An Ash Wednesday story

One Ash Wednesday a few years ago, I went straight from Mass to a doctor’s appointment, without being conscious of the fact that the ashes were still on my forehead.

During the appointment the doctor started starting at my face and I wondered what was wrong, so I asked him.  He then asked me if I had washed my face today!  I was so embarrassed!  A hasty explanation about Ash Wednesday followed.  The doctor is Vietnamese and I think that he is a Buddhist.

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Favours from the saints: A bad case of laryngitis (Saint Blaise)

Each month I used to meet with a friend.  We attended Mass at the cathedral and then had lunch at the shopping centre afterwards. On one of these occasions my friend showed up with a very severe case of laryngitis.  She told me that she had been in this state for a few weeks. I introduced her to the priest.  He gave her a blessing in honour of Saint Blaise the patron saint of throats.  I jokingly remarked to her, “You should be all fixed up now because Father has blessed you.”  We went into the church. A few minutes later the Mass began.  I was amazed to hear my friend singing the hymn in her full strength soprano voice. 

Saint Blaise is the saint who is invoked for protection against throat problems. On his feast day (February 3),  there is a special blessing.  The priest takes two candles which are held in a crossed position and places them upon the throat of the person to be blessed and invokes Saint Blaise to protect the person from throat troubles.

This story is from my book: Help from heaven (Answers to prayer), which can be read free on-line here. 

A method of meditating on the Rosary

This article outlines one particular method of saying the Rosary. It is not necessarily the best one; however it may be a valuable aid to some people. The Rosary consists of two parts.  The first part; is the actual prayers; The Our Father, The Hail Mary, The Gloria, etc. The second part is meditation upon the mysteries of the Rosary. At the Catholic secondary school that I attended; once a month, all the teachers and students would recite the Rosary in the church before Mass. I do not recall even one class lesson being given to us on how to say the Rosary. My family also recited the Rosary during the Christmas season. When I married, I learned from my husband that you had to meditate on the mysteries while saying the prayers of the Rosary. This came as a great surprise to me. Actually it was more like a shock. I kept asking myself why didn’t the Catholic schools that I attended tell me about this. To be fair they did teach me the catechism.
The business of meditation while saying the prayers of the Rosary; conjured up visions of something like juggling balls in one hand and playing the piano with the other hand.  It was hard for me to imagine how you could do both of them at the same time. I also looked upon the business of meditation as something for mystics who lived in caves in the desert. Meditation didn’t seem to be anything remotely connected with me.
After the initial shock wore off, I started to learn how to meditate on the mysteries, while saying the vocal prayers.  The first stage of this process was the use of books which contained ten scriptural verses for each decade of the Rosary. My eyes slowly scanned each scriptural verse, while I said the vocal prayers (Hail Marys) etc. This method felt somewhat artificial and mechanical, but at least I was combining both the meditation and the prayers at the same time. When the scriptural verses were partly memorised, I did not use the books anymore.  The “walking stick” was thrown away.  The verses went through my mind, while saying the prayers vocally. Pictures from books, depicting the decades were also utilised. The next stage was that as well as scriptural verses going through my mind; the pictures that I had seen in the books were also visualised. I closed my eyes and literally could see these scenes as though they were in the room. These scenes filled up the whole area that I was viewing. All of this was in colour.
The vocal prayers receded into the background, like background music that is played softly, while you are eating dinner and talking in the restaurant. The meditation came to the forefront. As well as visualising scenes from the actual decades (such as the Archangel Gabriel appearing to Mary), for variety I added at the beginning of each decade, a visual image of either the Sacred Heart of Jesus, or the Divine Mercy and at the end of each decade an image of Mary as she appeared to Saint Catherine Laboure in the Miraculous Medal vision, which depicts Mary distributing graces, as rays coming from her hands. Studying the pictures on holy cards was useful in helping me to visualise these images.
By the time that this stage was reached it was a great deal easier for me to say Rosaries even when I was very tired. A good way to keep up your motivation to say the Rosary is to make a 54 day rosary novena for a special intention.  It is amazing how this will keep you going when your motivation to say the Rosary is running on low.
The method described above also can be employed when saying other chaplets: such as The Little Chaplet of the Holy Infant Jesus and the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. In the Infant Jesus Chaplet, you can visualise a picture of the Infant Jesus of Prague. In the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy you can mediate on the Divine Mercy picture and also visualise Saint Faustina having a vision of the angel who is about to carry out God’s just punishment on a particular part of the world, and the angel becoming helpless in carrying this out as Saint Faustina prayed the words of the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy.  There are many other appropriate scenes which you can visualise while saying the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy.
Some benefits of meditating on the Rosary.
Meditation on the Rosary puts before our minds, the true purpose of our lives and also keeps us focused on where we hope to spend our eternity (heaven). It counteracts the blatant messages in the media, which seek to corrupt our behaviour and get us interested in things like, money making, pleasure seeking and many immoral practices. The thoughts in our minds will greatly influence the choices that we make in how we live our lives.  Saying the Rosary will tilt the balance heavily to the side of making good moral choices. It is well known that people sometimes act out criminal activities, even murders and robberies that they have seen in movies.  It is because these things occupy their minds, because they had been viewing them and thinking about them. On the other end of the scale, if your mind is filled with images from Rosary meditations: such as Mary going to visit her elderly relative Elizabeth to help her, you will be more inclined to practice the virtue of charity. If you like the method that has been offered of saying the Rosary try it. When you are familiar with the method modify it to your own special needs. It is like learning any other skill. First you learn the basics and then you adapt it as your ability develops. Meditation on the Rosary prevents it from being a mechanical repetition of vocal prayers. If you learnt the art of meditation on the Rosary, and then attempted to just say the prayers again, without meditation, you would find it a very dry and tedious exercise.
Meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary helps lift our minds out of the bog of everyday things that we see and experience, to things eternal that we cannot see.  We are reminded that the here and now is not all that there is. Meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary stops our mind from focusing too much on the unimportant.
Rosary beads
Rosary beads help you to keep track of where you are up to in the Rosary and give a soothing feeling as you move the beads through your fingers. It is best to have one pair of Rosary beads for use at home and one pair to keep in your handbag or pocket.  Seeing your Rosary beads will remind you to say the Rosary.  If you do not have a pair of Rosary beads with you, remember that you have ten fingers to pray the Rosary with. There are occasions when a one-decade set of Rosary beads comes in handy. One decade Rosaries are sometimes made into rings and bracelets.  (On my First Holy Communion day, I was given a bracelet made with pearls that had the beads for five decades. It has a small silver coloured crucifix.  I don’t think that they are available anymore.) Remember to get a priest to bless your Rosary beads.

rosary_beads_number_3

This article outlines one particular method of saying the Rosary. It is not necessarily the best one; however it may be a valuable aid to some people. The Rosary consists of two parts.  The first part; is the actual prayers; The Our Father, The Hail Mary, The Gloria, etc. The second part is meditation upon the mysteries of the Rosary. At the Catholic secondary school that I attended; once a month, all the teachers and students would recite the Rosary in the church before Mass. I do not recall even one class lesson being given to us on how to say the Rosary. My family also recited the Rosary during the Christmas season. When I married, I learned from my husband that you had to meditate on the mysteries while saying the prayers of the Rosary. This came as a great surprise to me. Actually it was more like a shock. I kept asking myself why didn’t the Catholic schools that I attended tell me about this. To be fair they did teach me the catechism.

The business of meditation while saying the prayers of the Rosary; conjured up visions of something like juggling balls in one hand and playing the piano with the other hand.  It was hard for me to imagine how you could do both of them at the same time. I also looked upon the business of meditation as something for mystics who lived in caves in the desert. Meditation didn’t seem to be anything remotely connected with me.

After the initial shock wore off, I started to learn how to meditate on the mysteries, while saying the vocal prayers.  The first stage of this process was the use of books which contained ten scriptural verses for each decade of the Rosary. My eyes slowly scanned each scriptural verse, while I said the vocal prayers (Hail Marys) etc. This method felt somewhat artificial and mechanical, but at least I was combining both the meditation and the prayers at the same time. When the scriptural verses were partly memorised, I did not use the books anymore.  The “walking stick” was thrown away.  The verses went through my mind, while saying the prayers vocally. Pictures from books, depicting the decades were also utilised. The next stage was that as well as scriptural verses going through my mind; the pictures that I had seen in the books were also visualised. I closed my eyes and literally could see these scenes as though they were in the room. These scenes filled up the whole area that I was viewing. All of this was in colour.

The vocal prayers receded into the background, like background music that is played softly, while you are eating dinner and talking in the restaurant. The meditation came to the forefront. As well as visualising scenes from the actual decades (such as the Archangel Gabriel appearing to Mary), for variety I added at the beginning of each decade, a visual image of either the Sacred Heart of Jesus, or the Divine Mercy and at the end of each decade an image of Mary as she appeared to Saint Catherine Laboure in the Miraculous Medal vision, which depicts Mary distributing graces, as rays coming from her hands. Studying the pictures on holy cards was useful in helping me to visualise these images.

By the time that this stage was reached it was a great deal easier for me to say Rosaries even when I was very tired. A good way to keep up your motivation to say the Rosary is to make a 54 day rosary novena for a special intention.  It is amazing how this will keep you going when your motivation to say the Rosary is running on low.

The method described above also can be employed when saying other chaplets: such as The Little Chaplet of the Holy Infant Jesus and the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. In the Infant Jesus Chaplet, you can visualise a picture of the Infant Jesus of Prague. In the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy you can mediate on the Divine Mercy picture and also visualise Saint Faustina having a vision of the angel who is about to carry out God’s just punishment on a particular part of the world, and the angel becoming helpless in carrying this out as Saint Faustina prayed the words of the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy.  There are many other appropriate scenes which you can visualise while saying the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy.

Some benefits of meditating on the Rosary.

Meditation on the Rosary puts before our minds, the true purpose of our lives and also keeps us focused on where we hope to spend our eternity (heaven). It counteracts the blatant messages in the media, which seek to corrupt our behaviour and get us interested in things like, money making, pleasure seeking and many immoral practices. The thoughts in our minds will greatly influence the choices that we make in how we live our lives.  Saying the Rosary will tilt the balance heavily to the side of making good moral choices. It is well known that people sometimes act out criminal activities, even murders and robberies that they have seen in movies.  It is because these things occupy their minds, because they had been viewing them and thinking about them. On the other end of the scale, if your mind is filled with images from Rosary meditations: such as Mary going to visit her elderly relative Elizabeth to help her, you will be more inclined to practice the virtue of charity. If you like the method that has been offered of saying the Rosary try it. When you are familiar with the method modify it to your own special needs. It is like learning any other skill. First you learn the basics and then you adapt it as your ability develops. Meditation on the Rosary prevents it from being a mechanical repetition of vocal prayers. If you learnt the art of meditation on the Rosary, and then attempted to just say the prayers again, without meditation, you would find it a very dry and tedious exercise.

Meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary helps lift our minds out of the bog of everyday things that we see and experience, to things eternal that we cannot see.  We are reminded that the here and now is not all that there is. Meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary stops our mind from focusing too much on the unimportant.

Rosary beads

Rosary beads help you to keep track of where you are up to in the Rosary and give a soothing feeling as you move the beads through your fingers. It is best to have one pair of Rosary beads for use at home and one pair to keep in your handbag or pocket.  Seeing your Rosary beads will remind you to say the Rosary.  If you do not have a pair of Rosary beads with you, remember that you have ten fingers to pray the Rosary with. There are occasions when a one-decade set of Rosary beads comes in handy. One decade Rosaries are sometimes made into rings and bracelets.  (On my First Holy Communion day, I was given a bracelet made with pearls that had the beads for five decades. It has a small silver coloured crucifix.  I don’t think that they are available anymore.) Remember to get a priest to bless your Rosary beads.

Audio tapes, Video Tapes and CD’s

Audio tapes, video tapes and CD’s on the Rosary might be useful aids in some cases to assist with meditation on the Mysteries.

This article is an extract from my book: Help from Heaven (Answers to prayer), which can be read free on-line here.

If you would like to join a Living Rosary, click here for more information

Favours granted through the intercession of Saint Mary of the Cross (Mary MacKillop of Australia) Feast day August 8.

Prayers to find a good spouse

A lady in the USA asked for a petition to be placed at the shrine of Blessed Mary MacKillop in Australia.  One at the petitions was for her 28 year old daughter Lyn to find a good husband. A few days after the petition was placed at Blessed Mary Mackillop’s tomb, Lyn’s mother received a telephone call from a man that Lyn had dated eight years ago. Lyn and her former boyfriend went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, in France to pray there to discern God’s will for their lives.  They have since married. Another of the mother’s petitions to Blessed Mary MacKillop was also answered.  Her son decided to give up living with his girlfriend.  They started to attend Mass regularly and also began making preparations to marry.

Blessed Mary MacKillop “fixes” a microwave oven

I had arranged to go on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Blessed Mary MacKillop at North Sydney.  On the morning that I was due to go I discovered that my microwave oven had stopped working. When I went to the shrine I prayed for many important petitions.  I also mentioned to Blessed Mary, the little matter of my microwave oven. When I arrived home I tried my microwave oven again.  It was still not working.  After this I slammed the oven door very hard and the microwave started working!  It seems that the only thing that was wrong was that there was a fault in the closing mechanism of the door. The microwave oven was not fully closing. It only appeared to be fully closed.

These stories are in my book Help from heaven (Answers to prayer) which can be read free-online by pressing here.

Masses for the Holy Souls in Purgatory through the organisation: Aid to the Church in Need

A good way to assist the Holy Souls in Purgatory is to have Masses offered for them through: Aid to the Church in Need. You can contact them at: 

http://www.churchinneed.org/site/PageServer?pagename=mainpage 

Having Masses offered through this organization is a good way of multi-tasking. You assist the Holy Souls in Purgatory, you support priests in poor areas of the world. The Mass offerings go much further than they would in a developed country. 

For instance the recommended minimum Mass offering in some areas of Australia is $10 (Australian currency).  In Australia this does not go very far, but in a third world country I have been told that it can buy a large sack of rice and feed many people for a week. The people in these third world areas are usually so poor that they can hardly support themselves, yet alone the local priest, going back to the theme of multi-tasking, you are supporting the building up of the Catholic Church in these areas and are in the process fulfilling one of your important obligations as a baptized Catholic. 

You are also building up these communities with their education, infrastructure, health and housing and protecting them from the threat of communism (which will promise them the world and will deliver them misery) and are ensuring that they stay Catholic and not join some other religious denomination. In South American countries, poor Catholics are being diverted in droves into other religious dominations that have lots of financial backing. 

You can also ask the Holy Souls for necessary favours as well, perhaps for conversions and for an end to the culture of death. This last petition is an ever increasing need.  On the TV news last night there was a very unwell man who is planning to go to Switzerland to end his life, because thankfully Euthanasia (murdering yourself) is illegal in Australia, although there are definite pushes to have it legalized. 

I muted the sound of this manipulative TV news item so that my children could not be affected by it and told them that this man probably has someone encouraging him to do this.  I had a particular Australian doctor in mind who we refer to here as “Dr Death”.  I don’t know why he is not put in jail.  Then the camera angle changed and sure enough there was the doctor that I had in mind.  He was behind this unwell man urging him to end his life, just as he had urged others to do so. Unfortunately some of them have listened to him and have ended their lives. Please pray for the conversion of this doctor.

Prayers for the souls of deceased priests

I read somewhere the comment of a priest, that there is nothing so dead as a dead priest. What he means is that when priests die there is a tendency to canonise them immediately, because people think that such a good priest does not need any prayers for his soul. This even happens when they are alive. A priest asks someone to pray for them and sometimes the response is along these lines:  ‘Father you don’t need my prayers. Say one for me instead’.  This is simply not so.  Everyone needs prayers.

A prayer for a deceased priest 

O God, Thou didst raise Thy servant, N., to the sacred priesthood of Jesus Christ, according to the Order of Melchisedech, giving him the sublime power to offer the Eternal Sacrifice, to bring the Body and Blood of Thy Son Jesus Christ down upon the altar, and to absolve the sins of men in Thine own holy Name.  We beseech Thee to reward his faithfulness and to forget his faults, admitting him speedily into Thy holy presence, there to enjoy forever the recompense of his labours. This we ask through Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord.  Amen.

Embarrassing and/or funny moments at Church

Do any of you have stories to tell of funny or embarrassing things that have happened at church? I will start off by relating one of my stories.

During my dad’s requiem Mass, the priest, his cousin made an embarrassing slip of the tongue. Instead of saying: Let us stand for the final commendation, he said, Let us stand for the final condemnation!