Soil under our feet goes unnoticed, though this first foot of soil is where most living organisms’ dwell. The health of the fragile skin of our earth is of utmost importance. Humility comes from the Latin word for soil, "humus." From and unto dust is the humbling message to each of us. Soil is rich and fertile but also prone to erosion and pollution.
Overview of February
The month of February is dedicated to the Holy Family. This year the first 25 days of February fall during the liturgical season known as Ordinary Time which is represented by the liturgical color green. Green, the symbol of hope, is the color of the sprouting seed and arouses in the faithful the hope of reaping the eternal harvest of heaven, especially the hope of a glorious resurrection. The remaining days of February are the beginning of Lent. The liturgical color changes to purple — a symbol of penance, mortification and the sorrow of a contrite heart.
Though the shortest month of the year, February is rich in Liturgical activity. It contains a feast (Presentation of our Lord) that bridges two other seasons (Christmas and Easter)! In addition, the faithful may receive in February two of the four major public sacramentals that the Church confers during the liturgical year: blessed candles and the blessing of throats.
The Solemnity of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2nd harkens back to the Christmas mystery of Light except that now, Christ, the helpless babe, is “the Light of Revelation to the Gentiles who will save his people from their sins.” Candles, symbolizing Christ our Light, will be carried in procession this day, as will be the Paschal candle during the Easter Vigil Liturgy.
"The Light of Revelation" shines more brightly with each successive Sunday of Ordinary Time, until its magnificence – exposing our sinfulness and need for conversion – propels us into the penitential Season of Lent. We prepare to accept the cross of blessed ashes on Ash Wednesday (February 26) and plunge ourselves into anticipating the major exercises of Lent – fasting, prayer, almsgiving – laying our thoughts and prayers on the heart of our Mother Mary. She, who offered her Son in the temple and on the Cross, will teach us how to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow after her Son.
· Visit Hundred Acre Wood (All Month)
London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is celebrating the magical world of Winnie-the-Pooh with an exhibit showcasing A.A. Milne’s much-loved bear. The exhibit includes music and puppetry performances, craft and digital activities for kids, original sketches from E.H. Shepard, and a teachers-only workshop. The exhibit runs through April.
· Take a Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride (All Month)
Enjoy a gorgeous winter wonderland in Yellowstone and the surrounding areas. National Elk Refuge is closed to vehicle traffic but not to horse-drawn sleighs. The open-air rides offer a unique and amazing way to see elk, bison, eagles, foxes and other wildlife species. Yellowstone and the Jackson Hole area offer a variety of other family activities including snow tubing, skiing, snowmobiles and a year-round roller coaster.
FEBRUARY 1 First Saturday
FEAST OF ST. BRIGID-NATIONAL WEAR RED DAY
Sirach, Chapter 7, Verse 29
With all your soul fear God and revere his priests.
Sometimes we are tempted to follow any leader who is popular. We forget God’s warning about following the proud and evil hearted, for lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch, says the LORD of hosts. (Mal 3: 19) We may think that following the leadership of our bishops is a waste of time. You have said, “It is useless to serve God; what do we gain by observing God’s requirements, and by going about as mourners-before the LORD of hosts? But we call the arrogant blessed; for evildoers not only prosper but even test God and escape.” (Mal 3:14-15) God knows the heart of a man and if his heart be true God raises that man up as He did Joshua and Moses. God is not a God of the past and continues to this day in the action of raising a man up and He does so in our Priests and Bishops. Just like an architect that uses rocks and sticks to become temples or bridges God uses men to build his Kingdom. Strive therefore to be God’s man or woman. Emulate Joshua in proclaiming, if it is displeasing to you to serve the LORD, choose today whom you will serve, the gods your ancestors served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15).
The joy of the Gospel is stronger than the sadness wrought by sin!
Open your minds and hearts to Him, the Savior who strengthens you to step into the breach!
Open your minds and hearts to Him, the Savior who strengthens you to step into the breach!
INTO THE BREACH
The world is under attack by Satan, as our Lord said it would be (cf. 1 Pt 5:8–14). This battle is occurring in the Church herself, and the devastation is all too evident. Since AD 2000, fourteen million Catholics have left the Faith, parish religious education of children has dropped by 24 percent, Catholic school attendance has dropped by 19 percent, infant baptism has dropped by 28 percent, adult baptism has dropped by 31 percent, and sacramental Catholic marriages have dropped by 41 percent. This is a serious breach, a gaping hole in Christ’s battle lines. So, I call upon you to open your minds and hearts to Him, the Savior who strengthens you to step into the breach!
Letter from the Bishop of Phoenix:
I begin this letter with a clarion call and clear charge to you, my sons and brothers in Christ: Men, do not hesitate to engage in the battle that is raging around you, the battle that is wounding our children and families, the battle that is distorting the dignity of both women and men. This battle is often hidden, but the battle is real. It is primarily spiritual, but it is progressively killing the remaining Christian ethos in our society and culture, and even in our own homes. If we fail to enter the breach in the wall of faith: Young Catholic men will have a devastating impact on the Church in America in the coming decades, as older men pass away and young men fail to remain and marry in the Church, accelerating the losses that have already occurred.
What practices can help us to take up our cross and follow our Lord and His church?
If we think of soldiers who do not remain in strong physical and mental shape and who fail to practice the essential combat arts, we know they will not be ready for battle and will be a danger to themselves and their comrades in arms. The same is true for Catholic men; those who do not prepare and strengthen themselves for spiritual combat are incapable of filling the breach for Christ. While there are many habits and devotions that a Catholic man can form, I charge you with keeping these seven basic practices on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. If these practices are not (yet) part of your life, start now!
1. Pray every day. Each Catholic man must start his day with prayer. It is said, “Until you realize that prayer is the most important thing in life, you will never have time for prayer.” Without prayer, a man is like a soldier who lacks food, water, and ammunition. Set aside some time to speak with God first thing each morning. Pray the three prayers essential to the Catholic faith: the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be. Pray also at every meal. Before food or drink touches your lips, make the Sign of the Cross, say the “Bless us, O Lord” prayer, and end with the Sign of the Cross. Do this no matter where you are, with whom or how much you are eating. Never be shy or ashamed about praying over meals. Never deny Christ the gratitude that is due to Him. Praying as a Catholic man before every meal is a simple but powerful way to keep strong and fill the breach.
2. Examine your conscience before going to sleep. Take a few moments to review the day, including both your blessings and sins. Give God thanks for blessings and ask forgiveness for sins. Say an Act of Contrition.
3.Go to Mass. Despite the fact that attending weekly Mass is a Precept of the Church, only about one in three Catholic men attend Sunday Mass. For large numbers of Catholic men, their neglect to attend Mass is a grave sin, a sin that puts them in mortal danger. The Mass is a refuge in the Spiritual Battle, where Catholic men meet their King, hear His commands, and become strengthened with the Bread of Life. Every Mass is a miracle where Jesus Christ is fully present, a miracle that is the highpoint not only of the week, but of our entire lives on Earth. In the Mass, a man gives thanks to God for his many blessings and hears Christ send him again into the world to build the Kingdom of God. Fathers who lead their children to Mass are helping in a very real way to ensure their eternal salvation.
4. Read the Bible. As St. Jerome so clearly tells us, “Ignorance of the Sacred Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” When we read God’s word, Jesus is present. Married men read with your wife and your children. If a man’s children see him read the Scriptures, they are more likely to remain in the Faith. My brothers in Christ, this I can assure you: men who read the Bible grow in grace, wisdom, and peace.
5. Keep the Sabbath. From the creation of Adam and Eve, God the Father established a weekly cycle ending with the Sabbath. He gave us the Sabbath to ensure that one day out of seven we will give thanks to God, rest, and be refreshed.
In the Ten Commandments, God asserts anew the importance of keeping the Sabbath. With today’s constant barrage of buying and selling and the cacophony of noisy media, the Sabbath is God’s respite from the storm. As Catholic men, you must begin, or deepen, keeping the holiness of the Sabbath. If you are married, you must lead your wives and children to do the same. Dedicate the day to rest and true recreation, and avoid work that is not necessary. Spend time with family, attend Mass, and enjoy the gift of the day.
6.Go to Confession. At the very start of Christ’s public ministry, Jesus calls on all men to repent. Without repentance from sin, there can be no healing or forgiveness, and there will be no Heaven. Large numbers of Catholic men are in grave mortal danger, particularly given the epidemic levels of pornography consumption and the sin of masturbation. My brothers, get to Confession now! Our Lord Jesus Christ is a merciful King who will forgive those who humbly confess their sins. He will not forgive those who refuse. Open your soul to the gift of our Lord’s mercy!
7. Build fraternity with other Catholic men. Catholic friendship among men has a dramatic impact on their faith lives. Men who have bonds of brotherhood with other Catholic men pray more, go to Mass and Confession more frequently, read the Scriptures more often, and are more active in the Faith. Proverbs tells us: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (27:17). I call on each of our priests and deacons to draw men together in their parishes and to begin to rebuild a vibrant and transforming Catholic fraternity. I call on laymen to form small fellowship groups for mutual support and growth in the faith. There is no friendship like having a friend in Christ.
The elements of this devotion, therefore, consist in the following four points, all of which must be offered in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
1. Confession: This confession can be made before the First Saturday or afterward, provided that Holy Communion be received in the state of grace. In 1926, Christ in a vision explained to Lucia (Fatima) that this confession could be made a week before or even more, and that it should be offered in reparation.
2. Holy Communion: Before receiving Holy Communion, it is likewise necessary to offer it in reparation to Our Lady. Our Lord told Lucia in 1930, “This Communion will be accepted on the following Sunday for just reasons, if my priests allow it so.” So if work or school, sickness, or another just reason prevents the Communion on a First Saturday, with this permission it may be received the following Sunday. If Communion is transferred, any or all of the other acts of the devotion may also be performed on Sunday if the person so desires.
3. Rosary: The Rosary is a vocal prayer said while meditating upon the mysteries of Our Lord’s life and Passion and Our Lady’s life. To comply with the request of our Blessed Mother, it must be offered in reparation and said properly while meditating.
4. 15-minute meditation: Also offered in reparation, the meditation may embrace one or more mysteries; it may include all, taken together or separately. This meditation should be the richest of any meditation, because Our Lady promised to be present when she said “...those who keep me company....”
Feast Day of St Brigid of Ireland
Bridget (Brigid, Bride, Bridey) of Kildare was born around 450 into a Druid family, being the daughter of Dubhthach, court poet to King Loeghaire. At an early age, Brigid decided to become a Christian, and she eventually took vows as a nun. Together with a group of other women, she established a nunnery at Kildare. She was later joined by a community of monks led by Conlaed. Kildare had formerly been a pagan shrine where a sacred fire was kept perpetually burning. Rather than stamping out this pagan flame, Brigid and her nuns kept it burning as a Christian symbol. (This was in keeping with the general process whereby Druidism in Ireland gave way to Christianity with very little opposition, the Druids for the most part saying that their own beliefs were a partial and tentative insight into the nature of God, and that they recognized in Christianity what they had been looking for.) As an abbess, Brigid participated in several Irish councils, and her influence on the policies of the Church in Ireland was considerable.
Things to Do
- Read Amy Steedman's biography of Saint Brigid of Ireland to gain a greater appreciation and devotion for this holy woman, who had a great tenderness for mothers and their children.
- Read Saint Brigit: The Mary of the Gael (Catholic Culture Library) or go to this fascinating page St. Brigit - The Giveaway where you will find some folklore and recipes.
- Saint Brigid always recognized Christ in the sick and the poor. Visit Christ in a nursing home or hospital today, and pray for the grace of clear vision, even when you encounter Him in a distressing disguise.
- Meditate on today's beautiful reading, in 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13. Is this the kind of love you share with your family? Pray to Saint Brigid for the grace to be patient, kind, and gentle with those entrusted to your care.
- For more recipes and for a craft go to Brigid's Day Foods and How to Make a Traditional St. Brigid's Cross.
BEWARE: Tonight, the night before feast of the presentation of Jesus in the Temple begins the black mass of magic spring-say your rosary and do the First Saturday.
The Black Mass
The black mass is a parody of [the Catholic] Mass, in which one adores and exalts Satan. Usually it is officiated at night, because the darkness permits greater secrecy and because during the night fewer people are found at prayer, which disturbs the ritual. During the celebration, the words and the external signs of the Eucharistic liturgy are used, but always in a contrary sense, in order to manifest opposition to God. There is always a satanic priest officiating who wears blasphemous vestments, an altar represented by a nude woman, possibly a virgin, on whom very serious acts of profanity of the Eucharist (usually stolen from a church), are performed, with words of consecration proclaimed in a contrary sense and an overturned crucifix. Only members of the satanic sect, who are sworn to secrecy, may participate. Nonmembers are never permitted to attend unless it is hoped that, having already been seduced by the perversions and the illusion of power, they may decide to enter the sect. In general, the black masses are celebrated by small groups of ten or at most fifteen of the “faithful.” Once the ritual is concluded, the woman who functions as the altar is raped in turn by all the participants: first by the one who exercised the “rites” of the priest, then by all the others. This woman may have freely accepted that role, or she may have been led there against her will; and aside from the physical violence, she often suffers the terrible consequences of the ritual: [diabolical] possession.
As in the Church, some of the official rites are required and are tied to particular feast days.
· The most important is Halloween, which falls on the night between October 31 and November 1 of each year: it is considered the magic New Year. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the extreme danger for our children and youth who participate in the feast of Halloween on that date.
· The second precedes our feast of the presentation of Jesus in the Temple on February 2. The night before, in fact, begins the magic spring.
· The summer magic is the third satanic “solemnity” and occurs on the night between April 30 and May 1. During the year [Satanists] often choose nights when the new moon is inaugurated, because it is particularly dark.
The officiator of these rites is usually someone who is consecrated to Satan, and although it is not stated, this person is also usually possessed by the devil. Often during these rituals, the Eucharistic hosts are profaned, [having been] stolen from tabernacles or taken by some of the faithful at Communion during Mass and not consumed.
Serpent Day is a day of reflection and coming to grips with our fears. It’s dedicated to pondering our reactions to the prime material behind that expensive high-fashion snake-skin handbag. Its unique, slithering form has long been associated with wisdom and power, used for either good or evil. Serpents have been both feared and revered, at times simultaneously, in many different periods of human history. Quetzalcoatl is a Mesoamerican deity, the worship of which was first known documented in Teotihuacan in the first century BCE or first century CE. Veneration of the figure appears spread throughout Mesoamerica between 600–900 AD.
Quetzalcoatl, also called “the Plumed Serpent,” played a dominant role as a god, model, myth, historical figure and symbol in Aztec culture. According to legend, he was incarnated on earth and founded the fabulous capital of the Toltecs, Tollan. Quetzalcoatl represented the universal quest for meaning in life, and was the guardian of water and rain, a precious resource of the Aztecs.
In the Hindu regions of Asia the serpent, or naga, is considered a nature spirit. As in the Aztec belief system, Naga is the protector of springs, wells and rivers, and so serpents bring rain, and fertility. The serpent is also a fascinating biblical symbol. Perhaps the most common is the portrayal of the serpent as an enemy in general, or as Satan in particular.
However, a serpent is later used to foreshadow Jesus’ death on the cross and the salvation it makes possible when a bronze serpent appears on a cross that the severely ill Israelites looked upon to recover, which can be found in John 3:14-15. Anthropologists have argued that the serpent as a symbol of death is built into our unconscious minds because of evolutionary history, as for millions of years, snakes were mainly just predators of primates. Nowadays, a snake wrapped around the Rod of Asclepius is on the Star of Life, the worldwide symbol of medical aid.
Amorth, Fr. Gabriele. An Exorcist Explains the Demonic: The Antics of Satan and His Army of Fallen Angels