Holyart.com Blog Holyblog Fri, 08 Jun 2018 15:56:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.14 Holyart.com Blog 32 32 The different uses of incense Thu, 03 May 2018 15:55:39 +0000 Incense has always been linked to the idea of ​​the sacred, and the divine. Since the earliest times, its use has been attested in ancient civilizations, almost always for religious purposes. Their intense and aromatic scent was considered to be appreciated by the Gods, as it […]

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Incense has always been linked to the idea of ​​the sacred, and the divine. Since the earliest times, its use has been attested in ancient civilizations, almost always for religious purposes. Their intense and aromatic scent was considered to be appreciated by the Gods, as it was by men, and the custom of burning the bark and wood of particularly scented plants has always been widespread.

Incense was burnt during religious celebrations, as well as in houses, to purify them and keep away evil spirits. Its aromatic vapours created a communication channel with the divine, and with the kingdom of the dead.

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In addition to religious uses, incense was recognised very early on, particularly in Arab countries, as a precious and useful ingredient in the treatment of many diseases and discomforts.

Even in a Christian context, incense was immediately given enormous consideration. Just think – it appears among the gifts that the Magi brought to Jesus (in reality it appears twice, because Myrrh is nothing but another kind of incense). The Jews used it for fumigation, a practice that allowed them to approach God by burning incense and inhaling the fumes, and so Christians continued to use incense in the Churches, burning it during the ceremonies and sprinkling it onto the faithful, but also to disinfect rooms and purify the air.

It is worth discovering more about this ancient product, which is full of hidden virtues.

Where does incense come from?

The term “incense” generically refers to oleoresins produced by various plants from the Burseraceae family, originating mainly from the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa, an area located at the edge of the desert, composed mainly of earth and stones, which takes name of the “incense belt”.

In particular, the Boswellia sacra, from which it is obtained, produces the incense oliban, and Commyphora, from which the incense myrrh is produced. The bark of these plants is cut, and the resin that comes out from it is collected. Some plants secrete the resin directly, without needing to be cut. In both cases, the resin is then crystallized: this normally takes a month to harden sufficiently. The collection of resin can be carried out up to 12 times a year, which ensures a constant production to the men who dedicate themselves to it, in arid and rocky areas from which it is difficult to obtain other forms of sustenance. In fact, these plants are capable of growing, even in very barren and less fertile areas, and their leaves offer shade and nourishment to humans and animals. Indeed, too much water would be fatal for the plants that produce incense.

The incense road

The collection and trade in incense has spread since ancient times. All of the civilizations of the Mediterranean basin, as well as those of Asia Minor, and many more to the East, used it, and the demand was such as to give rise to a dense network for commercial traffic. The “Via dell’Incenso“, which has existed since Roman times, connected the Arabian Peninsula with the Mediterranean. The caravans that ran through it carried goods that came from India and the Far East across the sea. In addition to fabrics, precious metals, precious stones, rice, sugar and cereals, and countless other products, merchants brought incense, spices like pepper, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon, and fragrant essences like sandalwood, musk and camphor. The latter often served as ingredients for pharmacopoeia and were also used in cosmetics.

The Assyrians, Egyptians, Chinese and Indians used incense for both medicinal and devotional purposes. In Egypt it was the basis for a particular type of Kajal, which was used not only to adorn the eyes, but to protect them from infections.

Immersing yourself in the smoke of incense helped combat joint pains and rheumatism, with a powerful anti-inflammatory action.

In India, Guggul incense was used as a remedy in Ayurvedic medicine, to promote sleep and to allay anxiety and nervousness. Also in the context of Ayurveda, incense was used to prepare ointments for sores and skin rashes. It was also burnt as an accompaniment for yoga and meditation.

Traditional Chinese medicine used the technique of fumigation with incense.

Wherever it was used, it was believed that incense purified the internal environment and at the same time kept diseases and evil spirits away. It helped concentration and meditation, allowing one to come into contact with one’s inner self and with the Divine.

How incense is used

How can we use incense in our homes? There are many types of incense on the market, in various forms, and it is not easy to navigate round them. Above all, we must ensure that the incense we buy is pure, and not cut with sand or chemical additives, which distort its quality.

The oldest and most original form used is resin beads.

The incense is burnt on charcoal, which can be lit directly with a lighter or a candle and then placed on a saucer with sand in it, or on a plate incenser. There are also terracotta incense burners, which are used to burn incense charcoals over which beads of incense are then poured. But a simple saucepan or a metal plate filled with sand is also good as a base for burning charcoals. The charcoals last about 40 min. and can be re-ignited.

Alternatively you can use a ‘bruciaresine’, a kind of tripod under which a candle is placed to heat crystals placed in the dish, turning them into aromatic smoke, in a similar way to diffusers for essential oils. Just a few grains of incense are needed at a time, to achieve a pleasant and effective diffusion.

Various types of incense

Besides olibano, or Franchincenso incence obtained from Boswellia sacra, there are different varieties of incense, that have been used in different eras according to their characteristics and properties.

gedda frankincense myrrh
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Incense with Myrrh Fragrance

Let’s take a look at just a few:

Myrrh incensex

Even the Myrrh plant grows in the desert. Its name is Mirra Commyphora. Brought as a gift from the Magi to baby Jesus, the incense of Myrrh has always been traded like oliban incense. According to the Egyptians, it proscribed insanity, calmed the spirit and relaxed the nervous. In general, it is considered to be rich in a beneficial and useful energy to combat fatigue and mental confusion.

Benzoin incense

Originally from the Far East, and especially from Indochina, Benzoin incense is the resin extracted from the Benzoe Siam tree. Too intense and irritating on its own, it is usually mixed with cinnamon and sandalwood for a calming effect, or with incense and cedar to elevate the mind and access other spiritual planes.  Shakti, a blend obtained from benzoin, has stimulating properties on creativity, love and sensuality

Cedar wood incense

Originally from Mesopotamia, cedar was considered to be the tree of revelations and was associated with the tree of Eden. The fumes of cedar incense brought supernatural suggestions, inner strength and self-esteem, as well as purifying the environment of negative energies.

Ladan incense 

Obtained from the Cistus reticus, a resinous shrub, the incense of Ladan originated in the Mediterranean basin, particularly from Crete. It strengthens sensitivity and self-perception, amplifies memories and nurtures the imagination. In general, it helps us to find inner stability and solidity.

Storace incense

A native bush of Mesopotamia that secretes a liquid balsam, Storace was considered to be perfume of feasts, because it infused energy, vigour and sensuality. The aroma of Storace incense is like amber, and is nowadays sold in the form of a “gum”.

Sandalwood incense

This is the wood of the Santalum album tree, originally from eastern India. When burnt, the incense of Sandalwood strengthens vital energies, combats stress and neurosis and is effective against headaches.

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Church devotions for every month of the year Tue, 01 May 2018 15:47:58 +0000 At the time of the ancient Roman civilization in situations of extreme gravity, a commander could decide to sacrifice his life to ensure the victory of his own troops and the salvation of his men. To do so, he pronounced a vow to the gods […]

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At the time of the ancient Roman civilization in situations of extreme gravity, a commander could decide to sacrifice his life to ensure the victory of his own troops and the salvation of his men. To do so, he pronounced a vow to the gods of the underworld, with which he pledged to offer himself to them, and the enemy army. This act had the name of devotion, from the Latin deuouere, meaning “to make a vow”.

Devotion can therefore be summarised in an act of love and trust pronounced by man towards God.

In a Christian context, it is not necessarily an extreme sacrifice, with which the faithful offers his own life, but a religious practice addressed to God, to Our Lady, to a Saint, composed of spiritual love and fervent prayer. Indeed, devotion becomes a form of prayer that is optional, compared to the official Liturgy and that of the Hours, but which has spread over time in various forms, giving rise to celebrations and moments of prayer that have now entered the life of every Christian. RosaryLet’s think about the recitation of the Rosary, the Way of the Cross, at the Angelus, but also about processions, pathways of prayer and spiritual meditation, such as the Sacred Mountains, devotional walks through sacred scenarios that offered to the fifteenth-century pilgrims a less expensive and more viable alternative to pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Devotional practices are a way in which the Church celebrates every day of the year with solemnity and fervour, turning her attention and her love to one saint, then to another, then to a particular characteristic of Mary or of Jesus. Although in some cases devotional practices have, over time, assumed a folkish dimension, it would be profoundly wrong to limit the importance of this phenomenon to picturesque festivals and popular processions alone. On the contrary, the popular feasts dedicated to the Saints, to Jesus and to Our Lady, as well as the main festivities such as Christmas and Easter, risk making us forget the true devotional and ascetic spirit from which they were born, which has been overwhelmed by consumerism and a culture that depletes these occasions of their solemnity. Instead, they are celebrations closely linked to the history and social development of the communities in which they developed, and were created to enrich the spiritual life of those who celebrate them, to make every day of every month, special and pleasing to God.

Let’s look at a few of them, sub-divided by the months in which they are celebrated.


The month of January is dedicated to the baby Jesus and in particular to the Most Holy Name of Jesus. Eight days after Christmas, the devotion of the Most Holy Name of Jesus is honoured, to celebrate the day when St. Joseph made circumcised him and gave him the name. This devotional cult has been celebrated since the origins of the Church. In fact it seems Saints Peter and Paul contributed to its spread, and later, in the Middle Ages, Saint Francis of Assisi was a proponent. San Bernardino and his confreres made it a liturgical feast. The devotion of the Most Holy Name of Jesus is focused on the power of the name of Jesus, as a defence and ornamentation for the faithful, a protection against evil and a precious talisman against demons, diseases and infirmities. Jesus revealed to Sister Saint-Pierre, the Carmelite of Tour, the Apostle of Reparation, the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus of Jesus, which is recited on this occasion as a way of offering her unconditional love to Jesus:

Always to be praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified, the Most Holy, the Most Sacred, the most adored – yet incomprehensible – Name of God

In heaven, on earth or in the underworld, from all the creatures that come out of the hands of God.

For the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.



The month of February is dedicated to the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Most Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit is God, and at the same time, the gift of love that God gives to his devoted children. It descends on believers like a burning flame and makes their words winged, so that they can reach the Father. February   devotions also include those to the Holy Family, the family par excellence, the one composed of Jesus, Joseph and Mary. The prayers and litanies are all dedicated to this perfect example of Love and Faith, to which everyone should look to live in serenity and fullness. The devotions to the Holy Family express the will to do what pleases Jesus, Mary and Joseph and to avoid what could displease them.


The month of March is dedicated to devotion to Saint Joseph, which is celebrated on March 19th. St. Joseph is an example of a good and loving father par excellence, of a faithful and caring husband, but also of humble servant of the Divine Will, as he accepted his role as the husband of Mary and putative father of Jesus without questioning the design of God. St. Joseph is greatly honoured by the Catholic Church and enjoys a role of great importance in many prayers of the Roman rites.

He is also the protagonist of many devotional practices, such as the “practice of the Seven Sorrows and Joys of St. Joseph”, as well as many Litanies, such as the Cingolo or Cordone di San Giuseppe, the Coroncina di San Giuseppe, the Scapular of San Giuseppe, Sacred Mantle, the Perpetual Novena, the Perpetual Crown, the Perpetual Court. We turn to him to ask for graces and intercessions.


April devotions are addressed to the Eucharist, to the Divine Holy Spirit and to Divine Mercy. The Eucharist symbolises the sacrifice of Jesus, which is renewed at every Mass, and His being descending on those He loved to protect them and guide them after His death. The Eucharist contains in itself all the love of Jesus, in all its forms: crucified, unitive, adoring, contemplative, praying, intoxicating. To reserve time and attention to this devotion leads to the attainment of many graces and a sense of closeness to the priceless love of God. Jesus dictated the Chaplet of Divine Mercy to Saint Faustina Kowalska in 1935, promising that whoever recites this prayer would have the certainty of dying in peace and grace, and of letting those who   have listened to them die peacefully. This devotion guarantees forgiveness even to the most hardened and recidivist sinners, showing the immensity of Jesus’ mercy.


The month is dedicated to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who is blessed among women and mothers. Mary is a symbol and a role model for all women, of sacrifice, of humility and immense love. Wherever you go you will find statues of the Madonna in all her grace. In May, Mary is the protagonist of many festivals: on May 13th, Our Lady of Fatima, May 31st, Visitation, Mother’s Day. With devotion to Mary we turn to her as an intermediary between man and God, a sweet and loving spokesman for the troubles of humanity, a receptacle of dreams, desires, hopes. In this, Mary is the only one able to bring together those who have been lost to God, accepting prayers and repentance and raising it to heaven with the power of his love.


The Great Promise made by Jesus in Santa Margherita Maria Alacoque in 1620 started the devotion from the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which sees June as its reference month. Jesus said to the Saint:

My divine Heart is so passionate about love for men, that since it can no longer contain the flames of its burning charity  …I have chosen you to fulfill this great design.

The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is therefore addressed to the merciful Jesus, reaching out to men, ready to forgive their sins, their weaknesses. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus protects from evil and purifies the heart of every sinner. Litanies and prayers celebrate this devotion, besides observing the three rules imposed by Jesus on the Saint with the Great Promise:

  1. Coming to Communion in the grace of God: If one is in mortal sin, confession is necessary.
  2. Devotion must be continued for nine consecutive months. For those who omit even one communion, must start all over again.
  3. Pious practice can start on the first Friday of any month.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus guarantees that none of those who have done the Nine First Good Friday will die in mortal sin.


Month dedicated to Precious Blood of Our Lord, the true salvation of the world, symbol of the sacrifice made by Jesus to cleanse humanity of all sins. The first Sunday of the month is consecrated to the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord, which should be honoured by showing repentance, temperance, moderation in passions, to prove worthy of the sacrifice of Jesus and the immense saving power of his Blood. This festival, is in some ways the crowning of the month of the Holy Heart that has just ended (June), as established by Pope Pius IX.


The month of August is dedicated to God the Father, to which a feast is dedicated during the liturgical year.

It was through mother Eugenia Elisabetta Ravasio (1907-1990) that the Father asked for a feast to be established in his honour. In this month, we should turn to God the Father, renewing his Will to entrust ourselves completely to him, consecrating ourselves to his will and invoking grace for ourselves and those we love.


September is the month dedicated to angels, the messengers between God and men, custodians and guides of our every step, in day dreams. We turn to them, invoking their protection and help, because they watch over us and give us the strength to believe and love God with all the strength we are capable of.

Octoberstatues of Mary

The month of October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary. The recitation of the Rosary has always been connected to the promise of obtaining a plenary or partial indulgence. Reciting the Rosary allows us to obtain graces and consolations through the intercession of the Virgin Mary. The name rosary derives from “crown of roses”. The rose is the symbolic flower of Mary. In fact, in the Middle Ages statues of Mary were decorated with rose crowns as a sign of love and devotion. The crown of the Rosary was born from these crowns, and used to pray and meditate. It was the Cistercians in the thirteenth century who contributed the devotion to the Virgin with the prayers to be recited using the Rosary. In 1571, on the occasion of the battle of Lepanto, Pope Pius V invited all Christians to pray with the Rosary to invoke the victory of Christians against the Ottomans. The victory of the Madonna della Vittoria festival originated in this victory, and later came the feast of the Madonna del Rosario (October 7th).

Other devotees and blessed, like Alano della Rupe, St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort and Blessed Bartolo Longo gave vigour to devotion, just as, more recently, the apparitions of Mary at Lourdes and to Fatima did.

The Holy Rosary is the most effective prayer against Satan.


November is the month dedicated to Souls of the Dead, and their memory. The devotion manifests itself through actions of suffrage for deceased loved ones, but also for the dead in general, and with a profound meditation on the transient nature of human life, and on its frailty before God. The prayers recited in the context of this devotion not only allow access to plenary indulgences, but also contribute towards purifying the souls of the dead, and saving them from Purgatory.


The month of December is naturally focused on preparations for Christmas, which celebrates the birth of Jesus, but also the Immaculate Conception of Mary, born without sin, pure and unique among women. For Christians the week of Advent represents a period of greater spiritual meditation, in view of the renewal of the birth of the Saviour, and offers numerous occasions for common prayer with the family and other faithful.

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The Egg as a symbol of Easter Thu, 26 Apr 2018 15:40:11 +0000 Whenever we think of Easter, apart from the religious significance of this festival for Christians, the first thought that probably comes to mind is chocolate eggs, which we give away as gifts for the occasion. The Easter egg is a form gluttony covered with coloured, shiny […]

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Whenever we think of Easter, apart from the religious significance of this festival for Christians, the first thought that probably comes to mind is chocolate eggs, which we give away as gifts for the occasion. The Easter egg is a form gluttony covered with coloured, shiny paper, decorated with ribbons and often accompanied by gifts and surprises inside or applied externally, to bring a smile to both young and old. A festive tradition, it only appears to be commercialised, because in fact an Easter cake par excellence also egg-shaped and it’s certainly not just a coincidence.

In fact, the symbolism of eggs is one of the oldest there is, and has unified countless cultures and religions since the dawn of time. As often happens, Christianity has done

russian egg madonna
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Russian Egg Madonna of the streets Faberge Style

nothing more but take this symbol, strip it of all the pagan declensions and re-offer it in a Christian way. For Christians, the egg becomes a symbol of Christ rising from the dead, coming out of the sepulchre, rolling away the stone, which was in the shape of an egg, in fact. Furthermore the egg, apparently inert and inanimate, holds a new life inside it. This dual symbolism, of the stone of the tomb of Jesus and of the hidden life ready to hatch, make the egg a symbol of the Resurrection, of the Life and Salvation represented by Christ, and the hope of everyman. It is no coincidence then, that the egg was taken over by many artists as the protagonist of their works; first of all the famous ones, hand painted Russian eggs, small masterpieces depicting different religious subjects. Painted Russian eggs depicting the Madonna or Russian eggs depicting the Holy Family or many other Christian symbols.

We started with the meaning of the egg in Christianity, but it is certainly of interest to go back in history a little, and discover what this particular and unique object represented in antiquity, how it evolved over time and through cultural traditions, and ended up coming to us.

The egg as a symbol of life

The egg-life association is, of course, immediate, and must also have been so for our predecessors.

The symbolism of the egg has very ancient origins. Many civilizations identified it as the very origin of the world. The cosmic egg, or egg of the world, was considered by the ancients as a vital and energetic nucleus that floated in nothingness, in the primordial chaos. By closing itself it would generate the cosmos as we know it.

This interpretation occurs in many civilizations, from the Sumerian and Assyrian Babylonians, to the Egyptians, to the Greeks, to the Hindus, then assuming particular characteristics and differentiated in different cultures.

For the Egyptians, the two parts of the egg shell born from the beak of the big Knef duck, breaking away, gave rise to heaven and earth. Also according to Egyptian religion, the symbolism of the egg as an emblem of life goes back to the myth of the Phoenix, which cyclically dies, and then rises from its ashes that give rise to an egg fed by the Sun and the Air. Again, the Egyptians placed the egg at the centre of the four elements: earth, air, fire and water.

In Greek mythology the egg represented the creation, played by Castor and Pollux, the children conceived by Leda and Zeus, the latter in the form of a swan, and born from an egg. Also for the Greeks Eros, the god of love was born from a silver egg laid by Night and fertilized by the North wind. An even older myth, dating back to the pre-Hellenic people of Greece, tells a version of a similar story, in which the goddess Eurinome, fertilized by the snake Ofione, deposited the universal egg into the whirling womb of chaos.

According to the Celts, an egg called Glain was the origin of the cosmos. In northern Europe there was a custom of rolling eggs from the top of a hill to Beltane, to imitate the movement of the sun in the sky.

For the Hindus too, the two parts of the shell of the cosmic egg, one of gold, the other of silver, gave rise to the heaven and earth. The same egg was Brahma, the emanation /creation of the material universe, enclosed in the golden heart of the Egg of the World and in this form slept long in the darkness, before exploding in a golden and burning light, which generated life, in a sort of predecessor of the Big Bang.

The Egg of the World also appears in the Chinese Taoist religion, where Pangu, the creator of the world, was born from the cosmic egg, in which Chaos coagulated, and which contained within it the primordial principles Yin and Yang. These two principles, stabilised until they reached a perfect equilibrium, gave rise to Pangu, who later, with his axe split the Cosmic Egg in two, creating the Earth (Yin) and the Sky (Yang) and placed himself between them to keep them separated, with the help of a turtle, Qilin (a kind of Chimera  of the Phoenix and a dragon).

The egg as the origin of the world, therefore, is a symbol of eternal life, which is renewed cyclically, and regenerates itself, throughout time and the seasons. The Greeks, the Chinese, the Egyptians and the Persians exchanged eggs, sometimes decorated and coloured, as a gift for spring festivals, like the spring equinox, to greet the beginning of the new season.

The egg is also a symbol associated with the Female, in all the cults of the Mother Goddess, since it is the role of women to generate the egg, and with it, life.

The egg also featured in Orfism, in Mithraism and in the Dionysian mysteries, always as a symbol of life and creation, and in Alchemy too, where the Philosopher’s Egg can be interpreted as the Egg of the world.

Giving eggs at Easter

We’ve already seen how the custom of giving eggs was widespread in antiquity, especially in conjunction with the arrival of spring, as a symbol of the ‘rebirth’ of nature.

Like the Egyptians before them, Christians also decorated hen’s eggs with crosses or other symbols, and painted them red to recall the blood of Christ. This tradition may have had a considerable boost from the ban, during Lent, of eating eggs. This meant many hen’s eggs were laid that were not eaten. So as not to waste them entirely, Christians may have begun to boil and decorate them. Over time, the tradition of bringing these eggs to church to bless them began. In the Middle Ages, especially in Germany, it was customary to give away simple or decorated eggs for Easter.

Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries they continued to give children coloured and decorated eggs and hen, or egg-shaped toys, while it was only at the beginning of the nineteenth century that chocolate eggs made their appearance. The first empty chocolate egg that contained a surprise was produced by the English company Cadbury in 1875. Previously, full chocolate eggs had already been manufactured in France and Germany. The first ones would have been made in the times of King Louis XIV, the Sun King. It was the Dutch chemist and master chocolate maker Coenraad Johannes van Houten who discovered, in the early nineteenth century, how to treat cocoa beans with alkaline salts to make them sweet and easier to dissolve in water, and how to extract the butter from them. Subsequently, other discoveries led to the extraction of pure chocolate powder that could easily be modelled and used in moulds. In 1819, François Louis Cailler created the first Swiss factory where chocolate was made into a mouldable dough thanks to a particular machine. Other sources however state that there were already prototypes for making empty chocolate eggs containing small surprises in Turin in the eighteenth century.

russian egg madonna faberge style
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Russian Egg Madonna del Prato Faberge Style

Also at the end of the nineteenth century the fashion for making eggs of gold, silver and platinum, covered with precious stones began to spread. In reality, this custom was already widespread in the Middle Ages, and was only taken up at the end of the nineteenth century. The first person to commission an egg similar to those of the famous jeweller Carl Faberge was the Tsar Alexander III Romanov, as a gift for his wife Marija. Fabergé created an enamelled platinum egg, which contained a second egg, conceived as a golden yolk, inside which there was a golden chick with ruby ​​eyes, wearing a reproduction of the imperial crown on its head. The Fabergé collection of Russian imperial eggs now consists of 52 eggs. Most of these eggs contain others that are smaller, just as precious, as a matrioske. One egg made by Fabergé in honour of the Trans-Siberian railway was decorated with a metallic band engraved with the railway route, and contained   a small train made of pure gold.

Returning to chocolate eggs, nowadays, those hand made by confectioners are flanked by large-scale production on the industrial scale. The manufacture and distribution of eggs begins more than a month before Easter, and eggs of all types and sizes, are offered for sale on the market.

Elsewhere, particularly in the Orthodox countries, they continue to prefer giving a hard-boiled hen’s egg   coloured with natural colours. The eggs have to be cooked for a long time, until they are very firm. To dye them you can use onion skins or tea leaves to get a brown colour; ivy and nettle leaves give a green colour; saffron and cumin for yellow; red beets for red. You just cook the eggs in the boiling water to dye them, and then fix the colour with a few drops of vinegar.

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How to recite the Chaplet of Divine Mercy Thu, 26 Apr 2018 15:10:34 +0000 The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is a devotional prayer that guarantees those who recite it, especially at the point of death, the grace of conversion and the forgiveness of all sins. It is also a prayer that invokes God’s mercy on all humanity, offering the Passion […]

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The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is a devotional prayer that guarantees those who recite it, especially at the point of death, the grace of conversion and the forgiveness of all sins. It is also a prayer that invokes God’s mercy on all humanity, offering the Passion and Love of Jesus, His suffering, as a sacrifice, to bring God closer to men.

Its origin is linked to the figure of Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska, a religious woman who lived in the early 1900s, a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy who was canonized in 2000 by Pope John Paul II.

The many graces she received in her short life, the visions, the miracles, the revelations of which she was the bearer, made her the main propagator of devotions to the Merciful Jesus. Jesus himself, on one of the occasions when he appeared to her, called her the “Secretary of Divine Mercy”, and as an Apostle of Divine Mercy, she is worshiped everywhere.

Born and raised in a very religious but poor family, Sister Faustina showed a precocious and authentic vocation, but had to wait a long time before she could embrace a religious life. With poor health, she died at thirty-three, but left a testimony of faith and religious fervor of great intensity and humanity, a complete union with God and his Will.

She was a great populariser of the Divine Mercy cult, after an apparition of Jesus who, dressed in white and in blessing, ordered her to depict him and spread His image, promising that anyone who venerated him would know salvation and the eternal life. This image was created for the first time by a Lithuanian artist, following instructions from Sister Faustina’s spiritual father and under strict control of the latter. It depicts Jesus wearing a white robe, his right hand raised and two rays coming out of his heart, a white one representing water and a red one representing blood. Always under the indication of Sister Faustina, the image shows the inscription “Jezu, ufam tobie” (Jesus, I trust in you).Passion and Love of Jesus

On the occasion of a later apparition, Jesus taught her a particular form of prayer, which would have guaranteed His mercy to those who had recited it, especially at the time of death. This is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

With this prayer, we address ourselves directly to God by offering him the body, blood and soul of His Son and our Saviour Jesus Christ. The suffering of Jesus brings God closer to men, places the salvation of all mankind in His hands and in His Will. The graces that can be requested through this prayer, the hope of Salvation, are commensurate with the full trust placed in the mercy of Jesus and in the Will of God, to which ours can only adapt and entrust himself. In fact, Jesus told Sister Faustina: “For the recitation of this Chaplet I like to grant everything that will ask me if this will conform to my will.

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy also guarantees the grace of being able to die peacefully and in peace. This promise is not only valid for those who recite it, but also for those who are dying and have someone else to pray for them. Jesus assured Sister Faustina that when someone says this Chaplet next to a dying man, He will place himself between the soul of the latter and His Father, not as a judge, but as a saviour, and His infinite Mercy will welcome that soul.

chaplet of the divine mercy
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Chaplet of the Divine Mercy

The Chaplet is also a hope for sinners, even the most ardent ones. Jesus indicated it to the priests as the last tablet of salvation for those who spent their lives in sin. According to Sister Faustina in her diaries, Jesus said: “When you recite this prayer with a repentant heart and with faith for some sinner, I will grant him the grace of conversion …” It will be enough to recite this Chaplet only once, and the infinite mercy of God will descend on the most hardened sinner, freeing his soul from guilt and granting him eternal salvation. Sister Faustina spoke of having been invited by Jesus to recite the Chaplet at the bedside of a sinner. His guardian angel was at his side, helpless before his suffering, while a host of demons already anticipated his soul. But thanks to Faustina’s intervention and to the recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy the demons disappeared and the poor man could breathe in peace and grace.

It is a good idea to recite the Chaplet of Divine Mercy every day, or at least for nine consecutive days, preferably at 3 pm, the hour when Jesus gave his life for us. In one of her diaries, Sister Faustina wrote that Jesus, speaking to her about his death, told her: “In that hour you will get everything for yourself and for others; in that hour grace was given to the whole world, Mercy won justice.” Reciting the Chaplet at that time is as if we find ourselves with the spirit under the Cross of Christ, and beg for God’s mercy for ourselves and for the whole world, by virtue of His passion.  Jesus said to Sister Faustina: “At three o’clock in the afternoon, implore My Mercy especially for sinners and even for a brief moment immerse yourself in My Passion, especially in my abandonment at the time of death. It is an hour of great Mercy for the whole world.”

It takes only 5 minutes

It takes only five minutes, and it is an act of truly comforting devotion, which infuses peace with joy.

To recite the chaplet of Divine Mercy it is sufficient to use the crown of the Holy Rosary, even though, with the diffusion of prayer, specially created rosaries were made, with a medal depicting the Merciful Jesus and a portrait of Sister Faustina.

We begin by reciting the Sign of the Cross, followed by an Our Father, a Hail Mary and the Creed.

Each of the five major beads is recited: “Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and the Blood, the Soul and the Divinity of Your most beloved Son and Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in expiation of our sins and for those of the whole world”, while for each of the fifty minor beads you say: “For your painful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”

The Chaplet continues on arriving at the end of the Rosary and repeating three times: “Holy God, Holy Strength, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us and on the whole world” and ends with the invocation: “Oh Blood and Water that spring from the Heart of Jesus as a source of mercy for us, I trust in you!” and with the sign of the cross.

In summary:

Sign of the cross

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Misericordina of Pope Francis

Lord’s Prayer

Ave Maria


On the 5 beads of the Our Father, we recite:

Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and the Blood, the Soul and the Divinity of Your Most Beloved Son and our Lord Jesus Christ, in expiation of our sins and for those of the whole world.

On the 50 beads of the Ave Maria we recite:

For His painful Passion, have Mercy of us and of the whole world.

Finally, we repeat 3 times:

Holy God, Holy Strength, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

In conclusion, before the Sign of the Cross, we recite:

Oh Blood and Water that springs from the Heart of Jesus, as Source of Mercy for us, I trust in You.

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The Novena to Mary that loosens the knots Tue, 24 Apr 2018 14:49:33 +0000 The Novena is a Christian devotional form that is usually practiced on a religious recurrence or a particularly important holiday, like at Christmas, Easter, Immaculata or Pentecost. It involves reciting a particular prayer for nine consecutive days, or different prayers, addressed to God, and usually aimed at requesting the intercession […]

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The Novena is a Christian devotional form that is usually practiced on a religious recurrence or a particularly important holiday, like at ChristmasEasterImmaculata or Pentecost. It involves reciting a particular prayer for nine consecutive days, or different prayers, addressed to God, and usually aimed at requesting the intercession of Our Lady, of a Saint or the angels to give comfort, protection, ask for a favour or the resolution of a particular problem.

Meaning of Devotion

The Novena, which takes its name from the medieval Latin ‘novenus’, arises from Jesus request to his disciples to pray after his death while waiting for the Holy Spirit to manifest. Thus Our Lady and the Apostles prayed together for nine days, from the Ascension to Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit finally descended upon them. This episode, reported in the Acts of the Apostles, gave rise to this practice, which is particularly valuable for those who are in a situation of trouble and suffering for themselves or for someone they love. Jesus had already revealed what it was necessary to do to find peace: “pray always without getting tired“(Lk 18.1). To pray with humility, with absolute trust, without believing that prayer is a sort of magic formula that will solve every problem by magic, but we should be aware of the fact that, by praying, we are entrusting ourselves to God and to his infinite mercy.

In this context, the practice of a particular form of Novena was born and developed: the Novena to Mary that loosens the knots. A bizarre name, but one that perfectly embodies the spirit of those who are preparing to recite this particular prayer and to face the spiritual path it requires.

Dissolve the knots that generate pain

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Mary untier of knots statue multilingual prayer

The image of Mary who melts knots expresses very well the need of the faithful to receive help from the Blessed Virgin to solve a problem, find comfort and a solution when in a particularly difficult situation. In a word, dissolving a knot that prevents him or her from living well, which blocks their life, interrupting their natural flow. The knots that can create discomfort are of various kinds and entities. Some knots we carry with us for years without even knowing it, others are open and apparently incurable wounds, which poison our days. A quarrel with a family member, a lack of communication or respect, a sick child, or being prey to a habit that consumes their life, someone we love and who has turned away from God, the pain caused by a child who takes drugs , who is sick or who has left home, guilty of mistakes made in the past, incurable diseases, depression, awareness of having sinned in a way that they consider cannot be forgiven. With this Novena, the intercession of Mary is requested to dissolve any knot that causes us pain. This may be a problem related to everyday life, work, a family problem, a sick relative, or a situation of physical or mental discomfort, a personal quarrel with a partner, a child, a parent. Whatever the knot that prevents us from living peacefully, which makes our days heavy and burdensome, we can ask Mary to help us to untie it and find peace. Mary is particularly suitable as a reference for a prayer of this kind, she who has always been considered the Mother of all mothers, the reference point for those who are lost in a stormy and dark sea and vaguely search for a star to guide them. It is no coincidence that San Bernardo di Chiaravalle referred to her as “Stella del Mare” (The Star of the Sea).

The first Novena to Mary who breaks the knots was written in 1998 by an Argentinian priest, Juan Ramón Celeiro. With his sensitivity, he was able to give voice to the devotion of many people, even far from the Church, who were able to find in Mary the help and intercession needed to solve their problems. Mary, Virgin and Mother, who was consoling and merciful, opened her hands and her heart to those who were able to believe and rely on her. Immediately appreciated and authorised by the Church, this Novena spread rapidly, thanks above all to Cardinal Bergoglio, then Pope Francis, who sustained it immediately.

How do you pray the Novena di Maria who melts the knots?

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Rosary with Maria that loosens the knots

The Novena di Maria who melts the knots is recited for nine consecutive days as a prelude or tail of the Holy Rosary. First you need to make the Sign of the Cross and recite the act of contrition. At this point, with the soul predisposed to prayer, we turn to Mary reciting the “Supplication to Mary who Melts the Knots”. Alternatively, the petition can be recited at the end of the Rosary. This prayer is found in a booklet specially written to help the faithful in their devotional practice.

Then the real Rosary begins, with the first three dozen, the Meditation corresponds to each day of the Novena, the last two dozen, followed by the “Salve Regina” and another prayer to Mary that loosens the knots. But in reality the scheme can be varied depending on the possibilities and conditions of those who pray. The important thing is the attitude with which one asks oneself to pray. If on the one hand we must avoid thinking of prayer as a sort of magic formula, covering the words or the way in which they are recited with an entirely external importance, devoid of spiritual depth, it is, on the other hand, necessary to trust prayer with complete confidence along with the effects we hope to achieve with it.

In this, as in every other practice, what matters is how we place ourselves, with humility, availability, an open soul, elevated to God, the spirit free from doubts and hesitation. We are supplicants, and as such we must address ourselves to Her who, in her infinite goodness and love, can solve our problems only if we are willing to trust in her help.

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Archangels: who are they and what is their function? Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:39:12 +0000 The Catholic Church recognises the existence of only three Archangels, or the three mentioned in the Scriptures: Michael (“Who is like God?”), Gabriel (“God’s Power”) and Raphael (“God’s Doctor”). This clarification is needed, because one could object that in the texts of the past, other archangels have been mentioned, the same as […]

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The Catholic Church recognises the existence of only three Archangels, or the three mentioned in the Scriptures: Michael (“Who is like God?”), Gabriel (“God’s Power”) and Raphael (“God’s Doctor”).

This clarification is needed, because one could object that in the texts of the past, other archangels have been mentioned, the same as the number of sects in the Book of Enoch: Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Michael, Sariel, Phanuel and Gabriel. The system of seven archangels is in fact an ancient tradition of Judaic origin.

The Catholic Church, however, considered it necessary to stop such arbitrary and fanciful interpretations of texts that did not belong to the canonical Holy Scriptures. In fact, we remind you that all individual traditions must be examined and verified in accordance with what is stated in the Holy Canonical Scripture, which is the only true revelation.

Therefore, with regard to the Archangels, it was established in the Middle Ages that the worship and veneration of any of the other archangels mentioned by the Bible apart from Michele, Gabriele and Raphael was forbidden.  Even in the past, in the early Church, great efforts were made to prevent the cult of angels, which was influenced by heterodox practices and the pagan traditions of divine messengers, from leading to a form of idolatry.

In 1992, the decree Litteris Diei stated that “it is forbidden to teach and use notions about angels and archangels, their personal names and their particular functions, outside of what is directly reflected in the Holy Scriptures; consequently, every form of consecration to the angels, and any practices other than the official customs of worship are forbidden.”

Given this, who and what are the Archangels?

The existence of angels is a truth of the faith. Their presence in the Bible is incontrovertible testimony to this. These are incorporeal beings, who are spiritualperfect, created by God at the dawn of time for the purpose of being his servants and messengers. They have always and forever contemplated the face of God, are ready to rush to his every command, as attentive listeners and executors of His Word.

They are therefore spirits that exist for Him and in Him, who are, however, also close to humans, through the faithfulness between the will of the Most High and his creatures.

Angels therefore live in the contemplation of God and act as His messengers.

And the Archangels?

Since ancient times, we have considered the fact that the angelic hosts are organised into a sort of Heavenly Court, in which the angels have different ranks and graces. The three Archangels occupy the highest domains of this angelic hierarchy. They too have tasks similar to those of the common angels, but their duties are even higher and more important. They are the task of contemplating God, day and night, glorifying Him incessantly by preserving and protecting His mystery. Their own names suggest their roles and their nature: all end with “El”, which signifies “God”.

The Sacred Scripture then, attributes a particular mission to each Archangel.

Michael is the warrior who fights against Satan and his emissaries (Jn 9, Ap 12, 7, cf. Zec 13: 1-2), the defender of those who love God (Dn 10, 13.21), the protector of the people of God (Dn. 12, 1).

Gabriel is one of the spirits closest to God, before his heavenly throne (Lk 1, 19), the one who revealed to Daniel the secrets of God’s plan (Dn 8, 16; 9, 21-22), announced to Zechariah the birth of John the Baptist (Lk 1, 11-20) and to Mary that of Jesus (Lk 1, 26-38).

Raphael stands before the throne of God (Tb 12, 15, see Rev 8: 2), accompanied and protects Tobias in his perilous journey and healed his father from blindness and his future bride from the influence of evil.

In general, therefore, the task of the three Archangels, in addition to contemplation of God, is to communicate His Will to man in various ways, to be an inspiration for human beings, and the catalysts of divine grace for them.

Saint Michael

Saint Michael appears in the Holy Scriptures, in particular in the Book of Daniel, in the Letters of the Apostle Saint Jude Thaddeus and in the Apocalypse.

His name derives from the Hebrew Mi-ka-El which means “who is like God?”

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Saint Michael Statue in Coloured Wood Pulp

Popular iconography represents him as a warrior in armour wielding a sword, or intending to slay a dragon that symbolises the Devil, with a spear. In fact, this is the role played by Michael, that of the fighter fighting against rebel angels who are led by Lucifer. It was Michael who led the heavenly hosts in the war leading to the expulsion of rebellious angels from Paradise, and since then, he has continued to stand up as God’s defender against Evil and its deceits. The theatre for this new battle is no longer heaven, forbidden to Satan, but the souls of we humans, constantly targeted by the flattery of Evil, and instigated at every moment to rebel against God. The Devil tries to convince men that God is a tyrant, who limits their freedom and their own full realisation in the creation. The Archangel Michael is sent from heaven to protect men and guide them, to teach them to distinguish good from evil and truth from falsehood.

In the Apocalypse, where he revealed himself to John, he is described as a majestic being, vested with the task of examining the souls destined for the Last Judgment.

The Judger of souls, therefore, and protector, defender of the Church, and of the people of God.

It is no coincidence that Castel S. Angelo, the fortress where the Pope takes refuge when in danger, is watched over by his statue, and travellers and pilgrims invoke his name and his protection against the hazards of the journey.

Some studies have sought to see in Archangel Michael, the influence of ancient myths linked to the legendary figure of a god-hero killer of monsters, like the Babylonian god Marduk, or of pagan gods who were engaged to act as mediators between heaven and earth, like the Greek god Hermes. The same festival dedicated to the Archangel, on 29 September, falls on this day as a legacy of the celebrations of the Autumn Equinox, a consecrated feast in Mithras, of a divinity linked to the Sun by the Persians and then the Romans.

His cult, within the Catholic Church, started in the East, but spread rapidly throughout Europe, especially following his appearance on the Gargano, in Puglia, when the Archangel appeared in San Lorenzo Maiorano in a cave that centuries later became a pilgrimage for popes, sovereigns and future saints. Near the cave rose the Basilica Sanctuary, which still today remains one of the most important and magnificent places of worship among those dedicated to the Archangel Michael.

In 2013, Pope Francis consecrated the Vatican City State to St. Joseph and St. Michael the Archangel, recognising once again his role as defender of the Faith and of the Church.

The Archangel Michael, the ‘celestial warrior’, is the protector of swordsmen and masters of arms. His skills as a judger of souls have also made him the patron of all trades that involve the use of assessments, such as traders, pharmacists, pastry chefs. He is also patron saint of the Police.

St. Gabriel

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Even the Archangel Gabriel, like Michael and Raphael, has a festival day- which is celebrated on September 29th.

His name derives from the Hebrew, and means “Power of God” or “God is Mighty”.

In the biblical tradition, he was considered to be one of the angels closest to the throne of God, to the point of being referred to as “the left hand of God”.

In the Bible, he is also presented as an angel of death, while for the Muslims he is one of the chief Messengers of God and the angel who revealed the Koran to Muhammad.

In the Christian tradition, Gabriel is particularly remembered as a messenger.

He revealed the future birth of John the Baptist to Zechariah, he appeared in a dream to Joseph to make him desist from repudiating Mary, because her pregnancy was the work of the Holy Spirit, and, naturally, because she was the bearer of a miraculous conception and of the birth of Jesus. In this case, more than in any other, he consecrated himself as being the messenger of God. It was Gabriel who appeared to Mary and told her that God had chosen her as the mother for His only Son. No imposition, no obligation. Only a request, addressed by one of the most powerful angels to a simple and humble girl. The role of Gabriel was therefore pivotal. He brings God’s message to us, making it understandable to us, helping us to listen with a pure heart and to accept the will of the Almighty.

Some interpretations have sought to see him as the angel who will blow the horn announcing the Day of Judgment, according to the Apocalypse of John.

Gabriel is considered to be the protector of those who work in communications, postmen, ambassadors, journalists and couriers.

Christian iconography depicts him as a young winged cherub, who often carries a lily in his hands, as a symbol of the Annunciation to Mary.

St. Raphael

Raphael is the Archangel whose mission is to bring healing. In fact, his name derives from Hebrew and means “God’s Doctor”.

In the Bible, he is among the angels closest to the throne of God, who was chosen by Tobias to guide him on his journey to collect the payments left by his father. During the journey, Raphael, in human form, found a suitable bride for Tobias and restored the sight to the boy’s father.

Raphael was considered to be the patron of conjugal love, of young people, engaged couples, spouses, pharmacists, educators, travellers and refugees. Although not mentioned in the Qur’an, for Muslims, he is the angel in charge of sounding the horn that will signal the start of the Day of Judgement (according to other traditions, this was the task of Gabriel).

Often depicted with a jar containing medicaments and fishes, he is the patron of pharmacists, travellers and refugees.

His role as a healer, as “God’s Doctor” should always be interpreted as the will to heal the soul, to relieve it from its suffering and make it best disposed to welcome God. By restoring sight to the father of Tobias, Raphael opened his eyes to the Truth of the Almighty, just as, by driving out the demons that persecuted the girl who was promised to him, he made their marriage and their love possible. That is why he is also considered to be a protector of engaged couples and of conjugal love. Both are symbolic and meaningful healings, therefore. The power of the Archangel Raphael heals blindness, like the faith and love that priests show us and communicate to us every day opens our eyes to God. Equally, divine intervention, through its emissary, dissipates the clouds between men and women, makes them pure and suitable for union, in the name of a love blessed by God and by the Church.

Through St. Raphael, the healing and purifying power of God’s love descends on us, making us more worthy, and closer to God.

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How to explain Confession to your child Tue, 17 Apr 2018 14:07:30 +0000 It isn’t easy to explain what a Confession is to a child. It isn’t easy because it isn’t easy to explain what the concept of Sin is to them. Yet it is fundamental for a child’s growth as a human being, and as a Christian, that they understand what […]

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It isn’t easy to explain what a Confession is to a child. It isn’t easy because it isn’t easy to explain what the concept of Sin is to them. Yet it is fundamental for a child’s growth as a human being, and as a Christian, that they understand what it means to sin, and even more, what it means to be able to confess one’s sins to God, who is infinitely kind and merciful.

In fact, the fundamental question of Confession resides in this: to be aware that, although we may be marked by large and small faults, God the Father is ready to forgive us if we show genuine repentance. This isn’t trivial. Children who grow up with threats like: “Don’t do this because it is a sin”, but without anyone taking the trouble to explain to them what a genuine sin is, and what consequences entail, may pick up an incorrect vision of God, imagining him as a cruel presence who is ready to arbitrarily punish anyone who makes a mistake. In fact, some children tend to exaggerate their sense of guilt, even for the tiniest of shortcomings, and to live their own age badly.

God loves us all.

Probably the first thing that you can make a child understand is that God is good, He created everything beautiful and perfect for us, and sacrificed his only son Jesus for our sakes. How could such a good and generous Father condemn us without the possibility of appeal?

Indeed, God is always ready to welcome us back into his arms, in the same way the father welcomed his younger son back in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, proving that no fault was really serious in the face of Love.print on wood rembrandt prodigal son

God is love, and therefore, God forgives. In the hearts of men there is a seed of Evil that cannot be destroyed by anyone, not even by God. Yet he has never given up on us, since the dawn of time. He tried to cleanse the world of evil people with the Flood, but seeing that it was useless, sent his prophets to preach about Goodness, and in the end, sent his own Son, Jesus, to show men the pathway to Love. Because the only way to help men to be better is to show them the way of goodness, and convert them to it. God has done, and continues to do, everything for us, even if we continue to offend him with our bad deeds, and our bad thoughts. Fortunately for us, his Mercy is infinite, and his ability to forgive is endless.

Sin is the evil of the world.

Sin exists, and we are all subject to it. Adam and Eve committed it first, and transmitted it to all their descendants. Unfortunately, because of this first mistake, we are all born marked by sin, and the sin of turning away from God. It is important to learn to recognise it, and to be aware of its effects in the world.

To do this, you can show a child how everything bad that happens in the world is the fruit of sin, and that these bad deeds bring terrible consequences, not only for individuals, but for everyone. A good system could be to start from a vision of how the world was before sin, by illustrating to a child the uncontaminated nature, harmony and happiness that reigned among all of God’s creatures, the happiness and the absence of the pain that Adam and Eve experienced. Later, you can show him or her how the real world actually is, perhaps by quoting news stories, explaining what is going on in the world, how much suffering afflicts human beings everywhere: wars, violence and accidents. By bringing these two worlds, which are so different, into comparison, a question will arise spontaneously: why does God allow all of this to happen?

The answer is in the Bible: Evil has arrived in the world because of man.

A man who lives in sin, and who shows that he does not appreciate the gifts of God, and proclaims that he wants to be God himself. That is what Adam and Eve did. The original sin was not in the theft of the forbidden apple, but in openly challenging God, not limiting himself to listening to his warnings, but pretending to be on his own, to being like him. That is what we do every time we commit a sin. We believe ourselves to be smarter than God, we believe ourselves to be superior to him, and we behave badly, and in full knowledge that we are wrong. When we do it we are not happy, we are not comfortable with ourselves, because we are perfectly aware that certain things are wrong. It’s like when we tell a lie and then we are afraid of being discovered, or when we do a bad deed and we live in the anguish that our mother will find out and punish us. God is much better than our own mother at knowing when we have done something wrong, and even if he loves us as much, or more than she does, and is willing to forgive us, he wants us to admit our guilt first, and to sincerely apologise.

That is why he created Confession.

What is the purpose of Confession?

Once a child has understood the existence of sin, and the goodness of God, we must make them understand how they can deserve forgiveness. This can be achieved by teaching a child how to perform an examination of conscience. Or, after a day of studying, games and activities, when the child is alone in their room, to invite them to consider their actions during the day that has just ended, what they have done, what they have not done, and what they should have done.  It is an examination that must be made with sincerity and honesty, in full awareness that God knows very well how we have behaved. But this is a thing we need, to understand if and where we were wrong, to realize that we could have done more. At this point we apologise to the Lord with a prayer, and the next day we try to do better, and so on, day after day.

That is the first step towards a Confession.

Confession is in fact a kind of examination of conscience, but done aloud in front of a priest, at the end of which you admit your mistakes and declare that you do not want to make any more of them. It isn’t enough just to say that we are sorry: we must show that we have a heart full of repentance and the willingness to do well, in the future; only in this way will God forgive us.

Confession is essential for obtaining God’s forgiveness, and for getting closer to him. It is a sacrifice, an act of humility. It isn’t easy to admit our mistakes. It is not easy to recognise that we are wrong, even when it is very obvious. Men are made like that, they are proud, big guys. But God loves them for this as well, and precisely because he knows them well, and knows how they are made, he appreciates it even more when they are willing to give in, and to ask for forgiveness. God doesn’t want to punish us, he doesn’t want to condemn us: he just wants to forgive, and to save us. He doesn’t stop loving us even when we’ve behave badly, let alone when we recognise it and we apologise! Then he is the proudest and the happiest of Fathers! He embraces us, comforts us, and our life suddenly becomes even more beautiful and special. It is as if the wind sweeps away the grey clouds from the sky, and everything turns blue, bright and luminous. That is how we are after a Confession.

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Who your Guardian Angel is and what they do: 10 things you should know Thu, 12 Apr 2018 13:47:39 +0000 According to Christian tradition, every one of us has a guardian angel, who accompanies us from the moment we’re born until the moment  of our death, and stays at our side at every moment of our life. The idea of ​​a spirit, of a supernatural entity […]

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According to Christian tradition, every one of us has a guardian angel, who accompanies us from the moment we’re born until the moment  of our death, and stays at our side at every moment of our life. The idea of ​​a spirit, of a supernatural entity that follows and supervises every human being, was already present in other religions and in Greek philosophy.  In the Old Testament, we can read that God is surrounded by a genuine court of heavenly figures who worship Him and perform actions in His name. Even in these ancient books, there are frequent references to angels sent by God as protectors of people and individuals, as well as messengers. In the Gospel, Jesus invites us to respect even the smallest and humble, in a reference to their angels, who watch over them from heaven and contemplate the face of God at every moment.

The Guardian Angel, therefore, is linked to anyone who lives within God’s grace. The Fathers of the Church, like Tertullian, Saint Augustine, Saint Ambrose, Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Jerome and Saint Gregory of Nyssa, maintained that a guardian angel existed for each person, and although there was not yet a dogmatic formulation concerning this figure, already during the Council of Trent (1545 – 1563) it was stated that every human being had their own angel.

From the seventeenth century onwards, the spread of popular devotion increased and Pope Paul V added the festival of guardian angels to the calendar.

Also in sacred representations and above all, in the images of popular devotion, Guardian Angels began to appear, and were usually depicted in the act of protecting children from harm. In fact, it is especially by children that we are encouraged to talk with our Guardian Angels, and to address our prayers to them. As we grow up, this blind trust, this unconditional love towards an invisible yet extraordinarily reassuring presence, fades.

The guardian angels are always near to us

Here’s what we should remember whenever we want to find it near to us:Guardian Angel

  1. Guardian angels exist.

The Gospel affirms this, the Scriptures support it by countless examples and episodes. The Catechism teaches us from an early age to feel this presence on our side and to trust in it.

  1. Angels have always existed.

Our Guardian Angel is not created with us at the time of our birth. They have always existed, from the instant at which God created all of the angels. It was a single event, a single moment in which Divine Will generated all the angels, by the thousands. After this, God no longer created any other angels.

  1. There is an angelic hierarchy and not all angels are destined to become Guardian Angels.

Even the angels differ from each other in their tasks, and above all in their positions in heaven compared to God. Some angels in particular are selected to take a test and, if they pass it, they are qualified for the role of Guardian Angels. When a child is born, one of these angels is chosen to stand by his side until death and beyond.

  1. We all have one
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Statue of an Angel with a Lyre

… and only one. We cannot sell it, we can not share it with anyone. In this regard also, the Scriptures are full of references and quotations.

  1. Our Angel guides us on the pathway to Heaven

Our Angel cannot oblige us to follow the path of goodness. He cannot decide for us, impose choices on us. We are and remain free. But his role is precious, important. As a silent and trustworthy advisor, our angel stays by our side, trying to advise us for the best, to suggest the right path to follow, to obtain salvation, to deserve Paradise, and above all to be good people and good Christians.

  1. Our Angel never abandons us

In this life and in the next, we will know that we can count on them, on these invisible and special friends, who never leave us alone.

  1. Our Angel is not the spirit of a dead person

Although it might be nice to think that when someone we love died, they became an Angel, and as such returned to be by our side, unfortunately, this isn’t so. Our guardian angel cannot be anyone we have known in life, nor a member of our family who has died prematurely. It has always existed, it is a spiritual presence generated directly by God. This does not mean that it loves us less! We should remember that God is Love first and foremost.

  1. Our guardian angel has no name

… or, if he has, it is not our job to establish it. In the Scriptures, the names of some angels are mentioned, such as Michael, Raphael and Gabriel. Any other name attributed to these celestial creatures is neither documented nor confirmed by the Church, and as such it is inappropriate to claim it to use for our Angels, especially by pretending we’ve determined it using a fanciful method like the month of our birth, etc.

  1. Our Angel fights on our side with all his strength.

We must not think of having a tender plump cherub at our side playing the harp. Our Angel is a warrior, a strong and courageous fighter, who ranks at our side in every battle of life and protects us when we are too fragile to do it alone.

  1. Our guardian angel is also our personal messenger, charged with bringing our messages to God, and vice versa.

It is to the angels that God addresses himself in communicating with us. Their job is to make us understand his Word, and move us in the right direction.

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Baptism: meaning, symbols and how to organise one Tue, 10 Apr 2018 15:58:55 +0000 Baptism is the first of the sacraments that enshrine the true birth of a Christian. It is through Baptism that we are purified from original sin and become part of the Church and of the body of Christ. Thanks to Baptism, we have access to the […]

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Baptism is the first of the sacraments that enshrine the true birth of a Christian. It is through Baptism that we are purified from original sin and become part of the Church and of the body of Christ.

Thanks to Baptism, we have access to the other sacraments and begin to take the path of the Spirit. Purified by the unconditional forgiveness of God we become, in effect, his children.

The word Baptism derives from the Greek βάπτισμα, or báptisma, meaning “immersion”. It is precisely what this is, an immersion in purifying water. The symbolism of water as an instrument of purification occurs in many religions of antiquity. In particular, in Judaism it was necessary to practice purifying ablutions before being able to access the cult. The water cleansed the body and with it the spirit of all impurities, washing away the sin. Over time, these practices that thought of water as an instrument of purification, spread more and more, taking different forms among the various communities.

Ritual ablutions and purifying baths are in some ways a prelude to Baptism as we know it, but already in the Old Testament men had recognized the saving power of water, his being an instrument of God’s will to save the righteous. Think of the universal Flood, or the crossing of the Red Sea by Moses and the chosen people fleeing from Egypt.

We have to wait for the Baptism of John the Baptist to find something that is closer to our idea of ​​baptism. In fact, in addition to using the purifying function of water, it made those who received it an integral part of the descendants of Abraham, of the people who waited with faith and hope for the coming of the Messiah. To access the Baptism of John it was necessary to repent of one’s own sins and beg for forgiveness. Those who requested it had to be aware of the purpose of this choice in their life and commit themselves to perpetrate it to the end. John himself declared that his baptism was only provisional, and was the prelude to the baptism that the Messiah will bring: a baptism made with water, waiting for the one made of fire.

When Jesus presented himself to John to receive baptism, he fully accepted his own destiny. Coming out of the water, Jesus saw the sky open and the Holy Spirit appear in the form of a dove, while from the sky a voice was heard: “You are my beloved child”. The Holy Spirit descended on him, investing him in his role, transforming him into the Lamb of God. It was the beginning of a new life and the premonitions of death, which would lead to the Resurrection. The destiny of a man and of all humanity was fulfilled on the banks of the Jordan River, in a single gesture of submission and humility that was destined to change everything.

The meaning of Christian baptism

Christian Baptism was created with the Pentecost, that is, with the descent of the Holy Spirit onto the Apostles, fifty days after the Resurrection of Jesus.

Just as the Baptism of Jesus in the waters of the Jordan represented the beginning of his ministry amongst men, Pentecost, the Baptism of fire of the Holy Spirit, represented the beginning of the Apostle’s mission and, to all effects, the beginning of the Christian Church. As ordered by Jesus, from that moment, Peter and the other disciples began to preach about the need to repent for our sins and receive baptism to obtain forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Christian baptism involves immersion in water or alternatively, a sprinkling of water onto the head. Immersion in water symbolised the death of Jesus, while the Resurrection emerged from it. Sin dies in water, as a body that is contaminated by it dies symbolically.

This symbolic gesture, followed by the imposition of the hands on the celebrant, sanctions the liberation from all sin and the investiture of the Holy Spirit.

From this moment onwards, the faithful will be united with Christ, in his death, resurrection and glorification. The old man will no longer exist, now there will be a new man, a Christian freed from evil and an effective member of the Church. One who has in all respects become a Son of God, reborn through the water and the Spirit, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, enlightened by the light of Christ and saved from the darkness of sin, made a participant in the new people of God.

The symbols of baptism

Baptism, like all the Sacraments, involves the use of material elements, words and songs, symbolic gestures and non-verbal signs that, when taken together, give life to this precious and indispensable celebration in the life of a Christian.

In particular, it is worth examining a few of the symbolic elements:

  • The water of the immersion
  • The chrism
  • The oil of the catechumens
  • The light of the candle
  • The white robe

The water, as already mentioned, serves the function of purifying the baptised, of washing from his or her body and from his or her soul, every sign of sin. Water is universally recognised as the symbol of life par excellence. It is the element that quenches and nourishes the earth, to allow it to bear fruit. It makes everything clean, and in the same way it cleans our soul from every stain.

The chrism it is used to consecrate and sanction the entry of the baptized into the great family of the Church. It is a fragrant and consecrated oil. Used not only for baptism, but also in Confirmation and in the ordination of priests. In Baptism, it is used to anoint the head of the baptised, giving him or her a kind of seal, that consecrates him or her in their his new role. In Crism, the priest draws a cross on the forehead of the Confirmed as a symbol of the Holy Spirit that descends onto them to enlist them as a ‘soldier’ ​​of Christ. In the Ordination, it is used to anoint the palms of the hands of the presbyters and the foreheads of the bishops.

Together with the oil for the sick and the oil for the catechumens, it is blessed once a year by the Bishop during the Chrism Mass of Holy Thursday and then distributed to each parish.

Also, the oil of the catechumens is of great symbolic importance. In fact it declares the baptised as a solider of the faith, and a champion of Christendom. Not surprisingly, in ancient times the

oil was used by athletes to grease their limbs before training, and by wrestlers to escape the grip of their opponents. With the oil of the catechumens, the priest draws a cross on his chest and another between the shoulder blades of the baptised. This symbolises strength in the fight against temptations, a sort of shield against sin.

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Christening Candles

The candle which is handed over to the parents or to the godfather of the baptised symbolises Christ, the light of the world, in the hope that He will enlighten the child and allow those who love him and support him or her to accompany him in the faith. It symbolises the help the Church has to provide to its new member, in finding their own light in the world. Light was the first gift of God, his first creation. In the Old Testament it was a symbol of Faith, and with the advent of Jesus this symbolism was enriched with new fundamental meanings in the life of a faithful. “I am the true light” Jesus said to the disciples: “You are the light of the world … your light must shine before men so that they may see your good works and glorify the Father who is in heaven!” (Matt. 5:16).

The candle, or baptismal candle represents the Christian’s commitment to finding the light of his own life of faith, to be in turn, a light of the world through his or her works and his actions,

The white gown is given during a Baptism as a symbol of new life, and the new dignity the baptised person has. In ancient times those who were baptised had to wear a new, white garment before joining the other faithful in the Church. The white garment expresses the purity of the soul returned without stain after a baptism, the profound change and the interior renewal that the sacrament has brought into the person who received it.

The Code of Canon Law for Baptism

The Code of Canon Law provides for the use of holy water for Baptisms, and the approved formula.

Baptisms for adults or children over seven years of age, requires a catechumenate period, in which they are prepared for the step they are about to face. Moreover, in order to receive Baptism, an adult must have expressed the desire to receive it; having been taught in faith and in his duties as a Christian; he gave proof of Christian life during the catechumenate; have repented of his sins.

For the baptism of children it is necessary that parents give consent and that they commit themselves to give the child a Catholic, Christian education. The Code also provides that in the event of danger of death, a child can be baptized even against the wishes of his or her parents. Baptism must be imparted by the ordinary minister of the parish they belong to, but the latter can grant permission to any person in cases of necessity.

How to organise a Baptism

A Baptism, particularly that of a child, is an important occasion, the first big party to welcome a new Christian into the family. We should celebrate it in the best ways possible.

First of all, you need to contact your parish priest and identify a free date on which you can organise the ceremony. You then have to choose the godfather and godmother, who will accompany the child on this special day as well as on every day of their life as a Christian, and teach them the values ​​of the Church.

At the ceremony, you will need to provide refreshments, a lunch, a buffet, maybe a picnic or an outdoor snack if the season allows, to which friends and relatives can be invited. It should bea joyous party, as joyful as the occasion being celebrated. The ideal thing would be for the party to reflect on the child being celebrated, or their parents, their way of seeing life and their hopes for the child’s future.

What to give at a Baptism

The day of a Baptism is an important day. For the Baptised, because they are starting a new life in the womb of the Church. For their family, who, by baptising him or her are declaring an intention to ensure they grow up following certain values, and a pathway for a precise spiritual life.

The gifts for the Baptism should take the importance of the day and these intentions into account. The gifts should have a material value, but above all a symbolic value, and accompany the child throughout the life that has just begun.

There are certainly good gifts for the little ones and the parents, from pushchairs and prams, to matching sets for baby food or bath times. In addition, religious gifts may be suitable, because they symbolise the beginning of a religious and spiritual journey: sacred medals, small religious icons, the effigy of a guardian angel. Precious gifts, religious jewels in gold and silver, can be important objects, to be saved, but equally welcome are simpler and original presents, perhaps made by those who know the parents well, and know that they might appreciate an extravagant gift, but their small one is enough.

The choice of favours for a Baptism

raffaello angel yellow and white gold pendant
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Raffaello Angel yellow and white gold pendant

The baptismal favours are destined to be a souvenir for everyone who has taken part in the joy of this special day. There is something for all tastes and in all materials, made of fabric or paper, decorated with Swarovski crystals, accompanied by small sculptures depicting little angels, or tiny animals. In this too, as in other aspects of organising a Baptism, its perfectly appropriate to allow the heart to speak and choose something meaningful, that says something about the child and his or her family. Also lovely are do-it-yourself favours, for mothers who can spare the time to make them and have good manual dexterity: hand-embroidered sachets, small objects moulded from bread dough or fimo clay. These make attractive and very personal memories.

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The Rosary for the unborn children Thu, 05 Apr 2018 12:39:02 +0000 The Rosary for unborn children is a particular type of Rosary. It is made of crystal beads, which symbolise the tears of the Madonna. Each ‘tear’ represents the mother’s womb and contains within it the image of an unborn child. The Crucifix is golden, as a […]

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The Rosary for unborn children is a particular type of Rosary. It is made of crystal beads, which symbolise the tears of the Madonna. Each ‘tear’ represents the mother’s womb and contains within it the image of an unborn child. The Crucifix is golden, as a sign of the need to praise and invoke the Lord to free the world of the terrible sin of abortion. The Our Father is symbolised by tears of blood in the form of a cross. The Crucifix Centre depicts the Heart of the Madonna and encloses its effigy.

The Rosary for unborn children was given to the world by Our Lady in person, as an instrument of Love and a prayer against the scourge of abortion.

The apparitions of Our Lady and of Jesus to Maureen Sweeney-Kyle

The Rosary for the unborn children appeared the first time on October 7, 1997, the day when Our Lady presented herself to the seer Maureen Sweeney-Kyle, with this special Rosary suspended before her. Mary presented herself as a prophetess of the present times, and declared that she was there to praise Jesus, her Son. She told Maureen Sweeney-Kyle that Heaven suffered immensely from the scourge of abortion, a huge sin committed against life itself, the most precious gift God made to men. This sin was destined, over time, to disrupt the history and the future of all nations.  Our Lady offered the Rosary for unborn children to Maureen and told her that this would be a weapon against this calamity, along with love and prayer.

Maureen Sweeney-Kyle contributed to the creation and propagation of this particular Rosary.

Three and a half years later, Our Lady and Jesus appeared to her again.

Our Lady, as Mother Dolorosa told her that every “Ave Maria” pronounced with that Rosary would redeem the innocent life of a child murdered by abortion. The Rosary itself, by virtue of its power, would help erase the pain of that sinful act from the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady.

She then invited her to spread the news without fear and shyness.

Jesus also appeared to her, inviting her to pray with the cross made of tears of rosary blood from unborn children, to alleviate the suffering of his afflicted Heart and strengthen the arm of Divine Justice. In fact, every Rosary recited would mitigate the impending punishment of all of humanity due to the sin of abortion.

Again, Our Lady presented herself to Maureen as Mary the Refuge of Holy Love, surrounded by praying angels.  She showing her the rosary for the unborn children wrapped in a golden crown, and told her that this was His Crown of Victory against the evil of abortion. She added that it was the will of Jesus that she spread that truth.

The prayer for life

It is therefore the will of the Virgin Mary that the faithful pray with the help of this particular Rosary, to defeat a sin that makes the heavens cry. The love and faith of men of good will, combined with the Grace of Our Lady, is a powerful weapon against this fearsome scourge.

As revealed by Our Lady to Maureen Sweeney-Kyle, every “Hail Mary” can save an innocent life from abortion and alleviate the penalty of the Immaculate Heart of Mary herself, whilst every “Our Father” recited on the Rosary for unborn children will relieve the sorrowful Heart of Jesus and will hold the Arm of Justice by mitigating the punishment for the sin of abortion.

For this miracle to take place, the Rosary must be blessed by a Catholic priest.

On October 13, 2004, Pope John Paul II blessed the Rosary of the unborn children in Rome.

The virtues of the Rosary for the unborn children are recognised and appreciated by Christian communities throughout the world. Prayer and devotion are the only answer for combatting the evils of the world, and the terrible calamities that envelop humanity. Pride, greed, and hate are instruments of evil, every sin is a point of strength for those who are evil, and only authentic Faith and humility can oppose them.

“A great prayer for life that runs across the entire world is urgently needed. With extraordinary initiatives and in habitual prayer, from every Christian community, from every group or association, from every family and from the heart of every believer, a passionate supplication is raised towards God, the Creator and lover of life”. Thus declared Pope John Paul II in the Gospel of Life. His successors have not been less supporting of the importance of respect for life as a precious gift from God.

How to recite the Rosary for the Unborn Children

In reciting the Rosary of unborn children, it is necessary to turn to Our Lady and to Jesus with an attitude of supplication, and invoke the protection and salvation of all unborn children, but also for the sinners of the entire world.

rosary for the unborn
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Rosary for The Unborn
  1. Raising the Rosary to Heaven and saying: “Heavenly Queen, with this Rosary we unite all the sinners of all nations to Your Immaculate Heart”
  2. Making the sign of the Cross: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
  3. Recite the following prayer, suggested to Maureen Sweeney-Kyle after the September 11 attack: “Heavenly Father, during this time of world crisis, allow all souls to find peace and security in Your Divine Will. Grant to every soul the grace to understand that Your Will is the Holy Love in the present moment. Father Benevolent, enlighten every conscience so that they realize that they are not living in Your Will. Grant the world the grace to change and the time to do it. Amen.
  4. Recite the Creed.
  5. Continue with the following prayers:

– One “Our Father” according to the intentions of the Holy Father.

– Three “Ave Marias” for the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity.

– One “All the Glory”.

  1. After which there are the pro-life Mysteries of the Rosary, divided into the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries. After each Mystery recite:

– One “Our Father”

– Ten “Ave Marias”

– One “All the Glory”

– The ejaculation of Fatima: “O my Jesus, forgive our sins, save us from the pains of hell, welcome all the souls in Paradise, especially those who are most in need of Your Mercy.”

– The eulogy for the Unborn: “Jesus, protect and save the unborn”

  1. After the Rosary, recite some prayers dedicated to Our Lady, such as the “Salve Regina” and possibly litany against abortion, begging the Lord and Our Lady to welcome our supplications and forgive the sins of all humanity.

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