Friday, November 28, 2014

3rd century Bishop of Toulouse and Martyr

St. Saturninus

Image of St. Saturninus

Facts

Feastday: November 29

St. Saturninus Bishop of Toulouse and Martyr November 29 A.D. 257     St. Saturninus went from Rome by the direction of pope Fabian, about the year 245, to preach the faith in Gaul, where St. Trophimus, the first bishop of Arles, had some time before gathered a plentiful harvest. In the year 250, when Decius and Gratus were consuls, St. Saturninus fixed his episcopal see at Toulouse. Fortunatus tells us, that he converted a great number of idolaters by his preaching and miracles. This is all the account we have of him till the time of his holy martyrdom. The author of his acts, who wrote about fifty years after his death, relates, that he assembled his flock in a small church; and that the capitol, which was the chief temple in the city, lay in the way between that church and the saint's habitation. In this temple oracles were given; but the devils were struck dumb by the presence of the saint as he passed that way. The priests spied him one day going by, and seized and dragged him into the temple. declaring that he should either appease the offended deities by offering sacrifice to them, or expiate the crime with his blood. Saturninus boldly replied: "I adore one only God, and to him I am ready to offer a sacrifice of praise. Your gods are devils, and are more delighted with the sacrifice of your souls than with those of your bullocks. How can I fear them who, as you acknowledge, tremble before a Christian?" The infidels, incensed at this reply, abused the saint with all the rage that a mad zeal could inspire, and after a great variety of indignities, tied his feet to a wild bull, which was brought thither to be sacrificed. The beast being driven from the temple, ran violently down the hill, so that the martyr's scull was broken, and his brains dashed out. His happy soul was released from the body by death, and fled to the kingdom of peace and glory, and the bull continued to drag the sacred body, and the limbs and blood were scattered on every side, till, the cord breaking, what remained of the trunk was left in the plain without the gates of the city. Two devout women laid the sacred remains on a bier, and hid them in a deep ditch, to secure them from any further insult, where they lay in "wooden coffin" till the reign of Constantine the Great. Then Hilary, bishop of Toulouse, built a small chapel over this his holy predecessor's body Sylvius, bishop of that city towards the close of the fourth century, began to build a magnificent church in honor of the martyr, which was finished and consecrated by his successor Exuperius, who, with great pomp and piety, translated the venerable relics into it. This precious treasure remains there to this day with due honor. The martyrdom of this saint probably happened m the reign of Valerian, in 257.

Pope Francis begins the Year of Consecrated Life

Pope authorizes plenary indulgence for Year of Consecrated Life
 
Credit: Petr Kratochvil.
Credit: Petr Kratochvil.
.- On the occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life that begins this weekend, Pope Francis has allowed the faithful to receive plenary indulgences, under the normal conditions.

“The Holy Father, on the occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life, will concede plenary indulgences, with the customary conditions, to all members of the institutes of consecrated life and other truly repentant faithful moved by a spirit of charity,” a Nov. 28 statement from the Vatican read.

Called by Pope Francis last fall, the Year for Consecrated will begin the First Sunday of Advent, Nov. 30, and will be preceded by a prayer vigil the night before.

The opportunity to receive plenary indulgences will run through the close of the year, Feb. 2, 2016. The indulgence may also be offered for souls in Purgatory.

The indulgence for the Year of Consecrated Life can be obtained in Rome through participation in the meetings and celebrations set in the calendar of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life.

In all the particular Churches, the faithful can obtain the indulgence “during the days devoted to consecrated life in the diocese, and during diocesan celebrations organised for the Year of Consecrated Life, by visiting the cathedral or another sacred place designated with the consent of the Ordinary of the place, or a convent church or oratory of a cloistered monastery, and publicly reciting the Liturgy of the Hours or through a suitable period of time of devout reflection

The Vatican also specified that members of institutes of consecrated life who are unable to visit these sacred places due to health or other “serious reasons” may still obtain the indulgence, if “completely detached from any type of sin and with the intention of being able to fulfil the three usual conditions as soon as possible, devoutly carry out the spiritual visit and offer their illness and the hardships of their life to God the merciful through Mary.”

In each of the ways to obtain the plenary indulgence, the indulgenced act is to be accompanied by the recitation of the Our Father, the Profession of Faith (Creed), and invocation of the Virgin Mary.

To help facilitate the process, Apostolic Penitentiary Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, who signed the degree, asked that the canons, members of the Chapter, the priests of the Institutes of Consecrated Life and all others make themselves more available to administer the sacraments.

He encouraged them to “hear confessions,  offer themselves willingly and generously to the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and regularly administer Holy Communion to the sick.”

An indulgence is defined as the remission of the temporal punishment – the unhealthy attachment to created things – due to sins which have already been forgiven.

The usual conditions for an indulgence – which apply to that for the Year of Consecrated Life – are that the individual be in the state of grace by the completion of the acts, have complete detachment from sin, and pray for the Pope's intentions. The person must also sacramentally confess their sins and receive Communion, up to about twenty days before or after the indulgenced act.

All about Advent

Because We’re Catholic and It’s Advent



advent-candle
Regardless of what major retailers and the secular culture may be telling you, ’tis not the season of Christmas…yet. It is not time to deck the halls with boughs of holly, and if you happen to find yourself driving past a Christmas tree lot, fight the urge to pull over. Instead, dare to be counter-cultural. Why? Because we are Catholic and it is Advent.
Advent comes from the Latin “ad-venire”, which means “to come to”. As the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) website explains:
“Beginning the Church’s liturgical year, Advent is the season leading up to the celebration of Christmas. The Advent season is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and also to the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas.”
In The Liturgical Year ,19th century Benedictine abbot and liturgist Dom Prosper Gueranger quotes St. Bernard when he writes:
“In the first coming He comes in the flesh and in weakness; in the second, He comes in spirit and in power; in the third, He comes in glory and in majesty; and the second coming is the means whereby we pass from the first to the third.” (Fifth sermon for Advent).
Indeed, Advent is a penitential season which is why the liturgical color selected by Holy Mother Church is purple. In preparation for the coming of the Christ we must not avoid introspection, but instead should undertake serious reflection. Penance, abstinence and fasting are all means by which we can more appropriately enter into the season at hand. Once again, the U.S. bishops:
“Changing customs, especially in connection with preparation for Christmas, have diminished popular appreciation of the Advent season. Something of a holiday mood of Christmas appears now to be anticipated in the days of the Advent season. As a result, this season has unfortunately lost in great measure the role of penitential preparation for Christmas that it once had.” (Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1966).
As Catholics, what can we do in the face of our increasingly materialistic and highly secularized culture?
First, do not feel the need to go along to get along. Just because everyone else is doing it is not an excuse. This is the beginning of the new liturgical year for the Church, and not simply the biggest shopping season of the year. It is also not mandatory that you decorate your house early simply because friends, family and neighbors are doing so. Dare to be counter-cultural, because we’re Catholic and it’s Advent.
Second, begin the season of Advent with a sincere and exhaustive Examination of Conscience and then go to Confession. This is a time to prepare yourself for the coming of the Lord.
Third, give up something for Advent just as you would for Lent. This can be difficult during the season as many others are already celebrating with parties, exchanges, candy and more. Little sacrifices and penances, however, are excellent ways to help us grow in virtue and holiness.
Finally, there are a multitude of great devotions and practices that you and your family can incorporate to prepare yourselves, such as: an Advent wreath, the blessing of your Christmas Tree; an Advent calendar, the “O” Antiphons of Advent and finally, the Jesse Tree with readings and ornaments. In the beautiful and anticipatory words of the classic seasonal hymn:
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Pope Francis in Turkey, wastes no time calling for peace and denouncing violence, human rights violations and ISIS

Pope: Religious Leaders Are Obliged to Denounce Rights Violations

In Turkey, Says Those Who Adore God Must Be Men and Women of Peace

Ankara, (Zenit.org) Deborah Castellano Lubov   

On day one of his apostolic trip to Turkey today, the Pope called on religious leaders to do what's expected of them.


 
Addressing religious leaders in Ankara this afternoon on this first day of his three-day visit to the primarily Muslim nation of Turkey, the Pope said, "The world expects those who claim to adore God to be men and women of peace who are capable of living as brothers and sisters, regardless of ethnic, religious, cultural or ideological differences."
Not only this, but as religious leaders, "we are obliged to denounce all violations against human dignity and human rights," he said.
"Human life, a gift of God the Creator, possesses a sacred character. As such, any violence which seeks religious justification warrants the strongest condemnation because the Omnipotent is the God of life and peace."
More than just denounce violations, he stressed, religious leaders must work together to find adequate solutions. This, he added, requires the cooperation of all: governments, political and religious leaders, representatives of civil society, and all men and women of good will.
The Holy Father explained that good relations and dialogue between religious leaders have, in fact, acquired great importance, for they represent a clear message addressed to their respective communities, which “demonstrates that mutual respect and friendship are possible, notwithstanding differences.”
“Such friendship,” he said,“becomes all the more meaningful and important in a time of crises such as our own, crises which in some parts of the world are disastrous for entire peoples.”
Wars, he went on to describe, cause deaths of innocent victims and bring untold destruction, interethnic and interreligious tensions and conflicts, hunger and poverty afflicting hundreds of millions of people, and inflict damage on the natural environment, including air, water and land.
Unbearable
The situation in the Middle East is especially tragic, above all in Iraq and Syria, Francis decried.
"Everyone suffers the consequences of these conflicts, and the humanitarian situation is unbearable," he said. “I think of so many children, the sufferings of so many mothers, of the elderly, of those displaced and of all refugees, subject to every form of violence.”
Simply because of ethnic and religious identity, the Pope said, "particular concern arises" becuase entire communities, "especially – though not exclusively – Christians and Yazidis, have suffered and continue to suffer barbaric violence" primarily by an extremist and fundamentalist group.
Turning to what can be learned from this, he said that "in a unique way," religious leaders can offer a vital contribution by expressing the values of their respective traditions, for "we, Muslims and Christians, are the bearers of spiritual treasures of inestimable worth."
Recognizing and developing our common spiritual heritage through interreligious dialogue, he noted, helps us to promote and to uphold moral values, peace and freedom in society.
"The shared recognition of the sanctity of each human life," the Holy Father underscored, "is the basis of joint initiatives of solidarity, compassion, and effective help directed to those who suffer most."
***
On ZENIT's Web page:
Full Translation: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-address-to-the-president-of-religious-affairs-in-ankara

Thursday, November 27, 2014

All about the Miraculous Medal


The Miraculous Medal was created in response to a request from the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Meaning of the Miraculous Medal

Mary's Design Symbolizes Key Elements of the Catholic Faith

November 27 marked the 177th anniversary of the Medal of the Immaculate Conception, popularly known by Catholics the world over as the Miraculous Medal. The Miraculous Medal has a special place in the hearts of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, since it paved the way for the Church's official declaration of the dogma in 1854.

The medal is striking because Our Lady herself presented the familiar design.

The front of the medal depicts Mary standing on a globe, with the head of a serpent beneath her feet. Circling the oval-shaped medal is the signature, "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." On the reverse, twelve stars surround a large "M," from which a cross arises. Below the "M," the medal depicts two flaming hearts. The left heart, circled with thorns, represents Jesus. The right heart, pierced by a sword, symbolizes Mary.

An Unlikely Helper
By what intervention and through what vessel did the Blessed Mother convey the design of this medal? As in the case of The Divine Mercy revelations to St. Faustina, a young, unassuming nun in 1930s Poland, once again God chose an unlikely helper. Nearly 100 years earlier, He selected a 24-year-old novice in the community of Sisters known as the Daughters of Charity, Paris, France, in 1830.

The extraordinary story begins on the night of July 18, 1830, when a mysterious child awakens Sister Catherine Laboure. The child leads her to the convent's chapel. There, Sister Catherine sees the Virgin Mary, sitting in a chair. She kneels beside Mary, and rests her hands in the Virgin's lap. The two speak for several hours. During the conversation, Mary promises she will return and give the young nun "a mission." The child leads Catherine back to her bed. Catherine hears the clock strike 2 a.m., July 19.

A little more than four months later, Sister Catherine learns what Mary wants.

During her evening meditation on Nov. 27, 1830, Catherine has a vision of Mary standing in a position similar to the depiction on the medal. Later, the vision changes to include the inscription found on the front side of the medal.

Mary speaks to Catherine, saying, "Have a medal struck upon this model. Those who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around their neck."

Iconic Attraction
It was as Mary said. The medal's effects were immediate.

The first medals were made in 1832 and distributed throughout Paris. According to the Association of the Miraculous Medal, the blessings that Mary promised "began to shower down" on wearers of the medal. The devotion spread rapidly. In 1836, a Church investigation declared the apparitions to be genuine.

Since Mary asked Catherine to have the medal struck, devotion to the Miraculous Medal has spread the world over, the image having achieved iconic stature.

But what does the medal mean? In answering that, one discovers why it works.

The Front Side
• Mary stands on a globe, crushing a serpent beneath her feet. Describing the original vision, Catherine said the Blessed Mother appeared radiant as a sunrise, "in all her perfect beauty."
• Rays shoot out from Mary's hands, which she told Catherine, "... symbolize the graces I shed upon those who ask for them."
• Words from the vision form an oval frame around Mary: "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."
Seen as a matrix, the elements of the front design encapsulate major Marian tenets:

Quality of Our Lady As Illustrated by the Medal
• Mother Her open arms, the "recourse" we have in her
• Immaculate The words, "conceived without sin"
• Assumed into Heaven She stands on the globe
• Mediatrix Rays from her hands symbolizing "graces"
• Our Protection Crushes the serpent (Gn. 3:15)

The Reverse Side
• A cross-and-bar surmounts a large, bold "M"
• 12 stars disperse around the perimeter
• Two hearts are depicted underneath the "M," the left lapped with a crown of thorns, the right skewed by a sword. From each, a flame emanates from the top. Again, employing a grid analysis, we can see how the reverse-side design contains great symbolism reflecting major tenets of the Catholic faith.

Design Element and its Catholic Meaning
• The large letter "M" — Mary as Mother, Mediatrix.
• Cross and bar — Jesus' cross of Redemption.
• 12 stars — 12 Apostles, who formed the first Church.
• Left Heart — The Sacred Heart, who died for our sins.
• Right Heart — The Immaculate Heart, who intercedes for us.
• Flames — The burning love Jesus and Mary have for us.

The Association of the Miraculous Medal, in Perryville, Mo., notes that there is no superstition or magic connected with the Miraculous Medal, nor is it "a good luck charm." Rather, it is "a testimony to faith and the power of trusting prayer. Its greatest miracles are those of patience, forgiveness, repentance, and faith."

To obtain a free Miraculous Medal, write to the Association of the Miraculous Medal, 1811 W. St. Joseph St., Perryville, MO, 63775.

The Saint of the Miraculous Medal

St. Catherine Laboure

 
Image of St. Catherine Laboure

Facts

Feastday: November 28
Beatified By: May 28, 1933 by Pope Pius XI
Canonized By: July 27, 1947 by Pope Pius XII

St. Catherine Laboure, virgin, was born on May 2, 1806. At an early age she entered the community of the Daughters of Charity, in Paris, France. Three times in 1830 the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Catherine Laboure, who then was a twenty-four year old novice.
On July 18, the first apparition occurred in the community's motherhouse. St. Catherine beheld a lady seated on the right side of the sanctuary. When St. Catherine approached her, the heavenly visitor told her how to act in time of trial and pointed to the altar as the source of all consolation. Promising to entrust St. Catherine with a mission which would cause her great suffering, the lady also predicted the anticlerical revolt which occurred at Paris in 1870.
On November 27, the lady showed St. Catherine the medal of the Immaculate Conception, now universally known as the "Miraculous Medal." She commissioned St. Catherine to have one made, and to spread devotion to this medal. At that time, only her spiritual director, Father Aladel, knew of the apparitions. Forty-five years later, St. Catherine spoke fully of the apparitions to one of her superiors. She died on December 31, 1876, and was canonized on July 27, 1947. Her feast day is November 28.

Thanksgiving Day 2014; a very reflective day

Yep, another big holiday is almost over.  Thanksgiving 2014 arrived here in the New Orleans area with a cold, crisp very autumn like morning.  For us this is always a blessing as we have also celebrated many a summer like Thanksgiving Day.  I noticed this morning, on my drive to church, even the tree colors were very Smokey Mountain like.  My day began with Mass, as it always has since my ordination.  I really don't recall going to Mass as a child or young adult for the national holiday for giving thanks.  Of course Thanksgiving is not a church holiday nor a holy day of obligation.  But what a day to see the hundreds who want to be at Mass.  At the end of Mass at MHT we have a tradition of distributing several small loaves of baked bread to those attending Mass.  Father says a special blessing so the bread can be a really nice reminder that it comes from our church family into our families homes!

Two really wonderful things happened when I returned home.  Wendy and I spent about 45 minutes visiting with #1 grandson, Calvin, and my North Carolina family via Skype.  We let him entertain us with plans for their Thanksgiving day and feast and his upcoming plans for Christmas.  Even though many miles separate us what a joy to be part of their Thanksgiving Day.  I also called my lone remaining aunt to visit with her for the holiday.  She lives only about 65 miles away and generally prefers to stay home now except for Christmas.  It was a nice chat to reflect as I thought about all the many years her home was used to a gathering that numbered 25 or so for many a Thanksgiving Day.  Yet my aunt was in a great mood as she too had just returned from Mass.

So Wendy and I spent the day at home together.  My other child, Elizabeth, spent her Thanksgiving with the boyfriends family as they will meet up with us tomorrow evening.  We had a nice day.  Wendy cooked quite an elaborate meal for two, turkey, the fixings and some of my quirky favorites.  Needless to say we will have leftover heaven for the next few days!

I have learned over the years that celebrating Thanksgiving, whether a big gathering or not so big, is more about attitude, reflection.  It's main purpose truly is to devote at least one day, on a national scale, to giving thanks!  We give thanks to God Almighty first and foremost because he gives us everyone and everything we are thankful for!

So it indeed has been a reflective day and a wonderful day.  For some reason, I'm going to end this day with a little LSU football; hoping for the best, praying it doesn't make me mad!

Oh by the way, I hope you stayed away from retail shopping today as I find it despicable the ever growing number of places opening on Thanksgiving Day.  This is greed at it's worst.  And I would recommend avoid being one of those caught every Black Friday being stampeded in the early hours of tomorrow morning!

Pope Francis says fight depression, live with hope

Pope's Morning Homily: Even If Reality Is Ugly, Keep Heads Held High

Warns That Distancing From God Eventually Leads One to 'Rot'

Vatican City, (Zenit.org) Deborah Castellano Lubov   

Even at the worst of times, Christians cannot give into depression, but rather must live in hope.


 
During his morning Mass today in Casa Santa Marta, the Holy Father affirmed this, as he said that in order to be at peace, we must allow room for God to rescue and convert us from our worldly ways. He said we must welcome, not "close the door," to God, reported Vatican Radio.
"When we think of the end of time, with all of our sins, with our history," he said, "let us think of the banquet which will be freely offered us and let us lift up our heads."
"Do not give way to depression. Hope!" the 77-year-old Pontiff exclaimed.
Admitting "reality is ugly," he noted that there are many people who are suffering: many wars, hatred, envy, spiritual worldliness and corruption.
Since "all of this will fall" he again urged faithful to ask the Lord "for the grace to be prepared for the banquet that awaits us, always with our heads held high."
While warning against distancing ourselves from the Lord, he warned that “corruption” and “distraction” take us away from the Lord.
Recalling the cities of Babylon and Jerusalem, discussed in today’s reading and Luke’s Gospel, respectively, Francis reflected that both readings turn one’s attention to the end of the world by depicting how both cities “drifted away” from God and then collapsed.
The cities fell for different reasons, he said, stressing Babylon epitomized evil, sin, and falling to corruption, while Jerusalem didn't allow space for God.
Jerusalem, he noted, "made the Lord weep." Not only did Jerusalem fail to "welcome the Lord who comes to her rescue" and "not feel in need of salvation," it left no room for salvation: "Her door was closed to the Lord!"
"The Lord was knocking at her door," he added, "but there was no willingness to receive Him, to listen, to be rescued by Him. And so she falls," he said.
“When one accumulates sin,” he warned, “you lose your ability to react and you start to rot.” Even if corruption seems to give you some happiness, power and makes you feel satisfied with yourself, he said, it ultimately doesn't because it "leaves no room for the Lord, for conversion."
This word "corruption," the Pope noted, speaks not only in the economic sense, but that of many different sins. "The worst [form of] corruption," the Pontiff exclaimed, "is the spirit of worldliness!"
Even if this "corrupt culture" makes you feel "as if you were in Heaven, right here," it's an illusion because "the corrupt culture is a rotten culture."
“Every society, every culture, every person who has distanced themselves from God, who has distanced themselves from love of neighbor," he stated, "eventually leads to rot."
The Holy Father called for the faithful to not be scared or fearful, but to lift up their heads to see our Lord who is ready to "rescue."

In the middle of a Civil War President Lincoln proclaims the last Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day


Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation



Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America. A Proclamation. The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth. By the President: Abraham Lincoln