Saint Vincent de Paul, Agent of Charity

September 27 is the feast of Saint Vincent de Paul. If you aren’t familiar with him, you should be! He was a devoted Christian and had great love for the poor.

Saint Vincent de Paul

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

Early Life

St. Vincent was born in France to a peasant family sometime between 1576-1580. His father was a farmer so he was required to help out with the cattle, sheep and other chores. However, he was found to be very intelligent and was given the opportunity to study with the Franciscans. He was ordained in 1600 but in 1605 he was captured by Turkish pirates and sold as a slave. Thankfully, he was able to escape in the year 1607.

His Ministry

St. Vincent spent his life preaching and dedicating his life to serving the poor. He visited the prisoned, opened hospitals, and performed all sorts of charitable works to ease their sufferings. He eventually created the Missionary Congregation and the Daughters of Charity. Many lay people joined him in his work and continue to follow his example of charity in organizations such as the Saint Vincent de Paul Society.

The Lesson

There are a couple of important lessons we can learn from Saint Vincent de Paul. First, he has a great love for God. He lived in a time when many priests were lukewarm and unknowledgable of their faith. His example of faith and love converted many people. We can ask ourselves: Am I lukewarm in my faith? Am I an example of faith and love to those around me? How can I do better?

Second, he was gentle and loving to those who were largely marginalized by the community of his time. He reached out to those in prison. He cared for those who were sick. He loved the unloveable. We are probably not called to give our lives in service at such a great scale but we can ask ourselves: How do I treat those around me? Am I gentle and kind? Do I make the effort to reach out to those who are lonely, poor, or not someone in need? How can I do better? Is there a St. Vincent de Paul Society nearby where I can volunteer?

As we celebrate the memorial of St. Vincent, let us ak his intercession that we may love our Lord and our neighbor in a deeper, more significant way.

Further Reading

Check out the following sites to learn more about Saint Vincent. He had quite a life and my post only touches on the highlights.

NewAdvent.org

Stvincentdepaul.org Eatontown

Piercedhearts.org

Catholic.org

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Psst: Just a reminder, there is only a couple of days (until September 30) left to make a difference for those who are facing tremendous challenges due to the recent natural disasters. You can grow your faith and help those in need at the same time. – a win/win!

Assumption of the Blessed Mother

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

Assumption of Mary

Image by Peter Paul Rubens (1626) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

What is the Assumption of Mary?

The Assumption of Mary is the event in which God to Mary to heaven – body and soul. When you and I die, our soul will go to heaven, purgatory or hell and our bodies will decay as it waits for the final Resurrection at the end of times. Mary, however, didn’t have to wait. Right now, Mary is in heaven with her soul and body already united.

Some theologians and thinkers believe that Mary was given the grace of not having to die and was assumed into heaven without dying first. Others believe that Mary did die, in imitation of Christ who died for us, but was assumed into heaven shortly after her death. Honestly, though, it doesn’t matter whether you believe Mary died before she was assumed or not. We are required to believe that Mary was, in fact, brought to heaven with her body and soul, not how it happened.

The Assumption is NOT the Ascension.

Many people get the Assumption of Mary and the Ascension of Jesus confused. That’s completely  understandable given that both feasts celebrate Jesus and Mary’s “entrance” into heaven body and soul. Here is the difference: In the Ascension of Jesus, 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 bible. In the assumption, Mary is taken to heaven by POWER of GOD. Mary did NOT take herself to heaven, nor was she capable of doing so. The assumption is a gift and a grace of God that was granted to Mary.

Why was Mary Assumed into Heaven? 

During her life, Mary had a unique share in the suffering and death of Jesus. She carried him in her womb, she raised Him, and she followed Him in the most perfect way. Therefore, it seems fitting that she gets to have a unique 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, in her glorified body just like we will be when the time comes. Thus, her Assumption is a peek of our future destiny. When we die, we know that our souls are separated from our bodies. But, this is temporary. When Jesus returns at the second coming, our souls and bodies will be reunited again in our own 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 it is our destiny. We live in hope that we will be with the Blessed Trinity, all the Saints and Angels in heaven, FOREVER. How awesome is that?!

How can we celebrate this special Solemnity?

1. The first thing you should do is go to Mass. As a matter of fact, the feast of the Assumption is a Holy Day of Obligation, so technically you “have” to go. Of course, we don’t celebrate the Eucharist just because we have to, right? We go to Mass because we want to. 😉

2. Pray the glorious mysteries of the rosary. The glorious mysteries include the Assumption of Mary. “Bonus points” if you pray as a family!

3. In times past, most parishes would have a procession in Our Lady’s honor on this day. It’s not that common anymore, however, your (or a  nearby) parish is doing a procession, consider participating in it. If there aren’t any local processions available, you can put do a small procession for yourself and your family.

4. If you have time, you can do some crafts with your kids like this one at crafolic.com or this one at catholicmom.com.

5. You can also make an Assumption themed meal or treat like I found here and here (scroll down to the Assumption) on catholiccuisine.com.

These are just a few ideas. I’m sure with a little thought you will be able to come up with your own way of honoring Our Lady. May your day be blessed!

Resources to deepen your understanding  of this great Solemnity:

New Advent

About.com

AssumptionMary.com

The Presentation of Jesus

When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord,just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,”and to offer the sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.” Luke 2:22-24

Image by Collinson (1878) via Wikipedia, CCO Public Domain

Tomorrow is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, formally known as “Candlemas.” In many cultures, the Presentation the Lord used to be the official ending of Christmas, therefore one of the traditions for this feast is to light lots of candles and decorate with greenery.

It is a lovely feast. We hear the words of Simeon who rejoices in seeing the Lord before he died. We hear the words of Anna who “spoke about the child.” These are glimpses of what is to come when Jesus begins his earthly ministry of our redemption. It is worth spending some time today, if you can, to reflect on the meaning of today’s feast.

To help you, here are some explanations and  meditations on this feast to check out:

Fisheaters

Churchyear.net

New Advent

celebrating candlemas

catholicculture.org

americancatholic.org

about.com

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Today’s feast is also a good lead in for this month’s devotion: The Holy Family. It is good for us, as Catholics, to strive to imitate our families after the Holy Family. It is good for us to pray to the Holy Family, asking them to bless our family and help us in our needs. I encourage you to go here for some prayers to the Holy Family to get you started.

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Tweetable: The Presentation of Jesus

Saint Andrew and the Christmas Novena

Today is the feast of Saint Andrew, a wonderful and powerful saint. He was a great Apostle and missionary of the Lord. He is mentioned several times in the gospel. In fact, he brought Saint Peter to Jesus. I love that Saint Andrew told Peter, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41) after only one encounter! Of course there were ups and downs in his relationship with the Lord, but after the Resurrection and St. Andrew receives the Holy Spirit he becomes a mighty instrument for the Lord!

Image by unknown author (13th Century) via Wikipedia, CCO Public Domain

Image by unknown author (13th Century) via Wikipedia, CCO Public Domain

Saint Andrew died a martyr on a cross that was in the shape of an X. He was not nailed, but bound, to the cross and suffered for two days before finally passing to the Lord. Saint Andrew is the patron of fisherman and the countries of Russia, Scotland, and Greece. He also has the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena named after him.

Saint Andrew Christmas Novena

The Saint Andrew Christmas novena starts today, November 30, and continues until Christmas day. The prayer is very short and simple. All you have to do is say the following prayer 15 times a day, every day from now until Christmas. (I promise you, it only takes a few minutes.)

“Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of his Blessed Mother. Amen.”

By the way, you don’t have to say the prayer 15 times all at once. Some years I do, but some years, I break it up and say the prayer five times in a row, three times a day. I just added it to my prayers before meals. Some years, I break it up and say the prayer two times a day (7 times and then 8 times). Also, don’t be scrupulous if you miss a day or two, I’ve done that, too!

You can get a printable version of the prayer here. No opt-in required.

Resources

Here are some links to peruse and get to know Saint Andrew better.

AmericanCatholic.org

New Advent

Catholic.org

SaintAndrew.us

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Tweetable: Saint Andrew and the Christmas Novena