Category: Feasts

Solemnity Of The Annunciation Of The Lord – March 25.

Solemnity Of The Annunciation Of The Lord – March 25.

March 25th – Feast of the Annunciation.

Devotion to Mary in the Middle Ages was responsible for forming attitudes towards women in Christian Europe. The idea of chivalry was formed around it: in honoring Mary, men honored, in a sense, the whole female sex.

On March 25 we celebrate the Annunciation—the day on which Mary was told she was to be the Mother of the world’s Redeemer.

Why March 25? Because it is exactly nine months before Christ’s birth celebrations on December 25.

Everything in the Church’s calendar makes sense. When Mary heard the message of the Angel, she was also told that her cousin Elizabeth was to have a child and was indeed already in her sixth month of pregnancy. So count three months on to complete the pregnancy and you come to June—now we celebrate the nativity of St John the Baptist, on June 24.

The old name for the feast of the Annunciation is Lady Day. In an age which fails to respect unborn life, Lady Day is a day for honoring Christ in the womb of His mother, for celebrating the Incarnation and remembering that when the Word was made flesh, it was as an unborn baby.

Do you know that beautiful prayer, the Angelus? It is said at noon. Some churches still ring out an Angelus bell. You are meant to stop what you are doing for just a couple of minutes, to recall the Incarnation and thank God for it.

The Angelus.

The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.

And she conceived of the Holy Ghost.

Hail Mary…

Behold the handmaid of the Lord.

Be it done unto me according to Thy Word.

Hail Mary…

And the Word was made flesh (genuflect or bow your head).

And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary…

Pray for us, 0 Holy Mother of God.

That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:

Pour forth, we beseech thee, 0 Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Death be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through Christ Our Lord Amen.

(Note: we know of several homes where the Angelus is recited. What a beautiful custom to restore in your family).

Was Saint Joseph Happy? 

Was Saint Joseph Happy? 

Was Saint Joseph Happy?

Saint Joseph may have been one of the happiest men to ever live. Based on the nature of happiness and the way he lived his life.

Saint Joseph, husband to Mary and foster father to Jesus, is the patron saint of a happy death. Perhaps especially for Catholic husbands and fathers, St. Joseph should also be our model for a happy life.

The Gospels tell us very little about Saint Joseph, leaving many of the specifics of his life to speculation. But I’m willing to guess that Saint Joseph was one of the happiest men to ever live. We can conclude this based on the nature of happiness and the way that Saint Joseph lived his life.

Regarding happiness, we should recognize the relationship between happiness and fulfillment. As Saint Thomas Aquinas explains: “For since happiness is a ‘perfect and sufficient good,’ it excludes every evil and fulfils every desire. But in this life every evil cannot be excluded…” Thomas explains that perfect happiness “consists in seeing God,” or “the vision of the Divine Essence.” Because we do not have the Beatific vision of God in this life, we cannot be perfectly happy.

The fact that perfect happiness is impossible in this life might seem a bit depressing. But here is the good news. As St. Thomas explains, “a certain participation of Happiness can be had in this life.” And, since perfect happiness consists in seeing God, it follows that the greatest happiness—the greatest fulfillment—that we can achieve in this life is closeness with God.

What man in history was closer to God than Saint Joseph? Saint Joseph had the unique privilege of raising and protecting Jesus from His infancy to manhood, of watching Jesus grow up, of spending time with God. That unique blessing borders on the incomprehensible, as does the happiness and fulfillment that Joseph certainly found in that blessing. As St. Alphonsus Liguori writes: “St. Joseph was more honored by God than all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and bishops: for all these have the name of servant, but Joseph alone that of father.”

When pondering the happiness of Saint Joseph, we can certainly look to his relationship with Jesus. We can ponder his relationship with Mary as well. It is difficult to fathom the happiness of Saint Joseph when considering the fact that Mary loved him so much. As Edward Healy Thompson, author of The Life and Glories of Saint Josephpoetically explains, Saint Joseph enjoyed the virginal “love of her who with a single glance of her eye could enhance the joy of the angels of Paradise.”

By the Scriptural accounts, it is clear that Saint Joseph was also a good provider for Jesus and Mary; we can reasonably conclude that he was joyful in his work. Saint Joseph was a carpenter, which is a physically-demanding profession under any circumstances, but much more difficult prior to the advent of electricity and modern tools. Saint Joseph surely was a wonderful and talented carpenter; he no doubt saw the value in his work and realized that his work had dignity and value.

Saint Joseph likely experienced sorrows, and he certainly experienced difficulties; but in so many ways, these did not negate his fulfillment or his happiness. Even in death, as the Church has proclaimed, Saint Joseph was happy. Saint Joseph knew that he was going to be with Jesus and Mary again in a place where there are no good-byes. Saint Joseph died happy. Saint Joseph lived happy.

What lesson, then, does Saint Joseph have for us husbands and fathers? What can we learn from his happiness and fulfillment? Perhaps the lesson is that we should look for happiness in the right places, beginning with holiness. Saint Joseph’s relationships with Jesus and Mary inspired him to be holy. We can be like that, too. We cannot have the relationship that Saint Joseph has with Jesus, but because happiness is directly linked to union with God, we would be wise to unite ourselves with Him more often through Holy Communion. Though we cannot have the relationship that Saint Joseph has with Mary, we can still spend time with Mary—even speak with Mary—through the Rosary.

In our relationships with our wives, we can emulate Saint Joseph. While we are not called to virginity like Saint Joseph, we are nevertheless called to the friendship that marriage craves and the fidelity that marriage demands: a fidelity of body, soul, mind, heart, vision, strength, and memory.

In our relationship with our children, we need to prioritize our time with them. Though our absence from our children can be the inevitable consequence of our jobs, we need to recognize the difference between avoidable and unavoidable absence. It is a temptation of modern men to work more and more hours in order to “get ahead” financially, yet they often lose their most precious and meaningful relationships in the process. Wealth and fame might be valid barometers of temporal success, but they are impostors of happiness. We can guess that Saint Joseph found some fulfillment in his work, but we can also guess that Saint Joseph couldn’t wait to finish his work and go home every night to Jesus and Mary.

Fulfillment is about happiness; fulfillment and happiness are about God. Saint Joseph understood that. Saint Augustine famously wrote: “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee.” No doubt, but it’s also true that our hearts are unhappy and unfulfilled until they find happiness and fulfillment in God. Pondering the life of Saint Joseph should help us understand that.

~St. Joseph, patron saint of the universal church, pray for us.

St. Jacinta Of Fatima – Feast Day. 

St. Jacinta Of Fatima – Feast Day. 

​Jacinta Marto

(11 March 1910 – 20 February 1920).

Two years younger than Francisco, Jacinta charmed all who knew her. She was pretty and energetic, and had a natural grace of movement. She loved to dance, and was sorry when their priest condemned dancing in public. Sometimes willful, she would pout when she did not get her way.

She took a special delight in flowers, gathering them by the armful and making garlands for Lucia. At a First Communion, she was among the little “angels” spreading petals before the Blessed Sacrament. She had a marked love for Our Lord, and at the age of five she melted in tears on hearing the account of His Passion, vowing that she would never sin or offend Him anymore.

She had many friends, but above all she loved her cousin Lucia, and was jealous of her time and attention. When Lucia, at the age of ten, became unavailable for play, being sent by her parents to pasture their sheep, Jacinta moped in loneliness-until her mother gave in and allowed her, with Francisco, to take a few sheep to pasture with Lucia.

Her sheep too became her friends. She gave them names, held their little ones on her lap, and tried to carry a lamb home on her shoulders, as she had seen in pictures of the Good Shepherd.

Her days were playful and happy, delighting with her brother and cousin in the things of nature around her. They called the sun “Our Lady’s lamp,” and the stars “the Angels’ lanterns,” which they tried to count as it grew dark. They called out to hear their voices echo across the valley, and the name that returned most clearly was “Maria.”

They said the Rosary every day after lunch, but to make more time for play, they shortened it to the words “Our Father” at the beginning of each decade, followed by “Hail Mary” ten times. This frivolity would soon change.

In the spring of 1916, as the children watched their sheep, an Angel appeared to them in an olive grove. He asked the children to pray with him. He appeared again in midsummer at a well in Lucia’s garden, urging them to offer sacrifice to God in reparation for sinners. In a final appearance, at the end of the summer, the Angel held a bleeding Host over a chalice, from which he communicated the children. This experience separated them from their playmates and prepared them for the apparitions to come.

As might be expected, the three were changed by the visitations of the Queen of Heaven. Jacinta, talkative sometimes to a fault, became quiet and withdrawn. After the first apparition, Lucia had sworn her and her brother to secrecy. But Jacinta, bubbling over, had let slip all they had seen to her family, who then told the village. The news was received with skepticism by many, with mockery by some, and with anger by Lucia’s mother. Jacinta was so contrite, she promised never to reveal another secret.

Her reluctance to reveal anything more of their experiences was increased by the vision of hell given the children in the third apparition seems to have affected Jacinta the most. To rescue sinners from hell, she was in the forefront of the three in voluntary mortifications, whether it was in giving up their lunches (sometimes to their sheep), refusing to drink in the heat of the day, or wearing a knotted rope around their waists. Involuntary penances included for her, as for her brother and cousin, the constant mockery of unbelievers, badgering by skeptical clergy, and needling by believers to reveal the Lady’s secret.

Following the miracle of the sun, Jacinta complied with many requests for her intercessions. On one occasion she seems to have bilocated, in order to help a wayward youth find his way home. Lost in a stormy wood, he had knelt and prayed, and Jacinta appeared and took him by the hand, while she was at home praying for him.

When she came down with influenza, she was removed from her family to a hospital a few miles away. She did not complain, because the Blessed Mother had forewarned her that she would go to two hospitals, not to be cured, but to suffer for the love of God and reparation for sinners.

She stayed in the first hospital for two months, undergoing painful treatments, and then was returned home. She developed tuberculosis and was sent to Lisbon, first to a Catholic orphanage. There she was able to attend Mass and see the Tabernacle, and she was happy. But her stay there was short. She was soon transferred to the second hospital prophesied by the Blessed Mother, where Jacinta was to make her final offering in dying alone. Her body came to rest in the Sanctuary built at the Cova da Iria, where the Lady had appeared to her.


Feast Of Our Lady Of Lourdes – February 11.

Feast Of Our Lady Of Lourdes – February 11.

February 11: Our Lady of Lourdes.

In 1858, there lived in the village of Lourdes, a little peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous, 14 years old, uneducated, simple, poor, good. On February 11, she was sent with two more girls to collect wood. They walked to the Rock of Massabielle, where the two companions crossed a mountain stream; while Bernadette was removing her shoes to follow them she became conscious of a ravishing beautiful Lady, standing in the hollow of the rock, looking at her. Bernadette fell involuntarily upon her knees, gazing enraptured at the lovely Lady, who smiled lovingly at Bernadette and then disappeared.

The mysterious Lady from heaven appeared in all, eighteen times to the little girl and among other things told her to drink the water from a mysterious fountain which was not yet observed. Bernadette scratched in the sand at a spot indicated, and water began to trickle through the earth; after a few days there gushed forth every day 27,000 gallons of pure, clear spring water, and this water flows still.

Bernadette was asked by Our Lady of Lourdes, who always showed her a sweet heavenly courtesy, to request the priest to have a church built on the spot, that processions should be made to the grotto, that people should drink of the water. The main emphasis of her message was that the faithful should visit the grotto in order to do penance for their sins and for those of the whole world.

In answer to Bernadette’s inquiry, “Who are you?” the Lady answered, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

The apparitions appeared for the last time on July 16, 1858. Bernadette never again had the supreme privilege of seeing and visiting with Our Lady. Later, Bernadette became a nun at Nevers and there spent the rest of her life. Through her “Lourdes was destined to become a focus of faith and mercy; thousands of souls were to flock thither to increase their piety, to borrow new energy and resolution. Suffering and charity were to join hands under the eyes of the Divine Mother. Miracles were to be never-ceasing.”

Four years after, the Bishop declared upon an exhaustive and scrupulous investigation, to the faithful, that they are “justified in believing the reality of the apparitions.”

In 1873, a basilica was built on top of the rock and in 1883 another church was built below and in front of the rock. From 1867 when records began to be kept till 1908, about 5,000,000 pilgrims had visited the grotto; now about 1,000,000 people visit Lourdes every year. Although Our Lady never at any time promised that pilgrims who visited the grotto would be healed of their physical ills, remarkable cures began at once and have continued ever since. Many of them are of such a character that they can be ascribed only to supernatural power.

There is no doubt that the cures are miraculous because every possible natural cause has been proved false. There is no chemical composition in the water to make it have curative properties. It has been claimed that the cures might be due to suggestion, but Bernheim, head of the famous school of Nancy, says that although suggestion has a chance of success in certain functional diseases, it requires the cooperation of time. Suggestion cures slowly and progressively, while complete cures at Lourdes are instantaneous. the supreme life giver himself is responsible for the many cures witnessed at this shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and He chose a simple peasant to reveal to the world the love He bears all mankind as the adopted children of His Blessed Mother.

Bernadette died in 1879 at the age of 35, and was later canonized. The body of the blessed Saint can still be seen in its glass coffin, intact and incorrupt, looking as its photographs show, like a young woman asleep. The chair at which she prayed, the altar where she received her First Holy Communion, the bed in which she slept, the room in which she lived – all can be seen at Lourdes.

Lourdes is one of the greatest Marian shrines in the world. Here, praying to Our Lady of Lourdes, one may obtain refreshment, courage, energy and inspiration to continue the age-old struggle of the great Catholic Faith against the forces of darkness and disintegration. This great shrine, all its miracles, and the streams of grace that are poured into the world through Our Lady of Lourdes, were made possible through the faithfulness and the sanctity of a little peasant girl.

– Our Lady Of Lourdes, Pray For Us! 

– St. Bernadette Soubirous, Pray For Us! 

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