Feast of Saint Luke the Evangelist – October 18th

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Saint Luke, one of the four evangelists responsible for writing the four gospels, actually  is responsible for writing not only the Gospel of Luke, but the Acts of the Apostles, as well. Having converted from his pagan ways, he used all the graces given to him by God, to share the faith with others. Saint Luke was a physician a writer, and an artist as well. There are several images that he painted of the Blessed Mother with the Child Jesus. But one of the more important images he ‘painted’ of the Blessed Mother is in the Magnificat, which is actually a beautiful prayer, and not a painting at all. It is a beautiful hymn of praise to the Lord. Most scholars agree that Luke actually spent time with the Blessed Mother, writing down the details that filled her life, beginning with the Annunciation and the days leading up to the birth of Christ.  He also vividly provides a comprehensive account of Jesus’ journey towards Jerusalem, which is read on Palm Sunday and leads the Faithful right into Holy Week. His accounts have become vital parts of the way we pray…the way we worship.

Even though St. Luke was not one of Christ’s apostles, nor one of  72 disciples,  he was a close friend of Saint Paul and remained with him through thick and thin. His Gospel writings  include six miracles and 18 parables. Because he paid special attention to the poor and downtrodden peoples of the day…his gospel is often referred to as “The Gospel of Mercy,” stressing God’s mercy in the cures that Jesus brought to the people…not only the physical cures…but the spiritual healing that He offered…and continues to offer.… to those who suffer. One such example of mercy is found in the story of the Prodigal Son, (Luke 15: 11-23) which is the tale of a Merciful Father, who welcomes back his son who was lost. Welcoming him back with open arms and an open heart. His writings stress Christ’s directive to “Be merciful as your Father is merciful.”(Luke 6:36)

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Saint Luke is a perfect example of how when we follow God, and use the gifts…the talents which He has given us.…we can accomplish great things. Because of his devotion to the Faith and his attention to detail, we not only have the details concerning the Annunciation and the Nativity, but also three beloved canticles which the Church prays every day in the Liturgy of the Hours. St. Luke, the Evangelist, pray for us.

 

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Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus – St. Margaret Mary Alacoque – Oct. 16th

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“It seems to me that our Lord’s earnest desire to have His sacred heart honored in a special way is directed toward renewing the effects of redemption in our souls. For the sacred heart is an inexhaustible fountain and its sole desire is to pour itself out into the hearts of the humble so as to free them and prepare them to lead lives according to his good pleasure.”

                               – St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

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Act of Reparation

 

Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, well known in connection with devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, led the way in making reparation to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament for the coldness and ingratitude of men.

O kind and merciful Savior, from my heart I earnestly desire to return Thee love for love. My greatest sorrow is that Thou art not loved by men, and, in particular, that my own heart is so cold, so selfish, so ungrateful. Keenly aware of my own weakness and poverty, I trust that Thy own grace will enable me to offer Thee an act of pure love. And I wish to offer Thee this act of love in reparation for the coldness and neglect that are shown to Thee in the sacrament of Thy love by Thy creatures. O Jesus, my supreme good, I love Thee, not for the sake of the reward which Thou hast promised to those who love Thee, but purely for Thyself. I love Thee above all things that can be loved, above all pleasures, and above myself and all that is not Thee, promising in the presence of heaven and earth that I will live and die purely and simply in Thy holy love, and that if to love Thee thus I must endure persecution and suffering I am completely satisfied, and I will ever say with Saint Paul: Nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God.” O Jesus, supreme master of all hearts, I love Thee, I adore Thee, I praise Thee, I thank Thee, because I am now all Thine own. Rule over me, and transform my soul into the likeness of Thyself, so that it may bless and glorify Thee forever in the abode of the saints.

Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

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“Love keeps Him there [in the Blessed Sacrament] as a victim completely and perpetually delivered over to sacrifice for the glory of the Father and for our salvation. Unite yourself with Him, then, in all that you do. Refer everything to His glory. Set up your abode in this loving Heart of Jesus and you will there find lasting peace and the strength both to bring to fruition all the good desires He inspires in you, and to avoid every deliberate fault. Place in this Heart all your sufferings and difficulties. Everything that comes from the Sacred Heart is sweet. He changes everything into love.”

– From the letter of St. Margaret Mary Alocoque

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The sacred heart of Christ is an inexhaustible fountain and its sole desire is to pour itself out into the hearts of the humble so as to free them and prepare them to lead lives according to his good pleasure.
From this divine heart three streams flow endlessly. The first is the stream of mercy for sinners; it pours into their hearts sentiments of contrition and repentance. The second is the stream of charity which helps all in need and especially aids those seeking perfection in order to find the means of surmounting their difficulties. From the third stream flow love and light for the benefit of his friends who have attained perfection; these he wishes to unit to himself so that they may share his knowledge and commandments and, in their individual ways, devote themselves wholly to advancing his glory.
This divine heart is an abyss filled with all blessings, and into the poor should submerge all their needs. It is an abyss of joy in which all of us can immerse our sorrows. It is an abyss of lowliness to counteract our foolishness, an abyss of mercy for the wretched, an abyss of love to meet our every need. – St. Margaret Mary Alocoque

Blessed Sacrament

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St. Teresa of Avila – Quotes- October 15th

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“The closer one approaches to God, the simpler one becomes.”
― St. Teresa of Avila

“This Beloved of ours is merciful and good. Besides, he so deeply longs for our love that he keeps calling us to come closer. This voice of his is so sweet that the poor soul falls apart in the face of her own inability to instantly do whatever he asks of her. And so you can see, hearing him hurts much more than not being able to hear him… For now, his voice reaches us through words spoken by good people, through listening to spiritual talks, and reading sacred literature. God calls to us in countless little ways all the time. Through illnesses and suffering and through sorrow he calls to us. Through a truth glimpsed fleetingly in a state of prayer he calls to us. No matter how halfhearted such insights may be, God rejoices whenever we learn what he is trying to teach us.”
St. Teresa of Avila- ‘Interior Castle’

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“The devil frequently fills our thoughts with great schemes, so that instead of putting our hands to what work we can do to serve our Lord, we may rest satisfied with wishing to perform impossibilities.”
St. Teresa of Avila ‘Interior Castle’

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Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary – October 7th – The Battle of Lepanto

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We have all heard the controversy that surrounds the term ‘radical Islamist terrorist’. There are many Muslims who live within the United States and defend their faith as being one of peace, but if one were to review the teachings of Muhammad, and even read the Koran, there is no doubt that his intent was to take over the world for Allah, through force, or Jihad, when necessary. They believe that there is no room for the practice of any other religious beliefs, particularly Christianity. And even though he died at the age of 60, he had already taught his followers well about conquering the world, and turning away from the lessons that other prophets before him had taught. Interestingly enough, he wasn’t widely accepted at first…Which explains why he had to teach his followers to fight so hard…it was his way of ‘convincing’ them of his ‘truth’. So regardless of what you have heard about Muhammad and his teachings, the truth is out there, and it speaks of a violence that is geared towards all who are not Muslim…which takes us back to today’s feast….Our Lady of the Rosary...

For many years Muslims had gained control over several countries, but were ultimately fought back time and time again. Then in the 1500’s the Muslim Turks threatened  Europe again. It was during this time that Michael Ghislieri, a Dominican, was chosen Pope, choosing the name Pius V. The Pope realized the great threat that faced the entire Christian civilization, as the Islamic Turks  were poised to attack Italy and take over all of Europe, which would bring to an end Christianity. He called on all of the European leaders to unite together against the Turkish invasion. But only Venice, Genoa, and Spain answered the papal call. The Christian forces were outnumbered 3 to 2. During the battle Pius V, soon realized that in order to save the Christian civilization, they would have  to have help from above, and invoked the intercession of the Blessed Mother, calling on Christians throughout Europe to pray the Rosary for victory. Then, what looked like a sure disaster suddenly changed. The winds became favorable to the Christian fleet. The Christian forces killed or captured over 70,000 Turks and took only 7,500 causalities. Over 10,000 Christian slaves were released. The victory was theirs, and Europe was saved. According to some accounts, Pope Pius V was granted a miraculous vision, that showed him the Holy League’s victory.

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The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was instituted to honor Mary for the Christian victory over the Turks at Lepanto on October 7, 1571. It was originally called “Our Lady of Victory”, because Pope Pius attributed the victory to the divine intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  In 1573, St. Pius V established the feast, and in 1716, Clement XI extended it to the Universal Church. The Rosary, or the Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is one of the best prayers invoking the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God.

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Our Lady of the Rosary, Pray for us.

 

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The Unpopular Truth About the Existence of Evil

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Las Vegas, aka ‘Sin City’

It seems that over the last couple of years, the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce has spent quite a bit of money promoting Las Vegas as the ultimate city of sin. “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas…” or so we are told, in those flashy commercials that follow ordinary people behaving in a montage of sinful behaviors. With all the glitz and dazzle , they are glamorizing sin as a marketing tool for profit…”Come visit us…you could have the time of your life….’pretend you are someone else’….and no one will ever know your secrets...” It’s quite twisted. Really twisted. But it is true. And people…good people…. spend their money traveling to Vegas to be a part of it all.

Las Vegas has billed itself as the place where anything goes…it has become a cesspool of debauchery and filth…wrapped up nice and pretty so that man cannot even recognize it for what it is…

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” – Isaiah 5:20

Our moral compasses are so skewed these days we don’t even understand the enormity of the consequences when our choices lead us into sin…into temptation…We have bargained our souls for this false ‘freedom’…This ability to choose our own good…our own ‘what is right’...all the while, denying what is the Truth.

Nothing is free. There is a hefty price to all of this…and that price is evil. It seems that it has come home to roost. It has come to rear it’s ugly head and take with it, anyone who happens to be in the way. Evil is cleaver, and oh so sneaky… it attaches itself to our souls and drags us with it. To the very pits of hell if we let it…believe me…it’s an easy ride… Just a few short decades ago, good and holy Christians wouldn’t even consider supporting a place like Vegas… there was such a stigma attached to it, that God-fearing people avoided it, like the plague.

11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. – Ephesians 5: 11-12

But not any more.

Which leads us to today… so many people are questioning the motives behind the massacre this past Sunday night that left 58 people dead and more than 500 wounded. The images are all over the internet…bodies everywhere… gunned down in such a horrific manner that most people are having a difficult time wrapping their heads around it…it makes no sense….evil never does.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Unfortunately most people have done away with the teachings about evil… and the devil. Even some Christians have gotten away from the teachings of the Bible and the reality of the devil and evil in the world. But as we read in the book of Revelations the devil is real…cast out of heaven to roam the earth here with us… images.duckduckgo.combw michael.jpg

“The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it.” –     Book of Revelation 12:9

As faithful Catholics it is precisely at times like these…when the world is spinning in turmoil, that we are called to fulfill our role as the Church Militant…those who are on earth, struggling with temptations, yet still managing to do battle as soldiers of Christ against sin and the devil. As Christians we are called to regularly do spiritual battle with sin and the forces of evil that are running rampant over the earth. God will give us everything we need…but we must rely on Him to clothe us with His armor:

Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

We must be on guard and ever watchful…avoiding the places and temptations of sin…

Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.‘ – 1 Peter 5:8

So as we pray for the dead…and for those who are struggling with their losses, let us keep our Rosaries in hand and seek the intercession of the Blessed Mother and St. Michael the Archangel to help us do battle with the evil of the devil.

 

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Becoming an Instrument of God’s Peace – The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

As the United States is caught in a violent grasp of terror, watching the reports of a senseless shooting in Las Vegas…watching the horrific images of people running and screaming…. we find ourselves wrought with fear and trepidation…Our hearts filled with anger and uncertainty…We need to pause and catch our breath…resting on the quietness of God. Then, as we remember the patron saint of Oct. 4th, St. Francis of Assisi, we need to turn our trembling  hearts to the Lord, and placing our trust in Him, we should pray…

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love;

         where there is injury, pardon;and where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light;

and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand; to be loved, as to love;

for it is in giving that we receive, it is pardoning that we are pardoned;

and it is dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

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On a day when we are faced with a violence we can’t understand…and more questions than we have answers for…..let us unite ourselves in this prayer of peace, as we mourn for those who were killed or for those who lost loved ones.  Let us also pray as we unite ourselves in prayers of thanksgiving for those who were spared…for those who made it out aliveBut, we need to remember, there is a long road of healing before them…they will need our prayers, long after the camera men are gone….They will need to be lifted up, so that they will be able to find the love of God in all of this… and not lose hope.

The world has become home to an angry giant, which will not rest until people turn away from the Truth about God and give up hope…it’s that downward spiral we often talk about...Situations like these bring out the worst in men…but they also bring out the best in them as well….Work on the side of God… And in order to do that, we must become like St. Francis and imitate the Lord with our life…with our hearts… We must unite our hearts with those saints who came before us…and offer our prayers to the Lord, so that with each and every moment of our every day…we may grow to reflect the Light of Christ to everyone we meet… in both the good times and the bad...may we become instruments of God’s peace.

 

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Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael – Sept 29th

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In the rich history of our beloved Catholic Church, September 29th has been set aside for us to remember and pay homage to the these wonderful creatures…the Archangels. We need to realize that angels are purely incorporeal, rational beings that are extensions of God Himself. They personify His grace, His majesty and His intellect. Archangels play an important role in the history of salvation. Archangels are pure created beings….they are celestial beings on a higher order than human beings. They have no bodies and do not depend on matter for their existence. And contrary to what many people think…we do not become angels when we die…If we live holy lives and make our way to Heaven, we become saints…not angels. From sacred scripture we know that these Archangels have been instrumental in advancing God’s divine plan….setting things in motion…as it were….both in Heaven and on earth. Of the archangels we know of just three: St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael.

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Saint Michael is referred to as “The Prince of the Heavenly Host”. His Hebrew name means “Who is like God?” And in the book of Revelation we find that it is in fact St. Micheal that battles the prideful angel Lucifer, and banishes him and his followers from Heaven…

War broke out in heaven;
Michael and his angels battled against the dragon.
The dragon and its angels fought back,
but they did not prevail
and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.
The huge dragon, the ancient serpent,
who is called the Devil and Satan,
who deceived the whole world,
was thrown down to earth,
and its angels were thrown down with it.- Rev 12 : 7-12

Back in 1886, after having a prophetic dream involving the devil and the world, Pope Leo XIII  created a prayer that would invoke the protection of Saint Michael … the following excerpt is copied from Our Glorious Popes published in 1955 by the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary:

Pope Leo XIII, who died in our own century, July 20, 1903 (aged 93), had a vision during his pontificate of Lucifer and his devils. He saw their fearful triumphs in all the countries of the world in the days soon to come. He beheld their evil glee and unholy mockery as they ravished the Mystical Body of Christ, stilled heavenly espousals in the hearts of maidens, muted the voices of priests and bishops, imprisoned the Popes, and silenced the song of monks and nuns in monasteries and convents grown empty of vocations.

The vision, given the Holy Father one morning after his Mass, was so beyond bearing, so overpowering in its sheer unrelieved, inexpressible evil, that it stopped the heart of Christ’s Vicar. The Pope lost consciousness. His frail body sank to the floor. The physicians who rushed to him could not, for long moments, hear the beat of his heart or feel the throb of his pulse. When they were about to pronounce him dead, he awoke, in great labor and groaning, in overwhelming pain of spirit.

He told, as much as such things lend themselves to words, what it was that he had seen. He told that when he was filled with so much terror for the world that he thought he would die of it, there appeared to him, beside the maliciously triumphant Satan, the gloriously shining Saint Michael, the Archangel.  And when he recovered, Pope Leo XIII wrote letters of warning to the bishops all over the world. He fearlessly named the enemy behind whose deceiving mask Satan looked out upon the twentieth-century world and plotted its destruction. In the encyclical letter, Humanum Genus, he instructed his bishops as to what they must teach and do, before it would be too late, in order to overcome Lucifer and his devils.

It was then that Pope Leo XIII drafted, to be added to the prayers at the end of Low Mass and said by the priests and the faithful over the whole world, the intercession to Saint Michael which is now so familiar to us all:

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

 

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Saint Gabriel’s name means “God’s strength.” He appears four times in scripture. He visits Zachariah to foretell the birth of his son, St. John the Baptist. And he is also the angel that appears to Mary announcing that she had been chosen to bear Our Lord and Savior. It is believed that he is also the angel that appears to Joseph in his dreams….convincing him to stay with Mary and then again warning Joseph to travel with Mary because of Herod. It is also believed that Gabriel is the angel that appeared to Jesus as he suffered in the garden of Gethsemane.

raphael-the-archangel-08.jpgFinally, we come to Saint Raphael, whose name means “God has healed.” He is mentioned in the book of Tobit in which he heals Tobias’ blindness. He is recognized for his healing and for and for facilitating acts of mercy. In the Gospel of John (5: 1-4), we read about an angel who descended into the pool of Bethesda… transferring to it, powers of healing, the angel is also identified as Raphael.

Today’s feast of the archangels gives us an opportunity to show the depth of  our gratitude to God for having created these heavenly spirits that encompass such great sanctity and dignity, which are extensions of God Himself... primarily to be at our service…Our very hearts would explode if we could actually comprehend the depth of God’s love for man….and out of that unfathomable love…He uses these celestial beings to aide us in our journey.

We should always remember that we are surrounded by other angels as well… namely our guardian angels, which are the special angels which have been assigned to each of us by God. They love us and do everything within God’s Will to protect us from harm. As far as angels and archangels go, we should seek their intercession as we do the Blessed Mother and the Saints… But it is important that we always remember that when we pray to the angels…we are not worshiping them...we are merely asking them to intercede for us in obtaining God’s goodness …in obtaining God’s grace… angels cannot fulfill our requests on their own….Remember….they are extensions of God…and His Will.

One final thought to add about St. Michael, as we prepare to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the apparition at Fatima…and the world seems to be quickening in it’s downward spiral towards evil…it would be most prudent for Faithful Catholics….for faithful Christians….everywhere...to memorize the Saint Michael prayer and pray it often, adding it to the end of each decade of the Rosary… seeking not only the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but also the aide of this wonderful Archangel….Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Hosts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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