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Our Lady of Fatima

 

Apparitions of the Angel

First apparition of the Angel

In spring in 1916 Lucia Dos Santos age 9, and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, ages 8 and 6 respectively, were at a meadow with their sheep in (hamlet of Fatima). 3 children of FatimaIt started raining, and they hid in a small cave to escape the rain. After the rain stopped and the sun came out, they stayed in the cave to eat their lunch, say the rosary and play a game of jacks. They had played but for a short while when, on the serene day, a strong wind blew that swayed the trees and a sudden white light enveloped them. In the middle of that light appeared a cloud in the form of a young man who said to them: “Fear not! I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me!” The angel knelt on the ground and bowed very low. The children imitated the angel and repeated his words three times: “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You. I beg pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You.” Then he rose and said: “Pray this way. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.”

Second apparition of the Angel

It occurred in summer, when the seers were playing near the well of Lucia’s house. The Angel said to them: “What are you doing? Pray! Pray a great deal. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have merciful designs on you. Offer prayers and sacrifices continually to the Most High.” The children asked: “How must we sacrifice ourselves?” The angel said: “Make everything you do a sacrifice, and offer it as an act of reparation for the sins by which God is offended, and as a petition for the conversion of sinners. By this you will bring peace to your country. I’m its Guardian Angel, the Angel of Portugal. Above all accept and bear with submission all the suffering the Lord will send you.” From that moment, they began to offer to the Lord everything that offended Him, without trying to find any other ways of mortification or penance other than passing hour after hour, bowed to the ground, repeating the prayer that the angel had taught them.

Third apparition of the Angel

It occurred in autumn at Cabeco. The children started prayers when they saw the angel, which had in his hand a chalice over which hung a Host, from which fell in the chalice some drops of Blood. He knelt and repeated three times with the children: Third apparition Fatima“Most Holy Trinity-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – I adore thee profoundly. I offer thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles in the world, in reparation for all the outrages, sacrileges and in differences whereby he is offended. And through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners.” Then he rose, took the Host, and gave it to Lucia, while the contents of the chalice he gave to Jacinta and Francisco, and said: ” Take the Body and the Blood of Jesus Christ horribly outraged by thankless men. Recover their sins and comfort your God.”

Apparitions of Our Lady

First apparition of Our Lady

On Sunday May 13th 1917 the children were pasturing their flock as usual at the Cova da Iria, which was about a mile from their homes. They were playing when suddenly a bright shaft of light pierced the air. They described it as a flash of lightning. It was not really lightning, but rather the reflection of a light that approached little by little. Frightened by the flash, the children looked around at the sky that was clear and bright without the least spot of a cloud. No breeze stirred, the sun was strong, and there was no hint anywhere of a storm that might be responsible for a flash of lightning. The children, however, thought that they had better head home inapparition Fatima case it might start raining. As they descended the hill. Another flash of lightning took them by surprise. Panicky with fear, they took a few steps and looked towards the right. There, standing over the foliage of a small holm oak tree, “a lady dressed all in white, more brilliant then the sun, shedding rays of light, clear and stronger than a crystal glass filled with the most sparkling water, pierced by the burning rays of the sun”. The lady spoke to them and said: “Fear not! I will not harm you.” “Where are you from?” the children asked. “I am from heaven” the beautiful lady replied, gently raising her hand towards the distant horizon. “What do you want of me?”, Lucia asked. “I came to ask you to come here for six consecutive months, on the thirteenth day, at this same hour. I will tell you later who I am and what I want. And I shall return here again a seventh time.” Lucia said : “Do you come from heaven…and will I go to heaven ?” “Yes, you’ll go”. “And Jacinta?” “As well” ” And Francisco?” “Him too , but he will have to say many rosaries”. In the end Our Lady asked : “Do you wish to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the suffering that He may please to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and to ask for the conversion of sinners?” “Yes, we do.” said the children. “You will have to suffer a lot, but the grace of God will be your comfort.” Then she opened her hands with a loving gesture of a mother who offers her heart. From it an intense light departed that seemed to go through them. The vision vanished telling them : “Recite the rosary every day to obtain the peace for the world and the end of the war.” And She disappeared.

 Second apparition of Our Lady

On June 13 1917, accompanied by about 50 people, the children were reciting the rosary, when there was again the lightning, and immediately after the Lady on the holm oak appeared like in May. “What do you want from me?” asked Lucia.I wish you to come here the 13th of next month; that you say the Rosary every day, and that you learn to read. In succeeding months I will tell you what else I want.” “I would like to ask you to bring us to Heaven“, said Lucia. “Yes, Jacinta and Francisco will be among the few, but you must stay here for a long time. Jesus wants to help Himself of you to make Me known and loved. God wishes you to remain in the world for some time because He wants to use you to establish in the world a devotion to my Immaculate Heart. I promise salvation to those who embrace it, and their souls will be loved by God as flowers placed by myself to adorn His throne.” Lucia asked: “Will I stay here alone”?, “Don’t be discouraged , I will not abandon you ever. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and through it will conduct you to God.” Then She opened her hands and emanated her light on the children, Jacinta and Francisco seemed to be in the light that went up toward the sky, Lucia in the light that spread on the earth. In front of the palm of the right hand of the Lady there was a heart surrounded by thorns that impaled it. They understood that it was the Immaculate Heart of Mary affronted from the sins of men, and She then asked for reparation.

Third apparition of Our Lady

On July 13 1917 they recited the rosary with the crowd, they saw the usual reflex of light and then the Lady on the holm oak. Lucia asked: “What do you want from me?” She answered: “That you come the 13th of the next month, that you continue to recite the Rosary every day to our Lady of the Rosary to obtain peace in the world and the end of the war, because only She will be able to aid you.” Lucia said ” I want to ask you to tell us who you are, and to make a miracle for the crowd to believe that you appear.” She Answered: “you continue to come here. In October I will tell you who I am, that which I want, and I will do a miracle that all can see and believe. Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say often this prayer, especially during any sacrifice: “O my Jesus, I offer this for love of Thee, for the conversion of poor sinners, and in reparation for all the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”. As she spoke these words, Our lady stretched out her hands, and bright rays came forth which seemed to penetrate into the earth. All at once the ground vanished, and the children saw Hell, frightened they lifted their eyes to the Lady who told them:“You have seen Hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save future souls God wishes to establish in the world the devotion to My Immaculate Heart. If people do what I tell you, many souls will be saved.” Then She said: “If my requests are granted, Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If not, she will scatter her errors throughout the world, provoking wars and persecution of the Church. The good will be martyed, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, and various nations will be destroyed…But in the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, Russia will be converted, and a certain period of peace will be granted to the world”. “Do you want to learn a prayer?” the vision asked, “Yes we do!” the children responded. “When you recite the Rosary, say at the end of each decade: Oh My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Your Mercy.”

Fourth apparition of Our Lady

In August the children were prevented by the civil authorities to go to the meeting of the 13th in which had gathered an immense crowd. The children for two days were confined and threatened with many torments to make them deny, but they did not surrender, they were ready to offer their lives not to betray the promises made to the Lady. When they had been released on August 19, while they fed the flock in a place called Valinhos they saw the Lady above a holm oak. “ What do you want from me?” Lucia asked. “I Want you to continue to go to the Cova da Iria on the 13th, that you continue to say the Rosary every day. I, in the last month will make the miracle that all will believe.” Then with a sadder appearance told them: “Pray, pray a lot and offer sacrifices for the sinners. You know that many souls go the hell because there is none who pray for them.”

Fifth apparition of Our Lady

On September 13th the children and about 30.000 persons accompanied them to the Cova da Iria and they there recited the Rosary, soon after appeared the Lady on the holm oak. “I Want you to come here on October 13 and that you continue to recite the Rosary to obtain the end of the war. In October the Lord, the sorrowful Lady, the Lady of Mt. Carmel, and St Joseph with the child Jesus, will also come to bless the world. God is glad of your sacrifices, He does not want you to sleep with the chord to the sides, use it only during the day.”

Sixth and last apparition of Our Lady

On 13 October 1917 the children surrounded by a crowd of 70.000 persons under a torrential rain, Lucia asked again of the Lady:”What do you want from me?” she answered: “I am the Lady of the Rosary, I desire here a chapel in my honor to be built, that people continue to recite the Rosary every day. Will the war finish. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.” Then Lucia asked: “may I ask you for cures and conversions, will you grant them?”. “Some yes, others no. It is necessary that they ask pardon for their sins, that they don’t offend God our Lord,and that he is already too much offended.” “Do you Want anything else from me?” Lucia asked. “I do not want anything more.”miracle of the sunThen She opened her hands again and She launched a ray of light in the direction of the sun as Lucia shouted that they should look at the sun. At this point the promised sign happened, Lucia shouted to look at the sun, the rain stopped suddenly and there appeared an exceptionally bright sun but not dazzling. The sun began to turn as if projecting in each direction bands of light of each color that lit and colored the clouds, the sky, the trees, and the crowd. It stayed for some moments then it went back to its normal position, it stayed still for a small while and then it happened again. Suddenly it looked as if it stood out from the sky to fall headlong on the crowd, that was looking terrorized, they fell to their knees and begged mercy. Meanwhile the children saw a Lady dressed like the white of the sun with a blue cope, St. Joseph with the Child Jesus that blessed the world.Then after this vision they saw The Lord bless the world, standing next to Our Lady of Sorrows. After these visions the Lady of Mt Carmel finished the miracle. The people then became aware that there clothes were completely dried.

One of the principal anti-clerical publications of the day was ‘O Dia’, a major Lisbon newspaper. On October 17th, ‘O Dia’ reported the following: At one o’clock in the afternoon, midday by the sun, the rain stopped. The sky, pearly gray in color, illuminated the vast arid landscape with a strange light. The sun had a transparent gauzy veil so that eyes could easily be fixed upon it. The gray mother-of-pearl tone turned into a sheet of silver which broke up as the clouds were torn apart and the silver sun, enveloped in the same gauzy gray light, was seen to whirl and turn in the circle of broken clouds. A cry went up from every mouth and people fell on their knees on the muddy ground. The light turned a beautiful blue as if it had come through the stained-glass windows of a cathedral and spread itself over the people who knelt with outstretched hands. The blue faded slowly and then the light seemed to pass through yellow glass. Yellow stains fell against white handkerchiefs, against the dark skirts of women. They were reported on the trees, on the stones and on the serra (mountain). People wept and prayed with uncovered heads in the presence of the miracle they had awaited.

Francisco died on 4 April 1919 and Jacinta died on 20 February 1920. Before she died, little Jacinta revealed little-known but remarkable statements made by Our Lady. Here are just some of them:
More souls go to hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason. Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much. Many marriages are not good; they do not please Our Lord and are not of God. Priests must be pure, very pure. They should not busy themselves with anything except what concerns the Church and souls. The disobedience of priests to their superiors and to the Holy Father is very displeasing to Our Lord. The Blessed Mother can no longer restrain the hand of her Divine Son from striking the world with just punishment for its many crimes. Tell everybody that God gives graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. tell them to ask graces from her, and that the Heart of Jesus wishes to be venerated together with the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Lucia entered the Convent of the Sisters of St Dorothy to learn to read and write; then she entered in the convent of Coimbra. Sr Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart, died of old age at the Carmelite convent of St. Teresa of Coimbra in central Portugal, at 5:25 pm local time on February 13,2005

On December 10, 1925, sister Lucia received an apparition by the Child Jesus and the Virgin Mary in her convent cell. The Holy Virgin shown her a Heart surrounded by thorns, Our Lady said to her: “See, My daughter, My heart surrounded by thorns which ungrateful men pierce at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude… Say to all those who:

  • For five months, on the first Saturday, confess,
  • Receive Holy Communion,
  • Recite the Rosary
  • Keep Me company for 15 minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, in a spirit of reparation,

I promise to assist them at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their souls.”

As Our Lady said at the apparition of 13 July 1917, “I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia”. She did this on 13 June 1929, when She appeared to Lucia in the Chapel of Dorotheas, in the town of Tuy. Lucia said: “I had sought and obtained permission from my superiors and confessor to make a Holy Hour from eleven o’clock until midnight, every Thursday to Friday night. tuy apparitionBeing alone one night, I knelt near the altar rails in the middle of the chapel and, prostrate, I prayed the prayers of the Angel. Feeling tired, I then stood up and continued to say the prayers with my arms in the form of a cross. The only light was that of the sanctuary lamp. Suddenly the whole chapel was illumined by a supernatural light, and above the altar appeared a cross of light, reaching to the ceiling. In a brighter light on the upper part of the cross, could be seen the face of a man and his body as far as the waist; upon his breast was a dove of light; nailed to the cross was the body of another man. A little below the waist, I could see a chalice and a large host suspended in the air, on to which drops of blood were falling from the face of Jesus Crucified and from the wound in His side. These drops ran down on to the host and fell into the Chalice. Beneath the right arm of the cross was Our Lady and in her hand was her Immaculate Heart. (it was Our Lady of Fatima, with her Immaculate Heart in her left hand, without sword or roses, but with a crown of thorns and flames). Under the left arm of the cross, large letters, -as if of crystal clear water which ran down upon the altar, formed these words: “Grace and Mercy”. I understood that it was the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity which was shown to me, and I received lights about this mystery which I am not permitted to reveal. Our Lady then said to me: The moment has come in which God asks the Holy Father, in union with all the Bishops of the world, to make the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, promising to save it by this means. There are so many souls whom the justice of God condemns for sins committed against me, that I have come to ask reparation: sacrifice yourself for this intention and pray.”

Pope Pius XI did not make the consecration which Our Lady had asked Lucia to make known. Pius XII in his turn, did not consecrate Russia in the original form, he consecrated the whole world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary with a particular mention of Russia. Pope Pius XII did something similar in 1942, and later consecrated the Russian people in 1952.

On 13 May 1982, one year after an assassination attempt in St Peter’s Square on 13 May 1981 (the anniversary of the first apparition), Pope John Paul II traveled to Fatima, where he met Sr Lucia. He believed he owed his survival to the direct intervention of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on 25 March 1984The Holy Father requested that the statue of Our Lady from Fatima’s Capelinha (Chapel) be sent to Rome, and then in union with the Bishops of the Church, he specifically consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on 25 March 1984 (the feast of the Annunciation).

Holy Father FatimaAgain the Holy Father later requested that the statue of Our Lady from Fatima’s Capelinha be sent to Rome, and then in union with all the Bishops of the Church for the Jubilee, he specifically consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on 8 October 2000.

THE MESSAGE  OF FATIMA in Vatican site.

Pope John Paul II beatified Francisco and Jacinta Marto on may 13th 2000 in a celebration attended by more than 700,000 people. Their cause for canonization is currently under consideration. Reports indicate the canonization could occur on the centenary of the apparitions in 2017.

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The Types of Ashes you might get on Ash Wednesday

One of the most visible aspects of Lent, is how it begins: Ash Wednesday.This is the day we all see who is getting ready to enter into the season of Lent, by spotting who has ash on their forehead. This guide will help you identify the types of ash marks you might encounter.

 The Crosscross

A True Classic. The most widely depicted ash in the media. The Cross is probably the most common type of ashes, and also the starting point and root ash type of many others. Frequently, The Cross is attempted only to turn out as one of its many derivatives.

The Thumbprintthumbprint

One of the few ash types not derived from The Cross. Often used when ash supplies are running low or when time is in short supply due to its economic use of ashes and quick application time. Also referred to as ‘The Catholic Bindi” due to its resemblance to the traditional Hindu forehead mark or ” The Missed Spot”, as this is the ash type most frequently confused for a spot of dirt on the forehead left behind from improper face washing technique.

The Double Wide

double-wide

Simply put, a Cross ash type, whose horizontal line is much longer than proportion allows. The Double Wide can vary from only slightly out of proportion to covering the width of the entire forehead.

The Simba

simba

A Cross or Double Wide with an extremely small or even nonexistent vertical line. So named for its resemblance for the mark young Simba receives in the opening scene of the 1994 Disney animated classic ” The Lion King”

The Unibrow

unibrow

A Simba or Double Wide whose has a lower latitudinal application than desired. This lower than average location connects the two eyebrows and simulates the appearance of one brow, particularly from mid to long range viewing. Consequently, this is the ash type that is most helpful in growing in humility.

The X Marks the Spot

x-marks-the-spot

The classic Cross ash type, tilted anything from 30 – 70 degrees. This may occur when the one applying the ashes is distracted or when the one receiving the ashes tilts their head seconds before application.

The Unsolved Mystery

unsolved-mystery

Any ash type can turn into The Unsolved Mystery, so long as it is concealed by one’s hair.

The Missing Link

missing-link

An extremely light application of ash. Unless explicitly looking for the ashes, observers may miss them. The Missing Link finds its way to foreheads when older ashes are used, forehead skin is dry or when one absentmindedly wipes their brow.

The Loomster

loomster

Closely related to the Double Wide and the Simba, this variety’s most distinctive feature is its prominent vertical line of ash. A complementary horizontal line may or may not be present in all sightings. So names because it brings to mind the longest french fry in an order, particularly on a day of fasting.

The Hash Tag

hashtag

This ash type usually occurs when the ashes are applied with a very heavy finger, so that the outer lines are thick and prominent, but the inside lines are light and faded. This is also known as the “Ash Tag”

The Been There, Done That

beenthere

Rarely seen in the wild, this ash type is of particular interest for its resemblance to a check mark. Best chances for a sighting are Masses and Ash services later in the day, when the chances of fatigue for the one applying ashes are at their highest, and your forehead is confused for their to-do list.

If you received your ashes on Ash Wednesday, did you take note of which type you received? Or did you notice someone else with a different type to yours? Post your photos and don’t forget to add the #AshTag

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19 Spiritual Resolution Ideas for the New Year

So you’ve vowed to up your intake of vegetables and have signed up for gym to kick off the New Year. But has your spiritual life been part of your New Year’s resolutions? Here are a few ideas of small, practical steps you can take to get spiritually stronger in 2015.

1. Daily Mass. If you don’t go at all, try going one day a week. If you go one day a week, try two. If you go every day….well, good job.

“The best way to economize time is to ‘lose’ half an hour each day attending Holy Mass.” – Frederic Ozanam

2. Pray a daily rosary. My favorite times to get my daily rosary in are in the car or while walking outside. If I try to do it right before bed I end up falling asleep. Find what works for you.

“Never will anyone who says his Rosary every day be led astray. This is a statement that I would gladly sign with my blood.”  - Saint Louis de Montfort

3. Memorize a weekly bible verse. Write it on a post-it note and stick it on your desk for the week.

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” – Matthew 4:4. 

4. Visit an adoration chapel once a week, even if it’s just for five minutes.

“We represent those in the world who do not know Jesus during our Holy Hour in Adoration.” – St. John Paul II

5.  Register at a parish. My generation (looking at you millennials!) is notorious for parish hopping and being non-committal when it comes to parishes. However, it’s much better for community-building if we commit. Let’s do this.

Give to your (newly-registered-at) parish. God will bless your generosity, I guarantee.

“Do not appear before the Lord empty-handed, for all that you offer is in fulfillment of the commandment. The offering of the righteous enriches the altar, and its pleasing odor rises before the Most high. The sacrifice of the righteous is acceptable, and it will never be forgotten. Be generous when you worship the Lord, and do not stint the first fruits of your hands. With every gift show a cheerful face, and dedicate your tithe with gladness. Give to the Most High as he has given to you, and as generously as you can afford. For the Lord is the one who repays, and he will repay you sevenfold.” – Sirach 35:6-13

7. Learn about someone who is on the path to canonization but is not there yet (a Blessed or Venerable or Servant of God). Start asking for their intercession and see if you can help their cause! Learning about the lives of saints can strengthen our own faith and give us role models to look up to.

“We believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church; and we believe that in this communion, the merciful love of God and his saints is always [attentive] to our prayers.” – Pope Paul VI

8. Participate in the life of your (again, registered-at) parish. Offer your talents to God through singing, reading, leading, or just helping out.

"Jesus is a friend of mine." (UBC Learning Commons via Flickr CC by 2.0)

9. Adopt a priest or religious sister and pray and fast for them. Even people living the religious life need people to pray for them! The Handmaids of the Precious Blood specialize in helping people adopt priests for prayer.

10. Do something for the homeless. Pope Francis has continually encouraged us to encounter the poor – to know them and look them in the eye and love them. Try volunteering at a local shelter, or even just smiling at a homeless person on the street.

Check out Pope Francis' New Year's homily on CNA!

Click here to read his homily.

11. Visit someone you know is lonely. Step away from (un)social media and reach out to a friend you know is struggling.

“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.” – Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

12. Find a bible study. Can’t find one? See number 13.

13. Start a bible study. Find materials here or here, or ask your parish priest.

“Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ.” – St. Jerome

14. Go to confession. Has it been awhile? Resolve to make the sacrament a more regular habit this year. Once a month or even more frequently is recommended.

My daughter, just as you prepare in My presence, so also you make your confession before Me. The person of the priest is, for Me, only a screen. Never analyse what sort of a priest it is that I am making use of; open your soul in confession as you would to Me, and I will fill it with My light. (1725)
-St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul

15. Invite someone to Mass or confession. Evangelization is sometimes as simple as a personal invitation.

You're invited...to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!

16. Try a new way of prayer. Stuck in a rut? Try a new devotion. Check out the Liturgy of the hours or intercessory prayer. God speaks in many different ways.

17. Visit a nursing home or a friend in the hospital. Corporeal work of mercy? Check.

18. Get a spiritual director. You don’t necessarily need to be discerning your vocation to seek spiritual counsel. Maybe you’re pondering a big move or your relationship with God isn’t where you’d like it to be. A priest (or religious sister or brother) can help. Just ask.

19. Go on a retreat. Take some time for just you and Jesus.

The important thing in the spiritual life is to take small, manageable steps toward God so as not to get discouraged. Pick one or two new things from the list and start incorporating them into your life.

Have some other suggestions for spiritual strength in the New Year? Let us know in the comments!

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The Vatican Christmas Tree

The Vatican Christmas Tree, also called the Saint Peter’s Square Christmas Tree, is the decorated tree that is erected annually in the Saint Peter’s Square directly in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City to celebrate the Christmas holiday season.

The tradition of placing a Christmas Tree as well as the life-size Nativity Scene in Saint Peter’s Square started in 1982 during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, when the Polish-born Pope introduced the northern European symbol of Christmas spirit. The tradition of erecting a Christmas Tree was celebrated in northern Europe and in Poland, Pope John Paul II’s country of origin, but not in the Vatican at the time.

The first tree came from Italy. For 9 years the trees predominantly came from either Italy or Austria. The offering of the Christmas Tree to the Pope has become an honour, and each year the Vatican accepts a tree donated by a different European country or region.

The Christmas tree is installed in the centre of Saint Peter’s Square, together with a life-size nativity scene that is unveiled on Christmas Eve. The nativity scene has seventeen life-size statues. Of these, nine are the original figures donated in 1842 by Saint Vincent Pallotti for the nativity scene in the Roman church of Sant’Andrea della Valle, and the other eight figures were added over the course of the years. In 2006 the Italian province of Trentino, and the local council of a village of Tesero have provided a further thirteen sculpted wooden figures and animals, as well as household utensils for the depiction of daily life.

List of Christmas Trees and Country of origin:

1982Alban Hills, Italy – The first Vatican Christmas tree

1983Tyrol, Austria 

1984Waldmunchen, Bavaria,Germany

1985 – South Tyrol, Italy

1986Toblach, South Tyrol

1987Carinthia, Austria

1988 – Cadore, Italy

1989 – Schärding,Upper Austria,Austria

1990Ponte di Legno, Brescia, Italy

1991Vorarlberg, Austria

1992South Tyrol, Italy

1993Graz-Seckau, Styria, Austria

1994 – Žilina,Slovakia

1995Obertraubling, Regensburg, Germany

1996Kocevje, Slovenia

1997Zakopane, Tatra Mountains, Poland

1998Schwarzwald, Germany (image below)

 Untitled

1999Moravka, Czech Republic (image below)

 

2000Carinthia, Austria. 

2001Transylvania, Romania – The Romanian President, Ion Iliescu was present during the lighting ceremony. (image below)

2002Gorski kotar, Croatia – 28 meters high. (image below)

2003 – Pré-Saint-Didier,Valle D’Aosta,Italy – This 32 meter, 110 year old tree was presented to the Pope along with twenty other smaller trees by 300 people from Valle D’Aosta, including the Governer of the region. (image below)

2004 Pinzolo, Trento region, Alps mountains, Italy – This 32.5 meter, 100-year-old tree was taken from the Italian Alps. (image below)

2005Afiesl, Upper Austria – This 33 meter tree was donated along with 32 smaller trees to decorate the papal apartments. (image below)

2006 Taverna, Calabria, Italy – 33.5 meters high. (image below) 2006 photo Franco Origlia/Getty Images

2007 Val Badia, Italy – 30 meters high tree from the Dolomites Mountains. (image below) The Vatican Christmas Tree 2007

2008 – Municipality of Gutebstein, Lower Austria – This 33 meter, 120-year-old tree was donated by Austria was the oldest tree donated. This tree was then cut up and recycled into wooden toys, chests and benches, and other things, that children can decorate and use. (image below)

The 2007 Christmas tree at the Vatican

2009 – Ardennes forests near Spa, Wallonia, Belgium – This 90-year-old, more than 30 meter high tree weighed 14 tons, with a trunk circumference of 2.65 meters, and bottom branches that spread out 8 meters wide. It was decorated with 2000 golden and silver colored bulbs and 1500 lights. The town of Spa also donated 40 small trees to decorate the halls and rooms of the Vatican City. (image below)

2010  Bolzano, South Tyrol, Northern Italy – 94-year-old, 33.5 meter high tree.(image below)

2011 – Zakarpattia Oblast, Ukrain – This 30.5 meter high tree with a trunk circumference of 56cm had more than 700 branches and was decorated with 2500 silver and gold baubles, illuminated by white and yellow lights. It was inaugurated on December 16th in the presence of bishops from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. (image below)A member of the choir waves the Ukrainian flag during the lighting of the Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square

2012 –  Pesopennataro, Italy – 30 meters high. (image below) 

2013 – Waldmunchen, Bavaria, Germany – 25 meter high (image below)

2014 – Calabria, Southern Italy – 25 meter high. (images below) 

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Easter Traditions

With the Easter Vigil behind us, and we move into a new time of celebration in the Resurrection of Jesus. Here are some of the explanations of certain Easter traditions that I am sure came up at the table, like, where did the Easter bunny come from?

EASTER PARADE

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During the Middle Ages in Europe, people in their new Easter clothes would take a long walk after Easter Mass. This was a kind of procession preceded by a crucifix of the Easter Candle. Even though its original meaning was lost, the tradition evolved into the Easter Parade. It is still popular in many cities in the United States today, especially on Fifth Avenue in New York

 

EASTER LAMB

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The sacrificed lamb was the key symbol of the Passover Seder. It continued as a symbol of Jesus, the Lamb of God, slain and raised from the dead to gain freedom for all from the slavery of sin and spiritual ignorance. The Easter Lamb became an important symbol in Christian art. It also became popular to include the symbol among Easter decorations and to bake Easter                                                                                   breads and cakes in the shape of a lamb.

 

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From ancient times in Europe, cooked ham was as popular as lamb for festive occasions. It is natural that it grace the table on this, the greatest of all feasts.

 

EASTER EGGS

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The egg has become a popular Easter symbol. Creation myths of many ancient peoples center in a cosmogenic egg from which the universe was born. The egg, therefore, is a natural symbol, not only of creation, but also of re-creation and resurrection. in ancient Egypt and Persia friends exchanged decorated eggs at the spring equinox, the beginning of their new year. These eggs were a symbol of fertility for them because the coming forth of a live creature from an egg was so surprising to people of ancient times. Christians of the Near East adopted this tradition, and the Easter egg became a religious symbol. It represented the tomb from which Jesus came forth to new life. Because eggs were at on time forbidden by the churches Lenten discipline of fasting and abstinence, they were a precious Easter food. Easter eggs are usually given to children, either in Easter baskets or hidden for the children to find. They are first boiled and then dyed with bright colours. Among some ethnic groups these eggs, usually with the contents removed, are painted with elaborate designs. Easter treeAmong the Slavic people these are called pysanki (“to design”).           The custom of decorating trees outdoors with decorated, hollow Easter eggs originated in Germany. Easter egg hunts, and even the  egg-rolling on the White house lawn, are contemporary versions of egg games played on Easter for centuries in European countries.

 

EASTER BUNNIES

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Little children are usually told that the Easter eggs are brought by the Easter Bunny. Rabbits are part of       pre-Christian fertility symbolism because of the reputation to produce rapidly. Their association with Easter eggs goes back several hundred years to vague legends in Germany. There the custom of making candy rabbits also originated. The Easter Bunny has never had a religious meaning.

 

EASTER LILIES
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The  white trumpet lily, which blooms naturally in springtime, was introduced from Bermuda by Mrs. Thomas P. Sargent. The popular name “Easter Lillies” comes from the fact that they bloom around Eastertime. They have become associated with Easter as much as poinsettias are with Christmas. In early Christian art the lily is a symbol of purity because of its delicacy of form and its whiteness. For the same reason it serves well as a symbol of resurrection.

 

HOT CROSS BUNS

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In England, it was a popular custom to bake sweet buns, ice them with a cross, and eat them on Good Friday. These hot cross buns eventually became a popular food eaten all during Lent. In early Christianity these buns were flat, unleavened imitations of the Passover bread. There is a possibility that this tradition originated in pre-Christian times. Egyptians used small loaves, stamped with horns, in the worship of the Mother Goddess, Isis. Greeks used cakes stamped with a cross in their devotions to goddess Diana.

 

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Easter

Something new seems to be brewing. The past few month have not been very exciting. In fact, there have been depressing moments. A quarter of the year has passed since the cheerfulness of Christmas. But now there seems to be promise of something new and good.

The past six weeks int he parish have been intense. The call to conversion has echoed repeatedly. It has been a season of penance: mot much excitement there! Decorations have been subdued. The ritual journey during the past week, Holy Week, has been full of symbolism. The waving of palms gave way to a passion story. A supper banquet gave way to a cross. And last night (Easter Vigil) gave way to a new fire, new oils, new water – and new life

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The theme of Easter morning echoes that of the Eater Vigil. It remembers and celebrates the very foundation of Christianity: Jesus is raised from the dead and is Lord. Those who believe and are baptized share in this Resurrection to new life. This theme will continue for the next fifty days of the Easter season.                               It was natural that the very first followers of Jesus would hold this moment sacred. it was the anniversary of that wonderful time when they experienced him risen and still among them. His death had occurred on the most important of all Jewish feasts: the Passover. His resurrection fulfilled all that the Passover had meant to them as Jews.                                                                                  It was an exodus, or passage, from the old times and the oppression of slavery to spiritual freedom. Jesus was the Paschal Lamb, slain to achieve this freedom..                                 It is obvious that something wonderful has happened as people walk into church. They are greeted by a church decorated with signs of new life: bright colours and Easter lilies. Alleluias ring out. it is Easter morning!                                                                                     For many, if not most, parishioners, this is the celebration of Easter. In every parish, however, the main celebration occurred the night before with the Easter Vigil. Sunday morning Easter Mass evolved in history when the Easter Vigil was anticipated during the early morning hours of Holy Saturday.

Christ’s resurrection was the sign of new beginnings. This theme was part of the evolution of the Passover long before the Exodus from Egypt. The ancestors of the Jews had celebrated a springtime festival of the first fruits of their flocks with a sacrifice of lambs. Eventually these feasts were combined as an annual memorial of the mystery of

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their escape from Egypt, and the passing over them by the angel of death. For 3000 years, and still today, Jews celebrate this drama of miraculous salvation by repeating the ancient story with song, readings, and symbolic foods: the Seder meal.         It was the Seder meal of this Passover that Jesus celebrated with his friends the night before his crucifixion, with  the request that it be celebrated in a new way in his memory. This they did on the weekly anniversary of his resurrection, the first day of the week, Sunday. It was only natural that the annual anniversary be highlighted with special solemnity.

DATE OF EASTER

Early in Christianity a controversy arose over setting the date of the annual Pascha. Some, 381-1233891708GdW7called the Quartodecimans (Latin, “fourteenth”), claimed that it should be celebrated annually on the precise date of Jesus’ historical Passover: the 14th of Nisan ) first day of the full moon that followed the spring equinox), usually a weekday. Others insisted that it always be a Sunday, because Christ was raised from the dead on the first day of the week. This controversy was a high priority on the agenda at the Council of Nicaea called by Emperor Constantine in 325. The decision was that it be observed on the Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox. In the West, only the Celtic church in Britain and Ireland refuse to accept the date until 664 because of their own Celtic calendar. Easter can occur on any Sunday from March 23 to April 25.

NAME OF EASTER

In almost every language except English, the name for this annual memorial of the resurrection is some from of the word “Passover” (for example, Pasch, from the Hebrew Pesach, “Passover”). When Christianity arrived in the north countries, its springtime celebration of the resurrection received a new name from the Teutonic people, a name used today by English-speaking people: Easter. At one time it was thought that this name came from an Anglo-Saxon spring goddess, Eostre. However there is doubt that such a goddess ever existed. A better explanation lies in people’s misunderstanding of a Latin phrase for Easter Week, week “in white vestments” or garments of the newly baptized (in albis), thinking it was the plural of alba  in the Latin idiom for “dawn,” the birth of the new spring sun in the east. This was translated in Old High German as eostarun. Regardless if the exact origin of the term, the symbolism remains:                               Christ is the sun that rises at dawn – in the east.

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The Easter Vigil

In the midst of the early dark of night a fire begins to flicker outside the church. An Easter Candle, boldly marked with the symbols of the current year and of Christ’s divinity and glorious suffering, is lit from the new fire. It is carried prominently into the midst of the people. There it is heralded with joyful song: “Light of Christ.. Come, let us adore him.” From this one light, the candles of hundreds of assembled believers are lit until the church is ablaze with new light. A cantor sings an ancient and beautiful song (Exultet, “Rejoice”) before the Easter Candle. Powerful Scripture readings about water and new creation are proclaimed. Easter water is blessed with the singing of of the Litany of Saints and with sacred oils consecrated just days before at the Chrism Mass. Catechumens step forward, speak their baptismal vows with the supportive voices of the congregation around them, and are baptized. Bells ring out. Flowers, especially Easter Lilies, and joyful banners decorate the sanctuary. Alleluias are sung for the first time in six weeks. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead!

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No other moment of the church year is as rich in powerful and early

The daytime hours of Holy Saturday, continuing the atmosphere of Good Friday, have been observed as a time of quiet and fasting from the early centuries. The day had no liturgy or religious traditions of its own. There was an atmosphere of anticipation for the coming of night for the celebration of the resurrection.symbolism as the Easter Vigil. It is the night of all nights. It is the heart of Christianity. It is Easter!

EASTER FIRE

The impressive blessing and lighting of the Easter fire, which still begins the vigil today, was not part of the ritual in ancient times. Among the Germanic people in pre-Christian times, bonfires in honor of pagan deities were popular to announce the beginning of spring and to assure good crops. After Christianity spread among these people, the church forbade these spring bonfires as a pagan practice. During the 6th and 7th centuries, however, Irish missionaries brought to the continent a tradition of blessing a bonfire outside of the church on Holy Saturday night. This tradition had been started by St Patrick to counter the influence of spring bonfires among the Celtics Druids. the tradition became popular in the Carolingian empire, spread to Rome, and eventually was incorporated into the liturgy of the Easter Vigil.

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The lighting of the new Easter fire also had a practical purpose. The lamps in church used to be extinguished Holy Thursday night. Consequently, a new fire had to be lit for the celebrant and readers to see by.

 

 

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Holy Thursday Altar of Repose

STRIPPING OF THE ALTAR

The first hints of a new theme quickly becomes obvious: an anticipation of suffering and death. The altar table, symbolic of Christ, is stripped in silence.

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At times in the past, this action was considered symbolic of the stripping of Jesus before his crucifixion. In early centuries, however, as is again the practice today, the altar table was stripped without ceremony after every Mass. This is an example of the many ancient liturgical customs preserved over the centuries during Holy Week and reinstated in the post-Vatican II liturgical reform. People begin leaving quietly for their homes. An atmosphere of sadness and reflection begins. Until recent times popular thinking considered these hours as a “wake” before the tomb, anticipating Good Friday. More properly, they are hours of “waiting” with Jesus as the saving events begin to unfold.

CHAPEL OF ADORATION

100_5252At the end of the Holy Thursday liturgy, consecrated communion bread is carried in procession with incense and songs to chapel of adoration. It will be received the next day in communion. After placing the consecrated bread in the tabernacle, an atmosphere of quiet waiting with the Lord begins. It is popular that parishioners spend a holy hour sometime before midnight in the adoration chapel.

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Holy Thursday

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HOLY THURSDAY begins the Triduum, which from the 4th century celebrated the Paschal Mystery. Originally these three days began on Good Friday. It was natural, however, to include Holy Thursday because Good Friday was reckoned from sunset on the previous evening. The oldest and still official name of the day is Thursday of the Lord’s Supper. it commemorates the historical gospel events surrounding the Last Supper and the institution of the Holy Eucharist. Maundy Thursday, another popular title in English-speaking countries, comes from the solemn ritual of washing of feet in imitation of Jesus at the Last Supper. The title is a corruption of mandatum (Latin, ‘commandment’) from the words Jesus sung as the washing begins: “A new commandment, I give you…” (John 13:34).

Originally Holy Thursday was a practical preparation of the three-day celebration of the Paschal Mystery rather that a part of it. On this day repentant sinners were absolved and re-incorporated into the parish community so that they could participate in the paschal festivities. New oils needed to be consecrated for use at baptisms and confirmations at the Easter Vigil.

The Observance of the Lord’s Supper in Jerusalem at the traditional place and approximate hour eventually influenced the universal church to imitate the tradition. Remembering the institution of the Holy Eucharist is the heart of Holy Thursday observance. Parish liturgies, since 1955, take place in the evening with joyful overtones. Bells ting and festive colors are used for vestments and decorations. The Glory to God, not sung since Ash Wednesday, returns for this brief moment. The Tabernacle is empty so that all might receive communion from bread consecrated at this Mass. The Tradition of avoiding the joyful sound of bells during the rest of the Triduum began int he 9th century in the Carolingian kingdom. It symbolized the humiliation and suffering of Jesus. In place of bells, wooden noisemakers called clappers were used.

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WASHING OF FEET

The Holy Thursday ritual has included a ceremonial washing of feet by the presiding celebrant. This ritual imitates Jesus’ Last Supper action of humility and service. Appropriate songs are sung during this symbolic washing. Twelve participants are chosen from the parish at large or from those in parish leadership positions. Some parishes deliberately choose these “twelve apostles” from the very poor or “rejected” citizens to emphasize the theme of service. In the early church this ritual was common during the year as an act of charity and was even considered a sacrament.

 

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Chrism Mass

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CHRISM MASS

During the course of Holy Week, the Bishop, Clergy, and parish delegations of the laity gather at the Cathedral church. There, in solemn ritual, the holy oils used during the year in parishes throughout the diocese are consecrated. These are;

  • The oil of catechumens (pure olive oil used to anoint those preparing for baptism)
  • The oil of chrism (pure olive oil mixed with fragrant balm, used in baptism, confirmation and ordination)
  • The oil of the sick (pure olive oil used in the sacrament of the anointing of the sick)

Parish representatives carry these oils back home where they will be part of their parish’s celebrations of sacraments for the coming year, beginning with the Easter Vigil. Holy Thursday has not attracted many popular traditions. The main one is the waiting with the Lord in the parish chapel of adoration until midnight.

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Sedar Meal – Paschal Meal

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Another popular tradition today, observed in some parishes, is the eating of the Sedar meal (Hebrew, “order” of the four cups of blessing.) This is the sacred meal eaten by the Jews during the Passover and the meal from which ritual elements of the Mass were taken. The ritual is conducted by the father of the group. It features telling the original story of the Passover and the eating of these symbolic foods:

  • Matzoh (or unleavened bread)
  • Morar (bitter herbs representing the bitterness of slavery in Egypt)
  • Haroset (representing the brick mortar used by the enslaved Hebrews in building the Pharaoh’s cities)
  • Parsley and Boiled eggs (symbolic of springtime and new life)
  • dipped into Salt Water (symbolic of the tears of the Israelite’s)

At the heart of the ritual is the blessing of unleavened bread and cups of wine and a repeat eating and drinking of these symbolic foods. Used in a Christian context, the eating of the Seder often includes references to the actions of Jesus at the Last Supper. Today many liturgists question this Christian celebration of the Sedar meal. It is a very precious Jewish tradition and a Christian use of it might seem disrespectful. Christians, however, might benefit from participating in a real Seder meal with Jewish friends. Some parishes have begun a tradition of a brief memorial ritual and a parish supper preceding the liturgy of the Lord’s Supper.

 

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The meaning of Palm Sunday and the Palms

Palm Sunday

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Holy week begins with Palm Sunday – called Passion Sunday today – because the theme of Jesus’ suffering and death begins with the reading of the passion. Parish liturgies begin with the blessing of palms somewhere outside of the usual assembly area, in imitation of the triumphant “parade” of Jesus from ‘Bethany’ to ‘Jerusalem’ (Matthew 21:1-11). The gospel of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem is read, followed by a procession into the church, with people holding blessed palms and singing festive songs. Soon afterward, however, the theme of the triumph changes radically with the reading of the passion narrative from the gospel of Matthew, Mark, or Luke (depending on what year of the liturgical cycle is being celebrated).

Palm Sunday liturgy is devoted, therefore, more to the suffering of Jesus that to his triumphant reception by the people. By telescoping these events, the church emphasizes the meaning of Holy Week rather than presents and accurate historical progression of saving events. On Palm Sunday the church celebrates the beginning of Jesus’ passage from life to death to new life: the Paschal Mystery.

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Originally, people paraded or Blessed palms have always been respected as holy objects or sacramentals. Some families place one or more on the wall behind a crucifix or holy picture until the nest Palm Sunday, or they might braid them into crosses for wall decorations. Others save them and burn a little when some crisis, such as a storm, threats. This custom may have originated in Austria, Bavaria and Slavic countries where it was common to scatter bits of blessed palms around on the farm to protect fields and animals against weather an diseases. Some of these traditions may very well be superstitious practices, presuming that there is a special power in the plants themselves. Already in ancient times Greeks and Romans believed that certain plants possessed mystical powers. Such was the case of mistletoe among the Druides in Celtic lands.processed in the original footsteps of Jesus from the little village of Bethany into the city of Jerusalem. As part of the festivities they carried real palm fronds or olive branches, the two most common trees in Palestine (see Matthew 21:18). These were replaced with local versions of “palms” as the celebration of Palm Sunday spread throughout Europe and then the entire world: willow branches, cedar branches, pussy willows, and flowers.

Before the beginning of Lent the following year, blessed palms are burned at the local church and the ashes used in the Ash Wednesday ritual

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How to make a Palm Cross

 

On the Sunday before Easter, many Christians celebrate Palm Sunday. Recalling the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, churches distribute palm leaves in remembrance of people who waved them and carpeted his path with them. One of the things many people do is to fold the palm leaves into crosses. These are great to give out as little gifts or hide as secret presents! Many have asked, how to make these beautiful Palm Crosses,    below is a short tutorial on how to make your very own.

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1. Gently tear or snap off a palm blade off the palm stalk. The type of palm doesn’t matter       provided it bends easily; just test its give before snipping and keep testing until you find       blades that are adequately flexible.

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2. Hold the palm blade pointy side up.

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3. Fold the blade to the right to make a 90 degree angle.

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4. Fold down once. Then, fold down again. You should now have a small square shape.

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5. Push the pointy end around the back of the square and fold over.

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6. Take the pointy end on the left, and loop it towards you without making any turns. Then:
  • Push then pull the pointy end through the square until it comes out of the square.

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  • Pull through all the way.

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7. Hold onto the square with one hand and tug on the fat and pointed ends to secure it.
    You should now have a locked 90 degree angle.

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8. Take the pointy end and turning it towards yourself, push through the square.                       This is the head and base of the cross.

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9. Turn 45 degrees to where the pointy end is facing downward and the fat end is facing to     your right.
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10. Flip it so that the fat end is now on your left.Make-a-Palm-Frond-Cross-Step-12
11. Take the fat end and loop it away from you into the square. Pull it until it reaches about       the same length as the head.
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12. Turn it over to where the straight fat end faces left again.

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13. Take the fat end and loop it towards you back into the square. Pull until it is about the           same length as the other two parts. Be sure to tuck it inside the other loop so that you         can’t see it. You’re done!

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14. Finished!

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Media Resources to Break your Lenten Fast

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We all know “the interwebs” are full of dirty, vicious things that are trying to destroy us. Did you know they’re also full of awesome Catholic resources? The websites, apps, and podcasts below can help you learn your faith, and even help you with your prayer.

Note: Despite all appearances, I am not actually trying to get you to spend more time on the web during Lent. Please use prudence.

Websites

Sancte Pater

You can download PDFs of virtually all classical spiritual works for free at this website. If it’s amazing, approved, and public domain, it’s here. Selections include everything from Introduction to the Devout Life to the The Imitation of Christ to my personal favorite, The Roman Index of Forbidden Books.

(Note: Some classics are better reads than others.)

New Advent

It’s basically Buzzfeed on steroids for Catholics. The homepage is a collection of the best Catholic blogs, talks, and web pages and is constantly updated. They also have many of the classical works available.

Covenant Eyes

This is technically accountability software to help with pornography addictions. However, it can also be used to keep you off any website where you spend too much time. You simply enter all the websites you need to avoid. Any time you visit those sites, a friend will receive an email. Subscriptions start at $8.99 a month, with deals for additional users.

UCatholic

This is designed to bring traditional Catholic resources to modern readers. Resources include a saint of the day, daily Mass readings, a blog, apologetics, prayers and more.

Real Life Catholic

Chris Stefanick’s website is dedicated to bringing the Catholic faith to young people in an engaging way. He has the normal articles, speaking information, etc., but what really sets his site apart are the well-done, compelling videos.  This one on sufferingthis one on mercy, and this one on Confession are some of my favorites. They’re all great reflections for Lent.

Apps

Check out Jonathan’s post for more free Catholic apps.

iPieta

Don’t question–just download this.

It’s contains TONS of prayers, the Bible, the liturgical calendar, daily Mass readings, and all the public domain spiritual classics previously mentioned. It also has a twin app,iDoctrina, in which you quiz yourself over the catechism. These apps are 99 cents each. Make room in your budget.

Via Crucis

This is the traditional Stations of the Cross, with classical works of art and reflections by St. Francis of Assisi to help you meditate. It costs $1.99.

Scriptural Rosary

This is similar to the Via Crucis App, as it is by the same developer. It also uses classical works of art and scripture passages to help bring the mysteries of the rosary to life. You can record yourself or someone else saying the prayers. The light version is free, the full version is $3.99.

FOCUS Equip

Get access to FOCUS talks, videos, Bible studies, and blog for free!

Lentsanity

It will send you reminders not to eat meat on fast days. It also contains our daily reflections, Lenten blog posts, and Meat Police videos.

Podcasts

UMD Catholic

Father Mike Schmitz is a gifted Catholic speaker and apologist. He records his homilies every Sunday and puts them online, and they are wonderful. They’re also a great way to keep Sunday’s theme with you throughout the week.

Catholic Stuff You Should Know

It’s exactly what it sounds like: A Catholic version of the popular Stuff You Should Know podcast. They cover tons of diverse topics, from saint stories to the seal of Confession to Batman. They’re on a hiatus right now, so you have plenty of time to listen your way through!

Divine Office

Recordings of all the Liturgy of the Hours prayers every day. It’s great if you’re just starting and need help figuring out what to say, or if you’re doing it alone and are easily distracted. You can download the podcasts every night, or buy the app for $20.

via www.focus.org

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Paschal / Easter Candles – what are they and why do we use them?

Purchase your Pascal candle from our Online Store today, we have a selection of 4 sizes to choose from as well as the Incense grains and self application candle design.

Stocks are limited, so order your Paschal Candle today

Different Paschal CandlesThe Paschal Candle

The flame of the Paschal candle symbolizes the eternal presence of Christ, light of the world in the midst of his people; he who is the Second Person of the Trinity, the Alpha and Omega. The Paschal candle is sometimes referred to as the “Easter candle” or the “Christ candle.” The term “Paschal” comes from the word Pesach, which in Hebrew means Passover, and relates to the Paschal mystery of salvation.The tall white candle in many ways signifies the Divine pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night that lead the Israelites in their Exodus from slavery in Egypt..

Description of the Paschal candle

For congregations that use a Paschal candle it is the largest candle in the worship space. In most cases today the candle will display several common symbols:
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    The cross is always the central symbol, most clearly identifying it as the Paschal candle

  2. The Greek letters alpha and omega signify that God is the beginning and the end (from the Book of Revelation)
  3. The current year represents God in the present amidst the congregation
  4. Five grains of incense are embedded in the candle during the Easter Vigil to represent the five wounds of Jesus: the three nails that pierced his hands and feet, the spear thrust into his side, and the thorns that crowned his head.

The Paschal candle in the Easter Vigil

For churches that celebrate the Easter Vigil on the night of Black Saturday, the ceremonial lighting of the Paschal candle is one of the most solemn moments of the service.

On Maundy Thursday of the same week the entire church is darkened by extinguishing all candles and lamps. This represents the darkness of a world without God.

At the opening of the Easter Vigil a “new fire” is lit and blessed. The minister will trace the symbols (mentioned above) on the Paschal candle, saying words similar to: “Christ, yesterday and today, the beginning and the ending. To Christ belongs all time and all the ages; to Christ belongs glory and dominion now and forever. Amen.”

The Paschal candle is the first candle to be lit with a flame from this sacred fire, representing the light of Christ coming into the world. This represents the risen Christ, as a symbol of light (life) dispelling darkness (death). As it is lit, the minister may say words similar to: “The light of Christ, rising in Glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.”

Typically, the worshiping assembly then processes into the church led by the Paschal candle. The candle is raised three times during the procession, accompanied by the chant “The light of Christ” to which the assembly responds “Thanks be to God”. Following the procession the Exultet is chanted, traditionally by a deacon, but it may be chanted by the priest or a cantor. The Exultet concludes with a blessing of the candle:

Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.
(For it is fed by the holy melting wax, which the mother bee brought forth
to make this precious candle.)
Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!
May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all humanity,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Amen.

In some traditions the base of the candle may be ritually immersed in the baptismal font before proceeding with the remainder of the service.

This candle is traditionally the one from which all other lights are taken for the Easter service.

Use of the Paschal candle during other times of the year

The candle remains lit at all worship services throughout Easter season (or in some traditions until Ascension Day, when it is extinguished just after the Gospel), during which time it is located in the sanctuary close to the altar. After the Easter season, it is frequently placed near the baptismal font. Before 1955, the option existed of blessing the baptismal font on the Vigil of Pentecost, and this was the only time the Paschal candle would be lit at services after Ascension.

The Paschal candle is also lit during baptisms to signify the Holy Spirit and fire that John the Baptist promised to those who were baptised in Christ. During the baptismal rite in many traditions, a small lit candle will be given to the newly baptised by a member of the community, with words similar to, “Let your light so shine before others, that they might see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

The Paschal candle is also lit and placed near the casket or urn during funeral services such as the Mass of Repose, and Mass of Requiem. This is to signify the hope of the resurrection into which Christians are baptised.

Purchase your Pascal candle from our Online Store today, we have a selection of 4 sizes to choose from as well as the Incense grains and self application candle design.

Stocks are limited, so order your Paschal Candle today

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Ash Wednesday

What is the meaning of Ash Wednesday?

Ash-Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.

Why we receive the ashes

Following the example of the Nine vites, who did penance in sackcloth and ashes, our foreheads are marked with ashes to humble our hearts and reminds us that life passes away on Earth. We remember this when we are told

“Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return.”

Ashes are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the Church, and they help us develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice.

The distribution of ashes comes from a ceremony of ages past. Christians who had committed grave faults performed public penance. On Ash Wednesday, the Bishop blessed the hair shirts which they were to wear during the forty days of penance, and sprinkled over them ashes made from the palms from the previous year. Then, while the faithful recited the Seven Penitential Psalms, the penitents were turned out of the church because of their sins — just as Adam, the first man, was turned out of Paradise because of his disobedience. The penitents did not enter the church again until Maundy Thursday after having won reconciliation by the toil of forty days’ penance and sacramental absolution. Later, all Christians, whether public or secret penitents, came to receive ashes out of devotion. In earlier times, the distribution of ashes was followed by a penitential procession.

The Ashes

The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. While the ashes symbolize penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts. His Divine mercy is of utmost importance during the season of Lent, and the Church calls on us to seek that mercy during the entire Lenten season with reflection, prayer and penance.

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Lent

What is Lent?

Lent

Lent (also called the Lenten Season) is a 40-day period of fasting and repentance in preparation for the celebration of Easter.

It has been observed since apostolic times as a period of reflection and penitence for those who would be baptized on Easter, and a time for all sinners to repent.

The History of Lent

Lent was originally observed for six weeks excluding Sundays (36 days), but this was eventually extended to 40 days in order to parallel Christ’s temptation in the wilderness. In the Western Churches, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (six and a half weeks before Easter).

In the early history of the church, strict fasting was observed throughout this period. One meal was allowed per day, in the evening, and meat, fish, eggs, and butter were forbidden. Strict observance of fasting was discontinued among Roman Catholics during World War II, and today is rarely observed throughout the Lenten Season.