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A Most Admirable Life – St. Philip Neri
Posted by Ian on 26 May 2017 06:00 AM

“Give me ten men really detached from the world, and I have the heart to believe I could convert the world with them.” – St. Philip Neri

Too many people have yet to hear about St. Philip, a man of both simplicity and remarkable effectiveness in preaching the Gospel and leading souls to Our Lord.

Recently the great John Henry Cardinal Newman, English convert and priest of the Oratory, was beatified. The Congregation of the Oratory was founded by St. Philip Neri in Rome in the 16th century. Sadly, many people are unfamiliar with the life, work, and the vision of St. Philip – the founder of the order that Newman chose as his own after becoming a Roman Catholic.

In a real sense, St. Philp was Newman’s “spiritual father” and he worked tirelessly to renew the Church from its center.  There are two meanings to this statement – the center being orthodoxy and, of course, the center being Rome.

Today, May 26, if the Feast of St. Philip Neri – Apostle of Rome.

Saint Philip Neri Of The Joyous Heart


“Let us concentrate ourselves so completely in the divine love, and enter so far into the living fountain of wisdom, through the wounded Side of our Incarnate God, that we may deny ourselves and our self-love, and so be unable to find our way out of that Wound again.” – St. Philip Neri

Philip Romolo Neri, born in 1515 to a Florentine family, had an unremarkable childhood. At 18, while living with his cousin in San Germano, he had a profound conversion experience and set off for Rome. After arriving in Rome, he found a job as a tutor and continued his own studies for three years with the Augustinian friars. Upon completing of his studies he began work among the sick and the poor of the city of Rome, later earning for himself the title “apostle of Rome.”

Although he seriously considered leaving for the foreign missions, Philip continued his “home missionary” work in Rome, extending his work among the prostitutes of Rome and expanding his efforts to care for the many poor pilgrims who traveled to the Eternal City but did not have any food, water or housing. During this time, Philip sought ordination and received the holy orders on May 23, 1551. A unique aspect of his apostolic work was simply engaging people in conversation, traveling through the city like Socrates, leading them to his desired topics of conversation which, of course, would hopefully bring them to Our Lord and Salvation. Using this unique approach to evangelization, he eventually drew to himself a group of enthusiastic, educated young men. This group met regularly in the evenings, prayed, read the Scriptures and the Fathers, and listened to a lecture. The group began to engage in missionary work throughout the city, and the early Oratory was born. By 1556, the Oratory was at work and the men continued their missionary activities in Rome, preaching in the churches every evening – something that had never been done before.

St. Philip Neri Gifts

Although Philip himself was blessed with a zeal and gift for winning souls for the Lord, he was never a very public person and avoided the limelight. More than anything else, he enjoyed simply hearing confessions, through which he effected many conversions.

The Congregation of the Oratory received official canonical standing by papal decree on July 15, 1575, as a community of secular priests. Philip did not even put forth his own name for consideration as the superior of the society, so Pope Pius IV intervened and Philip was elected superior for life. Philip, remarkably free from any personal ambition, never desired to preside over an organization or a religious order so he established that each oratory would be self-governing – this was formally confirmed by Pope Gregory XV in 1622. Although this form of governance is common among religious communities today, it was a novelty during Philip’s lifetime.

Over the centuries the Congregation of the Oratory has grown slowly and steadily. Today there are over 70 Oratories and over 500 priests in the Congregation. The members of the Oratory spend the day involved in various ministries – clearly the same kind that St. Philip Neri7 first established: teaching, parish work, spiritual direction, campus ministry, administration or maintaining the fabric of the community house. Some oratories are specifically connected with parishes and thus its members serve as the parish staff.

St. Philip Neri8 died on May 25 in 1595, the feast of Corpus Christi, at 80 years of age, after spending the day hearing confessions. He was beatified in 1615 and canonized in 1622.

St. Philip Neri9, patron of Rome, pray for us!

Read more about the Congregation of the Oratory here.

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What is Candlemas?
Posted by Ian on 02 February 2017 06:15 AM

Candlemas – History and Meaning

In the Roman Rite, Candlemas is another name the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The principal Mass for this great feast is preceded by the blessing of candles, hence the name, from Candle Mass.

According to the Mosaic law of the Old Testament, a woman who has given birth to a son was considered unclean for 7 days (double this time if she had a daughter) and she was to remain for 33 days “in the blood of her purification” which meant the time she was excluded from the temple. When the time of waiting was over, forty days, she was to bring a sacrifice to the temple. After offering her sacrifice, and having a priest pray over her, she was considered clean.

Forty days after the birth of Our Lord, His Blessed Mother complied with the Mosaic law, she ritually redeemed her first born son, and was purified by the prayer of St. Simeon the just, in the presence of Anna the prophetess. This awesome event, the first solemn introduction of Our Lord into His Father's House, has ever been a great feast in the Church.

In the Roman Rite, the blessing of the candles takes place before the Mass. The celebrant is dressed in purple vestments, stands on the epistle side of the holy altar, and blesses the candles. Five prescribed orations are sung or recited as the candles, of pure beeswax, are sprinkled and incensed. The candles are then distributed to the congregants and the Canticle of Simeon, the Nunc dimitus, is sung. Between each verse of the Canticle, “Lumen ad revelationem gentium et gloriam plebis tuae Israel” is sung. Following this a procession takes place, with the candles lighted and carried in hand, while all sing “Adorna thalamum tuum, Sion” – composed by St. John of Damascus, an early Father of the Church. The solemn procession represents the entry of Our Lord, who is the Light of the World, into the holy Temple of Jerusalem.

The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Candlemas, was celebrated in the earliest times in the Church at Jerusalem and from there the observance of the feast spread throughout the Christian world.

This article brought to you by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods. Written by Mike Davis.

Sources for this article include:

The Catholic Dictionary, the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, and The Church's Year.

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Five things you may not know about Saint Andrew, the first Apostle
Posted by Ian on 30 November 2016 09:53 AM

Saint Andrew’s day is always special in our family because it’s our wedding anniversary. We handed out holy cards of St. Andrew to all of our wedding guests.

St. Andrew may have been one of the apostles but he isn’t one of the most well known. Here are five facts about Saint Andrew and his feast so you can get to know him a little better.

1) First, but not favorite. Depending on which Gospel you are reading, St. Andrew was the first apostle called by Christ along with Saint Peter or he went seeking Jesus and after finding Him, went to get his brother Simon Peter.

35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).

25694 Lewis Ranch Rd.

So why is it that Andrew was not one of the three Apostles who were closest to Christ? Peter James and John are typically with Jesus for events like the Transfiguration and in the Garden of Gethsemane but Andrew, first of the Apostles, was not.

Saint Andrew the First Called
St Andrew the First Called – Painting of the calling of St Peter and St. Andrew by Duccio di Buoninsegna

2) Either Andrew’s parents liked Greek or we don’t know Andrew’s real name. Andrew is not a Hebrew name. It is Greek. We are never told in the Bible that Andrew had another name so it is possible that he took it as a nickname or that his parents were of Greek descent.

3) Saint Andrew founded the See of Constantinople. According to tradition, Andrew founded the see of Byzantium in 38 AD and installed Stachys as the bishop. The Patriarchate of Constantinople still holds Saint Andrew as its patron saint.

4) Saint Andrew was quite the traveler (before and after he died). Keep in mind that most of the apostles’ travel was done on foot or by boat.

Saint Andrew, like most of the Apostles, didn’t stick around Galilee. They went all over to spread the Gospel. Saint Andrew traveled Asia Minor, where he established the See of Constantinople. He also traveled north to Kiev, Novogrod and along the northern shore of the Black Sea. That is why he is the patron saint of Romania, Ukraine and Russia.

After he was martyred in 60 AD in Patras, Greece, his body was buried in a monastery there. For a couple of hundred years his remains were undisturbed. In the early 300’s a monk named Regulus who live in Patras had a dream where an angel told him to hide some of Saint Andrew’s bones. Soon after he did that, the emperor ordered that the relics of the saint be moved to  the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople.

Patras Cathedral
By Εγώ [Fallacia83] τράβηξα την φώτο. Original uploader was Fallacia83 at el.wikipedia – Transferred from el.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Egmontaz using CommonsHelper.(Original text : Δική μου φώτο) en: Original uploader’s own photo, Attribution, Link
Saint Regulus had another vision where an angel told him to take the remaining relics to “the ends of the earth” and build a shrine wherever he was shipwrecked. He eventually made his way to Fife, Scotland.

Poor Saint Andrew, whose body would never be in one piece again, had his skull sent back to Patras by Emperor Basil I sometime in the late 800’s.

In 1208, after the crusaders sacked Constantinople, the remaining relics were transferred to Amalfi, Italy where the Cathedral of St. Andrew was built to house a tomb with the relics.

Cathedral of Saint Andrew
By Berthold Werner, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

In 1461 the Ottoman Turks crossed the straight of Corinth on a sightseeing and real estate gathering expedition. The youngest surviving son of the Byzantine Emperor, Thomas Palaeologus, fled Patras with the the skull of St. Andrew and made it to Italy where he gave it to Pope Pius II who had it enshrined in one of the four main pillars of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The ulterior motive of the donation was to get the pope to declare crusade against the Turks. The crusade never really got off the ground and the pope died away from the Vatican while trying to get more European countries involved. But at least we have an amazing statue of Saint Andrew in St. Peter’s Basilica to show for it.

Saint Andrew in Saint Peter's
Saint Andrew in Saint Peter’s

For several hundred years, the various parts of Saint Andrew were at peace but not at home. In 1964 Pope Paul VI sent all the relics of Saint Andrew that were in Vatican City back to Patros where they are again enshrined.

The Cross of Saint Andrew was taken from Greece during the during the Crusades and was returned to Patras in 1980.

In 2008 one of the relics that was still enshrined at the cathedral in Amalfi was given back to Patras.

5) Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland. You may have known this since the Scottish flag basically screams it, but do you know why?

While Saint Regulus is traditionally held to be the bringer of Saint Andrew’s relics to Scotland directly from Patras, it is possible that they were brought by Acca, the bishop of Hexam who brought the relics to Scotland around 732 when he was driven out for an unknown reason.

He is said to have founded a church in Glasgow and also at Saint Andrews. Whether or not he had anything to do with the origins of golf is still being debated.

In 832 the pict king Oengus II led his army against the Angles (of course). On the eve of the battle he prayed for divine intervention and promised that if he was granted victory he would dedicate Scotland to Saint Andrew.

The day of the battle it was reported that clouds shaped like Saint Andrew’s cross appeared in the sky and Oengus led his troops to victory.

Inspired by Saint Andrew? Browse our selection of Saint Andrew gifts.

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A Catholic Blessing For an Advent Wreath
Posted by Ian on 26 November 2016 07:09 AM

One of the most common traditions during Advent is to light Advent candles. Here is a blessing for an Advent wreath that can be used at home.

The Advent wreath is made of four candles and a circle of branches. Before the first candle is lighted, the household gathers for this blessing.

All make the sign of the cross. The leader begins:

Our help is in the name of the Lord.

R. Who made heaven and earth.

The leader may use these or similar words to introduce the blessing:

In the short days and long nights of Advent, we realize how we are always waiting for deliverance, always needing salvation by our God. Around this wreath, we shall remember God’s promise.

Then the Scripture is read:

Listen to the words of the prophet Isaiah:

The people who have walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing.
(Isaiah 9:1-2)

Alternate readings: Isaiah 63:16-17 or Isaiah 64:2-7)

The reader concludes:

This is the Word of the Lord.

All respond:

Thanks be to God.

After a time of silence, all join in prayers of intercession and in the Lord’s Prayer.

Then the leader invites:

Let us now pray for God’s blessing upon us and upon this wreath.

After a short silence, the leader prays:

Lord our God,
we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ:
he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples,
he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us,
he is the Savior of every nation.

Lord God,
let your blessing come upon us
as we light the candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light
be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us
May he come quickly and not delay.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen

The first candle is lighted.

The leader says:

Let us bless the Lord.

All respond, making the sign of the cross:

Thanks be to God.

The blessing concludes with a verse from “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”:

O come, desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of humankind;
Bid ev’ry sad divisions cease
And by thyself our Prince of peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Each day in Advent, perhaps at the evening meal, the candles are lighted: one candle the first week, two the second, and so forth.

Taken from Household Blessing and Prayers.

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Squanto was Catholic? And Other Thanksgiving Morsels
Posted by Ian on 24 November 2016 05:38 AM

Reading up on Catholicism and Thanksgiving brings a bounty of different stories from history connecting both. Here’s an internet roundup of what you knew (and didn’t know) about the two:

Catholic Recognition of Thanksgiving: Catholic recognition of the day by special religious features has only been of comparatively recent date. Historians of the day attempt to trace the origin of Governor Bradford’s idea (1621) back to the old Hebrew Feast of the Tabernacles and through the ages to the ancient Greek Harvest Feast, Thesmophoria, the Roman Cerealia, and the English Harvest Home.(Catholic Encyclopedia)

Squanto was Catholic: As a result of the papal decree (“Sublimis Dei”), the Catholic Church in Spain was opposed to the mistreatment of Indians, and opposed to bringing them to Europe against their will. Of course, the Catholic ideal did not always prevent slave trade on the black market. At Malaga, Thomas Hunt managed to sell most of his captives, and was about to sell Squanto when two Spanish Jesuit priests intervened. The Spanish speaking priests seized Squanto who somehow convinced them to send him home. Not knowing where “home” was, the priests arranged for Squanto’s passage as a free man on a ship bound for London. It is likely that the Jesuits even baptized Squanto as a Catholic. It would have been a way to assure his status as a free man.  (These Stone Walls)

The First Thanksgiving (Conquistador Style) : In April of 1541, Coronado, with a group of soldiers and some missionaries, left Albuquerque, New Mexico, headed northeast, and crossed a section of what is now northwest Texas (the Panhandle). In encountering some of the local Indians, the missionaries found that the natives were immediately open to receiving the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After a few weeks of instruction, members of the Jumano Indian tribe converted and received Baptism. The expedition then arrived in Palo Duro Canyon where, on May 29, Father Juan Padilla, O.F.M., offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. (Father Padilla would eventually become the very first martyr of the Faith in America when he was killed in 1542, in what is now Kansas.) A Thanksgiving feast followed the Mass. It consisted of game that had earlier been caught. The feast was celebrated in thanksgiving to God for His many blessings and for the recent converts. This event is the first actual Thanksgiving Day celebrated in the future United States. (

The Other First Thanksgiving Feast Claim: Another interesting bit of trivia is that the first American Thanksgiving was actually celebrated on September 8, 1565 in St. Augustine, Florida. The Native Americans and Spanish settlers held a feast and the Holy Mass was offered. (Canterbury Tales)

The Other First Thanksgiving Feast (Consecrated) : There was another Thanksgiving celebration which occurred years before the Pilgrims landed. In 1598, Catholic explorer Juan de Oñate led an expedition from Mexico City into New Mexico. In the name of the most Holy Trinity … I take possession of this whole land this April 30, 1598, in honor of Our Lord Jesus Christ, on this day of the Ascension of Our Lord ….”To the fanfare of trumpets and volleys of musket shots, Oñate signed and sealed the official act with a flourish, and the Holy Cross and the royal standard were both raised in the camp, completing the legal requirements of La Toma. With that, the kingdom of New Mexico came into being, at midday on April 30, 1598. The colonists went on to celebrate the first Thanksgiving with a grand feast of fish, “many cranes, ducks and geese.” The rest of the day passed with song, foot races, and other competitive games. In the evening, all enjoyed a play, written by one of Oñate’s captains, Marcos Farfan, which enacted happy scenes of the Franciscan missionaries entering the country, the Indians kneeling to receive them and asking to be received into the Holy Faith. (Tradition in Action)
Don Onate
The Calvinists & Catholics: So while Thanksgiving may celebrate the Calvinist Separatists who fled England, Catholics might remember the same unjust laws that granted the crown of martyrdom to Thomas More, John Fisher, Edmund Campion, et al. are the same injustices that led the Pilgrims to Plymouth (Canterbury Tales).

The Eucharist as Thanksgiving: The Greek word for Thanksgiving is ε?χαριστ?α or Eucharistia. Catholics should not only celebrate Thanksgiving with a deep sense of prayer, gratitude and joy, but the celebration this day should lead us to remember that our lives as Catholics are a constant act of thanksgiving, through our daily activities, all of which should give glory to God, especially through the celebration of the Eucharist, which, as the Catechism says, “The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits, for all that he has accomplished through creation, redemption and sanctification. Eucharist means first of all ‘thanksgiving.’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church).


In sum, though the Thanksgiving as we know it is not an official Catholic liturgical holiday, nevertheless, it is worthy of celebration, prayer, and reflection — and attendance at Holy Mass if you can!

This Thanksgiving let those of us who have much and those who have little gather at the welcoming table of the Lord. At this blessed feast, may rich and poor alike remember that we are called to serve on another and to walk together in God’s gracious world. With thankful hearts we praise our God who like a loving parent denies us no good thing.

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Christ the King Sunday
Posted by Ian on 20 November 2016 05:00 AM

The Feast of Christ the King

Christ the King Sunday, the final Sunday of the Liturgical year, is a feast day that focuses on the authority of Christ. While the problems our world faces today differ from the particular events that inspired Pope Pius XI to establish this feast in the 1920s, his message and call to honor Christ the King in a society that denies the authority of Our Lord is no less pertinent now than it was then.

History of the Feast

The Solemnity of Christ the King is a newer feast in the Catholic Church; it was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925. The pontiff was witness to a turbulent time in the world’s history. Secularism was on the rise and dangerous dictatorships were emerging in Europe and beyond. Christ had long been referred to as King, but Pope Pius and the Christian faithful saw the respect and reverence for Christ’s authority waning in the midst of the unrest during the first part of the 20th century. In response, the feast was set with the intent to reaffirm and refocus faith and respect in the kingship of Jesus.

Christ the King Icon

On the importance of the public world recognizing the kingly authority of Jesus, Pope Pius XI wrote:

When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony. Our Lord’s regal office invests the human authority of princes and rulers with a religious significance; it ennobles the citizen’s duty of obedience. It is for this reason that St. Paul, while bidding wives revere Christ in their husbands, and slaves respect Christ in their masters, warns them to give obedience to them not as men, but as the vicegerents of Christ; for it is not meet that men redeemed by Christ should serve their fellow-men. ‘You are bought with a price; be not made the bond-slaves of men.’

If princes and magistrates duly elected are filled with the persuasion that they rule, not by their own right, but by the mandate and in the place of the Divine King, they will exercise their authority piously and wisely, and they will make laws and administer them, having in view the common good and also the human dignity of their subjects. The result will be a stable peace and tranquility, for there will be no longer any cause of discontent.

Men will see in their king or in their rulers men like themselves, perhaps unworthy or open to criticism, but they will not on that account refuse obedience if they see reflected in them the authority of Christ God and Man. Peace and harmony, too, will result; for with the spread and the universal extent of the kingdom of Christ men will become more and more conscious of the link that binds them together, and thus many conflicts will be either prevented entirely or at least their bitterness will be diminished.”

As detailed at, Pope Pius XI was hoping for these effects to occur:

  1. That nations would see that the Church has the right to freedom, and immunity from the state.
  2. That leaders and nations would see that they are bound to give respect to Christ.
  3. That the faithful would gain strength and courage from the celebration of the feast, as we are reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, wills, and bodies.

Christ the King in Immaculate Conception Basilica

The feast was initially fixed to the final day of October, the day before All Saints Day. Later, in 1969, Pope Paul VI moved the feast to the last Sunday before Advent, to emphasize the importance of the feast. This is fitting within the Church year. The liturgical year begins with Advent, the season of awaiting the coming of Christ, and now the year ends with celebrating the Kingship of Christ.

History of the Title “Christ the King”

While the feast is relatively new, the tradition of calling Christ “King” is not. Jesus is referred to as King throughout the New Testament:

To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen – 1 Tim 1:17

Nathan’a-el answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” – John 1:49

Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” – Mt. 27:11

And this will be made manifest at the proper time by the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords – 1 Tim 6:15

And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and wonderful are thy deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are thy ways, O King of the ages!” – Rev. 15:3

And from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood – Rev. 1:5

On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, King of kings and Lord of lords. – Rev. 19:16

Clearly “King” was one of the earliest titles given to the Son of God. The title does not refer to a status of an earthly king, which many of the Jews had been expecting – someone to overthrow the Roman rule and be earthly king of the Israel. Rather He came to be the spiritual king; His kingdom is in heaven, not confined to the earth alone. In respecting the name of Christ the King, and in celebrating the yearly feast, both citizens and leaders are to remain reverent and devoted to the higher authority of Christ.

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