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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Chinese Lantern Festival[1]

Also known as the Shang Yuan Festival or the Yuan Xiao Jie Festival, the Lantern Festival is a traditional Chinese holiday that falls during the first month of the lunar calendar, on the fifteenth day. The festival is a celebration of the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations and the start of the new year. It’s a time for families to come together and enjoy food, entertainment, and the lighting of lanterns. One of the fundamental traditions of the Lantern Festival is the display and appreciation of colorful lanterns as well as other activities such as fireworks displays, parades, and traditional dance and music performances. Many people also participate in cultural activities such as solving riddles written on lanterns or eating sweet dumplings, called yuanxiao.

 History of Lantern Festival

The origins of the Lantern Festival can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD) in ancient China. According to legend, the festival was originally a celebration of the deity Taiyi, who was believed to be responsible for the creation of the universe. Over time, the festival evolved to become a celebration of the new year and the end of the winter season.

During the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD), the Lantern Festival became an important cultural event that was celebrated by people from all walks of life as a time to pay respect to their ancestors and to pray for good fortune in the new year.

In the modern era, the Lantern Festival is still an important cultural event in China and is celebrated by millions of people around the world. It is a time for celebration, reflection, and coming together with loved ones, and is an integral part of Chinese culture and tradition.

 How to Celebrate Lantern Festival

There are many ways in which people celebrate the Lantern Festival. Some common traditions and activities include:

Displaying and Appreciating Lanterns

People display lanterns of all shapes and sizes, often in the form of parades or displays. The lanterns are made from a variety of materials, including paper, silk, and metal, and come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Some lanterns are shaped like animals or objects, while others are simple round or cylindrical shapes.

Lighting Lanterns

Many people also light lanterns as part of the festival celebrations. These lanterns can be small handheld lanterns or larger lanterns that are suspended in the air. In some cases, people release lanterns into the sky as a symbol of letting go of the past and welcoming the future.

Solving Riddles

Some lanterns may have riddles written on them, and people try to solve these riddles, which is seen as a fun and interactive way to celebrate the holiday.

Eating Traditional Foods

The Lantern Festival is also a time for people to enjoy traditional foods, such as yuanxiao, a type of sweet dumpling made from glutinous rice flour. Other traditional foods that are often eaten during the festival include tangyuan (sweet rice balls) and other sweet treats.

Enjoying Performances

The Lantern Festival is often accompanied by performances of traditional Chinese music and dance, as well as other forms of entertainment such as acrobatics and theater.

Fireworks Displays

In some areas, fireworks displays are an important part of the Lantern Festival celebrations. These displays are often elaborate and spectacular, and are enjoyed by people of all ages..

·         Lyte Sky Lantern Festival is coming to the Tucson, AZ area Saturday, April 27th, 2024.

o   Arizona- Tucson, Arizona

o   Saturday, April 27th, 2024

o   5:00 PM – 10:00 PM


Introduction to the Book of Ester[1]

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!"


February 24 Ember Saturday

FAST-Spring Training 

Ester, Chapter 1, Verse 8

The whole nation of the just was shaken with FEAR at the evils to come upon them, and they expected to perish.


As a faithful catholic in the modern world, you may feel shaken with fear at the evils the new world order has taken, and you may expect to perish yourself but know that we can trust in Divine Mercy.


John Paul II Entrusted the World to Divine Mercy[2]

On Aug. 17, 2002, twenty years ago today, Pope John Paul II entrusted the world to Divine Mercy as he consecrated the International Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki, Poland.

Standing before the image of Divine Mercy, the Pope said, “I wish solemnly to entrust the world to Divine Mercy. I do so with the burning desire that the message of God’s merciful love, proclaimed here through Saint Faustina, may be made known to all the peoples of the earth and fill their hearts with hope.” 

He finished his homily with this prayer:

God, merciful Father, in your Son, Jesus Christ, you have revealed your love and poured it out upon us in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, we entrust to you today the destiny of the world and of every man and woman. Bend down to us sinners, heal our weakness, conquer all evil, and grant that all the peoples of the earth may experience your mercy. In You, the Triune God, may they ever find the source of hope. Eternal Father, by the Passion and Resurrection of your Son, have mercy on us and upon the whole world!

The consecration and entrustment of the world to Divine Mercy represented the fulfillment of a mission for Maria Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938). Faustina, a poor, young Polish nun experienced visions of Jesus in which he asked her to make his message of infinite love and mercy known to the world. At the request of her spiritual director, she made a record of the visions in her diary.

In his visitations, Jesus asked her to have a painting made portraying him as he appeared to her. In her diary she recorded the vision:

“Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: ‘Jesus, I trust in You.’ I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and then throughout the world. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish.”

In another visitation, he asked the nun that she help establish Divine Mercy Sunday on the first Sunday after Easter, to offer the world salvation. 

Faustina recorded Jesus’ words: 

“This Feast emerged from the very depths of My mercy, and it is confirmed in the vast depths of my tender mercies. Every soul believing and trusting in My mercy will obtain it.”

It was the mission that Pope John Paul II also felt called to help complete. 

If St. Faustina was the initial receptacle for the message of Divine Mercy, her Polish compatriot saw to it that the requests Jesus made of the nun were fulfilled, and the devotion spread throughout the world.

As a young seminarian in Krakow in 1940, Karol Wojtyla first learned of St. Faustina’s revelations and the message of Divine Mercy. Later as a priest, he was a frequent visitor to the convent where Faustina lived, stopping by to pray, and hold retreats. When he became Archbishop of Krakow, he led the effort to put Faustina’s name before the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and defended her when the validity of her claims was questioned in Rome. 

As pope, he published his second encyclical, Dives in misericordia (Rich in mercy), on Nov. 30, 1980. 

The following year, while recovering from an assassination attempt, Pope John Paul II traveled to The Shrine of Merciful Love in Collevalenza, Italy, where he revealed that he felt spreading the message of Divine mercy to be his greatest calling.

“Right from the beginning of my ministry in St. Peter's See in Rome, I considered this message my special task. Providence has assigned it to me in the present situation of man, the Church, and the world. It could be said that precisely this situation assigned that message to me as my task before God,” he said.

At the beatification of Saint Faustina on April 18, 1993, the pope spoke of his delight at witnessing the popularity of the devotion to Divine Mercy.

“Her mission continues and is yielding astonishing fruit. It is truly marvelous how her devotion to the merciful Jesus is spreading in our contemporary world and gaining so many human hearts!” said the pope.

Yet there was more to be done. On Divine Mercy Sunday, April 30, 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized Saint Faustina Kowalska, and declared the Second Sunday of Easter as "Divine Mercy Sunday.” 

Twenty years ago today, when Pope John Paul II entrusted the world to Divine Mercy, he shared his hope that the world would hear the message that God is merciful. Quoting from Faustina's diary, he said:

“May this message radiate from this place to our beloved homeland and throughout the world. May the binding promise of the Lord Jesus be fulfilled: from here there must go forth ‘the spark which will prepare the world for his final coming (cf. Diary, 1732)’.”

“This spark needs to be lighted by the grace of God. This fire of mercy needs to be passed on to the world. In the mercy of God the world will find peace and mankind will find happiness! I entrust this task to you, dear Brothers and Sisters, to the Church in Krak√≥w and Poland, and to all the votaries of Divine Mercy who will come here from Poland and from throughout the world. May you be witnesses to mercy!” he said.

Today, devotion to Divine Mercy is popular among Catholics around the world. Churches and shrines and religious orders have dedicated themselves to sharing the message received by St. Faustina and which St. Pope John Paul II considered his “task before God."

To learn more about the Divine Mercy devotion, visit the website for the Divine Mercy shrine in Poland or the National Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockton, Massachusetts.

Ember Saturday of The First Week of Lent

Station "With St. Peter 

And the Lord hath chosen thee this day

to be His peculiar people (1st lesson) 

It is Ember Saturday. Oremus, flectamus genna! Let us pray, and in spirit kneel at the tomb of St. Peter, the great priest and supreme shepherd of Christ's flock, and let us listen with reverence to the words of his successor Pius XI "On the Priesthood," for on this day, in hundreds of cathedrals, apostolic hands will be laid on young levites, levites "who have chosen the Lord, this day, to be their God, and to walk in His ways and keep His ceremonies, and precepts and judgments, and obey His commands" (epistle). 

"The human race has always felt the need of a priesthood: of men who have the official charge to be mediators between God and humanity, men who should consecrate themselves entirely to this mediation as to the very purpose of their lives; men who are set aside to offer to God public prayers and sacrifices in the name of human society. For human society as such is bound to offer to God public and social worship. It is bound to acknowledge in Him its supreme Lord and first beginning, and to strive towards Him as to its last end, to give Him thanks and to offer Him propitiation. 

"The Apostle of the Gentiles perfectly sums up what may be said of the greatness, the dignity and the duty of the Christian priesthood: 'Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ and the dispensers of the mysteries of God.' The priest is the minister of Christ--an instrument, that is to say, in the hands of the divine Redeemer. He continues the work of the redemption in all its world-embracing universality and divine efficacy, that work which wrought so marvelous a transformation in the world. Thus the priest, as is said with good reason, is indeed 'another Christ'; for in some way, he is himself a continuation of Christ. 'As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you,' is spoken to the priest; and hence the priest, like Christ, continue to give 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will.'" (From the Encyclical Letter of His His Holiness Pope Pius XI.) 

Let us pray, then, for all who in these days will be raised to this high and responsible position "that the God of peace may sanctify them in all things; that their whole spirit, and soul, and body, may be preserved blameless, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (epistle); that the Lord may make them worthy laborers in His vineyard; that the Holy Spirit may fill them with Pentecostal fire and apostolic fortitude for the great work of "incorporating all things in Christ." 

St. Peter, rock of the Church, bearer of the keys of God's kingdom, great priest of Jesus Christ, holy shepherd of His flock, bless those who are about to become fishers of men. 

Prayer Source: Orate Fratres/Worship: A Review Devoted to the Liturgical Apostolate, The Liturgical Press


Catechism of the Catholic Church





II. The Lord's Day

This is the day which the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

The day of the Resurrection: the new creation

2174 Jesus rose from the dead "on the first day of the week." Because it is the "first day," the day of Christ's Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the "eighth day" following the sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ's Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord's Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica) Sunday:

We all gather on the day of the sun, for it is the first day [after the Jewish sabbath, but also the first day] when God, separating matter from darkness, made the world; and on this same day Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead.

Sunday - fulfillment of the sabbath

2175 Sunday is expressly distinguished from the sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the sabbath. In Christ's Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish sabbath and announces man's eternal rest in God. For worship under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there prefigured some aspects of Christ:

Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the sabbath, but the Lord's Day, in which our life is blessed by him and by his death.

2176 The celebration of Sunday observes the moral commandment inscribed by nature in the human heart to render to God an outward, visible, public, and regular worship "as a sign of his universal beneficence to all." Sunday worship fulfills the moral command of the Old Covenant, taking up its rhythm and spirit in the weekly celebration of the Creator and Redeemer of his people.

The Sunday Eucharist

2177 The Sunday celebration of the Lord's Day and his Eucharist is at the heart of the Church's life.
"Sunday is the day on which the paschal mystery is celebrated in light of the apostolic tradition and is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church."

"Also to be observed are the day of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Epiphany,
the Ascension of Christ,
the feast of the Body and Blood of Christi,
the feast of Mary the Mother of God,
her Immaculate Conception,
her Assumption,
the feast of Saint Joseph,
the feast of the Apostles Saints Peter and Paul, and the feast of All Saints."

2178 This practice of the Christian assembly dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age. The Letter to the Hebrews reminds the faithful "not to neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but to encourage one another."

Tradition preserves the memory of an ever-timely exhortation: Come to Church early, approach the Lord, and confess your sins, repent in prayer.... Be present at the sacred and divine liturgy, conclude its prayer and do not leave before the dismissal.... We have often said: "This day is given to you for prayer and rest. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

2179 "A parish is a definite community of the Christian faithful established on a stable basis within a particular church; the pastoral care of the parish is entrusted to a pastor as its own shepherd under the authority of the diocesan bishop." It is the place where all the faithful can be gathered together for the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist. the parish initiates the Christian people into the ordinary expression of the liturgical life: it gathers them together in this celebration; it teaches Christ's saving doctrine; it practices the charity of the Lord in good works and brotherly love:

You cannot pray at home as at church, where there is a great multitude, where exclamations are cried out to God as from one great heart, and where there is something more: the union of minds, the accord of souls, the bond of charity, the prayers of the priests.

The Sunday obligation

2180 The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass." "The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day."

2181 The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.

2182 Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church. The faithful give witness by this to their communion in faith and charity. Together they testify to God's holiness and their hope of salvation. They strengthen one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

2183 "If because of lack of a sacred minister or for other grave cause participation in the celebration of the Eucharist is impossible, it is specially recommended that the faithful take part in the Liturgy of the Word if it is celebrated in the parish church or in another sacred place according to the prescriptions of the diocesan bishop, or engage in prayer for an appropriate amount of time personally or in a family or, as occasion offers, in groups of families."

A day of grace and rest from work

2184 Just as God "rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done," human life has a rhythm of work and rest. the institution of the Lord's Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives.

2185 On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord's Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body. Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest. The faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life, and health.

The charity of truth seeks holy leisure - the necessity of charity accepts just work.

2186 Those Christians who have leisure should be mindful of their brethren who have the same needs and the same rights, yet cannot rest from work because of poverty and misery. Sunday is traditionally consecrated by Christian piety to good works and humble service of the sick, the infirm, and the elderly. Christians will also sanctify Sunday by devoting time and care to their families and relatives, often difficult to do on other days of the week. Sunday is a time for reflection, silence, cultivation of the mind, and meditation which furthers the growth of the Christian interior life.

2187 Sanctifying Sundays and holy days requires a common effort. Every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord's Day. Traditional activities (sport, restaurants, etc.), and social necessities (public services, etc.), require some people to work on Sundays, but everyone should still take care to set aside sufficient time for leisure. With temperance and charity the faithful will see to it that they avoid the excesses and violence sometimes associated with popular leisure activities. In spite of economic constraints, public authorities should ensure citizens a time intended for rest and divine worship. Employers have a similar obligation toward their employees.

2188 In respecting religious liberty and the common good of all, Christians should seek recognition of Sundays and the Church's holy days as legal holidays. They have to give everyone a public example of prayer, respect, and joy and defend their traditions as a precious contribution to the spiritual life of society. If a country's legislation or other reasons require work on Sunday, the day should nevertheless be lived as the day of our deliverance which lets us share in this "festal gathering," this "assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven."

Full Snow Moon 

According to the almanac today we are having a Full Snow Moon plan to have a day to take your children or your grandchildren taking them out to play in the snow and talk a little with them about your love and faith in God and make snow angels.

 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.

·         Saturday Litany of the Hours Invoking the Aid of Mother Mary

·         Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus

·         Total Consecration to St. Joseph Day 9

·         Offering to the sacred heart of Jesus

·         Drops of Christ’s Blood

·         Iceman’s 40 devotion

·         Universal Man Plan