Happy Birthday to the Catholic Church!

And a very special Happy Birthday to you, who are the body of the Church!

We’re all familiar with our own birthdays. We celebrate them because they mark the day of the year in which we entered into this life. But did you know you have a second birthday?

Because you are part of the body of the Church, Pentecost is the Church’s birthday. And it’s yours as well. Like any birthday, it’s a cause for celebration.

Pentecost

The word Pentecost is Greek and it means “50th day.” Fifty days after Easter Sunday, we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and their followers. It’s also the beginning of their Earthly ministry to make disciples of all nations.

Pentecost is also a Jewish holiday, which the Jews use to celebrate the end of Passover. Jews celebrate the gift of the law to Moses at Mt. Sinai on this day. But we, as Catholics celebrate the birth of our Church.

What Happened On The Day of Pentecost?

At Pentecost, the Apostles and their followers were gathered in a room. Jews from all over the world were gathered with Peter, the leader of the Apostles and the Eleven. At this time, a great wind blew and a flame appeared as a tongue of fire, which split itself into many individual flames above the heads of all those present. The Holy Spirit came upon these people and each began to speak in tongues. Despite the fact many had no common language, they were perfectly able to understand one another.

Others who were not so blessed, accused those speaking in tongues of being drunk, but Peter arose and addressed the crowd, explaining that it was only 9 o’clock, and that this phenomenon was not intoxication, but rather this was the work of the Holy Spirit, prophesized in the scripture.

Peter then called all those present to be baptized and about three thousand people were baptized that day.

The Birth of the Catholic Church!

These people were among the first Catholics, and Peter is the first pope of the Catholic Church.

The symbols of Pentecost are the flame, wind, and the dove, which represents the Holy Spirit. The color of Pentecost is red and the priest wears red vestments on this day. Parishioners are also invited to wear red on this day. Red decorations as well as celebrations are appropriate, similar to any other birthday. Special prayers are often said just for Pentecost.

Bringing up our children in the Catholic Faith with all the secular influences of our society is a challenge. Our children/youth have a myriad of negative role models sending them the message that sin is “cool” or normal. They are being regularly challenged by the media, as well as people from other faith backgrounds. Without a firm foundation, they are being tossed by “every wind of doctrine” or philosophy (Eph. 4: 14-15).

So how can we help our children grow strong in our faith?

  1. Foster a relationship with Christ and His Church. A solid foundation will help to withstand the attacks on our faith by creating a relationship with Christ, the Rock. The more we know Christ, His Teachings and the truths of our Faith, the more we can stay strong. In Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit, we can stand against the worldly influences and the secular world view. The Church’s Mission is to evangelize and bring all closer to Christ and His ways. The Sacraments give us the Grace to follow Christ faithfully.
  2. Prayer is the key to our children staying Catholic. Regular daily prayer will absolutely make a difference in their lives. Praying with and for our children is essential.
  3. Make religious education a priority in our lives. Giving them the tools to stay on the straight and narrow will help them make good decisions even in the midst of temptations and challenges. Our lives can be so consumed by many other things like social networking, sports, and other extra-curricular activities that religious education fits in to our lives “just barely” or not at all.
  4. Positive peer pressure: Good friendships with those matching our values is extremely important in faith development. For the younger ones, it is easier to foster healthy friendships. When they get older it is also important, but different. It is not enough to just send them to Faith Formation classes or Catholic School, but also to send them to Catholic Retreats/Conferences, DYMO Camp, Youth Group, etc. These help increase the chance of them staying Catholic
  5. The Domestic Church: Studies have shown that parental influence is more important than any other influence in the life of the youth even over peers and teachers. Your house is a mini church and you are the priest(s). It is essential to continue to grow in your faith development to better assist the youth under your care.

We need to do all we can in our power to pass our faith on to our precious youth, our future Church.

 

~Cheryl Sokolowski, Faith Formation Director

 

Five First Saturdays
In Reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

By Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC
Spiritual Director of the Thirteenth of the Month Club

Are you sick of turning on the news and seeing nothing but violence and mayhem? Well, there’s something we can do to bring about peace.

‘War is your fault’
My fellow Marian Fr. Seraphim Michalenko sometimes tells a story that a priest ministering in Japan shared with him in Rome. This priest was at an international gathering of Christians from across the world, attended by foreign dignitaries. The ambassador from Japan approached the priest, verified that the priest served in Japan and was a Catholic priest, and then said, “War is your fault.”

The priest was surprised and asked what the ambassador meant. The ambassador said, “You Catholics, all of you — we do not have peace in the world. It is your fault.”

The priest said, “Ambassador, why do you blame us?”

The ambassador said, “I’ve read about this. The Lady came to you at Fatima, right? That’s what you believe? She told you what to do to secure peace in the world. Well, there’s no peace in the world, so obviously you Catholics haven’t done it.”

The priest had to acknowledge that the ambassador was correct, but still tried to protest, saying, “Isn’t peace everyone’s responsibility?”

The ambassador was vehement. “No, she came to you Catholics. Not to Buddhists. Not to Hindus. She came to you, and it is your responsibility.”

That ambassador had more faith than a lot of Catholics! But he’s right – Our Lady came and asked for specific things at Fatima. If we listened to her and did what she asked, there would be peace in the world. Among her requests:

•pray the Rosary every day for peace in the world;

•the consecration of Russia and each of us individually to Mary’s Immaculate Heart;

•do our daily duties out of love, dedicating everything to God; and

•make reparation for sins against the Immaculate Heart of Mary by observing the “Five First Saturdays of Reparation.”

What are the Five First Saturdays?
Our Lady explained those Five First Saturdays to Sr. Lucia dos Santos, one of the Fatima visionaries, on Dec. 10, 1925, in the following way:

See, my daughter, my Heart encircled by thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. Do you, at least, strive to console me. Tell them that I promise to assist at the hour of death with the graces necessary for salvation all those who, in order to make reparation to me, on the First Saturday of five successive months, go to Confession, receive Holy Communion, say five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for a quarter of an hour, meditating on the … mysteries of the Rosary.

Why five First Saturdays in particular? Jesus explained this to Sr. Lucia on May 29-30, 1930, saying:

Daughter, the motive is simple: There are five kinds of offenses and blasphemies spoken against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

First: blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception

Second: against her Virginity

Third: against the Divine Maternity, refusing, at the same time, to receive her as the Mother of mankind

Fourth: those who seek publicly to implant, in the hearts of children, indifference, disrespect, and even hate for this Immaculate Mother

Fifth: those who revile her directly in her sacred images

Here, dear daughter, is the motive that led the Immaculate Heart of Mary to petition Me to ask for this small act of reparation. And, out of regard for her, to move My mercy to pardon those souls who have had the misfortune to offend her. As for you, seek endlessly, with your prayers and sacrifices, to move Me to mercy in regard to these poor souls.

Do they still matter?
Now, a lot of people have forgotten about the Five First Saturdays devotion, but it’s still relevant today – wars are still going on! We still haven’t seen the fulfillment of Our Lady’s promise that “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.” According to Sr. Lucia, St. John Paul II consecrated Russia to Mary’s Immaculate Heart on March 25, 1984. The USSR fell shortly afterwards. And yet there’s still not peace in the world. Why? Ask yourself: Have most of us been faithful to her requests, especially the First Saturdays of Reparation?

So I call on everyone who loves Mary to start making the Five First Saturdays a regular part of their prayer life. For anyone who visits the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, on the First Saturday of each month, it’s easy! Pilgrims can go to Confession, pray the Rosary for Life, and attend Mass with the intention of making reparation to Our Lady – as she requested. To fulfill the requirement to meditate for 15 minutes on the Mysteries of the Rosary, you can prayerfully walk the Stations of the Cross on Eden Hill for at least 15 minutes, remaining aware of keeping Our Lady company in spirit throughout her Son’s Passion and Death.

One and done?
If we’ve made the Five First Saturdays once, are we done for life? No! You can and should make the Five First Saturdays more than once. In fact, I highly recommend it as a great spiritual practice! Get a monthly tune-up with Confession, Mass, Communion, and immersing yourself in the Mysteries of the Rosary, all offered in reparation for the many serious offenses committed against Our Lady. Make the First Saturdays throughout your life for love of Our Lady and reap huge spiritual rewards.

Let’s make reparation together to the Immaculate Heart by being faithful to the Five First Saturdays, and help Our Lady spread grace, peace, and healing throughout all the world.

Father Donald Calloway,  MIC, is the spiritual director of the Marian Fathers’ Thirteenth of the Month Club, a group of Marian Helpers committed to answering the call of Our Lady of Fatima. For membership information on the Thirteenth of the Month Club, email [email protected], visit the club webpage; or call 1-800-462-7426.

For more about Our Lady’’s apparitions at Fatima, Fr.  Donald recommends Fatima for Today (Product Code: FATIM2) by Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, as well as Fr. Donald’s books Champions of the Rosary: The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon and Under the Mantle: Marian Thoughts from a 21st Century Priest, all available through ShopMercy.org or by calling 1-800-462-7426.

First Saturdays
in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary include the following elements, performed with the intention of reparation for blasphemies against the Immaculate Heart, for at least five consecutive months:

•Confession (shortly before or after the First Saturday — so long as the person receives Holy Communion in a state of grace);

•Holy Communion received on the First Saturday of each month;

•the Holy Rosary, five decades recited sometime during the day; and

•meditating for 15 minutes on the Mysteries of the Rosary (one or more).

With Ecclesiastical Approval
© 2016 Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M.

by Edward Sri, Franciscan Media

Many great popes, saints, and Christian leaders have exhorted us to pray the rosary. It’s a powerful prayer, they say, one that can change your life, strengthen the family, bring peace to the world, convert entire nations, and win the salvation of souls.

But does the average person experience the rosary this way?

Many Catholics, unfortunately, have the impression that the rosary is not relevant for them. It might be a sacred prayer for very religious people—priests, religious sisters, and exceptional Catholics—but not for “an ordinary lay person like me.” Even some devout Catholics admit that they are a bit intimidated by this prayer. They have tremendous respect for the rosary, know it’s important, but feel bad that they don’t love it more. Many view it as the marathon of Catholic devotions. “I know it’s an important prayer, but it takes fifteen to twenty minutes. I’m too busy. I don’t have time for that.” “It’s too hard to stay focused for that much time. I prefer shorter prayers.”

Some have questions about the rosary: Does all this attention to Mary distract us from a relationship with God? Why do we repeat the same prayers over and over? Are we supposed to concentrate on the prayers, the mysteries, or both? Still others think the rosary is just plain boring—a monotonous, dry, mechanical way of talking to God, not as personal and meaningful as other forms of prayer. “It’s like taking the garbage out for your wife. You know you should do it, but date night is more exciting.” “Sure, the rosary might be good for you—like flossing your teeth—but it’s not as interesting and meaningful to me as spiritual reading or adoration.”

Others wonder if all the repetition has any meaning. “I know the rosary is important, but it just seems like rote prayer,” one young adult said. “It’s like saying magical words and something good is supposed to happen. What’s the point? Is simply saying these words actually doing anything for me spiritually?”

But what if I were to show you that there is a lot more going on in the rosary than simply saying these words and counting them with beads? What if I were to tell you that the rosary is not beyond you—that you, wherever you may be in your relationship with God, can actually experience a profound, intimate, personal encounter with Jesus through this devotion? And what if you were to discover that there are many different ways to pray the rosary—indeed, some that can easily fit within your schedule and help you with whatever challenges you face right now in your life.

Think of the rosary as being like the ocean: There’s something in it for everyone, whether you consider yourself a veteran mystic longing to go deeper in prayer with our Lord, a novice struggling to learn how to pray, or someone seeking the Lord’s help, right now, with something going on in your life. The deep-sea explorer and the child making sand castles on the beach can fully enjoy the same ocean while playing at different levels. And this is true with the rosary.

Getting Your Feet Wet

If the rosary is not a part of your regular prayer life right now, it’s easy to get your feet wet with this devotion. Here are five key things you need to know to get started.

First, we don’t have to pray the rosary all at once. Sure, some people might sit down and quietly pray a whole rosary in one sitting. But we can also choose to divide it up, saying just a decade or two at a time at different points throughout the day: on the way to work, in between errands, in between meetings, while folding laundry or doing dishes. Many holy men and women and even popes have prayed the rosary this way and have found it manageable and fruitful for their busy lives.

Second, we can pray it anywhere! The rosary is like a portable chapel we can keep in our pocket and pull out anytime, anyplace. Whether we have a sudden, urgent situation to present to God in prayer or we just want to fill some of our day with thoughts of God, all we need to do is pull out our beads and turn to the Lord in this prayer. Indeed, the rosary is always accessible.

We might pray it in a church, in our room, in our office. Or we might pray it in the car, on the exercise machine, in the grocery store line, or while cutting the grass or going for a walk. Bringing our hearts into the rhythm of the rosary is something we can do intermittently throughout the day.

Third, we can pray the rosary in different ways, customizing it to fit the needs of the moment. Sometimes we might focus on the words of the prayers, thinking, for example, of Gabriel’s greeting to Our Lady as we slowly say with great devotion, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.” At other times, we might reflect on the mysteries of Christ’s life, prayerfully contemplating scenes such as his birth in Bethlehem, his transfiguration, or his death on the cross, etching the Gospel on our hearts. At still other times, we might focus on the holy name of Jesus at the center of each Hail Mary, speaking his name tenderly with love as the pulse of our rosary.

Two and-a-Half Minutes That Can Change Your Day

Fourth, it’s easy to fit the rosary into your schedule. Do you have two and-a-half minutes in your day that you can give to God? is is the beauty of the rosary.

If I need a quick pause in my busy life—just a two-and-a-half-minute break—I can pull out my beads and pray a decade in order to regroup with the Lord and be nourished spiritually. That’s all a decade takes: one Our Father, ten Hail Marys, and one Glory Be. I can do that easily, pausing for a moment in between emails, in the car, in my office, in between meetings, in between errands. I don’t even have to stop some things I’m doing: I can pray a decade while cooking dinner, sweeping the floor, holding a baby, or walking to my next appointment.

If an urgent need comes up in the day—someone is in an accident, I’m about to begin a big project, my spouse is having a rough day, I have an important decision to make, I need to have a difficult conversation with someone, my child is taking an exam—I can say a quick decade right on the spot. In just two and-a-half minutes, I can offer a special gift to God—one decade of the rosary—for that particular intention.

Fifth, even if I’m not able to give the rosary my full attention, it’s still worth praying. I might not always be able to completely unplug mentally from the concerns of the day. I might be exhausted, too tired to pray well. I might be distracted and unable to reach the heights of contemplation. But still, the words themselves are biblical and holy. Offering God a decade or two in the midst of my daily life gives him something beautiful, even if I give it without my full, relaxed, undivided attention. I’m giving God some space in my day and filling it with words of praise for him.

Going Deeper

But the rosary can take us deeper—a lot deeper. When we pray the rosary in its ideal setting, doing a whole set of mysteries, the prayer can slow us down, calm our hearts, and enable us to rest in God’s presence. It draws out the deepest desires in our souls, desires for God and God alone.

The rhythm of the repetitious prayers can have a profound spiritual effect. In this, it is much like the traditional “Jesus Prayer” many early Christians recited: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” They would slowly repeat these words over and over again throughout the day, such that the rhythm of this prayer was linked to the rhythm of their breathing.

As John Paul II explained, this loving repetition “embodies the desire for
 Christ to become the breath, soul and all of one’s life” (RVM, 27). In the same way, the repeated prayers in the rosary help us get more in touch with the deepest desires in our souls for God.

We as human persons are made with infinite desires that only God can fulfill. But because we’re fallen, we tend to live at the level of our superficial desires—desires for comfort, fun, fame, wealth, pleasure, success. These desires are not bad, but the rosary helps us be more aware of the soul’s deepest desires, which are for God. As St. Catherine of Siena taught, the greatest gift we can give to God in prayer is not the finite work of saying the words but our “infinitely desirous love” for God that is expressed in those words and that is being drawn out of our souls in prayer.

How might this happen in the rosary? As we’ll see more in my book, when we pray the rosary, we can focus on the name of Jesus at the center of every Hail Mary. We can simply speak Jesus’s name with fervent, heartfelt love. We can gather all our desires into that one word, his beautiful, holy name. And with each Hail Mary, we can call out to him, like a lover speaking to the beloved: “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus…Jesus…Jesus.”

A Minute in the Church

One-minute Catholic apologetics by Gus Lloyd

Do Catholics worship Mary? Well, the short answer is no, but let’s go a little deeper. God obviously gave Mary a very special role in the plan of salvation. She was chosen to be the mother of our savior. And since Jesus is true God and true man, Mary is the mother of God.

Now, the church has never attributed divinity to Mary. She is not a goddess; she cannot create life or forgive sins, and to say such would be heresy. The Catholic Church has never taught anything of the sort. In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary “differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration.” In honoring Mary, we’re simply following the example of our Lord Jesus. You remember the commandment – Honor thy father and thy mother. Think of this in family terms…what family doesn’t have a mother? The answer is none. Every family has a mother. And so it is with the family of God. In 1 John 3:1, St. John tells us that we are called children of God. Our loving Father would never leave His children without a mother.

So if anybody ever asks you, “Do Catholics worship Mary?”, you can tell them, “No, but they do fulfill the biblical prophesy in Luke 1:48.” Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.

For further study:  1 John 3:1  *  Luke 1:48  *  CCC 971