“The Priest who saved lives on Titanic to be canonized saint”
Father Thomas Byles, soon to be #Saint
According to CatholicsSay.com, applications seeking the opening of Father Thomas Byles’ cause for sainthood, have been submitted by Father Graham Smith, a Parish priest, of Saint Helen’s Church in Essex (where Father Thomas Byles served as a parish priest in 1905).
“We hope people around the world will pray to him if they are in need and, if a miracle occurs, then beatification and then canonization can go forward,” Fr. Smith said in a statement to BBC.
The path to sainthood through beatification and canonization is essential to moving forward for Fr Byles to be declared a saint.
“Devotion to a heroic priest who died on the Titanic is growing”
The Catholic Herald UK has an amazing MUST READ article on Fr Byles here; the article first appeared in the April 8, 2016, issue of The Catholic Herald.
I remember reading this heart-wrenching story about the Titanic Priest a few years ago. I actually think of him quite often. What an amazing gift of self-sacrifice. Fr Byles was offered a seat on a life raft but refused to be rescued. His spirit was set on the rescue of souls. A gift of life that will last eternally! Fr Byles gave up his life at age 42. Wow! That is, well, that is (cough, cough) an interesting age…
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – John 15:13
Fr Byles was en route to officiate his brother’s wedding in America. He had originally bought a ticket on a different vessel but changed to the Titanic at the last minute.
“On the morning of Sunday April 14, Fr Byles celebrated Mass and preached a homily which, according to the Evening World, was on the need to have a “lifeboat in the shape of religious consolation at hand in case of spiritual shipwreck”. The following night, the Titanic struck the iceberg.”
As the ship began to sink, Fr Byles, another priest and the remaining passengers heard Confessions and later started singing the hymn ‘Nearer My God To Thee,” as reported by witness Agnes McCoy. Miss McCoy, a survivor, recalls seeing Fr Byles and another priest praying with 100 other passengers, as she boarded a life raft.
Father Byles, Pray for us!
SAINT JOHN PAUL II NATIONAL SHRINE
Did you know that you can make a Pilgrimage to Washington, DC? As a newbie Catholic convert, I was familiar with the term pilgrimage. But usually those holy places that come to mind are: Fatima, Portugal; Lourdes, France; Rome, Italy; Jerusalem, Israel. It didn’t really even dawn on me until the other day when I was listening to Teresa Tomeo’s Catholic Connection on Ave Maria Radio. She was interviewing a guest in the mid-west, who is arranging for a group of young adults to take a day trip (via airplane) to Washington, DC. As in the Nation’s Capitol. As in my backyard, basically. I am a native Marylander and have lived in Maryland on-and-off for over 22 years. And not once, have I ever, EVER, considered DC as a holy place destination. I mean, actually, I think of it as quite the opposite. Does anyone remember the joke about DC meaning the “Death Capitol”? So, to hear that folks come to DC on a Pilgrimage, really floored me. And then, today I reread the weekly bulletin from my parish, about the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, across the street from Catholic University. So after Mass, Mike and I drove our three kids the LONG ten minutes down the road to the Shrine to see the Saint Thomas More exhibit: “God’s Servant First: The Life and Legacy of Thomas More”. And it is good, no great, thing that we went as this wonderful exhibit ends this month.
About the JP II Shrine
The JP II Shrine is a holy place of worship. The Shrine is a place of where you can receive the Sacraments, receive pastoral care and “participate in educational and cultural opportunities” that help grow your faith. At the Shrine, “visitors can enter into its patron’s deep love for God and for man… through liturgy, prayer, art, and cultural and religious formation.”
“The religious sense of the Christian people has always found expression in various forms of piety surrounding the Church’s sacramental life, such as the veneration of relics…” (Universal Catechism, 1674)
Christians in the early Church have venerated or cherished items of The Blessed Virgin Mary or other beloved saints. Relics are the remains of the body or clothes of a departed saint and are considered very special if that person died a martyr for the sake of the Cross. It is *important to note* that Catholic DO NOT worship saints or relics. Making the concerted effort to take a pilgrimage to see the relics of a saint, is “an expression of reverence for their holiness of life, and to seek the saint’s intercession for spiritual aid, healing, and particular graces.”
A relic of Saint Pope John Paul II’s blood can be seen in the lovely Luminous Chapel at the Shrine.
God’s Servant First: The Life and Legacy of Thomas More
Who is Saint Thomas More?
Who is Saint Thomas More you ask? Well, let me of the pleasure of introducing this amazing gentleman. Thomas More was born in London on February 7, 1478, to Agnes Graunger and Sir John More, a lawyer and judge. At age 14, Thomas More entered Oxford in 1492, where he would learn Latin, Greek and prepare for his future studies. After attending Oxford, More became a lawyer and trained in London until 1502 when he was finally approved to begin practice.
In 1505, Thomas More married his first wife, Jane Colt, and they had four children. Thomas often tutored her in music and literature. They had a happy marriage. Jane died six years later and wanting a step-mother for his children More quickly remarried long-time friend Alice Harpur Middleton. Alice, not particulary attractive, was a wealthy widow.
Thomas worked hard at building his law practice and by 1504 was eleected to the Privy Council for King Henry VIII. Yes, *the* KING HENRY VIII, who was supposed to be “The Defender of the (Catholic) Fatih. So you know, how this story is going to end, right?
King Henry VIII took a great liking to Thomas More and promoted him to Lord Chancellor of England. In essence he was the Chief Judge and Legal Counsel and right-hand man to the King. More was fiercely loyal to the King, but the King not so much to More. You see King Henry’s marriage to Queen Katherine of Aragon, Spain, did not produce a living male heir to the throne. So, the King sought an annulment from the Queen, which the Pope stalled for nearly six years before finally saying “no” to King Henry’s request. This rejection, of course, angered King Henry and he seperated himself from the See of Rome and out of rebellion created his own church, The Church of England, where he made himself the defender of this new faith.
Poor Thomas More was stuck between a rock and a hard place (literally) for not standing with the King and his unlawful marriage to Anne Boleyn. More gave the King his resgination, citing ill health, which the King accepted. But when More resfused to attend the coronation of Anne Boylen in 1533, who was now the Queen of England, Henry became livid at the snub. More’s absence was viewed by the King as an insult to him and the new queen. Henry felt that More was undermining the royal authority of the King as head of church and state.
Well, things went down hill quickly for Sir Thomas More after that incident. In 1534, More was arrested and charged with treson. On July 1, More was convicted by Ann Boleyn’s father and brother and uncle. Henry communted the death penalty to beheading.
Sir Thomas More sprent nearly 15 months in the infamous Tower of London. On July 6, 1535, More ascended the scaffold, his last words were that he was “the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”
In the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula at the Tower of London, in an unmarked grave, is the buried decapiated body of Sir Thomas More. His head was put on display in London. It is said that his daughter Margaret possibly bribed someone to take it down. A vault of a church in Canterbury The skull may hold More’s skull.
For a short time this month, vistors at the JP II Shrine in DC, may see a relic of Sir Thomas More’s jawbone and tooth, and a small piece of his famed itchy hair garmet he wore, among many other rare and marvelous pieces of art and treasured publications.
Pope Leo XIII beatified More in 1886, and he was canonized by Pope Pius XI on May 19, 1935.
His feast day is June 22.
He is the patron saint of adopted children lawyers, civil servants, politicians, and difficult marriages.
Saint Thomas More, pray for us!
SHRINE VISITOR INFORMATION
HOURS OF OPERATION
Shrine: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. daily
Exhibit: The exhibit on Saint John Paul II is open every day except Good Friday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas
Gift Shop: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. daily except Good Friday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas
Monday to Saturday
12:00 noon – Holy Mass (preceded by the Angelus)
11 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. – Holy Mass
JPII Relic veneration daily in the Luminous Mysteries Chapel
3900 Harewood Road NE
Washington, DC 20017
Please call 202-635-5400 if you need additional information.
Catholic Cravings by Laura McAlister
My new “shero” (she hero) is Catholic blogger Laura McAlister. Her Irish wit and love for all things Catholic makes me a little green with envy, but I pray that St. Patrick, will intercede for me and show me a little Irish luck. I mean, afterall, St. Patrick did convert my Riley ancestors in Ireland to the Faith. Maybe Laura is my long-lost cousin? Family tree leaf or not, we are family as sisters in Christ. Long live Laura McAlister! Seriously, she is awesome and you need to check out her blog, like right now!
But if you choose to keep reading here, then I will give you the best of Laura McAlister’s Catholic Cravings posts:
“When the stomach is full it is easy to talk of fasting.”
— St Jerome
The Skinny on FAT Tuesday
Thousands of people will revel in Mardi Gras celebrations or “Carnival”. Carnival comes from the Latin words meaning “farewell to flesh.” Today is Fat Tuesday the last day before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. The day is also more popularly known Mardi Gras or less known as Shrove Tuesday. The Shrove coming from the word “shriving” or the confessing of one’s sins and receiving absolution. In the Catholic tradition, a priest pronounces absolution meaning a person is forgiven of their sins and released from the guilt and pain that they have caused them. The tradition is over 1,000 years old. In the Anglo-Saxon Ecclesiastical Institutes, a monk recorded:
“In the week immediately before Lent everyone shall go to his confessor and confess his deeds and the confessor shall so shrive him.”
Lent is the long 40-day journey of abstinence, of giving up anything in our lives that keeps us away from God.
Shrove Tuesday Celebrations
Shrove Tuesday is the last day before Lent, the last day to indulge oneself before the period of fasting and self-denial begins. In the ancient tradition, Catholics would clear out the house of foods that would be forbidden during the Lenten season. Instead of wasting the foods, members of the household would consume the foods on the last day before Ash Wednesday. These forbidden Lenten foods consisted of meat, eggs, fats and dairy products or any foods that would spoil, if not eaten, during the 40 days. Eating these foods on Shrove Tuesday became a familial feast of these items. “Mardi Gras,” the French word for Fat Tuesday, was the day to feast on these fatty foods. An easy dish to prepare that would use up the eggs, fats and dairy and flour, was pancakes. Thus pancakes became associated with Shrove Tuesday. Many parishes still host a Pancake Supper on Shrove Tuesday.
Mardi Gras Celebrations
Beginning on or after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany (Three Kings Day) and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday, are celebration before the Lenten season begins. According to Wikipedia, “Mardi Gras arrived in North America as a French Catholic tradition with the Le Moyne brothers, Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, in the late 17th century, when King Louis XIV sent the pair to defend France’s claim on the territory of Louisiane, which included what are now the U.S. states of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and part of eastern Texas.”
However, today in many American cities, like New Orleans, the Mardi Gras celebrations have gone way past the basic pancake supper to decadent and outrageous displays of debauchery and blatant sinful acts on parade. The overindulgence of food and alcohol or gluttony, have become the norm in modern society on Fat Tuesday. Many non-Christians participate on Fat Tuesday but are nowhere to be found in church the next day of fasting on Ash Wednesday. Excessive eating and drinking can become gluttony, one of the Seven Deadly Sins. How many purple, gold and green beads do you have hanging on your mirror from past celebrations? It is not a sin to party and have a fun time, moderation is the key.
Why Less is -More-or Less Today
Instead of feasting in excess today, why not about a “less is more” attitude reflected in both our hearts and minds and stomachs today? Why not, enjoy the yummy pancake dinner tonight, and not eat your heart out, but begin to fill your soul and spirit on the Word made Flesh (John 1:14)? “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:16). Slim down on feeding your flesh and Bulk up on the Word of God, “taste and see that the Lord is GOOD” (Psalm 34:8)! God our Creator made the Earth for our good pleasure. When we seek out the creation over the Creator, our hearts become out of alignment with His plan for our lives. The Bible says,”For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of affliction, to give you an end and patience” (Jeremiah 29:11). You want to live in love and charity towards your neighbor and be a good and faithful Christian. Today is the perfect time to start the reflection process. Here are a few ways, that you can have and live a less is more life:
- Read one chapter of the book of Proverbs each day, corresponding with the day of the month.
- Read one chapter of the book of Psalms each day; also focus on one Psalm for the entire year that corresponds with the age of your next birthday. (For example, if you will turn 43 in November, then start reading Psalm 43 each day. Then after your birthday, begin studying Psalm 44 for the following year.)
- Read one chapter from one of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) each day.
- Pray the Lord’s Prayer with your Children before bedtime tonight.
- Give money today a charitable organization that supports widows and orphans.
- Have a pancake supper tonight with your family, reduce the puddle of syrup. Eat and be grateful for the abundance of food items in your pantry.
- Say this PreMeal Prayer: “Bless, O Lord, this food to our use and us
to your service, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.”
Say this PostMeal Prayer: “For these and all his mercies, may God’sholy Name be blessed and praised; throughJesus Christ our Lord. Amen”
The Take-Away Message…
Today is day of ancient tradition, celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike. But unlike non-Christians, today should have a deep spiritual and physical meaning as we embark on the upcoming 40-day journey to the Cross, Death and Reserrecution of our Lord. Resist the urge to overinduldge on food and drink today, which can lead to gluttony. Instead enjoy the day with your family and begin to prepare your mind and body in a way that is honoring to the Lord. Begin to fill your soul and spirit on the Word made Flesh. Today is more-or-less about cleaning out our houses, both literal and spiritual, having a seat at His Table and feasting on Him.