Showing posts from October, 2016

All Hallows' Eve and its Catholic Roots

On October 31, we celebrate the eve of All Saints. Pope Sixtus IV in 1484 established November 1, the feast of All Saints, as a holy day of obligation and gave it both a vigil (known today as "All Hallows' Eve" or "Hallowe'en") and an eight-day period or octave to celebrate the feast. By 1955, the octave of All Saints was removed.

All Hallows' Eve

Halloween or All Hallows' Eve is not a liturgical feast on the Catholic calendar, but the celebration has deep ties to the Liturgical Year. These three consecutive days — Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day — illustrate the Communion of Saints. The Church Militant (those on earth, striving to get to heaven) pray for the Church Suffering (those souls in Purgatory) especially on All Souls Day and the month of November. We also rejoice and honor the Church Triumphant (the saints, canonized and uncanonized) in heaven. We also ask the Saints to intercede for us, and for the souls in Purgatory.

Since Vat…

Seven Quick Takes: Fall

This has been a busy, but fun fall for me. Here is a photo guide to how I have been spending this fall season, when I am not writing, speaking, blogging, or ministering.

1. Riding on hay wagons with my husband:

2. Picking Apples:

3.  Walking the Trail:

4.  Making New Friends:

5.  Visiting Toy Train Museums:

6.  Enjoying beautiful works of art at our diocesan cathedral:

7. Admiring God's beauty in nature:

All photos copyright Jean M. Heimann 2016.

Have a beautiful weekend!  

God bless you!

For more Quick Takes, please visit Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum.

Sts. Simon and Jude, apostles and martyrs

October 28 is the feast of Sts. Simon and Jude, apostles and martyrs.

The name of St. Simon usually appears eleventh in the list of the apostles. The first cousin of Jesus, he was born at Cana and is surnamed "The Zealot." He preached in Egypt, Spain, and Libya, leaving behind him the fertile hills of Galilee, where he had been engaged in the healthful cultivation of the vineyards and olive gardens. He later rejoined his brother, Saint Jude, in Persia, where they preached and died as martyrs together.

He is the patron of tanners and woodcutters.

St. Jude, also called Thaddeus or "Courageous", is the author of the short epistle in the New Testament. He was the apostle who asked the Lord at the Last Supper why he had manifested himself only to the disciples and not to the whole world (John 14:22). He was the son of Cleophas and the woman named Mary who stood with the Blessed Virgin Mary at the foot of the Cross as Our Lord was redeeming the world. He is remembered as…

Blessed Bartholomew of Vicenza

By Jean M. Heimann

Blessed Bartholomew was born circa 1200 at Vicenza, Italy Vicenza in Northern Italy, and belonged to the noble family of Breganza. He received the habit of the order from Saint Dominic's own hands on occasion of the holy founder’s visit to Vicenza in 1220.

He was a very virtuous man and within a short time, he became prior of the monastery, effectively overseeing several monasteries with great wisdom and fruitfulness. Seven years later, he became Master of the Sacred Palace, an office which had been first held by Saint Dominic himself. It was during this period that Blessed Bartholomew composed his scholarly commentary on the work of Saint Denis, entitled "From the Heavenly Hierarchy.”

 In 1246, Pope Innocent IV appointed Blessed Bartholomew as Bishop of Cyprus, were he served for two years. He was then sent as Papal Legate to King Louis IX of France, who was then carrying on the Crusade against the infidels. The two saints became good friends and St. Louis…

St. Peter of Alcantra, Spanish Mystic

Today is the feast of St. Peter of Alcantra, one of the famous sixteenth century Spanish mystics. He was a Franciscan Friar who initiated one of the strictest reforms of his Order.

He was born in 1499 at Alcantara, Estremadura, Spain, the son of Peter Garavita, governor of the palace. His mother was a member of the noble family of Sanabia. Peter studied grammar and philosophy at Alcantara, and both civil and canon law at Salamanca University.

At 16, he entered the Observant Franciscans at Manxarretes (Manjaretes). At 22, he was sent to Badajoz to found a friary. He was ordained a priest at the age of 25 (1524), and preached missions in Spain and Portugal. He was a noted preacher, who preferred to preach to the poor; and his sermons, taken largely from the Prophets and Sapiential Books, reflected much empathy and tenderness. He was made superior of the province of Saint Gabriel in 1538.  As the superior, he drew up new constitutions for the order of Stricter Observance, however these …

Novena Election Prayers

The novena for the election in the United States begins on October 30 and lasts nine consecutive days. Below are the prayers.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Day 1: St. Jude, Patron of impossible causes, join us in praying for this election and these intentions: [State your intentions here.]

Day 2: St. Frances Cabrini, you who tirelessly built the Kingdom of God in America, join us in praying for this election and these intentions: [State your intentions here.]

Day 3: St. Thomas More, martyred for your uncompromising faith, join us in praying for this election and these intentions: [State your intentions here.]

Day 4: St. Jose Sanchez del Rio, martyred for your child-like, yet fearless faith in Christ the King, join us in praying for this election and these intentions: [State your intentions here.]

Day 5: St. Kateri Tekakwitha, who fled to Canada in order to freely practice your faith, join us in praying for this election and these intentions: [State your …

Novena for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

Prayer to Our Suffering Savior for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O m…

St. John of Capistrano, Victor Through Jesus

The saint of the day for October 23 is St. John of Capistrano, a great Franciscan priest, preacher, and theologian who promoted devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. He is the patron saint of chaplains, military chaplains, and judges.

John was born at Capistrano, Italy in 1385, the son of a former German knight of that city. He studied law at the University of Perugia and practiced as a lawyer in the courts of Naples. King Ladislas of Naples appointed him governor of Perugia.

During a war with a neighboring town he was betrayed and imprisoned, where he experienced a deep conversion. Upon his release, he entered the Franciscan community at Perugia. There, he began his brilliant preaching ministry, while still a deacon in 1420. Following his ordination, he traveled to many European countries and Russia, preaching penance and founding numerous Franciscan communities.

St. John of Capistrano was the student of St. Bernadine of Siena, who inspired him to promote devotion to the Holy Name of …

Feast of Pope St. John Paul II

Today, October 22, is the feast of  Pope St. John Paul II, one of the most beloved popes of all time.  He was born Karol Josef Wojtyla in Wadowice, a city 50 kilometers from Cracow, on May 18, 1920, to Karol Wojtyla and Emilia Kaczorowska. He was baptized on June 20, 1920, in the parish church of his town. He attended elementary and high school in Marcin Wadowita in Wadowice, after which, Karol enrolled in Krakow’s Jagiellonian University in 1938 and in a school for drama until 1939 when the university closed. The young Karol had to work in a quarry for four years.

In his desire to answer his call to the priestly life, he began courses in the clandestine seminary of Cracow in 1942. The seminary then was being run by Cardinal Adam Stefan Sapieha, the Archbishop of Cracow. While studying for the priesthood, Karol Wojtyla was one of the pioneers of the “Rhapsodic Theatre,” also an underground organization. The major seminary of Cracow re-opened after the Second World War and Karol conti…

St. Laura of St. Catherine of Siena

By Jean M. Heimann

October 21 is the feast of St. Laura of St. Catherine of Siena (1874-1949), a Colombian sister who founded the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of Mary Immaculate and St. Catherine of Siena in 1914. She was renowned for her work with the native Indians of Colombia, and serves as a strong role model for South American girls.

Laura Montoya Upegui was born on May 26, 1874 in Jericó, Antioquia, Colombia, the second of three children to Juan de la Crux Montoya and Dolores Upegui.  When she was only two, her father died, defending his country in the Colombian War of 1876. Consequently, the family was left in poverty after all their possessions were confiscated. Following her father's death, Laura was sent to live with her grandmother. Laura felt orphaned and alone. To help overcome her feelings of loneliness, she took refuge in Jesus. As she grew older, she was especially sustained by meditation on Sacred Scripture and the strength she received from the Eucharis…

St. Paul of the Cross: Mystic, Priest, and Founder of the Passionists

Today, October 20, is the feast of St. Paul of the Cross (1694-1775), Italian priest, mystic, and founder of the Passionist Congregation.

Paul was born in Ovada, in northern Italy as Paolo Francesco Danei, the second oldest of sixteen children, eleven of whom died in infancy. His father was from a noble family that had been reduced to poverty over the years. His parents were devout Catholics and their strong faith provided the grace they needed to accept their trials. Paul’s mother had a deep and lively faith, which she shared with her son. She often read to him, sharing the writings of the desert fathers.  Paul received his early education from a priest and was a very virtuous and pious youth, who spent much time in prayer, attended daily Mass, and visited the Blessed Sacrament, without neglecting his duties. He had a great love and devotion for Christ Crucified.

As a young man, Paul enlisted in the Army, desiring to serve Christ in the Crusades; however, he abandoned soldiering to …

Sts. John de Brébeuf and Issac Jogues and their companions

On October 19, in the dioceses of the United States, the Church celebrates the feast of Sts. John de Brébeuf and  Issac Jogues and their companions, 17th century martyrs. They were six Jesuit priests and two lay brothers who traveled from France to North America to preach the gospel to the Huron and Mohawk natives in present-day New York, Quebec, and Onatario, Canada. They endured many horrific tortures and death in order to accomplish what they had set out to do.

In 1625, St. John de Brebuf, at age 32, entered into the Huron tribe in the harsh frontier of Canada. John had tuberculosis, but the climate so agreed with him that the Hurons, surprised at his endurance, called him Echon, which meant load bearer. John was tortured and martyred in 1649. The Indians, hoping to gain the incredible strength he had, drank his blood.

St. Issac Jogues was sent to Canada in 1636, where he worked among the Mowhawks. He was taken captive by the Iroquois in 1642 and imprisoned for thirteen months, wh…

Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist

Today, October 18, is the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist. It is believed that St. Luke was born a Greek and a gentile. A physician at Antioch, and a painter, St. Luke became a convert of Saint Paul and afterwards his fellow-laborer. Luke was the writer of the Gospel and its "companion volume," the Acts of the Apostles and has been identified with St. Paul's "Luke, the beloved physician" (Colossians 4:14). Saint Luke shared the shipwreck and perils of Saint Paul's voyage to Rome, and was with him in his last days. He later died a martyr's death in Achaia. After St. John, St. Luke's writings (both his Gospel and Acts of the Apostles) are my favorite part of the New Testament.

Although Luke was not an eye witness, he was a historian who carefully researched his material and obtained details from eye witnesses. As a physician, Luke emphasizes the miracles and the merciful love of Jesus, which heals his children and welcomes all into his arms -- espec…

Saint Ignatius of Antioch

By Jean M. Heimann

St. Ignatius of Antioch ( c. 50 - c.107), whose feast we celebrate on October 17, was an early Church Father, bishop, and martyr.  Tradition tells us that he was a convert and a disciple of the Apostle Saint John. He is patron of the Church in eastern Mediterranean, the Church in North Africa and of throat diseases.

Ignatius was born in Syria during the 1st century and was surnamed Theophorus, which means “the God-Bearer.” When he became the Bishop of Antioch around the year 70, he assumed authority of a local church, which was first led by Saint Peter prior to his move to Rome. Antioch was known as “the place where the disciples of Jesus Christ were first called Christians” (St. Alphonsus Liguori in “Martyrs of the First Ages”). Ignatius served as the third Bishop of Antioch, where he led his flock for nearly forty years.

Ignatius led the Christians of Antioch during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian, the first of the emperors to declare his divinity by assum…

St. Teresa of Avila: Doctor of the Church

October 15 is the feast of St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), virgin and Doctor of the Church. She helped reform the Carmelite order and founded seventeen monasteries.

Teresa de Ahumada y Cepeda was born in Avila, Castile, Spain, on March 28, 1515.  Her family was prominent, as her father was a wealthy merchant.  Teresa was the "most beloved" among her nine brothers and sisters.  From her youth, she showed great zeal and piety, as well as courage.  However, the one trait of Teresa that stood out the most was her strong will.  When she was seven years old, St. Teresa ran away with her brother to the land occupied by the Moors in hopes of attaining the crown of martyrdom.  However, they only made it a few miles down the road.

Teresa was considered by all those around her to be exceptionally beautiful. She also had an irresistible charm, a sharp wit, a kind nature, and was lively and animated. She was extroverted and sociable. Everyone loved to be around her.  She was skilled in…

St. Callistus I: Saint of Mercy

On October 14, we commemorate St. Callistus I, who was a slave, a convict, pope, and martyr. The saint caused a major controversy, including a schism that lasted almost two decades, by choosing to emphasize God's mercy toward sinners. However, it was this enduring aspect of his leadership, as well as his martyrdom, that has confirmed his holiness.

St. Callistus (martyred c.222) was once a young slave in Rome, who got into serious trouble. He was put in charge of his master’s bank, but mishandled his money, and lost a large sum. Out of fear, he ran away, but was caught, put in chains, and was sentenced to do hard labor in the city.

Later on, he became involved in a riot in a local synagogue and was sent to the mines of Sardinia. When, at Pope Victor’s request, the emperor freed all the Christians who had been condemned to those mines, Callistus was freed, too. From that time on, things began to improve for him.

Pope St. Zephrinus (119-217) came to know and trust the freed slave. T…

Novena to Pope St. John Paul II begins today

Those of us who cherished Pope St. John Paul II knew that he was a great man, whom we not only admired, but loved. We knew that he was a saint and would one day be declared so officially by the Catholic Church. His successor wisely waived the five year waiting period for opening the cause for canonization, and just nine years after his death, on the feast of Divine Mercy in April 27, 2014, he was canonized.

The novena to Pope St. John Paul II begins today, October 13 and ends on October 21.

Novena Prayer to Pope St. John Paul II

Most holy servant of God, Pope St. John Paul II, we pray today for the youth and for World Youth Day.

We ask you to grant us your blessing from heaven! God gave you the grace of His fatherly tenderness and the spirit of His love from which we can all learn. We humbly implore you to intercede for us:

(State your intentions)

Most holy St. John Paul II, you were a witness of Jesus Christ for the whole world. You lit the world on fire with your passion for Christ …

Fatima: The Ninety-Ninth Anniversary of the Miraculous Miracle of the Sun

The Visionaries -- Jacinta, 6, Francisco, 8, and Lucia, 9
By Jean M. Heimann

On Sunday in October 13, 1917, at midday, a crowd of approximately 100,000 spectators gathered on a rainy day in a wet, soggy field to witness the miracle that was about to take place. The people had gathered there because three shepherd children had predicted that at high noon Our Lady who had appeared to them several times would perform a great miracle in a field near Fatima, Portugal called Cova da Iria.

“Silence, Silence, Our Lady is coming!” Lucia shouted out, over the din of the crowd, as she saw the bright flash of light in the sky over the holm oak tree. Everyone grew quiet; a holy hush came over the crowd as they instantly fell to their knees. It was as if there was an electrically charged current running through the crowd, as they waited in eager anticipation of the miraculous appearance of the Mother of God.

Suddenly, she appeared. Our Lady was dressed all in white with brilliant beams of bright lig…

Our Lady of the Pillar: Patroness of Spain

October 12 is the feast of Our Lady of the Pillar -- the Blessed Virgin Mary's first apparition in history. The Blessed Mother appeared to Saint James the Apostle, the brother of Saint John the Evangelist, on the bank of the river Ebro in Saragossa, Spain. Unlike every other recorded apparition, this one took place during the earthly life of the Mother of God. Our Lady of the Pillar is the patroness of Spain and all Hispanic peoples.

Seven years after the death of Jesus, St. James reportedly traveled as far west as Spain to the village of Saragossa in northeast Spain. St. James became disheartened because of the failure of his mission. Tradition tells us that on January 2, 40 A.D. while he was deep in prayer, the Blessed Mother appeared to him and gave him a small wooden statue of herself and a column of jasper wood and instructed him to build a church in her honor: "This place is to be my house, and this image and column shall be the title and altar of the temple that you s…

Feast of Pope St. John XXIII

October 11 is the feast of Pope St. John XXIII, pope from 1958-1963, best known for convening the Second Vatican Council. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 3, 2000.  His feast is assigned to the day on which the first session of Vatican II opened in 1962. His feast is not on the General Roman Calendar, but can be celebrated locally.

Born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli at Sotto il Monte, Italy on 25 November 1881; elected Pope on October 28, 1958; died June 3, 1963 in Rome; beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 3, 2000.

Angelo was the fourth child of 14, born to pious parents. His religious education was entrusted to his godfather who instigated in him a deep response to the mystery of God.

He entered the minor seminary in 1892 at the age of 11, became a Secular Francsican in 1896 and in 1901 he entered the Pontifical Roman Seminary. On being ordained in 1904 he was appointed secretary to the bishop of Bergamo and taught in the seminary.

His great friends among the sa…