Our Lady was created actually “Full of Grace” as the Archangel Gabriel declared at the Annunciation, meaning that her soul was literally adorned with all of the virtues at the moment of her conception, as well as the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. This fullness of grace is said to emanate from the center of her being, that is, her heart, understood both physically and spiritually. It is Mary’s heart, in its unspoiled created perfection, that is the source and wellspring of her purity . . . therefore her heart is called Immaculate.
Each year on June 22nd we celebrate the feast day of two notable Catholic saints and martyrs: Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher. It’s fitting that these two men share a feast day, because they were both righteous Englishmen martyred within two weeks of each other, for the same cause, on the same occasion, and at the hands of the same man.
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, historically known by its Latin name, Corpus Christi, celebrates the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist—Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. It is traditionally celebrated on the Thursday following the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. The feast dates to the Middle Ages and originated with a visionary nun and a Eucharistic miracle.
Today is the feast day of one of the most popular and loved saints of the Catholic church, Saint Anthony of Padua. St. Anthony of Padua was the fastest canonized saint in Church history, taking place a mere 11 months after his death. In 1946 he was proclaimed a doctor of the Church. St. Anthony was a Franciscan friar who lived during the lifetime of the founder of the Franciscan order, St. Francis of Assisi.
In 1672, Christ appeared to a French Visitation nun, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. Over a series of visits, Our Lord revealed to St. Margaret Mary the importance of devotion to His Sacred Heart. He asked that His heart, wounded on the cross and continually wounded by ingratitude of men for his sacrifice for them, be venerated and adored as an embodiment of His Divine mercy and love.
Yesterday’s Sacred Heart blog post discussed the very rich and interesting history of the Sacred Heart devotion. This second installment will discuss its relationship to other Catholic devotions closely connected with it, namely the Divine Mercy, Eucharistic Adoration, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has its roots all the way back to the time of the Apostles, and arguably even before this in the Song of Songs penned by Solomon. St. John the Evangelist is the Apostle associated with the Sacred Heart devotion because, one, he was known as the disciple whom Jesus loved; two, he was called the “Apostle of Love” due to the theme of love repeated in his Gospel and epistles; and three, because he had the special privilege of reclining on the chest of Jesus at the Last Supper.
On the final day of May, the Month of Mary, we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation. I’ve always found this feast day (which is also the Second Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary) a really fun one. One of the ways I like to look at the Feast of the Visitation—apart from its profound theological significance—is at its simple, human level. This is a feast day when we remember two expectant mothers who came together to celebrate their divinely-heralded (and surprise) pregnancies, and to share with each other their merriment and joy. How fun!
Historically, the Solemnity of the Ascension is an ancient and major feast for the Church (thus, its status as a holy day of obligation). In order to think of it and treat it with the same reverence as Christians of days past, it helps to understand it more deeply. Here are three aspects of Ascension Thursday that we can reflect on today.
On May 13th, 1917, Our Lady appeared for the first time to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. Between May and October she appeared five more times. She urged the children to pray the rosary daily for peace in the world and to make sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. Over the course of these visits and several preceding visits by an angel, five prayers were given to Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta.