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Posts Tagged ‘Catholic Church’

candleSo finally I have found what I just want to do with this blog.  I am going back to my original idea.  This blog will mainly be thoughts, reflections, and possibly some humor.

So much has happened in my life over the past few years.  I have ran the the gambit of churches.  I have had dreams of being a missionary, pastor, and a slew of professional carriers.  The only thing that has been consistent since I was 18 is my wife.   Through the bad times, and the good she has stood beside me.  We have survived maturing and growing into adulthood.  She still loves me, and I look forward to growing old with her.

Work has been interesting.  I have worked for the same company for 13 years.  Mainly in the same department the whole time.  Last year I was transferred to a new job.  To keep it short.  It is a good move, and I enjoy it very much.  It has been challenging, but I think that is a good thing.

This year at Christmas my family and I will be received into the Orthodox church.  Finally we are home.  I am finally in the place I always wanted to be.  No more playing around.  I have looked hard at myself, and asked what am I truly looking for.  I always thought it was the Roman Catholic Church.  After much prayer, and visiting many parishes.  I found that in fact this is not the place for me.  I decided to take a long hard look at Eastern Orthodoxy.  In this church I found what it is I was looking for within the Catholic Church, but I also found the monastic / prayer aspect that I was longing for in regular catholic circles.

I am sure I will talk more on all of these things in greater detail in the future.

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Today we celebrate the feast of the assumption of Mary. This has long been a significant day within Christ’s church. Sometime in the fifth century Byzantine Emperor Mauricius Flavius ordered this holy day to be celebrated on the 15th of August. He also had a basilica built over her tomb. This church was at some point destroyed, and then rebuilt by the crusaders in the 11th century.

What we know about the Blessed Mothers death has been handed down to us from tradition. Officially the Roman Catholic church has never said if Mary died or not. This in itself really has no effect on the celebration or belief of the assumption. It is note worthy that most in the western church do believe she died. Pope Pius XII, in Munificentissimus Deus (1950), defined that Mary, “after the completion of her earthly life was assumed body and soul into the glory of heaven.”

More so it is the understanding that like Enoch and Elijah, that Mary was taken up into heaven. It is important to know that the church never in history or now believed that she did this by her own power. She did not ascend like Jesus into heaven, but assumed by the power of God.

This feast like many feasts of Mary do not point to her holiness. Which she was holy. Mary’s assumption is a reminder of the promises of Jesus. That we the faithful will live in Christ forever. That death cannot hold us. We are again pointed to the cross, and to Jesus who payed the price for our sins. By his death and resurrection we are not only freed from sin, but from death.

So today is a day of celebration. A reminder of the great honor given to our Blessed Mother. A hope for us of what is to come.

It is my prayer that you all will find yourself a bit closer today to our mother Mary, and to her most precious son our Savior Jesus.

For those who are interested here is some scripture that talks about the possibility of a bodily assumption before the Second Coming. It is suggested by Matthew 27:52–53: “[T]he tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” Did all these Old Testament saints die and have to be buried all over again? There is no record of that, but it is recorded by early Church writers that they were assumed into heaven, or at least into that temporary state of rest and happiness often called “paradise,” where the righteous people from the Old Testament era waited until Christ’s resurrection (cf. Luke 16:22, 23:43; Heb. 11:1–40; 1 Pet. 4:6), after which they were brought into the eternal bliss of heaven.

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I am an Episcopalian. Proud of my Anglican heritage. I believe in the Anglican ideals. I love the Book of Common Prayer. I love our rich liturgy. I love the freedom and love that flows out the doors of our parishes.

What I do not love is the fighting. I do not love the hate within the church. I do not love the moral apathy. One can argue that the Episcopal church is not alone in these problems. That might be true, but the problems within my own church are the ones that directly affect me.

From the get go I have struggled to make sense with many things that seemed so senseless. I found peace in my prayer book. The Book of Common Prayer was my anchor. It was the banks that the living waters of the Episcopal church flows.

Years now I have been serving, praying, and working alongside some of the best Christians I have ever had the pleasure to be in contact with. I love them with my whole heart. I see the gospel being brought forth with truth and love.

Recently some things were voted on at general convention. I was aware of them, and for the most part was unmoved by them. It was not until the passing of these ideas that I started to really struggle. Now mind you I don’t think my problem rests in these decisions alone. It is something much larger.

I started look look at the world we live in. Looking honestly at my church and the church as a whole. I find myself less and less happy with how things are going. More often then not my family feels out of touch. My children especially are feeling this. They struggle to make friends. Between the minimal amount of children at our parish, and the type of children in our neighborhood. They are limited on having quality friendships. My oldest who is a teenager feels this the most I think. She longs for other friends.

So what is one to do? We could find a larger Episcopal church. Maybe one that is more conservative. We could stay at our parish, and try to find outlets for our kids to make friends. In the end I am still stuck struggling with my overall moral differences. I will leave my struggle with the governance of the ECUSA out of this.

I do not know what we are going to do. I have talked to my Abbot and my Priest. They have encouraged me, and bless whatever decision we decide to make. So if you read this please keep us in your prayers. We have never thought about leaving a parish and it be a bitter sweat deal.

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What do we know about Saint Anne? It is true that Holy Scripture reports nothing on her life, that we look for her name there in vain. But we know that Saint Anne is the mother of Mary and the grandmother of Christ. That alone is a source of inexhaustible significance.

We also know–and this with great certainty–the main episodes of Saint Anne’s earthly life. These have been gathered from various apocryphal sources, some of which dating back to the very beginning of Christianity (the ProtoEvangelium of Saint James is from the year 150 A.D.).

Birth, Childhood, and Marriage of Saint Anne

In the land of Judea, fifty years before the coming of Christ, there lived a husband and wife of great virtue. Their names were Stolan and Emerentiana. They lived the lives of fervent Israelites, faithful to the prescriptions of the Law of Moses. Their most ardent prayer to God was that they would soon rejoice in the coming of the Desired of all Nations, the heavenly Messiah of Whom the Patriarchs and Prophets had spoken, and Whose coming was at hand.Soon there was born to them a daughter whom they named Anne, which means all gracious, all beautiful. The child began, from the first dawn of reason, to live her name, inspired as it was by Heaven. Docile and attentive to her parents, gentle and kind towards her playmates, at once lively and devout, it was clear that God had great plans for her.

As the charming maiden grew older, many young men sought her hand in marriage. But all these advances she refused, until she was reverently approached by a young man named Joachim. Like her, he was of the royal house of David, and also like her, he was virtuous and just. By Divine inspiration she knew that God had chosen him as her spouse.

According to the Hebrew custom, Saint Anne could only have been fourteen or fifteen years old when she was betrothed to Saint Joachim, for this was the age at which the daughters of Israel usually married. Thus it was common for a woman to be a grandmother at the age of thirty. Joachim’s young wife left her father’s home and endeavored, by her love and devotedness, to make her own home a happy one.

Trial in the Life of Saint Anne


In spite of their frequent prayers and exceptionally virtuous lives, Anne and Joachim were childless. For the Israelites, the privilege of motherhood was sharing in the blessing which the Lord bestowed on Abraham and his descendants when He promised him that the Messiah would be born to his posterity.

This, then, was a terrible trial, which weighed upon the home of Anne and Joachim for twenty long years. But their tranquil acceptance of this heavy cross and humble endurance of their shame in a spirit of patience and prayer is a wonderful testimony to their holiness and resignation to the holy will of God.

At length, in a miraculous manner, the entreaties of Anne and Joachim were heard. An Angel appeared to each of them, announcing that their holy marriage would at last bring forth a child, one blessed by God. Saint Joachim returned to his home, and Saint Anne soon knew that she was going to become a mother.

Although Holy Scripture is silent on these miraculous happenings, we are informed of them by very ancient tradition. These circumstances closely resemble what the Bible tells us of Anna, the mother of the prophet Samuel, and regarding the parents of Saint John the Baptist. But in the case of Saint Anne, it concerns an affair of even greater significance than the birth of a prophet. Saint Anne was called to be the very mother of she who is the Mother of God. Reason itself tells us that her Conception and Birth would be attended by an unprecedented flood of graces and privileges, proper to the awesome role she would play in the very life of God Himself.

Mother of Her Who Was Conceived Immaculate

Saint Anne was the inner sanctuary in which was formed the living tabernacle which was to house the Son of God made Man. The solemn definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception provides us with even greater insight into the wonderful dignity of Saint Anne.

The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary took place in the womb of Saint Anne, thus making it her own, just as the Incarnation of the God-Man by the power of the Holy Ghost took place within the chaste womb of Mary. Of course, the difference between the two is great, but there is a close parallel: the Immaculate Mother who was to be the Mother of God was formed of the flesh and blood of Saint Anne, as the God-Man was formed of the flesh and blood of Mary. In both cases, the Holy Ghost entered in and worked a tremendous miracle of grace.

The operation of the Holy Ghost in the womb of Saint Elizabeth was also a great miracle of grace, when Our Lady brought her chaste spouse and her Divine Son to her cousin, on the day of the Visitation. But this was a lesser miracle than that performed in the womb of Saint Anne, since Saint John the Baptist was freed from Original Sin within his mother’s womb after six months, whereas the spotless Child in the womb of Saint Anne was never tainted with the slightest sin.

At the moment of Conception, Saint Anne and Saint Joachim gave to Mary, who soon would transmit them to Jesus, the flesh and blood which they had received from their forefathers. But this flesh and this blood which they had received soiled by Original Sin, they handed on to their child without any stain. Bossuet could say: “The Conception of Mary (in which Anne and Joachim took part) is the first and original source of the Blood of Jesus, which flows in our veins through the Sacraments, and which brings the breath of life to every part of the Mystical Body of Christ–the Church.”

The Blessed Virgin Mary was Immaculate at her Conception; and in consequence, her father and mother were the ministers of God in accomplishing a work which will remain unique forever in the history of mankind.

There we see the basis for the glory of Saint Anne. To create angels and men, the Blessed Trinity, so to speak, sought no assistance from outside Itself. In accomplishing the Immaculate Conception, that same Blessed Trinity summoned to its aid the two who would be the mother and father of the Blessed Virgin. By that act, there was conferred upon them a character of singular grandeur.

We cannot speak of the Incarnate Word without at the same time mentioning her whom God chose to be His Mother. Failing to do so, as the Fathers of the Church prove, opens the door to heretical attacks upon the very Person of Christ. So too, to speak of the Immaculate Conception without mentioning Saint Anne, who so wonderfully participated in this admirable creation, would be to minimize the dignity and grandeur of the Mother of God.

The Birth of Mary

Like many of his holy ancestors, including King David himself, Saint Joachim, spouse of Saint Anne, was a shepherd. It was in the mountains of Galilee, near Nazareth, that his flocks were pastured.

The home of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne was simple. It was, as was customary in Judea, partly hollowed out of the rock which, in that part of the city of Jerusalem, rose up in the form of an amphitheater towards the city wall, partly enclosed by a wall of masonry.

Only a few hundred feet from the Holy Temple, almost in the shadow of its magnificent dome, close by the Pool of Siloe, within a white-walled dwelling, Anna, wife of Joachim, brought forth a beautiful little daughter.

The hour that now struck was the holiest and the happiest since the creation of the world. Life went on in Jerusalem as if nothing had happened. Yet, in the eyes of God, the Child whom Anne had just brought into the world changed the appearance of the universe. In this tiny infant, more pure and holy than all the choirs of angels, God already saw His Mother soon to be.

Who can ever tell the joy Saint Anne felt the day the Immaculate Virgin was born, that day blessed above all days, that day which would result in her becoming the grandmother of Christ!

The Presentation of Mary in the Temple

A few days after the blessed birth of their child, her parents gave her the name of Mary. Now the little Mary was growing beneath the shelter of Angels’ wings and under the tender care of her mother. Saint Anne carried out that service of love and devotion which the Christian artists have so often and so admirably portrayed, the Education of the holy Infant Mary. We are told that, while enlightened directly by Almighty God in all that concerned the supernatural, the child was introduced by her mother to earthly knowledge and experience.

She would learn to work, to read. As she grew older, Mary would learn the work of housekeeping; she sewed, she embroidered, she wove cloth, and sacred vestments. When Mary had reached the age of three years, her parents revealed to her their intention of taking her to the Temple, to offer her to the Lord.

It is the teaching of theologians that Mary received the full use of reason from the first moment of her life. So it was not a mere child of three years who, at the Presentation in the Temple, consecrated herself to the Eternal Father, but rather the best and most pleasing oblation yet made by any living creature to the Creator. On that blessed day, accompanied by her mother and father, this little girl of three passed through the entrance of the Temple, and then, all alone, according to tradition, climbed the fifteen steps which led to the Court of the Women. On these steps, the High Priest Zachary, who was awaiting her, took the little child in his arms, offered her to the Lord. And the young girl, with full knowledge of her action, gave herself entirely to the love and service of God.

Saint Anne, Spouse of Saint Joachim

While Saint Joachim watched his flocks or tended his vines, Saint Anne prepared the meals and saw to the care of their household.

After the birth of Mary, there was more work, but even more supernatural joy in their holy home. None of them escaped the weariness, the difficulties of life, but each of them was full of consideration for the others. Together they endured their trials, together they prayed, together they took their rest, each striving to please the others, and to please God above all things.

Each of the thousand trifles which made up Saint Anne’s daily life was more pleasing in the sight of the Lord than a whole world at work or at prayer, for Saint Anne put into these trifles which made up her life more love of God and of her neighbor than the rest of the world could ever have done.

In the eyes of the world, the life of Saint Anne was woven from a throng of ordinary actions. But God, Who searches the heart and the mind, saw with what love she fulfilled her daily tasks as wife and mother.

Patient and toilsome monotony, broken only by the great feast days–quite numerous under the Old Law–when they gathered together, or even went up to Jerusalem to assist at ancient liturgical ceremonies.

This was the patient, graceful existence Saint Anne followed all her life.

The Death of Saint Anne

Did Saint Anne know the Infant Jesus here on earth? The majority of spiritual writers defer the death of Saint Anne until after the Birth of Christ.

The great German mystic Venerable Anna Katerina Emmerich tells us, in her Revelations, that the Divine Child Jesus was eight years old, when his holy grandmother died; and that it was the Child Jesus Himself who assisted her in her last moments.

Now that Saint Anne had been able to take her Grandchild in her arms, she could at last depart in peace, going from earth to the waiting room of Heaven, into which she would enter on Ascension Day, following in the train of the Risen and Triumphant Christ.

Surrounded by Jesus, Mary and Joseph, she smiled on Death, which, in the gentle calm of the evening of incomparable life, drew near to lead her to her Eternal Reward.

A lively spirit of recollection and prayer, submission to the holy Will of God, compassion for the needs of others, voluntary self-effacement, strength of soul in the face of hardships: these are the some of the features that make up the true picture of Saint Anne, mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus.

Prayer
Almighty God, heavenly Father, who set the solitary in families: We thankfully remember before you this day Sts. Joachim and Anne. The parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and we humbly entrust to your never-failing care the homes in which your people dwell;
May the prayers of Sts. Joachim and Anne help us to attain the salvation You promised to Your people, that we may be made true members of the heavenly family of your Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever. Amen.

Adapted from OUR LADY OF FATIMA CRUSADER BULLETIN Vol. 42, Issue No. 124

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O, Queen of Heaven, rejoice! Alleluia.
For He whom thou didst merit to
bear, Alleluia,
Hath arisen as He said, Alleluia.
Pray for us to God, Alleluia.
Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary. Alleluia.
For the Lord hath risen indeed. Alleluia.

Let us pray
O God, who, through the Resurrection of Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ, Didst vouchsafe to fill the world with joy; grant, we beseech Thee, that, through His Virgin Mother, Mary, We may lay hold on the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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Thank you, Father, for having created us and given us to each other in the human family. Thank you for being with us in all our joys and sorrows, for your comfort in our sadness, your companionship in our loneliness. Thank you for yesterday, today, tomorrow and for the whole of our lives. Thank you for friends, for health and for grace. May we live this and every day conscious of all that has been given to us.

Bring back to the right way of salvation all those who are living steeped in sin, Comfort the afflicted, provide the needy. Strengthen the fearful, defend the oppressed, give health to the infirm. Grant eternal rest to those departed, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. We ask all these things with the intercessions of our mother Mary and through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

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St. Sylvester Bishop of Rome from 314 to 335

Today we remember St. Sylvester (Silvester) the Bishop of Rome. Not much is known about St. Sylvester. We do know that he was given the best of Roman educations, and also was instructed in the ways of Christ and the Bible by a priest named Timothy.

St. Sylvester witnessed the martyr of his faithful priest. Seeing this example of self-sacrifice did nothing but fuel the fire of faith in young Sylvester. It became his calling to share Christ to all who he encountered.

In the Year 314 during the rule of Constantine St. Sylvester became Bishop of Rome. By this time Constantine has legalized Christianity. Constantine Gave Sylvester the Lateran Palace which was used as a cathedral for the newly legalized religion.

St. Sylvester was known for his never failing stand for truth, justice, and faith. Many struggles arose during his time as Bishop. The most famous was the council of Nicea in 325. This is were the church decided what do to with the new Arian theologies.

We can look at St. Sylvester as a pillar during times of uncertainty. Like now as the church is under continual attack from the outside as well as from the inside. We can be encouraged that we have great intercessors like St. Sylvester. So when you find yourself in need of guidance turn to St. Sylvester. He has been there, and knows your struggle.

Prayer
O God, our Heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servant Sylvester to be a bishop and pastor in your Church and to feed your flock: Give abundantly to all pastors the gifts of your Holy Spirit, that they may minister in your household as true servants of Christ and stewards of your divine mysteries; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the same Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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