Monday, August 31, 2009

Novena of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today we begin a novena honoring the Nativity of Our Lady, celebrated on September 8th. More thoughts on that tomorrow. Novena follows. Enjoy!

Novena for the Nativity of Our Lady

The prayer of each day is preceded by the following:
V. O God, come to my assistance

R. O Lord, make haste to help me

V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit

R. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

First Day: Heavenly Child, lovable Mary, the Eternal Father delights in your birth, for He beholds in your coming into this world one of His creatures who is so perfect that she will become the worthy Mother of His divine Son. May your birth give joy to my soul also, by obtaining for me from the heavenly Father, the pardon of my sins, and an abiding sorrow for them.
Hail Mary...

Second Day: O Chosen One among the daughters of Adam, admirable Mary, the Son of God delights in your birth, for He beholds the one chosen to be His Mother, and oh! such a beloved Mother. May your birth give joy to my soul also, by obtaining from your divine Son the grace to be born again spiritually to a holy life, perfectly conformed to yours, so that I may merit to obtain eternal glory.
Hail Mary...

Third Day: O Chosen One among the daughters of Adam, lovable Mary, the Eternal Word takes delight in your birth, for He sees the source of His Immaculate Blood. May your birth give joy to my soul also, by obtaining for me from the Word made Flesh, the grace to find in this Divine Blood the eternal happiness of my soul.
Hail Mary...

Fourth Day: O Chosen One among the daughters of Adam, admirable Mary, the Redeemer, promised to mankind from the beginning of the world, takes delight in your birth, for He sees the one who is destined to become the co-redemptrix of souls by uniting her tears to the Blood shed on the Cross to save mankind.
Hail Mary...

Fifth Day: Resplendent Lily of Paradise, lovable Mary, the Holy Spirit takes delight in your birth for He sees in you the soul never stained by sin, which would forever be His worthy Temple. May your birth give joy to my soul also, by obtaining for me from the Holy Spirit His divine love and final perseverance.
Hail Mary...

Sixth Day: Most Beautiful Branch of the tree of David, most admirable Mary, whose birth was such a consolation to St. Joachim and St. Anne who were delighted to be the parents of so holy a child, may your birth be the consolation of my soul, by obtaining for me from God, victory over the world and detachment from all the things of this earth.
Hail Mary...

Seventh Day: Resplendent Morning Star, lovable Mary, your birth was the cause of great joy to the angels, for they beheld in you the Mother of the Redeemer of the world, who by His Death would repair the loss sustained by the fall of rebellions angels in paradise. May your birth give joy to my soul also, by obtaining for me from God, victory over the infernal enemy, deliverance from all his snares, and the grace to be associated in glory with the angels in heaven.
Hail Mary...

Eighth Day: Brilliant Aurora of Heaven, lovable Mary, your birth brought great consolation to the souls of the saints detained in limbo, for it announced the approach of the Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ, who would enlighten their darkness and then conduct them to paradise. May your birth give joy to my soul also, and obtain for me from God, patience in all adversities, a perfect and constant conformity to His most holy will.
Hail Mary...

Ninth Day: Mediatrix between God and mankind, admirable Mary, by your birth you perfected the joy of all the children of Adam, who, through you, have received the Author of Grace, for He has made you the treasurer of all the graces which are imparted to us. May your birth be a special cause of joy to my soul by obtaining for me from God, eternal salvation and all the graces necessary to obtain it.
Hail Mary...

The prayer of each day is ended by the following:

Antiphon: Your Nativity, O Virgin Mother of God, was the herald of joy to the whole world; since from you arose the Sun of Justice, Christ our God, who, destroying the curse, bestowed the blessing, and confounding death, rewarded us with life everlasting.
V. Let us celebrate with joy the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary.R. That she may intercede for us with Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us pray

Grant to us your servants, we beseech you, O Lord, the gift of Your heavenly grace, that as our salvation was begun in the child-bearing of the Blessed Virgin, so from this solemn festival of her Nativity may we obtain an increase of peace. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Nihil Obstat: Iacobus P. King, I.C.D. Censor Deputatus. Imprimatur: Bryan Iosephus McEntegart, D.D., LL.D. Episcopus Bruklyniensis.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Tale of Three Mothers

I am an adoptive parent. I recently stopped at a local parish to request Masses for the biological mothers of my children. I am concerned for them always, but have reason to believe that my son’s mother is very much in need of prayer at the moment.

I entered the parish office to request the Masses.

“Do you need them yet this year?” the woman behind the desk inquired.

“No, no.” I said, not wanting to be pushy. “The Masses can be said whenever it works for you.”

“Oh, great.” she said, grabbing her Mass schedule and flipping through pages. “Let me see when the next available Mass is... how does Oct. 24th* work?” she asked.

“Great,” I said, and began filling out a paper with the spelling of my son’s biological mother’s name. As I handed her the paper, I peered down over the counter at the scheduling book. I noticed that she had actually scheduled the Mass for the following date, October 25th.

“The 25th?!” I blurted out without thinking. The lady behind the desk looked up, startled.

“What? Oh my goodness,” she laughed. “I don’t know why I did that. I had my pencil on the 24th and it just moved down there to the 25th."

She looked up at me again and saw that tears we were welling in my eyes. “ Do you want me to change it? I can move it to the 24th.”

“No,” I said, smiling. “That day is perfect." I paused for a moment, then decided to explain. "This Mass intention is for my son's biological mother. The 25th is his birthday.”

She gasped, then rubbed her arm and showed me her goosebumps. I smiled, thanked her and headed toward the tabernacle to say thank you to Our Lord.

Before I entered, I waved to the statue of Our Lady, still blinking back tears.

"Thank you, Mother" I whispered, and I meant it with all my heart.

She is so good.

* date changed to protect the identity of those involved

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Thoughts on the Assumption of Our Lady

Meditating on the Assumption pushes my brain to its limit – I know the joy in Heaven must have been indescribable but I simply cannot fathom what it was like for Our Lady to first behold the beatific vision. To meet the Father for the first time. To see her Divine Son again, in all of His heavenly majesty. To fully understand her role in the salvation of its world. To see St. Joseph ; that the two of them might wonder in all of their humility and obedience the greatness of God that He bestowed upon them such extraordinary dignity. To have choirs of angels welcoming Our Lady into Paradise. *sigh* Oh, to have been a mouse in the corner. What a glorious day it must have been!

But it was when I learned the Franciscan Crown Rosary, a prayer celebrating the joys of Our Lady, that I found something else to ponder about the Assumption.

According to one Franciscan Order, the Blessed Virgin Mary was seventy-two years old when she was assumed into Heaven. Estimating that she was fourteen when she gave birth to Jesus, she would have been forty-seven when He died. That leaves twenty-five years for her on Earth without her beloved Son. Despite her joy in His victory, the Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven, it must have been incredibly painful for her to be separated from Him.

Certainly she had the company of some of the Apostles, and friends. I am sure she knew that she would see her Divine Son again one day, but we humans often need a tangible presence for comfort.

I would assume that Our Lady may have been given special consolation at times, visits from her Son or the holy angels. But maybe not. Maybe her solitary presence on Earth was part of a bigger plan.

Because she was given twenty-five years to further contemplate the mysteries of God, Our Lady must have prayed often for the salvation of her Son’s beloved children. She knew what was in store for the faithful, and she knew the desolation that befell those who rejected God.
And one tear from the spotless, sinless Virgin means more in Heaven than we can possibly imagine. How often did Our Lady plead lovingly through tears with the Father for mankind, many of whom she saw living sinful lives, oblivious or indifferent to her Son who sacrificed all while she, the Mother of God, remained, sinless, on Earth?

Perhaps those twenty-five years she spent on Earth were yet another facet of her martyrdom. She undoubtedly offered her own agony to the Father as she watched her Son suffer on the Cross. Did she offer the sorrow of being separated from her Son to the Father for the sake of mankind? I suspect so.

And such an offering from the humble Virgin would have made her Assumption into Heaven all the more glorious.

Thank you so much to Our Lord and Our Lady for this beautiful Feast Day. Please check out this prayer in honor of this extraordinary day.

PS A worldwide five-decade rosary will be prayed tomorrow in honor of the Assumption. US Times – 11 a.m. Eastern, 10 a.m. Central, 9 Mountain and 8 a.m. Pacific. More details here.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Price of Beauty

Pop singer Jessica Simpson is set to return to reality TV this fall in a series entitled The Price of Beauty. According to a network press release Ms. Simpson will travel the world to “"to meet women, study local fashions, dietary fads and beauty regimes…” tracking the global quest for beauty, and showcasing the extreme measures some women will go to make themselves feel youthful and pretty.

I thought extreme measures would be along the lines of stars like Demi Moore going to a clinic in Austria where leeches are applied to her skin( following a turpentine bath, naturally), to detoxify the blood.

Unfortunately Moore’s leeches are on the sane end of the spectrum. Turns out women around the world are headed to far off lands for a downright evil beauty treatment which alleges to turn back the clock. As a forty-something woman myself, I’m all for anti-aging breakthroughs; however, you won’t catch me near this one with a fifty foot pole.

Why not? The ‘beauty breakthrough’ consists of facial injections comprised of stem cells harvested from aborted babies. Sadly, there is a market for this:

“…Women like Susan Barrington, a 52-year-old housewife from England, are heading to places such as Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Moscow and Rotterdam to obtain the treatments.

She has been given the final go-ahead form (sic) a local clinic to travel abroad for the treatment that promises to make her look 10 years younger and doesn't mind that lives have been sacrificed to enhance her beauty.

To produce the treatments, clinics are using tissue from babies killed in abortions from 6 to 12 weeks into pregnancy and stem cells obtained from destroying human embryos to inject into a client's face. The fetal cells then begin a supposed rejuvenation process that makes the skin look younger…”

A sickening twist makes the story even more unsettling:

“To obtain the cells, women in underdeveloped nations are paid up to $200 dollars to carry a baby up to the optimum eight to 12 week period when the fetuses are “harvested” for their stem cells which are then sold to exclusive cosmetic clinics….”

Use of the new product is unregulated with the target market being wealthy British and American tourists. In Moscow alone more than fifty clinics are offering the injections.
Hopefully if Jessica Simpson stumbles across this abomination she will not showcase it in anything other than the unflattering light of Truth. In this case, the price of beauty is the life of a child. If that isn’t too high, I don’t know what is.

Thank you, St. Dominic

Years ago, Our Lady gave the world the greatest weapon against evil through the saint whose feast we celebrate today. Speaking from experience, I promise you this: If you pick it up, and use it as instructed, evildoers in this world and the next don't stand a chance.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My Favorite Miracle

One of my favorite bloggers, Michael over at Reach Paradise, recently mused about the miracle of the loaves and fishes, then posed this question: If you could have witnessed one of Our Lord's miracles, what would it have been?

This sent me over the edge because that just happens to be a happy pastime of mine - sometimes when I pray the rosary I get lost thinking about what it must have been like to be there for the Annunciation, or the Nativity or the Resurrection or to have even walked past Jesus when he was out and about.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration, where Jesus revealed himself in all of his splendor to Peter, James and John. Now Michael, that would have been something to see!

The best thing is that this is a miracle that seems within reach. Maybe it won't be on Mount Tabor - but I pray one day I too will see my Lord in all of His splendor.

He suffered and died so that He might welcome my sinful self into His Kingdom. On the cross, He made His Mother my Mother. He loves me and He forgives me. And Michael, that is my favorite miracle of all!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Jeff Kuhner: Voice of Truth

No, it is not your imagination. There really is an anti-Catholic bias in much of the media.

Thankfully there is a rising star among their ranks who is bold, brilliant and unabashedly Catholic.

Jeffrey Kuhner is an eloquent and impassioned columnist for the Washington Times. His most recent column, which will undoubtedly bring a smile to the faces of HappytoBeCatholics, can be found here.

A former professor from Canada's prestigious McGill University, Kuhner reportedly stood out among the impressive faculty for possessing one of those impossibly big brains crammed full of knowledge on a multitude of subjects. This gift, coupled with quick wit and lightning recall, resulted in his classes being crammed with eager and attentive students who knew they were in for something special.

Good news for the American public... Kuhner is a frequent guest host on many syndicated talk radio shows. I happened upon him yesterday as I was station hopping, and he was guest hosting the Michael Savage Show. The discussion was on current events, not faith, but it was really wonderful to know the man behind the microphone sees the world through Catholic eyes.

More from Jeff Kuhner can be found in the archives of the Washington Times, or at the Edmund Burke Institute for American Renewal.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Importance of Perseverance

Today is a wonderful day! We celebrate the feast of St. John Vianney, truly a remarkable servant of God if ever there was one.

Perhaps the best lesson from the example of St John Vianney's life was that of the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity. St. John Vianney faced many obstacles, including limited education and opposition at various stages in his life from envious and troublemaking people. However, it was in his well- chronicled fights with the devil that this spiritual gem was revealed - he told confidants he noticed that the nights where the Enemy was most vicious in his attacks were always followed by a major conversion the next day. He knew a big fish was coming in, so to speak. Invariably someone who had been away from the sacraments for many years or someone who had been firmly entrenched in a life of serious sin would show up in his confessional, ready to return to Christ.
Life is like that for all of us. The enemy hates all souls, but especially devout Christians. When you are reconciled with God, living according to His Will and everything seems to be going wrong, don't give up! Don't despair! It very likely means that your efforts are pleasing to God, and we know who always wins in the end. Your very own 'big fish' may be right around the corner.

Please take the opportunity today to pray for a special priest, vocations, the Holy Father and the Church. The wonderful, wonderful Curé, patron saint of parish priests, is waiting to intercede on this special day.


O Holy Priest of Ars, your precious remains are contained in a magnificent reliquary, the donation from the priests of France. But this earthly glory is only a very pale image of the unspeakable glory which you are enjoying with God. During the time you were on earth, you used to repeat in your dejected hours, 'one will rest in the other life." It is done, you are in eternal peace, and eternal happiness. I desire to follow you one day. Until then, I hear you saying to me: "You should work and fight as long as you are in the world." Teach me then to work for the salvation of my soul, to spread the good news and good example and to do good towards those around me in order that I will receive the happiness of the Elect with you. Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for me during this novena especially for ... (mention silently your special intentions).

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

O St John Vianney, Patron of Priests, pray for us and for all priests!

Monday, August 3, 2009

St. John Vianney: An Angelic Soul in a Mortal Body

Today we reflect on the Cure's edifying presence to those around him., When we grow closer to God people sense it and draw nearer, as we all hunger on some level for Truth. The saints who submit themselves entirely to Christ are often described as physically unremarkable, even frail, yet radiate an ethereal beauty that acts as a magnet. We are all called to evangelize by word, deed and example, which is really what today's prayer is all about.

Holy Curé , please help us to follow your extraordinary example!


O Holy Priest of Ars, a witness of your life made this magnificent praise of you:'We would have taken him for an angel in a mortal body." You so edified others: the modesty and the exquisite purity radiated from your body. With such charm and with such enthusiasm you preached to others about these beautiful virtues which you said resembled the perfume of a vineyard in bloom.Please I beg you to join your entreaties to those of Mary Immaculate and Saint Philomena in order that I guard always, as God asks me, the purity of my heart. You, who have directed so many souls towards the heights of virtue, defend me in temptations and obtain for me the strength to conquer them. Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for me during this novena especially for ... (mention silently your special intentions).

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

St John Vianney: Spiritual Warrior

Of the many wondrous thing about St. John Vianney's life, his battle with the Infernal Enemy merits special attention as the work of a true servant of God.

The Devil harassed St. John Vianney frequently. The saint permitted himself only a few hours of sleep a night, as mortification and to accommodate the many pilgrims who came to Ars to go to confession with the Curé. The Devil tormented St. John Vianney during the night, disturbing even those few precious moments of sleep. Visitors to the parish would hears the screeches and loud banging that the Enemy used to wake the poor Curé, and this harassment followed him even when he was away from Ars on occasion. The Devil even set St. John Vianney's bed on fire one night! St. John Vianney defeated the Devil with weapons that we all should strive to possess: humility, love of Jesus and complete obedience to God. These are weapons the Devil does not understand, and victory over the most intelligent of angels through the humblest of humans gives spectacular testament to the unfathomable glory of God Almighty.

Humble Curé, please, please pray for the United States before the throne of God. Intercede so the Enemy may no longer use the pride of men to destroy laws which uphold our God-given liberties. Turn our hearts and minds to Jesus, in gratitude and praise forever. Amen.


O Holy Priest of Ars, the infamous attacks of the devil which you had to suffer and the trials which disheartened you by fatigue would not make you give up the sublime task of converting souls. The devil came to you for many years to disturb your short rest but you won because of mortification and prayers. Powerful protector, you know the temptor's desire to harm my baptized and believing soul. He would have me sin, by rejecting the Holy Sacraments and the life of virtue. But good Saint of Ars dispel from me the traces of the enemy.Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for me during this novena especially for ... (mention silently your special intentions).

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori

One of the many things I love about being Catholic are the special feast dates throughout the year, which direct our attention to specific moments in Christ's life or showcase the lives of those who served him in extraordinary fashion.

All week I've been writing about one such person, St. John Vianney, in preparation for his feast on August 4th. In addition to today's post about St. John Vianney's devotion to the Real Presence, I want to take a moment to honor the brilliant moral theologian and Doctor of the Church, St. Alphonsus Liguori.

I quote from his writings on uniformity with God's will.

" The essence of perfection is to embrace the will of God in all things, prosperous or adverse. In prosperity, even sinners find it easy to unite themselves to the divine will; but it takes saints to unite themselves to Gos' will when things go wrong and are painful to self-love. Our conduct in such instances is the measure of our love of God. St. John of Avila used to say 'one Blessed be God in times of adversity is worth more than a thousand acts of gratitude in times of prosperity'..."

Click here to learn more about the inspiring St. Alphonsus Liguori, one of only thirty-three people to be bestowed with the title of Doctor of the Church. He saw many highs and lows in life, and did not let physical pain, disability or injustice deter him from his mission of serving others in service to the Lord.

St. John Vianney and the Real Presence

Could there be a better petition than the one offered today?

I often ask myself...if I really and truly believe that Jesus is present - body, blood, soul and divinity - in the tabernacle, then why would I want to be anywhere else? Yet I don't get to adoration often enough. Today, hopefully the Curé's intercession will help me in that department.


O Holy Priest of Ars, whose only comfort in this world was the real presence of Jesus in the tabernacle, was it not your great joy to distribute the Eucharist to the pilgrims who visited you? You refused Communion to the souls who refused to reform but to souls of goodwill you opened wide the doors of the Eucharistic Feast.You, who each day at Holy Mass received Holy Communion with great loves, give me some of your fervor. With freedom from mortal sin, obtain for me a sincere desire to profit from receiving Holy Communion. Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for me during this novena especially for... (mention silently your special intentions).
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.