Feast of the Immaculate Conception

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Today, as we get ready to enter into the second week of advent, the Church’s liturgical calendar calls us to pause on our headlong dive towards Christmas, with a reflective day to celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Ever Virgin, Most Blessed Mother of Our Lord and Savior! Do not worry, this feast day does not actually halt our journey towards Christ and His birth, not in the least, because once we understand it better, it will propel us further towards Christ and the truly awesome event of His birth!

The Holy Mother Church teaches that the Blessed Mother had the singular privilege of being the only creature ever created by God to be ‘created’ free of the stain of original sin. This means She was Immaculately Conceived in the womb of her own mother! God’s role for her was so important the He kept her free from the mark of sin that Adam and Eve had passed down to us from their disobedience in the garden of Eden. In order that Mary replace our first mother, Eve, God created her without blemish… without sin. Even though it wasn’t necessary… it was right. Having the ability to do whatever He willed… it is only fitting that He create His own Mother, pure, holy and without sin.

It is what separates her from the rest of the world… She was ‘Spotless’… holy and unblemished… the ‘golden tabernacle’ in which Our Dear would reside… From her fiat, her yes, the Holy Spirit overshadowed Her so that God would be made Man in Christ Jesus… He would become Flesh of her flesh... the Flesh of mankind’s redemption! Her role in the history of the salvation of man could not be jeopardized by having the King of salvation be born to a woman who was marked with the stain of sin! It may seem complicated, but it is really that simple.

As we get closer to the celebration of Christmas, the Holy Mother Church uses this day to remind the faithful all over the world of this fact; that the Blessed Mother remained pure and un-spotted in her nature, from the very moment of her conception so that the womb in which Christ was conceived would be pure and holy.

Amazing! Isn’t it! And because the rest of us are stained by original sin, we tend to distort the Truth, and as a gentle reminder, the Holy Church is there to guide us… to remind us that regardless of what ever  the world will do… whatever man will do in his sinful nature…Mary… the Mother of God… is our Mother... She is pure and holy…  And as the Mother of Jesus…as the Mother of God… She is united to Him in His holiness and She loves us in a way that cannot be separated from God’s love… She is our Advocate… for God’s mercy… for God’s guidance… for God’s grace… She is an advocate for every single one of us…                                                 Rejoice!

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PRAYER OF THE CHURCH

O God, who through the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin did prepare a worthy dwelling-place for Thy divine Son; grant that, as in view of Thy Son Thou didst preserve her from all taint, so Thou wouldst vouchsafe unto us, that cleansed from all sin, by her intercession we too may arrive at Thine eternal glory. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Taking Time To Give Thanks

Oh, and so it goes… the frenzy of the secular ‘holiday’ season begins. With Thanksgiving day behind us, so many people headed out this morning to face the malls and the giant ‘black Friday’ sales that awaited them in their mad dash for a bargain… Slipping out of their moment of ‘thanksgiving and feasting‘…  they have allowed themselves once again to get caught up in the commercialized meaning of this day. Fighting throngs of shoppers, many were madly dashing about trying to grab the best deals… shoving their shopping carts full with things they most likely don’t even need.

Having abandoned religion, we have lost our sense of gratitude towards God. Without this most vital component to the human soul, many people are trying in vain to satisfy their spiritual emptiness with tangible, material things… But this only leads to a more profound sense of longing…

As a nation that is spiraling in a continual motion away from God, we have become a society that is turning to material goods to satisfy our resulting emptiness. Buying in to all the lies, we are often left looking for the next great thing, that new toy or gadget that will make our lives  better than it is right now.  Failing to see their need for the Lord, they are neglecting the one thing that would change it all… that One Thing that could make us happy.

Even with all the buying… all the hoarding of goods… it is never enough. Losing sight of God and His Grande Design for us, we have become unsatisfied with what we have, dissatisfied with who we are. We are surrounded by all the world, but on the verge of losing our very hearts… our very souls… and most don’t even seem care. We have lost our Faith and have bought into the theology of the world… which is based on lies and greed, ultimately connected to the lies of the devil which seek to destroy our relationship with the Lord.

Without God, man’s hearts have grown cold, we have grown into an ungrateful bunch. Even though many boast of free love and inclusiveness, there is no room for God. Without God there is no Truth, and more importantly, there is no truth to this new ‘love’. We have replaced God’s authentic love with false ideas and feel good slogans that fail to satisfy the human soul. In forgetting our thankfulness to God, we have lost our sense of worth.

We need to remember that regardless of where ever we are in life, with whatever we have… the good as well as the bad, God is still goodHe doesn’t change, nor does His Love … It is eternal.  And we need to be thankful for that… whatever it might be. God has created us out of love. He has given us the only freedom we will truly ever have or need. Because of this freedom He cannot dictate that we love Him in return, or even acknowledge that He exists. But we will be held accountable for our choices. All of them… Some of them good, some of them bad….but they will be ours alone… and we need to realize that God is good because He has created us in a way that has allowed us to be who we are…saints, with the inclination to sin.

As the rest of society ‘celebrates’ Black Friday with hectic shopping and sales, let us remember God and thank Him for the many graces He has given us that we cannot not even comprehend. Let us pause for just another moment, during this ‘spirit of thanksgiving’, and give thanks to the Lord for all that we have, for all that we don’t have… We need to remember that everything He does for us is done out of His Fatherly love for us… When we die we will be astounded. we will be humbled at our lack of love.  We must have a thankful heart towards the Lord, we will never regret for having done all we could for God… He will not be outdone and His generosity towards us will be without measure. So instead of using this Friday as a day to go ‘sales shopping,’ buying so much that we do not need, let us spend another day thanking God for His goodness and have a grateful heart for God… and try (with His grace) to be a bit of God’s love…. a bit of God’s Light in a world that is growing increasingly black… increasingly dark … with sin.

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Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

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Feast of the Holy Souls

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Today, on this day after the Feast of the Holy Saints, in which we celebrate the triumph of the Holy Saints, we are called to remember the Holy Souls … those souls who lived good lives. Those souls who loved the Lord, albeit with an imperfect love and are now suffering in the purifying fires of God’s justice. These are the souls of those who are destined to go to heaven, but are still in need of spiritual cleansing. They are in purgatory, the place where God’s love reaches them like fire… burning away their impurities… separating them from any stain of sin that might still be attached to their souls. As we pray, we need to remember that the souls in purgatory have already been redeemed by God and will one day, join Him in heaven, but first they must pass through purgatory as their final cleansing… their final purification before entering heaven. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in 1031:  The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire.”

Everyone who dies in God’s good grace Must pass through the fires of purgatory… even the saints must at least pass through purgatory’s fiery bath. To think otherwise  would put us at risk of neglecting our Christian duty of praying for the dead. The Church in Her eternal wisdom, knows this and gives us this month of November to remember our dead with sacrifices  and offerings on their behalf. We need to realize that our loved ones need our prayers… Remember, we cannot just wish our loved ones into heaven… but we can offer them our prayers! Our loved ones need us to remember them!

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“It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins.”(2 Mac. 12:46)

As a members of the Holy Church here on earth, we are members of the Church Militant, and we are called to be active. We are called to remember the holy souls. As Christians, we are obligated, especially on this day, and all days of November, to pray for the release of our brothers and our sisters, to the eternal reward of heaven. The Holy Church teaches that our prayers can aid them in being released from the fires of purgatory. The Catechism goes on to state in 1032:

This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.” From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

“Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.”

If we attend mass or visit a cemetery on this day, we can gain a plenary indulgence which can be applied to a holy soul in purgatory, aiding them in their release. The plenary indulgence removes the temporal punishment for sin, freeing them from the bonds of purgatory.  As Christians we need to fulfill our obligations to the dead. Unfortunately, in our modern age, this practice has fallen by the wayside. Most people have been misguided into thinking that their loved ones have made it straight away to heaven.  Because of this, many who would have benefited  from our prayers and actions, are left instead, to suffer the fires of purgatory. Remember, if the Holy Mother Church has not publicly declared your loved one a Saint in the Holy Church… they need you to pray for them. It is that simple.

Just as we have to be careful about presuming our loved ones are already in heaven, we need to remember that our prayers can only be applied to those souls in purgatory… We can not pray a soul out of hell. That is why it is important that we actively work on their conversion while they are still alive…because once a person dies in a state of mortal sin they are removed from God’s good graces and no amount of prayer can save them from the eternal fires of hell. Then it is up to the Mercy of God. We can only help those who have died in God’s grace. But the Lord is wonderful and He allows that our prayers and our petitions can help remove any remaining venial sin attached to the soul, and any temporal punishments for the mortal sins that they had already confessed in life.

 

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During this month of November, do not let a day go by without offering your prayers and your sacrifices for the release of the holy souls from purgatory, because once a soul is released to heaven they will remember you and pray for your intentions. It has been said that the soul of a person that has been released from purgatory by our prayers, are some of the most grateful and will never forget you or your intentions until the end of time! Just thinking about that aspect should be enough to make us want to remember and pray for the holy souls in purgatory, not just today, but all year long.

 

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Praying to Calm the Storm – Hurricane Michael

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From the news reports… this one looks big… and from the satellite imagining, it looks to be devastating. Last year we were faced with Hurricane Irma, but this one seems to have a different look to it... we need to pray for all of those in the path… We need to pray for protection and for God’s mercy for those who are batting down the hatches and getting ready for it to come ashore… God bless.

PRAYER FOR PROTECTION FROM HURRICANES AND STORMS
God, our Father,
Eternal and Omnipotent,
Creator and Lord of the Universe,
you have set the earth on its foundation
and all elements of nature obey your command. You give food to all flesh,
cover the heavens with clouds,
and provide rain to the earth ─
We humbly beseech you
Lord, Most High,
to keep us safe from all dangers
and to calm all the storms of life that threaten us:
especially the attack of whirlwinds and tornadoes,
the calamity and destruction of hurricanes,
the din and damage of hail storms,
the striking of thunderbolts and lightning,
and the devastation of floods and tidal waves.

May we be secure in your loving protection,
seek your Will in all our experiences,
and serve you always with grateful hearts.
We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

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A Prayer for Hurricane Season

O God, Master of this passing world, hear the humble voices of your children.  The Sea of Galilee obeyed your order and returned to its former quietude; you are still the Master of land and sea.  We live in the shadow of a danger over which we have no control.  The Gulf, like a provoked and angry giant, can awake from its seeming lethargy, overstep its conventional boundaries, invade our land and spread chaos and disaster.  During this hurricane season, we turn to You, O loving Father.  Spare us from past tragedies whose memories are still so vivid and whose wounds seem to refuse to heal with the passing of time.  O Virgin, Star of the Sea, Our Beloved Mother, we ask you to plead with your Son in our behalf, so that spared from the calamities common to this area and animated with a true spirit of gratitude, we will walk in the footsteps of your Divine Son to reach the heavenly Jerusalem where a storm-less eternity awaits us.  Amen.

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Feast of Our Lady of The Rosary – Respect Life Sunday

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Dear Blessed Mother, Protectress and Mother of all,
take into Your charge the unborn children of
the world. Place in the hearts of all mothers a special and unselfish love of their unborn children
and the realization that all life is God given.
Change the hearts of those in governments to see
that they must not condone the
slaughter of the unborn. Be our
advocate before the throne of
God, dear Blessed Virgin Mary. Amen.

 

 

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Praying For Good and Holy Priests

Whether on a personal level, or just from hearing the reports on the evening news, we’ve all felt a bit of the turmoil that has been rocking the Church for the past several  months. The news has exposed to the world, that several of the Church’s cardinals and archbishops have been named or linked to many incidences of abuse and scandal, not necessarily as those who committed the actual crimes… but as those who aided in the cover-up of these crimes… which allowed the abuse to grow and continue…

Resembling cockroaches which have been revealed in the dark, they have been scurrying  for cover, throwing around distractions, trying to divert the attention away from their actions. Many of these men who should be acting more like the soldiers of Christ that they were ordained to be, have been reduced to crawling on their bellies with the devil, weighed down by all of  their lies and excuses.

Unable, or rather; unwilling to stand up for the Light of Truth, many have behaved as cowards, delving deeper into the darkness of sin. Many  have abandoned their role as shepherd.  And instead of standing in place of Jesus Christ, as beacons of God’s Truth… they became part of the world… allowing themselves to be swept in the currents of evil that move freely about the secular world, every moment of every day.

In their falling away from God’s call to holiness, these men sinned… grave sins, that ruin the souls of good men. And instead of   shepherding their sheep… protecting their flocks… they took those who were entrusted to them and drug them directly into the dens of wolves, which were salivating at the very thought of consuming their holy flesh, and offered them as sacrifice for the devil.  It is really quite disgusting and evil. Unfortunately this has been going on for many years, and from the pile up of accusations, it appears that it is far from being over. From the way that many of our bishops and archbishops are self consumed and arrogant in their behavior, I am afraid that it will take a thorough cleansing… an exorcism of sorts, before we are freed of the sin that has embedded itself within the prelates of the Holy Mother Church.

As has been prophisized by many… it appears that the smoke of satan has wound its way down the corridors of the Vatican and has infected the hearts… and infected the souls of God’s chosen men.

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We must always remember that God is good and He is merciful.  He will provide His Church with righteous men who will be strong and courageous in the face of such manipulation and sin. He will call to Him those who love their Mother. Both in the Blessed Virgin Mary… and in the Holy Mother Church. He will provide good and holy sons. Those same kind of men that shaped the silhouette of many of our saints. The kind of men who for no other reason than their love of God and all that is True and holy, stood in the face of their adversaries and chose the difficult path of holiness. The difficult path of sanctification.  The path that found them chained and tortured… or beaten to death… receiving their crown of martyrdom when they refused to corrupt the Truth with lies.

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There are saints among us now. They will be the ones who will lead us to the path of heaven. But it is the difficult path, wrought with the lies and manipulations of evil. Wrought with attacks from the devil at every turn. It is this same path that leads some of our present day priests to finding themselves in hiding, fearing for their lives… or even living out of the back of their car, sleeping as a homeless man instead of enjoying the proper residence that should be afforded to every diocesan priest in good standing. Their crime?  Going public and exposing some of the rot within the Holy Mother Church. We must understand that these priests are being attacked, not from outside enemies of the Church… No, these men, these ordained priests of God, are being attacked from within… it’s enough to send shivers down one’s spine…

Thankfully, God has not abandoned His Bride. He has not abandoned us, the lay faithful. He is still finding men and filling them…His MenHis soldiers, with the needed courage and zeal, to speak the Truth and to face the difficult charges that are being thrown at them when they choose to reveal the corruptness instead of continuing in the cover up. Regardless of what we think would have been better… whether we think it would have just been easier for them if they had just gone with the flow and kept their mouths shut…we must remember that God is still in control. And He is calling men… His sons to holiness. And that means, He is still calling them to Truth. We must remember that there are still many good and holy priests out there, ready to help us as we navigate our way through this mine field of abuse and scandal.

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As lay faithful we need to pray and offer what we can to help these men. It is going to be a hard battle… with so many attacks coming at them from the inside… We have got to gather our forces and join our prayers for their protection… for their courage… I heard someone say that it will take the lay members to fix this…that is true… in a way… But the real battle raging is one between the devil and Christ… Between the devil and Christ’s Church… and His good and holy priests who do not waiver from the Faith….those who do not turn away from the Truth. We must have courage and help them with this battle… by our prayers and by our willingness to sacrifice and our willingness to join our struggles with those of the Church… and give everything we have … everything we do, back to God through His Bride… Our Holy Mother Church and Her good and faithful priests.

I know there are many people out there stating that their faith is in God, not in the priests or the bishops. Heck, not even in the pope.  But we must remember that without the good and holy priests throughout the ages of time, there would be no Eucharist… and without the Eucharist, there would be no hope. For all the struggles of men, God has given us His Bride… His Church, and holy priests to carry out His mission in that Church, and for any  person to deny this, is to deny the very name of Jesus as God. For as HE said over and over to His disciples… ‘No one knows the Father except through Me’…

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And then He went and built The Church upon the Rock of Peter….His first priest… His first Pope… and He built His Church upon the foundation of a man… He then poured His breath and Life upon the earth through this Holy Institution… His Bride… The Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church. If we go all the way back to the beginning, we find that those first twelve apostles…those that were ‘handpicked’ by Jesus Christ Himself, also betrayed Him. They were living in His midst…sharing meals with the Lord, and still the temptation of sin won over in some of their hearts. But we don’t discount the fact that Christ knew what He was doing when He chose them. We do not judge the other eleven over the sin of Judas, do we? No, we look at the others… and even though they had their struggles, they were able to fulfill their vocation… fulfill the mission that God lay before them.

Jesus warned them that Satan would enter the Church through the sins of man, but He also promised them… promised us... that the ‘gates of hell would not prevail against it.’ He  instituted the Holy Sacraments to aid us when we have fallen… these same sacraments are available for all Catholics who have sinned… The sacrament of penance can renew our souls. And like I mentioned before, the sacrament of the Eucharist can give our hearts Hope, restoring the peace that gets lost in chaos. As His disciples, we must trust that God’s power is still working through His Church. We must also remember that no sin is greater than His love, His mercy and His forgiveness. But we must repent. All of us. All of us must turn our hearts, our minds and our souls back to the Lord and His Truth.

In the midst of all the torment, in the midst of all the agony and ugliness of sin, let His Words give us the courage we need to hold fast to the teachings of the Lord and go forward… Trusting in God with more fervor than before.  It is not a time for mediocrity. It is a time for us to trust in the Lord and do the same.  As we go through our days, let us pray for our good and holy priests, and pray that God’s mercy may be upon us all.

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O Almighty and Eternal God, look upon the Face of Thy Christ, and for love of Him Who is the eternal High-priest, have pity on Thy priests. Remember, O most compassionate God, that they are but weak and frail human beings. Stir up in them the grace of their vocation which is in them by the imposition of the Bishop’s hands. Keep them close to Thee, lest the enemy prevail against them, so that they may never do anything in the slightest degree unworthy of their sublime vocation.

O Jesus, I pray Thee for Thy faithful and fervent priests; for Thy unfaithful and tepid priests; for Thy priests laboring at home or abroad in distant mission fields; for Thy tempted priests; for Thy lonely and desolate priests; for Thy young priests; for Thy aged priests; for Thy sick priests; for Thy dying priests; for the souls of Thy priests in Purgatory.

But above all I commend to Thee the priests dearest to me: the priest who baptized me; the priests at whose Masses I assisted and who gave me Thy Body and Blood in Holy Communion; the priests who taught and instructed or helped me and encouraged me; all the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way, particularly (your priest’s name here). O Jesus, keep them all close to Thy heart, and bless them abundantly in time and in eternity. Amen. Mary, Queen of the clergy, pray for us; obtain for us many and holy priests. Amen.

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