The first Thanksgiving in America was a Catholic Mass

I bet you didn’t learn this at school! Check out the full article at Aleteia:

Did you know that the first “thanksgiving” meal in the United States was not celebrated by the Pilgrims in Plymouth, but by Spanish settlers, in what became Florida? And that first “Thanksgiving” was Eucharistic!

Historian Dr. Michael Gannon narrates the events that took place on September 8, 1565.

“When the first Spanish settlers landed in what is now St. Augustine on September 8, 1565, to build a settlement, their first act was to hold a religious service to thank God for the safe arrival of the Spanish fleet… After the Mass, Father Francisco Lopez, the Chaplin of the Spanish ships and the first pastor of St. Augustine, stipulated that the natives from the Timucua tribe be fed along with the Spanish settlers, including Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, the leader of the expedition. It was the very first Thanksgiving and the first Thanksgiving meal in the United States.”

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How to Find Interior Peace When the World is in Turmoil

When the world is in a state of division, it is often hard to find peace of heart. Here is a great little book that I found helps me maintain peace when everything else is in shambles:

Is your heart restless? Do you struggle with prayers not being answered? Are you worried about what is happening in the world? Do you need more peace in your life? If you are interested in finding peace in your soul and relieving the anxiety you feel in your heart, I highly recommend Father Jacques Philippe’s book, Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart.

In the short book, Father Philippe sets out to teach the reader how to maintain a peace of heart that allows a soul to discover God’s will in all things and remain faithful in the midst of any trial. He describes the task of his book by using an analogy:

“Consider the surface of a lake, above which the sun is shining. If the surface of the lake is peaceful and tranquil, the sun will be reflected in this lake; and the more peaceful the lake, the more perfectly will it be reflected. If, on the contrary, the surface of the lake is agitated, undulating, then the image of the sun can not be reflected in it…The more our soul is peaceful and tranquil, the more God is reflected in it, the more His image expresses itself in us, the more His grace acts through us.”

Father Philippe explains that “God is a God of peace. He does not speak and does not operate except in peace, not in trouble and agitation…Often, we cause ourselves to become agitated and disturbed by trying to resolve everything by ourselves, when it would be more efficacious to remain peacefully before the gaze of God and to allow Him to act and work in us.”

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5 Saints who loved the great outdoors

On this feast of Saint John Paul II, here is my latest post on Aleteia:

…Many saints had a great love for the outdoors and took any opportunity to enjoy nature. Here are five such examples in hopes that it will inspire us to spend a little more time with God’s creation, appreciating the world he has created for us.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

Frassati loved the mountains. He once wrote to a friend, “With every passing day I fall madly in love with the mountains; their fascination attracts me.” Frassati loved to climb and ski with his friends, often seeking out the highest peaks. During his short lifetime, Frassati was a member of the “Italian Alpine Club and climbed the Gran Tournalin (3,379m/11,086ft), the Grivola in the Val d’Aosta (3,969m/13,022ft), Mon Viso (3,841m/12,602ft), the Ciamarella (3,676m/12,060ft), the Bessanese (3,532m/11,588ft)” and other smaller peaks.

He is probably most well known for a phrase he wrote on the back of a photograph of him climbing a mountain: Verso l’alto (“toward the top”). After his death it became a phrase associated with his constant desire for sanctity and reaching for the goal of eternal life.

Saint John Paul II

In 1954, Father Karol Wojtyła was awarded a “Bronze Badge for Hiking Tourism” by a local organization in Poland. Wojtyla won this badge for hiking on foot on multiple occasions during that year, totaling 166 km (103 miles). More than half of these excursions were completed during the winter (November 1 – March 31).

Throughout the remainder of his life, John Paul II would go hiking, skiing and kayaking with groups of friends as a priest, bishop, cardinal and pope. He even sneaked out of the Vatican to ski and did so at least 100 times!

Needless to say, John Paul II loved the outdoors.

Saint Hubert

Appointed Bishop of Liège in 708, Hubert is more widely known for his conversion story and a legend regarding a vision he saw while hunting a deer. During his youth, Hubert spent his days hunting, even skipping out on Church services.

On Good Friday one year, while the faithful were attending services, Hubert pursued a magnificent stag. After drawing close to it, the animal turned and, as the legend narrates, he saw a crucifix between its antlers, and heard a voice saying: “Hubert, unless you turn to the Lord, and lead a holy life, you shall quickly go down into hell.” Hubert then prostrated himself and said, “Lord, what would Thou have me do?” God said in return, “Go and seek Lambert, and he will instruct you.”

Hubert sought out Saint Lambert, who instructed him and set him on the pathway to sanctity. Saint Hubert is regarded as the patron saint of hunters and is also known for promoting ethical hunting practices, treating animals as part of God’s creation.

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Are Ouija boards an ‘Origin of Evil’?

Here is my latest article on Aleteia regarding the use of Ouija boards and the upcoming movie Ouija: Origin of Evil:

….What is so sinister about the Ouija board?

The premise of the Ouija board is that a living person can communicate with a soul or spirit and the spirit will communicate back by spelling out answers on the board. Many children (and adults) will play this game saying they don’t “believe” in it and think that one of their friends is playing a joke on them when the pieces move on the board. It is often viewed as a “spooky” game to be played in a dimly lit room in the basement during a teenage sleepover.

On other occasions adults, unable to deal with the departure of a loved one, use the game in hopes of communicating with a deceased relative.

While someone using the board may not have the intention of calling a demonic spirit, the act of using the Ouija board is a form of divination (discovering hidden knowledge through supernatural means) and is very real.

To make an analogy, you may not “believe” there is someone on the other line of the telephone and may talk in it, thinking no one is listening, but the fact is that someone is listening and can communicate back.

We too often forget that there is much more to this world than meets the eye. There do exist angels, demons, spirits and souls and they can have an impact on our life. It is simply not possible to use the Ouija board as a game, as the very action of using it has profound spiritual consequences beyond our control.

One example of how this game can invite an unwanted spiritual presence is the case of a 13-year-old boy who was introduced to the Ouija board in 1949. This boy became possessed by a demon and underwent a month-long exorcism by Father William Bowdern, SJ. These events inspired the 1971 book, The Exorcist, which was put on screen in 1973. The current Fox miniseries is also inspired by the book and film adaptation.

Unfortunately, this case is not isolated and there have been countless others over the years. Exorcists have repeatedly warned against using Ouija boards, and explain how “demons will masquerade as departed loved ones as a means of gaining possession.” Even paranormal investigators are leery about using them, knowing what kind of spirits can be invited into a person’s home.

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Nine Days of Prayer with Saint John Paul the Great

**Below are links to the next days in the Novena

Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7
Day 8
Day 9

Leading up to the feast day of Saint John Paul the Great on October 22nd, I invite you to join me in prayer to ask for his powerful intercession as well as learn something new about him each day.

Over the next nine days, I will post a prayer to John Paul II as well as a fact about him that many do not know about. Thus, we will join our prayers together to pray for all of our intentions and ask John Paul II to intercede for us.

Little Known Fact #1

  • During his Theological Studies in Seminary, Karol Wojtyla greatly desired to read the works of St. John of the Cross in the original Spanish language. He mastered the language very quickly and was even asked by the Spanish instructor to assist him in translating a Spanish text that was to be read over the Polish new radio a few hours before it would be broadcast.

Novena Prayer

O Holy Trinity,
we thank you for having given to the Church
Pope John Paul II,
and for having made him shine with your fatherly tenderness,
the glory of the Cross of Christ and the splendor of the Spirit of love

He, trusting completely in your infinite mercy
and in the maternal intercession of Mary, has shown himself
in the likeness of Jesus the Good Shepherd
and has pointed out to us holiness
as the path to reach eternal communion with You.

Grant us, through his intercession,
according to your will, the grace that we implore, [state your intention here]
in thanksgiving that he has been numbered among your saints.
Amen.

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