Your Lent doesn’t have to end on a crash and burn. There is still time to finish it well. Thankfully, Lent is long enough (six weeks!) so that we have time to pick up and start again when we drop off through our own weakness, forgetfulness, or carelessness. If you struggle to make the big heroic sacrifices, here are simple things that you can do each day of the week to help prepare your soul for Easter.
St. Joseph is one of the most loved saints because he is the man who God chose among all others to be the special guardian of the Incarnate Jesus Christ and His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. He is the human guardian of the Holy Family.
One of our most popular-selling books is The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary by St. Anne Catherine Emmerich. St. Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) was a nun, mystic, and visionary who had the grace of unusual glimpses with remarkable detail into the life of the Holy Family.
Prayers focused on the Passion of Christ and the redemption offered through his sacrifice is an important part of Lenten devotional prayers. This litany focuses in particular on his Precious Blood, which was shed for us and washes away our sins, and which we receive into our souls, really and truly, in Holy Communion. This is a great mystery, which this litany can help us to reflect on more deeply so that we can better appreciate what a tremendous gift has been given to us.
This prayer to St. Joseph is said to be dated to the year 50 A.D., which, if accurate, would make it part of the apostolic tradition. Nevertheless, it is very old and is among the most loved of our traditional Catholic prayers. It has been recited by the faithful for generations, with much positive effect. We do know that this prayer received an imprimatur in 1950 from the Bishop of Pittsburgh, Hugh Boyle. After the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph is the most beloved and efficacious saint in heaven, and the guardian and protector of the Universal Church.
The story of how St. Patrick converted the Irish Celts is a fascinating one. His show down with the Druid occult—where God used him as an instrument to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, establishing the Christian religion all over the island— is not much different than what you’d read in the Old Testament about Elijah and the prophets of Baal or Moses and the Egyptian magicians.
For many centuries, brewers have invoked the names of patron saints to bless and protect their beers. Since the early brewing process was not well understood, often times the batch of beer was not fit for drinking. The poor quality was mystically blamed on evil spirits and specifically on “brew witches” or “beer witches.”
There is no better companion for our Lenten prayer journey than our Blessed Mother. During this season of penance, she who witnessed her Divine Son suffer and die for the sins of mankind can assist our hearts to have true contrition for our personal contribution to his pains. We may often think of the Blessed Mother as being serene and joyful, but during Lent it is good for us to meditate on her title of Our Lady of Sorrows, beautifully recounted in the prayer below.
St. Patrick lived in 5th century Ireland, a time of pagan Druid priests, Celtic rituals, and nature-worship. St. Patrick successfully, and peacefully, converted the entire island by brilliantly using their own pagan traditions, images, and spirituality to teach them about the Christian faith.
Although this prayer is wonderful to pray regularly when our pride rears its ugly head, it is an especially poignant prayer and meditation for the Lenten season. Our ultimate example in humility is our Savior Jesus Christ, who willingly suffered in silence on our behalf each one of the things listed in this litany.
Penance simply means the repentance of sins by taking some form of action in reparation for that sin. Just as we sinned by actually committing or omitting something we shouldn’t have, so we should do penance by actually committing or omitting something to make up for it. The reason for this is that doing penance turns our hearts and souls away from sin and back on the right path towards God and towards a life of holiness.