SPECIAL DEVOTIONS & FEAST DAYS
+ HOLY RELICS
SPECIAL INFORMATION FOR THE SEASON OF CHRISTMAS
The Christmas season extends from the celebration of the birth of JESUS (December 25) through the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord
The Real Meaning of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" - "It is more than a rhapsody of strange and delightful nonsense. It is a song of Catholic instruction. Dating back to the 16th or 17th century, it was created as a memory aid to help children learn their Faith. The “true love” is no earthly suitor, but God Himself, Who gives His wondrous gifts to “me,” every baptized person." January 1st. - Solemn Feast of Mary, Mother of God (aka The Octave Day of Christmas) - "January 1 is a Holy Day of Obligation for Roman Catholics. Not because it is New Year’s day, but because it is the octave (8th day) of Christmas. This feast of Mary, the Mother of God, brings home the reality of the incarnation. In Jesus, the Creator truly became man. And that man had, and still has, a mother. So affirmed the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in AD 431." Epiphany, or the Manifestation of the Lord - "The feast of manifestation, or Epiphany, is traditionally celebrated the 12th day after Christmas, January 6th. In the dioceses of the United States this feast has been moved to the Sunday between January 2 and January 8... The Epiphany is the high point of Christmas and the fulfillment of Advent. It is the ancient Feast of Christ the King. Its dignity in the liturgy is superior to that of Christmas. Because the feast commemorates the baptism of Jesus, its vigil has long been a day for solemn Baptism. In the present division of the Church year, the baptism of our Lord in the Jordan is commemorated on the octave day of the Epiphany."
"A common thread ties together the Mass readings from Christmas till the end of January. On Christmas, of course, we have Jesus’ debut to the world at Bethlehem. On Jan. 1, we hear about Jesus being seen by the shepherds. On the following Sunday, we see him being revealed to the Magi. After that, we see him being revealed to John the Baptist, and the following Sunday he is revealed through John to us as the beloved Son of God. The Sunday after that, Jesus begins his mission and the people who were in darkness see a great light. See the connection? It’s all about Jesus manifesting himself to the world."
"This brings to an end the season of Christmas. The Church recalls Our Lord's second manifestation or epiphany which occurred on the occasion of His baptism in the Jordan. Jesus descended into the River to sanctify its waters and to give them the power to beget sons of God. The event takes on the importance of a second creation in which the entire Trinity intervenes."
HOLY WEEK REMEMBRANCES
Ash Wednesday - "Although Ash Wednesday is not a Catholic holy day of obligation, it is an important part of the season of Lent. The first clear evidence of Ash Wednesday is around 960, and in the 12th century people began using palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday for ashes."
"What is this day called? The day is called both "Palm Sunday" and "Passion Sunday." The first name comes from the fact that it commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when the crowd had palm branches (John 12:13).
"Holy Week History, Information, Prayers, Resources, Traditions... Holy Week is the last week of Lent before Easter, beginning on Palm Sunday and ending on Holy Saturday. In an older nomenclature, Holy Week is the second Sunday of Passiontide (Passiontide begins on the fifth Sunday of Lent). Holy Week is the part of the Church Year where Jesus' final moments are commemorated. The final three days of Holy week are part of the Paschal Triduum.
"A cancer-stricken woman was given no hope of recovery, but a friend gave her a rosary. For three months she recited the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” prayers. Upon returning to her doctor, she was found cancer-free. The physician was astonished."
"According to Matthew 21:10-17, Mark 11:15-17, and Luke 19:45-46, Jesus returns to Jerusalem today. Seeing shameful practices in the Temple area, He cleanses it. The Gospels also recount His weeping over Jerusalem and His cursing of the fig tree. Matthew and Mark relate that He returned to Bethany that night."
"Jesus likely arises early, as did all the ancients. Days both ended and started early, at dusk and dawn, prior to the advent of electric lighting. They leave Bethany and head back to Jerusalem. Perhaps a few converts can be made before the transcendent events of the Passion begin."
"THE CHIEF PRIESTS and the Ancients of the people are met today, in one of the rooms adjoining the Temple, for the purpose of deliberating on the best means of putting Jesus to death."
"Jesus knows that His hour has come; this will be His last meal. Judas has already conspired and been paid to hand Him over. Scripture says, Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come. He always loved those who were his own, and now he would show them the depths of his love. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over (John 13:1). Thus in the gathering storm Jesus plans His last meal, which will also be the first Holy Mass."
"Jesus told the crowd that the Eucharist is “food that endures for eternal life” (Jn 6:27).
Jesus himself is the Bread of Life (Jn 6:35, 48), the bread that came down from heaven (Jn 6:41,51).
Jesus further explained, “My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:55), and that “whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life (Jn 6:54)."
"If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.
Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear. Therefore I will give him his portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty, because he surrendered himself to death and was counted among the wicked; and he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses."
"A crossroads is a call to change: from where we’ve been to where we’re going; from what we’re leaving behind to what we’re striving for; from whom we are to who we’re becoming."
"The Mother of Christ is given into the care of the Beloved Disciple. On the surface, it seems that Jesus is merely ensuring His Mother’s well-being after His death. A closer look, however, suggests that the disciple is the one who is really being cared for."
REASONS FOR CHRIST'S DESCENT
"There are four reasons why Christ together with His soul descended into hell. First, He wished to take upon Himself the entire punishment for our sin, and thus atone for its entire guilt. The punishment for the sin of man was not alone death of the body, but there was also a punishment of the soul, since the soul had its share in sin; and it was punished by being deprived of the beatific vision; and as yet no atonement had been offered whereby this punishment would be taken away. Therefore, before the coming of Christ all men, even the holy fathers after their death, descended into hell. Accordingly in order to take upon."
"The second reading from the Office of Readings for Holy Saturday is taken from an ancient homily on Christ’s descent into hell. It begins: “Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep.” The King fell asleep when His soul was separated from His body on Good Friday afternoon. He remained asleep until His soul reanimated His body on Easter morning. But during the silence and stillness of the King’s sleep, He harrowed hell."
EASTER - THE FEAST - "Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter."
"This Easter take a moment to pause and consider the GOOD NEWS that death and sin were conquered by the very real Jesus who will soon return - just as He promised. Lost and fallen mankind, in collusion with a bunch of social clubs masquerading as churches, have allowed Easter bunnies, eggs and candies to overshadow the real reason real Christians are real happy about what happened at the Resurrection. All the unstoppable hatred and insane madness happening around us today are rapidly bringing this world to a close - just as the Jewish carpenter and Savior, Jesus, said that it would. (Matthew chapter 24, etc.) Say a prayer in your heart, and ask Jesus to be in you, forgive you, and to show you the real meaning and celebration of Easter."
"Taken from THE PASSION AND DEATH OF JESUS CHRIST, Redemptorist Fathers, 1927 with Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur."
"From the descent of Christ to hell we may learn, for our instruction, four things..."
"Of all the religions of the world, only Christianity claims an empty tomb for its founder. The physical resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone of Christianity."
link between Good Friday and the Church is woven throughout our
Christian tradition. St. Augustine wrote, “There it was that the gate of
life was opened, from there the sacraments of the Church flow; without
these one does not enter true life.”
suffering was far more than most imagine — so severe even before He
reached Calvary, she (Anne Catherine Emmerich) says, that only
supernatural ministering kept Him from expiring previous to making His
way to the Cross."
Commentary: The immense sufferings of JESUS cannot be explained in words. The sins of mankind since Adam to the very last man on earth He took upon Himself to redeem us and reconcile us to the Father. We, however, having knowledge of His great sufferings should not add to them any more than we already have. We must re-establish our relationship with Our Savior and make every effort to keep a good relationship with JESUS through frequent Confessions, the Holy Rosary, and receiving Him through the Eucharist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as often as possible. vtb
her book called The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, mystic
Anne Catherine Emmerich asserted that what Jesus suffered at Gethsemane,
in the famous instance the night before His Crucifixion, was far
greater than what’s described in Scripture — that beyond mere
anticipation of His own death, the Lord was forced to enter into fierce
spiritual combat with the devil."Commentary: Satan is always at work trying to tempt us to do things that cause us to sin. If those sins are very serious and we are indifferent to changing our life and confessing them, we could lose our soul and spend eternity in Hell. Not a very pleasant thought, but something we should be thinking about from time to time. vtb
"One "very, very clear vision of Him was quite breathtaking," recalls the retired nurse. "All of a sudden there are these three beings behind me. And all of a sudden JESUS appeared before me, walked right in front of me, raised His thumb -- there was Blood on it -- and blessed me with it. He placed a mantle on me and gave me a shepherd's staff and He said, 'Becki, you are mine.'"
“Notice how each hand holds up the other,” Jaybird told us. Then, dropping one hand, he continued. “Without the support of the other hand, this hand tires and falls.” He let the remaining hand go limp. “Now the hands are apart, unable to depend upon each other for support.” He brought his hands together once again. “This is what JESUS does for you every day. He holds you up.”
"According to (Saint) Jerome, in his commentary on Matthew 27:33, someone explained “the place of Calvary” as being the place where Adam was buried; and that it was so called because the skull of the first man was buried there. A pleasing interpretation indeed, and one suited to catch the ear of the people, but, still, not the true one."
Commentary: Actually, Jerome is correct. The skull of Adam is beneath the Cross where JESUS was crucified according to Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (as some believe), and this makes a great deal of spiritual sense. vtb
DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY - "The Feast of Mercy is an annual celebration, (weekend after Easter) which, as Jesus revealed, also has the promise of the total forgiveness of sins and punishment. Our Lord Jesus said, 'The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain the complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened.'" THE DIVINE MERCY - "This message and devotion to Jesus as The Divine Mercy is based on the writings of Saint Faustina Kowalska, an uneducated Polish nun who, in obedience to her spiritual director, wrote a diary of about 600 pages recording the revelations she received about God's Mercy." DIVINE MERCY NOVENA - "Jesus further asked that this Feast of the Divine Mercy be preceded by a Novena of Chaplets to the Divine Mercy which would begin on Good Friday. Say one chaplet each day following the novena intention. In her diary, St. Faustina wrote that Jesus told her:"
"On each day of the novena you will bring to My Heart a different group of souls and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy... On each day you will beg My Father, on the strength of My passion, for the graces for these souls. By this novena I will grant every possible grace to souls." (Diary 1209, 796)
"Briefly, here are the other main differences between the "special graces" promised by Jesus for Divine Mercy Sunday, and the plenary indulgence offered by the Church for special devotions to The Divine Mercy on Mercy Sunday:
1) The special graces that our Lord promised for Mercy Sunday come solely through the reception of Holy Communion on that day, in a state of grace, with trust in The Divine Mercy. Any plenary indulgence granted by the Church, on the other hand, involves the fulfillment of a number of conditions, including prayer for the pope's intentions, confession and Holy Eucharist, and the carrying out of the special indulgenced work (in this case: participating in public devotions to The Divine Mercy on Mercy Sunday itself).
2) The special graces promised by our Lord for Mercy Sunday can be received by a soul in a state of grace, but with imperfect love for God, and imperfect contrition for sin—as long as the soul merely trusts in the Mercy of God, and clings to Him because of His promised benefits. A plenary indulgence, however, can only be obtained through the performance of an indulgenced work as an expression of pure love for God. If the intentions of one's indulgenced work are not pure (say, the work is done in part out of fear of hell or purgatory, and loathing for oneself — or the desire to impress one's friends and relatives! — rather than purely out of love for God) then the indulgence obtained will be only partial, not plenary."
hundreds of years, Catholics observed (this) Feast... celebrating Mary being taken bodily to Heaven after her death -- but it was not until 1950 that the Church proclaimed this teaching a dogma of the Church -- one of the essential beliefs of the Catholic faith."
FIRST FRIDAY DEVOTION TO THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS - "The First Friday of each month was designated by our Savior Himself as a day to be consecrated to honoring His Sacred Heart…. As the object of this devotion is to make our Savior Jesus Christ ardently and perfectly loved, and to make reparation for the outrages offered to Him in the past, as well as for those which he daily receives in the Blessed Eucharist."
THE SACRED HEART - Explanation of the Holy Mass, prayers, saints, music, religious artwork. Very inspiring - includes Act of Consecration to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and other beautiful devotions.
"What are, in particular, the duties of our Guardian Angels? Analyzing these duties, Saint Bernard says that the Angels constantly surround the souls of the faithful in their charge with the most tender care and love. They have but one great desire, that of leading us safely through life till we attain the glory and peace which they themselves possess and fully enjoy while in our company here on earth. They protect both our spiritual and our corporal life. They defend and protect our immortal soul from the seduction of the world and the wiles of Satan. They often shield us from sudden dangers that threaten our life, or come to our rescue when some harm has befallen us. This becomes often manifest with little children who quite often come out of serious accidents without any injury. The mind of the little children cannot be reached with warnings and inspirations, because it is not yet functioning; and thus the Guardian Angel must take direct action in case of danger. Adult persons, in the full use of reason, are warned and cautioned by their Angel, but because they remain free to heed or to ignore such warnings of their Angel, many unfortunate things happen to them in spite of their Heavenly protector."
HOLY FACE ASSOCIATION - Contains the Eight Promises Our Lord made to those devoted to His Holy Face. "This is not just another devotion - it is a plea from God... These are the days of Divine Love and Divine Mercy. We have been given a remedy for these days in which there is such a great lack of faith."
Saint by Date - Monthly listing - "Most saints and holy people have specially designated feast days. On those days we remember these holy men and women in a special way."
The Feast of the Ascension of the Lord - "This Holy day of Obligation, 40th day of Easter, commemorates Christ's Ascension into Heaven from Mount Olivet 40 days after He rose from the dead (Mark 16:14-20). After the Gospel is sung, the Paschal Candle, lit from the New Fire of the Easter Vigil, is extinguished to symbolize the departure of Christ (if you use a Paschal candle at home, it should be put away today, too)."
THE SHROUD OF TURIN - I believe the Shroud of Turin to be authentic, and a very holy relic which is left to us as a remembrance of the sufferings Our Savior experienced in His Passion - but for many, continued study is recommended: "This website will keep you abreast of current research, provide you with accurate data from the previous research and let you interact with the researchers themselves. We believe that if you have access to the facts, you can make up your own mind about the Shroud."
FIRST SATURDAY DEVOTION TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY - "The observance of the first Saturday in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is intended to make reparation to it for the sins of mankind. This devotion was revealed by the Blessed Virgin to three children, Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia to whom she appeared at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917. On June 13, 1917, Our Lady specifically stated in speaking to Lucia: "Jesus wants to make use of you to make me known and loved. He wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart."
THE MARIAN MOVEMENT OF PRIESTS - "It is my work, which I myself am now carrying out, in order to gather from all sides the little remnant which will remain faithful to Jesus and to His Gospel, to the Pope and to the Church united with Him...If indeed His return is close at hand, then my motherly action becomes more concerned and vigorous, in order to assist all my children to remain ever in the truth of the faith. This is why I have asked you to consecrate yourselves to my Immaculate Heart. This is why, in these times of yours, I have spread everywhere my Marian Movement of Priests."
- Messages to Fr. Gobbi from our Blessed Mother.