Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?

Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."

To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."

As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."

10 month update

Posted by Jacob

It has been 304 days (ten months!) since I began my year of prayer and spiritual journey. As I have posted before, I could not have anticipated the response to my little blog, and am deeply grateful to all those who have send encouraging words and prayers over the last 10 months.

A few statistics

Since beginning on January 1st of this year:

Over 14,000 readers have visited the blog.

Over 500 prayer requests have been submitted by readers

Readers from over 100 countries on 6 continents have visited

Over 800 Rosaries have been constructed and sent to missionaries and members of the armed forces in need of prayer aids

Over 1/3 of those Rosaries have been constructed thanks to the donations of readers!

But I don’t think the statistics do this project justice, really. I have received so many wonderful and beautiful emails, updating me on the situations that prayers have been requested for, and creating a web-based Catholic community spanning across the globe. These quiet moments are the miracles of my experience, and I thank each of you who have participated in some way.

I get many emails inquiring as to the future of ‘365 Rosaries: a year of prayer,’ given that the calendar year is almost over. I have no specific plan at this point. I am hoping for clarity regarding how to continue. I ask that you pray for me, that I might discern the future of this spiritual journey.

As always, thanks for reading. Keep those requests, comments, and donations coming!



All Hallows' Eve

Posted by Jacob

October 31st, in popular culture, is Halloween—a secular holiday of dressing up as someone you’re not, trick-or-treating, an in the worst cases, mayhem and troublemaking. Of course, for Catholics, Halloween is really the vigil of the Solemnity of All Saints, or All Hallows’ Eve (from the British “hallowed,” indicating holiness… and who is more holy than the saints and martyrs?)

In understanding the Catholic history of All Hallows’ Eve, it is necessary to know that it was not an over-write of a pagan holiday. We read in the Martyrology of the Extraordinary Form for November 1:

The Festival of All the Saints, which Pope Boniface IV instituted in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and of the holy martyrs, after he had dedicated the temple called the Pantheon on May 13, and ordered to be celebrated annually in the City of Rome. But Gregory IV decreed later that the same festival, which was already celebrated in different ways in various Churches, should be solemnly observed on this day in the Universal Church for ever in honor of all the saints.

Of course, Halloween or All Hallows' Eve is not a liturgical feast on the Catholic calendar, but the celebration has deep ties to the Liturgical Year. We are reminded over the course of the next three days—Halloween (October 31), the feast of All Saints (November 1) and the feast of All Souls (November 2)—of the interrelatedness of the Church on earth with the saints in Heaven. That is, we are in constant communion with the saints in the following manner: The Church Militant (those of us on earth, striving to get to heaven) pray for the Church Suffering (those souls in Purgatory) and rejoice and honor the Church Triumphant (the saints, canonized and uncanonized) in heaven. During this octave, and continuing throughout the month of November, we ask the Saints to intercede for us, and for the souls in Purgatory.

All Hallows’ Eve is the preparation and combination of the two upcoming feasts of All Saints and All Souls. While we should not dwell on the mainstream macabre and fear that Halloween promotes, we are called to consider our impending death as well as those who have gone before us and remain in Purgatory. In this contemplation, we turn to the model of the saints—those that reside in heaven and intercede on our behalf. What do their lives teach us? What actions led them to their heavenly repose? How can we emulate their lives to the benefit of not only our souls, but the souls of the departed.

Have a safe and blessed All Hallows’ Eve!

October 31: Saint Wolfgang of Ratisbon

Posted by Jacob

Today, October 31, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Wolfgang or Ratisbon (924-994), missionary, priest, and bishop. Throughout his life, Saint Wolfgang worked to reform the Church and those he encountered, encouraging them to greater faith, humility, and love for the Lord.

Wolfgang was born in Swabia (Germany), the son of a nobleman. As a child, he was educated by a friendly, local priest. As he advanced in age, he was sent to the abbey of Reichenau (on Lake Constanz) to continue his education. There, he met and befriended the man who would remain his “best friend,” Henry, the younger brother of the bishop of Wurzburg. In Wurzburg, the bishop had established a school, and Henry convinced young Wolfgang to travel with him to receive the finest education of the time.

Wolfgang excelled at academics, and came to be known as the best student of the school. With Henry, who was equally devout and pious, Wolfgang remained at the school as a teacher upon completion of his formal studies. Subsequently, Henry was elevated to the position of Archbishop of Trier, and again persuaded Wolfgang to accompany him to that city to teach in the cathedral school. There, Wolfgang met Saint Rambold, a monk known for his reform and zeal for the Lord, and joined him in strengthening the faith of the congregation and community there.

Upon Henry’s death in 964, Wolfgang left Trier to become a Benedictine monk, joining the community at Einseideln. Recognized at once for his teaching prowess, Wolfgang was immediately put in charge of the abbey school, which soon earned a reputation as the best in the region.

Wolfgang took his vows and was ordained by Saint Ulric in 971. His first priestly mission was to Hungary, but yielded nothing but disappointment. However, despite the poor outcome, he was appointed as bishop of Regensburg by Emperor Otto II and Saint Rambold. While Wolfgang would have preferred to retire to a quiet monastic life, he obediently accepted the position. Contrary to the practices of the day, Wolfgang continued to dress in his monk’s robes and declined the live of riches and privilege typical of bishops at that time.

Once in place, Saint Wolfgang undertook immediate reform of the clergy, monasteries, and convents in the city. He recognized that the people, without models to look up to in their clergy and religious, would slip into less than devout worship. In reforming the monasteries and convents, he reformed the entire region! With love and vigor, he shepherded his people, preaching widely and zealously. Saint Wolfgang modeled the love of Christ, giving all he had to those in greater need. Despite his profound service to those around him, he felt drawn to the monastic life he loved, attempting on multiple occasions to become a hermit. Each time, the love and need of the people drew him back to the city. He earned the name the Great Almoner, due to his preaching, his teaching abilities, his charity, and his care for lay people in his diocese.

The religious and laity of the diocese of Regensburg came to appreciate the idealism and courage and holiness of their bishop. When he died in 994 while on a trip down the Danube, his body was brought back and enshrined in Regensburg. It quickly became a center of pilgrimage, and many miracles have been recorded at his tomb. In 1054, Pope Saint Leo IX canonized Saint Wolfgang as a model of the bishop who is ready to correct as well as direct the flock entrusted to him.

Lord, help us to follow in your footsteps just as your Apostles did, that we may be a good example to others. Grant us the graces we need to be good disciples and always lead our friends on the path to holiness. Saint Wolfgang, pray for us. Amen.

Day 304 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Lives of good example to others; Reform and renewal of the clergy.
Requested Intentions: Spiritual growth and family peace (A); Freedom to immigrate (D); End to debt (N); Restoration of a marriage (J); Complete recovery of son (P); Recovery of parish priest, health of mother, conversion of son (J); Successful employment, end to depression (J); Successful immigration and employment (S); Conversion of an unloving daughter (M); Recovery of husband, health of mother, economic freedom (R); Freedom from depression, restoration of family relationships (N); Restoration of a relationship (J); Healing of friends from cancer (J); Complete healing of a friend with pancreatic cancer (J); Recognition of God’s Will; Obedience in vocation (J); Successful employment (M&I); For a son who struggles (S); Conversion (P); For family, peace, and social justice (J); Son’s employment (K); Discernment of the Lord’s will (A); Mother’s full recovery from a stroke (K); Employment (P); For family’s prosperity and employment (M); For a husband’s addiction (F); Health in a relationship, literary representation (D); For a mother struggling with cancer (P); Employment and financial assistance (L); End to work troubles, return to health (R); For a husband’s recovery from alcoholism (M); Healing of a father following stroke (S).

October 30: Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez

Posted by Jacob

Honor is flashed off exploit, so we say;

And those strokes once that gashed flesh or galled shield
Should tongue that time now, trumpet now that field,
And, on the fighter, forge his glorious day.
On Christ they do and on the martyr may;
But be the war within, the brand we wield
Unseen, the heroic breast not outward-steeled,
Earth hears no hurtle then from fiercest fray.

Yet God (that hews mountain and continent,
Earth, all, out; who, with trickling increment,
Veins violets and tall trees makes more and more)
Could crowd career with conquest while there went
Those years and years by of world without event
That in Majorca Alfonso watched the door.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, in honor of Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez, lay brother of the Society of Jesus

Today, October 30, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez (1533-1617), great mystic, and example of profound humility. Tragedy and challenge were constants in his early life, but this holy man found happiness and contentment through simple service and prayer.

Alphonsus was born in Segovia, Spain, the son of a wealthy merchant. From childhood he was devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mar, loving her as his mother. This childlike devotion to her was the main reason for his sanctity. Following his first Holy Communion, Alphonsus began studying with the Jesuits, and expressed his desire to enter the order upon reaching the age of admission. At the acceptable time, Alphonsus traveled to Alcala, where he began his studies, but was summoned home upon his father’s unexpected death. His mother, a strong and pious woman, decided to maintain the family business, but after a short time, declared that Alphonsus would be the one to manage it. Obediently, he re-settled in Segovia, committing himself to managing the family textile business at the age of 23. He married, and with his wife, produced three children.

However, again tragedy struck, and within three years, his mother, wife, and two of his three children all died. Due his poor management, business suffered, and he was struggling to pay his employees. In light of all his loss, Alphonsus re-assessed his life and felt the call of the Lord. He sold the business, and together with his toddler son, moved into the home of his sister where he spent his days in disciplined prayer and meditation.

“In failure,” he said afterwards, “I saw the majesty of God. I recognized the wickedness of my life. I had not been concerned about God, and in that state, I was on the verge of my eternal perdition. I saw the sublime grandeur of God from the dust of my misery. I imagined myself as a second David, and the Miserere was the expression of my state of soul.”

After some years, his remaining son died, and Alphonsus was left alone. He believed these calamities must have come upon him for his sins, and he developed a great horror of sin. Saint Alphonsus asked God to let him bear even the torments of hell on earth, rather than fall into a single mortal sin. He offered himself entirely to God, for whatever He might desire of him, and he began a life of severe penance. He had already resolved, "I will never again follow my own will for the rest of my life," a motto he lived until his death.

Nearly 40, having little education, poor, and of poor health due to the tolls his rigorous and tragic life had taken on him, Alphonsus was not a typical candidate for religious life. In fact, he was unlikely to be accepted into any religious order. Nonetheless, he sought to join the Jesuits—the calling he had felt as a child and young man, and was eventually (on the third try) admitted as a lay brother to the order. First, he was expected to improve his education, which he attempted to do at the college of Barcelona. However, the work was too difficult for him. Eventually, the Jesuits provided him education, although he was taught in the classroom with the children!

Alphonsus underwent novitiate training and was sent to the Montesion college on the island of Majorca. For the next forty-five years, he served as the doorkeeper and hall porter-- a duty which involved delivering packages, seeing to the lodging of travelers, greeting guests to the college, and dispensing alms to the poor. When not greeting guests and humbly serving at the most menial post, he could be found at prayer or in silent meditation. Although he was overlooked by some, his holiness and prayerfulness attracted many others to him, including Saint Peter Claver, then a Jesuit seminarian. Local leaders would also come to the door of the college, seeking advice of the humble and holy man. He had a special gift for spiritual conversation. His superior affirmed that no spiritual treatise produced as much spiritual good as contact with that lay brother. He always responded to every request in his large correspondence. His fame spread and he became known as the Doctor of Majorca.

While we may view the life of a porter as simple and possible boring, Saint Alphonsus approached his work with holiness and joy. It was repetitious and monotonous work, demanding much humility, but Rodriguez imagined everyone who knocked at the door to be the Lord and greeted everyone with the same smile he would have given God. When the doorbell rang, he could be heard exclaiming, “Lord, I’m coming!” as he hurried to greet the arriving visitor.

Saint Alphonsus was ever obedient (once attempted to cut and eat his plate at the order of his superior), and engaged in extreme austerities and penance. He refused to sleep in a bed, instead remaining sitting in a chair at night—until ordered, at age 60, to stop this practice by his superiors. Despite his obedience, he was not spared the trial of being misunderstood and underestimated by his superiors, but he found only joy and consolation in the public reproaches he received. He wrote in his book of maxims: “In the difficulties which are placed before me, why should I not act like a donkey? When one speaks ill of him — the donkey says nothing. When he is mistreated — he says nothing. When he is forgotten — he says nothing. When no food is given him — he says nothing. When he is made to advance — he says nothing. When he is despised — he says nothing. When he is overburdened — he says nothing... The true servant of God must do likewise, and say with David: Before You I have become like a beast of burden.”

Saint Alphonsus was especially devoted to Saint Ursula, as well as the Immaculate Conception. He experienced many spiritual consolations, and he wrote religious treatises which were extremely accessible, given their simple style (but sound doctrine). He is reported to have healed the sick through his fervent prayers.

Saint Alphonsus was aware of his educational limitations, but looked to the grace of God as explanation of his ability to serve. He said, “Insofar as the consciousness of my own debility became keen in me, I felt the grandeur of the Lord.” Saint Alphonsus died following a long illness. The three nights before his death—following his last Eucharist—were spent in visionary ecstasy. His funeral was attended by Church and government leaders.

As a humble porter, Saint Alphonsus was always appreciated for his kindness and holiness; however, it was only after his death that his memoirs revealed the quality and depth of his prayer life. It was then that others learned that the humble Jesuit who had been gifted by God with remarkable mystical graces, ecstasies and visions of our Lord, our Lady and the saints.

Prayer for New Life through Death to Sin (Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez)

Though Your most holy passion and death, I beg of you, Lord, to grant to me a most holy life, and a most complete death to all my vices and passions and self-love, and to grant me sight of your holy faith, hope and charity.

O God, in the faithful service of our brother Alphonsus You have shown us the way to joy and peace. Make us ready and watchful companions of Jesus, who became the servant of all, and now lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Day 303 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Increase in vocations; Reform and renewal of the clergy.
Requested Intentions: Freedom to immigrate (D); End to debt (N); Restoration of a marriage (J); Complete recovery of son (P); Recovery of parish priest, health of mother, conversion of son (J); Successful employment, end to depression (J); Successful immigration and employment (S); Conversion of an unloving daughter (M); Recovery of husband, health of mother, economic freedom (R); Freedom from depression, restoration of family relationships (N); Restoration of a relationship (J); Healing of friends from cancer (J); Complete healing of a friend with pancreatic cancer (J); Recognition of God’s Will; Obedience in vocation (J); Successful employment (M&I); For a son who struggles (S); Conversion (P); For family, peace, and social justice (J); Son’s employment (K); Discernment of the Lord’s will (A); Mother’s full recovery from a stroke (K); Employment (P); For family’s prosperity and employment (M); For a husband’s addiction (F); Health in a relationship, literary representation (D); For a mother struggling with cancer (P); Employment and financial assistance (L); End to work troubles, return to health (R); For a husband’s recovery from alcoholism (M); Healing of a father following stroke (S).

October 29: Saint Narcissus, "the holy priest"

Posted by Jacob

Today, October 29, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Narcissus (99-215), Bishop of Jerusalem, hermit, and miracle worker. Saint Narcissus is said to have lived to the old age of 116 years, remaining true to the Lord, and serving those around him for the length of his days.

Little is known about the life of Saint Narcissus. From his youth, it is apparent that he applied himself with great care to the study of both religious and human disciplines. He entered into the ecclesiastical state, was held in high esteem, and was called “they holy priest” by many. Austere and penitent, he ministered to the people of his congregation with vitality and vigor!

Church history tells us that Narcissus became the bishop of Jerusalem in the late second century, when he was already approximately 80 years old. He was known for his holiness, but there are hints that many people found him harsh and rigid in his efforts to impose Church discipline. After he had led his congregation for some time, three of his many detractors accused him of a serious crime.

One said: "May I die by fire if it is not true!"
The second said: "May I be wasted away by leprosy if it is not true."
The third said: "May I be struck blind if it is not true."

Though the charges against him did not hold up, and few believed that he had committed the offense, Saint Narcissus came to believe that his leadership was a disservice to the community. He used the occasion to retire from his role as bishop and live in solitude as a desert hermit. His disappearance from the city of Jerusalem was so sudden and convincing that many people assumed he had died.

In his absence, several successors were appointed, each serving the city to the best of their abilities. Eventually, however, his three accusers each succumbed to the deaths they pledged in falsehood: burning, leprosy, and blindness. Hearing this, the people called for the return of “the holy priest” and after some time, he returned- older, weathered, stronger, and more zealous than previously. Saint Narcissus was persuaded to resume his duties, and despite his advanced age, served the city of Jerusalem for many years. As his age began to slow him down, he prayed in earnest for a bishop to assist him, and God sent Saint Alexander of Cappadocia. Together, the two oversaw the diocese until the death of the holy man at age 116.

Saint Narcissus is remembered for a miracle in which he turned ordinary water into oil for the Church lamps. As legend tells us, one Holy Saturday the faithful were distressed, because no oil could be found for the church lamps to be used in the Paschal vigil. Saint Narcissus bade them draw water from a neighboring well and after he blessed it, told them to put it in the lamps. It was changed into oil, and long afterwards some of this oil was still preserved at Jerusalem in memory of the miracle.

Today, in honor of Saint Narcissus, we pray for vocations, for reform in the clergy, and for zealous shepherds of the Lord in the form of priests and religious.

O God, Father of all Mercies, Provider of a bountiful Harvest, send Your Graces upon those You have called to gather the fruits of Your labor; preserve and strengthen them in their lifelong service of you.

Open the hearts of Your children that they may discern Your Holy Will; inspire in them a love and desire to surrender themselves to serving others in the name of Your son, Jesus Christ.

Teach all Your faithful to follow their respective paths in life guided by Your Divine Word and Truth. Through the intercession of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, all the Angels, and Saints, humbly hear our prayers and grant Your Church's needs, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Day 302 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Increase in vocations; Reform and renewal of the clergy.
Requested Intentions: Freedom to immigrate (D); End to debt (N); Restoration of a marriage (J); Complete recovery of son (P); Recovery of parish priest, health of mother, conversion of son (J); Successful employment, end to depression (J); Successful immigration and employment (S); Conversion of an unloving daughter (M); Recovery of husband, health of mother, economic freedom (R); Freedom from depression, restoration of family relationships (N); Restoration of a relationship (J); Healing of friends from cancer (J); Complete healing of a friend with pancreatic cancer (J); Recognition of God’s Will; Obedience in vocation (J); Successful employment (M&I); For a son who struggles (S); Conversion (P); For family, peace, and social justice (J); Son’s employment (K); Discernment of the Lord’s will (A); Mother’s full recovery from a stroke (K); Employment (P); For family’s prosperity and employment (M); For a husband’s addiction (F); Health in a relationship, literary representation (D); For a mother struggling with cancer (P); Employment and financial assistance (L); End to work troubles, return to health (R); For a husband’s recovery from alcoholism (M); Healing of a father battling cancer (S).

Saint Cyril: The Mission of the Twelve Apostles

Posted by Jacob

Below, an excerpt written by Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Doctor of the Church, regarding The Mission of the Twelve Apostles. Read on the feast of Saints Simon and Jude, we are reminded of the gift of grace and holiness bestowed not only on the apostles by the Lord—but on each of us. Regardless of what we have done, we are saved by the grace of God.

Our Lord Jesus Christ has appointed certain men to be guides and teachers of the world and stewards of his divine mysteries. Now he bids them to shine out like lamps and to cast out their light not only over the land of the Jews but over every country under the sun and over people scattered in all directions and settled in distant lands. That man has spoken truly who said: No one takes honor upon himself, except the one who is called by God, for it was our Lord Jesus Christ who called his own disciples before all others to a most glorious apostolate. These holy men became the pillar and mainstay of the truth, and Jesus said that he was sending them just as the Father had sent him.

By these words he is making clear the dignity of the apostolate and the incomparable glory of the power given to them, but he is also, it would seem, giving them a hint about the methods they are to adopt in their apostolic mission. For if Christ thought it necessary to send out his intimate disciples in this fashion, just as the Father had sent him, then surely it was necessary that they whose mission was to be patterned on that of Jesus should see exactly why the Father had sent the Son. And so Christ interpreted the character of his mission to us in a variety of ways. Once he said: I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance. And then at another time he said: I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. For God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

Accordingly, in affirming that they are sent by him just as he was sent by the Father, Christ sums up in a few words the approach they themselves should take to their ministry. From what he said they would gather that it was their vocation to call sinners to repentance, to heal those who were sick whether in body or spirit, to seek in all their dealings never to do their own will but the will of him who sent them, and as far as possible to save the world by their teaching.

Surely it is in all these respects that we find his holy disciples striving to excel. To ascertain this is no great labor, a single reading of the Acts of the Apostles or of Saint Paul’s writings is enough.

The Epistle of Saint Jude: A Call to Perseverance!

Posted by Jacob

Today we celebrate the feast day of Saint Jude, the author of the Epistle of Jude (usually referred to simply as Jude)-- the penultimate book of the New Testament. In his brief encyclical letter, written after the death of his brother Saint James, bishop of Jerusalem, Saint Jude has left us a powerful call to perseverance. Addressed at the time of writing to the new Christians being tempted by false brethren and heretics, these words hold true today!

1Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James,

To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ:

2Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.

3Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. 4For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

5Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord[c] delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. 6And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. 7In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

8In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. 9But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" 10Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them.

11Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion.

12These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.

14Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him." 16These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

17But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires." 19These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

20But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

22Be merciful to those who doubt; 23snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

24To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

October 28: Feast of Saints Simon and Jude

Posted by Jacob

Today, October 28, we celebrate the feast day of two saints: Saint Jude (Thaddeus) and Saint Simon the Zealot, discples of Christ, who are listed together in the Roman Canon. Ancient Christian writers tell us that following Pentecost, together they traveled to Mesopotamia and Persia, where they preached the Gospel and were eventually martyred. In actual fact, we know very little about this holy men beyond what is told us of their being called as Apostles in the New Testament.

Saint Simon is usually called "the Zealot" (Luke 6:15), probably because he belonged to the Jewish party of the "Zealous of the Law,” and rigorously observed the law. Saint Jude, also known as Judas (not to be confused with Judas Iscariot) or Thaddeus (as described in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark), is mentioned only as one of the 12 disciples of Jesus. Little is mentioned of him elsewhere in the New Testament, although like Simon, we can assume the great gift of holiness poured out on this faithful disciple of Christ. We know, however, that he was the brother of Saint James the Lesser.

12One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. (Luke 6: 12-16)

Saint Simon is represented in art with a saw, the instrument of his martyrdom. Saint Jude is traditionally pictured with a builder’s square, identifying him as an architect of the house of God. In the Gospel of Saint John we learn another detail regarding Saint Jude:

22Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?"

23Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. (John 14:22-24)

Bolstered by the words of Jesus, following the Ascension, Saints Simon and Jude left the comfort and safety of their secure environment to go out into the world and to preach the gospel, converting many hearts. As simple farmers, they appeared to be the least likely candidates to be called to perform such a great task for the Lord. However, the Lord chooses the least among us to do great things—but only through the incalculable grace He lavishes upon us.

Ancient writers tell us that both Saints Jude and Simon preached the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Idumaea, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Lybia. According to Eusebius, they returned to Jerusalem in the year 62, and assisted at the election of Saint Simeon as Bishop of Jerusalem. Both are recorded as martyred in Persia sometime after 70 AD.

you revealed yourself to us
through the preaching of your apostles Simon and Jude.
By their prayers,
give your Church continued growth
and increase the number of those who believe in you.
Grant 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.

On the Lives of Saints Simon and Jude, From the Golden Legend:

Here followeth of the Holy Apostles Simon and Jude, and first of their names.

Simon is as much to say as obedient, or being in heaviness. And he had a double name; he was said Simon Zelotes, and Simon Cananean of Cana a street that is in Galilee, there whereas our Lord converted the water into wine. And Zelotes is as much to say as Cananean. This holy man had in him obedience of the commandments by execution, heaviness by pity of torment, and had love of souls by firm ardour of love. Judas is as much to say as confessing or glorious; or Judas is as much to say as giving joy. For he had confession of faith, glory of reign, and glory of the everlasting joy. This Judas was called by many names. He was said Judas James, for he was brother to James the Less, and he was called Thaddeus, which is as much to say as taking a prince; or Thadee is said of Thadea, that is a vesture, and of Deus, that is God, for he was vesture royal of God by ornament of virtues, by which he took Christ the prince. He is said also in the History Ecclesiastic, Lebbæus, which is as much to say as heart, or worshipper of heart. Or he is said Lebbæus of lebes, that is a vessel of heart by great hardiness, or a worshipper of heart by purity, a vessel by plenitude of grace, for he deserved to be a vessel of virtues and a caldron of grace. And Abdias, bishop of Babylon, by the apostles ordained, wrote their passion and legend in Greek, and Tropæus the disciple of Abdias translated it out of Greek into Latin. And he was named Africanus.

Of the Holy Saint Simon and Saint Jude

Simon Cananean and Judas Thaddeus were brethren of James the Less and sons of Mary Cleophas, which was married to Alpheus. And Jude was sent of Thomas to the king Abgarus of Edessa after the ascension of our Lord. And it is read in the History Scholastic that the said Abgarus sent an epistle unto our Lord Jesu Christ in this manner. Abgarus the son of Euchania to Jesus, blessed Saviour, which appeareth in the places of Jerusalem, sendeth salutation. I have heard of thee, and that the healths and recoverings that thou makest and dost, be without medicines and herbs, and that thou makest the blind to see by thine only word, and the lame to go, the mesels to be cured and made whole, and the dead bodies to live again. Which things heard of thee, I ween in my courage that thou art one of two, that is that thou art God that art descended from heaven for to do this, or that thou art the son of God that dost such things. Wherefore I pray thee by writing that thou wilt travail so much as to come to me and heal me of my malady, of which I have long been vexed. And I have heard say that the Jews murmur against thee and lie in await against thee. Come therefore to me, for I have a little city, but it is honest, and shall shall well suffice to us both. Our Lord Jesus answered him by writing in these words: Blessed art thou that hast believed in me when thou hast not seen me. It is written of me, that they that see me not shall believe in me, and they that see me shall not believe. Of that thou hast written to me that I shall come to thee, me behoveth to accomplish that which I am sent for, and after to be received of him from whom I am sent. When I am ascended, I shall send to thee one of my disciples to heal thee and quicken thee. This is written in Historia Ecclesiastica. And when Abgarus saw that he might not see God presently, after that it is said in an ancient history, as John Damascene witnesseth in his fourth book, he sent a painter unto Jesu Christ for to figure the image of our Lord, to the end that at least that he might see him by his image, whom he might not see in his visage. And when the painter came, because of the great splendour and light that shone in the visage of our Lord Jesu Christ, he could not behold it, ne could not counterfeit it by no figure. And when our Lord saw this thing he took from the painter a linen cloth and set it upon his visage, and emprinted the very phisiognomy of his visage therein, and sent it unto the king Abgarus which so much desired it.

And in the same history is contained how this image was figured. It was well-eyed, well-browed, a long visage or cheer, and inclined, which is a sign of maturity or ripe sadness. That epistle of our Lord Jesu Christ is of such virtue, that in the city of Edessa no heretic ne no paynim may live therein, ne none tyrant may grieve it. For if any people come against that city by force of arms, a child shall stand upon the gate, and shall read that epistle, and that same day either the enemies shall flee and be afraid, or they shall make peace with them of the town. And as is said: This hath been done. But this city hath been sith taken of the Saracens and touched in such wise, that for the multiplying of sins this benefit is lost.

Also it is read in the History Ecclesiastic that when our Lord was ascended into heaven, Thomas the apostle sent Thaddeus, that was Jude, unto the king Abgarus according to the promise of our Lord. And when he was come to him, and had told to him that he was messenger of our Lord Jesu Christ, which had promised to send him one, then Abgarus saw in the visage of Thaddeus a marvellous and godly brightness. And when he had seen it he was all abashed and afeared, and worshipped our Lord saying: Verily, thou art the disciple of Jesu Christ, Son of God, which sent to me word that he would send to me some one of his disciples that should heal me and give to me life. To whom Thaddeus said: If thou believest in the Son of God thou shalt have all the desires of thine heart. And Abgarus said: I believe on him, verily, and those Jews that slew him, I would gladly slay them if it were possible to me, and had power, howbeit that the authority letteth it. And as it is read in some places and books, that Abgarus was leper, and Thaddeus took the epistle of our Saviour, and rubbed and frotted therewith the visage of Abgarus, and anon he received full health.

Judas preached first in Mesopotamia and in Pontus, and Simon preached in Egypt, and from thence came they into Persia, and found there two enchanters, Zaroes and Arphaxat, whom Saint Matthew had driven out of Ethiopia. And found there also Baradach, a duke of the kings of Babylon, which should go in battle against them of India, and could have none answer of his gods. And then they went to a temp]e nigh to the city, and there they had answer that because that the apostles that were come they might not answer. Then the duke did enquire for them, and found them, and demanded them wherefore they were come, and what they were. Which answered: If thou demand of our lineage, we be Hebrews, and if thou demand of our condition, we be servants of Jesu Christ, and if thou demand wherefore we be come, we be for your health. To whom the duke answered: When I shall return joyously from the battle I shall hear you. To whom the apostles said: It is more convenable to thee to know him now, by whom thou mayst overcome and appease them that be rebel to thee. And the duke answered: I see you more mighty than our gods; I pray you to say to us tofore the end of the battle. And the apostles said: Because that thou knowest thy gods to be liars, we command them that they give answer to that thou demandest, because that when they have we shall prove that they have lied. Then the idols said that the battle should be great, and much people should be overthrown on both sides. And then the apostles began to laugh and the duke said to them: I am afeard and ye laugh. And the apostles said: Doubt ye nothing, for peace shall be made among you, and tomorn at the hour of tierce the messengers of the Medes shall come, and shall submit them to thy puissance with peace. And then the bishops of the idols made a great laughter, and said to the duke: These men here would assure thee here, to the end that thou shouldst believe foolishly, and that thou shouldst be betaken of thine adversaries. And the apostles said: We say not abide a month, but one day only, and thou shalt be vanquisher all in peace. Then the duke made to be kept that one and that other, that they that said the truth should be honoured, and the liars punished. Then on the morn, like as the apostles had said, it happed, and then the duke would have burnt the bishops of the idols, but the apostles letted him that he should not slay them, for they were not come for to slay but for to quicken the dead. And then the duke much marvelled that they would not that they should be slain ne receive none of their goods, and brought them to the king and said: These be gods hid in form of men. And when he had told all to him in the presence of his enchanters, the enchanters, being moved of envy, said that they were malicious and wicked men, and purposed some malice against the realm subtly. Then the duke said to them: Now if ye dare, assay ye and dispute with them. And the enchanters said: If thou wilt, thou shalt see that they shall not now speak. We being present, make men to come hither that be eloquent and can well speak. And if they dare speak tofore us despise ye us, and say we be fools. And then were brought tofore them many advocates, and anon they were made dumb tofore the enchanters, so that by signs they might not show that they might not speak. Then said the enchanters to the king: To the end that thou know that we be gods, we shall suffer them to speak, but they shall not mow go, and then we shall give to them their going and shall take away their sight, and yet shall their eyes be open. And when they had done all these things, the duke brought the advocates all confused unto the apostles, and when the advocates saw the apostles so evil clothed, they had of them great despite in their courage. To whom Simon said: Ofttimes it happeth that among coffers of gold wrought with precious stones be right evil things enclosed, and within coffers of tree be laid gold rings and precious stones. Promise ye that ye will forsake the idols and will worship one only God invisible, and we shall make the sign of the cross in your foreheads, and ye shall then mow confound these enchanters. And when these advocates had renounced the idols and were marked in the foreheads with the sign of the cross, they entered again to the king tofore the enchanters. Then might they not be overcome of the enchanters, but confounded them openly before the king and all the people. The enchanters were then angry, and made to come a great multitude of serpents. Then the apostles came anon by the commandment of the king, and filled their mantles with the serpents, and threw them against the enchanters, saying: Move ye not in the name of our Lord Jesu Christ but be ye to-torn and beaten, so that ye cry and bray in showing what sorrow and pain ye suffer. And then when the serpents bit and eat the flesh of the enchanters, they cried and howled like wolves, and the king and the others prayed the apostles that they would suffer them to die with the serpents. And the apostles answered that they were sent for to bring men from death to life, and not from life to death. Then made they their prayers and commanded the serpents that they should take from them again the venom that they had shed, and return again to the places that they came from. And the enchanters felt greater pain when they drew out their venom again, than they did the first time when they bit them. And the apostles said to them: Ye shall feel this pain three days, and at the third day ye shall be whole, so that ye depart from your malice. And when they had been tormented three days without meat and drink and without sleep, the apostles came to them and said: God deigneth not to have service by force, and therefore arise ye all whole and go your way, ye have power to do what ye will. And they, abiding in their malice, arose up and fled from the apostles and moved almost against them all Babylon.

After, the daughter of a duke conceived a son by fornication, and at her deliverance thereof she defamed an holy deacon, and said that he had defouled her and she had conceived of him. And when the friends of her would have slain the deacon, the apostles came and demanded when the child had been born. And they said: Yesterday, the first hour of the day. And the apostles said: Bring hither the child to us, and also the deacon that ye accuse. And when that was done, the apostles said to the child: Say to us in the name of our Lord if this deacon hath done this deed, and the child answered: This deacon is chaste and an holy man, ne he never defouled his flesh. And then the parents and friends required that the apostle should demand who had done that felony. They answered: It appertaineth to us for to excuse the innocents, and not betray ne hurt them that be culpable. That time it happed that two cruel tigers, which were enclosed in a pit, brake out and devoured all them that they met and encountered, and then the apostles came to them and made them as meek and debonair, in the name of our Lord, as they had been sheep or lambs. And then the apostles would have departed thence, but they were holden by prayers so that they abode there a year and three months, and in that espace of time the king and more than sixty thousand men were baptized, without children. And the foresaid enchanters went into a city called Suamar, whereas were seventy bishops of idols, whom they moved against the apostles, so that when they came thither, either they should do sacrifice to the idols or they should be slain. And when the apostles had gone round about the province, they came to said city, and anon all the bishops and the people took them and brought them to the temple of the sun. And the devils began to cry in the simulachres: What will these apostles of the living God do to us? Lo! how we be burnt by flames in their entering into this city. And then the angel of our Lord appeared unto the apostles, and said to them: Choose ye of two things that one, that is, either that this people be suddenly dead or slain, or that ye be martyred. To whom they said: We will that thou convert them here, and lead us to the pain of martyrdom. And they then commanded silence, and the apostles said: Because that ye shall know that these idols be full of devils, we comnmand them for to come out, and that each of them break and destroy his false image. And anon two Ethiopians, black and naked, issued out of the idols, all the people seeing which were abashed, and all tobrake their idols, and went their way, crying cruelly. And when the bishops saw this, they ran upon the apostles and hewed them to death anon. And that same hour, which was right fair weather, came so great thunder and lightning that the temple was smitten in three, and the two enchanters were turned into coals by the stroke of thunder. And the king bare the bodies of the apostles into his city, and did do make a church of marvellous greatness in the honour of them. And it is founden in divers places, of Saint Simon, that he was nailed to the cross, which thing Isidore saith in the book of the Death of the Apostles, and Eusebius in the History Ecclesiastic, and Bede upon the Acts of the Apostles, and Master John Beleth in his Summa witnesseth the same. And as they say, when he had preached in Egypt, he came again and was made bishop in Jerusalem after the death of James the Less, and was chosen of the court of the apostles, and it is said that he raised thirty dead men to life. When he had governed the church of Jerusalem many years, unto the time of Trajan the emperor, in the time that Atticus was consul in Jerusalem, of whom he was taken and tormented and done to much wrong. And at the last he was tormented and fixed to the cross, and the judge and all they that were there marvelled that the man which was six score years old might suffer the torment of the cross. And some say verily that it was not this Simon that suffered the martyrdom of the cross, but it was another, the son of Cleophas, brother of Joseph, and Eusebius, bishop of Cæsarea, witnesseth it in his chronicle. For Isidore and Eusebius corrected their chronicles of that they said tofore, which appeareth by Bede, that when he felt this he revoked it in his retractions. And the same witnesseth Usuard in his Martyrology. Then let us devoutly pray these apostles to be our special advocates unto our blessed Lord Jesu Christ their master, to have pity and mercy on us. Amen.

Day 301 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Simple faith and great service to the Lord.
Requested Intentions: Complete recovery of son (P); Recovery of parish priest, health of mother, conversion of son (J); Successful employment, end to depression (J); Successful immigration and employment (S); Conversion of an unloving daughter (M); Recovery of husband, health of mother, economic freedom (R); Freedom from depression, restoration of family relationships (N); Restoration of a relationship (J); Healing of friends from cancer (J); Complete healing of a friend with pancreatic cancer (J); Recognition of God’s Will; Obedience in vocation (J); Successful employment (M&I); For a son who struggles (S); Conversion (P); For family, peace, and social justice (J); Son’s employment (K); Discernment of the Lord’s will (A); Mother’s full recovery from a stroke (K); Employment (P); For family’s prosperity and employment (M); For a husband’s addiction (F); Health in a relationship, literary representation (D); For a mother struggling with cancer (P); Employment and financial assistance (L); End to work troubles, return to health (R); For a husband’s recovery from alcoholism (M); Healing of a father battling cancer (S).