In the midst of the second world war Pope Pius XII put the whole world under the special protection of our Savior’s Mother by consecrating it to her Immaculate Heart, and in 1944 he decreed that in the future the whole Church should celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This is not a new devotion. In the seventeenth century, St. John Eudes preached it together with that of the Sacred Heart; in the nineteenth century, Pius VII and Pius IX allowed several churches to celebrate a feast of the Pure Heart of Mary. Pius XII instituted today’s feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the whole Church, so as to obtain by her intercession “peace among nations, freedom for the Church, the conversion of sinners, the love of purity and the practice of virtue” (Decree of May 4, 1944).
“I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment” (Jesus to St. Margaret Mary).
Sixteenth century Calvinism and seventeenth century Jansenism preached a distorted Christianity that substituted for God’s love and sacrifice of His Son for all men the fearful idea that a whole section of humanity was inexorably damned.
The Church always countered this view with the infinite love of our Savior who died on the cross for all men. The institution of the feast of the Sacred Heart was soon to contribute to the creation among the faithful of a powerful current of devotion which since then has grown steadily stronger. The first Office and Mass of the Sacred Heart were composed by St. John Eudes, but the institution of the feast was a result of the appearances of our Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in 1675. The celebration of the feast was extended to the general calendar of the Church by Pius IX in 1856.
St. Columba, or Columkill, apostle of the Picts, was of illustrious Irish descent. He was brought up in the company of many saints at the school of St. Finian of Clonard. Being an ordained priest, and having founded many churches in Ireland, he went to Scotland with twelve companions, and there converted many of the northern Picts to the faith of Christ. He founded the monastery of Iona which became the nursery of saints and apostles. He also evangelized the northern English. He died on June 9, 597 at the foot of the altar at Iona while blessing his people, and was buried, like St. Brigid, beside St. Patrick at Downpatrick in Ulster.
According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces. Pope Leo XIII declared in his Encyclical of September 22, 1891: “We may affirm that nothing, by the will of God, is given to us without Mary’s mediation, in such way that just as no one can approach the almighty Father but through His Son, likewise no one, so to speak, can approach Christ but through His Mother.”
St. Justin, apologist and martyr, was one of the most important Christian writers of the second century. He himself tells how his study of all the schools of philosophy led him to Christianity, and how he dedicated his life to the defense of the Christian faith as “the one certain and profitable philosophy.”
St. Philip Neri (1515-1595) was born in Florence and died in Rome. He lived a spotless childhood in Florence. Later he came to Rome and after living for fifteen years as a pilgrim and hermit was ordained a priest. He gradually gathered around him a group of priests and established the Congregation of the Oratory. He was a man of original character and of a happy, genial and winning disposition. A great educator of youth, he spent whole nights in prayer, had a great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and burned with an unbounded love for mankind. He died on the feast of Corpus Christi.
Easter is the feast of feasts, the unalloyed joy and gladness of all Christians.
In the very center of the Mass, the great prayer of thanksgiving, from the first words of the Preface, expresses the unrivalled motive for this joy: if it is right to praise You, Lord, at all times, how much more so should we not glorify You on this day when Christ our Passover was sacrificed, for He is the true Lamb who took away the sins of the world, who by His Death destroyed our death and by His Resurrection restored our life. Easter means, then, Redemption obtained — sin destroyed, death overcome, divine life brought back to us, the resurrection of our body which is promised immortality. With such a certitude, we should banish all trace of sadness.
Today, the Church celebrates Pentecost Sunday, a very special day for Christians. We honour this day with great solemnity and festivity. Unfortunately, for two years in a row, we could not properly celebrate this wonderful feast. A year ago, nobody could have imagined what we would experience daily due to Covid-19. This unexpected pandemic has thrown us into an unwelcome ‘new normal’, drastically re-shaping our ordinary lives. For those struggling at society’s margins, its impacts are devastating. As the darkness has gradually engulfed lives, it has become more evident that life has changed into something far different from the normal we remember.
Prayer for an end to the Coronavirus Pandemic
In her motherly concern, the Blessed Virgin came here to Fatima… It is a mother’s sorrow that compels her to speak; the destiny of her children is at stake. For this reason, she asks the little shepherds: “Pray, pray much and make sacrifices for sinners.” —St. John Paul II