Feast of St. Peter’s Chains

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Feast of St. Peter’s Chains

The Holy Church, today, celebrates a special feast in commemoration of the great benefit which God bestowed upon His people by miraculously delivering St. Peter, the visible head of the church, from prison. The entire event is described in the Acts of the Apostles, by St. Luke. Herod Agrippa, a son of Aristobulus, favored by the Roman Emperor Claudius, ruled over Judaea, with the title of king. To give more stability to his reign, he endeavored to make himself beloved by the Jews, for which there was no easier way than to persecute the Christians, especially those who fearlessly proclaimed the Gospel of Christ, as did the holy Apostles. He had, therefore, apprehended, and soon after beheaded, James the Great, brother of St. John, which bloody deed gave the Jews great satisfaction. To increase this, Herod commanded them to seize St. Peter, intending to make away with him in the same manner. His command was executed; Peter was taken prisoner, chained and locked in a narrow dungeon, which was guarded so vigilantly, that he could not escape. It was then near the Easter Festival, after which St. Peter was to be beheaded. The Christians, in deep distress, were praying day and night, that the Almighty would not permit His flock to be so soon deprived of its shepherd.  Continue reading

St. Ignatius of Loyola

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St. Ignatius of Loyola, Founder of the Society of Jesus

St. Ignatius, the glorious founder of the Society of Jesus, and the unweary laborer for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls, was born of noble parents in Biscay, a province of Spain, in the castle of Loyola, from which he took his name. His birth took place in 1491, in the same century in which Martin Luther, the well-known heretic, was born, who with Calvin, born in 1506, persecuted the Catholic Church and endeavored to destroy it entirely. God, according to a papal declaration, always watching over His holy Church, would oppose Ignatius to these two new heretics, that through him, and through the Society founded by him, their erroneous doctrines might be thoroughly refuted, and the Catholic faith have powerful protectors, as, in former days, He had opposed Arius by St. Athanasius, Nestorius by St. Cyril, Pelagius by St. Augustine, and other heretics by other apostolic men.  Continue reading

SS. Abdon and Sennen

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SS. Abdon and Sennen, Martyrs

THEY were Persians, but coming to Rome, courageously confessed the faith of Christ in the persecution of Decius in 250. They were cruelly tormented, but the more their bodies were mangled and covered with ghastly wounds, the more were their souls adorned and beautified with divine grace, and rendered glorious in the sight of heaven. The Christians at Rome did not treat them as strangers, but as brethren united to them in the hope of the same blessed country; and after their death carefully deposited their bodies in the house of a subdeacon called Quirinus. In the reign of Constantine the Great, their relics were removed into the ancient burying place of Pontian, so called from some rich man who built it: called also, from some sign, Ad Ursum Pileatum. It afterwards received its name from SS. Abdon and Sennon. It was situated near the Tiber, on the road to Porto near the gates of Rome. The images of these martyrs with Persian bonnets and crowns on their heads, and their names, are to be seen there at this day in ancient sculpture. 1 SS. Abdon and Sennen are mentioned in the ancient Liberian Calendar, and in other Martyrologies; though their modern acts deserve no notice, as Cardinal Noris has demonstrated. 2 1
The martyrs preferred torments and death to sin, because the love of God above all things reigned in their breasts. “We say we are Christians,” says Tertullian; 3 “we proclaim it to the whole world, even under the hands of the executioner, and in the midst of all the torments you inflict upon us to compel us to unsay it. Torn and mangled, and weltering in our blood, we cry out as loud as we are able to cry, That we are worshippers of God through Christ.” Upon which Mr. Reeves observes, that no other religion ever produced any considerable number of martyrs except the true one. Do we ever read of any generation of men so greedy of martyrdom, who thought it long till they were upon the rack, and were so patient, so cheerful and steadfast under the most intolerable torments? Socrates was the only philosopher who can be said to have died for his doctrine; and what a restless posture of mind does he betray, who was esteemed the best and the wisest of the heathens! With what misgivings, and fits of hope and fear, does he deliver himself in that most famous discourse, supposed to have been made by him a little before his death, about a future state? 4 And neither Phædo, Cebes, Crito, Simmias, nor any other of his greatest friends who were present at his death, durst maintain either his innocence, or that doctrine for which he died, in the Areopagus. With what reserve did Plato himself dogmatize concerning the gods whom he worshipped in public, but denied in private! How did he dodge about, disguise himself, and say and unsay the same excellent truths! Only the Christians suffered at this rate, and they held on suffering for several hundred years together, till they had subdued the world by dying for their religion. What could engage such a number of men in such a religion, and support them in it, in defiance of death in the most shocking forms, but evident truth, and a superior grace and strength from above? 2

Note 1. Aringhi Roma Subterranea, l. 1, c. 25.
Note 2. Noris, Diss. 3, de Epochis Syro-Macedonum.
Note 3. Apol. c. 21.
Note 4. Plato in Phædo.

The Precious Blood in Heaven 

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Meditation on the Most Precious Blood of Jesus

The Precious Blood in Heaven

In Heaven, the Precious Blood of Jesus will not only share the glory of His Sacred Humanity, but it will be the source of its Divine beauty, for the glory of Jesus will then consist in having bought us with a great price. That price was none other than His Precious Blood. It will be a continual source of joy and thanksgiving to us, and will ever remind us of our ransom from sin and Hell, and of the unspeakable blessings we shall then enjoy. Grant, O Lord, that I may share that joy!

The special glory of the Precious Blood appears to be ever present in the minds of the redeemed in Heaven, and to form the subject of their songs of praise. “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive honor and glory and power.” “Thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God in Thy blood.” “We have washed our robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.” If this is to be the continual song of Heaven, we must try to anticipate it on earth by cultivating a devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus.

The Precious Blood will also receive the unceasing homage of the Blessed in Heaven on account of Its having won for them all their graces. It purchased for them the glory that they now enjoy. In the overflowing of their hearts they will recognize It as the fount of all those delights that will inebriate their souls. Through It they drink of the waters of life, through It they gaze in ecstasy on the glory of Jesus, through It they are absorbed in the Beatific Vision. O my Lord! it is to Thy Precious Blood that I owe everything in this life, and shall owe my eternal happiness in the life to come. Oh, make me full of unspeakable gratitude to Thee now and for ever!

SUNDAY SCHOOL: The Communion of Saints and the Forgiveness of Sins

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SUNDAY SCHOOL

The Baltimore Catechism
Revised Edition (1941)

Lesson 13
The Communion of Saints and the Forgiveness of Sins

“I believe in … the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins …”
170. What is meant by “the communion of saints” in the Apostles’ Creed?
By “the communion of saints” is meant the union of the faithful on earth, the blessed in heaven, and the souls in purgatory, with Christ as their Head.

171. Through the communion of saints, what can the blessed in heaven do for the souls in purgatory and the faithful on earth?
Through the communion of saints, the blessed in heaven can help the souls in purgatory and the faithful on earth by praying for them.

It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins. (II Maccabees 12:46)

172. Should the faithful on earth, through the communion of saints, honor the blessed in heaven and pray to them?
The faithful on earth, through the communion of saints, should honor the blessed in heaven and pray to them, because they are worthy of honor and as friends of God will help the faithful on earth.

Let us now praise men of renown, and our fathers in their generation. (Ecclesiasticus 44:1)

173. Can the faithful on earth, through the communion of saints, relieve the sufferings of the souls in purgatory?
The faithful on earth, through the communion of saints, can relieve the sufferings the souls in purgatory by prayer, fasting, and other good works, by indulgences, and by having Masses offered for them.

It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins. (II Maccabees 12:46)

174. Can the faithful on earth help one another?
The faithful on earth, as members of the Mystical Body of Christ, can help one another by practicing supernatural charity and the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

Pray for one another that you may be saved. For the unceasing prayer of a just man is of great avail. (James 5:16)

175. What is meant in the Apostles’ Creed by “the forgiveness of sins”?
By “the forgiveness of sins” in the Apostles’ Creed is meant that God has given to the Church, through Jesus Christ, the power to forgive sins, no matter how great or how many they are, if sinners truly repent.

Receive the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. (John 20:22-23)