Tuesday, July 5, 2022
Effective Liturgical Catechesis
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What is Liturgical Catechesis

The Liturgy is the public worship of God using approved rituals. The Catholic Encyclopedia offers the following definition of Liturgy: "Liturgy (leitourgia) is a Greek composite word meaning originally a public duty, a service to the state undertaken by a citizen… So in Christian use liturgy meant the public official service of the Church, that corresponded to the official service of the Temple in the Old Law." As the Baltimore Catechism #925 states: "God commanded ceremonies to be used in the old law, and 2. Our Blessed Lord Himself made use of ceremonies in performing some of His miracles."

But the Liturgy is itself also a highly effective means of transmitting the Catholic Faith to everyone - children, catechumens, and lifelong Catholics. Everyone can learn the Faith from true and pious liturgical acts since at their core they express the timeless, unchangeable Catholic Faith. Two of the primary means we have to learn the Faith through the Liturgy are the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Divine Office.

The Mass in Liturgical Catechesis

The Mass is the center of our Catholic lives, including our prayer life. The Mass not only contains prayers but is the foundation of prayer. One can never attend Mass too often.

Quoting from John Senior's fantastic work The Restoration of Christian Culture, "Work is a physical necessity; if you don't work you don't eat. Prayer is a necessity of obligation; if you don't pray you will not enter the Kingdom. Prayer is a duty, an office; it is free, voluntary payment of the debt we owe to God for existence and grace. The Latin word for duty is officium, and the perfect prayer of the Church is its Divine Office; St. Benedict calls it the opus Dei, the work of God" (60).

John Senior continues, "I have cited the Latin for the meaning of many words not for the pretense of learning, but because their meaning is Latin. Latin is the language of the Roman Catholic Church; you can repudiate the tradition and overthrow the Church; but you cannot have the tradition and the Church without its language. And though the Second Vatican Council permitted the substitution of vernacular liturgies where pastoral reasons suggested their usefulness, it commanded that the Latin be preserved. The Catholic Faith is so intimately bound to the two thousand years of Latin prayers any attempt to live the Catholic life without them will result in its attrition and ultimate apostasy - which we have witnessed even in the few years of the vernacular experiment. We must return to the Faith of our fathers by way of prayer of our fathers" (60 - 61).

John Senior's works are beautifully said and express an absolute reality - the Church is timeless; she is outside of time. Only by restoring true Christian culture, as Senior explains throughout his book, will Christ again reign in our hearts, our homes, and our families. Christ must reign. And how can we bring about the reign of Christ without frequent prayer? Prayer is necessary. It is essential for the spiritual life. A life spent in good works of charity that has no prayer is a life built on bad soil. And no soul whose life is built in bad soil can inherit everlasting life.

Living a Catholic life means living for the Mass as the center of your life — your prayer life — your entire life.

The Mass is the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and for that reason, it is by definition efficacious. We are present at Calvary. Rather than merely remembering the life and death of Christ, we are present at it and partake of its eternal fruits which flow to us from the altar and during the Canon when the priest stands in the place of Christ and offers the Eternal Victim on the Altar to God. We can further receive grace by partaking of the Holy Eucharist if we are Catholics in the state of grace.

It was Pope St. Pius X who famously remarked:

The Holy Mass is a prayer itself, even the highest prayer that exists. It is the Sacrifice, dedicated by our Redeemer at the Cross, and repeated every day on the altar. If you wish to hear Mass as it should be heard, you must follow with eye, heart and mouth all that happens at the altar. Further, you must pray with the priest the holy words said by him in the Name of Christ and which Christ says by him. You have to associate your heart with the holy feelings which are contained in these words and in this manner you ought to follow all that happens at the altar. When acting in this way, you have prayed Holy Mass.

Above all, to participate in the Holy Mass is not to be the loudest person, to say the responses out loud, to move around a lot, etc. To truly participate in the Mass is to be the most contemplative and aware of the presence of God and the offering of our Lord on the Cross. For that reason sometimes those who participate the most fully in the Mass are those who say the very least.

The Divine Office in Liturgical Catechesis

This prayer is actually Liturgy, which means it forms part of the official, public prayers of the Church. Because it is liturgy, we must approach it with respect and reverence, and follow the proper postures and guidelines, just as if we were attending the Liturgy of the Holy Mass.

This prayer is called the Divine Office which is contained in a series of books called the Breviary. At certain points throughout the day, all of the Church prays the same liturgy to God, and we are all united in this wonderful prayer. The purpose of the Divine Office is to sanctify time and our day, making us constantly in prayer before the Father. 

Priests, deacons, monks, and nuns are required to pray these hours throughout the day. However, everyone is invited to pray these. Holy Mother Church encourages all of her faithful to regularly pray the Hours, especially in common (Code of Canon Law, Canon 1174.2).

The Divine Office is immensely helpful to a life of grace, and it is a great grace to be able to enter into the prayer of the Church before God. The main hours to pray are Lauds, Vespers, and Compline are the major hours.  Prime, Terce, Sext, and None are the little hours. Matins, the first hour, is often prayed very early in the morning or night and usually immediately precedes Lauds.  As a layman, you don't need to pray the Office perfectly. But it would be very worthwhile for you to unite your prayers to the Church's official Liturgy.  

An article from America Press Volume 27 written 1922 remarks, that the Divine Office, especially Vespers and Compline, along with the Solemn High Mass are powerful not only for the Faithful but for missionary work among Protestants. And similarly, they are highly effective for liturgical catechesis:

"But the most amazing thing of all is to see the way the most valuable instruments that the clergy have are left unused. The evening service, which could be made so attractive, is now usually a hit-or-miss compilation of private devotions made to serve a public need. The rosary, so strange to Protestants in any case, is recited in so rapid a manner that hardly a word is understood by the Protestant who is present. Even Benediction is often given in a slap-dash manner. From all this the Protestant forms the opinion that the great thing about Catholic prayer is to have it over as soon as possible. Can we blame him so much?

"In the average parish High Mass is very seldom sung except at a funeral. Yet many a soul has been converted by a High Mass. Even where High Mass or the Missa Cantata is the Sunday custom, the Proper of the Mass is left unsung and so the real teaching part of the service is not known by the poeple, and never is put before the truth-seeker at all. Yet the Missal is a storehouse of missionary material. What a splendid thing it would be if in every parish church it were possible to take one's Protestant friends to Solemn Mass or Vespers! What could be better adapted to attract Protestants than Compline properly changed? Why is it that with all the wealth of the liturgy at her disposal the Church in this country makes no effort to use it? Even in our cathedrals the Divine Office is not performed, nor a daily High Mass sung. Is it any wonder if the Protestant comes to think that the Catholic is weary of the worship of God? Music, art, the dramatic instinct, all these things could be used to advantage in this country."


How Many Hours A Day Should I Pray?

You might be concerned and ask "how many hours of prayer must I perform daily?" Quoting again from Senior on the topic, "The strictly cloistered monk and nun lead that life in the highest degree, but each of us in his station must pay his due. There are three degrees of prayer: The first, of the consecrated religious, is total. They pray always, according to the counsel of Our Lord. Their whole life is the Divine Office, Mass, spiritual reading, mental prayer... They pray eight hours, sleep eight hours and divide the other eight between physical work and recreation... The third degree is for those in the married state (or single life) who offer a tithe of their time for prayer — about two and a half hours per day — with eight hours for work, eight for sleep, and the remaining five and a half for recreation with the family" (62-63).

Make an effort — an obligation — pray the Divine Office and other pious devotions for 2 and a half hours each day. And no prayer is greater than the Mass. If possible, attend Holy Mass daily. We quote one final time from Senior who said, "Whatever we do in the political and social order, the indispensable foundation is prayer, the heart of which is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the perfect prayer of Christ Himself, Priest and Victim, recreating in an unbloodly manner the bloody, selfsame Sacrifice of Calvary. What is Christian Culture? It is essentially the Mass" (16-17).

Conclusion

Liturgical Catechesis Program

The Law of Prayer is the Law of Belief. If we pray a certain way, it shows in a powerful way what we believe. And conversely, irreverent Masses, hurried prayers, and parishes that never encourage the Divine Office or at least the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, fail in effective liturgical catechesis.

For parishes or individuals looking at better catechesis, please consider the wonderful programs of CatechismClass.com. The lessons are unwaveringly faithful to the Catholic Faith and highlight often the importance of liturgical catechesis and the Sacramental life. All adult-level lessons for instance incorporate the Divine Office. Pairing a truly exceptional program like those by CatechismClass.com with a Sacramental and liturgically-based prayer life can help establish a truly solid foundation of liturgical catechesis.
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Tuesday, June 28, 2022
Continued Beautification of St. Joseph (FSSP) in Rockdale
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I had a chance to visit again this week St. Joseph Catholic Church in Rockdale, IL which is the FSSP Parish in the Diocese of Joliet. I was happy to see more beautification on the inside. Notably, there are now beautiful paintings of Ss. Peter and Paul on each side of the high altar. And the side altars are also much more beautiful and fitting for the Holy Sacrifice to be offered on them.

Below are some photos which I shared in December 2018 so you can see the transformation holistically as well as from 2018 to the present:


The newly painted church at end of 2018:




Image Sources: A Catholic Life Blog

The church when the FSSP came in 2013:


The church back in 1915 after its consecration:

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Friday, June 24, 2022
Do The Souls of Unborn Babies Go to Heaven?
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BREAKING NEWS TODAY: After nearly 50 years, Roe has been responsible for the deaths of over 60 million preborn American children. Today, the Supreme Court has finally overturned the grievous error of Roe v. Wade that has cost so many precious lives.

The Souls of Baptized Infants Go Directly to Heaven

With the exception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, all human persons are conceived with original on their souls. Such a view is a dogma of the Faith that must be believed: “Original sin is transmitted by natural generation.” The Catechism of St. Pius X therefore counsels, "There should be the greatest anxiety to have infants baptized because, on account of their tender age, they are exposed to many dangers of death, and cannot be saved without Baptism."

In the way in which God has created the world, it is necessary to receive Baptism in order to see God in Heaven. Seeing God and being present with Him in Heaven is the beatific vision. It is the greatest joy of Heaven. 

Of course, not everyone who is baptized will be saved. To be saved requires dying in the state of sanctifying grace. That is why we must work out our salvation our entire life and have frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Confession so that we may be forgiven for our mortal sins and restored to sanctifying grace. Heaven is not possible for those who die without sanctifying grace in their souls.

Because a baby who was born and who was baptized cannot commit any actual sins, we know without any doubt that these children, if they die before they are old enough to know right from wrong, will go straight to Heaven. They are truly saints.

Do the Souls of Unborn & Therefore Unbaptized Babies Go to Heaven?

"Souls who depart this life in the state of original sin are excluded from the Beatific Vision of God" (Council of Florence: 1438 – 1445 AD).

Dr. Ludwig Ott, the famous theologian, in quoting the de fide dogma of the Council of Florence teaches:

The 2nd General Council of Lyons (1274) and the Council of Florence (1438-45) declared:  illorum animas, qui in actuali mortali peccato vel solo irginali decedunt, mox in infernum descendere poenis tamen disparibus puniendas (the souls of those who die in original sin as well as those who die in actual mortal sin go immediately into hell, but their punishment is very different).  D 464, 693.

The dogma is supported by the words of Our Lord: "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God" (John 3, 5).

The spiritual re-birth of young infants can be achieved in an extra-sacramental manner though baptism by blood (cf. the baptism by blood of the children of Bethlehem).  Other emergency means of baptism for children dying without sacramental baptism, such as prayer and desire of the parents or the Church (vicarious baptism of desire -- Cajetan), or the attainment of the use of reason in the moment of death, so that the dying child can decide for or against God (baptism of desire -- H. Klee), or suffering and death of the child as quasi-Sacrament (baptism of suffering -- H. Schell), are indeed, possible, but their actuality cannot be proved from Revelation.  Cf. D 712.

In the punishment of Hell theologians distinguish between the "poena damni," which consists in the exclusion from the Beatific Vision of God, and the "poena sensus" which is caused by external means, and which will be felt by the senses even after the resurrection of the body.  While St. Augustine and many Latin Fathers are of the opinion that children dying in original sin must suffer "poena sensus" also, even if only a very mild one (mitissima omnium poena: Enchir. 93), the Greek Fathers (for example, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Or. 40, 23), and the majority of the Schoolmen and more recent theologians, teach that they suffer "poena damni" only.  The declaration of Pope Innocent III, is in favour of this teaching:  Poena originalis peccati est carentia visionis Dei (= poena damni) actualis vero poena peccati est gehennae perpetuae cruciatus (= poena sensus).  D 410.  A condition of natural bliss is compatible with "poena damni."  Cf. St. Thomas, De malo, 5, 3; Sent. II d. 33 q 2 a. 2.

Theologians usually assume that there is a special place or state for children dying without baptism which they call limbus puerorum (children's Limbo).  Pope Pius VI adopted this view against the Synod of Pistoia.  D 1526.

Consequently, we must conclude that the souls of unbaptized and unborn children who die with original sin on their souls can not enter Heaven. But with St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Pope Pius VI, and others we can hope for an eternity of blessedness for them in the Limbo of the Infants (not to be confused with the Limbo of the Fathers where the Old Testament saints waited until Christ opened Heaven) which is a place of tranquility and peace even though they can never gaze on the face of God.  This is a place of perfect natural happiness - imagine a life of happiness on a place like earth. They will not suffer the flames of hell.

Can Unbaptized, Miscarried Babies Go to Heaven Through a “Vicarious Baptism”?

It is held as de fide doctrine that along with water Baptism there is a Baptism of Blood and a Baptism of Desire that are equal in merit to water Baptism. They remove original sin from a soul and save a soul from Hell and also open the possibility of Heaven to them.

Thomas Cardinal Cajetan, a leading figure in the Catholic Church against the Protestant Revolt, held the view that there may be reason to hope for a “vicarious” Baptism of Desire of miscarried babies whose parents had intended to baptize the child at birth. While the child died in the womb before baptism, he held the hope that in God’s mercy, the children would be spared even Limbo and admitted to the beatific vision of God for all eternity. 

The 1980 document by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith stated: “The Church has thus shown by her teaching and practice that she knows no other way apart from Baptism for ensuring children’s entry into eternal happiness.” For the souls of miscarried babies, we can assert that they are not in Hell since they had no actual sins on their souls. But whether or not mortal sin was removed in a manner as proposed by Cardinal Cajetan is a theory that we can certainly hope is the case. But it is not certain. 

Nevertheless, the parent or a priest should baptize the body of the miscarried child as soon as possible with the following formula: "If you are capable of being baptized, I baptize you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost." 

Do Aborted Babies Go to Heaven or Hell?

What does it mean for aborted children? We believe that in God's mercy these children will not suffer the pains of Hell, through no fault of their own, but they are nevertheless unable to go to Heaven since they were murdered with original sin still on their souls.

They will not be in pain. But they are not in Heaven. They will never see the face of God. They will never have a chance to enter Heaven. And since they were murdered by their own mother, there is no credible reason to hold that Cardinal Cajetan’s theory applies to them.

This sad reality is one of the many reasons that we must reject abortion completely - it deprives a human soul of Heaven. While the child will not suffer, he will never see God. And the guardian angel that God has appointed to guard that child weeps. Not only does the sin of abortion, which is the willful murder of a human being, cry out to Heaven for vengeance, but it also deprives a soul of seeing God forever. 

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Thursday, June 16, 2022
The Importance of Thanksgiving After Communion
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It is not enough to simply receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion and return to our pews as if nothing has happened. We must constantly live with gratitude in our hearts, especially in the 15 minutes after receiving Communion when the Lord’s Real Presence is still within our bodies. 

Pope St. Pius X gives the reason behind the necessity of thanksgiving after having received Our Divine Savior: “Since the sacraments of the New Law ... produce a greater effect in proportion as the dispositions of the recipient are better, therefore, one should take care that Holy Communion be...followed by an appropriate thanksgiving, according to each one’s strength, circumstances, and duties.”

Priests use a book called the Roman Ritual, which gives directions to priests and faithful alike concerning how to correctly receive the Sacraments. And it includes this important part on the Act of Thanksgiving After Holy Communion:

“Moreover, the communicants should be warned not to leave church right after receiving, nor to engage in idle conversation nor to violate custody of the eyes, and neither to begin at once the reading of prayers from a book nor to expectorate, lest the Sacred Species fall from the mouth. “Rather, as befits devotion they should spend some time in mental prayer, thanking God for this singular favor and at the same time for the Savior’s sacred Passion, in memory of which this mystery is celebrated and consummated

Thus, after Holy Communion, we need to speak with Our Lord personally and reflect on the depth of His love for us. 

Pope Pius XII in his encyclical on the Sacred Liturgy published in 1947 similarly said: 

“Such personal colloquies are very necessary that we may all enjoy more fully the supernatural treasures that are contained in the Eucharist and, according to our means, share them with others, so that Christ Our Lord may exert the greatest possible influence on the souls of all”.

The Holy Father continued:

“When the Mass is over...the person who has received Holy Communion is not thereby freed from his duty of thanksgiving; rather it is most becoming that, when the Mass is finished, the person who has received the Eucharist should recollect himself, and in intimate union with the Divine Master hold loving and fruitful converse with Him. Hence they have departed from the straight way of truth who, adhering to the letter rather than the sense, assert and teach that when the Mass has ended, no such thanksgiving should be added, not only because the Mass is itself a thanksgiving, but also because this pertains to a private and personal act of piety and not to the good of the community.”

Therefore, the necessity of making Acts of Thanksgiving is not just for us as individuals, but also for the good of the Church. And this allows us to perform our duties of charity towards our fellow men.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Respice, Domine Prayer
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A truly fitting prayer for Corpus Christi – and for any Thursday of the year – is the Respice, Domine which was composed by St. Cajetan. The Raccolta listed the following indulgences for this prayer:

i. A plenary indulgence to all the faithful who, being contrite, and having confessed and gone to Communion on the first Thursday in the month, shall on that day visit the Blessed Sacrament, either at Exposition time or when enclosed in the Tabernacle, and say there the following prayer, Respice, Domine.

ii. An indulgence of seven years and seven quarantines every Thursday in the year, to all who, after Confession and Communion, shall say the above prayer, on their knees, before the Blessed Sacrament.

iii. An indulgence of 100 days for saying it, with contrite heart, before the Blessed Sacrament, on any day whatever.

The Prayer:

Look down, O Lord, from Thy sanctuary, and from Heaven Thy dwelling-place on high, and behold this sacred Victim which our great High-Priest, Thy holy Child, our Lord Jesus, offers up to Thee for the sins of This brethren; and be appeased for the multitude of our transgressions. Behold the voice of the Blood of Jesus, our Brother, cries to Thee from the Cross. Give ear, O Lord! be appeased, O Lord! hearken, and do not tarry for Thine own sake, O my God, for Thy Name is invoked upon this city and upon Thy people; and deal with us according to Thy mercy. Amen.

Respice, Domino, de sanctuario tuo et de excelso coelorum habitaculo, et vide hanc sacrosanctam Hostiam, quam Tibi offert magnus Pontifex noster Sanctus Puer tuus Dominus Jesus pro peccatis fratrum suorum; et esto placabilis super multitudinem malitiae nostrae. Ecce vox Sanguinis fratris nostri Jesu clamat ad Te de Cruce. Exaudi, Domine; placare, Domine; attende, et fac, ne moreris propter temetipsum, Deus meus, quia nomen tuum invocatum est super civitatem istam, et super populum tuum; et fac nobiscum secundum misericordiam tuam. Amen.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2022
Vigil of Corpus Christi Fasting
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Corpus Domini Basilica, Turin, Italy

The Church has enriched the celebration of Corpus Christi – as well as devotions to the Blessed Sacrament at other times – with a number of indulgences. For instance, the Raccolta, listing the traditional indulgences in place before the changes after Vatican II, stated for the Feast of Corpus Christi and its Octave:

Pope Urban IV… being desirous that all the faithful should give God due thanks for this inestimable benefit and be excited to meet their Lord's love in this most holy Sacrament with grateful hearts, granted in the said Constitution several Indulgences to the faithful, which were again augmented by Pope Martin V in his Constitution Ineffabile, of May 26, 1429. Afterwards Pope Eugenius IV, in his Constitution Excellentissimum, of May 20, 1433, confirmed the Indulgences of Martin V, and added others, as follows:

i. An indulgence of 200 days, on the vigil of the Feast of Corpus Christi to all who, being truly contrite and having confessed, shall fast, or do some other good work enjoined them by their confessor.

ii. An indulgence of 400 days, on the feast itself, to all who, being contrite and having Confessed, shall devoutly assist at or be present at any of the following functions: First or Second Vespers, Matins, and Mass. An indulgence of 160 days for each of the Little hours, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, and Compline.

iii. An indulgence of 200 days, during the octave, for each Vespers, Matins, and Mass. An indulgence of 80 days for each of the Little Hours.

iv. An indulgence of 200 days for accompanying the procession of the Blessed Sacrament, which takes place on the Feast or during the Octave, to every priest who has said Mass, and to every layman who has gone to Communion on any one of these days, and who shall pray for the Holy Church.

v. An indulgence of 200 days for accompanying the procession made by the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament on the third Sunday of the month, and on Holy Thursday.

Practices such as a voluntary fast on the day before Corpus Christi is virtually forgotten by all. This practice is however still kept by some traditional Carmelites. We would do well to engage in some voluntary fasting and abstinence on the day before Corpus Christi in the spirit of and for the intention of making reparation to the Blessed Sacrament.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2022
Saints Among Us: The Top 5 Places for Venerating Saints Relics in America
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St. Anthony's Chapel (Pittsburgh, PA)

St. Anthony Chapel Relics

No mentioning of relics in America would be completed without mentioning St. Anthony's Chapel located in Pittsburgh, PA. With between 4,000 - 5,000 relics on display, it is the largest collection of relics in the world outside of the Vatican. The chapel features the relics in beautiful reliquaries and features inspiring and deeply moving life-sized Stations of the Cross. On the side altar dedicated to St. Anthony, you will find a 1st class relic of him. In 1880, Father Mollinger founded the chapel. Father Mollinger made several trips to Europe in the subsequent years to collect an unprecedented amount of relics that he saved from desecration during the anti-Catholic conflicts of that time in Germany and Italy.

Shrine of All Saints (Morton Grove, IL)

Shrine of All Saints Relics

The Shrine of All Saints is a true treasure in Chicago known to far too few Catholics. The Shrine is located within St. Martha Catholic Church in Morton Grove. St. Martha's main church was originally built as a multi-purpose auditorium and gymnasium for the parish school. But despite this architectural sore spot, the shrine is a treasure. Unassuming from the outside, inside you will find the 2nd largest collection of relics in the United States! 

There are over 3,000 relics housed here for public veneration. Some of the relics housed in this shrine were rescued from closed convents in France and saved from relegation to museums and private homes. Others were rescued from estate sales in Italy where families would sell off the relics of their closed private chapels since few families still have personal chaplains.

For more photos and a list of some of the many relics here, click here.

St. John Cantius (Chicago, IL)

Relics of the Passion

While not on permanent display, St. John Cantius Church in Chicago, IL has an amazing collection of relics that are displayed throughout the year. On All Saints Day (and the Octave that follows), they adorn the side altars throughout the church. And relics for individual saints are always exposed for veneration throughout the year in connection with the Stational Churches of Lent. And if you visit on Holy Thursday or Good Friday, you will find the relics of the Passion of our Lord including a relic of the True Cross on display. Those are pictured above. Year-round, you will find a relic of St. Padre Pio here. 

Conclusion

Many Catholic churches throughout the country have relics of various saints. Ask your priest whose relics are in the high altar of your church and if the parish has any other relics that can be displayed for public veneration. 

Make it a point to look for Catholic shrines in your area. For instance, those near Philadelphia may be surprised to learn of a large collection of relics in honor of St. John Neumann. And those in Chicago also have a large collection of relics at the National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe in Marytown, IL. In Chicago, very few Catholics are aware that a local parish has on display the forearm of St. Jude the Apostle. What relics are you unaware of in your own area?

Finally, if you are not familiar with the honoring of relics, take some time to familiarize yourself with the practice of honoring relics which stretches back to Biblical times. And mark your calendars to honor in a special way the relics in your local parishes and shrines each year on November 5th, the Feast of the Sacred Relics.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2022
Summer Ember Day Fast Reminder
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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)

Whit Ember Days this Year: June 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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Thursday, June 2, 2022
Octave Day of the Ascension of our Lord
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Today according to the pre-1955 changes under Pope Pius XII is the Octave Day of the Ascension.

Ascentiontide lasts for 10 days and is part of the Pascal Season. The first nine days of Ascensiontide include the traditional Octave of the Ascension. The last day of Ascentiontide is the Vigil of Pentecost. Pentecost Sunday, which has its own octave follows. The Saturday following the Octave of Pentecost officially begins the Season After Pentecost. The total length of Paschaltide, from Easter Sunday to the end of Whitsuntide is 56 days (inclusively). The Sunday after Pentecost Sunday is Trinity Sunday.

For this season of Ascensiontide, Catholics are welcomed and encouraged to immerse themselves in the devotions appropriate for the season.  For example, during this season there are special prayers for the time between Ascension and Pentecost.

Before the changes of Pope Pius XII in 1955, there was a liturgical octave for the Ascension, and remnants of the octave can be found in the Office as it now stands.  The appropriate texts for the minor hours (except for the collects) are set out in the psalter. For the collects, Lauds and Vespers however, you need to keep your ribbon on the page for the Ordinary of Ascensiontide. The key points to note are set out via Saints will Arise.

The Mass Propers for this Octave of the Ascension are the same as on the Feast of the Ascension itself with White vestments, the Gloria, the Paschal Alleluia, the Credo, the Preface of the Ascension and the Proper Communicantes for the Ascension in the Canon. You may find them in a pre-1955 Missal such as the Saint Andrew Daily Missal and the Marian Missal from 1945.

History of Octaves

While the Novus Ordo calendar unfortunately only has 2 octaves, traditional Catholics will be familiar with the idea of multiple overlaping Octaves.  The practice of celebrating an Octave, while not only traced to the time spent by the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary awaiting the Paraclete, also has its origins in the Old Testament eight-day celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:36) and the Dedication of the Temple (2 Chronicles 7:9). Very truly, Christ did not come to abolish the Old Law but to fulfill it.

By the 8th century, Rome had developed liturgical octaves not only for Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas, but also for the Epiphany and the feast of the dedication of a church.

After 1568, when Pope Pius V reduced the number of octaves (since by then they had grown considerably), the number of Octaves was still plentiful.  Octaves were classified into several types. Easter and Pentecost had "specially privileged" octaves, during which no other feast whatsoever could be celebrated. Christmas, Epiphany, and Corpus Christi had "privileged" octaves, during which certain highly ranked feasts might be celebrated. The octaves of other feasts allowed even more feasts to be celebrated.

To reduce the repetition of the same liturgy for several days, Pope Leo XIII and Pope St. Pius X made further distinctions, classifying octaves into three primary types: privileged octaves, common octaves, and simple octaves. Privileged octaves were arranged in a hierarchy of first, second, and third orders. The Octave of the Ascension was a Privileged Octave of the Third Order.

Collect:

O Almighty God, we firmly believe that Your only-begotten Son, our Redeemer, ascended this day into heaven. May our minds dwell always on this heavenly home. Through Our Lord . . .
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Tuesday, May 31, 2022
St. Petronilla
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Photo © Jörgens.Mi/Wikipedia, Licence: CC-BY-SA 3.0, Source: Wikimedia Commons

On this final day of May, when we celebrate the Queenship of Mary (which in 1954 took the place of the Feast of St. Angela Merici which was then transferred to June 1), we recall in the Sacred Liturgy a commemoration of St. Petronilla. She was a disciple of St. Peter who died in 60 AD.

The following is taken from The Liturgical Year by Abbot Gueranger:

In the eighth century, the holy Pope Paul I had the body of Petronilla taken from the cemetery of Domitilla, on the Ardeatine Way. Her relics were found in a marble sarcophagus, the lid of which was adorned, at each corner, with a dolphin. The Pope had them enshrined in a little church, which he built near the south side of the Vatican Basilica. This church was destroyed in the sixteenth century, in consequence of the alterations needed for the building of the new Basilica of St Peter; and the relics of St Petronilla were translated to one of its altars on the west side. It was but just that she should await her glorious resurrection under the shadow of the great Apostle who had initiated her in the faith, and prepared her for her eternal nuptials with the Lamb.

Thy triumph, O Petronilla, is one of our Easter joys. We lovingly venerate thy blessed memory. Thou didst disdain the pleasures and honours of the world, and thy virginal name is one of the first on the list of the Church of Rome, which was thy mother. Aid her now by thy prayers. Protect those who seek thine intercession, and teach us how to celebrate, with holy enthusiasm, the solemnities that are soon to gladden us.

Collect:

Hear us, O God, our Savior: and as we rejoice in the feast of blessed Petronilla, Thy Virgin: so we may learn a filial devotion to Thee. Through our Lord . . .

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