Saints Joachim and Anne

Today is the feast of saints Joachim and Anne who are considered to be the parents of Mary, the Blessed Mother.

Saints Joachim and Anne

Image by dimitrisvetsikas1969 (2016) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Their Lives

Their names are not mentioned in the bible. In fact, they aren’t mentioned in the bible at all. They are mentioned in certain apocryphal writings, most notably, “The First Gospel of James.” These writings, obviously, do not have the authority of the bible by any stretch of the imagination; however, they do give a sketch of their lives.

So, tradition holds that that Joachim and Anne suffered years of infertility. This was a source of shame for them because at that time, having children was a blessing from God. Still, in their shame, they continued to be faithful to God and His promises and called out to Him in prayer.

Eventually, Anne had the good blessing of having a vision of an angel who announced that she will have a child that will be blessed for generations to come! At the birth of Mary, their joy knew no bounds! Therefore, in gratitude to God, they consecrated Mary to God and she was raised in the temple. (This was normal at that time.)

The Lesson

Whether or not the traditional accounts are real or  not, we can learn some lessons from Saints Joachim and Anne. One that stick out for me, in their sorrow and shame in not being able to have children, they remained faithful to God. They didn’t hide from their pain, instead, they took it to God.

Mind you, they felt the sorrow and shame. The feelings were real. Feelings are not sinful; they are neutral. It is what we do with those feelings that count. Many of us, myself included, tend to suppress our “bad” feelings or use those feelings as an excuse to turn away from God. We (I) forget that God isn’t afraid of our feelings. It is okay to cry out to God, to yell at Him, to be mad at him when things don’t turn out the way we had hoped, expected, or wanted.

How about you? Do you agree with this assessment of our feelings? Do you turn away from God when you get angry or disappointed?

References

Here are some websites about Saints Joachim and Anne:

Catholic News Agency

Catholic.org

Britannica

The Immaculate Conception

Today, December 8, is the glorious solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. It is a day that all Catholics should celebrate with joy and thanksgiving because this amazing gift to Mary is also a gift for us!

Immaculate Conception

Image by Murillo (1678) via wikipedia, CCO Public Domain

What is the purpose of the Solemnity?

This solemnity celebrates the great grace given to Mary in virtue of the fact that she was to be the mother of Our Savior: She was conceived without original sin.

We are all born with original sin thanks to our first parents, Adam and Eve. At baptism original sin is washed away. But for Mary, she was freed from original sin at the moment of her conception.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in articles 490-493:

“Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God,134 was redeemed from the moment 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, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.135

The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched 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”.136 The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love”.137″

This is a wonderful mystery that we would do well to meditate upon. I encourage you to go deeper into this mystery and for more information you can go here.

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Tweetable: The Immaculate Conception

Why do Catholics Worship Mary?

(I have had a few emails and questions about Mary and the rosary recently; thus, I am reposting this series.)

Mary

photo credit: Qfamily via photopin cc

May is the month traditionally dedicated to Mary, so I thought it would be good to talk about our Catholic devotion to her. A lot of non-Catholics, and sadly some Catholics, believe that Catholics worship Mary and that is simply not true.

Catholics HONOR Mary as the mother of Jesus. They DO NOT worship Mary. If they do, they are completely wrong and mislead. Worship belongs to God and God alone.

According to dictionary.com, to honor someone is to show “high respect, as for worth, merit, or rank: to be held in honor” and to worship someone means  “reverent honor and homage paid” or “the object of adoring reverence or regard.”  See the difference? We give our worship to God but we honor Mary as the mother of Jesus.

You see, Mary is who she is BECAUSE of who Jesus is. She was given signal graces because she was chosen to be the mother of GOD. That is why we honor her and love her.

You can also think about it this way: usually, especially those of us who have a good relationship with our mothers, of course we would want others to respect our mothers. How much more would Jesus? Of course he would expect us to honor her and respect her, and so we Catholics do.

Our devotion to Mary is centered on Jesus, and ALL true devotion to Mary leads to Jesus – ALWAYS. If not, then there is something wrong with the devotion. 🙂  Speaking of devotions, if are looking for devotions to honor Mary this month, here are 7 Ways to Honor Mary.

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Have a question about the Catholic faith or confused about some Catholic doctrine or devotion? Contact me and I will do my best to answer your question in a future post. You can email me at carol (at ) simplecatholicliving (dot) com or use my contact page.

photo credit: Qfamily via photopin cc

Saint and Feast Days in May 2016

Boy, May came quick! There are a lot of fun and wonderful feast days this month such as Ascension, Pentecost and the Visitation of Mary. I am hoping to make an effort to fully celebrate these days, both liturgically and at home.

Saint & Feast Days in May 2016

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

In addition to these days, we are getting a new bishop in my diocese (Metuchen) tomorrow, May 3. I will definitely be watching the installation! Anyway, here are the saint and feast days for May:

Saints and Feasts

May 4: St. Athanasius, bishop and doctor of the church (obligatory memorial)

May 3: Sts. Philip & James, Apostles (feast)

May 5: Ascension of the Lord (Solemnity & holy day of obligation) Some dioceses transfer feast to the following Sunday.

May 6: First Friday Devotions (optional)

May 7: First Saturday Devotions (optional)

May 8: Mother’s Day & Ascension of our Lord celebrated in some dioceses.

May 10: St. Damien de Veuster, priest (optional memorial)

May 12: Sts. Nereus & Achilleus, martyrs (optional memorial)

May 12: St. Pancras, martyr (optional memorial)

May 13: Our Lady of Fatima (optional memorial)

May 14: St. Matthias, apostle (feast)

May 15: Pentecost (Solemnity)

May 18: St. John I, pope & martyr (optional memorial)

May 20: St. Bernardine of Siena, priest (optional memoria)

May 21: St. Christopher Magallanes, priest & Companions, martyrs (optional memorial)

May 22: Most Holy Trinity (Solemnity)

May 25: St. Bede the Venerable, priest & doctor of the church (optional memorial)

May 25: St. Gregory VII, pope (optional memorial)

 May 25: St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, virgin (optional memorial)

May 26: St. Philip Neri, Priest (obligatory memorial)

May 27: St. Augustine of Canterbury (optional memorial)

May 29: Corpus Christi (Solemnity)

May 31: Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (feast)

Other Dates to Note

Every Saturday is traditionally dedicated to devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary

May is traditionally dedicated to The Blessed Mother

May 1: 6th Sunday of Easter

May 5: National Day of Prayer, Holocaust Remembrance Day, & Cinco de Mayo (USA)

May 8: Mother’s Day

May 21: Armed Forces Day (USA)

May 23: Victory Day (Canada)

May 30: Memorial Day

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Tweetable: Saint and Feast Days in May 2016

Saints and Feast Days in January 2016

I know I am putting this out extra early since it isn’t even Christmas yet; however, I am starting my yearly blogging break starting next week and I didn’t want to wait until January to put this up.

Thus, without further ado, here it goes:

Saints and Feast Days in January 2016

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

Saints and Feasts

January 1Mary, Mother of God (solemnity, holy day of obligation)

January 1: First Friday Devotions (optional)

January 2:  Sts. Basil & Gregory, priest (obligatory)

January 2: First Saturday Devotions (optional)

January 3: Epiphany observed in United States (solemnity)

January 4: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, religious (obligatory memorial)

January 5: St. John Neumann, bishop (obligatory memorial)

January 6: Official feast day for Epiphany  (Solemnity)

January 6: St Andre Bessette, religious (optional memorial)

January 7: St. Raymond of Pennafort, religious (optional memorial)

January 10: Baptism of the Lord (feast)

January 12: St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, religious (optional memorial)

January 13: St. Hilary of Poitiers, bishop and doctor of the church (optional memorial)

January 20: St. Fabian, pope and martyr (optional memorial)

January 20: St. Sebastian, martyr (optional memorial)

January 21: St. Agnes, martyrs, virgin and martyr (obligatory memorial)

January 22: Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children (United States)

January 23: St. Vincent of Zaragossa, deacon and martyr (optional memorial)

January 23: St. Marianne Cope, Virgin (optional memorial)

 January 25: Conversion of Saint Paul (feast)

January 26: Sts. Timothy and Titus, bishops (obligatory memorial)

January 27: St. Angela Merici, religious (optional memorial)

January 28: St. Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor of the church (obligatory memorial)

Other Dates to Note

Every Saturday is traditionally dedicated to devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary

January is traditionally dedicated to the Holy Childhood of Jesus.

January 1: New Year’s Day

January 18: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

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Tweetable: Saints and Feasts in January 2016

Saints and Feasts in September 2015

I planned to get this up on Friday but things happen. 🙂 Tomorrow is the first day of September (!), so without further ado, here are the list of saints and feasts:

SaintsandFeastSeptember2015

Saints and Feasts

September 3:  St Gregory the Great, Pope & doctor of the church (obligatory memorial)

September 8: Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (feast)

September 9: St. Peter Claver, priest (obligatory memorial)

September 14: The Exaltation of the Holy Cross (feast)

September 15: Our Lady of Sorrows (obligatory memorial)

September 16: St. Cornelius, Pope and Cyprian, bishop, martyrs (optional memorial)

September 17: St. Robert Bellarmine, bishop and doctor of the church (optional memorial)

September 19: St. Januarius, bishop and martyr (optional memorial)

September 21: St. Matthew, apostle and evangelist (feast)

September 23: St. Pius of Pietrelcina, priest “St. Padre Pio” (obligatory memorial)

September 26: Sts. Cosmas and Damian, martyrs (optional memorial)

September 28: St. Wenceslaus, martyr (optional memorial)

September 28: St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, martyrs (optional memorial)

September 29: Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels (feast)

September 30: St. Jerome, priest and doctor of the church (obligatory memorial)

Other Dates to Note

Every Saturday is traditionally dedicated to devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary

September is traditionally dedicated to the Seven Sorrows of Mary.

For some, school has started all ready, for many of us school begins in September. For us, home school begins September 9th.

September 7: Labor Day (USA and Canada)

September 11: Patriot Day (USA), Remembrance of the attack at the Twin Towers, Pentagon, and the plane that went down in Pennsylvania.

September 13: Grandparents day

September 23: Autumn begins

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To download a printable version of this list, go here. (Subscribers, go to your private page.)

Tweetable: Saints & Feasts in September 2015

Image in public domain

Dedication of Saint Mary Major

August 5th is the day set aside for the optional memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. There are four major churches, or basilicas that we honor but I never understood why. I am guessing you don’t know why either, so I decided to do a little research.

800px-2012-06-05_Rome_&_Vatican_023WM

It turns out that there is a lot of information about this gorgeous Basilica. It is one of the oldest and largest churches, and was built at the request of Pope Liberius. It has been restored many times over the years while maintaining the integrity of its original structure.

The Vatican website describes the church:

The Patriarchal Basilica of St. Mary Major reigns as an authentic jewel in the crown of Roman churches. Its beautiful treasures are of inestimable value, and represent the Church’s role as the cradle of Christian artistic civilization in Rome. For nearly sixteen centuries, St. Mary Major has held its position as a Marian shrine par excellence and has been a magnet for pilgrims from all over the world who have come to the Eternal City to experience the beauty, grandeur and holiness of the basilica.

But why is it signficant?

It is significant because it is one of the four great churches in Rome, which is the center of Christianity. As such, it contains the papal throne and altar; however, no clergymen are allowed to celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist there without the Pope’s express permission.

The Basilica also has a miracle attributed to the place. Apparently, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a man named Giovanni, telling him that she wished that a church be built in her honor. Around the same time, she appeared to Pope Liberius with the same request, telling him that she will send down snow in the place where the church was to be built. Lo and behold, snow started to fall the next day, August 5th on the hill in Rome where the church as to be raised.  This is where Our Lady gets her title, “Our Lady of Snows.”

The history and the miraculous story is very interesting and I encourage you to check out the links below for further details behind this gorgeous basilica.

Vatican Website

New Advent

The Catholic Travel Guide

American Catholic

Wikipedia

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Picture is in public domain

The Assumption of Mary

Today is the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary and it is a beautiful and important feast in our liturgical calendar. It is also relatively new in that the Assumption of Mary was declared a dogma of the Church in 1950.

What is the Assumption of Mary?Assumption of Mary

The Assumption of Mary is where God in His awesome mercy “assumed” Mary into heaven body and soul.

Some “camps” believe that Mary was given the grace of not having to die and was assumed without dying. Some “camps” believe that that in imitation of Christ that Mary did die but was assumed into heaven shortly after. According to my understanding, it doesn’t matter whether one believes Mary died or not first, what matters is the belief that Mary was brought to heaven and lives in heaven body and soul.

The Assumption is NOT the Ascension.

Some people get the Assumption of Mary and the Ascension of Jesus confused. That’s understandable given that both feasts celebrate Jesus and Mary’s “entrance” into heaven. Here is the difference: In the Ascension, 40 days after His Resurrection, Jesus ascends back to heaven through HIS OWN POWER. You can read about Jesus’ ascension at the end of the gospels. In the assumption, Mary is brought to heaven through the mercy and power of God. Mary did NOT take herself to heaven, nor is she capable of doing so. It is a gift and a grace that God has granted her.

And why not? From a human perspective, it seems only fair that since Mary had a share in Jesus’ suffering and death that get gets to have a share of His glory. 🙂

The significance of the Assumption.

This solemnity of the Assumption should give us great joy and hope. Mary is in heaven, body and soul, in her glorified body. Her Assumption is a peek into our future destiny. When we die, we know that souls are separated from our bodies. But, when Jesus returns again are souls and bodies will be reunited in our glorified bodies.

The Assumption reminds us that our life on earth isn’t all there is, we have a destiny. Jesus is our destiny. Heaven is real and is our destiny. One day we will be with the Blessed Trinity, all the Saints and Angels in heaven, FOREVER. How awesome is that?!

Resources to deepen your understanding  of this great Solemnity:

New Advent

About.com

AssumptionMary.com

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Significance of the Assumption of Mary

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Image is in Public Domain

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival (January 5, 2014)

Sunday Snippets

It is time for Sunday Snippets over at RAnn’s place where Catholic bloggers share some (or all) of their post from the week. Why don’t you come and join us?

My posts this week are

A New Year and a New Focus

Meet Mistletoe (aka Danny Skip) the new addition to the family!

Mary Mother of God

Goals for 2014

Mary Mother of God and Happy New Year!

I wish all of you a blessed, happy and grace-filled New Year!

Today is also the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, which is a wonderful feast to bring in the new  year. Let this solemnity be an incentive to strengthen and deepen our relationship with Mary because the closer we are to Mary, the closer we are to Jesus!

Mary, Mother of God(Image in Public Domain)