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It’s a little hard to believe, but we are a mere three days from the beginning of Lent! I feel somewhat fortunate that I’ve already begun thinking about it; in previous years, Ash Wednesday has completely caught me off guard.
Each year, I want to observe Lent better than I did before, and this year is no exception. I’ve been thinking about how I wish to observe this season, how I wish to practice sacrifice and discipline, self-denial and self-giving. I don’t want to be lax. I don’t want to approach Easter with the least regret that I could have observed Lent more faithfully and deeply. But each year has been better–this will be might eighth Lent since returning to the Church–and each year I have become more reacclimated to the rigors of this season. I’m no longer quite the fledgling I was. I feel this year will be very edifying.
One simple thing that I have found helpful and motivating is Father Jonathan Morris’s Lent Challenge, “A 46-day plan for spiritual growth in mind, body, and soul.” For each of those three areas, mind, body, and soul, he encourages that we decide on one thing to give up and one thing to do. He will share daily messages of encouragement via Twitter and Facebook.
I also found this quotation from Pope Benedict XIV in 1741:
The observance of Lent is the very badge of Christian warfare. By it we prove ourselves not to be enemies of Christ. By it we avert the scourges of divine justice. By it we gain strength against the princes of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should men grow remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God’s glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted that such negligence would become the source of misery to the world, of public calamity, and of private woe.
This quotation speaks powerfully to me; as I’ve mentioned before, I respond to nothing more readily than to a call to arms. I am best motivated to conduct my life well when I am reminded that how I conduct my life affects the world around me–when I remember that it’s not just about me. It’s about what, and Whom, I stand for. More than any other time of year, it is about carrying the Cross and following Christ toward Calvary, trembling in every footstep. Not that we are not always called to do this, but this special season exists for our benefit, to focus us and make us stronger, to amend our lives. It’s a special journey, a special march, a special campaign.
I pray that I might enter into this season with deep devotion and dedication, together with all Catholics. Let us pray for each other!
Happy feast day to my dear father, St. Dominic!
A blessed day to all my Dominican family and to all.
May the light of Truth, which was his guiding star,
illumine our souls and lead us to our heavenly home.
A beautiful and blessed day to all mothers–whether they be biological mothers, adoptive mothers, or spiritual mothers! You are all such a blessing to your families and to the world. I pray that all women–myself included– realize and embrace their natural motherhood, their unique ability to give life to others in so many ways.
Let us also remember and thank God for our Mother in Heaven!
Today we remember a great Dominican Saint, St. Raymond de Peñafort! St. Raymond was one of the earliest Dominicans, joining the Order in 1222.
He was of great renown as a canon lawyer. He was enlisted by the pope to codify canon law, and as Master of the Order, he revised the Dominican rule and constitutions. Not surprisingly, he is a Patron Saint of canon lawyers.
One of his greatest passions, however, was preaching to Jews and Muslims in his native Spain. He set up schools to teach Christians how to speak Hebrew and Arabic so that they could better communicate with the Jews and Muslims.
Incidentally, earlier today, I was trying to decide which classes I want to take this semester in our diocese’s adult faith formation program. There are four classes, and they all sound really good: Sacraments, Ecclesiology, Apocalyptic Literature, and Canon Law. But I must limit myself to taking two classes at a time. I knew I wanted to take Sacraments, but was very torn when trying to choose among the other three. Well… when I glanced up at my calendar and saw that today was St. Raymond’s day… I sort of took it as a sign. So, I’m taking Canon Law! :D
Just a few days after gaining him as my special Patron Saint for 2010, I already get to celebrate St. John Neumann’s feast day! So… happy feast day, dear Father Neumann!
(photo from National Shrine of St. John Neumann)
From today’s liturgy:
you called blessed John Neumann to labor for the gospel
among the people of the new world.
His ministry strengthened many others in the Christian faith:
through his prayers may faith grow strong in this land.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
From the National Shrine, here is a prayer for St. John Neumann’s intercession:
O Saint John Neumann, your ardent desire of bringing all souls to Christ impelled you to leave home and country; teach us to live worthily in the spirit of our Baptism which makes us all children of the one Heavenly Father and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, the first-born of the family of God.
Obtain for us that complete dedication in the service of the needy, the weak, the afflicted and the abandoned which so characterized your life. Help us to walk perseveringly in the difficult and, at times, painful paths of duty, strengthened by the Body and Blood of our Redeemer and under the watchful protection of Mary our Mother.
May death still find us on the sure road to our Father’s House with the light of living Faith in our hearts. Amen.
One article I read had this quotation from the Saint:
My mother used to chide me, and call me book mad, a bibliomaniac.
Ah, I think we’ll get along just fine! :)
I received an email about a new film about Pope Pius XII that is in development for release this year!
I’m so excited about this! If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I love Pope Pius XII and feel that he has been treated unfairly in the decades following his death–portrayed as a cowardly Nazi sympathizer who did nothing to help the Jews and others who were being brutally captured and killed. This film promises to portray him accurately, as the hero he was, and was regarded as during his lifetime.
The wonderful feast days keep coming! Today we honor our most special companions and helpers, the guardian angels!
There’s a special child-like quality to believing in, knowing, and praying to our holy guardians. Child-like, but not childish. Acknowledging our guardian angels reminds us that in God’s eyes we are children, and He loves us enough to give us mighty angels to help us safely home to Him. Among all the wonderful gifts He has given us, the guardian angels are one of the best!
So, let us not imagine ourselves to be above thanking and praying to our guardian angels. Let us embrace the simple, beautiful prayers that have been passed down to us:
Dear Angel, in his goodness God gave you to me to guide, protect and enlighten me, and to being me back to the right way when I go astray. Encourage me when I am disheartened, and instruct me when I err in my judgment. Help me to become more Christlike, and so some day to be accepted into the company of Angels and Saints in heaven. Amen.
Guardian Angel from heaven so bright,
Watching beside me to lead me aright,
Fold your wings ’round me,
and guard me with love,
Softly sing songs to me
of heaven above.
Or the one my dad taught me when I was a child, which I still pray:
Angel of God,
my Guardian dear,
to whom His love
commits me here,
ever this day
be at my side,
to light and guard,
to rule and guide.
Let us strive to be ever closer and more devoted to our holy guardians!
Today we celebrate St. Jerome, Father of the Church, Doctor of the Church, and author of the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible. He is a Patron Saint of librarians and libraries, which makes him very near and dear to my heart. :D
I love his Prayer for Christ’s Mercy:
O Lord, show your mercy to me and gladden my heart. I am like the man on the way to Jericho who was overtaken by robbers, wounded and left for dead. O Good Samaritan, come to my aid, I am like the sheep that went astray. O Good Shepherd, seek me out and bring me home in accord with your will. Let me dwell in your house all the days of my life and praise you for ever and ever with those who are there.
St. Jerome, pray for us!
Today is one of my favorite feast days–that the holy archangels who appear in scripture: St. Michael, the great warrior, St. Gabriel, the great messenger, and St. Raphael, the great guide, guardian, and healer.
In the older liturgical calendar, this day commemorates the dedication of the Basilica of St. Michael. I found a beautiful hymn dedicated to the Prince of the Heavenly Host in my 1962 missal:
Oh Thou, the Father’s glorious Might,
Jesus true life of every heart,
Thee do we praise amid angels bright
whose hope and light alone Thou art.
A thousand thousand hosts, for Thee,
of glorious warriors, battle wage;
but Michael waves Thy standard free,
Salvation’s cross and victory’s gage.
The dragon fierce with stubborn crown
he hurls to lowest depths of Hell;
the rebel crew, their prince overthrown,
he thrusts from Heaven’s high citadel.
The prince of pride may we too fight,
and follow this, our captain true,
that so the crown with glory dight
by Jesus given, may be our due.
St. Gabriel is best known as the angel who came to Mary in the Annunciation. He also appeared to the prophet Daniel and to Zechariah. His feast day in the older calendar is 24 March. Understandably, he is the Patron Saint of all kinds of communications workers and also diplomats. (photo by Lawrence OP)
St. Raphael is best known from his role in The Book of Tobit, who guides and guards Tobias, leads him to his future wife, Sarah, banishes the demon Asmodeus who had been terrorizing Sarah and killing her previous husbands, and cures Tobit of his blindness. All in a day’s work for this mighty angel! His feast day in the older calendar is coming up on 24 October. He is a Patron Saint of many different things… and an unofficial Patron Saint of single Catholics looking for spouses. (photo by Lawrence OP)
An angelic feast! (last year’s post for this feast day)