Saint Sharbel Makhluf

Youssef Antoun Makhlouf was born in 1828, in Bekaa Kafra (North Lebanon). He had a true Christian upbringing, which had given him a passion for prayer. Then he followed his two hermit uncles in the hermitage of the St Antonious Kozhaya monastery and was converted to monastic and hermetical life.

In 1851, he left his family village and headed for the Our Lady of Maifouk monastery to spend his first monastic year, and then he went to the St Maron monastery in Annaya, where he entered the Maronite Order, carrying the name Charbel, a name of one of the Antioch church martyrs of the second century. On November 1st. 1853, he exposed his ceremonial vows in St Maron's monastery - Annaya. Then he completed his theological studies in the St Kobrianous and Justina monastery in Kfifan, Batroun.

He was ordained a priest in Bkerky, the Maronite Patriarchate, on July 23rd, 1859. He lived 16 years in the St Maron's monastery - Annaya. From there, he entered, on February 15th, 1875, the St Peter & Paul hermitage, which belongs to the monastery. He was a typical saint and hermit, who spent his time praying and worshipping. Rarely had he left the hermitage where he followed the way of the saintly hermits in prayers, life and practice.

St Charbel lived in the hermitage for 23 years. On December 16th, 1898 he was struck with an illness while performing the holy mass. He died on Christmas' eve, December 24th, 1898, and was buried in the St Maron monastery cemetery in Annaya.

Few months later, dazzling lights were seen around the grave. From there, his corpse, which had been secreting sweat and blood, was transferred into a special coffin. Hordes of pilgrims started swarming the place to get his intercession. And through this intercession, God blessed many people with recovery and spiritual graces.

In 1925, his beatification and canonization were proposed for declaration by Pope Pious XI. In 1950, the grave was opened in the presence of an official committee which included doctors who verified the soundness of the body. After the grave had been opened and inspected, the variety of healing incidents amazingly multiplied. A multitude of pilgrims from different religious facets started flocking to the Annaya monastery to get the saint's intercession.

Prodigies reached beyond the Lebanese borders. This unique phenomenon caused a moral revolution, the return to faith and the reviving of the virtues of the soul.

-Taken from: Catholic.org

Liturgical Tips

BASIC QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS, PART 6

4. What is the relationship between popular devotions and culture?

The Catholic faith is thus able to enter into every culture, and people are able to live the faith in their own culhires, once these cultures have been purified of elements foreign to the Catholic faith. While this enculh1ration of the faith takes place in the lihirgy, popular devotions carry the faith a step deeper into the everyday life of a particular culture. When properly ordered to the liturgy, popular devotions perform an irreplaceable function of bringing worship into daily life for people of various cultures and times. "The liturgy is the criterion; it is the living form of the Church as a whole, fed directly by the Gospel. Popular piety is a sign that the faith is spreading its roots into the heart of a people in such a way that it reaches into daily life." Popular devotions alJow the practice of the faith to pass beyond the bounds of the Church's official liturgy and to penneate more thoroughly the daily lives of people in their own culture. 

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/prayers/popular-devotional-practices-basic-questions-and-answers.cfm

 

Educational: Blessed Ceslaus of Poland, O.P. (1180 - 1242)

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Blessed Ceslaus, O.P., (Polish: Czeslaw) was born in approxjmately 1180 in Kam.ien Slc1ski in Silesia, Poland, of the noble family of Odrowciz, and was a relative, possibly the brother, of Saint Hyacinth. Having studied philosophy at Prague, he pursued his theological and juridical stuilies at the Uruversity of Bologna, after which he returned to Cracow, where he held the office of canon and custoilian of the church of Sandorruerz.

About 1218 he accomparued his uncle Ivo, Bishop of Cracow, to Rome. Hearing of the great sanctity of Saint Domiruc, who had recently been attributed the miracle of resuscitating the nephew of Cardinal Stefano di Fossa Nova who had been killed in a fall from his horse, Ceslaus, together with St. Hyacinth, sought admission into the Order of Friars Preachers.

In 1219 Pope Honorius III invited Saint Dominic and his comparuons to take up residence at the ancient Roman basilica of Santa Sabina, which they did by early 1220. Hyacinth and Ceslaus along with their comparuons Herman and Henry were among the first to enter the studium of the Dominican Order at Rome out of which would grow the 16th-century College of Saint Thomas at Santa Maria sopra Minerva and the Pontifical Uruversity of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum in the 20th century. After an abbreviated novitiate Ceslaus, Hyacinth and their comparuons received the re(jgious habit of the Order from St. Domjnjc himself in 1220.

Their novitiate completed, St. Domjruc sent the young friars back as missionaries to their own country. Estab(jshing a friary at Friesach in Austria, they proceeded to Cracow whence Ceslaus was sent by St. Hyacinth to Prague, the metropolis of Bohemia. 

Labouring with much fruit throughout the Diocese of Prague, Ceslaus went to Wroclaw, where he founded a large priory, and then extended his apostolic labours over a vast territory, embracing Bohemia, Poland, Pomerarua, and Saxony. 

Sometime after the death of St. Hyacinth he was chosen the Provincial Superior for Poland. Whilst he was superior of the convent of Wroclaw all Poland was threatened by the Mongols. The city of Wroclaw being besieged, the people sought the aid of Blessed Ceslaus, who by hjs prayers miraculously averted the impending calamity. Four persons are said to have been raised to life by him. He died at Wroclaw on July 15, 1242. In 1963, Pope Paul VI recognized Bl. Ceslaus - next to St. John the Baptist - as the main patron saint of the city of Wroclaw.

-taken from: www.revolvy.com

 

Liturgical Tips

BASIC QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS, PART 5

4. What is the relationship between popular devotions and culture?

Popular devotions arise in the encounter between the Catholic faith and culture. As the Church brings the faith into a culture, there are two kinds of transformation that take place. First of all, by introducing the Catholic faith, the Church transforms the culture, leaving the imprint of the faith on the culture. At the same time, however, the Church assimilates certain aspects of the culture, as some elements of the culture become absorbed and integrated into the life of the Church. This twofold process can be seen in the development of popular devotional practices. "In genuine forms of popular piety, the Gospel message assimilates expressive forms particular to a given culture while also permeating the consciousness of that culture with the content of the Gospel." 

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/prayers/popular-devotional-practices-basic-questions-and-answers.cfm

 

 

Educational: Saint John of Cologne, O.P. (d. 1572)

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Night now is over, rising sun casts splendor over the triumph of those valiant soldiers fallen in battle on the field of Corkum; great in their courage! 

These words begin the Lauds hymn for the feast of St. John of Cologne, also known as St. John of Gorkum, and his 18 companions who were martyred in Holland by Calvinists. With the spread of Calvinism during the Reformation, the area of Gorkum had become overrun with Calvinists who would have nothing to do with the Catholic priests still living in the vicinity. So they imprisoned and tortured them in an attempt to get them to renounce the Church's teaching. These priests and religious, many of whom were Franciscans, remained steadfast in their faith. 

When St. John, who was serving in a parish in the nearby Hornar, heard of their plight, he obtained permission from his superiors to go and serve the priests in cognito and offer them the sacraments. Eventually, he was caught and was subjected to the same torments that his fellow priests suffered. Through various methods of torture, the Calvinists sought to get the priests to renounce the Eucharist and Papal supremacy. Yet, 19 of the 20 captured remained faithful. 

As time went on, the Calvinists continued to try to get the faithful priests and religious to proclaim heresy. U1timately, they would not, and so they were brought to Briel, and on the night of July 8th, they were taken to a barn outside the city. As they walked along, they heard one another's confessions, and upon arriving, they were hanged. One Dominican, eleven Franciscans, two Pr<"emonstratensians, one Canon Regular of St. Augustine, and four secular priests offered their lives as witnesses to the truth of the Church's teachings on the Eucharist and the Papacy. 

That night, a couple of the Catholics in Gorkum, some of whom even thought there was a chance for the release of the prisoners, had visions of a troop of martyrs. Moreover, a shrub bearing 19 white flowers is said to have sprw1g up at the site of their martyrdom. Many miracles have been attributed to their intercession, especially the curing of hernias. They are referred by the Roman Catholic Church as the Martyrs of Gorkum. The group was canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1867. Their remains are honored at a shrine built to their honor in Brielle.

-taken from: www.catholic.org & www.franciscanmedia.org

 

Liturgical Tips

Basic Questions and Answers, Part 4

3. What is the relationship between popular devotions and the Bible?

As the Bible stands at the core of what God has revealed to the Church, sound popular devotions should naturally be strongly imbued with biblical themes, language, and imagery. Pope Paul VI explained, "Today it is recognized as a general need of Christian piety that every form of worship should have a biblical imprint." He applied this in particular to the example of Marian devotions: "What is needed is that texts of prayers and chants should draw their inspiration and their wording from the Bible, and above all that devotion to the Virgin should be imbued with the great themes of the Christian message." In speaking of the rosary, Pope John Paul II insisted that it is not a substitute for the reading of the Bible; "on the contrary, it presupposes and promotes" prayerful reading of the Holy Scriptures. While the mysteries of the rosary "do no more than outline the fundamental elements of the li.fe of Christ, they easily draw the mind to a more expansive reflection on the rest of the Gospel, especially when the Rosary is prayed in a setting of prolonged recollection."

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/prayers/popular-devotional-practices-basic-questions-and-answers.cfm

 

Educational: Saint Maria Goretti (1890 - 1902)

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Born on October 16 1890 in Corinaldo, in the Ancona Province in Italy, her farmworker father moved his family to Ferrier di Conca, near Anzio. When he died of malaria, Maria's mother had to struggle to feed her children. Maria's mother, brothers, and sisters worked in the fields while she cooked, sewed, kept the house clean, and watched her youngest sister Teresa. Though the family's circumstances were extremely difficult, they were very close and loved God.

On July 5, 1902, Maria was sitting outside the steps of her home sewing her 18-year-old brother or neighbor -it is unclear which - Alessandro's shirt while he threshed beans in the barnyard. As she concentrated on her sewing, Alessandro surprised her and grabbed her from her steps. When he tried to rape her, Maria cried that it was a mortal sin and warned he would go to hell.

When Alessandro persisted, she fought him and screamed, "No! It is a sin! God does not want it!" At her words, Alessandro began to choke her and she said she would rather die than submit. Upon hearing her words, Alessandro pulled out a knife and stabbed her eleven times. When she attempted to reach the door, he stabbed her three more times then fled.

Teresa woke to the sounds of her sister's cries and began to cry. Maria's family returned home and found her bleeding on the floor. They quickly took her to the nearest hospital in Nettuno, where she underwent surgery without anesthesia.

Unfortunately, her wounds were beyond the surgeon's ability to help. Halfway through the surgery, the man asked her, "Maria, think of me in Paradise." As she lay on the table, she looked up at him and said, "Well, who knows which of us is going to be there first?" She did not realize how terrible her situation was, and the surgeon replied, "You, Maria." She said, "Then I will think gladly of you." She also mentioned concerns for her mother. The next day, Maria forgave Alessandro and said she wanted to see him in Heaven with her. She died that day while looking upon an image of the Virgin Mary and holding a cross to her chest.

Shortly after Maria's family discovered her, Alexander was captured and questioned. He admitted Maria was a physical virgin as he was unable to assault her and he was sentenced to thirty years. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria's mother.

Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her 82-year-old mother, two sisters and a brother, appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter's. Three years later at Maria's canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.

-taken from: www.catholic.org & www.franciscanrnedia.org

Liturgical Tips

Popular Devotional Practices:

Basic Questions and Answers, Part 3

2. What is the relationship between popular devotions and the liturgy?

As Pope Paul VT recognized, maintaining the proper balance [between liturgy and devo­tions] may not always be easy and may require patient and persistent effort. He indicated that there are two extreme attitudes to be avoided. On the one hand, he rejected the position of those "who scorn, a priori, devotions of piety which, in their correct forms, have been recommend­ed by the Magisterium, who leave them aside and in this way create a vacuum which they do not fill. They forget that the Council has said that devotions of piety should harmonize with the liturgy, not be suppressed." On the other hand, he likewise did not accept the position of those who, without wholesome liturgical and pastoral criteria, mix practices of piety and liturgical acts in hybrid celebrations. It sometimes happens that novenas or similar practices are inserted into the very celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. This creates the danger that the Lord's Memorial Rite, instead of being the culmination of the meeting of the Christian community, becomes the oc­casion, as it were, for devotional practices. Here Pope Paul VI admonished us that "exercises of piety should be harmonized with the liturgy, not merged into it."

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/prayers/popular-devotional-practices-basic-questions-and-answers.cfm

Educational: Saint Cyril of Alexandria (367 - 444)

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St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop and Doctor of the Church was born atAlexandria, Egypt in 376. He was nephew of the patriarch of that city, Theophilus. Cyril received a classical and theological education at Alexandria and was ordained by his uncle. He accompanied Theophilus to Constantinople in 403 and was present at the Synod of the Oak that deposed John Chrysostom, whom he believed guilty of the charges against him.

He succeeded his uncle Theophilus as patriarch of Alexandria on Theophilus' death in 412, but only after a riot between Cyril's supporters and the followers of his rival Timotheus. Cyril at once began a series of attacks against the Novatians, whose churches he closed; the Jews, whom he drove from the city; and governor Orestes, with whom he disagreed about some of his actions.

In 430 Cyril became embroiled with Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, who was preaching that Mary was not the Mother of God since Christ was Divine and not human, and consequently she should not have the word theotokos (God-bearer) applied to her. He persuaded Pope Celestine I to convoke a synod at Rome, which condemned Nestorius, and then did the same at his own synod in Alexandria. Celestine directed Cyril to depose Nestorius, and in 431, Cyril presided over the third General Council at Ephesus, attended by some two hundred bishops, which condemned all the tenets of Nestorius and his followers before the arrival of Archbishop John of Antioch and forty-two followers who believed Nestorius was innocent. When they found what had been done, they held a council of their own and deposed Cyril.

Emperor Theodosius IT arrested both Cyril and Nestorius but released Cyril on the arrival of Papal Legates who confirmed the council's actions against Nestorius and declared Cyril innocent of all charges. Two years later, Archbishop John, representing the moderate Antiochene bishops, and Cyril reached an agreement and joined in the condemnation, and Nestorius was forced into exile.

During the rest of his life, Cyril wrote treatises that clarified the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation and that helped prevent Nestorianism and Pelagianism from taking long-term deep root in the Christian community. He was the most brilliant theologian of the Alexandrian tradition. His writings are characterized by accurate thinking, precise exposition, and great reasoning skills. Among his writings are commentaries on John, Luke, and the Pentateuch, treatises on dogmatic theology, and Apologia against Julian the Apostate, and letters and sermons. He was declared a doctor of the Church by Pope Leo Xill in 1882. His feast day is June 27th. 

-taken from: www.catholic.org

Liturgical Tips

Popular Devotional Practices:

Basic Questions and Answers, Part 2

2. What is the relationship between popular devotions and the liturgy? - Part 1

Since the liturgy is the center of the life of the Church, popular devotions should never be portrayed as equal to the liturgy, nor can they adequately substitute for the liturgy. What is crucial is that popular devotions be in harmony with the liturgy, drawing inspiration from it and ultimately leading back to it. "These devotions should be so drawn up that they harmonize with the liturgical seasons, accord with the sacred liturgy, are in some fashion derived from it, and lead the people to it, since, in fact, the liturgy by its very nature far surpasses any of them." While the liturgy always remains the primary reference point, "the liturgy and popular piety are two forms of worship which are in mutual and fruitful relationship with each other." Personal and family prayer and devotions should flow from and lead to a fuller participation in the liturgy. 

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/prayers/popular-devotional-practices-basic-questions-and-answers.cfm