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Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Sts. Cletus and Marcellinus

Semi Double (1954 Calendar): April 26th
The following is taken from Dom Guéranger's entry in The Liturgical Year for April 26, in Volume VIII of the 1983 Marian House edition of the English translation by the Benedictines of Stanbrook.
"Two bright stars appear this day on the ecclesiastical cycle, proclaiming the glory of our Jesus, the Conqueror of death. Again they are two pontiffs, and martyr pontiffs [a reference to the feast day of Sts. Soter and Caius on April 22]. Cletus leads us to the very commencement of the Church, for he was a disciple of Peter, and his second successor in the See of Rome. Marcellinus was a witness of the great persecution under Diocletian; he governed the Church on the eve of her triumph. Let us honour these two fathers of Christendom, who laid down their lives in its defence; and let us offer their merits to Jesus, who supported them by His grace, and cheered them with the hope that one day they would share in His Resurrection."
[Dom Guéranger then reproduces the accounts of the two saints found in the Breviary.]

"Pray for us, O holy Pontiffs, and look with fatherly love upon the Church on earth, which was so violently persecuted in your times, and at the present day is far from enjoying peace. The worship of idols is revived; and though they be not of stone or medal, yet they that adore them are as determined to propagate their worship as were the pagans of former days to make all mean idolaters. The gods and goddesses now in favour are called Liberty, Progress, and Modern Civilization. Every measure is resorted to, in order to impose these new divinities upon the world; they that refuse to adore them are persecuted; governments are secularized, that is, unchristianized; the education of youth is made independent of all moral teaching; the religious element is rejected from life as an intrusion: and all this is done with such a show of reasonableness that thousands of well-minded Christians are led to be its advocates, timid perhaps and partial, but still its advocates."
"Preserve us, O holy martyrs! from being the dupes of this artful impiety. It was not in vain that our Jesus suffered death, and rose again from the grave. Surely after this He deserves to be what He is - King of the whole earth, under whose power are all creatures. It is in order to obey Him that we wish no other liberty save that which He has based upon the Gospel; no other progress save that which follows the path He has marked out; no other civilization save that which results from the fulfillment of the duties to our fellow men, which He has established. It is He that created human nature and gave it its laws; it is He that redeemed it, and restored to it is lost rights. Him alone, then, do we adore. O holy martyrs! pray that we may never become the dupes or slaves of the theories of human pride, even if they that frame or uphold them should have power to make us suffer or die for our resistance."
Prophetic Words of Blessed Jacinta

Note: Blessed Jacinta is set to be canonized this year.  She died at a very young age. But even as a young child, she was a seer of Our Lady of Fatima and her words have much wisdom and truth in them far beyond the age of a young girl:
"Tell everybody that God grants us His graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, that they should ask her for them, that the Heart of Jesus wants the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be honored along with Him, that they should ask the Immaculate Heart of Mary for peace because God has placed it in her keeping."

"Wars are nothing but punishments for the sins of the world."

"Our Lady can no longer hold back the arm of her beloved Son from the world.  It is necessary to do penance.  If people change their ways, Our Lord will still avail the world; but if they do not, the chastisement will come."

"If men do not change their ways, Our Lady will send the world a punishment like of which has never been seen.  It will fall first...upon Spain."

Thursday, April 20, 2017
What Does Easter Mean? The Truth of Easter Using Historical Evidence.

This is taken from Dr. John Pepino's article in Memento put out in April 2017 by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter:
Easter is the "most blessed day of ours!" North African Bishop Commodian exclaimed in the 240s AD.  What light do the Fathers of the Church shed on the meaning of this feast?

St. Bede, writing in eight-century England, reports that "Easter" is derived from the Anglo-Saxon name for April, Eostur-monath, named after their goddess Eostre, the patroness of the dawn or the spring.  The Latin term Pascha (From which comes the term paschal candle), taken over unchanged from the Greek derives from the Hebrew word for the Passover, Pasah.  The meaning of these words is worth pondering in our preparation for Easter. 

First, Easter: Bede indicates that the retention of the pagan name brought with it no connotation of the old religion; now Christians, Englishmen "call the joy of a new solemnity (Easter) by the word they used to in the old religion" (On the Reckoning of Time 15).  There is no more paganism left here than in the names of weekdays or months (Thursday for Thor, January for Janus, etc.).  For Bede, the predominant meaning of Easter is joy.

Pascha conveys a number of meanings, all connected to Easter.  The early Christian writers of Alexandria, Egypt focused on the Resurrection of Our Lord as a fulfillment of the Passover of the Jewish people through the Red Sea and ultimately into the Holy Land.  Our joy is in passing from death to life through Baptism as well as in partaking of the feast of the slain Passover Lamb in Holy Communion, as we "pass over from the things of this life to God" (as third-century writer Origen wrote in Against Celsus 22).  The dominant note here is of movement: from slavery to freedom, from darkness to light, and from the world as it is now to paradise restored after the Resurrection of the Dead.  The Old Testament readings of the Vigil Mass, particularly the twelve lessons in the traditional Easter Vigil, recall and develop this theme.
Saturday, April 15, 2017
Round 17: Collectible Catholic Books for Sale

Here is the next installment in the books that I am selling.  Please contact me at acatholiclife[at]gmail[dot]com if you are interested in any of these titles.

All are hardcovers in good condition and sell for $18/each.  All prices include shipping.

     "Mother Angelica," by Raymond Arroyo, 229 pp., 2005

     "The Apostles' Creed, Rev. Clement Crock, 1939, 278 pp.

     "Mind and the Mystery: The Catholic Explanation," C. J. Eustace, 307 pp., 1937

     "The Sacrifice of the Mass," Rev. Alex McDonald, 184 pp., 1924

     "Conference for Married Women," Rev. Reynold Keuhnel, 216 pp., 1919

     "Early Christian Prayers," A. Hamman, OFM, 280 pp., 1961

     "The Catholic Church Through the Ages," Martin Harney, SJ, 586 pp., 1980

     "A Convert's Reason Why," A. J. Hayes, 175 pp., 1911

     "Apologetics for the Pulpit," Aloysius Roche, 259 pp., 1935

     "Questions and Answers: Catholic Evidence," Cecily Hastings, 237 pp., 1956

     "The Month of the Sacred Heart," Sister Mary Emmanuel, OSB, 289 pp., 1930

     "The Creed Explained," Rev. Arthur Devine, 433 pp., 1897
Thursday, April 13, 2017
St. Hermenegild

Double (1954 Calendar): April 13th

In the sixth century St. Hermenegild, the elder son of King Leovigild, the heretical Visigothic ruler of Spain, married a French princess and was converted to the true religion by her holy example.

King Leovigild regarded the converted prince as a traitor and had him put to death. But remorse worked on the royal father's heart, and he died advising his remaining son to become a Catholic and thus to bring the whole nation of the Visigoths in Spain into the Catholic Church.

Saint Hermenegild, Martyr from the Liturgical Year, 1870
It is through a Martyr's palm-branch that we must today see the Paschal Mystery. Hermenegild, a young Visigoth Prince, is put to death by his heretical father, because he courageously refused to receive his Easter Communion from an Arian Bishop. The Martyr knew that the Eucharist is the sacred symbol of Catholic unity; and that we are not allowed to approach the Holy Table in company with them that are not in the true Church. A sacrilegious consecration gives heretics the real possession of the Divine Mystery, if the priestly character be in him who dares to offer Sacrifice to the God whom he blasphemes; but the Catholic, who knows that he may not so much as pray with heretics, shudders at the sight of the profanation, and would rather die than share, by his presence, in insulting our Redeemer in that very Sacrifice and Sacrament, which were instituted that we might all be made one in God. 
The blood of the Martyr produced its fruit: Spain threw off the chains of heresy that had enslaved her, and a Council, held at Toledo, completed the work of conversion begun by Hermenegild's sacrifice. There are very few instances recorded in history of a whole Nation rising up in a mass to abjure heresy; but Spain did it, for she seems to be a country on which heaven lavishes exceptional blessings. Shortly after this she was put through the ordeal of the Saracen invasion; she triumphed here again by the bravery of her children; and ever since then, her Faith has been so staunch and so pure, as to merit for her the proud title of The Catholic Kingdom. 
St. Gregory the Great, a contemporary of St. Hermenegild, has transmitted to us the following account of the martyrdom. The Church has inserted it in her Second Lessons of today's Matins.

O God, who didst teach blessed Hermenegild, Thy Martyr, to choose the heavenly kingdom rather than an earthly throne: grant us, we beseech Thee, that, following his example, we may despise the fleeting things of time and seek what is eternal. Through our Lord . . .
Thursday, April 6, 2017
First Friday Devotion for April

I want to remind you that tomorrow is the First Friday of the month. Because tomorrow is the first Friday of the Month, many Catholic parishes will have special Masses for the First Friday Devotion.
"With foresight, the divine heart of Christ merited and ordered all the favors which we have received, disposing them for each of us in particular. How our hearts would be inflamed with love for so many favors! Consider that they were destined for us by the will of the Father, to be borne in the heart of the Savior, Who earned them for us by His sufferings, above all by His passion." - St. Francis de Sales
Beginning on December 27, 1673, through 1675, Our Lord appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque asking her to receive Him in Holy Communion on the first Friday of every month and to meditate on His passion from 11:00 PM to 12:00 midnight each Thursday. He also revealed to her twelve promises for all who are devoted to His Sacred Heart; he asked for a Feast of the Sacred Heart to be instituted in the liturgical calendar of the Church. Our Lord appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque with twelve promises for those devoted to His Most Sacred Heart.

Promises for those devoted to the Sacred Heart:

1. "I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life."
2. "I will establish peace in their homes."
3. "I will comfort them in their afflictions."
4. "I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all in death."
5. "I will bestow a large blessing upon all their undertakings."
6. "Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and the infinite ocean of mercy."
7. "Tepid souls shall grow fervent."
8. "Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection."
9. "I will bless every place where a picture of My Heart shall be set up and honored."
10. "I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts."
11. "Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be blotted out."
12. "I promise thee in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving the Sacraments; My Divine heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment."

Prayer of Reparation:

O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore thee profoundly. I offer thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which He is offended. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of thee the conversion of poor sinners.
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
RIP John Venarri

John Venarri Editor of Catholic Family News passed away this morning.

V. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
R. And let the perpetual light shine upon them.
And may the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

V. Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.
R. Et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Fidelium animae, per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pace. Amen.
Sunday, April 2, 2017
St. Francis of Paola

Double (1954 Calendar): April 2nd

St. Francis was born to parents who were childless for many years.  Yet the parents pleaded through the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi that they should be given children by God.  And so their prayers were heard.  They had three children, of which St. Francis of Paola (Paula) was one of them.

As a young boy, St. Francis journeyed to Rome on a pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi and decided to followed the will of God and become a hermit.  Before he was even 20 years old he began to attract followers and thus founded the Hermits of Saint Francis of Assisi, who were approved by the Holy See in 1474. In 1492 they were renamed the Franciscan Order of Minim Friars, with the use of "Minim," it meant that they counted themselves as the least worthy of those in the household of God.

St. Francis was regarded as a miracle worker, prophet, and defender of the poor.  In 1464 St. Francis wanted to cross the Straits of Messina to reach Sicily, but a boatman refused to take him. St. Francis responded by laying his cloak on the water, tying one end to his staff to make a sail, and then he proceeded to sail across with his companions. Franz Liszt wrote a piece of music inspired by the incident.

At the request of Pope Sixtus IV, he journeyed to Paris and helped Louis XI prepare for death.  He also used his position to help restore peace between France and Brittany by advising a marriage between the ruling families and between France and Spain by persuading Louis XI to return some disputed land.

St. Francis of Paola died on Good Friday, April 2, 1507, in Pelssis France.  He was canonized in 1519 by Pope Leo X.

Tragically, in 1562 Huguenots (Protestant heretics) broke open his tomb, found his body incorrupt, and burned it; the bones were salvaged by Catholics, and distributed as relics to various churches.


O God, the exaltation of the lowly, who hast raised Thy blessed Confessor Francis to the glory of the Saints; grant, we beseech Thee, that by his merits and example we may happily obtain the rewards promised to the lowly. Through Our Lord . . .
Friday, March 31, 2017
Catholic Virtual Tour of Munich, Salzburg, and Vienna

Last week I was privileged to travel to the cities of Munich, Salzburg, and Vienna as part of a 7-day long trip to Bavaria and Austria. I returned on the eve of the Feast of the Annunciation. Now, after taking a few days to settle back in, I would like to share some of the scenes from my trip. I am happy to present this Catholic Virtual Tour of Munich, Salzburg, and Vienna.

Note: All photos are copyright (c) 2017 by A Catholic Life Blog and may not be used without prior permission and without attribution.


My trip started in the city of Munich and included walking tours of the city, visits to historical Nazi/WWII locations, and time in the famous churches of Munich.  Here are some of those pictures:

The above images of the famous "Asam" Church in Munich

These images are of St. Anna, where the FSSP offers the Traditional Mass daily for those in Munich

These images are from the beautiful church of St. Michael in the heart of Munich.  Just steps away from St. Anna and several other churches, I found this to be one of the most beautiful churches I encountered on my trip.

And no trip to Munich would be complete with a visit to St. Peter's Church.  The Church preserves the body of St. Munditia on a side altar (pictured above).  Also, above is a stunning image of Our Lady of Sorrows in the Church.


Leaving Munich after spending a few days there, I ventured out to tour some of the castles of King Ludwig II including his famous Neuweinstein Castle.  It was breathtaking and the throne room of the castle looked like an altar sanctuary.  No photos were permitted but I must say that it was the most amazing room I have ever seen in my life.  Here are some photos of what I could capture on this leg of the trip:

Vienna, Austria:

After returning back to Munich from the castles, I rested for one night and then took a train out several hours eastward to Vienna (Wien). The city was a true gem of history, culture, and architecture.  And aside from Rome, this was the most beautiful city I have ever seen in my life.  Some of the highlights included:

The Austrian Parliament Building

The town hall in Vienna near Rathausplatz

The above three images are of the impressive and historic St. Stephen's Cathedral in the heart of Vienna

Salzburg, Austria:

After a day and one night in Vienna, I traveled back westward toward Munich but stopped for a few hours in Salzburg.  There I visited the home of Mozart (both his birthplace home as well as the place where he lived). I also spent time in the Salzburg Cathedral, its museums, and the beautiful Church of St. Peter, which includes outside its famous cemetery.

St. Peter's Church in Salzburg

The Cathedral in Salzburg


All in all, it was an awe-inspiring trip and one that I will remember.  I prayed for all of my benefactors intentions.  So thank you to everyone who was kind enough to donate to help me in the sidebar of this blog.  You can still donate and I will remember your intentions in prayer as I travel to Spain this June.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017

“Pray! Pray a great deal! The hearts of Jesus and Mary of designs of mercy for you. Offer up prayers and sacrifices to the Most High...Make everything you do a sacrifice, and offer it as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended and in supplication for the conversion of sinners...Above all, accept and bear with submission the sufferings sent you by Our Lord...”

“Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which He is offended. And through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart, and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners...Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Repair their crimes and console your God”.
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
St. John of Capistrano

Double (1954 Calendar): March 28th

Today is the Feast of St. John of Capistrano.  On feastdays in Lent, more usually the Mass of the Lenten feria is said with only a commemoration of the feast - unlike the other seasons in the Church's liturgical year.

St. John of Capistrano was a Franciscan Friar and priest from Italy who was famous as a preacher, theologian, and inquisitor.  St. John famously led a crusade against the Ottomons at the Siege of Belgrade.

St. John was born in 1386 at Capistrano in the kingdom of Naples. He became a famous lawyer and then was appointed governor of Perugia. At the age of 34 he entered the Franciscan Order. John Capistran was the friend of four Popes: he reformed his order, and he evangelized Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Poland.

At the close of his life, John led a crusade against the Turks and was a chief organizer of the glorious Christian victory at Belgrade in 1456.


O God, blessed John manifested the power of the most holy name of Jesus when he led the faithful in triumph over the enemies of the Cross. May we overcome the deceits of our spiritual enemies and receive the crown of justice from You through the intercession of this saint. Through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord . . .
Monday, March 27, 2017
Bernard de Jusix: 11th Dominican Master

Continuing my articles on the Masters of the Dominican Order, we now arrive at the 11th Dominican Master: Bernard de Jusix.   For a quick recap on the previous Masters of the Order, please click here.

Bernard de Jusix governed the Order for only a few short years from 1301 to 1303.  In fact, little is known on Bernard de Jusix of certainty.  A quick internet search reveals little on his life.

In "The Dominicans" by Benedict M. Ashley, he writes of this era: "In these complex times Dominican community life suffered one of its sharpest declines in the Order's whole history. Although by 1303 it had reached 20,000 friars, the Black Death carried away a third and perhaps a half." Furthermore, he writes, "For the first half of the century the General Chapters were hampered by the rapid turn-over of Masters. Albert Chiavari (1300) died after three months. Bernard de Jusix in two years..."

Yet by the grace of God the Order of Friar Preachers spread and continues to serve the True Faith.

Let us pray for the repose of the soul of Bernard de Jusix and all Dominicans.  

Pater Noster. Ave Maria. Requiem aeternam.
St. John Damascene

Double (1954 Calendar): March 27th

Today is the Feast of St. John Damascene.  Also known as St. John of Damascus, St. John Damascene was a Syrian monk and priest who died in Mar Saba, near Jerusalem. On feastdays in Lent, more usually the Mass of the Lenten feria is said with only a commemoration of the feast - unlike the other seasons in the Church's liturgical year.

St. John Damascene - also known as St. John of Damascus - was born in 645 AD and lived until 749 AD.  The Roman Martyrology on this date proclaims: "St. John Damascene, priest, confessor, and doctor of the Church, whose birthday is commemorated on the 6th of May."

Butler's Lives of the Saints fittingly summarizes his life and example:
ST JOHN OF DAMASCUS, the last of the Greek fathers and the first of the long line of Christian Aristotelians, was also one of the two greatest poets of the Eastern church, the other being St Romanus the Melodist. The whole of the life of St John was spent under the government of a Mohammedan khalif, and it exhibits the strange spectacle of a Christian father of the Church protected from a Christian emperor, whose heresy he was able to attack with impunity because he lived under Moslem rule. He and St Theodore Studites were the principal and the ablest defenders of the cultus of sacred images in the bitterest period of the Iconoclastic controversy. As a theological and philosophical writer he made no attempt at originality, for his work was rather to compile and arrange what his predecessors had written. Still, in theological questions he remains the ultimate court of appeal among the Greeks, and his treatise Of the Orthodox Faith is still to the Eastern schools what the Summa of St Thomas Aquinas became to the West. 
The Moslem rulers of Damascus, where St John was born, were not unjust to their Christian subjects, although they required them to pay a poll tax and to submit to other humiliating conditions. They allowed both Christians and Jews to occupy important posts, and in many cases to acquire great fortunes. The khalif J s doctor was nearly always a Jew, whilst Christians were employed as scribes, administrators and architects. Amongst the officials at his court in 675 was a Christian called John, who held the post of chief of the revenue department — an office which seems to have become hereditary in his family. He was the father of our saint, and the surname of al-Mansur which the Arabs gave him was afterwards transferred to the son. The younger John was born about the year 690 and was baptized in infancy. 
With regard to his early education, if we may credit his biographer, " His father took care to teach him, not how to ride a horse, not how to wield a spear, not to hunt wild beasts and change his natural kindness into brutal cruelty, as happens to many. John, his father, a second Chiron, did not teach him all this, but he sought a tutor learned in all science, skilful in every form of knowledge, who would produce good words from his heart ; and he handed over his son to him to be nourished with this kind of food ". 
Afterwards he was able to provide another teacher, a monk called Cosmas, " beautiful in appearance and still more beautiful in soul ", whom the Arabs had brought back from Sicily amongst other captives. John the elder had to pay a great price for him, and well he might for, if we are to believe our chronicler, " he knew grammar and logic, as much arithmetic as Pythagoras and as much geometry as Euclid ". He taught all the sciences, but especially theology, to the younger John and also to a boy whom the elder John seems to have adopted, who also was called Cosmas, and who became a poet and a singer, sub- sequently accompanying his adopted brother to the monastery in which they both became monks. 
In spite of his theological training St John does not seem at first to have con- templated any career except that of his father, to whose office he succeeded. Even at court he was able freely to live a Christian life, and he became remarkable there for his virtues and especially for his humility. Nevertheless, after filling his responsible post for some years, St John resigned office, and went to be a monk in the laura of St Sabas (Mar Saba) near Jerusalem. It is still a moot point whether his earlier works against the iconoclasts were written while he was still at Damascus, but the best authorities since the days of the Dominican Le Quien, who edited his works in 17 12, incline to the opinion that he had become a monk before the outbreak of the persecution, and that all three treatises were composed at St Sabas. In any case John and Cosmas settled down amongst the brethren and occupied their spare time in writing books and composing hymns. 
It might have been thought that the other monks would appreciate the presence amongst them of so doughty a champion of the faith as John, but this was far from being the case. They said the new-comers were introducing disturbing elements. It was bad enough to write books, but it was even worse to compose and sing hymns, and the brethren were scandalized. The climax came when, at the request of a monk whose brother had died, John wrote a hymn on death and sang it to a sweet tune of his own composition. His master, an old monk whose cell he shared, rounded upon him in fury and ejected him from the cell. " Is this the way you forget your vows ? " he exclaimed. "In- stead of mourning and weeping, you sit in joy and delight yourself by singing." He would only permit him to return at the end of several days, on condition that he should go round the laura and clear up all the filth with his own hands. St John obeyed unquestioningly, but in the visions of the night our Lady appeared to the old monk and told him to allow his disciple to write as many books and as much poetry as he liked. From that time onwards St John was able to devote his time to study and to his literary work. 
The legend adds that he was sometimes sent, perhaps for the good of his soul, to sell baskets in the streets of Damascus where he had once occupied so high a post. It must, however, be confessed that these details, written by his biographer more than a century after the saint's death, are of very questionable authority. 
If the monks at St Sabas did not value the two friends, there were others outside who did. The patriarch of Jerusalem, John V, knew them well by reputation and wished to have them amongst his clergy. First he took Cosmas and made him bishop of Majuma, and afterwards he ordained John priest and brought him to Jerusalem. St Cosmas, we are told, ruled his flock admirably until his death, but St John soon returned to his monastery. He revised his writings carefully, " and wherever they flourished with blossoms of rhetoric, or seemed superfluous in style, he prudently reduced them to a sterner gravity, lest they should have any display of levity or want of dignity ". His works in defence of eikons had become known and read everywhere, and had earned him the hatred of the persecuting emperors.

Almighty and Eternal God, You endowed blessed John with divine learning and wondrous fortitude of soul in order that he might defend the veneration of sacred images. May the example and prayers of blessed John help us to imitate the virtues and enjoy the protection of the saints whose images we venerate. Through our Lord . . .

Friday, March 24, 2017
St. Gabriel the Archangel

Greater Double (1954 Calendar): March 24th

Today is the Feast of St. Gabriel the Archangel.  On feastdays in Lent, more usually the Mass of the Lenten feria is said with only a commemoration of the feast - unlike the other seasons in the Church's liturgical year. Today is also the day before the Annunciation - which commemorates the announcement to Mary that she would conceive and give birth to the Lord.  March 25th is the most important day in human history 3 times over!

The following is taken from Butler's Lives of the Saints for today:
BY a decree of the Congregation of Sacred Rites dated October 26, 1921, issued by command of Pope Benedict XV, it was directed that the feast of St Gabriel the Archangel should be kept in future as a greater double on March 24 throughout the Western church. 
As the question of the liturgical celebration of festivals in honour of the great archangels will be more naturally treated in connection with the older feast of St Michael on September 29, it will be sufficient here to point out that according to Daniel (ix 21) it was Gabriel who announced to the prophet the time of the coming of the Messiah, that it was he again who appeared to Zachary " standing on the right side of the altar of incense " (Luke i 10 and 19) to make known the future birth of the Precursor, and finally that it was he who as God's ambassador was sent to Mary at Nazareth (Luke i 26) to proclaim the mystery of the Incarnation.  
It was therefore very appropriate that Gabriel should be honoured on this day which immediately precedes the feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin. There is abundant archaeological evidence that the cultus of St Gabriel is in no sense a novelty.
An ancient chapel close beside the Appian Way, rescued from oblivion by Armellini, 
preserves the remains of a fresco in which the prominence given to the figure of the archangel, his name being written underneath, strongly suggests that he was at one time honoured in that chapel as principal patron. There are also many representations of Gabriel in the early Christian art both of East and West which make it plain that his connection with the sublime mystery of the Incarnation was remembered by the faithful in ages long anterior to the devotional revival of the thirteenth century.  
This messenger is the appropriate patron-saint of postal, telegraph and telephone workers. See the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, vol. xiii (1921), and the note to Michael the Archangel on September 29.
More Reading for Today: What are Angels? A Summary & Exposition on Angels for Catholics


O God, from among all the angels You chose the archangel Gabriel as the messenger of the mystery of Your Incarnation. May his intercession in heaven help us as we celebrate his feast on earth; who lives and rules with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Double (1954 Calendar): March 18th

Today is the Feast of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, a Doctor of the Church.  On feastdays in Lent, more usually the Mass of the Lenten feria is said with only a commemoration of the feast - unlike the other seasons in the Church's liturgical year.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem was born in 313 AD around the same time that Christianity was finally legalized in the Roman Empire.  The holy saint would in 349 AD be ordained the bishop of the holy city of Jerusalem, yet he would not be free from sufferings even in the era of the legalization of Christianity.  On three occasions St. Cyril was banished from Jerusalem by various bishops and emperors who espoused the Arian heresy.

In May of 381, Theodosius called the second ecumenical council at Constantinople to resolve theological disputes. Since Theodosius was the Emperor of the East at this time (he did not become the Emperor of the entire Roman Empire until 392) only the Eastern Bishops were invited. The Council met in the church of Hagia Irene (Holy Peace). Although only 150 Bishops attended, several have become recognized as saints – Gregory of Nazianzus, Meletius of Antioch, Gregory of Nyssa, Peter of Sebaste, Pelagius of Laodicea, Eulogius of Edessa, Amphilochius of Iconium and Cyril of Jerusalem - just to name a few.  The most important contribution from this Council was the expansion of the Nicene Creed.  The new Nicene – Constantinopolitan Creed described the incarnation, suffering and death of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Dr. Italy on CrossRoad Initiatives further elaborates:
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem is one of the most important sources we have for how the church celebrated the liturgy and sacraments during the first few decades after the legalization of Christianity. In his famous 24 lectures commonly known as the Jerusalem Catecheses, Saint Cyril instructs new Christians in the days immediately before and after their initiation into the life of the Church at the Easter Vigil. In these catechetical instructions, which are the only documents that survive by St. Cyril, we find very strong insistence on the value and efficacy of the sacrament of baptism as well as heavy emphasis on the real presence of Christ’s body and blood in the sacrament of the Eucharist.  
St. Cyril of Jerusalem is considered to be one of the Early Church Fathers and is also reckoned among the number of the Doctors of the Catholic Church. St. Cyril of Jerusalem died about 386 AD, shortly after the First Council of Constantinople which completed the Creed commonly known as the Nicene Creed.  (bio by Dr. Italy)
You may read his 24 lectures online for free.  Click here for Part 1 and click here for Part 2.


O Almighty God, may the prayers of Your blessed bishop Cyril help us to know You, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent, so that we may be numbered among the flock that obeys His voice. Through the same Jesus Christ . . .
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
How Did Jesus Pay the Debt for All Sins?

Meditations for Each Day of Lent
by St. Thomas Aquinas

Wednesday After the Second Sunday

The Passion of Christ brought about our salvation
because it was an act of satisfaction

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for those of the whole world.--I John ii. 2.

Satisfaction for offences committed is truly made when there is offered to the person offended a thing which he loves as much as, or more than, he hates the offences committed.

Christ, however, by suffering out of love and out of obedience, offered to God something greater by far than the satisfaction called for by all the sins of all mankind, and this for three reasons. In the first place, there was the greatness of the love which moved Him to suffer. Then there was the worth of the life which He laid down in satisfaction, the life of God and man. Finally, on account of the way in which His Passion involved every part of His being, and of the greatness of the suffering he undertook.

So it is that the Passion of Christ was not merely sufficient but superabundant as a satisfaction for men's sins. It would seem indeed to be the case that satisfaction should be made by the person who committed the offence. But head and members are as it were one mystical person, and therefore the satisfaction made by Christ avails all the faithful as they are the members of Christ. One man can always make satisfaction for another, so long as the two are one in charity.

2. Although Christ, by His death, made sufficient satisfaction for original sin, it is not unfitting that the penal consequences of original sin should still remain even in those who are made sharers in Christ's redemption. This has been done fittingly and usefully, so that the penalties remain even though the guilt has been removed.

(i) It has been done so that there might be conformity between the faithful and Christ, as there is conformity between members and head. Just as Christ first of all suffered many pains and came in this way to His glory, so it is only right that His faithful should also first be subjected to sufferings and thence enter into immortality, themselves bearing as it were the livery of the Passion of Christ so as to enjoy a glory somewhat like to His.

(ii) A second reason is that if men coming to Christ were straightway freed from suffering and the necessity of death, only too many would come to Him attracted rather by these temporal advantages than by spiritual things. And this would be altogether contrary to the intention of Christ, who came into this world that He might convert men from a love of temporal advantages and win them to spiritual things.

(iii) Finally, if those who came to Christ were straightway rendered immortal and impassible, this would in a kind of way compel men to receive the faith of Christ, and so the merit of believing would be lessened.
Monday, March 13, 2017
Albertus de Chiavari: 10th Dominican Master

Continuing my articles on the Masters of the Dominican Order, we now arrive at the 10th Dominican Master: Albertus de Chiavari.  Albertus governed the Dominican Order after Nicola Boccasini (Pope Benedict XI), left the role when he was elected as the Supreme Pontiff.

For a quick recap on the previous Masters of the Order, please click here.

Albertus de Chiavari governed the Order only for less than one year.  In fact, little is known on Albertus of certainty.  A quick internet search reveals nothing on his life.  

Let us pray for this "forgotten" Dominican and all those in the past ages who have no one to pray for them now.

Pater Noster. Ave Maria.
Sunday, March 12, 2017
St. Gregory the Great

Double (1954 Calendar): March 12th

Today is the Feast of St. Gregory I (i.e. St. Gregory the Great) who ruled the Church as Pope from September 3, 590 AD until his death on March 12, 604 AD.  On feastdays in Lent, more usually the Mass of the Lenten feria is said with only a commemoration of the feast - unlike the other seasons in the Church's liturgical year.

The Feast of St. Gregory the Great is certainly worth mentioning in the midst of our Lenten discipline.  Let's read what the Roman Martyrology says of St. Gregory:
Also at Rome, the raising to the Sovereign Pontificate of St. Gregory the Great. This incomparable man, being forced to take that burden upon himself, sent forth from the exalted throne brighter rays of sanctity upon the world.
The following summary of his life is from Catholic Online:
Gregory's family was very wealthy and owned estates on the island of Sicily which provided income. 
When Gregory was just two years old in 542, the Plague of Justinian swept through the region. This plague was caused by a now-extinct strain of Yersinia Pestis, more commonly known as the Black Death. The plague was the most severe outbreak of deadly disease the world had ever known and remained the worst such incident until the Black Death in the 14th century. About a third of the population in Italy was wiped out by the disease. 
In addition to disease, the barbarian Ostrogoths sacked Rome in 546. The Franks attempted an invasion in 554. Both of these incursions were short lived. It is unclear how these massive events impacted Gregory's development as a child, but it is thought his family retreated to Sicily during part of that time. Peace followed in Italy after these upheavals. 
Gregory was well educated and excelled in all his studies. He also became an expert in law. He excelled so much he became the Prefect of Rome, just as his father had been. Gregory was only 33 years old. 
After Gregory's father had died, Gregory had the family villa in Rome converted into a monastery. Today the monastery still stands as the San Gregorio Magno al Celio. This famous monastery fell into ruin in the following centuries but was restored during the 17th and 18th centuries 
As a monk, Gregory was hard and strict. When a monk on his deathbed confessed to stealing three pieces of gold, Gregory ordered he be left to die alone. After the poor monk had died, Gregory ordered his body thrown on a dung heap along with the three coins. Then, in a turn of heart, Gregory offered 30 Masses for the deceased monk.
Pope Pelagius II, who reigned from 579 to 590, chose Gregory to serve as an ambassador to the imperial court in Constantinople. 
The Pope had a problem with the Lombards invading from the west. Gregory was ordered to request military aid from the emperor. But the emperor felt there were greater threats to the east, and he refused Gregory's request 
In 590, Pope Pelagius II died, and Gregory was proclaimed pope by acclamation. This was not something Gregory wanted, but he accepted the burden nevertheless.
Gregory made clear he preferred the monastic life in a series of writings praising it. He also referred to himself as a servant of God. The habit remains in practice to this day and many clergy still refer to themselves as servants. 
Pope Gregory was famous for the emphasis he put on missionary work. He sent many people out to bring many to Jesus and into the Church. Anglo-Saxon Britain was, at that time, still on the frontier of Christendom. It was Pope Gregory who dispatched St. Augustine (of Canterbury) to Kent in 597 (not to be confused with St. Augustine of Hippo). 
Pope Gregory made many changes to the Mass, some of which remain today, The position of the Our Father in the Mass remains where Pope Gregory placed it. 
He emphasized the aspect of service to the poor for deacons. The number of deacons was increasing in number and they were seen as less essential as extensions of the Bishop than they were in the early Church. Deacons were often tasked with giving alms to the poor, and at least one was assigned to each church and ordained for this purpose. 
Pope Gregory may have also established "cantus planus," known in English as plainchant. Most today know this style of singing as Gregorian Chant. The melodious, monophonic music is known throughout the Church and closely associated with medieval monasteries. Gregorian chant gives us the oldest music we still have in the original form, some dating to the centuries just after the death of Gregory. It remains a matter of some dispute just how involved Pope Gregory was in the development of the style. Some music historians argue the credit is a misattribution that rightly belongs to his less famous successor of a century later, Gregory II. 
Pope Gregory was well known for his alms to the poor, and he gave quite generously of the riches donated to the Church by the wealthy people of Rome. Everything from money to land was given to the poor in some fashion. He made clear to his subordinates that their duty was to relieve the distress faced by the poor. 
He ordered his clergy to go out into the streets to find and care for the poor in person. Any clergy who were unwilling to go into the streets and help the poor were replaced. Assets of the Church were liquidated to provide income for alms. Clergy doing this work were paid four times a year and given a gold coin as a sort of bonus. 
When a famine struck Rome in the 590s, Pope Gregory ordered the Church to use its assets to feed the poor. At that time, the Church controlled nearly two thousand square miles of land, overseen by the clergy and used to generate income. Now, instead of selling the produce of the land, Pope Gregory ordered it shipped to Rome and given away for free. In this way, he saved thousands of people from certain death. 
Pope Gregory himself refused to eat until his monks returned from their work of handing out food. 
He also made certain to dine with a dozen poor people at each meal. 
Gregory is widely considered the be the first medieval pope, and he was a prolific writer. 
Because of his great respect for the poor, it was Pope Gregory and the Church that became the most respected --and obeyed force in Rome and across Italy. 
From the time of Gregory onwards, the people looked to the Church for government rather than the distant and indifferent emperors in Constantinople. 
Pope Gregory suffered from arthritis in his last years. He died on March 12, 604 AD. He was immediately proclaimed a saint by means of popular acclaim. 
Saint Gregory's relics remain in St. Peter's Basilica to this day.

O God, You rewarded the soul of Your servant Gregory with eternal happiness. Mercifully relieve us from the oppressive weight of our sins through the intercession of this saint. Through Our Lord . . .
Prayer on the Imposition of the Papal Tiara

In the coronation of all popes — including Pius XII, on March 12, 1939 — the tiara is placed on the candidate’s head with the words: “Receive the tiara adorned with three crowns and know that thou art Father of princes and kings, Ruler of the world, Vicar of our Savior Jesus Christ.”

If this phraseology had not been sanctified by long usage, it would not have been coined in this generation to express the relation of the pope to the political and social order; but it would not have been created in the first place if it had not meant then what it says — “Ruler of the world.”
Thursday, March 9, 2017
Sacred Metals

I recently came across the website which offers a a number of beautiful medals, crosses, Rosaries, Rings, and more.  While I have not used them personally, I have been very impressed with their selection and the apparent quality.

They are currently offering a Lenten sale of up to 50% off. Check them out and if you have used them, please let me know your thoughts.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017
The Lenten Ember Fast Starts Today

Although Ember Days are no longer considered required in mainstream Roman Catholicism following Vatican II, they can - and should - still be observed by the Faithful. In fact, many Traditional priests encourage the Faithful to observe the days. Ember Days are set aside to pray and/or offer thanksgiving for a good harvest and God's blessings. If you are in good health, please at least fast during these three days and pray the additional prayers. Remember the words from the Gospel: "Unless you do penance, you shall likewise perish" (Luke 13:5).  Ember Days are days of fasting and partial abstinence.

Ember Days this Lent: March 8, 10, and 11

From New Advent:

Ember days (corruption from Lat. Quatuor Tempora, four times) are the days at the beginning of the seasons ordered by the Church as days of fast and abstinence. They were definitely arranged and prescribed for the entire Church by Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085) for the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after 13 December (S. Lucia), after Ash Wednesday, after Whitsunday, and after 14 September (Exaltation of the Cross). The purpose of their introduction, besides the general one intended by all prayer and fasting, was to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy. The immediate occasion was the practice of the heathens of Rome. The Romans were originally given to agriculture, and their native gods belonged to the same class.

At the beginning of the time for seeding and harvesting religious ceremonies were performed to implore the help of their deities: in June for a bountiful harvest, in September for a rich vintage, and in December for the seeding; hence their feriae sementivae, feriae messis, and feri vindimiales. The Church, when converting heathen nations, has always tried to sanctify any practices which could be utilized for a good purpose. At first the Church in Rome had fasts in June, September, and December; the exact days were not fixed but were announced by the priests. The "Liber Pontificalis" ascribes to Pope Callistus (217-222) a law ordering: the fast, but probably it is older. Leo the Great (440-461) considers it an Apostolic institution. When the fourth season was added cannot be ascertained, but Gelasius (492-496) speaks of all four. This pope also permitted the conferring of priesthood and deaconship on the Saturdays of ember week--these were formerly given only at Easter.

Before Gelasius the ember days were known only in Rome, but after his time their observance spread. They were brought into England by St. Augustine; into Gaul and Germany by the Carlovingians. Spain adopted them with the Roman Liturgy in the eleventh century. They were introduced by St. Charles Borromeo into Milan. The Eastern Church does not know them. The present Roman Missal, in the formulary for the Ember days, retains in part the old practice of lessons from Scripture in addition to the ordinary two: for the Wednesdays three, for the Saturdays six, and seven for the Saturday in December. Some of these lessons contain promises of a bountiful harvest for those that serve God.

From Catholic Culture:
Since man is both a spiritual and physical being, the Church provides for the needs of man in his everyday life. The Church's liturgy and feasts in many areas reflect the four seasons of the year (spring, summer, fall and winter). The months of August, September, October and November are part of the harvest season, and as Christians we recall God's constant protection over his people and give thanksgiving for the year's harvest.

The September Ember Days were particularly focused on the end of the harvest season and thanksgiving to God for the season. Ember Days were three days (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) set aside by the Church for prayer, fasting and almsgiving at the beginning of each of the four seasons of the year. The ember days fell after December 13, the feast of St. Lucy (winter), after the First Sunday of Lent (spring), after Pentecost Sunday (summer), and after September 14 , the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (fall). These weeks are known as the quattor tempora, the "four seasons."

Since the late 5th century, the Ember Days were also the preferred dates for ordination of priests. So during these times the Church had a threefold focus: (1) sanctifying each new season by turning to God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving; (2) giving thanks to God for the various harvests of each season; and (3) praying for the newly ordained and for future vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
Friday, March 3, 2017
Book Review: Saint Junipero Serra's Camino by Stephen Binz

Back in 2014 I spent a week visiting southern California - specifically Los Angeles down to San Diego. As part of my journey, I visited several missions including the Mission Basilica of San Diego de Alcala and Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Flash forward to early 2017.  I was contacted by Pete Socks in January with an opportunity to review one of Franciscan Media's newest books entitled Saint Junipero Serra's Camino by Stephen Binz.  As someone went on a pilgrimage to Rome last year, I jumped at the chance.  I found travel guide books very helpful in making the most out of pilgrimage in Rome, and I was excited to see how a guidebook would help in promoting the Catholicity of the California missions.  I was excited to have the chance to read Stephen Binz's book for myself.

And the result?  I wish I had this book back in 2014 when I first went to California.  In fact, I have not seen a book that so appropriately and usefully summarizes the missions.  This book importantly goes further than merely presenting the facts as to what is in each mission.  The book highlights the history of the missions and includes relevant prayers, litanies, and Scripture readings in each chapter, thus making this an ideal companion for those on pilgrimage in Southern California.

The book is easy to read, spiritually uplifting, and conveniently fits in your travel bag.  As a result, I'm happy to recommend this book to all.  To learn more, please check out Saint Junipero Serra's Camino by Stephen Binz on

For those interested in journeying with this book to the missions founded by St. Junipero Serra, the following are just a few of the images from my travels there:

St. Junipero Serra, pray for us and for the Church!

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