Advent: a continuous call to Hope

The Catholic Church is fast approaching one of the most important seasons of the Liturgical Year: Advent. It is a time which offers us a sense of preparation for the second coming of the Christ Child.

With the pre-Christmas frenzy, it is important to remain watchful. Why? Because, as St. Augustine stated, one great mistake in life is to get absorbed in a thousand things and not to notice God.

Advent begins on Nov. 28, 2021, the start of the new Liturgical Year, therefore it is appropriate to begin anew and raise one’s heart and mind to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and prepare for the celebration of the anniversary of the Lord’s birth.

“A time of deep prayer and meditation, Advent has an anticipatory mood in which the faithful must learn from the Old Testament of how the Prophets foretold the coming of Jesus into the world,” Bishop Frank J. Dewane said. “As our ancestors prepared their hearts spiritually for His coming, so must we prepare ourselves in the Season of Advent for the second coming.”

The main focus of the Advent Season is preparation through prayer, quiet reflection, weekday Mass attendance and even fasting, Bishop Dewane explained. Taking time to quietly reflect and grow in Faith can be a challenge, but we are called to put distractions aside, even for a few minutes a day.

“This will allow the love of God to fill one’s life and one’s family with joy,” Bishop Dewane said.

Pope Francis stresses that Advent is both a time of “God’s closeness and our watchfulness.”

The Holy Father notes that on the First Sunday of Advent, a new Liturgical Year begins. In it, the Church marks the passage of time with the celebration of the main events in the life of Jesus and the story of salvation. “In so doing, as Mother, she illuminates the path of our existence, supports us in our daily occupations and guides us towards the final encounter with Christ.

The Pope invites everyone to live this time of preparation in the Season of Hope, with “great sobriety” and simple moments of family prayer. “Advent is a continuous call to hope: it reminds us that God is present in history to lead it to its ultimate goal, to lead it to its fullness, which is the Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

During Advent, we are reminded that we are called to redouble our efforts to bring Christ’s saving message to all people. How can this be done? A few simple suggestions:

  • Liturgy: Seek Christ in the Sacred Liturgy and in the intercessions of His saints. The Advent Season offers a number of special feasts and solemnities that call for our active participation. Aside from the Sundays of Advent, the Church also celebrates the two Marian feasts, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8) which is observed as a Holy Day of Obligation, and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas on Dec. 12. We also ask for the intercession of the saints as we make this journey towards Christmas, particularly those saints whose feasts we celebrate during Advent, such as St. Francis Xavier, St. Nicholas, St. Juan Diego, St. Lucy, and St. John of the Cross. They modeled for us the way to salvation and assist us in our own pilgrimage to Heaven.
  • Prayer: Spend time every day in prayer and include the work of the local Parish and of the Diocese in these prayer intentions. Offer up daily sacrifices for the good of others. This time of prayer and sacrifice should intensify as we draw near Christmas, with particular prayers given to us by the Church from December 17 to Christmas Eve to prepare for the celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior.
  • Confession: One of the most critical ways to prepare one’s soul for the birth of Jesus at Christmas is to take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This Holy Season is an ideal time to open one’s soul and to be set free from the burdens of past sins and wrongs. Many Parishes offer special times during Advent for the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
  • Volunteer: Another way to grow in Faith through this season is to recognize Christ in neighbors, especially those in need such as the elderly and sick. Get involved and give of yourself in some work of the Church, possibly evangelization, education, or charity. Use the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to accompany those in need and help them draw closer to Christ.  We are to be doers of our Faith on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Christ and all those around us.

Bishop Dewane said, “As Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Christ Child at Christmas. Let us resolve to help bring Him into the hearts of those we encounter throughout each day. Let us take advantage of what is new in the Advent Season as the Universal Church prepares for the birth of Christ. And let us grow in Faith during this portion of the Liturgical Year on our journey toward Salvation.”

Diocesan Phase of Synod inaugurated with Mass

Bishop Frank J. Dewane inaugurated the beginning of the Diocesan Phase of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” with a Mass Oct. 17, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

Participating in the Mass were more than a dozen priests, as well as some 300 people from across the Diocese, representing many Parishes, various movements, Third Orders and many more.

In his opening remarks, Bishop Dewane said: “We ask the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts, our minds, and our souls, as we begin this journey.” Later, the Bishop said, “In this whole process, we have to make hopes flourish… to stimulate trust, one with the other.”

The Bishop explained that during the Diocesan Phase there will be a series of listening sessions which will take place in each part of the Diocese in the coming months. The goal of these sessions is to discern the Word of God in Scripture, what those Words are saying to us while remembering the living Mission of the Church. Bishop Dewane said this process must be based on co-responsibility in the Church, or an accurate synthesis with what was said in a process that is transparent and fair.

The sessions are being planned to allow for the maximum opportunity for as many of the faithful to participate as possible. A complete schedule of the listening sessions will be announced soon.

A reception in the Cathedral Parish Hall was full of anticipation as those present expressed their excitement for the opportunity for the faithful to provide input in planning for the future of the Universal Catholic Church.

Bishop Dewane stressed that the entire process will last more than two years, with the local listening session focused on transparency as the Diocese will record each session to ensure all that is said is heard.

“We want people to speak out, and as the Holy Father likes to say, ‘the Catholic Church is a field hospital;’ we are meeting to start binding up wounds,” Bishop Dewane said. “We will be there to listen, and to do it with a warm heart. We will search for healing and will increase the regard for one another. It is the common mission that we share what is most important.”

The entire effort to gather input from Dioceses around the world is viewed by many Church observers as the most deliberate, long-term and long-range process of seeking input for any Synod up to this point.

“While what comes from our Diocese will go to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), we are not tasked with putting together a document. We are tasked to listen, to get input, put it together and ensure the points that are made at the Diocesan level.

For more details on the Synodal Process, please visit the Diocese of Venice website at a www.dioceseofevenice.org.

News Briefs for the Week of Oct. 8, 2021

Mass to Open Diocesan Phase of Synod

As a part of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” Pope Francis has invited every Diocese in the world to inaugurate the beginning of the Synod with an opening Mass. In the Diocese of Venice, this opening Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane at 2:30 p.m., Oct. 17, 2021, at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave., Venice. All are welcome and encouraged to attend this Mass. In this Diocesan Phase of the Synod, Catholics in the Diocese of Venice are encouraged to participate in listening sessions, which will be announced in the coming weeks.

Bishop meets Pope Francis

Bishop Frank J. Dewane had the opportunity to greet and meet with Pope Francis following the General Audience in the Vatican’s Pope Paul VI Hall on Sept. 29, 2021. Bishop Dewane spoke briefly with the Holy Father who in return asked about what is taking place in the Diocese of Venice. The Bishop was in Rome to witness the Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate of Diocesan Seminarian Christian Chami on Sept. 30, 2021.

Ministry of Acolyte conferred on Seminarian

Diocese of Venice Seminarian Jacob Gwynn was conferred to the Ministry of Acolyte on Sept. 26, 2021 at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. The principal celebrant for the Mass was Bishop Luis R. Zarama of the Diocese of Raleigh. As an Acolyte, Gwynn is now charged with assisting at the celebration of the Eucharist, purifying the sacred vessels and, when needed, to assist with the distribution of Holy Communion. As part of the Rite, the Bishop placed the paten, which contains the hosts for the celebration of Mass, in the hands of the candidate. He then said, “…take this vessel with bread for the celebration of the Eucharist. Make your life worthy of your service at the table of the Lord and of his Church.”

Blessing of the Animals

Many Diocesan Parishes and Schools hosted a Blessing of the Animals to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi on Oct. 4, 2021. While many Parishes hosted the blessings during the preceding weekend, schools opted to either have the blessing before school or prior to the end of the day. The variety of animals was immense, from horses to hamsters, parrots to rabbits as well as nearly every assortment of dog and cat imaginable. It was evident that these creatures were well loved and an important part of each family.

Rosary making educates children

Kindergarten and first graders at St. Mary Catholic Academy in Sarasota used part of religion class on Sept. 29, 2021 to make rosaries. It was at that time the students learned how October is the month of the Holy Rosary and both October and May are months in which we give special honor to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Reflect upon St. Joseph this Father’s Day

“With a father’s heart: that is how Joseph loved Jesus, whom all four Gospels refer to as ‘the son of Joseph.’”

This was the opening sentence of the apostolic letter “Patris Corde” of Pope Francis on the 150th Anniversary of the proclamation of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX in his decree Quemadmodum Deus.

The 1870 decree stated, “Jesus Christ our Lord… whom countless kings and prophets had desired to see, Joseph not only saw but conversed with, and embraced in paternal affection, and kissed. He most diligently reared Him whom the faithful were to receive as the bread that came down from heaven whereby, they might obtain eternal life.”

Therefore, it is appropriate to reflect on this most honored of Saints as a second Father’s Day is taking place during a global Pandemic on June 20, 2021.

In his apostolic letter, released in conjunction with the start of the “Universal Year of St. Joseph” which began Dec. 8, 2020 and concludes on Dec. 8, 2021, Pope Francis reflected on the fatherly qualities of St. Joseph, describing him as beloved, tender and loving, obedient, accepting, and “creatively courageous.” He also underlined that he was a working father.

The Holy Father referred to the Saint as “a father in the shadows,” citing the novel “The Shadow of the Father,” published by the Polish author Jan Dobraczyński in 1977.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, who for the Diocese of Venice instituted a “Year of St. Joseph” on March 19, 2020 in the context of the Pandemic and under the title of Protector of the Universal Church, proclaimed “St. Joseph is a figure who led by example, while also offering powerful prayer and protection.” The Diocesan celebration of the “Year of St. Joseph” was extended to coincide with the “Universal Year of St. Joseph” and will continue until Dec. 8, 2021.

As a model of obedience of what God asked of him, Bishop Dewane, said St. Joseph freely and willingly accepted a vision he was given in life… “to be the foster father of Jesus but also the head of the Holy Family; the provider and the Protector.”

Saints and Popes through the centuries have spoken on St. Joseph’s influence to intercede as the faithful have turned to the Saint as a powerful patron and faithful guardian, father and friend. Many seek the intercessions of St. Joseph for healing and conversion, help with their children, a new job or home, and for all their needs of body and soul.

Pope Leo XIII presented St. Joseph as a model at a time when the world and the Church were wrestling with the challenges posed by modernity wrote in his 1889 encyclical on devotion to St. Joseph “Quamquam pluries,” “Men of every rank and country should fly to the trust and guard of the blessed Joseph.”

In his own 2020 letter, Pope Francis wrote: “The greatness of St. Joseph is that he was the spouse of Mary and the father of Jesus. In this way, he placed himself, in the words of St. John Chrysostom, “at the service of the entire plan of salvation.”

Pope Francis also cited St. Paul VI who pointed out that St. Joseph concretely expressed his fatherhood “by making his life a sacrificial service to the mystery of the incarnation and its redemptive purpose. He employed his legal authority over the Holy Family to devote himself completely to them in his life and work. He turned his human vocation to domestic love into a superhuman oblation of himself, his heart and all his abilities, a love placed at the service of the Messiah who was growing to maturity in his home.”

At the conclusion of his apostolic letter, Pope Francis explained that his goal was to increase “our love for this great saint, to encourage us to implore his intercession and to imitate his virtues and is zeal.”

The saints help all the faithful “to strive for the holiness and perfection of their particular state of life,” the Holy Father added. Their lives are concrete proof that it is possible to put the Gospel into practice.

“Jesus told us: ‘Learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart’ (Mt 11:29). The lives of the saints too are examples to be imitated. St. Paul explicitly says this: ‘Be imitators of me!’ (1 Cor 4:16). By his eloquent silence, St. Joseph says the same.”

Therefore, on this Father’s Day, turn to St. Joseph as an example to follow as we all strive to grow closer to the Lord.

For links to the Apostolic letter (in English and Spanish) or other resources in celebration of the ongoing “Year of St. Joseph,” please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/a-year-of-st-joseph/.

Happy Mother’s Day: Mary and all mothers serve as faith-filled examples

During her lifetime the Blessed Virgin Mother Mary raised a son, but not just any young man – Mary was the mother of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, sent by God. Through all that Mary had witnessed over Jesus’ time spent on earth, she found ways to nurture and love him, she taught and guided him.

There are many disputes as to how and when the first-ever Mother’s Day was celebrated, but it couldn’t be more fitting for it to be in the Marian month of May.

On Mother’s Day, we remember with gratitude and affection our mothers, not only through material gifts, flowers, or cards, but also, and more importantly, by our prayers for them. We thank God for the gift of our mothers who conceived and gave birth to us, who cared for us, protected us, taught us, and loved us. Many passed on the precious gift of faith to us. We remember all our mothers, living and deceased, and thank them for their generosity and selfless love.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, in his homily for the TV Mass for the Homebound airing on Mother’s Day, May 9, 2021, said the Lord calls us to love one another, with the first example each has in life, is through the love of our mother. (To watch the Mass, please visit, https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/communications/tvmass/.)

“It is what we see around us daily,” Bishop Dewane said. “Mothers making a sacrifice for their children, being totally selfless – that model, that witness to follow.”

Similar to Mary, mothers today face unique difficult challenges, serving a vital role in creating a healthy balance for their child while ensuring that they grow and develop to their greatest potential.

Pope Francis said that to be a mother is a great treasure, as she “helps her children grow up and wants them to grow strong and does not want them to pursue a frivolous life or to become lazy, sinking into a comfortable lifestyle in which they content themselves with possessions.”

A mother thus takes care that her children grow “capable of accepting responsibilities, of engaging in life, of striving for great ideals,” Pope Francis said.

Sue Macedonio, of Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, strives to raise her three teenage children, Dominic, Bobby, and McKayla Cantrell, conscientiously in the faith with grace and compassion.

Macedonio confirms each child has a solid foundation built on love and faith.  “To do that, you have to live and practice your faith at home,” she said, acknowledging it’s the little things we do, respecting each other, being courteous and kind, and always prepared.  “This has motivated them into becoming the active teens they are today and sets them up to face the future.”

Each currently attends Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota and all previously went to Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School and are active in the faith, Macedonio said, but that does not make it easier as a mother.

“They are great, but it is a struggle like in any family,” she said. “Having a strong foundation as a family helps us grow in our faith together.”

For Guadalupe Oliva of St. Paul Parish in Arcadia, the love she has for her three children is unconditional and inspired by the Blessed Virgin.

Oliva occupies much of her time ensuring that Maria, Jose and Marta (all younger than 10) are safe and healthy, while at the same time worrying about their future. She frequently prays to Our Lady that they will grow up to be strong and successful.

She frequently worries about outside influences causing her children to stray from the faith, so she works hard to instill a love for Jesus and Mary.

“We pray together every day,” Oliva said about the family pre-meal ritual of praying the Hail Mary and Our Father. “I also pray to the Virgin that I remain worthy of being a mother and that through her support I can help my children grow to find peace and love.”

While Macedonio and Oliva face daily challenges to raising their children, they are both confident that their faith will continue to be the foundation of a bright future for their respective family.”

Pope Francis said we need to learn from mothers that heroism is shown in self-giving, strength in compassion, wisdom in meekness.

“God himself needed a Mother: how much more so do we! Jesus himself gave her to us, from the cross: ‘Behold your mother!’ (Jn 19:27),” the Holy Father continued. “He said this to the beloved disciple and to every disciple. Our Lady is not an optional accessory: she has to be welcomed into our life. She is the Queen of Peace, who triumphs over evil and leads us along paths of goodness, who restores unity to her children, who teaches us compassion.”

The Blessed Virgin is the example for us all.

Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker May 1

Year honoring Protector of Universal Church continues

To foster deep devotion to Saint Joseph among Catholics, and in response to the “May Day” celebrations for workers sponsored by Communists, Pope Pius XII instituted the Memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker in 1955. This feast extends the long relationship between Joseph and the cause of workers in both Catholic faith and devotion.

Because Saint Joseph is Protector of the Universal Church, Bishop Frank J. Dewane consecrated the Diocese of Venice to a “Year of St. Joseph” in the context of the COVID-19 Pandemic beginning March 19, 2020.

“I dedicated the Diocese to Saint Joseph, the Protector, so that the faithful would be safe,” Bishop Dewane said. “This year, as we celebrate the Memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker, that commitment to honor Saint Joseph, a model of obedience, freely and willingly accepting a vision he was given in life by God.”

The Bishop added that Saint Joseph was called to be the foster-father of Jesus but also the head of the Holy Family; “the provider and the Protector. Using this remarkable Saint as our example, we must continue to devote ourselves to living a life that is dedicated to Jesus. Take St. Joseph as a role model going forward.”

The Diocese dedication to a “Year of Saint Joseph” was extended to continue until Dec. 8, 2021. This was in direct support of Pope Francis creating a Universal “Year of Saint Joseph” from Dec. 8, 2020 to Dec. 8, 2021. The announcement of the Holy Father coincided with the 150th anniversary of the Saint’s proclamation as Patron of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX on Dec. 8, 1870 in his decree Quemadmodum Deus.

Pope Francis said he was establishing the year so that “every member of the faithful, following his example, may strengthen their life of faith daily in the complete fulfillment of God’s will.”

To mark the occasion, Pope Francis distributed an Apostolic Letter Patris Corde, which translates to “With a Father’s Heart,” in which he describes Saint Joseph as a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father, a father who is creatively courageous, a working father and a father in the shadows.

Written against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis said the Pandemic has heightened his desire to reflect on Saint Joseph, as so many people during the pandemic have made hidden sacrifices to protect others, just as Saint Joseph quietly protected and cared for Mary and Jesus.

“Each of us can discover in Joseph — the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence — an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble,” the Holy Father wrote.

Pope Francis describes Saint Joseph as a noble saint, who was given the noble task of caring and watching over the Virgin Mary and Jesus, and now cares for and watches over the Church and models for all the dignity of human work.

He also said he wanted to highlight St. Joseph’s role as a father who served his family with charity and humility, adding, “Our world today needs fathers.”

In some images, Saint Joseph is seen holding lilies, which symbolize integrity and indicate that he was the earthly spouse of the Blessed Mother, whose purity is represented by a white lily. A group of three lilies can represent the Trinity. It is believed that St. Joseph died before Jesus began his public ministry.

Saint Joseph is known as the patron saint of the Universal Church, a happy death, families, fathers, expectant mothers, explorers, pilgrims, travelers, immigrants, home sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers and working people. Also, many cities and countries are dedicated to him.

The Diocese of Venice has several locations named in honor of Saint Joseph including the following: St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton; St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton; St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Moore Haven; San Jose Mission in Fort Myers and Campo San Jose Retreat Center in Lake Placid.

Many people pray to Saint Joseph for intercession, including praying novenas, a nine-day series of prayers or devotions. The Diocese of Venice has created a quick-reference website for key elements of the ongoing “Year of Saint Joseph,” including information about the locations named after the Saint, which can all be found at https://dioceseofvenice.org/a-year-of-st-joseph/.

Information from the Catholic News Service is included in this report.

 

NOTE: The “Year of Saint Joseph” also includes the opportunity to receive a plenary indulgence. For an exclusive online story about this, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/news.

 

Plenary indulgence available during “Year of St. Joseph”

As Catholics pray and reflect on the life of Saint Joseph throughout the coming year, they also have opportunities to gain a plenary indulgence, or remission of all temporal punishment due to sin. An indulgence can be applied to oneself or to a soul in Purgatory.

An indulgence requires a specific act, defined by the Church, as well as Sacramental Confession, Eucharistic Communion, prayer for the Pope’s intentions, and full detachment from sin.

Special indulgences during the “Year of Saint Joseph” can be received through more than a dozen different prayers and actions, including praying for the unemployed, entrusting one’s daily work to St. Joseph, performing a corporal or spiritual work of mercy, or meditating for at least 30 minutes on the Lord’s Prayer.

In its Decree, the Apostolic Penitentiary said that, “to reaffirm the universality of Saint Joseph’s patronage in the Church,” it would grant a Plenary Indulgence to Catholics who recite any approved prayer or act of piety in honor of St. Joseph, especially on March 19, the Saint’s solemnity as “Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” and on May 1, the Memorial of “St. Joseph the Worker.”

Other notable days for the Plenary Indulgence are the “Feast of the Holy Family” on December 27, as well as the 19th of each month during the Year and every Wednesday throughout the year, which is a day traditionally dedicated to the memory of Saint Joseph in the Latin Church.

The Decree further states: “In the current context of the health emergency (of the pandemic), the gift of the Plenary Indulgence is particularly extended to the elderly, the sick, the dying and all those who for legitimate reasons are unable to leave the house, who, with a soul detached from any sin and with the intention of fulfilling, as soon as possible, the three usual conditions, in their own home or where the impediment keeps them, recite an act of piety in honor of St. Joseph, Comfort of the Sick and Patron of a Happy Death, offering with trust in God the pains and discomforts of their life.”

The three usual conditions for receiving a Plenary Indulgence are Sacramental Confession (which, under the “usual conditions,” means going to Confession within 20 days before or within 20 days after the day the Plenary Indulgence is sought); also, the reception of Eucharistic Communion on the day the Plenary Indulgence is sought; and prayer for the Pope’s needs and intentions on the day the Plenary Indulgence is sought (which, under the “usual conditions” is understood to be an Our Father and Hail Mary; or, one may also recite the Creed). As stated above, a sincere and willed detachment from sin, both mortal and venial, is also required.

According to the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church, an Indulgence is “the remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sin whose guilt has already been forgiven. A properly disposed member of the Christian faithful can obtain an Indulgence under prescribed conditions through the help of the Church, which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints. An Indulgence is Partial if it removes part of the temporal punishment due to sin, or Plenary if it removes all punishment.” (CCC, 1471)

Moreover, the decree specifically notes the numerous ways to receive an indulgence, including the following:

  • Participate in a spiritual retreat for at least one day that includes a meditation on St. Joseph.
  • Pray for St. Joseph’s intercession for the unemployed that they might find dignifying work.
  • Recite the Litany of St. Joseph for persecuted Christians.
  • Entrust one’s daily work and activity to the protection of St. Joseph the Worker.
  • Follow Saint Joseph’s example in performing a corporal work of mercy. These include feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the imprisoned, visiting the sick, and burying the dead.
  • Perform one of the spiritual works of mercy, such as comforting the sorrowful, counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing the sinner, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving injuries, and praying for the living and the dead.
  • Pray the rosary together with one’s family in order that “all Christian families may be stimulated to recreate the same atmosphere of intimate communion, love and prayer that was in the Holy Family.”
  • Engaged couples can also receive an indulgence from praying the rosary together.
  • Meditate for at least 30 minutes on the Lord’s Prayer, because St. Joseph “invites us to rediscover our filial relationship with the Father, to renew fidelity to prayer, to listen and correspond with profound discernment to God’s will.”
  • Pray an approved prayer to St. Joseph on St. Joseph Sunday, the Sunday after Christmas in the Byzantine Catholic tradition.
  • Pray an approved prayer to St. Joseph on the 19th of any month.
  • Honor Joseph with an act of piety or approved prayer on a Wednesday, the day traditionally dedicated to St. Joseph.
  • Celebrate the feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1 with an act of piety or prayer.

NOTE: The Apostolic Penitentiary permits any prayer to St. Joseph approved by the Church, mentioning in particular a prayer composed by Pope Leo XIII:

“To you, O blessed Joseph, do we come in our tribulation, and having implored the help of your most holy Spouse, we confidently invoke your patronage also. Through that charity which bound you to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God and through the paternal love with which you embraced the Child Jesus, we humbly beg you graciously to regard the inheritance which Jesus Christ has purchased by his Blood, and with your power and strength to aid us in our necessities.”

“O most watchful guardian of the Holy Family, defend the chosen children of Jesus Christ; O most loving father, ward off from us every contagion of error and corrupting influence; O our most mighty protector, be kind to us and from heaven assist us in our struggle with the power of darkness.”

“As once you rescued the Child Jesus from deadly peril, so now protect God’s Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity; shield, too, each one of us by your constant protection, so that, supported by your example and your aid, we may be able to live piously, to die in holiness, and to obtain eternal happiness in heaven. Amen.”

Information from the Catholic News Service is included in this report.

 

Faithful line up for Confession

A steady stream of the faithful at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota waited patiently for their opportunity to take part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation on the last weekend before Holy Week.

This scene was repeated at Parishes throughout the Diocese of Venice after Bishop Frank J. Dewane, with the agreement of the Presbyteral Council, designated the evening of March 26, 2021 (4-8 p.m.) and morning of March 27 (9 a.m.-noon) as universal times for Confession at each Parish. This was done to allow the faithful ample opportunity to receive God’s Mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the Lenten Season.

Parishes reported a steady stream of people during both sessions with extra priests made available to ensure wait times were limited.

Brenda Forrester tries to go to Confession regularly but the Pandemic and a general fear of being around people had prevented her from availing herself of this healing Sacrament.

“I felt empty when I wasn’t going,” Forrester said. “After going tonight, I felt the burdens lifted from my shoulders and the Mercy of the Lord wash over me. I feel refreshed.”

Pope Francis often remarks about the healing power of the confessional and urges the faithful to go as often as possible. Parishes and Missions in the Diocese of Venice have regular reconciliation times throughout the year, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org for contact information for the Parish or Mission nearest you.

 

Advent: Season of Preparation and Expectation

Ordinary Time has come to an end and the Season of Advent is upon us. This Season, which marks the beginning of the Church’s Liturgical Year of the Church, commences on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 and will come to an end on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24.

Advent is a time of preparation and expectation. The Church describes Advent as a season “of devout and expectant delight.” In Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year, the Church says, “Advent has a twofold character, for it is a time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas, in which the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity is remembered, and likewise a time when, with remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time” (39). In Advent, we look forward not only to the commemoration of Christ’s birth at Christmas, but also to His return.

Pope Francis described Advent as the time “we begin again and it returns us to the horizon of hope, a hope that does not disappoint because it is founded on the Word of God. A hope that does not disappoint, simply because the Lord never disappoints! He is faithful,” just as we are called to be faith-filled, thus faithful.”

Hope is needed during this ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. Bishop Frank J. Dewane said it may become easy feel down and isolated because of restrictions necessitated by the Pandemic. This may cause the spiritual preparation, to which each of us is called during the Advent Season, to slip through the cracks.

“Staying focused on Advent is critical,” Bishop Dewane said. “As a unique Liturgical Season, Advent is a time for prayer and reflection. Therefore, it is doubly important to follow the lead of our ancestors who prepared their hearts spiritually for Christ, so must Advent prepare us for the Second Coming of Christ and that presence in our daily life.”

Those who have returned to their Parish for Mass and other activities should consider taking part in Daily Mass for the readings build up to the joyous celebration of Christmas. For those who remain home, consider watching a livestreaming Mass, or, if that is not possible, follow along with the daily readings through the Magnificat or the Bible.

One symbol popular in Churches for this Season is the Advent Wreath. By tradition, it is often found either in the narthex (gathering area) or, as is more common, near the ambo of a Church. Having a wreath in the home can be a unifying symbol for families. The liturgical color of Advent is a particular shade of purple, a color which is most often associated with royalty. This color is used to symbolize the anticipation of the birth of Christ, who is our King and Savior.

Each Sunday of Advent, an additional candle of the wreath is lit, with the rose-colored candle lit on the Third Sunday of Advent. This Sunday, best known as Gaudete Sunday, derives its name from Scripture: “Gaudete in Domino semper” (“Rejoice in the Lord always”), and marks the mid-point in the Season. The change in color provides encouragement to rejoice as we continue our spiritual preparation – especially prayer and fasting – for Christmas.

To help prepare for the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior, one should find time to pray each day. Pray for those, and with those, you love. Whether in person or via a virtual connection, praying together gives one strength. Remember to also pray for your Parish and the Diocese, as well as for all those who are suffering during this most challenging time. Prayers should intensify as one gets closer to Christmas. Particular prayers are provided by the Holy Mother Church (called the O’ Antiphon and readily available online) for the period of Dec. 17, 2020 to Christmas Eve, which uniquely prepare us for the coming celebration.

Advent Season is also a great time to prepare one’s soul for the birth of Christ by taking advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Many Parishes offer special times during Advent for the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Contact your Parish for details and times.

Finally, this is a perfect time to deepen one’s knowledge of the Faith. Review the Catechism of the Catholic Church, read the Bible, listen to inspirational speakers online. By living one’s Faith more fully, and sharing it with those around us, it will allow one to make Advent a worthy preparation for the coming again of Christ into the world.

Assumption of Mary: celebration of hope

The celebration of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a time for Christians to reflect upon the hope of a future united with Christ, both in this life and in Heaven.

The Assumption of Mary (Aug. 15, 2020) commemorates the end of Mary’s earthly life and assumption, when she was raised in soul and body to Heaven. It is one of the most important feasts dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and a Holy Day of Obligation when the faithful are required to attend Mass (either in person or via livestreaming).

The hope which the Assumption of Mary demonstrates for all, is a call for everyone, especially for those who are afflicted by doubts and sadness, Pope Francis said with words spoken in 2019, but which remain powerful during the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.

In Gospel of St. Luke, used on the Solemnity, the Evangelist records the words of Our Lady as she prays: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” (Luke 1:46-47) This is also the opening of the Canticle of Mary: The Magnificat.

Pope Francis said “we rejoice when something so beautiful happens that it is not enough to rejoice inside, in the soul, but we want to express happiness with the whole body… Mary rejoices because of God… she teaches us to rejoice in God, because He does ‘great things.’”

The Holy Father went on to note that for those who are afflicted with doubts and sadness, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a call to look upwards and see that Heaven is open and no longer distant. “We need no longer be afraid, because on the threshold of Heaven there is a Mother waiting for us.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the Assumption in this way: “The Immaculate Virgin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of death.”

This Feast of the Assumption is the oldest celebration of Our Lady. The original celebration was known as the “Memory of Mary” or “Falling Asleep” of Mary for it initially centered on the end of her earthly existence, commonly known as her “dormition.” Soon the name was changed to the “Assumption of Mary,” since there was much more to the feast than the end of her earthly life. The belief that Mary had been taken up, body and soul, into heaven dates to the Apostles themselves.

In 1950, Pope Pius XII defined the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, which acknowledge this teaching as an official doctrine of the Catholic Church. Therefore, an ancient belief became Catholic Doctrine and the Assumption was declared a truth revealed by God.

The declaration was to “make our belief in our own resurrection stronger and render it more effective,” Pope Pius XII stated in a proclamation. The proclamation went on to say that the definition of the Assumption “will contribute in no small way to the advantage of human society, since it (reflects and builds up) the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity, to which the Blessed Mother of God is bound by such singular bonds.”

It was also expected that the faithful would be stirred up to a stronger piety toward their heavenly Mother; and that those who meditate upon the glorious example Mary offers be more and more convinced of the value of a human life entirely devoted to carrying out the heavenly Father’s will and to bringing good to others.

Pope Francis said the current devotion that the faithful throughout the world have toward the Blessed Virgin confirms, the earlier expectations of Pope Pius XII.

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