Catholic Devotion for the Month of August – The Immaculate Heart of Mary

Catholic Devotion for the Month of August:  The Immaculate Heart of Mary

The month of August is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart.   Since the 16th century Catholic piety has assigned entire months to special devotions.  The month of August is traditionally dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.   The physical heart of Mary is venerated (and not adored as the Sacred Heart of Jesus is) because it is united to her person and is the seat of her love (especially for her divine Son), virtue and inner life. Such devotion is an incentive to a similar love and virtue.   Just as the Sacred Heart represents Christ’s love for mankind, the Immaculate Heart represents the desire of the Blessed Virgin to bring all people to her Son.

This devotion has received new emphasis in this century from the visions given to Lucy Dos Santos, oldest of the visionaries of Fatima, in her convent in Tuy, in Spain, in 1925 and 1926.   In the visions Our Lady asked for the practice of the Five First Saturdays to help make amends for the offenses committed against her heart by the blasphemies and ingratitude of men.   The practice parallels the devotion of the Nine First Fridays in honour of the Sacred Heart.

In the midst of the second world war Pope Pius XII put the whole world under the special protection of our Saviour’s Mother by consecrating it to her Immaculate Heart and in 1944 he decreed that in the future the whole Church should celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.   This is not a new devotion.   In the seventeenth century, St. John Eudes preached it together with that of the Sacred Heart;  in the nineteenth century, Pius VII and Pius IX allowed several churches to celebrate a feast of the Pure Heart of Mary.   Pius XII instituted today’s feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the whole Church, so as to obtain by her intercession “peace among nations, freedom for the Church, the conversion of sinners, the love of purity and the practice of virtue” (Decree of May 4, 1944).   On October 31, 1942, Pope Pius XII made a solemn Act of Consecration of the Church and the whole world to the Immaculate Heart.   Let us remember this devotion year-round, but particularly through the month of August.

devotion for august - the immaculate heart of mary


Novena to St Dominic – DAY THREE – 1 August

Novena to St Dominic

Third Day:  Compunction of Heart
Those who fear the Lord seek to please him, those who love him are filled with his law. Those who fear the Lord prepare their hearts and humble themselves before him. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord and not into the hands of men, for equal to his majesty is the mercy that he shows. (Sirach 2: 16-18)


Though so pure that Holy Church calls him “Ivory of Chastity” and Christian art puts a lily into his hands, Dominic was always weeping over sin.   His soul being full of contrition, acts of sorrow were constantly upon his lips.   On seeing towns or villages, he used to weep over the sins committed there against God.   But this sorrow was not merely hidden in the soul;  it bore fruit in works of penance.   Three times every night he scourged himself:  once for his own sins, once for those of others and once for the suffering souls.   He was a rule of abstinence, even on journeys never eating meat or food cooked with meat.   His fasts were strict and continual; even when traveling over Europe on foot, he fasted from September until Easter, though preaching daily.   He never had a room of his own but slept anywhere: on the ground, a bench, or the altar step.   Being a zealous lover of the rule, he punished faults but with such fatherly love that penance was accepted and even desired from his hands.

“If you have no sins of your own to weep for,” St. Dominic would say, “still weep, after the example of our Lord Jesus Christ and grieve for the sinners of the world that they may repent.”

Anyone who does not take up his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:27)

Pray for us, blessed father, St. Dominic, That we may be made worthy of the prom­ises of Christ.

Let us pray:

O zealous preacher of penance,
Holy Father St. Dominic,
whose ardent desire for the salvation of souls,
made you ever ready to endure the greatest labours and fatigues
and even to give your life in order to win them to God,
pray for us, that treading in the steps of Jesus Crucified,
the Redeemer and Physician of souls,
we may disregard all suffering
and generously sacrifice ourselves
for the needs of others.
Grant us we pray, true contrition and
sadness for our sins and for those of all the world.
Teach us how to do penance for all the pain we cause
our Lord and Saviour.
Pray too Holy St Dominic,
that our penance may draw back those
who have lapsed from the one, true faith
and for this our special intention …
(make your request)
Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen


Posted in MORNING Prayers, NOVENAS

NOVENA in Honour of and preparation for, the Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord – Day Five – 1 August

NOVENA Transfiguration of our Lord – Day Five – 1 August

Explanation of this Novena here:

The Revelation of Christ’s Divine Glory

Fifth Day: For all the Church

The transfiguration anticipates the paschal mystery which begins with the cross. Jesus can attain His permanent glory in his resurrection. But first He must die on the cross. Transfiguration appears as a preparation and strengthening for the disciples to face the coming passion and death of Jesus, when His glory seems most unseen. It was given to the disciples to prepare them for the tragedy of the cross.

Let us Pray:

O Christ,
before Your passion and death
You revealed the resurrection
to Your disciple on Mount Tabor;
we pray for Your holy church
which labours amid the cares
and anxieties of this world,
that in its trials we, who are the Church,
may always be transfigured
by the joy of Your Victory. Amen


Posted in MORNING Prayers, NOVENAS

Novena In Honour of Saint John Marie Vianney – Day Seven– 1 August

Novena In Honour of Saint John Marie Vianney

DAY SEVEN – We Pray for strength against SATAN

Let us Pray:

O Holy Priest of Ars,
the infamous attacks of the devil
which you had to suffer
and the trials which disheartened you by fatigue,
would not make you give up the sublime task of converting souls.
The devil came to you for many years to disturb your short rest
but you won because of mortification and prayers.
Powerful protector,
you know the temptor’s desire to harm my baptised and believing soul.
He would have me sin, by rejecting the Holy Sacraments
and the life of virtue.
But good Saint of Ars dispel from me the traces of the enemy.
Holy Priest of Ars,
I have confidence in your intercession.
Pray for me during this novena especially for …
(mention silently your special intentions).
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.


Posted in IGNATIAN/JESUIT SJ- Reflections, Jesuit Saints and more, MORNING Prayers, SAINT of the DAY

Thought for the Day – 1 August – The Feast of St Peter Faber S.J.

Thought for the Day – 1 August – The Feast of St Peter Faber S.J.

Annuncio vobis gaudium magnum! On 13 November 2013 Pope Francis announced the canonisation of Pierre Favre, SJ, aka Peter Faber (1506-46).   For many Catholics the response was probably, “Who?”

For most Jesuits, though, the response was probably, “Finally!”   For Pierre Favre has been a Blessed since…1872. Francis has announced this as an “equivalent canonization,” as Pope Benedict XVI had done with the canonization of St Hildegard of Bingen.   In these cases the devotion to the saint is already well established.

In the Pope’s recent interview in America, he singled out for praise the man often called the “Second Jesuit.”   The Pope was asked the reason for his devotion to this “First Companion” of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. “[Pierre Favre’s] dialogue with all,” said the pope, “even the most remote and even with his opponents;  his simple piety, a certain naïveté perhaps, his being available straightaway, his careful interior discernment, the fact that he was a man capable of great and strong decisions but also capable of being so gentle and loving.”   Favre spent a great deal of his Jesuit life working with Protestants during the explosive time of the Reformation; and, as the pope intimated, he always did so with great openness and charity–during a time when they were called “heretics.”

One of my favorite quotes from Pierre–no, my favorite–is: “Take care, take care, never to close your heart to anyone.”

Favre was said by St. Ignatius to be the man best suited to direct others in the Spiritual Exercises–quite an accolade from the author of the Exercises.   But, surprisingly, Favre’s story is not nearly as well known as those of his two famous college roommates, Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier.   (When I once asked an elderly Jesuit why Favre was still a Blessed and not a saint, he said,  “Even in heaven he is humble! He doesn’t want to place himself on par with Ignatius and Xavier.”)   Many Jesuits are devoted to this humble spiritual master: the new Jesuit residence at Boston College for men in formation is named after him–though they may have to sandblast the “Blessed” on the stone sign in front of the house.   But he still languishes in relative obscurity.   Or will for another month.   Indeed, that so many writers can’t even agree on a standard way of referring to the man–you will see, variously, the original French “Pierre Favre,” the somewhat modified Anglo-French “Peter Favre,” and the totally Anglicized “Peter Faber”–is an indication of the lack of attention given him.   That of course changes with the canonisation.

For Favre, a man troubled all his life by a “scrupulous” conscience, that is, an excessive self-criticism, Ignatius was a literal godsend. “He gave me an understanding of my conscience,” wrote Favre.   Ultimately, Ignatius led Peter through the Spiritual Exercises, something that dramatically altered Favre’s worldview.

This happened despite some very different backgrounds.   And here is one area where Ignatius and his friends highlight an insight on relationships: friends need not be cut from the same cloth.   The friend with whom you the least in common may be the most helpful for your personal growth.   Ignatius and Peter had, until they met, led radically different lives.   Peter came to Paris at age 19 after what his biographer called his “humble birth,” having spent his youth in the fields as a shepherd.   Imbued with a simple piety toward Mary, the saints, relics, processions, and shrines and also angels, Peter clung to the simple faith of his childhood.   Ignatius, on the other hand, had spent many years as a courtier and some of them as a soldier, undergone a dramatic conversion, subjected himself to extreme penances, wandered to Rome and the Holy Land in pursuit of his goal of following God’s will.

One friend had seen little of the world; the other much.   One had always found religion a source of solace;  the other had proceeded to God along a tortuous path.

Ultimately, Ignatius helped Peter to arrive at some important decisions through the freedom offered in the Spiritual Exercises.   Peter’s indecision before this moment sounds refreshingly modern, much like the frustrating indecision of any college student today.   He wrote about it in his journals:

“Before that–I mean before having settled on the course of my life through the help given to me by God through Inigo–I was always very unsure of myself and blown about by many winds:  sometimes wishing to be married, sometimes a doctor, sometimes a lawyer, sometimes a professor of theology, sometimes a cleric without a degree–at times wishing me to be a monk.”

In time, Peter decided to join Ignatius on his new path, whose ultimate destination was still unclear.   Peter, sometimes called the “Second Jesuit,” was enthusiastic about the risky venture from the start.  “In the end,” he writes, “we became one in desire and will and one in a firm resolve to take up the life we lead today….”   His friend changed his life.   Later, Ignatius would say that Favre was the most skilled of all the Jesuits in giving the Spiritual Exercises.   From The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything.

So dear humble St Peter, we ask of you to pray that we too may become humble in the service of our Lord. Please pray for us!

st peter faber pray for us

Posted in IGNATIAN/JESUIT SJ- Reflections, Jesuit Saints and more, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY

Quote/s of the Day – 1 August – Memorials of St Alphonsus Liquori of St Peter Faber S.J.

Quote/s of the Day – 1 August – Memorials of St Alphonsus Liquori and of St Peter Faber S.J.

“Know also that you will probably gain more
by praying fifteen minutes
before the Blessed Sacrament
than by all the other spiritual exercises of the day.
True, Our Lord hears our prayers anywhere,
for He has made the promise, ‘Ask, and you shall receive,’
but He has revealed to His servants,
that those who visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament
will obtain a more abundant measure of grace.”

know also that you will probably gain more - st alphonsus

“Your God is ever beside you –
indeed, He is even within you.”


“St Augustine and St Thomas
define mortal sin
to be a turning away from God:
that is, the turning of one’s back upon God,
leaving the Creator for the sake of the creature.
What punishment would that subject deserve who,
while his king was giving him a command,
contemptuously turned his back upon him to go
and transgress his orders?
This is what the sinner does;
and this is punished in hell with the pain of loss,
that is, the loss of God,
a punishment richly deserved by him
who in this life turns his back upon his sovereign good.”

st augustine and st thomas define mortal sin - st alphonsus

“Let us thank God
for having called us to His holy faith.
It is a great gift
and the number of those,
who thank God for it is small.”

St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Doctor of the Church

let us thank god for having called us - st alphonsus

“Seek grace in the smallest things
and you will find also grace,
to accomplish,
to believe in
and to hope for
the greatest things.”

St Peter Faber S.J.

seek grace in the smallest things - st peter faber