Mary Queen of Heaven

In the Catholic calendar, May is a month where we pay special homage to Mary our Mother, Our Blessed Lady. Here are some ideas on how to do that throughout the month:

  1. Attend daily Mass – if you are unable to attend Mass every day, try going an extra day or two during the week.
  2. Pray the rosary every day – Our Lady of Fatima urged the seers to pray the rosary every day, during each of her six apparitions in Portugal. Are you a bit rusty when it comes to praying the rosary? Check out EWTN’s guide , install a rosary app on your smartphone, ask a friend or family member to pray it with you, or pray the rosary with Mother Angelica and her Sisters . And if you’re unable to pray the rosary, why not start with a decade a day!
  3. Put a picture of Mary in every room, and every time your eyes fall on her, offer up a little prayer.  And if you don’t have that many pictures  of Mary (I don’t!) google ‘Mother Mary’ and print off your favourites.
  4. Talking about favourite pictures of Mary, choose your top picture and use is as the wallpaper or background to your phone/ tablet/ laptop/ work computer for the month! This makes for a great starting point for evangelisation when a friend or colleague catches a glimpse of your screen!
  5. Make a pilgrimage – you don’t have to go all the way to Lourdes, Fatima or Mexico City! Plan a week-end to Knock or Walsingham, or go visit a local shrine or grotto- and invite your friends! Take a picture and share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram  AND Pinterest!
  6. Mary Prayer FocusCreate a prayer focus– a statue of Mary, some candles, rosary beads, a bible… and if you don’t have a statue of Mary, May is the time to get one! Veritas sell statues of Mary from e4.50 (and deliver free in Ireland!)
  7. Blue is the Marian colour, so, wear something blue every day– that way you’ll start your day by thinking about honouring our Heavenly Mother! And, if you don’t have many blue clothes, a good back up is blue nail varnish! Another opportunity to tell people about Mary when people comment on the  interesting colour of your nails!
  8. Read about Mary! Pope John Paul II wrote Redemptoris Mater, an encyclical on the blessed Virgin Mary in the life of the pilgrim Church. Or, just look up ‘Mary’ in the index in your Catechism or YouCat, and work your way through. Also, when he was cardinal, Pope Emeritus Benedict wrote an excellent book about  Mary entitled “Mary: The Church at the Source, with Hans Urs von Balthasar.
  9. Celebrate! Share the Marian love with colleagues and bring in some celebratory cakes into work to share! @UKCatholicGirl wrote a great blog post about what happened when she decided to buy cakes to share in the law firm’s office where she worked, to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption. You could do this on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima (13th May) or  the Visitation (31st May), or any other day… just because its the month of Mary!
  10. Watch a film about Mary– and invite some friends round and watch The 13th Day, Lourdes, or The Story of Bernadette.

St Catherine of Siena is an amazing Italian 14th century saint and Doctor of the Church. At the age of seven, she consecrated her virginity to Christ and she became a Dominican Tertiary aged 16. A mystic, philosopher and theologian, she worked to bring the papacy back from Avignon, France to Rome.

Below are 10 quotations of St Catherine, taken from “The Letters of Catherine of Siena” and “Catherine of Siena: The Dialogue”

10 Quotes from St Catherine of Siena

  • “Do not be satisfied with little things, because God wants great things!”  Letter T127
  •  There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers.
  • “Is God not more ready to forgive than we are to sin?” Letter T178
  • “Holy Spirit, come into my heart, and in your power draw it to you.” Prayer 6
  • “You, God, made yourself lowly and small to make us great!” Dialogue 134.
  • “It is only through shadows that one comes to know the light.” Prayer 24
  • “A full belly does not make for a chaste spirit.” Dialogue, 125.
  • “Out of darkness is born the light.” Letter T211
  • “The soul is in God and God in the soul, just as the fish is in the sea and the sea in the fish.” Dialogue 2
  • “The human heart is always drawn by love.” Dialogue 26

 

 

Several years ago, a priest suggested to me and a few other young adults that we go into Birmingham on a Saturday afternoon, and ask people if they knew about Jesus Christ. It sounded terrifying. I thought the priest was being mischevieous, testing us, and, if I was to do it, would only do so with suitable protection, like a stab proof vest! Approach strangers? Stop them in the street? Tell them about Christ? Surely, I thought, there must be some easier way to evangelize…

Nightfever at St Teresa's Carmelite Church, Clarendon Street, Dublin

Ireland’s first Nightfever, St Teresa’s Carmelite Church, Clarendon Street, Dublin

Yesterday, I found myself standing at the top of Grafton Street, a busy shopping and tourist area in the heart of Dublin, wearing a high-vis jacket greeting passers by and offering them a candle.

The reason for this was Nightfever. An idea born out of World Youth Day 2005, it is an ‘open church’ night. Young missionaries go out in in pairs, as Jesus sent the disciples, offering candles to passers-by, inviting them to light the candle inside the church.

Walking down Grafton Street last night, Dubliners and tourists would have heard the tunes from buskers as they ended a day’s shopping, or began a night out. However, when passing St Teresa’s Church, Clarendon Street, they would have heard beautiful hymns, pouring out of the church onto the street.

Inside, the beauty of the church was illuminated by candlelight, from the hundreds of votive lights placed around the altar. Priests were available for people who had questions, wanted to talk, or go to Confession. People flowed in from the streets to light their candles, hear the music, sit, kneel, think, look, talk, pray… For some, it had been a while since they visited a Catholic church, for others, it was their first visit.

Whether the visitors stayed for a few minutes, a half hour, or the whole evening. Some passers by accepted the candles offered by the missionaries and went on their way. Others simply said “no thank you” and walked on. But even these may remember the warm and welcoming smile of a stranger on a Saturday night. Seeds were planted last night. We pray that the Holy Spirit may nurture these seeds and pour out upon them His inspiration, grace and love.

The next Nightfever in Dublin will take place on 20th June. To get a flavour of the mission, take a look at the video below…

generationbenedict

Lisette Carr is a French teacher, youth worker living in Dublin. She is currently studying for an MA in Marriage and Family at Maryvale Institute.She writes a blog about good things happening in the Catholic world at www.catholicismrocks.wordpress.com. With Collette, she is co-editrix of the GenerationBenedict blog.

 

On Shrove Tuesday, Collette and I had the idea for this blog. I remembered the ‘joyful noise’ that was made on social media about the Pope’s 2010 visit to the UK. I hoped that the GenerationBenedict blog would make more ‘joyful noise’ for Benedict, especially at a time when the media spotlight was on the Catholic Church.

In his 2009 World Communications Day message, Pope Benedict said;

It falls, in particular, to young people, who have an almost spontaneous affinity for the new means of communication, to take on the responsibility for the evangelization of this “digital continent”.

The GenerationBenedict blog has…

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A new website, Adopt a Cardinal, has been set up ahead of the conclave. The idea is that lay people, an important part of the Body of Christ, may contribute through prayers to the Holy Spirit that He may guide, protect and enlighten the adopted Cardinal before, during and after the conclave. Already, over 5000 people have signed up to adopt and pray for a Cardinal.

There are no set prayers to say for the adopted cardinal. ‘Adopters’ pray and fast according to their capacity and inclination. Archbishop Martin, of the Archdiocese of Dublin, Ireland, recently noted that

the prayer of the entire Church for the election of a new Pope is part of a long tradition of invoking the inspiration of the Holy Spirit on those called to be electors and on the one who will be called to guide the universal Church.

Archbishop Martin, Dublin

Follow the conversation on Twitter #adoptacardinal and visit www.adoptacardinal.org to adopt your Cardinal!

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The relic of Saint Don Bosco arrive in Ireland today, as part of a world wide pilgrimage, to celebrate the bi-centenary of Don Bosco’s birth (1815-2015). The casket has already been to Italy, Spain, the Americas, Africa, Australia and Asia.

Saint Don Bosco was an Italian priest, an amazing man, who dedicated his life to working with under privileged youth, transforming their lives. His approach was to show them love rather than punishing them, and he taught them to do good deeds, live a disciplined Christian life, and of course, passing the Faith onto them. At his canonisation, he was given the title “Father and Teacher of the Youth”.

Remember God does not pay us for results, but for effort

Saint Don Bosco

The pilgrimage began on 31st January 2009, the anniversary of his death and continues in Ireland until 7th March 2013. You can find details of the route on the Salesians visit website- http://www.donboscorelics.ie , where they also have lots of information on the visit, resources and videos.

Itinerary of the visit of the Relic of St John Bosco to Ireland

Generation Benedict

40 days, 40 reflections, 40 young people on how Pope Benedict has touched their hearts & why they are proud to be part of #GenerationBenedict

Pope Benedict has been responsible for the conversion, reversion, vocation and the deepening of faith of many young Catholics. At the time of his visit to the UK, many Catholics were luke-warm, even living their lives completely at odds to the Church. During this visit, and also World Youth Days in Cologne, Sydney and Madrid, he has connected with them through his eloquence, his love and genuine concern. Who is God calling you to be?

Pope Benedict will be truly missed by our generation. Those who have met him look upon him fondly as a gentle grandfatherly figure, as he has pointed us towards Christ, at a point in time when many of us were at a crossroads, telling us not to settle for second best, but to strive for sainthood.

Over the next 40 days of Lent, 40 young people from Generation Benedict will each be sharing how he has touched their hearts and changed their lives and changed their hearts.

Please visit our Lenten blog, our tribute to Pope Benedict. We invite you to comment and share your own experiences on the blog and on Twitter using #generationbenedict

Pope Benedict

A Novena is 9 days of prayer, often said in the Catholic Church to obtain special graces. A novena can be said with a group of people, or in private. Below is a novena praying for protection, grace, and for the intentions of Pope Benedict. It is taken from praymorenovenas.com. Visit the website, sign up, and they will email the novena to you every day as a reminder! Why not suggest  you  pray the novena together with family and friends? If you are unable to meet for it, you could agree to pray at a certain time together- set a reminder on your phone!

Heavenly Father, Your Providence guides the Church and the successor to St. Peter, Pope Benedict XVI. May he be protected at all times from spiritual attacks so that he may lead Your Church to greater holiness and unity through your Holy Spirit.

Prince of Peace, we come to you today to ask for your grace of peace for our Holy Father. There are many problems in the world and in the Church that he must address everyday. We beg you for peace in the world, peace in our hearts as we face the brokenness of a fallen world and peace for the Pope as he shepherds your Church.

Dear Lord, your servant Benedict has given his life for the Church and for You. As he now steps down from leadership, please protect his health as he grows older so that he can continue to serve you in prayer.

Jesus, you gave to us a great Pope in Benedict XVI. You blessed him with wisdom, insight and intelligence to help guide your Church on an intellectual level. We pray for his ministry as a teacher specifically through his writing. We pray that his writings about you will reach the whole world with your saving message. We pray for a deeper understanding of our faith through the Pope’s writings.

Jesus, we pray for our beloved Pope and for his intentions. We pray for his personal intentions and for his recent decision to resign. That your will be done through the election of his successor.

Lord, source of eternal life and truth, give to your shepherd, Benedict XVI, a spirit of courage and right judgment, a spirit of knowledge and love. By governing with fidelity those entrusted to his care in these last days of his rule, may he, as successor to the Apostle Peter and the Vicar of Christ, build your Church into a sacrament of unity, love and peace for all the world.

[Insert your personal petitions for the Pope here]

Let us pray for Benedict, the pope.

May the Lord preserve him,
give him a long life,
make him blessed upon the earth,
and not hand him over
to the power of his enemies.

May your hand be upon your holy servant.
And upon your son, whom you have anointed.

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Glory Be…

Amen.

Cardinals in Sistine Chapel

Heavenly Father, We, the People of God, gathered in solidarity as did the disciples in the Upper Room, pray for the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the cardinals who will be in conclave for the election of the next Vicar of our Lord Jesus Christ.

May the hearts of our cardinals be open to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, beyond any human judgment, to elect the candidate most pleasing to You, Heavenly Father, and who will guide the Church at this momentous time in history at the beginning of the Third Millennium.

We invoke our Mother Mary, united in prayer with the disciples in the Upper Room, to intercede for our cardinals to select the next Holy Father in docility to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, her divine Spouse.

Holy Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, we entrust this conclave to your maternal and Immaculate Heart, and offer these prayers for your guidance and protection over the choosing of the next Vicar of your Son:

1 Our Father
1 Hail Mary
1 Glory Be

Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us!

Prayer taken from http://www.xt3.com/
 

Update 13/02/2013

The Liturgy Office of England and Wales has issued some prayer resources for the resignation of the Pope and the election of  a new one.

Gift of Shepherd Prayers

A few hours ago, on the Feast of our Lady of Lourdes and on the World day for the sick, Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation. As from 28th February 2013, at 8pm, the Chair of St Peter will be vacant. This is the first time in over 600 years that a Pope has resigned. Here is the full text of his declaration:

Dear Brothers,
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013
BENEDICTUS PP XVI

For many young people in the UK, and the world over, he is very much loved. For some, that may seem like a strange word to use for an aging religious man whom most have never met. However, for a vast number of young people, he has touched their lives, his words have spoken to their hearts, and he has been responsible for the conversion, reversion and deepening of faith of so many young people. For this, they have a great deal of affection for him, calling him El Papa, Papa B or even their German Shepherd. Some even see him as a grandfatherly figure.

Among many people there is confusion, shock and even tears. People are saddened  but we must recognise the bravery of His Holiness, who has sometimes been referred to as the reluctant Pope, in recognising his strength has deteriorated and making the decision to do something that is almost unheard of in the Catholic Church.

In the book, Light of the WorldPeter Seewald asked the Pope if he could imagine a situation in which he would consider his resignation appropriate. The Pope replied;

“Yes. If a Pope clearly realizes that he is no longer physically, psychologically, and spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office, then he has a right and, under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign.”

In his blog, On this Rock, Fr John Hollowell wrote a post over a year ago entitled Why it might be good if Pope Benedict does resign. The post points out

I believe that if Pope Benedict were to resign it could be very instructive and catechetical for both the Church and the world at large.

Blessed Pope John Paul II chose not to resign, and I think it was because his NOT resigning allowed him an opportunity to teach the world about suffering, about the dignity of the elderly, and it gave him a chance to put into practice the teaching on end of life issues (specifically the teaching he helped clarify – the idea that all people should be hydrated and fed until life is no longer sustainable).

Just as JP II clinging to his papacy to the very end served to educate the world, I think Benedict RESIGNING could serve as a very helpful and much needed teaching moment as well.

We must continue to pray for Pope Benedict. A worldwide rosary will be said today at 3pm GMT for the Pope and for the Church. We should also continue to pray for the cardinals, his successor and the Catholic Church.