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Aug
20
St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Abbot and Church Doctor
Posted by kenneymg on 20 August 2016 05:02 AM

“You wish me to tell you why and how God should be loved. My answer is that God himself is the reason he is to be loved.”

(1090-1153) Born in France, Bernard was a Cistercian abbot and legendary speaker who fought for the peace and unity of the Church against schism. He wrote many treatises on the Blessed Virgin and Jesus Christ, as well as many works of theology and ascetism. His life manifested a profound recognition of the importance of obedience in one’s spiritual life.

Bernard’s spiritual writing as well as his extraordinary personal magnetism began to attract many to Clairvaux and the other Cistercian monasteries, leading to many new foundations. He was drawn into the controversy developing between the new monastic movement which he preeminently represented and the established Cluniac order, a branch of the Benedictines. This led to one of his most controversial and most popular works, his Apologia. Bernard’s dynamism soon reached far beyond monastic circles. He was sought as an advisor and mediator by the ruling powers of his age.

St. Bernard Of Clairvaux Ceramic Plaque

More than any other Bernard helped to bring about the healing of the papal schism which arose in 1130 with the election of the antipope Anacletus II. It cost Bernard eight years of laborious travel and skillful mediation. At the same time he labored for peace and reconciliation between England and France and among many lesser nobles. His influence mounted when his spiritual son was elected pope in 1145. At Eugene III’s command he preached the Second Crusade and sent vast armies on the road toward Jerusalem. In his last years he rose from his sickbed and went into the Rhineland to defend the Jews against a savage persecution.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux Large Sterling Silver Medal

Bernard died at Clairvaux on 20 August 1153. He was canonized by Pope Alexander III on 18 January 1174. Pope Pius VII declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1830.                                                                                                                        (http://www.osb.org/cist/bern.html)

 You can learn more about the life of this extraordinary Saint, or purchase some of his writings here.


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Aug
15
What You Don’t Know About the Assumption
Posted by Ian on 15 August 2016 06:22 AM

We pronounce, declare and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory. – Munificentissimus Deus, Pope Pius XII, 1950

On August 15th we celebrate the Assumption of Mary, a feast that has been celebrated as far back as the fifth century. In the East the feast is also called “The Dormition” which means “Falling Asleep”. This isn’t to say that Mary didn’t die, both the East and West agree that she did physically die.

The Death and Assumption of Mary

Icon of The Dormition of MaryIn Orthodox tradition, Mary died in her 50’s and the Apostles, except for Thomas, were miraculously brought to her deathbed where they witnessed Jesus take her soul to Heaven. The apostles then buried her near Gethsemane. St. Thomas was absent but he arrived three days later and because he wished to see her body, the apostles opened the tomb and found Mary’s body to be gone.

In the West, according to some venerable visionaries, Mary died when she was 63 and as in the East, St. Thomas was not present because he was returning from the Orient.

The History of the Feast of the Assumption

Emperor Mauricius FlaviusThe Feast of the Assumption has been celebrated in the East since the fifth century. Emperor Mauricius Flavius (582-602) ordered that it be celebrated on the 15th of August throughout the Byzantine Empire. A basilica was built over her tomb and after this church was destroyed, a new church was built in the eleventh century by the Crusaders (see below).

The Church of the Assumption in Jerusalem

Rome officially adopted the feast in the seventh century and the name was officially changed to the Feast of the Assumption by Pope St. Adrian in the eighth century.

The celebration of the feast has always assumed (no pun intended) the bodily assumption of Mary into Heaven as writers in both the East and West were in almost unanimous agreement about this from the earliest times that the story of her death was discussed.
By the sixteenth century, the Feast of the Assumption had become the most prominent Marian feast and one of the most important feasts on the liturgical calendar.

Celebrating the Feast of the Assumption

In the Eastern Church, as is common before major feasts, a time of fasting is required. The Eastern Church holds a two week fast leading up to this feast with only a slight break where fish is allowed on the Feast of the Transfiguration. In some parishes, the people bring flowers to be blessed which they then use to decorate the icon of the Dormition in their homes.
In the West the Assumption of Mary is celebrated as a Holy Day of Obligation.
Listen to the Byzantine Chant for the feast:

Traditions Related to the Feast of the Assumption

Poland: In Poland, the Feast of the Assumption is also known as the Feast of Our Lady of Herbs because people bring herbs to be blessed at Mass on this day, similar to the flower blessing in the Eastern Church.
Italy: In the city of Siena, an annual horse race called the Palio is held in the main square of the city. During the pageant, the horses from each of the parishes around the city are blessed at the cathedral before the race. The participants wear mideaval costumees and race on a dirt track around the shell-shaped piazza. In many cities statues of Mary are carried in procession.

Armenia: On the Sunday closest to the feast, grapes are brought to the churches for a blessing before the parishioners take a bunch home. Following the blessing there are feasts in the vinyards and the first grapes of the season are eaten. (Picture source)

Blessing of the Grapes in Armenia

The making of the Dogma of the Assumption of Mary

As when any dogmatic statement is made by the Church, it is necessary to remember that the Church doesn’t, and can’t, make up theological propositions out of thin air. All dogmatic statements are made after long discussion and reflection and are only made because the Holy Spirit, as guardian of the Faith, allows such decrees to be made.

The first thing that makes this dogma notable is the lack of controversy surrounding its proclamation. Many things that have been dogmatically declared throughout Church history including the nature of Christ, the Queenship of Mary, the Infallibility of the Pope and others have all been subject to long disagreement, schism and sometimes wars but the Dogma of the Assumption avoided all of that.

From the earliest records – parchment fragments from the late 500’s, the narrative of Mary’s death and assumption have remained consistent and free from dispute. Homilies from this time are unified on addressing the topic and the celebration of the feast has always been about both Mary’s physical death and her miraculous assumption.

May saints, including St. Bellarmine, St. Francis de Sales and St. Alphonsus Liguori all promoted the teaching and between 1849 and 1950, when the dogma was proclaimed, thouasands of petitions were sent to Rome asking for the declaration. The petitioners included 113 cardinals, 18 patriarchs, 2,505 bishops, 32,000 priests and brothers, 50,000 women religious and over 8 million lay people.

In 1946 Pope Pius XII issued the encyclical Deiperae Virginis which asked the bishops of the world if the Dogma of the Assumption should be officially defined. After receiving an overwhelming “yes”, the Pope issue Munificentissimus Deus on November 1st, 1950.

Encyclopedia of Mary

Encyclopedia of Mary

The Life of Mary as Seen by the Mystics

The Life of Mary as Seen by the Mystics


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Aug
14
Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe, Priest & Martyr
Posted by kenneymg on 14 August 2016 05:56 AM

A beautiful story of sacrifice and martyrdom

St. Maximillian was born in the Poland in 1894. He entered the novitiate of the Conventual Franciscans in 1910. In 1914 and three years later help organized the association The Militia of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. He was ordained in Rome in 1918. In 1922, he began publishing the magazine, “Knight of the Immaculate,” first in Polish and then in other languages.

In 1927, he began building a whole town with property donated by a wealthy nobleman, called the “Town of the Immaculate,” outside of Warsaw. There he began training people with vocations among the laity and prospective Religious and Priests, to become apostles of Mary. The first Marian Missionaries to Japan were trained in the “Town of the Immaculate.” In 1930, Maximillian opened a Marian publication apostolate in Nagasaki, Japan one of the two cities in Japan which would later be ravaged by a nuclear bomb during the Second World War. As popes have been saying ever since, God chose His most faithful people as a sacrifice to insure future peace in the world.

Glory Stories Maximillian Colbe
Glory Stories Maximillian Colbe

In 1939, Maximillian was arrested by the Nazis who had taken over Poland and sent to Auschwitz. Two years later, in July of 1941, at Block Fourteen, where Saint Maximilian was being kept, revealed that a prisoner had escaped. The policy was to assemble all the prisoners from the block in the yard where they would stand at attention the whole day. If, by the end of the day, the escapee had not been recovered, ten others would be chosen at random to die in his place.

By three o’clock the prisoner was still not found. One of the ten chosen to die was Francis Gajowniczek. Mr. Gajowniczek cried out, “My poor wife, my poor children! What will happen to my family!” That is when Fr. Kolbe came forward, asked to exchange places with Gajowniczek and took the place of the condemned man.

Statue of Saint Maximilian Kolbe

Father Kolbe was sent to the starvation bunker. He lead those with him in prayer. After two weeks, he was still alive. On the morning of August 14, 1941 a lethal dose of carbolic acid was injected into him.

He was canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 10, 1982.  

Militia Immaculata Prayer of Marian Consecration 
(Composed by St. Maximilian Kolbe)

O Immaculata, Queen of Heaven and earth, refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you. I, (name), a repentant sinner, cast myself at your feet, humbly imploring you to take me with all that I am and have, wholly to yourself as your possession and property. Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death and eternity, whatever most pleases you.

If it pleases you, use all that I am and have without reserve, wholly to accomplish what was said of you: “She will crush your head,” and “You alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world.” Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for introducing and increasing your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

V. Allow me to praise you, O Sacred Virgin
R. Give me strength against your enemies

(attribution wf-f.org)

More Saint Maximilian Kolbe gifts.


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Aug
12

Cat calendars are cute and have their place but how about something that can help you as a Catholic?

Here are four reasons you should get a Catholic wall calendar or desk calendar. (Maybe put it up next to the cat calendar.)

Catholic Wall Calendar

1) You won’t forget the Holy Days of Obligation. Remember those few days each year that don’t fall on a Sunday where you still need to go Mass? Like The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, for example. If you don’t have a Catholic calendar you might not even notice that December 8th has passed. Do you know what the other Holy Days of Obligation are in the United States?

  1. Queenship of Mary (Jan 1)
  2. Ascension Thursday (40 days after Easter in some places)
  3. All Saints Day (Nov 1)
  4. Immaculate Conception (Dec 8)
  5. Christmas (Dec 25)

2) It will help you remember your family birthdays. Joseph? Paul? Lucy? Have you forgotten them? With a Catholic calendar you’ll get the anniversaries of all your extended family – the saints! Part of being Catholic is to live as the Catholic throughout the year, not just for an hour on Sunday. Here are some things you can do to remember the saints:

  1. Have a special dessert on your saint’s name day.
  2. Find a novena for the saint and pray it. You’ll need to plan ahead for this since novenas typically END on the ninth day.
  3. Learn a little. Find a saint’s memorial for a saint you don’t know anything about and get a book about him.

Catholic Desk Planner

3) It will remind you that your home is a “little church”. Did you know that each month is dedicated to something? You can take the monthly dedication and make it part of your family activities for the month. Check out our list of monthly dedications and start planning. If you are getting a Catholic desk planner, it will also help you organize your time while keeping the saints right next to you throughout the year.

4) It will beautify your home. Each month of the Catholic Calendar features a classic work of art and an inspirational quote. You might actually want to frame the pictures at the end of the year!

 

Gregorian Calendar - Pope Francis


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Aug
10

If you happen to be a night owl or an early riser, August 8th through the 13th are the times you want to be outside this year watching the Perseid meteor shower. The shower gets its secular name because it appears to originate in the constellation Perseus. The meteors are the remnants of the comet Swift-Tuttle and each year bits of it pass through our atmosphere.

A meteor streaks across the sky during the 2009 Perseid shower
A meteor streaks across the sky during the 2009 Perseid shower (Wikipedia)

Peak days (I’m sure there’s an NFP joke in there somewhere) are August 11th and 12th and fortunately not a full moon so get out of the city where you suffer from the light pollution. After midnight is really your best chance to see the shower but this year the shower is supposed to be especially active.

St. Lawrence
St. Lawrence

In Catholic circles the shower has been christened “the burning tears of Saint Lawrence” because it falls during his feast day which is August 10th. St. Lawrence was a deacon in the early Church who was martyred in 258 on August 10th by being roasted on a grate. He told his tormentors that he was done on one side and was ready to be turned over.

For more information about the shower take a gander over at Astronomy.com.

Browse our selection of gifts for deacons and gifts related to Saint Lawrence.


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