Friday, September 30, 2011

Feast Day, October 1: St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897)

Thérèse in July 1896
Thérèse of Lisieux (2 January 1873 – 30 September 1897), or Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, born Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin, was a French Carmelite nun. She is also known as "The Little Flower of Jesus".

"I prefer the monotony of obscure sacrifice to all ecstasies. To pick up a pin for love can convert a soul." These are the words of Theresa of the Child Jesus, a Carmelite nun called the "Little Flower," who lived a cloistered life of obscurity in the convent of Lisieux, France. [In French-speaking areas, she is known as Thérèse of Lisieux.] And her preference for hidden sacrifice did indeed convert souls. Few saints of God are more popular than this young nun. Her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, is read and loved throughout the world. Thérèse Martin entered the convent at the age of 15 and died in 1897 at the age of 24.

Life in a Carmelite convent is indeed uneventful and consists mainly of prayer and hard domestic work. But Thérèse possessed that holy insight that redeems the time, however dull that time may be. She saw in quiet suffering redemptive suffering, suffering that was indeed her apostolate. Thérèse said she came to the Carmel convent "to save souls and pray for priests." And shortly before she died, she wrote: "I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth."

On October 19, 1997, Pope John Paul II proclaimed her a Doctor of the Church, the third woman to be so recognized in light of her holiness and the influence of her teaching on spirituality in the Church.

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

Photograph of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux in the Carmelite Brown Scapular (1895)
Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Born2 January 1873
Alençon, France
Died30 September 1897 (aged 24)
Lisieux, France
Honored inCatholic Church
Beatified29 April 1923 by Pope Pius XI
Canonized17 May 1925 by Pope Pius XI
MajorshrineBasilica of St. Thérèse in Lisieux, France
Feast1 October
PatronageMissionaries; France; Russia;AIDS sufferers; florists and gardeners; loss of parents; tuberculosis.

Autobiography – "The Story of a Soul"

St. Thérèse is known today because of her spiritual memoir, L'histoire d'une âme (The Story of a Soul), which she wrote upon the orders of two prioresses of her monastery, and because of the many miracles worked at her intercession. She began to write "Story of a Soul" in 1895 as a memoir of her childhood, under instructions from her sister Pauline, known in religion as Mother Agnes of Jesus. Mother Agnes gave the order after being prompted by their eldest sister, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart. While Thérèse was on retreat in September 1896, she wrote a letter to Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart which also forms part of what was later published as "Story of a Soul." In June 1897, Mother Agnes became aware of the seriousness of Thérèse's illness; she immediately asked Mother Marie de Gonzague, who had succeeded her as prioress, to allow Thérèse to write another memoir with more details of her religious life. With selections from Therese's letters and poems and reminiscences of her by the other nuns, it was published posthumously. It was heavily edited by Pauline (Mother Agnes), who made more than seven thousand revisions to Therese's manuscript and presented it as a biography of her sister. (Aside from considerations of style, Mother Marie de Gonzague had ordered Pauline to alter the first two sections of the manuscript to make them appear as if they were addressed to Mother Marie as well).
Link to

Saint Therese' had written her autobiography under obedience. While on her deathbed the Saint made many references to the book's future appeal and benefit to souls.

Since 1973, two centenary editions of Thérèse's original, unedited manuscripts, including The Story of a Soul, her letters, poems, prayers and the plays she wrote for the monastery recreations have been published in French. ICS Publications has issued a complete critical edition of her writings: Story of a SoulLast Conversations, and the two volumes of her letters were translated by John Clarke, O.C.D.; The Poetry of Saint Thérèse by Donald Kinney, O.C.D.; The Prayers of St. Thérèse by Alethea Kane, O.C.D.; and The Religious Plays of St. Therese of Lisieux by David Dwyer and Susan Conroy.

Free Kindle Editions:

The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Âme): The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux With Additional Writings and Sayings of St. Thérèse [Kindle Edition]

de Lisieux Thérèse Thomas N. (Thomas Nimmo) Taylor 

The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus [Kindle Edition]

of Avila Teresa 

                                               A depiction of the Holy Face of Jesus
asVeronica's veilby Claude Mellan c. 1649. 
St. Thérèse wore an image of the Holy Face 
on her heart.

Thérèse has much to teach our age of the image, the appearance, the "sell." We have become a dangerously self-conscious people, painfully aware of the need to be fulfilled, yet knowing we are not. Thérèse, like so many saints, sought to serve others, to do something outside herself, to forget herself in quiet acts of love. She is one of the great examples of the gospel paradox that we gain our life by losing it, and that the seed that falls to the ground must die in order to live (see John 12).

Preoccupation with self separates modern men and women from God, from their fellow human beings and ultimately from themselves. We must relearn to forget ourselves, to contemplate a God who draws us out of ourselves and to serve others as the ultimate expression of selfhood. These are the insights of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and they are more valid today than ever.


All her life St. Thérèse suffered from illness. As a young girl she underwent a three-month malady characterized by violent crises, extended delirium and prolonged fainting spells. Afterwards she was ever frail and yet she worked hard in the laundry and refectory of the convent. 

Psychologically, she endured prolonged periods of darkness when the light of faith seemed all but extinguished. The last year of her life she slowly wasted away from tuberculosis. And yet shortly before her death on September 30 she murmured, "I would not suffer less."

Truly she was a valiant woman who did not whimper about her illnesses and anxieties. Here was a person who saw the power of love, that divine alchemy which can change everything, including weakness and illness, into service and redemptive power for others. Is it any wonder that she is patroness of the missions? Who else but those who embrace suffering with their love really convert the world?

St. Therese of Lisieux Praying

Art Print by Nat Ewert on

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Feast Day: The Archangels, Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, The Messengers of God

Angels—messengers from God—appear frequently in Scripture, but only Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are named. The memorials of Gabriel (March 24) and Raphael (October 24) were added to the Roman calendar in 1921. The 1970 revision of the calendar joined their feasts to Michael's today, formerly known as Michaelmas Day.

Angels are pure, created spirits. The name angel means servant or messenger of God. Angels are celestial or heavenly beings, on a higher order than human beings. Angels have no bodies and do not depend on matter for their existence or activity. They are distinct from saints, which men can become. Angels have intellect and will and are immortal. They are a vast multitude, but each is an individual person. Archangels are on the the nice choirs of angels listed in the Bible. 
Archangels are one of the nine choirs of angels listed in the Bible. In ascending order, the choirs or classes are 1) Angels, 2) Archangels, 3) Principalities, 4) Powers, 5) Virtues, 6) Dominations, 7) Thrones, 8) Cherubim, and 9) Seraphim. Pope St. Gregory the Great distinguishes between angels and archangels: "Those who deliver messages of lesser importance are called angels; and those who proclaim messages of supreme importance are called archangels." 

St. Michael

The Archangel Michael Battles Satan

The name of the archangel Michael means, in Hebrew, who is like unto God? and he is also known as "the prince of the heavenly host." He is usually pictured as a strong warrior, dressed in armor and wearing sandals. His name appears in Scripture four times, twice in the Book of Daniel, and once each in the Epistle of St. Jude and the Book of Revelation. From Revelation we learn of the battle in heaven, with St. Michael and his angels combatting Lucifer and the other fallen angels (or devils). We invoke St. Michael to help us in our fight against Satan; to rescue souls from Satan, especially at the hour of death; to be the champion of the Jews in the Old Testament and now Christians; and to bring souls to judgment.

Devotion to Michael is the oldest angelic devotion, rising in the East in the fourth century. The Church in the West began to observe a feast honoring Michael and the angels in the fifth century. 

Patron: Against temptations; against powers of evil; artists; bakers; bankers; battle; boatmen; cemeteries; coopers; endangered children; dying; Emergency Medical Technicians; fencing; grocers; hatmakers; holy death; knights; mariners; mountaineers; paramedics; paratroopers; police officers; radiologists; sailors; the sick; security forces; soldiers; against storms at sea; swordsmiths; those in need of protection; Brussels, Belgium; Caltanissett, Sicily; Cornwall, England; and more.

Symbols: Angel with wings; dressed in armour; lance and shield; scales; shown weighing souls; millstone; piercing dragon or devil; banner charged with a dove; symbolic colors orange or gold.

St. Gabriel
Annunciation by Paolo de Matteis, 1712.
The lily in the angel's hand is symbolic of Mary's virginity in Marian art.

St. Gabriel's name means "God is my strength". Biblically he appears three times as a messenger. He had been sent to Daniel to explain a vision concerning the Messiah. He appeared to Zachary when he was offering incense in the Temple, to foretell the birth of his son, St. John the Baptist. St. Gabriel is most known as the angel chosen by God to be the messenger of the Annunciation, to announce to mankind the mystery of the Incarnation.
The angel's salutation to our Lady, so simple and yet so full of meaning, Hail Mary, full of grace, has become the constant and familiar prayer of all Christian people.
Patron: Ambassadors; broadcasting; childbirth; clergy; communications; diplomats; messengers; philatelists; postal workers; public relations; radio workers; secular clergy; stamp collectors; telecommunications; Portugal; Archdiocese of Seattle, Washington.
Symbols: Archangel; sceptre and lily; MR or AM shield; lantern; mirror; olive branch; scroll with words Ave Maria Gratia Plena; Resurrection trumpet; shield; spear; lily; symbolic colors, silver or blue.

St. Raphael

Our knowledge of the Archangel Raphael comes to us from the book of Tobit. His mission as wonderful healer and fellow traveller with the youthful Tobias has caused him to be invoked for journeys and at critical moments in life. Tradition also holds that Raphael is the angel that stirred the waters at the healing sheep pool in Bethesda. His name means "God has healed".
Patron: Blind; bodily ills; counselors; druggists; eye problems; guardian angels; happy meetings; healers; health inspectors; health technicians; love; lovers; mental illness; nurses; pharmacists; physicians; shepherds; against sickness; therapists; travellers; young people; young people leaving home for the first time; and more.
Symbols: Staff; wallet and fish; staff and gourd; archangel; young man carrying a staff; young man carrying a fish; walking with Tobias; holding a bottle or flask; symbolic colors, gray or yellow.
Each of these archangels performs a different mission in Scripture: Michael protects; Gabriel announces; Raphael guides. Earlier belief that inexplicable events were due to the actions of spiritual beings has given way to a scientific world-view and a different sense of cause and effect. Yet believers still experience God's protection, communication and guidance in ways which defy description. We cannot dismiss angels too lightly.

"The question of how many angels could dance on the point of a pin no longer is absurd in molecular physics, with its discovery of how broad that point actually is, and what part invisible electronic 'messengers' play in the dance of life" (Lewis Mumford).

God, with great wisdom, You direct the ministry of Angels and men. Grant that those who always minister to You in heaven may defend us during our life on earth. Amen.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Feast Day: St. Wenceslaus (907-935)

Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia by Peter Palmer
Statue of Saint Wenceslaus in St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague. 
The head of the statue apparently fits 
the measurements of Wenceslaus's skull.
If saints have been falsely characterized as "other worldly," the life of Wenceslaus stands as an example to the contrary: He stood for Christian values in the midst of the political intrigues which characterized 10th-century Bohemia.

Wenceslaus I; c. 907 – September 28, 935), or Wenceslas I, was the ruler (kníže, translated as "duke") of Bohemia from 921 until his death. He is venerated as Saint Wenceslaus and is the main patron saint of the Czech state. Wenceslas is also the subject of the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas".

He was born in 907 near Prague, son of the Duke of Bohemia. His parents were Duke Wratislaw, a Christian, and Dragomir, a pretended Christian, but a secret favourer of paganism. He received a good Christian education from his grandmother (St. Ludmilla: She is venerated as one of the patrons of Bohemia, and her feast is celebrated on 16 September.). His saintly grandmother, Ludmilla, raised him and sought to promote him as ruler of Bohemia in place of his mother, who favored the anti-Christian factions. Ludmilla was eventually murdered, but rival Christian forces enabled Wenceslaus to assume leadership of the government in 1921. Wenceslaus is usually described as exceptionally pious, humble and, at the time, a very educated aristocrat. He was known for his kindness to the poor. 

His rule was marked by efforts toward unification within Bohemia, support of the Church and peace-making negotiations with Germany, a policy which caused him trouble with the anti-Christian opposition. Many of the Bohemian nobles resented Wenceslas's attempts to spread Christianity, and were displeased when he swore allegiance to the king of Germany, Henry I.
His brother Boleslav joined in the plotting, and in September of 935 (in older sources, 1929) invited Wenceslaus to Alt Bunglou for the celebration of the feast of Sts. Cosmas and Damian (September 26). On the way to Mass, Boleslav attacked his brother, and in the struggle, Wenceslaus was killed by supporters of Boleslav.

Royal Insignia of the Kingdom of Bohemia with the St. Wenceslas Crown

According to Cosmas's Chronicle, one of Boleslav's sons was born on the day of Wenceslaus' death, and because of the ominous circumstance of his birth the infant was named Strachkvas, which means "a dreadful feast".

There are discrepancies in the records regarding the date of St Wenceslaus's death. It has been argued that Wenceslaus's remains were transferred to St Vitus's Church in 932, ruling out the later date; however, the year 935 is now favored by historians as the date of his murder.
There is a tradition which states that Saint Wenceslaus's loyal servant, Podevin (see lyrics), avenged his death by killing one of the chief conspirators. Podevin was executed by Boleslav.

Although his death resulted primarily from political upheaval, Wenceslaus was hailed as a martyr for the faith, and his tomb became a pilgrimage shrine. He is hailed as the patron of the Bohemian people and of former Czechoslovakia.

St. Wencaslaus, Patron Saint of Bohemia

Wenceslas was considered a martyr and a saint immediately after his death, when a cult of Wenceslas grew up in Bohemia and in England. Within a few decades of Wenceslas's death four biographies of him were in circulation. These hagiographies (writings on the subject of holy people) had a powerful influence on the High Middle Ages conceptualization of the rex justus, or "righteous king"—that is, a monarch whose power stems mainly from his great piety, as well as from his princely vigor.

"Good King Wenceslaus" was able to incarnate his Christianity in a world filled with political unrest. While we are often victims of violence of a different sort, we can easily identify with his struggle to bring harmony to society. The call to become involved in social change and in political activity is addressed to Christians; the values of the gospel are sorely needed today.
"While recognizing the autonomy of the reality of politics, Christians who are invited to take up political activity should try to make their choices consistent with the gospel and, in the framework of a legitimate plurality, to give both personal and collective witness to the seriousness of their faith by effective and disinterested service of men" (Pope Paul VI, A Call to Action, 46).

Good King Wenceslas - History and English Translation by John Mason Neale in 1853:

The legend, based on the historical King Saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia, 
"Good King Wenceslas" is a popular Christmas carol about a king who goes out to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of Stephen (the second day of Christmas, December 26). During the journey, his page is about to give up the struggle against the cold weather, but is enabled to continue by the heat miraculously emanating from the king's footprints in the snow.

In 1853, English hymnwriter John Mason Neale wrote the "Wenceslas" lyrics, in collaboration with his music editor Thomas Helmore, and the carol first appeared in Carols for Christmas-Tide, 1853. Neales' lyrics were set to a tune based on a 13th century spring carol "Tempus adest floridum" ("It is time for flowering") first published in the 1582 Finnish song collection Piae Cantiones.

Neale's Good King Wenceslas (1853):
Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the Feast of Stephen, 
 When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even; 
Brightly shone the moon that night, tho' the frost was cruel, 
When a poor man came in sight, gath'ring winter fuel. 
 "Hither, page, and stand by me, if thou know'st it, telling, 
 Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?" 
"Sire, he lives a good league hence, underneath the mountain; 
Right against the forest fence, by Saint Agnes' fountain." 
"Bring me flesh, and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither: 
Thou and I will see him dine, when we bear them thither." 
Page and monarch, forth they went, forth they went together; 
Through the rude wind's wild lament and the bitter weather. 
 "Sire, the night is darker now, and the wind blows stronger; 
 Fails my heart, I know not how; I can go no longer." 
"Mark my footsteps, good my page. Tread thou in them boldly 
Thou shalt find the winter's rage freeze thy blood less coldly." 
 In his master's steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted; 
 Heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed. 
Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing, 
Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.  

Good King Wenceslas on a biscuit tin, made by Hudson, Scott & Sons for Huntley & Palmers, 1913

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Feast Day: St. Matthew, the Evangelist

The Calling of St. Matthew by Terbrugghen

Among those around the throne 
were four living creatures. 
[Rev. 4:6b-7]
The man was identified 
with Matthew because 
his gospel begins 
with the human origins 
of Jesus.
St. Anthony Messenger

Matthew was a Jew who worked for the occupying Roman forces, collecting taxes from other Jews. The Romans were not scrupulous about what the "tax farmers" got for themselves. Hence the latter, known as "publicans," were generally hated as traitors by their fellow Jews. The Pharisees lumped them with "sinners" (see Matthew 9:11-13). So it was shocking to them to hear Jesus call such a man to be one of his intimate followers.

One day, as Our Lord was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw, sitting at the receipt of custom, Matthew the publican. Jesus said to his, “Follow Me”, and leaving all, Matthew arose and followed Him.

Matthew got Jesus in further trouble by having a sort of going-away party at his house inviting Jesus and His disciples, with a number of these publicans, who henceforth began eagerly to listen to Him. The Gospel tells us that "many" tax collectors and "those known as sinners" came to the dinner. The Pharisees were still more badly shocked. What business did the supposedly great teacher have associating with such immoral people? Jesus' answer was, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' I did not come to call the righteous but sinners" (Matthew 9:12b-13). Jesus is not setting aside ritual and worship; he is saying that loving others is even more important.
After the Ascension, St. Matthew remained some years in Judea, and there he wrote his Gospel, to teach his countrymen that Jesus was their true Lord and King, foretold by the prophets, St. Matthew afterward preached the Faith far and wide, and is said to have finished his course in Parthea. It is uncertain whether he died a natural death or received the crown of martyrdom.

No other particular incidents about Matthew are found in the New Testament.


From such an unlikely situation, Jesus chose one of the foundations of the Church, a man others, judging from his job, thought was not holy enough for the position. But he was honest enough to admit that he was one of the sinners Jesus came to call. He was open enough to recognize truth when he saw him. "And he got up and followed him" (Matthew 9:9b).

St. Matthew's Gospel was written to fill a sorely-felt want for his fellow countrymen, both believers and unbelievers. For the former, it served as a token of his regard and as an encouragement in the trial to come, especially the danger of falling back to Judaism; for the latter, it was designed to convince them that the Messiah had come in the person of Jesus, our Lord, in Whom all the promises of the Messianic Kingdom embracing all people had been fulfilled in a spiritual rather than in a carnal way: "My Kingdom is not of this world." His Gospel, then, answered the question put by the disciples of St. John the Baptist, "Are You He Who is to come, or shall we look for another?"


We imagine Matthew, after the terrible events surrounding the death of Jesus, going to the mountain to which the risen Lord had summoned them. "When they saw him, they worshipped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them [we think of him looking at each one in turn, Matthew listening and excited with the rest], 'All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age'" (Matthew 28:17-20).

Matthew would never forget that day. He proclaimed the Good News by his life and by his word. Our faith rests upon his witness and that of his fellow apostles.

St. Matthew and the Angel by Guido Reni


Obey all inspirations of Our Lord as promptly as St. Matthew, who, at a single word, “laid down” says St. Bridget, “the heavy burden of the world to put on the light and sweet yoke of Christ.”

Prayers To Saint Matthew:

Through the prayers of Saint Matthew, may the Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on us. Amen!

Dear Levi, now known as Matthew, you were first a publican, a tax collector, and then a gatherer of souls for Christ after immediately following His call. Later you wrote wonderful accounts of your Jewish brethren of what Jesus, descendant of David, said and did as Teacher and Savior. Make all accountants imitate your example in giving careful and honest accounts. Amen.
St. Matthew

God, You chose St. Matthew the Publican to become an Apostle. By following his example and benefiting by his prayers, may we always follow and abide by Your will. Amen.

God of mercy, You chose a tax collector, St. Matthew, to share the dignity of the apostles. By his example and prayers, help us to follow Christ and remain faithful in Your service. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Patron Saint of:

Tax collectors

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Feast: September 15, Our Lady of Sorrows and Her Seven Dolors

I want to stand with
you next to the cross
and I want to join you in your grieving.

Make me bear Christ's death
make me share his passion
make me recall his wounds.

The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows falls on September 15. This feast commemorates the sorrowful Mother and the sufferings she experienced in union with her Son and dates back to the 12th century. The feast was extended to the universal Church in 1817 by Pope Pius VII and fixed officially in the calendar for September 15 in 1913 by Pope Pius X. This feast reminds us of the spiritual martyrdom of Our Blessed Mother and her compassion with the sufferings of her divine Son. Through her great sufferings as co-redeemer, she also helps to show us the true evil of sin and thereby leads us to repentance and salvation.

Prayer in honor of Our Lady of SorrowsFather, As your Son was raised on the cross,
His mother Mary stood by Him, sharing His suffering.
May she, who is also our spiritual Mother
and Patroness in heaven,
help us to find renewed strength
at the cross of Christ
and so to come to share in His rising to new life,
where He lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever. Amen.

Praying the Seven Sorrows (Dolors) of Our Blessed Mother
The feast of Our Lady of Sorrows falls on September 15; however, the prayers honoring the seven sorrow of Our Lady can be said anytime throughout the year. The devotion is similar to the Rosary, in that it consists of seven "mysteries" to be meditated on. These are the seven sorrows of Mary, the great piercings that she received throughout her life with Jesus her Son.

In this meditation on the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady, one should pray to imitate the virtues and dispositions of Our Blessed Mother, especially during her moments of greatest suffering. One should seek to learn from her the value and power of redemptive suffering. Suffering becomes redemptive only through the Incarnation, Passion and Resurrection of Jesus. Because of this, each one of us can offer our sufferings as a gift to the Lord, uniting them with those of the His Son. When one does this, our sufferings, just like those of Jesus, redeem and bring grace to souls because they are united with His. We look to our Blessed Mother to show us how to do this most perfectly. She, more than any other creature, suffered in perfect union and communion with her Son. These sufferings, united with Christ's, helped redeem the world. We look to her for aid, comfort and an example.
Each Sorrow is meditated upon while praying 1 Our Father and 7 Hail Mary's.

The First Sorrow of Mary: The Prophecy of Simeon at the Presentation in the Temple (Lk 2:22-35)

1. When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
2. Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
3. He took Jesus up in his arms and blessed God and said, "Lord, now let thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word;
4. for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples.
5. And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him;
6. and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against"
7. (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed."
The Second Sorrow of Mary: The Flight into Egypt (Mt 2:13-21)
1. When the Magi had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream
2. He said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him."
3. Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod.
4. Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage.
5. He sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under.
6. But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt.
7. "Rise, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead." And he rose and took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel.
The Third Sorrow of Mary: The Loss of Jesus in the Temple (Lk 2:41-50)
1. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom;
2. When the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem.
3. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the company they went a day's journey,
4. They sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him.
5. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
6. His mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously."
7. He said to them, "How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"
The Fourth Sorrow of Mary: Mary Encounters Jesus on the Way of the Cross (John 19:1; Luke 23:26-32)
1. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross.
2. And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.
3. And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him.
4. But Jesus turning to them said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.
5. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!'
6. For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?"
7. And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull).
The Fifth Sorrow of Mary: Jesus Dies on the Cross (Mark 15:22; John 19:18, 25-27; Mark 15:34; Luke 23:46)
1. And they brought him to the place called Gol'gotha (which means the place of a skull).
2. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.
3. Standing by the cross of Jesus were his Mother, and his Mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
4. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!"
5. Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your Mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
6. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "E'lo-i, E'lo-i, la'ma sabach-tha'ni?" which means, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
7. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, "Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!" And having said this he breathed his last.
The Sixth Sorrow of Mary: Jesus Is Taken Down From the Cross (John 19:31-34, 38; Lam 1:12)
1. In order to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross on the sabbath, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
2. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him;
3. but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.
4. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.
5. After this Joseph of Arimathe'a, who was a disciple of Jesus, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus.
6. Pilate gave him leave. So he came and took away his body.
7. "Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow.
The Seventh Sorrow of Mary: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb (Matthew 27:59; John 19:38-42; Mark 15:46; Luke 27:55-56)
1. Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud,
2. Nicodemus also, who had at first come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds' weight.
3. They took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.
4. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb where no one had ever been laid.
5. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, as the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there. And Joseph rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.
6. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and saw the tomb, and how his body was laid.
7. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

The Promises:
According to the visions of St. Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373) our Blessed Mother promises to grant seven graces to those who honor her and draw near to her and her Son every day by meditating on her dolors (sorrows) and entering into her grief.

"I will grant peace to their families."
"They will be enlightened about the divine Mysteries."
"I will console them in their pains and will accompany them in their work."
"I will give them as much as they ask for as long as it does not oppose the adorable will of my divine Son or the sanctification of their souls."
"I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives."
"I will visibly help them at the moment of their death-- they will see the face of their mother."
"I have obtained this grace from my divine Son, that those who propagate this devotion to my tears and dolors will be taken directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness, since all their sins will be forgiven and my Son will be their eternal consolation and joy." 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September 14 - Exaltation of the Holy Cross

O Crux, ave spes unica! Hail, O Cross, our only hope!

Holy Cross - San Clemente, Rome
(Detail of Apse mosaic, 12th Century)
Dying, you destroyed our death; rising you restored our life. 
Save us by your cross, Christ our Redeemer.
- from the Eucharistic Prayer

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but have everlasting life.

- John 3:16 (Douay)

Early in the fourth century St. Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem in search of the holy places of Christ's life. She razed the Temple of Aphrodite, which tradition held was built over the Savior's tomb, and her son built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher over the tomb. During the excavation, workers found three crosses. Legend has it that the one on which Jesus died was identified when its touch healed a dying woman.

The cross immediately became an object of veneration. At a Good Friday celebration in Jerusalem toward the end of the fourth century, according to an eyewitness, the wood was taken out of its silver container and placed on a table together with the inscription Pilate ordered placed above Jesus' head: Then "all the people pass through one by one; all of them bow down, touching the cross and the inscription, first with their foreheads, then with their eyes; and, after kissing the cross, they move on."

To this day the Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox alike, celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the September anniversary of the basilica's dedication. The feast entered the Western calendar in the seventh century after Emperor Heraclius recovered the cross from the Persians, who had carried it off in 614, 15 years earlier. According to the story, the emperor intended to carry the cross back into Jerusalem himself, but was unable to move forward until he took off his imperial garb and became a barefoot pilgrim.


The cross is today the universal image of Christian belief. Countless generations of artists have turned it into a thing of beauty to be carried in procession or worn as jewelry. To the eyes of the first Christians, it had no beauty. It stood outside too many city walls, decorated only with decaying corpses, as a threat to anyone who defied Rome's authority—including Christians who refused sacrifice to Roman gods. Although believers spoke of the cross as the instrument of salvation, it seldom appeared in Christian art unless disguised as an anchor or the Chi-Rho until after Constantine's edict of toleration.


"How splendid the cross of Christ! It brings life, not death; light, not darkness; Paradise, not its loss. It is the wood on which the Lord, like a great warrior, was wounded in hands and feet and side, but healed thereby our wounds. A tree has destroyed us, a tree now brought us life" (Theodore of Studios).


Adoramus te, christe, et benedicimus tibi,
quia per crucem tuam redemisti mundum.
We adore thee, O Christ, and we bless thee,
for by thy cross thou hast redeemed the world.

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross that he might draw the whole world unto himself: Mercifully grant that we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption, may have grace to take up our cross and follow him; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting.

O God, who by the passion of thy blessed Son didst make an instrument of shameful death to be unto us the means of life and peace: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Suggestions for family activities:
  • If possible attend Mass together. Consider taking your family to a church that has especially fine Stations of the Cross. Look at the images and explain their meaning. At each Station pray, "We adore thee, O Christ, and we bless thee, for by thy Cross thou hast redeemed the world". At the end, have the children kneel before the Blessed Sacrament and say a Hail Mary, an Our Father, and a Glory be.
  • Make the evening meal today more festive than ordinary -- light candles on the table or use the good dishes. 
  • Read one or more of the prayers or scripture readings for the day before the evening meal. Older children could take turns doing the readings. 
  • Begin teaching even the very youngest members of the family to make the Sign of the Cross at the end of the mealtime prayers. (Older brothers and sisters usually will be very glad to help the baby with this.)
  • Explain to children the meaning of the Sign of the Cross that we make before meals, and point out how this action is intended to unite every one of us with Jesus' sacrifice for us -- His crucifixion and His resurrection from the dead. 
  • Make a point of mentioning how great is God's loves for us. Encourage children to memorize John 3:16. This is a key verse about the triumph of Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross, and encourages children to revere and respect God's word in the Bible. Give a small reward or privilege to each child who memorizes the verse. Have them recite it for you when they say their bedtime prayers.
  • Two additional suggestions:
    -- Have grade-school-age children write the verse in their fanciest writing and illustrate it with a drawing of Jesus on the Cross. Even little people think a lot when they are drawing something. Maybe you could set a crucifix on the table for them to look at when they draw it. (Don't forget to display the results on the refrigerator -- or maybe send it to grandma.)
    -- Frost a sheet cake with white icing, and make a large Cross on the cake with red icing, and pipe "John 3:16" on the Cross. Let the children help decorate the cake further by sprinkling it with silver dragees or colored sprinkles.
  • If there are crucifixes in the children's rooms, make sure to call attention to it at bedtime prayers. If not, today would be a very good time to get them.