Starting the morning off with God
is the key to strength and success in your day!
A great number of Christians perished at the hands of the Roman Emperor Nero during the terrible persecution that lasted from 64-68 A.D. This was the first of many major persecutions of the newly founded Church at Rome. The holy men and women who first died for the Gospel of Jesus Christ are also called the “Protomartyrs of Rome.” Some were burned as living torches in the Emperor’s gardens; some were crucified; others were fed to wild animals. Many died even before Sts. Peter and Paul, and therefore it is said of them that they are the “Disciples of the Apostles ... whom the Holy Roman Church sent to their Lord before the Apostles’ death." God used the sacrifice of these holy men and women, who suffered like their savior Jesus Christ, to lay the indestructible foundation of His Church. Their bold witness for the Christian faith as they endured a brutal death won many converts and caused the Church to grow and spread throughout the world. The feast day of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church is June 30th.
Bl. Gennaro Sarnelli (1702 – 1744) was born to a noble family in Naples, Italy. He was very well educated, and completed his doctorate in civil and canon law at the age of 20. He gave much of his time to caring for the incurably sick, through which he discerned a call to the priesthood. He was ordained in 1732. He became good friends with St. Alphonsus Liguori, founder of the Redemptorists. Shortly afterward, Blessed Gennaro became a Redemptorist priest. Gennaro's special work was preaching to those who were the most spiritually deprived, while also caring for the temporal needs of impoverished children. He was a great defender of the dignity of women, and worked intensely to free women and girls from forced prostitution. Blessed Gennaro was also a talented writer, penning over 30 books ranging in subjects such as theology, law, prayer, spiritual direction, and contemporary moral issues. He worked so hard that his health suffered, and he died when he was only 42 years old. He was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II in 1996. His feast day is June 30.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is one of the most popular Catholic devotions. Although it was beloved in previous centuries, Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in 1673, showing her a vision of the now-famous image of His Sacred Heart, surrounded by flames. He said to her: “My Heart is so full of love for men that It can no longer contain the flames of Its burning love. I must discover to men the treasures of My Heart and save them from perdition." She was given the special mission to spread devotion to His Sacred Heart throughout the Church. Jesus gave St. Margaret Mary many promises associated with this devotion, and requested that a feast day in honor of His Sacred Heart be instituted on the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi. In 1856, the Feast of the Sacred Heart was spread to the Universal Church, and in 1899 Pope Leo XIII solemnly consecrated all mankind to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, calling it “the great act” of his pontificate.
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, for the salvation of souls, the reparation of sins, the reunion of all Christians, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father this month. Amen.
Almighty and everlasting God, have mercy upon Thy servant, Pope Francis, our Supreme Pontiff, and direct him, according to Thy loving kindness, in the way of eternal salvation; that, of Thy gift, he may ever desire that which is pleasing unto Thee and may accomplish it with all his might. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Our Father. Hail Mary.