I speak with the Devil every day. I talk to him in Latin. He answers in Italian. I have been wrestling with him, day in day out, for 14 years. — Fr. Gabriele Amorth, Exorcist

 

October 2018
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Proud Papa

A quick note, mostly to help me remember this and give me a smile when I stumble upon this down the road.

Yesterday, my daughter asked me to pray the rosary with her. I said, ‘Of course I will pray the rosary with you’. To which she asked, “Can we pray it downstairs?” I have a little shrine set up with two kneelers, candles, icons, a censer, etc. “Sure honey”.

“Dad, can we light the candles?”

“Sure thing”

“Can we burn some incense?”

“Absolutely”

“It’s just like the old days, like the monks would pray”

….. Maybe I’m doing alright after all

“Dad, can we pray the rosary together next Sunday too?”

“Whenever you want honey”

“Dad, you know how we went to Church on Friday night one time?”

“You mean to Adoration?”

“Yeah. Can we do that again?”

“Absolutley”

Adoration and Thanksgiving

Here is one of the prayers I like to take with me when I participate in Eucharistic Adoration. I found this prayer in my copy of The Raccolta, which is a great source of prayers for many occasions.

 

I adore Thee, Eternal Father, and I give Thee thanks for the infinite love, with which for my redemption Thou didst deign to send Thine only-begotten Son to be the food of my soul. I offer Thee all the acts of adoration and thanksgiving that are offered to Thee by the Angels and Saints in heaven and by the just on earth. I praise Thee, I love Thee, and I thank Thee, with all the praises, love and thanksgiving wherewith Thine own Son praises Thee, loves Thee and thanks Thee. And I pray Thee to grant that He may be known, loved, honored, thanked and worthily received by all men in this Most Blessed Sacrament.

- Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.

I adore Thee, Eternal Son, and I thank Thee for the infinite love which caused Thee to become incarnate for me, to be born in a stable, to be brought up in the carpenter’s shop, and to be willing to endure hunger, thirst, cold, fatigue, hardships, contempt, persecution, scourges, thorns nails and death on the hard wood of the Cross. I thank Thee, in company with Thy whole Church, militant and triumphant, for the infinite love with which Thou didst institute the Blessed Sacrament to be the food of my soul. I adore Thee in all the consecrated Hosts throughout the whole world. I give Thee thanks also on behalf of those who know Thee not and who fail to thank Thee. Would that I could lay down my life to cause Thee to be known, loved and honored by all men in this Sacrament of love, and to put an end to all the irreverences and sacrileges that are committed against Thee! I love Thee, my Jesus, and I desire to love Thee and receive Thee with all the love, purity and affection of Thy most holy Mother, and with the perfect love of Thine own Sacred Heart. Ah, most loving Spouse of my soul, come to me in Thy Sacrament and bring forth in my all those fruits for the sake of which Thou comest to us, and grant that I may die rather than ever receive Thee unworthily.

- Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.

I adore Thee, Eternal Spirit, and I give Thee thanks for the infinite love with which Thou hast wrought the ineffable mystery of the Incarnation, and for the infinite charity wherewith Thou didst form out of the most pure blood of the Blessed Virgin Mary the sacred Body of Jesus, which in this Sacrament is the food of my soul. I pray Thee to enlighten my mind and purify my heart and the hearts of all men, that they may come to know the great gift of Thy love, and may receive this Blessed Sacrament in all worthiness.

- Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.

Eucharistic Adoration, an Introduction

I would like to talk about Eucharistic Adoration. Adoration is such an incredible devotion. Powerful and intimate. I suppose that in order to talk about Adoration, I should first talk about the Eucharist.

The Eucharist is the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the “source and summit of the Christian life”  (Lumen Gentium).

“At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us”

Sacrosanctum Concilium

Christ, as a priest in the line of Malchizedek, begins the Passover celebration at the Last Supper. He completes the Passover celebration on the cross: “I thirst” Jn 19:28. ‘Then Jesus, when he had received the vinegar, said: “It is consummated”. And bowing down his head, he surrendered his spirit’. Jn 19:30.

The tie to the Passover and the seed of the Eucharist start much earlier. The miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish occurred at the time of Passover. The gospel of John is especially powerful here as Jesus speaks to his disciples of the true bread, given by the Father in heaven:“For the bread of God is he who descends from heaven and gives life to the world” Jn 6:33. “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” Jn 6:35.

Many in the crowd heard this and had trouble with the concept, talking amongst themselves. Jesus heard them and affirmed his statements;“I am the bread of life. Your fathers at manna in the desert, and they died. This is the bread which descends from heaven, so that if anyone will eat from it, he may not die. I am the living bread who descends from heaven. If anyone eats from this bread, he shall live in eternity. And the bread that I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world” Jn 6:48-52.

The Jews debated among themselves. How could he say such things? But Jesus did not back down: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you will not have life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” Jn 6:54-57.

I encourage you to read more of John, our Lord is even more emphatic, stressing beyond this passage. The disciples asked Jesus about this saying it was difficult to hear and “who can listen to it?”  Jesus does not back down.“Does this offend you?” Jn 6:62. Many disciples left him. He didn’t correct anyone, telling them that they didn’t understand the allegory, etc. Instead, he turns to his apostles and asks, “Do you also want to go away?” Jn 6:68.

Beyond Christ and His apostles, we have a witness to the celebration of the Eucharist all the way back to St. Justin Martyr in about 155 A.D. where he writes to the emperor Antoninus Pius describing the Christian celebration of the Mass.

As the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian faith; the liturgy of the Eucharist, the consecration, the communion rite, are the pinnacle of the Mass.

- with hands outstretched over the offerings, he says:

Bless and approve our offering; make it acceptable to you, an offering in spirit and in truth. Let it become for us the body and blood of Jesus Christ, your only Son, our Lord.

- he joins his hands

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The day before he suffered

- he takes the bread and, raising it a little above the altar, continues:

he took the bread in his sacred hands

- he looks upward

and looking up to heaven, to you, his almighty Father, he gave you thanks and praise. He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said:

- he bows slightly

Take this, all of you, and eat it: This is my body which will be given up for you.

- he shows the consecrated host to the people, places it on the paten, and genuflects in adoration. Then he continues:

When supper was ended,

- he takes the chalice and, raising it a little above the altar, continues:

he took the cup. Again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples, and said:

- he bows slightly

Take this, all of you and drink from it: This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and ever lasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.

The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic worship. Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and open to making amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration never cease

- Pope John Paul II, Dominicae Cenae

I know this was lengthy, and it just brushes the surface. More to come on adoration. Soon.

Redemptive Suffering

“For what glory is it, if committing sin, and being buffeted for it, you endure? But if doing well you suffer patiently; this is thankworthy before God. For unto this are you called; because Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow his steps”   – 1 Peter 2:20-21

Crucifixion

The Crucifixion by Rossetti

 Holy Week is upon us and we turn our thoughts to the suffering that Christ endured for us – to save us from sin and eternal damnation. Thoughts of the terrible price he paid for our sin. During the Lenten season we also partake in redemptive suffering. Through fasting, prayer and almsgiving we prepare ourselves for the celebration of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection. We traditionally give something up for Lent. We also fast and abstain. Through these sufferings, we unite ourselves in a small way to the suffering that Christ bore for us. As we celebrate Christ rising from the dead on Easter Sunday, we rejoice for the risen Lord and have a great Easter dinner, and typically get back to life as normal for the most part.

Our practice of and participation in redemptive suffering need not end with Easter dinner. Redemptive suffering is such an incredible tool, opening the door to many graces from God. In much of the world, Catholics still practice abstinence on Fridays throughout the year – although in the U.S., we are not bound to this observation, many still practice it. Abstinence is a form of redemptive suffering. What other forms of redemptive suffering are there?

The most common forms of corporal mortification are fasting and abstinence. Many Catholics around the world still practice regular fasting throughout the year as a part of thier spiritual cultivation. Some examples of more serious forms are self-flagellation (practiced by Pope John Paul II among others), wearing a barbed chain or rope around one’s thigh, or putting a pebble in your shoe. It can also be much simpler, such as volunteering to do someone else’s chore for them or even enduring provocation or insults with a humble smile. St. Therese of Liseux used to carry a string of beads around with her, moving a bead for each small sacrifice or good deed throughout the day.

Mortification, although a scary word that conjures scenes from a Dan Brown novel, has been practiced throughout the ages as a way to unite ourselves with Christ’s suffering, to purify ourselves and to ask for God’s grace for the remission of punishment due for our sin or to help those in desparate need of help due to hunger, persecution, addiction, etc. We can also offer up our suffering for the faithful departed, to help ease and expedite the purification of purgatory. In much the same way a strenuous workout may strain your muscles and tire you out while leaving you with a feeling of accomplishment or fulfillment, redemptive suffering helps us to strengthen our spirit through physical sacrifices or deprivations. It can also further our intentions in union with prayer.

The practical application isn’t that difficult really. Take fasting as an example. As you are reading or listening to the radio during what would normally be your lunch hour, and you feel that rumble in your stomach, take a moment to reflect on the suffering that Christ endured for us. Say a simple prayer, “Father, I offer up this suffering in reparation for the sinful life I have lived”, or “Father, I offer up my fasting for those who do not have enough to eat”.  Whenever that thought hits you through the day – ‘man I could go for a juicy steak right now’, say your small prayer for the intention you have in mind.

With remptive suffering, the opportunities are many and varied – don’t miss out on them. Happy Easter.

The Brown Scapular

Karol Wojtyla
A young Karol Wojtyla wearing his scapular

St. Simon Stock was a Carmelite in the 1200′s. He moved through Europe establishing Carmelite communities. He helped to change the order from one that was largely hermitic to an order more prominent in the community. In 1251, St. Simon Stock was in England at a time when the Carmelite order was being oppressed. It was in Cambridge that the Blessed Mother appeared to him. She held the brown scapular in one hand and spoke to him, “”Receive, my beloved son, this scapular of thy Order; it is the special sign of my favor, which I have obtained for thee and for thy children of Mount Carmel. He who dies clothed with this habit shall be preserved from eternal fire. It is the badge of salvation, a shield in time of danger, and a pledge of special peace and protection.”

The scapular consists of two squares of cloth, one worn on the chest, one on the back, attached by cords. The scapulars worn by members of the Carmelite order were made with large squares of brown fabric. Over the years, the devotion became popular with the lay community. The form of the scapular changed, the cloth patches reduced in size. A list of indulgences, indults and priveleges was approved by the Congregation of Indulgences in 1908.

The brown scapular is above all a symbol of devotion and dedication to the Blessed Mother. It is a blessing bestowed on the wearer and a helpful reminder in difficult times. The brown scapular also confers the “Sabbatine Privilege” upon its wearer. This privilege is a promise from the Blessed Mother, that she will intercede and pray for those in purgatory and that those souls will be welcomed into heaven on the Saturday after passing. This promise is based on the devotee living a devout life with these conditions:

- The scapular is worn in good faith
- The wearer observed chastity according to thier state in life
- The wearer recited daily the Little Office or prayed the rosary
- The wearer departed this life in charity

The Sabbatine Privilege should not be looked at as some sort of magical talisman or charm. It is no guarantee. It is an aid to help one reflect on how they live this life and a way to honor the mother of our Lord. A proud testimonial in a time where it is unpopular to make such a statement. Wearing the scapular as a “get out of jail free card” while not living a life of devotion and prayer misses the point.

The scapular is a very common gift for first communion or confirmation. But simply receiving the scapular does not enroll one. The enrollment must be done by a priest. The enrollment can be found in the Daily Roman Missal, and most priests will have no problem enrolling you. At the time of enrollment, you may want to ask permission (of the priest) to substitute praying the rosary, psalms, etc. for the recitation of the Little Office (a shorter form of the Divine Office) if you are unfamiliar with it. Below is a short form of the enrollment in the brown scapular.

Receive this Scapular, a sign of your special relationship with Mary the Mother of Jesus, whom you pledge to imitate. May it be a reminder to you of your dignity as a Christian, in serving others and imitating Mary. Wear it as a sign of her protection and of belonging to the family of Carmel, voluntarily doing the will of God and devoting yourself to building a world true to his plan of community, justice and peace.

Because you wear the scapular always (well nearly always anyway), it needs replacement on occasion. It is important to note that the enrollment is the blessing in this case. When you replace a scapular, it is not necesarry to have the new one blessed – the enrollment is the blessing.

So if you have an old scapular laying around that you forgot about – or you have been wearing one and were unaware of the enrollment or responsibilities – it’s not too late… see your priest after Mass and kindly ask him to enroll you. The blessings, graces and help of the Blessed Mother are sure to strengthen you as you make your way through this life.

The Rosary

“The rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world
has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more
satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow
of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the rosary is beyond description.”

- Archbishop Fulton Sheen

“The Rosary is the most excellent form of prayer and the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life.
It is the remedy for all our evils, the root of all our blessings. There is no more excellent way of praying.”

-Pope Leo XIII

“Some people are so foolish that they think they can go through life without the help of the Blessed
Mother. Love the Madonna and pray the rosary, for her Rosary is the weapon against the evils of the
world today. All graces given by God pass through the Blessed Mother.”

-St. Padre Pio

RosaryThe widely accepted origin of the rosary dates back to St. Dominic, somewhere around 1214 A.D. The Blessed Mother appeared to St. Dominic with the rosary and instructed him on how it was to be used. St. Dominic was also the founder of one of the largest orders – The Dominicans.

The rosary remains largely misunderstood by many people. Most see it as a tedious recitation of prayers – mostly Marian in nature. It is not. The proper way to view and pray the rosary is to understand that it is fundamentally a meditation on the life of Christ and his Blessed Mother. To fully appreciate the rosary is to relive the mysteries of the life of Christ and of Mary through meditation and reflection while praying it. These mysteries cover the birth, life, miracles and sacrifice of our Lord. The rosary is an incredible sacramental and a great door to God’s graces. It is an insight and an aid to our prayerful petitions as well.

A rosary typically takes 20 minutes to half an hour to pray. It is often prayed as a group before Mass, at home with the family our silently in contemplation. You can also find rosary bracelts, which are typically one decade instead of three, as well as rosary rings. Chaplets are similar in that they are a set of beads with a prescribed series of prayers in dedication to saints and devotions.

So what’s with all the beads and how do we actually use it? Read on…

Continue reading The Rosary

Updating the Sacramentals page layout and more content

…still a work in progress…

“Sacramentals are sacred signs which in a sense imitate the sacraments. The signify certain effects, especially spiritual ones, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church.” “They prepare the faithful to receive the fruit of the sacraments and sanctify various circumstances of life.”

Sacramentals may consist of material things or actions. “Among the sacramentals, blessings occupy an important place. They include both praise of God for his works and gifts, and the Church’s intercession for men, that they may be able to use God’s gifts according to the spirit of the Gospel.” Some other sacramentals are: the Sign of the Cross, use of holy water, blessed rosaries, crucifixes, scapulars and medals. Exorcism (expulsion of demons) is also a sacramental.

-Daily Roman Missal

The Rosary The Holy Rosary
The rosary, often misunderstood as a repetitive and monotonous series of mostly Marian prayers is actually a meditation on the life of Christ for the most part. It is an incredible and powerful devotion. Want to know the nuts and bolts? Read on.
Brown Scapular The Brown Scapular
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Pope Leo XIII and St. Michael the Archangel

“The battle against the devil, which is the principal task of Saint Michael the archangel, is still being fought today, because the devil is still alive and active in the world. The evil that surrounds us today, the disorders that plague our society, man’s inconsistency and brokenness, are not only the results of original sin, but also the result of Satan’s pervasive and dark action.” – The Venerable John Paul II

St. MichaelFr. Domenico Pechenino, in 1947, recounted an experience with Pope Leo XIII in the journal La Settimana del Clero. The Holy Father had just celebrated Mass and stopped motionless, staring at a point above the altar. After some time, he rose to his feet and hurried into his private office. Half an hour later, he emerged with a piece of paper and urged that it be sent to all the ordinaries around the world – a prayer to be said after each Mass. Pope Leo XIII had seen a vision – a demonic horde congregating and descending upon Rome. The prayer that it inspired is below, a prayer to St. Michael. A shorter prayer to St. Michael was later substituted and added to the Leonine prayers to be said after each Mass. The shorter prayer is the one most of us are familiar with today. Pope Leo XIII would also write a rite of exorcism which is still used in the Church today.

The Leonine prayers were supressed in the 60′s, but St. Michael remains a powerful intercessor and guardian against the evil one and his minions. Maybe the Leonine prayers will be reinstated some day. Whether they are or not, nothing stops us from spending a few moments after Mass to say those prayers – or the prayer to St. Michael at the very least.

Here is the longer prayer to St. Michael from Pope Leo XIII. It can be found in the Raccolta, along with many other great prayers, hymns and devotions.

 

 

Most glorious prince of the heavenly hosts, Archangel Saint Michael, defend us in the battle and in the tremendous struggle we carry on against the Principalities and Powers, against the rulers of the world of darkness and all evil spirits. Come to the help of man, whom God created immortal, fashioned to his own image and likeness, and rescued at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. With the great army of the holy angels fight today the battle of the Lord as thou didst of old fight against Lucifer, the leader of the proud, and his apostate angels, who were powerless against thee, and they no longer had a place in heaven; and that monster, the old serpent who is called the devil and Satan, that seduces the whole world, was cast into hell with his angels. But now that first enemy and homicide has regained his insolent boldness. Taking on the appearance of an angel of light, he has invaded the earth, and, with his whole train of evil spirits, he is prowling about among men, striving to blot out the name of God and of His Christ, to capture, to destroy, to drag to eternal perdition the souls destined to the crown of eternal glory. That malignant dragon is pouring abroad, like a foul stream, into the souls of men of ruined intellect and corrupt heart the poison of his wickedness, the spirit of lying, of impiety and blasphemy, the pestilent breath of impurity and of all vice and iniquity. Most cunning enemies have filled with bitterness and drenched with gall the Church, the Spouse of the Lamb without spot, and have lifted impious hands against all that is most sacred in it. Even in the holy place where the See of Blessed Peter and the chair of truth was set up to enlighten the world, they have raised the abominable throne of their impiety with the iniquitous hope that the Shepherd may be stricken and the flock scattered abroad. Arise, then unconquerable Prince, defend the people of God against the assaults of the reprobate spirits, and give them the victory. Holy Church reveres thee as its guardian and patron; it glories in thee as its defender against the malignant powers of hell; to thee God has committed the souls that are to be conveyed to the seats of the blessed in eternal happiness. Pray then, to the God of peace, that he may put Satan under our feet, so completely vanquished that he may no longer be able to hold men in bondage and work harm to the Church. Offer up our prayers before the Most High, so that the mercies of the Lord may prevent us, and lay hold of the dragon, the old serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and hurl him bound in chains into the abyss where he may no longer seduce the souls of men. Amen.

V. Behold the Cross of the Lord, fly ye hostile ranks.
R. The Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has conquered.
V. May thy mercies, O Lord, be fulfilled in us.
R. As we have hoped in thee.
V. Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto thee.

Let us pray.
O God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon thy holy name and humbly beseech thy clemency, that, through the intercession of the ever immaculate Virgin and our Mother Mary, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, thou wouldst vouchsafe to help us against Satan and all the other unclean spirits that are prowling about the world to the great peril of the human race and the loss of souls.
Amen.

Indulge me

IndulgenceIndulgences.

They sound archaic and controversial. They are very simple and great gifts to all of us. So what is an indulgence?

When we sin, we separate ourselves from God and from His grace. We partake in the sacrament of Reconcilliation to ask for God’s forgiveness for our sinfulness. God is merciful and loving and forgives us if we approach him with sincerity. Even though these sins are forgiven, we have “stained” ourselves in committing them. Before we can enter the perfect presence of God after our life here has been fulfilled, those souls that are not quite ready (due to sins committed during life) must be purified. This purification is fulfilled in Purgatory. The ‘length’ of the purification, the time spent in Purgatory, is relative to the sinfulness of our lives.

There is a way to reduce or even abrogate our stay in Purgatory. Through indulgences. Indulgences are the partial or plenary (full) remission of the temporal punishment / purification assigned to each of us due to our sins. Indulgences are typically applied to the faithful departed in Purgatory, but we can also apply indulgences to ourselves. Not only is it a wonderful thing to help the faithful departed enter in to the loving presence of God that much quicker, but we are sure to gain prayers from these saints when it comes time for us to undergo purification in the hereafter. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take all the help I can get. And above all, there are so many wonderful relatives and friends in my life – people that I really didn’t have much to offer while they were with us – who I can now offer one of the greatest gifts I can think of. The great thing about indulgences is, they aren’t really that cumbersome or difficult to obtain through prayer and devotion.

So how do we go about obtaining an indulgence?

Continue reading Indulge me

Testing ToolBox Format...

ToolBox under construction….

Here I am going to try to assemble a ‘spiritual toolbox’ of information that has helped me and the dearly departed. Things you may know, things you may not know. About acquiring graces and helping those who have passed before us and helping those who are still on the journey….

IndulgencesIndulgences
You can help those who have passed beyond this life and into the next…
AdorationEucharistic Adoration
Spend some quality time with Christ in reverent reflection…
SacramentalsSacramentals
Scapulars, the rosary, incense… Helping to enrich and focus us.
PrayerPrayer
Many different prayers, for many occasions and purposes.