How to Factor Faith into a Busy Life Equation
Jesus asks that His disciples to “pray unceasingly.” (Luke 21:36) This is a hard command and requires great discipline in both the mind and body. Essentially to pray unceasingly is to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,” (Matt 5:48) for it is constantly keeping at the forefront of one’s mind and heart the twofold commandment: “love God and your neighbor.” (Luke 10:27) Prayer is putting these commandments into action.
To aid in a personal and perpetual active relationship with God, the Church has Mass offered daily; this is the highest form of prayer. Additionally, the Church has laid out holy hours to bring her members into prayer all throughout the day and night. These moments are called the “holy hours” or “Divine Office". These hourly prayers are divided into four categories: morning (lauds, terce), daytime (sext, none), evening (vespers, compline) and night prayers (matins).
“From ancient times the Church has had the custom of celebrating each day the liturgy of the hours. In this way the Church fulfills the Lord’s precept to pray without ceasing, at once offering its praise to God the Father and interceding for the salvation of the world.” – Office of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship. more...
What Is The Difference Between Worship And Veneration?
Often Catholics who have devotions to Mary or to the saints are mistakenly understood to be idolaters. Idolatry, the worship of false gods, goes against the first commandment:
“You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:3-6)
As seen in the above passage and throughout history, idol building and worshipping clearly angers God. So what is going on? How can the statues, pictures and prayers to Mary, and the saints be justified? Catholics make the claim that they reserve worship alone for God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit, but they allow veneration for Mary, saints, and earthy heroes. From an outside perspective, this does seem hypocritical, or at least somewhat shady. However, by looking at the definitions that the dictionary offers, it is clear that the words “worship” and “veneration” are very distinct from another, and are appropriately applied. more...
“Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began.” (Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday: PG 43, 440A, 45C: LH, Holy Saturday, OR)
Holy Saturday is the day of great silence where Catholics consider the death of Jesus Christ. They are encouraged to ask: what is significant about His death, and about the silence in the tomb? First, the Church teaches that the death of Christ was necessary for the redemption of mankind; it wasn’t simply the sufferings of Christ that saved, but the separation of the soul from the body. For the consequences of Original Sin caused two deaths. The first is the physical death: the separation of the soul from the body. The second death is eternal life separated from God. Through experiencing the first death, Jesus redeemed man from the second death. more...
The Stations of the Cross
The Stations of the Cross are traditionally used during Lent (especially on Fridays) as a way to go deeper into the mystery of the passion, death and burial of Jesus Christ. It looks both at Mary’s journey on the Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrow)— where the Passion actually occurred, and at the major events as recorded by the Apostles in the Gospels.
“Behind the house, at a little distance up the hill, the Blessed Virgin had made a kind of Way of the Cross. When she was living in Jerusalem, she had never failed, ever since Our Lord's death, to follow His path to Calvary with tears of compassion. She had paced out and measured all the distances between the Stations of that Via Crucis, and her love for her Son made her unable to live without this constant contemplation of His sufferings . . . At first she went by herself, measuring the number of steps, so often counted by her, which separated the places of Our Lord's different sufferings. At each of these places she put up a stone, or, if there was already a tree there, she made a mark upon it. . . . Afterwards she arranged the Stations better, and I saw her inscribing on the stones the meaning of each Station, the number of paces and so forth. . . . At that time I saw no picture and no fixed cross to designate the Stations, nothing but plain memorial stones with inscriptions, but afterwards, as the result of constant visits and attention, I saw the place becoming increasingly beautiful and easy of approach. After the Blessed Virgin's death I saw this Way of the Cross being visited by Christians, who threw themselves down and kissed the ground.” (The Life Of The Blessed Virgin Mary From The Visions Of Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich,) more...
Works of Mercy
Jesus Christ gave the Divine Mercy Chaplet and prayers to Saint Faustina Kowlaska, a polish nun, in a vision in order to encourage participation in His Mercy. Jesus asks that mercy be exercised as proof of love for Him.
There are three ways to practice mercy: by deed, by word, and by prayer. The Corporeal and Spiritual Works of Mercy are commonly accepted list of deeds and words of mercy to imitate. Their origins are found throughout the Scriptures and from innate human every day decency:
Corporeal Works of Mercy: feed the hungry; give drink to the thirsty; clothe the naked; shelter the homeless; comfort the prisoners; visit the sick; bury the dead.
Spiritual Works of Mercy: teach the ignorant; pray for the living & dead; correct sinners; counsel those in doubt; console the sorrowful; bear wrongs patiently; forgive wrongs willingly. more...
The Sufferings and Wounds of Jesus Christ
When we look at a crucifix, Jesus’s body often looks fairly clean. We see a white or tan body with five obvious wounds: crown of thorns, pierced side, pierced hands and feet. There might be some drips of blood to emphasis the violence of the crucifixion. Missing mostly likely are the marks from the scourging on His back, shoulders, and legs. These wounds are assumed— being well known from the Scriptures (John 19:1; Matthew 27:26)— and artistically avoided, despite the fact that the scourging accounts for most of the wounds that Jesus received. Traditionally, it is held that Jesus suffered from 5,480 wounds (as revealed to St. Bridget of Sweden). Among these, there is one wound that is not often promulgated. This wound is on Christ’s shoulder:
“It is related in the annals of Clairvaux that St. Bernard asked Our Lord which was His greatest unrecorded suffering, and He answered: "I had on My Shoulder while I bore My Cross on the Way of Sorrows, a grievous Wound which was more painful than the others, and which is not recorded by men. Honor this Wound with thy devotion, and I will grant thee whatsoever thou does ask through its virtue and merit. And in regard to all those who shall venerate this wound, I will remit to them all their venial sins, and will no longer remember their mortal sins.” more...
Finding Daily Solace With The Rosary
“Our souls are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” - St. Augustine
Life isn’t easy. Each one of us has difficulties that we must work through in order to reach a place of peace and joy— which ultimately, is happiness. On our own, we can wander around in the desert, say for 40 years, as did the ancient Israelites, or we can follow the maps as received via the Church.
The Rosary being one of these maps will give us graces to persevere, the ability to find solutions to the challenges we face, and will help us reach our goals much sooner. By praying the Rosary, we are making an act of faith that no matter what happens, we will trust in God, do our best, live out our calling, and thus, serve God and others, fulfilling the twofold commandment of love: love God and your neighbor. more...
What are Rosary Novenas?
Before we can know what a rosary novena is, we need to know what a novena is. Novena, or “novem” is Latin for the word, “nine”. Therefore, a novena is a prayer said nine consecutive times in one day, or once for nine consecutive days.
Novenas are usually employed to “storm heaven” with a special request. God doesn’t need to hear our request nine times, but the act itself, is for our benefit. It disciplines us in our prayer and shows God our faithfulness.
Now, a rosary novena is when one says the rosary everyday for nine days. This is an ordinary novena. However, often the Rosary Novena most Catholics refer to, is the one that is said for 54 consecutive days. This is because it is actually six novenas back to back and it is divided into two sets of 27 days: one of petition, and the other of thanksgiving. more...
What is Prayer?
Prayer is a formal word for a simple action: “conversation with God”. If you wake up in the morning and say, “Hi God,” your greeting is a prayer. Prayer is simply an acknowledgement of God’s existence and His presence in our lives.
“For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy!” – St. Therese of Lisieux, Manuscrits and autobiographiques
We converse with those around us —either strengthening or weakening our relationships (depending on how we communicate)— and the same is true with God; it is just as easy to interact with Him.
Since God is perfect, and never erring, He never pushes us away, nor does He ever ignore us, etc.,. Ever patient, He always listens and always answers. He answers in three ways: “yes”; “in time”; or “I have something better for you”. more...
An Examination of the Prayer, Hail Holy Queen
The prayer, Hail Holy Queen, is most known for being one of the ending prayers for the Rosary. It is said after the last decade. It is also one of the four antiphons of Mary.
Traditionally it is divided into three responses. In the first and third part, all participants pray in unison; and then the second part, only the leader responds.
There are different accounts of the origins of the Hail, Holy Queen. However, the general consensus among Catholic sources is that this prayer was composed between the 11-12th centuries. Nevertheless, the titles and honor given to Mary were not new then. Rather, they were beloved traditions that were put together beautifully as a hymn of praise and intercession. Let’s look at the prayer’s scriptural origins: more...