Prayer to St Joseph by Pope John Paul II

Most beloved father, St Joseph, dispel the evil of falsehood and sin in me, graciously assist me from heaven in my struggle with the powers of darkness and just as once you saved the child Jesus from mortal danger, so now defend me from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity. Teach me to be the father that I ought to be in words and in deeds. Amen.

(Modified by Deacon Emmanuel)

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The Feast of St Justin Martyr

The Feast of St Justin Martyr

June 1st if the feast day of St Justin Martyr in the Roman Catholic Church. It saddens me that many people don’t know who he is. I have a personal mission to make sure more people get to know him, and I hope he can be knows as more than just one of the early, obscure Church martyrs.

St Justin is considered the first great apologist of the Church. He was a pagan philosopher that converted to Christianity after he could not find satisfaction in other philosophies and traditions. In his heart of hearts, he knew that all his studies in Rome would lead him nowhere, even when he didn’t know of God. Through conversations with a Christian, he came to discover Jesus and sacred scripture. It was then that the Truth spoke to him so clearly, and he knew that it was undeniable. After his conversion, he used his love of reason to teach a pagan world about the Truth that lives in Christianity.

It was his writings on the Eucharist that touched my heart the most when I began to do research on why he was a saint. In the second century, he brought light to the Truth in a world full of darkness, and he did it all as a layman. He fell in love so deeply with The Logos, Jesus, that he willingly died defending it. Although, he did not die before converting many hearts through his preaching, writing, personal conversations, and simply sharing the love of Christ.

St Justin is also very special to me because he is my patron saint from confirmation. There were many reasons why we connected, but it was his unwavering passion for Truth that really inspired me. At the time, I wasn’t sure that I could truly believe in something so deeply that I would tell the world and even die for its sake. It was his testament that inflamed my desire to love the faith as much as he did.

In September 2006, I was on a private tour of  Immaculate Conception Church in Rome with some seminarian friends. This church is famous for a crypt-ossarium that consists of bones from 4,000 different Capuchin friars that died in the 16th-19th centuries. It a little odd, but it has really interesting art and powerful message for our mortal bodies and imminent end. I recommend reading this interesting post from Cardinal O’Malley’s blog about his visit there (half-way into the post). He also has some good pictures of the site.

When the Capuchin Friar leading the tour got to the altar of the back chapel, I read the Latin wording on the altar that indicated it was the tomb St Justin, and I fell to my knees. It felt like suddenly running into a long lost friend. It was a moment of pure joy and thanksgiving.

The power of the communion of saints hit me at that moment, and I was deeply touched at the blessing of visiting where his relics lay. To this day, it is one of the most beautiful blessings that I have personally experienced – to visit an old friend and thank him for his prayers for me during some of the most pivotal points in my life.

Some may find it weird, even down right morbid, that I would kneel in prayer in the place of where a man’s remains are stored. It may be even harder for some to understand that I feel such a deep and personal friendship with a man that died over a millennium before I was even born.

This mystery is the beauty of the communion of saints. It is the mystical body of Christ that unites us all beyond our current state and surpasses all space and time. I will come back to this point at a later post and expand upon it, but currently I don’t have the time to do so here.

In the meantime, I will leave you with the video featuring some texts from St Justin.

St Justin, Ora pro nobis.

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Mi Madre de Guadalupe

Mi Madre de Guadalupe

Since the Christmas of 2006, I have worn a medal of Our Lady of Guadalupe around my neck. Most Catholics see it without even thinking much about it, but protestants often take a second look at it. Most people never say anything, but I love it when I get a comment or question about the image. It gives me an opportunity to tell them about my mother.

For me, it is a big deal to wear the image of Our Lady. I went many years in my life trying to ignore Mary because I could never understand her importance in our faith. I knew she was necessary for Jesus to be born a man, but I couldn’t bring myself to accept a relationship with her. Scripture only spoke directly of needing to be close to Jesus. Why then would I have to pray the rosary or pray for her intercession?

In the fall of 2006, I was living with a community of the Society of Mary, and slowly they showed me a different side of the faith that lives in close relationship with Mary and Jesus on a daily basis. It slowly began to tear down a wall I had put in front of her in my heart. It was when a friend of mine pointed me to St Louis de Montfort’s A True Devotion to Mary.

Being a cradle Catholic, I had never read anything before that had moved my heart in the way many converts speak of their experiences. This book was different. Read his words, I found myself often fighting back tears at the breaking of my heart. My eyes were opened, and it was then I realized how much I had missed by ignoring her. I thought of how much my own mother would have been hurt her if I would have ignored her. I learned to truly accept Mary as my mother, given to me as a gift from Christ Himself. In all her purity, she only gives us His love, and Mary never keeps anything we give to her without giving it to her Son.

My life has changed in very subtle ways, but the biggest change is in my heart. Even now, there is still progress left to be made. At the end of A True Devotion to Mary there are instructions on how to consecrate yourself to Jesus through Mary. I must confess that I have not felt ready to go through the process since I have read the book. Although, I now feel a deep desire to now go through the consecration. Unfortunately, I have to wait another year to the several weeks of preparation because I would choose to do so on the feast of the Immaculate Conception or the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I have a strong affinity to both because of their history in my life.

December 9th is the feast of San Juan Diego in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar. I look to him as a shining example of how embracing our mother, we embrace heaven. I anxiously await the feast our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th.

A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;
and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.

Thenanother sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.

And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.

Revelation 12:1-5

Juan Diego y la Virgen de Guadalupe (Video in Spanish)

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