Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Is the Holy Grail really lost?

Photo above - the agate cup of the Holy Grail sits upon a gold base. The gold base is adorned with two emeralds. The base is dated to be a more recent addition to the Grail but it is also very old.

The Chapel of the Holy Grail in Valencia Cathedral, Valencia Spain. The Chapel of the Holy Grail
contains an agate cup which many people believe to have been used by Christ during the last supper.

Read more about the history of this highly researched relic HERE. Also don't miss a very well done blog entry by Father Zuhlsdorf says: "It could really be it, after all." Read the full post
at his famous What does the prayer really say blog HERE.

Our Holy Father John Paul II venerating this same chalice. He later said mass using it - it was also said this was the first "Peter" to say mass with this chalice since St. Peter.

Food for thought...we most likely will not know until all is revealed at the end of time.

Missing Holy Relic

"I saw the Blessed Virgin’s wedding-ring; it is neither of silver nor of gold, nor of any other metal; it is dark in color and iridescent; it is not a thin narrow ring, but rather thick and at least a finger broad. I saw it smooth and yet as if covered with little regular triangles in which were letters. On the inside was a flat surface. The ring is engraved with something. I saw it kept behind many locks in a beautiful church. Devout people about to be married take their wedding-rings to touch it. " ~Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich from "The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary"

Does anyone know of this ring? Where is it and are there any pictures of it? My searching has come up empty...
By the way...the picture above is a drawing made from the highly detailed description of the wedding clothes of the Blessed Virgin Mary as related from the visions of Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich. You can read this account in THIS book. These are traditional jewish wedding clothes from the time.

Beautiful Mary Holding Jesus II

O Holy Virgin Mother of God - I entrust the entire world to thine intercession. Convert sinners, save souls - especially mine and all those for whom I pray. It is my sincere wish to spend all eternity seated at thy feet, looking up to gaze upon your face! Amen+

Our Lady of Sorrows at the Hour of our Death

(picture source)
This right here, the picture above - this is precisely what I hope and pray for with all my being to take place at the hour of my death. A rosary in my hand, her scapular around my neck, Mary helping me to press the cross of Jesus to my dying lips that I may breathe forth my soul in her blessed presence. There is no grace greater than that of a happy death.
DO NOT FORGET: One of the promises of devotion to Mary's Sorrows is what this picture depicts! She will come to you, right to your side and you will SEE HER FACE and be personally assisted by her at your death. To better know how great a grace this is, read the following:
"Three awful thoughts cross the mind of a dying sinner: the vision of his past life with all its sins; the vision of the future and the inevitable punishment to come; the vision of the present and the divine justice from which he cannot escape. The judgment commences on the death bed. It is the opinion of theologians that man is judged in the actual spot where he dies. Ah! if the day of death were the day of divine justice only, it would too often be a dreadful day. But it is also Mary’s day and for that reason it is a day of mercy and rejoicing. To counteract discouragement, Mary places three consoling visions before the eyes of the dying: the thought of the past and all the favors received from her; the vision of Paradise where she reigns as Queen; and even, as has frequently occurred, her presence at death beds. No matter what temptation assails the child of Mary, he is strengthened and consoled by his heavenly Mother."

Holy Mass

"To Calvary through the Mass"
This is a thought worthy of our contemplation. Every time we go to Mass we go to Calvary. We also step outside of time and enter into eternity. How well do we realize this? How grateful or ungrateful are we for this great gift? In times past people would walk for hours in all sort of weather to just watch a Mass - as weekly, let along daily communion was not in practice. The faithful of early medieval times would crowd into small chapels and kneel down just get a faint glimpse of the elevation taking place behind bars. The priest alone would recieve but the faithful would offer thier prayers to the Lord in faith that they were heard. How very ungrateful we are now for the abundance of graces poured out upon us.
Lord I believe, help my unbelief! Amen+

Monday, November 24, 2008

St. Winifred

Statue of St. Winifred, in this Catholic parish of St. Winifred, Pittsburgh PA.
Catholic Mom of 10 has a great post about St. Winifred's shrine in Wales. I hope she posts more specifics about her pilgrimmage there. It is truly one of my goals in life to visit this holy well. Go here for more information. And here is a prayer to St. Winifred:
O blessed Winefride, pure virgin and glorious martyr, so especially chosen, so divinely graced and so wonderfully restored from death to life! Hope of all that fly unto thee with full confidence and humility! We, though, unworthy, yet thy devoted pilgrims, make our petitions unto thee. Sanctuary of piety, look upon us with patient eyes; receive our prayers, accept our offerings, and present our supplications at the throne of mercy, that through thy powerful intercessions God may be pleased to bless our pilgrimage, and to grant our requests and desires; through Christ our Lord. Amen +
To learn more about this beautiful saint's life go here, here, and here
St. Winifred, my beloved patron saint, ora pro nobis!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lilies of the Valley

Well I learned something new today. The above flower, the Lily of the Valley is also known as "Our Lady's Tears." From Wikipedia;
"The flower is also known as Our Lady's tears since, according to Christian legend, the tears Mary shed at the cross turned to Lilies of the Valley. According to another legend, Lilies of the Valley also sprang from the blood of Saint Leonard of Noblac during his battles with a dragon. Other names include May Lily, May Bells, Lily Constancy, Ladder-to-Heaven, Male Lily and Muguet."
"The name "Lily of the Valley" is also used in some English translations of the Bible in Song of Songs 2:1, although whether or not the Hebrew word "shoshana" (usually denoting a rose) originally used there refers to this species is uncertain. The meaning of this flower is "You will find Happiness."
My mother used to have many of these fragrant flowers in her gardens around my childhood home. I'll have to plant a bunch of these in the spring around our new statue of Mary shrine in the backyard.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Beautiful Mary

Ok, I'm busy and stressed and I just need sometimes to look upon the beautiful face of Mary and know that she is the Queen of Heaven and I am so honored and so unworthy to have her as my intercessor. Thank you Mary Mother of God for all your prayers, all your suffering on behalf of us poor sinners. I place all my worries and cares at your feet as so many peices of straw.

Mary Queen of Apostles, be my guide, be my salvation! Amen+

Monday, November 17, 2008

Purgatorian Archconfraternity

“Oh no! That is not sufficient. It is the Blood of Jesus Christthat is needed to extinguish the flames by which I am consumed;it is the August Sacrifice that will deliver me from these frightful torments.”
(A Soul from Purgatory to Bl. Henry Suso)

By request, I have posted here a link to the Transalpine Redemptorists who have organized the Purgatorian Archconfraternity. Here can be enrolled the souls of your beloved dead who can be greatly assisted by their prayers and masses!

They also have a blog here. Check them out! They also have a periodical magazine here - pictured above.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Persecution cometh...

St. Thomas Becket, bishop of Canterbury, martyred 1170 A.D

"The world is rapidly being divided into two camps, the comradeship of anti-Christ and the brotherhood of Christ. The lines between these two are being drawn. How long the battle will be we know not; whether swords will have to be unsheathed we know not; whether blood will have to be shed we know not; whether it will be an armed conflict we know not. But in a conflict between truth and darkness, truth cannot lose." —Bishop Fulton John Sheen, D.D. (1895-1979)

The devil and his minions do indeed prowl about the world seeking for those they can devour.

We must repent all our sins, forgive all who have ever harmed us, go to confession and pray for the strength to lead holy lives. Never quit, never give up, hold fast to your Catholic faith even if the entire world stands against you. It matter not one bit what others think of you - care ONLY about what God thinks of you. Seek to please Him and Him alone.

To those who have fear - Fear not for the Lord your God will rescue you from the hands of your enemies! By His mighty arm you will be saved! Do not be afraid! Do not trade the salvation of your soul for the ashes of comforts of this life. How sad will be the soul on Judgment Day who does this! We must not apostasize, no matter the worldly consequence.

"Death but not sin!" ~St. Dominic Savio

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Prayer invoking Mary's Tears

Assist me by the wings of your prayers
O you who are called the Mother of the living,
so that on my exit from this valley of tears
I may be able to advance without torment
to the dwelling of life that has been prepared for us
to lighten the end of a life burdened by my iniquity.
Healer of the sorrows of Eve, change my day of anguish
into a feast of gladness. Be my Advocate, ask and supplicate.
For as I believe in your inexpressible purity,
so do I also believe inthe good reception that is given to your word.
O you who are blessed among women, help me with your tears
for I am in danger. Bend the knee to obtain my reconciliation, O Mother of God.
Be solicitous for me for I am miserable.

~St. Gregory of Narek (A.D. 1010)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

We must continue to fight

Please take a moment to sign this petition.

Indulgences for Dummies

(photo credit to Micki at Holy Cards for your Inspiration)
From the German: "Eternal rest grant unto them, may eternal light shine upon them. May they rest in peace!"
The following is a summary from the Handbook of Indulgences available here for purchase. No Catholic home should be without it!
Who Needs Indulgences?: Anyone with unforgiven venial (less serious) sin or temporal punishment remaining from sins forgiven in life. This applies to the living and the souls suffering in purgatory. In reality, most souls go to purgatory before entering heaven.

What are Indulgences?: An indulgence is a remission of time in purgatory drawn form the 'spiritual treasury' of Jesus, Mary and the Saints who earned graces which they did not need. The Roman Catholic Church, the True Church, unlocks these graces through its authority to 'bind and loose' (Matthew 16:19). They may be applied by a person to himself/herself or offered to a soul (or the souls) suffering in purgatory.

How are Indulgences Gained?:

1. The person must be baptized and free from mortal sin (in the state of grace).

2. The person must have the intention (desire or goal) of obtaining the indulgence (they are not gained accidentally).

3. The work/works prescribed by the Church must be completely and correctly performed.

What is a Partial Indulgence?: A partial indulgence remits a part of the temporal punishment due. There is no limit to the number of partial indulgences that can be obtained in a single day.

What is a Plenary Indulgence?: A plenary indulgence remit all of the temporal punishment due leaving the soul completely clean. This would allow a soul to escape purgatory and enter heaven.

How is a Plenary Indulgence Obtained?:
1. The prescribed work must be performed.

2. In addition to the normal conditions, the person gaining the indulgence must be completely free from all all attachment to sin, including venial sin.

3. The person gaining gaining the indulgence must go to sacramental confession at least 20 days before or after the day that the work is performed.

4. The person gaining the indulgence must receive communion and pray for the intentions of the Pope (at least one Our Father and Hail Mary) specifically for each plenary indulgence desired.

5. The Church lengthened the time for confession, communion and prayer for the Pope to 20 days before or after the day of the indulgence (January 29, 2000: Gift of Indulgence document).

6. Only one plenary indulgence can be obtained a day (the only exception being that a second may be obtained at the moment of death).

What are Some of the Works Meriting the Plenary Indulgence?: Refer to the Handbook of Indulgences for additional places and times of the year which plenary indulgences may be obtained. The works below are referenced with the Handbook's listing number.

1. Way/Stations of the Cross in a Church by moving from station to station while meditating at each one.

2. Rosary: five decades said with others (family, parish members, religious community).

3. Reading Sacred Scripture for at least 30 minutes.

4. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for at least 30 minutes.

5. Visiting a Church or Oratory on All Souls Day with recitation of one Our Father and the Creed.

6. Hearing a Papal Blessing via radio/television when given to Rome and the world. Must be live.

7. Moment of Death: if a priest is unavailable, a person in the state of grace may obtain a plenary indulgence providinga. They have been (a.) in the habit of reciting some prayers during their lifetime (which substitutes for the required confession/communion/prayers for the Pope)and (b.) They are properly disposed (free from attachment to sin, including venial sin).

What are the Works Which Earn a Partial Indulgence?

1. Prayers and pious invocations.

2. Visit to a cemetery and praying for the dead (plenary from Nov. 1-8 with usual conditions).

3. Performing in the spirit of faith adn mercy a corporal or spiritual Work of Mercy (including almsgiving) to serve someone in need. (Second General Grant)

4. Mortification/penance: voluntarily depriving oneself of what is licit/allowed and pleasing to them. (Third General Grant).

5. Works meriting a plenary indulgence may also be performed for a partial indulgence.

How Can I Gain Every Indulgence Possible?: A key aspect of indulgences is having the intention of gaining the indulgence: they are not gained accidentally or automatically. An easy way to avoid loosing indulgences is making a simple prayer at the beginning of the day asking to gain all indulgences earned. Here is an example:

"I desire to gain each indulgence I earn through prayer and work today. Amen.+"

Monday, November 10, 2008

What are Indulgences?

From New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism (Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur; 1962)

435. What is an indulgence? An indulgence is the remission granted by the Church of the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven.

436. How many kinds of indulgences are there? There are two kinds of indulgences, plenary and partial.

437. What is a plenary indulgence? A plenary indulgence is the remission of all the temporal punishment due to our sins.

438. What is a partial indulgence? A partial indulgence is the remission of part of the temporal punishment due to our sins.

439. How does the Church by means of indulgences remit the temporal punishment due to sin? The Church by means of indulgences remits the temporal punishment due to sin by applying to us from her spiritual treasury part of the infinite satisfaction of Jesus Christ and of the superabundant satisfaction of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the saints.

440. What is the superabundant satisfaction of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the saints? The superabundant satisfaction of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the saints is that which they gained during their lifetime but did not need, and which the Church applies to their fellow members of the communion of saints.

441. What must we do to gain an indulgence for ourselves? To gain an indulgence for ourselves we must be in the state of grace, have at least a general intention of gaining the indulgence, and perform the works required by the Church.

442. Can we gain indulgences for others? We cannot gain indulgences for other living persons, but we can gain them for the souls in purgatory, since the Church makes most indulgences applicable to them.

Friday, November 7, 2008

How to Help the Holy Souls

To him therefore who knoweth to do good, and doth it not, to him it is sin (James 4:17)

There are a variety of ways to help the Holy Souls. Some of which are listed in a previous post, others are below. Keep in mind virtually everthing and anything can be offered to God as an act of love and charity for them. "Lord, may each movement of my hand today be for your glory and for the assistance of your faithful departed. Amen+" Practiced regularly, you will be shocked at what your little prayers and offerings have merited you at your particular judgement!

"The Holy Sacrifice is the greatest help we can offer, because its effect depends on itself, and not on the piety of the priest who offers it...If we cannot have a Mass said, we should at least hear Mass for our dear departed. A Mass has infinite merit..." (My Catholic Faith; 1949-1954)

In addition to the Requiem Mass following death, a Mass for the departed may be arranged for just about any day of the year. The following are days of traditional significance for Masses for the Departed:

1. All Souls Day

2. Third day/year following burial (Christ's time in the tomb); Seventh day/year (symbolic of eternal repose; St. Ambrose) and 30th day/year (St. Ambrose) from death or burial.

3. Yearly anniversary day from death or burial

4. Gregorian Masses: 30 consecutive Masses following the repose (burial) popularized by 6th Century Pope St. Gregory the Great. This could also be ANY 30 days following the death of a person because God hears all prayers outside of time.

5. Purgatorian Society Masses: daily masses said for souls those enrolled.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Beautiful Holy Card

Another simply incredible holy card from Micki and Holy Cards for your Inspiration. And this right after returning from a week in Nashville!

What Does it Mean to Pray for the Poor Souls?

It means everything that we can offer for the faithful departed.

~We can offer our bodily pains in expiation for their sins.
~We can offer our spiritual sufferings, our disappointments and fears, our discouragement and estrangement from those we love.
~We can offer our vocal prayers, like the Rosary, the Memorare, the Angelus, the recitation of the Divine Office.
~We can offer our mental prayers, like the Way of the Cross, our daily meditation and examination of conscience.
~We can offer our mortifications, like giving up some delicacy at table, or performance of some unpleasant work.

But the most effective offering we can make for the Poor Souls is the Holy Eucharist at the Sacrifice of the Mass, Holy Communion and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Over the centuries, the Catholic faithful have by now offered countless Masses for the Poor Souls. In the Society of Jesus, we priests are expected to offer one Mass each month for all the deceased Jesuits. This amounts to over sixteen thousand Masses that are to be said every month for the members of the Society of Jesus who are still in purgatory.

May I offer a recommendation? During the month of November, I suggest that we make a list of all the deceased persons whom we wish to specially remember in our Masses, prayers and sacrifices for the repose of their souls. Add to this list as those enter eternity whom you wish to specially commend to the mercy of God. This, by the way, is called a Necrology. Every Catholic diocese in the world has a Necrology of its deceased priests. Every family should have its own Necrology of deceased members whom we daily remember to our merciful Lord.

Every time you say the grace after meals, be sure to add the invocation, "May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen." In every Rosary you recite, do not forget to say after each decade, " O, my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and bring all souls to heaven, especially those who are in most need of thy mercy."
Remember that devotion to the Poor Souls is really a covenant between them and us. We pray and sacrifice for them, They can pray and suffer for us. They appreciate whatever help we give them, to lessen their suffering and to shorten their stay in Purgatory. They will continue to show their appreciation when we join them in a heavenly eternity.

(From a homily by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. accessed here)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Truth about Liberalism

" he (Pope Benedict XVI) says that liberalism's idea of conscience is that: "Conscience does not open the way to the redemptive road to truth - which either does not exist or, if it does, is too demanding. It is the faculty that dispenses with truth. It thereby becomes the justification for subjectivity, which would not like to have itself called into question. Similarly, it becomes the justification for social conformity. As mediating value between the different subjectivities, social conformity is intended to make living together possible. The obligation to seek the truth terminates, as do any doubts about the general inclination of society and what it has become accustomed to. Being convinced of oneself, as well as conforming to others, is sufficient. Man is reduced to his superficial conviction, and the less depth he has, the better for him."

~Pope Benedict XVI at theTenth Bishops' Workshop of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, on "Catholic Conscience: Foundation and Formation" Accessed at La Salette Journey.

We must always, at every time and in all places seek the truth!! I find solace in this bible passage:

John 14:1 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ; trust also in me.
John 14:2 In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.
John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
John 14:4 You know the way to the place where I am going."
John 14:5 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"
John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

The Two Sides of Purgatory

It must seem strange to speak of devotion to the Poor Souls. But it is not really strange. Devotion to the Poor Souls has two sides: our side and the side of the souls in purgatory.
On their side, the Poor Souls are united with us in the one Kingdom of Christ. They can pray and obtain blessings for us here on earth. They are united, as the Second Vatican Council teaches, with the pilgrim Church in the Communion of Saints. We are therefore encouraged to invoke their aid, with a confidence of being heard by those who understand our needs. They know from their own experience what it means to carry the cross here on earth.

On our side we are to do everything we can to help the Poor Souls in the Church Suffering. The sufferings in purgatory are not the same for all. They depend on each person's degree of sinfulness. St. Thomas Aquinas held that the least pain in purgatory is greater than the worst pain in this life. St. Bonaventure held that the worst suffering after death was greater than the worst suffering on earth, but the same could not be said regarding the least pain in purgatory. In general, however, we should say that the pains of purgatory are greater than those on earth.

To atone for your sins...

Scripture tells us that, "For charity delivers from death and keeps you from entering the darkness"; and that "Water extinguishes a blazing fire: so almsgiving atones for sin." Our Lord says: "But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you.”


St. Thomas Aquinas said: "Of all prayers, the most meritorious, the most acceptable to God are prayers for the dead, because they imply all the works of charity, both corporal and spiritual."

Go here to read the full article. I highly recommend this one and remember, it is not simply a nice thing to pray for the souls in purgatory, it is your duty.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Why are Souls in Purgatory?

In order to understand why the Poor Souls are in purgatory, as Catholics we should know what we believe about the double effect of every sin. Every time we sin we lose more or less of God's grace. This we call "guilt." Every time we sin we also incur a debt of pain. This we call "penalty."
Mortal sins are called mortal because they deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace and the right to heaven. Mortal sins also incur the debt of eternal punishment.

When mortal sins are forgiven in the sacrament of penance, sanctifying grace is restored and the debt of eternal punishment is removed. But normally there is still temporal punishment to be expiated. Moreover, venial sins always carry with them a debt of temporal punishment, which is more or less remitted, depending on a person's spiritual dispositions.

This immediately tells us that because we are sinners we must expect to suffer in expiation for our sins. The choice we have is between patiently suffering here on earth or suffering in purgatory after our bodily death.

November if the Month of the Holy Souls

Who Are the Poor Souls?

The Poor Souls are the souls of those people who died in the friendship of God. But they still have some suffering to undergo for the sins they had committed during their lives on earth. It is the infallible teaching of the Catholic Church that there is a purgatory. As the word itself indicates, purgatory is the state of those who still have to be cleansed of the penalty which they owe for their past offenses against God.

The Poor Souls are poor because they are in suffering and need our help. We know from Sacred Scripture that there is a purgatory, as described in the second book of Maccabees, which unfortunately has been removed from the Protestant Old Testament. As described in Sacred Scripture, Judas Maccabeus, the leader of a Jewish army, decided to offer a sacrifice for the Jews who had died in battle. The Bible then tells us,"If he had not expected the fallen to rise again, it would have been superstitious and foolish to pray for the dead." However, since he believed in the resurrection of the dead, "he had this atonement sacrifice offered for the dead, so that they might be released from their sins" (II Maccabees 12:41?45).

The existence of purgatory is a defined truth of the Catholic faith. Those who die without the guilt of mortal sin, but with temporal punishment still due for their past offenses "are cleansed after death in purgatorial or cleansing punishments."

It is commonly believed that the principal suffering in purgatory is the pain of loss. The souls are temporarily deprived of the Beatific Vision.