FIRST MARTYRS OF THE CHURCH OF ROME
Psalm 5, Verse 8
But I, through the abundance of your mercy*, will enter into your house. I will bow down toward your holy sanctuary out of FEAR of you.
Psalm five is a lament contrasting the security of the house of God with the danger of the company of evildoers (BLM/PP/CNN?!). The psalmist therefore prays that God will hear and grant the protection and joy of the Temple. We as Catholics have more than a temple, we have our Lord present to us in the tabernacle. His mercy is never ending.
Pray for those detained. A widow, desperate because her husband had committed suicide by throwing himself into a river, came to Ars and met the Curé upon leaving the church. He bent toward her and told her, “He is saved.” As she made a gesture of incredulity, the saint repeated emphatically, “I tell you that he is saved. He is in Purgatory, and you must pray for him. Between the parapet of the bridge and the water he had time to make an act of repentance. It is the Blessed Virgin who obtained this grace for him. Remember the shrine to Mary in your room? Sometimes your husband, although irreligious, united himself to your prayer. That merited repentance and the supreme pardon for him.” Before leaving, she confided to M. Guillaumet, superior of the College of St. Dizier, a witness to the scene, “I was in a dreadful state of despair, imagining the tragic end of my husband. He was an unbeliever, and I lived only for the thought of leading him back to God. Then he drowned himself by a voluntary suicide! I could only believe he was damned! Oh! never to see him again! Yet you heard what the Curé of Ars told me repeatedly: ‘He is saved!’ I shall see him again in Heaven after all!” See the delicacy of Jesus and of the Blessed Virgin! A person did some good which he had forgotten, but they had not forgotten, and at the right moment they made use of it, if I may put it that way. Jesus makes use of everything to save us. How astonished we will be in Heaven when we see that! Some make Him a judge who strikes men down and seeks revenge, whereas in fact He seeks to save us by all possible means.
Nothing is irreparable for Jesus and for Mary
According to the New York Times, suicide rates are at their highest level in 30 years. I have rarely come across a person these days who has not been touched by a friend or a family member who has committed suicide. How are we as Catholics to deal with these tragedies? Many of us wonder where the soul of our loved one ends up. Is there hope for our loved ones who took their own lives?
Lessons from the Catechism
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states;
· Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God. ccc 2281
But the Catechism goes on to say;
· …Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide. ccc 2282
· We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide salutary repentance. The church prays for persons who have taken their own lives. ccc 2283
This means there is hope. If God can provide salutary repentance, then there is definitely hope.
Suicide Hits Home
I was 17 when my friend Patrick took his own life. I was devastated. I wondered about his soul since I knew suicide was a grave matter. It wasn’t long after his death that I began to dream about him. My mother told me if I was dreaming about him that he was probably in purgatory and I needed to pray for him. I have had dreams of him on and off into adulthood. As an adult I got very serious about praying for him.
Additionally, earlier this year my friends and my community were touched by four suicides of people of varying ages. It was no coincidence then that I had come across Divine Mercy 101 with Father Chris Alar. As I sat and pondered these suicides, feeling helpless and worried for souls, I remembered that Fr. Alar had said (paraphrasing),
if you say a Divine Mercy Chaplet today for someone who has died in the past, the graces from your prayer today, because God is outside of time, are taken to your loved one at the time of their judgement. In other words, God could for see that you would say the prayer for the loved one and then apply that grace for them when they die.
Our God is that merciful. Unfathomable mercy. Pray the chaplet, our prayers do have power.
It was around this time that my cousin had also introduced me to Gregorian Masses. This is a series of 30 Masses that is said for a soul in purgatory. Tradition tells us that Pope St. Gregory the Great offered these Masses for the soul of one of his monks that visited him from purgatory. When Pope Gregory had finished the Masses, the monk appeared to thank him for releasing him. The Masses are offered for one deceased soul (not multiple people) for 30 consecutive days. Now, please understand, we offer a stipend for a Mass. These stipends are to take care of the Priest who says the Mass, and in poorer countries, in particular, this means a lot. Plus, the stipend is also a sacrificial offering made by us. Canon 946 tells us how the stipend is for the good of the Church. Typically in today’s day and age, a Mass stipend is about $10, although I have found some for $5 a Mass. So Gregorian Masses aren’t always in the realm of what someone can afford, but they are very efficacious if you are able to, especially in a case of suicide. If 30 Masses isn’t a possibility, then one Mass is also a good thing. The Mass is heaven on earth, and our prayers help souls in purgatory. So, if you are suffering the loss of someone to suicide, do not despair. Our God is a God of Mercy. Pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet for them and perhaps have Gregorian Masses said for them, or a single Mass. Our prayers mean something, and you may be able to help your loved one get to heaven.
For the price of a chocolate bar you could save a soul or…. Maybe you could do both?
First Martyrs of the Church of Rome
This memorial is in honor of the nameless followers of Christ brutally killed by the mad Emperor Nero as scapegoats for the fire in Rome. The pagan historian Tacitus and St. Clement of Rome tell of a night of horror (August 15, 64 A.D.) when in the imperial parks Christians were put into animal skins and hunted, were brutally attacked, and were made into living torches to light the road for Nero's chariot. From 64 to 314 "Christian" was synonymous with "execution victim."
Overview of July
The month of July is dedicated to The Precious Blood of Jesus. The entire month falls within the liturgical season of Ordinary Time, which is represented by the liturgical color green. This 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. It is used in the offices and Masses of Ordinary Time.
July is usually hot and a time for relaxing. It is also the time when crops planted in the Spring are maturing and growing. Just as the crops are dependent upon summer rains not only to grow but to survive so our spiritual development is dependent upon our frequenting the sacraments and receiving the Blood of Christ.
The main feasts of this month are St. Junipero Serra (July 1) (statue was a BLM execution victim), St. Thomas the Apostle (July 3), St. Maria Goretti, (July 6), St. Augustine Zhao Rong (July 9), St. Benedict (July 11), St. Henry (July 13), Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha (USA - July 14), St. Bonaventure (July 15), Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (July 16), St. Camillus (July 18), St. Apollinaris (July 20), St. Lawrence of Brindisi (July 21), St. Mary Magdalene (July 22), St. Bridget (July 23), St. Sharbel (July 24), St. James (July 25), St. Peter Chrysologus (July 30), St. Ignatius of Loyola (July 31).
The feasts of St. Anthony Mary and St. Elizabeth of Portugal (July 5) and Sts. Joachim and Anne (July 26) are superseded by the Sunday liturgy.
The Blood that coursed through the veins of Christ was a part of that Sacred Humanity made possible by the maternity of Mary, whose parents, St. Joachim and St. Anne are honored this month. (July 26). Our Lord's blood poured out on the Cross purchased our salvation, washed clean the robes of the martyrs, and gave birth to the Church as it flowed from his wounded side. The Precious Blood of Christ — now pulsing through his Mystical Body — continues its salvific work, preserving and purifying, repairing and providing nourishment for regeneration and renewal of its members.
July’s longer and warmer days also provide us with the opportunity for renewal, both interior and exterior. Schedules relax and pressures ease, inviting travel. But whether we travel or not, like the missionary, St. Junipero Serra (July 1), we preach to others — by our conduct, our speech, even the clothes we wear. May we be modest in everything we do, imitating St. Maria Goretti, the young martyr for purity (July 6), and “preaching” Christ to everyone we meet.
The summer Readings of Ordinary Time remind us that our earthly pilgrimage is also a journey, a great adventure towards union with Christ, the Beginning and the End of our journey. Each Sunday with its Easter renewal becomes a mile marker along the way, linking where we have been with where we are going. May the Precious Blood of Jesus sustain us as we journey to our true home, with Mary and the angels as our companions on the way.
July Travel Coronanites
· Macy's 4th of July Fireworks
Pop! Boom! Bang! July spells independence, with glorious fireworks nationwide. Celebrate Independence Day with a visit to the annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks display over the Hudson River. And if N.Y.C.’s not on your itinerary, check out more of America’s best fireworks displays — in St. Louis, Addison, Texas and Chicago’s Navy Pier.
· Outlaw Run (Branson, Missouri)
Ready for a 68-mph adrenaline rush? Kick off July on the only wooden coaster to twist upside down with a record-breaking three versions — and a stomach-in-your-mouth 81-degree drop. Take advantage of Outlaw Run’s extended hours this month at Silver Dollar City. Can’t make it to Branson this July? Check out our complete guide to US amusement parks.
· Tour de France
Celebrate France’s biggest sporting event this month — the Tour de France. The official kick-off takes place on the island of Corsica then crosses onto France’s mainland. Cruise the French countryside as you follow the grand event. Or if you can’t make it abroad, head to one of America’s top bicycling cities.
· Hemingway Days Festival (Key West, Florida)
Can’t make it to Pamplona this month? Head to Key West instead! Hemingway Days Festival honors the late author, who lived and worked on the southern coast of the island. The annual event includes its own "Running of the Bulls" — this one with Ernest Hemingway lookalikes pushing fake bulls on Key West’s famed Duval Street.
· California Wine Festival (Santa Barbara, California)
Head to one of the biggest wine festivals under the sun! Celebrate wine harvest season this July with a visit to California wine country. Held this year in Santa Barbara, the annual California Wine Festival showcases vintage wines, along with gourmet appetizers including artisan breads and cheeses. Cheers!
· Alaska Cruise Season
Escape the heat, and take in awe-inspiring glacial views, with a cruise to Alaska. Cruise ships dock alongside towns from Seward, along Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, to Ketchikan, in the Alexander Archipelago. Cruise ships also dock near Katmai National Park, where July is prime time to see bears gulp up Atlantic salmon on their run. And if cruise prices prove too high in July, fret not: Alaska’s prime cruise season stretches through September.
· Taste of Chicago (Grant Park)
This July don’t miss the world’s largest food festival — yes, the largest! Held annually in mid-July, Taste of Chicago draws dozens of food vendors and participating restaurants to Chi-Town’s Grant Park. The annual event attracts upwards of 3 million people each year — and with foodie indulgences like the famous deep-dish pizza, we know why! This is food to die for!
· National Ice Cream Month
This July we all scream for ice cream. Celebrate National Ice Cream Month — designated a national holiday by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 — with a trip to America’s coolest ice cream shops. And why not head to the granddaddy of them all — Bassett’s Ice Cream in Philadelphia — the oldest ice cream company in the U.S., founded in 1861!
· Calgary Stampede
Our "Neighbor to the North" marks its birthday this month. Get in on the festivities during the Calgary Stampede! This 10-day event is Canada’s largest annual rodeo, and one of its largest festivals to boot. Billed as the "Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth," the rodeo draws more than 1 million visitors each year.
· Gettysburg’s 155th Anniversary
Retrace one of America’s biggest moments. This
July the Battle of
Gettysburg marks its 155th anniversary. Tour Gettysburg and its historic town, and take in battle
reenactments of events that culminated in more than 51,000 casualties and the
setting for President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
*Mercy: used to translate the Hebrew word, hesed. This term speaks to a relationship between persons. It is manifested in concrete actions to persons with some need or desire. The one who offers hesed has the ability to respond to that need of the other person. Other possible ways to translate hesed include “steadfast love” and “loving kindness.”
d'Elbée, Jean C.J.. I Believe in Love