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All Souls Day

“Let us remember all souls, and especially the forgotten souls today and everyday.”

Catacombs.01Image from Holy Places 

Pope to celebrate Mass in Roman catacombs on All Souls Day

Pope Francis is set to visit the Catacombs of Priscilla, in Rome, on Saturday, to mark the Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed with the celebration of Holy Mass.

By Devin Watkins

Large numbers of early Christian martyrs were buried in the Catacombs of Priscilla, which was known as the regina catacumbarum – the “queen of the catacombs”.

At the Angelus on Friday, Pope Francis announced plans to celebrate Mass in this ancient Roman cemetery on Saturday, the feast of All Souls.

“In these days in which there unfortunately circulate negative cultural messages regarding death and the dead, I invite you not to neglect, if possible, a visit and a prayer in a cemetery.”

He called it “an act of faith.”

The Catacombs of Priscilla

The Catacomb of Priscilla, sits on the Via Salaria, with its entrance in the convent of the Benedictine Sisters of Priscilla. It is mentioned in all of the most ancient documents on Christian topography and liturgy in Rome; because of the great number of martyrs buried within it, it was called “regina catacumbarum” – “the queen of the catacombs.”

Originally dug out from the second to fifth centuries, it began as a series of underground burial chambers, of which the most important are the “arenarium” or sand-quarry; the cryptoporticus, (an underground area to get away from the summer heat), and the hypogeum with the tombs of the Acilius Glabrio family. The noblewoman Priscilla, who granted the Church use of the property, was a member of this family; her commemoration is noted on January 16th in the Roman Martyrology, which speaks of her as a benefactor of the Christian community in Rome. This cemetery was lost like all the others after the entrances were blocked to protect it from thievery; however, it was also one of the first to be rediscovered, in the sixteenth-century. A large portion of the funerary inscriptions, sarcophagi, stones and bodies (presumed to be those of martyrs) were subsequently taken away; nevertheless, the catacomb does preserve some particularly beautiful and important paintings, the most significant of which are included on the regular visit.

The Galleries of the Cemetery

Dug into the tuff, a soft volcanic rock used to make bricks and lime, the galleries have a total length of about thirteen kilometres, at various depths. The first level, which is the most ancient, winds along in a series of galleries; the walls are full of “loculi”, the most common kind of tomb. The bodies were laid within them, directly on the dirt, wrapped in a shroud, sprinkled with lime to restrain the normal process of decay, and closed in with pieces of marble, or tiles. Inscriptions were written in Greek or Latin on the tombs, or small objects placed near them to help identify graves with no inscription. Only on this level, where the martyrs were buried, do we find the small rooms known as “cubicula” (“bed chambers”), which were the tombs of wealthier families or of the martyrs themselves. Likewise, we find here the “arcosolia”, another type of tomb for the upper classes, often decorated with paintings of religious subjects. Most of the stories depicted are Biblical, from both the Old and New Testaments, an expression of faith in the salvation and final resurrection obtained for us by Jesus Christ. The stone inscriptions on the tombs are often marked with symbols whose meaning was known to the Christians, but not to the pagans. The best known of these is the fish, the Greek word for which, ICHTHYS, was read as an acronym for the corresponding Greek words that mean “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour.”

The Cubiculum of the Veiled Woman

This room is named for the picture in the semi-circle on the back wall, in which a young woman, wearing a rich purple garment and a veil on her head, lifts up her arms in prayer. On either side of her are two scenes unlike any others among all of the paintings in the various catacombs, probably episodes of her life. In the middle, the Good Shepherd is painted in the Garden of Paradise, amid peacocks and doves. Before this scene, in the arch above the door, the prophet Jonah is shown emerging from the mouth of a sea-monster, a clear expression of faith in the Resurrection. The semi-circle on the left depicts the Sacrifice of Isaac, while on the right are shown the Three Children in the fiery furnace in Babylon; both of these episodes are expressions of faith in God’s salvation, understood by the first Christians as prophecies of the salvation brought by the coming of Christ. These pictures, which are in a remarkably good state of preservation, date back to the second half of the third century.

The Greek Chapel

When this area was found, it was full of dirt that had come down through the light shaft in the ceiling; it is named for the two Greek inscriptions, painted in the right niche, which were the first things seen by its discoverers.

Richly decorated with paintings and stuccos in the Pompeian style, it is formed of three niches for sarcophagi and a long seat for funeral banquets, called “refrigeria” or “agapae”, which were held at the tombs in honor of the dead. The painting in the central arch at the back, on a red background, shows just such a banquet, but with a clear reference to the banquet of the Holy Eucharist, which also was sometimes celebrated by the Christians near venerated tombs. Seven persons are seated at the table, the first of which is breaking the bread as he stretches out his hands; at the sides of the table are seven baskets, a reference to the miraculous multiplication of the loaves and fishes, when Jesus also promised the bread of eternal life.

Several episodes of the Old Testament are also shown: Noah on the ark; Moses making water run from the rock, a prophecy of the saving waters of baptism; the sacrifice of Isaac; and three stories of miraculous deliverance from the book of Daniel (Daniel among the lions; the three children in the furnace; Susanna accused of adultery by the elderly judges in Babylon, and saved by Daniel). Episodes of the New Testament are also depicted, such as the resurrection of Lazarus, and the healing of a paralytic; the former demonstrates Christ’s power over death, the latter His power over sin. The adoration of the Magi is also represented, a very common image in the Christian cemeteries of ancient Rome, symbolizing the universality of salvation, since the Three Kings were the first pagans to adore Christ.

The Niche with the oldest image in existence of the Virgin Mary

The image of the Good Shepherd in stucco, (much of which has unfortunately fallen off,) is found on the upper part of a niche which was later expanded into a gallery, most likely because of the presence of a venerated tomb. He is standing among some trees which are stucco on the bottom, but fresco on the top, where we see leaves and red fruits painted in vivid color. On either side of the trees there were two more images, but the one on the left has completely fallen away. On the right is preserved an image of the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus on her knee; a prophet stands next to her, holding a scroll in his left hand, and pointing to a star with his right. This seems to refer to the prophecy of Balaam, “A star shall rise out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall spring up from Israel” (Numbers 24, 15-17). The presence of the prophet indicates that the Child is the Messiah awaited for many ages.

The Benedictines

Taking the name of Priscilla from the place where it began, the congregation was founded by a devout priest from Bologna, Giulio Belvederi, who was also an archeologist. He was brought to Rome by Pope Pius XI to build not only the new seat of the Pontifical Institute for Christian Archaeology, but also the houses over the entrances to catacombs, which were then being opened up to the general public. This project was undertaken to bring modern Christians closer to these important witnesses to the early faith, and inspire in them a renewal of both love and hope.

To his spiritual daughters, Monsignor Belvederi gave as their community rule that of St. Benedict, which he regarded for its simplicity as the rule closest to the spirit of the Gospel and the way of life of the Apostles. The motto of the Benedictine Order, “Pray and work”, describes the joyful life of a true religious community, a life focused on the praise of God in the celebration of the Mass and Divine Office, and work done in a spirit of humility in the service of the Church.

The Benedictines arrange for groups to visit the Catacombs, taking care to explain its history and archaeology, but above all its religious value, as a holy place sanctified by the heroic witness of the early Christians, and at times by the shedding of their blood. Their faith is expressed here in these simple pictures, whose value lies not so much in their artistic qualities, as in the beliefs expressed and taught by them.

 

All the above from Vatican News website

Holy Places

Saint Jude Thaddeus, First Century

Nola st. judePhotograph by Lisa Silvestri

When all else fails, when we are in the most difficult of situations, we turn to Saint Jude, “Helper of the Helpless” and Saint of the Impossible. 

One of the original 12 apostles, Text: One of the original 12 apostles, Jude is depicted with the flame of knowledge received from the Holy Spirit at the Pentecost burning above his head. Brother of James the Lesser and cousin of Jesus, Jude was one of Christ’s earliest followers. He earned his title of Patron Saint of Impossible Causes because of a letter he wrote in 60AD to persecuted Christian converts in the East, exhorting them to stay strong in the face of all difficulties.

The name Jude means giver of joy and the name Thaddeus means great hearted one and this saint was said to live up to his name, attracting immense crowds by preaching in an entertaining way, outwitting magicians and local priests. Abgar, the King of Edessa was quite impressed with Jude and appealed to Jesus cure his leprosy. He sent an artist to draw Christ’s image. The artist was so shaken by the glow in Christ’s eyes, he could not draw. Christ wiped his face with a cloth and the image of his face was transferred to it. Jude brought the cloth back to Abgar and the king rubbed the cloth over his body, curing himself of leprosy. Many depictions and statues of Saint Jude include this cloth with Christ’s image on it. Jude was martyred along with Saint Simon in the city of Samir by being beaten with a club. This club, as well as the palms of martyrdom are also part of his iconography.

The cult of Saint Jude all but died out after the Middle Ages because people confused him with Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed Christ. Despite being cited as a great influence by the mystics Saint Bernard of Clairvaux and Saint Bridget of Sweden, Jude was rarely invoked by the faithful for anything. It is said that because of this, he became the saint to call on in the most impossible of situations. So anxious was he to be of help, he would turn heaven and earth to rectify a desperate situation. By the nineteenth century, it became customary to thank the saint for help with answered prayers by taking an ad in the newspaper. This helped to resurrect his popularity and these small “Thank you Saint Jude” ads can be found in many weekly and daily periodicals in present day. Unfailing Prayer to Saint Jude Glorious apostle, Saint Jude Thaddeus, I salute you through the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Through his heart I praise and thank God for all the graces he has bestowed upon you. I implore you, through his love, to look upon me with compassion. Do not despise my poor prayer. Do not let my trust be confounded! God has granted to you the privilege of aiding mankind in the most desperate cases. Oh, come to my aid that I may praise the mercies of God! All my life I will be your grateful client until I can thank you in heaven. (Mention your request here). Saint Jude, pray for us, and for all who invoke your aid.

Prayer to St. Jude Thaddeus

Glorious apostle, Saint Jude Thaddeus, I salute you through the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Through his heart I praise and thank God for all the graces he has bestowed upon you. I implore you, through his love, to look upon me with compassion. Do not despise my poor prayer. Do not let my trust be confounded! God has granted to you the privilege of aiding mankind in the most desperate cases. Oh, come to my aid that I may praise the mercies of God! All my life I will be your grateful client until I can thank you in heaven.

(Mention your request here).

Saint Jude, pray for us, and for all who invoke your aid.

Amen.

St. Francis of Assisi 1182 – 1226 Poet and Mystic

Saint Francis of Assisi “Lord make me an instrument of they peace, where there is hatred let me sow love.”
Patron of: Ecologists

Love for God and everything in creation so consumed St. Francis of Assisi, that he was able to commune with the natural world on a divine level. Taming wolves, quieting flocks of birds and infusing peace and contentment to the humanity he interacted with, we call on Francis of Assisi to bring us into the harmonious rhythms of the universe, where all of nature and mankind are at one with the divine force of creation. An unlikely mystic, Francis was born Giovanni Bernadone in the town of Assisi. His father, a proud member of the upper classes was a wealthy cloth merchant married to a woman from Provence. Because he frequently conversed in French with his mother, Giovanni was soon known as “Francesco” or “the Frenchman” by his friends and neighbors. Confident that his son would follow in his footsteps, the elder Bernadone indulged and catered to Francesco’s every whim and the youth enjoyed a pleasure filled existence in the company of others in his social caste. On a lark he set off with friends to take part in a war with Perugia. Much to his shock, he was taken prisoner and it took his family a year to ransom him back. Upon his return, he was bedridden and seriously ill. But in recovering his health, Francesco seems to have lost his identity. He suffered a great spiritual crisis as all interest in his old life and his father’s business waned and disappeared. While wandering the countryside he stopped into the deserted church of San Damiano and heard the crucifix say to him, “Francis, go and repair my house, which you see is falling down.” Happy to have some direction in his life, he took the request literally and began rebuilding the structure with his bare hands. Ultimately, his father disowned him and when Francis, renouncing his inheritance threw his clothing in the street, he donned the simple brown garment given him by the Bishop of Assisi.

Begging for supplies, Francis continued his work on San Damiano. Eventually he was joined by other disenchanted young men looking for a higher meaning in life. By simply following the exact tenets of Christ, this little band of friars, never owning anything, bartering labor for food and shelter began a movement of religious seekers that revolutionized the Church by the simple and loving way they spread the gospel. Instead of writing in church Latin he used colloquial Italian and in an effort to explain the story of Christ’s birth, he created a living tableau of animals and people – the first Christmas crèche.

A great poet and mystic, Francis was the first saint to receive the stigmata while in a meditative rapture. Filled with humility and though he founded one of the world’s greatest religious orders, Francis of Assisi was never ordained a priest. Upon his death he requested to be buried in the cemetery for criminals, but the people of Assisi so loved him that they took his body and interred it under the altar of their great cathedral. Just as popular with nonCatholics as Catholics, Francis has inspired great artists, composers and writers. Assisi, Italy remains a great pilgrimage site for those wishing to pay him tribute.

Novena
O Beloved Saint Francis, gentle and poor, your obedience to God, and your simple, deep love for all God’s creatures led you to the heights of heavenly perfection and turned many hearts to follow God’s will. Now in our day, in our ministry to the many who come here searching for peace and intercede for us we come before the Lord with our special requests…
(Mention your special intentions here.)
O Blessed Saint of God, from your throne among the hosts of heaven, present our petitions before our faithful Lord. May your prayers on our behalf be heard and may God grant us the grace to lead good and faithful lives. Amen
Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us.

 

Travel: New York City

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NYU Catholic Center, a place to reflect and meditate. Mass every day during the week at 5:15—on Thursday 6:15. It’s a beautiful service with students, neighborhood people and visitors. The chaplain is Father John Baptist Hoang, O.P.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and confession before each  mass. 

238 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012 (212) 995-3990

Share your visit with us in the comment box below, we would love to hear from you.

Visit their website at https://catholiccenternyu.org/.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola

440px-Ignatius_of_Loyola_(militant)

Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Saint of the Day for July 31

(October 23, 1491July 31, 1556)

Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s Story

The founder of the Jesuits was on his way to military fame and fortune when a cannon ball shattered his leg. Because there were no books of romance on hand during his convalescence, Ignatius whiled away the time reading a life of Christ and lives of the saints. His conscience was deeply touched, and a long, painful turning to Christ began. Having seen the Mother of God in a vision, he made a pilgrimage to her shrine at Montserrat near Barcelona. He remained for almost a year at nearby Manresa, sometimes with the Dominicans, sometimes in a pauper’s hospice, often in a cave in the hills praying. After a period of great peace of mind, he went through a harrowing trial of scruples. There was no comfort in anything—prayer, fasting, sacraments, penance. At length, his peace of mind returned.

It was during this year of conversion that Ignatius began to write down material that later became his greatest work, the Spiritual Exercises.

He finally achieved his purpose of going to the Holy Land, but could not remain, as he planned, because of the hostility of the Turks. Ignatius spent the next 11 years in various European universities, studying with great difficulty, beginning almost as a child. Like many others, his orthodoxy was questioned; Ignatius was twice jailed for brief periods.

In 1534, at the age of 43, he and six others—one of whom was Saint Francis Xavier—vowed to live in poverty and chastity and to go to the Holy Land. If this became impossible, they vowed to offer themselves to the apostolic service of the pope. The latter became the only choice. Four years later Ignatius made the association permanent. The new Society of Jesus was approved by Pope Paul III, and Ignatius was elected to serve as the first general.

When companions were sent on various missions by the pope, Ignatius remained in Rome, consolidating the new venture, but still finding time to found homes for orphans, catechumens, and penitents. He founded the Roman College, intended to be the model of all other colleges of the Society.

Ignatius was a true mystic. He centered his spiritual life on the essential foundations of Christianity—the Trinity, Christ, the Eucharist. His spirituality is expressed in the Jesuit motto, Ad majorem Dei gloriam—“for the greater glory of God.” In his concept, obedience was to be the prominent virtue, to assure the effectiveness and mobility of his men. All activity was to be guided by a true love of the Church and unconditional obedience to the Holy Father, for which reason all professed members took a fourth vow to go wherever the pope should send them for the salvation of souls.


Reflection

Luther nailed his theses to the church door at Wittenberg in 1517. Seventeen years later, Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society that was to play so prominent a part in the Catholic Reformation. He was an implacable foe of Protestantism. Yet the seeds of ecumenism may be found in his words: “Great care must be taken to show forth orthodox truth in such a way that if any heretics happen to be present they may have an example of charity and Christian moderation. No hard words should be used nor any sort of contempt for their errors be shown.” One of the greatest ecumenists was the 20th-century German Jesuit, Cardinal Augustin Bea.

Taken from Franciscan Media

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-ignatius-of-loyola/

Novena to Saints Joachim and Anne

SOD-0726-SaintJoachimandAnne-790x480(The Novena consist of 9 days of prayers.)

Saints Joachim and Anne,
grandparents of Jesus and parents of Mary,
we seek your intercession.
We beg you to direct all our actions
to the greater glory of God
and the salvation of souls.
Strengthen us when we are tempted,
console us during our trials,
help us when we are in need,
be with us in life and in death.

O Divine Savior,
we thank You for having chosen saint Joachim and Anne
to be the parents of our Blessed Mother Mary
and so to be your beloved grandparents.
We place ourselves under their patronage this day.
We recommend to them our families,
our children, and our grandchildren.
Keep them from all spiritual and physical harm.
Grant that they may ever grow
in greater love of God and others.

Saints Joachim and Anne,
we have many great needs.
We beg you to intercede for us
before the throne of your Divine Grandson.
All of us here have our special intentions,
our own special needs,
and we pray that through your intercession
our prayers may be granted.

Amen.

-Mention your intention(s) here…-