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May 15th, 2011

World Day of Prayer for Vocations

World Day of Prayer for Vocations

The annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations is an appropriate occasion for highlighting the importance of vocations in the life and mission of the Church, as well as for intensifying our prayer that they may increase in number and quality.

Pope Paul VI instituted the World Day of Prayer for Vocations (the 4th Sunday of Easter) on the 11th April 1964 by saying – “O Jesus, divine Shepherd of the spirit, you have called the Apostles in order to make them fishermen of men, you still attract to you burning spirits and generous young people, in order to render them your followers and ministers to us” – (Pope Paul VI launching the 1st Word Day of Prayer for Vocations)

General Intercessions for Vocation Awareness

1. That men and women may find joy in sacrificing personal gain for the service of others in a Church vocation, we pray to the LORD.

2. That the LORD of the Harvest may open the hearts of our young people to the possibility of a life in priesthood or religious life, we pray to the LORD.

3. That parents, by their lives and example, may encourage Church vocations among their children, we pray to the LORD.

4. For all men and women who wish to follow Christ, that they may respond generously to God’s graces, trusting His leading them into His service as priests or religious, we pray to the LORD.

5. For Christian families, the source of religious vocations, that they may be prompted to encourage young people to rejoice in doing God’s will, we pray to the LORD.

6. That today’s youth may show generosity to Jesus’ call and make wise decisions in choosing their vocation in life, we pray to the LORD.

7. For all young men of our parish who are making lifetime choices at this time, that they will include service to the People of God as a diocesan priest among their other options, we pray to the LORD.

8. For all parents of our parish, that they may instill a positive regard for the priesthood as a wholesome lifetime career path their sons might consider, we pray to the LORD.

9. For our young people, that they may find a joyful faith in their families, and encouragement to respond to a life of ministry and service, we pray to the LORD.

10. For a full appreciation of the gift of ministry within the Church, and for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, we pray to the LORD.

11. For all candidates for priesthood in our diocese, that they may have the courage of their convictions and the generosity to act upon them if they believe in their hearts that God is calling them to priesthood, we pray to the LORD.

12. For all pastors and parish priests of our diocese, that they will recognize and invite to priesthood men of their parishes who have the aptitude for priestly service, we pray to the LORD.

13. For all priests, deacons, religious men and women, and all lay ministers who serve our Church and for those who are struggling to answer the call they are experiencing at this time, we pray to the LORD.

14. For all involved in the examination of candidates to priesthood at this time, that their choices will benefit the whole Church of the 21st Century, we pray to the LORD.

15. For all parishioners who have made a commitment to pray intensely for vocations, that their intercessory prayer for an increase of candidates for priesthood in our diocese will be fruitful for the Church and they will be blessed for their efforts, we pray to the LORD.

16. For the Parish Vocations Commission of our diocese, that they will grown in appreciation of the task entrusted to them, and that the seeds of awareness they plant will grow to maturity through prayer and care, we pray to the LORD.

17. That Lent 2012 will be a time of grace and renewal for all Christians throughout the world, and that there will be a renewal of interest in the vocations of Church service, we pray to the LORD.

18. For all the priests and religious who are guiding the Catholic people of our parishes in this 21st Century, we pray to the LORD.

19. That our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, will be blessed as he leads Catholics to lift up the world to God in prayer, we pray to the LORD.

20. That the new Millennium will be a time of renewal for the Church and that many people will follow their individual call from God to assist in the work of evangelization, we pray to the LORD.

21. In thanksgiving to God for the blessings of the 20th Century, asking a powerful outpouring of His Spirit on the new Millennium, we pray to the LORD.

22. For all the priests, religious and lay people who will serve the Church, the People of God, in the 21st Century, we pray to the LORD.

November 1st, 2010

All Saints Day – FAQ

All Saints Day

The Feast of All Saints is a holy day of the Church honoring all saints, known and unknown. While we have information about many saints, and we honor them on specific days, there are many unknown or unsung saints, who may have been forgotten, or never been specifically honored. On All Saints Day, we celebrate these saints of the Lord, and ask for their prayers and intercessions.

The whole concept of All Saints Day is tied in with the concept of the Communion of Saints. This is the belief that all of God’s people, on heaven, earth, and in the state of purification (called Purgatory), are connected in a communion. In other words, the saints of God are just as alive as you and I, and are constantly interceding on our behalf. Remember, our connection with the saints in heaven is one grounded in a tight-knit communion.

The saints are not divine, nor omnipresent or omniscient. However, because of our common communion with and through Jesus Christ, our prayers are joined with the heavenly community of Christians.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (AD 350) testifies to this belief: “We mention those who have fallen asleep: first the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition” (Catechetical Lecture 23:9)

The Catholic Catechism concisely describes this communion among believers, by which we are connected to Christ, and thus to one another:

“Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness…They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us…So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped.” (CCC 956)

“…as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself: We worship Christ as God’s Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord’s disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples.” (CCC 957)

There are thousands of canonized saints, that is those individuals officially recognized by the Church as holy men and women worthy of imitation. Because miracles have been associated with these people, and their lives have been fully examined and found holy by the Church, we can be assured they are prime examples of holiness, and powerful intercessors before God on our behalf. There are also many patron saints, guardians or protectors of different areas and states of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Isn’t Celebrating All Saints Day Idolatry?

Many non-Catholics, especially those from more fundamentalist backgrounds, assume that celebrating the saints means somehow worshiping them. This leads some Christians to claim that All Saints Day is an idolatrous holiday. The Church, East and West, has always distinguished between worship (latria), given to God alone, and veneration (dulia), which may be given to the saints. The highest form of veneration (hyperdulia) is due to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

If someone is treating a saint as one should treat God, then yes, that is idolatry. That being said, Catholics believe that the saints have a role in our lives, as intercessors on our behalf, because we are all united by our communion in Christ. The saints are continually praying for us and interceding on our behalf, on account of their closeness to Christ. This is because God is the God of the living, not of the dead. As such, asking a saint for intercession is no more idolatrous than asking a holy friend or pastor to pray for you.

Remembering and honoring the saints are beneficial practices, because to remember the heroes of the faith and follow their examples are good things. Many Christians seem to strongly oppose remembering and celebrating the lives of great Christian men and women, yet have no problem celebrating the lives of secular heroes like George Washington. All Saints Day is kind of like a Christian Memorial Day or Presidents Day, a day to celebrate the lives of all the great heroes of the Christian faith, and to celebrate the deep communion we have with them. While celebrating secular heroes is admirable, how much more admirable is celebrating those who fully dedicated their lives to Christ!

2. Don’t Catholics pray to Saints?

Yes, Catholics do pray to saints, on All Saints Day, and throughout the year. However, we must remember what the word “pray” means. It simply means to make a request. If you examine common prayers to the saints, these prayers ask the saints to pray for us, and entreat them, by their examples and prayers, to lead us closer to Christ. Thus prayers (requests) to the Trinity, and prayers (requests) to the saints are very different in content and style, and should not be confused.

Praying to (making a request of) a saint is like making a request of your pastor. When you need it, you probably ask your pastor to pray for you because you know he is a deep and prayerful man, and you would like his prayers. All Christians recognize that God hears the prayers of his people, and we find comfort in the prayers of those who are close to Christ. This is why we pray to the saints.

September 27th, 2010

Feast of St. Vincent de Paul – September 27

St Vincent de Paul

Today on  September 27, we celebrate the feast of St. Vincent de Paul, the patron saint of charitable societies and the apostle of Charities.

St. Vincent de Paul (1576 – 1660) was born in Gascony, France, and died in Paris. He studied theology at Toulouse and was ordained a priest in 1600. As a young priest he fell into the hands of Mohammedan pirates who carried him off to Africa. After his return to France he became successively parish priest, grand almoner of the galley slaves, and spiritual director of the Visitation nuns. He founded the Congregation of the Priests of the Mission or Lazarists to preach especially to country people. With the help of Louise de Marillac he established the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity to care for young girls, for the needy, sick, and foundlings. He died at St. Lazarus’s which was the center of his Congregation. Leo XIII proclaimed him special patron of charitable institutions.

St. Vincent de Paul was a great apostle of charity, and brought a great revival of the priesthood in the 17th century. He was born near Dax in the Landes (France) in 1581. As a young priest he was captured by Moorish pirates who carried him to Africa. He was sold into slavery, but freed in 1607 when he converted his owner.

Having returned to France, he became successively a parish priest and chaplain to the galley-slaves. He founded a religious Congregation under the title of Priests of the Mission or Lazarists (now known as Vincentians), and he bound them by a special way to undertake the apostolic work of charity; he sent them to preach missions, especially to the ignorant peasants of that time, and to establish seminaries.

In order to help poor girls, invalids, and the insane, sick and unemployed, he and St. Louise de Marillac founded the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity, now better known as the Sisters of St. Vincent.

St. Vincent worked tirelessly to help those in need: the impoverished, the sick, the enslaved, the abandoned, the ignored. He died in 1660 at St. Lazarus’s house, Paris.

His Motto:

“God sees you.”

“Let us love God; but at the price of our hands and sweat of our face.”

St. Vincent de Paul – Patron Saint

Charitable societies; horses; hospitals; leprosy; lost articles; prisoners; volunteers; spiritual help; Saint Vincent de Paul Societies; Vincentian Service Corps; Madagascar; diocese of Richmond, Virginia.

16th century cleric performing act of charity; priest surrounded by the Sisters of Charity; book with heart; model of an orphanage or hospital; model of a hospice; priest with child in his arms.

Society of Saint Vincent de Paul

Founded in 1833 by six university students in Paris under the patronage of St. Vincent de Paul, today the Society includes almost 900,000 members spread among 46,000 confraternities in 130 countries of five continents.

The Society’s purpose is to provide direct aid to those who suffer, and to help individuals reduce and even eliminate the causes of their suffering, themselves. Society members use their own resources, sharing not only possessions but the valuable gift of their presence.

Prayer:-

God our Father, you gave Vincent de Paul the courage and holiness of an apostle for the well-being of the poor and the formation of the clergy. Help us to be zealous in continuing his work. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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