May the Saints & Feast Days for the month of March inspire you to grow closer to Christ Jesus. The month of March is dedicated to St. Joseph.

March 7: Saints Perpetua and Felicity (d. 203) 

Perpetua was a wealthy young woman and mother, and Felicitas, a slave, both were catechumens. The persecution of Septimius Severus (202 AD) against prospective converts was particularly severe. Both were arrested and thrown into prison to face martyrdom. Perpetua had recently given birth to a son. Felicity was 8 months pregnant when arrested. According to Roman law she could not be executed before giving birth. She gave birth to a baby girl who was adopted by Christian parents after her martyrdom. Both saints are patrons of expectant mothers. 

On the seventh of March, the women were led into the amphitheater and severely scourged. Then they were tossed about by an exceptionally wild cow, gored, and thrown to the ground. Afterwards they were put to death by the sword.The prison warden, seeing their courage, later became a believer. 

“Continue firm in the faith, love one another, and be not scandalized at our sufferings.” – St. Perpetua 

March 8: St. John of God (1495-1550) 

St. John was of Portuguese descent, and was first a shepherd, a book dealer and then a soldier. At the age of forty he was converted by the preaching of St. John of Avila. His conversion was so sudden that he was considered to be out of his mind. He was incarcerated in the Royal Hospital in Granada, and suffered the cruel treatments of the day, which included whipping. Here he discovered how to show his love for God, through caring for those who were unable to respond to this cruel treatment. He resolved to devote the remainder of his life caring for people living on the margins of society. He founded the Order of the Brothers Hospitallers and died at Granada in 1550. Pope Leo XIII declared him the patron saint of hospitals, the sick and the dying. His name is invoked in the Litany of the Dying.

“With outstretched arms He begs us to turn toward Him, to become the servants of love. Just as water extinguishes a fire, so love wipes away sin.” – St. John of God

March 17: St. Patrick, 387-461 AD 

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and a legendary evangelist for Christ. At the age of 16, he was captured by Irish raiders and sold as a slave in Ireland. Forced to work as a shepherd, he suffered greatly from hunger and cold. His captivity however, was the source of his spiritual conversion. After six years Patrick escaped Ireland, and was eventually consecrated bishop at the age of 43. His great desire was to proclaim the good news to the Irish. He returned to Ireland in 433 and converted many people -eventually thousands – and began building churches across the country, until his death in 461. 

“Christ beside me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me.”

– St. Patrick 

March 19: The Solemnity of St. Joseph 

St. Joseph was an ordinary laborer even though he was a descendent of the royal house of David. He became the spouse of the Mother of God and the Foster-father of Jesus. About him the Bible has little more to say than that he was a just man – an expression which indicates how faithfully he fulfilled his mission of protecting and guarding Jesus and Mary. Of St. Joseph’s death the Bible tells us nothing. There are indications, however, that he died before the beginning of Christ’s public life. Just as his silent years at Nazareth, he remained in the background through centuries of Church history. Only in more recent times has he been accorded greater recognition. Veneration of St. Joseph began in the fifteenth century, fostered by St. Brigid of Sweden, St. Bernardine of Siena, and St. Teresa of Avila. 

In 1870 Pope Pius IX declared St. Joseph to be the patron and protector of the universal Church. This was the same pope who declared the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1854), and who had a profound devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In 1875, on the 200th anniversary of the visions of the Sacred Heart revealed to St. Margaret Mary, Pope Pius IX consecrated all Catholics to the Sacred Heart.

“Joseph, Son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Mt 1:20-21) 

March 24: Palm Sunday 

On Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion we commemorate Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, the beginning of the week to remember Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. We proclaim Christ as Victor: “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord”. But by our faith we know that His triumph is over sin and death, making our peace with God, and opening the gate of Eternal Life with the Holy Trinity. The Mass this day presents both His triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the story of His passion. This reminds us that His triumph was not what was expected, but it was a triumph over our true enemies, sin and death. 

“Christ Jesus, though He was in the form of God, 

did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped. Rather, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross”. (Phil 2:6-8)

March 25: The Annunciation of the Lord 

March 25th is usually the Solemnity of the Annunciation, but when it falls during Holy Week, the feast is transferred to the first day after the Octave of Easter. For this year the Solemnity will be celebrated on April 8th. We are including the feast day in the March newsletter since nearly everyone associates March 25th with the Annunciation. March 25th is also the feast day of St. Dismas, the good thief. 

The Solemnity of the Annunciation commemorates the coming of the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, to announce to her the special mission God had chosen for her to be the mother of His only son. The feast of the Annunciation began to be celebrated on this day during the fourth and fifth centuries, soon after the date for celebrating Christmas was universalized throughout the Church. This feast celebrates the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity and the salvation of all mankind. 

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of

David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ” Hail, full of grace,the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, *”Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” – Luke 1: 26-31 

March 28: Holy Thursday 

Two Masses are allowed on Holy Thursday—the Chrism Mass and the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. In each diocese there is a Chrism Mass, or Mass of the Holy Oils, said in the morning at the cathedral of the diocese. The holy oils blessed by the bishop are used throughout the diocese for the following year in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders and the Anointing of the Sick. This Mass also celebrates the institution of the priesthood. 

During the evening of Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper is celebrated. It is celebrated in the evening because the Passover began at sundown. There is only one Mass, at which the whole community and priests of the parish participate. This Mass recalls the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the priesthood. During this Mass the Gloria is sung and the bells are rung. After the Gloria, there is no more music or bells until the Easter Vigil. After the Communion Prayer, there is no final blessing. The Holy Eucharist is carried in procession through Church and then transferred into a place of reposition. After the Mass, we reflect on the Agony in the Garden, and the arrest and imprisonment of Jesus. The altar is stripped bare, crosses are removed or covered. 

“My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here and watch with Me … watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” – Mat 26:38-41 

March 29: Good Friday 

Today the whole Church mourns the death of our Savior. This is a day set aside for fasting and prayer. According to the Church’s long standing tradition, the sacraments are not celebrated on Good Friday or Holy Saturday. Instead of Mass we hold a service that is the “Celebration of the Lord’s Passion,” around three o’clock in the afternoon, when Christ expired. The service is divided into three parts: Liturgy of the Word, Veneration of the Cross and Holy Communion. Then there is a “Prayer After Communion,” and a “Prayer Over the People,” and everyone departs in silence. 

“Yet it was our pain that He bore, our sufferings He endured. We thought of Him as stricken, struck down by God and afflicted, but He was pierced for our sins, crushed for

our iniquity. He bore the punishment that makes us whole, by His wounds we were healed”. – Isa 53: 4-5. 

March 31: Easter Sunday The Resurrection of the Lord 

“He is risen. The resurrection of Christ is a pledge of our own resurrection. It is the foundation upon which our faith rests. It is the guarantee of our redemption and God’s assurance that our sins are forgiven and that we are called to eternal life. Christ, the innocent One, has reconciled sinners to the Father. The Israelites marked the doors of their houses with the blood of the paschal lamb. We are the new Israel, and “Christ our Pasch is sacrificed.” We mark ourselves with His blood, whenever we receive the Holy Eucharist”. – The Light of the World by Benedict Baur, O.S.B 

There is no doubt that the Apostles thought that the events of Good Friday had put an end to Jesus establishing the Kingdom of God. Even though He had repeatedly stated that He would be crucified and rise on the third day, they had completely misunderstood His predictions. They were convinced that the tomb near Calvary was the end of all their hopes. They had locked themselves into the room of the Last Supper for fear of the Jews and were waiting for an opportunity to slip out of the city quietly. But the resurrection changed all this. The unexpected, the unhoped-for happened. Had they been hoping for it, or even thinking of it, there might be some reason to suspect it was only an hallucination, the result of their “wishful thinking,” but the very opposite was the case. They were hard to convince even when it happened. 

All this was intended by God—the basis of our Christian faith was proved beyond doubt. Christ, who had died on the cross on Good Friday, was raised from the dead by His Father on Easter morning. He returned to heaven in the full glory of the divinity which He had hidden while on earth, together with His human body, now also glorified. There as God and Man, He pleads for us at the right hand of the Father until the day when He who redeemed all men will come to judge them all. – Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan, O.F.M. “But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for HE HAS RISEN, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples that HE HAS RISEN from the dead.” – Matthew 28:5-7

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