- Wednesday, 05 February 2014 19:19
Today we honor Saint Agatha, an early virgin and martyr. She is remembered for her chastity, her desire for living for Jesus alone, and for her compassion. Saint Agatha is the patron saint for those living with breast cancer.
The women and men who bear the cross of cancer of the breast.
Thoughts and prayers also turn to those who live in Sicily, for Cardinal Burke as the titular of the Roman church bearing the saint’s name. But we ought to pray for those who struggle with chastity. I am thinking of those priests, religious and those who have made promises to live according to the evangelical vows.
The prayer to Saint Agatha for us to offer.
- Tuesday, 05 February 2013 08:59
May the Virgin Martyr Saint Agatha implore your compassion for us, O Lord, we pray, for she found favor with you by the courage of her martyrdom and the merit of her chastity.
A woman so brutally killed in the 3rd century is not that important for many people today. I should point out that the saints, especially the virgin martyrs so very much revered in the Church are important because they show us who Jesus Christ is by the stories of their lives.
I would recommend a marvelous book by Michael J.K. Fuller, The Virgin Martyrs: A Hagiographical and Mystagogical Interpretation (Chicago: Hillenbrand Books, 2011).
Our prayers are with the women and men who live with diseases of the breast, of whom Saint Agatha is their patron. Likewise, we ought to pray the intention of medical research for breast cancer and the medical professionals who work closely with those with the cancer.
I’d also like to pray for the cardinal titular of the Church of Saint Agatha of the Goths (in Rome), the American Raymond Cardinal Burke, the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura.
The prayer to Saint Agatha for us to offer.
- Saturday, 12 February 2011 12:41
The Church has a ministry, a role, a work, in helping to restore a person to health and wholeness because the Church is the continuation of Jesus’ ministry of healing in the world today.
Last Friday and Sunday I spear-headed two gatherings for those who live with breast cancer for the feast of Saint Agatha, the patron saint for those living with diseases of the breast. These gesture of prayer and solidarity were done in conjunction with the Order of Saint Agatha, Dominican Friars Healthcare ministry and two churches.
Anointing with blessed oil is a sacramental way in which the Church through her priests is concretely present to those in need spiritual comfort by complementing the medical and social practitioners in the ministry of healing. Any illness can have the effect of personal and communal isolation. What the Church is saying by this gesture of prayer and anointing is that the person is not alone, that we, the community of faith, empathize with the effects of illness and want to be in solidarity with the ill person. As was said, “breast cancer was the best thing to have happened to me because I’ve had to live life differently, more intently, and in a God-centered way.”
Why anoint someone? There are 5 identifiable reasons to administer the Sacrament of the Sick:
- curing and healing, a distinction here: we ask God for a cure, we ask also ask for a healing; the person is looking for God to bestow the grace of a comprehensive experience of restoration of body and spirit — “the whole person is helped and saved, sustained by trust in God, and strengthened against the temptations of the Evil One and against anxiety over death”; the relationship between God and the person is bridged in the sacrament;
- the gift of strengthening against debilitating effects of despair, depression, fear and anger; this Sacrament asks God for the grace to recognize and hopefully to unite any and all suffering to the experience Christ faced on the cross; the strength prayed for is not to allow illness to define their person because one’s humanity is more than a medical diagnosis;
- forgiveness of one’s sins: no human person –except Jesus (and He was also divine) and the Virgin Mary were sinless– and therefore sins are forgiven with this Sacrament; our human condition is frail and sickness can enhance the ugly side of ourselves and what we need and want is a healing of the soul; the effect of forgiveness is the reconciliation of the person to God, self and others; I think it is true that an illness has the potential to bring out of ourselves sinful attitudes, actions and patterns of speech that are not truly who we are as persons;
- a preparation for life with God, i.e., eternal life: no one is going to live for ever; perhaps the sickness is an opportunity to take stock in one’s life as it has been lived up to now and to patiently and lovingly make a life’s examination to see where there’s been love and to see where love has been absent; sickness is God’s way to call us to a deeper conversion that we’ve never experienced prior to this moment; here the Sacrament is asking us to look at our immortal soul with a degree of seriousness and the sickness as an education to greater freedom in Christ;
- conforming oneself to Christ crucified and risen: to be conformed to Christ means to adhere to Him, to listen to Him as we would listen to a loved one in friendship; there is a new reality in the life of a Christian –Jesus Christ is no longer dead, He’s risen; that Christ is risen and seated at the right hand of God the Father tells us of a new reality, a fact, in our human existence; the Sacrament brings us closer to cross Christ carried and died on and tells us that our salvation is there on the cross with Christ; we are not alone –we are with Jesus who is total love, total compassion; the healing offered in this sacrament is one of total trust and love in the One who made us, sustains us and carries us along with Him.
On Friday (2/4) evening in the context of the Friday Mass Father John Lavorgna, the pastor of Our Lady of Pompeii Church administered the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick for about 35 women and men.
At the Noon Mass on Sunday (2/6) at St Catherine of Siena Church, Father Jordan Kelly and three other priests administered the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick to more than 125 women and men.
The New Evangelization TV (Currents on Net TV) in the Diocese of Brooklyn graciously covered the event for the second year in a row. Their story this year was titled “Victims of Breast Cancer find Spiritual Comfort
” highlights the beauty of prayer and solidarity.
It was in the Middle Ages that it became the pattern of sacramental economy that the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick was given only when someone was on death’s door step and it was called the “last rites” or “extreme unction.” Human experience of civil strife –in the international and domestic scene– that propelled liturgical theologians to rethink pastoral practice and our liturgical imagination. The Sacrament of the Sick would sick be closely connected with those living with acute illness and those near death, but also the Sacrament would be administered more broadly to those living with chronic illness as well as those living with mental illness and the experience of old age. However, people –including priests educated since 1972– continue to refer this sacrament as last rites.
The question always remains: Who is to be anointed? In a terrific book on the subject, Understanding Sacramental Healing: Anointing and Viaticum, Monsignor John C. Kasza speaks of the Sacrament as given for the magna infirmitas which “…indicates a weakness, feebleness, infirmity, inconstancy, or sickness which debilitates a person’s functioning within society” (footnote, p. 215).
In 2010, the first time we observed the feast of St Agatha and praying for and with those living with breast cancer can reviewed here
- Thursday, 03 February 2011 21:59
We will be gathering to pray the Holy Mass for those living with breast cancer in honor of Saint Agatha, the patron saint of those living with breast cancer.
Saint Agatha’s feast day is February 5 but for pastoral reasons, the liturgical observance will be held on the day before and the after the feast.
No one is without a family member or a friend who has breast cancer.
This is an opportunity to join together in prayer and friendship with those living with ongoing trial –you could say cross– of breast
On Friday, February 4, 2011, at the 5:30 pm Mass at Our Lady of Pompeii Church (355 Foxon Road, Route 80, East Haven, CT), Father John Lavorgna will administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick invoking the intercession of Saint Agatha.
Let your friends know of this special Mass and anointing service. All are invited and most welcome.
- Wednesday, 19 January 2011 06:44
More and more we are seeing research demonstrating that abortion has caused breast cancer. A few months ago I posted an article saying as much. LifeNews.com published an article on January 17th giving the statistic that in 38 years –since the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe vs Wade– that “a least 300,000 cases of breast cancer” have been identified. Baruch College Professor Joel Brind published a 1996 paper in which he made the claim that women who had induced abortion had a “30% greater chance of developing breast cancer.” Steven Ertelt’s article “Abortion Has Caused 300K Breast Cancer Deaths Since Roe” connects the dots.
Sad to think that the choice to end the life of one’s unborn baby raises the risk of one’s death by 30%.
All this info is on my mind as I am planning two Masses with the Rite of Anointing of the Sick for women and men living with breast cancer in honor of Saint Agatha for her forthcoming feast day in early February. Saint Agatha is at the patron saint of those people living with diseases of the breast. One Mass Mass at the Church of Our Lady of Pompeii (East Haven, CT) on Friday evening February 4 and the second Mass at the Church of Saint Catherine of Siena (NYC).