Father, anoint me with your Holy Spirit,
so that as I read Your eternal word,
Your word may penetrate my whole being
and transform me.
Grant me the blessing to be a faithful disciple
in believing the Word of God
and that I may be a light shining
upon all who are in darkness.
Lord Jesus Christ, by Your patience in suffering
you hallowed earthly pain
and gave us the example of obedience to your Father’s will:
Be near me in my time of weakness and pain;
sustain me by Your grace,
that my strength and courage may not fail;
heal me according to Your will;
and help me always to believe
that what happens to me here
is of little account if You hold me in eternal life,
my Lord and my God. Amen.
Make us of quick and tender conscience, O Lord;
that understanding we may obey every word of Thine,
and discerning may follow every suggestion
of Thine indwelling Spirit.
Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.
– Christina G. Rossetti (1830-1895)
Oh, God, make me a better parent.
Help me to understand my children,
to listen patiently to what they have to say
and to answer all their questions kindly.
Keep me from interrupting them,
talking back to them and contradicting them.
Make me as courteous to them
as I would have them be to me.
Give me the courage to confess my sins
against my children and to ask of them forgiveness,
when I know that I have done them wrong.
May I not vainly hurt the feelings of my children.
Forbid that I should laugh at their mistakes or
resort to shame and ridicule as punishment.
Let me not tempt a child to lie and steal.
So guide me hour by hour that I may demonstrate
by all I say and do that honestly produces happiness.
Reduce, I pray, the meanness in me.
May I cease to nag:
and when I am out of sorts,
help me, O Lord, to hold my tongue.
Blind me to the little errors of my children
and help me to see the good things that they do.
Give me a ready word for honest praise.
Help to treat my children as those of their own age,
but let me not exact of them the judgments
and conventions of adults.
Allow me not to rob them of the opportunity
to wait upon themselves,
to think, to choose, and to make decisions.
Forbid that I should ever punish them
for my self satisfaction.
May I grant them all of their wishes
that are reasonable and have the courage always to withhold
a privilege that I know will do them harm.
O Jesus, lover of the young, the dearest Friend I have,
in all confidence I open my heart to You
to beg Your light and assistance in the important task of planning my future.
Give me the light of Your grace,
that I may decide wisely concerning the person
who is to be my partner through life.
Dearest Jesus, send me such a one
whom in Your divine wisdom
You judge best suited
to be united with me in marriage.
May his character reflect some of the traits of Your own Sacred Heart.
May he be upright, loyal, pure, sincere and noble,
so that with united efforts and with pure and unselfish love
we both may strive to perfect ourselves in soul and body,
as well as the family it may please You to entrust to our care.
Bless our friendship before marriage,
that sin may have no part in it.
May our mutual love bind us so closely,
that our future home may ever be most like Your own at Nazareth.
O Mary Immaculate, sweet Mother of the young,
to your special care I entrust the decision I am to make
as to my future husband.
You are my guiding Star!
direct me to the person
with whom I can best cooperate
with whom I can live in peace, love and harmony in this life,
and attain eternal joys in the next.
Bless Our Family
All praise to You, Lord Jesus,
Lover of children:
Bless our family,
And help us to lead our children to You.
Give us light and strength,
And courage when our task is difficult.
Let Your Spirit fill us with love and peace,
So that we may help our children to love You.
All glory and praise are Yours, Lord Jesus,
Forever and ever.
Lord, bless us and keep us always with You,
Open our eyes to see each other as You see us.
Open our hearts to love each other as You love us.
Open our minds to the wonder and mystery of who You are
and of who You have created
each of us to be
And let us spend our lifetimes together.
The LORD is cleansing me
of all selfishness,
resentment and critical feelings
for my fellow beings
…as well as self-condemnation
and the misinterpretation of my life experiences…
…and more HE is bathing me
in generosity, appreciation, praise and gratitude
for my fellow beings
…and blessed me with self-acceptance
and an enlightened understanding of my experiences…
The biblical foundation for Holy Communion is what Christ Himself did at the Last Supper. As narrated by St. Matthew, Jesus first offered the apostles what He was about to change, then changed the bread and wine, and then gave them Communion.
And while they were at supper, Jesus took bread and blessed and broke and gave it to His disciples and said, “Take you and eat, this is my Body.” And taking the chalice He gave thanks and gave it to them saying, “Drink you all of this. For this is my Blood of the New Testament which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28)
St. John, who does not give us the narrative of the institution of the Eucharist, devotes a whole chapter to Christ’s promise of giving His followers His own flesh to eat and His own blood to drink. What Christ emphasizes is the absolute necessity of being nourished by His Body and Blood if the supernatural life received at Baptism is to be sustained.
I tell you most solemnly, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you will not have life in you. Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life and I shall raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in Him. As I, who am sent by the living Father, myself draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will draw life from me. This is the bread come down from heaven; not like the bread our ancestors ate. They are dead, but anyone who eats this bread will live forever. (John 6: 53-58)
Throughout the gospels and St. Paul, Christ uses words like “take,” “eat,” “drink,” always clearly indicating that the Eucharist is to be taken into the mouth and consumed. No less, and far more, than material food and drink are necessary to sustain the natural life of the body, so Holy Communion must be received to support and nourish the supernatural life of the soul.
Effects of Holy Communion
Since the earliest times, the benefits of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ were spelled out to encourage frequent, even daily, Holy Communion.
Thus, St. Cyril of Jerusalem (died 387) said that reception of the Eucharist makes the Christian a “Christbearer” and “one body and one blood with Him” (Catecheses, 4,3). St. John Chrysostom (died 407) speaks of a mixing of the Body of Christ with our body, “…in order to show the great love that He has for us. He mixed Himself with us, and joined His Body with us, so that we might become one like a bread connected with the body” (Homily 46,3). These and other comparisons of how Communion unites the recipient with Christ are based on Christ’s own teaching, and St. Paul’s statement that, “the bread which we break, is it not the partaking of the Body of the Lord? For we, being many, are one bread, all that partake of this bread.” (I Corinthians 10:16-17).
So, too, the church officially teaches that “Every effect which bodily food and bodily drink produce in our corporeal life, by preserving this life, increasing this life, healing this life, and satisfying this life – is also produced by this Sacrament in the spiritual life” (Council of Florence, November 22, 1439). Thus:
Holy Communion preserves the supernatural life of the soul by giving the communicant supernatural strength to resist temptation, and by weakening the power of concupiscence. It reinforces the ability of our free will to withstand the assaults of the devil. In a formal definition, the Church calls Holy Communion “an antidote by which we are preserved from grievous sins” (Council of Trent, October 11, 1551).
Holy Communion increases the life of grace already present by vitalizing our supernatural life and strengthening the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit we possess. To be emphasized, however, is that the main effect of Communion is not to remit sin. In fact, a person in conscious mortal sin commits a sacrilege by going to Communion.
Holy Communion cures the spiritual diseases of the soul by cleansing it of venial sins and the temporal punishment due to sin. No less than serving as an antidote to protect the soul from mortal sins, Communion is “an antidote by which we are freed from our daily venial sins” (Council of Trent, October 11, 1551). The remission of venial sins and of the temporal sufferings due to sin takes place immediately by reason of the acts of perfect love of God, which are awakened by the reception of the Eucharist. The extent of this remission depends on the intensity of our charity when receiving Communion.
Holy Communion gives us a spiritual joy in the service of Christ, in defending His cause, in performing the duties of our state of life, and in making the sacrifices required of us in imitating the life of our Savior.
On Christ’s own promise, Holy Communion is a pledge of heavenly glory and of our bodily resurrection from the dead (John 6:55). St. Irenaeus (died 202) simply declared that, “when our bodies partake of the Eucharist, they are no longer corruptible as they have the hope of eternal resurrection” (Against the Heresies, IV, 18,5).
This list is compiled from articles in the Original Catholic Encyclopedia and is provided for your benefit.
The list is sortable by name (alpha) and by chronology.
Order Name Years Notes
1 Peter, Apostle, Saint Reigned 33-67
2 Linus, Saint Reigned c.67-76
3 Anacletus, Saint Reigned 76-88 aka Cletus
4 Clement I, Saint Reigned 88-97
5 Evaristus, Saint Reigned c.98- c.106 Aristus in the Liberian Catalogue
6 Alexander I, Saint Reigned c.106-115
7 Sixtus I, Saint Reigned 115-125 XYSTUS in the oldest documents
8 Telesphorus, Saint Reigned 125-136
9 Hyginus, Saint Reigned c.136-140
10 Pius I, Saint Reigned c.140-c.154
11 Anicetus, Saint Reigned c.157-168
12 Soter, Saint Reigned c.166-c.174
13 Eleutherius, Saint Reigned c.175-189
14 Victor I, Saint Reigned 189-c.198
15 Zephyrinus, Saint Reigned 198-217
16 Callistus I Reigned 218-c.222
17 Urban I Reigned 222-230
18 Pontian, Saint Reigned 230-235
19 Anterus, Saint Reigned 235-236 aka Anteros
20 Fabian, Saint Reigned 236-250
21 Cornelius Reigned 251-253
22 Lucius I, Saint Reigned 253-254
23 Stephen I, Saint Reigned 254-257
24 Sixtus II, Saint Reigned 257-258 XYSTUS in the oldest documents
25 Dionysius, Saint Reigned 260-268
26 Felix I, Saint Reigned 269-274
27 Eutychianus, Saint Reigned 275-283
28 Caius, Saint Reigned 283-296
29 Marcellinus, Saint Reigned 296-304
30 Marcellus I, Saint Reigned 308-309
31 Eusebius, Saint Reigned 309 or 310
32 Miltiades, Saint Reigned 311-314
33 Sylvester I, Saint Reigned 314-335
34 Mark, Saint Reigned 336 aka Marcus
35 Julius I, Saint Reigned 337-352
36 Liberius Reigned 352-366
37 Damasus I, Saint Reigned 366-383
38 Siricius, Saint Reigned 384-399
39 Anastasius I, Saint Reigned 399-401
40 Innocent I Reigned 401-417
41 Zosimus, Saint Reigned 417-418
42 Boniface I, Saint Reigned 418-422
43 Celestine I, Saint Reigned 422-432
44 Sixtus III, Saint Reigned 432-440 XYSTUS in the oldest documents
45 Leo I, Saint Reigned 440-461
46 Hilarus, Saint Reigned 461-468
47 Simplicius, Saint Reigned 468-483
48 Felix III (II), Saint Reigned 483-492
49 Gelasius I, Saint Reigned 492-496
50 Anastasius II Reigned 496-498
51 Symmachus, Saint Reigned 498-514
52 Hormisdas, Saint Reigned 514-523
53 John I, Saint Reigned 523-c.526
54 Felix IV (III) Reigned 526-530
55 Boniface II Reigned 530-532
56 John II Reigned 533-535
57 Agapetus I, Saint Reigned 535-536
58 Silverius, Saint Reigned 536-537
59 Vigilius Reigned 537-555
60 Pelagius I Reigned 556-561
61 John III Reigned 561-574
62 Benedict I Reigned 575-579
63 Pelagius II Reigned 579-590
64 Gregory I Saint Reigned 590-604
65 Sabinianus Reigned 604-606
66 Boniface III Reigned 607
67 Boniface IV Reigned 608-615
68 Deusdedit, Saint Reigned 615-618
69 Boniface V Reigned 619-625
70 Honorius I Reigned 625-638
71 Severinus Reigned 640
72 John IV Reigned 640-642
73 Theodore I Reigned 642-649
74 Martin I, Saint Reigned 649-655
75 Eugene I Reigned 655-657
76 Vitalian, Saint Reigned 657-672
77 Adeodatus, Saint Reigned 672-676
78 Donus Reigned 676-678
79 Agatho, Saint Reigned 678-681
80 Leo II, Saint Reigned 682-683
81 Benedict II Reigned 684-685
82 John V Reigned 685-686
83 Conon Reigned 686-687
84 Sergius I, Saint Reigned 687-701
85 John VI Reigned 701-705
86 John VII Reigned 705-707
87 Sisinnius Reigned 708
88 Constantine Reigned 708-715
89 Gregory II, Saint Reigned 715-731
90 Gregory III, Saint Reigned 731-741
91 Zachary, Saint Reigned 741-752
92 Stephen II Elected 752 died before his consecration; excluded from some lists
93 Stephen III (II) Reigned 752-757
94 Paul I Reigned 757-767
95 Stephen IV (III) Reigned 768-772
96 Adrian I Reigned 772-795
97 Leo III, Saint Reigned 795-816
98 Stephen V (IV) Reigned 816-817
99 Paschal I Reigned 817-824
100 Eugene II Reigned 824-827
101 Valentine Reigned 827
102 Gregory IV Reigned 827-844
103 Sergius II Reigned 844-847
104 Leo IV, Saint Reigned 847-855
105 Benedict III Reigned 855-858
106 Nicholas I, Saint Reigned 858-867
107 Adrian II Reigned 867-872
108 John VIII Reigned 872-882
109 Marinus I Reigned 882-884
110 Adrian III, Saint Reigned 884-885
111 Stephen VI (V) Reigned 885-891
112 Formosus Reigned 891-896
113 Boniface VI Reigned 896
114 Stephen VII (VI) Reigned 896-897
115 Romanus Reigned 897
116 Theodore II Reigned 897
117 John IX Reigned 898-900
118 Benedict IV Reigned 900-903
119 Leo V Reigned 903
120 Sergius III Reigned 904-911
121 Anastasius III Reigned 911-913
122 Lando Reigned 913-14
123 John X Reigned 914-928
124 Leo VI Reigned 928
125 Stephen VIII (VII) Reigned 929-931
126 John XI Reigned 931-936
127 Leo VII Reigned 936-939
128 Stephen IX (VIII) Reigned 939-942
129 Marinus II Reigned 942-946
130 Agapetus II Reigned 946-955
131 John XII Reigned 955-964
132 Leo VIII Reigned 964-965
133 Benedict V Reigned 964
134 John XIII Reigned 965-972
135 Benedict VI Reigned 973-974
136 Benedict VII Reigned 974-983
137 John XIV Reigned 983-984
138 John XV (XVI) Reigned 985-996
139 Gregory V Reigned 996-999
140 Sylvester II Reigned 999-1003
141 John XVII (XVIII) Reigned 1003
142 John XVIII (XIX) Reigned 1003-1009
143 Sergius IV Reigned 1009-1012
144 Benedict VIII Reigned 1012-1024
145 John XIX (XX) Reigned 1024-1032
146 Benedict IX Reigned 1032-1044
147 Sylvester III Reigned 1045
148 Benedict IX Reigned 1045
149 Gregory VI Reigned 1045-1046
150 Clement II Reigned 1046-1047
151 Benedict IX Reigned 1047-1048
152 Damasus II Reigned 1048
153 Leo IX, Saint Reigned 1049-1054
154 Victor II Reigned 1055-1057
155 Stephen X (IX) Reigned 1057-1058
156 Nicholas II Reigned 1058-1061
157 Alexander II Reigned 1061-1073
158 Gregory VII, Saint Reigned 1073-1085
159 Victor III, Blessed Reigned 1086-1087
160 Urban II, Blessed Reigned 1088-1099
161 Paschal II Reigned 1099-1118
162 Gelasius II Reigned 1118-1119
163 Callistus II Reigned 1119-1124
164 Honorius II Reigned 1124-1130
165 Innocent II Reigned 1130-1143
166 Celestine II Reigned 1143-1144
167 Lucius II Reigned 1144-1145
168 Eugene III Reigned 1145-1153
169 Anastasius IV Reigned 1153-1154
170 Adrian IV Reigned 1154-1159
171 Alexander III Reigned 1159-1181
172 Lucius III Reigned 1181-1185
173 Urban III Reigned 1185-1187
174 Gregory VIII Reigned 1187
175 Clement III Reigned 1187-1191
176 Celestine III Reigned 1191-1198
177 Innocent III Reigned 1198-1216
178 Honorius III Reigned 1216-1227
179 Gregory IX Reigned 1227-1241
180 Celestine IV Reigned 1241
181 Innocent IV Reigned 1243-1254
182 Alexander IV Reigned 1254-1261
183 Urban IV Reigned 1261-1264
184 Clement IV Reigned 1265-1268
185 Gregory X Reigned 1271-1276
186 Innocent V Reigned 1276
187 Adrian V Reigned July-August 1276
188 John XXI (XX) Reigned 1276-1277
189 Nicholas III Reigned 1277-1280
190 Martin IV Reigned 1281-1285
191 Honorius IV Reigned 1285-1287
192 Nicholas IV Reigned 1288-1292
193 Celestine V, Saint Reigned 1294
194 Boniface VIII Reigned 1294-1303
195 Benedict XI, Blessed Reigned 1303-1304
196 Clement V Reigned 1305-1314
197 John XXII Reigned 1316-1334
198 Benedict XII Reigned 1334-1342
199 Clement VI Reigned 1342-1352
200 Innocent VI Reigned 1352-1362
201 Urban V, Blessed Reigned 1362-1370
202 Gregory XI Reigned 1370-1378
203 Urban VI Reigned 1378-1389
204 Boniface IX Reigned 1389-1404
205 Innocent VII Reigned 1404-1406
206 Gregory XII Reigned 1406-1415
207 Martin V Reigned 1417-1431
208 Eugene IV Reigned 1431-1447
209 Nicholas V Reigned 1447-1455
210 Callistus III Reigned 1455-1458
211 Pius II Reigned 1458-1464
212 Paul II Reigned 1464-1471
213 Sixtus IV Reigned 1471-1484
214 Innocent VIII Reigned 1484-1492
215 Alexander VI Reigned 1492-1503
216 Pius III Reigned 1503
217 Julius II Reigned 1503-1513
218 Leo X Reigned 1513-1521
219 Adrian VI Reigned 1522-1523
220 Clement VII Reigned 1523-1534
221 Paul III Reigned 1534-1549
222 Julius III Reigned 1550-1555
223 Marcellus II Reigned 1555 (22 days)
224 Paul IV Reigned 1555-1559
225 Pius IV Reigned 1559-1565
226 Pius V, Saint Reigned 1566-1572
227 Gregory XIII Reigned 1572-1585
228 Sixtus V Reigned 1585-1590
229 Urban VII Reigned 1590
230 Gregory XIV Reigned 1590-1591
231 Innocent IX Reigned 1591
232 Clement VIII Reigned 1592-1605
233 Leo XI Reigned 1605
234 Paul V Reigned 1605-1621
235 Gregory XV Reigned 1621-1623
236 Urban VIII Reigned 1623-1644
237 Innocent X Reigned 1644-1655
238 Alexander VII Reigned 1655-1667
239 Clement IX Reigned 1667-1669
240 Clement X Reigned 1670-1676
241 Innocent XI Reigned 1676-1689
242 Alexander VIII Reigned 1689-1691
243 Innocent XII Reigned 1691-1700
244 Clement XI Reigned 1700-1721
245 Innocent XIII Reigned 1721-1724
246 Benedict XIII Reigned 1724-1730
247 Clement XII Reigned 1730-1740
248 Benedict XIV Reigned 1740-1758
249 Clement XIII Reigned 1758-1769
250 Clement XIV Reigned 1769-1774
251 Pius VI Reigned 1775-1799
252 Pius VII Reigned 1800-1823
253 Leo XII Reigned 1823-1829
254 Pius VIII Reigned 1829-1830
255 Gregory XVI Reigned 1831-1846
256 Pius IX Reigned 1846-1878
257 Leo XIII Reigned 1878-1903
258 Pius X Reigned 1903-1914
259 Benedict XV Reigned 1914-1922 Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
260 Pius XI Reigned 1922-1939 Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
261 Pius XII Reigned 1939-1958 Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
262 John XXIII, Blessed Reigned 1958-1963 Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
263 Paul VI Reigned 1963-1978 Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
264 John Paul I Reigned 1978 (33 days) Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
265 John Paul II Reigned 1978-2005 Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
266 Benedict XVI Reigned 2005-present Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father; from thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.
Prayers to Our Lady
The six fundamental prayers listed above are also part of the Catholic rosary, a devotion dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of God. (CCC 971) The rosary consists of fifteen decades. Each decade focuses upon a particular mystery in the life of Christ and his Blessed Mother. It is customary to say five decades at a time, while meditating upon one set of mysteries.
I. The Annunciation
II. The Visitation
III. The Birth of our Lord
IV. The Presentation of our Lord
V. The Finding of our Lord in the Temple
I. The Agony in the Garden
II. The Scourging at the Pillar
III. The Crowning with Thorns
IV. The Carrying of the Cross
V. The Crucifixion and Death of our Lord
I. The Resurrection
II. The Ascension
III. The Descent of the Holy Spirit
IV. The Assumption of our Blessed Mother into Heaven
V. The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth
Hail Holy Queen
Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our light, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, we turn to thee, O Virgin of virgins, our Mother. To thee we come, before thee we stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, do not despise our petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer us. Amen.
The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary. R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. (Hail Mary . . .) Behold the handmaid of the Lord. R. Be it done unto me according to thy word. (Hail Mary …) And the Word was made flesh. R. And dwelt among us. (Hail Mary …) Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Let us pray: Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy grace into our hearts; that, we to whom the incarnation of Christ, thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by his passion and cross, be brought to the glory of his resurrection, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer Before Meals
Bless us O Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive, from thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Prayer to Our Guardian Angel
Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of your sacred heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all the apostles of prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.
O my God, at the end of this day I thank you most heartily for all the graces I have received from you. I am sorry that I have not made a better use of them. I am sorry for all the sins I have committed against you. Forgive me, O my God, and graciously protect me this night. Blessed Virgin Mary, my dear heavenly mother, take me under your protection. St. Joseph, my dear guardian angel, and all you saints of God, pray for me. Sweet Jesus, have pity on all poor sinners, and save them from hell. Have mercy on the suffering souls in purgatory.
Generally, this evening prayer is followed by an act of contrition, which is usually said in conjunction with an examination of conscience. A daily examination of conscience consists of a brief recounting of our actions during the day. What sins did we commit? Where did we fail? In what areas of our lives can we strive to make virtuous progress? Having determined our failures and sins, we make an act of contrition.
Act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend thee, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.
Prayer after Mass
Soul of Christ, make me holy. Body of Christ, save me. Blood of Christ, fill me with love. Water from Christ’s side, wash me. Passion of Christ, strengthen me. Good Jesus, hear me. Within your wounds, hide me. Never let me be parted from you. From the evil enemy, protect me. At the hour of my death, call me, and tell me to come to you that with your saints I may praise you through all eternity. Amen.
Prayers to the Holy Spirit
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Breathe into me Holy Spirit, that all my thoughts may be holy. Move in me, Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Attract my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy. Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy. Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.
Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray
O God, who has taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that by the gift of the same Spirit we may be always truly wise and ever rejoice in his consolation, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayers to the Angels and Saints
Prayer to Saint Joseph
O glorious Saint Joseph, you were chosen by God to be the foster father of Jesus, the most pure spouse of Mary, ever virgin, and the head of the Holy Family. You have been chosen by Christ’s vicar as the heavenly patron and protector of the Church founded by Christ.
Protect the Holy Father, our sovereign pontiff, and all bishops and priests united with him. Be the protector of all who labor for souls amid the trials and tribulations of this life, and grant that all peoples of the world may follow Christ and the Church he founded.
Dear St. Joseph, accept the offering I make to you. Be my father, protector, and guide in the way of salvation. Obtain for me purity of heart and a love for the spiritual life. After your example, let all my actions be directed to the greater glory of God, in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and your own paternal heart. Finally, pray for me that I may share in the peace and joy of your holy death. Amen.
Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Prayer, the lifting of the mind and heart to God, plays an essential role in the life of a devout Catholic. Without a life of prayer, we risk losing the life of grace in our souls, grace that comes to us first in baptism and later chiefly through the other sacraments and through prayer itself (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2565). Through prayer we enter into the presence of the Godhead dwelling in us. It is prayer which allows us to adore God, by acknowledging his almighty power; it is prayer that allows us to bring our thanks, our petitions, and our sorrow for sin before our Lord and God.
While prayer is not a practice unique to Catholics, those prayers that are called “Catholic” are generally formulaic in nature. That is, the teaching Church sets before us how we ought to pray. Drawing from the words of Christ, the writings of Scripture and the saints, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, she supplies us with prayers grounded in Christian tradition. Further, our informal, spontaneous prayers, both vocal and meditative, are informed by and shaped by those prayers taught by the Church, prayers that are the wellspring for the prayer life of all Catholics. Without the Holy Spirit speaking through the Church and through her saints, we would not know how to pray as we ought (CCC, 2650).
As the prayers themselves witness, the Church teaches us that we should pray not only directly to God, but also to those who are close to God, those who have the power to intercede upon our behalf. Indeed, we pray to the angels to help and watch over us; we pray to the saints in heaven to ask their intercession and assistance; we pray to the Blessed Mother to enlist her aid, to ask her to beg her Son to hear our prayers. Further, we pray not only on our own behalf, but also on the behalf of those souls in purgatory and of those brothers on earth who are in need. Prayer unites us to God; in doing so, we are united to the other members of the Mystical Body.This communal aspect of prayer is reflected not only in the nature of Catholic prayers, but also in the very words of the prayers themselves. In reading many of the basic formulaic prayers, it will become apparent that, for the Catholic, prayer is often meant to be prayed in the company of others. Christ himself encouraged us to pray together: “For wherever two or more are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).
Keeping in mind the aforementioned characteristics of Catholic prayer will enable you to appreciate and to understand the prayers listed below. While this list is certainly not an exhaustive one, it will illustrate the different kinds of Catholic prayers that help to form the treasury of prayers in the Church.
1. The Sign of the Cross
2. The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come;
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.
3. Hail Mary
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen
4. The Apostles’ Creed.
I Believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified; died, and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He arose again from the dead: He ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
5. The Guardian Angel
Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom His love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.
6. The Confiteor
I CONFESS to Almighty God, to blessed Mary, ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and to all the Saints, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word and deed, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.
Therefore I beseech blessed Mary, ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the Saints, to pray to the Lord our God for me.
May the Almighty God have mercy on me, and forgive me my sins, and bring me to everlasting life. Amen.
May the Almighty and merciful Lord grant me pardon, absolution, and remission of all my sins. Amen.
7. An Act of Faith
O My God, I firmly believe that Thou art one God in three Divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; I believe that Thy Divine Son became man, and died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe these and all the truths, which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou has revealed them, who canst neither deceive nor be deceived.
8. An Act of Hope
O My God, relying on Thy almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Thy grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer.
9. An Act of Charity
O My God, I love Thee above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because Thou art all good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of Thee. I forgive all who have injured me, and ask pardon of all whom I have injured.
10. The Angelus (to be said morning, noon and evening)
The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived by the Holy Ghost.
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to Thy word.
V. And The Word was made Flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
11. The Salve Regina
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope!
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve, to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!
V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
V. Make me worthy to praise thee, holy Virgin.
R. Give me strength against thine enemies.
V. Blessed be God in His saints.
12. The Memorare
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that any one who fled to thy protection, implored thy help and sought thy intercession, was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
14. To St. Michael
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. We humbly beseech Thee, O God, to command him;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the divine power thrust into hell satan and the other evil spirits who roam through the world seeking the destruction of souls. Amen.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us. (said three times)
15. Grace before Meals
Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
16. An Act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee.
I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell.
But most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.
17. Anima Christi
Soul of Christ, be my sanctification;
Body of Christ, be my salvation;
Blood of Christ, fill all my veins;
Water from Christ’s side, wash out my stains;
Passion of Christ, my comfort be,
O good Jesus, listen to me.
In Thy wounds I fain would hide,
Never to be parted from Thy side.
Guard me when the foe assails me;
Guide me when my feet shall fail me;
Bid me come to Thee above,
With Thy saints to sing Thy love, forever and ever. Amen.
18. Prayer before a Crucifix (to be said after communion)
Look down upon me, good and gentle Jesus, while before Thy face I humbly kneel, and with burning soul pray and beseech Thee to fix deep in my heart lively sentiments of faith, hope and charity, true contrition for my sins, and a firm purpose of amendment.
Meanwhile, I contemplate with great love and tender mercy Thy five most precious wounds, pondering over them within me, and calling to mind with words which David in prophecy made Thee say concerning Thyself, my Jesus:
“They have pierced My hands and feet; they have numbered all my bones.”
Mary, Mother of grace, mother of mercy, shield me from the enemy and receive me at the hour of my death. (Roman Ritual)
20. The Divine Praises
Blessed be God.
Blessed be His holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man.
Blessed be the Name of Jesus.
Blessed be His most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be His Precious Blood.
Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.
Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her glorious assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse.
Blessed be God in His angels and in His saints.
May the heart of Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored,
and loved with grateful affection, at every moment in all the tabernacles of the world,
even to the end of time. Amen.
21. The Beatitudes
Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek; for they shall possess the land.
Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice; for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart; for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice sake;
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
22. Prayer for the Souls in Purgatory
O gentle Heart of Jesus, ever present in the Blessed Sacrament, ever consumed with burning love for the poor captive souls in Purgatory, have mercy on them, especially (name/s)
Be not severe in Your judgments, but let some drops of Your Precious Blood fall upon the devouring flames.
And, Merciful Savior, send Your angels to conduct them to a place of refreshment, light and peace. Amen.
23. Mary Stewart’s Prayer
Keep us, O God, from all pettiness.
Let us be large in thought, in word, in deed.
Let us be done with fault-finding and leave off all self-seeking.
May we put away all pretense and meet each other face to face, without self pity and without prejudice.
May we never be hasty in judgment, and always be generous.
Let us always take time for all things, and make us to grow calm, serene and gentle.
Teach us to put into action our better impulses, to be straightforward and unafraid.
Grant that we may realize that it is the little things of life that create differences, that in the big things of life, we are as one.
And, O Lord God, let us not forget to be kind! Amen.
24. Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.
V. Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
In the home it is kindness:
In the business it is honesty;
In society it is courtesy;
In work it is fairness;
Toward the unfortunate it is sympathy;
Toward the weak it is help;
Toward the wicked it is resistance;
Toward the strong it is trust;
Toward the penitent it is forgiveness;
Toward the successful it is congratulation;
And toward God it is reverence and obedience.
26. Learning Christ
Teach me, my Lord, to be sweet and gentle in all the events of life-
in the thoughtlessness of others,
in the insincerity of those I trusted,
in the unfaithfulness of those on whom I relied
Let me put myself aside,
to think of the happiness of others,
to hide my little pains and heartaches,
so that I may be the only one to suffer from them.
Teach me to profit by the suffering that comes across my path.
Let me so use it that is may mellow me, not harden nor embitter me;
That it may make me patient, not irritable. That is may make me broad in my forgiveness, not narrow, haughty and overbearing.
May no one be less good for having come within my influence.
No one less pure, less true, less kind, less noble for having been a fellow-traveler in our journey toward ETERNAL LIFE.
As I go my rounds from one distraction to another, let me whisper from time to time, a word of love to Thee.
May my life be lived in the super-natural, full of power for good, and strong in its purpose.
Written by Psychotherapist: Dr. Peter Kleponis (LifeSiteNews.com) —
“Pornography is a silent epidemic said Dr. Peter Kleponis, a Catholic psychotherapist who spoke on the dangers of pornography. Kleponis gave a richly informative talk that covered everything from the scope of the porn problem to the virtues men need to engage in healthy relationships and move past pornography.
“The damage to men from pornography use and masturbation is extensive,” said Kleponis, who specializes in marriage and family therapy, men’s issues, and pornography addiction recovery. “Among other wounds, it turns men in upon themselves, thereby damaging their self-giving as spouses and fathers … thus preventing them from fulfilling their role as protectors and leaders and physical and spiritual fathers; damages male confidence; and harms their ability to see and to respect the true beauty of women.”
Pornography use has become ubiquitous in recent years, he said. “Any statistics we have are probably gross under-estimates of it, because so much of it is unreported … It’s men late at night alone with their computers.
“The pornography industry earns over $97 billion every year, more than Microsoft, Google, Amazon, EBay, Yahoo, Apple, Netflix, and EarthLink make combined. Child pornography generates $3 billion of that revenue.”
Kleponis is the assistant director of Comprehensive Counseling Services. Based on his years of private counseling, he offered a number of ways for men to heal, emphasizing above all else that healing is in fact possible.
“The field of positive psychology that employs the use of forgiveness and other virtues has significant potential to help those with addictions not only with their recovery from compulsive behaviors, but also from associated disorders,” said Kleponis. “The ability of addicted persons to learn how to overcome selfishness, grow in confidence, address loneliness and anxiety, and resolve and control excessive anger is essential in their recovery and in protecting them from relapse.”
For Catholics, Kleponis recommends some of the classic remedies for sin, including making a good confession and receiving the Eucharist at least once a week; daily prayer and spiritual reading; daily Scripture study, especially in the form of lectio divina; monthly spiritual direction; annual retreats; being active in one’s parish; a strong relationship with Our Lady as a loving, affectionate spiritual mother, and a strong relationship with St. Joseph as an affectionate and protective father.
More information from Dr. Kleponis is available at www.maritalhealing.com.
Today I greet you in the name of Jesus. I thank all of you for the welcome you have given me. I want you to know how I have looked forward to this meeting with you, especially with those of you who are sick, disabled or infirm. I myself have had a share in suffering and I have known the physical weakness that comes with injury and sickness.
It is precisely because I have experienced suffering that I am able to affirm with ever greater conviction what Saint Paul says in the second reading: “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8,38-39).
Dear friends, there is no force or power that can block God’s love for you. Sickness and suffering seem to contradict all that is worthy, all that is desired by man. And yet no disease, no injury, no infirmity can ever deprive you of your dignity as children of God, as brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.
By his dying on the Cross, Christ shows us how to make sense of our suffering. In his passion we find the inspiration and strength to turn away from any temptation to resentment and grow through pain into new life.
Suffering is an invitation to be more like the Son in doing the Father’s will. It offers us an opportunity to imitate Christ who died to redeem mankind from sin. Thus the Father has disposed that suffering can enrich the individual and the whole Church.
We acknowledge that the Anointing of the Sick is for the benefit of the whole person. We find this point demonstrated in the liturgical texts of the sacramental celebration: “Make this oil a remedy for all who are anointed with it; heal them in body, in soul and in spirit, and deliver them from every affliction.”
The anointing is therefore a source of strength for both the soul and the body. The prayer of the Church asks that sin and the remnants of sin be taken away (cf. DS 1969). It also implores a restoration of health, but always in order that bodily healing may bring greater union with God through the increase of grace.
In her teaching on this sacrament, the Church passes on the truth contained in our first reading from Saint James: “Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the Church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5,14-15).
This sacrament should be approached in a spirit of great confidence, like the leper in the Gospel that has just been proclaimed. Even the desperateness of the man’s condition did not stop him from approaching Jesus with trust. We too must believe in Christ’s healing love and reaffirm that nothing will separate us from that love. Surely Jesus wishes to say: “I will; be clean” (Mt. 8,3); be healed; be strong; be saved.
My dear brothers and sisters, as you live the Passion of Christ you strengthen the Church by the witness of your faith. You proclaim by your patience, your endurance and your joy the mystery of Christ’s redeeming power. You will find the crucified Lord in the midst of your sickness and suffering.
As Veronica ministered to Christ on his way to Calvary, so Christians have accepted the care of those in pain and sorrow as privileged opportunities to minister to Christ himself. I commend and bless all those who work for the sick in hospitals, residential homes and centers of care for the dying.
I would like to say to you doctors, nurses, chaplains and all other hospital staff: Yours is a noble vocation. Remember it is Christ to whom you minister in the sufferings of your brothers and sisters.
I support with all my heart those who recognize and defend the law of God which governs human life. We must never forget that every person, from the moment of conception to the last breath, is a unique child of God and has a right to life. This right should be defended by the attentive care of the medical and nursing professions and by the protection of the law. Every human life is willed by our heavenly Father and is a part of his loving plan.
No Province or State has the right to contradict moral values which are rooted in the nature of man himself. These values are the precious heritage of civilization. If society begins to deny the worth of any individual or to subordinate the human person to pragmatic or utilitarian considerations, it begins to destroy the defenses that safeguard its own fundamental values.
Today I make an urgent plea to this nation. Do not neglect your sick and elderly. Do not turn away from the handicapped and the dying. Do not push them to the margins of society. For if you do, you will fail to understand that they represent an important truth. The sick, the elderly, the handicapped and the dying teach us that weakness is a creative part of human living, and that suffering can be embraced with no loss of dignity. Without the presence of these people in your midst you might be tempted to think of health, strength and power as the only important values to be pursued in life. But the wisdom of Christ and the power of Christ are to be seen in the weakness of those who share his sufferings.
Let us keep the sick and the handicapped at the center of our lives. Let us treasure them and recognize with gratitude the debt we owe them. We begin by imagining that we are giving to them; we end by realizing that they have enriched us.
May God bless and comfort all who suffer.
And may Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world and healer of the sick,
make his light shine through human weakness as a beacon for us and for all mankind. Amen.
The Anointing of the Sick is the Sacrament given to seriously ill Christians, and the special graces received unite the sick person to the passion of Christ. The Sacrament consists of the anointing of the forehand and hands of the person with blessed oil, with the minister saying, “Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up.”
Origen of Egypt in his Homilies on Leviticus described Anointing for healing the sick and forgiveness of sins in the third century. St. Thomas Aquinas stated that Extreme Unction, as the Anointing of the Sick was once called, is “a spiritual remedy, since it avails for the remission of sins, and therefore is a sacrament” (James 5:15). The ecclesial effect of this sacrament is incorporation into the healing Body of Christ, with a spiritual healing of the soul, and at times healing of the body. The sacramental grace helps us to accept sickness as a purifying cross sent by God, and the grace even to accept death if that is God’s will.
Jesus healed the blind and the sick, as well as commissioned his Apostles to do so, such as the following sources.
“So they (the Twelve Apostles) went off and preached repentance.
They drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.”
Gospel of Mark 6:12-13
“Is any among you sick?
Let him call for the presbyters of the Church,
and let them pray over him,
anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;
and the prayer of faith will save the sick man,
and the Lord will raise him up;
and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”
My dear brothers, candidates for the priesthood: for you Christ today renews his prayer to the Father: “Consecrate them in truth, your word is truth” (Jn. 17,17). This consecration makes you even more a “new creation.” It sets you apart from the world, so that you may be completely dedicated to God. It gives you a mission to act as Christ’s ambassadors in reconciling the world to God. It was for this purpose that Jesus came from the Father and was born of the Virgin Mary. And it is this same mission which Christ entrusted to his disciples: “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world, and for their sake I consecrate myself so that they too may be consecrated in truth” (Jn. 17,18).
At this important moment of your lives I say to you young men: Realize how deeply Jesus desires you to be consecrated as he himself is consecrated. Realize how closely the bond of priesthood joins you to Christ. Be worthy of the privilege you are going to receive of bringing God’s gifts of love to his people and offering to God the people’s prayerful response.
You must be men of God, his close friends. You must develop daily patterns of prayer, and penance must be a regular part of your life.
Prayer and penance will help you to appreciate more deeply that the strength of your ministry is found in the Lord and not in human resources.
You must try to deepen every day your friendship with Christ. You must also learn to share the hopes and joys, the sorrows and frustrations of the people entrusted to your care. Bring to them Christ’s saving message of reconciliation. Visit your parishioners in their homes. This has been a strength of the Church in England. It is a pastoral practice that should not be neglected. Teach your people boldly about the faithful love of God. And do not forget all those with special needs, particularly those who are in prison, and their families. In the gospel Christ identifies himself with prisoners when he says, “I was in prison, and you visited me.” And remember that he did not specify whether they were innocent or guilty. Because you represent Christ, no one can be excluded from your pastoral love. I ask you, together with your brother priests, to take my greetings to all the prisons in Britain, especially the large one in Manchester. Christ Jesus went to offer peace of conscience and the forgiveness of all sins. Through Jesus Christ offer hope. Through you, in your heart, Jesus Christ wants to love those for whom he died. You must show that you believe in that faithful love by the fidelity with which you live your own life. You must proclaim the Gospel with your life.
When you celebrate the sacraments at the decisive moments of their lives, help them to trust in Christ’s promised mercy and compassion. When you offer the redeeming Sacrifice of the Eucharist, help them to understand the need for transforming this great love into works of charity.
My brothers be aware of the effect on others of the witness of your lives.
Your ordination is a source of consolation for those who have already given many years of priestly service, large numbers of whom are present today. The Lord is grateful for their labor and today he blesses them with the assurance that he will continue to provide for the future of the Church.
May all these priests be renewed in the joyful enthusiasm of their early call, and may they continue to give generously of themselves in Christ’s priestly work of reconciling the world to the Father.
I know of the many priests who could not be here because of old age or infirmity. To them also I send the expression of my love in Christ Jesus.
Their prayers, their wisdom, their suffering are rich treasures for the Church, from which will come forth abundant blessings.
And what of your contemporaries? Undoubtedly your acceptance of Christ’s mission is a clear witness for those who are not yet sure what the Lord wants of them. You show them that being ordained for God’s service is a noble vocation that demands faith, courage and self-sacrifice. I am sure that such qualities are to be found among the young people of Great Britain. To them I say: Be certain that Christ’s call to the priesthood or religious life is addressed to some of you. Be certain that if you listen to his call and follow him in the priesthood or religious life, you will find great joy and happiness. Be generous, take courage and remember his promise: “My yoke is easy and my burden light” (Mt. 11,30).
Finally, I wish to greet the parents and families of those about to be ordained. I say in the name of the Church, in the company of my fellow Bishops, thank you for your generosity. It was you who brought these men into the world. It was you who first gave them the faith and the values that have helped to lead them to God’s altar today. The Church, too, must be a family, bishops, priests, deacons, religious and laity, supporting each other and sharing with each other the individual gifts given by God. Every priest relies on the faith and talents of his parish community. If he is wise he will not only know the joy of dispensing God’s grace, but also of receiving it abundantly through his parishioners as well. The partnership between priests and people is built upon prayer, collaboration and mutual respect and love. That has always been the tradition of these islands. May it never be lost.
Through this ordination the Lord really and truly continues the work of his “new creation.” And he continues to send forth his message over all the earth and to speak personally to those who will be ordained:
“‘Go now to those to whom I send you
and say whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to protect you’
—it is the Lord who speaks!” Amen.
The Sacrament of Holy Orders began with the Last Supper, when Christ Jesus commissioned his Apostles to continue the Eucharistic celebration. He also commissioned his Apostles following the Resurrection to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8). Thomas Aquinas makes the point that only Christ is the true priest, the others serving as his ministers (Hebrews 8:4). St. Ignatius, Bishop of Syria around 100 AD, in his Letter to the Magnesians (6), established the hierarchy of bishop, priest, and deacon for the early Churches, the pattern which still exists today. Bishops are the successors of the Apostles, and priests and deacons are his assistants in rendering service. Men are ordained to the priesthood in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, as the sacrament confers upon – in persona Christi.
Holy Orders is the sacrament of Apostolic ministry. As in the Pastoral Epistles, the rite consists of the Bishop’s laying on of hands on the head of the priest-candidate with the consecrating prayer asking God for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the gifts of the ministry. There are three dimensions to ministry, that of Bishop, Priesthood, and the Diaconate. See Matthew 16:18-19, John 21:15-17, Romans 10:14-15, 2 Timothy 1:6, and Titus 1:5 as well as the following:
“Do this in memory of me.”
Gospel of Luke 22:19 and 1 Corinthians 11:25
“Now be solicitous for yourselves and for the whole flock in which
the Holy Spirit has appointed you as bishops to pasture the Church of God,
which He purchased with his own blood.”
Acts of the Apostles 20:28
Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.
First Letter of Paul to Timothy 4:14
“Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 2:4-5
In a marriage a man and a woman pledge themselves to one another in an unbreakable alliance of total mutual self-giving. A total union of love.
Love that is not a passing emotion or temporary infatuation, but a responsible and free decision to bind oneself completely, “in good times and in bad,” to one’s partner. It is the gift of oneself to the other.
It is a love to be proclaimed before the eyes of the whole world. It is unconditional. To be capable of such love calls for careful preparation from early childhood to wedding day. It requires the constant support of Church and society throughout its development.
The love of husband and wife in God‘s plan leads beyond itself and new life is generated, a family is born. The family is a community of love and life, a home in which children are guided to maturity.
Marriage is a holy sacrament. Those baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus are married in his name also. Their love is a sharing in the love of God. He is its source. The marriages of Christian couples, today renewed and blessed, are images on earth of the wonder of God, the loving, life-giving communion of Three Persons in one God, and of God’s covenant in Christ, with the Church. Christian marriage is a sacrament of salvation. It is the pathway to holiness for all members of a family.
With all my heart, therefore, I urge that your homes be centers of prayer; homes where families are at ease in the presence of God; homes to which others are invited to share hospitality, prayer and the praise of God: “With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God; and never say or do anything except in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3,16-17).
In your country, there are many marriages between Catholics and other baptized Christians. Sometimes these couples experience special difficulties. To these families I say: You live in your marriage the hopes and difficulties of the path to Christian unity. Express that hope in prayer together, in the unity of love. Together invite the Holy Spirit of love into your hearts and into your homes. He will help you to grow in trust and understanding.
Brothers and sisters, “May the peace of Christ reign in your hearts….Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you” (Col. 3,15-16).
Recently I wrote an Apostolic Exhortation to the whole Catholic Church regarding the role of the Christian Family in the modern world. In that Exhortation I underlined the positive aspects of family life today, which include: a more lively awareness of personal freedom and greater attention to the quality of interpersonal relationships in marriage, greater attention to promoting the dignity of women, to responsible procreation, to the education of children. But at the same time I could not fail to draw attention to the negative phenomena: a corruption of the idea and experience of freedom, with consequent self-centeredness in human relations; serious misconceptions regarding the relationship between parents and children; the growing number of divorces; the scourge of abortion; the spread of a contraceptive and anti-life mentality. Besides these destructive forces, there are social and economic conditions which affect millions of human beings, undermining the strength and stability of marriage and family life. In addition there is the cultural onslaught against the family by those who attack married life as “irrelevant” and “outdated.” All of this is a serious challenge to society and to the Church. As I wrote then: “History is not simply a fixed progression towards what is better, but rather an event of freedom, and even a struggle between freedoms that are in mutual conflict” (Familiaris Consortio, n. 6). Married couples, I speak to you of the hopes and ideals that sustain the Christian vision of marriage and family life. You will find the strength to be faithful to your marriage vows in your love for your children. Let this love be the rock that stands firm in the face of every storm and temptation. What better blessing could the Pope wish for your families than what Saint Paul wished for the Christians of Colossae: “Be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these clothes … put on love” (Col. 3,12-14).
Being a parent today brings worries and difficulties, as well as joys and satisfactions. Your children are your treasure. They love you very much, even if they sometimes find it hard to express that love. They look for independence and are reluctant to conform. Sometimes they wish to reject past traditions and even reject their faith.
In the family bridges are meant to be built, not broken; and new expressions of wisdom and truth can be fashioned from the meeting of experience and enquiry. Yours is a true and proper ministry in the Church. Open the doors of your home and of your heart to all the generations of your family. We cannot overlook the fact that some marriages fail. But still it is our duty to proclaim the true plan of God for all married love and to insist on fidelity to that plan, as we go towards the fullness of life in the Kingdom of heaven. Let us not forget that God’s love for his people, Christ’s love for the Church, is everlasting and can never be broken. And the covenant between a man and a women joined in Christian marriage is as indissoluble and irrevocable as this love (cf. AAS 71 , p. 1224). This truth is a great consolation for the world, and because some marriages fail, there is an ever greater need for the Church and all her members to proclaim it faithfully.
Christ himself, the living source of grace and mercy, is close to all those whose marriage has known trial, pain, or anguish. Throughout the ages countless married people have drawn from the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s Cross and Resurrection the strength to bear Christian witness—at times very difficult—to the indissolubility of Christian marriage.
And all the efforts of the Christian people to bear faithful witness to God’s law, despite human weakness, have not been in vain. These efforts are the human response made, through grace, to a God who has first loved us and who has given himself for us.
As I explained in my Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, the Church is vitally concerned for the pastoral care of the family in all difficult cases. We must reach out with love—the love of Christ—to those who know the pain of failure in marriage; to those who know the loneliness of bringing up a family on their own; to those whose family life is dominated by tragedy or by illness of mind or body. I praise all those who help people wounded by the breakdown of their marriage, by showing them Christ’s compassion and counselling them according to Christ’s truth.
To the public authorities, and to all men and women of good will, I say: treasure your families. Protect their rights. Support the family by your laws and administration. Allow the voice of the family to be heard in the making of your policies. The future of your society, the future of humanity, passes by the way of the family.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, who are now about to renew the promises of your wedding day: may your words express once more the truth that is in your heart and may they generate faithful love within your families. Make sure that your families are real communities of love.
Allow that love to reach out to other people, near and far. Reach out especially to the lonely and burdened people of your neighborhood, to the poor and to all those on the margin of society. In this way you will build up your society in peace, for peace requires trust, and trust is the child of love, and love comes to birth in the cradle of the family.
The union of a man and a woman is natural. The natural language of the human body is such that the man gives to the woman and the woman receives the man. The love and friendship between a man and a woman grow into a desire for marriage. The sacrament of marriage gives the couple the grace to grow into a union of heart and soul, to continue life, and to provide stability for themselves and their children. Children are the fruit and bond of a marriage.
The bond of marriage between a man and a woman lasts all the days of their lives, and the form of the rite consists of the mutual exchange of vows by a couple, both of whom have been baptized. The minister serves as a witness to the couple in the West, but serves as the actual minister of the rite in the East. The matter follows later through consummation of the marriage act.
Sacred Scripture begins with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God, and concludes with a vision of the “wedding-feast of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:7, 9). The bond of marriage is compared to God’s undying love for Israel in the Old Testament, and Christ’s love for his Church in the New Testament of the Bible.
Jesus stresses the significance of the marriage bond in his Ministry (Matthew 19:6, 8). The importance of marriage is substantiated by the presence of Christ at the wedding feast of Cana, where he began his public ministry at the request of his mother Mary by performing his first miracle (John 2). It is the Apostle Paul who calls matrimony a great sacrament or mystery, and who identifies the marriage of man and woman with the unity of Christ and his Church. The theologian Tertullian, the first Latin Father of the Church at the beginning of the third century AD, wrote on the Sacrament of Matrimony.
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.”
“(Jesus) said in reply: “Have you not read that He who made man from the beginning
made them male and female?”
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church.”
St. Paul to the Ephesians 5:25
“This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.
In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself,
and the wife should respect her husband.”
St. Paul to the Ephesians 5:32-33
At the first Pentecost, Jesus said to his disciples: “Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained” (Jn. 20,23). These words of our Savior remind us of the fundamental gift of our redemption: the gift of having our sins forgiven and of being reconciled with God. Remission of sin is a completely free and undeserved gift, a newness of life which we could never earn. God grants it to us out of his mercy. As Saint Paul wrote: “It is all God’s work. It was God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the work of handing on this reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5,18).
There is no sin that cannot be forgiven, if we approach the throne of mercy with humble and contrite hearts. No evil is more powerful than the infinite mercy of God. In becoming man, Jesus entered completely into our human experience, even to the point of suffering the final and most cruel effect of the power of sin—death on a cross. He really became one like us in all things but sin. But evil with all its power did not win. By dying, Christ destroyed our death; by rising, he restored our life; by his wounds we are healed and our sins are forgiven. For this reason, when the Lord appeared to his disciples after the Resurrection, he showed them his hands and his side. He wanted them to see that the victory had been won; to see that he, the risen Christ, had transformed the marks of sin and death into symbols of hope and life.
By the victory of his Cross, Jesus Christ won for us the forgiveness of our sins and reconciliation with God. And it is these gifts that Christ offers us when he gives the Holy Spirit to the Church, for he said to the Apostles: “Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven” (Jn. 20,23). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Church continues Christ’s work of reconciling the world to himself.
In every age the Church remains the community of those who have received the reconciliation that was willed by God the Father and achieved through the sacrifice of his beloved Son.
The Church is also by her nature always reconciling, handing on to others the gift that she herself has received, the gift of having been forgiven and made one with God. She does this in many ways, but especially through the sacraments, and in particular through Penance. In this consoling sacrament she leads each of the faithful individually to Christ, and through the Church’s ministry, Christ himself gives forgiveness, strength and mercy. Through this highly personal sacrament, Christ continues to meet the men and women of our time. He restores wholeness where there was division, he communicates light where darkness reigned, and he gives a hope and joy which the world could never give. Through this sacrament the Church proclaims to the world the infinite riches of God’s mercy, that mercy which has broken down barriers which divided us from God and from one another.
On this day of Pentecost, as the Church proclaims the reconciling action of Christ Jesus, and the power of his Holy Spirit, I appeal to all the faithful of Britain—and to all the other members of the Church who may hear my voice or read my words: Dearly beloved, let us give greater emphasis to the Sacrament of Penance in our own lives. Let us strive to safeguard what I described in my first Encyclical as Christ’s “right to meet each one of us in that key moment in the soul’s life constituted by the moment of conversion and forgiveness” (Redemptor Hominis, n. 20).
And in particular I ask you, my brother priests, to realize how closely and how effectively you can collaborate with the Savior in the divine work of reconciliation.
For lack of time, certain worthy activities may have to be abandoned or postponed, but not the confessional. Always give priority to your specifically priestly role in representing the Good Shepherd in the Sacrament of Penance. And as you witness and praise the marvelous action of the Holy Spirit in human hearts, you will feel yourselves called to further conversion and to deeper love of Christ and his flock.
As Christians today strive to be sources of reconciliation in the world, they feel the need, perhaps more urgently than ever before, to be fully reconciled among themselves. For the sin of disunity among Christians, which has been with us for centuries, weighs heavily upon the Church.
The seriousness of this sin was clearly shown at the Second Vatican Council, which stated: “Without doubt, this discord openly contradicts the will of Christ, provides a stumbling block to the world, and inflicts damage on the most holy cause of proclaiming the good news to every creature” (Unitatis Redintegratio, n. 1).
Restoration of unity among Christians is one of the main concerns of the Church in the last part of the twentieth century. And this task is for all of us. No one can claim exemption from this responsibility. Indeed everyone can make some contribution, however small it may seem, and all are called to that interior conversion which is the essential condition for ecumenism. As the Second Vatican Council taught: “This change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and can rightly be called ‘spiritual ecumenism'” (ibid., n. 8).
The Holy Spirit, who is the source of all unity, provides the Body of Christ with a “variety of gifts” (1 Cor. 12,3), so that it may be built up and strengthened. As the Holy Spirit granted the Apostles the gift of tongues, so that all gathered in Jerusalem on that first Pentecost might hear and understand the one Gospel of Christ, should we not expect the same Holy Spirit to grant us the gifts we need in order to continue the work of salvation, and to be reunited as one body in Christ? In this we trust and for this we pray, confident in the power which the Spirit gave to the Church at Pentecost.
“Send forth your Spirit … and renew the face of the earth” (Ps. 104,30).
These words of the psalmist are our heartfelt prayer today, as we ask Almighty God to renew the face of the earth through the life-giving power of the Spirit. Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, renew our hearts and minds with the gifts of light and truth. Renew our homes and families with the gifts of unity and joy. Renew our cities and our countries with true justice and lasting peace. Renew your Church on earth with the gifts of penance and reconciliation, with unity in faith and love.
Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth!
Jesus Christ gave his Apostles the power to forgive sins. The Sacrament is also known as the Sacrament of Conversion, Forgiveness, Penance, or Reconciliation.
During the persecution of the Roman Emperor Decius (249-251), many Christians left the Church rather than suffer martyrdom. The martyr St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, allowed apostates the Sacrament of Confession, as recorded in his Letter De Lapsis (The Lapsed) in 251.
The sacrament involves three steps: the penitent’s contrition or sorrow for his sins, the actual confession to a priest and absolution, and then penance or restitution for your sins. The experience leads one to an interior conversion of the heart. Jesus describes the process of conversion and penance in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-24).
The penitent confesses his sins to the priest in the confessional, and the priest then gives absolution to the repentant soul, making the Sign of the Cross, and saying the words ” I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” It is Christ Jesus through the priest who forgives your sins. As the penitent must make restitution or satisfaction for his sins, the priest gives a penance to the forgiven one, usually prayer, fasting, or almsgiving (1 Peter 4:8).
Confession gives one a wonderful sense of freedom and peace from the burden of sin. Sorrow, affliction, and a desire for conversion follow the remorse of sin in those with a contrite heart. Some believe we can confess our sins privately to God. But man is a social being. The humbling experience of unburdening your soul to someone, of exposing your weak nature, and then being accepted for who you are and what you have done by having your sins forgiven brings one an incredible sense of relief! The experience brings a sense of gratitude to our generous Lord for his love, compassion and mercy.
As one is to be in the state of grace before receiving Holy Communion, the child makes his first Confession before his first Communion, generally at the age of reason.
Here are three Scriptural references on Penance (See also Matthew 16:18-19, Luke 24:46-47, Acts 2:38):
“When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic,
Child, your sins are forgiven…”
“But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth,” –
he said to the paralytic,
“I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.”
Gospel of Mark 2:1-10
“Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father who sent me, even so I send you.
And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven.
If you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
Gospel of John 20:21-23
“And all this is from God,
who has reconciled us to himself through Christ
and given us the ministry of reconciliation.”
The Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians 5:18
The readings of the Mass today invite us to reflect on the mystery of the Eucharist. This great mystery was foreshadowed in Old Testament times when God provided the Israelites with manna in the wilderness.
In the first reading, we hear the words Moses spoke to the people: “Remember how the Lord your God led you for forty years in the wilderness … he fed you with manna which neither you nor your fathers had known, to make you understand that man does not live on bread alone but that man lives on everything that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Dt. 8,2-3). God taught the people that he alone was their Lord. He alone was the one who would lead them out of slavery. He alone was the one who would care for them amid the hardships and sorrows they would encounter on the way to the promised land. When they were hungry and thirsty, he gave them manna from heaven and water from the rock.
What was foreshadowed in Old Testament times has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He gave his followers food for the journey of faith when he entrusted to the Church the gift of the Eucharist. Jesus himself is the new spiritual food, for the Eucharist is his body and blood made present under the appearances of bread and wine. He himself says in the Gospel: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst” (Jn. 6,35)
In Wales, the Eucharist has held a place of prominence in the Church from the earliest times. This is shown by the Christian symbols of the Eucharist which have been discovered in the archaeological excavations at the Roman fort of Caerleon. Happily this great heritage has continued from the early beginnings down to the present time. This fact should not surprise us, since the Eucharist holds such a central place in Christian life and since the mystery of the Eucharist is so closely linked to the mystery of the Church. For every generation in the Church, the food which nourishes the people of God is the Eucharist, the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
What a beautiful prayer is recorded in today’s Gospel. After Jesus speaks to the people about the true bread which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world, they cry out: “Give us that bread always” (Jn. 6,34).
This prayer expresses a deep hunger on the part of the people, one which goes beyond the hunger for food. It is a hunger which arises from the depths of the soul and from the desire for love and fulfillment. It is a longing for wholeness and salvation and a yearning for fullness of life—it is a hunger for union with God. Christ is God’s answer to this prayer, God’s response to the deepest hunger of the human heart. All the anguished cries of mankind to God since the fall of Adam and Eve find fulfillment in the Son of God become man. Jesus still says: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst” (Jn. 6,35). May this same prayer—”Give us that bread always”—often be our prayer too. From our First Communion until the day we die, may we have a deep yearning for Christ, the true bread which gives life to the world.
I would like to speak to these little ones who are about to receive Holy Communion for the first time. Dear children: Jesus is coming to you in a new way today, in a special way. He wants to live in you. He wants to speak to you in your heart. He wants to be with you all through your day.
Jesus comes to you in the Eucharist so that you will live for ever. Holy Communion is not ordinary food. It is the bread of eternal life. It is something more precious than gold or silver. It is worth more than anything you can imagine. For this sacred bread is the body and blood of Jesus. And Jesus promises that if you eat his flesh and drink his blood, you will have life in you and you will live for ever.
You come to the altar today with faith and prayer. Promise me that you will try to stay close to Jesus always, and never turn your back on him.
As you grow older, go on learning about Jesus by listening to his word and by talking to him in prayer. If you stay close to him, you will always be happy.
Dear parents of these children: your love for Christ has made this day possible. For you are your children’s first teachers in the ways of faith. By what you say and do, you show them the truths of our faith and the values of the Gospel. This is indeed not only a sacred duty, but a grace, a great privilege. Many other members of the Church share in this task, but the main responsibility for your children’s religious formation rests upon your shoulders. So try to make your homes genuinely Christian.
Help your children to grow and mature as Jesus did at Nazareth, “in wisdom, in stature and in favor with God and men” (Lk. 2,52). Allow no one to take advantage of their lack of experience and knowledge. As you share with them in their personal pilgrimage to God, may you always be united in prayer and worship and in humble love of God and his people.
Dear teachers in our Catholic schools: you too deserve an honored place in our celebration today. Together with the parents, you help to prepare the children for the worthy reception of the sacraments and for a more active role in the Christian community. You bring them to a reverence and knowledge of God’s word and you explain to them the doctrine of the Church. And thus you introduce to them gradually into the riches of the mystery of salvation.
You are heirs of a great tradition, and the People of God is in your debt. As you carry out your important mission in that special community of faith which is the Catholic school, may you have a deep love for the Church. May your love for the Church radiate through all your various activities and be reflected in the way you faithfully hand on the sacred deposit of the faith.
Beloved brother priests: this is a day of joy for you also, for these little ones are members of the parishes in which you have the privilege to serve. Together with their families and teachers, you introduce the children to the wider Christian community and help them to grow to the fullness of maturity in Christ. To them and to the whole parish, you seek to give a shepherd’s care. May you be the best of shepherds and model your lives on our Lord and Redeemer.
I know that Bishops are anxious to develop practical programs of adult education in the faith. I urge you to be in the vanguard of those efforts, which are so important for the vitality of the Church.
I also encourage you to make the worthy celebration of the Eucharist the first priority of your pastoral ministry. Recall the words of the Second Vatican Council. “The other sacraments, as well as every ministry of the Church and every work of the apostolate, are linked with the holy Eucharist and are directed towards it. For the most blessed Eucharist contains the Church’s entire spiritual wealth, that is, Christ himself, our Passover and living bread” (Presbyterorum Ordinis, n. 5). No other work you do is of greater importance for the Church or of greater service to your people. For the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice is the source and summit of all Christian life. Ensure that the Mass is celebrated with deep reverence and prayerfulness, and make every effort to foster the active participation of the laity. Bear witness to the Church’s faith in the Real Presence of Christ by your own daily visit of Eucharistic adoration (cf. ibid., n. 18). And through the liturgical renewal that was willed by the Council, may all your parishes become communities alive with faith and charity.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, every time we gather for the Eucharist, we take part in the great mystery of faith. We receive the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation. This is the cause of our joy and the source of our hope. May this great mystery be for you and the whole Church be the center of your life and the way to eternal salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Eucharistia means thanksgiving, and the Eucharist is the “source and summit of the Christian life.” St. Justin Martyr described the Eucharistic Liturgy in 155 AD in his First Apology. The Paschal mystery of Christ is celebrated in the liturgy of the Mass. The Mass is the Eucharist or principal sacramental celebration of the Church, established by Jesus at the Last Supper, in which the mystery of our salvation through participation in the sacrificial death and glorious resurrection of Christ is renewed and accomplished. The word “Mass” comes from the Latin missa, as it refers to the mission or sending forth of the faithful following the celebration, so that they may fulfill God’s will in their daily lives.
The essential signs of the sacrament are wheat bread anf wine, on which the blessing of the Holy Spirit is invoked during the Sacrifice of the Mass, and the priest pronounces the words of consecration spoken by Jesus at the Last Supper: “This is my body…This is the cup of my blood…” (Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
Jesus died on the cross in sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 9:25-28). But Jesus is present for all time, as He is the eternal Son of God. What He did once in history also then exists for all eternity. What happened in time goes beyond time. In the heart of Jesus He is always giving Himself to the Father for us, as He did on the Cross. When we celebrate the Mass, the sacrifice of the cross, that happened once in history but is present for all eternity, that same reality is made present in the mystery.
The bread and wine through Transubstantiation become the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, and we receive the Real Presence of Jesus when we receive Holy Communion. Our soul is nourished, helping us to become like Christ. The Eucharist is the heart and source of community within the Church. Receiving Holy Communion with others during the Mass brings unity of the Church, the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 10:16-17).
Then He took the bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them, saying,
“This is my body, which will be given for you;
do this in memory of me.”
And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood,
which will be shed for you.”
Gospel of Luke 22:19-20
“I am the living bread which came down from heaven;
if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever;
and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
Gospel of John 6:51
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you,
that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread;
and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said,
“This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in My blood;
do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians 11:23-26
I would now like to speak especially to the young people who are about to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Today’s Gospel has special meaning for you, for it says that “Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, “Peace be with you,” and showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” After saying this he breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn. 20,20-22).
Christ‘s gift of the Holy Spirit is going to be poured out upon you in a particular way. You will hear the words of the Church spoken over you, calling upon the Holy Spirit to confirm your faith, to seal you in his love, to strengthen you for his service. You will then take your place among fellow-Christians throughout the world, full citizens now of the People of God. You will witness to the truth of the Gospel in the name of Jesus Christ. You will live your lives in such a way as to make holy all human life. Together with all the confirmed, you will become living stones in the cathedral of peace. Indeed you will be called by God to be instruments of his peace.
Today you must understand that you are not alone. We are one body, one people, one Church of Christ. The sponsor who stands at your side represents for you the whole community. Together, with a great crowd of witnesses drawn from all peoples and every age, you represent Christ. You are young people who have received a mission from Christ, for he says to you today: “As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.”
“Jesus breathed on them and said:
‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained”
On the first Pentecost our Savior gave the Apostles the power to forgive sins when he poured into their hearts the gift of the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit comes to you today in the Sacrament of Confirmation, to involve you more completely in the Church’s fight against sin and in her mission of fostering holiness. He comes to dwell more fully in your hearts and to strengthen you for the struggle with evil. My dear young people, the world of today needs you, for it needs men and women who are filled with the Holy Spirit. It needs your courage and hopefulness, your faith and your perseverance. The world of tomorrow will be built by you.
Today you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit so that you may work with deep faith and with abiding charity, so that you may help to bring to the world the fruits of reconciliation and peace. Strengthened by the Holy Spirit and his manifold gifts, commit yourselves wholeheartedly to the Church’s struggle against sin. Strive to be unselfish; try not to be obsessed with material things. Be active members of the People of God; be reconciled with each other and devoted to the work of justice, which will bring peace on earth.
“How many are your works, O Lord!”
These words of the responsorial psalm evoke gratitude from our hearts and a hymn of praise from our lips. Indeed how many are the works of the Lord, how great are the effects of the Holy Spirit’s action in Confirmation! When this sacrament is conferred, the words of the psalm are fulfilled among us: “You send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the earth” (v. 30).
On the first day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles and upon Mary and filled them with his power. Today we remember that moment and we open ourselves again to the gift of that same Holy Spirit. In that Spirit we are baptized. In that Spirit we are confirmed. In that Spirit we are called to share in the mission of Christ. In that Spirit we shall indeed become the People of Pentecost, the apostles of our time. “Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.” Amen.
Confirmation (or Chrismation) is the sacrament of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit whom Christ Jesus sent (John 7:37-39, 16:7). Jesus instructed his Apostles that they “will receive the power of the Holy Spirit” and called upon the Apostles to be his “witnesses to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). At the Pentecost, the Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4), and began to spread the Word of God. The Acts of the Apostles is often called the Gospel of the Holy Spirit. St. Cyril of Jerusalem wrote of the Mysteries of Baptism, Eucharist, and Chrism in the mid-fourth century AD.
The rite of Confirmation is anointing the forehead with chrism, together with the laying on of the hands and the words, “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.” The recipient receives the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2-3). On occasion one may receive one or more of the charismatic gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).
The ecclesial effect and sacramental grace of the sacrament give the recipient the strength and character to witness for Jesus Christ. The East continues the tradition of the early Christian Church by administering the sacrament with Baptism. Confirmation in the West is administered by the Bishop to children from age 7 to 18, but generally to adolescents, for example, to a graduating class of grade school children. Key Scriptural sources for Confirmation are the following (See also Acts 1:4-5, 2:1-4, 2:38, 10:44-48):
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away,
for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you;
but if I go, I will send him to you.
Gospel of John 16:7
“Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God,
they sent to them Peter and John,
who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit;
for it had not yet fallen on any of them,
but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.”
Acts of the Apostles 8:14-17
“While Apollos was at Corinth,
Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus.
There he found some disciples.
And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
And they said, “No, we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?”
They said, “Into John’s baptism.”
And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance,
telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.”
On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
And when Paul had laid his hands upon them,
the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.”
Acts of the Apostles 19:1-6
In Baptism we are drawn into the community of faith. We become part of the pilgrim People of God, which, in all times and in all places, goes forward in hope towards the fulfillment of the “promise.” It is our task to take our place responsibly and lovingly beside those who, from the beginning, “remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers” (Acts 2,42).
Baptism creates a sacramental bond of unity linking all who have been reborn by means of it. But Baptism, of itself is only a beginning, a point of departure, for it is wholly directed towards the fullness of life in Christ (cf. Unitatis Redintegratio, n. 22). Baptism is the foundation of the unity that all Christians have in Christ: a unity we must seek to perfect. When we set out clearly the privilege and the duty of the Christian, we feel ashamed that we have not been capable of maintaining the full unity of faith and charity that Christ willed for his Church.
We the baptized have work to do together as brothers and sisters in Christ. The world is in need of Jesus Christ and his Gospel—the Good News that God loves us, that God the Son was born, was crucified and died to save us, that he rose again and that we rose with him, and that in Baptism he has sealed us with the spirit for the first time, gathered us into a community of love and of witness to his truth.
Another aspect of Baptism, perhaps the most universally familiar, is that we are given a name—we call it our Christian name. In the tradition of the Church it is a saint’s name, a name of one of the heroes among Christ’s followers—an apostle, a martyr, a religious founder, like Saint Benedict, whose monks founded Westminster Abbey nearby, where your sovereigns are crowned. Taking such names reminds us again that we are being drawn into the Communion of Saints, and at the same time that great models of Christian living are set before us. London is particularly proud of two outstanding saints, great men also by the world’s standards, contributors to your national heritage, John Fisher and Thomas More.
As the prophet Ezekiel reminds us, it is the Lord himself who is the true shepherd of this New People. He himself pastures his sheep. He shows them where to rest: “As a shepherd keeps all his flock in view … so shall I keep my sheep in view. I shall rescue them from wherever they have been scattered during the mist and the darkness…. I shall look for the lost one, bring back the stray, bandage the wounded and make the weak strong” (Ez. 34,12 and 16).
Together we shall renew our baptismal promises. We shall reject sin, and the glamour of evil, and satan, the father of sin and prince of darkness. We shall profess our faith in one God, in his Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, in the coming of the Holy Spirit, in the Church, in life everlasting. And we shall be responsible for the words we say, and be bound by an alliance with our God.
Brothers and sisters! In order to be faithful to this alliance we must be a people of prayer and deep spirituality. Our society needs to recover a sense of God’s loving presence, and a renewed sense of respect for his will.
Let us learn this from Mary our Mother. In England, “the Dowry of Mary,” the faithful, for centuries, have made pilgrimage, to her shrine at Walsingham. Today Walsingham comes to Wembley, and the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham, present here, lifts our minds to meditate on our Mother. [Note: There was no time in his busy schedule for the Holy Father to visit the main Marian shrine in England, so the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham was transported to Wembley.] She obeyed the will of God fearlessly and gave birth to the Son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. Faithful at the foot of the Cross, she then waited in prayer for the Holy Spirit to descend on the infant Church. It is Mary who will teach us how to be silent, how to listen for the voice of God in the midst of a busy and noisy world. It is Mary who will help us to find time for prayer. Through the Rosary, that great Gospel prayer, she will help us to know Christ. We need to live as she did, in the presence of God, raising our minds and hearts to him in our daily activities and worries.
May your homes become schools of prayer for both parents and children.
God should be the living heart of your family life. Keep Sunday holy. Go to Mass every Sunday. At Mass the people of God gather together in unity around the altar to worship and to intercede. At Mass you exercise the great privilege of your Baptism: to praise God in union with Christ his Son; to praise God in union with his Church.
Brothers and sisters, to be faithful to our alliance with God we must be, not only a people that prays, but also a people that does the will of the heavenly Father. Again it is Mary who teaches us how. Through her obedience she accepted the whole of God’s plan for her life. And in doing so she achieved greatness. “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1,45).
We express our real acceptance of Christ’s word by respecting the moral demands of our Christian vocation. And the fulfillment of these demands is an act of loving obedience to the person of Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word of God. If our faith is strong, the moral demands of the Christian life—although at times they are difficult to fulfill and although they always require an effort and grace—will seem neither unreasonable nor impossible. Certainly, our fidelity to the Gospel will put us at odds with the spirit of the “present age.” Yes, we are in the world, indeed as disciples of Christ we are sent into the world, but we do not belong to the world (cf. Jn 17, 16-18). The conflict between certain values of the world and the values of the Gospel is an inescapable part of the Church’s life, just as it is an inescapable part of the life of each one of us. And it is here that we must draw on the “patience” which Saint Paul spoke to us about in the second reading. We groan inwardly as we await our salvation, in hope and with patience (cf. Rom. 8,23-25).
I have often spoken of the decline of respect for the fundamental moral values that are essential to the Christian life. Indeed, moral values are essential to the life of all human beings as free agents created in the image and likeness of God, and destined to a higher creation.
The world has largely lost respect for human life from the moment of conception. It is weak in upholding the indissoluble unity of marriage. It fails to support the stability and holiness of family life. There is a crisis of truth and responsibility in human relationships. Selfishness abounds. Sexual permissiveness and drug addiction ruin the lives of millions of human beings. International relations are fraught with tensions, often because of excessive inequalities and unjust economic, social, cultural and political structures, and because of slowness in applying the needed remedies. Underlying all of this there is often a false concept of man and his unique dignity, and a thirst for power rather than a desire to serve.
Are we Christians to agree with such a state of affairs? Are we to call this progress? Are we to shrug our shoulders and say that nothing can be done to change all this?
My brothers and sisters, the essence of our Christian vocation consists in being “light” and “salt” for the world we live in. Let us not be afraid: “The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness” (Rom. 8,26).
Keep in mind that picture of Mary and the Apostles gathered together at Pentecost in Jerusalem. Remember that the same Holy Spirit who filled their minds and hearts also fills the whole Church today. And he brings us the loveliest and the most powerful gifts: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5,22).
Let us really accept the words of Jesus: “If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink” (Jn. 7,37). Then we shall receive his gift: “Out of our hearts shall flow rivers of living water…. Now he said this about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive.” Then, in the power of the Spirit we shall become a people that prays: indeed, the Spirit himself will pray in us and for us (cf. Rom. 8,26). And we shall become a holy people.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, realize the greatness of your Christian vocation. Christ has called you out of darkness into his own wonderful light. Consider what God has done for you in Baptism, and lift up your eyes and see the final glory that awaits you.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, you are very great.
O Lord how manifold are all your works.
When you send forth your Spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth” Amen
(Ps. 104,1, 24 and 30). Amen
Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, as we are born of the water and the Spirit. Baptism is necessary for salvation (John 3:5), and conveys a permanent sign that the new Christian is a child of God. Jesus himself was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist (Mark 1:9-11). The martyr St. Ignatius of Antioch, in his Letter to the Ephesians written about 100 AD, stated that Jesus “Christ was baptized, that by himself submitting he might purify the water.” Baptism is prefigured in the Old Testament through the saving of Noah and his family during the Flood (Genesis 7:12-23, 1 Peter 3:20-21), and Moses crossing of the Red Sea during the Exodus, leaving captivity for the Promised Land (Exodus 14:1-22).
The Greek word baptizein means to “immerse, plunge, or dip.” The infant or candidate is anointed with the oil of catechumens, followed by the parents, godparents, or candidate making the profession of faith. The essential rite of Baptism consists of the minister immersing the baby or person in water or pouring water on his head, while pronouncing “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” The infant or candidate is then anointed with sacred chrism.
What has taken place in Baptism is indicated by the rites that follow it, the clothing in the white garment and giving of the lighted candle: the baptized person has “put on Christ” and has now become light.
Here are three Scriptural sources in the New Testament (See also Matthew 3:13-17, Luke 3:21-22; Acts 1:21-22; Romans 6:3-4; Ephesians 4:5; Colossians 2:11-13, I Peter 3:21):
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
Gospel of Matthew 28:19-20
“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened
and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove;
and a voice came from heaven,
“Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased.”
Gospel of Mark 1:9-11
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit,
he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
Gospel of John 3:5
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all”
First Letter of Paul to Timothy 2:5
A sacrament is an outward efficacious sign instituted by Christ to give grace. Jesus Christ himself is the sacrament, as he gave his life to save mankind. His humanity is the outward sign or the instrument of his Divinity. It is through his humanity that the life of the Trinity comes to us as grace through the sacraments. It is Jesus Christ alone who mediates the sacraments to allow grace to flow to mankind.
Christ sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to inspire his Apostles and his Church to shepherd his flock after his Ascension into heaven. “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (John 17:18, 20:21). Jesus is the Head of his Body the Church (Colossians 1:18). The Church itself is a sacrament instituted by Christ to give grace. Jesus gave us his Body the Church to continue the works he performed during his earthly life. Grace given to us through the sacraments will help us lead a good life in this world and help save us for the Kingdom of Heaven.
The sacraments were instituted by Christ and were part of the Liturgical Tradition of the early Christian Church. The Church celebrates in her liturgy the Paschal mystery of Christ, his Sacrifice on the Cross, Death and Resurrection. The Greek word μυστήριον or mystery in the Greek New Testament is translated into sacramentum in the Latin Vulgate Bible, from which we derive our English word sacrament (examples: Ephesians 1:9, Ephesians 3:9, Colossians 1:27). The saving effects of Christ’s Redemption on the Cross are communicated through the sacraments, especially in the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist. The sacraments to this day are called mysteries in the Eastern Churches.
Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic, as well as Eastern Orthodox Churches all recognize the seven sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. The three sacraments of Christian Initiation are Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist. The two sacraments of Healing are Penance and the Anointing of the Sick, and the two sacraments of Vocation are Holy Orders and Marriage. Three sacraments, Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, are given once, as they render a permanent seal or character upon one’s soul (2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Ephesians 4:30, Revelations 7:3).
The Gospel of Mark 5:25-34 describes a woman afflicted with hemorrhage who touched the cloak of Jesus and was immediately healed. There is a fourth century fresco painting in the catacomb of Sts. Marcellinus and Peter depicting this event, which serves as an apt symbol of Sacrament – the power that flows out from the body of Jesus, in order to effect both remission of sin and new life in Christ. The fresco image frames Part II of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Liturgy and the Sacraments, The Celebration of the Christian Mystery. St. Thomas Aquinas, in the Summa Theologica, has written the standard exposition on the Seven Sacraments.
Each sacrament consists of a visible external rite, which is composed of matter and form, the matter being the action, such as the pouring of water, and the form being the words spoken by the minister. Each sacramental rite confers a special ecclesial effect and sacramental grace appropriate for each sacrament. The sacraments occur at pivotal events and give meaning to a person’s life.
The sacraments act ex opere operato, by the very fact of the action being performed, independent of the minister. The effect on the person receiving the sacrament is called ex opere operantis, and depends on the interior disposition of the receiver.
Grace is a favor, the free and undeserved gift from God through Christ Jesus, to help us respond to his call to become children of God, to become partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life. Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is a participation in the life of God and is necessary for salvation
“And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.
Gospel of John 1:14
They are justified freely by his grace
through the redemption in Christ Jesus,
whom God set forth as an expiation, through faith, by his blood,
to prove his righteousness because of the forgiveness of sins previously committed,
through the forbearance of God –
to prove his righteousness in the present time,
that he might be righteous and justify the one who has faith in Jesus.
Letter of St. Paul to the Romans 3:24-26
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.
In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions,
in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.
In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us the mystery
of his will in accord with his favor that he set forth in him
as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.
Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians 1:3-10