As usual, St. Brendan's Church was decorated beautifully for Christmas. A beautiful family from the parish eagerly helps us each year with decorating the sanctuary with poinsettias. We are grateful for their assistance, ~~ we need help to size them and to assess each one to find the perfect placement. When the task is complete, it appears it was easy, but there is lots of TLC behind the scenes. It must be perfect for the Messiah, present in the Tabernacle. As Mother Angelica used to say: "Nothing but the best for Jesus!"
Durfee Fair in Fall River, MA is a great show with 200 vendors displaying their hand-crafted goods in time for Christmas shoppers. Every year, we look forward to displaying our hand-made religious items and meeting all the wonderful people. Working during the year on rosaries, rosary bracelets, car rosaries and other items gives us the opportunity to help the missions by selling the items at fairs ~~ both Catholic and secular, like this one at Durfee High School. However, our mission is not only to raise money for our very poor missions, it is also to witness to the people, to talk and evangelize them, to listen and pray for their intentions. We are the only Catholic presence in the secular events. Catholics who have stopped attending church attend these fairs and we are able to greet them and offer some encouraging words to help them come back to the Church. There are so many ways to fulfill our charism - to make Our Lady known and loved. We are grateful to all the attendees who come to our booth to talk with us and to purchase our goods to help support the missions. We pray for all of them when our mission event is finished. May Our Lady hold all them under Her Mantle and bring them close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We are happy to follow what St. John said in his 3rd epistle telling the brothers to help the apostles and disciples as they travelled on their missionary journeys:
"Beloved, you are faithful in all you do for the brothers, especially for strangers; they have testified to your love before the church. Please help them in a way worthy of God to continue their journey. For they have set out for the sake of the Name and are accepting nothing from the pagans. Therefore, we ought to support such persons, so that we may be co-workers in the truth."
MOTHER MARY WILL SEND A SIGN!
We know a lady who told us this true story, as witnessed by her family:
Her aunt was dying and was under hospice care. One day she asked to put on a certain pretty dress and certain pretty "dancing" shoes. The caretakers, knowing that she was dying, agreed promptly and without question. The aunt said often that Mother Mary would send a sign when she was ready to leave the world. The aunt had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother and also Mother Teresa. Her room was decorated with an assortment of holy pictures – which included Blessed Mother and Mother Teresa. As she lay on her bed, a priest came to give her the anointing of the sick. The aunt told the priest that she was sure that Our Lady would give her a sign when her time had arrived. She told the priest of her devotion to Mother Teresa and her love for the Blessed Mother. The priest then said stated: "Well, I am your sign! I am here for only two weeks, I work in India with Mother Teresa’s order. I am your sign! I am only here to learn how to take care of the dying and I will be going back. I am your sign!" The aunt, always believing that Our Lady would let her know believed the priest and she died in the grace of God a couple hours later. She always had confidence in the Virgin Mary. Trust in the Blessed Virgin, She is our Mother and She will never let us down.
Our Lady of the Pillar
In the region of Aragon, northeastern Spain, approximately 150 miles south of Lourdes, France, lies the historic city of Zaragoza with its picturesque view of the Pyrenees mountains that soar almost 10,000 feet. A diverse territory with mountains in the north and south and a great valley in the center, it lies by the Ebro river, the second longest and one of the most important rivers on the Iberian Peninsula. It is a sunny city with a semi-arid climate, (averaging only 12.6 inches of precipitation annually) entirely surrounded by mountains that block off moist air from the Atlantic and Mediterranean. At times, temperatures in the summer reach 112. °F and the winters are cool due to fog or because of a dry northwesterly wind known as the Cierzo.
This strategic colony was conquered by Rome in 14 B.C. and named Caesaraugustus after the first Caesar who was reigning at the time. It became an important outpost as a defense against the advancing Visigoth Kingdoms and grew to a large city with an estimated population of 30,000 at its peak. The Muslims arrived in 714, seized the city and controlled it until the 12th century and it soon became a central point for them as they invaded the lands around the Ebro Valley and into France. It prospered and developed into an open, cultural and artistic haven, where intellectuals of all backgrounds and religions flocked.
Four centuries of Muslim rule were finally put to an end when the Christian King, Alfonso I, marched into town and conquered it in 1118. He renamed the city Zaragoza, and made it the capital of the newly formed Kingdom of Aragon. This city was home to King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Castile who would unite Spain as it is today.
All creatures of our God and King, lift up your voices, let us sing: Alleluia, alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beams, thou silver moon that gently gleams,
O praise him, O praise him,
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
As the summer draws to a close, we enjoy looking out our window and watching Our Heavenly Father's little creatures getting their daily nourishment. The hummingbird was a constant visitor and is such a delight to watch. The tiny little bird with its fast flapping wings and long beak are a wonder to behold. Great things come in small packages. The birds were especially active this year - a lot of to and fro traffic, almost like Boston at rush hour. How can one possibly fathom the omniscience and omnipotence of Our God ~ He who created all things! And His Infinite Love ~ it will take an eternity just to begin to ponder! Heaven - it is so close and yet so far. May God be praised, now and forever.
"Beloved, thou dost in accordance with faith whatever thou workest for the brethren and that even when they are strangers. They have borne witness to thy love before the church. Thou wilt do well to see them off on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For on behalf of the Name they have gone forth, taking nothing from the pagans. We therefore ought to support such as these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth." - 3 John: 1: 5-8
Can the Our Father point to the Sacraments? There are so many layers to our Faith, and yes, it is possible. Here is just a thought:
THE SEVEN PETITIONS OF THE OUR FATHER ~ RELATES TO THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS
Our Father, Who art in Heaven -- by Baptism we are made children of our heavenly Father
Hallowed be Thy Name - - By Holy Orders, the priest worships God at the Altar, praising His Name
Thy Kingdom Come - - By the Last Rites, we prepare for the Kingdom of God
Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven - - In Matrimony, in the family, we struggle and learn the ways of God
Give us this day our Daily Bread - - In the Holy Eucharist, we ask God for our Daily Bread ~ our Food for the journey
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those - -In Confession we receive forgiveness, and learn to forgive
Lead us not into temptation - In Confirmation, we are strengthened with Fortitude against temptations and to practice virtue
Corpus Christi at St. Brendan's is always inspiring. This year we had the privilege of having two priests, one of whom (Fr. Fiorillo) was ordained the previous Saturday. It is such a blessing to give witness to the Supreme Being, Our God and Savior, present in the Blessed Sacrament. The priests and the parishioners manifested their great love and reverence for this most sublime Gift. The weather was perfect. Thanks be to God. O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine.
In May, the month of Mary, Fr. Mullen invested parishioners in the brown scapular after Holy Mass. It was inspiring to see so many parishioners respond to Our Lady's wishes and take part in this special devotion. May God send abundant blessings on Fr. Mullen who devised the plan, surely inspired by the Blessed Virgin. We will pray that more parishes will do so.
Our BLessed Mother said to St. Simon Stock: “Take this Scapular, it shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger and a pledge of peace. Whosoever dies wearing this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire,” and, “Wear it devoutly and perseveringly. It is my garment. To be clothed in it means you are continually thinking of me, and I in turn, am always thinking of you and helping you to secure eternal life.”
There was also an additional promise given by the Blessed Virgin Mary later to Pope John XXII: “I, the Mother of Grace, shall descend on the Saturday after their death and whomsoever I shall find in purgatory I shall free so that I may lead them to the holy mountain of life everlasting.” Pope Pius XII referred to the Scapular as “The Sign of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” The Pope also said the Scapular marks us as one of Mary’s chosen children, and becomes for us a “Garment of Grace.” The first Scapular to be worn must be blessed and imposed by a priest using the formula contained in the Roman ritual for reception into the Confraternity of the Scapular. The formula for enrollment can be printed. The Scapular, being a sacred object, when it becomes worn out must be either buried or burned. Once enrolled, subsequent scapulars need not be blessed as the blessing and imposition are attached to the wearer for life.
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TO ADORE OUR LORD!
The Franciscan Handmaids of the Immaculate seek daily to draw closer to Our Lord. Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament is fundamental to Our spiritual life as we seek to conform our hearts unto His. Additionally, praying the Liturgy of the Hours, the rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and the Sorrows, we place ourselves in the Immaculate Heart of Mary, asking Her to bring us closer to Her Son.