Pope Francis’ Top 10 Secrets to Happiness


In latest interview, Pope Francis Reveals Top 10 Secrets to Happiness

 VATICAN CITY (CNS) By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service: Slowing down, being generous and fighting for peace are part of Pope Francis’ secret recipe for happiness.


In an interview published in part in the Argentine weekly “Viva” July 27, the pope listed his top 10 tips for bringing greater joy to one’s life:


1. “Live and let live.” Everyone should be guided by this principle, he said, which has a similar expression in Rome with the saying, “Move forward and let others do the same.”


2. “Be giving of yourself to others.” People need to be open and generous toward others, he said, because “if you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid.”


3. “Proceed calmly” in life. The pope, who used to teach high school literature, used an image from an Argentine novel by Ricardo Guiraldes, in which the protagonist — gaucho Don Segundo Sombra — looks back on how he lived his life.

“He says that in his youth he was a stream full of rocks that he carried with him; as an adult, a rushing river; and in old age, he was still moving, but slowly, like a pool” of water, the pope said. He said he likes this latter image of a pool of water — to have “the ability to move with kindness and humility, a calmness in life.”


4. “A healthy sense of leisure.” The pleasures of art, literature and playing together with children have been lost, he said. “Consumerism has brought us anxiety” and stress, causing people to lose a “healthy culture of leisure.” Their time is “swallowed up” so people can’t share it with anyone. Even though many parents work long hours, they must set aside time to play with their children; work schedules make it “complicated, but you must do it,” he said. Families must also turn off the TV when they sit down to eat because, even though television is useful for keeping up with the news, having it on during mealtime “doesn’t let you communicate” with each other, the pope said.


5. Sundays should be holidays. Workers should have Sundays off because “Sunday is for family,” he said.


6. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people. “We need to be creative with young people. If they have no opportunities they will get into drugs” and be more vulnerable to suicide, he said.  “It’s not enough to give them food,” he said. “Dignity is given to you when you can bring food home” from one’s own labor.


7. Respect and take care of nature. Environmental degradation “is one of the biggest challenges we have,” he said. “I think a question that we’re not asking ourselves is: ‘Isn’t humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature?’”


8. Stop being negative. “Needing to talk badly about others indicates low self-esteem. That means, ‘I feel so low that instead of picking myself up I have to cut others down,’” the pope said. “Letting go of negative things quickly is healthy.”


9. Don’t proselytize; respect others’ beliefs. “We can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyzes: ‘I am talking with you in order to persuade you,’ No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church grows by attraction, not proselytizing,” the pope said.


10. Work for peace. “We are living in a time of many wars,” he said, and “the call for peace must be shouted. Peace sometimes gives the impression of being quiet, but it is never quiet, peace is always proactive” and dynamic.


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5 Tips for Staying Catholic in College


Going to college is a bit of an adventure. It is a time to discern what God is calling you to do with the young years of your life, and a time to embrace life wholeheartedly. It is a huge change, an occasionally difficult journey, and for many people, it brings the most fun, joy, and new friendships they have ever experienced.


There are plenty of opportunities for spiritual growth in college. But you have to take them, even search for them. They won’t always be dished out to you. College is a time to actively pursue Catholicism.

In the midst of transitioning to this stage of life, it is easy to let your faith get lost in the flurry of newness, stress and excitement. Fortunately for me, I went to school with some great friends who taught me by example that yes, you can pursue holiness in college (and still have a great time).

Here are some factors that helped strengthen my faith:


Get Involved

Take on at least one weekly activity or commitment that is faith centered.

Take part in service projects, or volunteer to lector at Mass. Especially if you are not at a Catholic school, find a faith support group, people who will hold you to the standards you set for yourself.  Many colleges have a Catholic organization or campus ministry, but if not, look to local parishes and Catholic charities.



Don’t wait ’til the night before a gut-wrenching physics exam to call on God. (Although St. Thomas Aquinas’ Prayer for Students is a great one to say while studying for a big test.  I’m convinced it is solely responsible for my passing grades in chemistry.) Your schedule and lifestyle are likely to change a lot when college begins, and prayer can easily get pushed to the back burner. Schedule time. For prayer,  for Mass, for confession.

Especially confession.prayer-vigil-at-belmont-abbey-college-on-saturday-afternoon-photo-by-mike-hensdill

Put it in your planner.

Eucharistic Adoration was also vital to my spiritual life in college. I went to a small Catholic school in NC (Belmont Abbey College) and was blessed to have access to a 24/7 Adoration chapel next to the dorms. Most of my personal mini ‘crises’ were resolved here. Even when the Eucharist is not exposed, sitting in a quiet chapel with Christ in the Tabernacle is centering, and brings peace and clarity to your situation. It is a place where you can listen and find out what God is calling you to do, or just adore Christ in silence.


Express Your Faith

Be yourself when it comes to living like a Catholic. If you hide your faith, not only will it be weakened, but your friends won’t know the real you.

Being Catholic is a huge part of your identity.

Do you pray before meals at home? Don’t let eating in the cafeteria stop you from making the Sign of the Cross over your pizza. If you have a Crucifix by your bed at home, display it in your dorm. Go to Mass at the beach on spring break. Be proud of your Scapular tan.

You’ll be comfortable from the start, you will attract friends with similar values, and you will create an atmosphere for yourself that reminds you of what you believe.


Make Good Friends

Surround yourself with some people who can provide moral support and who will have a good influence on you.

You will have many acquaintances with whom you don’t see eye to eye on everything, and that is fine. You can appreciate everyone who crosses your path, even when they are fundamentally different. You will even have a chance to share your faith if they ask about it, which often leads to great soul-searching conversations. (I used to wear a tiny Miraculous Medal that became a conversation starter with a non-Catholic friend more than once.)

But your very closest friends should be people who you want to be like spiritually, who are uplifting and who have strong values.

Along the same lines, make sure that if you date someone, their influence is positive for your soul. (And don’t wait until you have been dating for months to ask yourself if they help you grow spiritually…this is a quality that you should look for right off the bat.)



Enjoy Life

Live responsibly but with great joy!

Take many opportunities.

College was one of my greatest learning periods, not only in academics, but also in learning about human nature, my own strengths and weaknesses, and life in general.

If you commit to living with purpose, you will come away with a deeper and more secure relationship with God and a greater appreciation of others.

Don’t let that chance go to waste.


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A Catholic Wedding Gift Guide


Although gift giving is a common practice when celebrating any Sacrament, is it especially true of the Sacrament of Marriage. We love to shower new couples with love as they start a life together. Besides frying pans and bath towels, what are some unique gifts to give a Catholic couple? Here are some suggestions:

Blessings & Heirlooms

Help fill the new couple’s home with faith-based heirlooms to brighten their marriage. Great choices include couple’s rosaries, a beautiful marriage blessing, or a gift piece such as a serving platter, frame or a set of toasting flutes. Since the bride will likely have a new last initial, anything personalized or monogrammed would be thoughtful, too.


If you really know the couple’s decorative style, a piece of religious art makes a great gift. It’s not always something that a young couple can afford to buy for themselves, and it adds a touch of faith and personality to the home.


A Bible will be the most important book on their shelf – check out The Catholic Company’s selection of gift Bibles, many of which can be personalized with the couple’s name or initials. Among others, some great books for newlyweds include Three to Get Married by Ven. Fulton J. Sheen, or The Jeweler’s Shop, a play about love and marriage by Pope St. John Paul II.



Many cultural wedding traditions have been passed down through the generations. Even if these are not a part of your family heritage, you may wish to adopt a new tradition.


In South American cultures, wedding rosary lassos are a popular tradition. During the wedding ceremony, the large rosary is looped around the shoulders of the bride and groom to symbolize their unity.  The rosary may have two loops or a single long loop.


In Irish tradition, an Infant of Prague statue is considered a special wedding infant-prague-heavenly-protector-statue-2007714gift to the newly married couple.

Another Irish custom is the gift of a small wedding bell. The idea is that the couple will keep the bell in their home and ring it when they face a disagreement to remind themselves of their vows and their love.




The claddagh (CLOD – uh) seen on this white wedding bell is also an Irish tradition, signifying loyalty, love and friendship. Whether it adorns a unity candle, a ring or champagne flutes, a claddagh symbol can be a meaningful addition to the wedding day.




UntitledFor more Catholic wedding gifts and ideas, check out our Catholic Wedding Pinterest board.


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Giving God Your Firstfruits


Have you ever experienced those moments at Mass when something said in the homily just hits you between the eyes?

I had that experience recently. I don’t remember anything else about the homily except for the phrase “Give God the firstfruits.”

In the space of just a moment, I thought about how I delay saying my evening prayers until after I’ve done everything else that needs to get done around the house before calling it a night: folding the laundry, loading the dishwasher, taking the dogs out, showering, and a hundred other little tasks before turning the light out and crashing on my pillow.

Often my prayers are the very last thing I do at the end of the day. But by then I’m so tired that I’m just going through the motions, rushing through, reading the words on the page without really praying from my heart.

And forget the time of silent prayer or meditation after saying my vocal prayers . . . it’s past my bedtime and I’m exhausted.

I also thought about all the times when I have the good intentions of getting to Mass early to spend time in quiet prayer, only to let lots of distractions get in the way of walking out the door, with the result of arriving to Mass in the nick of time or even five minutes late.

I thought about all the times I’ve had the idea of making small sacrifices throughout the day, only to forget about them or make up some excuse to neglect following through.

So when my priest mentioned “give God the firstfruits” in passing while going on to make another point —I knew that that passing comment was intended to get at the root of my sloth.

Basically, in that moment I understood clearly that I’ve been putting God off. Delaying to the point of neglect the good and holy inspirations I’ve been given throughout my day. I may follow through eventually, but in a compromised, half-hearted way that is not giving God my best.

It doesn’t really matter that I make an effort to pray daily, in the sense of marking it off my list, if I’m just reciting with a wandering heart and not really praying. That is not giving God my best.

To change things around, when I arrive home for the evening the first thing I should do is say my vocal prayers: the liturgy of the hours, the rosary, the novena I happen to be praying that week, etc. This is how I can give God the firstfruits of my time, and not wait until the last thing when my every bit of my time and energy is used up. Then the other tasks that need doing can have their time until I’m too tired to finish them, rather than being too tired for prayer.

This also applies in other ways, such as my professional life. What if I saw my job as giving God my firstfruits? What would I do differently?

And I’ve begun to think of other ways I can give God my firstfruits. Like waking up 15 minutes early to pray. Making it to Mass an extra day each week. Or spending a half hour in Adoration each week. What if doing this became my first priority, and everything else came next?

Undoubtedly, giving God my firstfruits will be an acceptable sacrifice. Like the sacrifice of Abel the Just, Abel gave his very best to God while Cain’s sacrifice was less than his best.





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Saint Camillus and the Red Cross


Saint Camillus de Lellis is an example how God often plants the seeds of your life’s mission among the ordinary, even sinful, circumstances in which you find yourself. In the end, by the grace of God, all things truly will work together for your good and His glory, and it is never too late to amend your life and endeavor to become a saint.

Saint Camillus and the Red Cross

St. Camillus de Lellis (1550 – 1614) was a true ruffian; a wild, undisciplined youth grown up into a battle-hardened soldier, complete with a violent temper and a gambling addiction.  His foul behavior and bad habits, combined with a persistent war wound in his leg, left him in utter poverty.

He eventually found work doing odd jobs at a Capuchin friary, yet while still clinging to his wayward ways. Gradually the good influence that the friars provided inspired him to a better life. Camillus eventually experienced a true religious conversion.saints7-8

He sought to enter the Franciscan Order, but was unable to be accepted due to his leg wound, which refused to heal and caused him much suffering. Yet this “thorn in his side” that kept him from joining the Capuchins was a stepping stone to God’s greater plans for this rough and gruff man.

After leaving the Capuchins, Camillus moved to Rome and worked for a hospital that took care of patients with incurable illnesses, just as he experienced personally with his leg wound.  He became a caregiver at the hospital and later its Director, while himself living a reformed life of penance and virtue.

Camillus discovered that his patients often received poor attention from the hospital staff. He sought to rectify this, devoting the rest of his life to providing excellent care for the sick, in whom he saw the face of Christ.

He felt called by God to establish a religious order of men committed to helping the most ill, even at the risk of one’s own well-being. With the advice of his friend and spiritual director, St. Philip Neri, Camillus established the Order of Clerics Regular, Ministers to the Sick (M.I.), better known as the Order of St. Camillus, or simply the Camillians. For this task he studied for the priesthood and was ordained at the late age of 34.

The fundamental charism of his Order was to bring medical care to anyone in need of treatment. It is said that he taught his followers that the “hospital was a house of God, a garden where the voices of the sick were music from heaven.”

In addition to serving in hospitals, his Order was also known for the special task of aiding the sick and injured on the battlefield, making a full circle back to the early life of this soldier-turned-saint who was himself wounded on the battlefield.

The Order of St. Camillus developed into a worldwide relief effort of like-minded medical workers who seek to follow Christ through ministering to the sick.

01-Giovani-Camill-a-BucchiaThe sign or habit St. Camillus chose for his Order is a large, simple red cross on the front of the priest’s black cassock, “a symbol universally recognized today as the sign of charity and service. This was the original Red Cross, hundreds of years before the International Red Cross Organization was formed.” To this day, the Red Cross is the international symbol of medical care.

St. Camillus de Lellis’ legacy continues today. He has been named, along with St. John of God, patron of the sick, hospitals, nurses, and physicians. His feast day is July 18th.

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Our Lady of Mt. Carmel’s Brown Scapular: What You Need to Know


The brown scapular is a sacramental sign of special devotion to Our Lady. Do you wear a scapular? Should you? Read more below!

The History of the Brown Scapular

The scapular originated hundreds of years ago as two large pieces of cloth, attached at the shoulders with narrow strips, that covered the front and back of a monk’s habit. The word ‘scapular’ is derived from the Latin word ‘scapula’, or shoulder blade. It was originally worn for the practical purpose of preserving the habit from dirt and wear, but over the centuries became associated with specific devotions, and is now worn in smaller form as a sacramental of the Church.

There are more than a dozen types of scapulars approved by the Church: white scapulars, green scapulars and many others, each associated with a different devotion to Our Lady, Our Lord, a saint, a Religious Order, etc., and worn as a sign of special consecration to that devotion.

The first, and still the most popular scapular, is the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

The Carmelites

According to tradition, in the year 1251 a Carmelite superior general by the name of St. Simon Stock lived in Cambridge, England. St. Simon was praying during this time for heavenly intercession for his Order, as the Carmelites were facing trials and oppression.

On July 16th, 1251, he received an apparition from Our Lady. She handed him a Brown Scapular, saying,

“Receive, my beloved son, this Scapular of thy Order; it is the special sign of my favor, which I have obtained for thee and for thy children of Mount Carmel. He who dies clothed with this habit shall be preserved from eternal fire. It is the badge of salvation, a shield in time of danger, and a pledge of special peace and protection.”

Since then, the Brown Scapular has been recognized as a source of great graces for those who, living holy lives, wear the Scapular with devotion during life and at the time of death. The Brown Scapular is now generally made of two small pieces of brown wool connected by cords.

Wearing the Brown Scapular

Because the scapular is a sign of faith and devotion, it should be accompanied by the effort to live a life of faith and devotion, in cooperation with the grace of God. Be sure to have your scapular blessed and have yourself enrolled in the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel:

To receive the benefits of the Scapular, the wearer should be enrolled in the Confraternity of the Brown Scapular.  Members of the Confraternity should devoutly wear the Scapular as a visible sign of devotion to Our Lady, with a commitment to regular prayer, frequent reception of Holy Communion, and daily recitation of one of the Hours of the Divine Office, or the Psalms, or the rosary, or other equivalent prayers. For more information, read A Catechesis on the Brown Scapular prepared by the Carmelites in celebration of the 750th anniversary of the Brown Scapular.


Fun Fact: It is believed that St. Simon was dubbed ‘Simon Stock’ after having lived as a hermit in a hollow tree trunk (in Old English, a ‘stock’) before joining the Carmelites.



A Prayer of Consecration to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

O Mary, Queen and Mother of Carmel, I come today to consecrate myself to you, for my whole life is but a small return for the many graces and blessings that have come from God to me through your hands.

Since you look with special kindness on those who wear your Scapular, I implore you to strengthen my weakness with your power, to enlighten the darkness of my mind with your wisdom, and to increase in me faith, hope and charity that I may repay each day my debt of humble homage to you.

May your Scapular bring me your special protection in my daily struggle to be faithful to your divine son and to you. May it separate me from all that is sinful in life and remind me constantly of my duty to imitate your virtues. From now on, I shall strive to live in God’s presence, and offer all to Jesus through you.

Dearest Mother, support me by your never-failing love and lead me to paradise through the merits of Christ and your own intercession.


Join the devotion!

Any priest may bless your Scapular and enroll you in the Brown Scapular Confraternity with the following words:

Priest: Show us, O Lord, Thy mercy.

Respondent: And grant us Thy salvation.

P: Lord, hear my prayer.

R: And let my cry come unto Thee.

P: The Lord be with you.

R: And also with you.

P: Lord Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, sanctify by Thy power these Scapulars,
which for love of Thee and for love of Our lady of Mount Carmel, Thy servants will wear devoutly, so that through the intercession of the same Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and protected against the evil spirit, they persevere until death in Thy grace. Thou who lives and reigns world without end.  Amen.

(Sprinkling Holy Water) Receive this blessed Scapular and beseech the Blessed Virgin that through her merits, you may wear it without stain. May it defend you against all adversity and accompany you to eternal life. Amen.

I, by the power vested in me, admit you to participate in all the spiritual benefits obtained through the mercy of Jesus Christ by the Religious Order of Mount Carmel.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

May God Almighty, the Creator of Heaven and earth, bless you, He who has deigned to join you to the confraternity of the Blessed Virgin Of Mount Carmel; we beseech Her to crush the head of the ancient serpent so that you my enter into possession of your eternal heritage, through Christ our Lord.

R: Amen.


To shop The Catholic Company’s full collection of scapulars, click here.

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The Exorcism Formula of the St. Benedict Medal

st benedict medal

The Medal of St. Benedict Explained

{ Find our selection of Saint Benedict medals, including on rosaries and crucifixes >> here }


St.-Benedict-mural-web_395x600During his life, St. Benedict of Nursia was known to work many miracles using the power of the Holy Cross. Among these included his heroic flight from temptations and miraculous escapes from traps set to kill him.

Saint Benedict became known for his power over the Devil, with the Holy Cross of Jesus Christ as his efficacious instrument to make the Devil flee.

The Medal of St. Benedict is based on this tradition.

St. Benedict was an incredibly important saint for the Church, most notably because he was the founder of Western monasticism. Because of his uncommon sanctity and miraculous powers, men gathered around him as disciples.

Benedict paved the way for these men to consecrate themselves to a secluded, disciplined, communal life of prayer, work, fasting, and penance dedicated solely to the worship of God. He organized them together under a single Rule to increase their spiritual effectiveness.

So, it is not hard to see why Saint Benedict was often a specific target of the Devil.

The St. Benedict medal as we commonly know it today (the Jubilee medal) was first made in 1880 to commemorate the fourteenth centenary anniversary of St. Benedict’s birth by the Archabbey of Monte Cassino, the most important monastery established by the Saint in the 6th century.

The meaning of the symbols used on the medal were at one time a mystery until an ancient manuscript was discovered, as described below:


According to the Catholic Encyclopedia,


“It is doubtful when the Medal of St. Benedict originated. During a trial for witchcraft at Natternberg near the Abbey of Metten in Bavaria [a Benedictine monastery established in the 8th century] in the year 1647, the accused women testified that they had no power over Metten, which was under the protection of the cross. Upon investigation, a number of painted crosses, surrounded by the letters which are now found on Benedictine medals, were found on the walls of the abbey, but their meaning had been forgotten.

Finally, in an old manuscript, written in 1415, was found a picture representing St. Benedict holding in one hand a staff which ends in a cross, and a scroll in the other. On the staff and scroll were written in full the words of which the mysterious letters were the initials. Medals bearing the image of St. Benedict, a cross, and these letters began now to be struck in Germany, and soon spread over Europe. They were first approved by Benedict XIV in his briefs of 23 December, 1741, and 12 March, 1742.”


This—combined with accounts of the Saint triumphing over traps the Devil set for him—is how the symbols on the St. Benedict medal became propagated as a form of protection against, and exorcism of, evil.





  • Above the chalice and the raven in the center, on either side of Saint Benedict:

Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti

(Cross of the Holy Father Benedict)


  • Words around the perimeter of the medal:

Ejus in obitu nro praesentia muniamur

(May we at our death be fortified by his presence)




  • Initials on the cross in the center:

C. S. S. M. L. – N. D. S. M. D.

Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux

(The Holy Cross be my light)

Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux

(Let not the dragon be my guide)


  • Circles by the four corners of the cross:


Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti 

(Cross of the Holy Father Benedict)


  • Initials around the perimeter:

V R S N S M V – S M Q L I V B

Vade Retro Satana, Nunquam Suade Mihi Vana—Sunt Mala Quae Libas, Ipse Venena Bibas

(Step back, Satan, do not suggest to me thy vanities —evil are the things thou profferest, drink thou thy own poison)


  • And at the top:







The St. Benedict medal is one of the most popular among Catholics, and there are many indulgences associated with this medal which you can read about here. There are also spiritual benefits associated with the pious use of the medal including warding off evil and temptation, obtaining the conversion of sinners, help for women during childbirth, strength in preserving purity, granting the grace of a happy death, protection during storms, and interceding for curing diseases.

Needless to say, this is a very powerful medal for spiritual protection. However, it is important to not be superstitious about Catholic medals; they are sacramentals to be used as “sacred signs instituted by the Church to prepare us to receive the fruit of the sacraments and to sanctify different circumstances of our lives” (CCC, 1677).


The Benedictine monks of Subiaco Abbey in Subiaco, Arkansas, explain the uses and importance of the medal:

“There is no special way prescribed for carrying or wearing the Medal of St. Benedict. It can be worn on a chain around the neck, kept in one’s pocket or purse, or placed in one’s car or home. The medal is often put into the foundations of houses and building, on the walls of barns and sheds, or in one’s place of business.

The purpose of the medal in any of the above ways is to call down God’s blessing and protection upon us, wherever we are, and upon our homes and possessions, especially through the intercession of St. Benedict. By the conscious and devout use of the medal, it becomes, as it were, a silent prayer and reminder to us of our dignity as followers of Christ.

The medal is a prayer of exorcism against Satan, a prayer for strength in time of temptation, a prayer for peace among ourselves and among the nations of the world, a prayer that the Cross of Christ be our light and guide, a prayer of firm rejection of all that is evil, a prayer of petition that we may with Christian courage “walk in God’s ways, with the Gospel as our guide,” as St. Benedict urges us.

The lessons found there can be pondered over to bring true peace of mind and heart into our lives as we struggle to overcome the weaknesses of our human nature and realize that our human condition is not perfect, but that with the help of God and the intercession of the saints our condition can become better.

The Medal of St. Benedict can serve as a constant reminder of the need for us to take up our cross daily and “follow the true King, Christ our Lord,” and thus learn “to share in his heavenly kingdom,” as St. Benedict urges us in the Prologue of his Rule.”


Read more about the St. Benedict Medal from the Benedictine monks of Subiaco Abbey in Subiaco, Arkansas >>here.




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The Virgin Martyrs as Models of Purity


The Virgin Martyrs

as Models of Purity for Girls


In our society the virtue of purity seems “old fashioned” or “prudish” to many. There is very little today that is considered scandalous. Sadly, our culture has mainstreamed many things that would have been considered improper, impure and unacceptable in days gone by.

Bombarded with sexualized images and content for so long, people are now desensitized to impurity. Unfortunately, this includes our impressionable young girls and our maturing young women. They no longer recognize many inappropriate and obscene things as offensive.

The virtue of Purity consists of much more than sexuality, but as we strive to raise children and grandchildren whose values and convictions reflect the heart of God, representing sexual purity becomes more challenging every day. Especially against the backdrop of our disordered culture.

In a culture where impurity assaults us, the Church offers many models of virtue to us and to our young women. They stand in stark contrast to the feminine role models offered to us by the disordered world.  Here are the inspiring stories of four virgin martyrs who suffered death rather than compromise their purity:


St. Agatha was a Sicilian girl from a rich and important family. When she was very young, she dedicated herself to God. As she aged and grew in beauty, she resisted the proposals of men who wanted to marry her. A Roman official desired to have relations with her. She refused him, and he had her arrested and imprisoned in a brothel, expecting her to change her mind and accept his advances.

She resisted his advances, and those of the men who lusted after her in the house of prostitution. She was abused there and when brought back before her spurned accuser, she would not consent to his desires, despite what she had suffered. He sent her to prison after various cruel tortures, including stretching her upon a rack, beating her, and severing off her breasts.

St. Peter is said to have appeared to her in prison, healed her wounds, and bathed her dungeon cell in light. When the angry official discovered her cured, it did not discourage him. She would not relent and compromise her purity. He then had her naked body rolled over hot coals and broken potshards. She prayed for God to receive her soul, and finally joined her Lord in eternity.

The information we have about her life comes from the early Church Fathers and from their accounts of martyrdom during the persecution. St. Agatha is one of few women mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. Her zeal for the Lord and the Faith, her heroic effort to maintain her purity for God alone, and her willingness to suffer so as not to be defiled are timeless messages for our young women today.


stagnes-stanneswpb3St. Agnes’ name is synonymous with purity and means “chaste, pure, or sacred” in Greek. Its Latin form means “lamb,” which symbolizes purity. She was the beautiful daughter of Roman nobility. She was raised as a Christian and had made a vow of perpetual virginity to God.

By age 12 or 13 she had many suitors of high rank. She turned down these proposals for marriage because of her vow. Several of the angry young men banded together to report her to the authorities during the persecution of the Christians.

She refused to renounce her faith and was sentenced to be dragged naked through the streets to a brothel, where she would be forced to sacrifice her virginity. When a young man who looked upon her lustfully was struck blind there, she was taken to be burned at the stake. According to early sources, the wood would not burn or the flames parted around her, and she was then beheaded.

Though there are no contemporary sources for the details of her life, many of the earliest Church Fathers mention her and her death in their writings. Through these, the few details we have of her virtue and purity take shape. She is also mentioned in the Canon of the Mass and is the patroness of young girls and virgins.

 SAINT LUCYst_lucy

St. Lucy was a beautiful girl born to rich and noble parents in Sicily. Her Roman father died when she was five years of age. His death left Lucy and her mother without a protector or guardian during the violent persecution of the Christians.

Lucy consecrated herself to God in virginity, and wished to remain a virgin and distribute her considerable dowry among the poor. Unfortunately, her mother, who was very ill, arranged a marriage for Lucy out of fear for her daughter’s welfare. She was unaware of Lucy’s desire to remain a virgin.

The pagan nobleman Lucy’s mother chose for the marriage reported her to the authorities. She was tried by the Governor, and told she must burn a sacrifice to the image of the Emperor. When she refused, she was sentenced to live in a brothel where she would lose her virginity and be repeatedly defiled.

The early sources of her martyrdom state that when the guards came to take her away, they could not move her, even with a team of oxen. They tried to burn her at the stake but her body would not burn, and finally she was beheaded.

Later sources of her story state that before death, she foretold the punishment of the Governor who sentenced her, and the end of the Emperor and the persecution. This so enraged the Governor that he had her eyes gouged out.

St. Lucy is one of few women mentioned in the Canon of the Mass along with Our Lady. Her deep love for God despite the allurements of the world, and her desire to give herself totally to Him in keeping her promise, no matter what the earthly consequences are virtues to inspire young girls and women of today.


St.MariaGoretti2St. Maria Goretti was born to an Italian farming family that struggled in poverty even before her father died of malaria. Her widowed mother was forced to leave the younger children in Maria’s care while working the fields. One day while her baby sister slept, Maria was attacked by a farmhand obsessed with impure thoughts of her.

She cried out protesting his advances, “No, it is a sin! God does not want it!” and in his rage, her attacker stabbed her 14 times with a dagger in the throat, heart and lungs. Maria’s baby sister awoke, crying and causing Maria’s mother and the neighbors to come to the house.

They found Maria there. She underwent surgery without anesthesia at the nearest hospital, but doctors could do nothing to save her life. As she suffered, she meditated on the Passion of Christ, and saw clearly that as Our Lord forgave sinners, she was to forgive her attacker.

As she lay dying, she told her mother, “I too, pardon him, and I wish that he could come someday and join me in heaven.” She died peacefully the next day, not yet 12 years of age.

St. Maria Goretti’s attacker was sentenced to 30 years in prison. In the beginning, he slandered her constantly and attacked her character and purity in angry rage. Then Maria appeared to him in a dream, gathering lilies in a beautiful garden. Bathed in divine light, she turned to him and handed him the flowers.

He understood instantly that each lily was a wound he had inflicted upon her, and she forgave him completely. She repeated her dying wish that he join her in heaven. He was utterly transformed, became a man of deep faith and humility, and went to her mother upon his release to beg forgiveness.

The bereaved mother and the murderer received Communion together the following day. He spent the next 40 years in penance at a Capuchin monastery. He testified to Maria’s sanctity at her cause for canonization and was present, as was her family, when Maria was proclaimed a saint 1950.

She is perhaps the most well known and recent of the virgin martyrs and there are many contemporary accounts of her life and death.

Her humility, mercy and zeal for God and His kingdom give young women examples of the qualities that will allow God to work in their hearts and prepare them for holiness in this world and the next.


It’s no wonder the Church desires us to know the saints! They are our brothers and sisters in this world and our advocates and intercessors in the next.

In Paul’s letter to the Hebrews he writes:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us . . . In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.”

Most of us will never have to resist to the point of shedding blood. But these holy martyrs have done just that. They have so much to teach us in every age. Their heroic virtues shine brightly over the bridge of time.

These Virgin Martyrs illuminate the darkness of a disordered culture that has forgotten the importance and the meaning of purity. May their zeal be a reminder that purity is a treasure to be guarded and protected at any cost.




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Knights of Columbus Behind “Under God” in Pledge of Allegiance

Pledge of Allegiance

One Nation, Under God


koc_crestDid you know that the Knights of Columbus originated and sponsored the adding of “Under God” to the words of our Pledge of Allegiance?


The Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal society, named after Christopher Columbus and comprised of lay Catholic men dedicated to providing charitable services, promoting Catholic education, and defending Catholicism in countries around the world.

The Knights were established by Venerable Fr. Michael J. McGivney in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1882. Today the organization has burgeoned to an estimated 1.8 million members active in 15,000 councils.

The short historical recap below is a testament to how the Knights of Columbus in particular, and therefore Catholicism in general, has played significant role in contributing to and shaping Christian faith in the United States of America.


Historical Highlights

1892: The Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister and Christian socialist, at a time when, according to him, “patriotism and national feeling was at a low ebb.” It was part of a movement to have American flags placed in every schoolhouse; a flag salute was intended for a Columbus Day celebration in schools across America.

1942: The United States Congress officially recognized the Pledge for the first time.

1945: The official title “The Pledge of Allegiance” is adopted.

1951: The Board of Directors of the Knights of Columbus adopted a resolution to amend the Pledge of Allegiance as recited in their own meetings with the addition of the words “Under God” after the words “One Nation.”

1952: The Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus, at its annual meeting, adopted a resolution to urge this change to the Pledge be made on a national level. They sent letters of request to the President, Vice President, and Speaker of the House.

1953: The Knights of Columbus repeated this resolution at its next annual meeting, with the addition of sending letters to every member of both Houses of Congress requesting this change.  Many favorable replied were received; as a result, seventeen resolutions were introduced to the House of Representatives to add “Under God” to the Pledge.

1954: One of these resolutions was adopted, passed by a Joint Resolution of Congress, and signed into law by President Eisenhower on Flag Day, June 14.

President Eisenhower stated,

“From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty… In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource, in peace or in war.”

Included below is President Eisenhower’s thank you letter to the Knights of Columbus for their role in this national movement to include God in our nation’s Flag Pledge.

On October 6, 1954 the National Executive Committee of the American Legion officially recognized the Knights of Columbus as having initiated, sponsored and achieved this amendment to the Pledge of Allegiance.


President Eisenhower's letter to Knights of Columbus

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A Simple Prayer to Offer Your Day to the Blessed Mother



O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,

I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and suffering 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 sins, the reunion of all Christians;

I offer them for the intentions of our Bishops

and of all Apostles of Prayer and in particular

for those recommended by our Holy Father this month. 



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