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.


Magnae Dei Matris

Magnae Dei Matris is another encyclical of Pope Leo XIII focusing on the Rosary this one is a bit more indepth than other which are basically asking/reminding people to pray the Rosary in October.

Magnae Dei Matris (Great Mother of God) begins like the other encyclicals on the Rosary saying that at a certain time “occasion arises to stimulate and intensify the love and veneration of the Christian people for Mary”. It then turn to our Heavenly Father, who was the first to love Mary and raised her above all creation naming her his mother. This is key concept of the Encyclical. We in turn must put all of our filial trust in her. Here is where we get the classic pray the Rosary since October is coming up soon, Pope Leo gives some reason why we need to turn to the Rosary in which he mentions public institutions that science and art where there is hardly a mention of God as well as “the consequent laxity and apathy in the practice of the Catholic religion”, this sounds like something that some super conservative would say knocking on the Cafeteria and Secular Christianity that has grown up in the US and Europe. Pope Leo insists that the remedy for this is praying the Rosary. As we pray through the events of Mary’s life we grow closer to Jesus. It goes on and reflects on the idea that Mary is the perfect model of living the Christian life. It continues talking about how constantly praying the Rosary serves piety and is a  source of comfort. Eventually the encyclical ends with Pope Leo once again asking (us) his brother bishops to pray the Rosary.

Marialis Cultus

Marialis Cultus is an Apostolic Exhortation from Pope Paul VI about Marian Devotion. Now this is a letter to all the Bishops of the World in a reflection of how Vatican II goes with Mary. This letter is divided into three sections the first looking the history of Marian Devotion focusing on the relationship between the liturgy and devotion to Mary, the second looks at ways to develop as well as renew Marian devotion for the future, the third section take a look at the Angelus and Rosary as methods of devotion that we should use. This is followed by a conclusion which basically says Mary deserves the devotions because she is the mother of graces and her unique role in redemption. As well as that devotion to the Blessed Virgin is an intrinsic element of Christian worship and devotion is paramount importance in living the life of the Gospel.

Part One:  In the first section Paul VI looks at the Roman Calendar and the Missal noting all the dates and mentions of Mary in the liturgy. He also looks that the Lectionary and the Liturgy of the Hours and how tied to Mary these are as well. Paul VI notes that if one studies the history of Christian worship, in fact, one notes that both in the East and in the West the highest and purest expressions of devotion to the Blessed Virgin have sprung from the liturgy or have been incorporated into it.” The second section looks at Mary’s role in the liturgy as a model for us all. Saying that this modeling of Mary has been one of the longest living traditions in the Church.

Part Two:  First noting that in Vatican II the exhortation came out to look at other forms of piety. Here we get into some hard stuff as Paul takes us into the Trinitarian, Christological and Ecclesial notes of the Virgin. These Marian forms of piety need to be “To Jesus through Mary” as we use her as our conduit to Jesus. This section is a bit heady to read. The second section doesn’t make it much easier as it takes the devotion of Mary and roots it in the Biblical, Liturgical, Ecumenical and Anthropological. These is not putting Mary in a box as across the world there are devotions to Mary in all different forms the Black Madonna, Our Lady of Akita, Our Lady of Zeitoun, Our Lady of Kazan, Our Lady of Walsingham. These are all around the world and Mary looks like the people in the area.

Part Three: This one begins by looking at the Angelus and says that we should be praying it more. Then it turns into a nice reflection on the Rosary. It explains a basic Rosary as it is a prayer rooted in the Gospel and consists of the Our Father, Hail Mary and Doxology. Pope Paul then pleads that the Rosary be taken up by Families and prayed together. As it is simple and everyone should know it.

Laetitiae Sanctae

Laetitae Sanctae is another one of Leo XIII encyclical on the Rosary it is like several of the others which are implore the praying of the rosary in October. Pope Leo notes that the praying of the rosary devoutly not only helps the individual but also but society as a whole as well.  His holiness goes on to say that there are three obstacles that arise in the world “first, the distaste for a simple and labourious life; secondly, repugnance to suffering of any kind; thirdly, the forgetfulness of the future life.” These are tied to the mysteries of the Rosary.

The first, the distaste for poverty relates to the joyful mysteries where we focus on Christ as a child. So much of society says that we need to amass riches so we can buy this or that to become a better person and we should “work smarter not hard”. However it takes hard work to get rich. As we look at these mysteries we see “simplicity and purity of conduct, perfect agreement and unbroken harmony, mutual respect and love – not of the false and fleeting kind – but that which finds both its life and its charm in devotedness of service.” This is what we need to bring into the world.

The second, repugnance to suffering relates to the sorrowful mysteries where we focus on the Passion of Christ. It is sad that violence has become so pervasive that in just about every movie it seem features some horrible act of violence, or really just turning on the news we hear of some murder. Society as a whole has become desensitized to it even when most of us haven’t seen it in person we’ve all seen it in the movie and television programs we watch. Sure we understand that violence is bad but we often forget about the suffering and grief left behind. Yet we must remember the actions of Jesus and follow in his footsteps, as St. Thomas says in the gospel “Let us also go, that we might die with him” (John 11:16)

The third and last one, forgetfulness of the future relates to the glorious mysteries where the focus turns to the resurrection and life in heaven. All too often we look to the future and our own personal safety with a mix of materialism and nationalism. Here is where the problem arises the militarization of individuals to serve their nation, but at the neglect of the world as a whole. We are all in the same boat and the more people rocking it the sooner we will capsize. Pope Leo put is as we may doubt if “God could inflict upon man a more terrible punishment than to allow him to waste his whole life in the pursuit of earthly pleasures, and in forgetfulness of the happiness which alone lasts for ever.” Let us remember the eternal banquet that awaits us all.

Pope Leo then talks a bit about Rosary confraternities calling them the battalions who fight the battle of Christ under the direction of the Virgin Mother noting the victory at Lepanto. This, the rosary,  is the Hope of the Church. Let us all take some time and pull out a rosary and pray it.

Octobri Mense

This is an Encyclical by Pope Leo XIII about the Rosary, this is one of the several he wrote about the Rosary. This one is like so many which just asks the faithful to pray the Rosary during the month of October. I find it pretty funny how this was written in 1891 and it seems like it could have been written in this century. As “The world goes on its laborious way, proud of its riches, of its power, of its arms, of its genius; the Church goes onward along the course of ages with an even step, trusting in God only, to Whom, day and night, she lifts her eyes and her suppliant hands.” Pope Leo turns toward the “storm of evils, in the midst of which the Church struggles so strenuously, reveals to all her pious children the holy duty whereto they are bound to pray to God with instance, and the manner in which they may give to their prayers the greater power. Faithful to the religious example of our fathers, let us have recourse to Mary, our holy Sovereign. Let us entreat, let us beseech, with one heart, Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ, our Mother.” We still struggle against the storms of evil which threaten the world in which we live. As we follow the advice of Leo XIII let us pull out our rosary and pray a decade or five for the the struggle continues and we can turn to Mary, our Mother for help.

October Rosary postings

Since October is the month of the Rosary, I will be looking at some of the many Encyclicals and other Church Documents that focus on the Rosary over the next couple of weeks. The first two weeks are going to look at some of Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclicals including Octobri Mense and Vi e ben noto. Leo XIII is known as the Rosary Pope and wrote eleven Encyclicals on the Rosary. The following two weeks are up in the air currently but might be more of Pope Leo. If you are looking for something to do perhaps pick up a rosary at some point in this upcoming month and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide the voters in the United States to choose the candidate who will lead justly.

Ingravescentiubus Malis

Ingravescentiubus Malis is the last encyclical of Pope Pius XI and it focuses on the Rosary. Pius XI begins by calling back to a couple of his previous encyclicals Mit Brennender Sorge (On the Church and the German Reich) and Divini Redemptoris (On Atheistic Communism) saying that “there is no remedy for the ever-growing evils of our times except a return to Our Lord Jesus Christ and to His most holy precepts. However, Pius continues that any real student of the Church should know that often time we have turned to the Virgin Mother when times get tough and the victory won through her brought a return to tranquility. Pius even mentions Our Lady of Victory who if you remember last week it was Pope Pius V who urge Europeans to pray the Rosary. As we pray in the Memorare, Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided. Pius XI notes the “Faithful of every age, both in public misfortune and in private need, turn to Mary, so that she may come to their aid and grant help and remedy against sorrows of body and soul. And never was her most powerful aid hoped for in vain by those who besought it with pious and trustful prayer.”

So to fight the problems in the world we should turn to Mary our Mother and ask for help and pray the Psalter of the Virgin or Breviary of the Gospel and of Christian life, or the Rosary which Pope Leo XIII wrote volumes on. Pius then does an overview on the Our Father and Hail Mary.  Pius continues by saying that “if men in our century, with its derisive pride, refuse the Holy Rosary, there is an innumerable multitude of holy men of every age and every condition who have always held it dear. They have recited it with great devotion, and in every moment they have used it as a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight, to preserve the integrity of life, to acquire virtue more easily, and in a word to attain real peace among men.” Pius urges fathers and mother to pray the Rosary with their families.  These words could have been written last month and would have the same relevance. We need to get down on our knees and pray to our Blessed Mother.

Lesser Known…

Space Week: I can’t believe that I’ve never heard of World Space Week before today. It’s a UN observance created in 1999 that runs from October 4th (the day Sputnik 1 was launched) and runs to the 10th (the day of the signing of the  Outer Space Treaty). This is the largest space event of the year and is celebrated around the world. So take a break and go stare up at the sky sometime this week, and hope that we can help inspire the world to do more stuff in space,

Our Lady of the Rosary:  This feast for Mary was originated by Pope Pius V in 1571 after the Holy League a naval force from Spain and other Catholic nations in Southern Europe which fought in the Battle of Lepanto, believing that the Holy League wouldn’t do well Pope Pius V called for all of Europe to prayer the Rosary and Pius himself led a Rosary Procession in Rome. The Ottoman forces lost and never quite recovered from it. Pius V proclaimed 7 October as the Feast of Our Lady of Victory. In 1573, Pope Gregory XIII (the calendar guy) changed the name of the feast to Holy Rosary. Pope Clement XI would move it to the first Sunday in October, then Pius X changed it back to the seventh in 1913. Finally in 1960, John XXIII changed the name of the feast once again the Our Lady of the Rosary. If we’ve got some spare time this week it would be wonderful to prayer the Rosary on the 7th.

Anna Schäffer (18 February 1882 – 5 October 1925)
Anna is a mystic from Germany. Her father died which left the family in poverty so Anna had to drop out of school and she began work as a maid at 14, eventually hoping that she would be able to join a religious order. At, 16 Anna had a vision of Christ who told her that she was destined to endure long and painful suffering. In February of 1901 while doing some laundry Anna slipped and fell while trying to reattach a stove pipe and she boiled her legs in the washing water. She was taken to the hospital but nothing could be done, skin grafts didn’t succeed so she became completely immobile, Anna could no longer become a religious and had to be cared for by her mother. Despite all this she never lost her optimism and considered her suffering, her writing, and her ability to knit clothes for her friends the three “keys” by which she could enter Heaven. Benedict XVI said at her Canonization “She struggled for a time to accept her fate, but then understood her situation as a loving call from the crucified One to follow him. Strengthened by daily communion, she became an untiring intercessor in prayer and a mirror of God’s love for the many who sought her counsel. May her apostolate of prayer and suffering, of sacrifice and expiation, be a shining example for believers in her homeland, and may her intercession strengthen the Christian hospice movement in its beneficial activity.” John Paul II added this when she was beatified “Precisely in the most intense pain Anna Schäffer realized that every Christian is responsible for his neighbor’s salvation. For this purpose she used the pen.” Every Christian is responsible for our neighbor’s salvation, let us keep that in mind during the week. Anna’s writings have been printed in English as Thoughts and memories of my life of illness and my longing for the eternal homeland.

Consueverunt Romani Pontifices

Over the next couple of week I’m going to be pulling out some Encyclicals and Papal Bulls out about the Rosary since October in the Month of the Rosary.

Consueverunt Romani Pontifices is  a Papal Bull from Pope Pius V from 1569 and is arguably the oldest of papal documents that talks about the Rosary that is widely known. In Consueverunt Romani Pontifices Pius V officially established the Rosary as a Vatican approved prayer.  It mentions that St. Dominic looked to a simple way of praying and beseeching God, accessible to all and wholly pious, which is called the Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or Rosary. Pius notes that “Christ’s faithful, inflamed by these prayers, began immediately to be changed into new men. The darkness of heresy began to be dispelled, and the light of the Catholic Faith to be revealed.” This is document, or the fragment we have is relatively low key compared to some of the later Encyclicals which I’ve read.

I am a fan of the second section\paragraph “Following the example of our predecessors, seeing that the Church militant, which God has placed in our hands, in these our times is tossed this way and that by so many heresies, and is grievously troubled troubled and afflicted by so many wars, and by the deprave morals of men, we also raise our eyes, weeping but full of hope, unto that same mountain, whence every aid comes forth, and we encourage and admonish each member of Christ’s faithful to do likewise in the Lord. ” These words seem like they could have been written in the past decade, if this is a good thing I am not sure but it is our call to action that 500 years from now that it doesn’t. If you have some time especially in the upcoming month of October please pray the Rosary.

Other Rosary prayers

You do not have to limit the Rosary to just it and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy as there are dozens of other prayers that can be said on a Rosary or some derivative of a rosary. Over at Catholic Patron Saints they have a nice long list and explain how to pray each Chaplet or variation of the Rosary, it’s in a list on the side.

First up is the Paternoster, it’s 50 beads long, five decades of ten beads and was used by illiterate monks as well as those who didn’t know Latin instead of praying the Divine office they would pray the Our Father 150 time throughout the day while meditating on the Mysteries of the Incarnation of Christ. I doubt this still exists in the monastic life but perhaps as an additional prayer or something.

Then there is the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows, it is known as the Chaplet of Seven Sorrows or the Servite Rosary, and the focus is the seven Sorrows of Mary. It consists of seven groups of seven beads. There is also the opposite of this with the Rosary of the Seven Joys it is also known as the Franciscan Crown or the Seraphic Rosary. The Franciscan Crown is a whole lot easier to pray it is seven decades plus two more Hail Marys at the end. St. Anthony’s Rosary is basically the same as the everyday Rosary but you say the Hail Mary thirteen times each decade. While the Bridgettine Rosary is vastly different as it has seven Our Fathers and 63 Hail Marys spread across six decades

We’ve also got the Chaplet of Mercy of the Holy Wounds of Jesus, this is a relatively new it was first existed about 100 years ago in the and was approved by the Vatican back in 1924. It is prayed on a standard Rosary but the prayers are different, like the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. This is how you pray it on the crucifix and first beads the following prayers are said “O Jesus, Divine Redeemer, be merciful to us and to the whole world. Amen./Holy God, Mighty God, Immortal God, have mercy on us and on the whole world. Amen/Grace and Mercy, O my Jesus, during present dangers; cover us with Your Precious Blood. Amen./Eternal Father, grant us mercy through the Blood of Jesus Christ, Your only Son; grant us mercy we beseech You. Amen, Amen, Amen.” As we move forward on the Our Father beads you pray “Eternal Father, I offer You the Wounds of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, to heal the wounds of our souls.” and on the Hail Mary beads you pray “My Jesus, pardon and mercy, through the merits of Your Holy Wounds.”

Finally we’ve got the Ecumenical Rosary where the miracles of Jesus are the focus and the prayers are all different as well, but it is prayed on the same Rosary. Then we have Anglican Prayer beads which are different and not really a standard prayer as some times they can be used as a tactile reminder of how many you have prayed, it has 33 beads and they are split up into four groups of seven. however I think that this is more like the Eastern Orthodox Prayer Rope. The Orthodox prayer Rope can be of various numbers most of the time about 100 beads/knots however hermits might have Ropes with up to like 500 knots.

If you ever get stuck in your prayer life pick up a rosary and take a look at some of the variations to switch up your prayer life.