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."

June 30: The First Martyrs of Rome

Posted by Jacob

Today, June 30, we celebrate the feast of the First Martyrs of Rome (died 64-68), brave and courageous Christians who suffered for their faith. Following the Ascension of Christ, the disciples had preached the Gospel, spreading throughout the region. Some, as we have read, settled in Rome, where they continued to convert and baptize in the name of Jesus. This was most unsettling to the Emperor, as it led to conflict between the majority of Rome’s citizens—Jews—and the new Christians.

In approximately 49 A.D., the historian Suetonius recorded that that Christians were expelled from Rome by the Emperor Claudius, due to disturbances that he attributed to Christ. However, it appears likely that after the Emperor’s death, the Christian citizens of Rome returned, only to be persecuted in a much crueler and vindictive manner by Emperor Nero.

In July of 64 A.D., a large fire broke out in Rome, destroying nearly half of the city. The fire was blamed on the Emperor, who is said to have wanted to enlarge his palace. Nero quickly blamed the Christians, who he accused of “hatred of the human race” and likened to modern-day terrorists. As a result, public outcry was minimal when Nero ordered thousands to be put to death— some were covered with the skins of animals and thrown to wild dogs to be torn apart; others were crucified and at sunset were covered in oil and used as human torches to light the path of the Emperor’s chariot. Saints Peter and Paul were among those martyred. Needless to say, eventually the good people of Rome took offense to Nero’s rampant persecution of Christians, and following a revolt by the military, he took his own life in 68 A.D.

The Roman historian Tacitus tells the story of the first Martyrs of Rome:

"Yet no human effort, no princely largess nor offerings to the gods could make that infamous rumor disappear that Nero had somehow ordered the fire. Therefore, in order to abolish that rumor, Nero falsely accused and executed with the most exquisite punishments those people called Christians, who were infamous for their abominations. The originator of the name, Christ, was executed as a criminal by the procurator Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius; and though repressed, this destructive superstition erupted again, not only through Judea, which was the origin of this evil, but also through the city of Rome, to which all that is horrible and shameful floods together and is celebrated. Therefore, first those were seized who admitted their faith, and then, using the information they provided, a vast multitude were convicted, not so much for the crime of burning the city, but for hatred of the human race. And perishing they were additionally made into sports: they were killed by dogs by having the hides of beasts attached to them, or they were nailed to crosses or set aflame, and, when the daylight passed away, they were used as nighttime lamps. Nero gave his own gardens for this spectacle and performed a Circus game, in the habit of a charioteer mixing with the plebs or driving about the racecourse. Even though they were clearly guilty and merited being made the most recent example of the consequences of crime, people began to pity these sufferers, because they were consumed not for the public good but on account of the fierceness of one man."

Years later, Pope Clement I, the third successor of Saint Peter, wrote in his encyclical:

“But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes. Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the Church] have been persecuted and put to death. Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labors and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.

To these men who spent their lives in the practice of holiness, there is to be added a great multitude of the elect, who, having through envy endured many indignities and tortures, furnished. us with a most excellent example. Through envy, those women, the Danaids and Dircae, being persecuted, after they had suffered terrible and unspeakable torments, finished the course of their faith with steadfastness, and though weak in body, received a noble reward. Envy has alienated wives from their husbands, and changed that saying of our father Adam, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh." Envy and strife have overthrown great cities and rooted up mighty nations.

These things, beloved, we write unto you, not merely to admonish you of your duty, but also to remind ourselves. For we are struggling on the same arena, and the same conflict is assigned to both of us. Wherefore let us give up vain and fruitless cares, and approach to the glorious and venerable rule of our holy calling. Let us attend to what is good, pleasing, and acceptable in the sight of Him who formed us. Let us look steadfastly to the blood of Christ, and see how precious that blood is to God, which, having been shed for our salvation, has set the grace of repentance before the whole world.”

The lives of the First Martyrs of Rome remind us that we are called to serve the Lord, regardless of the earthly situations we find ourselves in. We are precious to Him, as Pope Clement I wrote, and through our lives, works, and actions, we must demonstrate to the world how precious the Lord is to us.
Father, you sanctified the Church of Rome with the blood of its first martyrs. May we find strength from their courage and rejoice in their triumph. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

June 30: Blessed Raymond Lull

Posted by Jacob

Today, June 30, we celebrate the feast day of Blessed Raymond Lull (1235-1315), “Doctor Illuminatus” (“The Enlightened Doctor”), poet, philosopher, theologian, and missionary. Raymond gave up a life of luxury, serving in the royal courts of the time, and instead devoted himself to writing and missionary work in Northern Africa. There, he was seized and stoned to death, giving his life for his faith.

Raymond was born into the noble Lull family at Palma, on the island of Mallorca. At an early age, he was selected as a page at the royal court, and over the first 30 years of his life served the royal family in a variety of positions, eventually becoming the marshal and high steward to King James.

Raymond lived a life of luxury and worldly pursuits. He was married, and produced two children with his wife, although also had numerous affairs and engaged in dissolute activities. One day, while writing a letter to one of the women he was seeing, Raymond was stricken with a vision of Christ, crucified on the cross. Five additional visions followed, and he was brought to the faith, converting, and dedicating himself to the Gospel. Soon thereafter, following a moving sermon by a local bishop who spoke about the contempt of the world and the love of Christ, Raymond answered the call of the Lord to forsake all things and to win for Christ the infidels on the northern coast of Africa.

Raymond wasted little time. He resigned his royal offices, and dedicated himself to the education and care of missionaries. He founded a college for the Order of the Friars Minor, and devoted himself to the mastery of, and instruction of others in, the languages of Northern Africa. He became a member of the Third Order of Saint Francis, and embarked on a nine year mission of solitude and contemplation on a remote mountain, spending his days in prayer and study, hoping to prepare himself for inspire mission work. During that time, he was graced with heavenly inspiration and extraordinary knowledge, and was subsequently able to answer deeply complex philosophical and theological questions.

Following his time in solitude, Raymond traveled extensively—to Rome, Avingon, Montpellier, Paris, and throughout Europe—spreading the Gospel, founding seminaries, and establishing schools for missionaries. At the age of 79, he journey on mission to Africa, as had been his calling. While preaching the faith in a public square at Bougie, he was set upon by radical Muslims in the community, who stoned him nearly to death. Rescued by Greek sailors, he died shortly thereafter, en route to his home island of Mallorca. He was buried in the Franciscan church at Palma, and numerous miracles were reported at his tomb.

Blessed Raymond Lull wrote over 300 works in Latin, Arabic, and Catalan during his life, on a multitude of topics including theology, logic, philosophy, poetry, fiction, alchemy, and natural sciences. While his works were mostly academic in nature, he also strove to make difficult concepts accessible to all, illustrating points through fiction, as evidenced in the excerpt below. Here, Raymond illustrates the “perfect relationship between law and morals and their judgment” via a conversation between Evast and his Son, Blanquerna (from “Blanquerna” by Blessed Raymond Lull):

“By the grace of the Divine illumination, Evast bethought him of the time when he desired to enter an order2 of religion, and he sought to prove this son Blanquerna, and to discover if he could rule himself and the house in such a way as to serve and please God, that himself and Aloma his wife might severally enter religious orders, and leave the world and forsake their temporal possessions. While Evast considered thus, Blanquerna his son returned from the school.

Now Blanquerna was a gentle youth, comely and pleasant to look upon, and he had reached the age of eighteen years, being ever obedient to his parents, of right good habits and gentle upbringing.

“Fair son!” said Evast. “I would have thee answer me this question: Near to this city there stands a castle, at the entrance to a great wood. It chanced that a huntsman went into the wood to hunt deer and wild goats and such like beasts, as was his wont. And with an arrow he wounded a stag, but all that day he could neither lay hands upon it nor find a trace of it. Now as the hunter returned to the city he met a traveler who bore in his hand an arrow. And the hunter enquired of the traveler whence he had that arrow. The traveler answered that he had found it in a dead stag which he had sold to a butcher. And there arose a dispute betwixt the two as to which of them should have the price of the stag; for the hunter said that it was he that had killed it, and that if he had not wounded it the other would not have found it dead. The traveler said that fortune had given it to him, and that the hunter had already despaired of finding the stag, for he was returning to the city. Each of them (said Evast) brought forth many and great arguments the one against the other. Now I would fain know, son Blanquerna, what thy judgment would be, as to which of these two had the right to receive the price of the stag, or if it should be divided between them.”

Blessed Raymond's illustrated
"Tree of Virtue and Vice"
Blanquerna answered his father Evast, and said: “My lord and father! Thou knowest well that occasion is more powerful than fortune,3 because in occasion is the final intention whereby the stag was wounded and killed, and fortune has no intention either of itself or in its action upon another. And since by fortune the traveler found the stag, but by occasion it was killed, and the occasion lay with him that killed it, therefore, according to right and justice, to preserve the superiority that occasion has over fortune, the stag must be adjudged to the hunter; for, were it adjudged to the other, an injustice would be done to occasion, and fortune would be honoured in a fashion that befits it not. For the which reason I adjudge the price of the stag upon every ground to the hunter, provided that he can first prove the arrow to be his, for it might be that the arrow was that of another huntsman who killed the stag, and not of him who said that he had killed it.”

Then Evast asked his son if it were just that the stag should be returned to the huntsman, or the price which he had received for it.

Blanquerna answered and said that the butcher by right and justice should have the stag, for he had bought it according to the usages of his trade, believing it to belong to the seller. And since the traveler had sold it in the belief that the price should be his, an injustice would therefore be done to the butcher if the gain which he would receive from the stag should be taken from him. And ill-seeming would it be if the traveler should receive injury in place of thanks, the which thing would follow if he gave satisfaction to the butcher together with the price of the stag and returned the stag to the hunter; for the which cause it was right and just that to the hunter should belong the price of the stag alone.

Blessed Raymond's figure of the
"Attributes of God"
Evast said further to Blanquerna: “Tell me, my son, if the hunter is obliged to give the other aught of the price of the stag.”

“My lord and father!” said Blanquerna, “Two kinds of law in general are there in the world, from the which proceed all the categories of law in the particular; the one kind is according to God, and the other according to the world. The manner of law that is ordained and disposed according to the law of God is more subtle and the occasion of more scruples than that which is of the world. Wherefore by this distinction between the two rules aforesaid, I may know that, according to the nobler right, the hunter is constrained to give to the traveler somewhat in consideration of his labour and in respect of charity, fraternity and conscience, and furthermore, of good breeding and courtesy, and against avarice, injury and envy. But that the huntsman freely, and of his own will, may have the virtues aforesaid, giving to the traveler some part of the price of the stag, it is ordained by divine ordinance and temporal justice that the huntsman by temporal law be not constrained to give any part of the price to the traveler; for, were he so constrained, there would follow none of the freedom which pertains to merit, whereby man may have the virtues aforesaid, nor would temporal law be set below divine; in the which case God would have abased the nobler law to magnify the less noble, which is a thing ill-beseeming and to be rejected by all reason.”

Evast said to Blanquerna: “Tell me further, my son, if the hunter, by giving naught to the traveler, commits sin for which he merits the pains of hell.”

Blanquerna answered: “There is a difference, my lord and father, between sin mortal and venial; and if the traveler had any right to a part of the price of the stag, the ordaining of the two kinds of law aforementioned would be contrary to justice and to God, and this is a thing impossible; by the which impossibility I may understand and know that the hunter commits no mortal sin if he give naught to the traveler. But since he will use therein no courtesy nor charity, as is fitting, to mortify the conscience, therefore he commits venial sin, whereby he merits not everlasting damnation, yet merits less of eternal glory.”

All these questions, and many more which it would take over long time to relate, did Evast put to Blanquerna his son, and Blanquerna replied right perfectly to them all, answering them with effective argument. “

O God, who didst adorn Blessed Raymond, Thy martyr, with zeal for the salvation of souls and the spread of the Gospel, grant us, Thy servants, that through his intercession and mediation we may faithfully preserve unto death which we have received in Thy grace. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Year 2: Day 182 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Knowledge of our faith; Desire for truth.
Requested Intentions: For a family experiencing a difficult child custody case (M); Reunification of a family struggling with separation (M): For a son struggling with mental illness (M); Successful examination results (B); To be freed from the chains of sin (J); Admission to a good university (M); For successful surgery (T); For a mother’s mental health and for kindness and forgiveness, for housing problems, for dental health (T); For the soul of a departed friend (X); Restoration of health (D); Successful employment for couple (N); For employment for children (K); For health of friend, for successful relationships for children, for safe pregnancy for daughter (C); For the health of a mother (J); Virtue for daughter (V); Successful acceptance to college for nephew (M); For the health of a cousin (T); Freedom from legal difficulties for husband (S); Husband’s freedom from illness (L).

June 29: The Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

Posted by Jacob

Today, June 29, we celebrate the Feast of Saint Peter and Paul, foundations of the Church, and martyrs for the faith. Instrumental in the formation and propagation of the faith, both Peter and Paul worked tirelessly after the crucifixion to continue spreading the Good News of Christ. While the Scriptures do not record the deaths of Peter or Paul, from an early date it has been said that they were martyred in Rome at the command of Emperor Nero, and buried there. As a Roman citizen, Paul was beheaded with a sword, whereas Peter was sentenced to crucifixion. However, proclaiming that he was not “worthy” of the same death that Christ endured, Peter was crucified with his head pointed downward.

Saint Augustine wrote of these holy men: “Both apostles share the same feast day, for these two were one; and even though they suffered on different days, they were as one. Peter went first, and Paul followed. And so we celebrate this day made holy for us by the apostles' blood. Let us embrace what they believed, their life, their labors, their sufferings, their preaching, and their confession of faith.”

Almighty God, whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified you by their martyrdom: Grant that your Church, instructed by their teaching and example, and knit together in unity by your Spirit, may ever stand firm upon the one foundation, which is Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint Peter (1-64), disciple of Christ, first Pope, and “rock” of the Church., was born Simeon, but renamed by Christ to reflect his special role in the formation of the Church. He later confirmed his “new” name, and endowed him with the powers of the keys of heaven:

16Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
17Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter [translated as “the rock”], and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16: 16-19)

Jesus also specifically charged Saint Peter with the task of shepherding His flock as first Vicar of the Church. In Saint Peter and his successors, we have a visible sign of unity and communion in faith and charity:

15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?"
"Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."
16Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?"
He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."
17 The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my sheep. (John 21: 15-17)

Peter was born in Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee. Like his younger brother Andrew, he was a professional fisherman and dwelt at Capernaum, where Jesus would stay, performing miracles, whenever he was preaching in that area. Following the miraculous catch of fish that Christ used to make them “fishers of men,” together with his brothers John and Andrew, Peter felt the call to become the first of Jesus' disciples.

Following his encounter with Jesus, Peter’s life changed dramatically. We know that he left his wife, family, and job to follow Christ. He served as the leader of the disciples, especially following the crucifixion, but beforehand as well. Peter occupied a privileged station as spokesperson for the group, as well as selection to be present at the Transfiguration and the Agony in the Garden. Somewhat quick to anger and temperamental, Peter’s words and deeds sometimes got him into trouble, but also set the stage for his thrice-over denial of Jesus, a lesson which led to great humility and prepared him for his position as Pope.

After the Ascension of Christ, we know that Peter took a leading role, embracing the office of shepherd that had been entrusted to him. He delivered the first sermon on Pentecost, during the descent of the Holy Spirit, and confirmed the first Gentiles into the Church:

42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name." (Acts 10: 42-43)

But much of Saint Peter’s life is lost to history. We know that he was present at the Council of Jerusalem (where he gave support to preaching to the Gentiles, leading to the universality of the Church), became the first bishop of Antioch, received and visited with saint Paul, and labored in Rome as an apostle. He is responsible for appointed the replacement of Judas Iscariot, and was the first to perform miracles in the name of the Lord. He further wrote two epistles, the first Papal Encyclicals of the Church.

16We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."18We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. (2 Peter 1: 16-18)

Saint Peter was imprisoned by King Herod Agrippa, and was miraculously freed by an angel. Rather than turn from his apostolic mission, he returned to Jerusalem, traveled teaching the Good News, and returned to Rome (where he labored for 25 years, building the Church of God). He was crucified by Emperor Nero on Vatican Hill, and his relics are now enshrined under the high alter of Saint Peter’s Basilica. From the earliest days of the Church, Peter was recognized as the Prince of the Apostles and the first Supreme Pontiff. His see, Rome, has thus enjoyed the position of primacy over the entire Catholic Church.

O Glorious Saint Peter, because of your vibrant and generous faith, sincere humility and flaming love our Lord honored you with singular privileges and especially leadership of the whole Church. Obtain for us the grace of a living faith, a sincere loyalty to the Church, acceptance of all her teaching, and obedience to all her precepts. Let us thus enjoy an undisturbed peace on earth and everlasting happiness in heaven. Amen.

Saint Paul (10-67), was born in Tarsus, and was educated as a Jewish Talmudic student. He worked as a tentmaker, and actively persecuted the Church for years until receiving a divine message from the Lord on the road to Damascus. Following his conversion, Saint Paul went on to become the most prolific writer and preacher of the early Church, traveling throughout the Middle East and Asia Minor, converting many. Selected to bring Christ's name to all peoples, he is the greatest missionary of all time, the advocate of pagans, the Apostle of the Gentiles.

“This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.” (Acts 9: 15b)

I have written about the life, conversion, and martyrdom of Saint Paul previously, on the feast of his conversion (see here).

Glorious St. Paul,
Most zealous Apostle,
Martyr for the love of Christ,
Give us a deep faith,
A steadfast hope,
A burning love for our Lord;
So that we can proclaim with you,
“It is no longer I who live, but Christ
who lives in me.”
Help us to become apostles
Serving the Church with a pure heart,
Witnesses to her truth and beauty
Amidst the darkness of our days.
With you we praise God our Father:
“To Him be the glory, in the Church
and in Christ, now and forever.”

The lives of Saint Peter and Saint Paul take us back to a time of great uncertainty and growth in the Church. These holy men—each in their own way—committed wholeheartedly to the Word of God, building the Church and spreading the Gospel, often at great peril to themselves. They were true to the Lord, steadfast, obedient, and courageous. The tireless work of Saint Peter in Rome led to the unification and universality of the papacy. The writings and preaching of Saint Paul serve as a template and instructional guide for living the Christian life. We look to their lives and works as foundation of the Church, and pray for their intercession that we, too, may contribute to the growth and expansion of the one, true, holy and apostolic Catholic Church on earth.

Year 2: Day 180 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Zeal for the Lord; True conversion; Courage and steadfastness.
Requested Intentions: For a family experiencing a difficult child custody case (M); Reunification of a family struggling with separation (M): For a son struggling with mental illness (M); Successful examination results (B); To be freed from the chains of sin (J); Admission to a good university (M); For successful surgery (T); For a mother’s mental health and for kindness and forgiveness, for housing problems, for dental health (T); For the soul of a departed friend (X); Restoration of health (D); Successful employment for couple (N); For employment for children (K); For health of friend, for successful relationships for children, for safe pregnancy for daughter (C); For the health of a mother (J); Virtue for daughter (V); Successful acceptance to college for nephew (M); For the health of a cousin (T); Freedom from legal difficulties for husband (S); Husband’s freedom from illness (L).

June 28: Saint Vincenza Gerosa

Posted by Jacob

Today, June 28, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Vincenza Gerosa (1784-1847), Virgin of the Church, and co-foundress of the Sisters of Charity.

Saint Vincenza was born Catherine Gerosa in Lovere, Italy. Orphaned as a youth, Catherine was eventually adopted by a wealthy family of shopkeepers. Despite her family’s wealth, Catherine grew up shy and reserved, ever focused on aiding those in need, specifically the poor and abandoned. She dressed modestly, and spent her time away from working at the family shop in prayer and at daily Mass.

Catherine was sent by her parents to be educated by the Benedictine Sisters of Gandino. However, she soon fell ill, and her poor health prevented her from continuing her studies. Having returned to Lovere, where her mother, father, and dear sister died in rapid succession. Catherine was left alone to manage the family business, suffering the losses of her family by offering them to Christ. She prayed constantly to accept the will of the Lord in her life, and used her family’s money to provide charitable works in the community. Catherine became involved in her Church parish, organizing a women’s oratory with meetings and retreats. She founded a practical school to teach the poor girls of the community domestic work so as to improve their station in life.

In her teachings, Catherine encountered Bartolomea Capitanio, and together they embarked on a new mission: to found a hospital to care for those who could not afford medical care. This they did, and extended their mission to establishing a special religious institute with the objectives of providing assistance to the sick, free education for girls, Christian orphanages, and programs designed to promote youth welfare. To accomplish this mission, together they founded the Sisters of Charity in 1824. At that time, Catherine took the name Vincenza. Together they wrote ‘the Foundation Document” which forms the basis of the Rule of Life for the Order: “The Institute which will be founded in Lovere is be totally founded on charity and this must be its principle aim…should have as its aim the education of poor young girls…devote itself to the relief of the sick..”

Only nine short years later, Bartolomea died, leaving Vincenza to manage and expand the order. The Order of the Sisters of Charity was approved by Pope Gregory XVI in 1840, and quickly spread throughout Italy, and later to India and other countries. Vincenza continued overseeing the order until her death in 1847. Her body is venerated at the Chapel of the Sisters of Charity in Lovere.

Today, on the feast of Saint Vincenza, we pray for the spirit of charity and love to fill us, and pour forth to those in our own communities in desperate need.

Prayer for Charity

O my Jesus, Thou who art very Love,
enkindle in my heart that Divine Fire
which consumes the Saints and transforms them into Thee.

O Lord our God,
we offer Thee our hearts
united in the strongest and most sincere love of brotherhood;
we pray that Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament
may be the daily food of our souls and bodies;
that Jesus may be established as the center of our affections,
even as He was for Mary and Joseph.

Finally, O Lord, may sin never disturb our union on earth;
and may we be eternally united in heaven with Thee
and Mary and Joseph and with all Thy Saints.

Saint Vincenza Gerosa, pray for us!

Year 2: Day 179 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Separation from earthly desires; Steadfast conviction; Focus on the Lord alone.
Requested Intentions: For a family experiencing a difficult child custody case (M); Reunification of a family struggling with separation (M): For a son struggling with mental illness (M); Successful examination results (B); To be freed from the chains of sin (J); Admission to a good university (M); For successful surgery (T); For a mother’s mental health and for kindness and forgiveness, for housing problems, for dental health (T); For the soul of a departed friend (X); Restoration of health (D); Successful employment for couple (N); For employment for children (K); For health of friend, for successful relationships for children, for safe pregnancy for daughter (C); For the health of a mother (J); Virtue for daughter (V); Successful acceptance to college for nephew (M); For the health of a cousin (T); Freedom from legal difficulties for husband (S); Husband’s freedom from illness (L).

June 27: Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Posted by Jacob

Today, June 27, we celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, also known as Our Lady of Perpetual Succor, and the Madonna di San Matteo. We are reminded that Our Blessed Mother constantly intercedes for us with Jesus, Our Lord—in our times of struggle, pain, and difficulty.

Mother of Perpetual Help, you have been blessed and favored by God. You became not only the Mother of the Redeemer but the Mother of the redeemed as well. We come to you today as your loving children. Watch over us and take care of us. As you held the child Jesus in your loving arms, so take us in your arms. Be a mother ready at every moment to help us. For God who is mighty has done great things for you, and His mercy is from age to age on those who love Him. Our greatest fear is that in time of temptation, we may fail to call out to you, and become lost children. Intercede for us, dear Mother, in obtaining pardon for our sins, love for Jesus, final perseverance, and the grace always to call upon you, Mother of Perpetual Help.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help is a title and devotion given to Our Blessed Mother, following an association with a Byzantine painting originating as early as the 13th century. Since that time, this golden image has inspired Catholics to pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary for intercession with her beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

The painting, as interpreted by art historians and theologians, represents a message of salvation and reparation: “You can come to me.” The icon, possibly painted in Crete by an unknown artist, depicts Our Blessed Mother, holding the infant Christ. To her right is the Archangel Michael, carrying the lance and sponge of the crucifixion. On her left is the Archangel Gabriel carrying the cross and nails used in the crucifixion. Also known as the Theotokos of the Passion, the icon suggests that Christ, even as an infant, knew of His passion and death, and is seeking the comfort of his mother.

The origins and early history of the painting are lost to record, but in the fifteenth century, the icon was first venerated at the Church of San Matteo. Prior to that, history suggests that the painting was stolen in Crete, and brought to Italy by a pious merchant, who eventually (possibly following an apparition of the Blessed Mother to his daughter) bequeathed the painting to the church, which was served for a time by the Hermits of Saint Augustine. The picture remained in the church for nearly three hundred years.

In 1812 the French invaded Rome and destroyed the church. The picture disappeared. Between 1863 and 1865 it was discovered in an oratory of the Augustinian Fathers at Santa Maria in Posterula. Under the direction of Pope Pius XI, the original icon was displayed for public veneration under the care of the Redemptorist Fathers at the Church of Saint Alphonsus (built on the original site of the destroyed Church of San Matteo), where it remains today.

O MOTHER of Perpetual Help,
Grant that I may ever invoke
Your most powerful name,
Which is the safeguard of the living
And the salvation of the dying.

O purest Mary!
O sweetest Mary!
Let your name henceforth
Be ever on my lips.

Delay not, O Blessed Lady, To succor me
Whenever I call on you.

In all my temptations,
In all my needs,
I will never cease
To call on you
Ever repeating
Your sacred name,
Mary, Mary!

Oh, what consolations,
What sweetness,
What confidence,
What emotion fills my soul
When I utter your sacred name,
Or even only think of you!

I thank the Lord
For having given you,
For my good,
So sweet, so powerful,
So lovely a name.

But I will not be content
With merely uttering your name.
Let my love for you prompt me
Ever to hail you,
Mother of Perpetual Help.

Mother of Perpetual Help,
Pray for me
And grant me the favor
I confidently ask of you.

Year 2: Day 178 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Union with Christ in our daily lives.
Requested Intentions: For a mother’s mental health and for kindness and forgiveness, for housing problems, for dental health (T); For the soul of a departed friend (X); Restoration of health (D); Successful employment for couple (N); For employment for children (K); For health of friend, for successful relationships for children, for safe pregnancy for daughter (C); For the health of a mother (J); Virtue for daughter (V); Successful acceptance to college for nephew (M); For the health of a cousin (T); Freedom from legal difficulties for husband (S); Husband’s freedom from illness (L); Personal intentions (S); Successful passing of dental board examination (P); Blessings on a family (Z); Successful permanent employment (C); Healing of a son with autism (J).

June 26: Saint Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer

Posted by Jacob

Today, June 26, we commemorate the feast day of Saint Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer (1902-1975), priest, modern-day saint, and founder of Opus Dei, a Catholic institution dedicated to “helping people turn their work and daily activities into occasions for growing closer to God, for serving others, and for improving society.” Pope John Paul II said of this holy man, “Saint Josemaría was chosen by the Lord to proclaim the universal call to holiness and to indicate that everyday life, its customary activities, are a path towards holiness. It could be said that he was the saint of the ordinary."

Josemaría Escrivá was born in Barbastro, Spain, the son of pious parents. He received a deep Christian education in the home, and the family turned to God during times of need, especially following the deaths of three of his five siblings in infancy and childhood. When Josemaria was a teenager, the family moved to Logrono, as his father needed employment, and it was there that he first sensed his calling to vocation. Moved by the sight of footprints left in the snow by a barefoot friar, he sensed that God was asking something of him, though he did not know exactly what it was. He began to prepare for the priesthood, first in Logrono and later in Saragossa.

Josemaria was ordained in 1925, serving in rural parish, as well as Saragossa for a few years. In 1927, having received permission from his bishop, he traveled to Madrid to earn his doctorate in law. It was while studying in Madrid that Josemaria received from the Lord the purpose of his life: to found Opus Dei-- a way of sanctification in daily work and in the fulfillment of the Christian's ordinary duties. Not limited to religious, this inspired society would be comprised of laity and religious, and would provide a template for bringing the Lord into the daily lives of its members. From that moment on, Josemaria’s life changed. He worked continuously toward his new goal, all the while continuing his studies, ministering to his congregation, and spending time in service to the poor and the ill.

The Spanish Civil War created a challenge to the saint’s mission. When the war broke out in Madrid, religious persecution forced Josemaría to go into hiding, ministering to his flock in secret. Eventually, he left Madrid, and after a harrowing escape across the Pyrenees, took up residence in Burgos. In the years after the civil war, he was able to return to Madrid and complete his doctorate in Law, all the while giving many retreats to laity, priests, and religious.

Saint Josemaria moved to Rome, obtaining a doctorate in Theology, and establishing Opus Dei as an institution. In 1950, it was officially approved by the Holy See. He was appointed by Pope Pius XII as a consultor to two Vatican Congregations, as an honorary member of the Pontifical Academy of Theology, and as an honorary prelate. He was also elevated to the position of Monsignor. In his later y ears, Josemaria traveled the world, preaching, and spreading the message of Opus Dei, bringing large numbers to holiness. By the time of his death in 1975, Opus Dei had begun in dozens of countries and had touched countless lives. After his death thousands of people, including more than a third of the world's bishops, sent letters to Rome asking the Pope to open his cause of beatification and canonization.

Josemaria is remembered for saying, "The ordinary life of a Christian who has faith, when he works or rests, when he prays or sleeps, at all times, is a life in which God is always present.” Through his work in Opus Dei, we are further reminded, "We find the invisible God in the most visible and material things." Today, Opus Dei has around 87,000 members, both men and women, of which 98% are laypersons. The mission of Opus Dei is as follows: “It is in the midst of the most material things of the earth that we must sanctify ourselves, serving God and all mankind. The family, marriage, work – all of our activities – are opportunities for dealing with and imitating Jesus Christ, trying to practice charity, patience, humility, diligence, integrity, cheerfulness and all the other human and Christian virtues.” Members are called to lives of sanctifying work, prayer and sacrifice, charity, and unity of life—the blending of our interior personal relationship with the Lord with our exterior professional and personal lives.

In his 2002 address, in praise of Saint Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, founder of Opus Dei, Pope John Paul II proclaimed:

“In the Founder of Opus Dei, there is an extraordinary love for the will of God. There exists a sure criterion of holiness: fidelity in accomplishing the divine will down to the last consequences. For each one of us the Lord has a plan, to each he entrusts a mission on earth. The saint could not even conceive of himself outside of God's plan. He lived only to achieve it.

Saint Josemaría was chosen by the Lord to announce the universal call to holiness and to point out that daily life and ordinary activities are a path to holiness. One could say that he was the saint of ordinary life. In fact, he was convinced that for those who live with a perspective of faith, everything is an opportunity to meet God, everything can be an incentive for prayer. Seen in this light, daily life reveals an unexpected greatness. Holiness is truly within everyone's reach.

Escrivá de Balaguer was a very human saint. All those who met him, whatever their culture or social status, felt he was a father, totally devoted to serving others, for he was convinced that every soul is a marvelous treasure; indeed, every person is worth all of Christ's Blood. This attitude of service is obvious in his dedication to his priestly ministry and in the magnanimity with which he launched so many works of evangelization and human advancement for the poorest persons.

The Lord gave him a profound understanding of the gift of our divine sonship. He taught him to contemplate the tender face of a Father in the God who speaks to us through the most varied events of life. A Father who loves us, who follows us step by step, who protects us, understands us and awaits from each of us a response of love. The consideration of this fatherly presence which accompanies the Christian everywhere gives him steadfast confidence; he must trust in the heavenly Father at every moment. He should never feel lonely or frightened. When the Cross is present, he should not see it as a punishment, but a mission entrusted by the Lord himself. The Christian is necessarily optimistic, because he knows he is a son of God in Christ.”

The life of Saint Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer calls us to examine our own lives, and the extent to which we lead “double lives”—one life as a hidden Christian, and another as a member of our families, jobs, and communities. We are reminded, through his ongoing legacy of Opus Dei, that “Work, family life, and other ordinary activities are occasions for spiritual union with Jesus Christ.” How might we better unite our deep interior lives of faith with our daily actions? How might we better bring Christ into the world, into our jobs, into our families?

O God, through the mediation of Mary our Mother, you granted your priest St. Josemaría countless graces, choosing him as a most faithful instrument to found Opus Dei, a way of sanctification in daily work and in the fulfillment of the Christian's ordinary duties. Grant that I too may learn to turn all the circumstances and events of my life into occasions of loving You and serving the Church, the Pope and all souls with joy and simplicity, lighting up the pathways of this earth with faith and love. Amen.

Year 2: Day 177 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Union with Christ in our daily lives.
Requested Intentions: For a mother’s mental health and for kindness and forgiveness, for housing problems, for dental health (T); For the soul of a departed friend (X); Restoration of health (D); Successful employment for couple (N); For employment for children (K); For health of friend, for successful relationships for children, for safe pregnancy for daughter (C); For the health of a mother (J); Virtue for daughter (V); Successful acceptance to college for nephew (M); For the health of a cousin (T); Freedom from legal difficulties for husband (S); Husband’s freedom from illness (L); Personal intentions (S); Successful passing of dental board examination (P); Blessings on a family (Z); Successful permanent employment (C); Healing of a son with autism (J).