Archive for the ‘Feast Days and Devotions’ Category
Mary as Mother of God
In 431, the Council of Ephesus declared Mary to be the Mother of God (Theotokos). This was proclaimed to confirm Jesus’ dual nature as both human and divine. This tradition is based on the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel, when the angel tells Mary “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son.” Mary responded with her willingness to take on the task. “Let it be done to me according to your word.” The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” teaches the following: “Called in the Gospels ‘the mother of Jesus,’ Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as ‘the mother of my Lord.’ In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly ‘Mother of God’ (Theotokos)” (495).
Pope John Paul II both confirmed and expanded that teaching in his 1987 encyclical, “Redemptoris Mater.” He understands Mary’s motherhood as also being one of faith. Not only was she the physical mother of Jesus, but she was also the first believer, the mother of the Church. “Mary as Mother became the first ‘disciple’ of her Son, the first to whom he seemed to say: ‘Follow me,’ even before he addressed this call to the Apostles or to anyone else” (RM 20).
The Immaculate Conception
The Doctrine of Mary as the Immaculate Conception was officially promulgated by the Church by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854. He wrote, “From the very beginning, and before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, he would be born into this world. Above all creatures did God so lover her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular delight. Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully.”
This declaration was confirmation of a long-standing tradition in the Church. In the time of St. Augustine (354-430), the Holy Virgin was already considered free from sin. In 1546, the Council of Trent confirmed this teaching when they declared that all men (and women) were born with original sin, but they exempted Mary from that designation.
Mary’s Perpetual Virginity
The Doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity is perhaps the one that garners the most debate. While most, if not all, Christians accept that Jesus was born of a virgin mother, what happened after that birth is not so easily agreed upon. After all, the Biblical record seems to imply that Jesus had brothers and sisters. The Catholic position on this has always been that the terms used for brothers and sisters did not mean an exclusive relationship as we take those terms to mean today — being born of the same mother and father. Rather, in Hebrew at that time, there were no terms for cousin, nephew, or uncle. The terms simply meant relatives or “brethren.” The individuals referred to could have been Joseph’s children from an earlier marriage or cousins.
The earliest record of Mary’s perpetual virginity goes back to 120 AD in the “Protoevangelium of James”. This is a noncanonical work whose main purpose was to illustrate that Mary was a consecrated virgin. It was written early enough in the Christian tradition, however, that had Mary had other children, that fact still would have been remembered and the document would have been deemed worthless. Jason Evert, writing in “This Rock,” states that “consecrated virginity was not common among first century Jews, but it did exist. According to some early Christian documents, such as the Protoevangelium of James (written around A.D. 120), Mary was a consecrated virgin. As such, when she reached puberty, her monthly cycle would render her ceremonially unclean and thus unable to dwell in the temple without defiling it under the Mosaic Law. At this time, she would be entrusted to a male guardian. However, since it was forbidden for a man to live with a woman he was not married or related to, the virgin would be wed to the guardian, and they would have no marital relations.”
The Assumption of Mary into Heaven
The Doctrine of the Assumption of Mary proclaims that at the end of her earthly life, Mary was brought up to heaven body and soul. It was declared by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950 and, like the Immaculate Conception, was a formal declaration of a belief that had long been held by the faithful. Pope Pius XII states that “So then, the great Mother of God, so mysteriously united to Jesus Christ from all eternity by the same decree of predestination, immaculately conceived, an intact virgin throughout her divine motherhood, a noble associate of our Redeemer as he defeated sin and its consequences, received, as it were, the final crowning privilege of being preserved from the corruption of the grave and, following her Son in his victory over death, was brought, body and soul, to the highest glory of heaven, to shine as Queen at the right hand of that same Son, the immortal King of Ages.”
While nowhere in scripture does it state that Mary was taken up to heaven body and soul, there are scriptural references that are used to support it. Genesis 3:15 which puts “the woman” in direct opposition to the devil is used to show that she conquered death. “Other passages include Revelation 12:1, in which Mary’s coronation implies her bodily assumption, and 1 Corinthians 15:23 and Matthew 27:52-53, which support the possibility of a bodily assumption. And lastly there is Psalm 132:8, which provides: Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark which you have sanctified. Mary is the new ark of the covenant (cf. Rev. 11:19-12:1), who physically bore the presence of God in her womb (cf. Lk. 1:42) before bearing Christ to the world” (Faith Facts, 1999).
One of the earliest proponents of the tradition of the Assumption was St. John Damascene (675-749), one of the last of the Fathers of the Church. He wrote that “It was right that she who had kept her virginity unimpaired through the process of giving birth should have kept her body without decay through death. It was right that she who had given her Creator, as a child, a place at her breast should be given a place in the dwelling-place of her God. It was right that the bride espoused by the Father should dwell in the heavenly bridal chamber. It was right that she who had gazed on her Son on the cross, her heart pierced at that moment by the sword of sorrow that she had escaped at his birth, should now gaze on him seated with his Father. It was right that the Mother of God should possess what belongs to her only and to be honored by every creature as the God’s Mother and handmaid.“ Already in the sixth century, there were liturgical feasts dedicated to Mary.
In Redemptoris Mater, Pope John Paul II reaffirms that tradition, “Preserved free from all guilt of original sin, the Immaculate Virgin was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory upon the completion of her earthly sojourn.” In heaven, she continues to serve, sharing in the kingdom of the Son (RM 41).
OCTOBER 20: Memorial of St. Paul of the Cross, confessor
St Vincent Strambi, Paul’s first biographer writing only 11 years after his death, stated that the Holy Spirit raised up Paul of the Cross to help people find God in their heart. Paul was convinced that God is most easily found by us in the Passion of Jesus Christ. He saw the Passion as being the most overwhelming sign of God’s love for us, and at the same time our best means for union with Him.
Paul often spent many hours in prayer and adoration before Jesus crucified. Throughout his many travels while preaching missions and making foundations of his Passionist Order, he always carried with him a large wooden crucifix in honor of our Lord’s Passion, thus he became known by the popular name of “Paul of the Cross”. Undoubtedly the two greatest characteristics of St Paul were his fervent devotion to the Passion of Jesus and also his extraordinary sacrifices and penances that he made for the conversion of sinners.
Throughout his religious life, Paul continuously sacrificed and made special penances and mortification’s for the success of his preaching missions, that many souls may be converted. An example of his many penances was that he went barefoot in all his travels throughout Italy, regardless of the harsh seasons and climates. And God, Who was pleased with the heroic sacrifices and devotion of His servant, chose to perform countless extraordinary miracles through Paul’s intercession and prayers. As he went about doing good, the frequent extraordinary signs from heaven that accompanied him were a sign to all that God was with him in a most remarkable way. Like his holy predecessors the Apostles, immense crowds gathered and followed him as he went about preaching from town to town. His great love for God and his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary radiated to the crowds with remarkable unction through both his words and his actions, thereby causing countless conversions everywhere he went. His austere manner of life, full of sacrifices and penances, encouraged the people to make reparation to God for their own sins.
~St Paul of the Cross, pray for us!
Words and sayings of Saint Paul of the Cross:
“I want to set myself on fire with love…I want to be entirely on fire with love…and I want to know how to sing in the fire of love.”
“Look upon the face of the Crucified, who invites you to follow Him. He will be a Father, Mother–everything to you.”
“Oh Love, oh fire of charity; how powerful You are!”
“I enjoy remaining on the Cross. How beautiful it is to suffer for Jesus!”…..“I rejoice in the nails that hold me crucified”
“Ah, my Supreme Good. What were the sentiments of your Sacred Heart when You were scourged? My beloved Spouse, how greatly did the sight of my grievous sins and my ingratitude afflict You! Oh, my only Love, why do I not die for You? Why am I not overwhelmed with sorrow? And then I feel that sometimes my spirit can say no more but remains thus in God with His sufferings infused into the soul- and sometimes it seems as if my heart would break.”
“Your crosses dear God, are the joy of my heart. How beautiful to suffer with Jesus!”
“I hope that God will save me through the merits of the Passion of Jesus. The more difficulties in life, the more I hope in God. By God’s grace I will not lose my soul, but I hope in His mercy.”
“I am a bottomless pit and deserve no light, so unworthy am I.”
“Christ Crucified is a work of love. The miracle of miracles of love. The most stupendous work of the love of God. The bottomless sea of the love of God, where virtues are found, where one can lose oneself in love and sorrow. A sea and a fire or a sea of fire. The most beneficial means of abandoning sin and growing in virtue, and so in holiness.”
“At holy Communion I had much sweetness. My dear God gave me infused knowledge of the joy which the soul will have when we see him face to face, when we will be united with Him in holy love. Then I felt sorrow to see Him offended and I told Him that I would willingly be torn to pieces for a single soul. Indeed, I felt that I would die when I saw the loss of so many souls who do not experience the fruit of the Passion of Jesus.”
“Oh my Love, what happened to Your heart in the Garden! Oh, what suffering; what shedding of blood! What bitter agony, and all for me!”.
“I felt pain in seeing my dear God so offended. I could faint from seeing so many souls lost for not feeling the fruit of the Passion of Jesus. A desire to convert all sinners will not leave me.”
“Oh good Jesus, how swollen, bruised, and defiled with spittle do I behold Thy
countenance! O my Love! Why do I see Thee all covered with wounds? Oh
infinite sweetness, why are Your bones laid bare? Ah, what sufferings! What
sorrows! O my God, why are You all wounded? Ah, dear sufferings! Dear wounds! I wish to keep you always in my heart.”
“Oh Jesus, my Love, may my heart be consumed in loving Thee; make me humble and holy; give me childlike simplicity; transform me into thy holy love. O Jesus, life of my life, joy of my soul, God of my heart, accept my heart as an altar, on which I will sacrifice to Thee the gold of ardent charity, the incense of continual, humble and fervent prayer, and the myrrh of constant sacrifices! Amen.”
“The world lives unmindful of the sufferings of Jesus, which are the miracle of miracles of the Love of God”
“Oh my good God, how gentle You are! How sweet You are! Oh dear cross, I embrace you and press you to my heart!”
“We ought to glory in nothing other than the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. You are blessed and don’t know it. You have Jesus Crucified with you.”
The tomb of Blessed Bartolo Longo is in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary in Pompeii. About three million pilgrims visit the basilica each year.Pompeii has more to offer than dusty ruins filled with plaster casts of people, and one unfortunate puppy, frozen in time. It is also, coincidently, home to the only church in Christendom built by an ex-Satanist.
It’s the same old story: boy from a religious family goes away to university, falls in with a bunch of New Age Satanists, becomes a satanic high priest, thinks better of his decision and ultimately reverts to the Church; it’s the basic satanic-rags-to-saintly-riches story.
I didn’t believe this story when I first learned about Blessed Bartolo Longo either. Having grown up the son of Italian immigrants, I was regaled with all of the lurid stories of El Barto’s excesses, debauchery and general dissoluteness. I came to Pompeii not just for the ruins but also to see if the stories were true.
Bartolo Longo was born on February 10 1841 to a wealthy family in the small town of Latiano, near Brindisi in southern Italy. His parents, Dr Bartolomeo Longo and Antonina Luparelli, were devout Catholics who prayed the rosary together daily.
When Longo’s mother died in 1851, he slowly drifted away from his Catholic faith. He was left to his own devices when he studied law at the University of Naples and became involved with a New Age pagan group which ultimately “ordained” him a satanist priest. He participated in séances, fortune-telling and the de rigueur orgies. Unsatisfied with merely practising his new pagan religion, he felt it important to publicly ridicule Christianity and did everything within his power to subvert Catholic influence. He even convinced many other Catholics to leave the Church and participate in occult rites.
But none of these activities brought him joy. In fact, his life was marked by extreme depression, paranoia, confusion and nervousness. He even began to show signs of demonic obsession, as opposed to demonic possession, which included being inflicted by diabolical visions and continually declining poor health. He ultimately experienced a mental breakdown.
In his despair, he heard the voice of his deceased father urging him to “Return to God! Return to God!” In fear and desperation, Longo turned to Professor Vincenzo Pepe, a friend from his home town, for guidance. Vincenzo convinced Longo to abandon Satan and introduced him to the Dominican priest, Fr Alberto Radente. Fr Radente heard his Confession and helped him to further reclaim his life.
One evening, as he walked near-chapel at Pompeii, Bartolo had a profound mystical experience. He wrote: “As I pondered over my condition, I experienced a deep sense of despair and almost committed suicide. Then I heard an echo in my ear of the voice of Friar Alberto repeating the words of the Blessed Virgin Mary: ‘If you seek salvation, promulgate the rosary. This is Mary’s own promise.’ These words illumined my soul. I went on my knees. ‘If it is true. I will not leave this valley until I have propagated your rosary.'”
To prove his new-found commitment to Christ and His Church Bartolo even attended a séance. In the midst of it, he stood and raised a medal of the Blessed Virgin Mother and cried out: “I renounce spiritism because it is nothing but a maze of error and falsehood.”
On March 25 1871, as part of his self-imposed penance, Longo became a Third Order Dominican, taking the name Brother Rosario in honour of the rosary. He joined a charitable group in Pompeii and worked alongside Countess Mariana di Fusco, a wealthy local widow whom he married a year later on Pope Leo XIII’s recommendation.
The happy couple decided to start a confraternity of the rosary. To serve as a spiritual focus for this group, Bartolo needed a painting of the Blessed Virgin. Sister Maria Concetta de Litala of the Monastery of the Rosary at Porta Medina offered him one that she got at a Neapolitan junk shop. She paid only 3.40 lire – a tiny, insignificant sum even at the time.
The painting portrayed Our Lady of the Rosary with St Dominic and St Catherine of Siena. Though it was of modest artistic accomplishment and in very poor condition, it served Bartolo’s purpose. He described it in his journal: “Not only was it worm-eaten, but the face of the Madonna was that of a coarse, rough country-woman . a piece of canvas was missing just above her head . her mantle was cracked. Nothing need be said of the hideousness of the other figures. St Dominic looked like a street idiot. To Our Lady’s left was a St Rose. This I had changed later into a St Catherine of Siena . I hesitated whether to refuse the gift or to accept . I took it.”
In addition, the sorcerer turned born-again Catholic restored a ramshackle church in October 1873 and then sponsored a feast in honour of Our Lady of the rosary. He installed the repaired painting in this very church. Within hours of its installation miracles began to be reported and people came to the church in droves. Seeing the devotion of the pilgrims, the Bishop of Nola encouraged Bartolo to construct a larger church. He approached architect Giovanni Rispoli to build it, making the following appeal: “In this place selected for its prodigies, we wish to leave to present and future generations a monument to the Queen of Victories that will be less unworthy of her greatness but more worthy of our faith and love.”
Work on the larger building began on May 8 1876 and was consecrated in May 1891 by Cardinal La Valetta who represented Pope Leo XIII. In 1906, he and his wife donated the Pompeii shrine to the Holy See but this didn’t diminish his evangelistic zeal. Bartolo continued promoting the rosary until his death in1926, at the age of 75. To spread devotion to the rosary and to the Blessed Virgin Mary Bartolo would evangelize young people at parties and in local cafes, explaining the dangers of occultism. He would witness continually as to the glories of Christ, the munificence of His mother and the beauty of the Catholic Faith.
In 1939 the church was enlarged and re-consecrated as a basilica and officially renamed the Basilica of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Pompeii. It soon became a focus of pilgrimages for more than a century as most Catholics and non-Catholics alike found a church built by a reformed ex-Satanist to be devilishly irresistible.
Bartolo had died a saintly death and his Cause for canonisation was almost immediately called for. He was beatified by John Paul II on October 26 1980 who called him the “Apostle of the Rosary”. More than 30,000 people attended the ceremony, and 50,000 pilgrims attended Pope Benedict’s historic pastoral visit to the shrine on October 19 2008. He consecrated the world, entrusting it to Mary’s hands, offering the Blessed Virgin a golden rose. In his homily, Benedict XVI likened Bartolo Longo to St Paul of Tarsus, who also initially persecuted the Church, described Bartolo as being “militantly anticlerical and engaging in spiritualist and superstitious practices”.
He continued by saying: “Wherever God comes in this desert, flowers bloom. Even Blessed Bartolo Longo, with his personal conversion, bears witness to this spiritual power that transforms man from within and makes him capable of doing great things according to God’s designs. This city which he re-founded, is thus a historical demonstration of how God transforms the world: filling man’s heart with charity.”
It’s not easy to get lost in Pompeii but I somehow managed to do exactly that. I finally spied the famous bronze cross that adorns the Basilica’s campanile. Apparently I am not the only person in the Sarno Valley to use it to orient myself. Technically speaking, every Christian uses the cross to orient himself so I wasn’t in the least bit ashamed for having to do so.
The white surface of the domed basilica and its lateral chapels both strike and comfort the visitor. The façade is only a little more than a century old, having been re-pointed by the architect Rispoli in 1901. As I passed the long passageways adjacent to the basilica, I noted that this is where Bartolo and his wife would stand to hand out food to the poor who would gather daily.
Upon entering the church one is struck not by its silence but rather the pervasive hushed susurration of pilgrims who stand in awe at the church’s beauty and God’s presence. The walls are replete with frescos, marble ornaments, mosaics, paintings and the ever-present votives. These small silver or tin plaques in the shape of heads, hands, legs and eyes hang everywhere as tokens of thanksgiving for Mary’s received protection and prayers.
The neoclassical Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii is decorated in the stereotypically exaggerated, over-the-top, pietistic art of the Italian peasantry that makes you smile and secretly wish you were Italian. It is, for good or bad, the art one associates with ancient churches and an even older faith. Stepping into this basilica reconnects one with 2,000 years of Christ’s presence in the world and in our hearts.
I asked as to the whereabouts of Blessed Bartolo and soon found myself face to beatified face with the Apostle of the Rosary himself. Like every other pilgrim standing next to me, I realised that this former, self-professed enemy of the Church rests peacefully in a tomb in its bosom of the very church he had hoped to destroy. More delicious and blessed irony one can hardly imagine.
As I looked at the oversized painting of Our Lady of Pompeii hanging over the church’s altar, I recalled St Maximilian Kolbe’s poignant words: “If anyone does not wish to have Mary Immaculate for his Mother, he will not have Christ for his Brother.”
One can’t but be moved when seeing this painting of him and recall the pain, horror and revulsion that this satanist-turned-saint experienced when he was confronted by his own sins.
Every student knows what happened to the city of Pompeii on August 24 79 AD. But most people don’t realise that the “new” Pompeii rose from the destroyed city’s ashes 1,796 years later because of Our Lady of the Rosary and her devotee. In his The History of the Shrine of Pompeii Bartolo wrote:
“Next to a land of dead appeared, quite suddenly, a land of resurrection and life: next to a shattered amphitheatre soiled with blood, there is a living Temple of faith and love, a sacred Temple to the Virgin Mary; from a town buried in the filth of gentilism, arises a town full of life, drawing its origins from a new civilization brought by Christianity: the New Pompeii!. It is the new civilisation that openly appears beside the old; the new art next to the old; Christianity full of life in juxtaposition to long-surpassed paganism.”
The newly constructed basilica attracted new families, a railway station, postal and telegraph services, the police, roads, water, electricity, hotels, restaurants and shops. About three million pilgrims come to the basilica every year, thus bringing to life the long-dead city of Pompeii.
Thus, the resurrection and salvation of Pompeii is now eternally linked with the resurrection and salvation of Blessed Bartolo Longo; the prodigal son returned home.
In God, all things are possible. Thankfully.
Petition to Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii
Composed By: Blessed Bartolo Longo
Especially for the First Sunday in October (Rosary Sunday)
O August Queen of Victories, O Sovereign of Heaven and Earth, at whose name the heavens rejoice and the abyss trembles, O glorious Queen of the Rosary, we your devoted children, assembled here in Salem and united with our brethren assembled in your Temple of Pompeii, on this solemn day, pour out the affection of our heart and with filial confidence express our miseries to You.
From the Throne of clemency, where You are seated as Queen, turn, O Mary, your merciful gaze on us, on our families, on our country, on Europe, on the world. Have compassion on the sorrows and cares which embitter our lives. See, O Mother, how many dangers of body and soul, how many calamities and afflictions press upon us.
O Mother, implore for us the mercy of your divine Son and conquer with clemency the heart of sinners. They are our brothers and your children who cause the heart of our sweet Jesus to bleed and who sadden your most sensitive Heart. Show all what you are, the Queen of Peace and of Pardon.
It is true that, although we are your children, we are the first to crucify again Jesus into our heart by our sins and we pierce anew your heart.
We confess it: we are deserving of the most severe punishments but remember that, on Golgotha, You received with the divine Blood, the testament of the dying Savior, who declared You to be our Mother, the Mother of sinners.
You then, as our Mother, are our Advocate, our Hope. And we raise our suppliant hands to You with sighs crying: “Mercy!”
O good Mother, have pity on us, on our souls, on our families, on our relatives, on our friends, on our deceased, especially on our enemies, and on so many who call themselves Christian and yet offend the Heart of your loving Son. Today we implore pity for the misguided Nations, for all Europe, for all the world, so that it may return repentant to your heart. Mercy on all, O Mother of Mercy!
Kindly deign to hear us, O Mary! Jesus has placed in your hands all the treasures of His graces and His mercies. You are seated a crowned Queen, at the right hand of your Son, resplendent with immortal glory above all the Choirs of Angels. You extend your dominion throughout heavens and the earth and all creatures are subject to you. You are omnipotent by grace and therefore You can help us. Were You not willing to help us, since we are ungrateful children and undeserving of your protection, we would not know to whom to turn. Your Mother’s heart would not permit to see us your children, lost. The Infant whom we see on your knees and the mystical Rosary which we gaze at your hand, inspire confidence in us that we shall be heard. And we confide fully in You, we abandon ourselves as helpless children into the arms of the most tender of mothers, and on this very day, we expect from You the graces we so long for.
One last favor we now ask You, O Queen, which You cannot refuse us on this most solemn day. Grant to all of us your steadfast love and in a special manner your maternal blessing.
We shall not leave You until You have blessed us. Bless, O Mary, at this moment, our Holy Father. To the ancient splendors of your Crown, to the triumphs of your Rosary, whence you are called the Queen of Victories, add this one also, O Mother: grant the triumph of Religion and Peace to human Society. Bless our Bishops, Priests and particularly all those who are zealous for the honor of your Sanctuary. Bless finally all those who are associated with your Temple of Pompeii and all those who cultivate and promote devotion to the Holy Rosary.
O Blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet Chain which binds us to God, Bond of love which unites us to the Angels, Tower of salvation against the assaults of hell, safe Port in our universal shipwreck, we shall never abandon You. You will be our comfort in the hour of agony: to You the last kiss of our dying life. And the last word from our lips will be your sweet name, O Queen of the Rosary of Pompeii, O dearest Mother, O Refuge of Sinners, O Sovereign Consoler of the Afflicted. Be Blessed everywhere, today and always, on earth and in Heaven. Amen.
Hail, Holy Queen…
Sung Mass at 7:00 p.m. this Friday, August 26th for the Feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa (the “Black Madonna”) in the Extraordinary Form.
Monday, August 15th, is the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady into Heaven, a first-class Feast. Since it falls on a Monday this year, it is not a Holy Day of Obligation. Never the less, the importance of the Feast remains in full force. Therefore, on Monday, August 15th I will celebrate two Holy Masses: one in the morning in English (Ordinary Form) at 8:15 a.m. and a Solemn High Mass in Latin (Extraordinary Form) at 7:00 p.m. There is an ancient custom of blessing the produce from home gardens and orchards, as well as seeds purchased for next year’s planting season, on the Feast of Our Lady’s Assumption. You may bring them to church and I will bless them before the evening Solemn High Mass. Happy Assumption Day, our Easter in August! – Father Lawrence
On Wednesday evening, January 6th, a Solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Form was celebrated at St. Mary Church. Father DeWayne Kayser, Pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Madison, SD, served as Deacon of the Mass and our seminarian, Mr. John Streff, F.S.S.P., served as Subdeacon. Mr. Landon Frederes was Master of Ceremonies.
“As you kneel at the feet of the child Jesus on the day of his Epiphany and see him a king bearing none of the outward signs of royalty, you can tell him: Lord, take away my pride; crush my self love, my desire to affirm myself and impose myself on others. Make the foundation of my personality my identification with you.
If our vocation comes first, if the star shines ahead to start us along the path of God’s love, it is illogical that we should begin to doubt if it chances to disappear from view. It might happen at certain moments in our interior life — and we are nearly always to blame — that the star disappears, just as it did to the wise kings on their journey. We have already realized the divine splendour of our vocation, and we are convinced about its definitive character, but perhaps the dust we stir up as we walk our miseries — forms an opaque cloud that cuts off the light from above. What should we do if this happens? Follow the example of those wise men and ask. Herod made use of knowledge to act unjustly. The Magi use it to do good. But we Christians have no need to go to Herod nor to the wise men of this world. Christ has given his Church sureness in doctrine and a flow of grace in the sacraments. He has arranged things so that there will always be people to guide and lead us, to remind us constantly of our way. There is an infinite treasure of knowledge available to us: the word of God kept safe by the Church, the grace of Christ administered in the sacraments and also the witness and example of those who live by our side and have known how to build with their good lives a road of faithfulness to God.”
-St. Josemaria Escriva, Homily for the Feast of the Epiphany, 1956