Catholics Celebrate Palm Sunday as the Path of Peace

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week as well as the last Sunday of Lent. You could also say it is one of the more distinctly Catholic holidays celebrated by the Church in all corners of the world.

Today, there will be a procession of palm fronds in parishes big and small. A ceremonial blessing will soon follow during the course of the mass. Depending on the locale, you can either bring the palms over for your own altar or have them solemnly burned to be used for next year’s Ash Wednesday.

Most importantly, however, is that the account of Jesus’s arrival in Jerusalem is full of symbolism about His mission. Particularly, His humility and the contrast of His Kingdom with that of the worldly powers of Roman-occupied Israel.

A donkey instead of a horse.

Jesus’ arrival on a donkey represents the first stark contrast to worldly grandeur. Whereas kings arrived in fine horses, Jesus rode into the city upon a humble beast of burden. Like the donkey, Christ is the bearer of burdens and wishes only to serve for the glory of God. He arrived in a manner that did not elevate Him above His followers but marked Him as being among them.

Palm fronds instead of banners.

Conquerors such as Caesar (and other rulers before him) are often heralded by banners. But for Christ, these were replaced by the fronds that are now used to commemorate the start of Holy Week. Like the olive branch, the palm branch was also held to be a symbol of peace. Whereas other rulers subjugated others through force, Christ seeks only to bring peace and fellowship for us all.

Twelve disciples instead of an army.

Lastly, let us not forget that the only entourage Jesus had were none other than just his twelve apostles. He did not arrive with battalions behind him or weapons of war. Instead, He arrived with common men who did not appear any different from the people who were shouting Him praises or wondering who He was. Furthermore, He recognized them and loved them as fellow man and not as mere tools for ambition.

Put it all together, Christ’s triumphal arrival in Jerusalem really emphasizes His title as the Prince of Peace. With only a donkey for a mount, palm fronds for banners and an entourage of laypeople, Jesus was proclaimed a King by all those who have heard of Him. The story of Palm Sunday demonstrates the sharp contrast between the Kingdom of Heaven with the warring, conquering kingdoms on earth.

Celebrate Palm Sunday by Celebrating Peace

From the time of the Babylonians, the Romans and all the way to modern times, people have sadly chosen to glorify violence and warfare as a means to expand their worldly kingdoms. As Christians, we are called by Jesus to take the radically counterintuitive approach and embrace peace whenever possible.

“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,” - Matthew 5:44

This is further highlighted when you realize that the same people who hailed Jesus’ arrival could very well be among those who joined in the Sanhedrin’s condemnation of Him. Yet true to His Word, Jesus did not call His disciples to cut them down. As He had told Peter:

“Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” - Matthew 26: 52

One of the most important lessons in Lent (and in Christianity as a whole) was that Christ did not come to the world to establish an earthly kingdom. He came to the world as a sacrifice for the salvation of us all. In principle, it was the complete opposite of the ethos of many ancient emperors and rulers, who built their kingdoms based on conquest.

As Christians, use Palm Sunday as an opportunity to celebrate peace instead of building up earthly kingdoms through conflict. The symbols of Christ’s triumphal arrival in Jerusalem can serve as your guide.

HOLY WEEK – Questions to think about

1. Do I present myself like I’m on a war horse?

Do you go about with your head held a little too high? Remember the lesson on humility from Christ’s choice of a steed. Like Christ, we are here on this earth to serve not ourselves but God and His Glory. Jesus was the ultimate model of servanthood and presented Himself as such to disciples and sinners alike.

2. Do I announce and parade my intentions and achievements?

The banners of conquerors were often meant to both intimidate their enemies and indicate their intentions to take over. This is another habit of pride and is really not very Christ-like. This goes even for spiritual pride, when we use items like the palm branch as if to brag about our religion instead of reflecting upon its meaning. Use Palm Sunday as an opportunity to focus on God rather than parading yourself.

3. Do I use others as accessories to my pride?

If there is one thing Christ never did but conquerors always do, it is using others as tools for their ambition. How do you see your fellow human beings? Do you see them as the people that they truly are, or are they merely like a standing army for you to use for the sake of intimidation? The Christian path to peace is not merely a path against aggression but the aggressive use of people as if they were only pawns.

The Story of Saint Basil the Great

The Story of Saint Basil the Great | Catholic Faith Store
The Story of Saint Basil the Great | Catholic Faith Store

St. Basil the Great was a Greek bishop and theologian who was noted for being an influential supporter of the Nicene Creed. Aside from his theological contributions, he was well known for his compassion for the poor and less fortunate members of his society.

St. Basil the Great is the patron saint of hospital administrators, reformers, monks, education, exorcism and liturgists. We celebrate his feast day on January 2 and in time for it, let us look back to his life and remarkable contributions not just in religion but society at large.

The Family and Education of Saint Basil the Great

Basil was born to a wealthy family in Cappadocia in 329. Noted for their piety, his parents were Basil the Elder and Emmelia of Caesarea. Basil and his four siblings were raised by his maternal grandmother, Macrina, who was a follower of Gregory Thaumaturgus, a Christian bishop and saint who founded the church of Neocaesarea. Macrina’s husband was a Christian martyr who was sentenced to death before Emperor Constantine I’s conversion.

Basil was formally educated in Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia from 351-356. It was here that he met Gregory of Nazianzus, his lifelong friend who became the Archbishop of Constantinople. Basil and Gregory traveled to Constantinople to continue their studies and spent about six years in Athens.

After leaving Athens in 357, Basil traveled across Egypt and Syria before returning to Caesarea to practice law and teach rhetoric for about one year.

A Changed Life

Basil’s life took a dramatic turn when he met the bishop and ascetic Eustathius of Sebaste. Basin left his profession in law and education to completely devote his life to God. After being baptized, he then traveled to Palestine, Egypt and Mesopotamia in order to learn more about asceticism and monasticism.

He distributed his property to the less fortunate and briefly lived a solitary life near Neocaesarea of Pontus on the Iris. Although he respected the pious way of life of the ascetics, he realized that a life of solitude was not for him and he was more inclined to follow a communal religious life. 

In 358 Basil brought together a group of disciples that shared his views including his own brother, Peter. Together they established a monastic settlement on his family’s estate near Annesi. Soon his widowed mother, sister and other women joined the religious settlement and they committed themselves to a life of prayer and charity.

It was during his time at the monastic settlement that Basil started writing about monastic communal life. His work was a significant influence in the monastic traditions of the Eastern Church. He also collaborated with Gregory Nazianzus on “Origen’s Philocalia,” a collection of the works of the Greek scholar, ascetic and theologian Origen.

Basil later attended the Council of Constantinople. He first sided wtih Eustathius and the homoiousians, a semi-Arian group that taught that Jesus was of “like” substance of the Father, neither the same nor different from him. Later on, he left the homoiousian and became one of the most passionate supporters of the Nicene Creed.

Life and Work in Caesarea

St. Basil the Great was ordained a deacon in 362 by Bishop Meletius of Antioch and later as presbyter of the church in 365. In the next years, Basil and Gregory Nazianzus devoted their life fighting off the Arian heresy which had grown so strong it was dividing the Christians of Cappadocia. The two friends participated in rhetorical debates with well known Arian theologians and speakers and emerged victorious. Their successes made it clear to Basil and Gregory that they had a future in church administration and Basil soon served as functional administrator in Caesarea. 

In 370, Basil was consecrated bishop of Caesarea, a position which allowed him to demonstrate his leadership, generosity and sympathy. Among his charitable activities include organizing a soup kitchen, distributing food to the less fortunate during a time of famine and donating his personal inheritance to the poor of his diocese. He also actively worked to help thieves and prostitutes turn away from their life of sin.

Basil was brave enough to speak against public officials who were corrupt and preached every morning and evening in his own church. He also warned his clergy against the temptation of wealth and the relatively easy life in priesthood. He was very meticulous in choosing candidates for holy orders. 

One of Basil’s most notable accomplishments was the Basiliad, a huge complex outside Caesarea, which housed a hospice, hospital and a poorhouse. The Eastern Roman Emperor Valens himself donated some land for the building of this structure.

St. Basil the Great suffered from liver disease which had been aggravated by his excessive ascetic practices. The exact date of his death is unknown.

Legacy and Influence

The Story of Saint Basil the Great | Catholic Faith Store

St. Basil’s legacy lives on the form of his many contributions in the world particularly in the realms of theology, monasticism and liturgy.

St. Basil is one of the most important figures that shaped Christian monasticism. In fact he is often called the “Father of Eastern Monasticism” and many religious orders in Easter Christianity are named after him such as The Congregation of St. Basil. 

St. Basil helped promote the moderation of austere practices which had previously defined monastic life. He is also credited for helping promote the balance between work and prayer.

Saint Basil the Great is considered very influential in the history of Christian liturgy. Although it is not clear which parts of the Divine Liturgies credited to him are actually his work, it is accepted that a vast corpus of prayers that he created has survived in different churches in Eastern Christianity. 

The Story of Saint Cecilia

The Story of Saint Cecilia | Catholic Faith Store


Saint Cecilia is the patron saint of great musicians, poets and hymns. She is one of the most revered early Roman martyrs and one of the seven women commemorated in the Canon of the Mass.

We celebrate the feast day of Saint Cecilia every year on November 22 and as this day approaches, let us reflect on her extraordinary life and steadfast faith.

The Life and Vow of Saint Cecilia

Saint Cecilia lived in the 3rd century A.D. in the Roman Empire. She was born to a noble family in Rome. Despite taking a personal vow of chastity, her parents married her off to a young pagan nobleman named Valerian. In response to this, she wore sackcloth and underwent fasting. She also invoked the saints and angels and asked them to guard her purity.

Before the marriage was consummated, Saint Cecilia told Valerian about her vow of virginity and that she had an angel watching over her. The angel would punish him if he sexually violated her. When Valerian asked to see this angel, Saint Cecilia told him that he would first need to travel to the third milestone on the Appian Way and be baptized by Pope Urbanus.

Saint Cecilia’s husband followed her instructions and when he returned he saw the angel standing beside her. The angel crowned her with a chaplet of roses of lilies. The love story of Saint Cecilia and her husband is recounted in a religious romance which circulated in Greece during the 4th century A.D. 

When Valerian’s brother, Tibertius, found out about the angel, he also asked to be baptized. Both brothers devoted their lives giving proper burials to the saints who were persecuted and killed by the prefect of their city, Turcius Almachius.

Valerian and Tibertius were eventually arrested for their subversive activities and brought before Turcius Almachius. He ordered them to make a sacrifice to the pagan gods but they refused and for this they were executed.

Ministry and Martyrdom

While her husband and brother-in-law were giving burials, Saint Cecilia devoted her time to her own ministry. She preached about the good news and was able to convert over 400 people. Most of these converts were baptized by Pope Urban.

Saint Cecilia eventually faced persecution for her efforts but she miraculously survived many of the torturous acts inflicted upon her. First, she was arrested and condemned to be suffocated in the baths. She was shut inside the bathhouse for one night and even when the fires were stoked, she was alive when her persecutors opened the doors. 

When the city prefect found out about this, he sent an executioner to cut off her head. The executioner struck Saint Cecilia three times but was unable to decapitate her. Saint Cecilia was left bleeding and she lived for three more days.

During the final three days of her life, Saint Cecilia continued to preach or offer her prayers to the crowds who had gathered around her. On the third day, she passed away and was buried by Pope Urban and his deacons.

Saint Cecilia was buried at the Catacombs of St. Callistus. Her remains were later transferred to the Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. Her namesake church is reportedly built on the site of the house where she lived. When church officials exhumed her body in 1599 they found her to be incorrupt.

Saint Cecilia gained many followers during the Middle Ages in Europe. Songs, poetry and works of art were created in her honor.

Legacy in Religion, Music and Art

The Story of Saint Cecilia | Catholic Faith Store

Saint Cecilia is honored as the patron saint of music and she is a symbol of the central role of music in liturgy. It is said that she heard heavenly music when she was married. Because of her ties to music, she is often depicted in art, statues and religious items with a harp, organ or other musical instruments. 

Many music festivals and concerts are held around the world in Saint Cecilia’s honor. The first one took place in 1570 Évreux in Normandy and her feast day is well known to be an occasion for concerts and music festivals.


 Aside from festivals, many music-related places and things show reverence to Saint Cecilia. For example, one of the oldest musical institutions in the world, the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, is named after her. 


The word Cecyliada which refers to the festival of sacred, choral and contemporary music held in Police, Poland, is derived from her name. The famous luthier Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume also named a line of violin and viola St. Cecile.

 

The Sisters of Saint Cecilia are religious sisters who shear wool used to make the palliums of new metropolitan archbishops. The Pope himself blesses the lambs used to produce the wool every January 21. The Pope gives the pallia to the new metropolitan archbishops during the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul every June 29.


Has Saint Cecilia made an impact on your life? Tell us how!

The Story of Saint Albert the Great

The Story of Saint Albert the Great | Catholic Faith Store
The Story of Saint Albert the Great | Catholic Faith Store

Saint Albert the Great, also known as Albertus Magnus, was a German Catholic Dominican friar, teacher, preacher, scientist, administrator and bishop. Many scholars call him the greatest German philosopher of the Middle Ages. In time for this feast day, which we celebrate on November 15, let us revisit his remarkable life and contributions.

The Life and Education of Saint Albert the Great

Saint Albert the Great was born some time before the year 1200 in Lauingen, a town in Southern Germany. The son of a military lord in the army of Emperor Frederick II, Albert was educated at the University of Padua where he learned about the philosopher Aristotle and his writings. The teachings of Aristotle would also become the foundation of Albert’s later work.

Around 1223, Albert chose to join the Dominican Order after a miraculous encounter with the Blessed Virgin Mary. He also pursued studies in theology excelling as a student. He later became a lecturer, first he taught the Dominicans at Cologne and then he traveled around the region to teach. He became well known as a lecturer not just in the region but internationally.

Life as a Lecturer, Bishop and Mediator

During the time that Albert started lecturing he also produced “Summa de Bono,” a collaboration he had with renowned French theologian Phillip the Chancellor. Albert didn’t just stop at being a lecturer, though. Albert became a master of theology under the guidance of Gueruc of Saint-Quentin, becoming the first German Dominican to achieve this title.

Saint Albert the Great taught theology at the University of Paris as a full-time professor. He also became the Chair of Theology at the College of St. James. The renowned philosopher, priest and theologian Thomas Aquinas was one of his students. 

In 1254, Albert became the provincial of the Dominican Order and was recognized for being a competent and efficient administrator. Five years later, he took part in the General Chapter of the Dominicans at Valenciennes along with Thomas Aquinas, masters Bonushomo Britto, Florentius and Peter who would later become Pope Innocent V. Together they established a program of studies specially for the Dominicans that emphasized philosophy as an innovation for those who were not adequately trained to study theology.

Saint Albert the Great was appointed bishop of Regensburg by Pope Alexander IV in 1260. During the course of his duties, he became well known for his humility which he demonstrated in various ways. For example, he refused to ride a horse when traversing his huge diocese and instead chose to travel on foot. This earned him the affectionate name of “Boots the Bishop” from his parishioners.

In 1263, Pope Urban IV relieved Albert of his bishop duties and tasked him with preaching the eighth Crusade in German-speaking countries. He then became well known for acting as a mediator between conflicting parties. One of his notable efforts as a mediator was in 1258 when he brought an end to the conflict between the people of Cologne and the archbishop.

Writings and Scientific Work

The writings of Saint Albert the Great, which reached 38 volumes, show his vast knowledge on a variety of subjects including logic, theology, botany, astronomy, mineralogy, alchemy, zoology, physiology, phrenology, law and geography.

Aside from his own writings, Saint Albert the Great also became the first to comment on the writings of Aristotle which made the ancient Greek philosopher ’s body of work more accessible to academic debate. In fact he was responsible for preserving and presenting most modern knowledge of Aristotle.

Albert’s principal theological works are a commentary in three volumes on the Books of the Sentences of Peter Lombard and the Summa Theologiae in two volumes. He also wrote treatises on the natural sciences.

Albert also built a reputation as a scientist. While in Cologne, he performed experiments in chemistry and physics in a makeshift laboratory. He accumulated a collection of plants, insects and chemical compounds.

Through his scientific work, Saint Albert the Great demonstrated that all creation pointed toward God and that even the tiniest bit of scientific knowledge revealed something about Him. 

Final Years and Sainthood

The Story of Saint Albert the Great | Catholic Faith Store

Saint Albert the Great spent the last years of his life defending the work of his student Thomas Aquinas whose contributions are considered to be among the most influential in the Catholic Church.

After suffering a decline in his health in 1278, Albert died in November 15, 1280 in the Dominican convent in Cologne, Germany. Three years after his death his grave was opened and his body was discovered to be incorrupt. Since November 15, 1954, the relics of Saint Albert the Great are contained in a Roman sarcophagus in the crypt of the Dominican St. Andreas Church in Cologne.

Saint Albert the Great was beatified in 1622. On December 16, 1931, he was canonized and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church. He is the patron saint of natural sciences, philosophers, scientists, students and medical technicians.

Four Reasons Catholic Gifts Are Profoundly Meaningful

Giving Catholic Gifts

The most deeply appreciated Catholic gifts are those which the giver has selected with thoughtfulness. This results in showing that she carefully considered what present would benefit the recipient and what would be special to that person. When selecting the ideal Catholic gifts, they should perfectly match the recipient and not be mass-produced toys or gadgets. Rather, they serve a deeper purpose and are timeless. Keepsakes that will be valued and prized for years, even generations to come.

Reason 1: To evangelize and bear witness to God’s Revelation in Jesus through the Holy Spirit

Catholic Gifts Statue Idea - Our Lady of Lourdes Statue 26.5 Inches

"To evangelize, one bears witness to God’s Revelation in Jesus through the Holy Spirit by living a life imbued with Christian virtues…" – Pope Paul VI

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There are countless ways to evangelize those the Lord places in our path. We don't need to travel to another continent and live a missionary's life to be effective evangelizers. It starts at home, in our own families. Surrounding ourselves and our loved ones with the beauty and rich traditions of our Church makes striving daily to learn more about our Faith. This also helps us to abide with Jesus more attainable.

The statue of Mary in the front yard's flower bed, the crucifix around your neck, the St. Tarcisius medal you bestow on your grandson for his First Holy Communion. As a result, these reminders share the Faith with others in a quiet yet powerful way, without traveling anywhere.

Reason 2: As the family goes, so goes the nation and the whole world

"As the family goes, so goes the nation and the whole world."  - Pope St. John Paul II

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Catholic Gifts Rosary Idea - Miraculous Rosary

Our primary responsibility as Catholics is the love and formation of our children, to help our children and future generations get to Heaven. Parents are the primary teachers in the family, and grandparents hold a special position of reverence and admiration. Countless times, when reminiscing about their grandparents, men and women recollect attending Mass with grandma, grandpa's bedside Bible, the rosary beads clutched in a favorite aunt's hands. 

When the younger generations absorb wisdom from their elders, the foundation of that wisdom is based in the one true Faith. Most importantly, shower your younger family members with gifts because this will seal their memories of your love for Christ. As a result, you will help spark their own hearts for Jesus.

Reason 3: Actions speak louder than words

"Actions speak louder than words; let our words teach and your actions speak." - St. Augustine

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Catholic Gifts Book Idea - Illustrated Book of Mary

Certainly teachers everywhere know that adult and child students learn best by doing, by practicing, and by hands-on experience. Accordingly, this principle also applies to learning our Faith as well! An exquisite rosary brings the familiar prayers to life; a personalized Catholic Bible beckons the young child to read its pages; a home filled with Catholic art truly feels like a domestic church.

Our faith must not be kept private therefore it must be shared. Catechesis is most effective when the student is an active participant rather than a passive sponge. Putting real-life tools like books, art, and sacramentals in our living space enlivens study and love of the Faith for young and old alike.

Reason 4: Catholic Gifts Feed the Soul

"You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body." – C.S. Lewis

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Catholic Gifts Auto Rosary and Visor Clip Idea - Saint Joseph Matching Auto Rosary and Visor Clip Set

Jesus fed people who were physically hungry, for the reason that His primary goal was to feed the spiritually hungry. When considering a gift for a loved one, envision that person as a soul who happens to be in a human body. Seek to feed that person's soul with a gift so you can convey to the participant that you care first and foremost for his spiritual wellbeing. Maybe there is a particular saint your relative or friend has a special devotion to; encourage that spiritual friendship with a patron saint medal. A special wall cross for the new baby in the family demonstrates your excitement to welcome the baby into the family of God at Baptism. An auto rosary or guardian angel visor clip reminds a frequent traveler that you care for both his spiritual as well as physical well bring.

Above all, the Holy Spirit provides limitless opportunities to evangelize those around us. Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and sacraments are all special events which results in us being able to share our Faith in a generous and unique way. Therefore, this may even bring our friends and family members closer to the Lord!

Purgatory and Indulgences

What is purgatory | Catholic Faith Store
What is purgatory | Catholic Faith Store

November is the time when the Catholic Church focuses on specific prayers and actions for all souls who are waiting for purification in Purgatory.

At Mass the Church will set aside time for special prayers for the dead and other acts. You too can help relieve the suffering of those in Purgatory. This assistance is known as an indulgence and there are specific acts and prayers that can lift the departed souls out of Purgatory and into Heaven.

Because there are many indulgences that can only be obtained in November, now is a good time to discuss Purgatory and the two types of indulgences.

What is purgatory

Purgatory is one of the distinguishable doctrines of the Catholic Faith. You’ve probably  heard at Mass or read in Catholic Faith books that purgatory is one of the places one goes after death.

What is purgatory and how is it different from heaven or hell?

The word purgatory is derived from the Latin word, “purgare,” which means “to make clean” or “to purify.” According to the teachings of the Catholic Church, purgatory is a place or state of temporal punishment for those who died in God’s grace but who are not entirely free from venial faults or who are still in need of purification in order to enter into heaven.

When he said “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” “Whatever” means anything, including punishment for sins.

Matthew 18:18

The purification process is important because nothing unclean is permitted to enter the presence of God in heaven. Although our mortal sins are forgiven when we die, many other impurities can still exist in us like venial sins. In other words, one needs to undergo the purification in purgatory in order to achieve holiness that is necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

Only those who died in a state of grace but who have not yet fulfilled the temporal punishment because of their sin can be in purgatory. Therefore, purgatory is a temporary state and no one staying there will remain there forever nor will they go to hell.

 According to Catholic Faith teachings, the actions of the faithful living on earth affect the fate of those in purgatory. We can help those in purgatory by offering prayers of suffrage, almsgiving, works of penance and indulgences.

Indulgences

What is purgatory and what does the Bible say about it  | Catholic Faith Store

What is an Indulgence?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes indulgence as “a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints."

An indulgence can either be partial or plenary. It is partial if it removes only part of the temporal punishment due to sin, or plenary if it removes all punishment.

You can gain indulgences for yourself or for the dearly departed but you cannot gain an indulgence for another living person.


Partial Indulgence (For yourself or departed souls)

Today, a partial indulgence is obtained whenever we think pious thoughts, pray, do good works, etc. A person can receive partial indulgences several times a day.

To gain a partial indulgence;

  • Must be a Catholic
  • Must be in a state of grace (be free from mortal sin)
  • Have the intention to gain the indulgence
  • Perform the indulgenced act (prayer, good act…)

Examples of Partial Indulgences

  • Say prayers during the day
  • Give alms to the poor (or any spiritual or corporal works of mercy)
  • Abstaining from something that you find pleasurable (food, air conditioning, TV shows, etc.)
  • Visiting a cemetery and praying for the souls
  • Adoring the Blessed Sacrament in Church for a short time
  • Wearing a crucifix / scapular medal around the neck
  • Reading the bible for a short time.


Plenary Indulgence (Departed souls only)


Gaining a plenary indulgence is a bit more involved.

  • Must be a Catholic
  • Perform the act with a contrite heart
  • Go to confession
  • Receive Holy Communion
  • Pray for the pope’s intentions
  • Be free from all attachment to sin, including venial sin.

Example of Plenary Indulgences

  • Praying the Rosary in Church or with  Family
  • Praying the Stations of the Cross in a Church
  • Visiting a Parish Church on its feast day
  • Devoutly kissing the cross on Good Friday
  • Devoutly reading of the Scripture

*If you attempt to receive a plenary indulgence, but are unable to meet the last condition, a partial indulgence is received instead.


Special October / November Indulgences

Pentecost Sunday / Last Sunday in October:

  • Publicly pray the prayer Act of Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart on the Feast of Christ the

November 2nd / All Souls Day:

  • Visit a church, a public or chapel and pray the Our Father and the Creed (applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory)

November 1st through November 8th:

Visit to a cemetery with a prayer, even if only mental, for the departed souls

Remember! It is official church doctrine that the faithful can and should try to receive all of the indulgences in this life that they can, because they will mitigate and maybe eliminate a lot of pain and suffering of purgatory.

Catholic Traditions for All Saints Day

Catholic Traditions for All Saints Day | Catholic Faith Store
Catholic Traditions for All Saints Day | Catholic Faith Store

Every year on November 1, we celebrate All Saints Day, also known as the Feast of All Saints. As the name implies, this occasion honors all those who have entered heaven and these include the saints who are recognized by the Catholic Church and those who are not.

All Saints Day is a Catholic Holy Day of Obligation which means that all of us who are members of the Catholic Faith are required to attend Mass on this day unless we have a good reason to be excused such as illness. Aside from going to church, there are many other Catholic traditions that we can practice to celebrate All Saints Day. Here are eight ways that we can commemorate this meaningful occasion. 

Read stories about the lives of saints

The saints lived lives that exemplified what it means to remain faithful and righteous in the midst of life’s difficulties. Learning about their struggles and triumphs offers us a great opportunity to grow in our own walk of faith and what better time to do this than during All Saints Day. Set aside time during this special day to read stories of the different saints. 

There are many Catholic books narrating the lives of saints. You can make this activity into a family affair and have everyone share their thoughts and realizations about what they have read.

Ask the saints to intercede

The Feast of All Saints is beautiful because it reminds us that we have saints in heaven who are praying for us and looking out for our welfare. Prayer is an important part of our Catholic Faith and asking the saints to intercede on our behalf makes it even more powerful.

Spend time during this special day to reflect upon your current struggles and concerns and then ask your chosen saint to intercede for you. You can also ask your loved ones and family to join you in prayer. 

Have children dress up as their favorite saints

You can make All Saints Day more fun and relatable to children by making them dress up as their favorite saints. This is somewhat timely because dressing up in costumes is a popular Halloween practice. Halloween happens the night before All Saints Day and because of this these two occasions are often closely associated.

Throw a costume party for your little ones. Make the party more significant by encouraging them to read about the saints so they can give short presentations about what they learn. 

Host an All Saints Day get-together

All Saints Day should be meaningful to us as individual Christians and as members of God’s family. Make this feast day more memorable for you and the important people in your life by hosting an All Saint Day get-together. Pray before and after this special event. Include a special portion in which you can deepen your understanding about what it means to be a saint for example watch a movie or documentary that tackles this subject or read a Catholic book together.

Your All Saints Day get-together can be a simple lunch or an elaborate dinner party. The important thing is that you and your family share this special occasion together and learn something from it. 

Carve pumpkins with Catholic Faith symbols

Carving pumpkins is one of the traditions popularly practiced during this time of the year. You can carve pumpkins on your own or make it a group project which you and your whole family can join in. This activity is a fun way to express your creativity and not to mention it is an excellent bonding moment.

Make your pumpkin-carving activity more relevant to its religious roots by using Christian symbols and themes. Instead of just going with the usual spooky pumpkin face, encourage participants to carve a cross, the ikthus shape, the Holy Trinity and other religious symbols on the pumpkin. 

Give All Saints Day gifts

Gift-giving is a great way to express our love and affection toward the people close to us during special occasions. Remind your family and friends about All Saints Day by giving them a gift that captures them of the meaning of this day. Your gift doesn’t have to be grand or expensive, a simple one that serves as a beautiful reminder about what it means to be a saint should be enough.

Some gift ideas for All Saints Day include books about the lives of Saints, a Bible, medals that feature the saints and prayer cards. 

Meditate upon the Word of God

It is important to always make the Word of God a part of our daily lives and more so during Catholic holidays like All Saints Day. Start this day right by meditation upon the Word of God, giving special attention to Bible verses that talk about what it means to be a saint. 

Here are some passages from Scripture to get you started:

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Love the LORD, all you who are faithful to him. The LORD protects the loyal, but repays the arrogant in full.

Psalms 31:24

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​Therefore, from the day we heard this, we do not cease praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding to live in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with every power, in accord with his glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy giving thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.

Colossians 1:9-12

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​And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.

Romans 8:27

Do you have any special plans for All Saints Day?

The Story of St. Jude Thaddeus

St. Jude Thaddeus | Catholic Faith Store
St. Jude Thaddeus | Catholic Faith Store


May mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.
Jude 1:2

On October 28, we celebrate the feast day of St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of lost causes, desperate situations, hospitals and Armenia. In time for this occasion, let us reflect upon his life and legacy and look for lessons that we can apply in our walk of faith.

Who is St. Jude Thaddeus

Not much is known about St. Jude Thaddeus and his name is mentioned only a limited number of times in the New Testament. He is described by Matthew in the gospels as one of the “brethren” of Jesus, most likely his cousin. The Epistle of Jude mentions that it is written by Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James.

St. Jude Thaddeus is also known as Judas or Judas Thaddeus and for this he is often mistaken to be Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed Jesus before he was crucified. Because of this some translators of the New Testament used the name Jude in order to distinguish him from Judas. He is also known by other names including Jude of James, Jude the brother of James and Lebbaeus.

The Life and Ministry of St. Jude Thaddeus

St. Jude Thaddeus was born to Mary who is the cousin of Jesus’ own mother, Mary. His father Cleophas, was the brother of St. Joseph. St. Jude was married and had at least one child. There are references about him having grandchildren who lived as late as 95 A.D.

As one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, St. Jude Thaddeus preached the good news of Jesus throughout Galilee, Samaria and Judea. In 37 A.D., he traveled to Mesopotamia which is known today as Iraq. There he became a leader of the Church of the East, a church that St. Thomas founded.

St. Jude Thaddeus also journeyed across Libya, Turkey, Persia and Mesopotamia with St. Simon. Together they preached the good news and led many people to Christianity. He is often credited as having helped start the Armenian Church and other congregations outside the Roman Empire.

In 60 A.D., St. Jude wrote a letter to newly converted Christians in the Eastern Church who were suffering persecution. In his letter he warned them to be careful of the false teachers of the current day who were spreading wrong teachings about Christianity. He encouraged them to keep persevering and to stand firm in their faith in the midst of the harsh realities that they were facing.

Martyrdom and Legacy

In spite of the widespread persecutions of Christians during his time, St. Jude Thaddeus stood by his beliefs and ultimately paid the price for his faith. He is believed to have been martyred either in Persia or Syria sometime in 65 A.D. In religious art, he is often shown holding an axe or club which symbolizes the way he was martyred.

After his death, the apostle’s body was transported to Rome and placed in a crypt under St. Peter’s Basilica. Today his bones are kept in the left transept of St. Peter’s Basilica, under the main altar of St. Joseph, in one tomb that holds the remains of the apostle Simon the Zealot.

To this day, many devotees visit the site as a sign of respect and admiration. Because of his steadfast faith, St. Jude Thaddeus is invoked as the patron saint of hopeless cases and desperate situations.

Depictions in Religious Art

St. Jude Thaddeus | Catholic Faith Store

In religious art St. Jude is traditionally portrayed carrying an image of Jesus in his hand or holding it close to his chest. This depiction is taken from a Biblical story in which the King Abgar, the ruler of Edessa, a city located in what is now known as Southeast Turkey, became inflicted with leprosy. Because of his illness, he asked Jesus for healing and sent out an artist to bring him a drawing of Jesus. 

Abgar’s great faith impressed Jesus so much that he pressed his face into a cloth so that it could be taken to the king. He gave the cloth to St. Jude so that he could hand it over to Abgar. When the king saw Jesus’ image he was immediately cured from leprosy. He then converted to Christianity and the majority of the people under his rule followed.

The cloth that miraculously healed King Abgar is known today as the the Image of Edessa. This holy relic is all association with the world-renowned Shroud of Jesus which is currently on display in Turn, Italy.


Aside from the Image of Edessa, some portrayals of St. Jude Thaddeus also show him with a flame around his head which is symbolic of his presence at Pentecost in which he received the Holy Spirit together with the other apostles. He is also depicted holding an axe or club, a reminder of his martyrdom and other items such as a scroll or book symbolizing the Epistle of Jude or a carpenter’s rule.


Have you asked Saint Jude for his intercession? Has his life inspired you to be a better Christian? 

The Top 4 Catholic Medals for Men and Women

My first sacramental medal was a dainty crucifix on a delicate chain. This was given to as a gift to wear as I received the Sacrament of Baptism. As a result, I have worn various Catholic medals during different seasons of my life, for varying reasons. Catholics cherish these pendants because it reminds them of God's grace. These Catholic medals also serve as a visual identification of our Faith.

Catholic Medals - Gold Baptism Necklace

Any Catholic of any age can incorporate Catholic medals and pendants into daily wear, as subtle reminders of our obligation to live out our faith in every situation. There are four beloved Catholic medals, easily recognizable and traditionally loved, with rich histories.

1. The Miraculous Medal

Catholic Medals - Miraculous Medal Front
Catholic Medals - Miraculous Medal Back

Our Blessed Mother Herself designed the Miraculous Medal. Through a series of visions, the Immaculate Conception, the Miraculous Medal was shared with St. Catherine Laboure. In 1830, Our Lady shared the images with St. Catherine and detailed the symbolism behind each aspect of the design. In addition, Mary promised that great graces would be conferred upon the wearer of her Miraculous Medal. If a person remained true to their faith and consistently prayed, they would receive the promised graces.

With the approval of Holy Mother Church, the medal was produced and shared widely starting in 1832. The front shows Mary standing as Queen of Heaven and Earth, crushing the head of a serpent with her foot. Also, the words around Our Lady read: O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. On the back of the medal, there are three different symbols we will see. We see 12 stars, two hearts (the love of Jesus and Mary), and an upper-case "M" intertwined with a cross. The upper case "M" intertwined with a cross symbolizes Mary's inseparability from her Son.

2. The Crucifix Necklace

Wearing or displaying the crucifix, rather than a bare cross, is a Catholic particularity. Jesus endured suffering and death for our sake to achieve redemption for us which is the main focus that Catholic Medals have. Our wearing of the body of Christ on the cross carries heavy meaning.

Catholic Medals - Men's Pointed Crucifix

First, the physical display of the crucifix around our necks is a sign to the world that we believe in the saving power of Jesus through His death and resurrection.

Second, literally wearing the cross of Christ on our own bodies every day reminds us that we can bind our own daily sufferings, great and minor, to that ultimate suffering of our Lord and offer them as a pleasing sacrifice to God.

Finally, the presence of the crucifix prods us to clothe ourselves with Christ-like attitudes and actions, and to mirror ourselves after the suffering Savior we wear unashamedly.

There are innumerable styles from which to choose to suit your preferred look.

3. Four Way Cross Necklace (or Five-Way)

Can any Catholic medals evangelize? Four Way Crosses can! The Four Way Cross is a style, popularized in the sixteenth century. This results in the combination of five of the most beloved Catholic medals into one. Which are the following: Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Joseph, St. Christopher, the Miraculous Medal, and the Dove (Holy Spirit).

Therefore, the Four Way Cross is the perfect gift to visually teach the Catholic Faith in one simple item.

Catholic Medals - Four_Way_Medal_Front
  • TOP: At the top of the cross is the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to symbolize the endless sacrificial love Jesus has for us.
  • LEFT: The left arm of the cross contains an image of St. Joseph holding the Child Jesus, in his role as protector.
  • RIGHT: The right arm of the cross has St. Christopher carrying baby Jesus on his back, reminding us to always carry Jesus with us and also invoking the prayers of St. Christopher to protect us.
  • BOTTOM: The Miraculous Medal, situated in the middle, is the Marian portion of the cruciform, reminding us of Mary's protection of her children.
  • Star
    MIDDLE or BASE: At the base of the cruciform sits the Holy Spirit and is reminiscent of our baptism into the One True Faith.
  • Star
    BACK: Typically, the back is engraved with the message: In the event of an emergency, please call a priest. This is a vital alert which all Catholics should carry on their persons.

4. Patron Saint Medals 

Patron saint medals are special pieces of Catholic jewelry that we wear to remind us of our relationship with our heavenly friends. They to prod us to pray to ask for Saint's intercession, and to assist us in imaging how we should live in imitation of Jesus Christ.

When we recite the Apostles Creed, we attest to our belief in the "communion of saints," the mystical union of members of the Church, believers still on Earth and those who have passed onto their eternal reward. St Paul refers to a "cloud of witnesses" in Hebrews 12:1, reminding us that the saints are indeed very much alive in Jesus. In fact, many saints have been known to say that they would do more to help us when they are in heaven than when they are on Earth.

As Catholics, we honor those who have run the good race and become friends with them. We ask them to pray for us, just as we often ask friends and family to pray for us when we have a special intention.

There are patron saints for virtually every cause, every state in life, every hardship. Spend time poring over the many saints in this online catalog, learn about their biographies and heroic virtues, and make new heavenly friends!


Each of the medals we have discussed are significant in their own way and also serve as a visual identification of our Faith. Check out a few of our favorites below!


Leave a comment and tell us about your favorite Catholic Medals?

Which is your favorite to wear? We’d love to know!

What is the Purpose of the Rosary in Catholic Life?

October is the month devoted to the Holy Rosary. This is the perfect time for us to reflect upon the meaning of the Rosary and its significance in our walk of faith.

What is the Rosary

The Rosary is taken from the Latin word “rosarium” which means “crown of roses” or “garland of roses.” To us members of the Catholic Faith, the Rosary is a form of prayer that we use along with its namesake prayer beads. When referring to the prayer, the word Rosary is usually capitalized and when talking about the beads, the lower-case form is used.

According to pious tradition, the idea of the Rosary was given to Saint Dominic when the Virgin Mary appeared to him in an apparition in the year 1214. This Marian apparition is given the title of Our Lady of the Rosary. The Dominican priest and theologian Alanus de Rupe promoted the practice of the Rosary by establishing the “fifteen rosary promises” and founding several rosary confraternities. 

Devotion to the Rosary is one of the most distinguishable features of popular Catholic spirituality. The Rosary inspires us to meditate on the mysteries of the lives of Jesus and Mary. Meditation is an important of our lives as Catholics. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, meditation “engages thought, imagination, emotion and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart and strengthen our will to follow Christ.”

Praying the Rosary

The Rosary is a devotion in honor of the Virgin Mary. It is made up of a set number of prayers. At the start of the Rosary are the introductory prayers which are composed of one Apostle’s Creed, one Our Father, three Hail Mary’s and one Glory Be.


In the 16th century, Pope Pius V established the standard fifteen Mysteries of the Rosaries which are grouped into three, the Joyful Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries and the Glorious Mysteries. In 2002, Pope John Paul II added a set of five to the existing fifteen mysteries and these became known as the Luminous Mysteries. Today, the total number of mysteries is twenty. 

The Joyful Mysteries include the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38), the Visitation (Luke 1:40-56), the Nativity (Luke 2:6-20), the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:21-39), and the Finding of the child Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:41-51).

Then comes the Sorrowful Mysteries include the Agony in the Garden (Matthew 26:36-46), the Scourging (Matt. 27:26), the Crowning with Thorns (Matt. 27:29), the Carrying of the Cross (John 19:17), and the Crucifixion (Luke 23:33-46). 

The third mystery is Glorious Mysteries which are the Resurrection (Luke 24:1-12), the Ascension (Luke 24:50-51), the Descent of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4), the Assumption of Mary into heaven (Rev. 12), and her Coronation (Rev. 12:1).

The Luminous Mysteries include the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, the Wedding at Cana, Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of God, the Transfiguration and the Institution of the Eucharist.

The Rosary and Meditation

What is the Purpose of the Rosary in Catholic Life | Catholic Faith Store


All throughout the history of the Catholic Church, many popes and saints have encouraged praying the Rosary. As we begin to understand and appreciate the Rosary and pray it more frequently, we come to see the true meaning of its meditations. We begin to appreciate how its prayers are reminders not only of Mary the Mother of God but of Christ himself.

Through Mary, we are led to a closer relationship with her son, Jesus. The Rosary is an invitation for us to present our needs to God and to love Him more. When we recite the twelve prayers that form the decade of the rosary, we need to deeply reflect on the mystery associated with that decade. Simple recitation, whether vocally or in silence, is not enough because we miss the true essence of the prayers.

Praying the Rosary therefore is not just simply about reciting prayers. It involves reflecting on the grace of God. Praying is a powerful act that lets us develop and strengthen our relationship with God and the Rosary offers the same beautiful reward. By praying the Rosary, we meditate on the events in the life of Jesus Christ and this lets us know God more.

When we are unaware of the meditation aspect of the Rosary, we reduce the prayer to an empty, repetitive and meaningless gesture. In Matthew 6:7, Jesus Christ forbids us to practice prayer in meaningless and repetitive babbles. It is precisely the reflective nature of the Rosary that distinguishes it as a powerful and profound way of praying.

Rosaries are not just beads or a prayer that we recite during the month of October. Many spiritual battles have been won because of this symbolic act. Many hearts have been touched and many discouraged people have been uplifted because of the Rosary.

How do you plan to celebrate the month of Rosary? What is the significance of the Rosary in your personal life? How did it strengthen you in your walk of faith?

Which is Best, Pewter or Sterling Silver Jewelry?

Women's Sterling Silver Rosebud Triple Slide Pendant

Pewter vs. Sterling Silver

When making a jewelry purchase for yourself or as a gift you are often presented with a choice, pewter or sterling silver.  Which is best? We’ll let you decide based on your budget and your shopping preferences.

Men's Sterling Silver Pointed Edge Crucifix Pendant

Many of our pendants are available for sale in both pewter and sterling silver. They are exactly the same style but two very different metals. Let’s assume you’ve found a pendant that meets your style requirements, now you want to make sure it safe and comfortable to wear against my skin.

Take a look at the chart below for the benefits of each metal type:

Benefits

Pewter

Sterling Silver

Hypoallergenic

Nearly Hypoallergenic

Budget Friendly

Lustrous Finish

High End Appeal

Durable

Easy Care Instructions

Tarnishes

Nickel Free / Lead Free

Versatile Look

Wear it when you are sweaty

Wear it in the shower

*Made in the USA

*Note: A small percentage of our cards with pewter pendants are made in Italy.

The advantages of buying a Pewter pendant

St. Florian Pewter Medal with Prayer Card

Pewter pendants are a great metal option for those with sensitive skin. The metal is very unlikely to tarnish or corrode over time. Pewter is super budget friendly and an ideal metal for teens and young children to wear.

Pewter is very popular with “street” and casual jewelry design styles. And if those advantages weren’t enough, pewter is a no-fuss metal that doesn’t need any special caring instructions. Wear it when you like as often as you like!

The advantages of buying a Sterling Silver pendant

Women's Sterling Silver Rosebud Triple Slide Pendant

Very few will argue that sterling silver jewelry isn’t very beautiful, from its lustrous shine to its many elegant design options. This is a high-end precious metal and its price reflects it! An ideal choice for a special personal purchase or gift as it is meant to last a lifetime if care is taken when cleaning.

For jewelry care instructions see our blog:

5 Steps to Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry 

The Story of St. Teresa of Calcutta

Mother Teresa of Calcutta - The Story of St. Teresa of Calcutta - Catholic Faith Store

St. Teresa of Calcutta is well known and well loved for her burning passion for the poorest of the poor. Many admired her for her charity work and her heart for serving others. As we celebrate her feast day on September 5, let us look back to her life and her extraordinary ministry.

The Early Life of St. Teresa of Calcutta

St. Teresa of Calcutta was born on August 26, 1910 in Skopje which is now the capital of the Republic of Macedonia. The youngest child of Nikola and Drane Bojaxhiu, she was named Gonxha Agnes at birth. Her name, Gonxha, means “rosebud” or “little flower” in Albanian.

St. Teresa’s father died in 1919 when she was only 8 years old and this left their family in financial straits. Their mother raised the family in a firm yet loving household which would significantly shape St. Teresa’s outlook and, later, her vocation.

From an early age, St. Teresa became interested in the stories of missionaries and their ministry in Bengal. At 12 years old she was deeply moved to devote herself to a religious life and this conviction was later reinforced when she prayed at the shrine of the Black Madonna of Vitina-Letnice.

St. Teresa’s Life as a Teacher

St. Teresa of Calcutta joined the Sisters of Loreto at Loreto Abbey in Rathfarnham, Ireland, at the age of 18. She wanted to learn English so she could become a missionary in India as this was the language of instruction used by the Sisters of Loreto in the region. She would not see her mother and sister again.

In 1929, St. Teresa arrived in India and began her novitiate in Darjeeling, in the lower Himalayas. It was here that she learned Bengali and started teaching at St. Teresa’s School near the convent. She took her first religious vows on May 24, 1931 and chose to be named after Therese de Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries. A nun in the convent had already taken the name Therese so she chose the Spanish spelling, Teresa.

On May 14, 1937, St. Teresa took her first solemn vows. She had started teaching at Loreto Convent School in Entally in Eastern Calcutta, a vocation that would last for almost two decades.

St. Teresa loved her role as a teacher, serving with a joyful spirit, courage and unselfishness. However, she was increasingly shaken by the poverty that afflicted Calcutta. Furthermore, when the Bengal famine of 1943 broke out, she witnessed widespread death and suffering in the city.

The Call Within a Call

On September 10, 1946, St. Teresa traveled from Calcutta to Darjeeling for her yearly retreat. During the train ride, she felt a deep longing to help the poor and the needy, an experience she described as a “call within a call.” Jesus sparked a fire in her heart to help those who were less fortunate.

St. Teresa of Calcutta began her missionary work in 1948. She adopted Indian citizenship and stayed in Patna for several months. There she immersed herself in the harsh realities and undertook basic medical training at Holy Family Hospital. St. Teresa would wash the sores of sick children, care for a sick old man lying on the road and nurse a woman sick of tuberculosis and malnutrition.

Before attending to the needs of the less fortunate, St. Teresa founded a school in Motijhil, Kolkata. A group of young women would join her at the start of 1949 and she would begin the first steps in establishing a new religious community which focused in giving support to the “poorest among the poor.”

The new congregation of the Missionaries of Charity officially began in the Archdiocese of Calcutta on October 7, 1950. The congregation would, in St. Teresa’s own words, care for “the hungry, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.”

What began as a small group of only 13 members transformed into an extraordinary community. By 1997, the congregation was made up of 4,000 sisters who looked after orphanages, hospices and charity centers around the globe.

St. Teresa’s exemplary work would soon capture the attention of the world. Numerous support and recognition for her work began to pour in. She received the Indian Padmashhri Award in 1962 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. More media groups followed her activities which she humbly performed “for the glory of God and in the name of the poor.”

The Final Years of Sta. Teresa’s Life

The Story of St. Teresa of Calcutta - Catholic Faith Store

St. Teresa spent the last years of her life overseeing her society and offering support to the poor, despite suffering from severe health problems. She first offered to resign as head of the Missionaries of Charity in 1991 but the sisters of the congregation voted for her to stay and continue through a secret ballot. She accepted the privilege and resumed her duties.

She would finally resign on March 13, 1997 and died on September 5 that same year. Even though St. Teresa’s earthly journey has ended, her legacy and inspiring story continue to shine as a beacon of light even in the darkest places on earth. The government of India gave St. Teresa a state funeral and her body was buried in the Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity. Today, her resting place draws in many people of all religions, races and economic backgrounds, all of them seeking inspiration and hope in her life and story.

St. Teresa of Calcutta is a mother to the poor and an enduring symbol of compassion and inspiration in a world in need of light.


Sainthood for Mother Teresa


On September 4th, 2016, Pope Francis declared Mother Teresa a saint. In his homily, Pope Francis reminded the world of the power of her life's work “Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defense of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded.”
 
Saint Mother Teresa is the patron saint of World Youth Day, Missionaries of Charity.

How has her story touched you?

The Story of St. John Marie Vianney Patron Saint of Priests

St. John Marie Vianney - Catholic Faith Store

St. John Marie Vianney was a priest who Pope Pius X proposed as a model of parochial clergy for his extraordinary devotion and life which he committed to the church ministry. In time for his feast day, which we celebrate on August 4, let’s revisit his inspiring and thought-provoking story.

St. John Marie Vianney with rosary

The Early Life and Education of St. John Marie Vianney

St. John Marie Vianney was born on May 8, 1786 in the French town of Dardilly, France. He was the fourth child in a humble family of six children born to Matthieu Vianney and his wife, Marie. The Vianneys were devout followers of the Catholic Faith and helped the needy. Marie was responsible for leading St. Vianney into the religious life.

The turbulence of the French Revolution marked St. Vianney’s childhood. The anticlerical zeitgeist of the times made it a dangerous time for religious people and many priests were forced into hiding. They conducted their ministry in secret, risking their lives in the process. 

The Vianneys journeyed to distant farms just to attend Mass facilitated by these priests. These extraordinary circumstances and the priests’ courage deeply touched the young St. Vianney who began to look up to the priests as heroes.

St. Vianney received his first communion when he was 13 years old in a private home conducted by two nuns whose communities had been dissolved during the Revolution.

In 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte reestablished the Catholic Church in France and, at this time, Vianney wanted to pursue a religious education. His father allowed him to leave the family farm in order to study at a school for ecclesiastical students that the cure of Ecully, M. Balley, had opened.

Because the French Revolution had interrupted his early education, St. Vianney struggled in his studies especially Latin. But his deep determination to become a priest let him prevail over his difficulties.

His education was once again interrupted in 1809 when he was drafted into Napoleon’s army. Two days after St. Vianney was expected to report at Lyons, he fell ill and required medical care. He was left behind by his draft as a result of his hospitalization.

Life in the Mountains

After he was released from the hospital, St. Vianney was sent to Roanne for another draft but got left behind again when he stopped by a church to pray. At this point, he met a young man who offered to help guide him back to his group.

This meeting marked the beginning of a significant event in St. Vianney’s life when the young man led him to a group of deserters who had gathered in the village of Les Noes deep in the mountains of Le Forez. The harsh winters isolated Les Noes and this protected the deserters from surveying gendarmes.

St. Vianney lived in Les Noes for 14 months and assumed the name Jerome Vincent. As Jerome Vincent, he opened a school for the village children. On March 1810, he was able to return to Ecully and resume his ecclesiastical studies when an imperial decree granted amnesty to all deserters.

His Exemplary Priesthood

St. Vianney attended a minor seminary at Verrieres-en-Forez and was later sent to the major seminary at Lyons in 1813. He still struggled with his schooling but Abbe Balley persuaded the Vicar general that St. Vianney’s extraordinary piety made up for his limitations.

St. Vianney was finally ordained a priest on August 12, 1815 in the Couvent des Minimes de Grenoble and celebrated his first mass the very next day. He was also appointed Abbe Balley’s assistant.

When Abbe Balle passed away three years later, St. Vianney was appointed parish priest of the town of Ars. This opened his eyes to the sordid state of the community of 230 people. The spirit of the Revolution had made many people ignorant or indifferent toward religion and caused them to behave in debauched ways. People used God’s name in vain, danced and drank in taverns and worked in their fields during Sundays.

During the course of his assignment in Ars, St. Vianney strived to transform his town spiritually. He vehemently preached against blasphemy and paganic dancing and refused to give absolution to parishioners who did not obey.

It took St. Vianney 10 years to bring spiritual renewal to Ars but his perseverance resulted in greater attendance in his church and the people turning away from their vices. The town taverns started closing down and domestic quarrels became less.

St. Vianney found joy in teaching the children their catechism and taught people love for the rosary. Together with Catherine Lassagne and Benedicte Lardet, he founded La Providence, a home for girls.

Sainthood

St. John Marie Vianney Body

St. Vianney started drawing pilgrims who sought his advice. By 1855, about 20,000 people would visit him, seeking his counsel. In the last ten years of his life, he would spend 16 to 18 hours per day in the confessional.

On August 4, 1859, St. Vianney died at the age of 73. More than 6,000 people and 300 priests attended the funeral and it was presided by the bishop. He was proclaimed “venerable” by Pope Pius IX on October 3, 1874 and declared Blessed on January 1905 by Pope Pius X.

St. Vianney was canonized in 1925 by Pope Pius XI and was made the patron saint of parish priests. His feast day was added to the General Roman Calendar to be celebrated on August 9. This date was later moved to August 4, the day of his death.

The life and vocation of St. John Marie Vianney shows us the importance of our role in the spiritual transformation of our communities. St. Vianney was able to transcend over his limitations and humble beginnings to become an exemplary priest who changed his town and even the world. 


Pray to Saint John Vianney for intercessions and keep him close with one of these beautiful gifts.


Do you know an inspirational priest? 

How do they inspire you?

The Story of St. Ignatius of Loyola – Founder of the Jesuits

St Ignatius de Loyola - Catholic Faith Store

Every July 31, we commemorate the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the patron saint of the society of Jesus, soldiers, educators and education. In time for this celebration, let us look back to his story and find inspiration in it.

The Early Life of St. Ignatius De Loyola

St. Ignatius of Loyola was born Iñigo Lopez de Loyola in 1491 during the reign of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. At the time, his birthplace, the small village of Loiola, Spain, was spelled “Loyola,” hence the discrepancy in spelling.

The youngest of 13 children, Iñigo was raised in a family with strict Catholic piety but very lax morals. His mother, Marina Saenz de Licona y Balda Maria, died when he was a child and his father, Don Beltran Yañez de Oñaz y Loyola, died when he was 16 years old.

Iñigo’s chivalric yet academically limited education was meant to prepare him for a life in the service to the crown. He spent time as a page at court and lived a flamboyant lifestyle. He was a fancy dresser, dancer, womanizer and roguish swordsman who used his status to avoid being prosecuted for his misdeeds.

At the age of 18, Iñigo became a soldier and fought for the Duke of Nájera and Viceroy of Navarre.

St Ignatius of Loyola - Catholic Faith Store

Tragedy and Transformation

In 1521, Iñigo’s life was turned upside down when a cannon ball struck his legs as he was defending the town of Pamplona against French attacks. The horrific incident left one of his legs severely mangled. He underwent several painful surgical procedures supposed to save his life and possible his legs. Unfortunately, his condition worsened and doctors told him to prepare for his death.

During his difficult recuperation, Iñigo started reading whatever books he could get his hands on. Majority of the reading material he found were about Jesus Christ and the saints. What he read touched him deeply.

When Iñigo could finally walk again, he embarked on a momentous journey to Jerusalem just so he could “kiss the earth where our Lord had walked.” In the town of Montserrat, Spain, Iñigo donated his clothes to a poor man and in front of the Black Madonna in the church of the Benedictine abbey, Iñigo surrendered his sword and dagger, marking a transformative chapter in his life.

The Ministry of St. Ignatius of Loyola

St. Ignatius of Loyola hoped to live a life of service to God in the Holy Land by preaching. When this plan did not pan out, he was still determined to find a way to serve God and help souls. To prepare for his ministry, he returned to Barcelona to attend a free public grammar school. This would be his stepping stone for university.

At 38 years old, Iñigo started studying at the Collège Sainte-Barbe of the University of Paris which was the heart of the French Renaissance. He was not very fluent in Latin or French but despite his personal limitations he worked hard to learn.

At the University of Paris, Ignatius became friends with Peter Fabor, a young man from the South of France, and Francis Xavier, a nobleman from the east end of the Basque country. The group of men shared a common dream of traveling to the Holy Land. Unfortunately, this was a time of war between Venice and the Turks so the journey was extremely dangerous if not impossible.

Because they could not go to the Holy Land, the friends decided to visit Rome where they offered their lives in service to the Pope. Pope Paul III welcomed the three and approved them as an official religious order in 1540.

The Society of Jesus

Iñigo’s friends wanted him to become their first leader. At first, he declined because he believed his youth was not virtuous enough for the role and that there were others who were more qualified than him. But his friends insisted and he eventually accepted their offer.

The group called the order the Society of Jesus and at the beginning, they were mockingly called “Jesuits.” This name continues to be used today but it has lost its negative connotation because of their sincere efforts in the ministry.

The Society of Jesus is known and esteemed around the world for its contributions to education. The order reached 1,000 members and founded 35 schools before the death of St. Ignatius in 1556. The Jesuits are credited for helping stop the spread of the Protestant Reformation and were strong advocates of reason.

Sainthood and Legacy

St Ignatius of Loyola - Catholic Faith Store

Saint Ignatius died on July 31, 1556 after becoming sick with the Roman Fever, a severe form of malaria that swept through Rome. He was beatified on July 27, 1609 by Pope Paul V and canonized on March 12, 1622 by Pope Gregory XV. 

To this day, Saint Ignatius de Loyola remains an important figure both in religion and education. The Basilica of St. Ignatius Loyola, which stands next to the house where he was born, is dedicated to him. Located in Azpeitia, the Basque Country, Spain, the house has now been converted to a museum and is part of the basilica complex. The saint has also influenced many Jesuit schools and academic institutions all over the world. He is the patron saint of education, soldiers and Society of Jesus.


Take a look at these Saint Ignatius inspired gifts!


What part of the story of Saint Ignatius de Loyola touched you the most?

Which of his qualities do you admire the most?

What Does the Catholic Church Say About Gun Control?

Abortion. Euthanasia. Sacramental marriage. Artificial birth control.  

Bullets

There is no question where Holy Mother Church stands on these issues. She frequently sounds the clarion call to remind us of our moral obligations in murky, godless societies. 

But what about gun control? Is there an undeniably clear Catholic position? Does your gun control position affect your salvation?

Let's examine why this remains, for both theological and practical reasons, undefined moral ground.

1.   Mother's Wisdom

Holy Mother Church is indeed a wise Mother. Mothers who want their children to succeed do not allow their children to make their own rules; rather, they model and enforce boundaries which will allow the children to learn in a safe environment before branching out alone.

Once the children have demonstrated their ability to make wise decisions, mothers might allow children to discern the best choices for their lives, within certain bounds.

Holy Mother Church, in situations such as gun control and reasons to avoid pregnancy through Natural Family Planning (that's another blog post for another day!), also allows an individual with a properly formed conscience, to prayerfully decide what is the right choice for himself or his family.

If, as a Catholic with a well-formed conscience, you decide to own a gun for protection, sport, or hunting, you are free to do so without moral implications. If you choose otherwise, that is also an acceptable choice. Catholics of good will can (and do) disagree on this topic. What matters is intent: how do you intend to use the gun?

2.   Do Forks Make Us Fat?

Ten_Commandments_Catholic

Our most basic morality begins with the Ten Commandments we learned as we prepared for First Reconciliation and deepens from there. Number Five, 'Thou Shalt Not Kill' is, literally, written in stone.

When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, rifles, handguns, IEDs, bombs, forceps did not exist. But humans had already started killing each other (remember Cain and Abel?), with bare hands and any other primitive methods available to someone with a desire to commit murder. 

Regardless of the method, killing is wrong. If you utilize your weapon of choice in a just way (in self-defense, to save the lives of others, to hunt food), you are within the moral boundaries established by God and His Church. The fact that pre-meditated murder is always unjust does not change regardless of how it occurs. Fr. Jerry Pokorsky states:

"Those killed by a butter knife, an AK-47, or a neutron bomb are equally and indifferently dead. In each case, the resort to arms will be judged just or unjust by the same moral criterion."

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Jesus will judge whether the reason the victim died was a just one, regardless of the weapon used.

That leads us to the next logical question: if killing is wrong, regardless of how it occurs, how does this reflect on the instrument used to take the life of another human being?

Are knives evil, since they can be used to stab another person to death? 

Are ropes evil, since one could strangle another person or oneself with a length of it? 

Are handguns evil, since they could be used to shoot another person? 

Are assault rifles more evil than less powerful weapons? 

Further, Fr. Pokorsky offers this:

"Guns are not intrinsically evil. On the contrary, the Catechism teaches not just the right but the duty to use lethal force, if necessary, to defend oneself and those towards whom we have a responsibility.  The same right to life that condemns mass murder requires the use of a gun to wound or kill if necessary to save life. Keeping guns away from mass murderers is obviously a moral duty, but guns in themselves are not intrinsically evil, unlike abortion."

3.   What Do Solidarity and Subsidiarity Have to Do with Gun Control?

Soladarity

According to Catholic Social Teaching, solidarity and subsidiarity are two foundational social, cultural, and economic principles

Solidarity means that we're all in this together. We have an obligation to love and care for both our neighbors next door as well as the poor in Africa. 

Subsidiarity means that the smallest possible entity should solve problems. The federal government should not control issues that states can handle, states should not micromanage what individual communities should direct, and on down the line. 

These two principles seem contradictory; they serve to balance one another as well as the power of top institution and of individuals and families. 

How could these principles apply to the gun control debate? Solidarity may indicate that we have a duty to protect all Americans, not just our families and neighbors, and that working to pass federal and state laws to keep weapons out of the hands of those who would endanger the lives of any American ensures the common good.

The federal Gun Control Act of 1968 already prohibits the sales of firearms to the mentally ill, substance abusers, minors, criminals, yet there seem to be holes in enforcement of these laws, especially in vulnerable populations such as gun-free school zones. Subsidiarity may suggest that the lowest level of power which could effectively accomplish this goal be the one to enact these rules. 

Pope St. John Paul II elaborated on the balance between solidarity and subsidiarity:

The “principle of subsidiarity” must be respected: “A community of a higher order should not interfere with the life of a community of a lower order, taking over its functions.” In case of need it should, rather, support the smaller community and help to coordinate its activity with activities in the rest of society for the sake of the common good.

This leads to further deliberation:

  • What level of government could regulate the sales of guns most effectively without quashing the rights of those who should lawfully be able to purchase firearms? 
  • Do American society and individuals both benefit from the prohibition of the sale of certain categories of firearms? 
  • How can we exercise common sense to protect law-abiding citizens and their rights while still protecting communities from criminals and homicidal maniacs? 

4.   Is Prayer Enough?

One of the most common responses when there is another shooting is an outpouring of prayer for the victims, families, and communities affected. We as Catholics pray for recovery for the victims, eternal rest for the dead, healing and comfort for the affected families and towns. Some may ask: is prayer enough? Catholic writer Michael Sean Winters posits that we can do more than pray to prevent future man-made tragedies:

We should not jeer at the ability of prayer to ground solidarity, nor at the power of belief to, over time, heal the wounds that death inflicts. In the face of a natural disaster, there is little else we humans can do. But these mass shootings are not natural disasters, and prayer and belief, though essential, are not enough, because there is something morally bankrupt about mourning the dead, incident after incident, without also taking steps to ensure that it is harder to carry out another such attack in the future.
Police with gun

There are tangible steps that individuals, communities, and government at various levels can take to thwart large-scale shootings. Those who feel convicted to work on large-scale solutions might consider: 

  • Working to improve mental health screenings, insurance coverage, and treatments.
  • Properly enforcing of current firearm laws
  • Seeking to fortify and tighten security measures for children attending school.

Others may feel called to cultivate within their own families and circles of influence the value of natural law, non-violence, open communication to solve problems, preventing substance abuse, and sanctity of all human life.

These steps, both large- and small-scale, may work concurrently to help families send young people into the world to constructively solve personal and societal problems, effectively cutting off the weed of societal violence at its roots. 

Let's continue the discussion as Catholics of good will. 

Tell us, what are your thoughts on gun control?

Why is Prayer So Powerful?

​Channeling the Power of Prayer ...

Catholic Pop Quiz! Who said the following?

"Where I try to raise my thoughts to heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul. Love — the word — it brings nothing. I am told God lives in me — and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul."

Shockingly, Saint Teresa of Calcutta - the modern icon of self-sacrifice and devotion to Jesus and the poor – lived in a state of spiritual darkness for more than 50 years and shared these tortuous thoughts with her spiritual director in 1957.

Why did Mother Teresa persist in her many hours of scheduled daily prayer when she felt complete emptiness and isolation? For the same reasons that you and I should make prayer the anchor of our days and of our lives.


"The rosary is a sort of machine gun and atomic bomb; namely, a weapon far superior to all the weapons of modern warfare in overcoming the enemy of God." – Servant of God Joseph Kentenich

1. It's Weaponized

Satan loathes nothing more than prayer. The Power of Prayer unites us to the Father; the Devil separates us from the Father. When we pass time with God, we are actively avoiding evil. Prayer strengthens us in our daily battles against the Devil and temptation.

Our lives are one enormous spiritual war, and prayer gets us battle-ready. Through the power of prayer, we summon the Lord to our aid and prepare ourselves to overcome the onslaught of enticement the Devil reigns down on us at every turn.


"… for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses" (2 Corinthians 10:4).

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2. It's About Relationship

When you are cementing a friendship or falling in love, investing time in the relationship is the only way to get it off the ground. The same applies to getting to know God. Why would we want to spend eternity with Someone we ignored during our entire earthly lives?

"For prayer is nothing more than being on terms of friendship with God." – Saint Teresa of Calcutta

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Fr. Mike Schmitz, a dynamic, down-to-earth college chaplain with an online following through Ascension Press, shared a perfect illustration of why time with God matters. He recounted a time when his father was building a backyard shed. Instead of simply building it himself (which would undoubtedly have been easier and more efficient), he invited his six children to help him. 

This time together allowed the children to see how their beloved dad labored, allowed Dad to see his children learn and work together, and gave dad and kids the opportunity to create something meaningful together.

This example of a human father warmly inviting his children to spend time with him reminds us of our Heavenly Father always seeking and beckoning His children to spend time with Him.

3. It Increases Humility

One simple meditation to ground one's ego, shared once by a wise confessor, is:

 "God is God, and I am not."

Folded Hands Power of Prayer Pray - Rosary Faith Cross

Coming to God and kneeling at His feet brings us to a place of humility. Prayer reminds us of the Creator: creature relationship. We, as the creatures, can approach our Creator with everything. Praise, thanksgiving, needs, intercession on behalf of others.

When we consciously pause throughout the day to recognize that we are completely dependent on God for every heartbeat, each breath, the lives of our children, the food and clean water, out of His Divine Providence, the natural reaction is one of humble gratitude.

When we are the center of our own universes, our own self-importance explodes to grandiose proportions - and quickly! Prayer brings back balance.

"Prayer, humility, and charity toward all are essential in the Christian life: they are the way to holiness." – Pope Francis

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4. It Improves Focus


Facebook. Twitter. YouTube. Instagram. Texts. E-mails.

We live with unrelenting distraction which bombards our ears, eyes, brains 24-7.

If we allow it.

"Fasting detaches you from this world. Prayer reattaches you to the next world." -Venerable Fulton Sheen

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The Deceiver loves nothing more than our frenetic pace, perpetual distraction, and dopamine highs because they relegate prayer to the bottom of the barrel.  We need silence to hear God's voice speaking in our hearts, and we require quietness to wholeheartedly funnel our thoughts toward the Lord. Remember Mother Teresa's simple summation of the domino effect of silence:

"The fruit of Silence is prayer. 

The fruit of Prayer is faith.

The fruit of Faith is love.

The fruit of Love is service.

The fruit of Service is peace."

How do we attain that first step, silence, in a world that won't stop talking? Carve it out and create it. Find a time of day which is most conducive to a tiny retreat into peace and block out all electronics and distractions.

At first, it may seem disconcerting. You may feel fidgety, as though you should be doing something or looking at something. But as you build the habit, you will find yourself craving that time alone with God. A vital component of any conversation is silence. If we jabber throughout prayer, when does He have a chance to get a word in edgewise?

Be a good conversationalist and allow the Lord time and space to reply. Our Lord Himself instructs us,


"…when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret" (Matthew 6:6)

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"And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words" (Matthew 6:7)

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Robert Cardinal Sarah's compelling new book, The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise, will alert you to the internal and external noise in your life and will motivate you to gain control over your focus and your priorities.

Simply put, Jesus didn't recommend that we pray.

He didn't suggest that we pray.

He clearly instructed us to pray and even helpfully provided us the perfect prayer, the Our Father. Not only did Jesus tell us how to pray, He modeled it by living constantly in deep communication with The Father. You can take the first step to a powerful prayer life with the "Jesus prayer":

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Start now!


We think these items below are strong influences in strengthening your prayer habits.

How to Pray the Rosary Pamphlet

How to Pray the Rosary Pamphlet

Pray For Me Laminated Prayer Cards

Pray For Me Laminated Prayer Cards

Dark Cherry Wood Standing Crucifix

Standing Crucifix Dark Cherry Wood

Men's St. Benedict Black Wood Rosary

Men's St. Benedict Black Wood Rosary

How Catholics Celebrate The Feast Of The Most Precious Blood Of Jesus

Precious Blood of Christ - Catholic Faith Store
Precious Blood of Christ - Catholic Faith Store

Blood has different meanings across different cultures and religions and in the Catholic Faith, the most precious blood of Jesus is a symbol of the ultimate sacrifice. We celebrate the Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ every month of July.

What Does the Blood of Jesus Represent?

realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb. - 1 Peter 1:18-19

The blood of Jesus is mentioned many times in the Bible and it manifests in many traditions in the Catholic Faith such as in transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ during the celebration of the Eucharist. There are many symbols and meanings associated with the blood of Jesus and one of them is redemption.

We are born with a sinful nature and have fallen short of God’s holy standard. God’s holiness requires our sinful nature to be punished and this punishment comes in the form of eternal death. Nothing we can do can let us earn salvation, even if we comply with the laws of the Old Testament by making animal offerings or even the sacrifice of our own lives.

All this sounds hopeless and depressing but this only makes Jesus Christ’s sacrifice more meaningful. Jesus was sent to the cross in order to take our place. As Catholics, we therefore look upon the blood of Jesus as a symbol of our redemption from the wages of sin.

Jesus Christ came to offer us His own life, the one pure and everlasting sacrifice that can save us from damnation. His blood is powerful enough to forgive and cleanse us from sin. Blood is our life force and Jesus’ blood represents His unconditional love for us. He is giving us His essence so we can share eternity with Him and our Heavenly Father.

How Do Catholics Celebrate the Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus?

Catholic doctrine teaches us that the blood of Jesus Christ is part of His sacred humanity. His humanity and blood are worthy of our adoration because these unites Jesus with the Divine Word. We venerate the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Wounds of Our Lord for these same reasons.

Precious Blood of Christ - Catholic Faith Store
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. - Matthew 26:26-28

​Apart from being a symbol of forgiveness and our cleansing from sin, the blood of Jesus also divinized Mary, the Mother of God. Therefore, anyone who wishes to become a child of God, must also become a child of Mary by receiving the blessed Eucharist which is the body and blood of Christ.

During the month of July, we celebrate the Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus. Pope Pius IX instituted this celebration in 1849 and it has since been observed around the world for centuries. The feast day offers a great opportunity for us to reflect on what the blood of Jesus means for us in our personal lives and walk of faith.

Our sinful nature has separated us from God’s holy presence and it is only through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross that we are washed away from sin and reconciled with our Father. Through Christ, we can finally come boldly into the presence of our Almighty Father to pray and worship Him.

 

For the month of July, let us do just this and make an effort to start living our lives as though we are worshipping and giving praise to God through our every word, action and thought.


The blood of Christ is also a powerful reminder of the healing power of forgiveness. This month, let us go to confession and ask forgiveness for our sins. Let us have a repentant spirit and resolve to become better versions of ourselves. In the same way, let us also have a heart of forgiveness. Just as God forgave us unconditionally for our transgressions, we must also let go of any resentments and vindictive feelings that we have toward anyone.

How do you plan to celebrate the feast of the most precious blood of Jesus this month?

Behind the Scenes of History at the Vatican – Hereford Cathedral Choir Perform at Papal Mass

​First Anglican choir to sing at Papal Mass in 500 Years

​Pope Francis' ecumenical program of outreach to encourage church diversity has included an invitation to Hereford Cathedral Choir to make history by being the first Anglican choir to sing at a Papal Mass since the English Reformation in the 16th century.  The choir performed alongside the choir of the Sistene Chapel at Saint Peter's Basilica on June 27th, 2018.  The event is part of the ​program leading up to the Holy Mass held on June 29th, 2018 for the feast day of Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul.  The Holy Mass ​was one of the biggest events of the year at the Vatican and the choir also performed there in Saint Peter's Square.

​We're extremely fortunate to have a behind the scenes look through amazing photographs taken by Tenor Choral Scholar Mark Murphy Laseter, who has kindly given us permission to profile them. Mark will shortly be moving on to study for his Masters in Sacred Music at the University of Notre Dame.

Hereford Cathedral Choir and the Sistene Chapel Choir

​A truly historic occasion for both choirs

​Breathtaking majesty of the Vatican

​Orderly prayerful line waiting to ​go into St. Peter's square

​Michelangelo's famous paintings on the ceiling of the Sistene Chapel

Hereford Cathedral Choir at the Vatican

​Members of Hereford Cathedral Choir at the Vatican

​Cardinals ​making their way to the Chapel

Mark Murphy Laseter Saint Peters Square

​Mark's selfie!

Hereford Choir Member Running Late

Member of Hereford Cathedral Choir running a little late!

Choral Procession

​Choir heading to the Holy Mass

​His Holiness Pope Francis

​Mark was fortunate enough to capture wonderful photographs of His Holiness Pope Francis before he led the Holy Mass at Saint Peter's Square, The Vatican.

Pope Francis arrives for Mass of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

Pope Francis arrives for Holy Mass

​The embrace of mutual friendship and respect

​Holy Mass of Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul

​You can ​watch the entire Holy Mass in Saint Peter's square for the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul held on June 29th, 2018, courtesy of the Vatican.

​The transcript of the homily of His Holiness Pope Francis at the Holy Mass and Blessing of the Sacred Pallium for the New Metropolitan Archbishops on the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles​.

View homily

​Do you agree with Pope Francis in reaching out to other denominations and inviting them to participate in Holy Mass?


​All photographs reproduced by kind permission of Mark Murphy Laseter.

​Statement by Hereford Cathedral - Official Hereford Cathedral visit statement and Choir Perform For The Pope

​News article by BBC News - BBC News report about Hereford Cathedral Choir visit to Rome

What is the Bread of Life?

Communion Bread Wine

Bread. We live for bread. We pine for it, especially if we are deprived of it. Have you ever been on a low-carb diet? Or perhaps you avoid gluten. The cravings for bread can feel intense. Bread, in some form or fashion, is a staple of virtually every culture, and has been since antiquity. Ovens unearthed almost 2000 years after Mt. Vesuvius destroyed Pompeii contained loaves of carbonized bread, the staple of the ancient Roman diet.  It was the sustenance of the Jewish people, hungry in the desert as they fled from Egypt in Old Testament accounts.

What food did Almighty God provide for them every morning? Bread.

What did Christ multiply for the hungry crowds who had gathered to hear Him teach? Bread.

Jesus's Shocking Truth - Bread is the Staple of Life

Following the multiplication of the loaves and fishes in the Gospel of John is one of the most flabbergasting passages in the Bible, especially when studied through the eyes of a first century Jew. The Gospels portray Jesus as a pull-no-punches straight shooter, and His use of the phrase "Amen, amen" is always a red flag to carefully heed the Truth He is about to reveal. Jesus, preaching in a synagogue, makes a jaw-dropping claim, choosing this basic staple of life - bread - to demonstrate how He nourishes us for eternity:

Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?”

Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.  This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” 

These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?"

Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you?" (John 6:47-61)

Bishop Robert Barron and others, when commenting on this discourse, have highlighted that the original Greek word used for "eat" in the passage literally means "gnaw," so the Jews listening to Jesus make this claim were likely rather revolted.

Why? Isn't Jesus just speaking metaphorically?

No. The Jewish audience clearly understood that Jesus's words were 100% literal. He wasn't employing allegory, metaphor, or spiritual symbolism. He unabashedly meant that they must gnaw on His flesh to have life within them. The Jews in the synagogue at that moment - Scriptural experts and followers of Jesus - understood the implications of His words and rejected this teaching as too difficult to accept.

As St. John Chrysostom (Doctor of the Eucharist) reminds us, "You may not doubt the truth of this; you must rather accept the Savior's words in faith; since He is truth, He does not tell lies."

Words Matter

Consider the exegesis of these Church Fathers on the transubstantiation from bread to Body:

Transubstantiation
  • St. Cyril of Jerusalem: "Now that you have had this teaching and are imbued with surest belief that what seems to be bread is not bread, though it has the taste, but Christ's body, and what seems to be wine is not wine, even if it appears so to the taste, but Christ's blood."
  • St. Cyril of Alexandria: "He used a demonstrative mode of speech, `This is my body' and 'This is my blood,' to prevent your thinking that what is seen is a figure; on the contrary what has truly been offered is transformed in a hidden way by the all-powerful God into Christ's body and blood. When we have become partakers of Christ's body and blood, we receive the living giving, sanctifying power of Christ."
  • St. Cyril of Jerusalem: "Since Christ Himself has said, 'This is My Body,' who shall dare to doubt that It is His Body?"

When the Lord speaks, it is different from when you or I speak. We may not always tell the truth. We may not always select the right words for the situation. Our words lack Divine power.

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But when words pour forth from the lips of Jesus, they ARE Truth.

They are the PERFECT words.

They ARE power.

As Catholics, we, like the first century Jews, wholly believe Jesus when He said: This is My Body. This is My Blood. Simply by uttering the words, Jesus makes it so. Only God Himself can transform the substance of simple bread into His very Body. Only God can transfer that authority down through each of His priests so that He can feed us 2000 years later.

Jesus requires us to celebrate and re-present His sacrifice as often as possible in this unbloodied form so that He can feed us throughout time ("Do this in memory of Me."). Jesus did not mean to feed his Apostles only once at the Last Supper, but desires to satisfy our eternal craving with His Body, from generation to generation.

Jesus expressed His deep longing to feed the physically hungry in His midst with simple bread while He walked the earth, but even deeper is His desire to continually feed our souls and His Church and to save us through true Communion with Him: consuming and becoming one with Him through the Bread of Life.

Are you aware of the power of the Holy Eucharist? How do you feel when Jesus says to you “whoever eats this bread will live forever;”?


These gifts serve as a wonderful reminder of the beauty of the Holy Eucharist.

Saint Josemaria Escriva and Opus Dei

Holiness Through Ordinary Life

st josemaria escriva

Rinsing dinner plates. Helping your children understand decimals and fractions.  Cooking a pot roast for a homebound neighbor.  Slogging away at the office computer from 9-5 every day. 

Do you ever feel as though the tasks are unending?  Are you on auto-pilot? Is there a sense that your contributions to this world are unnoticed and worthless in the grand scheme of things?

Saint Josemaria Escriva will upend and uplift your perspective on daily life, all the while staying right in the life you have right now.

The Life of Saint Josemaria Escriva

Josemaria was a bright, hard-working little boy with a sunny disposition. His home life was bustling and joyful, with five siblings and happy, faithful Catholic parents. His life shifted suddenly when his three sisters all died at a young age and his family, suffering financial hardship from the father's job less, needed to move to a different town in Spain to find work.

Josemaria Escriva Medal

Interactions with discalced Carmelites in his new town attuned him to the voice of God asking him in his heart what sacrifices he could make.  Despite his suffering, he maintained the buoyant attitude and industriousness which had made him successful as a young boy, and he applied these gifts to his studies in the seminary and in law school. 

"Understand this well: there is something holy, something divine in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it." -Saint Josemaria Escriva

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As he walked his path to heaven, Josemaria felt the Lord strongly directing him toward encouraging sanctity in everyone, in his or her own state in life. Like another modern saint, St. Teresa of Calcutta, who advocated 'Doing small things with great love,' Fr. Escriva also promoted the perspective that each one of us, regardless of our vocation, can devote our daily duties and sufferings to God, and that is each person's conduit to holiness. We can't get to heaven by following the path laid out for someone else; we must walk – no, embrace! – the path put before us by the Lord. 

Work of God

Opus Dei expansion map

In a dedicated effort to promote this newfound ministry, Josemaria Escriva began an organization for laity and priests formally entitled Personal Prelature of the Holy Cross but commonly known as Opus Dei (Latin for 'Work of God'). The mission of Opus Dei was the same in 1928 as it is today: to establish Christian values in the secular world. 

The organization had expanded to 80 countries by the time St. Josemaria died in 1975 and has reached 90,000 members today, a tribute to the desire of people to live their Catholic faith fully intertwined with every aspect of their lives. The Opus Dei website describes what it means to strive for sanctity through one's daily work:

It means working like Jesus Christ – working hard and well, honestly, and fairly, in order to love and serve God and other people. People who do that are making their work holy and helping to sanctify the world from the inside. They are making the Gospel present in all their activities, whether brilliant or humble and hidden. In God’s eyes, what matters is the love people put into their work, not its success in terms of money or fame.

Virtues Embodied by Our Saint

Saint Josemaria

St. Josemaria Escriva, like all of our beloved saints, is an exemplar of many of the virtues we aim to perfect in our own lives. A model of joyfulness, determination, vision, and faith, he embodied the true gladness that comes from living the Gospel. St. Josemaria nurtured his own interior life by spending a tremendous amount of time with the Blessed Sacrament and sought the guidance from our Lord in those precious hours. Despite a life filled with painful loss and many roadblocks in his way, our saint persevered through his own shortcomings in following the path he had discerned was his path to heaven. 

"A saint is a sinner who keeps on trying.” - Saint Josemaria Escriva

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Notable leaders must have clear vision, and as founder and leader of this worldwide spiritual organization, St. Josemaria exercised his charisma and energy for God's glory, building this movement one person at a time. 

How Can You Sanctify Your Life?

St. Josemaria and Opus Dei have one goal: to help you become a saint. 

Not through missionary trips halfway across the world. Not through massive charitable donations and selling the clothes off your children's backs. Not through quitting your day job to become a hermit. 

He calls you to unite your interior life with your secular life, to break down the wall between your daily tasks and your prayer life. There is an appealing practicality to this approach. 

Many busy mothers, for example, bemoan the fact that caring for many small children leaves little time to go on retreats, to spend time at Adoration, to attend prayer groups at their parishes. But sensible St. Josemaria would encourage (as his was a ministry of encouragement, to quote an Opus Dei priest, Rev. Msgr. Peter Elliott) those hardworking women to find God in their kitchens, in their neighborhood nature walks with their little ones, in their gardening. 

"Great holiness consists in carrying out the little duties of each moment." - Saint Josemaria Escriva

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God does not require us to abandon our work or our families to find Him; rather, we find Him in the MIDST of work and family. St. Paul exhorts us to 'Pray without ceasing,' and St. Josemaria offers us a way to pragmatically find a way to do just that as we fulfill our quotidian tasks. 

Comment on this post by sharing with others your seemingly mundane tasks that turn into moments of holiness. Is it when you garden, wash the dishes, walk the dog?

Seek Him in the simplest of things!


These products will serve as daily reminders to uplift your perspective on daily life:

Saint Josemaria Escriva Medal

Saint Josemaria Escriva Rosary Heirloom Squared Crucifix

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