Wednesday, December 2, 2020
December: Month of the Immaculate Conception
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In the Church, each of the twelve months in the year is dedicated to a particular facet of the Catholic Faith. However, the particular focus assigned to each month is not a dogmatic matter which has been defined by the Church’s solemn authority. Rather, these devotions have been practiced by the faithful and grown as popular piety. They have varied according to region and local custom. Thus, it is not uncommon for one to find lists that differ somewhat. However, December is in most lists dedicated to both the Nativity of our Lord as well as the Immaculate Conception.

It is understandable why so many dedicate December to the Immaculate Conception if you consider the Traditional Catholic Calendar that had been in place up until the changes in 1955. December 8th is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which is often preceded by a nine-day novena in preparation for this Holy Day of Obligation. Before the changes, December 7th was kept as the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception which was a mandatory day of fasting.

And until the changes made by Pope Pius XII reduced the number of Octaves to only three, December 9th through the 15th was part of the Octave of the Immaculate Conception. December 15th was the Octave Day of the Immaculate Conception. And only 10 days later we celebrate the birth of our Lord in Bethlehem. Our Lord after all prepared the body and soul of the Blessed Virgin to be immaculate and sinless from the first instance of her conception by applying the future merits won on the Cross to her so that she could bear and give birth to the Incarnate and Almighty God. Thus, we have half the month dedicated to either preparing for or celebrating the Immaculate Conception before immediately turning to the birth of Our Lord by the Virgin, whose Immaculate Conception served as immediate preparation for His incarnation and birth.

By honoring our Blessed Virgin this month as Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, may we win many souls for Her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer to the Immaculate Virgin Mary:

O Virgin Immaculate, who wast pleasing in the Lord's sight and didst become His Mother, look graciously upon the wretched who implore thy mighty patronage. The wicked serpent, against whom the primal curse was hurled, continues nonetheless to wage war and to lay snares for the unhappy children of Eve. Ah, do thou, our blessed Mother, our Queen and Advocate, who from the first instant of thy conception didst crush the head of our enemy, receive the prayers that we unite single-heartedly to thine and conjure thee to offer at the throne of God, that we may never fall into the snares that are laid for us, in such wise that we may all come to the haven of salvation; and in the midst of so many dangers may holy Church and the fellowship of Christians everywhere sing once more the hymn of deliverance, victory, and peace. Amen.

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Sunday, November 29, 2020
Comm. of St. Saturninus
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Commemoration (1954 Calendar): November 29

Today is the Vigil of St. Andrew the Apostle, traditionally a day of fasting on years when November 29th does not fall on a Sunday. In centuries past when today was a fasting day, the fast would have been anticipated on Saturday.

Today is also the Commemoration of St. Saturninus who is said to have been a priest who came to Rome from Carthage. At an advanced age, he was arrested for the Catholic Faith. After suffering long imprisonment and barbarous tortures, he was beheaded in the year 309 AD. Along with him, his deacon Saint Sisinius suffered martyrdom.

Writing on the two martyrs, the Monks of Ramsgate write in their Book of Saints the following brief account:

Roman Martyrs in the persecution under Diocletian and Maximian (about A.D. 303). They are associated with Pope Saint Marcellus and with Saints Cyriacus, Largus and Smaragdus. They were both very aged; but were not on that account spared the torture before execution. Saint Sisinnius was a deacon.

Father Francis Xavier Weninger in his Lives of the Saints includes the following reflections for St. Saturnine, as he spells his name:

Saint Saturnine accepted the hard work allotted to him with cheerfulness, and performed it as well as he could, without manifesting sadness or impatience; he even praised the Almighty while he labored. God, who has created man for work, has also ordained that each station should have its own task. He graciously promises to recompense this work in the other world, if it is done rightly. Those do very wrong, who neglect what their station requires of them, and who are slaves to idleness. Those also do wrong, who become impatient with their work or even curse it. They lose their merit and the reward which they would have earned, had they performed their work with due patience. Should your task be burdensome, cheer yourself, after the example of Saint Saturnine, and call on God for aid.

St. Saturinus's feastday has the distinction of being the first saint entry in the Proper of the Saints in the Missal, since November 29th is often around the beginning of Advent, when the Church's new liturgical year begins.

Collect:

O God, who fills us with joy at the celebration of Your martyr Saturninus' heavenly birthday, grant that the merits of this saint may help us. Through Our Lord . . .

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Thursday, November 26, 2020
St. Peter of Alexandria
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Pope St. Clement I and St. Peter of Alexandria. Photo from SalveRegina.info

Commemoration (1954 Calendar): November 26

Along with St. Sylvester the Abbot and St. Leonard of Port Maurice, today we commemorate St. Peter of Alexandria. St. Peter, the Patriarch of Alexandria, was martyred because of his adherence to the orthodox and unchangeable teachings of the Catholic Faith in 310 AD. Eusebius wrote that St. Peter of Alexandria was "a divine model of the Christian teacher."

The Lives of the Saints by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894] provides the following brief account:

St. Peter governed the Church of Alexandria during the persecution of Diocletian. The sentence of excommunication that he was the first to pronounce against the schismatics, Melitius and Arius, and which, despite the united efforts of powerful partisans, he strenuously upheld, proves that he possessed as much sagacity as zeal and firmness. But his most constant care was employed in guarding his flocks from the dangers arising out of persecution. He never ceased repeating to them that, in order not to fear death, it was needful to begin by dying to self, renouncing our will, and detaching ourselves from all things. St. Peter gave an example of such detachment by undergoing martyrdom in the year 311.

Reflection.—"How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!" says Our Saviour; because they are bound to earth by the strong ties of their riches.

 The Monks of Ramsgate in the Book of Saints, 1921 similarly write:

A learned and holy Prelate who governed the great Church of Alexandria in Egypt for twelve years in very troubled times. He had to face the dangerous schism of Meletius among his own clergy at the very time when the comforting and guiding of Christians in peril of death at the hands of heathen persecutors called for the exercise of all his energies. He seems to have been the first to detect the incipient heresy of Arius. Saint Peter was put to death by order of the Caesar Maximin Daza, together with other Christians (A.D. 311), and was succeeded by Saint Alexander, the predecessor of the great Saint Athanasius.

The Genuine Acts Of Peter, Bishop Of Alexandria, And Martyr, From The Latin Version By Anastasius Bibliothecarius may be read on EWTN.

Collect:

Almighty God, look upon our weakness and the heavy burden we carry because of our own deeds. Let the prayers of Your blessed martyr bishop Peter, in heaven, be our protection. Through our Lord . . .

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Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Does the Turkey Indult Exist?
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Turkey Indult for Catholics

No "turkey indult" exists in the form many believe, even though many Catholics attached to the 1962 Missal claim a dispensation from meat on the Friday after Thanksgiving, citing Pope Pius XII as the source of the dispensation. The dispensation from meat on the day after Thanksgiving was granted in 1957 in the form of quinquennial faculties given to local ordinaries to dispense from abstinence on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, as stated by Bouscaren in the Canon Law Digest. The quinquennial faculties last 5 years and must be renewed. In 1962 they were renewed but not afterward because there was no need to because of Paenitemini and more importantly because of the November 1966 decree by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB), which made abstinence on all Fridays throughout the year "especially recommended" but not obligatory.

Before 1962, the Bishops in the United States did not generally dispense from Friday abstinence on the Friday after Thanksgiving. After the renewal in 1962, more Bishops began to exercise this. In 1963 the Bishop of Little Rock, Arkansas made use of these privileges and dispensed the faithful from meat on the Friday after Thanksgiving:
"By reason of special faculties, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Bishop, grants herewith the following dispensations: from the Law of Fast on the Feast of St. Joseph, Tuesday, March 19; from the Law of Abstinence on Friday, November 29, (day after Thanksgiving) and from the Laws of Fast and Abstinence on Saturday, December 7, Vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception."
Such a dispensation from the law of abstinence was not permanently part of Church law by virtue of it being the Friday after Thanksgiving. While bishops or priests will today dispense from meat on the Friday after Thanksgiving, Pope Pius XII did not permanently dispense meat on that day as many allege. The research of Romanitas Press confirms this. 


Conclusion: Should Catholics eat meat on the Friday after Thanksgiving without the dispensation of a bishop or a priest? No.

Read more on The History of Traditional Catholic Fasting
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St. Chrysogonus
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Commemoration (1954 Calendar): November 24

St. Chrysogonus, a Greek Christian, was martyred under Emperor Diocletian at Aquileia at the beginning of the fourth century. He is one of the saints mentioned in the Roman Canon of the Mass: "...Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian..."

Who was St. Chrysogonus? The Catholic Encyclopedia summarizes:

"According to this legend, Chrysogonus, at first a functionary of the vicarius Urbis, was the Christian teacher of Anastasia, the daughter of the noble Roman Praetextatus. Being thrown into prison during the persecution of Diocletian, he comforted by his letters the severely afflicted Anastasia. By order of Diocletian, Chrysogonus was brought before the emperor at Aquileia, condemned to death, and beheaded. His corpse, thrown into the sea, was washed ashore and buried by the aged priest, Zoilus. In the legend the death of the saint is placed on the 23rd of November. In the actual Roman martyrology his feast is celebrated on 24 November; by the Greeks on 16 April."

Collect:

O Lord, hear our humble prayers. May the intercession of Your blessed martyr Chrysogonus free us from the guilt of sin which troubles us. Through Our Lord . . .

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Monday, November 23, 2020
Com. of St. Felicitas
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Commemoration (1954 Calendar): November 23

On July 10th, we celebrate the Feast of the Seven Holy Brothers and remember the children of St. Felicitas who were all martyred. Today on November 23rd, we commemorate their saintly mother, St. Felicitas who was also martyred for the Catholic Faith.

Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger in 1876 wrote the following practical considerations for the Seven Holy Brothers. They are worth repeating:

I. How happy a Mother was St. Felicitas who gave to heaven as many martyrs as she had sons! Her careful instructions in the true faith, her exhortations highly to venerate it, her encouragement to endure suffering and torments, her pious discourses of the great reward which the martyrs receive in heaven, made her children holy, and opened the gates of heaven to them. If she had lived and spoken as many mothers do at the present time, she would surely have brought up more than one to eternal misery.

Christian Parents! on your conduct, on your instructions, on your discourses, depends mostly the salvation or the damnation of your children. If they see that your conduct is not according to the laws of God and the Church, if they hear from your mouth nothing but lies, slander, unchaste or blasphemous words, if you speak to them more of dresses, dancing, gambling, theatres and other worldly pleasures, than of God and of virtue; how shall they become acquainted with the true spirit of Christianity, how shall they learn how to save their souls? Oh! be watchful of your conduct and your discourse, if you wish to bring up your children as servants of the Most High, as future inhabitants of heaven.

II. How happy were the sons who possessed so holy a mother! But what would have availed their mother's sanctity to them, if they had not followed her admonitions and commands?

Christian children! if God has blessed you with parents who are solicitous for your salvation, give thanks to Him. Pray for them, and receive their instructions and reproofs willingly and obediently, that one day, you may rejoice with them for all eternity in heaven. The seven holy martyrs rejoice now with their mother in heaven, and doubtless give her ceaseless thanks for the careful instruction she imparted to them; while she is not less happy that they followed her advice How many children may there be in hell who ceaselessly curse their parents for having allowed them too much liberty, for not having punished their faults, for not having kept them in the right path, or who even misled them to do evil by their discourse and example, and thus became the cause of their eternal ruin. Likewise there are parents who curse the disobedience, wickedness, and obstinacy of their children. If you, father or mother, desire not to be counted among these unhappy ones, follow the example of St. Felicitas and remember the admonition of the Holy Ghost : "Instruct thy son, by word and example and he shall refresh thee, and shall give delight to thy soul."(Prov. xxix.) And again: "Hast thou children? Instruct them, and bow down their neck from their youth." (Eccl, vii.) And you, my child, if you will not suffer during all eternity in hell, be obedient to the command of God, which is as follows: "My son "--my daughter--hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother." (Prov. i.)

Collect:

O Almighty God, may the merits and prayers of Your blessed Martyr Felicitas, whose feast we celebrate today, be our protection. Through Our Lord . . .

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Thursday, November 19, 2020
All Saints of the Order of Malta
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Today the Order of Malta keeps their Feast of All Saints of their Order, a feastday known as "All Saints of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta." This feast, like the various feasts of All Saints for other religious orders, commemorates both the known and the unknown saints of their Order who now possess the beatific vision in Heaven. 

Let us pray to some of these holy intercessors today ranging from Blessed Gerard, Founder and First Grand Master of the Order, St. Toscana, St. Nicasius, St. Nuno Alvarez Pereira, Blessed Charles of Austria, Blessed Alfredo Schuster of Milan, and all others with connections to this venerable order.

We pray especially for an end to the controversies that engulf the Order now, including the illegal prohibition of the Tridentine Mass a few years ago by the Master of the Order at that time. May they also be unwavering in fidelity to the Teachings of the Church on the impossibility of artificial contraception, especially in light of the scandal from a few years ago.

All You Holy Saints of the Order of Malta, pray for us!

Collect:

God, the source of all holiness and of varying forms of it that endow your Church and build up the Body of Christ, give us the grace to follow the saints of our Order in living for you alone by meditating on your law and by perfect self-denial so that we may come with them to the bliss of eternal life. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen

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Monday, November 16, 2020
All Saints of the Servite Order
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November 16th is the Feast of All Saints of the Servite Order. While not as well known as the Dominicans, Jesuits, or Carmelites, the Servite Order is illustrious in its own right. The Order of Servites is the fifth mendicant order, founded in 1223, and its primary ends are "sanctification of its members, preaching the Gospel, and the propagation of devotion to the Mother of God, with special reference to her sorrows."

St. Juliana Falconieri, St. Philip Benizi, St. Anthony Pucci, and others are canonized members of the Servite Order. The Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order are remembered together with their Feast on the Universal Calendar on February 17th.

Today, besides calling to mind all of all Servites saints, we pray for their intercession for all of us on this earth but especially for the members of their Order. Today is also a good day to learn more about the Black Scapular, which comes from the Servite Order which began in 1255 and was sanctioned by Pope Alexander IV. This scapular honors the Seven Sorrows of Mary. It is one of 17 approved Scapulars in the Church.

All You Holy Servite Saints, pray for us!

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Saturday, November 14, 2020
All Saints of the Carmelite Order
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Continuing the trend of various All Saint Days for religious orders, November 14th is the Feast of All Saints of the Carmelite Order. Like other major religious orders, the Carmelite Order is blessed with many saints and blessed. It is thanks to the Carmelite Order that we have the Brown Scapular.

Who are the Carmelite Saints? The Order of Carmelites answers:

They are hermits of Mount Carmel who “lived in small cells, similar to the cells of a beehive, they lived as God’s bees, gathering the divine honey of spiritual consolation.” They are mendicants of the first medieval communities, who discovered the presence of God in the events of ordinary daily life and especially seeing God in his brothers and sisters. They are teachers and preachers, missionaries and martyrs who searched for the face of God among the people. They are nuns who have contributed to the growth of God's people by their mystical experience and especially through their fervent prayer and contemplative life. They are religious, who showed us the face of Christ through their apostolate in hospitals or schools, especially in the mission lands. They are laity, who were able to embody the spirit of Carmel and lived that spirit in the midst of the people. Simon Stock, Andrew Corsini, Albert of Trapani, John of Cross, Teresa of Ávila, Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Edith Stein, Titus Brandsma, Angelo Paoli and countless saints and blesseds of Carmel together with Mary, the Mother of Carmel, are now singing a song of praise to the Father in Heaven.

St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Teresa of Jesus, Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, and many others have reached Heaven through the Carmelite Order. 

Today, besides calling to mind all of these saints, we pray for the intercession of all Carmelites - known and unknown - that they especially intercede for all Carmelites on this earth. May everyone in the Carmelite Order - including the many Carmelite Third Order members - grow in sanctity, stay true to the authentic Catholic Faith, and persevere to the end.

Litany of Carmelite Saints:

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.

God, the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.

God, the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God, Have mercy on us,

Holy Mary, Pray for us. (* denotes to repeat Pray for us)

Queen of All Saints, *

Mother, Ornament of Carmel, *

Saint Joseph, Protector of Our Order, *

Our Holy Father, the Prophet Elias, who by thy prayer and contemplation laid the foundation of our Order on Carmel,*

Saint Eliseus, who through thy disciples didst preserve the spirit of Elias on Carmel, *

St. Telesphorus, watchful guardian of the Church, *

St. Anastasius, invincible amid the most fearful torments, *

St. Gerard, who didst die a glorious martyr’s death for the spread of the Faith, *

St. Angelus, glorified with the triple crown of Confessor, Virgin and Martyr, *

St. Peter Thomas, great servant and imitator of Mary, who adorned thee with all virtue, and strengthened thee in martyrdom, *

Blessed Dionysius of the Nativity, invincible soldier of Christ and His holy martyr, *

Bl. Redemptus of the Cross, who through thy holy zeal hast earned the martyr’s crown, *

St. Dionysius, zealous believer in the Mystery of the Holy Trinity and the defender thereof, *

St. Serapion, renowned for thy virtue and sanctity, and for thy wisdom and knowledge, *

St. Spiridion, great lover of evangelical simplicity, *

St. Cyril of Alexandria, vigilant defender of Mary, Mother of God, *

St. Albert, our most wise lawgiver and director, *

St. Andrew Corsini, wonderful peacemaker and despiser of worldly honors, *

St. Hilarion, admirable for thy life of prayer and mortification in solitude, and for thy power over evil spirits, *

St. Berthold, who didst unite the dwellers on Carmel into one ecclesiastical Order of Mary, *

St. Brocard, great zealot for the observance of religious discipline, *

St. Cyril of Constantinople, eminent for virtue, wisdom and learning, *

St. Simon Stock, privileged servant of Mary, *

St. Albert of Sicily, exalted model of unspotted purity, *

St. Avertanus, example of perfect obedience, *

St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church, and sure guide in the mystical life, *

Bl. Franco Lippi, outstanding for severe mortification and holy silence, *

Bl. Romaeus, model of humble monastic virtue, *

Bl. Angelus Augustine, marvel of eloquence in preaching the Word of God, *

Bl. John Soreth, burning with love of the primitive observance, *

Bl. Aloysius Rabatha, model of holy and severe penance, *

Bl. Jacobinus, renowned for thy profound meekness and great humility, *

Bl. Bartholomew Fanti, burning with love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, *

Bl. Nonius Pereira, loyal servant and devotee of Mary, *

St. Euphrasia, perfect example of obedience, *

St. Euphrosina, wonderful lover of purity, *

St. Teresa, illustrious reformer of Carmel, full of heavenly wisdom, *

St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, victim of crucified love, *

St. Therese of the Child Jesus, teacher of the “Little Way” and Patroness of the Missions, *

Bl. Frances of Amboise, noble by birth, but nobler in virtue and steadfast confidence in God, *

Bl. Jane Scopelli, perfect model of prayer and mortification, *

Bl. Archangela, most tender in thy love for Jesus and Mary, *

Bl. Mary of the Incarnation, lover of real meekness, *

Bl. Anne of Saint Bartholomew, one with Teresa in the reform of Carmel, *

Bl. Mary of the Angels, like to the angels in innocence and purity, *

Bl. Jane of Toulouse, admirable for love of solitude and prayer, *

Bl. Therese and Companions, martyrs for Christ in the French Revolution, *

St. Teresa Margaret, great venerator and humble disciple of the Sacred Heart,*

All ye holy Virgins and Matrons of Carmel,*

All ye holy men and women who by thy virtues have given glory to Carmel, *

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world: Spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world: Graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world: Have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, all ye Saints of Carmel: R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: Almighty and merciful God, Who dost rejoice us by the memory of all the Saints of the Carmelite Order: grant that, inspired by their example and merits, we may live for Thee alone in the continual observance of Thy law and in the perfect abnegation of self, and that we may attain to perfect happiness with them in heaven. Through Christ Our Lord.  Amen

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Friday, November 13, 2020
The Spirit of St. Dominic by Fr. Humbert Clerissac Notes
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This past week I finished reading through The Spirit of St. Dominic. This book is a collection of retreat conferences preached by Fr. Clerissac to his Dominican brethren in England in 1908. While Father Clerissac passed from this life to the next in 1914, his deep theological insights are still relevant to today's Dominicans and any theologian. As Father Thomas Joseph White, O.P. writes in his Introduction to the book, “a great work of theology has a perennial relevance.” And while this is a more theological work that would be over the head of some, there are still nuggets of wisdom that anyone could appreciate and learn from.

Here are some of my takeaways from this work:

The Dominican Apostolate

The Dominican Order was founded for the salvation of souls.

Dominicans are champions and not mere foot soldiers for the Faith.

While some great apostles converted whole peoples and nations, the mission of St. Dominic was universal and as all-encompassing as that of St. Paul.

Thus, the Dominican Apostolate is distinguished by both its quality and extension from other orders.

Applying even to the tertiaries, the predominance in us of an apostolic intention is our first conformity to the mind and soul of our Lord.

We must remember that the primitive constitution laid down by God stated of Dominicans to “speak only of or to God.” This was St. Dominic’s way of life.

Veritas

We are bound, in virtue of our doctrinal mission, to present every object of our teaching as true. Our own lives out to be governed by the influence of the true.

The idea of the Dominican Order can be summed up as fidelity to the absolute.

The faith of which we are champions is the faith that sees all things as if through the eyes of God. As St. Thomas said, we see everything as if through God’s eyes, if through faith we adhere to the supreme truth for its own sake.

The end of our study and contemplation is to enable us to get a glimpse of absolute truth.

Doctrinal Apostolate

The Apostolate of the Order is necessarily a doctrinal apostolate.

For the Dominican, preaching has always referred to teaching the Faith and all things connected to the Faith.

There can be no exception to study in the life of a Dominican of at least 4 hours a day.

Study in its most comprehensive sense is an essential preparation for our doctrinal mission.

In our study and teaching, we must let our hearts and our wills follow the impulse of our mind for God.

All truth comes from God and returns to Him; our study must always bring us back to Him.

There is nothing wrong with studying the pagan philosophers. Whatsoever is true comes from the One True God. These pagan studies were allowed in Blessed Jordan’s Primitive Constitutions.

Study

There are 2 tendencies with study: study only for a purpose of spiritual utility or study in the Dominican and Aristotelian sense. This latter sense bases study on the right of revealed truth and considers all provinces of science as “tributaries of truth.”

Liturgical Prayer

The official prayers of the Church should lead to divine contemplation.

Canonical life helps the two great Dominican duties: study and teaching.

For those who throw themselves wholeheartedly into liturgical prayer, it cannot fail to take possession of you in both body and soul.

Liturgical prayer transcends all personal considerations. The prayer of the Church is bigger than anyone engaged in it. No greater sign of devotion to Our Lord and His Church can be given than the surrender of our personal interests and their absorption in the universal interests of God.

The spirit of prayer in the Church is the very breadth of Christ’s soul. The daily practice of liturgical prayer is the ideal way to preserve in us the precious power of the divine influence, even after the Eucharistic elements which we have received in Holy Communion cease to be present in us. 

Through liturgical prayer we truly fulfill the words of Scripture: “I pray, now not I, but Christ prayeth in me.”

Other Notes

The two distinguishing qualities of the Order are nobility and keenness. 

The “two dangers that threaten our moral character are cynicism and vanity.” 

“We should try not only to elicit acts of virtue but also to reach before we die the firmness, joy, and constancy of their habitus. Our vows themselves are only means to this end: the vow is practically for nothing but that.”

Penance is one of the distinctive marks of the Order of St. Dominic. And contrition is the first source of penance – it is nowhere deeper and more efficacious than in the Sacrament of Penance. The purgative, illuminative, and unitive life all derive their force from this Sacrament.

Spiritual pride is extremely subtle; the most terrifying form of form is the refusal to aspire after progress in the supernatural life. There is no better place to crush our pride than in the Sacrament of Confession.

“The revelation of our vocation to participate in Eternal Life constitutes the most striking characteristic of the Gospel and its unparalleled greatness.”

Some of the greatest of saints (e.g. St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas) felt that never “were they so much masters of themselves, and never did they use their energy so generously, as when they gave to God the homage of all their human activity.”

“Our devotion, then, to Our Lord is devotion to the God-Christ, devotion to the Eternal Truth, to the Divine Word, living and personally united in the Sacred Humanity of Jesus.”

The Sacred Humanity of Our Lord Jesus Christ is “the instrumental cause of grace for the justification, sanctification, and salvation of all souls.” The Sacred Humanity is the channel of Divine Grace. We “turn frequently to His adorable Humanity to derive force and strength from that mysterious and continuous intercession exercised by Him in heaven.”

There are three chief benefits of the Eucharist: the application of the Redemption to each of us in particular (i.e. the renewal of pardon and its extension to all our daily sins), the pledge of life eternal, and the increase of the supernatural life in us, by the growth of Faith, Hope, and Charity.

The austerities of the Dominican Order are inspired chiefly by the motive of protecting its purity.

Purity is an indispensable condition for carrying out the purpose of the Dominican Order.

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All Saints of the Augustinian Order
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November 13th is a day of multiple feasts. The Benedictines keep today as the Feast of All Benedictine Saints. The Dominicans keep today as All Dominican Souls since yesterday was All Dominican Saints. In the Universal Church following the traditional calendar, today is the Feast of Saint Didacus, the namesake for San Diego. And in some places today is also the Feast of St. Frances Cabrini, the American saint.

Today is also for the Augustinian Order their Feast of All Augustinian Saints. There are dozens of saints and blesseds of the Order.

St. Fulgentius, St. Rita of Cascia, St. Clare of Montefalco, St. Nicholas of Tolentine, St. Thomas of Villanova, and others now see God face-to-face in Heaven along with St. Augustine and his mother, St. Monica. 

May Our Mother of Good Counsel pray for all of us, especially for all who are members of the Augustinian Order on earth. And may we pray to all of these Augustinian saints to keep the Order of St. Augustine faithful to Christ and Tradition.

Collect:

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui no omnium Sanctorum Ordinis nostri merita sub una tribuisti celebritate venerari: quaesumus; ut desideratam nobis tuae propitiationis abundantiam, multiplicatis intercessoribus, largiaris. Per Dominum.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2020
A Monthly Catholic Planner For Traditional (1962 Missal) Catholics
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This week I had a chance to review The Ultimate Catholic Bundle, a one of a kind Traditional Catholic monthly planner.

The Ultimate Catholic Bundle is a monthly subscription to a PDF file. A new bundle is released each month around the 20th and subscribers have a dedicated place to access the files online. The November bundle for instance was a beautiful designed 31-page file containing a monthly calendar, weekly planner pages, prayer journal pages, a nice novena checklist, a lectio divina guide, a Scripture reading checklist, a Poor Souls Prayer Journal, and quite a few pieces of holy art including 3 coloring pages. 

It's very nice to see a Traditional Catholic Planner, as most Catholic planners will only follow the Novus Ordo's 1969 calendar. While I would prefer to see the pre-1955 calendar kept, the 1962 calendar is very close (aside from a few feast deletions, removed octaves, and suppressed vigils). I certainly do think that anyone who prefers the pre-1955 calendar could still use this monthly bundle with only a handful of changes likely required each month.

The ability to write prayer intentions in various categories (e.g. thanksgiving, repentance, protection, etc) in addition to tracking novenas is something that I have not seen in any other Catholic planner that I have tried.


There is a lot of value in using a planner. I have used one for many years. This one features nice notes and to-do list sections that incorporate our Catholic faith. For instance, in the first picture above, you can see a reminder to pray for the Poor Souls in Purgatory. That is something you will never find in a standard planner sold by a secular office supply store.

And besides all of these benefits, it is a beautifully designed work. The font, the spacing, the artwork, and the illustrations all exude true beauty. The only way to really develop the habit of using and benefiting from a planner is to use one that you enjoy using. And something this beautiful is inspiring and motivating to use. 

I am happy to recommend this planner after having tried out the November edition. If you are in the market for a planner and are looking to support a Catholic business, please give The Ultimate Catholic Bundle a close look. By supporting fellow small businesses owned by Catholics, we help support one another and do good (cf. Galatians 6:10). 

Lastly, anyone who is interested in signing up may take 50% off of their first-month bundle by using discount code BLOG50.

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St. Mennas the Wonder Worker
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Our Lord Jesus Christ and St. Mennas, 6th-century icon from Bawit in Middle Egypt, currently at Louvre; One of the oldest known icons in existence.

Commemoration (1954 Calendar): November 11

Happy Martinmas! In addition to the festive celebration of St. Martin of Tours before the start of the Advent fast, we also call to mind today the life of St. Mennas. St. Mennas was an Egyptian, who was martyred c. 295 AD under Emperor Diocletian. He was one of the most popular saints in the early Eastern Church.

The Catholic Encyclopedia lists the following account of his life and legacy:

Menas, a Christian and an Egyptian by birth, served in the Roman army under the tribune Firmilian. When the army came to Cotyaeus in Phrygia, Menas hearing of the impious edicts issued against the Christians by the Emperors Diocletian and Maximian left the army, retired to a solitude in the mountains and served God by fasting vigils and prayer. During the celebration of a great festival Menas appeared in the midst of the populace in the circus, and fearlessly professed his faith. He was led before the prefect Pyrrhus, cruelly scourged, put to torture and finally beheaded. His body was brought to Egypt and the martyr was soon invoked in many needs and afflictions. The fame of the miracles wrought, spread far and wide and thousands of pilgrims came to the grave in the desert of Mareotis between Alexandria and the valley of Natron. For centuries Bumma (Karm-Abum-Abu Mina) was a national sanctuary and grew into a large city with costly temples a holy well, and baths. A beautiful basilica was erected by the Emperor Arcadius. The cult was spread into other countries, perhaps by travelling merchants who honoured him as their patron. As a result of various vicissitudes the doctrinal disputes and the conquest of Egypt by the Arabians under Omar in 641 the sanctuary was neglected and ultimately forgotten. During 1905 Mgr C.M. Kaufmann of Frankfort led an expedition into Egypt which made excavations at Bumma. He found in a vast field of ruins, the grave, the well and thermae, the basilica, the monastery, numerous inscriptions on the walls imploring aid through the intercession of the saint, and thousands of little water pitchers and oil lamps. The rich finds are partly in the Museum of Alexandria and Cairo, and partly in Frankfort and Berlin. The monsignor published an official report of his expedition in 1908, "La découverte des Sanctuaires de Menas dans le désert de Mareotis". His feast is celebrated on 11 November.

Collect:

O Almighty God, grant that we who celebrate the birthday of Your blessed Martyr Mennas, may be made stronger in our love of You through his intercession. Through Our Lord . . .

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Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Com. of Sts. Tryphon, Respicius, and Nympha
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Commemoration (1954 Calendar): November 10

Along with St. Andrew Avellino, we commemorate today Sts. Tryphon, Respicius, and Nympha. These courageous martyrs of the early centuries of Christianity are commemorated together because their relics are preserved in the same church in Rome.

The Catholic Encyclopedia lists the following account of their lives:

"Tryphon is said to have been born at Kampsade in Phrygia and as a boy took care of geese. During the Decian persecution he was taken to Nicfa about the year 250 and put to death in a horrible manner after he had converted the heathen prefect Licius. Fabulous stories are interwoven with his legend. He is greatly venerated in the Greek Church which observes his feast on 1 February. In this Church he is also the patron saint of gardeners. Many churches were dedicated to him, and the Eastern Emperor, Leo VI, the Philosopher (d. 912), delivered a eulogy upon Tryphon. About the year 1005 the monk Theodoric of Fleury wrote an account of him based upon earlier written legends; in Theodoric's story Respicius appears as Tryphon's companion. The relics of both were preserved together with those of a holy virgin named Nympha, at the Hospital of the Holy Ghost in Sassia. Nympha was a virgin from Palermo who was put to death for the Faith at the beginning of the fourth century. According to other versions of the legend, when the Goths invaded Sicily she fled from Palermo to the Italian mainland and died in the sixth century at Savona. The feast of her translation is observed at Palermo on 19 August. Some believe that there were two saints of this name. The church of the Hospital of the Holy Ghost at Rome was a cardinal's title which, together with the relics of these saints, was transferred in 1566 by Pope Pius V to the Church of St. Augustine."

May we endeavor to keep the memory of these martyrs alive when so many no longer hear of their heroic witness to the Faith.

Collect:

May we always be worthy to celebrate the feast of Your holy Martyrs, Tryphon, Respicius, and Nympha, O Lord, so that through their intercession we may be sheltered under Your gracious protection. Through Our Lord . . .

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Sunday, November 8, 2020
All Saints of England
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Continuing on with the many "All Saints" days for various regions and orders, November 8th is the Feast of All English Saints. 

While many know that King Henry VIII broke away from the Church and that he is known for murdering and replacing a series of wives, few know the full history of Catholicism in England. After King Henry VIII’s death, after a brief experiment with Protestantism under his son Edward VI who ruled at a young age mainly through regents, Catholicism returned to England under his elder daughter Mary I (1555-58). But after her reign ended, England officially adopted Anglicanism in 1559 under his younger daughter Elizabeth I (1558-1603). Except during the reign of the Catholic James II (1685-88), Catholicism remained illegal for the next 232 years until the Catholic Mass could be legally celebrated again in 1791. Yet most Catholics could not hold any public office and had few civil rights. It took the Emancipation Act of 1829 to restore most civil rights to Catholics in England. 

We can and should fervently pray for a restoration of the True Faith - that is the Catholic Faith - in England and Wales. England is blessed with thousands of canonized and beatified Saints and Martyrs - many known and many more unknown. For this reason, it used to be known as "Mary's Dowry." How sadly times have changed. 

St Arsenios of Paros prophesized: “The Church in the British Isles will only begin to grow when she begins again to venerate her own saints.”

For this intention - the return of England and Wales back to the unity of the Catholic Faith - let us pray the Litany of the Saints and Martyrs of England.

Prayer for England written by Cardinal Merry Del Val:

O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down with mercy upon England thy Dowry, and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee. By thee it was that Jesus our Saviour and our hope, was given unto the world; and he has given thee to us that we might hope still more. Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the Cross, O sorrowful Mother! Intercede for our separated brethren that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son. Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee, in our heavenly home. Amen.

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Saturday, November 7, 2020
Feast of All Irish Saints
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November 6th is kept in Ireland as the Feast of All Irish Saints. The blog Pilgrim Progress explains:
Pope Benedict XV beatified Oliver Plunkett in 1920 and during his papacy also (1914-22) the Feast of All the Saints of Ireland was instituted. The same Pope also granted Ireland the honour of having a litany of its native saints approved for public recitation. Only four saints, St Malachy (1094-1148), St Lawrence O'Toole (1128-80) and St Oliver Plunkett (1625-81) and St Charles of Mount Argus (1821-93), have been officially canonised. All the other Irish saints, such as Saints Patrick, Brigid, and Colmcille, are saints, as it were, by acclamation of the local Church.
One of the best ways we can honor this day is by praying for the intercession of the Irish saints using the Litany of Irish Saints. The website, Daily Prayers explains:
When Pope Benedict XV (1854-1922) canonised St Oliver Plunkett, the last Irish Catholic to be executed in England, he also instituted the Feast of All the Saints of Ireland. The official Litany of Irish Saints commemorates sixty-five of the best known, among them St Patrick and St Bridget. Perhaps the less well known include greats like St Darerca and St Crea. However, there are many hundreds of other Irish Saints, most having lived during the 4th – 6th Centuries which led to Ireland being named, “The Land of Saints and Scholars”.
The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Volume 18 (1921) provided the official litany in Latin. And the blog Omnium Sanctorum Hiberniae provided both that and the official English translation. That transaction is as follows. Let us pray along:

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity one God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us
Holy Mother of God,
Holy Virgin of virgins,
St. Joseph, pray for us.

St. Killian, pray for us
St. Rumold,
St. Livinus,
Blessed Oliver,
All ye Holy Martyrs, pray for us.

St. Celestine, pray for us.
St. Patrick,
St. Malachy,
St. Macnise,
St. Finnian,
St. Mel
St. Macartan,
St. Eugene,
St. Colman,
St. Felim,
St. Eunan,
St. Laurence,
St. Conleth,
St. Laserian,
St. Aidan,
St. Kieran,
St. Albert,
St. Ailbe,
St. Colman,
St. Finnbarr,
St. Flannan,
St. Munchin,
St. Fachtna,
St. Otteran,
St. Carthage,
St. Jarlath,
St. Nathy,
St. Asicus,
St. Nicholas,
St. Colman,
St. Muredach,
St. Declan,
St. Virgilius,
St. Senan,
St. Frigidian,
St. Cuthbert,
St. Rupert,
St. Celsus,
St. Cataldus,
St. Donatus,
Blessed Thaddaeus,
All ye Holy Pontiffs and Confessors, pray for us.

St. Columba, pray for us.
St. Kevin,
St. Brendan,
St. Canice,
St. Kieran,
St. Columbanus,
St. Gall,
St. Fursey,
St. Fintan,
St. Comgall,
St. Fiacre,
All ye Holy Monks and Hermits, pray for us.

St. Brigid, pray for us.
St. Ita,
St. Attracta,
St. Dympna,
St. Lelia,
All ye Holy Virgins, pray for us.

All ye Holy Saints of God, Intercede for us.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, all you Saints of Ireland.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray

Grant, O Lord, an increase of Thy Grace to us who celebrate the memory of all the Saints of our Island; that as, on earth, we rejoice to be one with them in race, so, in Heaven, we may deserve to share with them an inheritance of bliss. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Feast of All Irish Saints Mass:

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Thursday, November 5, 2020
All Saints of the Society of Jesus
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Modena - The painting of Madonna with the child among the Jesuit Saints in church Chiesa di San Bartolomeo from the 19th Century

November features, in addition to the universal All Saints Day kept on November 1st, various days dedicated to all saints of certain religious orders or countries. See the Feastdays Page under November for a listing of many of these.

November 5th is the Feast of All Saints and Blesseds of the Society of Jesus. This "All Saints Day" for the Jesuit Saints is kept to honor the many remarkable saints which grace their order. While the modern-day Jesuits have lamentably fallen far from their founder and often advance heresy and sin, we should still invoke the holy Jesuits that preceded them. May these holy and saintly Jesuits pray for restoration and cleansing of their Order.

Since the founder of the Jesuits, St Ignatius of Loyola, was canonized in 1622, there have been 52 other Jesuits canonized. Some of these holy Jesuits include:

  • St. José de Anchieta
  • St. Robert Bellarmine
  • St. Francis Borgia
  • St. John de Brébeuf
  • St. Edmund Campion
  • St. Peter Canisius
  • St. Peter Claver
  • St. Claude de la Colombiere
  • St. Peter Faber
  • St. Aloysius Gonzaga
  • St. Roque González
  • St. Alberto Hurtado
  • St. Isaac Jogues
  • St. Stanislaus Kostka
  • St. Ignatius Loyola
  • St. Paul Miki
  • St. Joseph Pignatelli
  • Blessed Miguel Pro
  • St. Alphonsus Rodriguez
  • St. Francis Xavier

Collect:

Grant us, we ask, o Lord, by the intercession of the blessed Father Ignatius and of all the Saints who have served under the banner of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, with him as their leader, so to serve Thee with a perfect heart; that after the course of this life, we may merit to share in their glorious end. Amen.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2020
Commemoration of Ss. Vitalis and Agricola
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Commemoration (1954 Calendar): November 4

Along with St. Charles Borromeo, the Church today celebrates Vitalis and Agricola by commemorating them at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. St. Agricola converted his slave St. Vitalis and went with him to martyrdom at Bologna C. 304 AD under the persecutions inflicted by the order of Emperor Diocletian.

The Catholic Encyclopedia writes:

Martyred at Bologna about 304 during Diocletian's persecution. Agricola, who was beloved for his gentleness, converted his slave, Vitalis, to Christianity; they became deeply attached to each other. Vitalis was first to suffer martyrdom, being executed in the ampitheatre. By his tortures and by flattery the persecutors sought in vain to win over Agricola, whom they finally crucified. Both martyrs were buried in the Jewish graveyard. In 393 St. Ambrose and Bishop Eusebius of Bologna transferred the remains of the martyrs to a church. Ambrose took some of the blood, of the cross, and the nails to Florence, placing these relics in the church erected by the saintly widow Juliana. On this occasion he delivered an oration in praise of virginity, with special reference to the three virgin daughters of Juliana. His mention of the martyrs Agricola and Vitalis in the first part of the oration is the only authority for their lives ("De exhortatione virginitatis", cc. i-u, in P.L., XVI, 335). The feast of the two martyrs is observed on 4 November. In 396 other relics were sent to St. Victricus, Bishop of Rouen, and, about the same date, to St. Paulinus of Nola and others.

Collect:

O Almighty God, may the intercessory power of Your blessed martyrs Vitalis and Agricola aid us who celebrate their feast today. Through our Lord . . .

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Tuesday, November 3, 2020
Within the Octave of All Saints
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We are currently in the Octave of All Saints, another casualty in 1955 that few people know of or spiritually celebrate anymore. This is a Common Octave meaning that the days within (i.e. Days 2-7 which are Semidouble) yield to all Double and Semidouble feasts but have precedence over Simple feasts. The Octave is commemorated daily at Lauds, Mass, and Vespers when a higher feast occurs except if the feast is a Double of the First or Second class in which case the Octave is not commemorated.

Brief History of Octaves:

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. For the first half of the 20th century, octaves were ranked in the following manner, which affected holding other celebrations within their timeframes:
  • Privileged Octaves
    • Privileged Octaves of the First Order
      • Octave of Easter
      • Octave of Pentecost
    • Privileged Octaves of the Second Order
      • Octave of Epiphany
      • Octave of Corpus Christi
    • Privileged Octaves of the Third Order
      • Octave of Christmas
      • Octave of the Ascension
      • Octave of the Sacred Heart
  • Common Octaves
    • Octave of the Immaculate Conception of the BVM
    • Octave of the Solemnity of St. Joseph
    • Octave of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist
    • Octave of Saints Peter and Paul
    • Octave of All Saints
    • Octave of the Assumption of the BVM
  • Simple Octaves
    • Octave of St. Stephen
    • Octave of St. John the Apostle
    • Octave of the Holy Innocents 
Traditional Catholics still attached to the pre-1955 Missal will be familiar with the above list of Octaves. We can live out this forgotten Octave by adding to our daily prayers the Collect from All Saints Day:

Collect:

Almighty and eternal God, through Your grace we honor the merits of all Your saints in the one solemn feast of today. Grant us the abundant mercy we ask of You through this army of heavenly intercessors. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ . . .
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Monday, October 26, 2020
St. Martin's Lent & the Fast of Advent
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Martinmas - The Advent Equivalent of Mardi Gras

When November 11th arrives each year, we are accustomed to seeing civic displays of patriotism and honor for the nation's veterans. Originally known as Armistice Day, in honor of the ending of World War I which concluded on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the United States in 1954 amended the holiday to include a remembrance of all the living and the dead of the nation's veterans. And the name was subsequently changed to Veteran's Day on June 1, 1954. 

However, to the Catholic, November 11th is more than a day to honor the nation's veterans and even more than a day to pray for the repose of the souls of all who have died in battle for the country's defense. November 11th is the Feast of St. Martin of Tours, the great worker of charity who is said to have raised three persons from the dead. Known as Martinmas, this day of celebration featured numerous festivities in honor of the life and charity of St. Martin of Tours, and it is still observed by some Catholics who keep the tradition alive of carrying lanterns and eating a traditional meal of goose on this day. Note: No goose allowed of course on years when November 11 falls on a Friday.

In fact, Father Francis Weiser in the Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs shows that Martinmas was the Thanksgiving Day of the Middle Ages. This is not a day we should forget:

The most common, and almost universal, harvest and thanksgiving celebration in medieval times was held on the Feast of Saint Martin of Tours (Martinmas) on November 11. It was a holiday in Germany, France, Holland, England and in central Europe. People first went to Mass and observed the rest of the day with games, dances, parades, and a festive dinner, the main feature of the meal being the traditional roast goose (Martin's goose). With the goose dinner they drank "Saint Martin's wine," which was the first lot of wine made from the grapes of the recent harvest. Martinmas was the festival commemorating filled barns and stocked larders, the actual Thanksgiving Day of the Middle Ages. Even today it is still kept in rural sections of Europe, and dinner on Martin's Day would be unthinkable without the golden brown, luscious Martin's goose.

But St. Martin's Day was more than just Thanksgiving, it also served as the "Mardi Gras" of Advent by ushering in the pre-Christmas fasting period known as St. Martin's Lent. St. Martin's Lent as a period of fasting leading up to Christmas originated as early as 480 AD. Dom Guéranger in his unmatched, prodigious Liturgical Year writes:

The oldest document in which we find the length and exercises of Advent mentioned with anything like clearness, is a passage in the second book of the History of the Franks by St. Gregory of Tours, where he says that St. Perpetuus, one of his predecessors, who held that see about the year 480, had decreed a fast three times a week, from the feast of St. Martin until Christmas…. Let us, however, note this interval of forty, or rather of forty-three days, so expressly mentioned, and consecrated to penance, as though it were a second Lent, though less strict and severe than that which precedes Easter. Later on, we find the ninth canon of the first Council of Mâcon, held in 582, ordaining that during the same interval between St. Martin’s day and Christmas, the Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, should be fasting days, and that the Sacrifice should be celebrated according to the lenten rite. Not many years before that, namely in 567, the second Council of Tours had enjoined the monks to fast from the beginning of December till Christmas. This practice of penance soon extended to the whole forty days, even for the laity: and it was commonly called St. Martin’s Lent….There were even special rejoicings made on St. Martin’s feast, just as we see them practised now at the approach of Lent and Easter. The obligation of observing this Lent, which, though introduced so imperceptibly, had by degrees acquired the force of a sacred law, began to be relaxed, and the forty days from St. Martin’s day to Christmas were reduced to four weeks.

The History of the Advent Fast

The Catechism of the Liturgy describes the fast leading up to Christmas: “In a passage of St. Gregory of Tours’ History of the Franks we find that St. Perpetuus, one of his predecessors in the See, had decreed in 480 AD that the faithful should fast three times a week from the feast of St. Martin (November 11th) [up] to Christmas… This period was called St. Martin’s Lent and his feast was kept with the same kind of rejoicing as Carnival.” In historical records, Advent was originally called Quadragesima Sancti Martini (Forty Days Fast of St. Martin). The Catechism of the Liturgy notes that this observance of fasting in some form likely lasted until the 12th century. 

Turning to the Catechism of Perseverance by Monsignor Gaume from 1882, we read the following historical account of the Advent fast taking the form of a fast on the Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from St. Martin's Day until Christmas: 

The institution of Advent would seem as old as that of the festival of Christmas, though the discipline of the Church on this point has not been always the same. For several centuries, Advent consisted of forty days, like Lent: it began on St. Martin's Day. Faithful to the old customs, the Church of Milan kept the six weeks of the primitive Advent, which had been adopted by the Church of Saint. At an early period the Church of Rome reduced the time to four weeks, that is, to four Sundays, with the part of the week remaining before Christmas. All the West followed this example.

Formerly, a fast was observed throughout Advent. In some countries this fast was of precept for every one; in others, of simple devotion. The obligation of fasting is attributed to St. Gregory the Great, who had not, however, the intention of making it a general law. In the middle of the fifth century - 462 - St. Perpetuus, Bishop of Tours, commanded that there should be three fastdays weekly in his diocese from the festival of ST. Martin to Christmas. This rule became general in the Church of France til the seventh century, after the holding of the Council of Macon in 581. The holy assembly prescribed that a fast should be observed on the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of each week, from the feria or festival of St. Martin to the Nativity of our Lord; and that the offices, especially the sacrifice of the Mass, should then be celebrated as in Lent. The use of flesh-meat was forbidden every day during Advent.

The same abstinence was observed in other Catholic regions as a pious donation proves for us. In 753, Astolphus, King of the Lombards, having granted the waters of Nonantula to an abbey of the same name, reserved forty pike to furnish his own table during St. Martin's Lent. We may infer that, in the eighth century, the Lombards observed the fast during the forty days before Christmas, or at least abstained from flesh meat.

By the 1100s, the fast had begun to be replaced by simple abstinence. As stated in "A History of the Commandments of the Church" by Rev. Antoine Villien:

Thus even before reaching full vogue, the Advent fast was on the decline. At the end of the twelfth century it was nearly abolished. The Council of Avranches AD 1172 made not only fasting but even abstinence in Advent a matter of simple counsel especially addressed to clerics and soldiers. In Rome, the observance still existed but in Portugal, it was not known whether it carried with it any obligation for the Archbishop of Braga questioned Pope Innocent III on this point and the Pope, instead of insisting that there is an obligation, simply states that in Rome the fast is observed. No very clear information is to be obtained from Durand de Mende if an Advent fast existed at his time. Durand does not speak of the way it was observed. In England, it was obligatory only for monks like the daily fast imposed by the Council of Tours for the month of December up to Christmas.

As indicated, in 1281, the Council of Salisbury held that only monks were expected to keep the fast; however, in a revival of the older practice, in 1362 Pope Urban V required abstinence for all members of the papal court during Advent. Yet this too did not last long. By the time of St. Charles Borromeo in the 16th century, the saint urged the faithful under his charge in Milan to observe fasting and abstinence on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays of Advent. Dom Guéranger similarly testifies to this in The Liturgical Year:

The discipline of the Churches of the west after having reduced the time of the Advent fast so far relented in a few years as to change the fast into a simple abstinence and we even find Councils of the twelfth century, for instance Selingstadt in 1122 and Avranches in 1172, which seem to require only the clergy to observe this abstinence. The Council of Salisbury held in 1281 would seem to expect none but monks to keep it. On the other hand for the whole subject is very confused owing no doubt to there never having been any uniformity of discipline regarding it in the western Church we find Pope Innocent III in his letter to the bishop of Braga mentioning the custom of fasting during the whole of Advent as being at that time observed in Rome, and Durandus in the same thirteenth century in his Rational on the Divine Offices tells us that in France fasting was uninterruptedly observed during the whole of that holy time. 

This much is certain that by degrees the custom of fasting so far fell into disuse that when in 1362 Pope Urban V endeavoured to prevent the total decay of the Advent penance all he insisted upon was that all the clerics of his court should keep abstinence during Advent without in any way including others either clergy orlaity in this law.

St. Charles Borromeo also strove to bring back his people of Milan to the spirit if not to the letter of ancient times. In his fourth Council, he enjoins the parish priests to exhort the faithful to go to Communion on the Sundays at least of Lent and Advent and afterwards addressed to the faithful themselves a pastoral letter in which, after having reminded them of the dispositions wherewith they ought to spend this holy time, he strongly urges them to fast on the Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at least of each week in Advent.

Even closer to our modern times, remnants of St. Martin's Lent remained in the Roman Rite through the 19th century when Wednesday and Friday fasting in Advent continued to be mandated in some countries. In the United States, fasting was kept on the Wednesdays and Fridays of Advent, as was the Universal practice of the Church, until 1840 when the fast on Wednesdays in Advent was abrogated for Americans. The fast on Fridays in Advent was abrogated in 1917 in America and abroad with the promulgation of the 1917 Code of Canon Law. 

The Code similarly removed the Wednesdays of Advent for any localities that continued to mandate them as well as the Saturdays of Advent which were kept elsewhere, such as in Italy, as evident by a 1906 decree which mandated the fast. Father Villien comments, "This discipline, which at the present day is observed by Italy alone among the nations of the West, is the last vestige of a very ancient fast, the fast of Advent."

But even the attempts to maintain elements of the Advent fast from the 17th through the 20th centuries were shadows of St. Martin's Lent. In fact, the Church still encouraged people to keep the venerable discipline of St. Martin's Lent, even if it was not obligatory under pain of sin. This fact is expressed with conviction in the Catechism of Perseverance:

The Church neglects no means of revisiting in her children the fervour of their ancestors. Is it not just? Is the little Babe whom we expect less beautiful, less holy, less worthy of our love now than formerly? Has He ceased to be the Friend of pure hearts? Is His coming into our souls less needed? Alas! perhaps we have raised there all the idols that, eighteen centuries ago, He came to overturn. Let us therefore be more wise. Let us enter into the views of the Church: let us consider how this tender mother redoubles her solicitude to form in us those dispositions of penance and charity which are necessary for a proper reception of the Babe of Bethlehem.

On this point, Father Villien concurs:

But it is only with regret that the Church permits her institutions to disappear. She wishes to retain at least a vestige of them as a witness to a former stage of devellopment. This is what she has done for Italy by the decree of September 7, 1906. 

The West Has Forgotten Its Advent Fast

The Advent fast, long observed in anticipation of our Lord's birth, had ceased, although the fast of the Advent Ember Days, the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception, and Christmas Eve remained. Yet by the time of Vatican II, even these venerable fasts were also removed. Despite being one of holiest days in the year, Christmas had ceased to be prepared for with a fast of any kind. And soon after, the secular world insisting on materialism turned Advent into Christmastide. Christmas parties, gift exchanges, and consumer splurging have all taken place during the time that our forefathers were diligently preparing for the Redeemer's birth by observing a fast. How far we have fallen from the times of St. Martin.

St. Martin's Lent or St. Philips?

The observance of a period of fasting up to Christmas Day is not only observed by the Western Church.  This practice is observed in the Eastern Rites as well. Greek Catholics for instance observe this period known to them as St. Philip's Lent. Dom Guéranger writes of this practice in his 1910 volume on Advent:

The Greek Church still continues to observe the fast of Advent though with much less rigour than that of Lent. It consists of forty days beginning with November 14, the day on which this Church keeps the feast of the apostle St Philip. During this entire period the people abstain from flesh meat, butter, milk, and eggs, but they are allowed which they are not during Lent, fish oil and wine. Fasting, in its strict sense, is binding only on seven out of the forty days and the whole period goes under the name of St. Philip's Lent. The Greeks justify these relaxations by this distinction that the Lent before Christmas is so they say only an institution of the monks, whereas the Lent before Easter is of apostolic institution.

In an article on the Traditional Byzantine Rite Fast and Abstinence written by Fr. R. Janin in 1922, "Christmas Lent" is described as "the 40 days before Christmas. The same restrictions as for Great Lent but oil and fish are permitted except on Wednesdays and Fridays." Thus, the Nativity Fast of Advent forbids food cooked with fat, eggs, milk products, and wine -  with oil and fish also forbidden only on Wednesdays and Fridays. In recent times, a distinction was made for the observance of the fast from November 15 to December 12 as compared to December 13 to Christmas Eve. In either case, the Nativity Fast - known in the East as St. Philip's Fast - more closely resembles St. Martin's Lent than the West's Advent season does.

Rediscover the True Spirit of Advent

Above all, this time of year as we approach Advent and await the celebration of the Nativity of Christ, let us embrace some fasting. Fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays during this time is preferable to not fasting at all. But this mitigated fast is a remnant of the true Advent fast. Strive to keep at least Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from St. Martin's Day as days of fast. And, should you wish to do more, keep all forty days as days of fast. Indeed, as St. Frances de Sales noted: "If you’re able to fast, you will do well to observe some days beyond what are ordered by the Church." Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays would be appropriate to observe as days of abstinence without fast. As a result, I suggest the following schedule for St. Martin's Lent based on the Church's venerable tradition:

  • Fasting and Abstinence: Monday, Wednesday, Friday
  • Abstinence-only: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday
  • No discipline on Sunday

As we celebrate St. Martin's Day on November 11th, let us prepare for forty days of fasting, penance, and prayer in preparation for our Lord's Nativity. And when Christmas comes, let us celebrate it joyfully and festively throughout January and until Candlemas on February 2nd. While the world celebrates too early and ceases celebrating on the 2nd day of Christmas, let us not make that same grave mistake.

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Sunday, October 25, 2020
Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Christ the King
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A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful, who piously recite the Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ King. A plenary indulgence is granted, if it is recited publicly on the feast of our Lord Jesus Christ King.

Most Sweet Jesus, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us humbly prostrate before You. We are Yours, and Yours we wish to be; but to be more surely united with You, behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today to Your Most Sacred Heart. Many indeed have never known You; many, too, despising Your precepts, have rejected You. Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus, and draw them to Your Sacred Heart.

Be King, O Lord, not only of the faithful who have never forsaken You, but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned You; grant that they may quickly return to their Father’s house, lest they die of wretchedness and hunger.

Be King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof, and call them back to the harbor of Truth and the unity of Faith, so that soon there may be but one flock and one Shepherd.

Grant, O Lord, to Your Church assurance of freedom and immunity from harm; give tranquility of order to all nations; make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: Praise to the Divine Heart that wrought our salvation; to It be glory and honor forever. Amen.

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Sunday, October 18, 2020
Secrets of the Sacred Heart by Emily Laminet Book Review
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I was asked to review "Secrets of the Sacred Heart" by Emily Laminet, which was just published by Ave Maria Press. The book on devotion to the Sacred Heart is structured by providing a chapter on each of the twelve promises revealed to St. Margaret Mary concerning those who are devoted to the Sacred Heart. Each chapter includes personal anecdotes from the author and applications for our own lives. Some good historical information is sprinkled throughout, and the book does a nice job of going further than merely reiterating the story of St. Margaret Mary which is already widely known. 

In her opening pages, Laminet writes, "Although this devotion to the Sacred Heart traces back to the beginning of the Church, it is perhaps more relevant now than it ever was. The Sacred Heart devotion is for all of us, right where we are, now. In a world that continues to grow colder and more confused, Jesus' Sacred Heart sets our hearts on fire with his love in order to burn off the bondages of sin." Well said.

And later on, quoting St. Margaret Mary, we understand the importance of this devotion for our times: "This devotion is as a last effort of his love...to favor men in these last centuries with this loving redemption, in order to withdraw them from the empire of Satan, which He intends to destroy, in order to put them under the sweet empire of His love and thus bring many souls by His saving grace to the way of eternal salvation."

Good:

  • The book includes a mix of St. Margaret Mary's writings with stories on how devotion to the Sacred Heart - like home enthronements and consecration to the Sacred Heart - lead to real fulfillment of the promises of our Lord even in this life.
  • Good information on Fr. Mateo's home enthronement and how we are to make our own homes into a Bethany. He specifically called for families to spend one night in prayer once a month before the enthroned image of our Lord's Sacred Heart saying, "Dear Bethanies, come out with lighted torches to meet Jesus Crucified and prove to Him that your house is really His dwelling place." This monthly vigil in front of the image of our Lord's Sacred Heart as a family is surely a practice worth adopting. 
  • Incorporation of great prayers like Fr. Francois Xavier Gautrelet's Morning Offering Prayer. He was the founder of the Apostleship of Prayer in 1844. And the book featured a great history lesson on the Litany of the Sacred Heart on a point I never read before: "At [the time of St. Margaret Mary when the Litany of the Sacred Heart originated] the litany contained just seventeen lines; an additional thirty-three lines (the petitions invoking the 'Heart of Jesus') were later added to represent the thirty-three years of the life of Christ."
  • Specific attention is given to not only the enthronement of our homes but those of our businesses, schools, and organizations to the Sacred Heart. Employers, principals, mayors, and everyone in a position of authority should enthrone their endeavors publicly to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Not So Good:

  • Doesn't capitalize pronouns that refer to our Lord's name.
  • Throughout the book, uses the 1992 Catechism only, referring to it as "the Catechism" as if it was the only one when it is one of dozens of catechisms. And the New Catechism has several key issues throughout
  • Accepts the validity of post-1983 canonizations using the revised formula
  • There are several typos throughout the book that I would not expect from a publisher like Ave Maria Press. In one part they reference "St. Pius XI" when they mean "St. Pius X" and in another place they attribute a quote to "Pope Paul XI" who does not exist. I assume they mean Pope Pius XI but I am unsure. And in another place, it says, "The Feast of the Sacred Heart is celebrated forty days after the Feast of Corpus Christi." That too is incorrect.
All in all, this is a good book. It is an easy read and nicely combines practical applications of devotion to our Redeemer's Sacred Heart along with some good historical information. My two primary hesitations to recommend the book is its acceptance of the changes of the post-Vatican II era (e.g. the New Catechism, New Canonizations, the writings of modern day Popes, etc) and the many typos throughout.

However, I do not hesitate to recommend and encourage everyone to have their home enthroned to the Sacred Heart and to daily honor and worship our Lord's Sacred Heart. As quoted in the book, St. Claude de la Colombiere exclaims, "If men knew how pleasing this devotion is to Jesus, there is no Christian - however lukewarm they might be - who would not at once practice it. Urge souls, and more especially those serving God and religion, to consecrate themselves to the Sacred Heart."
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Sunday, October 11, 2020
The 5 Best Daily Meditation Resources for the Traditional Catholic Liturgical Year
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Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalen provides deeply enriching spiritual commentary in line with the Carmelite spirituality. It is organized based on the Traditional readings for the Sunday Gospels and around the seasonal themes in the liturgical year. Yet the meditations often are appropriate for any day as they center on true spiritual progress. Divine Intimacy has received great accolades from people who I personally know read from it. The Liturgy Guy provides a very good review of Divine Intimacy where he says in part: "The brilliance of Divine Intimacy comes from Fr. Gabriel’s unique ability to balance spiritual depth with literary brevity: each daily entry typically is no more than three pages long. However, within those few pages, the reader is invited to seek God through the direction of Fr. Gabriel."

 As stated on the product listing at Baronius Press: "This Book of Meditations is a classic and is seeped in Carmelite spirituality. For every day it offers two meditations, in liturgical arrangement, that enable the soul to enter the conscious presence of God and to reflect on the theme of the day. These are followed by a ‘Colloquy’ that helps the person at prayer to start a friendly conversation with God where acts of praise and love, petition, and thanksgiving are made, together with good resolutions for the future. Here we are at the very heart of prayer, which is a heart-to-heart encounter in faith with the living God. Divine Intimacy is the highest state attainable on earth. In this union of love, the soul produces acts of love which have an immense apostolic influence on a multitude of souls. This knowledge of the ways that lead to God, according to the teaching of the renowned Spanish mystics, is distilled into the pages of this book."

Daily Breviary Meditations by Bishop Angrisani are a 4 volume set that follows the Traditional (pre-1955 Catholic liturgical year). These daily meditations tend to follow the cycle of readings in Matins and are heavily geared toward the clergy. However, the meditations here are certainly still worthwhile for even lay Catholics, especially those who pray the Divine Office. 

This reprint from Refuge of Sinners Publishing states: "The extremely important aim of this work, which is the sanctification of the Clergy and laity alike, increases its value and suitableness to the needs of our times. For never before, as in our day, in this period of general disorientation of minds and of most grave threats to the Faith and moral life of the people, has there been felt the necessity of holy priests and laity who for the salvation of Christian civilization must constitute an impenetrable barrier to the onslaughts of impiety and evil customs. This is a rare work that will be a valuable asset to any library." A sample image from a page of the meditations may be viewed here.

The Church's Year by Fr. Leonard Goffine is also worth mentioning. While not a "daily" source of meditations, Fr. Goffine's work includes explanations on the Epistles and Gospel readings for all Sundays and holy days. He includes other explanations of Church doctrine and ecclesiastical customs throughout as well. The meditations can certainly serve worthwhile to be read throughout the year - not just on the particular Sunday he has assigned them. The website for the SSPX Asia has the work available to read freely online.

Dom Gueranger's Liturgical Year is the gold standard when it comes to insights, spiritual enrichment, and historical information on the Traditional Liturgical Year. In fact, his "Liturgical Year" would influence Fr. Pius Parsch who is mentioned further down this list with a work of his own. 

This 15 volume set is described as follows on the product page: "This monumental liturgical work, comprising fifteen volumes, was the life-long labor of Benedictine Abbot Dom Guéranger. Written with the heart of a seraphic contemplative, the holy abbot takes the reader on a daily spiritual pilgrimage through the liturgies of both the East and the West as he immerses the soul into the very life of the ecclesia orans et adorans (the church praying and adoring). The author achieves this by providing daily entries corresponding to the yearly cycle of the Church's worship in both her divine seasonal feasts and those of her saints. Each day begins with a rich and provocative meditation on the mystery of faith to be celebrated together with the ecclesial history of the same; this is followed by excerpts from the Roman Missal's Mass of the day (complete with Propers, i.e., Introits, Collects, Offertory prayers, etc ) as well a host of exquisite hymns from the divine office which are coupled with varied and sundry sequences garnered from other ancient Catholic rites."

The FSSP Apostolate in Atlanta has a free email subscription to Dom Gueranger's liturgical year. Sign up to receive the daily meditation using the pre-1955 calendar that was in place at the time of Dom Gueranger's writing. In fact, his writings precede even the liturgical changes of Pope St. Pius X. While the volume does include the feasts added to the liturgical calendar in the early 1900s, it is still a true gem and one that I read through every morning.

Also worth mentioning are the Sermons on the liturgy for Sundays and feast days by Fr. Pius Parsch. Fr. Parsch was a leading figure in the Liturgical Movement in the early 1900s and his works "The Liturgy of the Mass" (1940) and "The Breviary Explained" (1952) are still read. Fr. Parsch was unfortunately a promoter of the liturgical trend to celebrating Mass on a table while facing the people away from the tabernacle. He died in 1954. 

While these are not "daily meditations" Fr. Parsch provides really insightful and meaningful commentary on the Mass texts. No modernism here in the five Sunday entries I have read thus far. More than merely discussing the Gospel reading, he provides holistic commentary on the Mass texts as a whole, often providing historical context and going much deeper and on different topics than discussed in most other commentaries. I've personally been using it every Sunday and highly recommend it. For a sample, see my Facebook post where I shared pictures of his meditation for the 14th Sunday after Pentecost.

And lastly, I highly recommend the CatechismClass.com course on the Liturgical Year. With various lessons on the feast days and fast days throughout the liturgical year, it is a great resource. The lessons combined Scripture, traditional catechism passages, prayers, devotions, activities, saintly writing, and other sources in a way that other commentaries cannot do. Again, while they do not have lessons for every single day in the year - or all Sundays - they do have a wide range of lessons, covering saints for instance like St. Jeanne Jugan, who are not covered in any other work mentioned on this list.

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