Category: Catholic Prayers

Why is Mary known as the Queen of Heaven?

Why is Mary known as the Queen of Heaven?

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Mary, Queen of Heaven…Pray for Us

Mary, Queen of Heaven – doesn’t that put her on a par with God?

The title of Mary as Queen has been a tradition of the Church since at least the fourth century. (Note that Mary is referred to as queen not just of heaven, but also of peace, of the angels, of all Christians, among many other things.) It’s important to understand that the title of Queen is not meant to indicate power over others, but rather to underscore Mary’s relationship to Christ.

In other words, because Mary is the mother of Christ the King, it’s logical that she would be called Queen. (A modern example would be the mother of Queen Elizabeth II of England, who was known as the Queen Mother.)

Pope Pius XII affirmed this in his encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam when he wrote,

“according to ancient tradition and the sacred liturgy the main principle on which the royal dignity of Mary rests is without doubt her Divine Motherhood.”

He also quotes St. Alphonsus Ligouri, who wrote,

“Because the virgin Mary was raised to such a lofty dignity as to be the mother of the King of kings, it is deservedly and by every right that the Church has honored her with the title of ‘Queen.’”

Pope Pius explains that Mary also merits the honor of the title because she played such an important role in bringing Christ the Redeemer into the world.

“Certainly, in the full and strict meaning of the term, only Jesus Christ, the God-Man, is King; but Mary, too, as Mother of the divine Christ, as His associate in the redemption, in his struggle with His enemies and His final victory over them, has a share, though in a limited and analogous way, in His royal dignity.”

Mary’s title of Queen thus doesn’t mean she is on equal footing with God; instead, it reflects how intimately connected she was, and is, to her son and to his mission.

Mary, Queen of Heaven Pray for us.

What is the real story of Valentine’s Day?

What is the real story of Valentine’s Day?

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Every February 14, across the United States and in other places around the world, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint, and where did these traditions come from? Find out about the history of this centuries-old holiday, from ancient Roman rituals to the customs of Victorian England.

The Legend of St. Valentine

The history of Valentine’s Day–and the story of its patron saint–is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

Origins of Valentine’s Day: A Pagan Festival in February

While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial–which probably occurred around A.D. 270–others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

Valentine’s Day: A Day of Romance

Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity but was outlawed—as it was deemed “un-Christian”–at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.) Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

Typical Valentine’s Day Greetings

In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine’s Day greetings.

Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap.” Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year (more cards are sent at Christmas). Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.

The five laws of the Church?

The five laws of the Church?

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Laws of the Church

1. To assist at Mass on all Sundays & Holy Days of obligation – The solemnity of Mary on New Year’s  Day (January 1), Assumption (August 15), All Saints’ Day (November 1), Immaculate Conception (December 8) and Christmas (December 25).

2. To fast & to abstain on the days appointed.

3. To confess our sins at least once a year.

4. To receive Holy Communion during the Lent- Easter time extending from the first Sunday of Lent through Trinity Sunday (1st Sunday after Pentecost)

5. To observe the laws of the Church concerning marriage. All Catholics are bound to marry before a priest or deacon unless dispensed by the local bishop. Catholics not married in accord with the laws of the Church lose the privilege of receiving the Sacraments

As you know, “The Four Spiritual Laws” is the name of the booklet many Protestants use to bring people to Jesus. In accord with this method, the Christian approaches a non-believer, presents the four laws, and then invites him to pray the ‘Jesus Prayer.’ Here are the four laws and the prayer:

1. God Loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life.

2. Man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for his life.

3. Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin. Through Him you can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life.

4. We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives.

“Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be. Amen.”

What makes the “Four Spiritual Laws” “Protestant” is not so much their content, but their context. For the “evangelizer” the goal is the praying of the ‘Jesus Prayer.’ The belief is that once a person sincerely prays to bring Christ into his heart, he is saved, for always.

Hence, a Catholic version of this model could perhaps be called the “Five Laws,” or at least would surely involve the following:

1) Belief in an existing transcendent God who is Creator of the Universe and holds all persons and things in being.

2) Man in the person of our first parents fell from grace to become spiritually dead, and needed Redemption to reach heaven.

3) The Only-begotten Son of God, the 2nd Person of the Blessed Trinity, had mercy upon His sinful creatures and became man in the womb of the Virgin Mary. This was the fulfillment of God’s Plan of salvation as revealed in the Old and New Testaments and culminating in the Divine Person of Our Savior dying on the Cross in expiation of the sins of mankind. By His death, heaven was again opened to mankind.

4) We are saved by faith in Christ Our Savior and His doctrines (basically outlined in the ancient Apostles’ Creed) and by the good works performed with the help of Christ’s grace flowing from devout prayer and the sacraments He instituted in His Catholic Church. One becomes a Christian by being incorporated into the Church by the sacrament of Baptism and will be saved by continuing to live with His divine life.

5) The whole Christian life is summarized by the goal of becoming a saint, to reach Christian perfection and to give God glory by becoming holy. The chief occupation of the Christian now and in eternity is to give glory to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. He does this by observing God’s Ten Commandments, the precepts of the Church, participation in the sacraments and worship of the Church, which are all grounded in the love of Christ who sacrificed Himself for our salvation. Those who love Christ to the end, dying in the state of grace, will be saved and resurrected to forever join the angels and Saints in heaven. Those who do not die in the state of grace and the love of Christ will be damned body and soul in hell forever.

This is simply an outline of what a Catholic model of the “Four Spiritual Laws” might look like, but it provides many essentials of our Faith within it. Thanks for contacting Catholic Exchange and Catholics United for the Faith with your question.

Blessings in Chris

The 5 Church Precepts, do you Know them?

The 5 Church Precepts, do you Know them?

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The Church Precepts

The precepts of the Church are duties that the Catholic Church requires of all the faithful. Also called the commandments of the Church, they are binding under pain of mortal sin, but the point is not to punish. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, the binding nature “is meant to guarantee to the faithful the indispensable minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth of love of God and neighbor.” If we follow these commands, we’ll know that we’re headed in the right direction spiritually.

This is the current list of the precepts of the Church found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Traditionally, there were seven precepts of the Church; the other two may be found at the end of this list.

The Sunday Duty

Elevation of the Host during Mass at St. Mary's Oratory, Rockford, IL

The first precept of the Church is “You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.” Often called the Sunday Duty or the Sunday Obligation, this is the way in which Christians fulfill the Third Commandment: “Remember, keep holy the Sabbath day.” We participate in the Mass, and we refrain from any work that distracts us from a proper celebration of Christ’s Resurrection.


Pews and confessionals, Shrine of the Apostle Paul, Saint Paul, MN

The second precept of the Church is “You shall confess your sins at least once a year.” Strictly speaking, we only need to take part in the Sacrament of Confession if we have committed a mortal sin, but the Church urges us to make frequent use of the sacrament and, at a minimum, to receive it once each year in preparation for fulfilling our Easter Duty.

The Easter Duty

Pope Benedict XVI gives Polish President Holy Communion

The third precept of the Church is “You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.” Today, most Catholics receive the Eucharist at every Mass they attend, but it wasn’t always so. Since the Sacrament of Holy Communion binds us to Christ and to our fellow Christians, the Church requires us to receive it at least once each year, sometime between Palm Sunday and Trinity Sunday (the Sunday after Pentecost Sunday).

Fasting and Abstinence

Ash Wednesday at Saint Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, LA

The fourth precept of the Church is “You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church.” Fasting and abstinence, along with prayer and alms-giving, are powerful tools in developing our spiritual life. Today, the Church requires Catholics to fast only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and to abstain from meat on the Fridays during Lent. On all other Fridays of the year, we may perform some other penance in place of abstinence.

Supporting the Church

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The fifth precept of the Church is “You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church.” The Catechism notes that this “means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.” In other words, we don’t necessarily have to tithe (give ten percent of our income), if we can’t afford it; but we should also be willing to give more if we can. Our support of the Church can also be through donations of our time, and the point of both is not simply to maintain the Church but to spread the Gospel and bring others into the Church, the Body of Christ.

And Two More…

Traditionally, the precepts of the Church numbered seven instead of five. The other two precepts were:

  • To obey the laws of the Church concerning Matrimony.
  • To participate in the Church’s mission of Evangelization of Souls. 

Both are still required of Catholics, but they are no longer included in the Catechism’s official listing of the precepts of the Church.