Holy Name of Jesus

Today is the optional memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. As Catholics, we know that the name of Jesus is holy and powerful. But, chances are, you may not know that we have a full day just to venerate His Holy name. Well, now you do. 🙂 Here is a little information about this memorial:

Holy Name of Jesus

Image by Didgeman (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, answered them, ‘Leaders of the people and elders: If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved, then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in His name this man stands before you healed. He is ‘the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.’ There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.” Acts 4:8-12

Traditionally, in the Catholic Church, January is dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. The memorial has been celebrated in the church since the 15th century on a local level and was extended to the whole church in 1721. This memorial of the Holy name of Jesus is a wonderful feast that is officially celebrated on January 3rd. Sadly, especially with the conclusion of Christmas/New Year’s, it overlooked and that is why I make a point of mentioning it every year. 🙂

So many people use Jesus’ name or “God” in such a casual (and sadly as a curse) way. We have gotten away from remembering that God is all holy. His name is sacred. We must use His name with reverence and love. Let’s let today be a reminder to always use Jesus’ name with intention and purpose – not casually or without thinking.

For more information, here are some resources about and devotions to the Holy Name of Jesus for the month of January:

Catholic Encyclopedia

Wikipedia

Prayers in honor of the Holy Name

Fisheaters

About.com

Chaplet for the Poor Souls in Purgatory

(I am reposting this prayer because it is a beautiful and appropriate prayer for today, All Souls Day.)

Traditionally in the Catholic Church, November is the month for remembering and praying for the dead – the holy souls in purgatory.

In 2 Maccabees 12:46 we learn that it “is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead.”

I’ve had a great devotion to the holy souls for a long time. I’ve always prayed the rosary, or novena for them and now, thanks to Barb at Suffering With Joy, I’ve discovered a new way to pray for the souls: a chaplet for the poor souls. It is a beautiful prayer that doesn’t take very long at all to pray!

Chaplet for the Poor Souls in Purgatory

For your convenience, I am posting the prayer here, but Barb has a short reflection on the holy souls that I encourage you to read.

Chaplet for the Poor Souls

On the large beads:

V. Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Precious Blood of Thy Beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, the lamb without blemish or spot (1 Ps 1:19)

R. For the refreshment and deliverance of the souls in Purgatory

(One can add here, especially those of your family, or of your ancestry, or of priests. The Holy Spirit sometimes moves one to pray for particular groups of Holy Souls.)

Ten times on the small beads:

V. By Thy Precious Blood, O Jesus –

R. Purify and deliver their souls.

After having said five decades, one concludes with:

V. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.

R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.

V. May they rest in peace.

R. Amen.

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let your perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace!

********

Here is a printable version of this chaplet: Chaplet for the Poor Souls in Purgatory  No opt-in required.

Tweetable: Chaplet for the Poor Souls in Purgatory

Is God’s Love Enough?

Has God ever punched you in the face? Not in the literal sense, of course, but in the way that you hear something and it just changes everything for you?

Is God's Love Enough?

Image by brunoabdon (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Well, He “punched” me about a month ago. I went to confession and when I was done telling my sins the priest says (among other things), “When we sin we are, in effect, telling God that His love isn’t enough for us.”

BOOM!

For some reason, those words rocked me to the core. “Of course, God’s love is enough! I go to Mass, I pray, I go to Confession regularly. I profess Jesus as my Lord and Savior and try to do right by him. Heck, I even have a blog to encourage other women with their walk with the Lord! Of course, His love is enough!”

BUT, is it? Really?

By definition, sin is a rejection of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states,

Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods,”123 knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God.”124 In this proud self-exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.125 (1850)

Thus, when I sin, I choose self-love, self-wants, and self-desires over God’s love. So, yes, when I sin I am telling God that His love isn’t enough. I am telling Him that my immediate self-gratification and my self-will is more important than His Holy and loving Will for me.

Thankfully, God’s love and mercy is bigger than my self-love. He knows my hearts, all of our hearts. He knows that we are small and petty and foolish and yet He loves anyway. He knows that we will reject Him – are sins nailed Jesus to the Cross! – and He continues to choose us anyway.

Since that confession, I’ve tried to remember those words. When I am tempted to impatience, anger or other sin, I try to remind myself that God’s love is enough. I don’t have to choose impatience or bitterness, or whatever. It hasn’t been perfect. I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded. But, guess what? That’s okay! His love is even enough for my failures!

God’s love is enough for you, too.

Whatever you are going through right now, try to think of those words. Are you suffering or in pain? God’s love is enough. Are you struggling with bitterness, anger or hatred? God’s love is enough. Are you lonely? God’s love is enough. Are you out of work or facing financial problems? God’s love is enough. I promise, no matter what you are going through, God’s love is enough.

***********

Tweetable: Is God’s Love Enough?

P.S. Know that I pray for my blog readers daily! If you have a specific intention you want me to pray for, don’t hesitate to let me know.

Corpus Christi: The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist

(repost)

Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist

Image by Icb (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

I will never forget watching an episode of Women of Grace  on EWTN a while back where the guest speaker said that only 30% of Catholics believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. This statistic shocked me. Belief in the Real Presence is a central and essential doctrine of our Catholic faith. Truly, the Real Presence is part of the foundation of our Catholic faith. In fact, it is a non-negotiable article of faith; to be Catholic one must believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. However, the doctrine of the Eucharist remains a source of confusion and misunderstanding among Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

There are many passages in the Bible that deal with the Eucharist. Most of us are aware of the words of Jesus at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26-30 and in all the gospels) and the “Bread of Life” discourse (John 6:22-69). The Catechism of the Catholic Church has whole sections that deal with the Eucharist (See Part 2, Section 2). Additionally, the Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist has been spoken about by many saints. I highly recommend that you take a look at these references for yourself and pray about them. For now, I just want to do is give you, in a nutshell, is what it means to believe in the Real Presence:

Believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist means that at the consecration at Mass the bread and wine is transformed into the very real body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. Although the physical appearance of the bread and wine do not change, they are no longer bread and wine but Jesus Himself.

This is hard for many people to accept. That is why so many walked away from Jesus (see John 6:66-67) when He said those words and why many are still walking away from Him in our own time. How is it possible that Jesus can be contained in the Eucharist? How can this happen? Those are valid questions. However, it is a sublime mystery and we trust Jesus at His word. The mystery of the Eucharist is a miracle. It is a gift from God Himself out of love for us. With God, all things are possible – including Jesus making Himself present in the Eucharist!

—————

Tweetables:

Corpus Christi: The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist

What  Catholics believe about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist

What are Indulgences in the Catholic Faith?

*I recently discussed why there is Purgatory. During my discussion, I mentioned that we can help the Souls in Purgatory by our prayers. Another way we can help us is through indulgences which I discuss in this re-post.

What are Indulgences in the Catholic Faith

One of my readers, Yiessa, asked me to “discuss the meaning of indulgences in the Catholic faith.” This is a good topic and a teaching of the Church that is sorely misunderstood by Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

What is an indulgence?

According to the Catechism of the Catholic church (scroll down to article 1471):

An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporary punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applied with authority the treasury of the satisfaction of Christ and the saints.

What does this mean? Let me see if I can explain it In layman’s terms, in the way it was explained to me by the sisters: When we go to the Sacrament of Confession and receive absolution our sins are forgiven and we are freed from the guilt of said sin; however, the effect of sin still remains on our soul, like a stain on our soul, if you will. This stain must be purified before we can be with God in heaven. When we “gain an indulgence” then that stain on our soul is either partially or completely taken away.

Does that make sense? Let me use an analogy with my son as an example. When my son breaks a house rule, such as have a temper tantrum or disobeys me, when he is remorseful and says sorry I forgive him. However, there is still a consequence for his actions. He goes in timeout or loses a privilege to “make satisfaction” for his bad behavior. As far as sin goes, sins have consequences and even though we are sorry and forgiven for our sin we still have to face the consequences of our actions – which is what “temporal punishment due to sin” means above. We go to purgatory to be purified and “make satisfaction” for the effects or stains of sin on our souls. When we perform the acts of indulgence it is as if we are making satisfaction here on earth as opposed to doing so in purgatory.

You see, God is all perfect and all holy. All that is not perfect and holy cannot enter heaven. When we die in the state of grace but still have the “remains” or “stain” of sin on our souls we go to purgatory to be purified before entering the full glory of heaven. Through the grace of Christ, and through the authority of the church, when we gain indulgences we have the opportunity to have some or all of the stains removed from our souls so that we can either lessen our time in purgatory or bypass purgatory all together.

What indulgences are not…

The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia gives a good explanation of what an indulgence is not. It says,

To facilitate explanation, it may be well to state what an indulgence is not. It is not a permission to commit sin, nor a pardon of future sin; neither could be granted by any power. It is not the forgiveness of the guilt of sin; it supposes that the sin has already been forgiven. It is not an exemption from any law or duty, and much less from the obligation consequent on certain kinds of sin, e.g., restitution; on the contrary, it means a more complete payment of the debt which the sinner owes to God. It does not confer immunity from temptation or remove the possibility of subsequent lapses into sin. Least of all is an indulgence the purchase of a pardon which secures the buyer’s salvation or releases the soul of another from Purgatory. The absurdity of such notions must be obvious to any one who forms a correct idea of what the Catholic Church really teaches on this subject.”

In other words, a person can’t buy their way out of purgatory through indulgences, a person can’t have his or her sin forgiven with indulgences and a person can’t use indulgences as an excuse for sin: “Oh it doesn’t matter if I do ____. I can just get an indulgence and wipe it away.”

Indulgences are a gift that God has given us, through the authority of the Church, to help us on our road to heaven. It is meant to help us prepare our souls to be in the presence of the eternal and all holy Trinity. We should make use of this gift as often as we can!

I hope this helps. To read more about indulgences and help you deepen your understanding of them, next week I will post several links for further reading. And in another post after that, I will explain the difference between partial and plenary indulgences and the requirements for receiving an indulgence.

*************

Tweetable: What are Indulgences in the Catholic Faith

Why is There Purgatory?

Why is there purgatory?

Image by Hans (2013) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

There are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about the doctrine of Purgatory. Even worse, there are so many people, including Catholics who dismiss Purgatory and don’t even believe it exists. This is unfortunate because the doctrine of Purgatory is an important and even comforting tenet of our faith.

What is Purgatory?

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it states,

“1030 All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:607

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.608

1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.”609 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.610 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.611″

As this quote indicates, the doctrine of Purgatory is based on scripture and was officially formulated by two councils, the Council of Florence and the Council of Trent.

Why does Purgatory exist?

The Catechism explains it beautifully. Basically, if a person dies in the state of grace, but is not completely purified, he or she “goes to  Purgatory” to be completely “cleansed” before going to Heaven. Of course, Purgatory, Heaven, and Hell, are not “places” but states of being.

Here is the thing. God is utterly perfect, loving, and beauty itself. Nothing that is impure can be in His presence. Humans, even those of us who live faithful lives dedicated to Christ, have souls that are easily blemished my sin. Purgatory is the state of being that cleanses the soul from those blemishes of sin.

Our Pastor at church explained it this way (paraphrased): “Suppose a person hammers a nail into a piece of wood. Then he regrets that decision and takes the nail out. Well, the nail may be gone but there is still a hole where the nail was. Thus, when a person sins and then goes to confession, the guilt of the sin is taken away; however, the effect of the sin is still there and needs to be cleansed. So, purgatory, in a way, is like sanding down and getting rid of the whole left by the nail.”

And that is why Purgatory exists. It gives us the opportunity to be truly ready to be in the presence of God.

Jesus

Yes, Jesus has suffered, died and rose for our sins. One drop of His blood is enough to save the world. Purgatory does not take away or lessen the value of Jesus’ work of salvation. It is because of Jesus that we have the gift of Purgatory.

Every person on earth whether they call themselves born-again Christians or not must make the daily decision to choose Jesus and to live according to His ways. Sadly, although our hearts may be in the right place, all of us fail. Many times we choose anger, judgement, impurity, and all other sins above God. Through confession we receive forgiveness and absolution. Through penance we make reparation and make the effort to change our hearts and be rid of the effects of our sins. If we do not do so during our life we have the opportunity to do so “in” Purgatory.*

I hope my feeble attempts at explaining Purgatory helps. I also hope it spurs you on to pray for the souls in purgatory and offer sacrifice for them. They cannot help themselves but we can help them! The month of November is a great time to pray for the souls in purgatory because the Church designates November for them. And know, when we help them and they get to heaven, they will pray for us.

************

Tweetable: Why is There Purgatory?

*Of course, God prefers we purify our hearts and souls during our life so that we can go straight to heaven and I will write about that in a future post!

All Saints Day

All Saints Day is this Sunday, November 1. It is a glorious solemnity wherein the Catholic Church celebrates all of the saints, known and unknown. It is definitely one of my favorite Solemnities in the liturgical calendar. This year, since it falls on Sunday, it is a holy day of obligation (as are all Sundays).

Celebrating All Saints Day

Image by kropekk_pl (2009) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Sadly, here in the United States, if All Saints Day falls during the week it is no longer a holy day of obligation. I almost wish it was always a holy day of obligation because it is a wonderful thing to celebrate all the saints, whether they have been officially canonized or not. Why? Because they are where we want to be! They “fought the good fight,” won the battle, and now live forever with the Triune God. That’s worth celebrating if you ask me. 😉

One way to celebrate (besides going to Mass, of course!), is to pray the Litany of the Saints. It is such a beautiful prayer – and even more beautiful when sung! Here is a lovely version that I found on YouTube:

Another great way to celebrate is to read up on a saint (or few) that you do not know about yet. The Church has lifted up many saints as examples for us and when we read about them we can get inspired. Here are a few of my favorite saints.

For information about the history of All Saints Day, go here and here. Speaking of history, did you know that the word Halloween came from “All Hallow’s Eve?” It originally was a day of fasting and preparation for all Saints Day; however, over the years it unfortunately evolved to the scary, spooky, commercial day it is now.

(Yep, I am not a fan of Halloween. I don’t like all the emphasis on ghouls and scary things. I know it is supposed to be fun but I don’t see anything fun about glorifying evil in any way – even in jest – because there is nothing glorious or good about evil. Anyone with me or am I the only one?)

*************

Tweetable: All Saints Day

First Friday Devotion

I sometimes feel like September is a “mini New Year’s” because the kids are going back to school, summer is fading into fall, and there is a “newness” of sorts in the air. New clothes, new shoes, new supplies, and a new chance to begin again. Do you get that feeling too, or is it just me?

Since posting the saints and feasts for September on Monday, I starting thinking that the fall can also be a new opportunity to start fresh spiritually, as well. If you let your prayer time go by the wayside, now is a great time to get it going again. As you prepare for your fall schedule, make sure you add time in to pray alone and/or as a family.

FirstFriday

Image by gracemazzaurbanski (2013) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

One way to do this is to commit to the First Friday Devotions. It is a very simple devotion and the only “requirement” is to go to Holy Mass and receive Holy Communion. Of course, there are other practices worth doing if you have the time.

If you can’t make it to Mass, you can certainly make a spiritual communion and say a small prayer such as “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.” Or, if you read this too late to go to Mass, mark the First Fridays on your calendar now so you won’t forget for next month.

While you are at it, tomorrow is First Saturday, so mark it on your calendars now to head to mass. (There are other requirements for First Saturday devotions which you can read here.)

————

Tweetable: First Friday Devotion

7 Secrets to a Happy Marriage

This month my in-laws will celebrate their 51st wedding anniversary. That’s a big feat, considering that half of most marriages today end in divorce! On August 22, Michael and I will celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary which certainly is not as long as my in-laws, but we are getting there!

love-163690_1280marriagewm

Therefore, although I do not consider myself an expert or anything, I thought I would share our “secrets” for a happy marriage. Of course, these aren’t really secrets at all, but they have helped us through the ups and downs that inevitably all couples face.

1. Pray Together. Living a faith-filled life together is the most important foundation to a happy marriage, and the foundation for a life of faith is prayer. It is not always possible to pray together. I know that from experience. Life gets busy, and with my husband being a truck driver, praying together can be a real challenge. We just do the best we can, and at the very least, we go to Mass together when he is home.

2. Pray for each other. It is not enough to pray together. Don’t forget to pray for your spouse, too! If he works outside the home, you never know how your prayers may support him in his daily struggles. I’m convinced that my prayers are helping to keep my husband safe on the road with all the driving he does!

3. Look at the positive. It can be way too easy, especially after you have been married for a while, to start criticizing your spouse, nagging or nitpicking over little things. I know that I am guilty of this, especially during certain times of the month. AHEM! To counterbalance this tendency, I try to make a point of listing at least two or three positive things about my husband. Some days are harder than others, but when I do this, it helps me get a better perspective about whatever it is I am griping about.

3B. To piggyback on #3, I want to encourage you not to bash your husbands in public. It is one thing to discuss marriage problems or situations with a friend or family member that you trust and confide in. It is a whole other beast if you trash your husband with a bunch of girlfriends during a gossip session. Nothing good can come from that. It breeds bad blood and only causes more trouble than good. Instead, try to avoid speaking negatively about your spouse in public. If things are that bad, I urge you to consult a priest or marriage counselor.

4. Forgive each other. As you know, no one is perfect. We all do and say things that hurt our husbands, as they do to us. Most of the time, though, the infractions are inadvertent. Someone is in a bad mood or had a rough day or not feeling well, and he or she takes it out on the other. Or, there is a breakdown in communication leading to fights about finances or chores or whatever. That’s why it is so important to forgive each other. If we don’t, those seemingly little things can build up into something very big, and potentially blow up in your face!

5. Communicate often. Communication, in my opinion, is the hardest part of marriage; and yet, it is so important. It is important to communicate small things, so that there is order, and to keep everyone on the same page. But it is equally important to communicate about big things. Oftentimes, before couples get married, they share their dreams, hopes, and fears. Sometimes those conversations end after couples are married for a while. But, they are even more important during marriage. True communication is important for fostering a connection with each other.

If you are your spouse struggle with communication, you are not alone. My “thing” is writing. It is so much easier for me to write how I feel or what’s in my heart, and so terribly difficult to speak those same feelings. If you have to, take the time to write letters to each other once in a while, and share what is in your heart. But, if you can verbalize your feelings, and learn to communicate effectively, it can bring your marriage to a whole other level of love, trust and connection.

6. Spend time together. Seems like a  no-brainer, but with different schedules, and children’s activities, and work and other obligations, I’m sure you know some couples (or even you and your husband) who can go days without seeing each other, let alone spending time together. My husband is on the road a lot, so I can go up to almost two weeks without seeing my husband. It is hard, and when he is home, he either has a short time to get some things done, or he is so exhausted, all he wants to do is crash on the couch. But relationships don’t last if they are neglected. They take work, and I encourage you to find creative ways to spend time with each other, instead of living separate lives.

7. Make love often. The Catholic Church has a reputation for being a “kill-joy” and “prudish” for restricting sex for marriage. The Church doesn’t restrict sex until marriage to hurt us, but to help us. Sex is a sacred and holy act, meant to be shared between a husband and wife. Within the context of marriage, sex is a beautiful, and fun, thing! Unfortunately, just like everything else, after a couple has been marriage for a while, sex can become routine, and  just another thing to do, or for some women, something to avoid. Please try not to let that happen. Try and find ways to keep that spark alive (barring any health issues).

Now it’s your turn. What are your “secrets” for a happy marriage? Please do share in the comments!

FREE PDF (No Opt-in required): 7 Secrets to a Happy Marriage

**********
Click to Tweet: 7 Secrets to a Happy Marriage

(Image is in public domain)

Ascension Thursday

Jesus Ascension(Image in Public domain)

“When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.” Acts 1:9-11

Today is the beautiful feast day of the Ascension. It is the day we celebrate when Jesus took his rightful place – Ascending into heaven of His own power – at the right hand of the Father. It is also a reminder for us that someday, after the final judgement, will be reunited into our glorified body and live forever with Jesus in heaven (or eternally separated from Him in hell.)

Because of its significance, the feast of the Ascension is a holy day of obligation. From what I have read on about.com, all the dioceses of the US – except Boston, New York, Hartford, Newark, Omaha, and Philadelphia – have transferred the obligation to the following Sunday, June 1. HOWEVER, here in NJ,  the Metuchen and Trenton Dioceses are maintaining the obligation for today, the actual feast day, and so may many others. Therefore, if you are not certain if the feast is celebrated today or Sunday in your church, I encourage you to contact your local parish office.

To read more about this glorious feast go here, here and here.

Ancient Catholic Prayer for the Ascension

Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God,
that we who believe
Thine only-begotten Son our Redeemer,
to have ascended this day into heaven,
may ourselves dwell in spirit amid heavenly things. Amen.

(From the Roman Missal [6th-8th Century]. Found this beautiful prayer here.)