Thursday, December 30, 2021
Catholic Resolutions 2022
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Each year I have made what I call "Catholic Resolutions."  These New Years Resolutions are not centered on losing weight, eating more vegetables, or securing a raise. I make resolutions for all facets of my life including these.  Rather, these resolutions each year are centered around my spiritual life.  I encourage all of you to make resolutions specifically geared toward improving your own Faith life and your own knowledge of the Faith.  One's spiritual health needs the same care - if not more - than our physical, financial, or professional health.

Ask yourself:
  1. Do I know the Faith that I profess to believe in?  If not, how can I learn more?  For example, CatechismClass.com has an ideal Adult Course just for this purpose.
  2. Am I truly living a Catholic life?  Am I learning more prayers?  Am I helping others to learn the Faith and live it out?  Do I regularly receive the Sacraments?
  3. Do you struggle with certain sins or addictions? What actions do I need to take to really conquer them?
  4. Do you need to make more donations to Catholic organizations or pro-life charities?
  5. What is my dominant fault and how can I tackle it and grow in virtues?
  6. What additional days of penance can you observe as days of fasting and abstinence? Can you observe the vigils of the apostles as fast days? What about all 40 days of Lent or the 40 days leading up to Christmas? Will you keep all days of Lent including Sundays as day of abstinence? There are many venerable ways we can practice penance this year and fulfill our Lady's call for "Penance, penance, penance." See the 2022 Catholic Fasting Calendar for ideas.
This is the time of year to truly set Catholic Resolutions which will have eternal repercussions. When so many have already begun to set aside last week's New Years Resolutions, now is the time to actually make true and lasting Catholic Resolutions for the new year.

Some General Suggestions of Catholic Resolutions:
  1. Pray the Rosary every day, if you are out of the habit of it
  2. Pray Lauds, Vespers, and Compline (from the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the Divine Office) every day.
  3. Say a prayer for the Poor Souls in Purgatory every day, such as the St Gertrude Prayer. Getting a copy of The Purgatorian Manual: Containing Spiritual Reading and Prayers for Every Day of the Month is also an excellent idea.
  4. Attend Mass one day extra a week in addition to Sunday. And if you have fallen away from Mass, start going weekly again.
  5. Make it a habit to go to Confession every 2 weeks. Ensure that you are sincere and actually detest your sins and desire to amend your life.
  6. Fulfill the First Friday Devotion as well as the First Saturday Devotion
  7. Start wearing the Brown Scapular if you do not already. But ensure you are properly enrolled by a priest.
  8. Determine what is your predominant fault and make a plan to fight it and conquer it this next year.
  9. Make time for a morning meditation and mental prayer each and every day before work.
  10. Identify one virtue to acquire and one vice to conquer this year. Make an action plan for how you will actually make progress on a daily and weekly basis to do so.
I encourage you to make Catholic Resolutions. What are yours? Share them below in the comments box.
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Monday, December 20, 2021
Saturday Abstinence Dispensed in Christmastide
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As highlighted through my A History of Holy Days of Obligation & Fasting for American Catholics in Part I and Part II, Saturday abstinence remained a part of weekly Catholic life for centuries. 

The Catholic Encyclopedia mentions, in regard to Saturday abstinence: “Gregory VII (1073-85) speaks in no uncertain terms of the obligation to abstain on Saturdays when he declares that all Christians are bound to abstain from flesh meat on Saturday as often as no major solemnity (e.g. Christmas) occurs on Saturday, or no infirmity serves to cancel the obligation.” 

Unknown to the overwhelming majority of even committed Catholics, abstinence from meat was previously required on both Fridays and Saturdays in the United States! For American Catholics, Saturday abstinence ceased around 1837 because the Baltimore fathers requested from Pope Gregory XVI a dispensation from Saturday abstinence. It was a 20-year dispensation that was renewed up until the 1917 Code dispensed the venerable practice of Saturday abstinence universally.

Sadly this aspect of the faithful's weekly penance had been in long decline as The Month - Volume 111 from 1908 mentions:

"Meanwhile, the very severe discipline which prevailed in the matter of fasting and abstinence days had been substantially mitigated by Pius VI and his successors. In 1777, most of the vigils occurring through the year, e.g. those of the feasts of the Apostles, ceased to be fast-days, though compensation was made by substituting the Wednesdays and Fridays of Advent. Still more substantial was the relief afforded in 1781 by the abrogation of the weekly fast on Fridays. The abstinence on Saturdays, on the Rogation days, and on the feast of St. Mark, was abolished in 1830, but it is plain from contemporary evidence, that long before this the Saturday abstinence had been little regarded by a number of the laity, and we may conjecture that the weekly Friday fast also, for some time previous to its abolition had not been very generally or strictly kept."

For those Catholics who wish to keep Saturday abstinence in honor of Our Lady's request for penance, how should we model our Saturday abstinence? In short, we should keep the teaching of Pope Gregory VII who declared that the exceptions to Saturday abstinence were major solemnities, which would seem to include for us both Holy Days of Obligation and great feasts, such as those which used to be among the 36 Holy Days of Obligation in past times.

Additionally, if we model our Saturday abstinence based on our forefathers in the Faith, one of the few exceptions to Saturday fasting - in places that maintained this as law - was the Saturdays (but never Fridays) of Christmastide (i.e. December 25th through February 2nd).  France had such an exception as the Catechism of Perseverance makes mention:

"In France, the law of abstinence on Saturday became general. There was no exception, save in some dioceses for the Saturdays between Christmas and the Purification. Hitherto, Spain has introduced no modifications as regards the liberty of eating meat on Saturday beyond this, that the intestines and extremities of animals may be used. The abstinence of Saturday, though less general than that of Friday, should not be less religiously observed. The authority that prescribed both is the same: the authority of our holy Mother the Church, of whom the Savior Himself said, If any one will not obey the Church, let him be to you as the heathen and the publican."

Such an exception also existed in at least some Dioceses of the United States before the dispensation from year-round Saturday abstinence - vigils, Lent, and ember days excepting - that began in the mid-1830s and continued until its complete abrogation by the 1917 Code.

1822 Laity's Directory for New York mentions this exception

Thus, for those of us seeking to perform additional penance in imitation of our forefathers and in answer to Heaven's call for penance, year-round Saturday abstinence except on the Saturdays of Christmastide and major feasts would be a fitting practice. See my proposed 2022 Traditional Catholic Fasting Calendar for more inspiration. Do note though that year-round Friday abstinence is to be always practiced unless December 25th falls on a Friday - the 1917 Code introduced the exception that any Holy Day of Obligation would dispense but that is a novelty.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2021
Advent Ember Day Fast
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Ember Days this Advent: December 15, 17, and 18

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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Monday, December 6, 2021
2022 Patron Saint of the Year Devotion
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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 in the following posts:
Again, I would like to take a few minutes to explain the devotion.

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.
How do I enter?  Starting this year, I will be pulling names for everyone who is a Patreon of this blog. You may submit up to 10 names for each Patreon allowing you to have names drawn for your family and friends too. The drawing will happen automatically for all who are patrons at any level. Sign up on Patreon to support this blog and you will be included. Unfortunately, due to the significant time investment I put into this devotion and my many other responsibilities, I will only be able to donate to Patreon supporters.

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 emailed/messaged to Patreons in the late afternoon (US Central Time) on Thursday, January 1, 2021. This will be the only drawing this year. 

Please pass this message on through your blogs and/or email distribution lists, letting all of the Catholic Blogsphere have the chance to participate.
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