Saturday, November 19, 2022
The Definitive Guide to Traditional Catholic Fasting & Abstinence

This compilation of books and articles is based on years of research.

The Definitive Guide to Catholic Fasting & Abstinence

8 Part Series on the History of Catholic Fasting & Abstinence:

  1. The Purpose of Fasting
  2. Fasting in the Early Church Through the 5th Century
  3. Lenten Fasting in the Medieval Church: 5th – 13th Centuries
  4. Other Fasts in the Medieval Church: 5th – 13th Centuries
  5. Fasting During the Renaissance: 13th – Middle 18th Centuries
  6. Fasting in the Early Modern Era
  7. Fasting in the 1900s Pre-Vatican II
  8. Fasting Post-Vatican II

Various Individual Articles on Fasting & Abstinence:

Liturgical Year-Related Articles for Fasting & Abstinence:

Fasting Calendars (in JPG and ICS Format):

Friday, November 18, 2022
The (3) Basilicas of Chicago

chicago basilica
Chicago's three basilicas: St. Hyacinth, Our Lady of Sorrows, and Queen of All Saints

Our Lady of Sorrows, Chicago's first basilica, seats 1,200 people beneath a soaring, barrel-vaulted coffered ceiling that rises 80 feet from the marble floor. The nave is 65 feet wide and features more than 1,100 ornate gold-leaf panels. An English Baroque-style steeple turns this Renaissance-Revival church into a local landmark. It once had a twin steeple that was destroyed by lightning. It was the first of Chicago's three basilicas.

The Parish of Our Lady of Sorrows was founded in 1874 by three Servants of Mary (Servites): Fathers Austin Morini and Andrew Venturi, and Brother Joseph Camera.  The Bishop of Chicago, Right Reverend Thomas Foley, enthusiastically approved their dream of a sanctuary where the Blessed Virgin could comfort her people and honor her Divine Son.

Within that first year, a plot of farmland was acquired on the city’s far West Side, and a brick church was built.  It was 102 feet long, 38 feet wide, and two stories high.  Midnight Mass was held inside on Christmas Eve, 1874.  In the following year, the little church, on the site of today’s Servite monastery, was beautifully frescoed.

Soon a much larger church was needed, and on June 17, 1890, the ground was broken for the Italian Renaissance-style church we see today.   The building was opened for Masses within months, under a temporary roof, while the walls had reached only half of their eventual height.  It was not until January 5, 1902, that the great church could be dedicated. When improvements were made to the lower church, Father James M. Keane compiled a booklet of prayers to be used in a new service that would take advantage of this basement shrine.  On January 8, 1937, the Sorrowful Mother Novena began an era that would establish Chicago’s Our Lady of Sorrows as a Marian Shrine of national and international fame.   Through the 1940’s and into the 1950’s the Great Novena filled the church weekly in up to 38 separate services.  The Novena spread to over 2300 additional parishes at the peak of its popularity. In 1941, an excellent video narrated by Archbishop Fulton J Sheen on the theology of the Traditional Latin Mass was filmed at Our Lady of Sorrows and is still accessible on YouTube.

In 1956, Pope Pius XII granted to Our Lady of Sorrows National Shrine the title of Basilica, and this honor was celebrated all throughout the following year with special pilgrimages. The Novena is still celebrated weekly, and the Basilica is increasingly being recognized for the splendor of its architecture, and the history it has witnessed.  Tragically, the upper stages of the Western tower were lost to fire in 1984.  But the interior and the exterior brickwork have benefited from periodic and ongoing restoration in recent years, resulting in a shrine that is breathtaking to many who enter for the first time. Like Lourdes,  or Czestochowa, or Fatima, or the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe……Our Lady of Sorrows remains a foyer of Heaven, where the Blessed Virgin seems close enough to surprise us with the rustle of her veil.

Sadly the church is located in a more dangerous area of Chicago and as such is often closed to visitors. We pray for a restoration of this church back to the Tridentine Mass, the return of Catholics practicing their Faith at Daily Mass, and an end to violence and crime in Chicago and everywhere.

Queen of All Saints is another one of the three basilicas in Chicago, IL. This one is located in the upper-middle-class Sauganash neighborhood.

The church, designed in a Neo-Gothic style by Meyer and Cook, was completed in 1960. The large window over the choir loft features eight different shrines of the Virgin Mary: Our Lady of Czestochowa, Our Lady of Knock, Our Lady of Einsiedeln, Our Lady of the Snows, Our Lady of La Salette, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady of Fatima. This display alludes to the theme of the universality of the Catholic Church by highlighting that although these shrines are particular to a certain country or culture, Devotion to the Virgin Mary bridges over all these barriers, bringing together the different ethnic groups living in the Sauganash area of Forest Glen.

In 1962, in recognition of the historical, architectural, and religious significance of the church and the parish, the church was elevated to the dignity of a Basilica. This is a papal honor given only to a select few churches, only three in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

The baptistry stained glass windows include scenes of the Treaty of Chicago in 1835, the agreement mediated by Billy Caldwell/Chief Sauganash which cleared the way for the expansion of the City of Chicago and which was signed just a few blocks from the Basilica. The baptistry windows also show the baptism of the children of Billy Caldwell/Chief Sauganash by Father Baden, the first priest ordained in the United States.

St. Hyacinth is the third of Chicago's three basilicas. It is located in the Avondale neighborhood and is a prime example of the Polish Cathedral style of churches in both its opulence and grand scale. Along with such monumental religious edifices as St. Mary of the Angels, St. Hedwig's, and St. Wenceslaus, it is one of the many monumental Polish churches visible from the Kennedy Expressway.

Founded in 1894 by Resurrectionsists from the city's first Polish parish, St. Stanislaus Kostka, St. Hyacinth became the center of Chicago's most well-known Polish Patch, Jackowo. The parish has been intimately tied in with Chicago's Polish immigrants, particularly those who arrived in the Solidarity and post-Solidarity waves of Polish migration to Chicago in the 1980s. On June 26, 2003, John Paul II granted the designation of a minor basilica, the third church in Illinois to achieve this status. On November 30, 2003, Cardinal Francis George OMI, officially proclaimed St. Hyacinth Church a basilica of the Archdiocese of Chicago. The 1999 film Stir of Echoes was partly filmed at St. Hyacinth Basilica.

St. Hyacinth of Poland was born in 1185 in what was then Upper Silesia (today modern Poland).  He was a relative and possibly the brother of Blessed Ceslas Odrowaz. St. Hyacinth was educated in both law and Sacred Studies and studied in the illustrious cities of Krakow, Prague, Paris, and Bologna.  Despite his education, he was first and foremost a holy priest.  After his ordination to the Sacred Priesthood of Jesus Christ, he worked to reform convents in his native country. While on a trip to Rome with Bishop Ivo Konski, his uncle, he witnessed the glorious Patriarch St. Dominic perform a miracle that changed his life.  He became a personal friend of St. Dominic and then one of the first Dominicans. In fact, he was the first Polish Dominican and he brought the Order to Poland.  He was prolific in his work, evangelizing throughout Poland, Pomerania, Lithuania, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Scotland, Russia, Turkey, and Greece. During an attack on a monastery, Hyacinth managed to save a crucifix and statue of Mary, though the statue weighed far more than he could normally have lifted; the saint is usually shown holding these two items. Hyacinth never served as provincial nor even a prior, but toiled as a simple friar, focusing on the internal and external missions facing the Polish Dominicans: to deepen their own faith, and to spread it through Poland.

Make it a point if you are a native Chicagoan or a visitor to explore some of these beautiful places, all of which are located well outside of the Loop and far from the usual tourist spots.

Thursday, November 3, 2022
Pray the Office of the Dead for the Poor Souls

Vespers of the Dead

The Office of the Dead is prayed by all on All Souls Day. However, you may also pray the Office of the Dead any other day of the year. The Office of the Dead on other days would be prayed in addition to the day's office. After Matins and Lauds for the day, you would pray the Office of the Dead's Matins and Lauds.  After Vespers for the day, you would pray Vespers from the Office of the Dead.  So, please feel free to pray this Office often for the Poor Souls, especially in November, with the intention of applying any merits and indulgences to them.

You may pray the Office of the Dead online at Divinum Officium for free now by clicking here and selecting "Defunctorum" in the bottom right.

Here follows Vespers from the Office of Dead:

Ant. I will walk before the Lord * in the land of the living.

Psalm 114

I am well pleased, because the Lord hath heard * the voice of my prayer; Because he hath inclined his ear unto me; * therefore will I call upon him all my days. The sorrows of death compassed me round about, * and the perils of hell gat hold upon me. Sorrow and trouble did I find; * then called I upon the Name of the Lord. O Lord, deliver my soul : * gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. The Lord preserveth the simple: * I was brought low, and he delivered me. Return unto thy rest, O my soul; * for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. For he hath delivered my soul from death, * mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.

I will walk before the Lord * in the land of the living. 

Eternal rest * grant unto them, O Lord. And let perpetual light * shine upon them.

Ant. I will walk before the Lord * in the land of the living.

Ant 2. Woe is me, O Lord, * that I am constrained to dwell among them that are enemies unto peace.

When I was in trouble, I called upon the Lord, * and he heard me. Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, * and from a deceitful tongue.What reward shall be given or done unto thee, thou false tongue? * even mighty and sharp arrows, with hot burning coals.Woe is me, that I am constrained to dwell with Meshech, * and to have my habitation among the tents of Kedar! My soul hath long dwelt among them * that are enemies unto peace. I labour for peace; but when I speak unto them thereof, * they make them ready to battle. Eternal rest * grant unto them, O Lord. And let perpetual light * shine upon them.

Ant 2. Woe is me, O Lord, * that I am constrained to dwell among them that are enemies unto peace.

Ant 3. The Lord shall preserve thee * from all evil ; yea, it is even he that shall keep thy soul.

I have lifted up mine eyes unto the hills; * from whence cometh my help. My help cometh even from the Lord, * who hath made heaven and earth. May he not suffer thy foot to be moved; * neither let him slumber that keepeth thee. Behold, he that keepeth Israel * shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is thy keeper, the Lord is thy defence * upon thy right hand. The sun shall not burn thee by day, * neither the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil; * yea, it is even he that shall keep thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out, and thy coming in, * from this time forth for evermore. Eternal rest * grant unto them, O Lord. And let perpetual light * shine upon them.

Ant 3. The Lord shall preserve thee * from all evil ; yea, it is even he that shall keep thy soul.

Ant 4. If thou, Lord, wilt be extreme * to mark what is done amiss, O Lord, who may abide it?

Out of the depths I have cried unto thee, O Lord; * Lord, hear my voice. O let thine ears be attentive * to the voice of my supplication. If thou, O Lord, shalt observe our iniquities, * Lord, who may endure it? For with thee there is merciful forgiveness : * and by reason of thy law, I have waited for thee, O Lord. My soul hath relied on his word * my soul hath hoped in the Lord. From the morning watch even until night : * let Israel hope in the Lord. Because with the Lord there is mercy, * and with him plentiful redemption. And he shall redeem Israel * from all his iniquities. Eternal rest * grant unto them, O Lord. And let perpetual light * shine upon them.

Ant 4. If thou, Lord, wilt be extreme * to mark what is done amiss, O Lord, who may abide it?

Ant 5. Despise not, O Lord, * the works of thine own hands.

I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; * for thou hast heard the words of my mouth. Even before the Angels will I sing praise unto thee, * I will worship toward thy holy temple, and I will give glory unto thy Name. Because of thy loving-kindness and truth; * for thou hast magnified thy holy Name above all things. In what day soever I shall call upon thee, hear thou me; * thou shalt endue my soul with much strength. May all the kings of the earth give glory unto thee, O Lord; * for they have heard all the words of thy mouth. Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord, * for great is the glory of the Lord. For the Lord is high, yet looketh he upon the lowly; * and the high he knoweth them afar off. Though I walk in the midst of tribulation, yet shalt thou quicken me; * and thou hast stretched forth thy hand upon the furiousness of mine enemies, and thy right hand hath saved me. The Lord shall render for me; * yea, thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever; despise not then the works of thine own hands. Eternal rest * grant unto them, O Lord. And let perpetual light * shine upon them.

Ant 5. Despise not, O Lord, * the works of thine own hands.

V. I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me.
R. Blessed are the dead, which die in the Lord.

Magnificat Ant: All * that the Father hath given unto me shall come unto me, and him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.

My soul doth magnify the Lord, † * and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded * the lowliness of his handmaiden. For behold, from henceforth * all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath magnified me; * and holy is his Name. And his mercy is on them that fear him * throughout all generations. He hath shewed strength with his arm; * he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, * and hath exalted the humble and meek. He hath filled the hungry with good things; * and the rich he hath sent empty away. He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel; * as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed for ever. 

Eternal rest * grant unto them, O Lord. And let perpetual light * shine upon them.

Magnificat Ant: All * that the Father hath given unto me shall come unto me, and him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.

Our Father ...

V. From the gates of hell.
R. Deliver his soul, O Lord.

V. May he rest in peace.
R. Amen.

V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto thee.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.

O God, who art thyself at once the Maker and the Redeemer of all thy faithful ones, grant unto the souls of thy servants and handmaids remission of all their sins, making of our entreaties unto our great Father a mean whereby they may have that forgiveness which they have ever hoped for. Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. R. Amen

V. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.

V. May they rest in peace.
R. Amen.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022
Depicting Saints Together Who Had No Earthly Connection

Madonna Enthroned with Angels, St. Apollonia, St. Augustine, St. Catherine, St. Joseph, St. Grata, St. Philip Benizzi and St. Barbara

In honor of the great celebration of All Saints, I thought it was appropriate to reflect on the Communion of Saints now in Heaven. While on earth many of the saints did not know one another - as they came from different places and different time periods in history - they are presented today united in Heaven in praising and glorifying God. 

When on a recent visit to the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, I noticed for the first time how artists would frequently paint saints together who had no earthly connection. They were not contemporaries. They did not live or die together. They were not related. In fact, many of them are not even liturgically commemorated together. Stripping out those instances, the number of saints painted together is still rather large and serves as a nice meditation of how we - should we make it to Heaven - hope to join in their number and their Communion, though the ages have separated us from overlapping on earth with them.

Here are some examples:

Sts. Peter and Dorothy

Virgin and Child with Ss Dominic and Hyacinth (though both from the same Order)

Sts. Anthony, Cornelius, and Cyprian

Madonna and Child with St. James of Galicia and St. Helena

Coronation of the Virgin with Saints Francis and the Benedict

Madonna and Child in Glory with St. Bartholomew, St. John the Baptist, St. Albert, and St. Jerome

Madonna and Child with Saints Lawrence, Nicholas, and Francis of Rome


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