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.

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.

The Liturgical Busy Season

Well, summer is officially over, which also means so is the vacation from Church. I’m not advocating such a position, of course, just noting that ecclesial matters tend to slow down in the summer as does attendance.

At my parish, the schedule changes, the choir takes a break, and mass has a more laid back feel. I don’t think we help matters by calling most of the summer Sundays ordinary time, even if it has nothing to do with being “ordinary.”

As we say goodbye to the heat, picnics, and ice cream, it’s time to welcome the liturgical busy season. In the coming months we have a lot to do liturgically. Of course, there’s All Saints Day, All Soul’s, Thanksgiving, Advent, Immaculate Conception, and we can’t forget Christmas.

And, at least at my parish, there seems to be a greater level of seriousness and solemnity, as well as attendance, that comes with the end of summer. Of course, I still hope we can keep the ice cream.

Christmas in July

With July almost here, the thoughts of retailers turn to Christmas. This, of course, bugs me to no end. When I was younger you wouldn’t even get Christmas stuff out until Thanksgiving. Then it was pushed back to Halloween. Now, there’s no need for a Christmas in July type sale because some stores have Christmas stuff out in July! We’ve turned a feast day and holy day of obligation (Christmas) into a giant sale that starts in July. I guess it gives the Church a few more months to start explaining the tenuous Santa Jesus connection.

Christmas is Just Getting Started!

In secular society, the Christmas season, which generally runs from Halloween to December 25th is winding down. The parties are over, the radio stations have generally stopped playing Christmas music and the trees and decorations are on their way down. Only a few traditional Catholics and Anglicans keep the old custom of putting everything up on Christmas Eve. As much as I love the holiday songs, the decorations, and other secular activities, society gets the chronology all wrong, leaving out Ordinary Time and Advent Season.

Yet, for Catholics and other liturgical Christians, the fun is just getting started. We have the 12 days of Christmas (kind of, thanks to various bishops conferences), Holy Family feast, Epiphany/ Theophany, Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, and the baptism of our Lord. And, this doesn’t include the lesser feasts of Holy Innocents, St. John, and St. Stephen. And, the Christmas festivities have traditionally lasted until Presentation of the Lord (Feb. 2nd).

So, our liturgical and holiday fun is just starting, which is actually a pretty good way to avoid the post-holiday letdown that many people experience. We get to transition back to ordinary time and it’ll be the Lenten season before we know it!

Merry Christmas!

Waiting for Advent

As Catholics, it’s easy to get swept up into the secular Christmastime culture. And, to be honest, there’s nothing wrong, in my opinion, with that. I love looking at lights, trimming the tree, and doing a whole host of holiday activities, even if in November!

Yet, as Catholics, we know there is a different path that we’re also called to take in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Our experience of Advent and Advent history, through prayer and mass, point to what a great hope we have in Jesus, the hope he’s given us through his Incarnation and the hope we have that he will come again.

Advent should ultimately be a time of reflection and prayer, where we get closer to God as we wait for the coming of Jesus Christ. When we consider how long the great heroes of Israel waited for the coming of Lord, putting aside a few weeks of reflection isn’t really much. But, even that is difficult when the world around us started celebrating Christmas before Advent even begins!

I’m not arguing that we need to refuse to celebrate Christmas until midnight mass on Christmas eve, but admittedly, it’s a challenge to remain engaged in the waiting in the midst of parties, lights, decorations, and family functions.

But, it’s a challenge we must accept because Advent is a wonderful time to grow more deeply in our faith and learn to wait for the coming of Christ, in the world and in our lives.

A Day of Rest (from Driving)

A 13 year old Catholic girl from California has designed a website promoting a day of rest from driving on the feast of St. Francis. She asks people to pledge not to drive in order to help the environment and encourage them to spend time with family and friends. Whatever you may think of the whole global warming thing, this sounds like a good idea, if anything to conserve fuel and promote responsible consumption.

Visit A Day of Rest