Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Today in America it is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day,  a day of service but to many it’s just a federal holiday. Sure we all know the I Have a Dream speech, but there are several other sermons and speeches that should be remembered as well.  In one of his earliest recorded sermons was one from 28 February 1954 at the Second Baptist Church in Detroit is entitled “Rediscovering Lost Values.” It seems like it could have been written recently especially with “There is something wrong with our world, something fundamentally and basically wrong. I don’t think we have to look too far to see that. I’m sure that most of you would agree with me in making that assertion. And when we stop to analyze the cause of our world’s ills, many things come to mind.”  He says that the problems lie in the hearts and souls of Men (and women). “We haven’t learned how to be just and honest and kind and true and loving. And that is the basis of our problem. ” In this sermon MLK points out that to go forward sometimes we need to do backward to do so, using the story of the finding in the temple as Mary and Joseph went back for Jesus in Jerusalem instead of continuing home. So perhaps our current state is the only way for us to move forward as a nation.

Sure this points toward the general idea that we need God, with so many irreligious in the younger generations (Gen X, Y and Z) this continues to be a struggle we face today as well. We all need to return to some religion or some other moral guidelines to show us how to behave and how to interact with others. If you’ve got some spare time today perhaps read through this sermon or some of the others.

Ubi Primum and Deiparae Virginis Mariae

Ubi Primum and Deiparae Virginis Mariae are a unique set Encyclical since it isn’t a typical Encyclical but in it the Pope asking the bishops of the world along with all the clergy and lay people if it is wise and prudent that the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption should become Dogma. It is pretty cool to see some “working documents” on these points of dogma.

In Ubi Primum Pius IX in 1849 writes to the bishops of the increase of Marian devotion both public and privately took place during Pope Gregory XVI’s reign (Pope before Pius). Gregory’s reign was also a time when people began pressing for a definition of Immaculate Mary. Yet the entirety of the Encyclical is asking if the Immaculate Conception should be made dogma.

In Deiparae Virginis Mariae Pius XII in 1946 almost 100 year later begins that there have been calls about making the Assumption dogma for about the same amount of time, Pius notes that there are several petitions from 1849-1940 have been compiled in a two volume and these came from just about everyone. So in the steps of Pius IX he thought to ask if the Assumption should be made dogma



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.

Immaculata prayer

This is a prayer written by Maximilian Kolbe, one of the Saints of World War II. Maximilian Kolbe was a Conventual Franciscan (Greyfriars) who volunteered to die in the place of a stranger at Auschwitz. He is a pretty cool saint and Pope John Paul II named him “The Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century”. The prayer is a consecration to the Immaculata, Mary the Immaculate. I hope that we all can remember to turn to Mary of Mother when we are in need. The prayer comes in two forms the long one is:

Immaculata, Queen of Heaven and earth, refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you. I, (name), a repentant sinner, cast myself at your feet, humbly imploring you to take me with all that I am and have, wholly to yourself as your possession and property. Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death and eternity, whatever most pleases you.

If it pleases you, use all that I am and have without reserve, wholly to accomplish what was said of you: “She will crush your head,” and “You alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world.” Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for introducing and increasing your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

V. Allow me to praise you, O Sacred Virgin       R. Give me strength against your enemies

Or there is a shorter version of the prayer for daily renewal of the consecration which is as follows:

Immaculata, Queen and Mother of the Church, I renew my consecration to you for this day and for always, so that you might use me for the coming of the Kingdom of Jesus in the whole world. To this end I offer you all my prayers, actions and sacrifices of this day.

Prayer to Saint Michael

I’ve got a soft spot for this prayer, growing up I went to school at Saint Michael’s from first to eight grade. I’m sure at some point we were taught the prayer and we’d pray it like when we would attend one of the daily Masses during like Lent not on a first Friday or something, It’s been a while since I was there. Anyways the prayer is one of the Leonine Prayers that Pope Leo XIII added after the celebration of a low mass, now this tradition was ended during Vatican II, however to this day we still have some individuals who pray some type of prayer after a low Mass.  This prayer is as follows:

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle,
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil;
may God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God, cast into hell
Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Although no longer prescribe for after a low Mass, Pope John Paul II in one of his Regina Caeli addresses on 24 April 1994 where he said “‘Although this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask everyone not to forget it and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world.” So if you have some time learn this prayer it a pretty neat prayer and as the world seems to be on the brink it is always nice to have an archangel on our side.

Verbum Domini

Verbum Domini is a Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation from Pope Benedict XVI on  how the Church should approach the Bible, it is like a synthesis of the thoughts from Dei Verbum. It looks at what Dei Verbum said from Vatican II and how we have implemented it in our lives. If you want a real quick overview take a look at the “Table of Contents” before the exhortation begins.

The exhortation itself is broken down into three main parts with an introduction and conclusion. The introduction says that this come from the 12th Ordinary General Synod of Bishops, which focused on The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church. Benedict uses the Prologue of the Gospel of John (1:1-18) as a guide. The Word was with God in the beginning and took on flesh to become one of us so that we all might live. This is as Benedict XVI says “a synthesis of the entire Christian faith.”

The first part is titled Verbum Dei, The Word of God. It begins with an analysis of the prologue of John’s Gospel ” In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…” This idea goes into the Incarnation (The Word become flesh) where Jesus is the condensation of God. Since the Incarnation took place within time and space it happened at one point and the writings are “The word of God is thus expressed in human words thanks to the working of the Holy Spirit”  but reflect both the human and divine. Once again Mary is offered as a model for us. This next part we shift our focus on the book itself. Here Benedict gets into hermeneutics and how to exegete scripture.  Benedict directs our attention to opening up the Bible and reading it however he notes that we enter it with a faith-filled approach as this way has been, “practiced from antiquity within Tradition, seeks saving truth for the life of the individual Christian and for the Church. It recognizes the historical value of the biblical tradition. Precisely because of the tradition’s value as an historical witness, this reading seeks to discover the living meaning of the sacred Scriptures for the lives of believers today”, while not ignoring the human mediation of the inspired text and its literary genres. Scriptures can be used as an Ecumenical building block as well, like with bible study, we can get into the nuts and bolts of religion through discussion of common scripture.  We can look at the lives of the Saints as they have lived truly lived the Word of God.

The second part is entitled Verbum in Ecclesia, The Word in Church. It begins by calling us back to the beginning of John’s Gospel as Augustine puts it “you were created through the word, but now through the word you must be recreated.” How are we recreated? Through the scripture notably by the sacraments and the liturgy. Significance is put on the Liturgy as for many people this is the only place they will hear from the Bible. Benedict notes that Lectors need to be trained since they need to understand what they are reading before they can read it to the congregation. Then the focus turns to the Homily. The quality of homilies need to improve as the faithful need to be able to understand what the priest is talking about and understand that Christ is at the center of it.  We move on to the Sacraments of Healing saying that Scripture is a major aspect of both Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick. Next we are given The Liturgy of the Hours, the prayer of the Church as a way for us to get closer to the Scripture. Once again Benedict urges us all to read the Bible using Lectio Divina or even just praying the Rosary.

The third part is Verbum Mundo, The Word to the World. This section begins talk of Evangelization and mission. We are called to be not only hearers of the Word but heralds of the world, at the end of Mass we are told to go out into the world and bring what we have heard out into the world. This is has been our mission since baptism, bearing witness to the Gospel in our daily lives. We need to not only evangelize the world but re evangelize it. Next the focus is turned to special interest and how the youth, the migrants, the suffering, the poor and creation are all integral parts that need to be protected and nurtured by all of us but they are also a part of the evangelization. Even within the secular world the Bible is still a source of inspiration as so much of the world can follow the code of rules. We can also learn about the Bible through secular institutions as long as they are properly educated, the Bible can be used as inspiration for artists of all types and we should use all methods available to spread the word of God even this Internet thingy.

At the end Pope Benedict urges us all to read the Bible. One of the great lines in the Conclusion “Let us be silent in order to hear the Lord’s word and to meditate upon it, so that by the working of the Holy Spirit it may remain in our hearts and speak to us all the days of our lives.” As for many of us listening is something that is difficult for us to do.  Let us find quiet moments in our lives where we can listen and explore the word of the Lord.

The Angelus

On this last day of May I though it would be appropriate to do one final Marian post. Last week I talked about the Angelus and how that was really the only thing other than the Rosary that I’ve prayed dedicated to Mary. The Angelus is prayed in churches, convents, and monasteries and can be prayed three times a day at 6:00 am (Prime), noon (Sext), and 6:00 pm (Vespers) often times churches rang their bells at these times. It is a devotion that focuses on the Incarnation and the Annunciation. At school we prayed it at noon.  For most people they might have heard of the Angelus through that Papal Angelus Address that happens on Sundays. It’s a nice prayer and even if you only do it once a day it offers a break from the rest of the world.

The Angelus consists of Bible Verses and a couple Hail Marys it is as follows

The Angel of the LORD declared unto Mary, / And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace; the LORD is with thee: blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

Behold the handmaid of the LORD. / Be it done unto me according to thy word.

Hail Mary, full of grace; the LORD is with thee: blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

And the Word was made flesh. / And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary, full of grace; the LORD is with thee: blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God. / That we might be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray,  Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O LORD,  thy grace into our hearts; that, we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen

All Saints’ Day

Since Sunday falls on the first of November this year we all celebrate All Saints’ Day, it’s one of those Holy Days of Obligation so the readings don’t change year to year. All Saints’ Day is a day in which we honor all those named and unknown saints throughout the ages. All Souls’ Day follows and we remember all those faithful who have died but have not been attained heaven yet.

As we turn to the readings we first encounter Revelation. John is revealing to us what he saw in his vision. This is a unique sight as we have some vague idea of the Church universal as it exists of those on earth (Church militant) and those in heaven (the Church triumphant) all of these individuals are bowing down before the Throne of Lord. The Church Universal also includes those in Purgatory (Church penitent). Those bowing before the Lord are those who know the Lord and have washed their garments in his blood.

Turning to the second reading we hear one of the Epistles of John. In this first letter John writes that we should not be frustrated with the world if it does not recognize us for the world simply does not know the Lord, but as Christian we are the hope for the world. As Benedict XVI said “In times like these,… there is the great risk of reducing Christian hope to an ideology…Nothing is more contrary to Jesus’ message! He does not want his disciples to “recite” a part, even that of hope. He wants them “to be” hope and they can only be hope if they remain united to him! He wishes each one of you, dear young friends, to be a small source of hope for your neighbor and, all together, to become an oasis of hope for the society in which you are integrated.”

Finally we reach the Gospel where we hear the Beatitudes. Those Blessed are…, for they will… this is the guide to sainthood. Pope Francis has said this many times and he has written up reflections on the three of the Beatitudes, as the themes of the past two and the next World Youth Day. Let us all try to make something of these messages and try to make the beatitudes a part of our lives. You can look through some of the many post I have about Saints to be inspired on how to live your life.

Thomas Merton

Today was the day that Thomas Merton slipped his earthy coil, or whatever they saying is. I am surprised that compared to other holy men and women we don’t see the constant push for Merton to be Canonized. Sure Merton is different from the others but from all that I’ve read he made quite an impact on vocations after his book Seven Storey Mountain was published. I read some where that it was one of the accessories that many men brought with them as they joined. Merton wrote a lot of things and now many people have taken those things and compiled them in various books. The book that introduced me to Merton was Seeds edited by Robert Inchausti. In the book one of the sections is about Merton thoughts about Sainthood. I really like these thoughts Merton writes in Seven Storey Mountain, about a conversation he had with Robert Lax, Merton’s friend says “All that is necessary to be a saint is to want to be one. Don’t you believe that God will make you what He created you to be, if you will consent to let Him do it? All you have to do is desire it.” This is a concept that many people struggle with we are supposedly all called to be saints but through the centuries it seems that the average individual has little chance to become a saint, but what Lax said really simplifies the whole thing If you want to be a saint all we have to do is to want to be one. The other quote that I really like comes from New Seed for Contemplation is “The saints are what they are, not because their sanctity make them admirable to others, but because the gift of sainthood makes it possible for them to admire everybody else.” Being a saint is not something that takes place in isolation, we are members of a communal religion and it sort of echoes the sentiment of Hugo to love another person is to see the face of God.

All Saints’ Day

Today is typically a Holy Day of Obligation which honors all the saints ever, those named and unknown. All Saints’ Day is part of Allhallowtide or Hallowmas which is another triduum of the year consisting of Halloween, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Today’s feast celebrates the Church triumphant, those who have died and are in heaven.

I have many posts about lesser known saints and some others on more famous saints, perhaps taking a look at them and reading a little about some of those who have made it to heaven. These saints are examples for all of us to follow their lead and get into heaven. I hope that we are inspired by the Saints and show this out into our own lives.