Tag: Catholic

10 Things Virgin Mary Wants Every Catholic To Say No To

10 Things Virgin Mary Wants Every Catholic To Say No To

We can better appreciate her “yes” to God if we consider when she said “no”

“Sunny days wouldn’t be so beautiful if we didn’t have cloudy ones,” my mom used to say. And it’s true. When we have to grit our teeth to get through a cold front, we appreciate a warm day all the more.

Something similar can happen in our relationship with Mary. In order to value more deeply her “yes,” it helps to consider her “no.”

Let’s look at 10 of them:

1. She said no to every excuse or condition that she might have placed before God’s will. In realizing that she was the one chosen to be the Mother of God, she didn’t demand anything or make any excuses. She simply accepted.

2. She said no to vanity. The young women of her time could have dreamed of being the mother of the Messiah. When she was chosen, Mary didn’t lose her bearings or believe herself somehow above everyone else. She recognized herself as the simple servant of the Lord.

3. She said no to gossip. She didn’t dash off to tell the world about her mission and her baby. In fact she didn’t even tell Joseph … not even to protect herself.

4. She said no to self-centeredness. As Gabriel left, she didn’t settle down to spoil herself and have some rest. On the contrary, when the angel told her about Elizabeth, she got straight to work, thinking about others even in her own state.

5. She said no to special privileges. When she heard about the census, she could have asked God for some angelic assistance. And asked him again when they had to flee to Egypt. And again when Jesus was lost in the Temple. But she never expected God to send angels or extraordinary graces to help her.

6. She said no to dwelling on the “what ifs.” When she had to give birth in a situation very different than what she and Joseph would have wanted, she didn’t spend her time thinking about what could have been. She adapted to what God permitted and made the best of it.

7. She said no to living in a bubble. She could have shut herself off in a little world with Joseph and her divine Son, to relish the delights of living with such company. Instead, from the beginning, she gave her Child to others — to the shepherds, to the Magi, and later on, to the world entire.

8. She said no to the temptation to resist God’s plans. Mary revealed to St. Teresa that when Simon told her of the sword that would pierce her heart, she had a vision of the Passion. She saw the cross awaiting Jesus. She could have begun already then to beg God for a change of plans, but instead, she accepted. She accepted God’s plan to such a degree that at Cana, she was the catalyst for the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.

9. She said no to the rejection she must have felt when presented with us as her children. From the cross, her Son entrusted her to the beloved disciple, and in doing so, He entrusted her to all of us. How difficult it must have been to accept this maternity — to be the mother of all of us whose sins caused the death of her Beloved. But again, she said yes, and not with hesitation or mere resignation. She told Juan Diego that it was an honor to be his mother. What love!

10. She said — and says — no to any lapse in loving us and praying for us. Mary didn’t nurse resentment at the disciples who abandoned Jesus on the cross. After the Ascension, she dedicated herself to prayer with and for them. We can imagine how joyfully she must have witnessed them full of the Holy Spirit, going out to preach as her Son had commanded. When she was assumed into heaven, she continued her role as our mother.

She is concerned for our needs and our difficulties and spends her eternity praying for us. She lives in the heavenly kingdom, attentive to the earthly one, still and forever the best of mothers.

Let us ask Our Lady to help us to imitate her in these times she said “no” and let us add three “nevers”: Let us resolve never to forget her, never to stop loving her, and never to fail to turn to her in our needs.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known, that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided …

8 Things Every Catholic Should Be Doing Every Day

8 Things Every Catholic Should Be Doing Every Day

Pope Francis kisses the altar as he celebrates a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, at the Vatican, to mark Epiphany, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. The Epiphany day is a joyous day for Catholics in which they recall the journey of the Three Kings, or Magi, to pay homage to Baby Jesus. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, pool)

We get it. You already have a to-do list that is long. This list isn’t meant to guilt you into an impossible regimen on top of your already crammed day.

The goal is to start incorporating one or two of these things into your day and then keep working until these actions become a natural part of who you are. Make them essential healthy habits – like brushing your teeth – so that you don’t even have to think twice about getting them done.

Below is a powerful talk in which Fr. Larry Richards speaks about eternity. He uses a word picture to help us put our minds around the amount of time we will spend there. Please, please take a moment to listen to this clip. If you’re in a hurry, fast forward to the 1:50 point to start and stop at 3:30. Take a few minutes out of your day now to inspire you to live for eternity.

After hearing that talk, I’ve been more inspired to align my days here on Earth to match what I want my days in eternity to look like. In light of eternity, a few things on my to-do list don’t seem quite so important. Let your lifestyle reflect your hope of spending eternity with God the Father.

1. Start the day with prayer, your Bible, and a talk with your Mother

It sounds so simple, yet I don’t understand why some days I can’t seem to “fit” in prayer. Our days need to be centred around this habit. Make a date of it. Set your cell phone alarm to a time when you can pray and don’t leave God stranded. Mornings are best, but if it doesn’t work for you find a time that does. Pull out your Bible and read a line or two. The daily Mass readings are a great place to start. A goal for every Catholic is to say the rosary every day, but some of us are in a season of life when this isn’t possible. If you can’t do a rosary, start with at least a Hail Mary and work up to a decade or a chaplet.

“Prayer is nothing else than union with God. When the heart is pure and united with God it is consoled and filled with sweetness; it is dazzled by a marvelous light.” – St. John Vianney

2. Smile, Use your Manners, Be kind, Give out hugs

Have you heard the old Hymn, “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love…”? It’s not necessarily true today. Christians have become just as rude and inconsiderate as everyone else, sometimes even more so! Let’s reclaim our Christian love by smiling, letting others go first in line or helping old ladies cross the street.

“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” – Blessed Mother Teresa

3. Go on Social Media (i.e., communicate!), call a friend, visit a friend

Yes, I know we have a bunch of posts about how social media is overused, but go ahead, use it! However, use it in a way that glorifies God. Share a scripture with a friend. Check in on an old classmate. Daily connect with people to build relationships. (Don’t stop there though, make it a weekly goal to get together in person with a friend or family member.)

“Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious.” – St. Thomas Aquinas

4. Tell someone you love them and why

I don’t know anyone who has ever gotten tired of hearing they are loved. It’s even better when they are given a list of reasons why! Whether it is your parents, siblings, or your own children, make it a daily habit to tell at least one person in your life how much you love them.

“You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working, and just so, you learn to love by loving. All those who think to learn in any other way deceive themselves.” -St. Francis de Sales

5. Talk about God

Make God a part of your whole day, not just your prayer time. Bring Him into conversations with friends, family, even co-workers if you can. We talk about things we love – movies, restaurants, people… but we often fail to talk about God in the same way.

“But this does not mean that we should postpone the evangelizing mission; rather, each of us should find ways to communicate Jesus wherever we are. All of us are called to offer others an explicit witness to the saving love of the Lord, who despite our imperfections offers us his closeness, his word and his strength, and gives meaning to our lives.” – Pope Francis

6. Sacrifice something

It’s so important that we learn to make daily sacrifices and offer them up to the Lord. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. Eat bread with no butter. Turn off the radio and drive in silence. It’s the little things that cultivate our holiness and help us to overcome our attachment to things of the world.

“There is no place for selfishness—and no place for fear! Do not be afraid, then, when love makes demands. Do not be afraid when love requires sacrifice.” – Saint Pope John Paul II

7. Serve in some way

Look for a way to serve someone everyday. Again, this doesn’t have to be something major like heading to Africa on service trip. It can be doing the dishes for your mom, paying for a stranger’s coffee, or picking up garbage as you walk down the street. Don’t let a day go by in which you did not do something for someone else.

“You know that our Lord does not look at the greatness or difficulty of our action, but at the love with which you do it. What, then, have you to fear?”– St. Therese of the Child Jesus

8. Reflect on your day

At the end of every day, take a few minutes to think back over the day. An examination of conscience is a great way to do this. Is there someone you need to forgive? Is there someone you need to seek forgiveness from? Think about the ways in which the Lord provided for you and be thankful for His many blessings. Thank Him! Ask yourself, did I move closer to or further from God through my actions today?

You must strive with all possible care to please God in such a manner as neither to do nor behold anything, without first consulting Him, and in everything to seek Him alone and His glory.” – St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

The Catholic Origins of Halloween

The Catholic Origins of Halloween

By Father Augustine Thompson, O.P.

We’ve all heard the allegations: Halloween is a pagan rite dating back to some pre-Christian festival among the Celtic Druids that escaped church suppression. Even today modern pagans and witches continue to celebrate this ancient festival. If you let your kids go trick-or-treating, they will be worshiping the devil and pagan gods.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The origins of Halloween are, in fact, very Christian and rather American. Halloween falls on October 31 because of a pope, and its observances are the result of medieval Catholic piety.

It’s true that the ancient Celts of Ireland and Britain celebrated a minor festival on October 31–as they did on the last day of most other months of the year. However, Halloween falls on the last day of October because the Solemnity of All Saints, or “All Hallows,” falls on November 1. The feast in honor of all the saints in heaven used to be celebrated on May 13, but Pope Gregory III (d. 741) moved it to November 1, the dedication day of All Saints Chapel in St. Peter’s at Rome. Later, in the 840s, Pope Gregory IV commanded that All Saints be observed everywhere. And so the holy day spread to Ireland.

The day before was the feast’s evening vigil, “All Hallows Even,” or “Hallowe’en.” In those days Halloween didn’t have any special significance for Christians or for long-dead Celtic pagans.

In 998, St. Odilo, the abbot of the powerful monastery of Cluny in southern France, added a celebration on November 2. This was a day of prayer for the souls of all the faithful departed. This feast, called All Souls Day, spread from France to the rest of Europe.

So now the Church had feasts for all those in heaven and all those in purgatory. What about those in the other place? It seems Irish Catholic peasants wondered about the unfortunate souls in hell. After all, if the souls in hell are left out when we celebrate those in heaven and purgatory, they might be unhappy enough to cause trouble. So it became customary to bang pots and pans on All Hallows Even to let the damned know they were not forgotten. Thus, in Ireland at least, all the dead came to be remembered–even if the clergy were not terribly sympathetic to Halloween and never allowed All Damned Day into the church calendar.

But that still isn’t our celebration of Halloween. Our traditions on this holiday center on dressing up in fanciful costumes, which isn’t Irish at all. Rather, this custom arose in France during the 14th and 15th centuries. Late medieval Europe was hit by repeated outbreaks of the bubonic plague–the Black Death–and it lost about half its population. It is not surprising that Catholics became more concerned about the afterlife.
A Danse Macabre

More Masses were said on All Souls Day, and artistic representations were devised to remind everyone of their own mortality. We know these representations as the “danse macabre”, or “dance of death,” which was commonly painted on the walls of cemeteries and shows the devil leading a daisy chain of people–popes, kings, ladies, knights, monks, peasants, lepers, etc.–into the tomb. Sometimes the dance was presented on All Souls Day itself as a living tableau with people dressed up in the garb of various states of life.

But the French dressed up on All Souls, not Halloween; and the Irish, who had Halloween, did not dress up. How the two became mingled probably happened first in the British colonies of North America during the 1700s, when Irish and French Catholics began to intermarry. The Irish focus on Hell gave the French masquerades an even more macabre twist.

But as every young ghoul knows, dressing up isn’t the point; the point is getting as many goodies as possible. Where on earth did “trick or treat” come in? “Treat or treat” is perhaps the oddest and most American addition to Halloween and is the unwilling contribution of English Catholics.

During the penal period of the 1500s to the 1700s in England, Catholics had no legal rights. They could not hold office and were subject to fines, jail and heavy taxes. It was a capital offense to say Mass, and hundreds of priests were martyred.
I wonder if they make a Guy Fawkes mask…
I wonder if they make a Guy Fawkes Halloween mask…

Occasionally, English Catholics resisted, sometimes foolishly. One of the most foolish acts of resistance was a plot to blow up the Protestant King James I and his Parliament with gunpowder. This was supposed to trigger a Catholic uprising against the oppressors. The ill-conceived Gunpowder Plot was foiled on November 5, 1605, when the man guarding the gunpowder, a reckless convert named Guy Fawkes, was captured and arrested. He was hanged; the plot fizzled.

November 5, Guy Fawkes Day, became a great celebration in England, and so it remains. During the penal periods, bands of revelers would put on masks and visit local Catholics in the dead of night, demanding beer and cakes for their celebration: trick or treat!

Guy Fawkes Day arrived in the American colonies with the first English settlers. But by the time of the American Revolution, old King James and Guy Fawkes had pretty much been forgotten. Trick or treat, though, was too much fun to give up, so eventually it moved to October 31, the day of the Irish-French masquerade. And in America, trick or treat wasn’t limited to Catholics.

The mixture of various immigrant traditions we know as Halloween had become a fixture in the United States by the early 1800s. To this day, it remains unknown in Europe, even in the countries from which some of the customs originated.

But what about witches? Well, they are one of the last additions. The greeting card industry added them in the late 1800s. Halloween was already “ghoulish,” so why not give witches a place on greeting cards? The Halloween card failed (although it has seen a recent resurgence in popularity), but the witches stayed.

So too, in the late 1800s, ill-informed folklorists introduced the jack-o’-lantern. They thought that Halloween was Druidic and pagan in origin. Lamps made from turnips (not pumpkins) had been part of ancient Celtic harvest festivals, so they were translated to the American Halloween celebration.

The next time someone claims that Halloween is a cruel trick to lure your children into devil worship, I suggest you tell them the real origin of All Hallows Eve and invite them to discover its Christian significance, along with the two greater and more important Catholic festivals that follow it.

 

Source: uCatholics