Here is a beautiful image of Mary constructed from 100 images of the Blessed Mother by various artists. This picture, called “Faces of Mary” by Michael O’Neill, is itself is a work of art!
This image is available on greeting cards at a very reasonable price from from the 365 Days With Mary store (www.mariancalendar.org/store). You can also order the 2015 edition of “365 Days with Mary,” a calendar that features a daily title of Our Lady that is derived from a solemnity, feast day, patronage, apparition or miraculous icon related to that particular date. Each date highlights a particular image of Mary. There is also sufficient writing space to keep a journal or make notes. A beautiful way to walk through the year with the Mother of Jesus!
Pope Francis will “concede,” as the phrasing goes, plenary indulgences for the Year of Consecrated Life, ending February 2, 2016. This is for all members of the institutes of consecrated life and “other truly repentant faithful moved by a spirit of charity.” I believe this means especially those who exhibit a spirit of fraternal charity to those who have given their all to the Lord in the Consecrated Life.
The usual conditions apply: sacramental confession, Holy Communion and prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father. The indulgence may also be offered for departed souls in Purgatory.
Indulgences may be obtained in the following ways:
1. In Rome, by participating in and reflecting on events surrounding the Year of Consecrated Life followed by Lord’s Prayer, a Profession of Faith and invocations of the Virgin Mary;
2. By visiting a cathedral or another designated sacred place or a convent church or oratory of a cloistered monastery, and publicly reciting the Liturgy of the Hours or through a suitable period of time of reflection, concluding with the Lord’s Prayer, the Profession of Faith and invocations of the Virgin Mary.
3. Consecrated religious who because of ill health or other serious reasons cannot visit these places, may receive a Plenary Indulgence if, completely detached from sin and with the intention of being able to fulfill the three usual conditions as soon as possible, devoutly carry out a spiritual visit and offer their illness and hardships to God through Mary, with the addition of the prayers noted above.
The Apostolic Penitentiary Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, who signed the decree, asked that priests generously offer the faithful the Sacrament of Reconciliation and regularly administer Holy Communion to the sick.
How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52.7)
St. Paul said to the Romans (Rom 10:14-15) that the step of those who bring the Good News is a welcome sound. In His Incarnation, the Son of God stepped forth, so to speak, from the Godhead. He brought it with Him. But in our fumbling human way of trying to express this, we say He came forth from the Godhead to earth. That was the greatest step ever made. This was the most welcome sound heard from the beginning of time, the sound for which the prophets had waited for centuries, as they told the people: “He will come. He will come.”
For the second year in a row, the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, topped Billboard’s list of best-selling traditional classical albums of 2014. Actucally, their two albums, Lent at Ephesus and Angels and Saints at Ephesus were the first- and second-best selling traditional classical albums of 2014.
Mater Eucharistiae by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, in Ann Arbor, came in 11th. This album features 15 selections of Sacred Music, all dedicated to Jesus through Mary.
This certainly shows that true beauty never goes out of style. Click below to listen to a sample of the song Duo Seraphim from Angels and Saints at Ephesus.
“He who sings, prays twice” is a quote sometimes attributed to St. Augustine (whether of Hippo or Canterbury is not clear to me) but in any case, the sisters singing here are certainly raising their heavenly voices to God!
The news from Catholic Ireland has not been all that positive lately. Therefore, it is wonderful to see a vocations video, celebrating the Year of Consecrated Life, that highlights the men and women who have said yes to God in that country. A country that sent so many missionaries to the United States and elsewhere.
According tothe website VocationsIreland.net, in the early 1960’s, there were around 30,000 men and women religious living in 2,000 communities. By 2013, the number was 8,500 men and women religious living in 800 communities. The communities attracting vocations in recent years have been the Dominicans, the Redemptoristines (sisters), the Benedictines at Glenstal, the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Cistercians, the Franciscans, the Mercy Sisters, the Pallotines, the Passionists, the Carmelites, the Poor Clares, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, the Sisters of St Clare, the Jesuits the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary and the Dominican Sisters.
If you are interested in any of the above communities, there is a clickable list of all the congregations in Ireland here.
One of the featured communities are the Redemptoristines featured below. God bless them all!
A little boy once asked a religious sister, “Are you married?” When she said no, he said, “Good, ’cause then you belong to us.” Thus begins an article in the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia‘s latest newsletter. I think it sums up perfectly the Year of Consecrated. Let us celebrate consecrated men and women who, because they belong totally to God, belong totally to us.
There are so many news items to relate relative to the Nashville Dominicans that one hardly knows where to start. Here we go:
Two sisters are now teaching at a high school in Auburndale, Tenessee.
Sister Anne Frances is full-time on the campus ministry staff at Providence College
They have a new foundation in the Sittard, Netherlands, where strangely enough the Peruvian Dominican St. Rose of Lima is patroness.
They acquired Villaggio Betania, 20 miles NW of Rome, Italy, to provide a home base for sisters studying in Rome, for facilities for the study abroad program of Aquinas College, and to support evangelization efforts. It was previously owned by the Dominican Sisters of Bethany so it stays in the Dominican family.
They are expanding Bethany Retreat House to accommodate the growing number of people seeking a place of quiet and prayer.
According to their last update to us, they are over 300 sisters, including 60 in formation!!
Mother Ann Marie, OP, says: “Each of us is called by God to ‘reach out to others and seek their good’ (Pope Francis). At a time when our world is experiencing so much anguish in its search for the peace that only God can give, let us ask Him to make us instruments of hope. Wherever He places us each day, let us allow Him to be at work in us to bring the peace of Christ and the joy of the Gospel.”
Raymond Cardinal Burke was recently appointed as Patron of the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta. Cardinal Burke is a member of the IRL’s Episcopal Advisory Board and will be the keynote speaker at the IRL’s National Meeting on Friday, April 10, 2015.
The Knights of Malta sounds like something medieval and not at all pertinent for today. This, I found is absolutely not true! They perform admiral and wide-ranging charitable activities and have a world-wide membership of 13,000 as well as 80,000 volunteers, among them 20,000 medical personnel. They are unique in being a religious order comprised of lay people.
Cardinal Burke will be assisting Fra. Matthew Festing, Prince and Grand Master of the “Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta.” Fra. Matthew was elected for life in 2008. He is a descendent of Blessed Adrian Fortescue, a Knight of Malta who was martyred in the 16th century.
According to the Knights of Malta website: The Order of Malta has been a religious Order since 1113, the year it was recognized by Pope Paschal II. As a religious Order, it is linked to the Holy See, but at the same time it is independent as a sovereign subject of international law. (They issue their own passports for example. Fascinating!) In this respect the religious character of the Order coexists with its full sovereignty. The Grand Master is at the same time head of a sovereign State and head of a religious Order. In this second capacity the Holy Roman Church gives him the rank of Cardinal.
The order has two missions: defensio fidei (the defense of the Faith) and obsequium pauperum (care for the poor). Wherever they settled, they built hospitals, hence they are also known as the Knights Hospitallers. Today, they strive to ease the suffering of the sick in hospitals, nursing homes, shantytowns, etc. and try to bring Christian charity to the isolated, victims of persecution and refugees regardless of race or religious faith.
For example, they “operate” a maternity hospital in Bethlehem and a hospital in Haiti. In France the Order of Malta maintains nine medical centers for the disabled. They supply humanitarian disaster relief, for example, in 2008 after the cyclone in Myanmar. I am most familiar with their annual pilgrimage to Lourdes where they accompany thousands of Malades (French for “the sick”) and their caregivers to the shrine. These activities are just the tip of the iceberg of what the Knights do around the world.
The eight points of the Maltese cross symbolize the eight obligations of the knights: truth, faith, repentance, humility, justice, mercy, sincerity and endurance of persecution.
This is all so interesting that we will have to delve into this subject further!
There is a nice write-up in a local Catholic newspaper on the Carmel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Salt Lake City, Utah. In the article, they talk to Mother Margaret Marie Miller who in October was named the new Mother Superior. Mother was one of the five founders who came from Alhambra, California, in 1952 to found a Carmelite monastery in the then-sparsely populated Catholic diocese.
“To be a Carmelite is a real vocation,” said Mother Margaret Marie. “The Lord gives it [the vocation] to you, but you have to be open and you have to be open to whatever he wants from you.”
Mother was inspired by St. Therese of Lisieux and like her wanted to save souls. She considered becoming a missionary but concluded, like St. Therese, that in the cloister she could reach everybody. “That was the thing that struck me. I didn’t even know what the life was going to be like, I just knew that I was going to pray for the whole world. You pray for the whole mystical body and that is what sounded really great.”
I am reminded of a priest whose father wanted him to become a doctor. He said, “Dad, as a doctor, my patients are going to die. As a priest, I can lead them to eternal life.” Carmelites are praying people unto eternal life.
She has some practical advice on prayer. “Prayer is very simple; it’s not complicated. Prayer is a loving exchange with someone that loves you. God is all-powerful; His will is Him, so it’s pretty simple: Open your mind and He is with you all the time. It doesn’t have to be complicated; it’s simple.”
You can support the eleven Carmelites in Utah by purchasing their candy and holy cards and the like. You can also get a first-hand glimpse into their lives by watching their very appealing YouTube video.
Fr. Joseph Marquis, a Byzantine Cat6holic priest, is a frequent visitor to our IRL offices who loves to give us updates on his St. Nicholas ministry. The goal is to make people realize that Santa Claus is not a mythical figure who brings us presents, but rather a real man named St. Nicholas who shows us the real meaning of Christmas.
Father is the founder and executive director of the St. Nicholas Institute. He has over 40 years of professional Santa Claus and St. Nicholas experience, is an Emmy Award winning Santa, and member of the Santa Claus Hall of Fame – Class of 2011, Santa Claus, Indiana. All this is true!!
As their website says: The St. Nicholas Institute is open to all Santas (whether traditionally bearded or real bearded) of all Christian faiths (Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or Protestant). Their program is uniquely designed for cross-training of individuals to effectively portray Santa Claus and St. Nicholas for a wide variety of venues (both secular and religious). Formation also encourages a prayerful openness to the very same Spirit that animated the life and actions of the original “jolly old St. Nicholas”, whose heart was made glad by the Babe born in Bethlehem.
Looking for a good Christmas gift for grandchildren, children or people confused about the origins of Santa Claus? Father has a new DVD out called Saint to Santa: How Saint Nicholas Became Santa Claus. It is available from Pauline Books and Media.
O blessed Nicholas, show compassion to me who fall down praying to thee; and enlighten the eyes of my soul, O wise one, that I may clearly behold the Light-Giver and Compassionate One. Amen.