Novena to Saint Joseph

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“I know by experience that the glorious Saint Joseph assists us generally in all necessities. I never asked him for anything which he did not obtain for me.” Saint Teresa of Avila
St. Joseph First Century

A righteous man who never shirked his responsibilities as protector of his family, Saint Joseph offers a perfect example for fathers everywhere. He is invoked by families for all matters of support needed to sustain a household, both material and spiritual.

A descendant of the House of David, there is very little written about Joseph in the gospels. He was said to be betrothed to Mary when she became pregnant with Jesus. Instead of leaving her in scandal, he accepted the word of the angel Gabriel who told him that the child was divinely given and Joseph and Mary were chosen by God to be his earthly parents. It was Joseph who protected Mary on the journey to Bethlehem when Jesus was born. He also suffered the frustrations of a man who could not find proper shelter for his family as his wife was about to give birth. Upon returning to their native city of Nazareth, Joseph was once again visited by an angel warning him of the impending slaughter of the innocents. On faith alone, he dispensed with his business and personal effects, taking Jesus and Mary to Egypt where they stayed for seven years until Herod’s death. It fell upon Saint Joseph to support his young family in this foreign country.

The last mention of Joseph comes when Jesus is twelve years old and strayed from his family while on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It is thought that he died well before Jesus began his mission with Jesus and Mary at his deathbed. For this reason, more than any other saint, he is invoked for a happy death, one where a person is older and has their family at their side. Though of noble lineage, Joseph was a carpenter and it was from him whom Jesus learned his trade. Because he worked with his hands and frequently put his family ahead of any personal ambitions, workers everywhere who live similar lives call on him as a patron. It is no mystery that the cult of Saint Joseph became more popular in modern times with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Many saints throughout the ages have declared him to be a powerful advocate as well, since it is thought that Jesus obeyed him in his earthly life, he is inclined to listen to Joseph in his heavenly life. Teresa of Avila always buried medals with his image when she needed land for a new convent. This tradition has extended itself to realtors of all faiths who bury statues of Saint Joseph on properties they wish to sell. It is assumed that since Joseph respected his wife’s virginity that he was an older man when he married. He is depicted in art with a staff, which he led his family ( precursor to the bishop’s staff) a lily for purity, and with carpenter tools or holding the baby Jesus

Novena
O glorious Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, to you we raise our hearts and hands to ask your powerful intercession in obtaining from the compassionate heart of Jesus all the helps and graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the spiritual grace for which we now ask.

(Mention your request.)

O guardian of the Word Incarnate, we feel animated with confidence that your prayers for us will be graciously heard at the throne of God. (The following is to be said seven times in honor of the seven joys and seven sorrows of Saint Joseph.)

O glorious Saint Joseph, through the love you bear for Jesus Christ, and for the glory of his name, hear our prayers and grant our petitions.
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Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

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“She smiled at me. She disappeared. I was alone.”

Bernadette Soubirous was an unlikely visionary. Her family had lost their business and were all but homeless. They were reduced to living in a dank former dungeon that had been evacuated by the authorities because it was considered too inhumane to house prisoners. At the age of fourteen Bernadette had not yet received her First Communion because she was considered slow- witted and behind in her catechism studies. On February 11, 1858, the impoverished girl’s mother sent her, a sister, and a friend out to look for firewood. So that they would not be accused of stealing, the girls went to the outskirts of town, to an area near the Gave River known as Massabielle. Respectable citizens of the town of Lourdes avoided this place, considering it disgusting because pigs grazed there. According to local legend, it had been a place of pagan worship where ancient evils still lurked; many crossed themselves if they had to pass by it. Bernadette was congenitally ill with asthma, so the two younger girls waded across a mill stream to collect wood on the other side while she stayed behind. Not finding any wood on her side, she began to take off her stockings to join the others. She heard the sound of a storm starting to blow up; as she stood up straight she was puzzled as to why the trees remained totally still. 

Bewildered, Bernadette looked around, and in her own words, “I looked across the millstream to a niche above a cave in the rock of Massabielle. A rosebush on the edge of the niche was swaying in the wind. It was all that moved. All else was still. A golden cloud came out of the cave and flooded the niche with radiance. Then a lady, young and beautiful, exceedingly beautiful, the like of whom I had never seen, stood on the edge of the niche. She smiled and smiled at me, beckoning me to come closer as though she were my mother, and she gave me to understand in my soul that I was not mistaken. The lady was dressed in white, with a white veil on her head, and a blue sash at her waist. A rosary of white beads on a gold chain was on her right arm. On that cold winter’s day, her feet were bare, but on each foot was a golden rose radiant with the warmth of summer.”

Instinctively, Bernadette reached for her rosary for spiritual protection. But she found she could not lift her arm for the sign of the cross until the lady herself started to cross herself. After they made the sign of the cross together, Bernadette began to pray the rosary. The lady passed the beads through her fingers and silently followed her. When Bernadette had finished, the smiling lady bowed to her and disappeared.

That Sunday, Bernadette returned to the site with a group of friends after Mass. The lady appeared, and Bernadette was the only one who could see or communicate with her. She sprinkled the lady with holy water, saying, “If you come from God, stay. If you don’t, go away.” The lady laughed and inclined her head to receive more water. Her friends were shocked at the physical transformation of Bernadette. She had fallen into a beautiful rapture without a trace of her asthma. When they threw a stone at her, she did not flinch. Frightened that she might be in danger of losing her mind, they ran to get help. Those who came to their aid were amazed at the incredible change in Bernadette’s demeanor. They hardly recognized the rapturously happy, graceful young girl in front of them. A neighbor carried her to her mother’s house. Bernadette later said that the lady kept in front of her, slightly above her, only disappearing when Bernadette went inside the house. Her parents were angry with Bernadette for causing such a commotion, but those in the crowd who had witnessed her at the grotto advised them to believe her.
She made her third visit to the grotto on February 18, accompanied by two important women from town who insisted she try and write down everything the lady said. Bernadette began the rosary and the lady appeared, surrounded by light. Bernadette entered the grotto and the lady came down from the niche and stood beside her. When Bernadette asked her to please write down her name and what she wanted, the lady laughed.

For the first time she spoke to Bernadette, “Boulet aoue ra gracia de bie aci penden quinze dias?” she asked in the patois dialect of that region. (“Would you have the grace to come here for fifteen days?”) When Bernadette replied that she would have to ask her parents’ permission, the lady said, “I do not promise you happiness in this life, but in the next.” Then she added, “Go and tell the priests that a chapel must be built here.” Smiling, she disappeared. 

As news spread through Lourdes about the apparitions, Bernadette’s visits to the grotto were accompanied by larger and larger crowds. The civil authorities felt compelled to take action, and Bernadette was detained at the local police station for questioning. When she refused to admit that it was all a hoax or a ploy for attention, they began to threaten her family. The Church was also embarrassed and skeptical of the claims of what they considered to be a superstitious girl. They had no intention of giving these apparitions any credence. Bernadette never speculated on the lady’s identity, she always referred to her as Aquero, the patois word for indescribable being.

It was on February 25, during the ninth apparition, that Bernadette was told to go drink at the spring and wash in it. Thinking that the lady meant the river, Bernadette went toward the Gave but the lady called her back. She pointed at a spot beneath the rock. Bernadette later wrote, “I found some moisture there but it was mud. Three times I threw it away even though the lady said to drink it. Then I washed in it only to have my face besmeared with mud.” The large crowd that had gathered started jeering at the girl. Bernadette’s aunt, who was among them, was utterly humiliated. She smacked Bernadette in the face saying, “Stop your nonsense!” and sent her home. By the afternoon the muddy area was flowing with pure water. No one in Lourdes had ever seen a spring there before. Many who had been scoffing at Bernadette in the morning were drinking at the spring in the afternoon.

In subsequent apparitions, the lady gave Bernadette a secret prayer to say, which she never revealed to anyone. She asked for penitence and the conversion of
sinners. As the crowds grew, the authorities again took Bernadette in for
questioning, but she never wavered from her story, always referring to the lady as Aquero. In one apparition the lady alighted on a rosebush, and Bernadette feared that the sheer crush of the ever-growing crowd would harm Aquero. “I was afraid she might fall, but she kept on smiling at the people. She loved them, and she always seemed sorry to leave them.” At the thirteenth visit she repeated her request that Bernadette ask the priest for a procession to the grotto and for a chapel to be built. 

Reluctantly, Bernadette returned to Father Peyramale, the village priest. Frustrated and skeptical, he told her that if the lady in white wanted a chapel she should say who she was and she should make the wild rosebush in the niche blossom. It was after this visit that claims of miraculous healing were made by those who drank or washed in the spring. One was a dying two-year-old child who was immersed for fifteen minutes in the water. His family had his coffin prepared on one day and the next he was running around as if he had never been sick. On market day the crowd reached to more than eight thousand people. It was Thursday, March 4, the date of the last of the promised fifteen day visits. All expected something extraordinary to happen. Bernadette’s visit with the lady lasted forty-five minutes. When it was over, Bernadette merely extinguished her candle and went home. Nothing dramatic occurred: the rosebush did not bloom, the lady did not announce any message. Bernadette was content, unconcerned about the anticipation and unfulfilled emotions she had aroused in the crowd. For the next three weeks, she later wrote, “The people pestered me, the police watched me, and the public prosecutor almost crushed me.” Her family was continually harassed by the town authorities, and Bernadette was threatened with jail if she ever returned to the grotto. (“They forgot I was living in an unused police lockup with the entire family in one room.”) 

On the night of March 24, she awoke with the familiar urge to return. At five in the morning of March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, Bernadette returned to the grotto where the lady in white was waiting for her. Bernadette asked her identity several times. The lady only smiled. Finally, the fourth time she asked, “Aquero extended her hands toward the ground, swept them upwards to join them on her heart, raised her eyes, but not her head to heaven, leaned tenderly towards me and said, ‘Que soy era Immaculada Conceptiou.’ (I am the Immaculate Conception.) She smiled at me. She disappeared. I was alone.”

According to Bernadette, she had no idea what the lady meant when she said those words. She had to repeat them to herself over and over in order to remember them for the priest. Father Peyramale was astounded at this announcement. The Catholic tradition that Mary had been conceived without original sin so that she might be worthy to be the Mother of God had only been defined as church doctrine in 1854. It was scarcely an expression common to the average person of Lourdes, much less a girl of Bernadette’s social stature. Father Peyramale became Bernadette’s greatest defender as she had to face the onslaught of examinations by government officials, medical personnel, and church hierarchy. Regardless of threats, ridicule, and coercion, she never once altered her account of her story to any of them: “I do not ask you to believe, I only told you what I had seen.” Three eminent Parisian doctors declared that she was mentally and emotionally sound but that she suffered from asthma. (“My mother could have told them that and saved them the trouble.”)

The authorities closed down the grotto and threatened anyone visiting it with arrest. Attempts were made to have Bernadette committed to an insane asylum. Father Peyramale put an end to them by saying, “I know my duty as pastor of my parish and protector of my flock. Your own doctors find no abnormality in Bernadette. You will have to fell me to the ground, pass over my dead body and trample it underfoot, before you touch a hair of the child’s head.”
On July 16, Bernadette saw the lady in white for the last time. Since the
grotto was off-limits, she knelt in the meadow on the far side of the river. “I began my rosary and my lady stood in the grotto smiling at me. It was the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. She looked more beautiful than I had ever seen her. This would be the last time I would see her on this earth. . . . She left heaven in my heart and it has been there ever since.”

A church commission was set up to investigate the claims of miraculous healing by the spring water. Public opinion forced the reopening of the grotto, and it was approved as a shrine in 1862. Instead of a little chapel, a major basilica, Our Lady of Lourdes, was built on the site. Millions of pilgrims come every year, and it is the world’s most visited site dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Bernadette eventually joined the Sisters of Nevers to avoid the attention her presence created. Her Mother Superior disliked her and forbade her from ever mentioning the apparitions. Although her health steadily declined, she never took any interest in the healing powers of the water at the grotto. Bernadette’s written account of the apparitions shows Mary in a very light and loving manner. Like many visionaries, Bernadette enjoyed no special favors in this world. She remained sick all her life and died in 1879 at the age of thirty-five. When her body was exhumed in 1908, it was found to be uncorrupted. She was recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church in 1933.

Our Lady of Lourdes is depicted in white with a blue sash, holding a rosary. Bernadette always felt that Church-sanctioned artistic images of Mary in this apparition were totally wrong, insisting that the lady she saw was a young one, between the ages of twelve and fourteen.

There are four traditional gifts imparted by a pilgrimage to Lourdes: (1) The gift of the miraculous water, (2) the gift of healing, (3) the gift of reconciliation, and (4) the gift of friendship.

 

Image from welcomecollection.org.

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

 IMG_7094On December 9, 1531, a Mexican Indian peasant named Juan Diego was walking through the countryside where Mexico City now lies. From the top of a hill, a beautiful woman called out to him, asking, “Am I not your mother?” She told him she was Mary, Mother of God, and that she would like a church to be built upon the ground on which she stood. As proof of her appearance, she imprinted her image on Juan Diego’s tilma, or cloak.

Today, nearly 500 years later, the cloth still defies scientific explanation of its origin. On view in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, it attracts up to 10 million pilgrims a year, making it the most popular Marian shrine in the world. This cloth bears the only image of Mary on the North American continent that is officially recognized by the Catholic Church. And it made Our Lady of Guadalupe not only the patron saint of Mexico, but also the patron saint of the United States and the rest of the Americas.

The preserved cloth image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is famous throughout the world. It shows an Aztec woman enveloped in a womblike body halo and is most popular in Mexico, Southern California and the American Southwest. The image has spread beyond organized religion to become embedded in folk art in a variety of ways. Key chains, private altars, textiles, needle crafts, T-shirts, car decals, tattoos, stained glass windows, and statues, as well as the little painted tin retablos common in Mexico and the American Southwest, bear her picture. Our Lady of Guadalupe is treated like a member of the family in most Mexican homes. Both Catholics and non-Catholics have a fervent devotion to her. Many social activists honor her for her commitment to the poor and downtrodden. Feminists and New Age religious groups honor her for her goddess roots. Indigenous people honor her for her Aztec roots. She is a symbol of motherly
solace, offering protection to all people, weak or strong, rich or poor, making Our Lady
of Guadalupe the most popular and best-loved incarnation of Mary. 

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Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our lady of Guadalupe, according to your message in Mexico, I venerate you as the Virgin Mother of the true God for whom we live, the Creator of all the world, maker of heaven and earth. In spirit I kneel before your most holy image which you miraculously imprinted upon the cloak of the Indian Juan Diego, and with the faith of the
countless numbers of pilgrims who visit your shrine, I beg you for this favor:

mention your request

Remember, O immaculate Virgin, the words you spoke to your devout client: “I am a merciful mother to you and to all your people who love me and trust in me and invoke my help. I listen to their lamentations and solace all their sorrows and sufferings.” I beg you to be a merciful mother to me, because I sincerely love you and trust in you and invoke your help. I entreat you, our Lady of Guadalupe, to grant my request, if this be the will of God, in order that I may bear witness to your love, your compassion, your help and protection. Do not forsake me in my needs.

Recite “Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us” and Hail Mary three times.

Say this novena nine times in a row for nine days
in a row.

Please click below to read and download Our Lady Of Guadalupe ebook.

Guadalupe BOOK_ebookFnal

 

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

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