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Jul
21
Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Posted by kenneymg on 21 July 2017 08:07 AM

 Saint Lawrence was Italian and a Capuchin with great teaching, writing, and leadership abilities. His writings include a commentary on Genesis, several treatises against Luther, and nine volumes of sermons. He preached in many regions of Europe and died in Lisbon.

Lawrence (Lorenzo) of Brindisi was most gifted in languages. In addition to his native Italian, he had complete reading and speaking ability in Latin, Hebrew, Greek, German, Bohemian, Spanish and French.

He was born on July 22, 1559, and died exactly 60 years later on his birthday in 1619. His parents William and Elizabeth Russo gave him the name of Julius Caesar, Caesare in Italian. After the early death of his parents, he was educated by his uncle at the College of St. Mark in Venice.

When he was just 16 he entered the Capuchin Franciscan Order in Venice and received the name of Lawrence. He completed his studies of philosophy and theology at the University of Padua and was ordained a priest at 23.

With his facility for languages he was able to study the Bible in its original texts. At the request of Pope Clement VIII, he spent much time preaching to the Jews in Italy. So excellent was his knowledge of Hebrew, the rabbis felt sure he was a Jew who had become a Christian.

While the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 had slowed the advance of Muslim forces in Europe, they still controlled most of Hungary. Emperor Rudolph was determined to drive them out. In 1601 St. Lawrence was appointed chaplain to the military and sent by the emperor to Germany to ask for assistance. The Duke of Brittany and many German soldiers joined the army and began planning an attack on Albe-Royal, a walled city with a garrison of 80,000 Turks. The emperor’s army only had 18,000 men but Saint Lawrence gave a rousing speech and led the attack on horseback holding a crucifix.

The Turks lost 30,000 men defending the city but there were still so many left after the city fell that they reorganized for a counter-attack a few days later. Saint Lawrence again led the army and holding up the crucifix declared, “Forward! Victory is ours.” The army was again victorious and after the battle the general and army as a whole attributed their success to the courage and miraculous protection of Saint Lawrence who, in spite of leading the army in both assaults armed only with a crucifix, was never wounded.

Lawrence’s sensitivity to the needs of people—a character trait perhaps unexpected in such a talented scholar—began to surface. He was elected major superior of the Capuchin Franciscan province of Tuscany at the age of 31. He had the combination of brilliance, human compassion and administrative skill needed to carry out his duties. In rapid succession he was promoted by his fellow Capuchins and was elected minister general of the Capuchins in 1602. In this position he was responsible for great growth and geographical expansion of the Order.

Lawrence was appointed papal emissary and peacemaker, a job which took him to a number of foreign countries. An effort to achieve peace in his native kingdom of Naples took him on a journey to Lisbon to visit the king of Spain. Serious illness in Lisbon took his life in 1619.

In 1956 the Capuchins completed a 15-volume edition of his writings. Eleven of these 15 contain his sermons, each of which relies chiefly on scriptural quotations to illustrate his teaching.

Adapted from AmericanCatholic.org and the Catholic Encyclopedia at newadvent.com.

He was beatified in 1783 by Pope Pius VI, canonized in 1881 by Pope Leo XIII, and declared a doctor of the Church by Pope Saint John XXIII in 1959. His feast day is July 21, in both the ordinary and extraordinary forms.

In art he is typically portrayed on horseback leading the army or embracing the Child Jesus. He is the patron saint of Brindisi, Italy.

His beautiful Litany of St. Lawrence can be prayed here

For St. Lawrence items, click here

 


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Jul
14
What Are the Different Types of Rosaries?
Posted by Ian on 14 July 2017 10:18 AM
Many of us are familiar with the standard, five decade rosary, the centuries-old favorite devotion of Roman Catholics throughout the world. An ornate crucifix on a strand of rosary beads is an image that most associate with devout and faithful prayer. But sometimes confusion arises with other terms, such as “chaplet” or “Franciscan rosary.” Aren’t they all the same? Well, not quite. The term rosary is used for various sets of prayers counted on beads, but the prayers may vary from those used in the Dominican Rosary – the most widely known form of the rosary. Additionally, there are some rosaries that use the standard prayers, but serve a specific purpose, like the wedding rosary. Here is some clarification on some of those different rosary terms.

Five Decade Rosary

Glass White Cloissonne Pewter RosaryThe five decade rosary is the one most people picture when they hear the word rosary. It consists of a crucifix, then a short set of 5 beads, for praying the Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, and a Glory Be, and then a rosary center, followed by a loop of 5 decades (sets of ten beads) to count the Hail Marys prayed as one meditates on the mysteries of the rosary, with a bead for praying the Our Father between each decade. This traditional rosary (both the physical strand of beads and the prayer) is also known as the Dominican Rosary, due to St. Dominic’s role in encouraging and spreading devotion to the holy rosary at the request of the Blessed Mother.

Franciscan Rosaries

Franciscan CrownThe Franciscan Rosary can refer to two different rosaries associated with the Franciscan order. One is the Franciscan Crown, sometimes called a seven decade rosary. As the name suggests, it consists of 7 decades, rather than 5, plus two additional Hail Mary beads, for a total of 72 Hail Mary beads. When praying the Franciscan Crown rosary, one is to meditate on the seven joys of Mary, one joy per each decade. The seven joys are the Annunciation, the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, the Nativity of Jesus, Epiphany, the presentation of Jesus in the temple, the Resurrection of Jesus, and the Assumption & coronation of Mary.
The Franciscan Rosary can also refer to a fifteen-decade rosary. Prior to 2002, when Pope John Paul II instituted the addition of the 5 luminous mysteries, the three sets of the mysteries of the rosary (glorious, sorrowful, and joyful) added up to a total of 15 mysteries. When one would pray a fifteen decade rosary, all fifteen mysteries were meditated upon. One could simply use a standard size rosary and continue around the loop to pray the full fifteen, or now twenty, decades, but a strand of rosary beads consisting of 15 decades of beads was common as well. Franciscan rosary is also a term that may be used to describe a standard five decade rosary with a Franciscan Tau cross in place of the crucifix many are accustomed to seeing.

Chaplets

St. Dymphna ChapletThe word chaplet simply comes from the French word for Rosary, which is chapelet, but the term has now come to be associated with specific sets of prayers, intended to ask the help of Mary, Jesus, or the saints. The standard five decade rosary is in fact a chaplet, but chaplets can vary in size, in pattern or grouping of beads, and in the prayers said on each bead. Typically, the basic prayers, such as the Hail Mary and Our Father are still recited, but chaplets commonly also include prayers to a specific image of Christ or Mary, a particular saint or angel, or a litany. Often, a chaplet is based on a certain intention, and so prayers to the patron saint of that intention or subject will be included.
Divine Mercy ChapletOne of the most common chaplets in recent years is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, a chaplet Jesus instructed St. Maria Faustina to pray. It can be said anytime, especially for the dead or dying, but is also often said as part of the Divine Mercy novena which lasts from Good Friday to Divine Mercy Sunday. Another popular chaplet is the St. Joseph Chaplet, a set of prayers asking for the protection and intercession of St. Joseph.

Servite Chaplet or Rosary

Seven Sorrow RosaryThough it can be prayed by anyone, the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows of Mary is especially connected to the Servite Order (also called Servants of Mary) and so this unique chaplet is commonly referred to as the Servite Rosary. Rather than decades, it consists of seven sets of seven beads; the sets of seven beads are called ‘weeks.’ Where the Franciscan Crown is focused on the seven joys of Mary, the Servite chaplet is focused specifically on the seven sorrows, or dolors, of Mary. These are the prophecy of Simeon, the flight into Egypt, the loss of Jesus in the temple, Mary meeting Jesus on the road to Calvary, the Crucifixion, Jesus being taken down from the cross, and the laying of Jesus’s body in the tomb. The intent behind the Servite rosary is a devotion to Mary and the real pain she suffered in watching and sharing in Jesus’s pain, as we are called to share in Jesus’s suffering as well.

Wedding Rosary

Lasso RosaryThe wedding rosary, also called a lasso, or lazo, rosary is an over-sized rosary formed of two rosaries joined together at the center. The lasso rosary will share a crucifix, the first five beads, and the rosary center, with two, rather than one, loops of 5 decades each. The lasso rosary is part of a wedding ceremony, especially in Hispanic culture, where the loops of the rosary are put over the head of the bride and groom by the priest. This is symbolic of the joining of the two in God; their prayer lives will now be joined as well. Since the rosary is to be placed over the heads of both the bride and groom, the beads are typically oversized with larger spaces between beads in order to make the rosary long enough. While the use of the lasso rosary is largely figurative, it can also be used after the wedding for the husband and wife to pray the rosary together.

One Decade Rosary

The one decade rosary is, as it sounds, a rosary consisting of only one decade. The idea behind the one decade rosary is that it is easy to carry around and use for prayer. After the crucifix on a one decade rosary, the initial 5 beads (for saying the Our Father, 3 Hail Marys and a Glory Be) are commonly represented with only one bead. After the rosary center is one decade, one set of ten beads. Some chaplet instructions come with a one decade rosary, and you can also use a one decade rosary to pray five, or even the full 20 mysteries, by circling around and using the ten beads to count for as many decades as needed. The one decade rosary closely resembles the prayer beads or prayer ropes which have been in use in the Eastern churches (both Catholic and Orthodox) from the earliest years.
There are also a few specific types of one decade rosaries:

Auto Rosary:

Franciscan Auto RosaryThis one decade rosary is the same as one described above but with one difference. Rather than a continuous unbroken loop, there is a clasp in the middle of the set of ten beads. This is in place so that the rosary may be hooked around a rearview mirror, and used for prayer in the car. The clasp is also useful for clipping the rosary to the steering wheel while praying so you do not drop the beads while driving.

Rosary Bracelet:

Rosary BraceletThis is a one decade rosary meant to be worn on the wrist. The bracelet varies slightly from the appearance of the standard one decade rosary. The rosary bracelet has one decade plus one Our Father bead, but rather than a center and a dangling crucifix, there will often be a miraculous medal and small, charm sized crucifix or cross hung together, or a cross shaped bead in place of the hanging crucifix. The bracelet is not intended to be a fashion statement but rather a way to easily bring a rosary with you, to be used for prayer. In the Middle Ages and beyond, it was not uncommon for people to hang a rosary from their waist, which they could easily reach for and use to pray with at any time. Many religious orders still do this, but for many other people, hanging a long rosary from their waist would be impractical. However, the rosary bracelet can be worn easily and so it can be used anywhere as a prayer aid.

Rosary Rings and Finger Rosaries

Finger RosaryA rosary ring can be an actual wearable ring, or it can also be a small, mini one decade rosary to tuck into a wallet or purse, or on a key ring. These non-wearable rings are also called finger rosaries. Similar to the bracelet, there is a crucifix, followed by ten little bumps or beads for the decade. The idea of a small, easily transportable rosary one could reach for and pray with anytime stands true for the rosary ring as well.

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Jul
11
What do you know about St. Benedict?
Posted by Ian on 11 July 2017 06:30 AM

Saint Benedict of Nursia, a figure known famously for being a hermit and for his monastic life, was an extremely influential man during the fifth and sixth centuries A.D. While many people recognize him as the founder of the Benedictine order, in fact Saint Benedict had a profound and lasting impact on the Catholic Church as a whole and not just on one small group of religious. A man of tremendous character, Saint Benedict lived an eventful life:

 

  • Saint Benedict wrote The Rule of Saint Benedict, a set of precepts governing monastic life. As the Rule dictates a moderate path between individual ardor in faith and communal institutionalization, it has gained much popularity over the centuries.
  • Saint Benedict originally studied rhetoric in Rome, but found the lifestyle of the city too degenerate for his tastes. He left, not originally intending to become a hermit, though after a time settled with Romanus, another hermit, in a cave outside of Enfide; he lived thusly for three years.
  • Saint Benedict did not intend to found an order, so to speak, with his monastic precepts. It wasn’t until the later Middle Ages that the term “Order of Saint Benedict” came into existence.
  • Together with Saints Cyril and Methodius, Saint Benedict is one of the co-patron saints of Europe.
  • During his time as a hermit, a group of pious men came to Saint Benedict and begged him to be their abbot; when they proved unwilling to live up to his holy standard, they tried to give him poisoned wine. While he was praying over the cup, it shattered and spilled the deadly drink onto the ground.
  • The Medal of St. Benedict is one of the most popular devotionals. It has complex symbolism so we created an interactive page to show you all the parts!

The Medal of St. Benedict


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Jul
6
Why St. Maria Goretti is Important in our Times
Posted by kenneymg on 06 July 2017 05:03 AM

Most of us know the story of Maria Goretti, and the martyrdom that led to her canonization. Hers is truly a story of Love and Mercy, and she is the Patroness of Chasity, Purity, and Youths.

In 1902, an eighteen-year-old neighbor, Alexander, grabbed her from her steps and tried to rape her. When Maria said that she would rather die than submit, saying that Alexander would go to Hell for his actions if she let him do it, Alexander began stabbing her with a knife.

As she lay in the hospital, she forgave Alexander before she died. Her death didn’t end her forgiveness, however.

Saint Maria Goretti
St. Maria Icon from Devotions and Prayer Blog

Alexander was captured and sentenced to thirty years. He was unrepentant until he had a dream that he was in a garden. Maria was there and gave him flowers. When he woke, he was a changed man, repenting of his crime and living a reformed life. When he was released after 27 years he went directly to Maria’s mother to beg her forgiveness, which she gave. “If my daughter can forgive him, who am I to withhold forgiveness,” she said.

When Maria was declared a saint in 1950, Alexander was there in the St. Peter’s crowd to celebrate her canonization. She was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1950 for her purity as model for youth:

…Why does this story move you even to tears? Why has Maria Goretti so quickly conquered your hearts, and taken first place in your affections?

The reason is because there is still in this world, apparently sunk and immersed in the worship of pleasure, not only a meager little band of chosen souls who thirst for heaven and its pure air – but a crowd, nay, an immense multitude on whom the supernatural fragrance of Christian purity exercise an irresistible and reassuring fascination.

During the past fifty years, coupled with what was often a weak reaction on the part of decent people, there has been a conspiracy of evil practices, propagating themselves in books and illustrations, in theaters and radio programs, in styles and clubs and on the beaches, trying to work their way into the hearts of the family and society, and doing their worst damage among the youth, even among those of the tenderest years in whom the possession of virtue is a natural inheritance.

Dearly beloved youth, young men and women, who are the special object of the love of Jesus and of us, tell me, are you resolved to resist firmly, with the help of divine grace, against every attempt made to violate your chastity? …

…Finally, all of you who are intently listening to our words, know that above the unhealthy marshes and filth of the world, stretches an immense heaven of beauty. It is the heaven which fascinated little Maria; the heaven to which she longed to ascend by the only road that leads there, which is, religion, the love of Christ, and the heroic observance of his Commandments.

We greet you, O beautiful and lovable saint! Martyr on earth and angel in heaven, look down from your glory on this people, which loves you, which venerates, glorifies and exalts you. On your forehead you bear the full brilliant and victorious name of Christ. In your virginal countenance may be read the strength of your love and the constancy of your fidelity to your Divine Spouse. As his bride espoused in blood, you have traced in yourself His own image. To you, therefore, powerful intercessor with the Lamb of God, we entrust these our sons and daughters who are present here, and those countless others who are united with us in spirit. For while they admire your heroism, they are even more desirous of imitating your strength of faith and your inviolate purity of conduct. Fathers and mothers have recourse to you, asking you to help them in their task of education. In you, through our hand, the children and the young people will find a safe refuge, trusting that they shall be protected from every contamination, and be able to walk the highways of life with that serenity of spirit and deep joy which is the heritage of those who are pure of heart. Amen.

– Homily of Pope Pius XII, June 24, 1950

We see here with the example of Saint Maria Goretti. What can we learn from her today? Taken from remarks by Blessed John Paul II:

  • Her canonization showed Maria to the world as an  model of courageous fidelity to the Christian vocation, even to the supreme sacrifice of life.
  • St Maria Goretti is an example for the newer generations who are threatened by a non-committal attitude that finds it difficult to understand the importance of the values which admit of no compromise.
  • Although she was poor and deprived of a school education, Maria, who was not yet 12 years old had a strong and mature personality, shaped by the religious instruction she had received in the family. This made her capable not only of defending herself with heroic chastity, but even of forgiving her murderer.  Parents, living and teaching our faith is so important!
  • Her martyrdom reminds us that the human being is not fulfilled by following the impulses of pleasure but by living life with love and responsibility.  Maria Goretti calls us to be alert and vigilant “watchmen”, be the real champions of a new humanity.

As a martyr of purity, hopefully adolescents and young people will get to know her better.

Our Lady, whose name was given to Saint Maria Goretti,  may the purest of human creatures help the men and women of our time, and especially young people, to rediscover the value of chastity and to live interpersonal relations in reciprocal respect and sincere love. 

Saint Maria Goretti books, DVDs, medals, and prayer cards available here


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Jul
3
Feast Day of St. Thomas the Apostle
Posted by kenneymg on 03 July 2017 04:47 AM

The Gospel account of Jesus’ appearance to His grieving apostles after His resurrection in John 20, tells of Thomas, who was away, being doubtful of the preposterous story that the Lord was alive. He had been with the Lord during his Passion and Crucifixion. He knew about the stone that sealed the tomb. How could his Lord be risen from the dead? I will not believe it, he told his friends, unless I put my hands in Jesus’ wounds.

Doubting Thomas

Gospel Reading: John 20:24-29

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe”. Eight days later, His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing”. Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

St. Thomas is also mentioned as being present at another Resurrection appearance of Jesus – at Lake Tiberius when a miraculous catch of fish occurred. This is all that we know about St. Thomas from the New Testament.

Malabar Coast Map

Tradition says that at the dispersal of the Apostles after Pentecost this saint was sent to evangelize the Parthians, Medes, and Persians; he ultimately reached India, carrying the Faith to the Malabar coast, which still boasts a large native population calling themselves  ” Christians of St. Thomas.”  He  shed his blood for his Master, speared to death at a place called Calamine.

Martyrdom of St. Thomas by Rubens
By Peter Paul RubensOphelia2, Public Domain, Link

We can relate to this doubt — we too are often “doubting Thomases”. And we, with Thomas, have felt ashamed of ourselves. We can follow Thomas’s example in proclaiming, in awed recognition of Our Savior’s living, real presence, “My Lord and my God!”

Shop for Saint Thomas the Apostle gifts.


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Jul
1
New Book Review of the Porn Myth
Posted by Lucy Rutherford on 01 July 2017 03:10 AM

Pornography is a real problem in today’s world; but it’s so prevalent that it seems almost hopeless to resist. What do you, as a Catholic in today’s self-destructive, perversion-praising atmosphere, do?

Pete Socks from the Catholic Book Blogger has a review of Matt Fradd’s new book, The Porn Myth.

Society today is facing one of the worst epidemics it has faced in a long time. It can be referred to as a pandemic, an epidemic that has spread through human populations and continents. It knows no borders and its victims are not limited to any age, gender, race or culture. The problem I am talking about is porn addiction. Matt Fradd tackles this topic and overturns the various justifications society has made for porn use in his latest book The Porn Myth: Exposing the Reality Behind the Fantasy of Pornography.

Porn has slowly and stealthily worked its way into our culture today. What was once considered risqué as early as the 1950s is now considered acceptable to show during sports commercials. We have been geared to accept soft porn, and once people find themselves in the clutches of pornography addiction they are exposed to cruder forms of “entertainment.”

 

Read the rest of the review.

Porn Myth

Order the book.


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