Friday, February 2, 2024


First Friday

CANDLEMASS-GROUND HOG DAY-4 CHAPLINS

 

Hebrews, Chapter 2, Verse 14-15

14 Now since the children share in blood and flesh, he likewise shared in them, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and free those who through FEAR of death had been subject to slavery all their life.

 

On today’s date science by the use of a heart and lung transplant was able to save the life of Jamie Gavin who was recorded as the youngest transplant patient.

 

Jamie Gavin[1]

Jamie Gavin made headlines worldwide in 1985 when he became the world's youngest heart and lung transplant patient in Harefield hospital, Middlesex. Jamie's surgery was regarded as a success, and he returned to Dublin to his brother John and his three sisters Leslie, Katie and Melanie. He was able to live a normal life to a certain extent and attended school with his friends, despite having to regularly return to England for tests and checkups, as well Crumlin hospital in Dublin. The bravery of Jamie was recognized a year after his surgery when Princess Diana presented him with a child of courage award.  Tragedy struck the household when Jamie passed away from lymphoma at the age of 11.

Science is a great gift to mankind, yet it does not erase the fear of death; only Christ can do this. In fact, we are engaged in a great spiritual battle where our fears are the very chains that enslave us. Napoleon Hill writes in his tale “Outwitting the Devil”[2] his thoughts on fear during an imaginary interview with the devil to obtain his secrets.

Q. Go ahead and describe your clever tricks, Your Majesty.

 

A. One of my cleverest devices for mind control is fear. I plant the seed of fear in the minds of people, and as these seeds germinate and grow, through use, I control the space they occupy. The six most effective fears are the fear of poverty, criticism, ill health, loss of love, old age, and death.

 

Q. Which of these six fears serves you most often, your majesty?

 

A. The first and the last-poverty and death! At one time or another during life I tighten my grip on all people through one or both of these. I plant these fears in the minds of people so deftly that they believe them to be their own creation. I accomplish his end by making people believe I am standing just beyond the entrance gate of the next life, waiting to claim them after death for eternal punishment. Of course, I cannot punish anyone, except in that person's own mind, through some form of fear-but fear of the thing which does not exist is just as useful to me as fear of that which does exist. All forms of fear extend the space I occupy in the human mind.

 

Although Napoleon Hills thoughts may not be theologically correct; he still makes a strong case as does our God that fear is the root of sin.

 

First Friday[3]

The prayer of the Church venerates and honors the Heart of Jesus . . . which, out of love for men, he allowed to be pierced by our sins." To those who show him love and who make reparation for sins, however, our Lord made a great pledge: "I promise you in the unfathomable mercy of my heart that my omnipotent love will procure the grace of final penitence for all those who receive communion on nine successive first Fridays of the month; they will not die in my disfavor, or without having received the sacraments, since my divine heart will be their sure refuge in the last moments of their life."

 

To gain this grace, we must:

 

·         Receive Holy Communion on nine consecutive first Fridays.

·         Have the intention of honoring the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of reaching final perseverance.

·         Offer each Holy Communion as an act of atonement for offenses against the Blessed Sacrament.

 

Considerations

 

The fullness of God is revealed and given to us in Christ, in the love of Christ, in Christ's heart. For it is the heart of him in whom "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily." Were one to lose sight of this great plan of God-the overflow of love in the world through the Incarnation, the Redemption and Pentecost-he could not understand the refinement with which our Lord deals with us. So, when we talk about the heart of Jesus, we stress the certainty of God's love and the truth of his commitment to us. When we recommend devotion to the Sacred Heart, we are recommending that we should give our whole selves to Jesus, to the whole Jesus-our souls, our feelings and thoughts, our words and actions, our joys. That is what true devotion to the heart of Jesus means. It is knowing God and ourselves. It is looking at Jesus and turning to him, letting him encourage and teach and guide us. The only difficulty that could beset this devotion would be our own failure to understand the reality of an incarnate God. But note that God does not say: "In exchange for your own heart, I will give you a will of pure spirit." No, he gives us a heart, a human heart, like Christ's. I don't have one heart for loving God and another for loving people. I love Christ and the Father and the Holy Spirit and our Lady with the same heart with which I love my parents and my friends. I shall never tire of repeating this. We must be very human, for otherwise we cannot be divine. . .. 

 

If we don't learn from Jesus, we will never love. If, like some people, we were to think that to keep a clean heart, a heart worthy of God, means "not mixing it up, not contaminating it" with human affection, we would become insensitive to other people's pain and sorrow. We would be capable of only an "official charity," something dry and soulless. But ours would not be the true charity of Jesus Christ, which involves affection and human warmth. In saying this, I am not supporting the mistaken theories-pitiful excuses-that misdirect hearts away from God and lead them into occasions of sin and perdition. . .. 

 

But I have still a further consideration to put before you. We have to fight vigorously to do good, precisely because it is difficult for us to resolve seriously to be just, and there is a long way to go before human relations are inspired by love and not hatred or indifference. We should also be aware that, even if we achieve a reasonable distribution of wealth and a harmonious organization of society, there will still be the suffering of illness, of misunderstanding, of loneliness, of the death of loved ones, of the experience of our own limitations. Faced with the weight of all this, a Christian can find only one genuine answer, a definitive answer: Christ on the cross, a God who suffers and dies, a God who gives us his heart opened by a lance for the love of us all. Our Lord abominates injustice and condemns those who commit it. But he respects the freedom of each individual. He permits injustice to happen because, as a result of original sin, it is part and parcel of the human condition.

 

Yet his heart is full of love for men. Our suffering, our sadness, our anguish, our hunger and thirst for justice . . .

 

he took all these tortures on himself by means of the cross. . .. 

 

Suffering is part of God's plans. This is the truth; however difficult it may be for us to understand it. It was difficult for Jesus Christ the man to undergo his passion: "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done." In this tension of pleading and acceptance of the Father's will, Jesus goes calmly to his death, pardoning those who crucify him. This supernatural acceptance of suffering was, precisely, the greatest of all conquests. By dying on the cross, Jesus overcame death. God brings life from death. The attitude of a child of God is not one of resignation to a possibly tragic fate; it is the sense of achievement of someone who has a foretaste of victory. In the name of this victorious love of Christ, we Christians should go out into the world to be sowers of peace and joy through everything we say and do. We have to fight-a fight of peace-against evil, against injustice, against sin.

 

Thus, do we serve notice that the present condition of mankind is not definitive. Only the love of God, shown in the heart of Christ, will attain our glorious spiritual triumph. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is of great antiquity in the Church. It was St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, however, who made this devotion widespread. In 1675, within the octave of the feast of Corpus Christi, our Lord appeared to her and said: "Behold this heart which, notwithstanding the burning love for men with which it is consumed and exhausted, meets with no other return from most Christians than sacrilege, contempt, indifference and ingratitude, even in the sacrament of my love [the Eucharist].

 

But what pierces my heart most deeply is that I am subjected to these insults by persons especially consecrated to my service." The great promise of the Sacred Heart is most consoling: the grace of final perseverance and the joy of having Jesus' heart as our sure refuge and Infinite Ocean of mercy in our last hour. Almighty and everlasting God look upon the heart of your well-beloved Son and upon the praise and satisfaction which he offers to you in the name of all sinners; and grant them pardon when they seek your mercy. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you for ever and ever.

 

1. Love is revealed to us in the Incarnation, the redemptive journey which Jesus Christ made on our earth, culminating in the supreme sacrifice of the cross. And on the cross, it showed itself through a new sign: "One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water." This water and blood of Jesus speak to us of a self-sacrifice brought to the last extreme:

 

"It is finished"-everything is achieved, for the sake of love. . .

 

2. Let us realize all the richness hidden in the words "the Sacred Heart of Jesus." When we speak of a person's heart, we refer not just to his sentiments, but to the whole person in his loving dealings with others. In order to help us understand divine things, Scripture uses the expression "heart" in its full human meaning, as the summary and source, expression and ultimate basis, of one's thoughts, words and actions. One is worth what one's heart is worth. . . .

 

3. Jesus on the cross, with his heart overflowing with love for us, is such an eloquent commentary on the value of people and things that words only get in the way. Men, their happiness and their lives, are so important that the very Son of God gave himself to redeem and cleanse and raise them up. "Who will not love this heart so wounded?" a contemplative asks in this connection. "Who will not return love for love? Who will not embrace a heart so pure? We, who are made of flesh, will repay love with love. We will embrace our wounded One, whose hands and feet ungodly men have nailed; we will cling to his side and to his heart. Let us pray that we be worthy of linking our heart with his love and of wounding it with a lance, for it is still hard and impenitent. . .."

Meditation of The Sacred Heart of the First Friday[4]

AMONG those who make profession of piety, but few know Jesus Christ and the treasures of His mercy; for this cause they give themselves up imperfectly to His love. Nothing can be more pleasing to the loving heart of Jesus than the childlike and unlimited confidence which we testify towards Him. It is related in the life of St. Gertrude that one day, as she reflected on the extraordinary graces which she had received, she asked herself how the revelations with which she had been favored could be made known to mankind with the greatest profit to their souls. Our Lord vouchsafed her this reply:

It would be good for men to know, and never to forget, that I, their God and Savior, am always present in their behalf before My heavenly Father. This should never be forgotten, that when through human frailty their hearts incline to sin I offer for them my merciful heart; and when they offend God by their works, I present to Him My pierced hands and feet in order to appease the anger of divine justice.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, says the great Apostle, is the mediator between God and man. He is now ascended into heaven in order to aid our prayers by His powerful mediation. Fail not, says the devout Blosius, to offer your good works and pious exercises to the most sweet heart of Jesus, in order that He may purify and perfect them; for His heart, so full of tenderness, takes delight in so divine a work. He is always ready to perfect in you whatever He sees imperfect or defective. Confidence is a key to the heart of Jesus. What may we not obtain from our fellow-creatures by the confidence we place in them? How much more, then, will it not obtain from God? How marvelous will be its effects if united with an absolute dependence on Him!

Thus, when animated by faith, Peter walked on the waters as on dry land; but from the moment that fear entered his mind the waters lost their sustaining power, and his compassionate Master, extending His hand, said to him,

“O thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt?”

On another occasion also the tempest threatened to ingulf the apostles; but Jesus said to them, having commanded the winds and the sea:

Where is your faith? Why are you fearful? Have you, then, no faith?

In order to inspire us with a more lively confidence Our Lord Jesus Christ vouchsafed Himself to teach us the prayer which we address to God; so that our heavenly Father, touched by the words of His own Son, might refuse us nothing which we ask in His name; for this He would have us call Him by the sweet name of Father. But as this is not enough, in order to dispel all our diffidence, He carries His condescension even so far as to promise by a solemn oath to be always ready to listen to us.

Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever ye shall ask I will do.

Timid souls, He would say, I swear to you by Myself, Who am the Way and the eternal Truth; by Myself, Who hate falsehood, and Who will punish perjury with eternal damnation; by Myself, Who can no more lie or deceive than I can cease to be that which I am, I swear promises, to you that I will grant what you ask of Me. These are Thy O my God, says St. Augustine; and who can fear being deceived when he relies on the promises made by uncreated Truth? When an upright man pledges you his word, you would believe that you erred if you showed after this any doubt or fear but if we receive the testimony of man, says St. John, the testimony of God, is it not greater? Our divine Savior holds Himself so honored by this confidence that in a thousand passages in the Gospel He attributes more to the miraculous efficacy of prayer than to His own mercy. Not saying to those who have recourse to Him, it is My goodness and My power; but It is thy faith, thy confidence, which has saved thee. Our Lord Jesus Christ revealed to St. Gertrude that he who prayed to Him with confidence was sure to obtain his request that He could not do otherwise than listen to his prayers. Whatever may be the grace you request, says Our Lord, be sure of obtaining it, and it will be granted you. This it is which St. John Climachus expresses in a like manner when he says, every prayer offered up with confidence exercises over the heart of God a kind of violence, but a violence which is sweet and pleasing to Him. St. Bernard compares the divine mercy to an abundant spring, and our confidence to the vessel which we make use of in order to draw these saving waters. The larger the vessel the greater the abundance of the grace we shall bring away. Moreover, this is conformable to the prayer of the psalmist, who sues for mercy in proportion to His confidence: Let Thy mercy be upon us, O Lord, according to the hopes we have placed in Thee. God has declared that He will protect and save all those who put their trust in Him. Let them be glad, then, exclaims David; let all those rejoice who hope in Thee, O my God; for they shall be happy for all eternity, and Thou wilt never cease to dwell in them. He elsewhere says, He who places his trust in the Lord shall dwell under the protection of the God of heaven. Yes, Lord, says St. Bernard, it is hope alone which opens to us the treasure of Thy mercies. The efficacy of prayer, says St. Thomas, is drawn from faith which believes in the promises of God, and confidence in the holy promises which He has made to us. We see, in short, in the sacred writings that the Son of God seems to take the faith of those who address themselves to Him as the rule for the help and the graces which He grants them, not only doing what they wish, but in the manner in which they ask it. Grace is attached to confidence; it is a kind of axiom that he who puts his trust in God shall never be confounded. And the wise man defies a contrary example to be cited amongst all the nations of the world. Our souls should be filled with consolations, says St. Ambrose, when we remember that the graces which God grants us are always more abundant than those which we ask; also, that the fulfilment of His promises always exceeds our hopes, as says Ecclesiastes. Let us have, then, a firm confidence, as St. Paul recommends us, since the Lord has promised to protect whosoever hopes in Him; and when obstacles present themselves which seem very difficult to overcome let us say with the Apostle, I can do all things in Him Who strengtheneth me. Who, indeed, was ever lost after having placed his trust in God? But we need not always seek a sensible confidence it will suffice if we earnestly desire it, for true confidence is an utter dependence on God, because He is good, and wishes to help us; because He is powerful, and able to help us; because He is faithful and has promised to help us.

Example. The venerable Mary of the Incarnation relates that it was revealed to her on a certain occasion that the Eternal Father was insensible to her prayer. She sought to know the cause, and an interior voice said to her: Petition Me through the heart of My Son, through which I will hear thee. Address yourselves to the heart of Jesus, the ocean of love and mercy, and He will obtain for you, pious soul, and also for all poor sinners, the most signal graces. Sometime before her death St. Mechtilde earnestly asked of Our Lord an important grace in behalf of a person who had asked her to pray for her. Seized with fear at the sight of the terrible judgments with which the justice of God would visit this soul, she was weeping bitterly, when Our Lord addressed to her these consoling words,

my daughter, teach the person for whom you pray that she must seek all she desires through My heart. There is no heart so hard as not to be softened by the heart of Jesus, nor any soul so disfigured by the leprosy of sin that His love cannot purify, console, and heal.

Candlemas[5], Until 1969, the ancient feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, which is of Oriental origin, was known in the West as the feast of the Purification of Our Lady, and closed the Christmas Cycle, forty days after the Lord's birth. This feast has for long been associated with many popular devotional exercises. The faithful:

  • gladly participate in the processions commemorating the Lord's entry into the Temple in Jerusalem and His encounter with God, whose house He had come to for the first time, and then with Simeon and Anna. Such processions, which in the West had taken the place of licentious pagan events, always had a penitential character, and were later identified with the blessing of candles which were carried in procession in honor of Christ, 'the light to enlighten the Gentiles' (Lk 2, 32);
  • are sensitive to the actions of the Blessed Virgin in presenting her Son in the Temple, and to her submission to the Law of Moses (Lk 12, 1-8) in the rite of purification; popular piety sees in the rite of purification the humility of Our Lady and hence, 2 February has long been regarded as a feast for those in humble service.

Popular piety is sensitive to the providential and mysterious event that is the conception and birth of new life. Christian mothers can easily identify with the maternity of Our Lady, the most pure Mother of the Head of the mystical Body — notwithstanding the notable differences in the Virgin's unique conception and birth.

These too are mothers in God's plan and are about to give birth to future members of the Church. From this intuition and a certain mimesis of the purification of Our Lady, the rite of purification after birth was developed, some of whose elements reflect negatively on birth.

The revised Rituale Romanum provides for the blessing of women both before and after birth, this latter only in cases where the mother could not participate at the baptism of her child.

It is a highly desirable thing for mothers and married couples to ask for these blessings which should be given in accord with the Church's prayer: in a communion of faith and charity in prayer so that pregnancy can be brought to term without difficulty (blessing before birth), and to give thanks to God for the gift of a child (blessing after birth).

In some local Churches, certain elements taken from the Gospel account of the Presentation of the Lord (Lk 2, 22-40), such as the obedience of Joseph and Mary to the Law of the Lord, the poverty of the holy spouses, the virginity of Our Lady, mark out 2 February as a special feast for those at the service of the brethren in the various forms of consecrated life.

The feast of 2 February still retains a popular character. It is necessary, however, that such should reflect the true Christian significance of the feast. It would not be proper for popular piety in its celebration of this feast to overlook its Christological significance and concentrate exclusively on its Marian aspects. The fact that this feast should be 'considered [...] a joint memorial of Son and Mother' would not support such an inversion. The candles kept by the faithful in their homes should be seen as a sign of Christ 'the light of the world' and an expression of faith.

Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, [6] 

Commonly Called Candlemas-Day. 

FEBRUARY 2.

 

ON this day the Church solemnly celebrates the presentation of Jesus in the temple, and the obedience and humility both of Mary and her divine Son, who, though not subject to the law in regard to purification and presentation yet subjected themselves to it. Hence this feast is called the Purification of the Virgin Mary. 

In common speech we call it also Candlemas, because on this day the candles required for the divine service are blessed and carried in procession. What is the design of this custom? 

1. It is to remind us that Jesus, the light of the world, was offered up to His heavenly Father, by Mary, in the temple at Jerusalem, where He was called by Simeon “a light for the revelation of the gentiles, and the glory of the people of Israel.” 

2. To remind us, also, of several important truths, to which the priest refers in the prayers at the blessings. Thus he prays that as the earthly light dispels the darkness of night, so Jesus, with the light of His divine doctrine, may clear away our spiritual blindness and ignorance, and lead us in the way of virtue; that as the Holy Ghost enlightened Simeon, so He may also enlighten us to acknowledge Jesus as the true light, to love Him and follow Him, to keep our hearts from the way of sin, and to guide them in the way of virtue, and to kindle them with the fire of holy love; finally, that God may preserve, in soul and body, those who use blessed candles with devotion, may hear their prayers, and grant them entrance into the kingdom of the eternal and ever-blessed light. In the Introit of the Mass the Church sings: We have received Thy mercy, O God, in the midst of Thy temple; according to Thy name, O God, so also is Thy praise unto the ends of the earth; Thy right hand is full of justice. Great is the Lord and exceedingly to be praised in the city of our God, in His holy mountain.” 

Prayer. 

Almighty, everlasting God, we suppliantly beseech Thy majesty that, as Thy only begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in the substance of our flesh, so Thou wouldst grant us to be presented to Thee with purified souls. 

EPISTLE. Mai iii. 1-4. 

Thus, saith the Lord: Behold I send My angel, and he shall prepare the way before My face. And presently the Lord Whom you seek, and the angel of the testament whom you desire, shall come to his temple. Behold he cometh, saith the Lord of hosts: and who shall be able to think of the day of his coming? and who shall stand to see him? for he is like a refining fire, and like the fullers herb: and he shall sit refining and cleansing the silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and shall refine them as gold, and as silver, and they shall offer sacrifices to the Lord in justice. And the sacrifice of Juda and of Jerusalem shall please the Lord, as in the days of old, and in the ancient years, saith the Lord Almighty. 

GOSPEL. Luke ii. 22-32. 

At that time: After the days of Mary’s purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they carried Jesus to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every male opening the womb shall be called holy to the Lord; and to offer a sacrifice according as it is written in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. And behold there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was in him. And he had received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. And he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when His parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law: he also took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said: Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word, in peace: because my eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples; a light to the revelation of the gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel. 

Explanation. 

The Blessed Virgin presented herself and her divine Son at the temple so as not to give scandal to such as were ignorant of their being exempt from the law, to show from the first that Jesus was come to redeem sinners, and to leave us an example of humility and obedience. Mary offered the gift of a pair of doves, like the poor, because she was poor, and was not ashamed to acknowledge it before the world. 

INSTRUCTION FOR WOMEN AFTER CHILDBIRTH. 

The law of purification in the Old Testament, it is true, no longer applies to Christian women, because the Church has done away with Jewish ceremonies. But the spirit and intention of that law the Church would yet have complied with. She permits women, therefore, to remain at home, with a good conscience, for six weeks after childbirth, or so long as circumstances may require, without attending divine service, in order to care for their health. This permission is, at the same time, an excellent admonition to women, that, in order to their recovery, they should refrain from anger, from exposure, from hard labor, from injurious food; to men, not to refuse their wives during this period, set apart by God Himself under the Old Law, the rest and attention which their nature requires. But when this time is past the Church desires that women should, after the example of Mary, repair to the church with their children, to procure the blessing of the priest, to give thanks to God for their safe delivery, to dedicate their children to Him, and to implore of Him, with the priest, grace to bring up their offspring in piety and holiness. In this consists the so-called “churching of women”; and, from what has been said, it is evident, not only that it contains nothing to be ashamed of, but that it should by no means be omitted by such as desire God’s blessing. The feeble health of both women and children after childbirth is almost always owing to their having injured themselves by want of care. 

Prayer for Women after Childbirth. 

Almighty and merciful God, Who didst lay upon our mother Eve the fit punishment for her disobedience that she should bear children in sorrow, I offer to Thee all the pains of my child-bearing in propitiation for my sins; and I thank Thee that, through Thy help, the fruit of my womb has been safely brought forth into the world, and new-born in Baptism. According to the example of the Mother of Thy only begotten Son, I also offer to Thee my child for Thy holy service, and will earnestly strive to bring it up to Thy honor. To this end give me, through the intercession of the most blessed Virgin, thy grace; bless me and my child, and grant that we may live according to Thy will here, and hereafter may obtain everlasting happiness.  Amen.

Things to Do[7]

  • Ask your parish priest to bless the candles that you will be using on your home altar this year.
  • Read Luke 2:22-35, the account of the presentation including the Canticle of Simeon.
  • Meditate on the constant fiat of Our Lady of Sorrows, who embraced the will of God even as Simeon predicted that a sword would pierce her heart.

Since the children share in blood and flesh, Jesus likewise shared in them, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the Devil, and free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life. 

Candle Blessings[8]

One of the grandest feasts of the Middle Ages and one of only three feasts in the English language verbally denoted by a Mass (Christmas and Michaelmas being the other two), Candlemas, or the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, commemorates Our Lady's visit to the Temple in humble obedience to that clause of the Old Law which requires a woman to be ritually purified forty days after bearing a son. On the assumption that Our Lord was born on December 25, the date of Mary's visit to the Temple would be February 2. It was on this day that Simeon the aged prophet, upon seeing the infant Jesus, proclaimed him to be "a Light to the gentiles" (Lk. 2.32). Hence the day has always involved a celebration of light. The most famous of these customs -- and the one from which the feast takes its common name -- is the blessing of, and procession with, candles. The day begins with five beautiful blessings of candles that invoke God's aid in living out allegorically what the light and fire of a candle symbolize: wisdom and illumination, purification and charity, and so on. A solemn and penitential procession (in which the celebrant wears purple) exits and then re-enters the church, at which point the purple is cast aside for the jubilance of white and a joyful Mass is offered. One of the more distinctive features of this Mass is that the candles are held lighted in the hand during the Gospel and from the Sanctus to the Communion. Candles used in the procession are not the only ones blessed on this day. Many families traditionally had most or all of their special candles -- for Advent, St. Lucy's Day, Christmas, or the family shrine -- blessed on this day.

The Feast's association with light also made it a great day for predicting the weather. According to an old legend, if the sun shines bright for the better part of the day, it means forty more days of winter. Subsequently this quaint superstition became Groundhog Day. Finally, Candlemas is the absolute last day for ending the Christmas season. Any Christmas items that had not been taken down on Epiphany or its Octave were now carefully put away.

Customs[9]

·         A lot of Christians will also bring candles with them to their local church. They will then have their candles blessed, and they will use them for the rest of the year. This is especially the case for Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, Methodists, and Anglicans. The candles are essential, as they are viewed as a symbol of Jesus Christ. If you’re familiar with the teachings of the Bible, you will know that Jesus often referred to Himself as the Light of the World.

 

·         There are different celebrations that take place all around the world on this date. It is certainly interesting to learn about the various ways that countries celebrate this occasion, and you can easily find this information online if you would like to learn more. For example, in Peru, one of the biggest festivals of dancing, music, and culture takes place during the first fortnight of February. There are many different events taking place, which are in honor of the Virgin of Candelaria, which is considered the patron saint of Puno, a city in Peru.

 

·         In Mexican tradition, some of the important celebrations on this day include enjoying family meals with tamales, which is a classic dish from Mesoamerican cuisine. The adoration and dressing of the child Jesus also plays a role in this symbolic day. In Puerto Rico, the end of Christmas is celebrated on this day. There are a number of different festivities that will occur on this date.

 

·         This includes a statue of the “Virgen de la Candelaria” carried on the shoulders, with people following behind with lit candles. In Luxembourg, this day is very much centered on the children. Small groups of children and adults will roam the streets, singing traditional songs to every house that they pass and holding a homemade wand or lantern. In exchange for singing songs, it is hoped that the children will receive some sort of reward. Today, this is typically some loose change or sweets. Traditionally, it was biscuits, peas, or bacon. 

 

·         There are also celebrations across Swiss Romandy, Belgium, and France. It is considered the day of crepes here! Not only does everyone enjoy some delicious crepes, but everyone is prompted to light all of the candles in the house. Tradition also indicates that manger scenes should be kept out until Candlemas. 

THE RACCOLTA[10]

74.  THE LITANIES 

The Litanies commonly called " Litanies of our Lady" are named "Litanies of Loretto" in the Constitutions of several Sovereign Pontiffs, - viz. Reddituri, of Sixtus V., July11, 1687; Sanctissimus, of Clement VIII., Sept. 6, 1601; and In supremo, of Alexander VII., May 28, 1664 - by reason of their being sung with great solemnity every Saturday in the Holy House of Loretto. They are composed of humble supplications and devout prayers to Almighty and (this being the meaning of the word "Litanies"), offered up through the intercession of our Blessed Lady, who is honoured therein by the application to her of the mystic figures, high titles, and glorious appellations whereby she is invoked. That these Litanies, when said by the faithful, in church in public, or at home in private, might always remain word for word exactly as they have been handed down to us from ancient tradition, Pope Alexander VII., in the Constitution above named, strictly forbade the making of any alteration in them. 

To encourage the faithful often to have recourse to the intercession of most holy Mary in their behalf with Almighty (and, and at the same time to do her honor, Pope Sixtus V., in the above-named Constitution, granted – 

i. An indulgence of 200 days, every time these Litanies are said with devotion and contrition. Pope Benedict XIII., by a decree of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Jan. 12, 1728, confirmed this Indulgence; and Pope Pius VII., confirming it afresh by a decree of the same S. Congr. of Sept 30, 1817, extended it to 300 days.

He granted, moreover, to all who say them daily – 

ii. A plenary Indulgence on the five Feasts of our Blessed Lady, of Obligation according to the Roman Calendar, viz, the Immaculate Conception, the Nativity, the Annunciation, the Purification, and the Assumption, on condition that, being truly contrite for their sins, and after Confession and Communion, they visit a public church, and pray according to the intention of the Pope. 

Ground Hog Day[11] 

I ask Christ if he has seen the movie, “Ground Hog Day”.  He laughs and says playfully, “No, but I inspired it”. I continue, well today is Ground Hog Day and tradition say that if the ground hog sees his shadow there will be six more weeks of winter.  Christ asks, “So what happens in the movie?” I state it is a story of a cranky young man who keeps magically repeating his ground hog day until he has a life changing attitude toward people and life in general. Christ says that is the reason for His coming to these coffee clutches with me and that He wants to give me a whole new view of life. This is what I referred to when I told Nicodemus that a person must be born again to enter the kingdom. That is, you must awaken or give birth to the Spirit of the Father that is in you-the spirit of love, and you must also live in the truth. Your actions and behavior must be true to the spirit the Father reveals to you.

Four Chaplains[12]

John McCain in his book “Character is Destiny” portrays the life of “The Four Chaplains” as a model of great religious tolerance that allowed them to risk all to protect others of a different faith or race. 

It was the evening of Feb. 2, 1943, and the U.S.A.T. Dorchester was crowded to capacity, carrying 902 service men, merchant seamen and civilian workers. Once a luxury coastal liner, the 5,649-ton vessel had been converted into an Army transport ship. The Dorchester was one of three ships steadily moving across the icy waters from Newfoundland toward an American base in Greenland. 

Hans J. Danielsen, the ship’s captain, was concerned and cautious because he knew he was in dangerous waters. German U-boats were constantly prowling these vital sea lanes, and several ships had already been blasted and sunk. The Dorchester was now only 150 miles from its destination, but the captain ordered the men to sleep in their clothing and keep life jackets on. Many soldiers sleeping deep in the ship’s hold disregarded the order because of the engine’s heat. Others ignored it because the life jackets were uncomfortable. 

On Feb. 3, at 12:55 a.m., a periscope broke the chilly Atlantic waters. Through the cross hairs, an officer aboard the German submarine U-223 spotted the Dorchester. The U-223 approached the convoy on the surface, and after identifying and targeting the ship, he gave orders to fire the torpedoes, a fan of three were fired. The one that hit was decisive–and deadly–striking the starboard side, amid ship, far below the water line. Captain Danielsen, alerted that the Dorchester was taking water rapidly and sinking, gave the order to abandon ship. 

In less than 20 minutes, the Dorchester would slip beneath the Atlantic’s icy waters. Aboard the Dorchester, panic and chaos had set in. The blast had killed scores of men, and many more were seriously wounded. Others stunned by the explosion were groping in the darkness. Those sleeping without clothing rushed topside where they were confronted first by a blast of icy Arctic air and then by the knowledge that death awaited. Men jumped from the ship into lifeboats, over-crowding them to the point of capsizing, according to eyewitnesses. Other rafts, tossed into the Atlantic, drifted away before soldiers could get in them. Through the pandemonium, according to those present, four Army chaplains brought hope in despair and light in darkness. 

Those chaplains were Lt. George L. Fox, Methodist; Lt. Alexander D. Goode, Jewish; Lt. John P. Washington, Roman Catholic; and Lt. Clark V. Poling, Dutch Reformed. Quickly and quietly, the four chaplains spread out among the soldiers. There they tried to calm the frightened, tend the wounded and guide the disoriented toward safety. “Witnesses of that terrible night remember hearing the four men offer prayers for the dying and encouragement for those who would live,” says Wyatt R. Fox, son of Reverend Fox. One witness, Private William B. Bednar, found himself floating in oil-smeared water surrounded by dead bodies and debris. “I could hear men crying, pleading, praying,” Bednar recalls. “I could also hear the chaplain’s preaching courage. Their voices were the only thing that kept me going.” Another sailor, Petty Officer John J. Mahoney, tried to reenter his cabin but Rabbi Goode stopped him. Mahoney, concerned about the cold Arctic air, explained he had forgotten his gloves. “Never mind,” Goode responded. “I have two pairs.” The rabbi then gave the petty officer his own gloves. 

In retrospect, Mahoney realized that Rabbi Goode was not conveniently carrying two pairs of gloves, and that the rabbi had decided not to leave the Dorchester. By this time, most of the men were topside, and the chaplains opened a storage locker and began distributing life jackets. It was then that Engineer Grady Clark witnessed an astonishing sight. When there were no more lifejackets in the storage room, the chaplains removed theirs and gave them to four frightened young men. “It was the finest thing I have seen or hope to see this side of heaven,” said John Ladd, another survivor who saw the chaplains’ selfless act. Ladd’s response is understandable. The altruistic action of the four chaplains constitutes one of the purest spiritual and ethical acts a person can make. When giving their life jackets, Rabbi Goode did not call out for a Jew; Father Washington did not call out for a Catholic; nor did the Reverends Fox and Poling call out for a Protestant. They simply gave their life jackets to the next man in line. As the ship went down, survivors in nearby rafts could see the four chaplains–arms linked and braced against the slanting deck. Their voices could also be heard offering prayers. Of the 902 men aboard the U.S.A.T. Dorchester, 672 died, leaving 230 survivors. When the news reached American shores, the nation was stunned by the magnitude of the tragedy and heroic conduct of the four chaplains.

 

Catechism of the Catholic Church

PART THREE: LIFE IN CHRIST

SECTION ONE-MAN'S VOCATION LIFE IN THE SPIRIT

CHAPTER THREE-GOD'S SALVATION: LAW AND GRACE

Article 2-GRACE AND JUSTIFICATION

IN BRIEF

2017 The grace of the Holy Spirit confers upon us the righteousness of God. Uniting us by faith and Baptism to the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, the Spirit makes us sharers in his life.

2018 Like conversion, justification has two aspects. Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, and so accepts forgiveness and righteousness from on high.

2019 Justification includes the remission of sins, sanctification, and the renewal of the inner man.

2020 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ. It is granted us through Baptism. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who justifies us. It has for its goal the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life. It is the most excellent work of God's mercy.

2021 Grace is the help God gives us to respond to our vocation of becoming his adopted sons. It introduces us into the intimacy of the Trinitarian life.

2022 The divine initiative in the work of grace precedes, prepares, and elicits the free response of man. Grace responds to the deepest yearnings of human freedom, calls freedom to cooperate with it, and perfects freedom.

2023 Sanctifying grace is the gratuitous gift of his life that God makes to us; it is infused by the Holy Spirit into the soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it.

2024 Sanctifying grace makes us "pleasing to God." Charisms, special graces of the Holy Spirit, are oriented to sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. God also acts through many actual graces, to be distinguished from habitual grace which is permanent in us.

2025 We can have merit in God's sight only because of God's free plan to associate man with the work of his grace. Merit is to be ascribed in the first place to the grace of God, and secondly to man's collaboration. Man's merit is due to God.

2026 The grace of the Holy Spirit can confer true merit on us, by virtue of our adoptive filiation, and in accordance with God's gratuitous justice. Charity is the principal source of merit in us before God.

2027 No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods.

2028 "All Christians . . . are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity" (LG 40 # 2). "Christian perfection has but one limit, that of having none" (St. Gregory of Nyssa, De vita Mos.: PG 44, 300D).

2029 "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mt 16:24).

Fitness Friday-Recognizing that God the Father created man on Friday the 6th day I propose in this blog to have an entry that shares on how to recreate and renew yourself in strength, mind, soul and heart.

 

When the fast is over make some Minestrone di riso.



 Daily Devotions/Practices

 

·         Today's Fast: Unite in the work of the Porters of St. Joseph by joining them in fasting: Restoring the Church

·         Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus

·         Offering to the sacred heart of Jesus

·         "Faith cannot save without virtue"

·         Drops of Christ’s Blood

·         Iceman’s 40 devotion

·         Universal Man Plan

·         Rosary




[4]Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896

[6]Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896.

[9] https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/candlemas-day/

[12]http://www.fourchaplains.org/the-saga-of-the-four-chaplains/


National Signing Day February 7





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