THE FEAST OF THE ANNUNCIATION

I meant to write this Sat. March 25, since that was the Feast of the Annunciation. This is the day we celebrate:  Luke 1:26-38

The Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.: Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

CANTICLE OF MARY:  And Mary told Elizabeth  (Luke 1:46-55)

MY SOUL proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the might from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.

GLORY TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, and to the HOLY SPIRIT, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen


The Glory Be to the Father is a prayer Catholics say often.  If only we would be as willing to do what God asks without question.   Here is a prayer for that:

Jesus, You became flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pray for me, that I may deny myself and choose God’s will for my life, for I know and believe that He is a good Father and will lead me to salvation. Amen

 

HISTORY OF LENT AND WHY 40 DAYS

The Catholic TV monthly magazine had an article about the History of Lent. I thought maybe some of you might be interested:

History of Lent-what did fasting used to look like: The Lenten season, preparation for Easter, has been observed from the onset of Christ’s Church, although there have been inconsistencies with duration and practices.  The Council of Nicea, 325AD, established Easter’s fluid date as the Sunday following the first full moon of the vernal equinox. In 461 AD, Pope St. Leo established the duration as 40 consecutive days before Easter. Pope Gregory the Great, in the sixth century, added the dispensing of ashes the preceding Wednesday (Ash Wednesday), making Lent 46 days. Sundays were considered feast days and not included in the count. (However, my mother informed us kids that if we gave up Movies for Lent we could not go on Sundays, or it wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice. Connie)

Initially, all forms of meat, fish and animal products were excluded for the entirety of Lent. People were allowed one meal per day, after 3 pm. In the 1400’s that time was revised to noon. Eventually, a small snack was included to sustain energy. Over time, fish, meat and eventually dairy products were allowed. However, fasting was require all 40 days. It wasn’t until 1966 that fast days were lessened to Ash Wednesday and Good Friday only. (Now, we give up meat on Fridays during Lent, along with Ash Wednesday)

WHY 40 DAYS????The number 40 has ecclesial significance: Moses spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai before receiving the Ten Commandments; Jesus spent 40 days in prayer and fasting prior to beginning his ministry. So, too, we spend 40 days preparing to do God’s work.

WHY  DO WE HAVE PENITENTIAL SEASONS?  (This is a question many Christians ask Catholics, who quite often don’t know the answer) Jesus gave the example of a penitential retreat, spending prayerful time in the desert preparing for His ministry, reflecting on God’s will and determining how He’d freely make that happen. Penitential seasons offer us this same opportunity to withdraw from our routines and evaluate our spiritual progress or regression. We do this through reflection and repentance, which enable us to identify our weaknesses and make reparation to amend our sinful ways. Penitential seasons create time to reflect on our need to make God the focal point of our lives. The result can be spiritually rewarding. (Many Catholics spend extra time in prayer. Go to extra Masses, the Stations of the Cross, and other spiritual reading during Lent)

WHAT ARE THE CURRENT RULES FOR LENT IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?

All Catholics, ages 14 and up, are bound by the law of abstinence. Abstinence means refraining from the consumption of meat (land animals) on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent. Why Friday? To unite ourselves with Jesus’ sacrifice, made for us on Good Friday.

All Catholics, ages 18-59, are to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting is defined as eating one full, meatless meal on prescribed days. Bits of food can be taken at other traditional meal times though their combined total should not equal a full meal.

Penitential practices, like fasting and abstinence, are intended to refocus our thoughts and intentions toward God. Lent’s 40 days include Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday (the Lenten fast continues until Holy Saturday), not including Sundays. Sundays are optional but encouraged. For health reasons, the infirm, ill, and pregnant or nursing mothers are exempt.

Three other Lenten disciplines are prayer (daily conversation with the Lord) fasting (from behaviors which detract from our relationship with God) and  almsgiving (sharing our resources, ensuring the basic needs of human dignity).

I WILL ADD; many Catholics like to go to the  Stations of the Cross usually on Friday if it is available in their Churches. The Stations of the Cross actually started before the Crusades when Christian were free to go to Jerusalem.  I read where they used to journey from Rome and Europe to Israel to follow the footsteps of Jesus to the Cross. Much like people do now. Then when the Muslims took over the Holy Lands and the Christians could not go there, they started setting up outdoor statues or pictures of what we now call the Passion of Christ. From the Last Supper to the capture in the garden, the whippings and crown of thorns thru the town, past the women, and when he had help carrying the cross and when He was nailed to the cross. Now Catholic Churches have pictures or carvings on the wall that go around the church, 14 stations showing the Passion of Jesus.  People say prayers at each station and they are called the Stations of the Cross.  It follows the story of His Passion in the Bible Gospels. Usually on Good Friday, when possible, the Stations are said at 3PM, the time that Jesus died.

GIVING ALMS: During Lent as with other times of the year, but especially during Lent, we can give up something we spend money on, coffee, candy, movies, whatever, and give that money to the poor. Examples; the Salvation Army, Local Food Cupboards or you can look up Catholic Relief Services (CRS) or Catholic Charities for example, all these organizations help people who are desperate for help.  Catholics have what we call a “Rice Bowl” we put on the table or somewhere in our home where everyone can drop money in, on Easter we put the money in an envelope marked RICE BOWL put it in the collection basket,and the Church sends all the money to Catholic Relief Services to feed the poor in other countries.  You can look up CRS Rice Bowl on line: http://www.crsricebowl.org. To get more information. Catholics have been donating to CRS for many years. They are all over the world helping and teaching the poor how to  feed and support themselves and they are at places of devastation like Haiti helping people to recover and start over.

HOW DO WE RESPOND TO SUFFERING?

When I was young, one of the things Catholics used to say when we had pain or were ill was: “OFFER IT UP”.  I hadn’t heard it for years until a few years ago, when I read or heard someone say, “OFFER UP YOUR PAIN AND SUFFERING AS A PRAYER FOR OTHERS WHO HAVE THE SAME ILLNESSES.” Simply tell Jesus that you are offering your suffering up for someone one else.”  It made sense to me then and still does, at least the pain and suffering I am going through is not wasted if it is used as a prayer.  I remembered this through breast cancer and then later as I went and am still going through heart problems. Did it make the pain and suffering any easier, it still was bad, but at least it served as a prayer.

I have since read and heard this several times in Christian Magazines and the Presence Radio.  I read that you could use suffering as a prayer, not only for other people, but for souls stuck in Purgatory and to help atone for sins being committed in the world and prayer for Peace in the world. Then I came across this article by Rev. Andrew Apostoli, CFR in the SOUL MAGAZINE, a publication of the World Apostolate of Fatima. In one of the chapters he wrote:

HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO SUFFERING?

The second time the Angel appeared to Lucia and the other children of Portugal at Fatima he encouraged the children, “Above all, accept and bear with submission, the suffering which the Lord will send you.” Everyone has suffering of one kind or another in life. This is what Jesus taught in the Gospel to be His disciple, namely, that we must deny ourselves (these are our sacrifices). take up our crosses each day (these are our sufferings, even if just carrying out our daily duties), an follow Me (these are our efforts to imitate Christ each day). (cf Mt 16:24). ………………………………….

HOW DO WE HANDLE SUFFERING?

I has been said that suffering can make a person either better or bitter. It makes us better when we see it as coming from God and are willing to accept it from Him. Many lessons in life come through suffering especially the building of character and the strength of enduring with perseverance.  On the other hand, we know that suffering can make people bitter. This happens when they resent them and refuse to accept them. Many people become angry at God when crosses come their way. They resent it because these sufferings take away their ability to live a happy life according to their own hopes and desires. Yet it is only when we embrace the cross in our hearts that we find the peace that comes in doing God’s will, even in adversity. In our Christian faith the cross is no longer a tragedy; God turned it into a source of blessings and eternal happiness. The Angel would encourage us to accept our sufferings with patience and trust. Abundant fruits will follow!

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Remember folks, offer your pain, disappointments, sufferings, and hurts up to Jesus as a prayer, He has a plan for you. Ask Him to be with you and to give you the strength to make it through the tough times, and be sure to thank him for the good times. Thank Him for the things He has given you and the good people He has put in your life. Be sure to tell Him you love Him, as he love you, no mater what.

 

 

 

 

 

 

GREAT READING FOR LENT and DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY

As we approach Divine Mercy Sunday on April 23, the week after Easter Sunday on April 16, and the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, check out these great resources on the tremendous power of Divine Mercy and the story of the apparitions at Fatima, 100 years ago.  You can order these at (marian.org)

A JOURNEY TO HEALING THROUGH DIVINE MERCY: MERCY AFTER ABORTION: by Theresa Bonopartis. Sharing the fruits of her own long and often painful process of healing after having had an abortion. Theresa Bonopartis gives her testimony and offers a series of Divine Mercy meditations for post-abortive mothers and fathers. Drawing from the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska and the words of the popes, Bonopartis shares profound insights to assist her wounded brothers and sisters to find healing and renewed relationships with God, their families and friends, and themselves. $9.95.

THE FACE OF MERCY DVD AND LIBERATING A CONTINENT: JOHN PAUL 11 AND THE FALL OF COMMUNISM DVD. These two remarkable documentaries by the Knights of Columbus tell the stories of Divine Mercy and the Great Mercy Pope, St. John Paul II. THE FACE OF MERCY includes the teaching of Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, and Fr. Seraphim Michalenki, MIC, as well as the Divine Mercy testimonies of Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, and Eric Mahl, a Marian Helper and former NFL player. LIBERATING A CONTINENT draws on interviews with many of the foremost experts on St. John Paul II in the world, including Marian Press author Ewa Czaczkowska, who wrote the outstanding biography, FAUSTINA; THE MYSTIC AND HER MESSAGE.’s calls today. Indispensable reading for the 100th anniversary of Fatima. $17.95 B33 FOMDVD and $19.95 B33 JPDVD

FATIMA FOR TODAY; THE URGENT MARIAN MESSAGE OF HOPE by Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR. shares the history of what happened at Fatima, as well as the apparitions that Lucia dos Santos continued to receive later in her life.  He discusses Fatima’s effects on world and Church history, as well as how we can and must answer Our Lady’s calls today. Indispensable reading for the 100th anniversary of Fatima. $16.95

You can also order these at:  shopmercy.org

Happy Reading and a Productive Lent

 

 

ASH WEDNESDAY, MARCH 1, GRACE TO BEGIN

Joel 2:12-18; 2 Cor. 5:20-6:2; Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

We begin our Lenten journey today. Ash Wednesday is a day to recognize our smallness before God. “Remember, you are dust, and to dust you wil return.” the priest says as he makes a cross of ashes across our forehead.

In today’s first reading, Joel writes about a day of darkness and gloom, a day of events that are a sign of the coming day of the Lord when those who oppose the Lord’s righteous will shall be punished.

It’s easy to believe that all is right in the world when the sun shines and the flowers bloom. It is likewise easy to be afraid when the sky turns black and threatening.

During Lent, we’re called to repentance, rending “our hearts, not our garments,” as the prophet Joel writes (2:13). We’re called to recognize Jesus as our Merciful Savior. The more we turn our gaze toward the Cross, the more grace we will receive to bear our own crosses.

Ash Wednesday is a day of atonement for us. Turn to Jesus with trust and let Him lead you this Lent.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help me to glorify Your mercy and lift my heart to You again. Help me to fully surrender to You, knowing that You hold me in the palm of Your hand. Amen

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As we begin the holy season of Lent, we are encouraged by these words of Pope Francis: “During Lent, let us all ask the Lord: Make our hearts like yours. In this way we will receive a heart that is firm and merciful, attentive and generous.. a heart that is not closed, indifferent, or prey to the globalization of indifference.

MAY your living out of Lent be a time of many graces and the joy of being made new in Jesus Christ.  God bless you all.

 

ASHES,LENT CONTINUES

Song by Tom Conry

WE RISE AGAIN FROM ASHES, FROM THE GOOD WE’VE FAILED TO DO. We rise again from ashes, to create our selves a new. If all our world is ashes, then must our lives be true, an offering of ashes, an offering to you.

2. We offer you our failures, we offer you attempts, the gifts not fully given, the dreams not fully dreamt. Give our stumblings direction, give our visions wider views, an offering of ashes, an offering to you.

3. Then rise again from ashes, let healing come to pain, though spring has turned to winter, and sunshine turned to rain.  The rain we’ll use for growing, and create the world a new from an offering of ashes, an offering to you.

4. Thanks be to the Father, who made us like himself. Thanks be to his Son, who saved us by his death. thanks be to the Spirit who creates the world a new from an offering of ashes, an offering to you.

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We begins each Lent begging for “the blessing of forgiveness.” God longs for us to return to him with our whole heart. For without such repentance we remain tormented by the question, “Where is our God?” God has not cast us out of his presence; rather, he desires us to “become the very holiness of God.” The Father “who is hidden” waits for us to pray, “A clean heart create for me, O God.” Then the way that we reach out to reality to become one with it will reveal God’s saving Presence in every circumstance. “The joy of our salvation.” begins today.   (Magnificat)

 

ASH WEDNESDAY,GOD SPEAKS TO HIS PEOPLE

By: Father Richard Veras             ASH WEDNESDAY

When I was a young priest, I dreaded Ash Wednesday. I experienced myself as a marked  man. I couldn’t step outside the rectory or the Church without being asked/accosted for ashes.  After each Mass or service, it seemed that just as I had washed my thumb, somebody would stick their head into the sacristy with that plaintive smile that always means the same thing on Ash Wednesday.

HOWEVER, WITH the passing years and passing ashes, I have grown to love this day..not despite, but because of so many of my brother and sister Catholics who return to the Church on this day with such a mysterious but real desire to receive “their” ashes.

What an amazing witness it is, what amazing witnesses they are, to the fact that at its core, Christianity is a belonging to Christ, who has chosen us and offers his mercy to us.

And it is a very public witness! How many of their friends might needle them for those ashes, or even ask them why they got ashes if they rarely or never go to Church. I would venture to guess it might be hard for them to explain.. and thus they, and their ashes, witness to the deep mystery of Christ among us.

THE ASHES TELL THE WORLD THAT WE ARE SINNERS. BUT THEY ARE IN THE SIGN OF THE CROSS..AND SO WE ARE SINNERS WHO HAVE HOPE.

On Ash Wednesday, let us thank God for, and pray for, all of our brothers and sisters who witness to us that this hope does not die.

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When the priest makes the cross with the ashes on the forehead of the person he says:

“REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE DUST, AND TO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN”

DURING LENT, let us spend the gift of time seeking the wisdom of heart taught by self-sacrifice, so that, dead to sin, we may rise to new life in Christ, in who death has died.

REPENT AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL.  (Mk 1:15)