NINE-MONTH NOVENA TO OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE

NINE-MONTH NOVENA TO OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE
Start March 12 to December 12

Friday, February 23, 2024

 

Ember Friday

FAST- St. Polycarp

 

Revelation, Chapter 2, Verse 10

Do not be AFRAID of anything that you are going to suffer. Indeed, the devil will throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will face an ordeal for ten days. Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 

Christians today are pressed on all sides. Yes, we are being tested by our government, the press, and the workplace; we may even find by our own families and neighbors. This is the work of the evil one; resist him and he will flee. Remain faithful until death by not giving up hope and when you fall get back up and follow our Lord! 

St. Polycarp 

Today is the Optional Memorial of St. Polycarp of Smyrna (69-155), who was converted to Christianity by St. John the Evangelist. He was a disciple of the apostles and friend of St. Ignatius of Antioch. He was ordained bishop of Smyrna (now Izmir, Turkey) and was about eighty-six when the Roman pro-consul urged him to renounce Christ and save his life. St. Polycarp said, "For eighty-six years I have served Him and he has never wronged me. How can I renounce the King who has saved me?" He suffered martyrdom in 155 by burning at the stake in the amphitheater of Smyrna.[1]

 Ember Friday[2]

Have you ever heard about the Ember days, observed for most of the history of the Church prior to the late 20th century? If you haven’t, don’t feel bad. Like many traditional practices in the Church laden with deep meaning, Ember days have been chucked down the Catholic memory hole. But fear not! This is why God created the Internet: so, we can find all the neat things about Catholicism that are worth knowing and sharing.

Four times a year, the Church sets aside three days to focus on God through His marvelous creation. These quarterly periods take place around the beginnings of the four natural seasons that “like some virgins dancing in a circle, succeed one another with the happiest harmony,” as St. John Chrysostom wrote. These four times are each kept on a successive Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday and are known as “Ember Days,” or Quatuor Tempora, in Latin. The first of these four times comes in Winter, after the the Feast of St. Lucy; the second comes in Spring, the week after Ash Wednesday; the third comes in Summer, after Pentecost Sunday; and the last comes in Autumn, after Holy Cross Day.

Father Peter Carota at the blog Traditional Catholic Priest offers some additional historical information on Ember days:

The Ember days are true Catholic tradition dating actually dating back to the Apostles, (Pope Leo The Great claims it was instituted by the Apostles).  Pope Callistus (217-222) in the “Liber Pontificalis” has laws ordering all to observe a fast three times a year to counteract the hedonistic and pagan Roman rites praying for:

By the time of Pope Gelasius, (492-496), he already writes about there being four times a years, including Spring.  He also permitted the conferring of priesthood and deaconship on the Saturdays of Ember week.  This practice was mostly celebrated around Rome, from Pope Gelasius’ time, they began to spread throughout the Church. St. Augustin brought them to England and the Carolingians into Gaul and Germany.  In the eleventh century, Spain adopted them. It was not until Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085) that these Ember days were prescribed for the whole Catholic Church as days of fast and abstinence.  He placed these “four mini Lents” consisting of three days; Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

The purposes of these “mini Lents” were to pray, fast and to thank God for the gifts He gives us through nature.  They follow the four seasons of the year with the beauty and uniqueness of each particular season.   They are here for us to teach us to use, with moderation, what God gives us through nature, and to also share these gifts with the poor.

So, what does this mean for you? Well, because of the changes in Church law, not a whole lot. At least not officially. The mandatory observation of Ember days was excised from Church practice during the pontificate of Pope Paul VI. But as a voluntary practice, there is much that is salutary in observing the Ember days of the Church.

I don’t know about you, but as a typically indulgent American, I’ve never been very good at fasting. Lately, I’ve noticed more and more people are advocating fasting as a countermeasure in today’s troubling times. This is the first year I will be observing these fasts, and I’ve got to tell you, I’m already pretty famished and a bit punchy. But the way I see it, there’s no point in continuing to put off the inevitable penance that I’m going to have to do for being a big, fat sinner. To say nothing about making reparations for the increasingly hostile darkness of a world steeped in its own sins. Fasting isn’t going to get easier at some point in the future when I get “holier.” In fact, I’m guessing the latter isn’t going to happen until I master the former. I don’t think there’s ever been a time where fasting and penance are more needed than right this moment.  We can’t rely on others to do it for us. Gotta cowboy up and put our mortification where our mouth is. What do you say? Who will be hungry with me?!

What Is Lent?[3]

Lent is the penitential season of approximately 40 days set aside by the Church in order for the faithful to prepare for the celebration of the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. During this holy season, inextricably connected to the Paschal Mystery, the Catechumens prepare for Christian initiation, and current Church members prepare for Easter by a recalling of Baptism and by works of penance, that is, prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Even in the early Church, Lent was the season for prayerful and penitential preparation for the feast of Easter. Though the obligation of penance was originally only imposed on those who had committed public sins and crimes, by medieval times all the faithful voluntarily performed acts of penance to repair for their sins.

Ash Wednesday is the clarion call to “Repent and believe the gospel” (Mk 1:15). For the next forty days, the faithful willingly submit to fasting and self-denial in imitation of Our Lord’s forty-day fast in the desert. It is in these dark and still nights, these desert-times, that the soul experiences its greatest growth. There, in the inner arena, the soul battles the world, the flesh and the devil just as Our Lord battled Satan's triple temptation in the desert. His battle was external, for Jesus could not sin; our battle is interior, but with a hope sustained by the knowledge of Christ’s Easter victory over sin and death.

His victory is our renewal, our “spring” — which is the meaning of the Anglo-Saxon word, “lengten” or Lent. In this penitential season we have the opportunity to make an annual spiritual “tune-up”, a 40-day retreat with Our Lord. Have we allowed worldly cares and the “daily drama” to obscure our call to holiness? Have self-love and materialism eroded our relationship with God? Then let us renew our efforts, and through our Lenten observance, discipline the body and master it as we “follow in the footsteps of the poor and crucified Christ” (St. Francis of Assisi). Activity Source: Original Text (JGM & MG) by Jennifer Gregory Miller and Margaret Gregory

Posture and Prayer[4]


 

We are composed of body and soul, “every part of the body is an expressive instrument of the soul. The soul does not inhabit the body as a man inhabits a house, it lives and works in each member, each fiber, and reveals itself in the body’s every line, contour and movement.” Our bodies communicate respect or contempt. By our gestures and the way, we comport ourselves we confirm his presence. We are “ensouled” bodies as much as we are embodied souls. We should always move as the Church directs us: sit, stand, bow, kneel, strike the breast, make the Sign of the Cross, all in due time. The scriptures speak of several postures of prayer: 1) Standing 2) Kneeling 3) bowing 4) prostrating.

 

Standing gives the expression to the prayers of our heart. Standing is a sign of vigilance and action acknowledging that we are the warriors of God, as a soldier on duty. A Knight always stood in the presence of the King or Judge. Standing was a sign of deference and trust. We acknowledge that none of our weapons or self-defenses can repel Him for He alone is all powerful and all knowing. We are vulnerable in His presence. Military officers know that comportment has serious consequences. Soldiers tend to live up, or down to the way they carry themselves. That’s why there are strict rules about how a soldier should stand when at attention. Bad posture is bad for the spine and communicates disrespect for us and others. Standing expresses the filial liberty given us by the risen Christ, who has freed us from the slavery to sin.

 

Bowing or genuflecting is an act of showing recognition of our God. It is adoration. In bowing or genuflecting we show our faith in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the sacrament of the altar. To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.

 

Kneeling is the prayer posture of mothers, rulers, lepers, and Jesus himself. Kneeling is the side of worship that is at rest and is quiet; “I bow my knees before the Father”. (Eph. 3:14) Kneeling expresses the recognition of our humility before the Almighty Lord (Phil 2:10). Kneeling is associated with reverence, submission and obeisance. Kneeling renders a person defenseless and unable to flee and shows a trust in a power beyond the merely human.

 

Sitting-We spend a lot of time in church sitting; by this position we show our receptiveness and our willingness to listen and take the Word of God.

 

In prostration a person lies face down upon the ground. We are connected to the earth from which we came. Prostrations are reserved for most solemn moments, such as the ordination of a bishop or priest. Remember our Lord prostrated Himself in the garden of Gethsemane. The posture indicates the candidate’s inadequacy for the task to which he has been called. Recall our Lord asking the Father to take to cup…but not my will but thine. Our body expresses self-emptying.

 

Friday of the First Week of Lent[5]


BE merciful, O Lord, to Thy people, and as Thou makest them devout to Thee, mercifully refresh them with kind assistance.

EPISTLE. Ezech. xviii. 20-28.

Thus, saith the Lord God: The soul that sinneth, the same shall die: the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, and the father shall not bear the iniquity of the son: the justice of the just shall be upon him and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. But if the wicked do penance for all his sins, which he hath committed, and keep all My commandments, and do judgment and justice, living he shall live, and shall not die. I will not remember all his iniquities that he hath done in his justice which he hath wrought, he shall live. Is it My will that a sinner should die, saith the Lord God, and not that he should be converted from his ways, and live?

But if the just man turn himself away from his justice, and do iniquity according to all the abominations which the wicked man useth to work, shall he live? all his justices which he had done, shall not be remembered: in the prevarication, by which he hath prevaricated, and in his sin, which he hath committed, in them he shall die. And you have said: The way of the Lord is not right. Hear ye, therefore, O house of Israel: Is it My way that is not right, and are not rather your ways perverse?

For when the just turneth himself away from his justice, and committeth iniquity, lie shall die therein: in the injustice that he hath wrought he shall die. And when the wicked turneth himself away from his wickedness, which he hath wrought, and doeth judgment and justice: he shall save his soul alive. Because he considereth and turneth away himself from all his iniquities which he hath wrought, he shall surely live, and not die, saith the Lord Almighty.

GOSPEL. John v. 1-15.

At that time there was a festival-day of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem a pond, called Probatica, which in Hebrew is named Bethsaida, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick, of blind, of lame, of withered, waiting for the moving of the water. And an angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond: and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water, was made whole of whatsoever infirmity he lay under. And there was a certain man there, that had been eight-and-thirty years under his infirmity. Him when Jesus had seen lying, and knew that he had been now a long time, He saith to him: Wilt thou be made whole? The infirm man answered Him: Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pond. For whilst I am coming, another goeth down before me. Jesus saith to him: Arise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole: and he took up his bed and walked. And it was the Sabbath that day. The Jews therefore said to him that was healed: It is the Sabbath, it is not lawful for thee to take up thy bed. He answered them: He that made me whole, He said to me: Take up thy bed, and walk. They asked him therefore: Who is that man who said to thee: Take up thy bed, and walk? But he who was healed, knew not who it was. For Jesus went aside from the multitude standing in the place. Afterwards Jesus findeth him in the temple, and saith to him: Behold thou art made whole: sin no more, lest some worse thing happen to thee. The man went his way and told the Jews that it was Jesus Who had made him whole.

Worship Him and give Him all your heart, mind, soul and will! 

Grace at Meals[6] 

Part and parcel of the breakdown of a family begins when the family no longer shares a communal meal. The strongest families are those who meet daily for the breaking of the bread and have an established time of the day when everyone is expected to eat together whether that meal is a breakfast, lunch or supper. When we “say grace” before (or after) our meals, we transform our family or lone meals into “sacraments” of God’s banquet. A meal shared in this manner is shared with God himself. In this way every meal, then, is a celebration of God’s creation and his providence. 

Traditional Grace before meals 

“Bless us, O Lord, and these, thy gifts, which we are about to receive from thy bounty. Through Christ, our Lord, Amen

The Devil and Temptations[7]

There are many and varied ways in which sin and evil are presented to us in an attractive way.

Freeing My Own Self from the Power of Evil

·         Through his passion, death, and resurrection, Jesus has broken the power of the Evil One. When the influence of evil is perceived in one's own life, it most frequently comes about from personal sin. Family members suffer because of the sin of an individual member of the family. It is through the sacred power that the Lord has placed in his Church that the evil of sin is conquered.

·         Through medicine, psychology and other human means, suffering can often be alleviated. But Jesus in his Church, has given us basic helps that are often neglected.

·         In our day the Sacrament of Reconciliation has fallen into disuse. There exists a power in this sacrament to break the power of the Evil One and sin that is not possible otherwise.

·         Our faith in the Eucharist is weakened. In this sacrament is the power and presence of Jesus Himself. Persons who have actually needed exorcism from the power of the Evil One have been cured by sitting in church in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, an hour each day, for one or two months. These were very difficult cases.

·         Our Blessed Mother has been designated by God as the one who crushes the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:1s). The Rosary is a very powerful means of protection and salvation. Many sons and daughters have been saved from the power of sin and the loss of faith through the perseverance of their parents in saying the Holy Rosary.

 

Catechism of the Catholic Church

PART THREE: LIFE IN CHRIST

SECTION TWO-THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

CHAPTER ONE-YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND

Article 3 THE THIRD COMMANDMENT

I. The Sabbath Day

2168 The third commandment of the Decalogue recalls the holiness of the sabbath: "The seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD."

2169 In speaking of the sabbath Scripture recalls creation: "For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it."

2170 Scripture also reveals in the Lord's day a memorial of Israel's liberation from bondage in Egypt: "You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out thence with mighty hand and outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day."

2171 God entrusted the sabbath to Israel to keep as a sign of the irrevocable covenant. The sabbath is for the Lord, holy and set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on behalf of Israel.

2172 God's action is the model for human action. If God "rested and was refreshed" on the seventh day, man too ought to "rest" and should let others, especially the poor, "be refreshed." The sabbath brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite. It is a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money.

2173 The Gospel reports many incidents when Jesus was accused of violating the sabbath law. But Jesus never fails to respect the holiness of this day. He gives this law its authentic and authoritative interpretation: "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath." With compassion, Christ declares the sabbath for doing good rather than harm, for saving life rather than killing. The sabbath is the day of the Lord of mercies and a day to honor God. "The Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath."

Fitness Friday-Camino Fitness Plan[8]

 

The Camino de Santiago, known in English as the Way of St James, is a network of pilgrims' ways or pilgrimages leading to the shrine of the apostle Saint James (Feast Day, July 25) the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition holds that the remains of the apostle are buried. Wikipedia


 

6 Month Action Plan

CaminoWays has partnered with Peter from D-Pete Health and Fitness clinic to share this Camino Fitness Plan and professional fitness advice to help you prepare for your Camino de Santiago trip.

Peter has created this dedicated 6 Month Action Plan below, which is easy to print and follow.

The Camino Fitness Plan below is a general fitness plan, but we would always recommend talking to your doctor before undertaking any fitness plan. You can print or download this Camino fitness plan to show your doctor if necessary.

Month 6

  • Time / Distance: 25 – 30mins
  • Frequency: 3 times p/w
  • Progress:
    1. Walk – jog – walk-jog (interval training)
    2. Include hiking gear (bag + contents, jacket, shoes)
    3. Change route: hills – steps – uneven terrain.
    4. Alternate days: 2 Train days (back-to-back) – rest – Train – rest – Train….and so on!!

Month 5

  • Time: 40 – 60mins
  • Frequency: 3 times p/w
  • Progress:
    • Choose any of the previous months.
    • 5. Hiking trail: 1 -2 times p/w walk a local hiking trail; this will break you away from the even surfaced roads and paths

Month 4

  • Time: 40 – 60mins
  • Frequency: 4 times p/w
  • Progress:
    • Choose any of the previous months.
      • 6. Cycle/ swim or jog one of the 4 days for a variety
      • 7. Attend the gym one of the 4 training days for a variety

Month 3

  • Distance: 5 – 7Km
  • Frequency: 4 times p/w
  • Progress:
    • Choose any of the previous months.

Month 2

  • Distance: 15Km for 1/2 times a week & 10Km for 1/2 times a week
  • Progress:
    • Choose any of the previous months.
      • 8. Add an additional 5 -10 pounds (roughly 2-5Kg) to your bag

Month 1

    • Distance: 20Km for 1/2 times a week & 10Km for 1/2 times a week Progress: Choose any of the previous months

I hope you enjoyed our Camino Fitness Plan prepared by the CaminoWays’ team and D-Pete Health Clinics.

There is a whole series of Camino Preparation tips and advice on fitness we have prepared for you.

Continue reading our preparation and fitness plan by D-Pete:

If you would like to talk to us about the Camino de Santiago or preparing for your trip, please contact us on the form below: 

Stations of the Cross and Soup Supper

Using red lentils can remind us of the martyrdom of St. Polycarp or any other martyr.

Catholic Recipe: Red Lentil Soup

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 c red lentils
  • 8 c Meat stock
  • 2 md Size onions
  • 2 tb Butter
  • 1/2 tb Flour
  • 1 c Milk
  • 3 Egg yolks
  • 1 tb Salt
  • 1/2 ts Black pepper
  • 6 Slices of bread
  • 2 tb Oil

Origin: Turkey

DIRECTIONS

1- Wash the lentils. Put them in meat stock and 1 cup of water. Cook for 35-40 minutes until they are tender. Pass them through a sieve.

2- Melt the butter in another saucepan. Add chopped onions and fry them lightly for 7-8 minutes. Add flour. Brown for 1 minute more. Add them to the meat stock with the lentil puree. Add salt and pepper and let simmer.

3- Beat the egg yolks with cold milk. Add to the boiling soup mix well. Turn the heat off as soon as it starts boiling. Serve with bread cubes fried in oil.

Recipe Source: Recipes from Various Websites 

Coffee with Christ 

Christ sips his coffee and looks at me and says, “Seek to love your neighbor as they are and not how you want them to be; do good to them even if they are ungrateful. To do this it is necessary to be thankful to the Father by first seeing the blessings He has given you. Making time for others is the greatest gift you can give. Invite the Holy Spirit in when making your plans.”  


Daily Devotions 

·         Unite in the work of the Porters of St. Joseph by joining them in fasting: Today's Fast: An end to the use of contraceptives.

·         Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus

·         Total Consecration to St. Joseph Day 8

·         Offering to the sacred heart of Jesus

·         Drops of Christ’s Blood

·         Iceman’s 40 devotion

·         Universal Man Plan

·         Operation Purity

 



 Introduction to the Book of Ester[9]

How do you deal with someone's insidious plot to murder you and everybody like you?

The Book of Esther provides one possible answer to that question, tough cookie though it is. Today, that query may not loom quite as large in America, but it definitely does in many other places throughout the world (the Middle East, Burma, the Congo—and about a dozen or more other places). It happened to loom really large in the ancient Middle East too. In Esther's case, though, no one seems to know if there really was a wicked counselor named Haman who attempted to manipulate the emperor (probably Xerxes I, though here he's called "Ahasuerus") into having all the Jews in the Persian Empire murdered during the fifth century BCE. Nevertheless, you don't have to look too deeply into Jewish history to find highly similar attempts at genocide and persecution against the Jews. The story (which was probably written during the third or fourth Century BCE) may have helped people who were living under later rulers and needed to reckon with threats from above (regardless of how historically accurate the story is—or isn't).

Good Girl, Mad World

Esther is one of the first in a long line of stories about how a good and clever woman helps a powerful, evil, and monstrous (or maybe just confused) villain switch towards making the right decisions (in this case, it's King Ahasuerus). In a way, it's a little like Beauty and the Beast—except the Beast never sat around tacitly supporting a genocide, Belle never sought vengeance against the people who were trying to kill her, and Lumiere never walked around weeping and wearing sack-cloth. But despite all that, Esther's a good example of this type of story. To give a non-Disney version, you could think of The Arabian Nights, where the heroine gets her husband to stop murdering his wives every night by telling him a series of entertaining tales (come to think of it, actually that is a Disney example, because Aladdin's part of The Arabian Nights). It's also a bit of an unusual fit. It isn't one of the major books of the Tanakh or the prophets or anything. It's wedged in with the "Writings," next to a miscellany of texts, like The Book of Daniel and The Song of Songs. It's also particularly odd because it doesn't really mention God, doesn't really fit into that whole spiritual narrative which occupies the Torah and the Prophets. It's a suspense and adventure story on the one hand, but it's also a more serious tale about how the Jewish people manage to preserve themselves and their culture when faced with a threat from hostile authorities. Additionally, one of Esther's greatest contributions to culture—the holiday of Purim—is a time for fun and merriment (and also an opportunity to look for spiritual meanings hidden within the tale).

Why Should I Care?

The Book of Esther has a James Bond-ish, ticking-time-bomb plot. It's also heavy on action, drama, and Game of Thrones-style intrigue, while being notably lacking in legal codes, commandments, theology—all that kind of thing. This is one book of the Bible you could easily read while marinating in a bubble bath, without feeling particularly sacrilegious (not that, uh, any of us have done that here at Shmoop). Our point is that the book is compact and smooth—a straightforward, streamlined example of an ancient Hebrew short story. We're not suggesting that whoever wrote the book of Esther was exactly the Alice Munro of his or her time, but the author was indeed another master storyteller. A closer comparison would be a story that's a classic, but more focused on action than on character. Maybe F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" would work as an example of the style (if not of the substance).

Darker Dimensions

But Esther is more than an entertaining yarn. To be sure, it is more of a "tale" than an epic investigation into the relationship between God and humanity. (In fact, considering that it doesn't really mention God, it might be the Bible's most secular book.) Overall, though, it's a story about how a pair of scrappy underdogs—Esther and Mordecai—face seemingly insurmountable odds and end up putting it all together in the end. The author suggests that, while living in exile the Jewish people can—with tough work and intelligence—secure a decent place for themselves within the kingdoms ruled by Gentile conquerors. (So, maybe it's more like The Little Giants or The Mighty Ducks than all that high-art literary Munro and Fitzgerald stuff.) Yet, there are darker dimensions to the story, going beyond the basic theme of preventing a genocide. Esther, Mordecai, and their allies seek vengeance against the supporters of the evil counselor Haman, racking up a considerable death toll, for one thing. As well, the king Ahasuerus is a bit of a cipher. You can't really figure out what the dude's psychology is, or what he's "on about" (to borrow a U.K.-ism). So, that's all-disquieting food for thought. But despite these violent and confusing undertones and the somewhat confusing, momentary disappearance of God from the Biblical storyline, the reader will undoubtedly be moved to repeat an immortal line from The Royal Tennenbaums: "Go, Mordecai!"



[4] Hahn, Scott, Signs of Life; 40 Catholic Customs and their biblical roots. Chap. 10. Posture.

[5]Goffine’s Devout Instructions

[6] Hahn, Scott, Signs of Life; 40 Catholic Customs and their biblical roots. Chap. 14. Grace at Meals.

[8] https://caminoways.com/camino-fitness-plan/















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