Practical and Spiritual Survival Guide for Coronavirus

In times like the Coronavirus pandemic, where the majority of the world is affected, we need a practical and spiritual guide to search and find solace with.

The COVID-19 pandemic has filled our lives with a growing list of unknowns: How long with the pandemic last? Will I get sick? Will one of my loved ones get infected? Will I lose my job? When will I be able to go back to work, see my relatives, and resume my daily activities? Living in a time of uncertainty is a scary place to be, and can leave you feeling out of control, hopeless and helpless.

During these trying times, however, it’s important to remember that it’s possible to find comfort in a world that feels so uncertain. We share our practical and spiritual tips on ways to cope not only during the current coronavirus pandemic, but in other difficult and unpredictable times.

​Acceptance

Although easier said than done, learning to accept that you can’t control every situation in your life is a crucial step to navigating these (and other) uncertain times. Replace negative thoughts such as, “I can’t stand not being absolutely sure” or “I’m not going to be happy until I have the answers,” with realistic thoughts such as, “uncertainty is less than ideal, but I can accept it and tolerate it until this period of time passes.” Learning to accept uncertainty will not make your need for certainty disappear, but it will save you time and energy when you let go of trying to control the uncontrollable.

Instead of focusing on what you can’t do or don’t know, focus on what you can do and what you do know, which leads us to our next step.

Focus on what you can control

Although life as we know it has been temporarily turned upside down, try to focus on the aspects of your daily routine that you can still follow — or adapt your regular routine to fit your current situation. This includes working remotely from your home office (if possible); staying active by going for a run in your neighborhood or exercising in the comforts of your home; and creating — and sticking to — daily routines for your family by scheduling blocks of time for different activities (school activities or educational time, hobbies, play time, family activities, meals and bedtimes).

Don’t forget to pray!

Teach your children how to pray the rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and other Catholic prayers.

Take advantage of this time at home to finally try that hobby you've wanted to explore, or tackle a project you never seem to have time for. Staying busy by accomplishing tasks such as organizing closets or your basement can be rewarding, while diverting your attention from anxious thoughts.

Focus on the near-term

Most important, focus on what you can do over the course of each 24 hours, rather than worrying about how you’ll get through tomorrow, the next day and the next month. As Matthew 6:25-34 says, “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they ... Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan or think ahead; Do your part to provide for your family and yourself and let God do His part. Anxiety over tomorrow’s concerns will only rob you of the strength for today. God is in control and in charge. The Bible tells us to Trust Him to provide for all our needs — and now is the time to do exactly that.

Avoid information overload

While it may be tempting to watch, read or listen to as much news on the pandemic as possible, mental health experts warn that this can keep us in an escalated state of anxiety. There’s a difference between being informed and being overwhelmed with information.  

Pick a few trusted sources of information and set aside specific times when you're going to tune in (i.e., half an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening)

Stay Connected

It’s important to realize that social distancing does not have to mean social isolation. Thanks to communication tools like Skype and smartphone apps like Facetime, there are a lot of ways to stay in touch with family and friends without having to leave your home. Even just a simple phone call can lift spirits.

Fork in the Road

Although you can’t control everything that happens in your life, you can control how you react. When times get tough, you have the opportunity to choose to either focus on the difficulties and negatives or to focus on the positives and potential. Turn this challenging, but temporary time, into an opportunity to discover your new strengths. Face each day with gratitude, to create the opportunity for the best thinking, actions and results to emerge.    

According to Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach, a recognized leader in entrepreneurial coaching, “Your body’s muscles always get stronger from working against resistance. The same is true for the ‘muscles’ in your mind, your spirit and your character.” Focus on everything you’re grateful for, communicate this, and open yourself each day to the best possible consequences.

Hold on tight to the word of God

As many Catholics find themselves unable to attend mass due to the coronavirus pandemic, bishops around the country are encouraging the faithful to participate in televised and livestreamed masses. The Church encourages frequent, even daily, Holy Communion, but if at any time we cannot go to Mass (such as during an illness or this mandated time of social distancing), we can still unite ourselves to the Eucharist by making an Act of Spiritual Communion.

By making an act of spiritual communion, you’re asking God in to come into your heart spiritually and to continue to fill you with the grace that you need to be sustained, even though you can’t receive Him in sacramental Communion.

Spiritual Communion Prayer

My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.

​Verses of the Bible

Finally, whenever your feel powerless in the face of this pandemic, place your trust in the one who is all-powerful and all-knowing — God. Find comfort and reassurance in the words and verses of the Bible; His words are soothing to our soul, calming to our spirits and give power to our days.

Here are a few examples of Bible verses to reflect on whenever you’re feeling afraid or lost — not only during this pandemic but during any difficult time in your life:

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

"Tell everyone who is discouraged, be strong and don't be afraid! God is coming to your rescue..." (Isaiah 35:4)

Who is the patron saint of pandemics? It may not be who you think…

Saint Roch heals the animals - Church of San Rocco, Venice - by Il Tintoretto

​During times of pandemics we turn to who is the patron saint of pandemics for protection and spiritual guidance to help see us through.  Many, incorrectly, attribute this to be Saint Corona but in fact he is Saint Roch, or San Rocco in Italian.

Saint Roch heals the animals - Church of San Rocco, Venice - by Il Tintoretto

​Saint Roch heals the animals by Il Tintoretto in San Rocco Church, Venice

​Who is Saint Roch?

It is said that St. Roch was born about 1295, at Montpellier, France, along the Mediterranean Sea. His birth was said to be a miracle, as his mother as not able to bear a child for years.

He was born with a birthmark on his chest that was a red cross, which grew in size as he did. His father held a position of power and influence in the city as its governor. After the death of his parents, when he was about twenty years of age, the young Roch had no inclination to take his father’s position, but handed over the position to his uncle. He then distributed his wealth to the poor and set out on a medicant pilgrimage to Rome. At that time, many people in Italy were afflicted with an epidemic of the plague, and the young Roch devoted his time, energy and prayers to the care of those in the hospitals who had been infected.

Wherever he went, the plague disappeared before him, due to the fact that God gave him the power of working miracles on behalf of those who were suffering from the terrible disease, by prayer, the sign of the cross and the touch of his hand.

While ministering to the sick in Piacenza, he contracted the sickness himself, from which he was expelled from the city and withdrew to the forest. He would have died, except that a dog belonging to a nobleman brought him bread and licked his wounds. Roch eventually felt better and traveled northern Italy for a few years.

Upon returning to his place of birth, Montpellier, he was cast into prison as a spy by his uncle and died there, five years later, in the year 1327, without ever being known.

When his identity became known from some papers, written in gold and left on him by an angel, he was given a public funeral, which was the occasion of numerous miracles. The relics of St. Roch are venerated at Venice, and the Church has established an arch-confraternity in his house.

His feast day is celebrated on the 16th of August.

Feast Day: August 16
Name Meaning: The Rock
Patron Saint of: Pandemics, Skin Disease, Plague, Cholera, Invalids

​(biography information from W.J. Hirten, 2020)

​How do you​ invoke Saint Roch's intercession?

​We call on Saint Roch to intercede for us in times of pandemic.  We need his protection and spiritual guidance to see us collectively through the difficulties caused by these.

​Prayer to Saint Roch

O Great Saint Roch, Deliver us
we pray to you, from the
afflictions of this earth;
through your intercession
preserve our bodies
from contagious diseases,
and our soul from
the contagion of sin.
Obtain for us the purest of air;
but, above all, purity of heart,
assist us to make good use
of health, to bear suffering
with patience; and, after your
example, to live in the practice
of penance and charity, that
we may one day enjoy the
happiness which you have
earned by your virtues.

Copyright: W.J. Hirten 2020

​How can I invoke Saint Roch's Intercession?

​It should go without saying that praying to Saint Roch, who is the patron saint of pandemics, is the best way to call on him to intercede.  Either with the prayer above or any other that you may have.  When such pandemics arise the virus or bacteria gets a foothold and multiplies raising the need for increased prayer.  We can do this individually of course, but sometimes we need the power of the many, so the more people who pray for his intercession the better the strength to overcome the pandemic will be.

​Having a pendant and a prayer card always close will allow you to pray to Saint Roch many times a day, such as this one.

Saint Roch Prayer Card with Pendant

Corona Virus Prayer

Praying Against Corona Virus

​Let us pray together so that we may beat this scourge that is upon us:

Heavenly Father,
We are living in a time of uncertainty and fear.
In our search for answers and reassurance, we are often left with more questions and greater anxiety.
As we navigate this challenging time, it is easy to give into worry and fear, yet our faith reminds us that You are always with us, and You will never abandon us.
We ask that You provide us with the peace and calm we are seeking.
Protect us from this virus — especially those who are most vulnerable — and help to heal all those who are ill.
Protect and guide all the medical personnel who are faced with the tremendous task of tending to the sick.
We also pray that You provide the scientists and researchers with the knowledge, insight and skills they need to find effective treatments and to create vaccines to prevent future illnesses.
Amen.

In the days and weeks ahead, let us find comfort in the reassuring words of the Bible: “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

​Pray to the following saints for their intercession during this pandemic:

  • St. Roch (patron saint of epidemics)
  • St. Rosalia (rescued the city of Sicily in Italy from a deadly plague in 1625)
  • Fourteen Holy Helpers (a group of 14 saints who came to be invoked by European Catholics in the 14th century against the deadly plague also called “The Black Death”)
  • St. Edmund (patron saint for victims of pandemics)
  • Saint Jude (patron saint of desperate cases)
  • St. Luke the Evangelist (patron saint of physicians)

Why is Jujube Wood Important? and what does Jesus have to do with it?

Jujube - Crown of Thorns
The Crowning of Jesus

"And twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, 'Hail, King of the Jews!” (Matthew 27:29).  

In addition to the cross, one of the central images of Jesus’ suffering is the Crown of Thorns that He wore during His crucifixion.

The act of placing the crown on Jesus’ head by Roman soldiers was meant to humiliate Him and to mock Him for being the Son of God and “King of the Jews”. They took a symbol of royalty and respect, a crown, and turned it into something painful and demeaning.

Historians and archeologists have discovered that the Crown of Thorns was made from branches of the Ziziphus spina-christi tree, commonly known as Christ's Thorn Jujube. Throughout time, the jujube tree and items made from jujube wood have been associated with the Crown of Thorns and the Crucifixion of Christ. As a result, many faithful Catholics choose to wear catholic jewelry such as bracelets made from jujube wood or to pray the rosary on rosary beads made from this ancient wood.

Taking a Closer Look at the Symbolism of the Crown of Thorns

Throughout Scripture, thorns symbolize sin as well as the consequence of sin. The association of sin and thorns was introduced right at the beginning of the Bible in the book of Genesis. When God originally created the Garden of Eden, it was a perfect place where plants produced their fruit easily and there were no thorns or weeds. The garden was a place of peace and harmony, one to be enjoyed by Adam and Eve, provided they followed His one command: to not eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil; If they did, they would die. Tempted by the devil, Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command and did exactly what they were instructed not to do. As a result, God cursed the land: 

“So I will put a curse on the ground…The ground will produce thorns and weeds for you, and you will eat the plants of the field” (Genesis 3:17-18).

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By choosing to disobey God’s command, some of the fuller consequences and effects of their sin were witnessed over time. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The harmony in which they (Adam and Eve) had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed…the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will "return to the ground," for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.” After that first sin, the world was virtually inundated by sin and death, starting with Cain killing his brother, Abel.  

But God is merciful, and as John 3:17 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

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Christ Wearing the Crown of Thorns Supported by Angels

It is no coincidence that Jesus, on his way to his crucifixion, wore the very thorns (sins) created by human original sin. What better symbol than a Crown of Thorns to represent what Jesus was about to accomplish? Christ, in His selfless sacrifice, was willing to undergo every human suffering, right up to the final agony of death to accomplish victory over sin and death — not for Him (He did not need saving) but for us!

A Resilient, Steadfast Tree

The jujube tree has edible fruits and a number of beneficial uses; For centuries, the heavy, durable wood has been used for construction and furniture making, while the branches and trunk are used as firewood and high-quality charcoal. Fruits, leaves, roots and bark have also been used in folk medicine.

This multi-use Jujube tree has another impressive quality — it is remarkably resilient. Israeli scientists note that the Ziziphus spina-christi tree’s hardiness makes it able to withstand rising temperatures and dryness. It can draw water from deep underground, and it retains the ability to photosynthesize (the process by which green plants and certain other organisms transform light energy into chemical energy) even when exposed to high temperatures and solar radiation. According to researchers, it is one of the very few species that can be planted on the barren slopes around Jerusalem that have nothing on them – and thrive. Even in the worst conditions, the tree’s strength and hardiness provides sustenance to bees and insects and can help support life in areas threatened by dryness and oppressive heat.

Jujube Fruit
Jujube Tree with Christ's Thorns

Isn’t it interesting that the properties and characteristics of this tree bear a striking similarity to the message of Christ and the hope of the Catholic faith? Even in the worst conditions, Jesus’ strength and love provides sustenance to us and can help support areas of our life threatened by pain, suffering and uncertainty.

Jesus fought and won the battle against sin and death for us, literally shedding, blood, sweat and tears in the process. He paved the way for us, and although we, too, will face many thorns in this life, if we remain steadfast in our faith and hope in Jesus, we will one day enjoy a perfect place where there are no thorns or weeds.

Where is the Original Crown of Thorns?

Crown of Thorns at Notre Dame Cathedral

The images and videos of the 2019 Notre Dame Cathedral fire was a devastating sight to see. In addition to destroying the more than 800-year-old building, the fire threatened to destroy the irreplaceable collection of artifacts and cultural items inside — including the Crown of Thorns. Fortunately, this precious relic was saved by quick-thinking and fast-acting heroes, led by Father Jean-Marc Fournier, chaplain of the Paris Fire Department. The crown was obtained and brought to Paris in the 13th century by King Louis IX, who was later canonized as Saint Louis.


Whenever you are mocked or ridiculed (whether for your faith or for any number of reasons), are tired, weary or keep falling from the weight of your personal crosses, let your bracelet or rosary crafted from this special Jujube wood remind you of the message of Jesus’ Crown of Thorns.

References

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
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