Free Prayers of the Faithful

ChurchYear.Net still has free Prayers of the Faithful up. Please use them freely and you can alter them or amend them if necessary. We have Advent Prayers of the Faithful and if you need intercessions during Christmas or the Christmas season, be sure to utilize our Christmas Prayers of the Faithful too. We also have even more seasons and holidays available. Check them out!

Justin Martyr on Baptism

Holy Water Font

When I took a class entitled “Early Christianity” at my state university, a whole new world was opened to me. I was introduced to the early Church Fathers for the first time. Being into history (I was close to a history minor), I was unable to dismiss the Church Fathers as being irrelevant to my modern day faith.

I began reading them on my own, even buying the 39 volume set of the Fathers put out by Hendrickson Press. My brother and I entered into an independent study course with the professor of the Early Christianity class, and we read many Church Fathers this way. For Jonathan and me, this was not simply an academic exercise; reading the early Fathers changed the way we viewed our own faith.

One of the Fathers who made the biggest impact on me was Justin Martyr (150 AD).  This is primarily because Justin wrote about many practices and beliefs that I recognized, but which also seemed so foreign to me. The best example is Justin’s view on baptism. Even though I was baptized as an infant, I assumed that one was born again when a person accepted Jesus Christ as his “personal Lord and Savior.” Accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior is one very important component of baptism, since baptism is a formal recognition of a commitment to follow Jesus. However, as Justin mentions below, baptism is much more. Emphases mine:

I will also relate the manner in which we dedicated ourselves to God when we had been made new through Christ; lest, if we omit this, we seem to be unfair in the explanation we are making. As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, “Unless you be born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Now, that it is impossible for those who have once been born to enter into their mothers’ wombs, is manifest to all. And how those who have sinned and repent shall escape their sins, is declared by Esaias the prophet, as I wrote above; he thus speaks: “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from your souls; learn to do well; judge the fatherless, and plead for the widow: and come and let us reason together, says the Lord. And though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white like wool; and though they be as crimson, I will make them white as snow. But if you refuse and rebel, the sword shall devour you: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.”

And for this [rite] we have learned from the apostles this reason. Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe; he who leads to the laver the person that is to be washed calling him by this name alone. For no one can utter the name of the ineffable God; and if any one dare to say that there is a name, he raves with a hopeless madness. And this washing is called illumination, because they who learn these things are illuminated in their understandings. And in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and in the name of the Holy Ghost, who through the prophets foretold all things about Jesus, he who is illuminated is washed.

Novena to St. Rocco

stroccopic

St. Rocco is the patron saint of plague and pestilence, having survived one himself and receiving a reputation as a heavenly aid in the time of these awful tragedies. I found the following novena prayer from Catholic Doors and invite you to pray it with me for the next 9 days, that the world will find safety from the swine flu. If you need to use this novena for any other reason, please do.

O Blessed San Roque,
Patron of the sick,
Have pity on those
Who lie upon a bed of suffering.

Your power was so great
When you were in this world,
That by the sign of the Cross,
Many were healed of their diseases.
Now that you are in heaven,
Your power is not less.
Offer, then, to God
Our sighs and tears
And obtain for us that health we seek
Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

(Repeat the following 3 times)

San Roque, pray for us,
That we may be preserved
From all diseases of body and soul.

For more on St. Rocco, visit the St. Rocco Society, which is where I found the image.

Novena to St. Jude in Financial Woes

The economic news just keeps getting worse and worse every day and, frankly, it looks like we are headed right into a deep recession or, God help us, a depression.  Lots and lots of folks are going to suffer if things keep up.  For many, this will be a time of hunger, joblessness, loss of self-esteem, complete lack of health care, and, yes, people could well die.

I know the causes of this present crisis are many and that much of the blame must be laid at the feet of those of us who were greedy or irresponsible.

However, regardless of why, God is a God of mercy and pardon, and, no matter who is to blame, the innocent and poor should not suffer.  To this end, I am beginning a novena starting tomorrow (Oct. 10th) to St. Jude and am asking that others join me in fervent prayer.  I found the following prayer in several Catholic resources and books and will be using it; do join me.

First, make the Sign of the Cross and say:

+O God, come to my assistance!  O Lord, make haste to help me.  Glory be…Amen.

Saint Jude, assist us in our present financial worry.  Since these difficult financial circumstances have come into our lives, we are in dire want and economic embarrassment, being unable to meet our honest debts.  Saint Jude, you know only too well, we are not asking for wealth, if the possession of it is not in accordance with the holy will of God.  We beg you only for that immediate assistance which will enable us to meet and satisfy our pressing obligations.  We plead with you, dear Jude, to obtain for us the financial assistance we so urgently need in our present troubles.

Lord Jesus Christ, at the intercession of St. Jude, have mercy upon us and grant our request as is best for our lives, spiritual and material, for You are good and love mankind.

Our Father…Hail Mary…Glory be…Amen.

 

Breaking: Vatican to Improve Relationship with Jehovah’s Witnesses!?

Watchtower Bible & Tract Society (world headquarters) Vatican Insiders have leaked to Per Christum and a handful of other blogs information about special ecumenical efforts designed to improve relations with an unlikely group: the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, otherwise known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Vatican plans radical initiatives to better understand and relate to the group, which is labeled as a “cult that really really bothers people on Saturday mornings” on its Wikipedia entry.

“We have been losing Catholics to the Watchtower for some time,” remarked a senior Vatican official. “In fact, ex-Catholics make up a huge number of current Witnesses; it is time that we focused on a better relationship with these delusional, but well-meaning, people.”

Reportedly, high level talks began around Christmas time, when top-level Jehovah’s Witnesses flew to the Vatican on a Saturday morning to hand out copies of “Awake” Magazine and open a discussion. As an immediate goodwill gesture to make concessions to the Watchtower, the pope removed 2 shepherds from the Vatican nativity.

“It was a gesture of charity, seeing as how the whole concept of Christmas disgusts them,” remarked an Italian priest. Some Italian Cardinals suggested reducing the twelve days of Christmas by 16%, to 10 days , but the Vatican was not prepared to make such a major gesture.” However, a major gesture just may be on the way.

We have learned that the Vatican has plans to excommunicate the Watchtower, and then lift the excommunication a day later. “Lifting an excommunication sends a powerful message of love and reconciliation, and when the pope lifted the excommunication against the Orthodox Churches, well, we have all seen the positive results from that. I suspect when the pope lifts this excommunication, positive things will happen,” said American Jesuit theologian Charles Curtain.

Insiders have told us that the excommunication will be sent to Witness Headquarters in an envelope marked “Do not open until June 10th.” Why June 10th? The Vatican chose a day when not much was being celebrated in the Catholic world, since Jehovah’s Witnesses have a general problem with the celebration of holidays. “We would have chosen a date closer to the end of Easter, but we also wanted to avoid a date too close to Trinity Sunday, since they basically hate the Trinity” an anonymous Vatican official explained.

Then, on June 11th, the Vatican has plans to start a Facebook group entitled “I will lift the excommunication on the Watchtower if this page gets 500,000 fans” and the rest, officials believe, will be sweet ecumenical history. There is even speculation of some type of program for former Jehovah’s Witnesses that would welcome them into the Church, while allowing them to retain their dry, lecture-based worship and unique style of door-to-door evangelism using magazines with 1950s style photos.

The preliminary number of Witnesses interested is reported to be 144,000. Of note, the Vatican, no stranger to social networking, already sponsors two Facebook fan pages: “I bet this baby possum can get more fans than the dark Lord Satan,” and “I flip my kneeler cushion over to get to the cold side.”

The response of the Watchtower to Vatican overtures has been rather cool, but we did manage to catch up with their president as he was going door-to-door one morning in Brooklyn, to solicit his opinion. He said he appreciates the Vatican efforts, and, in a goodwill gesture of his own, has been working with other Witnesses to consider officially downgrading the Catholic Church from the “whore of Babylon” to “call-girl of Babylon,” which one  Witness we interviewed described as “still way too classy for the Church of Rome.” “What’s next,” he asked, “fourth degree Knights of Columbus escorting us as we go door-to-door? Witnesses eating fish and drinking Killians with Catholics while watching Notre Dame football?” “Not likely!” he opined.

Nonetheless, the Vatican is hopeful that its efforts, including the lifting of a day old excommunication, will improve relations with America’s most faithful evangelists. A spokesman for the pope said “we are committed to ecumenism. If we have to rename Trinity Sunday ‘Subordinated Triad Sunday’ to make ecumenical inroads, then we will place that on the table. There is nothing we will spare to work more closely with our separated sisters and brothers based in Brooklyn.”

Jesus, who, according to Jehovah’s Witnesses, returned to earth invisibly in 1914, must be smiling (invisibly, of course).

Per Christum reporters April F. Oul and Page N. Newyear contributed to this post. 

Our Lady of Guadalupe

I hope everyone has a blessed Our Lady of Guadalupe Feast! Admittedly, this is  not a feast I get into very much, at least compared to other Catholics, and as most of you know apparitions are not a huge part of my faith. Nonetheless, I find this apparition fascinating, and its fruits throughout the Americas have been, and currently are, noticeably positive.

God of power and mercy,

you blessed the Americas at Tepeyac

with the presence of the Virgin Mary at Guadalupe.

May her prayers help all men and women

to accept each other as brothers and sisters.

Through your justice present in our hearts

may your peace reign in the world.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Image taken by me at the Our Lady of Consolation Shrine

Christians Not Immune to Ruts

A lot of Christians follow a specific pattern when they either convert into the faith or are born into it but make it their own. They embrace their faith with great enthusiasm, continue along that path for awhile, then they get bored.

Once they get in a rut there are a couple of possible outcomes. The first is that the person overcomes the rut and tries to make the faith more fresh and meaningful. Or, they find their faith so boring and meaningless that they give up and move onto other things, or nothing.

We often fall into the trap of thinking that being Christian and having the Holy Spirit somehow makes us immune to ruts. I’ve heard it probably hundreds of times from new Christians or those who made some sort of intentional re-dedication. They swear that they’re never going to lose the fire. Until, that is they do.

Being in a rut is normal. We get into ruts with jobs, families, friends, and even lives. There’s no reason why our faith, which is earthly too, should be any different. They key lies in getting over the rut.

Once we get in a spiritual rut, I recommend finding a way to break out and become spiritually fresh again. Read a good Christian book, try a new prayer practice, visit a new parish for a couple of weeks. Or take up a new daily practice like the rosary or an early morning mass.

Perhaps the best solution is to recognize that being enthusiastic all the time is unrealistic. We’re going to have ups and downs in our faith, especially when it comes to be being bored. We just have to learn to accept that the mundane is a part of spiritual life and growth.

So, don’t get too worked up about that rut. Christians aren’t immune to them.

Faith Is Sometimes Risky

red roseWe humans are naturally risk averse. In other words, we prefer our comfort zones to going out on a limb and taking risks in life that make us uncomfortable.

It’s not a surprise because even the phrase going out on a limb implies a bad result. When you get to the end of the limb, they break or you fall. Either way you hit the ground with a thud.

Think of the person who wants to pick a beautiful red rose. He first needs to brave the thorns.

But, taking risks in our faith is extremely important. All the great leaders and saints in the Christian traditions have realized this. Jesus himself took great risks that ultimately led to his death and resurrection for our sins. St. Francis reformed the Church through his risks. John XXIII took a risk with the Second Vatican Council. Even today, Pope Francis is showing a risky faith can create controversy.

Our faith is sometimes risky. We may have to stand up for it in ways that make us fundamentally or unpopular. Or maybe our beliefs will end up losing us friends or money or influence. Faith is always a risk or at least it should be.

Sadly, in many cases faith isn’t even a real risk. Being a squishy Christian isn’t really risk. Going with the flow poses no threats. But, is that a real faith? Or is a real faith one that goes out on a limb frequently to find new and creative ways to serve God?

In this way, Pope Francis is a role model. He has already changed many conventions, but has also won over detractors and others who fail to see the love and compassion of Christ in the Catholic Church. So, by taking risks he’s furthering God’s kingdom.

So, go out and start taking more risks in your faith. I think you’ll find it’ll strengthen your faith and increase your success in building God’s kingdom.