The Holy Father’s Prayer Intention for August 2019
That families, through their life of prayer and love, become ever more clearly “schools of true human growth.”
“The family is the foundation of co-existence and a remedy against social fragmentation. Children have a right to grow up in a family, with a father and a mother, capable of creating a suitable environment, for the child’s development and emotional maturity.”
Pope Francis, Humanum Conference, November 17, 2014
Pope Francis Prayer for the Family
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
in you we contemplate
the splendour of true love,
to you we turn with trust.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer,
authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic Churches.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again
experience violence, rejection and division.
May all who have been hurt or scandalised
find ready comfort and healing.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
make us once more mindful
of the sacredness
and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God’s plan.
Jesus, true God and true man,
graciously hear our prayer.
Mary and Joseph,
co-operators with God’s plan,
pray for us.
(composed for the Synod on the Family and therefore, slightly adapted)
August – The Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
The Catholic Church dedicates the month of August to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Immaculate Heart is often venerated together with the Sacred Heart of Jesus (the devotion we celebrate in June) and, with good reason. 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.
There is no better example of the Christian life than that offered by Mary. We do not worship Mary or place her above Christ, but we come to Christ through Mary, as Christ came to us through her.
Daily Prayer for August for the Intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
O Most Blessed Mother,
heart of love, heart of mercy,
ever listening, caring, consoling, hear our prayer.
As your children, we implore your intercession,
with Jesus your Son.
Receive with understanding and compassion,
the petitions we place before you today,
especially those so deep in our heart.
We are comforted in knowing your heart is ever open
to those who ask for your prayer.
We trust to your gentle care and intercession,
those whom we love
and who are sick or lonely or hurting.
Help all of us, Holy Mother,
to bear our burdens in this life,
until we may share eternal life and peace
with God, our Father forever.
Thought for the Day – 1 August – Thursday of the Seventeenth week in Ordinary Time, Year C and the Feast of St Peter in Chains
Homily of St Augustine
Peter alone among the Apostles was accounted worthy to hear – A – men I say to thee, that thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church. Worthy indeed was he, to be the foundation-stone, the supporting pillar, the key to the kingdom, in building up the peoples into the house of God. Concerning this, the divine word says – And they laid, it says, their sick, that when Peter passed by, his shadow at the least might fall on them. If at that time the shadow of his body could give aid, how much more now can the fullness of his power? If a mere breath of air from him, as he passed by, was of such benefit to suppliants, how much more his favour now that he remains steadfast? With good reason is the iron of those Penal chains held throughout all the churches of Christ to be more precious than gold.
If the shadow of him who visited was so potent to cure, how much more the chains of him who binds? If even the mere appearance of an empty image could have the force of healing in it, how much more healthfulness should the chains, with which he suffered, whose iron weight had pressed upon his sacred members, deserve to draw forth from his body? If he was so mighty to help his suppliants before his martyrdom, how much more must he avail after his triumph?
Happy those bonds, which by touching the Apostle rendered him a Martyr and so from manacles and fetters themselves were changed into a crown! Happy chains, which brought their prisoner even unto the cross of Christ, not so much for condemnation as for consecration!
Jesus said to His disciples – Who do men say that the Son of Man is? Peter answered and said – Thou art Christ, the son of the living God. And I say to thee – that thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church!
Hymn The Chains of Saint Peter
How blessed is the force of prayer!
Eager for Peter’s fate,
Thy soldiers, Herod, bound him fast,
And watch’d before the gate.
But Jesus has His soldiers, too,
They also vigils keep,
They watch to prayer, while Peter rests
In faith composed in sleep.
And Jesus other soldiers has,
Responsive to the call
Of prayer His holy angels come,
Sent by the Lord of all.
Prayer brought an angel down from heaven,
Sentries and bars are vain,
With heavenly light the prison shines,
Unlocked is Peter’s chain.
Quote/s of the Day – 1 August – Thursday of the Seventeenth week in Ordinary Time, Year C and the Memorial of St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Doctor of the Church
“Were you to ask, ‘what are the mans of overcoming temptations’, I would answer: the first means is prayer, the second is prayer, the third is prayer and should you ask me a thousand times, I would repeat the same.”
“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.”
“Without prayer, we have neither light nor strength, to advance in the way which leads to God.”
“He who prays most receives most.”
“Of all devotions, that of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the greatest, after the sacraments, the one dearest to God and the one most helpful to us.”
St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Doctor of the Church
One Minute Reflection – 1 August – Thursday of the Seventeenth week in Ordinary Time, Year C, Gospel: Matthew 13:47–53 and the Memorial of St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Doctor of the Church
“Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” … Matthew 13:49-50
REFLECTION – “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 Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Doctor of the Church
PRAYER – Almighty God and Father, grant us this day the grace to live in Your light and follow your precepts. Desert us not in our temptations but grant us Your strength against the power of the evil one. May our deeds be ever true to Your commandments and our thoughts pleasing in Your sight. May the pattern and prayers of St Alphonsus be an inspiration on our way. Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God for all eternity, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 1 August – Thursday of the Seventeenth week in Ordinary Time, Year C and the Memorial of St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Doctor of the Church
Prayer of Saint Alphonsus to the Holy Spirit
You made Mary full of grace
and inflamed the hearts of the apostles
with a holy zeal.
Inflame our hearts with Your love
You are the spirit of goodness,
Give us the courage to confront evil
You are fire,
Set us ablaze with Your love
You are light,
Enlighten our minds,
that we may see what is truly important.
You are the dove,
Give us gentleness
You are a soothing breeze,
Bring calm to the storms that rage within us.
You are the tongue,
May our lips ever sing God’s praises
You are the cloud,
Shelter us under the shadow of Your protection
O Holy Spirit,
melt the frozen,
warm the chilled
and enkindle in us an earnest desire to please You.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
1 August – The Feast of Saint Peter in Chains
The feast was originally kept in Rome, Italy to commemorate the dedication of the Church of Saint Peter on the Esquiline Hill built by Eudoxia Licinia in 442 and rebuilt by Adrian I in the 8th century. When the chains which Saint Peter had worn in prison and from which he was freed by angelic intervention were later venerated there, the feast received its present name.
The date when these chains were brought from Jerusalem is disputed – some claim they were brought in 116 by travellers sent in search of them by Saint Balbina and her father Saint Quirinus, while others think Saint Eudoxia brought them in 439. St Pope Leo the Great united them to the chains with which Saint Peter had been fettered in the Mamertine Prison, forming a chain about two yards long which is preserved in a bronze safe and guarded by a special confraternity. Patronages – diocese of Annecy, France, Donnas, Italy.
The Feast was removed from the Liturgical Calendar as a separate feast in 1962 but is celebrated together with the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul on 29 June. See the Getty image below.
St Peter in Chains
by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876
The Holy Church, today, celebrates a special feast in commemoration of the great benefit which God bestowed upon His people by miraculously delivering St Peter, the visible head of the church, from prison. The entire event is described in the Acts of the Apostles, by St Luke. Herod Agrippa, a son of Aristobulus, favored by the Roman Emperor Claudius, ruled over Judaea, with the title of king. To give more stability to his reign, he endeavoured to make himself beloved by the Jews, for which there was no easier way than to persecute the Christians, especially those who fearlessly proclaimed the Gospel of Christ, as did the holy Apostles. He had, therefore, apprehended and soon after beheaded, James the Great, brother of St John, which bloody deed gave the Jews great satisfaction. To increase this, Herod commanded them to seize St Peter, intending to make away with him in the same manner. His command was executed, Peter was taken prisoner, chained and locked in a narrow dungeon, which was guarded so vigilantly, that he could not escape. It was then near the Easter Festival, after which St Peter was to be beheaded. The Christians, in deep distress, were praying day and night, that the Almighty would not permit His flock to be so soon deprived of its shepherd.
There was no human power to save him but God, hearing the prayer of His people, delivered him by a miracle. On the eve of the day on which he was to be executed, God sent an Angel to set him free. Although heavily laden with chains, the holy Apostle slept peacefully, guarded by the soldiers. The Angel, who by his brightness, illumined the dungeon, struck him on the side and awakened him, saying: “Arise quickly. Gird thyself; put on thy sandals and cloak and follow me.” The Apostle, whose chains had fallen from his hands and who thought it all a dream, obeyed and followed the Angel. They passed the first and second watches without attracting their attention and reached the iron gate which led into the street. The gate opened without the aid of human hands.
After having conducted St Peter through one street, the Angel vanished and was seen no more. Not until then did the holy Apostle realise that his deliverance was not a dream but a reality. Hence he began to praise the Almighty, exclaiming: “Now I know truly that the Lord has sent his Angel and delivered me out of the hands of Herod and from all the expectation of the people of Judaea.” He proceeded immediately to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where the faithful were assembled in prayer.
When he knocked at the door, a servant, named Rhode, came and asked who was there. Judging by the voice that it was Peter, she was so greatly startled with joy and astonishment, that, without opening the door, she ran back to announce the news. They all believed that she was insane but as she reiterated her words, some said that it must be his guardian Angel. Meanwhile, the Saint repeated his knocking at the door. They opened it and perceived, with amazement, their beloved shepherd safe and free from chains. Their joy on beholding him was as great as had been their grief when he was taken prisoner. Having given the sign for silence, St Peter related all that had happened to him. They all gave thanks to Divine Providence when he had ended and learned to trust in future to the heavenly power and mercy.
Among the sermons of St Chrysostom, there is one in which he asserts, that the chains by which St Peter had been bound to the ground, came into the possession of the Christians soon after his deliverance and were held by them in great honour. Eudoxia, wife of the emperor Theodosius the Younger, received them as a present from the patriarch Juvenal, when on a visit to the holy places and sent one of them to the Church at Constantinople. The other she gave to her daughter Eudoxia, who married the Emperor Valentinian III. Eudoxia showed the chain to Pope Sixtus III., who, on his part, showed her the one with which St Peter had been bound, before the Emperor Nero sentenced him to die. No sooner had the two chains been held together, than they suddenly united as if they had been but one chain and forged by the same hand. This miracle increased the veneration in which these chains were held and actuated Eudoxia to build a special church at Rome for their keeping, where they can still be seen. Many sick were healed by their touch and many possessed were delivered, among the latter was a Count of the court of the Emperor Otho, who, in the year 969, was sent to Rome to be freed from the Evil Spirit. Pope John XIII had hardly touched the count’s neck with the holy chains, when he was relieved and his torments were ended.
St Gregory the Great, writes that it was considered a great happiness to possess a few particles filed off from these chains and that many persons devoutly wore them enclosed in golden crosses and lockets around their necks. Experience has shown that the touch of these crosses or lockets has restored health to many a sick person. A nobleman, who scoffed at this and, in derision, dared to break one of these crosses, was severely chastised. He was instantly possessed by the Evil One and became so enraged that he took his own life, as St Gregory relates. St Augustine states that the iron of these precious chains is justly esteemed far above gold. Blessed are those fetters which touched the apostle and made him a martyr. “The touch of the blessed limbs of St Peter has sanctified the instruments of torture.” In another place the same Saint says: “If the shadow of St Peter possessed a healing virtue, how much greater power must the chains of his sufferings have derived from him.”