April 5 — Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
The Year of the Eucharist: April 9, 2020 – June 3, 2021
A recent Pew Study entitled “What Americans Know About Religion” reported that only 31% of Catholics believe that the bread and the wine consecrated during the Mass actually become the body and blood of Jesus, and that only half of Catholics know of the Church’s teaching concerning the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
In order to help people gain a better understanding of the Eucharist, on Holy Thursday 2020, the Archdiocese of Boston will begin a Year of the Eucharist. It is my hope and prayer that through this spiritual initiative we can invite and encourage our brothers and sisters to find the consolation of the Lord through participation in the celebration of the Eucharist and in times of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
As Catholics, it is in the Eucharist that we learn our identity. At the table of the Lord, Jesus makes a gift of Himself to us because God loves us so much. Just as we discover our identity at the family table, it is in the Eucharist that we discover who we are, why we are here, and what is our mission as disciples of Christ.
In the Year of the Eucharist, we all have the opportunity to renew and strengthen our faith and our closeness to the Lord. If we center ourselves in the Real Presence of Jesus, in His friendship, then everything else will make sense. At the celebration of Mass, Jesus is there, waiting for us, inviting us to the table where He is making a gift of Himself to us so that we may have the strength to make a gift of ourselves to others. That is what human fulfillment is about. It is about love and giving of ourselves on behalf of others. That is the meaning of the Eucharist, it is love taken to the extreme. The more we understand that, the more we will want to be present to the Eucharist and the more the Eucharist will transform us.
Discipleship is not a solo flight. Jesus sent people out two by two, not one by one, and spoke of the importance of “two or three are gathered in my name.” The Eucharist is where we gather as Christ’s family, where we can witness our faith to one another and grow in our capacity to love. The Eucharist gives us the strength to carry out our mission to transform the world, to work for justice, to serve the poor, to bring healing and reconciliation. But we can’t do these things unless we have the strength that comes from the intimate contact with God’s love that is given to us in the Eucharist.
God created us and entered into creation in Jesus Christ so we could be close to Him, hear Him, know and love Him. The sacraments not only touch our lives, they mold our very being, and the Eucharist is the center of our sacramental life. That is why I am a Catholic. That is why I am a priest. Without the Eucharist, I would ask myself, “Is it worth it?” I know it is worth it, because Christ really is present in the Eucharist. May God bless you all abundantly with this assurance that Jesus will be with us always, even to the end of time. That is Jesus’ promise and He keeps that promise in the gift of the Eucharist
Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap.
Archbishop of Boston
March 29 – Fifth Sunday of Lent: Passiontide Devotion
The Seven Sorrows of Mary
O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me. Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
1. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the affliction of your tender heart at the prophecy of the holy and aged Simeon. Dear Mother, by your heart so afflicted, obtain for me the virtue of humility and the gift of the holy fear of God. Hail Mary…
2. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the anguish of your most affectionate heart during the flight into Egypt and your sojourn there. Dear Mother, by your heart so troubled, obtain for me the virtue of generosity, especially toward the poor, and the gift of piety. Hail Mary…
3. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in those anxieties which tried your troubled heart at the loss of your dear Jesus. Dear Mother, by your heart so full of anguish, obtain for me the virtue of chastity and the gift of knowledge. Hail Mary…
4. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the consternation of your heart at meeting Jesus as He carried His Cross. Dear Mother, by your heart so troubled, obtain for me the virtue of patience and the gift of fortitude. Hail Mary…
5. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the martyrdom which your generous heart endured in standing near Jesus in His agony. Dear Mother, by your afflicted heart obtain for me the virtue of temperance and the gift of counsel. Hail Mary…
6. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the wounding of your compassionate heart, when the side of Jesus was struck by the lance before His Body was removed from the Cross. Dear Mother, by your heart thus transfixed, obtain for me the virtue of fraternal charity and the gift of understanding. Hail Mary…
7. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, for the pangs that wrenched your most loving heart at the burial of Jesus. Dear Mother, by your heart sunk in the bitterness of desolation, obtain for me the virtue of diligence and the gift of wisdom. Hail Mary…
Let Us Pray:
Let intercession be made for us, we beseech You, O Lord Jesus Christ, now and at the hour of our death, before the throne of Your mercy, by the Blessed Virgin Mary, Your Mother, whose most holy soul was pierced by a sword of sorrow in the hour of Your bitter Passion. Through You, O Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns world without end. Amen.
March 15 – Third Sunday of Lent: St. Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels, In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.
I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.
I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and near.
I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.
March 1 – First Sunday of Lent: March is Dedicated to St. Joseph
Even while the month of March falls completely within the season of Lent,
it is dedicated to the foster father of Jesus, St. Joseph. In the midst of the season of fasting and penance, there are two feasts within March that involve St. Joseph. His own solemnity is on March 19 and the Solemnity of the Annunciation is on March 25. The Gospel of Luke records the annunciation to Mary, while the Gospel of Matthew records the
annunciation to Joseph of the coming birth of Jesus.
The Chaplet of St. Joseph
This chaplet uses the mysteries of the rosary for contemplation.
There are only 4 beads in each mystery of the St. Joseph Chaplet.
On one bead pray two Hail Mary’s while you meditate on one of the mysteries of the rosary. On the three other beads pray the following:
¨ Praised and blessed be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!
Repeat this sequence for five mysteries of the rosary, then finish with the
¨ O, God, Who had predestined St. Joseph for all eternity
for the service of Thine Eternal Son and His Blessed Mother,
and made him worthy to be the spouse of the Blessed Virgin
and the foster father of Thy Son: we beseech Thee,
through all the services he has rendered to Jesus and Mary on earth,
that Thou wouldst make us worthy of his intercession
and grant us to enjoy the happiness of his company in heaven.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen
February 23 – Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time: Mardi Gras
February 25 is Mardi Gras, the day before Lent begins. Traditionally in Catholic countries it is a day to feast before the great fast. To ensure that it was not just another day to be secular but maintained a proper sense as a holy feast, it is also a day of devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. We should remember the beautiful face of Jesus as we celebrate one last time before the penitential season of Lent.
O Jesus, who in Thy bitter Passion didst become “the most abject of men, a man of sorrows”, I venerate Thy Sacred Face whereon there once did shine the beauty and sweetness of the Godhead; but now it has become for me as if it were the face of a leper! Nevertheless, under those disfigured features, I recognize Thy infinite Love and I am consumed with the desire to love Thee and make Thee loved by all men. The tears which well up abundantly in Thy sacred eyes appear to me as so many precious pearls that I love to gather up, in order to purchase the souls of poor sinners by means of their infinite value. O Jesus, whose adorable Face ravishes my heart, I implore Thee to fix deep within me Thy divine image and to set me on fire with Thy Love, that I may be found worthy to come to the contemplation of Thy glorious Face in Heaven. — From St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face
February 16 – Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time: The Passion of the Lord
February is the month dedicated to the Passion of Our Lord. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday which is 10 days away. In consideration of all Our Lord gave for us and suffered for us, now is the time to pray in union with the suffering of Jesus and ask for guidance on what sacrifices we should make for Lent.
Prayer before a Crucifix
Look down upon me, good and gentle Jesus, while before Thy face I humbly kneel, and with burning soul I pray and beseech Thee to fix deep in my heart lively sentiments of faith, hope and charity, true contrition for my sins, and a firm purpose of amendment; while I contemplate with great love and tender pity Thy five wounds, pondering over them within me, having in mind the words which David Thy prophet said of Thee, my Jesus: “They have pierced my hands and my feet; they have numbered all my bones.”
February 9 – Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time: 28th World Day of the Sick, February 11, 2020
A Message from Pope Francis:
Jesus’ words, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28) point to the mysterious path of grace that is revealed to the simple and gives new strength to those who are weary and tired… Why does Jesus have these feelings? Because he himself became frail, endured human suffering and received comfort from his Father. Indeed, only those who personally experience suffering are then able to comfort others. There are so many kinds of grave suffering: incurable and chronic diseases, psychological diseases, situations calling for rehabilitation or palliative care, numerous forms of disability, children’s or geriatric diseases… At times human warmth is lacking in our approach to these. What is needed is a personalized approach to the sick, not just of curing but also of caring, in view of an integral human healing. In experiencing illness, individuals not only feel threatened in their physical integrity, but also in the relational, intellectual, affective and spiritual dimensions of their lives. For this reason, in addition to therapy and support, they expect care and attention. In a word, love. At the side of every sick person, there is also a family, which itself suffers and is in need of support and comfort. Dear brothers and sisters who are ill, your sickness makes you in a particular way one of those “who labor and are burdened”, and thus attract the eyes and heart of Jesus. In him, you will find light to brighten your darkest moments and hope to soothe your distress. He urges you: “Come to me.”
January 26 – Sunday of the Word of God: The Apostleship of Prayer
Each month of the year the Holy Father has a prayer intention in which he invites the whole Church to join. The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer network has been entrusted with his own intentions by every pope since Leo XIII in 1890. Each month those who are part of this apostleship of prayer join their hearts and lift up the prayer intentions of the Pope. They also allow the pope’s intentions to become their own as they shape their daily activities in accord with the Church’s mission as expressed by the Holy Father.
The Apostleship of Prayer began with the Jesuits in the mid 19th century. A Jesuit priest began to instruct his novices that they should not have as their daily focus missions far off in India, which is what they typically thought about. The Jesuit priest reminded them that their daily activities, right here and now are what matter most to God. He began to teach them how to find meaning and purpose in their daily tasks through prayer of the heart. Eventually this method of daily prayer and work began to spread throughout the world. It was given official papal approval by Pope Pius IX and in 1890 Pope Leo XIII entrusted the Apostleship of Prayer with his own missionary intentions. To join this network and learn the method of daily prayer and to pray for the Pope’s intentions, please visit the Prayer Network at popesprayerusa.net
January 19 – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time: The Holy Name
The month of January is dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. St. Paul tells us that eventually every knee shall bend at the name of Jesus. Holy Name Societies used to flourish in the parishes of the United States. These pious societies of lay people were initiated to promote the devout utterance of the name of God and to combat blasphemy. At the beginning of the New Year of Grace now is a good time to renew a commitment to keep the Third Commandment, which forbids using the Holy Name in vain. The name of God, of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary and the saints should always be kept in reverence. The tradition was always to make a slight bow of the head whenever the name of Jesus was uttered.
O sweet Name of Jesus, holy above all names in heaven and on earth, and to which every knee, both of men and of angels in heaven, on earth and in hell bends. You are the way of the just, the glory of the saints, the hope of those in need, the balm of the sick, the love of the devout and the consolation of those that suffer.
O, Jesus be to me a help and a protector so that your Name may be blessed for all times…
by Thomas Kempis
January 12 – The Baptism of the Lord: Baptism Day
Do you know the date of your baptism? It is a very pious tradition to celebrate the anniversary. The new life of Christ, the seed of eternal life is given to us at baptism, and it should be celebrated as every bit as important as our birthdays. The Church even offers a plenary indulgence to anyone who renews their baptismal promises on the anniversary of the day.
It would be good to ensure that we retain the sacramentals of our baptism: the candle and the white garment. Even if these items are lost we can celebrate the baptism anniversaries with a new candle. These anniversaries are something that should certainly be taught to children and become a family tradition.
Baptismal Anniversary Prayer (Adapt the words to your circumstances)
Remember this, Name.
You have been washed in the saving waters of baptism and anointed with holy oil.
Place on your head and in your heart the sign of the cross of salvation.
Trace the sign of the cross on the head and heart.
January 5 – Epiphany of the Lord: King Cake
Traditionally Catholic countries have celebrated Epiphany as the beginning of the festive season of light right up till Ash Wednesday. In some countries new kings were even coronated on January 6 (the traditional day of Epiphany). Twelfth Night is a crowning moment of the Christmas season and is always celebrated on the twelfth day of Christmas, which is the vigil of the Epiphany.
One custom for celebrating the day of the kings is to make the king cake. In honor of the Kingship of Jesus and the three kings who traveled to find him, a special oval cake is made and inside the cake is hidden a bean or pea or small plastic baby. Whoever gets the slice of cake with the prize is the “king” or “queen” of the party and is celebrated as such. The king cake is a reminder that our joy, the joy of celebration and feasting, should be in the Lord and in our communion with each other through him. Gift-giving is a great way to enhance the celebration just as the kings brought gifts to the newborn Jesus.
Click here for the Catholic foodie’s King Cake recipe.
December 29, 2019 – The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph: Holy Family Consecration
For Families who Wish to Consecrate Themselves to the Holy Family
O Jesus, our most loving Savior! Thou Who was sent down from Heaven to enlighten the world by Thy teaching and example, and Who didst will to pass the greater part of Thy holy life in Nazareth, subject to Mary and Joseph, and thereby didst hallow the household which was to be the pattern for all Christian families, do Thou in Thy goodness receive our household which this day consecrates itself to Thee. Protect and guard us, strengthen us in Thy holy fear, establish in our hearts the peace and concord of Christian Charity, so that each one of us becoming like to the Divine model of Thy family, may be sharers of eternal joy.
O Mary, most loving Mother of Jesus Christ, our Mother, through thy love and mercy intercede, that Jesus receive this act of Consecration, and pour out upon us His graces and blessings.
O Joseph, most holy Guardian of Jesus and Mary, help us by thy prayers in all our necessities, both of body and soul; that together with the Blessed Virgin Mary and thyself we shall praise and thank Jesus Christ, our Divine Redeemer. Amen.
December 22, 2019 – Fourth Sunday of Advent: Las Posadas
The Advent tradition of the Posadas originated in Spain and spread to Mexico via missionaries. A group of pilgrims imitates the journey of Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Pre-arrangement is made by friends and or family to participate. The pilgrim group journeys from one friend’s house to another (as many houses as is arranged ahead of time). Along the way the pilgrims pray the rosary and carry candles. At the first home the pilgrims sing a song asking for the home to welcome them into the Inn. As in the Gospel scene those in the first home sing that they have no room at the Inn. This continues for as many homes as all agree to. At the last home all are finally welcomed and a celebration commences.
The Posadas (a name which means dwelling in English) is not meant to be just another Christmas party but truly an Advent exercise in communion with Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
For songs and more information, click here.
December 15, 2019 – Third Sunday of Advent: The “O” Antiphons
From December 17 through the 23 the Church intensifies its Advent desire for the coming of Christ. Each day the Church sings Mary’s
Magnificat with the “O” antiphons so as to emphasize seven ways Christ fulfilled the Old Testament. It is a great practice to pray the Magnificat with these antiphons each night:
O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with
power and love: come to teach us the path of knowledge!
O Leader of the House of Israel,
giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai: come to rescue us with your mighty power!
O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his
people: come to save us without delay!
O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness!
O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church: come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!
O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, Lord our God!
December 8, 2019 – Second Sunday of Advent: Tradition of St. Lucy
St. Lucy is celebrated on December 13. It is known that Lucy was a young woman from Syracuse in Italy and was martyred in the 4th century. The story is that Lucy refused marriage to a pagan man so he betrayed Lucy to the Roman authorities. Eventually Lucy’s eyes were gauged out as a form of torture. Most images of St. Lucy appear with her holding her eyes on a tray.
Lucy means “light.” One very pious family custom has the oldest daughter in a family wear a white dress and a wreathe crown on her head. She walks through the house on St. Lucy’s Day with a candle waking the other members of the family and inviting them to breakfast with St. Lucy sweet rolls.
December 1, 2019 – First Sunday of Advent: St. Andrew’s Day
St. Andrew Day’s is celebrated on November 30 and is traditionally a major solemnity in the Greek Orthodox Church. The Patriarch of Constantinople (considered the Ecumenical Patriarch for all Orthodox Churches) is considered the successor to St. Andrew. Every year the pope sends representatives to Constantinople (now Istanbul) to celebrate with the Greek Orthodox (the Patriarch of Constantinople in turn sends a representative to Rome on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul). St. Andrew’s Day also helps to designate the beginning of the Season of Advent. The first Sunday of Advent is always the first Sunday after the Feast of St. Andrew in the Latin Rite.
It is fitting that Advent would follow upon St. Andrew’s Day as he was the first Apostle called by Jesus. Andrew, it appears, was a disciple of John the Baptist and was sent by John to follow Jesus. As such, Andrew is a great saint to prepare us for the coming of Jesus. In the Gospel of John Andrew asks Jesus where he is staying and Jesus replies, “Come and see.” This is the spirit of Advent. With St. Andrew let us come and see where Christ is in our lives.