be the only place in the Bible where anyone is addressed with the important title of “full of grace.”
“the Holy Ghost shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God.” – Luke 1:35
Luke 1:35 shows Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant. According to the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant was the pure and holy vessel that held the Ten Commandments (the Old Covenant). The Ark was so holy in fact, that if anyone where to touch it they could actually fall down and die! It was housed in the Holy of Holies, which was a perfectly clean place where the Jewish high priests could enter only once a year according to their law (See Lev. 16:2-4). So how are Mary and the Ark related? The same language that describes God’s “dwelling” place for the Old Ark is used again for Mary’s overshadowing by the Holy Spirit. Put another way, the Old Ark held God’s Ten Commandments and could not be touched by human hands because of its holiness. Mary, the New Ark, holds the New Covenant in her womb, which is Jesus Christ. How much holier is Christ than the Ten Commandments? It only makes sense that for Mary to hold God in her womb, she too would be completely pure and without any sin.
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed (offspring) and hers; He (she) will crush your head while you strike at his (her) heel.” – Genesis 3:15
What does the book of Genesis have to do with Mary’s Immaculate Conception? Genesis 3:15 is the first passage in the Bible that refers to Jesus defeating Satan on the cross. It is also the first verse that shows us how Mary would become the New Eve. The seed of the woman, who would crush the serpent’s head, is Jesus. The woman at enmity, or hostility with the serpent, is Mary. It was God who put this hostility between Mary and Satan (the serpent), and it is believed to be in the same likeness as Christ’s hostility for the seed of the serpent. What exactly does all this mean? For Mary to be like Christ in His hostility for Satan forever, it is very possible to say that this passage implies Mary’s lack of sin. What better way is there to be in total hostility with Satan than to be in God’s constant grace? As the New Eve, Mary undid the “no” of the Old Testament Eve by saying, “yes” to carry Jesus.
Pope Pius IX officially defined the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception in the year 1854. He did so with the understanding that this belief would help the Catholic faithful grow spiritually towards Christ. The belief that Mary was without sin was not “invented” as numerous people mistakenly think. Many are still under the false impression that the Immaculate Conception was not believed until the year 1854 when it was defined. What they fail to realize is that the belief itself has extremely strong roots in Church writings going well back into the 4th century.
“Every personal sin must be excluded from the Blessed Virgin Mary for the sake of the honor of God.” – St. Augustine, 390 AD.
“Mary, a virgin not only undefiled but a virgin whom grace has made inviolate, free from every stain.” – St. Ambrose of Milan, 340-370 AD.
“You, and your Mother are alone in this. You are wholly beautiful in every respect. There is in you, Lord, no stain, nor any spot in your Mother.” – St. Ephraem, 350 AD.
In fact, there are literally dozens of cases where early Church fathers have mentioned Mary as being without sin, using such words as “All-Holy One,” “All-Sinless One,” and “Immaculate.” It proves that the idea of Mary’s sinlessness was not uncommon in the first few centuries of the Church. As time passed, the Eastern Church began to show its strong love for the Immaculate Conception with its own feast day beginning in the 8th to 9th century. By the 12th century, the Western Church was celebrating the feast of the Immaculate Conception all over Europe, and by the end of the 15th century, it was universally recognized and defended as true Christian doctrine.
Feast Day in the USA – December 12th
OUR Lady of Guadalupe – Guadalupe, Mexico (1531)
Patroness of the Americas
The opening of the New World brought with it both fortune-seekers and religious preachers desiring to convert the native populations to the Christian faith. One of the converts was a poor Aztec Indian named Juan Diego. On one of his trips to the chapel, Juan was walking through the Tepayac hill country in central Mexico. Near Tepayac Hill he encountered a beautiful woman surrounded by a ball of light as bright as the sun. Speaking in his native tongue, the beautiful lady identified herself:
“My dear little son, I love you. I desire you to know who I am. I am the ever-virgin Mary, Mother of the true God who gives life and maintains its existence. He created all things. He is in all places. He is Lord of Heaven and Earth. I desire a church in this place where your people may experience my compassion. All those who sincerely ask my help in their work and in their sorrows will know my Mother’s Heart in this place. Here I will see their tears; I will console them and they will be at peace. So run now to Tenochtitlan and tell the Bishop all that you have seen and heard.”
Juan, age 57, and who had never been to Tenochtitlan, nonetheless immediately responded to Mary’s request. He went to the palace of the Bishop-elect Fray Juan de Zumarraga and requested to meet immediately with the bishop. The bishop’s servants, who were suspicious of the rural peasant, kept him waiting for hours. The bishop-elect told Juan that he would consider the request of the Lady and told him he could visit him again if he so desired. Juan was disappointed by the bishop’s response and felt himself unworthy to persuade someone as important as a bishop. He returned to the hill where he had first met Mary and found her there waiting for him. Imploring her to send someone else, she responded:
My little son, there are many I could send. But you are the one I have chosen.” She then told him to return the next day to the bishop and repeat the request. On Sunday, after again waiting for hours, Juan met with the bishop who, on re-hearing his story, asked him to ask the Lady to provide a sign as a proof of who she was. Juan dutifully returned to the hill and told Mary, who was again waiting for him there, of the bishop’s request. Mary responded:
“My little son, am I not your Mother? Do not fear. The Bishop shall have his sign. Come back to this place tomorrow. Only peace, my little son.” Unfortunately, Juan was not able to return to the hill the next day. His uncle had become mortally ill and Juan stayed with him to care for him. After two days, with his uncle near death, Juan left his side to find a priest. Juan had to pass Tepayac Hill to get to the priest. As he was passing, he found Mary waiting for him. She spoke:
“Do not be distressed, my littlest son. Am I not here with you who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Your uncle will not die at this time. There is no reason for you to engage a priest, for his health is restored at this moment. He is quite well. Go to the top of the hill and cut the flowers that are growing there. Bring them then to me.” While it was freezing on the hillside, Juan obeyed Mary’s instructions and went to the top of the hill where he found a full bloom of Castilian roses. Removing his tilma, a poncho-like cape made of cactus fiber, he cut the roses and carried them back to Mary. She rearranged the roses and told him:
“My little son, this is the sign I am sending to the Bishop. Tell him that with this sign I request his greatest efforts to complete the church I desire in this place. Show these flowers to no one else but the Bishop. You are my trusted ambassador. This time the Bishop will believe all you tell him.” At the palace, Juan once again came before the bishop and several of his advisors. He told the bishop his story and opened the tilma letting the flowers fall out. But it wasn’t the beautiful roses that caused the bishop and his advisors to fall to their knees; for there, on the tilma, was a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary precisely as Juan had described her. The next day, after showing the Tilma at the Cathedral, Juan took the bishop to the spot where he first met Mary. He then returned to his village where he met his uncle who was completely cured. His uncle told him he had met a young woman, surrounded by a soft light, who told him that she had just sent his nephew to Tenochtitlan with a picture of herself. She told his uncle:
“Call me and call my image Santa Maria de Guadalupe”.
A brief history of the holiday
The first time the birth of Jesus Christ was attributed to the date December 25 was in the 4th century, according to early Roman history. Early celebrations of Christmas are thought to have derived from Roman and other European festivals that marked the end of the harvest, and the winter solstice.
Some customs from those celebrations that have endured include decorating homes with greenery, giving gifts, singing songs, and eating special foods.
The holiday developed further with the legend of St. Nicholas. Although much of his history is unconfirmed, the man who became St. Nicholas lived in the 4th century and is believed to have been a bishop in Asia Minor.
Many miracles attributed to him are dubious at best. Nevertheless, some countries named him their patron saint. He also is considered the patron saint of, among others, children (for protecting them), sailors (whom he reputedly saved at sea), and the poor (to whom he generously gave gifts).
In his honor, the Feast of St. Nicholas was marked on December 6 and gifts given the night before. The tradition was well established in many European countries by the 12th century. Eventually, because St. Nicholas’ Day and Christmas Day are so close together, their traditions generally were combined.
St. Nicholas took on different personas in different countries. For example, The Netherlands have Sinter Klaas; Father Christmas gives gifts in Great Britain; Père Noël does the same in France; and in Germany St. Nicholas has had many names including Klaasbuur, Burklaas, Rauklas, Bullerklaas, and Sunnercla, although Father Christmas is becoming more popular. In the United States, the Dutch settlers’ Sinter Klaas evolved into Santa Claus.
Birth of Jesus – Bible Story
This is a summary on the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus. You can read more in-depth Bible verses from the Scripture below to understand the meaning behind this world-changing event in the Bible. Almost 2,000 years ago a young woman from the town of Nazareth named Mary was visited by an angel named Gabriel. Gabriel told the Jewish woman that she would have a son named Jesus and that he would be the Son of God. At this time, Mary was engaged to her soon-to-be husband Joseph. When told Joseph he was hurt and confused because he did not believe Mary. The angel Gabriel visited Joseph and told him that Mary would be pregnant from the Lord and that she would have a son named Jesus who would save the people from their sins.
Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem because of an order from the Roman emperor that a census, or record, of all people be taken in their hometown. After traveling pregnant on a donkey for several days, Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem and were told that there were no places to stay. The inns were full. Seeing that Mary was due at any moment, an owner of an inn told Joseph that they could stay in his stable.
Mary and Joseph settled down on the hay in a stable with animals sleeping. Mary went into labor and Jesus was born in the stable. The only place for the sleeping baby to rest was most likely in the animal’s trough, known as the manger.
During this time, an angel appeared to shepherds who were watching their flocks in the fields near Bethlehem. The angel told them the good news of the birth of the Savior and Messiah, Jesus Christ. The shepherds immediately went to find baby Jesus, which the angels told them they would find sleeping in the manger.
After some time, three wise men, also known as magi, saw the brilliant star in that sky that rested over where Jesus was born. The three wise men traveled from a far eastern country to find the new king. During the wise mens trip, Herod the king of Judah, met with the wise men and told them to come back and let him know where the baby king was so that he could go worship him as well. The wise men continued to Bethlehem and found Jesus right where the star pointed .They knelt and worshipped the Savior and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They then traveled back home a different way knowing that King Herod was not intending to worship Jesus but that he planned to kill the baby.
Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus and the coming of our Savior at Christmas time.
Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist
St. John, the Evangelist, who is styled in the Gospel, “the beloved disciple”, was a Galilean, son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother to St. James the Greater, both of whom were fishermen. The two were called by Jesus to be disciples as they were mending their nets by the Sea of Galilee.
Jesus showed St. John particular instances of kindness and affection above all the rest. He had the happiness to be present with Peter and James at the Transfiguration of Christ, and was permitted to witness His agony in the Garden. He was allowed to rest on Our Savior’s bosom at the Last Supper, and to him Jesus confided the care of His holy Mother as He hung dying on the Cross.
St. John was the only one of the Apostles who did not forsake the Savior in the hour of His Passion and Death.
It seems that St. John remained for a long time in Jerusalem, but that his later years were spent at Ephesus, whence he founded many churches in Asia Minor. St. John wrote his Gospel after the other Evangelists, about sixty-three years after the Ascension of Christ; also three Epistles, and the wonderful and mysterious Book of the Apocalypse or Revelation. He was brought to Rome and, according to tradition, was cast into a caldron of boiling oil by order of Emperor Domitian. Like the Three Children in the fiery furnace of Babylon, he was miraculously preserved unhurt.
He was later exiled to the Island of Patmos, where he wrote the Apocalypse, but afterwards returned to Ephesus.
In his extreme old age he continued to visit the churches of Asia. St. Jerome relates that when age and weakness grew upon him so that he was no longer able to preach to the people, he would be carried to the assembly of the faithful by his disciples, with great difficulty; and every time said to his flock only these words: “My dear children, love one another.”
St. John died in peace at Ephesus in the third year of Trajan (as seems to be gathered from Eusebius’ history of the Saint); that is, the hundredth of the Christian era, or the sixty-sixth from the crucifixion of Christ, St. John then being about ninety-four years old, according to St. Epiphanus.
Sources: Encarta 96 Encyclopedia, World Book, Encyclopedia Brittanica
Excerpted from Heavenly Friends, St. Paul Editions
Edited by: Evan Macklin
Last modified on 2017-11-13 20:24:42 GMT.
All Saints’ Day
All Saints’ Day is a solemn holy day of the Catholic Church celebrated annually on November 1. The day is dedicated to the saints of the Church, that is, all those who have attained heaven. It should not be confused with All Souls’ Day, which is observed on November 2, and is dedicated to those who have died and not yet reached heaven.
Generally, All Saints’ Day is a Catholic Holy Day of Obligation. Other countries have different rules according to their national bishop’s conferences. The bishops of each conference have the authority to amend the rules surrounding the obligation of the day.
All Saints’ Day was formally started by Pope Boniface IV, who consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs on May 13 in 609 AD. Boniface IV also established All Souls’ Day, which follows All Saints.
Following the Protestant Reformation, many Protestants retained the holy day, although they dismissed the need to pray for the dead. Instead, the day has been used to commemorate those who have recently died, usually in the past year, and to remember the examples of those who lived holy lives.
The Catholic practice however, celebrates all those who have entered heaven, including saints who are recognized by the Church and those who are not.
Holy day customs vary around the world. In the United States, the day before is Halloween and is usually celebrated by dressing in costumes with themes of death commonly associated. Although nearly everyone celebrates Halloween for the fun of the secular holiday, the following religious solemnity, is not widely practiced or acknowledged by most Americans unless they are Catholic.
It is important to remember these basic facts:
–Halloween is a secular holiday that comes the night before All Saints’ Day.
–All Saints’ Day is on November 1, and it is a Holy Day of Obligation.
–All Souls’ Day in on November 2, and it is NOT a Holy Day of Obligation.
All Souls Day
According to Catholic belief, the soul of a person who dies can go to one of three places. The first is heaven, where a person who dies in a state of perfect grace and communion with God goes. The second is hell, where those who die in a state of mortal sin are naturally condemned by their choice. The intermediate option is purgatory, which is thought to be where most people, free of mortal sin, but still in a state of lesser (venial) sin, must go.
In the Roman Catholic Church, the next day, All Souls’ Day, specifically commemorates the departed faithful who have not yet been purified and reached heaven. Catholics celebrate All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day in the fundamental belief that there is a prayerful spiritual communion between those in the state of grace who have died and are either being purified in purgatory or are in heaven (the ‘church penitent’ and the ‘church triumphant’, respectively), and the ‘church militant’ who are the living.
Purgatory is necessary so that souls can be cleansed and perfected before they enter into heaven. There is scriptural basis for this belief. The primary reference is in 2 Maccabees, 12:26 and 12:32. “Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out… Thus made atonement for the dead that they might be free from sin.”
Consistent with these teachings and traditions, Catholics believe that through the prayers of the faithful on Earth, the dead are cleansed of their sins so they may enter into heaven.
Additional references are found in Zechariah, Sirach, and the Gospel of Matthew.
POPE ST. LEO THE GREAT
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2017
Nov. 10 is the Roman Catholic Church’s liturgical memorial of the fifth-century Pope Saint Leo I, known as “St. Leo the Great,” whose involvement in the fourth ecumenical council helped prevent the spread of error on Christ’s divine and human natures.
St. Leo intervened for the safety of the Church in the West as well, persuading Attila the Hun to turn back from Rome.
Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians also maintain a devotion to the memory of Pope St. Leo the Great. Churches of the Byzantine tradition celebrate his feast day on Feb. 18.
“As the nickname soon attributed to him by tradition suggests,” Pope Benedict XVI said in a 2008 general audience on the saint, “he was truly one of the greatest pontiffs to have honored the Roman See and made a very important contribution to strengthening its authority and prestige.”
Leo’s origins are obscure and his date of birth unknown. His ancestors are said to have come from Tuscany, though the future pope may have been born in that region or in Rome itself. He became a deacon in Rome in approximately 430, during the pontificate of Pope Celestine I.
During this time, central authority was beginning to decline in the Western portion of the Roman Empire. At some point between 432 and 440, during the reign of Pope St. Celestine’s successor Pope Sixtus III, the Roman Emperor Valentinian III commissioned Leo to travel to the region of Gaul and settle a dispute between military and civil officials.
Pope Sixtus III died in 440 and, like his predecessor Celestine, was canonized as a saint. Leo, away on his diplomatic mission at the time of the Pope’s death, was chosen to be the next Bishop of Rome. Reigning for over two decades, he sought to preserve the unity of the Church in its profession of faith, and to ensure the safety of his people against frequent barbarian invasions.
Leo used his authority, in both doctrinal and disciplinary matters, against a number of heresies troubling the Western church – including Pelagianism (involving the denial of Original Sin) and Manichaeanism (a gnostic system that saw matter as evil). In this same period, many Eastern Christians had begun arguing about the relationship between Jesus’ humanity and divinity.
As early as 445, Leo had intervened in this dispute in the East, which threatened to split the churches of Alexandria and Constantinople. Its eventual resolution was, in fact, rejected in some quarters – leading to the present-day split between Eastern Orthodoxy and the so-called “non-Chalcedonian churches” which accept only three ecumenical councils.
As the fifth-century Christological controversy continued, the Pope urged the gathering of an ecumenical council to resolve the matter. At the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the Pope’s teaching was received as authoritative by the Eastern bishops, who proclaimed: “Peter has spoken through the mouth of Leo.”
Leo’s teaching confirmed that Christ’s eternal divine personhood and nature did not absorb or negate the human nature that he assumed in time through the Incarnation. Instead, “the proper character of both natures was maintained and came together in a single person.”
“So without leaving his Father’s glory behind, the Son of God comes down from his heavenly throne and enters the depths of our world,” the Pope taught. “Whilst remaining pre-existent, he begins to exist in time. The Lord of the universe veiled his measureless majesty and took on a servant’s form. The God who knew no suffering did not despise becoming a suffering man, and, deathless as he is, to be subject to the laws of death.”
In 452, one year after the Council of Chalcedon, Pope Leo led a delegation which successfully negotiated with the barbarian king Attila to prevent an invasion of Rome. When the Vandal leader Genseric occupied Rome in 455, the Pope confronted him, unarmed, and obtained a guarantee of safety for many of the city’s inhabitants and the churches to which they had fled.
Pope St. Leo the Great died on Nov. 10, 461. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XIV in 1754. A large collection of his writings and sermons survives, and can be read in translation today.
Saint Martin of Tours
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2017
On Nov. 11, the Catholic Church honors St. Martin of Tours, who left his post in the Roman army to become a “soldier of Christ” as a monk and later bishop.
Martin was born around the year 316 in modern-day Hungary. His family left that region for Italy when his father, a military official of the Roman Empire, had to transfer there. Martin’s parents were pagans, but he felt an attraction to the Catholic faith which had become legal throughout the empire in 313. He received religious instruction at age 10, and even considered becoming a hermit in the desert.
Circumstances, however, forced him to join the Roman army at age 15, when he had not even received baptism. Martin strove to live a humble and upright life in the military, giving away much of his pay to the poor. His generosity led to a life-changing incident, when he encountered a man freezing without warm clothing near a gate at the city of Amiens in Gaul.
As his fellow soldiers passed by the man, Martin stopped and cut his own cloak into two halves with his sword, giving one half to the freezing beggar. That night, the unbaptized soldier saw Christ in a dream, wearing the half-cloak he had given to the poor man. Jesus declared: “Martin, a catechumen, has clothed me with this garment.”
Martin knew that the time for him to join the Church had arrived. He remained in the army for two years after his baptism, but desired to give his life to God more fully than the profession would allow. But when he finally asked for permission to leave the Roman army, during an invasion by the Germans, Martin was accused of cowardice.
He responded by offering to stand before the enemy forces unarmed. “In the name of the Lord Jesus, and protected not by a helmet and buckler, but by the sign of the cross, I will thrust myself into the thickest squadrons of the enemy without fear.” But this display of faith became unnecessary when the Germans sought peace instead, and Martin received his discharge.
After living as a Catholic for some time, Martin traveled to meet Bishop Hilary of Poitiers, a skilled theologian and later canonized saint. Martin’s dedication to the faith impressed the bishop, who asked the former soldier to return to his diocese after he had undertaken a journey back to Hungary to visit his parents. While there, Martin persuaded his mother, though not his father, to join the Church.
In the meantime, however, Hilary had provoked the anger of the Arians, a group that denied Jesus was God. This resulted in the bishop’s banishment, so that Martin could not return to his diocese as intended. Instead Martin spent some time living a life of severe asceticism, which almost resulted in his death. The two met up again in 360, when Hilary’s banishment from Poitiers ended.
After their reunion Hilary granted Martin a piece of land to build what may have been the first monastery in the region of Gaul. During the resulting decade as a monk, Martin became renowned for raising two people from the dead through his prayers. This evidence of his holiness led to his appointment as the third Bishop of Tours in the middle of present-day France.
Martin had not wanted to become a bishop, and had actually been tricked into leaving his monastery in the first place by those who wanted him to lead the local church. Once appointed, he continued to live as a monk, dressing plainly and owning no personal possessions. In this same spirit of sacrifice, he traveled throughout his diocese, from which he is said to have driven out pagan practices.
Both the Church and the Roman Empire passed through a time of upheaval during Martin’s time as bishop. Priscillianism, a heresy involving salvation through a system of secret knowledge, caused such serious problems in Spain and Gaul that civil authorities sentenced the heretics to death. But Martin, along with the Pope and St. Ambrose of Milan, opposed this death sentence for the Priscillianists.
Even in old age, Martin continued to live an austere life focused on the care of souls. His disciple and biographer, St. Sulpicius Severus, noted that the bishop helped all people with their moral, intellectual and spiritual problems. He also helped many laypersons discover their calling to the consecrated life of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Martin foresaw his own death and told his disciples of it. But when his last illness came upon him during a pastoral journey, the bishop felt uncertain about leaving his people.
“Lord, if I am still necessary to thy people, I refuse no labour. Thy holy will be done,” he prayed. He developed a fever, but did not sleep, passing his last several nights in the presence of God in prayer.
“Allow me, my brethren, to look rather towards heaven than upon the earth, that my soul may be directed to take its flight to the Lord to whom it is going,” he told his followers, shortly before he died in November of 397.
St. Martin of Tours has historically been among the most beloved saints in the history of Europe. In a 2007 Angelus address, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his hope “that all Christians may be like St Martin, generous witnesses of the Gospel of love and tireless builders of jointly responsible sharing.”
St. Margaret of Scotland
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2017
On November 16, the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Margaret, Queen of Scotland. Her feast day was originally June 10, but was moved to November 16, the day of her death, upon the renewal of the Church’s Lirutgical calendar. Some continue to celebrate her feast on June 10, but many, including all of Scotland, celebrate her feast today.
Margaret was born into royalty in Hungary around 1045. Her father was Edward Atheling, heir to the English throne, and her mother was Princess Agatha of Hungary. Her family returned to England when she was 10 years old, but the Norman Conquest forced them into exile. By this time, her father had died, and her mother fled with the children. They boarded a ship which crashed onto the coast of Scotland, where they remained.
In 1070, at the age of 25, Margaret married the king of Scotland, Malcolm Canmore. As queen, Margaret’s faith had a strong influence on her husband’s reign. She softened his temper and led him to practice virtue. She dignified the court, providing an example of purity and reverence that led others to follow in her path. She and the king prayed together and fed the hungry, offering a powerful witness of faith to the people they served.
In addition to being a model wife and mother, Margaret worked tirelessly to bring justice and relief to the poor of Scotland. She also built churches and encouraged practices of religious devotion. In her private life, she exhibited great prayerfulness and piety. Her influence was seen not only in her husband’s life, but throughout all of Scotland.
Margaret died in 1093, just four days after her husband and one of her sons were killed in battle. She was canonized in 1250 by Pope Innocent IV and named patron of Scotland in 1673.
Prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory by St. Gertrude the Great
November 10, 2016
St. Gertrude the Great was a 13th century German nun, writer, and mystic who was graced with many heavenly visions, including being one of the earliest mystics to whom Jesus encouraged a devotion to his Sacred Heart. It is recounted that Jesus showed her a vast number of souls entering heaven from purgatory as a result of her faithful and frequent recitation of this prayer.
This prayer is contained in the book Prayers, Promises, and Devotions for Holy Souls in Purgatory by Susan Tassone. However, it should be noted that this is not an officially indulgence prayer, and the Vatican has declared that promises to obtain the release of a specific number of souls from purgatory with the recitation of a specific prayer should be rejected.
That should not weaken our resolve, however, from praying fervently for the Holy Souls in purgatory. The Church dedicates the entire month of November to praying in a special way for the Holy Souls (their feast day is November 2nd). You can easily memorize this popular prayer and include it after each decade of your rosary during November, or any time you wish to remember the faithful departed among your family and friends.
Written By: Evan Macklin
Last modified on 2017-10-19 19:22:06 GMT.
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.
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.
Saint John XXIII
Feastday: October 11
Patron of Papal delegates, Patriarchy of Venice, Second Vatican Council
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.
|St. Luke Portrays the Virgin|
St. Luke’s Feast Day
Feast Day: October 18
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.”
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.
Writer: Evan Macklin