Friday, January 31, 2020
Book Review: The Courageous Shall Conquer by Henry Brenner OSB
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A few year ago I picked up a second-hand copy of "The Courageous Shall Conquer" by Henry Brenner, published by St. Meinrad Abbey Press in 1943. I set down this month to read it and just completed it.

The Courageous Shall Conquer is a compact book that, like The Imitation of Christ, offers good meditations for daily life. There are 30 chapters in total. Each chapter opens with a Scripture excerpt that pertains to the lesson's topic and there are some real life examples of courage and virtue in life. At the back of the book is a topical index. Each chapter has a particular focus ranging from courage, manfulness, determination, earnestness, resistance, magnanimity, strength, and more.

Even though this book came out shortly before modernism roared and wrecked havoc on the Church, these pages are filled with sound doctrine. This short little book is a good addition to a man's library. Spend 10 minutes a day and read a chapter; then ask yourself how you can grow in that virtue, how you can better imitate the Lord who was full of all of the virtues, and how you can better serve Him.

The Courageous Shall Conquer is a good read. It is not a book by St. Thomas Aquinas. Don't expect to walk way with new philosophical arguments or radically different theories. It is not a history book either, so don't expect to learn about some saints that you never heard of. But if you want to grow in virtues and live more virtuously and courageously, pick it up and as you read it plan to make a list of concrete ways to change your own life for the better. We can all improve and be more courageous, and this book can help you think of some practical ways to do it.
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Wednesday, January 29, 2020
Our Obligation to Switch from a False to the One True Religion
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The Catholic Church is the Only Divine Revealed Religion

"If twelve men without influence, without knowledge, inexperienced in the ways of the world, but loving Christ profoundly, have succeeded by the aid of some poor Jews in spreading the Christian Faith throughout the Roman Empire; if they have accomplished what Greece with all its eloquence, and Rome with its military power have failed to achieve; if they have succeeded in founding an institution which has lasted [20] centuries - an institution which has regenerated the world, emancipated the slave, rehabilitated women, dignified family life, comforted the afflicted, uprooted vices, taught sublime truths, pure morality and heroic virtue, an institution which has resisted long-continued and dangerous destructive tendencies, undergone centuries of persecution, witnessed the passing away of kingdoms and peoples, remaining itself erect and immovable upon the ruins of time - an institution which has opposed human interests and passions -surely we have here the greatest of miracles. Unless the principle of causality be denied or the cogency of evidence called in question, it is necessary to recognize that this institution is Divine" (Francois de Lamy).

There is only one God. All other alleged gods that people pray to are false. They are either demons or they do not exist at all. And it follows that if there is only one true God, there can only be one true religion. Baptism is either required for salvation or it is not. Jesus Christ is either God or He is not. A truth cannot be true and be false. It can not be true to some people and false to others. It also can not be true at some points in time and false at other points in time. To claim the contrary is to assert that 2 + 2 = 4 to some people but to others 2+2 = 5. Divinely revealed dogmatic truths are necessary for salvation, do not change, and are not dictated by opinion. They are true regardless of our own wants, opinions, or beliefs. They are as true as 2+2 equaling 4 even if we do not believe it is 4 or want it to be 4. But it is 4. And nothing changes that.

Likewise, there is only one true religion established by God and that is the Catholic Religion. As the Baltimore Catechism succinctly teaches: “There can be only one true religion, because a thing cannot be false and true at the same time, and, therefore, all religions that contradict the teaching of the true Church must teach falsehood. If all religions in which men seek to serve God are equally good and true, why did Christ disturb the Jewish religion and the Apostles condemn heretics?” (Baltimore Catechism #3 Q. 516).

It is the obligation of all people to convert to the Catholic Religion. Even if a person was born into a false religion that does not excuse them. Catholicism is not only meant for children born to Catholic parents in Catholic countries. All peoples are meant to be a member of the universally established religion for salvation – the Catholic Religion. The Baltimore Catechism’s wisdom teaches us: “What excuses do some give for not becoming members of the true Church? They do not wish to leave the religion in which they were born…How do you answer such excuses? To say that we should remain in a false religion because we were born in it is as untrue as to say we should not heal our bodily diseases because we were born with them…” (Baltimore Catechism #3 Q. 514-515).

We are all called to participate in the Church’s work of evangelization. In fact, in some old Catholic texts on the precepts of the Church list seven precepts of the Church and one of which is to participate in the Church’s evangelization efforts.

What can you do today to help spread the Faith to those who need to convert? How can you be a missionary to your friends and family? Each year the Church observes the Octave of Prayer for Christianity Unity in January, but we can incorporate those prayers  into our prayer lives throughout the year.

Jesus, Mary, I Love Thee! Save Souls!
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Sunday, January 26, 2020
What Does Being a Godparent Mean?
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What does being a godfather mean? What does being a godmother entail? What do godparents do? Whether you are godmother or godfather, you may not know the responsibilities and requirements of being a godparent. Not everyone is eligible to be a godparent. And because you take on the responsibility for the baptized person's religious upbringing, you bear responsibility before God. It's not an honor to accept lightly.

Baptism is above all a Sacrament, instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and it is necessary for salvation. Not all denominations have valid Baptisms though. For more information on Baptism as a Sacrament click here.

Eligibility to be a Godparent

  • Godparents must be baptized, have attained the use of reason and have the intention of fulfilling their role as a godfather of a godmother.
  • A godparent must be a confirmed Catholic and have received their First Holy Communion
  • A godparent must not belong to a heretical or schismatic sect, nor have been excommunicated by a condemnatory or declaratory sentence, nor suffer from infamy of law, nor be excluded from legal acts, nor (if a cleric) have been deposed or degraded from the clerical rank.
  • A godparent must live a life in conformity with the teachings of the Church including weekly attendance at Mass, rejection of artificial contraception and abortion, and a godparent must not support politicians who promote and support abortion, etc.
  • Godparents cannot be the father or mother or spouse of the person to be baptized
  • Godparents must be designated either by the person to be baptized or by the parents or guardians, or in their default by the minister of baptism.
  • The godparent must, either in person or through proxy, physically hold or touch the one baptized, or receive him immediately after baptism from the sacred font or from the hands of the minister.
  • The godparent must be at least sixteen years of age, unless for a just reason the minister admits younger persons or unless a different age is stipulated by the Bishop.
  • The godparent must not be under excommunication, nor excluded from legal acts, nor suffer from infamy of law for reason of a notorious crime, even though no sentence was pronounced against him, nor must he be under an interdict, or otherwise a public criminal, or disgraced by infamy of fact.
  • The godparent must know the rudiments of the faith.
  • The godparent must not be a novice or professed member in any religious organization, unless there is nobody else to be had and the permission is granted by at least the local superior.
  • The godparent must not be a cleric in sacred orders, unless he has the explicit permission of his proper Ordinary
  • The godparent must not be in a mix-marriage (marriage with a non-Catholic) who believes his/her children should choose their own religion when they grow up rather than be raised in the Catholic religion.
  • The godparent must not be involved in an invalid marriage (Justice of the Peace, marriage outside the Church)

As we stated above, a person that is a godparent must not be excommunicated by a condemnatory or declaratory sentence.  What does this mean?  Well here are some of the grave offenses that this would include:

From the 1983 Code of Canon Law:

  • The person who throws away the consecrated Eucharistic species (can 1367);
  • The person who takes or retains the consecrated species for a sacrilege purposes (ibid.);
  • A person who uses physical violence against the Roman Pontiff (can 1370 § 1);
  • A person who falsely denounces before an ecclesiastic superior a priest for solicitation to sin in confession (can. 1390);
  • A person who procures a completed abortion (can. 1398).

Besides these cases, which are also punished with automatic excommunication in the Code of Canon Law of 1917, there were still others incurring latae sentenciae excommunications. They include:

  • The editors of heretical or schismatic books that promote apostasy, heresy or schism (can. 2318 § 1);
  • Those who read books forbidden by the Holy See without due license (ibid.);
  • Authors who publish books on religious matters without due permission (can.2318 § 2);
  • Those who contract marriage before a non-Catholic minister without permission (2319 § 1 n. 1);
  • Those who contract marriage with a implicit or explicit agreement of educating the offspring outside of the Catholic Church (ibid. n. 2);
  • Those who knowingly bring children to be baptized by non-Catholic ministers (ibid. n. 3);
  • Parents or godparents who allow their children be educated in a non-Catholic religion (ibid. n. 4);
  • Those who are not priests and celebrate masses and hear confessions (can. 2322 n. 1);
  • Those who sell false relics,  distribute them or expose them for the veneration of the faithful (can. 2326);
  • A person who profits from indulgences granted (can. 2327);
  • A person who appeals a law, decree or mandate of a Sovereign Pontiff to an Ecumenical Council (can. 2332);
  • Those invested with temporal power who directly or indirectly prevent the execution of the orders of the Apostolic See or its Legates from being executed (can. 2333);
  • Those who make laws, decrees or mandates against the liberty and rights of the Church (can. 2334 n.1);
  • Those who directly or indirectly impede the jurisdiction of the Church in the external or internal forum (ibid. n.2);
  • Those who enroll their names in Masonic sects or other such associations that plot against the Church and the legitimate civil authorities (can. 2335).
  • A person who enters a monastery or convent without due permission in violation of monastic cloister  (can. 2342 n.1);
  • Nuns who leave the monastic cloister without due permission (ibid. n. 3);
  • A person who physically attacks a Cardinal or a Papal Legate (can. 2343 § 2);
  • A person who does the same to a Patriarch, an Archbishop or a Bishop (ibid., n. 3);
  • A person who does the same to priest or a religious (ibid. n. 4);
  • Those who usurp or keep goods that by right belong to the Catholic Church (can. 2345);
  • Those who provoke or accept a duel (can. 2351);
  • Those who forge false documents of the Apostolic See (can. 2360 § 1);
  • The priest or the religious who contracts marriage after taking the solemn vow of chastity (can 2388 §1);
  • Those who contract marriage after taking the non-solemn but perpetual vow of chastity(ibid., § 2);
  • Those who sell offices, benefices or honors of the Church (can. 2392 § 1);
  • Those who steal, destroy or substantially harm documents belonging to the Episcopal Curia (can. 2405).

Being a Godparent Is Both An Honor and A Great Responsibility

All in all, being a godparent is both a great honor and a serious responsibility.  For that reason, the Church has put a number of laws in place in regards to who may rightfully serve as a godparent.  Please review the above to ensure you qualify and your life is appropriately conformed to the life-saving religion of Jesus Christ - the Catholic religion.  As a godparent, you must be committed to the Church's teachings and participate in the life of the Church (i.e. going to Mass weekly, going to Confession often, praying daily, and all other duties that a Catholic must observe).  You also must stand firm to the pro-life views of the Church and reject all that the Church rejects (as listed above for example). You must help ensure that the child (or adult) who is being baptized will be raised in the Catholic Faith.

Godparent Classes

The Church often requires those preparing for the honor of serving as a godparent to attend a class to understand what Baptism is (and what it is not), why it is a Sacrament, why it is necessary for salvation, and what the godparents must do at a Baptism and throughout the life of their godchild. CatechismClass.com produces a best-selling and extremely popular online Baptism course for those looking to take an online course of study.
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Saturday, January 25, 2020
The Catholic Teaching on Artificial Insemination & In Vitro Fertilization
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The practice of this artificial fertilization, since it is a question of man, cannot be considered neither exclusively, nor even mainly, from the biological and medical point of view, leaving aside that of morality and law.

Artificial fertilization, outside of marriage, is to be condemned outright as immoral. Such is indeed the natural law and the positive divine law, that the procreation of a new life can only be the fruit of marriage. Marriage alone safeguards the dignity of the spouses (mainly the woman in this case), their personal property. By itself, only it provides for the good and education of the child. Consequently, on the condemnation of artificial fertilization outside the conjugal union, no difference of opinion is possible between Catholics. A child conceived under these conditions would, by the very fact, be illegitimate.

Artificial fertilization in marriage, but produced by the active element of a third party, is also immoral and, as such, to be condemned without appeal. Only the spouses have a reciprocal right over their body to engender a new life, an exclusive, non-transferable, inalienable right. And that must also be taken into consideration of the child. To anyone who gives life to a small being, nature imposes, by virtue of this bond, the burden of its conservation and education. But between the legitimate husband and the child, the fruit of the active element of a third party (the spouse was he consenting), there is no bond of origin, no moral and legal bond of conjugal procreation.

As for the lawfulness of artificial fertilization in marriage, it suffices for us, for the moment, to recall these principles of natural law: the simple fact that the result to which we aim is achieved by this route, does not justify the use of the medium itself; nor the desire, in itself very legitimate among spouses, to have a child, is not enough to prove the legitimacy of the recourse to artificial fertilization, which would fulfill this desire.

Let it not be forgotten: only the procreation of a new life according to the will and the plan of the Creator carries with it, to an astonishing degree of perfection, the achievement of the aims pursued. It is, at the same time, in conformity with the bodily and spiritual nature and with the dignity of the spouses, with the normal and happy development of the child.

All is an Excerpt: Speech of Pope Pius XII to Catholic Doctors in Rome for their 4th International Congress (Sept. 29, 1949), Acta Apostolicae Sedis 49
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Thursday, January 23, 2020
St. Ildephonsus (Mass in Some Places)
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Today in the pre-1955 Traditional Catholic Missal is the Mass in Some Places (pro aliquibus locis) of St. Ildefonse.  St. Ildefonse was a scholar and theologian who served as the metropolitan Bishop of Toledo for the last decade of his life. His writings were influential across much of the Hispanic world. 

The following account is given in today's martyrology:
At Toledo, St. Ildefonse, bishop, renowned for sanctity. On account of his great purity of life, and his defense of the virginity of the Mother of God against the heretics who denied it, he received from her a brilliant white vestment, and was called to Heaven
Catholic Online shares the following short account of his praiseworthy life:
St. Ildephonsus is highly regarded in Spain and closely associated with devotion to the Blessed Virgin which he fostered by his famous work concerning her perpetual virginity. Born around 607, Ildephonsus came from a noble family and was probably a pupil of St. Isidore of Seville. While still quite young, he entered the Benedictine monastery of Agalia near Toledo and went on to become its Abbot. In that capacity he attended the Councils of Toledo in 653 and 655. 
In 657 the clergy and people elected this holy man to succeed his uncle, St. Eugenius, as Archbishop of Toledo. He performed his episcopal duties with diligence and sanctity until his death in 667. This saint was a favorite subject for medieval artists, especially in connection with the legend of Our Lady's appearance to present him with a chalice. St. Ildephonsus was a prolific writer, but unfortunately only four of his works have survived. Among these are the one already mentioned and an important document of the history of the Spanish Church during the first two-thirds of the seventh century, entitled Concerning Famous Men.
Dom Gueranger writes of him in his work "The Liturgical Year." The following is an excerpt:
Among the glorious Pontiffs, who honoured the noble episcopate of Spain, during the 7th and 8th centuries—for example: Leander, Isidore, Fulgentius, Braulio, Eugenius, Julian, Helladius—among them, and in the foremost rank, stands Ildephonsus, with his glory of having been the Doctor of the Virginity of the Mother of God, just as Athanasius is the Doctor of the Divinity of the Word, Basil the Doctor of the Divinity of the Holy Ghost, and Augustine the Doctor of Grace. The holy Bishop of Toledo has treated the dogma of Mary’s Virginity in all its completeness. With profound learning and with fervid eloquence, he proves, against the Jews, that Mary conceived without losing her Virginity; against the followers of Jovinian, that she was a Virgin in her Delivery; against the disciples of Helvidius, that she remained a Virgin, after she had given birth to her Divine Son. Other holy Doctors had treated separately on each of these sublime questions, before our Saint: but he brought together all their teachings, and merited that a Virgin-Martyr should rise from her tomb to thank him for having defended the honour of the Queen of Heaven. Nay, Mary herself, with her own pure hand, clothed him with that miraculous Chasuble, which was an image of the robe of light wherewith Ildephonsus shines now in heaven, at the foot of Mary’s Throne. 
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Commoration of St. Emerentiana
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Commemoration (1954 Calendar): January 23

Today is the feastday of St. Raymond of Peñafort which includes a Commemoration of St. Emerentiana. Just a few days ago we celebrated the feast of the Virgin-Martyr St. Agnes, who has been held in high regard since ancient times, and whose name is mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. St. Emerentiana is the foster-sister of St. Agnes, who was stoned to death by a pagan mob while she was praying at the young martyr's tomb.

The following is taken from the Roman Martyrology: "At Rome, the holy virgin and martyr, St. Emerentiana. Being yet a catechumen, she was stoned to death by the heathens while praying at the tomb of St. Agnes, her foster sister."

Dom Gueranger writes the following devotional account in his Liturgical Year:
Three days have scarcely passed since the martyrdom of St Agnes, when the Liturgy, so jealous of every tradition, invites us to visit the Martyr's tomb. There we shall find a young Virgin named Emerentiana; she was the friend and foster-sister of our dear little heroine, and has come to pray and weep at the spot where lies her loved one, so soon and so cruelly taken from her. Emerentiana has not yet been regenerated in the waters of Baptism; she is going through the exercises of a Catechumen; but her heart already belongs, by faith and desire, to Jesus. 
Whilst the young girl is pouring forth her grief over the tomb of her much loved Agnes, she is surprised by the approach of some pagans; they ridicule her tears, and bid her pay no more of this sort of honour to one who was their victim. Upon this, the child, longing as she was to be with Christ, and to be clasped in the embraces of her sweet Agnes, was fired with holy courage—as well she might near such a Martyr's tomb—and turning to the barbarians, she confesses Christ Jesus, and curses the idols, and upbraids them for their vile cruelty to the innocent Saint who lay there. 
This was more than enough to rouse the savage nature of men, who were slaves to the worship of Satan; and scarcely had the child spoken, when she falls on the tomb, covered with the heavy stones thrown on her by her murderers. Baptized in her own blood, Emerentiana leaves her bleeding corpse upon the earth, and her soul flies to the bosom of God, where she is to enjoy, for ever, union with him, in the dear company of Agnes.
Collect:

O Lord, pardon our sins through the intercession of the blessed virgin martyr Emerentiana, who pleased You by her purity and her faith. Through Our Lord . . .
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Wednesday, January 22, 2020
What Should I Do For My First Time at a Latin Mass?
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If you are new to the idea of attending the Tridentine Latin Mass, you may not know what to do. What should I wear? What do I need to say? How will I sit and stand? Do I need to cover my head?

Above all, don't let these questions prevent you from attending the Most Beautiful Thing This Side of Heaven - the Latin Mass said according to the Church's Traditional Rubrics. More and more people are thankfully finding the Latin Mass and returning to it.

Fr. Eric Andersen recently well advised those attending a Latin Mass for the first time:
“If you are new to the Latin Mass, my recommendation to you is not to worry about how to participate. Put down the booklet all together. Watch and listen in the silence and let your prayer arise. Have no expectations. Let yourself be surprised. Let the Holy Spirit be your guide. Treat this time like a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament. Realize that during this Holy Hour, something magnificent is happening: Jesus Christ, the High Priest, is offering the Holy Sacrifice.”
The Mass is truly the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross and this is clearly shown by the gestures, reverence, and actions of the priest. Stop attending the Novus Ordo with its Communion in the Hand, watered down prayers, irreverence, and lack of mystery. Do not let the fear of the unknown trouble you. I travel around the country all the time and have attended Latin Masses everywhere I go - even around the world. I am never bothered. No one thankfully ever asks me why I'm there. I am not forced to participate in any way with the signing, the prayers, the greetings, or more. I am there to worship the Triune God in the one, true, and perfect Sacrifice.

What to Say? Do I need to wear a veil? How do I receive Holy Communion?

For those who do want to still get a good understanding of what the Mass is - what will be said and how it will be said, I found these series of videos to be quite helpful. As to when to sit and stand and kneel, just follow everyone else. You are not required to know this. And there is no requirement to say anything. The priest and server are able to say all of the prayers.

For receiving our Lord in Holy Communion, you must be a baptized Catholic in the state of grace. If you have mortal sin on your soul, you must go to Sacramental Confession before receiving Communion. Assuming you are in the state of grace, then you may approach the Communion rail with everyone else when it is time to receive our Lord. You receive kneeling - though the old and those physically unable to kneel may stand at the Communion rail. Communion is received only on the tongue - never in the hand - and you do not need to say "Amen" or any prayer. The priest will say a prayer in Latin for you as he gives you the Body of our Lord.

And for women, while I believe all women should bring a veil and cover their heads, the overwhelming majority of Latin Masses would never ask a woman to leave who does not do so. In fact, I've never seen it or even heard of that happening. If there is a basket of veils at the door with a sign for women to wear one, the woman should politely follow this custom and veil. Simply borrow a veil - any color will work - and return it after Mass. If there is not a notice or a basket of veils, which is the case at the overwhelming number of churches, then you of course may attend Mass even though you do not have a veil.

As for men, it is not appropriate for a man to cover his head in Church so remove all hats or caps when entering a church and do not wear them until you leave the church completely.

But of course, as Fr. Eric well said - knowing what will happen is not required in the least. You are only asked to be in physical attendance and to lift up your hearts and minds in prayer. All else is extra. The most important element is something you can already do - pray and offer your prayers in union with the priest at the altar.

The Latin Mass Step by Step:





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Tuesday, January 21, 2020
The Miraculous Staircase Built by St. Joseph in New Mexico
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Last November I visited Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The capital city of New Mexico is also home to several other worthwhile Catholic sites - the oldest shrine to our Lady of Guadalupe in the United States as well as San Miguel, the oldest Church structure in the United States.

Just blocks away from these sites is the home of the miraculous staircase. Pay just a few dollars to visit this chapel and marvel at something more than an architectural marvel - it was a miracle.

The Loretto Chapel website shares the story:
Legend says that to find a solution to the seating problem, the Sisters of the Chapel made a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the ninth and final day of prayer, a man appeared at the Chapel with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. Months later, the elegant circular staircase was completed, and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks. After searching for the man (an ad even ran in the local newspaper) and finding no trace of him, some concluded that he was St. Joseph himself, having come in answer to the sisters' prayers.
Prayer to St. Joseph:

Oh St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.

Oh St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your divine son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, our Lord; so that having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.

Oh St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while he reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss his fine head for me, and ask him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen




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Saturday, January 18, 2020
Commemoration of St. Prisca
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St. Prisca Baptized by St. Peter from the Church of Santa Prisca

Commemoration (1954 Calendar): January 18

Today is the feastday of St. Peter's Chair at Rome which includes a Commemoration of St. Paul since each time St. Peter is mentioned in a Collect a prayer to St. Paul is offered as well, and vice versa. Today's liturgy also commemorates the triumph of St. Prisca who was martyred during the third century.

Note: Today is the day to begin the Prayers for the Octave of Christian Unity

The following is taken from America Needs Fatima, a great website worth visiting and supporting:
There are actually three St. Priscilla’s who lived in the first few centuries of the Church – all of whom were martyrs – and two of them share the same feast day of January 18! It is the virgin martyr St. Prisca that the Church primarily celebrates today though.

Prisca was born of a noble family in Rome during the reign of Claudius II. Most likely a Christian from birth, she was arrested during the persecutions when she was a young teenager and brought before the Emperor for questioning. Despite her youth, Prisca courageously proclaimed and upheld her Catholic Faith, even though she knew that by doing so in those days was ultimately the pronouncement of her own death sentence.

She suffered terrible tortures, one of which was being taken to the arena to be devoured by wild beasts. Rather than devour her though, the lions are said to have licked her feet! Finally, she was taken outside the city walls and beheaded. Legend tells us that when she was martyred, a great eagle appeared above her and protected her body for several days until the Christians were able to retrieve it.

The young martyr was buried in the Catacomb of St. Priscilla - the catacomb named after the St. Priscilla, wife of a Roman senator, who shares the same feast day of January 18 with the child-martyr, Prisca. She is said to have opened her home near the catacomb to Christians and to have befriended St. Peter who used her home as his headquarters in Rome. She was martyred during the reign of Emperor Domitian. As an interesting fact, there is probable speculation that this St. Priscilla was a family relation of the child-martyr St. Prisca, who is buried in her catacomb.

The third St. Priscilla was a disciple of St. Paul and wife of the Jewish tentmaker, Aquila.
Collect:

Almighty God, we celebrate today the birthday of Your blessed virgin Martyr Prisca. May her feast fill us with joy, and may we profit by the example of her great faith. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and rules with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.
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Wednesday, January 15, 2020
St. John Neumann: America's First Canonized Male Saint
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January 5th is the feastday of St. John Nepomucene Neumann (1811-1860), a bishop from the United States who did much missionary work and preaching. He is not found on the traditional Catholic calendar as we as only canonized in 1977. But his life is still one of great merits. I had the opportunity to visit and venerate his incorruptible body back in 2013.

He is the first American man and first American bishop to be canonized. Read a short account of his life.


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Commemoration of St. Maurus
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Commemoration (1954 Calendar): January 15

Besides the feastday of St. Paul the First Hermit, today is the Commemoration of St. Maurus. Often these only commemorated saints are too often neglected when there are many ways that we can improve our own lives if only we would imitate their lives, even to a small degree.

St. Maurus, was a sixth-century disciple of St. Benedict, who helped to introduce the monastic life in France. He was rewarded by God with the gift of miracles because of his heroic spirit of obedience. While he is one of many Benedictine saints, his life is specifically honored by being included in the Church's Liturgy.

The following is taken from Archives of the OSB:
St. Maurus, abbot and deacon, son of Equitius, a nobleman of Rome, was born about the year 510 and died in 584. When he was about twelve years old, his father placed him under the care of St. Benedict at Subiaco, to be educated in piety and learning. When he had grown up, St. Benedict chose him as his coadjutor in the government of the monastery. He was a model of perfection to all his brethren, but especially in the virtue of obedience. 
St. Maurus was favored by God with the gift of miracles. To show in what high degree the Saint possessed the gift of miracles, it will be sufficient to cite a few examples of how he miraculously cured the sick and restored to health those who were stricken with a grievous affliction. It has already been stated, according to the testimony of Pope St. Gregory the Great, in the Second Book of his Dialogues, how when a youth, St.Maurus rescued St. Placid from drowning... 
Since St. Maurus miraculously freed many persons from their bodily afflictions through the sign of the Cross and the relic of the true Cross of Christ, in many monasteries of the Order of St. Benedict from time immemorial, after the example of this miracle-worker, the custom of blessing the sick with the relic of the true Cross, has prevailed, in order to restore their health. But until recent years, there was no uniform and approved formula of blessing of the Church. There existed a number of old and new formulas, which were essentially the same, but differed from each other in many details. Some formulas were exceedingly lengthy. In the face of these facts, the Rt. Rev. Dom Maurus Wolter OSB, President of the Beuronese Congregation, petitioned Rome for an approved and authentic formula. A carefully prepared and much abbreviated formula was therefore presented to the Sacred Congregation of Rites for its approval. 
Continue Reading...
Collect:

Let the blessed Abbot Maurus intercede for us, O Lord. May his prayers win us Your help, since our own actions cannot merit it. Through Our Lord . . .
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Tuesday, January 14, 2020
St. Felix of Nola
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Commemoration (1954 Calendar): January 14

Besides the feastday of St. Hilary of Poitiers, today is the Commemoration of St. Felix of Nola. He is not to be confused with St. Felix I, St. Felix II, or others by the same name who are commemorated in the liturgical year.

St. Felix of Nola was a priest of Campania during the third century, who manifested heroic Christian courage in the service of his bishop, St. Maximus, during the cruel persecution under Emperor Decius. He sold off his possessions in order to give to the poor but was arrested and tortured for the Christian faith during one of the persecutions before Christianity was legalized. He died in approximately 250 AD.

The following is taken from Catholic.org:
Felix was the son of Hermias, a Syrian who had been a Roman soldier. He was born on his father's estate at Nola near Naples, Italy. On the death of his father, Felix distributed his inheritance to the poor, was ordained by Bishop St. Maximus of Nola, and became his assistant. When Maximus fled to the desert at the beginning of Decius' persecution of the Christians in 250, Felix was seized in his stead and imprisoned. He was reputedly released from prison by an angel, who directed him to the ailing Maximus, whom he brought back to Nola. Even after Decius' death in 251, Felix was a hunted man but kept well hidden until the persecution ended. When Maximus died, the people unanimously selected Felix as their Bishop, but he declined the honor in favor of Quintus, a senior priest. Felix spent the rest of his life on a small piece of land sharing what he had with the poor, and died there on January 14. His tomb soon became famous for the miracles reported there, and when St. Paulinus became bishop of Nola almost a century later (410), he wrote about his predecessor, the source of our information about him, adding legendary material that had grown up about Felix in the intervening century. His feast day is January 14th.
Collect:

Grant, we beseech You, almighty God, that the example of Your saints may urge us on to a better life, so that we may imitate the deeds of those whose feasts we celebrate. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
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Monday, January 6, 2020
How Much Merit Does the Church Have to Give Away in Indulgences?
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What Are Indulgences?

Pope Paul VI said: "An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain defined conditions through the Church’s help when, as a minister of redemption, she dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions won by Christ and the saints" (Indulgentiarum Doctrina 1).

An indulgence is a removal of the punishment from sin. Although you are forgiven in Confession for sins the punishment stills remains, which would have to be achieved through purification like in purgatory. If an indulgence is performed and earned, then part or all of the punishment is removed. Catechists often use the story of a boy hitting a baseball through his neighbor’s window to explain indulgences. The neighbor forgives the boy for the offense – which corresponds to our forgiveness in the confessional – yet the boy must still make restitution and pay for a new window – which relates to our need for penance to remove the temporal effects of sin.

Remember, indulgences are only possible because of God's love displayed on the Cross. Without Jesus Christ, we would have no chance to be forgiven and obtain salvation.


How Much Merit Does the Church Have to Give Away in Indulgences? 

The Church possesses an infinite treasury of merits that can be applied to souls. This treasury is composed of the acts of those who in Heaven or who are still on Earth that they did not need (i.e. their souls were already clean from the temporal punishment from sin). This excess is not lost and if the person performing the indulged act does not ask God to apply the merits to someone in particular, they remain in the Church’s treasury.

However, these merits are small, in fact infinitely small, in comparison to the merits won by our Lord on the Cross. By His Sacrifice, our Lord won for us an infinite treasure of merits which He entrusts to the Church. This treasury as such will never run out. There is no concern that the Church will run out of merits to apply to us for our indulged acts.

What Are The Kinds of Indulgences?

A universal indulgence is granted anywhere in the world while a local indulgence applies to only a specific place or area. A perpetual indulgence is one that may be gained at any time while a temporary indulgence only is available for certain times, for example, like certain indulgences for the Holy Souls in November. A plenary indulgence is the complete remission of the temporal punishment of sin.

Temporal punishments only “cancel out” a certain amount, of which only God knows. If more temporal punishment remains, more indulgences or time in purgatory (which is also biblical) is required in order to reach the perfection of Heaven.

Please also realize that many older documents like holy cards and prayer books would have a certain length of time printed on them. For example, a prayer could say it is a 300 day partial indulgence. However, realize that time does not exist in purgatory or Heaven or hell. The Church has never taught that if such a prayer was said, the person would get 300 days off purgatory time. An indulgence is only reduced as God sees fit. The dates corresponded only to early Church practices. The 300 days indulgence would correspond to 300 days of earthly fasting and penance. Since it was so misunderstood, most prayer cards no longer print these dates, referring to indulgences instead as either partial or plenary.
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Sunday, January 5, 2020
Act of Reparation for Blasphemies Uttered Against the Holy Name of Jesus
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IHS Monogram–the Name of Jesus by Waiting For The Word (2006) via Flickr, CC.

O Jesus, my Savior and Redeemer, Son of the living God, behold, we kneel before Thee and offer Thee our reparation; we would make amends for all the blasphemies uttered against Thy holy name, for all the injuries done to Thee in the Blessed Sacrament, for all the irreverence shown toward Thine immaculate Virgin Mother, for all the calumnies and slanders spoken against Thy spouse, the holy Catholic and Roman Church. O Jesus, who hast said: "If you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it to you," we pray and beseech Thee for all our brethren who are in danger of sin; shield them from every temptation to fall away from the true faith; save those who are even now standing on the brink of the abyss; to all of them give light and knowledge of the truth, courage and strength for the conflict with evil, perseverance in faith and active charity! For this do we pray, most merciful Jesus, in Thy name, unto God the Father, with whom Thou livest and reignest in the unity of the Holy Ghost world without end. Amen.

Prayer Source: Prayer Book, The by Reverend John P. O'Connell, M.A., S.T.D. and Jex Martin, M.A., The Catholic Press, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, 1954

Learn more about devotion to the Most Holy Name of Jesus.
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Friday, January 3, 2020
The 17 Approved Catholic Scapulars
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Types of Scapulars

Scapulars were originally part of the garment of monks. It began as something similar to an apron but evolved to be a mark of commitment to the religious Order. As lay people became dedicated to following some of the ways of the priests and monks, a smaller version of the scapular was used to signify this connection. The earliest religious Orders with lay “Confraternities” were the Servites, Carmelites, Trinitarians and Mercederians. The Franciscans, Benedictines, and Dominicans also developed Third Order lay groups. The scapulars are blessed, and wearers are “invested” in the wearing of the scapular with an expectation of prayers, charity, and devotion as a part of the investiture and relationship to a religious Order. They are not good luck charms or magical artifacts.

In the course of time other Orders received the faculty of blessing small scapulars and investing the lay faithful, although such scapulars were not always connected with a confraternity. Pope Leo XIII approved several new scapulars in the early 1900s, including one to St. Michael the Archangel. The additions of these scapulars brought the total number to 17.

There are five early scapulars which are often grouped together on one string. This is referred to as the Five-Fold Scapular.
The five are: the Scapular of the Most Blessed Trinity, that of the Carmelites, of the Servites, of the Immaculate Conception, and the Red Scapular of the Passion. When the scapulars are joined together, the bands must be of red wool, as required by the Red Scapular; it is customary to wear the Red Scapular uppermost and that of the Most Blessed Trinity undermost, so that the images specially prescribed in the case of the Red, and the small red and blue cross on the Scapular of the Blessed Trinity, may be visible. 
(New Advent, Catholic Encyclopedia)
Scapulars are blessed and invested only once. They are expected to be worn constantly.

The White Scapular of the Blessed Trinity began when Pope Innocent III authorized the Trinitarian Order in 1198 and had a vision of an angel in white with a cross of blue and red on the chest. This became the habit of the order and the design of the scapular.

The Brown Scapular of the Carmelites is the most widely known scapular and was given to St. Simon Stock while he was in England in 1251. The Blessed Virgin promised to grant special aid at the hour of death to those wearing this scapular.

The Black Scapular comes from the Servite Order which began in 1255 and was sanctioned by Pope Alexander IV. This scapular honors the Seven Sorrows of Mary.

The Blue Scapular came as a part of a vision of Venerable Ursula Benicasa, who founded the Order of Theatine Nuns. She saw Jesus and asked Him to grant favors to all who wore the Blue Scapular in honor of the Immaculate Conception. Pope Clement X in 1671 and Clement XI granted indulgences for wearing this scapular.

The Red Scapular of the Passion began after a vision by a Sister of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in 1846. Jesus promised to all who wear this on Fridays, an increase in faith, hope and charity. The vision was reported to Pope Pius IX and he granted the Lazarists Order the faculty of blessing and investing this scapular.

The 17 Approved Scapulars:

1. Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
2. Green Scapular
3. Black Scapular of the Passion
4. Black Scapular of the Seven Dolours of Mary
5. Blue Scapular of the Immaculate Conception
6. Red Scapular of the Passion
7. Scapular of the Blessed Virgin Mary
8. Scapular of the Most Precious Blood
9. Scapular of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary
10. Scapular of St. Benedict
11. Scapular of St. Dominic
12. Scapular of St. Joseph
13. Scapular of St. Michael the Archangel
14. White Scapular of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
15. White Scapular of the Most Blessed Trinity
16. White Scapular of the Mother of Good Counsel
17. White Scapular of Our Lady of Ransom

May more Catholics have recourse to these and all Sacramentals. Those unfamiliar with the purpose of Sacramentals or their benefits should consult the Baltimore Catechism.
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