Month of May

Typically, these are post about the Rosary reflections on the different decades, but over the next couple of weeks we will be looking at some more Marian documents and Our Lady of Fatima since May is one of the two months of the year dedicated to Mary and this year marks the centenary of Fatima.

Last year it was rather scatter shot we looked some of the prayers, an encyclical and finished up the Rosary reflection. This year we’re looking at several of Pope Pius XII’s Encyclicals as he is the Fatima Pope, since he was made a bishop on May 13. 1917 the date of the first apparition at Fatima and is considered the Pope of Fatima.

The Encyclicals are going to be Deiparae Virginis Mariae and Auspicia quaedam. Then we will reflect on what happened 100 year ago in Fatima and then what happened this year. Following this there will be something else that’s yet to be decided.

Divine Mercy Novena

In case you’ve forgotten this is the fifth day in the Novena and the intention is for the souls of Those who have separated themselves from the Church. The novena is a way to prepare for Divine Mercy Sunday, it begins on Good Friday and goes until the Second Sunday of Easter. If you haven’t started to novena it doesn’t matter just pray the chaplet for the rest of the week or at least take some time and pray a chaplet of two before Sunday. The Chaplet is from the writing of St. Faustina Kowalska, as it comes from the visions and conversations with Jesus, who made specific promises regarding the recitation of the prayers.

The prayers are as followed and there are a lot of optional prayers. You pray the Chaplet on a regular Rosary and like all prayers begin with the Sign of the Cross.

It can begins with an optional opening prayer “You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.” This can be followed by another optional prayer which may also be used to begin the chaplet, this prayer is repeated three times “O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You!”

Here is where I begin:
On the three beads you pray an Our Father, a Hail Mary and the Apostle’s Creed.
After this on all the “big beads” typically Our Fathers you pray “Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.” and on the “small beads” the Hail Mary’s you pray “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world”. This is prayed as you go around the Rosary. When you reach the end on the medallion in the middle you pray “Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world” three times.
This can be followed by another optional prayer “Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.”

After this you get back to the sign of the cross and it’s over. At the end I also add “Jesus, I trust in You” I picked this up from a Polish friend who reintroduced the chaplet to me in college I had done it a couple times way back in middle school. That is the chaplet, it is easier to pray and takes less time than praying a Rosary.

 

Bright Week

This week in the Eastern Church is known as Bright Week. It’s a continuation of the celebration of the Resurrection and according to the Quinsext Council (Council in Trullo), that one between the third Constantinople and second Nicean, “for a whole week the faithful in the holy churches should continually be repeating psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, rejoicing and celebrating Christ, and attending to the reading of the Divine Scriptures and delighting in the Holy Mysteries. For in this way shall we be exalted with Christ; raised up together with Him. For this reason on the aforesaid days that by no means there be any horse races or any other public spectacle”

The week itself liturgically is considered like a single day. Bright Week ends on Thomas Sunday when the story of the apostle Thomas is read. Now this in itself is a rather interesting idea that Easter last more than one day it is just the beginning of a larger season of the liturgical year. In most of the Western world Easter is celebrated and then quickly forgotten about, sure in some places Easter Monday is a big to do as well, with like the Easter Egg Roll at the White House, Dyngus Day or Wet Monday. However this is a more commonly low key event and secular. Sure a week later we arrive on Divine Mercy Sunday but Easter is 50 days long not only seven Sundays. So if we could do little more to celebrate the season that would be great, crack open some of the Post-Resurrection Gospel stories and reflect on them in these next 49 or so days.

Good Friday

Doctor of the Church Gregory of Narek has a wonderful prayer reflection on Good Friday.

Prayer 77
Speaking with God from the Depths of the HeartA
Since today is a blessed day,
when morning came twice dividing day into
equal parts,
when the passing creatures of the earth
were transformed into a different and heavenly immutable beings,
when the high were laid low and the
humble raised up,
making this the most awesome day of Lent, Holy Friday,
when it is fitting for me to write
this prayer voicing joy mixed with terror, therefore
I think it appropriate to speak now of
the suffering you endured for me, God of all.

B
You stood, with my nature, before a tribunal of
your creatures, and did not speak, giver of speech.
You did not utter a word, creator of tongues.
You did not release your voice, shaker of the world.
You did not make a sound, trumpet of majesty.
You did not answer back with accounts of
your good deeds.
You did not silence them with their wrongs.
You did not deliver your betrayer to death.
You did not struggle when bound.
You did not squirm when whipped.
You did not fight back when spat upon.
You did not resist when beaten.
You did not take affront when mocked.
You did not frown when ridiculed.

They stripped you of your cloak, as from a weakling,
and dressed you like a condemned prisoner.
If my Lord had not been forced twice to drink vinegar and gall, he would not have been able to cleanse me of the accumulated bile of our forefathers.
He tasted heartbreak and did not waver.
They dragged him violently and brought him
back disrespectfully.
They condemned him, humiliated him by flogging
before a motley crowd.
They knelt before him in ridicule
and put a crown of disdain upon his head.

C
They gave you no rest, Life-giver,
even forcing you to bear the instrument of your death.
You accepted with forbearance.
You received it with sweetness.
You bore it with patience.
You submitted to the wooden cross of grief,
like one condemned.
Like a lily of the field, you shouldered the
weapon of life,
so that your throne in my body might be protected
against the terrors of the night
turning the last judgment into a joyful banquet.
They led him out like a sacrificial lamb.
They hung him like Isaac’s ram whose horns were caught in the thicket.
They spread him on the table of the cross like a sacrifice.
They nailed him like a common criminal.

They persecuted you, like an outlaw, treating
you in your serenity, like a bandit,
you in your majesty, like a miserable wretch,
you who are adored by cherubim,
like a despised man,
you who are the definition of life, like one
deserving of a slaughter,
you, the author of the Gospels, like one
who blasphemed the Law,
you, the Lord and the fulfillment of the prophets,
like one who cut the Scriptures,
you, the radiance of glory and the image of
the mystery of the Father, beyond mortal
understanding, as if you are the adversary
of the will of him who bore you,
you who are blessed, like someone banished,
you who came to release the bonds of the Law,
like a heretic,
you, the consuming fire, like a
condemned prisoner,
you who inspire awe in heaven and earth,
like one deserving punishment,
you, covered in unapproachable light, like
some earthly quarry

D
O, sweet Lord,
forbearing doer of good, merciful and compassionate,
Lord of all, who for the sake of infirm and unruly
servants like me submitted to everything willingly
according to your plan
together with your perfectly human body,
submitted even to the sleepy tomb of the sepulchre,
who lack nothing of divine perfection, being identical with
God who is beyond human understanding,
yet bore human indignity with patience beyond words,
you rose with your body, alive and of your own power,
In exalted light, with undiminished humanity
and flawless divinity.
You are blessed for your glory
praised for your compassion,
and always exalted for your mercy,
forever and ever.
Amen.

Catholic Epistles Part 3: Letters of John and Jude

This is the final group of general letters, the past weeks we looked at James and Peter.  John wrote three letters and Jude only wrote one. John’s third letter is the shortest book in the entire Bible followed by John’s second letter and Jude is the fifth shortest. So this will be a quick one.

The Letters of John might have been written by the Evangelist or at least one of his followers and it is widely believed that the second and third letters were written by a different hand than the first letter. The first letter begins with roughly the same language that we hear from the Gospel word, light in the darkness, new commandment, love, children of God and other. It’s like a distillation of the Gospel. The first letter seems to be the most general of the Johannine letters. As we turn to the other letters they are both directed to individuals John’s second letter is to a specific region and the third letter to some guy named Gaius. The second letter warns against false teachers and stresses truth and love. The third letter begins by praising Gaius for his actions in imitating good and John says that he will be coming soon. The community that John writes too is fractured as there are too many people saying what is truth. Just like that saying “too many cooks spoil the broth” as we have heard from other letters there are others preaching about Jesus and this has caused some fracturing in the community.

The Letter of Jude is a chapter long and Jude is the brother of James. Once again this stuff sounds sort of familiar as Peter’s second letter covers this same idea. Jude warns about false teachers who lead people to sin and mockers who dismiss the idea of Christ’s return. It gives the general idea that we are called to fight for our faith with love and mercy. This book is interesting as it references the Book of Enoch a book which is only used by the Orthodox Tewahedo community in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

If you have some spare time take some time and open the Bible to read. It doesn’t even have to be the upcoming readings for the week or anything like that. Pick whatever sound nice to you and read it.

Catholic Epistles Part 2: Letters of Peter

Last week we looked at the first General or catholic letter from James. Now we turn to Peter who wrote two letters. Well these most likely were not written by Peter directly either by a secretary or more likely a disciple of Peter writing in his name after Peter died. The whole authorship debate is pretty crazy and don’t really want to get into it. The first letter was most likely written after the letters of Paul were a thing, the second letter might have been the last book written for the Bible as it references other letters as scripture and it uses the Letter of Jude. A rough dating of the letters are between 70-90 for the first while the second ranges between 80-130 or so.

As for the content of the letters they vary widely between the two. In the first letter it is addressed to the exiles of the dispersion, and pin points the location of the people to Asia Minor. The letter begins by talking up the Christian people as they are “God’s own people” it goes on to echo the words of the Lord from Exodus “Be holy because I am Holy” and the idea of girding the loins of your mind, now this is like getting your mind from the gutter.  The general idea is that the Christians are special people but Peter tells them to behave themselves amongst the gentiles (pagans). This simply is be both a good Christian and a good citizen. The topic changes and Peter talks about the harassment of the Christians by their pagan neighbors, sure but Peter reminds them that it is only through suffering that glory can come, and he was there at the death of Jesus. Sure more suffering could come but then the glory will be better. One interesting point in this letter is that it talks about Christ after he died proclaimed to spirits in prison, some early theologian see this are a reference to the descent into the dead/Hell where Jesus preached the Gospel to those in Limbo.

The second letter is addressed to “those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with our in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” It begins by saying that followers should “become partakers in the divine nature” and that there are things that can supplement our faith with virtues and virtues with knowledge and knowledge with self control and self control with steadfastness and steadfastness with godliness and godliness with brotherly affection and brotherly affection with love. It goes on to condemn false teachers and that the second coming isn’t going to be coming tomorrow for to the eyes of the Lord a thousand year are but a day. This waiting also is a time for repentance  therefore all Christians “Peter” suggests should look to scripture and his last letter. Christians need to live in holiness and gird the loins of ones mind.

It is interesting to read these early writings of the Church as see that some topics are still what we are struggling with. The whole be a good Christian but also be a good citizen is where many people face problems today as they are more concerned with being a good citizen no matter how it makes them look as a “Christian” just look at what’s been going on in Washington do we consider any one there is acting “Christianly” to one another the Democrats and Republican have been at each other for years slowly becoming more entrenched in their own ideologies and refusing anything else.

Next week we will be looking at the three letters of John as well as Jude’s letter.

Catholic epistles Part One: Epistle of James

Over the next couple of week, since we finished up Esther last week, the focus will shift to the catholic epistles. Now, these are the lesser letter and the term catholic means universal since these letter are not directed to a specific audience. They consist of the Letter of James, two Letters of Peter, three Letters of John and the Letter of Jude. This week will be James, next will be Peter’s letters and the following one will be the rest.

The letter of James is New Testament Wisdom Literature. It may have been written by James, the brother of Jesus or perhaps James the less who lead the Church in Jerusalem, but it could have just been attributed to him however whoever this James was it seems like Jude might have been his brother as well. It gets a bit confusing figuring out authorship of these letters. On to the book itself. James begins with a rather short greeting like the other letters and goes right into the message sure there are going to be trials in life but keep steadfast in your faith, that you live in. It seems rooted in love first and foremost echoing the commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself”. James gives an example of a richly dressed man and a poorly dressed man entering into the assembly and caring more about the one that looks better. James continues with interesting metaphors and musings about how to live life. The letter end with the idea of the sacrament of anointing of the sick. In the letter we hear that it is works and faith that justify mankind. This is at odds with the Protestant belief of Sola Fide where you just have to believe that salvation is attained by grace alone in Christ alone through faith alone for the Glory of God alone as told in Scripture alone.

Reading through this letter it seems like it would be something that I would write today so perhaps we need to hear from this book more often, as the message is one that seems to be continually in need of.

Children of Fatima

I am sure you’ve all heard that this year in the one hundredth year since Our Lady appeared to the three children in Fatima. Later on this year on the thirteenth of May through October we will focus on what all happened at Fatima and talk about the secrets of Fatima as well. In what seen like the least kept secret it has been confirmed by the Vatican that Jacinta and Francisco Marto will be canonized during the Papal visit to Fatima in May. It also seems likely to think that Sister Lucia will be beatified sometime this year, since she is also connected with Fatima. Lucia’s cousins, Jacinta and Francisco will become two of the youngest saints who are not martyrs as they died at nine and ten.

Book of Esther part 3: The finale

This is the last of the series on the Book of Esther, last week we looked at Haman’s plot. We get to the whole deal with Purim today.

The King Xerxes, couldn’t sleep so he gets out the book of memorable deeds and reads about Mordecai and how he informed the King about the two eunuchs that were plotting against him. The king asks what was bestowed on Mordecai for doing this and learns it was nothing. The king asks who is in court and lo and behold it’s Haman, the King asks Haman what the king should do for someone who delights him. Now, Haman think that this is about himself and that the King will be honoring him so he goes all out, he wants to be dresses in royal robes and ride on a royal horse through the town being honored by all. The king says wonderful and tells Haman to do this for Mordecai, the Jew by the gate. Haman returns home in mourning and with his head covered and told his wife and friends what had happened, they predict that it is only going to get worse for Haman. While this is happening the King’s Eunuchs come to bring Haman to Queen Esther’s banquet. At this second banquet the King ask Esther again what her petition is and Esther reveals that she is Jewish “I and my people are being sold to be destroyed”. The King wonders who would do such a thing and Esther points to Haman, this foe and enemy. This enrages the King and storms out furious about this, one of the eunuchs mentions that Haman is/was building a gallows for Mordecai by his house. So Haman was hanged on the gallows meant for Mordecai. The king gave Haman’s house to Esther and Mordecai became the new Prime Minister and lived in Haman’s house.

The initial step was taken but there was that Edict that went out saying to kill all the Jewish people, so Esther pleaded with the King to cancel the edict sent out by Haman ordering the destruction of the Jews. A new edict was printed and distributed across the nations saying that the previous one is wrong and allowed the Jews who were in every city to gather and defend their lives, to destroy, to slay, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, with their children and women, and to plunder their goods,  upon one day throughout all the provinces of King Ahasu-e′rus, on the thirteenth day of Adar.  As time passes it gets it the thirteenth of Adar and the Jews gathered together and in Susa, the capital they slew 500 men and 10 of Haman’s sons were captured. Esther goes before the King and asks for another day since the Jews didn’t take any plunder. He agrees that those in Susa can do it another day and the Jews slew 300 more. Across the provinces of King Ahasuerus some 75,000 were slain. This is why the feast of Purim is celebrated.

This is a strange book in the Bible as it has a different feel from the rest of the books. I can sort of understand why the church reads only a brief section from Esther as it’s sort of like the Quentin Tarantino movie of the Bible. It is worth reading, seeing or hearing.

 

Saint Joseph’s Day

This is the Italian equivalent of St. Patrick’s Day traditionally on March 19th. Traditionally you wear red and set up a St. Joseph altar. This is about all I know about the feast since Patrick gets the lions share of the press around this time of year. However Joseph is someone that we all tend to forget about, he isn’t in the Bible much and we hardly talk about him at all. Much of the focus goes to Jesus and Mary, so let us all remember Saint Joseph today. There are a bunch of prayers to St. Joseph, and nothing really has stuck like St. Patrick’s Breastplate. The first one is prayed as a novena to St. Joseph:

Oh, Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.

Oh, Saint Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most Loving of Fathers.

Oh, Saint Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss his fine head for me and ask him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath.

Saint Joseph, Patron of departed souls – pray for me. (Mention your intention) Amen.

This other one was given to us by Pope Leo XIII as a prayer to add to the end of the Rosary especially during the month of October.

To you, O blessed Joseph,
do we come in our tribulation,
and having implored the help of your most holy Spouse,
we confidently invoke your patronage also.

Through that charity which bound you
to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God
and through the paternal love
with which you embraced the Child Jesus,
we humbly beg you graciously to regard the inheritance
which Jesus Christ has purchased by his Blood,
and with your power and strength to aid us in our necessities.

O most watchful guardian of the Holy Family,
defend the chosen children of Jesus Christ;
O most loving father, ward off from us
every contagion of error and corrupting influence;
O our most mighty protector, be kind to us
and from heaven assist us in our struggle
with the power of darkness.

As once you rescued the Child Jesus from deadly peril,
so now protect God’s Holy Church
from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity;
shield, too, each one of us by your constant protection,
so that, supported by your example and your aid,
we may be able to live piously, to die in holiness,
and to obtain eternal happiness in heaven.

Amen.