Author: Benedict

7 Ways To Use Holy Water

7 Ways To Use Holy Water

“From long experience, I have discovered that there is nothing like holy water to put devils to flight and prevent them from returning again. They also flee from the Cross, but return; so holy water must have great virtue. For my own part, whenever I take it, my soul feels a particular and most notable consolation.”– St. Teresa of Avila When we read this quote from St. Teresa of Avila, we should be reminded of the significance of holy water. We Catholics dip our fingers in holy water and make the Sign of the Cross when going inside a church in order to remember our baptism and our baptismal promises,

As you know, the baptismal promises included renouncing Satan and disdaining sin. We don’t remember this, however, and take holy water for granted often. If we use it always, that’s an easy thing to do.

We must recall that holy water, through a priest, is blessed by God in virtue of Christ’s baptism. The Catholic Church possesses massive power in being able to impart sacramental grace—and holy water as a sacramental receives its power through the prayer and authority of the Church.

The rite of the blessing said over water by a priest to make it holy contains prayers of exorcism. It can banish demons, heal the sick, and send unwarranted grace upon us—yet most of the time we cross ourselves with this water without even thinking about how holy it really is.

The fact of the matter is that holy water is a powerful sacramental and we ought to use it daily. To stop us from using it without wondering , we should consciously find ways to use it more. Holy water can be used to bless people, places, and things that are used by humans in their aim of glorifying God with their lives.

Here is a list of seven ways to use holy water in your everyday life:

1. Bless yourself. This recommendation is clear, but if we are only blessing ourselves with holy water on Sunday, then aren’t we missing out on the rest of the week?  You can never have too much grace or blessing in your life.  Use holy water every day.  Keeping a holy water font in the home is a wonderful idea so that you, your family, and guests can be blessed in the comings and goings from your home.  Keep the font right by the front door to make sure you never leave home without it.

2. Bless your house.  If you haven’t taken the time to bless your house with holy water, then no time is better than the present.  Your home is the domestic Church and is in search for spiritual protection.  You can sprinkle holy water in your home yourself, or call a priest to formally bless your home using holy water as part of the house blessing ceremony.

3. Bless your family. Use holy water to pray and make the Sign of the Cross over your spouse and children before they go to sleep at night. Bonding the family to each other and to God in this way is a great family tradition to adopt. Keep a holy water bottle by the bedside for this reason.

4. Bless your workspace. If you work outside of the home, sprinkling your workspace with holy water is a nice idea, not only for spiritual protection on the work front but also as to sanctify your daily work for the glory of God.

5. Bless your car. The car is probably the most unsafe place where you spend a reasonable amount of time each day. Never look down on the power of holy water applied to your vehicle to keep you safe from harm’s way, when used in faith and trust in God. In fact, you can also call a priest to bless your car with holy water.

6. Bless your vegetable garden. It was a common practice in the Middle Ages for people to sprinkle their vegetable gardens with holy water.  In times when people were very dependent on crops for their livelihood, insufficient rain or early frosts could be destructive. Using holy water to bless and purify the plants that would be used for the family’s sustenance showed their hope on God’s grace.

7. Bless the sick.  If you know of any sick friends or family, then blessing them with holy water probably counts as a spiritual work of mercy.  If you visit the sick in a hospital or nursing home, bless their living space with holy water and leave a holy water bottle with them as a comfort in their time of need.

Here is a simple prayer to say when using holy water:

“By this holy water and by Your Precious Blood, wash away all my sins, O Lord. Amen.”

There is no specific prayer to pray when using holy water, other than making the Sign of the Cross: “In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” You can equally pray an Our Father or even the St. Michael Prayer when using holy water. Have in mind that holy water has already been blessed by the prayers of the priest.

How do you use holy water?

Holy water is one of those wonderful gifts (and weapons) from God to keep us sanctified and holy in our daily routine and to keep the things we regularly use sanctified and holy. (Some parents even use holy water to bless things their children always use such as bicycles and school books.) If we stop and ponder about what a generous gift holy water is, we will use it more frequently, thoughtfully, and gratefully!

8 Short Meditations for Making a Good Confession

8 Short Meditations for Making a Good Confession

One of the best favors and blessings that flow out of the Sacred Heart of Our Lord is a kindness that is communicated most profoundly through the Sacrament of Confession. This Sacrament is additionally at times called the Sacrament of Pardon, Reconciliation, Penance, and additionally Sacrament of God’s Mercy.

Words that create incomprehensible harmony, euphoria, encouragement, and expectation are the words that the Catholic cleric communicates in the expressions of pardon toward the finish of the Sacrament of Mercy: “And I clear you of your transgressions: for the sake of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. So be it. My child, your wrongdoings are excused; go in harmony!” The inside learning that the majority of my transgressions have been absolutely and totally eradicated, demolished, wiped out and pardoned by the Blood that Jesus shed for me on Calvary creates a delight and harmony that goes beyond the capacity that human words can express!

The two most imperative and glorious motions that a Catholic can do on earth are the accompanying: to get with confidence, dedication and consuming adoration the Sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist — the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ; at that point the second is to admit one’s transgressions to the cleric (who speaks to Jesus, the Healer and Friend) and receive sacramental absolution and forgiveness of sins.

This being the situation, we ought to endeavor with the majority of the vitality and fiber of our being to enhance our inside manner to get these ceremonies better every time we do get them. In a word, every gathering of both of these holy observances ought to be better and increasingly intense than the earlier gathering! That ought to be our optimal and steady objective! May God help us!

The greatest sinners can become the greatest saints if they simply trust in the mercy of Jesus. That which wounds most the Sacred Heart of Jesus, even more than sin itself, is the lack of trust in His mercy. Saint Paul encourages us with these words: “Where sin abounds the mercy of God abounds all the more.”(Romans 5:20)

The following are ten Biblical passages related to the Sacrament of Confession, but each in a unique way.  Pray over these; meditate on them; trust in God’s mercy and them make the best confession in your life: “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.”(Psalm 34:8)

1. Galatians 5:16-26

Saint Paul contrasts those who live according to the flesh and those who live according to the spirit. Those who live according to the flesh will have a harvest of corruption and death. Those who live according to the spirit will experience the fruits of the spirit and experience eternal life.

Confession helps us to put to death the works of the flesh and to be led by the Holy Spirit. May we form the habit of frequent confession, conquer the desires of the flesh and conquer them and live the true freedom of the sons and daughters of God.

2. Psalm 51

Pray before and after going to confession Psalm 51.  This is the heart-felt Act of Contrition that King David prayed after he committed adultery with Bathsheba and then murdered Urias the innocent man. Plead for the grace to have true repentance for your sins.

True sorrow, true and heartfelt contrition, is important to making a good confession. David humbly admits that his sin is his own doing and blames nobody excluding himself. May we own up to our own sins and blame only ourselves always, like David, trusting in God’s infinite mercy!

3. John 20:21-23

Read and pray over the Institution of the Sacrament of Confession that first Easter night when the Apostles were in the Upper Room and Jesus breathed on them the Holy Spirit and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit: whose sins you shall forgive they shall be forgiven; whose sins you shall bind shall be held bound.”

Be very thankful for this great gift bestowed upon the Church and its members the same day we celebrate His victorious triumph over death, the day of His Resurrection from the dead. In fact, every time we go to confession we individually celebrate the death to sin in our own person and rise to the new life of grace! Every confession is a Paschal-Easter experience! The Lord Jesus has risen in us, Alleluia!

4. John 21: 15-19

Read and meditate this conversation between Jesus and Peter. After the Apostles have made the miraculous catch of fish Jesus walks with Peter along the shore and asks him three times if Peter really loves Him. Peter is repairing for the three times that he denied Jesus three times shortly after the Last Supper.

Pray for the grace to truly be repentant for your sins and make a perfect act of contrition — a contrition of love!  Love covers a multitude of sins. You become the repentant Peter; tell the Lord you are truly sorry for your sins and how much you really love the Lord.

5. Luke 15:1-7

The Good Shepherd leaves the 99 to pursue the one lost sheep. Know that you are the lost sheep and you have great value in God’s eyes. Your soul has infinite value in the eyes of God. You were redeemed not by the blood of lambs or goats, nor bought back by gold or silver, but redeemed and ransomed by the Blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. (I Pet. 1:18-19)

6. John 10

Jesus is the Good Shepherd that goes after the lost sheep. Moreover, once you have experienced the loving embrace of Jesus the Good Shepherd then it is up to you to be a Good Shepherd for the sheep that Jesus has put in your charge.

The key for us to be a Good Shepherd is that we must first be a good sheep of the Good Shepherd, to hear His voice and follow Him. After we have experience and we Taste and see the goodnessof the Lord in Confession, then let us bring others to the loving embrace of the Good Shepherd!

7. Matthew 8:1-4 

Every Sacrament has a unique sacramental grace — that of Confession is healing! Jesus came to cure and heal the sick, all of the sick that trusted in Him.  We have to see ourselves in the leper; sin is leprosy and all of us are sinners.  As Jesus touched and healed the leper, so He can touch and heal me if I permit Him.” ”Though your sins are as scarlet, I will make them as white as the snow.”

8. Prodigal Son: Luke 15:11-32

Read and pray over the Parable of the Prodigal Son before going to Confession. Plead for the grace to comprehend what God really wants you to understand from this spiritual masterpiece. Every time you read and meditate upon this spiritual gem, God will enrich you with new and deeper wisdom.

However, in all times and places, the central message is that the Father is God, the Father who is full of love, mercy, and compassion to all those who believe Him. Saint Pope John Paul II wrote an entire encyclical on this one Parable: Dives in Misericordia. Study it and meditate on it!

What You Should Know About the Immaculate Heart of Mary

What You Should Know About the Immaculate Heart of Mary

One of the most common Marian devotions in the Catholic Church today is that of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, mostly honored alongside the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This devotion has its roots in the Scripture, which makes frequent mention of Mary’s contemplative heart, for example in Luke 2:19:

“But Mary exalted all these words and thought about them in her heart.”

According to Catholic doctrine, Mary is the Immaculate Conception; that is, in the getting ready for the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity in her womb, Mary was conceived without the corruption of original sin, and was preserved from committing any actual sins throughout the course of her life through the infinite merits of her Son, Jesus Christ. She was virginal not only of the soul, but also of the body, both before and after giving birth to Our Lord.

Our Lady was created literally “Full of Grace” as the Archangel Gabriel declared at the Annunciation, meaning that her soul was literally adorned with all of the virtues at the moment of her conception, as well as all the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit.

This fullness of grace is said to stem out from the center of her being—her heart—understood both physically and spiritually. It is Mary’s heart, in its unspoiled created perfection, that is the source and wellspring of her purity . . . therefore her heart is called Immaculate.

Our Lord took His sacred humanity from the flesh and blood of his Blessed Mother; Christ’s heart is taken from her heart. At Calvary, the perfect hearts of Jesus and Mary were joined for the salvation of mankind. And this is why the Two Hearts are exalted together.

While the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the source of Christ’s burning love for humanity, and is largely spurned by the indifference of mankind towards Him, the Immaculate Heart of Mary is the source of Our Lady’s burning love for God and her wish to bring souls to her Son, and is so often outraged by the offenses of mankind committed against her love.

Over the centuries, as the saints and theologians reflected on what it means for Our Lady to have pondered and treasured the sacred events from the life of Jesus in her heart, as attested in Scripture, Mary’s heart began to be recognized as something to be emulated in daily routine.

Devotion to Mary’s holy heart then developed, in much the same way as it did for the Sacred Heart, which was physically pierced by the lance on the Cross to give Eternal Life to men. So also does Mary’s heart, which was also pierced (as prophesied by Simeon) in union with her Son, give life—that is, grace—to the Christian soul.

Beginning in the Middle Ages, this devotion to Our Lady’s purity of heart began to flower, culminating in St. John Eudes actively making known the devotion in the 17th century alongside that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He also worked to have a feast established for the Immaculate Heart of Mary, starting in his native France.

After the 1830 apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Paris, which gave rise to the Miraculous Medal, efforts were renewed to have a devotion to the Immaculate Heart instituted as a feast for the universal Church. In this Marian apparition, Our Lady showed St. Catherine Laboure an image of a medal to be struck which would obtain many graces for those who wore it faithfully, mostly the grace of conversion for sinners.

On the front of the medal was an image of Our Lady encircled with the words, O Mary, Conceived Without Sin, Pray for Us Who Have Recourse to Thee, confirming the dogma of her Immaculate Conception. One the reverse was an image of the Cross of Christ surmounted by the letter “M”, and below it, the symbols of Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary side-by-side, thus confirming the devotion to her holy heart.

The spreading popularity of the Miraculous Medal soon gave rise to a Marian confraternity based on her Immaculate Heart and her authority to convert sinners. The Notre-Dame-des-Victoires of the Archconfraternity of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Refuge of Sinners was established in Paris in 1836 and quickly spread all over the world, with many graces, especially the repentance of sinners, obtained as a result. Then, in 1855, the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (or Most Pure Heart of Mary) was confirmed by the Vatican, however, without establishing it for the universal Church.

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary rose to a new level after the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. In her visitations to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco, Our Lady revealed a vision of her Immaculate Heart encircled with thorns which showed the many sins committed against her. At Fatima, Our Lady asked for Russia to be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart in order to prevent many problems from occurring in the Church and throughout the world.

Lucia describes the vision:

“As Our Lady spoke these last words, she opened her hands and for the second time, she communicated to us the rays of that same immense light. We saw ourselves in this light, as it were, immersed in God. … In front of the palm of Our Lady’s right hand was a heart encircled by thorns which pierced it. We understood that this was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, outraged by the sins of humanity, and searching reparation.”

At Fatima, Our Lady also revealed her request for the faithful to make Communions of Reparation to her Immaculate Heart on five consecutive first Saturdays of the month. Therefore devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is closely related with acts of reparation for sins in order to get the salvation of sinners. When Sr. Lucia later inquired from Our Lord why he would not convert Russia without having it consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Our Lord said,

”Because I want My whole Church to affirm that Consecration as a triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so that it may extend its cult later on, and put the Devotion to My Mother’s Immaculate Heart beside the Devotion to My Sacred Heart.”

After the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was instituted for the universal Church by Pope Pius XII in 1944. The feast was first celebrated on August 22nd, the octave day of the Solemnity of the Assumption. It was later changed to the Saturday adhering the feast of the Sacred Heart so that the Two Hearts would appear side-by-side, Friday and Saturday, on the liturgical calendar. August 22nd was then made the feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, connecting the Assumption to her reign in heaven (the 4th and 5th Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary).

Traditionally, the Church admonishes special devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary during the entire month of August.

Today, the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary remains on the level of a memorial. Hopefully, as the requests of Our Lady of Fatima are more widely heeded, the Immaculate Heart of Mary will enjoy a reserved place in the heart of each and every Catholic around the world.

7 Things You Wish To Know About The Immaculate Conception

7 Things You Wish To Know About The Immaculate Conception

8th December is the feast of the Immaculate Conception. It celebrates a crucial point of Catholic teaching.

These are 7 things you need to know about the teaching and the way the feast of Immaculate Conception is been celebrated.

What is the Immaculate Conception?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it thus:

490 To become the mother of the Saviour, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.” The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace”. In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was essential that she be wholly borne by God’s grace.

491 Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the time of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin

Who does the Immaculate Conception refer to?

There’s a well-known idea that it refers to Jesus’ conception by the Virgin Mary.

It doesn’t.

Instead, it refers to the special way in which the Virgin Mary herself was conceived.

This conception was not virginal. (That is, she had a human father as well as a human mother.) But it was special and unique in another way. . .

Does this mean Mary didn’t need Jesus to die on the Cross for her?

No. What we’ve already quoted states that Mary was immaculately conceived as part of her being “full of grace” and thus “redeemed from the moment of her conception” by “a singular grace and right of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race.”

The Catechism goes on to state:

492 The “splendor of completely unique in holiness” by which Mary is “blessed from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son”. The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and select her “in Christ before the basics of the world, to be holy and without sin before him in love”.

508 From among the descendants of Eve, God chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of his Son. “Full of grace”, Mary is “the most excellent fruit of redemption” (SC 103): from the first instant of her conception, she was totally preserved from the stain of original sin and she stayed pure from all personal sin in her entire life.

How does this make Mary a parallel of Eve?

Adam and Eve were both created immaculate–without original sin or its stain. They fell from grace, and through them, mankind was bound to sin.

Christ and Mary were also conceived immaculate. They stayed faithful, and by them, mankind was redeemed from sin.

Christ is thus the New Adam, and Mary the New Eve.

The Catechism notes:

494 . . . As St., Irenaeus says, “Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.” Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert. .: “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith.” Comparing her with Eve, they call Mary “the Mother of the living” and frequently claim: “Death through Eve, life through Mary.”

How does this make Mary an icon of our own destiny?

Those who die in God’s friendship and thus go to heaven will be freed from all sin and stain of sin. We will thus all be rendered “immaculate” (Latin, immaculatus = “stainless”) if we remain faithful to God.

Even in this life, God makes us pure and disciplines us in holiness and, if we die in his friendship but imperfectly purified, he will cleanse us in purgatory and render us immaculate.

By giving Mary this grace from the first moment of her conception, God revealed us an image of our own destiny. He reveals to us that this is possible for humans through his grace.

John Paul II noted:

In pondering this mystery in a Marian perspective, we can say that “Mary, at the side of her Son, is the most perfect image of freedom and of the freedom of humanity and of the universe. It is to her as Mother and Model that the Church must look in order to understand in its completeness the meaning of her own mission” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Libertatis conscientia, 22 March 1986, n. 97; cf. Redemptoris Mater, n. 37).

Let us focus our gaze, then, on Mary, the icon of the pilgrim Church in the wilderness of history but on her way to the glorious destination of the heavenly Jerusalem, where she [the Church] will shine as the Bride of the Lamb, Christ the Lord.

How do we celebrate the Immaculate Conception?

In the Latin custom of the Catholic Church, December 8th is the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. In the United States and in a number of other countries, it is a holy day of duty.

Was it important for God to make Mary immaculate at her conception so that she could be Jesus’ mother?

No. The Church only speaks of the Immaculate Conception as something that was “fitting,” something that made Mary a “fit habitation” (i.e., suitable dwelling) for the Son of God, not something that was important. Thus in preparing to define the dogma, Pope Pius IX stated:

And consequently they [the Church Fathers] agreed that the Blessed Virgin was, through grace, completely free from every stain of sin, and from all corruption of body, soul and mind; that she was constantly united with God and joined to him by an eternal covenant; that she was never in darkness but always in light; and that, therefore, she was entirely a fit habitation for Christ, not because of the state of her body, but because of her original grace. . . .

For it was certainly not fitting that this vessel of election should be wounded by the common injuries, since she, differing so much from the others, had only nature in common with them, not sin. In fact, it was quite fitting that, as the Only-Begotten has a Father in heaven, whom the Seraphim extol as thrice holy, so he should have a Mother on earth who would never be without the splendor of holiness