Saturday, December 26, 2020
Within the Octave of Our Lord's Nativity
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We are now within the Octave of Christmas. This is one of only three Octaves retained in the 1962 Missal and one of only two kept in the Novus Ordo. This Octave, like the many in place up until 1955, is worth understanding so we can better enter into its mysteries and continue living and celebrating them throughout the Octave. 

The Octave of Christmas is unique since the Feasts of St. Stephen, St. John the Apostle, and the Holy Innocents which are celebrated on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th days respectively of the Christmas Octave used to be Holy Days of Obligation. The three are sometimes known as the “Comites Christi " (Companions of Christ). An article from a few years ago on liturgical notes for the Octave is worth reading at the New Liturgical Movement.

The Connection of the feasts around Christmas with the Octave is worth a special study. Canon Aaron B. Huberfeld, Rector of St. Mary’s Oratory in Wausau, Wisconsin shared the following reflection that was published on the New Liturgical Movement. He wrote in part:
No sooner do we conclude the office of Christmas Day than we celebrate the feast of the first Martyr. Why is this so? Does the feast of St Stephen just happen to fall on December 26? Why would the Church turn so quickly from the creche to consider the deacon who was stoned to death after Our Lord's Resurrection? And what about the feasts of the following days? What is their connection with Christmas?

The first three feasts of the Christmas Octave have been observed since antiquity. They were always devoutly referred to as the Three Companions. We begin with St Stephen, murdered at the direction of Saul of Tarsus, whose conversion we shall celebrate one month later. Stephen was a martyr loquendo et moriendo, by his words and by his death. The next day we return to white vestments, for St John is the only Apostle not celebrated in red. He was the only Apostle who did not abandon his Savior at Calvary, and so God decreed that he should be a martyr loquendo sed non moriendo, by his words but not by his death, for he would be miraculously preserved from his execution and end his life in peace on the island of Patmos. Then on December 28 we celebrate Childermas, the feast of the Holy Innocents, those little ones of Bethlehem who, as we pray in the collect of their Mass, bore witness to Christ non loquendo, sed moriendo, not by their words, but by their deaths, for they were killed by raging Herod on the chance that one of them might be the newborn King.

Herods are to be found in every age, for sinful rulers always view the kingdom of Christ as a threat to their earthly power. And so on December 29 we keep the feast of Thomas Becket, the holy bishop of Canterbury who upheld the freedom of the Church from the interference of the state and so was cut down by King Henry II’s men during Christmas Vespers.

On December 30 we take up again the Mass and Office of Christmas, like a beautiful refrain, and then remain in white vestments for the conclusion of the Octave. December 31 is the feast of St Sylvester, celebrated in white because he is the first pope who was not a martyr, bringing the age of martyrs to a close with the peace of Constantine. 
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. Christmas was a Privileged Octave of the Second Order along with the Octave of Epiphany. Only the Octaves of Easter and Pentecost ranked higher as Privileged Octaves of the First Order.

Collect:

Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that the new birth of Thine only-begotten Son in the flesh may set us free, who are held by the old bondage under the yoke of sin. Through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God . . .
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Friday, December 25, 2020
Commemoration of St. Anastasia
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Commemoration (1954 Calendar): December 25

All saints in Heaven surely were devoted to the Holy Mass yet only 42 are named in the Canon of the Mass. We would do well to pray to them and to especially honor them on their annual feastdays. And one of them is St. Anastasia.

In the 2nd Mass of Christmas, the Mass at Day Break, the Church on Christmas morning includes a Commemoration of St. Anastasia. This is her only inclusion in the Liturgy on this her feastday. However, we would be remiss to not consider her connection with our Lord, the Sun of Justice, on this Christmas Day. The New Liturgical Movement has published an article in the past on the connection of St. Anastasia and our Lord's Nativity. It will worth the read. 

Dom Gueranger writes on the 2nd Mass of Christmas and St. Anastasia:

In the very midst of her celebration of this mystery of the Birth of Jesus, the Church offers us another object of admiration and joy: it is one of her own children. Whilst solemnizing the divine Mystery of today's Feast, she commemorates in this second Mass one of those glorious heroines who preserved the Light of Christ within their souls, in spite of all the attacks made to rob them of it. Her name is Anastasia. This holy Widow of Rome suffered martyrdom under the persecution of Diocletian, and had the privilege of being thus born to eternal life on the Birthday of that Jesus for whom she suffered death.

She had been married to a Pagan of the name of Publius; himself also a Roman; who, being irritated against her on account of her great charities to the Christians, treated her with every sort of cruelty. She endured all with admirable patience; and when this heavy trial was removed from her by the death of her husband, she devoted herself to visiting and solacing the holy Confessors who had been cast into the prisons of Rome for the Faith. Being at length apprehended as a Christian, she was tied to a stake and burned to death. Her Church in Rome, which is built on the site where formerly stood her house, is the Station for this Second Mass. The Sovereign Pontiffs used formerly to say it here, and the ancient custom was observed in later times by Pope Leo XII.

How admirable is this delicate considerateness of our holy Mother the Church! Wishing to associate one of her Saints with the glory of this present Solemnity, on which the Virginity of Mary receives its triumphant recompense, it is a holy Widow that is chosen for this signal honour; that it might hereby be shown how the Married State, though inferior in merit and holiness to the state of Virginity, is not excluded from the blessings which the Birth of the Son of Mary merited for the world. There was a Virgin, St Eugenia, that might so well have been selected; for she suffered a glorious martyrdom under Galerian on this same feast, and in the same City as did the wife of Publius: but no—the preference is given to Anastasia, the Widow. This choice of the Church, which is dictated by her heavenly wisdom, and by the love she has for all her children, forcibly reminds us of a beautiful passage in one of St Augustine’s Sermons for Christmas Day.

'Exult, O ye Virgins of Christ! for the Mother of Christ is your companion. You could not be his Mother; but for his sake you would be Virgins: he that is not born of you, is born to you. And yet you remember his words: Whosoever shall do the will of my Father, is my brother and sister and mother. Now have you not done the will of his Father?

‘Exult, O ye Widows of Christ! for ye have vowed a holy continency to him, that made Virginity fruitful. And thou too, O nuptial chastity! you, I mean, that are faithful in the married state, you also may exult; for what you lose in the body, you do not lose in your hearts. ... Let your soul be virginal by its faith, for it is by her Faith that the Church is a Virgin. ... Jesus is Truth and Peace and Justice; conceive him by your faith, give him birth by your good works; in order that what the womb of Mary did in the Flesh of Jesus, your heart may do in the law of Jesus. Believe me, you yourselves are children of virginity, for are you not the members of Christ? Mary is Mother of Jesus, who is our Head; and the Church is the mother of you who are his members. Yes, the Church is, like Mary, both Mother and Virgin: she is Mother by her tender charity; and Virgin by the purity of her faith and holiness.'

But the Holy Sacrifice is about to commence. The Introit tells us of the Birth of Jesus our Sun of Justice. The brightness of his first rising is the presage of his mid-day splendour. Strength and Beauty are his. He is armed for victory, and his name is Prince of Peace.

Collect:

Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that we who devoutly keep the Feast of blessed Anastasia, Thy Martyr, may feel the effects of her pleadings with Thee. Through our Lord...

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Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Indulgences for Devotions to St. Joseph
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With the announcement from the Vatican of a Special Year of St. Joseph lasting from December 8, 2020, through December 8, 2021, the Apostolic Penitentiary issues a Decree granting plenary indulgences in 15 different ways. Some of those ways indicate praying an "approved" prayer to St. Joseph. 

One excellent option is the Prayer to St. Joseph / Oratio ad Sanctum Iosephum which was composed by Pope Leo XIII and, by his request, added to the end of the prayer of the Rosary during the month of October.

Devotion to St. Joseph is not new. And neither are indulgences attached to some of the prayers to the foster-father of our Lord. In fact, the Raccolta lists several excellent and worthwhile prayers approved by the Church. The Five Psalms in Honor of the Name of Joseph, the prayer Quicumque, the Seven Dolours and Seven Joys of St. Joseph, and the Pious Exercise in honor of St. Joseph are all worth rediscovering. 

All of those are excellent options to be prayed on St. Joseph's Feastday on March 19th, his special Eastertide Feast kept only in the pre-1955 calendar, or Wednesdays of each week, the day traditionally dedicated to him. March is especially devoted to him as well.

In addition, some of the shorter indulged works to St. Joseph from the Raccolta include:

Foster-father Joseph, our guide, protect us and the holy Church. (50 days indulgence every time that with contrite hearts and devotion they shall say, in any language, the following ejaculation.)

O glorious St. Joseph, father and protector of virgins, faithful guide, to whom God intrusted Jesus, very innocence, and Mary, Virgin of virgins; by this twofold deposit to thee so dear, make it thy care that I, preserved from every defilement, pure in heart and chaste, may serve with constancy Jesus and Mary in perfect chastity. Amen. (100 days indulgence once a day)

Remember, most pure husband of Mary ever-Virgin, my loving protector Joseph, that never hath it been heard that any one invoked thy protection or asked aid of thee who has not been consoled. In this confidence I come before thee, I fervently recommend myself to thee. Despise not my prayer, reputed father of the Saviour of men, but do thou in thy pity receive it. Amen. (300 days indulgence, to be gained once a day, to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts and devotion, shall say the following prayer.)

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Monday, December 21, 2020
A Prayer to Know God's Will For My Vocation in Life
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A worthwhile prayer for all who are single to say each and every day. May we both know the will of God and have the strength to do it! 

God of Wisdom and of Counsel, Thou see in my heart a sincere desire to please Thee alone and to conform myself entirely to Thy Holy Will in the choice of my state in life. Grant me, I humbly implore Thee, by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, my Mother and my holy Patrons, the grace to know what state in life I should choose and to embrace it when known, in order that thus I may seek Thy glory and increase it, work out my own salvation, and deserve the heavenly reward which Thou hast promised to those who do Thy Holy Will. Amen.

Read the article "Single-Minded Devotion" for more information on the vocation to the single life, for those who believe that they are called to the single life instead of the priesthood, religious life, or marriage. It's an excellent article on the topic. The Mystery of Love for the Single by Fr. Dominic Unger is also an excellent book. There is an online summary available of the book if you do not have time to read the entire work.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2020
Advent Embertide
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WahooArt.com An Anxious Time by Frederick Daniel Hardy (1827-1911)

Ember Days this Advent: December 16,  18, and 19

If you are in good health, please at least fast during these three days and pray additional prayers. Remember the words from the Gospel: "Unless you do penance, you shall likewise perish" (Luke 13:5).  Ember Days are days of fasting and partial abstinence. Please click here for a special PDF Ember Day Manual, including reflections for the Advent Ember Days.

Note, while most Missals call for Ember Wednesday and Ember Saturday to be a day of partial abstinence, this is a rather modern practice. Partial Abstinence refers to eating meat only at the principal meal of the day and do not permit meat to be eaten as part of the collation or the frustulum. Partial abstinence started only in 1741 under Pope Benedict XIV as a concession & as part of a gradual decline of fasting. It is better to keep all Ember Days as days of complete abstinence. Ember Fridays of course are in all Missals days of complete abstinence.

From Angelus Press Daily Missal:

At the beginning of the four seasons of the Ecclesiastical Year, the Ember Days have been instituted by the Church to thank God for blessings obtained during the past year and to implore further graces for the new season. Their importance in the Church was formerly very great. They are fixed on the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday: after the First Sunday of Lent for spring, after Pentecost Sunday for summer, after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (14th September) for autumn, and after the Third Sunday of Advent for winter. They are intended, too, to consecrate to God the various seasons in nature, and to prepare by penance those who are about to be ordained. Ordinations generally take place on the Ember Days. The faithful ought to pray on these days for good priests. The Ember Days were until c. 1960 fastdays of obligation.


To-day the Church begins the fast of Quatuor Tempora, or, as we call it, of Ember days: it includes also the Friday and Saturday of this same week. This observance is not peculiar to the Advent liturgy; it is one which has been fixed for each of the four seasons of the ecclesiastical year. We may consider it as one of those practices which the Church took from the Synagogue; for the prophet Zacharias speaks of the fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months.[1] Its introduction into the Christian Church would seem to have been made in the apostolic times; such, at least, is the opinion of St. Leo, of St. Isidore of Seville, of Rabanus Maurus, and of several other ancient Christian writers. It is remarkable, on the other hand, that the orientals do not observe this fast.

From the first ages the Quatuor Tempora were kept, in the Roman Church, at the same time of the year as at present. As to the expression, which is not unfrequently used in the early writers, of the three times and not the four, we must remember that in the spring, these days always come in the first week of Lent, a period already consecrated to the most rigorous fasting and abstinence, and that consequently they could add nothing to the penitential exercises of that portion of the year.

The intentions, which the Church has in the fast of the Ember days, are the same as those of the Synagogue; namely, to consecrate to God by penance the four seasons of the year. The Ember days of Advent are known, in ecclesiastical antiquity, as the fast of the tenth month; and St. Leo, in one of his sermons on this fast, of which the Church has inserted a passage in the second nocturn of the third Sunday of Advent, tells us that a special fast was fixed for this time of the year, because the fruits of the earth had then all been gathered in, and that it behoved Christians to testify their gratitude to God by a sacrifice of abstinence, thus rendering themselves more worthy to approach to God, the more they were detached from the love of created things. 'For fasting,’ adds the holy doctor, 'has ever been the nourishment of virtue. Abstinence is the source of chaste thoughts, of wise resolutions, and of salutary counsel. By voluntary mortifications, the flesh dies to its concupiscences, and the spirit is renewed in virtue. But since fasting alone is not sufficient whereby to secure the soul’s salvation, let us add to it works of mercy towards the poor. Let us make that which we retrench from indulgence, serve unto the exercise of virtue. Let the abstinence of him that fasts, become the meal of the poor man.’

Let us, the children of the Church, practise what is in our power of these admonitions; and since the actual discipline of Advent is so very mild, let us be so much the more fervent in fulfilling the precept of the fast of the Ember days. By these few exercises which are now required of us, let us keep up within ourselves the zeal of our forefathers for this holy season of Advent. We must never forget that although the interior preparation is what is absolutely essential for our profiting by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, yet this preparation could scarcely be real unless it manifested itself by the exterior practices of religion and penance.

The fast of the Ember days has another object besides that of consecrating the four seasons of the year to God by an act of penance: it has also in view the ordination of the ministers of the Church, which takes place on the Saturday, and of which notice was formerly given to the people during the Mass of the Wednesday. In the Roman Church, the ordination held in the month of December was, for a long time, the most solemn of all; and it would appear, from the ancient chronicles of the Popes, that, excepting very extraordinary cases, the tenth month was, for several ages, the only time for conferring Holy Orders in Rome. The faithful should unite with the Church in this her intention, and offer to God their fasting and abstinence for the purpose of obtaining worthy ministers of the word and of the Sacraments, and true pastors of the people.

From New Advent:

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

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

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

From Catholic Culture:

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

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

Since the late 5th century, the Ember Days were also the preferred dates for ordination of priests. So during these times the Church had a threefold focus: (1) sanctifying each new season by turning to God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving; (2) giving thanks to God for the various harvests of each season; and (3) praying for the newly ordained and for future vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
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Sunday, December 13, 2020
2021 Patron Saint of the Year Devotion
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Update (1/3/2021 6:15 PM): I am genuinely shocked at the number of people who do not follow instructions, submitting names late, and demanding they be added. People posting their comments up to 10 times when the instructions are very clear. This is very disappointing that I have offered this service for over 15 years and very few people chose to pitch in a donation or offer thanks. Instead, I have received constant complaining for the past two days. This will likely be my last year offering this devotion. I have made one final drawing for the missed entries and the late entries. The final results are below.

Update (1/1/2021 2:20 PM): The drawing is now complete! There will be no additional drawings.

I was chosen by Blessed James of Voragine. He tried to reconcile the warring Guelphs and Ghibellines, was generous to the poor, built and repaired churches, monasteries, and hospitals. He worked to insure clerical discipline, and is reported to have translated the Bible into Italian, though no copies have survived. Wrote the Legenda Aurea Sanctorum (the Golden Legend), a collection of scores of tales of the saints; it has become an invaluable source for information on the middle ages. I will pray for intercession this year and will especially seek to imitate his exemplary virtues.

For anyone looking for a prayer to your saint, you may always use the Prayer to Venerate Any Saint. Be sure to look up the feastday for your saint and invoke them and honor them especially on that day this year. Consider putting their image on your wall or your desktop background. See if there are any connections in your life with your saint for the year. And look at which virtues you can especially initiate and grow in that your patron especially excelled in.

Wishing you all a most blessed New Year 2021 in the Year of Our Lord. And a very Merry Christmas on this Octave Day of Christmas! Lastly, if you have not already, your kind donation below in any amount is greatly appreciated.

Update (12/31/2020 7:45 PM): The drawing will be taking place on New Years Day, not New Year's Eve. Please check here on Friday and be sure to attend Mass and abstain from all work as New Years Day is a Holy Day of Obligation.

I am very pleased to again be a facilitator for the Patron Saint of the Year Devotion.  I have been part of this annual tradition since 2006 and have helped coordinate devotions for hundreds of families.  It is my pleasure to now be part of the 2021 Patron Saint of the Year Devotion.

SPONSOR: This Devotion is being sponsored again this year by CatechismClass.com.  Whether you are looking for godparent preparation courses, Sacramental preparation for your children, or just to better learn the Faith as an adult, CatechismClass.com has courses for all ages and walks of life. Check out CatechismClass.com's affordable programs and make it a New Year's resolution to learn and live the Faith better than ever before.

You can read about the past devotions at the following posts:
Again, I would like to take a few minutes to explain the devotion.

When will the saints be drawn?  This year I will start the drawing of saints in the morning of the Feast of the Circumcision and the Octave Day of Christmas (i.e. January 1st). Drawings will occur as the Litany of Saints are recited.  That means results will likely be posted in the late afternoon (US Central Time) on Thursday, January 1, 2021. This will be the only drawing this year. 

How do I enter?  Just add the names of everyone (you and your family) that you want to be included in the drawing in the comment box below.  DO NOT also email them to me. Emailed entries will not be accepted. Please leave all entries in the comment box to this post. If you get the message, "Your comment will be visible after approval" then your submission was successful. It will be viewable after I approve it.

What is the Saint for the Year Devotion?  We pray that this year the Holy Ghost will again work so that all participants receive a saint that they will be able to pray to for aid throughout the entire year: St. Faustina wrote about it in her diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul. The excerpt is below.
“There is a custom among us of drawing by lot, on New Year's Day, special Patrons for ourselves for the whole year. In the morning during meditation, there arose within me a secret desire that the Eucharistic Jesus be my special Patron for this year also, as in the past. But, hiding this desire from my Beloved, I spoke to Him about everything else but that. When we came to refectory for breakfast, we blessed ourselves and began drawing our patrons. When I approached the holy cards on which the names of the patrons were written, without hesitation I took one, but I didn't read the name immediately as I wanted to mortify myself for a few minutes. Suddenly, I heard a voice in my soul: ‘I am your patron. Read.’ I looked at once at the inscription and read, ‘Patron for the Year 1935 - the  Most Blessed Eucharist.’ My heart leapt with joy, and I slipped quietly away from the sisters and went for a short visit before the Blessed Sacrament, where I poured out my heart. But Jesus sweetly admonished me that I should be at that moment together with the sisters. I went immediately in obedience to the rule.”Excerpt from Divine Mercy in My Soul, the Diary of St. Faustina"

Over the years, I've heard from many people of the great connection they have to their special patrons. Here is one of those stories from the past: 

I have Saints Marcus and Marcellianus ... they are twin brothers who were sent to prison before their death. St. Sebastian visited them continually in prison and helped keep their faith alive. They are buried near St. Felix and are specifically honored in Spain. OK now ... here are a couple of immediate ironies in regard to these saints ... I have a SPECIAL place in my heart for twins! As a child, I LOVED reading the story about St. Sebastian. I had a children's book of saints and I think I wore out the pages on St. Sebastian! Felix is my grandfather's name! Silvia, our exchange student, is from Spain! I am so excited to have these two saints to walk through 2006 with me! I'm looking forward as to where and how they will intercede for me.
Please pass this message on through your blogs and/or email distribution lists, letting all of the Catholic Blogsphere have the chance to participate.

Add Your Name In The Comments Box

If you would like to participate, please leave your name below in the comment box. If you wish to remain anonymous, please leave your initials instead of your name.  Anonymous requests without names or initials will NOT be part of the drawing.  Do not add the same request more than once. If you get the message, "Your comment will be visible after approval" then your submission was successful. It will be viewable after I approve it.

NoteDO NOT email me your entries. Emailed entries will not be accepted - no exceptions.  Leave all submissions here in the comments box to this blog post. Your name and comment will appear shortly after you make it. If you do not see it, then your comment did NOT go through. So, comment below and pass this message on throughout the entire Catholic Blogsphere!

Donate to Participate


If you find this devotion helpful and would like to support A Catholic Life in the next year, please submit a donation.  This devotion takes a significant amount of time to facilitate as I cut hundreds of saints' names on paper to draw them, and I pull them out after a prayer for each and every name submitted in the comments box. If you are especially listing more than 3 names, please make a donation.

I handle the planning, marketing, and drawing for this devotion each year. Please take a minute and if you are a supporter of this devotion, please consider making a free-will donation to participate. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps me continue working on this devotion and spreading it further and it helps keep A Catholic Life online. This is my primary blog fundraiser each year.

paypal.me/MPlese

Results of the Drawing



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Thursday, December 10, 2020
Was the Blessed Virgin Mary An Unwed Mother?
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No! The Blessed Virgin Mary was espoused to St. Joseph when she conceived our Lord by the power of the Holy Ghost, and per Jewish law, that espouse rite was when marriage was contracted. The Blessed Virgin Mary was married to St. Joseph and was not an unwed mother.

Father Gardner relates the following in a sermon from earlier this year which is quoted below:


Of all the weddings to contemplate, that of Mary and Joseph is the most special and rich in meaning.  The Espousals of Joseph and Mary have been celebrated as a feast day at various times throughout the history of the Church.

Pious tradition holds that Joseph was about thirty-three or thirty-six years old when he took Mary as his wife.  In those times, Jewish marriage was conducted in two stages.  First, the consent of the couple was obtained, a marriage contract was signed, and a wedding ring was given to the bride.

After this step, the couple continued to live apart so that they could adequately prepare for their married life together.  This period of preparation could last up to a year but was usually about three months.  At the end of the time of preparation, the husband would formally process to the bride's home and then the couple would formally process back to the groom's home, where a great celebration would take place.

The important point to remember is that in the ancient Jewish practice at the first betrothal the couple is more than just engaged.  They are validly married, yet their marriage is unconsummated.

Thus by God's providential arrangement, the Son of God became Incarnate in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary when Joseph and Mary were fully married.  Therefore, Jesus is a legitimate member of the Holy Family and the House of David, even though He was conceived before Joseph and Mary "had come together" (Matthew 1:18).
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Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Within the Octave of the Immaculate Conception
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We are now within the Common Octave of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Restore the 54 explains: "The Octave of the IC is a Common Octave. The days within (i.e. Days 2-7) are Semidouble and have precedence over Simple feasts/Advent Feriae, but yield way to any feast of nine lessons.  When a higher feast or Sunday occurs, the day within the octave is commemorated at Lauds, Mass, and Vespers unless the feast is a Double First or Second Class; in this latter case, days within common octaves are omitted. The Preces at Prime and Compline are omitted entirely during the Octave.  Except on the Advent Sunday occurring within the octave, the proper doxology of the Incarnation sung in the BVM Tone holds for all hymns of iambic metre throughout the octave. At Mass, when there is no saint to commemorate, after the Commemoration of the Advent Feria, there is a third set of orations of the Holy Ghost. The Credo is sung daily by reason of the Octave."

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 December 8th. We can also remember to pray the Pledge against Indecent and Immoral Motion Pictures, requested by the American Bishops in 1938 for the Sunday within the Octave of the Immaculate Conception. Say that together as a family.

Collect:

O God, Who, by the Immaculate Conception of the virgin, didst prepare for Thy Son a worthy habitation, we beseech Thee, that as Thou didst preserve her from every stain by the foreseen death of this Thy Son, so Thou wouldst grant that we also being cleansed from guilt by her intercession, may come to Thee. Through the same our Lord.
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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.

December is also an ideal month to pray the Little Office of the Immaculate Conception. Unlike the Divine Office, however, the Little Office does not include any psalms. It was composed towards the end of the 15th Century and long predated the official promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Holy See confirmed the Office in 1615. The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception is enriched with a partial indulgence for those who pray it.

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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