"To be actively pro-life is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of the common good. It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop." ~ Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, n.101
Everything is grace, everything is the direct effect of our Father's love.Everything is grace because everything is God's gift.Whatever be the character of life or its unexpected events -- to the heart that loves, all is well.
"Thank you Jean, you are a beautiful soldier for the cause. I appreciate your superb work. Keep it up!"
Amazing Catechists and Catholic Mom Puppet Show Ministry
" I’m amazed at your blog. I can barely get out one post a day and sometimes you have a few (and I now know how much work it takes to do that). You do a great job! "
Michelle, Unborn Word of the Day
"When I read your blog, I just want to comment on everything, your insights are just so on-key!" Leticia, Causa Nostrae Laetitiae and Cause of Our Joy.
"I enjoy your blog every day. It is the best Catholic blog out there. Thank you so much for all the work you put into it!"
Ellen Gable, author, "Emily's Hope"
"I love the zeal Jean puts into her posts, especially when it comes to the prolife movement." Esther, A Catholic Mom in Hawaii.
"Jean of Catholic Fire...provides so much informative content. She posts about pro-life issues and events, what happened 'on this day', biographies of saints, prayer intentions, and lots more each day. No matter what she's posting about, I can always come away each day feeling uplifted...and that's saying a lot for me, as I'm someone who often tries to avoid thinking about some of the political and other issues that she posts about. It must be her strong faith and trust in God, as well as her love, shining through her posts, that inspire me." Margaret Mary Myers , Reflections, Catholic BVI Readers, VIP Homeschooler.
Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, priest and martyr, and companions, martyrs.
There are 117 martyrs in this group and although they died at different times, they were all canonized by Pope John Paul II on June 19, 1988. Of the group, 96 were Vietnamese, 11 were Spaniards, and 10 were French. There were 8 bishops, 50 priests and 59 lay Catholics in the group. Of the priests, 11 were Dominicans, 10 belonged to the Paris Mission Society, and the rest were diocesan priests plus one seminarian. Certain individual martyrs were mentioned by name in the process of canonization: Andrew Dung-Lac, a diocesan priest; Thomas Tran-Van-Thien, a seminarian; Emmanuel Le-Van-Pung, father of a family; the Dominican bishops Jerome Hermosilla and Valentine Berrio-Ochoa; and John Theophane Venard. ~Excerpted from Saints of the Roman Calendar by Enzo Lodi
St. Andrew Dung-Lac's name was originally Dung An Trân, and he was born about 1795 in a poor and pagan family in Bac-Ninh in North Vietnam. When he was twelve the family had to move to Hà-Nôi (Hanoi) where his parents could find work. There he met a catechist and got food and shelter from him. He also got education in the Christian faith for three years, and was baptized in Vinh-Tri with the Christian name Andrew (Andrew Dung). After learning Chinese and Latin he became a catechist, and thereafter taught catechism in the country. He was chosen to study theology, and on March 15, 1823 he was ordained a priest. As parish priest in Ke-Dâm he was tireless in his preaching. He often fasted and lived a simple and moral life, he was a good example for the people, and many were baptized. In 1835 he was imprisoned under emperor Minh-Mang's persecutions (he was called Vietnam's emperor Nero), but his freedom was purchased by donations from members of the congregation he served. To avoid persecutions he changed his name to Lac (Andrew Lac) and moved to another prefecture to continue his work. But on November 10, 1839 he was again arrested, this time with Peter Thi, another Vietnamese priest whom he was visiting so that he might go to confession.
Once again Andrew was liberated, along with Peter Thi, in exchange for money. Their freedom was brief. They were soon re-arrested and taken to Hanoi, where both suffered dreadful torture. Finally they both were beheaded December 21, 1839.
Happy Sunday! Meet Jasmine Marie, aka Jazzy, who supervises all my work, whether it be cooking or writing, she is right there beside me.
Welcome to Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival! We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other. Be sure to visit RAnn at This, That and the Other Thing to check out the great posts from other bloggers participating in Sunday Snippets this week.
Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Cecilia, virgin and martyr. St. Cecilia, patroness of musicians, is one of the most famous and most venerated of Roman martyrs.
It is believed that St. Cecilia was born in the 2nd or 3rd century A.D., although the dates of her birth and martyrdom are unknown.
Tradition tells us that Cecilia was a Roman girl of a patrician family who had been brought up as a Christian. She fasted often and wore a coarse garment beneath her rich clothing. Although she had consecrated her virginity to God, her father betrothed her to a young pagan named Valerian.
When the wedding day arrived, Cecilia sat apart from her guests, repeating psalms and praying. After the ceremony, when the guests had departed and she was alone with her husband, Cecilia made known her great desire to remain a virgin, saying that she already had a lover, an angel of God who was very jealous. Valerian, shaken by fear, anger, and suspicion, said to her: “Show me this angel. If he is of God, I shall refrain, as you wish, but if he is a human lover, you both must die.” Cecilia answered, “If you believe in the one true and living God and receive the water of baptism, then you shall see the angel.” Valerian assented and following his wife’s directions sought out a bishop named Urban, who was in hiding among the tombs of the martyrs, for this was a time for persecutions. Valerian made his profession of faith and the bishop baptized him.
When the young husband returned, he found an angel with flaming wings standing beside Cecilia. The angel placed chaplets of roses and lilies on their heads. The brother of Valerian, Tiburtius, was also converted, and after being baptized he too experienced many marvels.
Valerian and Tiburtius devoted themselves to good works on behalf of the Christian community, and they made it their special duty to give proper burial to those who were put to death. The two brothers were themselves soon sentenced to death for refusing to sacrifice to Jupiter. Maximus, a Roman officer charged with their execution, was converted by a vision that he saw in the hour of their death. After professing Christianity, he, too, was martyred.
The three were buried by the grieving Cecilia. Soon after, she was sentenced to death. The prefect tried to reason with her, but she remained strong in her faith. Consequently, he gave an order that she was to be suffocated in her own bathroom. Surviving this attempt on her life, a soldier was sent to behead her. He struck her neck three times, then left her lying, still alive, for it was against the law to strike a fourth time. She lingered on for three days, during which the Christians who remained in Rome flocked to her house. In dying she bequeathed all her goods to the poor, and her house to the bishop for a place of Christian worship. She was buried in the crypt of the Caecilii at the Catacomb of St. Callistus. St. Cecilia's body was found to be incorrupt in the Catacombs of Saint Callistus. Her body was later moved to St Cecilia in Trastevere.
She is praised as the most perfect model of the Christian woman because of her virginity and the martyrdom which she suffered for love of Christ.
At her wedding banquet, while the pipes were playing, St. Cecilia sang to the Lord, asking that her heart might remain immaculate, that she not be put to shame. This inspired early composers to write elaborate music for the antiphon used on her feast day, and St. Cecilia became the special patron of musicians. For this reason, she is usually shown at the organ, although a harp or lute may be used. Sometimes she wears a wreath of white and red roses.
Cecilia, lend to me thy melody most sweet:
How many souls would I convert to Jesus now.
I fain would die, like thee, to win them to His feet;
For him give all my tears, my blood. Oh, help me thou!
Pray for me that I gain, on this our pilgrim way
Perfect abandonment that sweetest fruit of love.
Saint of my heart! Oh, soon, bring me to endless day;
Obtain that I may fly, with thee, to heaven above!
On November 25, we celebrate the memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria (292 - 310), virgin and martyr.
Catherine was beautiful, brilliant, and extremely wealthy at the age of eighteen when she debated the Emperor Maximin (311-313) and harshly criticized him for his persecution of Christians who refused to worship pagan gods. Astounded by her wisdom, Maximin ordered her to be kept confined, and summoned fifty of his most learned philosophers, promising them great rewards if they could get Catherine to abandon her Christian faith. However, her arguments were so convincing that all fifty of the philosophers were converted to Christianity. Outraged by this, Maximin ordered all of them to be burned alive.
Then the Emperor attempted to win Catherine by flattery and by promises, but his efforts proved equally fruitless. Next, he had her thrown into a dungeon, without food and water. He ordered her whipped with rods, scourged with leaden nodules, and then left to languish eleven days without food in prison.
In the Emperor's absence, his wife and Porphyrius, general of the army, visited Catherine in prison and both were converted to Christianity. Porphyrius then converted 200 soldiers. When the Emperor returned, he had them all executed, including his wife, and offered to make Catherine his new wife.When she refused, he designed a new means of torture.
Catherine's next torture consisted of being placed upon a wheel with sharp and pointed knives, which was designed to tear her body into pieces, but when she was bound to it, a heavenly fire destroyed it. Finally, on November 25, Catherine was beheaded. By the hands of angels her body was carried to Mt. Sinai, where it was interred in the convent which bears her name.
Ranked with St. Margaret of Antioch and St. Barbara as one of the fourteen most helpful saints in heaven, (that group of saints notable for answering prayers especially for cures from disease and at the hour of death) she was unceasingly praised by preachers and sung by poets. In several dioceses in France, her feast day was observed as a Holy Day of obligation up to the beginning of the seventeenth century. Saint Catherine became the patroness of young maidens and female students. Looked upon as the holiest and most illustrious of the virgins of Christ, it was but natural that she, of all others, should be worthy to watch over the virgins of the cloister and the young women of the world.
Her feast on Nov. 25 falls immediately before the beginning of Advent during which no weddings could take place during the Middle Ages and for years afterward. So it was a custom for unmarried women of that time to pray to St. Catherine saying,
“A husband, Saint Catherine,
A good one, Saint Catherine,
A handsome one, Saint Catherine,
A rich one, Saint Catherine –
And soon, Saint Catherine!
Patronage: Apologists; craftsmen who work with a wheel (potters; spinners; etc.); archivists; attorneys; barristers; dying people; educators; girls; jurists; knife grinders; knife sharpeners; lawyers; librarians; libraries; mechanics; millers; nurses; philosophers; potters; preachers; scholars; schoolchildren; scribes; secretaries; spinners; spinsters; stenographers; students; tanners; teachers; theologians; single women; wheelwrights.
Symbols: Wheel set with sharp knives; broken wheel; sword; crown at her feet; hailstones; bridal veil and ring; dove; scourge; book; spiked wheel; woman strapped to the spiked wheel on which she was martyred; woman arguing with pagan philosophers.
A Prayer to Saint Catherine of Alexandria
Glorious Saint Catherine, virgin and martyr, help me to imitate your love of purity. Give me strength and courage in fighting off the temptations of the world and evil desires.
Help me to love God with my whole heart and serve Him faithfully.
O Saint Catherine, through your glorious martyrdom for the love of Christ, help me to be loyal to my faith and my God as long as I live.
Advent is only one week away! Are you ready? Have you purchased your Advent Magnificat Companion? Starting today and running through next Thursday-Thanksgiving Day- I will be running a drawing for a giveaway of three electronic Magnificats for use on your computer, cell phone,or Ipad. To enter, just send your name and address to email@example.com with the subject title Advent Magnificat Companion. Winners will be notified on Friday, November 28.
A perfect way to live Advent to the full this year.
This Companion features original meditations on the Gospel reading of each day by nineteen gifted authors.
Each issue of the Advent Companion is never the same as the last and contains these one-of-a-kind extras that you won’t find anywhere else:
- a variety of beautiful blessings and essays
- an Advent Penance Service
- specially-commissioned poetry
- a unique feature: the Advent Stations
Today, November 21, is the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrates the fact that the parents of Our Lady brought her to the Temple and handed her over to live there for a long period as a virgin consecrated to the Temple, contemplating God exclusively. Also known as the Dedication of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the feast originated in the East, where it is called the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos Into the Temple.
History of the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Protoevangelium of James (7-8), and the writing entitled "De nativit. Mariae" (7-8), state that Joachim and Anna, faithful to a vow they had made, presented the child Mary in the Temple when she was three years old; that the child herself mounted the Temple steps, and that she made her vow of virginity on this occasion. St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Germanus of Constantinople adopt this report; it is also followed by pseudo-Gregory of Nazianzus in his "Christus patiens". Moreover, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation, though it does not specify at what age the child Mary was presented in the Temple, when she made her vow of virginity, and what were the special natural and supernatural gifts with which God endowed her. The feast is mentioned for the first time in a document of Manuel Commenus, in 1166; from Constantinople the feast must have been introduced into the western Church, where we find it at the papal court at Avignon in 1371; about a century later, Pope Sixtus IV introduced the Office of the Presentation, and in 1585 Pope Sixtus V extended the Feast of the Presentation to the whole Church.
~ Catholic Encyclopedia
Saint Quote for the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
"There never was, and never will be, an offering on the part of a creature greater or more perfect than that which Mary made to God when, at the age of three, she presented herself in the Temple. She offered him not aromatic spices, nor calves, nor gold, but her entire self, consecrating herself as a perpetual victim in his honor."
~ St. Alphonsus Liguori
As we venerate the glorious memory of the most holy Virgin Mary, grant, we pray, O Lord, through her intercession, that we, too, may merit to receive from the fullness of your grace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
"The call to holiness is not just for bishops, priests or religious ... No. We are all called to become saints! So often, we are tempted to think that holiness is granted only to those who have the opportunity to break away from the ordinary tasks, to devote themselves to prayer. But it is not so! Some people think that holiness is closing your eyes and putting on a pious face... No! That is not holiness! Holiness is something greater, more profound that God gifts us. Indeed, it is by living with love and offering Christian witness in our daily tasks that we are called to become saints."
The saint of the day for November 20 is St. Bernward, who was the thirteenth Bishop of Hildesheim, Germany. He was also an architect, painter, sculptor, and metal smith. Born in 1022, he came from a noble Saxon family. His grandfather was Athelbero, Count Palatine of Saxony. Having lost his parents at a young age, he was entrusted to the care of his uncle, Bishop Volkmar of Utrecht. He was educated at the cathedral school at Heidelberg, where he made rapid progress in Christian piety as well as in the sciences and in the liberal and mechanical arts. He became very proficient in mathematics, painting, architecture, and primarily in the manufacture of ecclesiastical vessels and ornaments of silver and gold.
He completed his studies at Mainz, where he was ordained as a priest by Archbishop Willigis, Chancellor of the Empire (975-1011). In 987, he was appointed as chaplain of the imperial court, and was shortly afterwards selected by the Empress-Regent Theophano to tutor her six-year-old son, Otto III. The youthful emperor is known to have been an erudite and religious prince due to the diligent work of his tutor.
Bernward remained at the imperial court until 993, when he was chosen to be Bishop of Hildesheim. He became a wise, gifted, and enthusiastic pastor who remained bishop for nearly thirty years. He organized a system of deaneries for the diocese, held an annual synod, and is known to have built castles to use as defenses against the invading Danes or Slavs. With his own hands, he made gold and silver vessels for the altars. Under his direction, numerous churches were built. Attesting to his skill as a painter and metal worker, there are still preserved in Hildesheim his works which include: a cross of rich and exquisite workmanship, known as the "Bernward Cross", the famous Bernward column, with winding reliefs representing scenes from the life of Christ, two bronze doors of the Cathedral of Hildesheim, showing Scriptural scenes, and two candlesticks symbolic of Christ, the light of the world.
A man of extraordinary piety, he was much given to prayer and the practice of mortification. Around 1020, he retired to a Benedictine monastery to spend his remaining days in prayer. He died in 1022 and was canonized by Pope Celestine III in 1193. St. Bernward is the patron of goldsmiths, architects, painters, and sculptors.
The Vatican is currently sponsoring (November 17 - 19) an international and interreligious colloquium on the complementarity of man and woman, entitled Humanum, which includes leaders and scholars from many religions across the globe, to examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society.
The organizers have released six extraordinary videos on marriage. Filmed around the world and containing interviews with people like Fr. Robert Barron, Dr. Peter Kreeft, and N.T. Wright, the short films evocatively display timeless truths about men, women, and the family’s role in humanity.
The videos can be found on YouTube and are useful tools to those involved in the marriage and family ministry. They are just beautiful!
O Immaculate Virgin Mary,
Mother of Our Lord Jesus and our Mother,
penetrated with the most lively confidence in your all-powerful and never-failing intercession, manifested so often through the Miraculous Medal,
we your loving and trustful children implore you to obtain for us the graces and favors we ask during this novena,
if they be beneficial to our immortal souls,
and the souls for whom we pray.
(Here mention your petition)
You know, O Mary, how often our souls have been the sanctuaries of your Son who hates iniquity.
Obtain for us then a deep hatred of sin and that purity of heart which will attach us to God alone so that our every thought, word and deed may tend to His greater glory.
Obtain for us also a spirit of prayer and self-denial that we may recover by penance what we have lost by sin and at length attain to that blessed abode where you are the Queen of angels and of men.
November 19, is the feast of Saint Agnes of Assisi (Catarina di Favarone) according to the Franciscan calendar. She is the younger of sister of Saint Clare of Assisi, and Abbess of the Poor Ladies of Assisi, and co-foundress of the Poor Clares.
Born in Assisi, Catarina was the youngest daughter of Count Favorino Scifi and Countess Hortulana (now Blessed). Catarina was later named Agnes by St. Francis of Assisi when she became a nun. Catarina was a beautiful girl who was gentle, prayerful, and kind.
On March 18, 1212, Clare renounced her inheritance and family and founded the Poor Clares, the Franciscan cloistered Order. Catarina joined her sixteen days later at the Benedictine cloister of St. Angelo in Panso, where they received their initial training. Her father, Count Favorino, sent knights to carry her away. They tried to drag her out of the monastery, kicking and striking her, but all of a sudden her body became so heavy that several of the men could not budge it. Her uncle Monaldo tried to strike her but was temporarily paralyzed. The knights then left Agnes and Clare in peace.
Catarina was accepted by St. Francis, who gave her the name Agnes after of St. Agnes of Rome and placed her at San Damiano with Clare. She and Clare were soon joined by other noblewomen of Assisi, and there Agnes achieved perfection as a religious at a young age.
Agnes was eventually named abbess, and in 1219, was sent by St. Francis to direct the Poor Clares at Monticelli, near Florence. Agnes wrote a letter to Clare, and this surviving document clearly demonstrates her love of poverty and her loyalty to Clare's ideals. Agnes also established Poor Clares in Mantua, Padua, and Venice. In 1253, she was summoned to Clare's deathbed and assisted at her funeral.
Agnes died three months after the death of Clare, on November 16, 1253, at the monastery of San Damiano of natural causes at the age of 56, Her mother, Hortulana, and a younger sister, Beatrice, had already died, and Agnes was buried near them in the Church of Santa Chiara in Assisi, Italy.
“I come, O Lord, unto Thy sanctuary to see the life and food of my soul. As I hope in Thee, O Lord, inspire me with that confidence which brings me to Thy holy mountain. Permit me, Divine Jesus, to come closer to Thee, that my whole soul may do homage to the greatness of Thy majesty; that my heart, with its tenderest affections, may acknowledge Thine infinite love; that my memory may dwell on the admirable mysteries here renewed every day, and that the sacrifice of my whole being may accompany Thine.”
~St. Agnes of Assisi
Father of mercies,
St Agnes did not hesitate to suffer for love of you.
Grant that we too may be willing to share
whatever comes our way,
and always seek your will.
We make our prayer through Christ our Lord .
The beauty of marriage between man and woman and its importance transcends divisions and beliefs.
That's what several participants of the Humanum conference have seen on its first day.
SR. PRUDENCE ALLEN
Religious Sisters of Mercy (USA)
"There are a few people, many people in this interfaith dynamic at the conference which is incredible where you can see the witness to marriage and the beauty and power of marriage in all the different religious traditions. How it's good, it's true, it's unifying, it's one, it's beautiful.”
In his address, Cardinal Müller explained that the complementarity of man and woman is important both in human relationships and in the relationship with God.
CARD. GERHARD MÜLLER
Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith
"Their union reveals how each one are a mutual help to walk towards the Creator, God, who is beginning and end of the world and of mankind.”
Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, was there as the Jewish representative. He stressed that marriage between man and woman should be supported by all institutions because it is not only a religious issue. It is a union that strengthens society.
Former Chief Rabbi (England)
"And those children who, through no fault of their own, have grown up through fractured families will be disadvantaged in every way. And I think it is a crying scandal and needs somebody to stand up for the children who are the victims of this strange desertion of marriage. What I wanted to point out in my speech is that marriage is not simply a religious institution. Though it is the religious communities who seem to have stayed faithful to it rather more than secular society as a whole.”
The goal of the conference, which is being held at the Vatican, is to highlight that marriage between man and woman is tied to the fate of humanity and that it is crucial to protect for future generations.
"There is a second call" [to] "those who live by appearances, Christians of appearances." "Appearances are these Christians shroud: they are dead." [And the Lord] "calls them to conversion".
"Am I one of these Christians of appearances? Am I alive inside, do I have a spiritual life? Do I hear the Holy Spirit, do I listen to the Holy Spirit, do I move forward, or ...? But, if everything looks good, I have nothing to reproach myself about: I have a good family, people do not gossip about me, I have everything I need, I married in church ...I am 'in the grace of God', I am alright. Appearances! Christians of appearance ... they are dead! Instead [we must] seek something alive within ourselves, and with memory and vigilance, reinvigorate this so we can move forward. Convert: from appearances to reality. From being neither hot nor cold to fervor".
~ Pope Francis in his homily on conversion at Mass at Santa Marta on November 18, 2014.