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Friday, March 24, 2017
St. Gabriel the Archangel
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Greater Double (1954 Calendar): March 24th

Today is the Feast of St. Gabriel the Archangel.  On feastdays in Lent, more usually the Mass of the Lenten feria is said with only a commemoration of the feast - unlike the other seasons in the Church's liturgical year. Today is also the day before the Annunciation - which commemorates the announcement to Mary that she would conceive and give birth to the Lord.  March 25th is the most important day in human history 3 times over!

The following is taken from Butler's Lives of the Saints for today:
BY a decree of the Congregation of Sacred Rites dated October 26, 1921, issued by command of Pope Benedict XV, it was directed that the feast of St Gabriel the Archangel should be kept in future as a greater double on March 24 throughout the Western church. 
As the question of the liturgical celebration of festivals in honour of the great archangels will be more naturally treated in connection with the older feast of St Michael on September 29, it will be sufficient here to point out that according to Daniel (ix 21) it was Gabriel who announced to the prophet the time of the coming of the Messiah, that it was he again who appeared to Zachary " standing on the right side of the altar of incense " (Luke i 10 and 19) to make known the future birth of the Precursor, and finally that it was he who as God's ambassador was sent to Mary at Nazareth (Luke i 26) to proclaim the mystery of the Incarnation.  
It was therefore very appropriate that Gabriel should be honoured on this day which immediately precedes the feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin. There is abundant archaeological evidence that the cultus of St Gabriel is in no sense a novelty.
An ancient chapel close beside the Appian Way, rescued from oblivion by Armellini, 
preserves the remains of a fresco in which the prominence given to the figure of the archangel, his name being written underneath, strongly suggests that he was at one time honoured in that chapel as principal patron. There are also many representations of Gabriel in the early Christian art both of East and West which make it plain that his connection with the sublime mystery of the Incarnation was remembered by the faithful in ages long anterior to the devotional revival of the thirteenth century.  
This messenger is the appropriate patron-saint of postal, telegraph and telephone workers. See the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, vol. xiii (1921), and the note to Michael the Archangel on September 29.
More Reading for Today: What are Angels? A Summary & Exposition on Angels for Catholics

Collect;

O God, from among all the angels You chose the archangel Gabriel as the messenger of the mystery of Your Incarnation. May his intercession in heaven help us as we celebrate his feast on earth; who lives and rules with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.
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Saturday, March 18, 2017
St. Cyril of Jerusalem
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Double (1954 Calendar): March 18th

Today is the Feast of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, a Doctor of the Church.  On feastdays in Lent, more usually the Mass of the Lenten feria is said with only a commemoration of the feast - unlike the other seasons in the Church's liturgical year.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem was born in 313 AD around the same time that Christianity was finally legalized in the Roman Empire.  The holy saint would in 349 AD be ordained the bishop of the holy city of Jerusalem, yet he would not be free from sufferings even in the era of the legalization of Christianity.  On three occasions St. Cyril was banished from Jerusalem by various bishops and emperors who espoused the Arian heresy.

In May of 381, Theodosius called the second ecumenical council at Constantinople to resolve theological disputes. Since Theodosius was the Emperor of the East at this time (he did not become the Emperor of the entire Roman Empire until 392) only the Eastern Bishops were invited. The Council met in the church of Hagia Irene (Holy Peace). Although only 150 Bishops attended, several have become recognized as saints – Gregory of Nazianzus, Meletius of Antioch, Gregory of Nyssa, Peter of Sebaste, Pelagius of Laodicea, Eulogius of Edessa, Amphilochius of Iconium and Cyril of Jerusalem - just to name a few.  The most important contribution from this Council was the expansion of the Nicene Creed.  The new Nicene – Constantinopolitan Creed described the incarnation, suffering and death of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Dr. Italy on CrossRoad Initiatives further elaborates:
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem is one of the most important sources we have for how the church celebrated the liturgy and sacraments during the first few decades after the legalization of Christianity. In his famous 24 lectures commonly known as the Jerusalem Catecheses, Saint Cyril instructs new Christians in the days immediately before and after their initiation into the life of the Church at the Easter Vigil. In these catechetical instructions, which are the only documents that survive by St. Cyril, we find very strong insistence on the value and efficacy of the sacrament of baptism as well as heavy emphasis on the real presence of Christ’s body and blood in the sacrament of the Eucharist.  
St. Cyril of Jerusalem is considered to be one of the Early Church Fathers and is also reckoned among the number of the Doctors of the Catholic Church. St. Cyril of Jerusalem died about 386 AD, shortly after the First Council of Constantinople which completed the Creed commonly known as the Nicene Creed.  (bio by Dr. Italy)
You may read his 24 lectures online for free.  Click here for Part 1 and click here for Part 2.

Collect:

O Almighty God, may the prayers of Your blessed bishop Cyril help us to know You, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent, so that we may be numbered among the flock that obeys His voice. Through the same Jesus Christ . . .
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Wednesday, March 15, 2017
How Did Jesus Pay the Debt for All Sins?
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Meditations for Each Day of Lent
by St. Thomas Aquinas

Wednesday After the Second Sunday

The Passion of Christ brought about our salvation
because it was an act of satisfaction

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for those of the whole world.--I John ii. 2.

Satisfaction for offences committed is truly made when there is offered to the person offended a thing which he loves as much as, or more than, he hates the offences committed.

Christ, however, by suffering out of love and out of obedience, offered to God something greater by far than the satisfaction called for by all the sins of all mankind, and this for three reasons. In the first place, there was the greatness of the love which moved Him to suffer. Then there was the worth of the life which He laid down in satisfaction, the life of God and man. Finally, on account of the way in which His Passion involved every part of His being, and of the greatness of the suffering he undertook.

So it is that the Passion of Christ was not merely sufficient but superabundant as a satisfaction for men's sins. It would seem indeed to be the case that satisfaction should be made by the person who committed the offence. But head and members are as it were one mystical person, and therefore the satisfaction made by Christ avails all the faithful as they are the members of Christ. One man can always make satisfaction for another, so long as the two are one in charity.

2. Although Christ, by His death, made sufficient satisfaction for original sin, it is not unfitting that the penal consequences of original sin should still remain even in those who are made sharers in Christ's redemption. This has been done fittingly and usefully, so that the penalties remain even though the guilt has been removed.

(i) It has been done so that there might be conformity between the faithful and Christ, as there is conformity between members and head. Just as Christ first of all suffered many pains and came in this way to His glory, so it is only right that His faithful should also first be subjected to sufferings and thence enter into immortality, themselves bearing as it were the livery of the Passion of Christ so as to enjoy a glory somewhat like to His.

(ii) A second reason is that if men coming to Christ were straightway freed from suffering and the necessity of death, only too many would come to Him attracted rather by these temporal advantages than by spiritual things. And this would be altogether contrary to the intention of Christ, who came into this world that He might convert men from a love of temporal advantages and win them to spiritual things.

(iii) Finally, if those who came to Christ were straightway rendered immortal and impassible, this would in a kind of way compel men to receive the faith of Christ, and so the merit of believing would be lessened.
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Monday, March 13, 2017
Albertus de Chiavari: 10th Dominican Master
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Continuing my articles on the Masters of the Dominican Order, we now arrive at the 10th Dominican Master: Albertus de Chiavari.  Albertus governed the Dominican Order after Nicola Boccasini (Pope Benedict XI), left the role when he was elected as the Supreme Pontiff.

For a quick recap on the previous Masters of the Order, please click here.

Albertus de Chiavari governed the Order only for less than one year.  In fact, little is known on Albertus of certainty.  A quick internet search reveals nothing on his life.  

Let us pray for this "forgotten" Dominican and all those in the past ages who have no one to pray for them now.

Pater Noster. Ave Maria.
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Sunday, March 12, 2017
St. Gregory the Great
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Double (1954 Calendar): March 12th

Today is the Feast of St. Gregory I (i.e. St. Gregory the Great) who ruled the Church as Pope from September 3, 590 AD until his death on March 12, 604 AD.  On feastdays in Lent, more usually the Mass of the Lenten feria is said with only a commemoration of the feast - unlike the other seasons in the Church's liturgical year.

The Feast of St. Gregory the Great is certainly worth mentioning in the midst of our Lenten discipline.  Let's read what the Roman Martyrology says of St. Gregory:
Also at Rome, the raising to the Sovereign Pontificate of St. Gregory the Great. This incomparable man, being forced to take that burden upon himself, sent forth from the exalted throne brighter rays of sanctity upon the world.
The following summary of his life is from Catholic Online:
Gregory's family was very wealthy and owned estates on the island of Sicily which provided income. 
When Gregory was just two years old in 542, the Plague of Justinian swept through the region. This plague was caused by a now-extinct strain of Yersinia Pestis, more commonly known as the Black Death. The plague was the most severe outbreak of deadly disease the world had ever known and remained the worst such incident until the Black Death in the 14th century. About a third of the population in Italy was wiped out by the disease. 
In addition to disease, the barbarian Ostrogoths sacked Rome in 546. The Franks attempted an invasion in 554. Both of these incursions were short lived. It is unclear how these massive events impacted Gregory's development as a child, but it is thought his family retreated to Sicily during part of that time. Peace followed in Italy after these upheavals. 
Gregory was well educated and excelled in all his studies. He also became an expert in law. He excelled so much he became the Prefect of Rome, just as his father had been. Gregory was only 33 years old. 
After Gregory's father had died, Gregory had the family villa in Rome converted into a monastery. Today the monastery still stands as the San Gregorio Magno al Celio. This famous monastery fell into ruin in the following centuries but was restored during the 17th and 18th centuries 
As a monk, Gregory was hard and strict. When a monk on his deathbed confessed to stealing three pieces of gold, Gregory ordered he be left to die alone. After the poor monk had died, Gregory ordered his body thrown on a dung heap along with the three coins. Then, in a turn of heart, Gregory offered 30 Masses for the deceased monk.
Pope Pelagius II, who reigned from 579 to 590, chose Gregory to serve as an ambassador to the imperial court in Constantinople. 
The Pope had a problem with the Lombards invading from the west. Gregory was ordered to request military aid from the emperor. But the emperor felt there were greater threats to the east, and he refused Gregory's request 
In 590, Pope Pelagius II died, and Gregory was proclaimed pope by acclamation. This was not something Gregory wanted, but he accepted the burden nevertheless.
Gregory made clear he preferred the monastic life in a series of writings praising it. He also referred to himself as a servant of God. The habit remains in practice to this day and many clergy still refer to themselves as servants. 
Pope Gregory was famous for the emphasis he put on missionary work. He sent many people out to bring many to Jesus and into the Church. Anglo-Saxon Britain was, at that time, still on the frontier of Christendom. It was Pope Gregory who dispatched St. Augustine (of Canterbury) to Kent in 597 (not to be confused with St. Augustine of Hippo). 
Pope Gregory made many changes to the Mass, some of which remain today, The position of the Our Father in the Mass remains where Pope Gregory placed it. 
He emphasized the aspect of service to the poor for deacons. The number of deacons was increasing in number and they were seen as less essential as extensions of the Bishop than they were in the early Church. Deacons were often tasked with giving alms to the poor, and at least one was assigned to each church and ordained for this purpose. 
Pope Gregory may have also established "cantus planus," known in English as plainchant. Most today know this style of singing as Gregorian Chant. The melodious, monophonic music is known throughout the Church and closely associated with medieval monasteries. Gregorian chant gives us the oldest music we still have in the original form, some dating to the centuries just after the death of Gregory. It remains a matter of some dispute just how involved Pope Gregory was in the development of the style. Some music historians argue the credit is a misattribution that rightly belongs to his less famous successor of a century later, Gregory II. 
Pope Gregory was well known for his alms to the poor, and he gave quite generously of the riches donated to the Church by the wealthy people of Rome. Everything from money to land was given to the poor in some fashion. He made clear to his subordinates that their duty was to relieve the distress faced by the poor. 
He ordered his clergy to go out into the streets to find and care for the poor in person. Any clergy who were unwilling to go into the streets and help the poor were replaced. Assets of the Church were liquidated to provide income for alms. Clergy doing this work were paid four times a year and given a gold coin as a sort of bonus. 
When a famine struck Rome in the 590s, Pope Gregory ordered the Church to use its assets to feed the poor. At that time, the Church controlled nearly two thousand square miles of land, overseen by the clergy and used to generate income. Now, instead of selling the produce of the land, Pope Gregory ordered it shipped to Rome and given away for free. In this way, he saved thousands of people from certain death. 
Pope Gregory himself refused to eat until his monks returned from their work of handing out food. 
He also made certain to dine with a dozen poor people at each meal. 
Gregory is widely considered the be the first medieval pope, and he was a prolific writer. 
Because of his great respect for the poor, it was Pope Gregory and the Church that became the most respected --and obeyed force in Rome and across Italy. 
From the time of Gregory onwards, the people looked to the Church for government rather than the distant and indifferent emperors in Constantinople. 
Pope Gregory suffered from arthritis in his last years. He died on March 12, 604 AD. He was immediately proclaimed a saint by means of popular acclaim. 
Saint Gregory's relics remain in St. Peter's Basilica to this day.
Collect:

O God, You rewarded the soul of Your servant Gregory with eternal happiness. Mercifully relieve us from the oppressive weight of our sins through the intercession of this saint. Through Our Lord . . .
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Prayer on the Imposition of the Papal Tiara
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In the coronation of all popes — including Pius XII, on March 12, 1939 — the tiara is placed on the candidate’s head with the words: “Receive the tiara adorned with three crowns and know that thou art Father of princes and kings, Ruler of the world, Vicar of our Savior Jesus Christ.”

If this phraseology had not been sanctified by long usage, it would not have been coined in this generation to express the relation of the pope to the political and social order; but it would not have been created in the first place if it had not meant then what it says — “Ruler of the world.”
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Thursday, March 9, 2017
Sacred Metals
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I recently came across the website SacredMetals.com which offers a a number of beautiful medals, crosses, Rosaries, Rings, and more.  While I have not used them personally, I have been very impressed with their selection and the apparent quality.

They are currently offering a Lenten sale of up to 50% off. Check them out and if you have used them, please let me know your thoughts.



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Wednesday, March 8, 2017
The Lenten Ember Fast Starts Today
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Although Ember Days are no longer considered required in mainstream Roman Catholicism following Vatican II, they can - and should - still be observed by the Faithful. In fact, many Traditional priests encourage the Faithful to observe the days. Ember Days are set aside to pray and/or offer thanksgiving for a good harvest and God's blessings. If you are in good health, please at least fast during these three days and pray the additional prayers. Remember the words from the Gospel: "Unless you do penance, you shall likewise perish" (Luke 13:5).  Ember Days are days of fasting and partial abstinence.

Ember Days this Lent: March 8, 10, and 11

From New Advent:

Ember days (corruption from Lat. Quatuor Tempora, four times) are the days at the beginning of the seasons ordered by the Church as days of fast and abstinence. They were definitely arranged and prescribed for the entire Church by Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085) for the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after 13 December (S. Lucia), after Ash Wednesday, after Whitsunday, and after 14 September (Exaltation of the Cross). The purpose of their introduction, besides the general one intended by all prayer and fasting, was to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy. The immediate occasion was the practice of the heathens of Rome. The Romans were originally given to agriculture, and their native gods belonged to the same class.

At the beginning of the time for seeding and harvesting religious ceremonies were performed to implore the help of their deities: in June for a bountiful harvest, in September for a rich vintage, and in December for the seeding; hence their feriae sementivae, feriae messis, and feri vindimiales. The Church, when converting heathen nations, has always tried to sanctify any practices which could be utilized for a good purpose. At first the Church in Rome had fasts in June, September, and December; the exact days were not fixed but were announced by the priests. The "Liber Pontificalis" ascribes to Pope Callistus (217-222) a law ordering: the fast, but probably it is older. Leo the Great (440-461) considers it an Apostolic institution. When the fourth season was added cannot be ascertained, but Gelasius (492-496) speaks of all four. This pope also permitted the conferring of priesthood and deaconship on the Saturdays of ember week--these were formerly given only at Easter.

Before Gelasius the ember days were known only in Rome, but after his time their observance spread. They were brought into England by St. Augustine; into Gaul and Germany by the Carlovingians. Spain adopted them with the Roman Liturgy in the eleventh century. They were introduced by St. Charles Borromeo into Milan. The Eastern Church does not know them. The present Roman Missal, in the formulary for the Ember days, retains in part the old practice of lessons from Scripture in addition to the ordinary two: for the Wednesdays three, for the Saturdays six, and seven for the Saturday in December. Some of these lessons contain promises of a bountiful harvest for those that serve God.


From Catholic Culture:
Since man is both a spiritual and physical being, the Church provides for the needs of man in his everyday life. The Church's liturgy and feasts in many areas reflect the four seasons of the year (spring, summer, fall and winter). The months of August, September, October and November are part of the harvest season, and as Christians we recall God's constant protection over his people and give thanksgiving for the year's harvest.

The September Ember Days were particularly focused on the end of the harvest season and thanksgiving to God for the season. Ember Days were three days (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) set aside by the Church for prayer, fasting and almsgiving at the beginning of each of the four seasons of the year. The ember days fell after December 13, the feast of St. Lucy (winter), after the First Sunday of Lent (spring), after Pentecost Sunday (summer), and after September 14 , the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (fall). These weeks are known as the quattor tempora, the "four seasons."

Since the late 5th century, the Ember Days were also the preferred dates for ordination of priests. So during these times the Church had a threefold focus: (1) sanctifying each new season by turning to God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving; (2) giving thanks to God for the various harvests of each season; and (3) praying for the newly ordained and for future vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
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Friday, March 3, 2017
Book Review: Saint Junipero Serra's Camino by Stephen Binz
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Back in 2014 I spent a week visiting southern California - specifically Los Angeles down to San Diego. As part of my journey, I visited several missions including the Mission Basilica of San Diego de Alcala and Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Flash forward to early 2017.  I was contacted by Pete Socks in January with an opportunity to review one of Franciscan Media's newest books entitled Saint Junipero Serra's Camino by Stephen Binz.  As someone went on a pilgrimage to Rome last year, I jumped at the chance.  I found travel guide books very helpful in making the most out of pilgrimage in Rome, and I was excited to see how a guidebook would help in promoting the Catholicity of the California missions.  I was excited to have the chance to read Stephen Binz's book for myself.

And the result?  I wish I had this book back in 2014 when I first went to California.  In fact, I have not seen a book that so appropriately and usefully summarizes the missions.  This book importantly goes further than merely presenting the facts as to what is in each mission.  The book highlights the history of the missions and includes relevant prayers, litanies, and Scripture readings in each chapter, thus making this an ideal companion for those on pilgrimage in Southern California.

The book is easy to read, spiritually uplifting, and conveniently fits in your travel bag.  As a result, I'm happy to recommend this book to all.  To learn more, please check out Saint Junipero Serra's Camino by Stephen Binz on Amazon.com.

For those interested in journeying with this book to the missions founded by St. Junipero Serra, the following are just a few of the images from my travels there:







St. Junipero Serra, pray for us and for the Church!
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Thursday, March 2, 2017
31-Day St. Joseph Daily Reflection Manual: Free PDF
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Did you know that the Month of March is dedicated to St. Joseph?


31-Day St. Joseph Daily Reflection 

Originally composed by St. Alphonsus Liguori, the text in this booklet was adapted by Hugh J. O'Connell, C.SS.R. Printed with an Imprimatur in 1962, it is now difficult to find. The text was recently arranged as a pdf download, ready to print at home for family devotions. The booklet is composed of 31 short but fervent devotions to St. Joseph, arranged for each day in the month. Every line bears testimony to the respect, confidence, and love which St. Alphonsus felt for the foster father of Jesus.

http://sspx.org/sites/sspx/files/dailydevotionsstjoseph-liguori.pdf

Via: SSPX Website
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