Sunday, February 14, 2021
The Importance of Penance Leading Up to Lent
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As we are now only a few days away from the beginning of the holy season of Lent, we should in a special way recall the importance of penance even in the days before Lent. In fact, as mentioned in this video, the 40 Hour Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament is often observed on these days before Ash Wednesday to do penance for sins of Catholics whose scandal in public sins leads souls away from the Truth.

Remember the importance of reparation to the Holy Face on Fat Tuesday. That day is the Votive Feast of the Holy Face of Our Lord Jesus Christ Deformed in the Passion
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Sunday, February 7, 2021
At What Age Do Catholics Fast?
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Current Church Minimums

Shortly after the close of the Second Vatican Council, Paul VI issued an apostolic constitution on fasting and abstaining on February 17, 1966, called Paenitemini, whose principles were later incorporated into the 1983 Code of Canon Law. Abstinence from meat which previously began at age 7 was modified to begin at age 14. The 1983 Code of Canon Law also changed the age of fast to begin at 18 - previously it was 21 - and to still conclude at midnight when an individual completes his 59th birthday. 

Abstinence beginning at age 14 and fasting beginning at age 18 are the current minimums. There is no terminating age for the law abstinence - it will continue for the rest of a person's life. Fasting which begins at age 18 ends when a person completes his 59th year and turns 60 years old.

The Previous Practice

One of the only positive changes to fasting in the past 100 years was the lowering of the age of fasting to 18. If an 18-year-old can sin, he should be able to fast. The lowering of the minimum incorporated this change into law. Unfortunately, the change of abstinence to 14 from 7 is an immense disservice to the souls of children as this small weekly sacrifice teaches children the value of penance and the importance of a communal penance uniting us throughout the Catholic world.

The previous practice of fasting beginning at age 21, however, has a long history. While the earliest catechisms ever made (i.e. the Catechism of the Council of Trent and the Catechism of St. Peter Canisius) do not mention fasting regulations, subsequent catechisms even centuries ago did.

The Catechism of Perseverance (1849)

Fr. Stephen Keenan's Catechism (1846)

Bp. George Hay's Catechism (1781). The Oldest Mention of the Age of Fasting in an English language Catechism.

Fasting Requires More Than the Legal Minimum

For those Catholics who wish to more closely follow the ancient customs of the Church, Lent is a time of austere penance undertaken to make reparation to God for sin (our own sins and others), to grow in virtue and good works, and to comfort the heart of our Savior much offended by the barrage of sin and filth increasing by the day. Yet, there are very few Catholics who undertake the true discipline of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. 

How many of us are observing all 40 days as true fast days and not just Ash Wednesday and Good Friday?  Yet our ancestors did.  In fact, it was forbidden to eat meat or any animal products (e.g. eggs, dairy, cheese, butter, etc) through all of Lent.  How many of us are making this kind of intense sacrifice?  How many of us are finding the time this Lent to pray the Rosary every day or go to Daily Mass more often or at least pray the Stations of the Cross each Friday?

While we can talk about the minimums required by Church law or previous laws, we have to remember that these are exactly that - minimums. The Church asks for everyone to perform penance according to their own abilities. While those who were ill (among other reasons) were dispensed from the law of fasting, the sick could still perform other penance or even try to observe fasting if they chose. The same is true for children. Encouraging our children to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year and all of forty days of Lent is very worthwhile. And encouraging adolescent children in high school to fast is also very meritorious even though it is beyond the mere minimum. We recall that Our Blessed Mother was pleased by the penance offered by the three young children at Fatima who were far below the age of fasting. Yet, they fasted and would eat foods they did not prefer as extra penance. And this was pleasing to our Lady and our Lord. Let us encourage our children to do the same - all for Jesus. This Lent is the ideal time to start.
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Saturday, February 6, 2021
St. Titus
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Double (1954 Calendar): February 6
Memorial of Sts. Timothy and Titus (1969 Calendar): January 26

St. Titus was a fellow companion of St. Paul on apostolic missions. He was a convert from paganism and later served the Church as Bishop of Crete. It proved to be a difficult responsibility because of the inhabitants and spread of erroneous doctrines on the island of Crete. St. Paul's writings tell us that St. Titus rejoiced in the good in others and drew the hearts of men by his affectionate sympathy. At the age of 94, St. Titus died of natural causes. He lived in the state of virginity his entire life.

Dom Gueranger writes of St. Titus:
We are to celebrate, to-day, the Feast of a holy Bishop of the Apostolic Age—a Disciple of the Apostle St. Paul. Little is known of his life; but, by addressing to him one of his inspired Epistles, the Apostle of the Gentiles has immortalised his memory. Wheresoever the Faith of Christ has been or shall be preached, Titus’ name has been venerated by the Faithful; and as long as the world lasts, the holy Church will read to her children this Epistle, which was written, indeed, to a simple Bishop of the Isle of Crete, but was dictated by the Holy Ghost, and therefore destined to be a part of those Sacred Scriptures, which contain the Word of God. The counsels and directions given in this admirable Letter, were the rule of the holy Bishop, for whom St. Paul entertained a very strong affection. St. Titus had the honour of establishing the Christian Religion in that famous Island, which was one of the strongholds of Paganism. He survived his master, who was put to death by Nero. Like St. John, he sweetly slept in Christ at a very advanced age, respected and loved by the Church he had founded. As we have already observed, his life left but few traces behind it; but these few are sufficient to prove him to have been one of those wonderful men whom God chose as the directors of His infant Church.

Traditional Matins Reading:

Titus, Bishop of Crete, was initiated into the mysteries of the Christian faith by Paul the Apostle; and being prepared by the sacraments, he shed so bright a light of sanctity on the infant Church, that he merited to be chosen as one of the Disciples of the Doctor of the Gentiles. Being called to bear the burden of preaching the Gospel, so ardent and persevering was he in the discharge of that duty, that he endeared himself to St. Paul so much, as to make the Apostle say in one of his Epistles, that being come to Troas, to preach the faith in that city, he found no rest for his heart, because he found not there his brother Titus. And having, a short time after this, gone to Macedonia, he thus expresses his affection for his disciple in these terms: But God who comforteth the humble, comforted us by the coming of Titus.

Being sent to Corinth by the Apostle, he acquitted himself in this mission (which mainly consisted in collecting the alms given by the piety of the faithful towards alleviating the distress of the Hebrew Church) with so much prudence and patience, that he not only confirmed the Corinthians in the faith of Christ, but made them so desirous of a visit from Paul, who had been their first teacher in the faith, that they shed tears of long affection. After having undertaken several journeys, both by sea and land, in order to sow the seed of the divine word among people of various tongues and countries; and after having supported, with great firmness of soul, countless anxieties and fatigues, in order to plant the standard of the Cross;— he landed at the island of Crete in company with his master St. Paul. The Apostle made him Bishop of the Church which he had founded in that island; and it is not to be doubted but that Titus so discharged his duty as that he became a model to the Faithful, according to the advice given to him by his master, in good works, in doctrine, in integrity, in gravity.

Thus did he become a shining light, pouring forth the rays of Christian faith on them that were sitting in the darkness of idolatry and lies, as in the shadow of death. Tradition tells us that he passed into Dalmatia, where he laboured with extraordinary zeal to enlist that people under the banner of the Cross. At length, full of days and merit, in the ninety-fourth year of his age, he slept in the Lord the death of the just, on the vigil of the nones of January (January 4), and was buried in the Church in which the Apostle had appointed him Minister of the word. St. John Chrysostom and St. Jerome pass great eulogium upon this holy Bishop, and his name is inscribed in the Roman Martyrology on the day above mentioned; but the sovereign Pontiff Pius the Ninth ordered his Feast to be kept by the Universal Church.

Today is also the Commemoration of St. Dorothy

Prayer:

O God, Who didst adorn blessed Titus, Thy Confessor and Bishop, with apostolic virtues: grant by his merits and intercession that a life of duty and justice here below may win for us our heavenly home. Through our Lord.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal
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Saturday, January 23, 2021
The Value of the Rosary for the Souls in Purgatory
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Along with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, there is nothing else of more benefit we can do for the Poor Souls than offering the Rosary for them while in the state of grace ourselves. The following is taken from The Purgatorian Manual:

"St. Dominic declares that the redemption of the holy souls from Purgatory is one of the principal effects of the Rosary. The Venerable Alanus writes that many of the brethren had appeared to them whilst reciting the Rosary, and had declared that next to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass there was no more powerful means than the Rosary to help the suffering souls. 

"Also, that numerous souls were daily released thereby, who otherwise would have been obliged to remain there for years. St. Alphonsus Liguori therefore says: 'If we wish to be of material assistance to the souls in Purgatory, we must always recommend them in our prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and especially offer the holy Rosary for them.' Let us then frequently and with devotion recite the Rosary, which is so pleasing to our blessed Mother, recommended most especially by the Holy Church, discloses to us a rich source of grace, and is so efficacious in relieving the suffering souls and opening Heaven to them. 

"Should our labor prevent us from reciting the entire Rosary every day, let us, at least, say it in part. This simple homage to the Queen of Heaven will draw down great blessings upon us, and the holy souls will be wonderfully consoled and relieved, if this devotion be offered in their behalf."

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Monday, January 18, 2021
Solemn Mass & the Divine Office: Tools for Evangelization
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“Let nothing be preferred to the Work of God” (Rule of St. Benedict 43:3)

It is no surprise that I have for many years now strongly asserted the need to restore the Church to Her traditional Liturgy, Her soundness of doctrine without ambiguity, and Her devotions and cultural traditions that incorporate Faith in all the rudimentary ways of life. As the years have passed, I have also understood more now than before that to restore the Catholic Faith and all things in Christ - to use the words of St. Pius X - does not mean returning to the year 1962 or even the 1950s. 

The 1962 Liturgical Calendar, while vastly preferable to the 1969 Calendar used in the Novus Ordo, was transitional in nature and reflects a number of modernist elements that aided in the expunging of Catholicism from daily life. Likewise, the reduction in fasting and Holy Days of Obligation, which began several centuries ago, left the Church in the early 1900s with a mere shell of these former glorious customs. The words of Pope Benedict XIV remarking that the weakening of the Lenten fast from its form in the mid-1700s would be to the Church's utter detriment have come true.

For those Catholics who understand that we have lost a pearl of great price, restoring the Church and the work of God to the center of a Catholic's life is of primary importance. While I have strongly advocated for the observance of fasting as practiced even before the weakening changes in the 18th and 19th centuries, I have only recently understood the importance of restoring the public worship of God in grandeur and splendor (i.e. the Sunday Solemn High Mass) to every parish.

It should come as no surprise that the first and foremost way to restore the Catholic Faith is to abolish the Novus Ordo. The Novus Ordo is deficient in its Theology, reflecting a fundamental error that can not be rectified by merely turning the priest ad orientem, adding incense, incorporating Latin chants, and rearranging externals. At its core, the Novus Ordo prayers were written by a committee and they are a rupture from Tradition. The Novus Ordo and the purity of the Catholic Faith are irreconcilable.

But, simply returning to the mentality in America in the mid-1900s to offer only Low Masses is also not the answer. 

But why? As the Baltimore Catechism reminds us: "All Masses are equal in value in themselves and do not differ in worth, but only in the solemnity with which they are celebrated or in the end for which they are offered." While all valid Masses are truly Catholic and pleasing to God (i.e. efficacious since Christ the Lord is truly offered on the altar and the Sacrifice of the Cross is made present again), the varying degrees in solemnity are for our benefit. However, even a Low Mass is preferable to the Novus Ordo since the Mass said according to the older liturgical books is at its core Catholic, it is valid, and it is pleasing to God assuming the priest offers it with reverence and with due care.

The solemnity in which the Mass is offered distinguishes Masses into four categories as the Baltimore Catechism reminds us:

  1. When the Mass is sung by a bishop, assisted by a deacon and sub-deacon, it is called a Pontifical Mass; 
  2. When it is sung by a priest, assisted by a deacon and sub-deacon, it is called a Solemn Mass; 
  3. When sung by a priest without deacon and sub-deacon, it is called a Missa Cantata or High Mass;
  4. When the Mass is only read in a low tone it is called a low or private Mass.
In the decades before Vatican II, the trend intensified for parishes to merely offer Low Masses - even on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. The chants that were to accompany such sacred days were lost. The Faithful in the pews were also often robbed of the Divine Office which had ceased to be offered regularly even in cathedrals. Nowadays even in parishes that only offer the Tridentine Mass, it is exceedingly rare to find one that publicly offers the Divine Office in Latin using the traditional Divino Afflatu (pre-1955) liturgical books. Even the updated 1960 Divine Office is rarely ever publicly offered except in a few monasteries.


Solemn High Mass at St James London

Why has the Church ceased to offer Solemn Masses on Sundays and on Holy Days of Obligation? Why have parishes ceased to chant Vespers on such days? In fact, the Second Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1866 in Chapter Three of Title VI "De cultu divino" mandated the singing of vespers on all Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, a law that had been on the books since 1791. 

As an article from America Press Volume 27 written 1922 remarks, the Divine Office, especially Vespers and Compline, along with the Solemn High Mass are powerful not only for the Faithful but for missionary work among Protestants:

"But the most amazing thing of all is to see the way the most valuable instruments that the clergy have are left unused. The evening service, which could be made so attractive, is now usually a hit-or-miss compilation of private devotions made to serve a public need. The rosary, so strange to Protestants in any case, is recited in so rapid a manner that hardly a word is understood by the Protestant who is present. Even Benediction is often given in a slap-dash manner. From all this the Protestant forms the opinion that the great thing about Catholic prayer is to have it over as soon as possible. Can we blame him so much?

"In the average parish High mass is very seldom sung except at a funeral. Yet many a soul has been coverted by a High Mass. Even where High mass or the Missa Cantata is the Sunday custom, the Proper of the Mass is left unsung and so the real teaching part of the service is not known by the poeple, and never is put before the truth-seeker at all. Yet the Missal is a storehouse of missionary material. What a splendid thing it would be if in every parish church it were possible to take one's Protestant friends to Solemn Mass or Vespers! What could be better adapted to attract Protesants than Compline properly changed? Why is it that with all the wealth of the liturgy at her disposal the Church in this country makes no effort to use it? Even in our cathedrals the Divine Office is not performed, nor a daily High Mass sung. Is it any wonder if the Protestant comes to think that the Catholic is weary of the worship of God? Music, art, the dramatic instinct, all these things could be used to advantage in this country."

There is much value in the Low Mass. I do not intend to dissuade priests from offering the Low Mass early on Sundays and throughout the week. Aside from Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, I prefer the quiet and the stillness of an early morning Low Mass said quietly by a priest as the sun is rising. Years ago I read an article on this very topic by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski where he recounted a trip to a monastery where he experienced the beauty of monks offering private Low Masse in silence at the same time. This is a beautiful thing and this should not cease. In fact, silence is the language of God, as Dr. Kwaniewski has well remarked. However, despite this, he also wrote a fitting piece reflecting on the Problem of the Dominant Low Mass and the Rare High Mass. I would add to his work to also reflect that the rushed prayers of Rosary and Benediction in the evening, the absence of the Divine Office publicly chanted, and the lack of any regular Pontifical High Masses have hurt the missionary efforts of the Church and the ability to strengthen the devotion of lay Catholics.

Priests, please help us restore the sacred. Please offer Solemn High Masses and the Missa Cantata on Sundays and all Holy Days of Obligation (including the many former Holy Days like the feasts of the Apostles). Help us to experience Matins, Lauds, Prime, Vespers, or Compline. Help us to hear the chants of the liturgical year, experience the many blessings throughout the liturgical year from wine to herbs to throats to candles and cars, and help us to observe strict fasting. May all of this help restore in our own homes a Catholic ethos and may we slowly but surely restore our own families, homes, towns, governments, and nations as faithful servants of Christ the King.

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Sunday, January 10, 2021
First Sunday after Epiphany Mass Propers
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Note: This Mass is not offered on the First Sunday after Epiphany since 1921 when Pope Benedict XV instituted the Feast of the Holy Family for this date. As a result, this Mass is, in the rubrics in place up through 1954, normatively celebrated on the Monday following when it is still during the Octave of Epiphany. It is always a festal Mass pertaining to the Octave, in white, with Gloria, Credo, Preface & Communicantes of Epiphany. In the 1962 Missal, since the Missal does not retain the Octave of the Epiphany, this Mass is said on all Ferial Days occurring the first full week after Epiphany, whether before or after January 13. If before, it is celebrated in white with Gloria, but no Credo or proper Communicantes; if after, it celebrated as a green Per Annum Ferial Mass without Gloria. Thanks to Restore the 54 for this information.


"The Apostle invites us to make our offering to the newborn King, after the example of the Magi; but the offering which this Lord of all things asks of us is not anything material or lifeless. He that is Life gives his whole self to us; let us, in return, present him our hearts, that is, a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God; whose service may be reasonable, that is, whose obedience to the divine will may be accompanied by a formal intention of offering itself to its Creator. Here again, let us imitate the Magi, who went back another way into their own country — let us not adopt the ideas of this world, for the world is the covert enemy of our beloved King. Let us reform our worldly prudence according to the divine wisdom of Him, who may well be our guide, seeing he is the Eternal Wisdom of the Father. Let us understand, that no man can be wise without Faith, which reveals to us that we must all be united by love, so as to form one body in Christ, partaking of his life, his wisdom, his light, and his kingly character."

Vestments: White

INTROIT 
UPON a high throne I saw a Man sitting, whom a multitude of Angels adore singing together: Behold Him the name of whose empire is for ever. Ps. 99. 1. O sing joyfully to the Lord, all the earth: serve ye the Lord with gladness. ℣. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. ℟. Amen. — Upon a high throne …

COLLECT - WE BESEECH Thee, O Lord, of Thy heavenly goodness hear the prayers of Thy suppliant people: that they may both perceive what things they ought to do, and have the strength to do them. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son …

Commemoration of the Epiphany - O God, Whose only begotten Son, hat appeared in the substance of our flesh, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may be inwardly made in a new form by Him Whose form we have known to be outwardly like ours. Who with thee liveth and reigneth...

EPISTLE
Romans 12: 1-5
BRETHREN: I beseech you, by the mercy of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God, your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God. For I say, by the grace that is given me, to all that are among you, not to be more wise than it behoveth to be wise, but to be wise unto sobriety and according as God hath divided to every one the measure of faith. For as in one body we have many members, but all the members have not the same office; so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another; in Christ Jesus our Lord.

GRADUAL
BLESSED be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone doth wonderful things from the beginning. Let the mountains receive peace for Thy people and the hills justice. 

Alleluia, alleluia. (Ps. 99.1.) Sing joyfully to God, all the earth: serve ye the Lord with gladness. Alleluia.

GOSPEL
Luke 2: 42-52

WHEN JESUS was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast, and having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the Child Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and His parents knew it not. And thinking that He was in the company, they came a day’s journey, and sought Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances. And not finding Him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking Him. And it came to pass that after three days they found Him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them and asking them questions. And all that heard Him were astonished at His wisdom and His answers. And seeing Him they wondered. And His Mother said to Him: Son, why hast Thou done so to us? Behold Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing. And He said to them: How is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business? And they understood not the word that He spoke unto them. And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And His Mother kept all these words in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age, and grace with God and men.

OFFERTORY
Psalm 99:1-2
SING JOYFULLY to God, all the earth, serve ye the Lord with gladness: come in before His presence with exceeding great joy: for the Lord He is God.

SECRET - O LORD, may the Sacrifice we offer up to Thee, ever quicken and protect us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son …

PREFACE (Preface of the Epiphany) - IT is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to Thee, holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God: for when Thine only begotten Son was manifested in the substance of our mortal flesh, with the new light of His own immortality He restored us. And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominations, and with all the hosts of the heavenly army we sing a hymn to Thy glory, evermore saying: 

COMMUNION
Luke 2:48-49
SON, why hast Thou done so to us? Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing. How is it that you sought me? did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?

POST COMMUNION - O ALMIGHTY God, we humbly beseech Thee, that Thou wouldst grant to those whom Thou dost refresh with Thy Sacraments that they may serve Thee worthily by a manner of life pleasing to Thee. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son …
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Tuesday, January 5, 2021
Catholic Resolutions 2021
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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 fastdays? What about all 40 days of Lent or the 40 days leading up to Christmas? There are many venerable ways we can practice penance this year and fulfill our Lady's call for "Penance, penance, penance."
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.
I encourage you to make Catholic Resolutions. What are yours? Share them below in the comments box.
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Friday, January 1, 2021
January: Month of the Holy Name of Jesus Christ
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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. January is traditionally devoted to the Holy Name of Jesus.

On January 1st we recall our Lord's Circumcision and the giving of the divine name to Him 8 days after His nativity. We recall this in a special Feast of the Holy Name each year on the Sunday of January 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th, or when no Sunday occurs on these days, then the feast is celebrated on January 2nd.

The honor of God’s name is not merely an intellectual exercise. It necessitates real actions in our lives. One of the manifestations of this is the proper capitalization of God’s name as well as all pronouns (e.g. He, Him, His) that refer to God, or any of the three divine persons. Known as reverential capitalization, this practice used to be commonplace until continued liberalism in education began to erode at this practice. As Catholics, we do our part to honor God's holy name by always capitalizing it and all references to the Divine Name.

Similarly, the Church in her worship prescribes that the priest bow his head “when the three Divine Persons are named together and at the names of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of the Saint in whose honor Mass is being celebrated.”  By extension, the faithful are admonished to also bow their heads whenever the Holy Name of Jesus is mentioned, even in casual conversation. Therefore, we should bow our heads during the Gloria Patri prayer whether during Mass, while saying the Rosary, or at the end of the Psalms in the Divine Office. While the bow of the head is required at the mention of “Jesus” or “Jesus Christ”, it is not required only at the mention of “Christ”, which is a title as opposed to being the Name of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity made flesh.

The practice of bowing the head at the mention of His Name was formally written into the law of the Church at the Second Council of Lyons in 1274: 

“Those who assemble in church should extol with an act of special reverence that Name which is above every Name, than which no other under Heaven has been given to people, in which believers must be saved, the Name, that is, of Jesus Christ, Who will save His people from their sins. Each should fulfil in himself that which is written for all, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow; whenever that glorious Name is recalled, especially during the sacred Mysteries of the Mass, everyone should bow the knees of his heart, which he can do even by a bow of his head.” 

If you have not done so, that is a great resolution to make this year in honor of the Divine Name of our Lord. January is also a great month to daily pray the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus or the Chaplet of the Holy Name.

Prayer to Honor the Lord's Holy Name:

O God, Who didst constitute Thine only-begotten Son the Savior of mankind, and didst bid Him be called Jesus: mercifully grant, that we who venerate His holy Name on earth, may fully enjoy also the vision of Him in heaven. Through the same our Lord.

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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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