Friday, December 12, 2008

Catholic Christmas Traditions: The Nativity Set and "Little" Sacrifices

Any day of the Advent or Christmas season is a good time to share with children the story of St. Francis of Assisi and the first Nativity set. St. Francis of Assisi assembled the first “living” Nativity scene on Christmas Eve, gathering together some animals in a creche and telling those who assembled the story of Jesus' humble birth - God's own example of humility. The saint did this in order to incite holy devotion to God. Those who anticipated the Messiah never expected that the King of Kings would be born in a palace. Rather, He confounded man’s wisdom by being born in an obscure stable - and that one solitary act possesses many lessons to teach us!

Even small children can daily prepare their hearts for Jesus by learning how to make small sacrifices throughout Advent, then from Christmas or the Epiphany righton through “Candlemas” (February 2, the traditional liturgical closing of the Christmas season). Parents might encourage older children let sacrifices be known only to God in a uniqueway – through a special use of the family Nativity set.

We parents might start by explaining to small children (older ones, too!) that they will be responsible for “upkeeping” the stable for the Infant Jesus by doing what God expects from all of us - good deeds, done for love of Him. Set the stable up but keep it empty of all figures except the empty creche (if the family Nativity set has a small statue of the Infant Jesus on the manger, cover it with a few pieces of cotton balls). Next to the stable, keep a small, unbreakable covered container in which are placed pieces of straw, about 4 inches in length (in the city, small bags of straw are available at craft shops).
For each sacrifice (a good deed), each child may add a single piece of straw the stable or on top of the Christ Child's manger (already covered with cotton). Some families may start this tradition at the very beginning of Advent, and others begin on Christmas Day itself, adding the “sacrificial straw” each day in order to protect the Holy Infant. This latter practice is also a good reminder that the true Christmas season begins on December 25!

To cultivate the practice of "little sacrifices," one fairly simple idea sets the tone for each day. Every morning, the parents call all the children to join them as they all start the day. Together, the family prays the Morning Offering, and then each members places a,single piece of straw on the little manger.

Do this every day for a few weeks and a good habit is either formed or further grounded in the family - the Morning Offering!

We can also explain to the children that together, the whole family is going to practice sacrifices by offering them silently to God. (This is something we should do every day, but especially we should make this a constant practice during Advent and Lent.) Some ideas of sacrifices include keeping quiet when someone else murmurs against them and offering our hurt feelings in sacrifice for the conversion of sinners, not complaining when asked to do anything but responding quickly and cheerfully, speaking kindly when tempted to do otherwise, and so on.

Parents may wish to remind the children that this “placing of the straw” is a private matter between God and them, and they should try their best not to make their visit to the crib a “public matter” for everyone else to see. The act of keeping private any good action cultivates the virtue of humility (love of poverty of spirit), training each of us do everything - from making the bed to feeding the cat or the dog or the bird, to washing the dishes or the clothes, shovelling the snow, putting up with a miserable cold without complaint, etc. - solely for the love of Jesus.

Also, parents may wish to quietly pull a child aside who did something kind and yet didn’t remember to visit the Nativity set. This is only right for, just as parents must correct their children, they must encourage them in virtue. A child who hasn’t had the best day may realize on his own that he didn’t have“anything” to offer the Baby Jesus. This is the time when parents might look for “a little good” the child did well that day, help the little child (one who has not yet reached the age of reason but is growing close to it) to pray an Act of Contrition. Always encourage the child to start anew, asking for Our Lady's help. The offering of even little things is consistent with the Church’s teachings, training the little ones for future fidelity in "daily duty" as Catholics.

Another idea: Moving the Nativity set figures closer to their final destination is another activity children will enjoy. Perhaps each child can have his own little unbreakable set in his room. Each day, the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, as well as the shepherds and kings, all travelling from a great distance, inch their way to the stable at Bethlehem. Of course, Our Lady and St. Joseph are in the stable by Christmas Eve. By this time, the creche is hopefully heaped with straw, ready for the Christ Child. When the Christ Child is finally uncovered, the the shepherds arrive soon afterward. The Wise men are the last to arrive - on January 6, the Epiphany.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Homeschooling through the Holidays - with KIC!

Here's a great Christmas gift that lasts through the year! And it's a wonderful way to keep the teens going with Catholic homeschooling - throughout Advent, again as you "start up" in the New Year, and right through the late spring!

Now, when you order KIC's DIGITAL "The Age of Mary Guides," you will receive the FIRST TWO Guides (almost 30 weeks of lesson plans alone!) within 24 hours of your order and email confirmation! The cost is the same - anywhere in the world - and there are no shipping charges because the Guides come to you via digital delivery!

These digital Guides are "the ultimate" Catholic "unit studies" for teens. Your teens can get all of "The Age of Mary" lessons done, with the help of your home computer and the included, pre-screened Internet links! "The Age of Mary" syllabi include Religion, History/Geography, English (Literature, Composition, and/or Poetry), and Science - with each subject "connected" to each other AND the central theme.

What's the central theme? The Marian apparitions found worthy of belief since 1830, beginning with Our Lady of Paris (the Medal of the Immaculate Conception). All the other subjects circle around it, explaining why Our Lady has appeared so often in "the Modern Age."

You have NEVER seen a thoroughly Catholic curriculum like this one! [And it's available only through KIC!] "The Age of Mary Guides" mean neither 'easy-peas-y' homeschooling nor do they mean struggling on a daily basis! Your high school teens or older children will look forward to their Catholic homeschooling because they'll use the computer every day. "The Age of Mary Guides" include colorful syllabi, SCREENED links to other websites, and give your teens great practice with basic computer skills and writing (ok, typing)! You'll love the Catholic syllabi and the incredible convenience!

To see three web pages of previews of the first "Age of Mary Guide," please see the following links:

The Age of Mary - Preview Page One

The Age of Mary - Preview Page Two

The Age of Mary - Preview Page Three

After you confirm your order via our private list, you'll receive the first Guide within 24 hours. You'll ALSO receive the download information for the second Guide (Our Lady of LaSalette, plus the Holy Face devotion), which is available in a Windows ebook (Windows XP recommended, not Vista! At this time, KIC cannot guarantee the ebook will work in the new Vista environment.). Nothing else is needed because the Catholic "unit study" is in the software; the only thing required for the software is a Windows (up to Windows XP) operating system and Internet Explorer (5.5 or better).

----Give yourself and your children a Catholic Christmas gift for the home computer that perks up everyone, gives you peace of mind, AND ensures a Catholic education - at home!

---All digital Guides are in full color, with Catholic graphics, carefully screened links, and lots of interesting lesson ideas!

Remember, the preview of the FIRST "Age of Mary" Guide starts here: preview1.html

And please don't forget: When you order "The Age of Mary" today, you'll quickly receive TWO digital Guides... and have the older kids and teens happily homeschooling - on the home computer, under your careful eye - RIGHT AWAY!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Catholic Christmas Traditions: The First Advent Weeks

To quote the angel messenger who announced the birth of Christ to the shepherds, “Fear not…for I bring you good tidings of great joy.”

Christmas is neither about the feeling of growing excitement (spurred on by the hustle and bustle of gift shopping) nor is it, as we hear often these days, “a day that is really for kids.”

It is not about sipping egg nog in front of a crackling fire or listening to tinkling silver bells or fluffy snow. All these things are fine and may have their place as we remember the home joys of Christmas past, but none of them are the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas is a mystery, the day God was born in a cave of Bethlehem in Judea, amidst the poor, the the humble and the lowly. It was the beginning of the Passion and Redemption, when the holy Infant humbled Himself from the very first days of His earthly life, He who came to sanctify us and to die on a Cross for us…a day which has held faithful Christians in awe for centuries.

Christmas is truly a promise of the Redemption.

Advent prepares us for the great Feast of the Nativity (Christmas). Like Easter, the liturgical season of Christmas continues for many weeks after Christmas Day. During Advent, many Catholic families find additional ways to celebrate St. Nicholas Day (December 6), the Immaculate Conception (a holy day of obligation, traditionally celebrated on December 8), Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12), Saint Lucia (December 13), St. John of the Cross (December 14) and other special days throughout the Advent and Christmas season – all to bring to mind the “reason for the season” - and which often become favorite family traditions.

Of the various saint’s days celebrated in December, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8 is the most important, as it is directly tied to the coming of the Savior. To share insights into the holy day of Christmas, parents often explain to their children the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which affirms God’s revelation that the Virgin Mary was conceived without sin, a singular grace accorded her by God.

Christians know why the Virgin Mother of God was given this great privilege, so they understand how it ties into the Christmas season. To state this mystery in very simple terms, the Virgin Mary was immaculately conceived because She was chosen to be Christ's Mother. She was not simply a "vehicle," but "the woman" prophesied by God in Genesis 3:15. Like the first Eve, Our Lady was created without stain of sin from the very first instant of her life. Like the first Eve, who became "the mother of all the living," the second Eve - Our Lady - who forever retained Her first innocence, also became "the mother of all the living." In the order of grace, the Virgin Mary became the spiritual mother of all the living (those who are in the state of grace, and are not "dead in sin") because She is the Mother of God.
Our Lady is the Immaculate Conception. Especially during this week of Advent, we can recall (and discuss with our children) the papally defined dogma of 1854, when the Church solemnly defined the dogma that the Virgin Mary was immaculately conceived. It turn, this can lead to the story of St. Bernadette and the apparitions at Lourdes in 1858, wherein Heaven affirmed the dogma - for at Lourdes Our Lady identified herself with these simple but profound words: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

On this Feast day, some families create a “Christ Candle” which is on display throughout the entire Christmas season of Advent. The Christ Candle is usually a large white pillar candle to which, at the candle's base, a small figure of the Infant Jesus is attached with hot-glue. Throughout Advent, the candle is used to honor the Virgin Mary, Christ's first Tabernacle, by attaching with elastic a sparkling piece of fabric, either white or blue (Our Lady's colors). The fabric, gathered like an apron to cover the figure of the Christ Child throughout Advent, is then removed on Christmas Eve after midnight Mass or early on Christmas morning. It remains in a place of honor and, to preserve it from burning away too quickly, it is lit only on Christmas Day, the Feast of the Epiphany (Jan. 6), and on Candlemas (Feb. 2).

On December 12, Our Lady of Guadalupe, a bouquet of roses placed near the Nativity scene or on the family's home altar would not be remiss, because miraculous roses (miraculous because they bloomed in December) played the key role to a miracle we can still see today - the very Image of Our Lady of St. Juan Diego's tilma. The Immaculate Conception, who appeared to Juan Diago, placed the miraculous roses into the tilma, arranging them carefully. She told Juan to bring the roses to the bishop. When the roses later spilled from the tilma in the bishop's presence, the inexplicable Image was revealed for the first time.

All through this season of Advent - a special season of prayer and penance - let's recall the Catholic Christmas traditions and rekindle them in our own hearts and homes.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Twelve Days of Christmas: A Catholic "Legend"

The days seems to be running past so quickly! The first week of Advent is almost over, yesterday was a First Friday, today is a First Saturday, and this Monday is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation!

As we consider all that the Season of Advent means, we should not forget the fidelity and good example of those who came before us. Back in 1999, an old friend shared this interesting "legend" about the origins of (and the symbolism in) the very old song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas":

From 1558 until 1829 Roman Catholics in England were not allowed to practice their faith openly. During that era someone wrote "The Twelve Days of Christmas" as a kind of secret catechism that could be sung in public without the risk of persecution. (Added Note: There are slight variations about the symbolism of the song; here is one I think most likely. - MCB)

The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ and His Virgin Mother.

The two turtledoves are the Old and New Testaments.

Three French hens stand for faith, hope and charity.

The four calling birds are the four Gospels.

The five golden rings recall five decades of a Rosary.

The six geese-a-laying stand for the six days of creation.

Seven swans-a-swimming represent the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The eight maids-a-milking are the eight beatitudes.

Nine ladies dancing represent the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.

The ten lords-a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.

Eleven pipers piping stand for the eleven faithful Apostles.

Twelve drummers symbolize the twelve points of belief in the Apostles Creed.

As my friend said then, "We might want to commit this to memory for the days and years ahead."

A blessed Advent to one and all!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Catholic Christmas Traditions Rekindled! (A Round Robin for Catholic Blogs)

Keeping It Catholic (KIC) has initated our Catholic Christmas Traditions Rekindled! (A Round Robin for Catholic Blogs)! It informally began back in 1999, with KIC list members sharing Christmas traditions on our email list. In this, our 12th year on the Net, we renew it and extend the invitation to all Catholic visitors, blog-owners and websites (with appropriate content, of course) so we may encourage each other to "Keep It Catholic at Christmas" and throughout the true Christmas season, which ends February 2. And KIC is sharing "theme" ideas for those who join our "round robin"!

So - please join our Catholic Christmas Traditions Rekindled! (A Round-Robin for Catholic Blogs) Share with us your family's Catholic Christmas Traditions for our 'ongoing' 2008-early 2009 KEEPING IT CATHOLIC AT CHRISTMAS digital newsletter, which will be freely sent throughout the entire traditional Christmas season to our entire Keeping It Catholic Email List and also posted here on Keeping It Catholic - the Blog!

---If you're a blog or list reader, just email me with your traditions and I'll be happy to add them to the Keeping It Catholic at Christmas installments at the appropriate time.

---If you're a Catholic blog-writer and would like to join, please create a section on your blog called Catholic Christmas Traditions Rekindled! (This is where you'll list other Catholic blogs who belong to our Round Robin). List Keeping It Catholic - the Blog! and keep it at the top of your list. Also copy and paste this page (along with this page's link) so others will know about and join. Then email me about your posts that match our following themes. Your blog must, of course, be faithfully Catholic, with no inappropriate content. If your blog fits the requirements, the the KIC Blog will link back to you!

The upcoming themes and deadline dates (listed below) are for email submissions to our bi-weekly "Keeping it Catholic at Christmas" digital installments. Catholic blog owners who join Catholic Christmas Traditions Rekindled will find it helpful as they write articles for collective "Round Robin" themes! (Of course, the deadline dates for submissions don't apply for Catholic blog writers who will simply alert me by email about their new articles so I can list them on this blog.)

Deadline Date for the 1st (Email) Installment:
Today through Monday, December 15, 2008 - Share Catholic traditions about the Season of Advent (the season of the "absence of Jesus," of anticipation, abstinence and penance, as we spiritually prepare anew for the coming of Jesus, the Light of the World), "Christmastide" which begins Christmas Eve (Vigil of the Nativity), Midnight Mass, Feast of the Nativity (Christmas, holy day of obligation); Traditional recipes for early Christmas morning "breaking-the-fast" recipes; St. Stephan (first Catholic martyr, December 26); St. John the Beloved Apostle (December 27), the Holy Innocents (December 28); St. Thomas of Canterbury, Bishop and Martyr (December 29), Eve of the Nativity Octave (December 31), Octave of the Nativity (January 1, holy day of obligation) and The Epiphany of Our Lord (January 6). Installment is set for digital publication during the December 20-21 weekend.

Deadline Date for 2nd (Email) Installment:
From December 16th through Monday, December 29, 2008 - Share more Catholic traditions about the Epiphany, the "ferial" days, the Feast of the Holy Family (first Sunday after the Epiphany) and the Baptism of the Lord (January 13), and the end of Christmastide (8 days after the Epiphany). The first few weeks of January are usually a quiet month in which many people feel "let down" after the holidays. In reality, these quieter days are perfect for prayer, spiritual reading and meditation because Jesus is the reason for every season - and the Christmas season is still in effect all through January and early February! Installment is set for digital publication during the January 3-4 weekend.

Deadline Date for 3rd (Email) Installment:
From December 30 through Monday, January 5, 2009 - The perfect time to share traditions about the last few weeks of the Christmas season, which concludes with Candlemas (Purification of the Virgin and The Presentation of the Christ Child in the Temple) on February 2nd. Themes are Christ the Light of the World, a revelation to the Gentiles, the glory of His people, Israel and the the humble obedience of the Virgin Mother of God. Installment is set for digital publication during the January 17-18 weekend.

Deadline Date for 4th (Email) Installment:

From Epiphany through Monday, January 19, 2009 - A last chance to share Candlemas traditions - as well as Church traditions for Septuagesima and Lent (this year, Ash Wednesday falls on February 25)! Theme: Glory, Praise and Honor to Thee, O Christ the King! Installment is set for digital publication during the January 31st-February 1 weekend.


Privately email me to share your CATHOLIC family Christmas traditions, according to the deadline dates and themes listed above. Unless you request otherwise, I'll include your name with your anecdote (which can be brief or long, your choice!). If you prefer a first name and last initial, that's fine, too. (No anonymous submissions please. They will not be published.) In general, our first theme might be summed up as follows:

- Beautiful tips for the holy, penitential and anticipatory season of Advent, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, January 1st

- Fast and abstinence recipes (and for those of you who have KIC's "Keepsake Collection of Recipes," our downloadable ebook, don't forget to check "Keepsake" to further assist you!)

-'Breaking the fast' on Christmas Day recipes

- How you "Keep Christ in Christmas" during the entire liturgical season (for example, did you know that - in the centuries-old liturgical calendar - the Christmas season ends on Candlemas, the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary, on February 2? That is exactly "40 days" from Christmas Day! Sadly, cutting short the Holy Season of Christmas is one of the innovations of our own era).

- Anything else appropriate for the Catholic category of "Keeping Christ in Christmas."

Some examples from past submissions:

-One that comes to mind is the family that bakes a Christmas "birthday" cake for the Baby Jesus, singing a birthday song to the Infant Jesus - all before opening presents on Christmas day.

-Another is the family who always covers the creche with cotton and straw, uncovering it when the family returns from Christmas Eve Midnight Mass. (That's what we've always done, too!)

-Yet another couple said they give their children a specific number of gifts per season - three, to be exact, as Jesus Himself received three gifts from the Wisemen.

-Another celebrates St. Nicholas Day in early December; for those with an Italian background, they celebrate the day of "la Befana" on the Epiphany. (My dad, now passed from this world 36 years ago, told me about "le Befana.")

As you can see, sharing your tradition needn't be a long letter (if that sort of thing inhibits your from writing!)...just a few lines to share what you do to "Keep Christ in Christmas." Of course, longer submissions are very welcome!

Remember: Our goal is to encourage each other to "Keep it Catholic at Christmas"!

A most blessed Advent to you and yours,
Marianna Bartold, Keeping It Catholic

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Catholic Christmas Traditions: Symbolism of the Advent Wreath

The Advent wreath, with its evergreen boughs and four candles, is often seen in Catholic homes and parishes. It symbolizes the centuries in which the world, overcome by darkness, waited for the coming of Christ.

Twined into a circle, the evergreen bough made into a wreath symbolizes God (the Alpha and the Omega, the first beginning and the last end) . The evergreen is chosen as the base because God is the foundation of all good; the evergreen, by its very name, also represents God's faithfulness to His promise to Adam and Eve (known as the protoevangelium, it is found in Genesis 3:15).

Together, the four candles in the wreath help us recall the 4,000 years that mankind hoped, prayed and waited for the Messiah.

The first candle in the wreath recalls Adam and Eve and the fall of mankind, and the protoevangelium.

The second candle brings to mind Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah's First Coming and His Passion.

The third candle represents St. John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ.

The fourth candle symbolizes the Virgin Mary, also prophesied by God in the protoevangelium, who brought Christ into the world.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Post-Election: Children of the Light

The presidential election is over. As we continue to pray and work for the future of this nation and the world, realizing afresh that Heaven still awaits the Collegial Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, may we all be reminded of the following counsel of the Church, given to us, Her children, for our instruction and sanctification:

"Certainly there is the greatest need now of such valiant soldiers of Christ who will work with all their strength to keep the human family safe from the dire ruin into which it would be plunged were the teachings of the Gospel to be flouted, and that order of things permitted to prevail which tramples underfoot no less the laws of nature than those of God. The Church of Christ, built upon an unshakable rock, has nothing to fear for herself, as she knows for a certainty that the gates of hell shall never prevail against her..."

"Venerable Brethren and Beloved Sons, let us not permit the children of this world to appear wiser in their generation than we who by the Divine Goodness are the children of the light. We find them, indeed, selecting and training with the greatest shrewdness alert and resolute devotees who spread their errors ever wider day by day through all classes of men and in every part of the world. And whenever they undertake to attack the Church of Christ more violently, We see them put aside their internal quarrels, assembling in fully harmony in a single battle line with a completely united effort, and work to achieve their common purpose."

"Surely there is not one that does not know how many and how great are the works that the tireless zeal of Catholics is striving everywhere to carry out, both for social and economic welfare as well as in the fields of education and religion. But this admirable and unremitting activity not infrequently shows less effectiveness because of the dispersion of its energies in too many different directions. Therefore, let all men of good will stand united, all who under the Shepherds of the Church wish to fight this good and peaceful battle of Christ; and under the leadership and teaching guidance of the Church let all strive according to the talent, powers, and position of each to contribute something to the Christian reconstruction of human society which Leo XIII inaugurated through his immortal Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, seeking not themselves and their own interests, but those of Jesus Christ, not trying to press at all costs their own counsels, but ready to sacrifice them, however excellent, if the greater common good should seem to require it, so that in all and above all Christ may reign, Christ may command to Whom be "honor and glory and dominion forever and ever." (1)

To all men and women of good will: Is the time not overdue for we, who are children of the Light, to put aside our internal differences, assemble in full harmony in a single battle line with a completely united effort, and work together to achieve one common purpose? Please join us in praying and sacrificing for the Collegial Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary!
At Fatima, what Our Lady asked the faithful to do was very simple:
-To pray the Rosary every day and make all we do a sacrifice for the conversion of sinners. (At this point in history, it is not remiss to remember that, as we pray the Rosary, our first petition should always be the Collegial Consecration.)
-To practice the Five First Saturday devotions, in reparation to Immaculate Heart of Mary.
-To stop offending the Lord our God, for He is already deeply offended.
-Our Lady showed by Her actions that the faithful should wear the Scapular of Mt. Carmel and live chastely, according to our state in life. (The Scapular of Mt Carmel is commonly known as the Brown Scapular; the person wearing it should either be enrolled in the Brown Scapular Confraternity by a priest or else have the Scapular blessed by a priest.)
Finally, although the following devotion was not explicitly mentioned by Our Lady of Fatima, we can also practice the Nine First Fridays in reparation to the Sacred Heart (a devotion asked by Our Lord through St. Margaret Mary.)

(1) Pope Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno (Reconstruction of the Social Order, May 15, 1931): para. 144, 146-147

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Thousand Souls: St. Gertrude's Prayer

In the Church, November is especially dedicated to suffrages made on behalf of the poor souls in Purgatory. The most efficacious prayer, of course, is that of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, followed by the daily Rosary.

Still, there are other sacrifices we can also offer. One prayer, most commonly called "St. Gertrude's Prayer," was dictated by Our Lord to St. Gertrude the Great, a Benedictine cloistered nun and a mystic. In the twelfth century, the Lord told the Saint that this prayer (approved and recommended by M. Cardinal Pahiarca of Lisbon, Portugal on March 4, 1936) releases 1,000 Souls from Purgatory each time it is offered.

"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen."

Isn't it a most wonderful prayer to add to the conclusion of our family Rosaries? It is true that the Rosary itself is such a powerful prayer to the Holy Trinity, that by itself it can empty Purgatory. Yet making use of the St. Gertrude Prayer also helps us further develop a holy compassion for the poor souls, who always await our spiritual assistance. Furthermore, it is such a brief prayer that we can offer it many times throughout the day. At whatever time we pray it, whether during the day or at the beginning or end of our Rosaries, we should never forget: For each person who prays the St. Gertrude Prayer just once, there are 1,000 souls released from the fires of Purgatory into the glories of Heaven. Why not offer it at least five times in succession, in honor of Christ's Holy Wounds, every day? Each member of the family who does so will daily assist five thousand souls.

St. Gertrude's life was the mystic life of the Cloister – a Benedictine nun. She meditated on the Passion of Christ, which many times brought a flood of tears to her eyes. She did many penances and Our Lord appeared to her many times. She had a tender love for the Blessed Virgin and was very devoted to the suffering souls in Purgatory. She died in 1334. Her feast day is November 16th. (From Prayer of St. Gertrude the Great)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Out of the Depths: De Profundis

Out of the depths have I cried to Thee, O Lord...

This one line, which comes from the prayer De Profundis, played an important part in the movie, The Sixth Sense. De Profundis (Psalm 129) is the prayer of the holy souls in Purgatory, which we may also pray for them, especially when attending at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass or at the end of our daily Rosary. In Latin, the Psalm begins De Profundis clamavi ad te, Domine (Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord). It is also a prayer of hope and repentance which we may offer in thanksgiving after a sincere Confession. "We have committed sins; we confess we have sinned. But God grants pardon to him who repents." (Roman Catholic Daily Missal, 1962) Finally, De Profundus was also a prophecy of the coming Messiah ("His word"), who offers us His mercy and "plentiful redemption."

De Profundis

Out of the depths have I cried to Thee, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice.

Let Thine ears by attentive to the voice of my supplication.

If Thou, O Lord, shalt observe iniquities; Lord, who shall endure it?

For with Thee there is merciful forgiveness, and by reason of Thy law
I have waited for Thee, O Lord.

My soul hath relied on His word; my soul hath hoped in the Lord.

From the morning watch even until night
Let Israel hope in the Lord.

For with the Lord there is mercy,
and with Him plentiful redemption.

And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

V. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
R. And let the perpetual light shine upon them.
V. May they rest in peace.
R. Amen.

Let us pray: - O God, the Giver of Pardon and Lover of man's salvation, we beseech Thee in Thy mercy to grant our brethren, kinsfolk, and benefactors who have passed out of this life may, by the intercession of the blessed Mary every Virgin and of all Thy Saints, partake of everlasting bliss. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Viva La Vida - What Does the Song Really Say?

Viva La Vida, by “alternative rock” band Coldplay, is gaining loads of attention these days. One has to admit the musical score is ethereal and surreal, but the haunting lyrics are somewhat of a mystery. Some call Viva la Vida (and other songs on the album, entitled Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends) contradictory. If I may, I would suggest that ambiguous is a more accurate description. Lead singer Chris Martin was quoted as saying just this past spring of 2008, “We're slightly terrified about this record, because we've thrown away all our tricks. The truth is, we tried to find new ones.” Viva la Vida’s theme, however, is clear: Revolution.

The Sum is the Whole of Its Parts
Viva La Vida’s album title, its front cover, the baffling lyrics, and the imagery in the band’s two music videos specifically point to the French Revolution of 1789 and its 'second rising' in 1830. But consider: Why a Spanish title for a song sung in English about the French Revolution - or to clarify, a song about the philosophies that brought the woefully and deceptively misnamed "Enlightenment"? In the end, we have another part as we work together the sum, but it is ambiguous, too.

What is the meaning of Viva La Vida? In Spanish, the word viva means life. The word vida has a few more definitions: life, a lifetime or a life span, a biography of a life, or a livelihood (the way one makes a living). Thus the title Viva La Vida possesses various meanings: “Live the Life,” “Live the Lifetime,” “Live the Way of Life” or “Live the Lifestyle.” It could also suggest the biography of an unnamed individual’s life or the history of a ‘way of life.” Of course, the album’s unusual title about life and death is yet another hint that this song (and others on the album) is definitely about Revolution, which certainly brings “Death and All His Friends.”

The Title.- Viva la Vida takes its name from a painting by Frida Kahlo, the acclaimed 20th century Mexican artist.” (See Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends ) Objectively speaking, the reference to the female painter Frida Kahlo, while an illuminating clue, is not an inspiring one. Kahlo’s life began three years after the "birth" of the Mexican Revolution - another revolution in which faithful Catholics, priests and laity alike, were pitilessly martyred. However, she publicly stated that she was born in the very year the Revolution began – thus purposely identifying herself with the ideology of Revolution. Due to a congenital birth defect and the life-long effects of a terrible auto accident, her life was full of deep pain, misery and stress. None of these things should be airily dismissed, for they were tragic and deserving of compassion. What is even more tragic is the evidence that Kahlo’s great sufferings did not sanctify her. Instead, she chose to “Live a Way of Life” (and perhaps found a way to end it), which in many points reflected the spiritual and temporal disorder of the ongoing “Revolution.”

The Album’s Front Cover. - While Viva la Vida may take its name from one of Kahlo’s paintings, the album’s front cover is a reproduction of pro-Revolutionary Eugène Delacroix’s 1830 painting, Liberty Leading the People. [For a brief history of the painting and its meaning, please see this entry.] The woman in the painting is the allegorical Marianne, a female personification and a sensible (meaning “understood by one of the five senses”) symbol of the French Revolution. She carries the bright tricolor (red, white and blue) flag of Revolution as she mercilessly steps upon the bodies of the dead. Consider, then, the mammoth hint made by Coldplay in choosing Liberty as Viva La Vida’s album cover, splashing the words across Marianne, and adding small white flecks (rose petals?) that float on the wind. (We'll return to the rose theme later.)

The Videos and the Lyrics:
“Now the Old King is Dead; Long Live the King!” (Viva la Roix!)

Too, Viva La Vida’s first official music video features 'smudged' sections of the Liberty painting, which serves as the band’s predominantly black and red background (although there are splashes of gold or white). At times, the painting moves behind the band like a passing landscape. (If one watches closely, a few figures within it are digitally transformed just before they are gone from sight.) Incidentally, Liberty plays a much more obvious role in the Viva La Vida’s alternative video, in which Chris Martin (the lead singer) carries around a framed copy of this same painting.

Again, the lyrics and the two videos’ mysterious traces are obviously intended to hold a dual-interpretation (in other words, the song is purposefully ambiguous and left up to the individual’s interpretation). The first video has lead singer Martin dressed in a way open to interpretation (the white shirt with the red "V," covered by a jacket, and the thin ropes around his wrists). On the other hand, Viva La Vida’s alternative video leaves little doubt as to who or what the lead singer intends to portray, because Martin is clad as a king.

The Who and the What. - In an exclusive sense, Viva La Vida strongly indicates it is a "collage" of two monarchs: the Catholic, French King Louis XVI (portrait to the left), who in 1793 was martyred at the guillotine, and his much later successor, the “Citizen-King” Louis Philippe (who reigned as “king of the French” from 1830-1848). Louis Philippe was the eldest son of the murdered King Louis XV’s traitorous cousin, the Duke of Orleans (who, after contributing to his cousin's fate by beheading, would later suffer the same fate). Spanning the years 1793-1830, France saw a series of rulers, including two of Louis XVI's relatives (an uncle and a brother), and Napoleon I, self-crowned Emperor. In 1830 (the same year of the Liberty painting), France endured an insurrection, Charles X (brother to the deceased Louis XVI) abdicated the throne and his nephew Louis Philippe took it. (It was also the year in which the Virgin Mary appeared in Paris to St. Catherine Laboure.) During the European Revolts of 1848, France (and many other countries, most of them Catholic) again underwent yet another Revolution. This time, it was Louis Philippe who abdicated (in favor of his grandson). Louise Phillippe then fled to England, where he died two years later, in 1850.

That the “Citizen King” of France died in England may also explain why Coldplay - a British brand – selected him, if not his predecessor, for their Death and All His Friends theme, and that is only if such was their intent. That Louis Philippe died in their home country suggests, however, that it is not necessarily he who is personified in the lyrics, "I sweep the streets alone/Sweep the streets I used to own." (Is it some spirit, either of a person or an idea, that sweeps the streets?)

As for Louis Philippe's predecessor, I do not refer to Charles X, brother of King Louis XVI, for he was not dead when Louis Philippe took the throne. Much less do I mean Louis XVIII (another brother of the deceased king) or Napoleon I, who was an outright usurper of the throne who, in any case, doesn't fit most of the song lyrics. However, those particular lyrics could be personifications of all those rulers - most of them legitimate heirs to the throne, with the exclusion of Napoleon - but to whom do they best apply?

If one is familiar with history, the answer is King Louis XVI, who was in robust health during most of his life. If he and his little son (not to mention Queen Marie Antoinette, who was the youngest daughter of the Emperor and a Hapsburg!) had not been murdered by the Revolutionaries, there is good reason to believe Louis' normal life span would have allowed him the time to right many wrongs, as he was already trying to do. Had he died a natural death, his son the Dauphin (Louis XVII) would have ascended the throne; it would never have passed to the one who was called the “Citizen King.” Thus the line "The Old King is dead; Long live the King!" may be referring to King Louis XVI and his legitimate successors by right of birth, down to Louis Philippe, in contrast to the "new king of the world," which is the spirit behind all Revolution.

Extending this theme to its reasonable conclusion, the song might also be a political vagary about monarchy itself, if not monarchy versus a republic. (After all, a monarchical or a 'republican' government means “Living a Way of Life” – Viva La Vida! - for both the monarchs and the people or the leaders and the people). This possibility only brings forth yet more questions: Is Viva La Vida’s duality an expression of sympathy – an “Ode to the Most Christian Monarch Louis XVI,” as it were - as well as a rather obscure bit of revolutionist poetry in the form of a song, a sentimental “Prose to Louis Philippe”? Is it a protest about the successive tragedies due to the French Revolution - or is it a rallying cry for the continuing Revolt? Or is Coldplay sympathetic to the Revolution’s victims but thinks such deaths are a terrible necessary? Or again, is it some vague sentiment expressing their own confusion about one form of order vs. chaos?

In a broader sense, the first "official" music video Viva La Vida momentarily hints at other manifestations of Revolution. Throughout the initial video, and again at its end, all of the band members are seen in costume. The dress of the first two musicians are cast in deep shadow and therefore difficult to ascertain with certainty, but the third band member is attired in the Union uniform of the Civil War (The War Between the States). That Coldplay chose to symbolize the United States' Civil War as another symbol of Revolution is startling in itself, but it is appropriate if they are implying a statement about republics. In Violet Hill, another song on the same album, the band members dress in the same outfits. Another ambiguous Coldplay song, Violet Hill comes from the soldier’s viewpoint, but what he is really saying is again left to the listener’s point of view.)

Catching Coldplay’s New “Tricks.” - To those who choose to watch both videos, may I first call your attention to the artistic symbolism and themes found within the first one? (I trust the second “alternative” video is a bit clearer in meaning. That is why I will not comment on it for now except to ask – is Martin, as ‘king,’ supposed to be standing at the gates of Petit Trianon?). Also, before sharing both videos with you (links provided within this post, since Youtube has removed the embedding option of the first "official" video), please allow me to identify all the individuals: They are Chris Martin (lead singer) and his band mates Jonny Buckland (guitarist), Guy Berryman (bassist) and Will Champion (drummer). Finally, before viewing either or both of the videos, please be aware that there is a conclusion to this article – found (obviously) at the very end. ;)

In the first video, available at Youtube, please watch for the following:

- The main background colors which come from the Liberty painting – predominantly black and red – are of war, revolt and bloodshed. One will notice that in almost all scenes with Martin, there is a large area of red behind him. The overload of red comes from the tri-color flag seen in the Liberty painting.

- A red V on the side of Martin’s white shirt which seems to be "painted" (it is my understanding that Martin began displaying this red “V” during Coldplay’s live shows on the Viva la Vida tour). Does it symbolize V as in Victory (and whose victory?) or V as in the Vendee, the western region of France peopled mostly by the every-day working-class, all Catholics faithful to ‘altar and throne.’ Almost all of them were brutally murdered - including babies and children - by the “Blues” of the French Revolution.)

- The outline of a bayonet in the background (this comes from the painting Liberty)

- A small white cross in a white cloud (behind and to the right of guitarist Buckland). One does not see a cross in Liberty.

- An arch with a bell, and a close up of a bell being struck. The bell is likely the symbol for both the French Revolution’s and the American Revolution’s cry of “Liberty,” which was redefined in practice to mean “license.” (Yes, there is a difference between liberty and license!) Neither is a bell nor an arch found in Liberty.

- The Revolution’s tri-color emblem on the right arm of lead singer Chris Martin's jacket. It can also be barely seen on the right arm of another band member. The tri-color flag is carried by "Marianne" in the Liberty painting.

- What appear to be thin ropes of leather tied around the lead singer’s wrists. If (and only if) Martin intended to portray the martyred monarch, the thin ropes might represent King Louis XVI’s imprisonment before he was ruthlessly murdered by the Revolutionaries’ ever-thirsty Madame Guillotine. (Moments before he was beheaded, King Louis XVI's hands were bound - after he had already ascended the scaffold. The king at first resisted, for an honorable knight would never "run in terror from the face of death," as Elena Marie Vidal describes the scene in her book, Trianon. But the good and faithful priest accompanying the king urged him to consider it his last humiliation, suffered in union with the Passion of Christ, Who was bound to a pillar before the Scourging. At this holy remembrance, the martyr submitted, saying, "You are right. Nothing less than His example should make me submit to such a degradation.")

- How lead singer Martin somehow seems to be singing toward the heavens, and other times bows his head. In one brief segment, he seems to be stumbling, as though he is standing on uneven ground – or being toppled. In another quick scene, his head hangs and his arms are out, bent down at the elbow - like a limp puppet on a string. Immediately following, his hands are up as if in supplication during the line, “Oh, who would ever want to be king?” At another time, when he is facing to the right, he crosses his hands across his chest - a traditional posture often seen in paintings of saints in communion with God. Near the end of the video, his hands are momentarily placed together as if in prayer. These brief scenes can only bring the pious King Louis XVI to mind; most certainly, they cannot refer to Napoleon or the Citizen King Louis Philippe.

- Other images that look like hearts, scrolls, tubing, and somewhat hazy figures. If the viewer carefully pays attention to the right side of the video, one will eventually see repeated and “muted” images of a red heart. There is even a heart with flames coming from its top (this heart is seen in the close-up of the singer’s palm facing the screen). In Catholic symbolism, this flaming heart represents the Sacred Heart of Jesus, burning with love.

- The cloud interludes. In the 2nd cloud shot, there appears to be a figure standing within it but it is hazy and very muted. In another sequence, this figure (not the cloud) appears in the upper right hand corner, with white rays falling downward.

- A red cross on a white background (in the upper left corner). A red cross on white was undoubtedly a part of the Sacred Heart of Jesus “badge” – to even wear it in the years of the French Revolution meant condemnation by “Death and All His Friends.” The actual badge was a red heart symbol (with a cross on top of it). Unfortunately, the Revolutionaries would eventually employ the image of a heart (without the cross) in their personification of the “new” (anti-Christian) republic of France.

- The video’s very end, in which each of the band members are briefly viewed, representing some aspect of Revolution; the first (the drummer) is all in black, his collar turned up. His right arm also bears a badge, but only bits of red and white can be seen. His arms are down and his hands are crossed over each other. His outfit can barely be seen, but his face turns to the viewer’s left, attracting the viewer’s eye to floating objects drifting by. The second member (the bass player) is seen in a flash but it seems to be the Confederate uniform (U.S. Civil War). The third one (guitarist) is wearing the Union uniform and cap. Last seen is Martin, who reaches out, as if trying not to be pulled away (perhaps by the “wicked and wild wind”) as the small red flecks float adrift.

- The floating red flecks, which seem to be very tiny rose petals. (Consider the opening segment in which a larger rose slowly comes into view). The symbol of a rose is supposed to be a tribute from Coldplay to another British band, Depeche Mode and their song “Enjoy the Silence.” The cover for Depeche Mode's single release (as well as the album Violator in which it was featured) bears a single rose. The rose, in Depeche Mode’s view, is an allusion to the controversial (and rightly so) historical romance, “The Rose of Versailles,” set during the French Revolution. Above and beyond all that, however, the red rose is universally known as the symbol of triumphant love. That the petals of triumphant love (of which the highest form is love of God) are blowing in the wind is a message in itself.

- The rose, as it was symbolically used by these two bands, is purposely intended to direct attention to the history of the French Revolution. [See Enjoy the Silence ] The problem is - do either the songwriters or the listeners know the whole truth of that tragic history, much less the insubordinate philosophies against God that led to it?

Now for the Viva La Vida lyrics:

I used to rule the world/Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sweep alone/Sweep the streets I used to own

I used to roll the dice/Feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing/ “Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!”

One minute I held the key/Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand/Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand

I hear Jerusalem’s bells a’ringing/Roman Calvary choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword, my shield/My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can’t explain/I know St. Peter will call my name
Never an honor word/But that was when I ruled the world

It was a wicked and wild wind/Blew down the doors to let me in
Shattered windows and the sounds of drums/People couldn’t believe what I had become

Revolutionaries wait/For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string/Oh, who would ever want to be king?

[REFRAIN repeats]

A CLOSER LOOK at the Lyrics: Certainly some (but not all) of the lines suggest King Louis XVI, the Catholic king of France. For example:

In the refrain, "Jerusalem's bells a'ringing" could mean the king - thinking of Our Lord, who died on Golgotha (the place of the skull) in Jerusalem - could foresee his own approaching death by unjust political manuevering.

"Roman Calvary choirs a'singing" might imply soldiers of Christ (the Church Militant) who were praying with and for him, but - even more fittingly - they may suggest angels (St. Michael is often depicted in artwork as a Roman soldier; he is prince of the heavenly host - the 'choirs' of heaven who sing before the throne of God.)

---In the first verse, "Missionaries in a foreign field" bring to mind the many Catholic religious orders of France, which brought the Gospel and the sacraments to other countries.

"For some reason I can't explain/I know St. Peter will call my name" expresses the virtue of the true Christian's hope - and King Louis XVI was a Catholic above all else.

"Never an honest word" is another great mystery, for the words don't make clear who never gave an honest word. The words cannot apply to the martyred King Louis XVI, but they would fit the lies of the Revolutionaries who brought about the death of the king and thousands of others.

---The lines of the next stanza, however, could be personifications of both the good king and his legitimate successors (from the family line). Revolution is indeed a wicked and wild wind; it eventually "let in" the tyrant Napoleon, as well as a descendant of the traitorous ancestor, Citizen King Louis Philippe.

Shattered windows and the sounds of drums denote the crowds who besieged King Louis' palace, attempting to kill him and the Royal Family - but they also apply to Louis Philippe, for there had been many attempts on his life.

Revolutionaries wait/for my head on a silver plate clearly point to Louis XVI, beheaded for anti-religious and political reasons (like St. John the Baptist). King Louis XVI was a scapegoat, a figure-head for all that the Revolutionaries hated, treated with the same contempt and brutality as Christ the King: People couldn't believe what I had become. And so it goes..

Still, the question remains: What does the song Viva La Vida really say? Only Coldplay knows for sure - or do they? Perhaps some Muse inspired Martin (the songwriter, as well as lead singer) with a message he himself cannot fully understand. Otherwise, why the refusal to to outrightly declare the intent? Is the band trying to tell youth that the continuing Revolution is the cause of their plight - or egging them to carry its bloody red banner? Is their seeming sympathy for some former way of life a ruse or the real deal? Or is the song Viva La Vida about Martin's own searching for God in all the wrong places? He has, after all, made confusing remarks about religion, all which indicate the real reason for his lyrical laments.

In the meantime, as we consider the Revolutionaries' cries of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity and what those terms really meant, might we also consider the observations of Yves Dupont, who studied prophesy for at least 30 years, and authored many works, including Catholic Prophecy?

“The Reformation in the 16th century, the so-called Age of Enlightenment in the 18th, and the rise of democracy in the 20th were all predicted and called ‘deadly errors.’ The Enlightenment, as a matter of fact, was described as the beginning of an age of spiritual darkness; this is self-evident today. The rise of popular power [sometimes call 'the Fourth Estate' in the prophecies] was defined as being against the natural order willed by God, and it was said that it would end in chaos, anarchy, and bloodshed. We are fast approaching that stage; there is now throughout the world a general revolt against authority that leaves little doubt to the outcome."

"Thus," he continued, "what the vast majority of people today regard as their most cherished values [were] denounced as errors. It is quite possible that many of us have been so influenced by modern ideas that we may find it difficult to accept what these prophecies say. But this is another question, for the prophecies do not ask for our assent; they simply warn us and describe events which, once they have come to pass, will force our assent. Yes, we are free to reject the prophecies, but we do not possess the right to do so. Freedom is not a right; it is a duty or, more accurately, it is a faculty of our make-up which implies a duty. We possess the faculty to choose between good and evil, between truth and error, between God and Satan...our duty is to choose God, truth and goodness. The modern conception of freedom-is-a-right is a distortion of Catholic truth."

[With special thanks to our son, Stephan, who helped with research for this article. Due to previous formatting problems, this article was updated and revised on November 3, 2008. It was again updated July 31, 2009 to provide the Youtube link to the official video, since the embedding option was removed from Youtube and is no longer available.]

Monday, October 27, 2008

In the West, a Pale Light Lingers

Remember, o most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother! To thee I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but hear and answer me. Amen.

~The Memorare of St. Bernard

As a Catholic and as a busy homeschooling wife and mom, I know we are all concerned about our families, friends and neighbors and our collective spiritual and temporal futures. For those reasons, I wish to again mention our ongoing Collegial Consecration Campaign. In addition to the intentions of the 9-Day Rosary Novena, the collegial consecration is an ever greater intention we must not forget. So as we pray for this nation, we should - above all else - pray and sacrifice for the collegial consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, every day, all year long. That is the thrust of Keeping It Catholic's Collegial Consecration Campaign, which was initiated in May of this year.

It's very easy to begin: Simply start by praying the Rosary every day (5 decades a day is called a Rosary; 15 decades a day is Our Lady's Psalter) , with the primary intention being the collegial consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. When you are ready, there are two more things you can do: If you are not already doing so, wear the Brown Scapular (please be sure it is blessed by a priest or, better yet, ask a priest to enroll you in the Brown Scapular) and offer your daily duty as a sacrifice for sinners.

Our Lady said at Fatima: "If people do what I tell you, many souls will be saved and there will be peace." Years later, Sr. Lucia summed up what Heaven asks of all the people:

Dear Queen and Mother, Who promised at Fatima to convert Russia and bring peace to all mankind, in reparation to Your Immaculate Heart for my sins and the sins of the world, I solemnly promise: 1) to offer up every day the sacrifices demanded by my daily duty; 2) to pray the Rosary (5 decades) daily while meditating on the Mysteries; 3) to wear the Scapular of Mount Carmel as a profession of this promise and as an act of consecration to You. I shall renew this promise often, especially in moments of temptation.

When we pray the daily Rosary we can and should, of course, add other intentions as well: including personal intentions, intentions for all those in their last agony, intentions for the poor souls in Purgatory, intentions in which we ask for the grace of final perseverance. We do not fear that we are asking for too many things when we pray at Mass, do we? Neither should we fear asking for many graces when we pray the Rosary. The Rosary is also a most powerful prayer, the second highest indulgenced prayer of the Church after the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Since penance is a necessity for the sins we have committed and confessed, and since we should also sacrifice for the conversion of others, it's well to know that daily duty is the main sacrifice Our Lord asks of us. Heaven made clear to Sr. Lucia that the sacrifice Our Lord asks of us is the faithful accomplishment of daily duty - which means 1) our duties first as Catholics and 2) our duties in our states in life. The Angel of Fatima said, "Above all, accept and bear with submission the sufferings that the Lord may send you."

Every morning, in order to remember this daily intention, we should say a prayer in which we offer to God our every thought, word and action of the day. This one practice will cultivate the habit of prayer as well as our recollection of God's Presence. It makes us immediately aware of our venial sins and immediately make an act of reparation for them. It helps us guard our thoughts, the words that come out of our mouths, and how we behave. The following prayer is a most appropriate Morning Offering:

O my God, in union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary (here kiss your Brown Scapular), I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, present in all the Tabernacles throughout the world, joining with It the offering of my every thought, word, and action of this day.

O my Jesus, I desire today to gain every indulgence and merit I can, and I offer them, together with myself,to Mary Immaculate, that she may best apply them to the interests of Thy Most Sacred Heart.

Precious Blood of Jesus, save us!
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us. Amen.

This week, the response to this specific request [praying the Rosary for the Collegial Consecration, as well as the other intentions of the nationwide 9 Day Rosary Novena] has been so heartening! If you haven't yet joined us in the Collegial Consecration Campaign, may I ask:

-Are you too busy to let us know that you are joining us in this endeavor?

-Is it that you don't know 'what' to think about the requests Our Lady made at Fatima?

-Is it that you have given up on ever seeing the era of peace?

-Are you afraid of making a commitment to daily praying the Rosary because you might forget a day or two?

-Or is it that you somehow cannot see the shadow of Mordor extending over this nation and all the world?

But if you can see that pervading shadow - do you still hesitate to pray and work for the collegial consecration out of some fear of disloyalty to the popes - past and present?

Nothing could be further from the truth. Even Inside the Vatican magazine recognizes that now. The historical facts prove the specific collegial consecration of Russia has never taken place - so it is to save the Church, the Holy Father, and the world that we are asking for this grace. The Virgin asked for it, and that should be enough for us.

In the meantime, my fellow Catholics, Mordor is assembling for battle once more. I think most of us feel it, even if we can't see it.

Remember the lines from LOTR (Lord of the Rings): "But in the west, a pale light lingered"? That pale light is Our Lady...She wishes to save not only Gondor [Western civilization] but all of Middle Earth [the whole world]. The Age of Mary must precede the Social Reign of Christ the King. The overwhelming sins of this era make the world most unworthy. In humility, we must heed our Queen and Mother; when we listen to our Mother, God will grant the world this stupendous grace.

Just like the Fellowship, we may be separated in distance and face various dangers but our goal is the same. Like the Fellowship, too, every thing we do [even though we may not know it at the time] means we are somehow helping each other. 'Small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.' That means you and me, dear people ---Catholics who strive to remainin the state of grace, praying and working and sacrificing all over the world -separated in place as we are and yet universal!

Please...won't you join us in the daily Rosary and our special intention for the collegial consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary? Pray much for the Holy Father! Heaven said that the collegial consecration will eventually be done - but it will be late.

We're already there.

Email me and tell me you're joining us - won't you? Or, if you prefer, you are welcome to say you're joining the Collegial Consecration Campaign by leaving a comment on the blog. Finally, would you forward this message to others by using the appropriate 'mail' link at the bottom of this post? It will take just a moment of time, but think of the great blessings we might be given if many people learn of this Campaign and join us!

Btw, I ask you to alert me that you're joining us for one reason and one reason only - to know how many of the faithful we've reached with Our Lady's requests at Fatima, so we can encourage each other in praying and working together for the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart.

In the love of Christ and His Virgin Mother,

Marianna Bartold
We're Keeping It Catholic on the Net!

" is necessary for each one of us to begin to reform himself spiritually. Each person must not only save his own soul but also help to save all the souls that God has placed on our path."
~Sr. Lucia of Fatima