When it comes to St. Valentine’s or St. Patrick’s Day, it seems everyone is Catholic. But when our culture takes these saints and turns their feast days into secular celebrations of fuzzy feelings or constant drinking the history of these saints can be forgotten.
St. Patrick, whom we remember on March 17th, is one of the most well known saints in our world today. The St. Patrick that we as Catholics celebrate was kidnapped as a teenager and sent from the British mainland to Ireland as a slave. He escaped back to Britain after several years, became a priest and then a bishop, returning to Ireland and helping to convert the people to Christianity.
So today, even if you’re dressing in green, wearing shamrock jewelry or go out with your friends, consider praying to St. Patrick and asking for his intercession in your life, particularly in these final few weeks of Lent.
How is your Lent going? Complaining much? In the Magnificat Lenten Companion for this year, Dr. Regis Martin had a great remark from Friday’s reflection. In regard to what he’d give up for Lent over the years, his wife would say that it doesn’t matter what you give up, as long as you give up grumbling about it.
As we approach the one-week mark of Lent, think about how you’ve handled your sacrifices so far. Have you been able to give up complaining about them or do you vent to anyone within hearing range about how difficult it is?
If you fall, pick yourself back up. The journey doesn’t end because you stumble and fall on the path. Blessed Lent!
In Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei, Our Holy Father declared a “Year of Faith” from October 11, 2012, to November 24, 2013. During this year the Faithful are called to learn more about the Catholic Church and grow deeper in their love for Christ.
The Year of Faith began on the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We are encouraged this year to especially focus on studying the Catechism and the documents of Vatican II.
Many are heartbroken over the decision their family members and friends have made to leave the Church. Let’s try to make the most of this Year of Faith for ourselves and others by studying up on our Faith and praying more fervently for those we love who have left Holy Mother Church.
Every year at this time the controversy arises regarding greetings: Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, etc.
The default “Merry Christmas” so common to our culture a generation or two ago has typically been replaced in stores and other businesses by the generic “Happy Holidays” greeting.
Some Christians prefer to respond to “Happy Holidays” with a simple and defeated, “You too.” Others will push a “Merry Christmas” out or a “Jesus is the reason for the season” reminder. There isn’t any obligatory phrase but if you take one of the latter routes, try to make sure it comes off charitably. Perhaps by even including a “Thank you” before your “Merry Christmas.”
Recently I discovered a pro-active way of dealing with this. And so far it hasn’t failed. Simply make it a point to be the first of the two to greet. By wishing a “Merry Christmas” I’ve received no other response than a “You too” in reply. That way the “Merry Christmas” is out there, it can’t be taken as an obnoxious correction and you’ve proclaimed what you celebrate at this time of year in a little act of faith and perhaps even evangelization.
What attitude do you have toward the greetings of the season and how do you deal with them?
It’s been about a year since the new translation of the Roman Missal took effect. Is your opinion less or more favorable than earlier on? Are there parts you love while you still have trouble with others?
The Gloria and the Nicene Creed still get me, but I got the hang of pretty much everything else — except the music, apparently. During last month’s fall fund drive Mass I realized I have no clue how to sing the new translation parts. And I quickly discovered that I wasn’t the only one. If your parish is singing them regularly, be grateful. For the rest of us it may take much longer to learn.
On November 10 we celebrate the feast day of St. Leo the Great.
St. Leo was born in Tuscany, Italy, around 400 AD. He was pope at the time Attila the Hun invaded Rome. As St. Leo pleaded with him to leave Rome unharmed, Attila had a threatening vision and left the city in peace. St. Leo is also one of the 33 Doctors of the Church.
The following is an excerpt from one of St. Leo’s sermons.
Although the universal Church of God is constituted of distinct orders of members, still, in spite of the many parts of its holy body, the Church subsists as an integral whole, just as the Apostle says: “We are all one in Christ,” nor is anyone separated from the office of another in such a way that a lower group has no connection with the head.
In the unity of faith and baptism, our community is then undivided. There is a common dignity as the apostle Peter says in these words: “And you are built up as living stones into spiritual houses, a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
And again: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of election.” For all, regenerated in Christ, as made kings by the sign of the cross. They are consecrated priests by the oil of the Holy Spirit, so that beyond the special service of our ministry as priests, all spiritual and mature Christians know that they are a royal race and are sharers in the office of the priesthood. For what is more king-like than to find yourself ruler over your body after having surrendered your soul to God? And what is more priestly than to promise the Lord a pure conscience and to offer him in love unblemished victims on the altar of one’s heart?
In spite of the flashy, high tech entertainment we receive through film, television, the Internet and tiny music players, theater is still preserved through playhouses, Broadway shows and various stage productions.
Catholics are taking advantage of theater to evangelize while entertaining. The founder and president of St. Luke Productions, Leonardo Defilippis, performs his one-man act plays around the nation. Just this month, with his performance of the life of St. Maximilian Kolbe, he’s covering parts of Washington, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado and Texas.
You may be familiar with the production company because of its film Thérèse, based on the life of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
Kevin O’Brien is the founder and artistic director of The Theater of the Word, Inc. He hosts the EWTN television program The Theater of the Word and travels the country performing evangelistic plays as part of his ministry. His productions include “Adam and Eve Go to Marriage Counseling,” “The Body of Christ,” and “The Journey of St. Paul.” This month his itinerary takes him to Illinois, Missouri and Maryland.
Have you seen Leonardo or Kevin in live performances? What do you think of this form of evangelistic entertainment?
Perhaps at no other time of the year are there so many popular saints celebrated in our Church as there are this week. September 30th we remember the great St. Jerome, patron saint of archaeologists, Bible scholars and librarians. Today we remember St. Therese of Lisieux, Carmelite nun and Doctor of the Church.
Tomorrow we commemorate Guardian Angels, who keep watch over us at all times. Thursday, October 4th, is the feast of the great founder of the Franciscans, St. Francis of Assisi. And on October 5th we remember a dynamic saint who hasn’t yet made it to every calendar of feast days but is well known for spreading the message of God’s Divine Mercy, St. Faustina Kowalska.
Since there are so many awesome saints this week of the year, I always feel a little bad about not praying a novena to each. But since last year St. Francis was my patron for the year, I chose my novena for this week to be in honor of him.
To which powerhouse saint celebrated at this time of the year do you feel closest?
Last week I posted about the little booklet Uniformity with God’s Will by St. Alphonsus Liguori. This week I want to share some of the power stuff you’ll find in it.
- If we would completely rejoice the heart of God, let us strive in all things to conform ourselves to His Divine Will. Let us not only strive to conform ourselves, but also to unite ourselves to whatever dispositions God makes of us. Conformity signifies that we join our wills to the Will of God. Uniformity means more — it means that we make one will of God’s Will and ours, so that we will only what God wills; that God’s Will alone, is our will. This is the summit of perfection and to it we should always aspire; this should be the goal of all our works, desires, meditations and prayers. To this end we should always invoke the aid of our holy patrons, our guardian angels, and above all, of our mother Mary, the most perfect of all the saints because she most perfectly embraced the Divine Will.
- How childish the pretense of those who protest they wish for health not to escape suffering, but to serve our Lord better by being able to observe their Rule, to serve the community, go to church, receive Communion, do penance, study, work for souls in the confessional and pulpit! Devout soul, tell me, why do you desire to do these things? To please God? Why then search any further to please God when you are sure God does not wish these prayers, Communions, penances or studies, but He does wish that you suffer patiently this sickness He sends you? Unite then your sufferings to those of our Lord.
- We should likewise unite ourselves to God’s Will when the moment of death is near. What else is this earth but a prison where we suffer and where we are in constant danger of losing God? Hence David prayed: “Bring my soul out of prison” (Ps. 141:8). St. Teresa too feared to lose God and when she would hear the striking of the clock, she would find consolation in the thought that the passing of the hour was an hour less of the danger of losing God.
St. Alphonsus Liguori wrote the great booklet Uniformity with God’s Will. It got me thinking about seeking what God wants from us and the way we phrase it. Typically we hear about conforming our will to God’s. So when I read the title of his work it got me thinking more seriously about word choice.
Conformity or uniformity? Or is there even a real difference?
I always thought conformity was a fine word to use. Conforming your will to what God wills sounded good to me.
But through uniformity with God’s Will we are making our will uniform with His, which is a positive and peaceful approach. Conformity, on the other hand, connotes a grudging and reluctant attitude.
Sometimes we feel we’re simply “conforming” to God’s Will, particularly when resisting temptations. But uniformity to His Will is our wanting of all that God wants, not merely doing what we are supposed to do.
Conformity or uniformity. Is there any difference to you?