Like the martyrdom of the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul, a great number of Christians perished at the hands of Nero during the terrible persecution that lasted from 64-68 A.D. This was the first major persecution of the newly founded Church at Rome. These holy men and women, also called the “Protomartyrs of Rome,” are the foundation on which the Church was built.
Just like the sacrificial and life-giving death of Christ, the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul were used by God to lay the bedrock for the Church and bring salvation to the whole world. Because they are the solid rock on which the foundation of the Church is built, and they will forever remain her protectors and guides.
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!