Experience Holy Week: Good Friday Traditions

By Rhen

After a day of activities including the washing of feet and a late-night prayer vigil on Holy Thursday, the most solemn day of the year is upon us.

Good Friday is a day of quiet and contemplation, fasting and abstinence.

Remembering the Suffering of Christ

Many churches will offer the Stations of the Cross at some point on Friday, preparing the faithful for the remembrance of Christ’s crucifixion.

There is also a tradition of keeping three hours of silence and prayer during the hours that Christ suffered on the cross, from noon to 3:00 pm. During this time it is appropriate to turn off any music and television, even your phone, and focus on Christ’s suffering and death. Some churches even hold a period of prayer during this time.

Prayer Service

There is no Mass celebrated on this day, just a service that includes Communion that was consecrated on Holy Thursday. The service is often held at 3:00pm, the hour of Christ’s death.

This prayer service, called the “Mass of the Presanctified” even though it is not exactly a Mass, includes veneration of the cross by the faithful and intercessory prayers for the Church and the whole world.

There is no music at the service, or at any time from the Holy Thursday Mass until the Alleluia at the Easter Vigil Mass. There are also no bells rung in the church during this time, so the service is often begun with the sounding of a wooden clapper.

Divine Mercy Novena

Good Friday is the starting date for the Divine Mercy Novena, which is nine days of praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday. You can read more about the Divine Mercy Chaplet in our article Here.

Experience Holy Week: Holy Thursday Mass and Adoration

By Rhen

We entered into Holy Week with palm branches on Sunday, recalling Jesus entering Jerusalem. Now we enter into the “Holy Triduum,” the three days leading up to the resurrection on Easter, with a series of liturgies that take us right along with Jesus in His final days leading up to the Resurrection. These are the three holiest days of the year, and the Church does a marvelous job of helping us to experience the sacredness of the Triduum through the liturgy and prayer during these three days.

Holy Thursday brings us into the Triduum by recalling the last supper, the washing of feet, and the agony in the garden, among other things.

The Holy Thursday Mass

The last supper and washing of feet are experienced during the Holy Thursday Mass. This Mass typically takes place in the evening, because Passover begins at sundown. It is worthwhile to make the time to attend this Mass because it really sets up the gravity of the Triduum and “sets the mood” leading into Good Friday. Fully partaking in the more solemn liturgies of Holy Thursday and Good Friday help to make the experience of the Easter Mass even more joyful.

Adoration After Mass and the Visiting of Seven Churches

After the Holy Thursday Mass the Blessed Sacrament is placed in a closed tabernacle on an altar of repose, often in a side chapel, where the faithful can take part in Eucharistic Adoration into the night. This is a great opportunity for prayer as we head into the most solemn of days, Good Friday, and parallels the disciples keeping watch with Jesus in the garden.

It is a custom in many areas, especially urban regions, to visit seven churches for adoration after Mass on Holy Thursday. This tradition dates back centuries and may originate from the faithful visiting the seven pilgrim churches of Rome on Holy Thursday.

If you live in an area with many churches nearby this is a great tradition to try. It takes some planning, as every church has a different end time for their period of adoration, but it is great to join in prayer with parish communities around your area. It helps one to recognize that the experience of such a holy week is shared with many, not isolated to your single parish.

If you are unsure about what to do in Eucharistic Adoration, do not be afraid. You can simply pray quietly and converse with Jesus, you can pray the Rosary or the Liturgy of the Hours, you can read the Bible, or you can pray in any other way that feels comfortable. Some churches might even schedule prayer for part of the time. Use the time to prepare for Good Friday and to look forward to the joy of the Resurrection on Easter.

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy

By Rhen

Jump to a Section:
How to Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in English
How to Sing the Chaplet of Divine Mercy
Cómo Rezar La Coronilla De Divina Misericordia
The Divine Mercy Novena

What is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy?

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is a devotion received in messages from Christ by Sister Faustina Kowalksa, now Saint Faustina. As a young Polish nun in the 1930’s she was told in revelations to spread the message of mercy throughout the world. She was given the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, a set of prayers prayed using the structure of the Rosary.

Sister Faustina kept notes on her experience of Jesus, as instructed by her spiritual director. Her Diary is about 600 pages long and is considered a great spiritual work and a handbook to the devotion of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. As instructed in her revelations, Sister Faustina also had an image of the Divine Mercy painted in 1934 and it is one of the more common images of Christ seen today.

Divine Mercy Image, via divinemercysundayusa.com

Divine Mercy Image, via divinemercysundayusa.com

Sister Faustina’s Diary was published in 1984. In the year 2000 she was canonized and the second Sunday of Easter was declared Divine Mercy Sunday. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy spread quickly as a devotion, especially with the help of a Polish Pope, John Paul II. The Chaplet can be prayed at any time but there is a special emphasis placed on praying the Chaplet at 3:00 pm each day, the hour of Jesus’s death.


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How to Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in English

The Chaplet is prayed using a Rosary as guidance for the structure of the prayer. The chaplet is more simple and is a little faster to pray than the Rosary, though.

The Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, via thedivinemercy.org

The Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, via thedivinemercy.org

Beginning Prayers

1. Start with the Sign of the Cross

Optional Opening Prayer

2. “You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.”

(Repeat three times) 
“O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You!”

Standard Opening Prayers (prayed once each)

3. Our Father
“Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, Amen.”

4. Hail Mary
“Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.”

5. Apostle’s Creed
“I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.”

The Decades

6. The Eternal Father
On the larger separated beads where you would normally pray the “Our Father” during the Rosary:

“Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.”

7. On the 10 Small Beads in Each Decade
On the groups of 10 beads where you would normally pray the “Hail Mary’s” during the Rosary:

“For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”

8. (Repeat this for all five decades.)

Closing Prayers

9. Concluding Prayer
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
(Repeat three times)

10. Optional Closing Prayer
“Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.”


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How to Sing the Chaplet of Divine Mercy

There are several sung renditions of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. The version which is perhaps the most popular can be heard in the video below.


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How to Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in Spanish

Cómo Rezar La Coronilla De Divina Misericordia

1. La Señal De La Cruz

Oraciones opcionales para comenzar

2. Expiraste, Jesús, pero Tu muerte hizo brotar un manantial de vida para las almas y el océano de Tu misericordia inundó todo el mundo. Oh, Fuente de Vida, insondable misericordia divina, anega el mundo entero derramando sobre nosotros hasta Tu última gota.

(Se repite 3 veces) Oh Sangre y Agua, que brotaron del Corazón de Jesús como una fuente de Misericordia para nosotros, en ustedes confío.

3. El Padre Nuestro
Padre nuestro, que estás en el cielo, Santificado sea tu nombre. Venga tu reino. Hágase tu voluntad en la tierra como en el cielo. Danos hoy nuestro pan de cada día. Perdona nuestras ofensas, como también nosotros perdonamos a los que nos ofenden. No nos dejes caer en tentación y líbranos del mal. Amén.

4. el Ave María 
Padre nuestro, que estás en el cielo. Santificado sea tu nombre. Venga tu reino. Hágase tu voluntad en la tierra como en el cielo. Danos hoy nuestro pan de cada día. Perdona nuestras ofensas, como también nosotros perdonamos a los que nos ofenden. No nos dejes caer en tentación y líbranos del mal. Amén.

5. el Credo de los Apóstoles
Creo en Dios, Padre Todopoderoso,
Creador del cielo y de la tierra.
Creo en Jesucristo su único Hijo Nuestro Señor,
que fue concebido por obra y gracia del Espíritu Santo.
Nació de Santa María Virgen,
padeció bajo el poder de Poncio Pilato,
fue crucificado, muerto y sepultado, descendió a los infiernos,
al tercer día resucitó de entre los muertos,
subió a los cielos y está sentado a la derecha de Dios Padre, todopoderoso.
Desde allí va a venir a juzgar a vivos y muertos.
Creo en el Espíritu Santo, la Santa Iglesia católica
la comunión de los santos, el perdón de los pecados,
la resurección de la carne y la vida eterna. Amén

6. En cada decena del rosario (en la cuenta de cada “Padre Nuestro” se reza) 
Padre Eterno, te ofrezco el Cuerpo, la Sangre, el Alma y la Divinidad de Tu Amadísimo Hijo, Nuestro Señor Jesucristo, para el perdón de nuestros pecados y los del mundo entero.

7. (En cada una de las 10 cuentas del “Ave María”, se reza)
Por Su dolorosa Pasión, ten misericordia de nosotros y del mundo entero.

8. Repite 6 y 7 en cada decena

9. Oración final (Se repite 3 veces)
Santo Dios, Santo Fuerte, Santo Inmortal, ten piedad de nosotros y del mundo entero.

10. Oraciones opcionales para concluir
Oh Dios Eterno, en quien la misericordia es infinita y el tesoro de compasión inagotable, vuelve a nosotros Tu mirada bondadosa y aumenta Tu misericordia en nosotros, para que en momentos difíciles no nos desesperemos ni nos desalentemos, sino que, con gran confianza, nos sometamos a Tu santa voluntad, que es el Amor y la Misericordia Mismos.


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The Divine Mercy Novena

One of the devotions of the Divine Mercy is the Divine Mercy Novena. A novena is a set of prayers most often prayed over the course of nine days. While the Divine Mercy Novena could be prayed at any time it is especially popular in the nine days leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday, begining with Good Friday.

Each day of the novena the Divine Mercy Chaplet is prayed, with a prayer for certain souls to go along with each day. From Saint Faustina’s Diary, the intentions for each day of the novena are as follows:

Day 1 (Good Friday)

Today bring to Me all mankind, especially all sinners.

Most Merciful Jesus, whose very nature it is to have compassion on us and to forgive us, do not look upon our sins but upon our trust which we place in Your infinite goodness. Receive us all into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart, and never let us escape from it. We beg this of You by Your love which unites You to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon all mankind and especially upon poor sinners, all enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion show us Your mercy, that we may praise the omnipotence of Your mercy for ever and ever. Amen.

Day 2 (Holy Saturday)

Today bring to Me the souls of priests and religious.

Most Merciful Jesus, from whom comes all that is good, increase Your grace in men and women consecrated to Your service, that they may perform worthy works of mercy; and that all who see them may glorify the Father of Mercy who is in heaven.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the company of chosen ones in Your vineyard–upon the souls of priests and religious; and endow them with the strength of Your blessing. For the love of the Heart of Your Son in which they are enfolded, impart to them Your power and light, that they may be able to guide others in the way of salvation and with one voice sing praise to Your boundless mercy for ages without end. Amen.

Day 3 (Easter Sunday)

Today bring to Me all devout and faithful souls.

Most Merciful Jesus, from the treasury of Your mercy You impart Your graces in great abundance to each and all. Receive us into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart and never let us escape from it. We beg this of You by that most wondrous love for the heavenly Father with which Your Heart burns so fiercely.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon faithful souls, as upon the inheritance of Your Son. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, grant them Your blessing and surround them with Your constant protection. Thus may they never fail in love or lose the treasure of the holy faith, but rather, with all the hosts of Angels and Saints, may they glorify your boundless mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Day 4 (Easter Monday)

Today bring to Me those who do not believe in God and those who do not yet know me.

Most compassionate Jesus, You are the Light of the whole world. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who do not believe in God and of those who as yet do not know You. Let the rays of Your grace enlighten them that they, too, together with us, may extol Your wonderful mercy; and do not let them escape from the abode which is Your Most Compassionate Heart.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who do not believe in You, and of those who as yet do not know You, but who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Draw them to the light of the Gospel. These souls do not know what great happiness it is to love You. Grant that they, too, may extol the generosity of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Day 5 (Easter Tuesday)

Today bring to Me the souls of those who have separated themselves from My Church.

Most Merciful Jesus, Goodness Itself, You do not refuse light to those who seek it of You. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Church. Draw them by Your light into the unity of the Church, and do not let them escape from the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart; but bring it about that they, too, come to glorify the generosity of Your mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Son’s Church, who have squandered Your blessings and misused Your graces by obstinately persisting in their errors. Do not look upon their errors, but upon the love of Your own Son and upon His bitter Passion, which He underwent for their sake, since they, too, are enclosed in His Most Compassionate Heart. Bring it about that they also may glorify Your great mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Day 6 (Easter Wednesday)

Today bring to Me the meek and humble souls and the souls of little children.

Most Merciful Jesus, You yourself have said, “Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart.” Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart all meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These souls send all heaven into ecstasy and they are the heavenly Father’s favorites. They are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God himself takes delight in their fragrance. These souls have a permanent abode in Your Most Compassionate Heart, O Jesus, and they unceasingly sing out a hymn of love and mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon meek souls, upon humble souls, and upon little children who are enfolded in the abode which is the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls bear the closest resemblance to Your Son. Their fragrance rises from the earth and reaches Your very throne. Father of mercy and of all goodness, I beg You by the love You bear these souls and by the delight You take in them: Bless the whole world, that all souls together may sing out the praises of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Day 7 (Easter Thursday)

Today bring to Me the souls who especially venerate and glorify My mercy.

Most Merciful Jesus, whose Heart is Love Itself, receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who particularly extol and venerate the greatness of Your mercy. These souls are mighty with the very power of God Himself. In the midst of all afflictions and adversities they go forward, confident of Your mercy; and united to You, O Jesus, they carry all mankind on their shoulders. These souls will not be judged severely, but Your mercy will embrace them as they depart from this life.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls who glorify and venerate Your greatest attribute, that of Your fathomless mercy, and who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls are a living Gospel; their hands are full of deeds of mercy, and their hearts, overflowing with joy, sing a canticle of mercy to You, O Most High! I beg You O God: Show them Your mercy according to the hope and trust they have placed in You. Let there be accomplished in them the promise of Jesus, who said to them that during their life, but especially at the hour of death, the souls who will venerate this fathomless mercy of His, He, Himself, will defend as His glory. Amen.

Day 8 (Easter Friday)

Today bring to Me the souls who are detained in purgatory.

Most Merciful Jesus, You Yourself have said that You desire mercy; so I bring into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls in Purgatory, souls who are very dear to You, and yet, who must make retribution to Your justice. May the streams of Blood and Water which gushed forth from Your Heart put out the flames of Purgatory, that there, too, the power of Your mercy may be celebrated.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls suffering in Purgatory, who are enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. I beg You, by the sorrowful Passion of Jesus Your Son, and by all the bitterness with which His most sacred Soul was flooded: Manifest Your mercy to the souls who are under Your just scrutiny. Look upon them in no other way but only through the Wounds of Jesus, Your dearly beloved Son; for we firmly believe that there is no limit to Your goodness and compassion. Amen.

Day 9 (Easter Saturday)

Today bring to Me souls who have become lukewarm.

Most compassionate Jesus, You are Compassion Itself. I bring lukewarm souls into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart. In this fire of Your pure love let these tepid souls, who like corpses, filled You with such deep loathing, be once again set aflame. O Most Compassionate Jesus, exercise the omnipotence of Your mercy and draw them into the very ardor of Your love, and bestow upon them the gift of holy love, for nothing is beyond Your power.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon lukewarm souls who are nonetheless enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Father of Mercy, I beg You by the bitter Passion of Your Son and by His three-hour agony on the Cross: Let them, too, glorify the abyss of Your mercy. Amen.

Great Lenten Hymns: God of Mercy and Compassion

By Rhen

There are some great hymns for Lent, and it can only benefit our Lenten season to reflect on and learn a little more about some of the really good ones.

It is fitting to start with a hymn that tells of God’s mercy to sinners. The words of the song were written by a Redemptorist priest named Edmund Vaughan who was born in 1827. He was one of the clergy at Our Lady of the Anunciation near Liverpool. He wrote a handful of other hymns, though none are as well known as “God of Mercy and Compassion.”

The music to “God of Mercy and Compassion” is a traditional French melody by 18th century Italian composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, who was born in 1710. Pergolesi lived only until 1736. He was a well-known composer of both opera music and sacred music.

“God of Mercy and Compassion” is one of the most moving (yet unknown) hymns of the season of Lent.

Lyrics to ‘God of Mercy and Compassion’

God of mercy and compassion,
Look with pity upon me,
Father, let me call Thee Father,
‘Tis Thy child returns to Thee.

Refrain:
Jesus, Lord, I ask for mercy;
Let me not implore in vain;
All my sins, I now detest them,
Never will I sin again.

2. By my sins I have deserved
Death and endless misery,
Hell with all its pains and torments,
And for all eternity.
(Refrain)

3. By my sins I have abandoned
Right and claim to heav’n above.
Where the saints rejoice forever
In a boundless sea of love.
(Refrain)

4. See our Savior, bleeding, dying,
On the cross of Calvary;
To that cross my sins have nail’d Him,
Yet He bleeds and dies for me.
(Refrain)

 

The Pope Goes on Retreat Too

By Rhen

On Friday Pope Francis completed his week-long retreat with the curial officials (essentially, the Vatican administrators) at Casa Divin Maestro in Ariccia, about fifteen miles outside of Rome. The five-day retreat was based on the Spiritual Exercises, which is fitting given that the Pope is a Jesuit.

We have not gotten around to listing retreat centers in Italy on CatholicRetreats.net, but we were surprised to find that the retreat center had an English website option. If you want to take a closer look at where the Pope and the Vatican officials spent their week on retreat, the website is Here.

casadivinmaetro

 

All of the news stories about the retreat focus on Pope Francis riding the bus to the retreat with everybody else last Sunday evening, but the real significance that we should take from this is that the Pope set aside the time to leave for a week on retreat. Pope Francis is a VERY busy man, and he probably spends more time in prayer each day than most of us spend in a week. He still found it important to drop everything for a week and get away, outside of town, for a retreat. And he took all of the Vatican officials with him. This might not be good for productivity, but we certainly want our church leaders in a good spiritual condition.

And hey, if it is important enough for Pope Francis and the curia to drop everything for a week and get away on retreat, what does that mean for you and me?

7 Great Resources for Daily Lenten Reflections

By Rhen

It was not too long ago that you had to rely on the little booklet that your parish handed out each year if you wanted free reflections each day for the season of Lent.  Now we have so many great options readily available that it is almost too difficult to decide which ones to use. Here are seven great Lenten resources that we have been enjoying at CatholicRetreats:

1. The Fun Lent App

“Lentsanity” by FOCUS

Lentsanity via FOCUS.org

The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) has put together an app with some great resources for Lent, called “Lentsanity.” It includes a short reflection for each day of Lent, relevant Lenten blog posts, some entertaining videos about the “Meat Police” making sure you remember not to eat meat on Fridays, and push notifications on your phone before meals on Fridays reminding you not to eat meat.

You can follow Lentsanity online at focus.org/lentsanity or  you can download the app from the iTunes Store or Google Play.

 

2. Everybody’s Favorite Cardinal

Video Reflections by Cardinal Dolan

Cardinal Dolan’s Video Reflections via EWTN.com

Each day during Lent Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York will be posting a short (about 1 minute) video reflection to his website, CardinalDolan.org. You can also watch the video reflections using a free app from EWTN via Google Play (Apple version coming soon).

 

3. 40 Days with the Scriptures

EWTN’s Lenten Gospel Challenge

EWTN Lenten Gospel Challenge, via EWTN.com

This one does not involve any daily reflections, but EWTN has just added the Lenten Gospel Challenge to their app. The Challenge gives you a part of the Gospels to read each day during Lent, and if you keep up you will read all four Gospels by Easter.

If you already have the EWTN app this will be added on as an update, but if you do not have it you can find the app in the iTunes store, on Google Play, or even on the Kindle App Store.

 

4. The Priest Leading the New Evangelization Online

Fr. Robert Barron’s Daily Reflections

Fr. Barron via LentReflections.com

Fr. Barron via LentReflections.com

You can get daily reflections from the creator of the “Catholicism” video series, Fr. Robert Barron, if you go to LentReflections.com. You can subscribe on the site to receive daily e-mails with the reflections and exclusive videos from Fr. Barron.

 

5. Daily Reflections for Lent, and the Rest of the Year

Daily Reflections from Flocknote

Matthew Warner, founder of Flocknote, is bringing daily reflections via email featuring writings from The Diary of St. Faustina and meditations from priests of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. You can sign up for these reflections at Flocknote.com/Lent.

By the way, you can also sign up to receive daily emails from Flocknote to Read the Catechism in a Year and Read the Gospels in a Year.

6. The Classic Prayer and Reflections

The Liturgy of the Hours

The Liturgy of the Hours - Set of 4 Volumes [Black Leather]

The Liturgy of the Hours is the “prayer of the Church,” and has been prayed by priests and religious several times every day for centuries. It includes readings and prayers for different hours of the day, and one of those is called the “Office of Readings.” The Office of Readings includes some psalms, a scripture reading, and a reading that is a reflection relevant to the day by agreat spiritual writer such as a saint, a bishop of antiquity, or a pope. If you pray the Office of Readings each day you will get a built-in Lenten meditation in addition to the psalms and readings, and you will be praying in unison with millions of others around the world.

You can find the Office of Readings in the Four Volume set of physical books of the Liturgy of the Hours, or you can download an app such as iBreviary (for free) from the iTunes Store or Google Play (don’t worry, the screenshots are in Italian but you can use the app in English). You can even come back to CatholicRetreats.net each day and pray the Liturgy of the Hours using the handy app on the right toolbar. If you are not familiar with the Liturgy of the Hours and how it is prayed you can learn more in our article “The Liturgy of the Hours.”

 

7. The Ultimate Lent Resource

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

The USCCB has put together an amazing set of resources for Lent. There is a Calendar to take you through things to reflect on and pray for each day of Lent, there are Lenten Audio Retreats, there is information about Fasting and Abstinence, and just so much more. Check out the USCCB Lent Page to see all of the resources.

What resources have you found helpful for Lent? Let us know in the comments below!

What is The Angelus?

By Rhen

A Short History of the Angelus

The Angelus dates back to at least the 1100’s and comes from the practice of reciting the “angelic greeting” (the Hail Mary) three times in the evening. It was recommended by St. Anthony of Padua, who died in 1231, and also by St. Bonaventure who recommended ringing bells before praying it each evening so that all would know it was time to pray. Over the next couple of centuries it became custom to pray the Angelus at morning, midday, and evening. The Angelus as we currently know it was probably first put into print in the 1560’s or 1570’s in the Little Office of the Virgin Mary.

 The Angelus Today

Today it is common to pray the Angelus at 6:00 am, noon, and 6:00 pm. Traditionally many church bells ring at these times to call the faithful to prayer. During the Easter season (between Easter Sunday and the Saturday before Pentecost) the Regina Caeli prayer is recited in place of the Angelus.

The Pope’s Sunday Angelus

Each Sunday that the Pope is in Rome he appears at his window at noon and prays the Angelus with the crowds in St. Peter’s Square. He usually accompanies this with a short message and greetings for the people in several languages.

The Pope’s Angelus message can be found on the Vatican Website or you can listen to the audio of them via podcast through Vatican Radio.

The Angelus Prayer

The Angelus prayer is simply three Hail Mary’s with short introductory verses before each and a concluding prayer:

V. The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary;
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death. Amen.

V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord:
R. Be it done unto me according to Thy word.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death. Amen.

V. And the Word was made flesh:
R. And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death. Amen.

V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His passion and cross be brought to the glory of His resurrection, through the same Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

The Regina Caeli Prayer

During the Easter season the following prayer is recited in place of the Angelus:

Queen of Heaven rejoice, alleluia:
For He whom you merited to bear, alleluia,
Has risen as He said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.

V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. Because the Lord is truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray:
O God, who by the Resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, granted joy to the whole world: grant we beg Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may lay hold of the joys of eternal life. Through the same Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

Fasting Retreats

By Rhen

Fasting is a practice that many Catholics reserve only for Lent, but it can (and should) be practiced year-round. One style of retreat that can be great for spiritual discipline and growth is a fasting retreat.

If you look at the schedule for your local retreat center you will probably not see a fasting retreat listed. In recent times fasting retreats have not been widely practiced as such, but throughout Christendom there has always been an emphasis placed on times of dedicated fasting and prayer.

rprata CC BY-SA 2.0 via flickr

rprata CC BY-SA 2.0 via flickr

What is Fasting

“Fasting” is the practice of refraining from food or drink to some degree, according to the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults. You may also hear the term “abstinence” thrown around when speaking of fasting. Abstinence refers to refraining from specific food or drink (a common example is refraining from meat).

What is Considered a Fast?

When you try to figure out what a day of fasting looks like you will find many different descriptions. Some would contend that a day of fasting is to be a day without any food or drink whatsoever, and some would say that water is allowed but not food. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) defines days of fasting as the following: “When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal. Two smaller meals may also be taken, but not to equal a full meal.”  See more Here.

When Do We Have to Fast and Abstain?

Catholics are required to both fast and abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. In the Roman Catholic rite fasting is obligatory from ages 18 through 59, and abstinence is obligatory from age 14 and on (as is described Here). Eastern Catholic Rites may have different requirements. Every Friday throughout the year is actually recommended as a day of abstinence from meat, although Catholics (at least in the United States) may follow some other act of penance if abstinence from meat is not followed (except on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday), as is explained in this pastoral statement. Outside of the United States you will have to check with your local bishops’ conference in regards to this requirement.

Fasting and Prayer

There are numerous examples in the Bible of fasting and prayer. Some instances were times of repentance and others were a process of growing closer to God. The latter is what we will focus on here.

Why use fasting to improve our spiritual life? One of the intentions with fasting is that we will replace time that would have been spent preparing food and eating with time spent in prayer. Fasting helps us to both put our bodily desires at bay and focus more intensely on our spiritual well-being. Some say that having a satiated stomach can make us “drowsy” or “lethargic” spiritually. The hunger pangs of an empty stomach serve as a reminder for us to pray throughout the day.

Some Examples of Fasting and Prayer in the Bible

“And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
-Matthew 6: 16-18

“Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.”
-Mark 2: 18-20

“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. ”
-Acts 13: 2-3

“And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they believed. ”
-Acts 14: 23

What Is a Fasting Retreat?

A fasting retreat is simply a dedicated time of fasting and prayer. A retreat like this can take many different forms.

Preached Retreats

You might join in on a regular preached retreat weekend at a local retreat center, even if it is not intended as a fasting retreat, and simply practice some form of fasting. You will still get the spiritual nourishment intended from the scheduled talks and times of prayer during the retreat, and on top of that you will get the added benefits of the practice of fasting.

You might also find a retreat that is specifically focused on fasting and prayer. Sometimes it is easier to hold to a fast when you know that the others around you are also doing so. This is not an exceptionally common retreat theme, but if you watch the schedules of nearby retreat centers you may find one.

Sometimes there are no good options in your area for a preached retreat, fasting-themed or not. You might put on your own fasting retreat of sorts. It is not uncommon to hear of day-long fasts put on by local youth groups and the like. Catholic Relief Services even provides the resources for planning a day-long fasting retreat Here. Their intention is raise awareness of hunger issues around the world but their framework could also be used for a prayer and fasting retreat, both for youth or as a parish-mission style of retreat.

Private Retreats

A private retreat of prayer and fasting is a very spiritually-enriching option. You may recall Jesus fasting  in the desert for forty days in preparation for His ministry (Matthew 4:2). In the early centuries of Christianity there were many who lived lives of fasting and prayer as hermits in the desert. They are often referred to as the “Desert Fathers” and provide us with a great example of the practices of fasting and prayer.

A day or weekend (or longer) spent fasting at a retreat center or hermitage is a great way to mimic this exercise in today’s world, and it is always a fruitful time for prayer and spiritual growth. If you are unfamiliar with the practice of private retreats it may be beneficial to revisit our post about them Here for an overview of what a private retreat might look like for you. Re recommend dedicated times of prayer and journaling, but of course you may have your own method of making a private retreat.

Choosing a Theme for a Private Retreat

There are many ways you could go with the theme for a fasting retreat. Perhaps you will choose to reflect on instances of fasting in the Bible. Or maybe reflections on the Desert Fathers would be appropriate. Another option would be to reflect on writings or homilies about the most important of foods, the Eucharist, or the Mass. You could instead choose to focus on the life of Jesus through the writings of Pope Benedict XVI or through the Rosary. You might even choose not to have a specific theme. You may just read scripture as you feel compelled throughout the retreat, or use the Liturgy of the Hours.

Choose a theme based on what would seem to be the most appropriate for where you are spiritually, and based on what you are interested in right now. If the topic does not interest you it will not hold your attention and be as edifying over several days of focusing on it. Do not stress about about the theme too much, though. God will work in your time of retreat, and you will be better off for just having made the retreat – guaranteed.

Structuring a Private Retreat

If you rent out a room at a retreat center or a hermitage you will have a dedicated time to fast and pray in a quiet and prayerful atmosphere. Some may find it difficult to structure a weekend or longer of unscheduled, uninterrupted time. Some people will be able to approach a time of retreat without a plan – just going with the flow and the movings of the Holy Spirit. Others prefer to have some structure and at least the outline of a schedule to fall back on. If you prefer more structure, below is an example of how you might plan out a weekend-long retreat with a focus on the life of Jesus through the Rosary.

Friday Evening
-Opening Prayer
-Reflection #1
-Journaling Session #1
-Down Time
-Rosary: The Joyful Mysteries
-Reflection #2
-Journaling Session #2

Saturday
-Reflection #3
-Journaling Session #3
-Down Time
-Reflection #4
-Journaling Session #4
-Down Time
-Rosary: Luminous Mysteries
-Reflection #5
-Journaling Session #5
-Down Time
-Reflection #6
-Journaling Session #6
-Down Time
-Rosary: Sorrowful Mysteries
-Reflection #7
-Journaling Session #7

Sunday
-Reflection #8
-Journaling Session #8
-Down Time
-Rosary: Glorious Mysteries
-Reflection #9
-Journaling Session #9
-Down Time
-Reflection #10
-Journaling Session #10
-Closing Prayer

The length of each session is variable depending on your hopes for the retreat. Prayer, journaling and examing your spiritual life (and meeting with a spiritual director if possible), and down time are all important aspects to the private retreat.

Have you ever made a retreat that incorporated fasting? What was your experience like?

The Rosary

By Rhen

The Rosary is one of the most well-known prayers of the Church. Even if you have never prayed the Rosary you have most likely heard of it, and there is a good chance you have at least heard it being prayed. The Rosary is often prayed publicly before Mass or at gatherings such as prayer vigils. Many of the saints and popes strongly recommended it, and even apparitions of the Blessed Mother have urged us to pray the Rosary more often.

Praying the Rosary every day and reflecting on the Mysteries assigned to that day help us to contemplate the Gospels and the life of Jesus regularly, and this helps us to more fully live the Gospel in our lives each day.

History of the Rosary

The Rosary developed over several centuries from the beads that monks used to pray through the Psalms into what we know as the Rosary today. The current form of the Rosary is often attributed to St. Dominic, although it is more likely that he simply played a part in spreading the devotion. For a more thorough look at the development of the Rosary, check out this article on EWTN.

What Popes and Saints Have Said About the Rosary

“Take up the Rosary once again”
~Pope John Paul II

“There is no surer means of calling down God’s blessing upon the family than the daily recitation of the Rosary.”
~Pope Pius XII

“One day, through the Rosary and the Scapular, Our Lady will save the world.”
~Saint Dominic

“The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.”
~Saint Francis de Sales

“Never will anyone who says his Rosary every day be led astray. This is a statement that I would gladly sign with my blood.”
~Saint Louis de Montfort

“The Rosary is the ‘weapon’ for these times.”
~Saint Padre Pio

How to Pray the Rosary

The Rosary can be complicated to learn. Most of the prayers of the Rosary are Our Fathers, Hail Mary’s, and Glory Be’s but you also need to be familiar with the Creed, the Fatima Prayer, The Salve Regina, and the Memorare. Knowing all of these prayers and remembering in what order to pray them can be tricky.

There is a fantastic resource over at Rosary Army (now under the umbrella of the New Evangelizers ministry) that gives you a one-page printout with all of prayers and a diagram showing when to pray each. That printout can be found by clicking the following link:
How to Pray the Rosary Printout.

In short, the prayers of the Rosary are as follows (click links to jump to prayer text):
1. Sign of the Cross
2. Apostle’s Creed
3. Our Father
4. Three Hail Marys
5. Glory Be
6. Fatima Prayer
7. Five decades, each including an Our Father, ten Hail Marys, a Glory Be, and, if desired, the Fatima Prayer.
8. Hail, Holy Queen (Salve Regina)
9. “O God, Whose…”
10. Prayers for the Pope: Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be
11. Memorare
12. Sign of the Cross

Where to Get a Rosary


It is not absolutely necessary to own a Rosary in order to pray the Rosary. Anything that helps you to count out the ten Hail Mary’s in each decade with be useful (in fact, the only Catholic pick-up line that ever worked on my now-wife was “I forgot my Rosary, can I borrow your fingers?”). Even so, it isn’t too difficult to find an inexpensive or free Rosary. I recommend going over to Rosary Army once again and they will send you a beautiful all-twine knotted Rosary at no cost. If you already have a Rosary, consider donating to Rosary Army to help them sustain their ministry of giving them out.
Order a Rosary from Rosary Army
Donate to Rosary Army/New Evangelizers

There are many other styles of Rosaries, from those made with gem stones to those made with wood and even with compressed rose petals. A few other examples are shown below (click the pictures for more information on each Rosary).

TurquoiseOpalHematiteWood

 

The Mysteries of the Rosary

The Rosary is a prayer that brings us into deep reflection of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The first few times I prayed the Rosary I didn’t really understand this. It took a while for me to become comfortable with the structure of the Rosary before I could really enter into deeper reflection and contemplation.

When I was comfortable with the prayers of the Rosary I began to dig deeper into the “Mysteries” of the Rosary. The Mysteries are actually reflections that accompany each decade of the Rosary. There are four sets of Mysteries, and each set contains five Mysteries for a total of twenty Mysteries.

The Mysteries help us to focus on a specific moment in Christ’s life and ministry, and they offer us lessons that we can apply to our faith.

Each set of Mysteries comes with a recommended schedule of which days of the week to pray them, as most recently laid out by Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae. While it is not mandatory to follow this schedule or to even pray the Rosary with these Mysteries in mind, it certainly is helpful in contemplating the gospels and praying in communion with the entire Church.

Let’s take a look at the Mysteries of the Rosary:

The Joyful Mysteries

A reflection on the birth and childhood of Christ, the Joyful Mysteries take us from the angel visiting Mary in the garden through the finding of Jesus in the temple. The joyful Mysteries are suggested to be prayed on Mondays and Saturdays.

The Annunciation

This Mystery is based on Luke 1: 26-38, which describes the angel appearing to Mary to tell her that she will be with child.
Isaiah 7: 10-14 also lends to meditation on this mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate humility.

The Visitation

This Mystery is based on Luke 1: 39-45 where Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth. Much of the “Hail Mary” prayer comes from this passage.
Isaiah 40: 1-11 and John 1: 19-23 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate charity.

The Nativity

This Mystery is based on Matthew 2: 1-12 and Luke 2: 1-20 where the birth of Jesus is described.
Micah 5: 1-4 and Galatians 4:1 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate poverty.

The Presentation

This Mystery is based on Luke 2: 22-35 where Jesus is presented to the Lord by Joseph and Mary in the Temple in Jerusalem.
Hebrews 9: 6-14 also lends to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate obedience.

The Finding of Jesus in the Temple

This Mystery is based on Luke 2: 41-52 where Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the temple listening to and talking with the teachers and He asks them “Did you not know I must be in my Father’s house?”
John 12: 44-50 and 1 Corinthians 2: 6-16 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate piety.

The Luminous Mysteries

The newest set of Mysteries is called the Luminous Mysteries. These were suggested by Pope John Paul II in Rosarium Virginis Mariae in 2002. They cover the ministry of Jesus, from His baptism through the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. The Luminous Mysteries are prayer on Thursdays.

The Baptism in the Jordan

This Mystery is based on Matthew 3: 13-17, Mark 1: 9-11, Luke 3: 21-22, and John 1: 29-34 in which Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate commitment.

The Wedding at Cana

This Mystery is based on John 2: 3-10.
John 13: 14-15; Luke 6: 27-28, 37; Luke 9: 23; and John 15:12 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate fidelity.

The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God

This Mystery is based on Mark 1: 14-15 and Luke 4: 18-19, 21.
Matthew 5: 38-39, 43-44; Matthe 6: 19-21; Matthew 7: 12; and Matthew 10: 8 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate conversion.

The Transfiguration

This Mystery is based on Matthew 17: 1-8 and Luke 9: 30-33.
Matthew 5: 14, 16; John 1: 4-5, 18; and 2 Corinthians 3: 18 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate promise.

The Institution of the Eucharist

This Mystery is based on Luke 22: 14-20
John 13: 1; Matthew 26: 18; Matthew 5: 14, 19-20; 1 Corinthians 11: 26; John 17: 20-21; and 1 Corinthians 12: 13, 26-27 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate grace.

The Sorrowful Mysteries

A reflection on the death of Jesus, from the agony in the garden through the crucifixion, the Sorrrowful Mysteries are prayed on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The Agony in the Garden

This Mystery is based on Matthew 26: 36-46; Mark 14: 26-42; Luke 22: 39-53; and John 18: 1-12.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate repentance.

The Scourging at the Pillar

This Mystery is based on Matthew 27: 15-26.
Mark 15: 1-15 and Isaiah 50: 5-9 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate purity.

The Crowning of Thorns

This Mystery is based on Matthew 27: 27-31, Mark 15: 16-19, and John 19: 1-6.
Luke 23: 6-11; Matthew 16: 24-28; and Isaiah 52: 13-53: 10 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate courage.

The Carrying of the Cross

This Mystery is based on Luke 23: 26-32.
Mark 8: 31-38; Matthew 16: 20-25; John 19: 17-22; and Philippians 2: 6-11 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate patience.

The Crucifixion

This Mystery is based on Mark 15: 33-39; Luke 23: 33-46; and John 19: 23-37.
Acts 22: 22-24 and Hebrews 9: 11-14 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate self-renunciation.

The Glorious Mysteries

These Mysteries are a reflection on Jesus defeating sin and death. The glorious Mysteries are prayed on Sundays and Wednesdays.

The Resurrection

This Mystery is based on Matthew 28: 1-10; Mark 16:1-18; Luke 24: 1-12; and John 20: 1-10.
Romans 6: 1-14 and 1 Corinthians 15: 1-11 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate faith.

The Ascension

This Mystery is based on Luke 24: 44-53 and Matthew 28: 16- 20.
Acts 1: 1-11 and Ephesians 2: 4-7 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate hope.

The Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles

This Mystery is based on John 14: 15-21; Acts 2: 1-11, 4:23-31; 11: 15-18.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate love.

The Assumption of Mary

This Mystery reflects on John 11: 17-27; 1 Corinthians 15: 20-28, 42-57; and Revelation 21: 1-6.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate eternal happiness.

The Coronation of Mary

This Mystery reflects on Matthew 5: 1-12; 2 Peter 3: 10; and Revelation 7: 1-4, 9-12; 21: 1-6.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate Marian devotion.

Reflecting on the Mysteries While Praying

There is a lot going on while praying the Rosary. Knowing the prayers, keeping track of the order to pray each prayer, praying the prayers wholeheartedly, and meditating on the Mysteries of the Rosary can be quite a task. Bringing all of these moving parts together into a prayer of quiet and contemplation simply takes time and practice.

One way to increase the meditative atmosphere of the Rosary is to pray a scriptural Rosary. This involves reading a relevant verse from scripture relating to the current Mystery before each Hail Mary in the decade. This makes the praying of the Rosary more time-consuming, but you will find the true meaning of each Mystery and you will achieve a much deeper appreciation for each Mystery through this method of praying, which will help you ability to contemplate the Mysteries while praying the Rosary regularly.

You can find an audio recording of a Scriptural Rosary for each set of Mysteries at Rosary Army, and you can find it in print form at the Catholic Company.
Click Here for Audio Recordings of the Rosary and the Scriptural Rosary.
Click Here for a Print Version of the Scriptural Rosary.

The Prayers of the Rosary

Sign of the Cross
“In the name  of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”


Apostle’s Creed
I believe in God, the  Father almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,  born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hell. The third day He rose again from  the dead . He ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father almighty. He shall come again to judge the living and the dead. I  believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen


Our Father
“Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily read, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen”


Hail Mary
“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”


Glory Be
“Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.”


Fatima Prayer
“Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell; lead all souls into Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.”


Hail, Holy Queen (Salve Regina)
“Hail, Holy Queen, mother of mercy; our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us. And after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.”


O God, Whose…
“O God, whose only-begotten Son by His life, death and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life; grant, we beseech Thee, that by meditating upon these Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.”


Memorare
Remember oh most Blessed Virgin Mary that never was it known, that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession, was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, we fly unto thee, oh virgin of virgins, our Mother. To you do we come, before you we stand, sinful and sorrowful. Oh mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions, but in your mercy, hear and answer them. Amen.






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Praying Through Protests at Mass

By Rhen

I grew up in a town of less than a thousand people, and I went to college in a conservative little town of twelve thousand  secluded in the woods of Upper Michigan. I never once in my life experienced protesters at Mass, until I moved to St. Paul and started attending the Cathedral here.

Protesters Before Mass

This past weekend as we entered Mass there were four or five protesters outside of the entrance to the Cathedral (and an even greater number of TV cameras, of course). I couldn’t even tell what exactly they were protesting because one of their signs was about traditional families and one was about child abuse. I sat in the pew fuming about protesters disrupting people entering into the prayer of Mass until I realized we were halfway through the homily and I had no idea what had happened for the past fifteen minutes. I let the protesters ruin my prayer and my focus on the Mass. I allowed myself to be overcome with anger and frustration that took me out of the prayer. The protesters won.

Protesters During Mass

Last year there was a ballot issue concerning gay marriage in the state. One of the weekends leading up to the election in a group of activists showed up at Mass wearing rainbow sashes. They went up to communion knowing full-well that the Church refuses communion to those using the Mass to make a political statement, and then after being denied communion and instead given a blessing they went back to their pew and remained standing while the rest of the congregation kneeled. Following the source and summit of the Catholic faith a group of brightly-dressed people begging for attention and intentionally positioning themselves to distract others from the prayer of the Mass took the moment of reflection and prayer and turned it into a political demonstration.

What Do We Do In These Situations?

Every time that I have witnessed protesters at Mass at the Cathedral in St. Paul it has been handled very well by the staff of the Cathedral. They make a short, matter-of-fact statement about the Church’s stance on whatever the controversial issue is and announce that those using the Mass as a political protest will not be given communion, and then they move on with Mass as normal.

Even when the protesters are handled well, though, it is really tough to keep my focus on the Mass. When I’ve just received the body of Christ I want to pray, reflect, and maybe join in singing the communion antiphon when I’ve returned to my pew. They guy standing defiantly in front of me wearing rainbows is not lending to a prayerful, reflective atmosphere (and he certainly isn’t swaying me toward his cause with this behavior).

What should we do when we are having a difficult time focusing in Mass? The cause of distraction might be protesters, but it also might be somebody playing show tunes on the piano in the church basement during the Eucharistic prayer (yes, that has actually happened to me), or the guy in the next pew using his iPad during Mass. We have to find a way to focus and pray through any distraction that comes up during the Mass.

Here are a few tips that I have found helpful:

-The obvious first recommendation is to pray for the ability to focus. Sometimes I have found it most helpful to vent my frustration to God and let it all out to Him so that I can re-focus on the Mass with a clear mind.

-If it is still before Mass or during a time of reflection, such as after Communion, commit all of your focus to a structured prayer like the Rosary or the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy. I like to be able to hold a rosary in my hand, close my eyes, and have a set of familiar, comfortable prayers to go through so that I can completely take my mind off of any distractions.

-Immerse yourself in the Mass. Read along during the readings. Use a missalette to read and follow the prayers of the priest and the congregation throughout Mass.

What do you think? How do you focus when there is a major distraction, such as protesters, during Mass?






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