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Here are some suggestions for a more meaningful virtual participation of the liturgy created by a Paulist priest:

As we consider what it might mean to celebrate the Eucharist virtually, it is important also to reflect deeply on what being present to one another in virtual spaces actually means. Just as it’s possible to be in close physical proximity with others while simultaneously being absent mentally or spiritually, it’s also possible to be virtually present to one another in profound, meaningful, and real ways even when we’re physically distant. The following suggestions are ways to help us celebrate in this new paradigm in our “home” sanctuaries:

  • Read the scripture for the upcoming celebrations beforehand. You can easily access all readings from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) website. www.usccb.org/bible. You can also access the readings on apps such as Laudate and MyParish App. Readings are also listed in the bulletin each week.
  • Create a setting for the celebration. For example, use your dining table as the place from which you participate. Light a candle. Have a cross, crucifix, or religious icon on hand. If you are fortunate to be with others, have a loaf of bread that can be broken at the time of communion.
  • Observe familiar postures. Standing and sitting at appropriate times throughout the celebration can enhance our prayer. (See Catholic Apologist Gus Lloyd’s explanation of “Catholic Calesthenics” HERE.)
  • Remove distractions. Turn off cell phones (unless of course that is your source of participating) and refrain from snacking.
  • Dress up. Sleepwear *probably* isn’t the most appropriate attire for church!

Soon we will come back together to celebrate the Eucharist at the Lord’s table at Assumption!

The Blessed Virgin Mary promised to Saint Dominic and to all who follow that “Whatever you ask in the Rosary will be granted.” She left for all Christians Fifteen Promises to those who recite the Holy Rosary.

Imparted to Saint Dominic and Blessed Alan:

  1. Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall receive signal graces.
  2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.
  3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.
  4. The Rosary will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire for eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
  5. The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall not perish.
  6. Whoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.
  7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.
  8. Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenititude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.
  9. I shall deliver from Purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.
  10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in Heaven.
  11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.
  12. All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.
  13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.
  14. All who recite the Rosary are my sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters of my only Son Jesus Christ.
  15. Devotion of my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.

THE HOLY FATHER’S PRAYER INTENTIONS
ENTRUSTED TO HIS WORLDWIDE PRAYER NETWORK FOR THE YEAR 2020

February

Universal prayer intention – Listen to the Migrants’ Cries
We pray that the cries of our migrant brothers and sisters, victims of criminal trafficking, may be heard and considered.

March

Prayer intention for evangelisation – Catholics in China
We pray that the Church in China may persevere in its faithfulness to the Gospel and grow in unity.

April

Universal prayer intention – Freedom from Addiction
We pray that those suffering from addiction may be helped and accompanied.

May

Prayer intention for evangelisation – For Deacons
We pray that deacons, faithful in their service to the Word and the poor, may be an invigorating symbol for the entire Church.

June

Prayer intention for evangelisation – The Way of the Heart
We pray that all those who suffer may find their way in life, allowing themselves to be touched by the Heart of Jesus.

July

Universal prayer intention – Our Families
We pray that today’s families may be accompanied with love, respect and guidance.

August

Universal prayer intention – The Maritime World
We pray for all those who work and live from the sea, among them sailors, fishermen and their families.

September

Universal prayer intention – Respect for the Planet’s Resources
We pray that the planet’s resources will not be plundered, but shared in a just and respectful manner.

October

Prayer intention for evangelisation – The Laity’s Mission in the Church
We pray that by the virtue of baptism, the laity, especially women, may participate more in areas of responsibility in the Church.

November

Universal prayer intention – Artificial Intelligence
We pray that the progress of robotics and artificial intelligence may always serve humankind.

December

Prayer intention for evangelisation – For a life of prayer
We pray that our personal relationship with Jesus Christ be nourished by the Word of God and a life of prayer.

When we’re depressed or feeling blue, this prayer from Padre Pio is a way to reach out

PADRE PIO STATUE

Aletia: Margaret Rose Realy, Obl.OSB | Jan 10, 2018

If you find yourself in a state of darkness, the key is “to reach.”

The small framed unsigned print reads “Reach up as high as you can today, and God will reach down the rest of the way.” It’s my go-to quote for those times when I feel an emotional darkness—depression—coming on. For many of us this darkness is a familiar not-so-good old friend, the Black Dog mentioned by Sir Winston Churchill—or seasonal affective disorder.The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) has clinical definitions for depression, and there is as well the spiritual darkness that St. John of the Cross writes about in Dark Night of the Soul. However you’ve come to a depressive state, and for whatever history brought you there, the key in both of those dark times is to reach.

The state of darkness and depression is not a void. It is a space filled with insights that we are momentarily blinded to. When we try to go it alone, we are often too wearied to keep from going under, instead succumbing to the waves of hopelessness.

To reach is not an intuitive movement when psychologically and/or spiritually sinking into depression. Even though we’ve been taught that to despair is to turn our backs to God—which is a sin—there is another element to despairing that is sometimes overlooked. It comes from the Rule of St. Benedict, “In all things may God be glorified.”

The Prayer from Padre Pio

In a recent confession, when I was in a season of depression, the priest gave me a very specific penance. I was to read about Jesus walking on stormy seas, and Peter’s fear in Matthew 14:30-31. Then reflect, specifically, on that moment when Peter is desperately reaching out to Our Lord—that second just before Jesus takes his hand.

It was a dark and doubt-filled moment for Peter, whose faith had faltered. It was also an intuitive response to a person physically drowning — reaching out, trying to grasp at anything to save his life.

Assured that the Lord had taken my hand so I will not drown, I often read this prayer, sometimes three times through!

Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have you present so that I do not forget you. You know how easily I abandon you.
Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak, and I need your strength, so that I may not fall so often.
Stay with me, Lord, for you are my life, and without you, I am without fervor.
Stay with me, Lord, for you are my light, and without you, I am in darkness.
Stay with me, Lord, to show me your will.
Stay with me, Lord, so that I hear your voice and follow you.
Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love you very much, and always be in your company.
Stay with me, Lord, if you wish me to be faithful to you.
Stay with me, Lord, for as poor as my soul is, I want it to be a place of consolation for you, a nest of love. Amen.
~St. Pio of Pietrelcina, Prayer After Communion

Depression is a battle, and for some of us a lifelong cross to bear. In bearing it as best we can while reaching up and out for help, we are led in to a deeper maturity of faith—which like most virtues, is not easily won.

By Saint Louis de Montfort

How to Avoid Distraction When Praying the Rosary

To be guilty of willful distractions during prayer shows a great lack of respect and reverence. It makes our Rosaries unfruitful and makes us guilty of sin. Let’s learn how to avoid distraction when praying the Rosary!

How can we expect God to listen to us if we ourselves do not pay attention to what we are saying? How can we expect him to be pleased if, while in the presence of his tremendous majesty, we give in to distractions, like a child running after a butterfly? People who do that forfeit God’s blessing, which is changed into a curse for having treated the things of God disrespectfully: “Cursed be the one who does God’s work negligently.” Jer. 48:10.

Of course, you cannot say your Rosary without having a few involuntary distractions. It is even difficult to say a Hail Mary without your imagination troubling you a little, for it is never still. But you can say it without voluntary distractions. And you must take all sorts of precautions to lessen involuntary distractions and to control your imagination.

To do this:

1) Put yourself in the presence of God and imagine that God and his Blessed Mother are watching you.

2) Imagine that your guardian angel is at your right hand, taking your Hail Marys. If we say them well, our guardian angel will use them like roses to make crowns for Jesus and Mary.

3) Remember that at your left hand is the devil. He’s ready to pounce on every Hail Mary that comes his way. He will write it down in his book of death if they are not said with attention, devotion, and reverence.

4) Do not fail to offer up each decade in honor of one of the mysteries. Try to form a picture in your mind of Jesus and Mary in connection with that mystery.

STORY

We read in the life of Blessed Hermann of the Order of the Premonstratensians. At one time, he used to say the Rosary attentively and devoutly while meditating on the mysteries. Our Lady used to appear to him resplendent in breathtaking majesty and beauty.

But, as time went on, his fervor cooled and he fell into the way of saying his Rosary hurriedly and without giving it his full attention. Then one day our Lady appeared to him again. But this time she was far from beautiful. There were furrows on her face and her face shown great sadness.

Blessed Hermann was appalled at the change in her. Our Lady explained, “This is how I look to you, Hermann, because this is how you are treating me. As a woman to be despised and of no importance. Why do you no longer greet me with respect and attention while meditating on my mysteries and praising my privileges?”

The Rosary is the hardest prayer to say well

When the Rosary is well said, it gives Jesus and Mary more glory and is more meritorious for the soul than any other prayer. But it is also the hardest prayer to say well and to persevere in, owing especially to the distractions which almost inevitably attend the constant repetition of the same words.

When we say the Little Office of Our Lady, or the Seven Penitential Psalms, or any prayers other than the Rosary, the variety of words and expressions keeps us alert. It prevents our imagination from wandering.  And makes it easier for us to say them well. On the contrary, because of the constant repetition of the Our Father and Hail Mary in the same unvarying form, it is difficult, while saying the Rosary, not to become wearied and inclined to sleep, or to turn to other prayers that are more refreshing and less tedious.

This shows that one needs much greater devotion to persevere in saying the Rosary than in saying any other prayer, even the Psalter of David.

Keeping the Imagination Focused

Our imagination, which is hardly still a minute, makes our task harder. And then of course there is the devil who never tires of trying to distract us and keep us from praying. To what ends does not the evil one go against us while we are saying our Rosary against him.

Being human, we easily tire and our prayers can then be slipshod. But the devil makes these difficulties worse when we are saying the Rosary. Before we even begin, he makes us feel bored, distracted, or exhausted. And when we have started praying, he oppresses us from all sides. And when after much difficulty and many distractions, we have finished, he whispers to us:

“What you have just said is worthless. It is useless for you to say the Rosary. You had better get on with other things. It is only a waste of time to pray without paying attention to what you are saying. Half-an-hour’s meditation or some spiritual reading would be much better. Tomorrow, when you are not feeling so sluggish, you’ll pray better. Leave the rest of your Rosary till then.”

By tricks of this kind the devil gets us to give up the Rosary altogether. Or to say it less often. And we keep putting it off or change to some other devotion.

How to Defeat the Devil

Dear friend, do not listen to the devil. But be of good heart, even if your imagination has been bothering you throughout your Rosary, filling your mind with all kinds of distracting thoughts. So long as you tried your best to get rid of them as soon as you noticed them.

Always remember that the best Rosary is the one with the most merit. There is more merit in praying when it is hard than when it is easy. Prayer is all the harder when it is, naturally speaking, distasteful to the soul and is filled with those annoying little ants and flies running about in your imagination, against your will, and scarcely allowing you the time to enjoy a little peace and appreciate the beauty of what you are saying.

Even if you have to fight distractions all through your whole Rosary, be sure to fight well, arms in hand. That is to say, do not stop saying your Rosary even if it is difficult to say and you have no sensible devotion. It is a terrible battle, but one that is profitable to the faithful soul.

Don’t give in to the evil one

If you put down your arms, that is, if you give up the Rosary, you will be admitting defeat and then the devil, having got what he wanted, will leave you in peace. On the day of judgment he will taunt you because of your faithlessness and lack of courage. “He who is faithful in little things will also be faithful in those that are greater.” Luke 16:10.

He who is faithful in rejecting the smallest distractions when he says even the smallest prayer, will also be faithful in great things. Nothing is more certain, since the Holy Spirit has told us so.

So all of you, servants and handmaids of Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin, who have made up your minds to say the Rosary every day, be of good heart. Do not let the multitude of flies (as I call the distractions that make war on you during prayer) make you abandon the company of Jesus and Mary, in whose holy presence you are when saying the Rosary. In what follows I shall give you suggestions for diminishing distractions in prayer.

More Helpful Ways to Avoid Distractions

After you have invoked the Holy Spirit, in order to say your Rosary well, place yourself for a moment in the presence of God and make the offering of the decades in the way I will show you later.

Before beginning a decade, pause for a moment or two, depending on how much time you have, and contemplate the mystery that you are about to honor in that decade.

Always be sure to ask, by this mystery and through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, for one of the virtues that shines forth most in this mystery or one of which you are in particular need.

Take great care to avoid the two pitfalls that most people fall into during the Rosary. The first is the danger of not asking for any graces at all, so that if some good people were asked their Rosary intention they would not know what to say. So, whenever you say your Rosary, be sure to ask for some special grace or virtue, or strength to overcome some sin.

The second fault commonly committed in saying the Rosary is to have no intention other than that of getting it over with as quickly as possible. This is because so many look upon the Rosary as a burden, which weighs heavily upon them when it has not been said, especially when we have promised to say it regularly or have been told to say it as a penance more or less against our will.

Here are Four Ways to Implement Our Lady’s Peace Plan from Heaven!

Introducing the first installment in a short series about the Peace Plan from Heaven. For the next two weeks, we will share four steps. These steps show how you can begin putting the Plan into action. Even more importantly is how you can implement these steps into your everyday lives. Finally, the series will end with special prayers given by the Angel at Fatima! So let’s begin our journey into the Peace Plan from Heaven…

Implementing – Step 1 of 4:

Next installment –  Step 2 0f 4 coming soon!

Our Lady’s 15 Promises to Those Who Pray Her Rosary

At the Family Night Out on Wednesday, we heard about the Rosary and why we should pray it every day. But with only 15 minutes, that’s just not enough time share all the special information about the Rosary. So each week, we’ll feature an article about the Rosary for you to read here. Beginning with Our Lady’s 15 promises to those who pray Her Rosary:

1. Whosoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary shall receive signal graces.

[A signal grace may be a simple sign in daily life that answers a question made in prayer or points towards God’s will. For example, seeing a rose after finishing a novena to St. Therese of Lisieux could be considered a signal grace. Signal graces are often subtle or seemingly coincidental.]

2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.

3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin and defeat heresies.

4. It will cause good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire for Eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means!

5. The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary shall not perish.

[In other words, anyone who faithfully prays the Rosary and asks for Mary’s intercession will be saved from hell.]

6. Whosoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its Sacred Mysteries, shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of Eternal Life.

[An unprovided death means dying while not in a state of grace (that is, in dying with unconfessed mortal sin in the soul). The Blessed Mother promises that anyone who regularly prays the Rosary, and earnestly tries to live according to God’s will, will be spiritually prepared when their time of death comes.]

7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the Sacraments of the Church.

[Our Lady ensures that the soul will receive sanctifying grace through the Sacraments prior to its departure from the body.]

8. Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the Light of God and the plenitude of His Graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the Merits of the Saints in Paradise.

9. I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.

10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of Glory in Heaven.

11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by recitation of the Rosary.

12. All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.

13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire Celestial Court during their life and at the hour of death.

14. All who recite the Rosary are my Sons, and brothers of my Only Son Jesus Christ.

15. Devotion to my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.

[By this the Blessed Mother means that a devotion to the Rosary is a good indication that the devotee is on the path to Heaven.]

It is amazing to realize how much grace and heavenly help we can receive by an act so simple as praying the Rosary regularly. It only takes 15 minutes to pray! Set aside time alone, with your family or with some friends to start the habit of reciting a daily Rosary. If you don’t think you have time, try praying on the way to work in the morning. You will surely notice the grace it brings to your life, as promised by Our Lady!

Join Pope Francis to Pray & Fast For Worldwide Peace

Pope Francis is asking all men and women of goodwill, regardless of their religious denomination, to join him in a special Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace Feb. 23 for the war-torn countries of the Democratic Republic of Congo, of South Sudan and the world.

Addressing crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus Feb. 4, the Pope said that “Faced with the tragic protracted situations of conflict in different parts of the world, I invite all the faithful to take part in a special Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace on February 23rd, the Friday of the First Week of Lent”. (Vatican News)
The President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, is encouraging Catholics across the nation to join with Pope Francis on Feb. 23, for this special Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace.

Take Action

What can I do for peace? Three ways to respond:
  1. Learn about the situations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. Read this statement from the USCCB President.
  2. Pray for peace using this Prayer for the Day of Prayer and Fasting for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and the whole world or one of these prayers for peace.
  3. Share what you’ve learned with others. Spread the word on Facebook or Twitter. Invite your parish to use these Prayers of the Faithful for the Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace on February 23.  Gather your community for prayer for peace using the Scriptural Rosary for Justice and PeaceChaplet of Divine MercyLitany of the Holy Name of JesusLitany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, or Holy Hour for Peace. Give to Catholic Relief Services. . . to support their peacebuilding work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and other countries.

CRS Encounter: Iraq – Life and Dignity of the Human Person

Catholic social teaching inspires and guides how we are to live and work in the world. In this principle, Life and Dignity of the Human Person, Jesus reminds us that we are all made in God’s image and likeness. That means that every human being has a special value and a purpose. We need to care for each other so we can be the people God calls us to be.

Encounter Majd

 

Eight-year-old Majd thought his family was going on a picnic. His mother, Lamya, said they would be back home in a week. But when ISIS attacked their home in northern Iraq, the family fled for good.

“What worried me the most were the kids,” Lamya says. “Our life was stable and we were doing well; we had a very big house. Our children had everything they needed. But when we fled, I was not able to bring anything for them—not even food.”

Fortunately, the family found an apartment to rent with other displaced families. It is much smaller than the home they had, but it’s safer. The children enrolled in a CRS-sponsored school, where the routine provides hope, stability and a sense of belonging. “Education is very important,” says Lamya, especially in Iraqi culture.

Lamya received training from CRS and became a teacher at the school. Now she has hope for the future. “I really love children, so when I go to class I feel like I am with my family,” she says.

Her son, Majd, also loves going to school. “Majd is so motivated to go to school. He just wants it to be morning so he can go,” Lamya says. “He is relaxed, having fun and more confident.” For Majd, school means a normal life—now and in the future.

 

With Lent quickly approaching, let’s talk about more ways to prepare for Lent! Giving up something for Lent is traditionally what most of us tend to do. Because that’s what we always did in the past when we were younger, right? Indeed, we tend to do what’s familiar. With this in mind, why not challenge ourselves to do something different but extremely meaningful? Something that will make this the most meaningful Lent ever?

Prepare for Lent!

If you’re reading the previous posts, you’ll see other ideas you can incorporate into your Lenten devotions. Recall there are hundreds of videos and books on FORMED. Dynamic Catholic’s Best Lent Ever is once again offering their amazing Lenten devotions. All are fantastic options! But there’s more…Add to the scene another great option to help you pray more this upcoming Lenten Season.

A New Lenten Devotion

Introducing FORMED.org’s Lenten Devotion:

Interested in signing up? Click this link HERE!