The Catholic Week Ahead – 1st Week in Advent

Calling of Andrew and Peter
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This is the  1st Week in Advent.  We are at the beginning of the liturgical year and the countdown to Christmas.  The highlight of the week is Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle on Wednesday.

First, the Mass readings for the week.  I encourage everyone to follow the readings throughout the week.

First Reading

During Advent, we focus on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah for the First Reading.  The book itself was written by several authors and focuses on prophecies during the reign of three kings of Judah during the 8th Century B.C.  In this period, Israel had been split into two kingdoms with the northern kingdom having already been taken over by Assyria.  During the service of Isaiah, Assyria was also threatening Judah (the southern kingdom) and Jerusalem.  Isaiah focuses on the sins and faithlessness of the people of Judah and their need for repentance and faith in God.  Isaiah tells us of the coming of a messianic king and the deliverance of the faithful by God.   Every reading prepares us for Christmas morning and leads us through a period of self-examination, repentance and anticipation.

On Monday, we hear how the nations and peoples of the world will go to the Lord’s mountain, the “highest” mountain “raised above the hills,” so “[t]hat he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.”  We also hear about the peace that will come to man.  On Tuesday, we hear how a great king will sprout from the root of Jesse and how this king will bring knowledge and peace throughout the world.  On Wednesday, we sidetrack to Romans 10 for a reading for the Feast of St. Andrew.  St. Paul writes on the necessity of evangelization and spreading the word of God to others.  On Thursday, we’re back to Isaiah and learn about the strength of God and the need to trust in him.  On Friday, we hear about the glories that will come to the world and to man through God.  How “[t]hey shall keep my name holy; they shall reverence the Holy One of Jacob, and be in awe of the God of Israel.” Saturday continues the prophecy of the glories that will come to man from God with the assurance that “a voice shall sound in your ears: ‘This is the way; walk in it,’ when you would turn to the right or to the left.”

Responsorial Psalms

The Responsorial Psalms are tied to the reading (in quotes are the responses but they are often taken from another Psalm.)

On Monday, we pray Psalm 122 with the response – “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.”  On Tuesday, Psalm 72 – “Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.”  On Wednesday, Psalm 19 – “The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.”  On Thursday, Psalm 118 – “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”  On Friday, Psalm 27 – “The Lord is my light and my salvation.”  On Saturday, Psalm 147 – “Blessed are all who wait for the Lord.”

Gospel

During Advent, the liturgy skips around the Gospels but each day points us directly to the hope of Christmas.  This week, we hear about the necessity to have faith in Christ and the belief that he is the king of heaven and earth.

On Monday, we hear from Matthew 8 about the centurion whose servant was dying.  As Christ agrees to come and cure him, we hear the centurion’s statement of faith – “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.”  On Tuesday, we hear from Luke 10 in which Christ affirms the faith of the disciples – “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”  Christ also, in prayer to the Holy Spirit, proclaims for us – “No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him”  On Wednesday, for the Feast of St. Andrew, we hear from Matthew 4 about the calling of St. Andrew by Christ.  On Thursday, it’s Matthew 7 and we hear about building our house (of faith) on rock and not sand.   On Friday, we hear from Matthew 9 in which the two blind men cry out “Son of David, have pity on us!”  Christ heals them because of their faith.  On Saturday, it’s Matthew 9-10 in which Christ sends out the disciples to “[g]o to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.'”

Saints in the Liturgical Calendar

(The Mass Celebrant must celebrate feasts and memorials.  They may, if they choose, celebrate optional memorials).

Wednesday - St. Andrew the Apostle – Brother of St. Peter.  They and the brothers, James and John, were the first apostles called by Christ.  He preached in the Black Sea region  in modern day southern Russia, Georgia and Iran, as well as in Greece.  He was crucified in Greece reportedly in the form of an “X” (the Cross of St. Andrew).  He is the patron saint of Scotland and Russia.  (Feast)

Saturday – St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552) – Spanish priest who was a friend and classmate of St. Ignatius of Loyola and one of the first Jesuits.  He was a great missionary in India and Japan.  He is the patron of foreign missions.  (Memorial)

The Feast of St. Andrew is also a great day to begin a Nine-Day Novena to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary which is celebrated on December 8th.

Have a blessed and holy week.


The Catholic Week Ahead – 34th Week in Ordinary Time

see filename

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This is the 34th Week in Ordinary Time.  We are now at the end of the liturgical year.  This Sunday is the start of Advent and the introduction of the Revised Roman Missal.   The highlight of the week is Thanksgiving, as well as a saint for most of the days in the liturgical calendar.

First, the Mass readings for the week.  I encourage everyone to follow the readings throughout the week.

First Reading

For this week, we are going to hear readings from the Book of the Prophet Daniel.

Daniel is one of the Prophetic Books of the Holy Bible.  It was written in the 2nd Century B.C. at the time of the persecutions told of in the 1st & 2nd Books of Maccabees, which we heard last week.  Daniel himself lived in the 6th Century B.C. at the time of the Babylonian Exile when all of Judah was in exile in Babylon.  The Book of Daniel is considered an Apocalyptic writing and points us to the end days and the Second Coming of Christ.

On Monday, we start with King Nebuchadenezzar of Babylon conquering Jerusalem.  He brought the Jews back with him to Babylon and picked out the best of the young men so that they could be trained and brought into the service of the court.  Among these young men were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.  The four refused to eat the food of the king, which would have defiled them.  Instead they took only vegetables and water.  In return, God gave them great wisdom and knowledge.  He also gave prophetic powers to Daniel.  When it came time to choose which of the young men would enter the king’s service, Daniel and the other three were the ones chosen.  On Tuesday, we hear about a dream of Nebuchadenezzar that Daniel interprets.  The dream told of the coming of the Kingdom of God and how this kingdom would destroy all earthy kingdoms.  On Wednesday, there is a new king in the story, King Belshazzar, who was King Nebuchadenezzar’s son.  He threw a banquet and brought out the sacred vessels that were plundered from the temple in Jerusalem.  His dinner party started drinking  from the sacred vessels and offered praise to their gods.  They then saw a hand appear and it wrote something on a wall.  The king summoned Daniel to interpret.  The writing said essentially that God had found the king wanting and was going to end his kingdom and divide it.  On Thursday, we hear of a new king, King Darius, who issued a decree effectively prohibiting prayer.  Of course, Daniel was found in prayer.  The king did not want to hurt Daniel but his advisors kept pressuring him.  He finally gave in and cast Daniel into the lion’s den.  Daniel spent the night in the den and God protected him.  Daniel was removed from the den and the advisors (and their families) were cast into it.  King Darius then proclaimed that God was “to be reverenced and feared” throughout his kingdom.  As King Darius proclaimed, “he is the living God, enduring forever; his Kingdom shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be without end.”   On Friday, we hear of Daniel’s vision of the four beasts.  By the end of the vision, the dominion of the beasts is destroyed and a heavenly and everlasting kingdom is established.  On Saturday, we end with Daniel getting an explanation concerning the fourth beast in his vision, which was a horrible creature that caused great destruction.  Daniel learned that this beast would be a kingdom that would devour other kingdoms and persecute God’s followers.  It would appear that this kingdom had won, but that God would come and destroy this kingdom and establish his everlasting kingdom.

Responsorial Psalms

The Responsorial Psalms are tied to the reading (in quotes are the responses but they are often taken from another Psalm.)

This week, the Responsorial Psalm is taken from the Canticle of Daniel which is in Daniel 3:52-90.  The responses are as follows: On Monday – “Glory and praise for ever!”  Tuesday through Saturday  – all have the same response (from Psalm 59) – “Give glory and eternal praise to him.”

Gospel

We spend the week going through Luke 21, which is Christ’s ministry in Jerusalem.  In the weekday readings from the Gospel according to Luke, we have progressed over the course of 13 weeks from Luke 4:16 to 21:26.  In these chapters, we have covered Christ’s ministry.  First, it was the ministry in Galilee.  Then, it was the Journey to Jerusalem.  This week, it is Christ’s ministry in Jerusalem.  The gospel readings this week offer a series of teachings from Christ that were intended to prepare his disciples (and us) for the end times.

On Monday, we hear about the poor widow putting her small offering into the temple treasury.  Christ instructed the wealthy, who were also putting their offerings in, that the widow had put in more than they because the wealthy had given from their surplus while the widow had given from what she needed to live.  On Tuesday, Christ tells of the destruction of the temple and the end times.  How there would be deceivers that would come in his name.  How there would be wars, earthquakes, famines, plagues and other “awesome sights and mighty signs.”  He tells his disciples to not be deceived or terrified.  He also instructs them that these signs would “not immediately be the end.”  On Wednesday, Christ warns his disciples that they would be persecuted and that some would be turned on by family and friends, and even put to death.  He also instructs them to not worry about what they would say or anything else.  He promises them that “[b]y your perseverance you will secure your lives.”   On Thursday, we hear further of the destruction of Jerusalem and the end times.  He hear of calamities and wrathful judgment.    We hear that “[p]eople will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”  The reading ends with the assurance that “when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”  On Friday, Christ uses the fig tree to describe how we will know that the Kingdom of God is near.  He also assures his disciples that “[h]eaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”  On Saturday, we end the year with Christ warning his disciples to stay vigilant and alert, to stay away from sin and anxiety, and to pray and be ready for the tribulations to come and the time when we will all stand before him.

Saints in the Liturgical Calendar

(The Mass Celebrant must celebrate feasts and memorials.  They may, if they choose, celebrate optional memorials).

Monday – The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Feast day commemorating the presentation of Mary as a child in the temple.   In this presentation, Mary was promised to God.  (Memorial)

Tuesday – St. Cecilia - Roman in the 2nd Century who suffered martyrdom during the persecution under Marcus Aurelius.  Before her death, she had converted her husband and her brother-in-law, both of whom were martyred as well.  (Memorial)

Wednesday – Pope St. Clement I – the third Bishop of Rome (i.e. Pope) after St. Peter.  He was converted by Sts. Peter & Paul and ordained by St. Peter.  He was martyred around 100.  (Optional Memorial)St. Columban (563-615) – Irish abbot who established many monasteries throughout Europe and inspired his fellow Irish monks to establish many monasteries of their own.  These monasteries were the foundation of learning and center of knowledge during the early Middle Ages (also known as the Dark Ages).  (Optional Memorial)   Bl. Miguel Augustin Pro (1891-1927) – Mexican Jesuit priest who was educated in Europe and the U.S. but returned to Mexico after ordination.  Mexican Catholics were undergoing great persecution in the 1920s  and the Church was outlawed.  St. Miguel carried out his priestly ministry in secret but he was eventually captured and shot before a firing squad.  He had been a priest for about a year. (Optional Memorial)

Thursday – St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions – A group of Vietnamese Catholics and missionaries who were martyred during the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries during various persecutions of the Vietnamese rulers.    (Memorial)

Friday – St. Catharine of Alexandria – 4th Century Roman (Egypt) who was converted to the faith at 18.  She was very successful in converting others, many of whom were put to death.  She refused an offer from the emperor to marry a nobleman.  Imprisoned by the emperor, she converted his wife and soldiers, who were then put to death.  St. Catharine was herself martyred.  (Optional Memorial)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a blessed and holy week.


The Catholic Week Ahead – 33rd Week in Ordinary Time

"The Renunciation of St. Elizabeth of Hun...
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This is the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time.  We are now rushing headlong towards the end of the liturgical year, the start of Advent and the introduction of the Revised Roman Missal.   The highlight of the week is a series of feast days for some incredible female saints – St. Margaret of Scotland, St. Gertrude, St. Elizabeth of Hungary and St. Rose Duchesne.

First, the Mass readings for the week.  I encourage everyone to follow the readings throughout the week.

First Reading

For this week, we are going to spend our days with the 1st & 2nd Books of Maccabees, one of the most fascinating and overlooked stories of the Holy Bible.

The two Maccabean books are considered part of the Historical Books in the Bible (together with Samuel 1 & 2, Kings 1 & 2, Chronicles 1 & 2, Ezra, Nehemiah, Tobit, Judith, and Esther).  They are two of the Deuterocanonical Books of the Bible, i.e. those books that the Catholic Church considers to be divinely inspired and authoritative, but which those of Protestant beliefs do not.  One can tell whether they have a Catholic Bible by seeing if these books are included.  The Maccabean Books are believed to have been written about a century before Christ and tell the story of the Maccabean revolt against persecution of the Jews that occurred in 2nd Century, B.C.

On Monday, the story starts with a new king who decided to force Jews to abandon all of their customs and rituals and force them to become more like the Gentiles.  One apostasy led to another and it soon became punishable by death to live in accordance with the Jewish faith.  The passage ends with the tale of those who refused to give in.  On Tuesday, we hear about Eleazar, an elderly man, who was being forced to participate in a pagan ritual and turn against his faith.  His torturers gave him a way out, a way to save face and live.  He rejected it because of the example it would set and that others would believe he had turned against God.  He went to his death with joy and devotion.  On Wednesday, we hear about the seven brothers and their mother who were arrested and tortured because they wouldn’t give in to the pagan rituals.  Each brother went to his death, one after another.  Even the youngest refused to give in after being offered riches and power.  All were killed in front of their mother who encouraged them to keep the faith, exhorting them by proclaiming – “since it is the Creator of the universe who shapes each man’s beginning, as he brings about the origin of everything, he, in his mercy, will give you back both breath and life, because you now disregard yourselves for the sake of his law.”  On Thursday,  we get to the story of Mattathias and his sons.  They were brought before the king’s officers and promised riches and power if they would do the pagan rituals.  By now, much of Jerusalem and Judah had given in.  Mattathias refused to and was able to escape to the mountains with his sons to mount a resistance. On Friday, we hear of the success of Judas Maccabeus who frees the Jews and works to reestablish the faith.   On Saturday, we reach the end of the Maccabean story and hear of the Gentile king learning that his plans in Judah were in ruins.  At the same time, the king was trying to conquer a city in Persia and was driven back.  Defeated, he took to his death bed with repentance of what he had done.

Responsorial Psalms

The Responsorial Psalms are tied to the reading (in quotes are the responses but they are often taken from another Psalm.)

On Monday – we pray Psalm 119, with the response – “Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.”  Tuesday – Psalm 3 – “The Lord upholds me.”  Wednesday – Psalm 17 – “Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.”.  Thursday – Psalm 50 – “To the upright I will show the saving power of God.”  Friday – 1 Chronicles 29 – “We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.”  Saturday – Psalm 9 – “I will rejoice in your salvation, O Lord.”

Gospel

We start in Luke 18 and get into Luke 20.  In the weekday readings from the Gospel according to Luke, we progress over the course of 13 weeks from Luke 4:16 to 21:26.  In these chapters, we cover Christ’s ministry.  First, it is the ministry in Galilee.  Then, it is the Journey to Jerusalem.  For the past seven weeks, we’ve covered the narrative of Christ’s journey to Jerusalem.  This week, Christ arrives in Jerusalem.

On Monday, Christ is approaching Jericho when he is beseeched by the blind man exclaiming, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”  After obtaining a witness of faith from the blind man, Christ gives him sight and something more – his salvation.  “Have sight; your faith has saved you.” On Tuesday, Christ comes to Jericho and meets Zacchaeus, the tax collector who climbed a tree to see him.  Christ calls out to him, tells him he is coming to dinner, and brings about a complete conversion and salvation of Zacchaeus.  All to the dismay of the Jewish leaders.  The last line of the passage speaks loudly – “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”  On Wednesday we hear Luke’s version of the Parable of the Talents (we heard the Matthew version this past Sunday) and what is to be expected in his kingdom. On Thursday, we hear Christ seeing Jerusalem and lamenting over the knowledge that she would be destroyed by her enemies because “[they] did not recognize the time of [their] salvation.”   On Friday, Christ enters Jerusalem and goes to the Temple.  He first drives out the marketeers and then starts to teach.  The Jewish leaders also start to plot against him in earnest.  On Saturday, the Sadducees challenge Jesus with the question about the widow who married the seven brothers in succession.  The question that they posed concerned who would she be married to after the resurrection.  What was interesting about the question is that the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection.  Christ responds by reminding them that God is the God of the living, not of the dead.  Christ also gives us each a foretaste of heaven.

Saints in the Liturgical Calendar

(The Mass Celebrant must celebrate feasts and memorials.  They may, if they choose, celebrate optional memorials).

Tuesday – St. Albert the Great (1206-1280) – German Dominican priest who became Bishop of Ratisbon.  He was a great teacher, writer and peace mediator.  His writings were in both theological and scientific areas.  He was declared a Doctor of the Church (one of 33 saints recognized by the Church for their brilliance and the importance of the theological work that they produced).  (Optional Memorial)

Wednesday – St. Gertrude (1256-1301) – German Cistercian nun known for her brilliance and holiness.  (Optional Memorial) or St. Margaret of Scotland (1045-1093) – Scottish queen who mothered 8 children.  She was known for caring for the poor, her faith and her devotion.  She is the patroness of Scotland. (Optional Memorial)

Thursday – St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231) – Hungarian princess who married a German prince.  She was a mother of three and known for her prayer life.  After her husband’s death, she became a Franciscan tertiary, lived a life of poverty and started a hospital where she worked for the rest of her short life. (Memorial)

Friday – St. Rose Philippine Duchesne (1769-1852) – French nun who went to America as a missionary.  She accomplished a great deal in working with pioneer families and evangelizing the Native American population around the St. Louis area.  (Optional Memorial) or the Dedication of the Basilicas of St. Peter & St. Paul in Rome (Optional Memorial).   (Note the readings for the latter feast are Acts 28: 11-16, 30-31 and Matthew 14:22-33).

Also of note this week is the Holy Father’s Apostolic Journey to Benin from Friday through Sunday.

Have a blessed and holy week.


The Catholic Week Ahead – 32nd Week in Ordinary Time

emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys

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This is the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time.  We are in the home stretch as we accelerate towards the end of the liturgical year.   The highlight of the week is the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome.

First, the Mass readings for the week.  I encourage everyone to follow the readings throughout the week.

First Reading

For the last three weeks of the liturgical year, we are going to spend a week on the Book of Wisdom, a week on the 1st & 2nd Books of Maccabees and a week on the Book of the Prophet Daniel.

First up is the Book of Wisdom.  It is considered part of the Wisdom Books in the Bible (together with Job, the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and Sirach).  It is one of the Deuterocanonical Books of the Bible, i.e. those books that the Catholic Church considers to be divinely inspired and authoritative, but which those of Protestant beliefs do not.  One can tell whether they have a Catholic Bible by seeing if this book is included.  The Book of Wisdom is believed to have been written about a century before Christ.  The writer used King Solomon as his voice (as if it is King Solomon speaking to us).   The book’s introduction in the New American Bible version has this to say about the book’s intent-

“The primary purpose of the sacred author was the edification of his co-religionists in a time when they had experienced suffering and oppression, in part at least at the hand of apostate fellow Jews.”

The book focuses on the themes of the “Reward of Justice,” “the Praise of Wisdom,” and the special providence of God, God’s mercy and the folly and shame of idolatry.  This week, we’re going to hit on each of these themes.

On Monday, we hear how we cannot receive the wisdom of God if we are sinful and separated from him.  On Tuesday, we hear how we will be kept safe in the hand of God at death if we are just and stay close to him.  This reading (Wisdom 2:23-3:9) is often used at funeral Masses.  Wednesday is a feast day and has special readings (see below).  On Thursday, we hear a beautiful description of Wisdom and what it is.  You need to read it to get the full effect (Wisdom 7:22b-8:1).  On Friday, we get an interesting passage about how man tends to see the glories of God around us and look for their cause, but end up not being able to see God as the cause.  On Saturday, we hear the author’s glory and praise (and reminder) of God’s deliverance of the Israelites during the Exodus.

Responsorial Psalms

The Responsorial Psalms are tied to the reading (in quotes are the responses but they are often taken from another Psalm.)

On Monday – we pray Psalm 139, with the response – “Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.”  Tuesday – Psalm 34 – “I will bless the Lord at all times.”  Wednesday – feast day, see below.  Thursday – Psalm 119 – “Your word is for ever, O Lord.”  Friday – Psalm 19 – “The heavens proclaim the glory of God.”  Saturday – Psalm 105 – “Remember the marvels the Lord has done!”

Gospel

We start Luke 17 and head into Luke 18.  In the weekday readings from the Gospel according to Luke, we progress over the course of 13 weeks from Luke 4:16 to 21:26.  In these chapters, we cover Christ’s ministry.  First, it is the ministry in Galilee.  Then, it is the Journey to Jerusalem.  For the past six weeks, we’ve covered this narrative; and we continue to do so through this week and into next week.   It is important to know this context, because Christ arrives in Jerusalem in next week’s readings and we hear about his ministry there throughout the remainder of the liturgical year.

On Monday, we hear Christ warn that we are not to have sin occur through us; how we are to rebuke each other when we sin; how we are to forgive others if they repent; and how all we need is the faith of a mustard seed for God to work in us.  On Tuesday, Christ teaches rather bluntly that we should not expect praise for doing what we are supposed to do.  Wednesday is a feast day with special readings (see below).  On Thursday, we hear how the Kingdom of God is among us.  On Friday, we hear about the day that the “Son of Man is revealed;” and how that day will come upon us without notice and that we will be expected to be ready for him at that moment.  On Saturday, we hear about the persistent widow and the judge and how we need to be persistent in our prayer and “call out to him day and night.”  The week ends on an ominous note for our generation as Christ asks “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Special Days

Wednesday is the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica.  This cathedral is the Pope’s cathedral (not St. Peter’s).  St. John’s is the “Chair of Peter” and the mother church of Christendom.  It is in Rome and was originally built by Emperor Constantine as a palace.  It is one of four great Churches in Rome (together with St. Peter’s, St. Mary Major and St. Paul Outside-the-Walls).  In observing this feast, each local Church (i.e. diocese) is called to remember our devotion and unity with the Holy Father and all of the Catholic Church.

The first reading is from Ezekiel (47:1-2, 8-9, 12) and we hear of the prophet’s vision of the saving waters flowing from the temple.  The Responsorial Psalm is from Psalm 46 with the response – “the waters of the river gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the most High!”  The second reading is from the 1st Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians (3:9c-11, 16-17) and we hear St. Paul explain that we are all temples of God built upon the foundation of Christ with the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.  The Gospel is from the Gospel according to John (2:13-22) and has Christ clearing the temple and proclaiming that the temple (i.e. his Body) would be destroyed and raised up in three days.

Saints in the Liturgical Calendar

(The Mass Celebrant must celebrate feasts and memorials.  They may, if they choose, celebrate optional memorials).

Wednesday – The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica – see above (Feast)

Thursday – St. Leo the Great (???-461) – Pope for 21 years.  He was able to get the Bishop of Rome recognized as the primary see in Christendom.  He confirmed the doctrine of the Incarnation, which was coming under attack at the time.  He also turend back Attila the Hun from conquering Rome and, when the Vandals finally took Rome, he convinced them not to pillage the city.   (Memorial)

Friday – St. Martin of Tours (316-397) – Hungarian military officer who received a conversion to the faith and gave up his military life.  He became a priest and was ordained as bishop of Tours.  He is best known for his giving of half of his cloak to a beggar, at which point he received a vision of Christ (leading to the question of whether the beggar was Christ himself).  He was a pupil of St. Hilary of Poitiers and founder of monasticism in France (Gaul).  Interestingly, St. Martin is the patron saint of soldiers and this day is Veterans Day.  (Memorial)

Saturday – St. Josaphat (1580-1623) – Ukrainian/Polish monk who was ordained as Bishop of Polock.  He was martyred by enemies opposed to his works.  (Memorial)

Also, Sunday is the feast day for St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917).  Her feast day is suppressed this year on the liturgical calendar because it falls on a Sunday, but it is important to American Catholics.  She was the first American citizen to be canonized (of note, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was the first American-born citizen to be canonized).  St. Frances was an Italian nun who immigrated to America in 1889 at the request of Pope Leo XIII to work with Italian immigrants in the U.S.  She founded hospitals, schools and orphanages and left a great impact on our nation.

Have a blessed and holy week.


Praying for the Bishops of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati

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We should all pray for our bishops, especially the head of our diocese, and learn a little about our diocese as well.  For me, it is the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

I went to Mass this morning and was greeted with the pleasant surprise that our Mass was going to celebrate the Feast of the Dedication of St. Peter in Chains, the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, my diocese.

Fr. Geoff Drew, our pastor, gave a great homily.  He tied together the dedication of our parish church, St. Maximilian Kolbe, which we just celebrated on Sunday, with the dedication of the Cathedral and also the dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the Holy Father’s cathedral, the feast of which is next Wednesday (November 9th).  He explained how our parish is part of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati which is part of the Universal Church led by the Holy Father.

Fr. Geoff also talked about the importance of acknowledging the role that a diocese plays in the life of our Church.  As he pointed out, too often we look to our parish as our Church.  However, it is the diocese that is our local Church, with parishes being a means for the local Church to administer to the faithful.  He also pointed out that we should look to the bishop as the head of our local Church, not the pastor of our parish.  It is the pastor who leads the parish at the direction of the bishop, but there is a reason why we pray for the Holy Father and our bishops in the Eucharistic Prayer and not the pastor.

Coming out of Mass, I started thinking of some questions.  How often does the average Catholic pray for their bishop?  How often does the average Catholic think of themselves as part of the local Church, the diocese?  For that matter, how often does the average Catholic pray for the Holy Father and think about their own place in the Universal Church?

Or, does the average Catholic think no further than their own parish?  Or worse, does the average Catholic not consider their place in the Church at all?

In any case, today I am going to pray for Archbishop Dennis Schnurr, Archbishop Emeritus Daniel Pilarcyzk, and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Binzer of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

“May the Lord help them stand firm and grant them the grace of holiness and salvation.”

I also want to share a little information about the bishops and the Archdiocese (source: Catholic Hierarchy):

Archbishop Schnurr is 63 and was appointed to the Cincinnati See in 2008 as Coadjutor to Archbishop Pilarcyzk, who he succeeded in 2009.  Before Cincinnati, he was Bishop of Duluth (MN) from 2001-2008.  He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Sioux City (IA) in 1974.

Archbishop Pilarcyzk is 77 and was appointed to the Cincinnati See in 1982.  He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati in 1974 and was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in 1959.  He took emeritus status after his retirement in 2009.

Bishop Binzer is 56 and was just ordained Bishop earlier this year.  He was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in 1994.

The Archdiocese was erected as a diocese in 1821 from the Diocese of Bardstown (KY).  It was elevated to an Archdiocese in 1850.  Its suffragen dioceses are Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo, Steubenville and Youngstown (all in Ohio).  It currently has 214 parishes.  The patron saints of the Archdiocese are St. Francis de Sales, St. Albert the Great and St. Robert Bellarmine.

The Cathedral is St. Peter in Chains.  It was built in 1845.  It lost its cathedral status in 1938 when the Cathedral was moved to St. Monica’s.  In 1954, it was renovated and rededicated as the Cathedral on November 3rd.

May God bless our Archdiocese and our bishops.


The Catholic Month Ahead – November

Last Judgement, Triptych
Image via Wikipedia

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The Catholic November is a month to focus on the Souls in Purgatory.  We remember to pray for our loved family and friends who may be waiting in Purgatory for their purification that will lead to their call to Heaven. November is also about thanksgiving, and finishing up the liturgical year and heading into Advent.

We are in the 31st through the 34th Weeks in Ordinary Time. At month’s end, we will be in the First Week of Advent.

This month’s devotion is in honor of the Holy Souls in Purgatory.  This month, the following prayer would be powerful:

“From Sion, watch and keep them and send them the help of your grace.  Grant them eternal rest O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them.  May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.  Amen.”

We especially remember our beloved departed on All Souls Day (November 2nd).

In the liturgy, the calendar is filled with feast days of a number saints.   To start the month off, we remember all of the saints on All Saints Day (November 1st).  Then there is St. Martin de Porres (3rd), St. Charles Borromeo (4th), St. Leo the Great (10th), St. Martin of Tours (11th), which happens to fall on Veterans Day (St. Martin was a former soldier), St. Albert the Great (15th), St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Gertrude (16th), St. Elizabeth of Hungary (17th). St. Cecilia (22nd), St. Andrew Dung-Lac and companions (24th) and St. Andrew, the Apostle (30th).

There is also the Solemnity of Christ the King (20th), the Presentation of Mary (21st), the Dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome (9th) and the Dedication of the Rome Basilicas of Sts. Peter & Paul (18th).  Of special importance to the North American calendar is the feast day for St. Rose Philippine-Duschesne (18th) and Bl. Miguel Augustin Pro (23rd).  Another feast day of interest is St. Catharine Laboure (25th) who had the Miraculous Medal revealed to her by the Blessed Mother.  The Feast of the St. Frances Xavier Cabrini is usually celebrated on November 23rd, but this year it is superseded by the Sunday liturgy.  Of course, the highlight of the month is the celebration of the All Saints Day on the 1st, All Souls Day on the 2nd, Thanksgiving Day on the 24th and the First Sunday of Advent on 27th.

In addition, the latest 40 Days for Life campaign will be finishing up its Fall campaign in front of abortion clinics throughout America, Canada and five other nations.

Other events of note are the the ordination of Bishop David Kagan as Bishop of Bismarck, North Dakota (30th) and the Apostolic Journey of the Holy Father to Benin from November 18th-20th.  In addition, November is National Adoption Month and November 6th is Orphan Sunday.  Remember the orphans in your prayers this month and consider being a foster parent or adopting.

In his Monthly Intentions, the Holy Father asks us to remember the Eastern Churches and the African Synod.

General Intention – Eastern Churches: that the Eastern Catholic Churches and their venerable traditions may be known and esteemed as a spiritual treasure for the whole Church.

Missionary Intention – African Synod:  that the African continent may find strength in Christ to pursue justice and reconciliation as set forth by the second Synod of African Bishops.

For more about this month, please stop by Catholic Culture, which has a great Catholic overview of this month. Have a holy and blessed month.


The Catholic Week Ahead – 31st Week in Ordinary Time

St Carlo Borromeo Tended by an Angel, Oil on c...
Image via Wikipedia

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This is the 31st Week in Ordinary Time.  We start to pick up the pace this week as we move to the end of the liturgical calendar.  This week, we get All Saints Day and All Souls Day.  All Saints Day is a HOLY DAY OF OBLIGATION, so remember that you are obligated to participate in Mass.  All Souls Day is a good day to remember our beloved dead and pray for the salvation of their souls.  We also have a First Friday and First Saturday this week.  For First Friday, it is a good time to practice the First Friday devotion.  There is also a devotion for the First Saturday.

First, the Mass readings for the week.  I encourage everyone to follow the readings throughout the week.

First Reading

We are in the last of four weeks reading through St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans.  This epistle was first intended for the Church in Rome.  The Roman Church was still in its infancy and trying to establish itself amongst the paganism and grandeur of 1st Century Imperial Rome.

This week begins with St. Paul teaching us that we all at times disobey God but that his mercy delivers us from our sins.  Tuesday and Wednesday have special readings for the All Saints Day and All Souls Day, which will be highlighted below.  On Thursday,  St. Paul cautions us that we all live for and die in Christ.  As such, we will all be judged and must not judge each other.  We will each have to give an account of ourselves to God.  For Friday, we get a wonderful affirmation from St. Paul of his personal mission to bring Christ to the Gentiles (i.e. those who have not seen or heard of or believe in Christ).  Saturday concludes our journey through the Roman Epistle and provides a very poignant conclusion from St. Paul to the Romans as he prepares to go there; a visit that would ultimately result in his death, but not before he and St. Peter had set the stage for the Holy See and the universal Church.

Responsorial Psalms

The Responsorial Psalms are tied to the reading or the Gospel (or both).  For the week, we pray Psalm 69 (Monday), Psalm 27 (Thursday), Psalm 98 (Friday),  and Psalm 145 (Saturday).

Gospel

We finish up Luke 14, go through Luke 15 and head into Luke 16.  On Monday, we hear Christ teach that we should interact with the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind instead of just our family, friends and neighbors.  How we should be social to those who cannot repay us.  On Thursday, Christ tells the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coins in order to teach us that God searches after all of us, regardless of our separation from him and our sinfulness.  He wants to save all of us.  On Friday, Christ shares the parable of the steward who is on the outs with his master and about to be fired.  He goes out and tries to buy off those who owed the master so that he would be able to get a job with someone else.  The last line of the reading is very telling for our own age – “the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than the children of light.”  In other words, the steward was able to work out a deal with others to take advantage of his master for his own benefit; but that one who was scrupulous (i.e. a child of light) would not do be able to do so.  Finally, on Saturday, we hear how we “cannot serve both God and mammon.”    We also hear him warn the money-loving Pharisees that “you justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.”  In other words, serve God and not man; look to heaven and not the world.

Special Days

All Saints Day (Tuesday) – a Holy Day of Obligation in which we remember the saints of the Church and use their example to strive to be saints ourselves.   It is also important to remember that not all saints have been officially recognized by the Church for one reason or another and that there are saints living among us today.  The question for us this day is whether we are striving to live sanctified lives and, if not, what are we going to do to change our lives so that we can obtain everlasting life with God and his angels and saints.  The First Reading for today is Revelation 7 and tells of St. John’s vision of the saints gathered in heaven before the throne of God.  The Responsorial Psalm is from Psalm 24.  There is a Second Reading and it’s from the 1st Letter of St. John who really brings it home for us in reassuring us that we are all children of God.  That just like the saints, we are called to live a life devoted to God so that “we shall see him as he is.”  The Gospel is from Matthew 5  in which we hear the Beatitudes, otherwise known as the mission statement of the saints.

All Souls Day (Wednesday) – do you believe in Purgatory?  If not, you should.  This day is the perfect time to remember our dead and pray that they will obtain eternal life with Christ, that they will join Christ, the angels and the saints in heaven.  That if they are in Purgatory, our prayers will provide the purification they need to get to heaven.  The First Reading is from the Book of Wisdom and tells of those who would attain heaven.  The Responsorial Psalm is from Psalm 23 (“The Lord is my Shepherd”).  The Second Reading is from either Romans 5:5-11 or Romans 6:3-9.  The former has St. Paul teaching us that we are to be saved by the blood of Christ.  In the latter, St. Paul teaches that, in our baptism, we have died in Christ, but that we also continue to live with him, i.e. that we should live with Christ and not the world, and that while we may suffer death in the world, we will have eternal life with him.  Finally, the Gospel is from John 6:37-40 in which we hear Christ give us this all-encompassing promise – “everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.”

Saints in the Liturgical Calendar

(The Mass Celebrant must celebrate feasts and memorials.  They may, if they choose, celebrate optional memorials).

Tuesday – All Saints Day – see above. (Solemnity)

Wednesday – All Souls Day – see above.

Thursday – St. Martin de Porres (1579-1639) – Peruvian Dominican brother who was a saintly man and devoted himself to the service of the poor and infirmed.   He was a contemporary of St. Rose of Lima. (Optional Memorial)

Friday – St. Charles Borromeo (1538-1584) – Italian bishop and lawyer who was created Cardinal and named as Archbishop of Milan at 22 years of age.  He lived in the turmoil of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation and was a great promoter of the Church.  (Memorial)

A couple of other notes for this week. The latest 40 Days for Life Campaign enters its final week.  If your town is included in the campaign (go to the website to find out), take some time and go pray at the vigil site for the end to abortion.  Also, Friday is the first Friday of the month and a day to practice the First Friday devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Saturday is the first Saturday of the month and a day to practice the First Saturday Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Many parishes will have special times for the Sacrament of Penance and the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

Have a blessed and holy week.


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