April 10

Friday, April 10
Good Friday

Good morning, Good morning.

Today is Good Friday.  The Good Friday Stations of the Cross will take place in the Church on Camera at 3:00 and the Good Friday Service will be offered on Camera at 7PM.  Please join us at:  https://vimeo.com/event/31282.  As the ceremony involves venerating the Cross in church you are encouraged to take your family cross and venerate it at home at the same time.  Another way to reach the church camera is to dial into the Church Web Site at:  https://saintfrancisparish.org/changes-to-church-calendar-and-events-during-covid-19/   Look for Live Streaming, “Click Here.”

I have been waiting to offer this letter for a while.  It is offered for the parishioners involved with the “Mother Teresa Project,” raising crops on the parish land adjacent to the entrance to the church.  As the weather improves each day we are hopeful for a bumper crop for the food pantry in Leesburg.  The one feature holding us back is the Coronavirus.

Having lived in Iowa for ten years of my life I can well remember some of the farmers planting on Good Friday. One to the light of a full moon.  And now, the rest of the story.

Across the United States, particularly in the warmer zones, gardeners swear that Good Friday is a good day to plant — or at least during the week of the holiday. Our readers, especially those in the South, comment on our web site each year that their ancestors have been following this tradition for years with great success, and passed down the practice to them.

Even in cooler climates, people use Good Friday as a time to plant root crops and cool season veggies. According to this bit of folklore, plants grow better and bear more fruit. But is there any truth to this? Is Good Friday a good day to plant your garden?


The Good Friday Garden Tradition

When you look deeper into the tradition of Good Friday being a good day to plant your garden, the first thing you’ll notice is that the tradition varies widely depending on your region. And it seems it may have originated in Ireland.

In the 1600s, potatoes were just arriving in Europe and Europeans were suspicious of the tuber, believing that it might be evil. To try and safeguard themselves against potential misfortune, they started planting potatoes on Good Friday, but only after sprinkling their gardens with Holy Water.

Nowadays, Good Friday potato planting persists in some areas, especially in cooler zones of the United States where potatoes are one of the few crops that can go into the ground so early. In other areas, especially in the South, it is common to plant as much as possible on Good Friday — both cool and warm season crops. Many believe this stems from the symbolism of Good Friday and Easter. Easter represents the resurrection of Christ and in ancient times, the holiday was known to many cultures as a symbol of fertility and rebirth.


 For your reflection on this most solemn of days I leave you with a poem that was a favorite of Archbishop Fulton Sheen when he would speak on Good Friday.  Following the poem, “Indifference” I leave you with the Good Friday Presentation at St. Patrick Cathedral in New York, by Archbishop Sheen.  It is a classic.

And since I mentioned Good Friday as a day for farmers I mention two stories of the greatest evangelist in recent history of the Church.  Much of his early life was spent in Peoria, Illinois.  “Fulton” was his mother’s maiden name.  He was baptized Peter John Sheen.  His family was impoverished, raising chickens.  When his aunt and uncle would visit he would ask for a dime.  He never missed.  His mother corrected him and forbade him from asking for the dime as the aunt and uncle themselves had little money.  So when they returned he would just look at them and say, “You Know.”  He got a dime every time. 

Another agrarian legend, that I know to be true, when the Archbishop joined us for dinner at St. Thomas More Cathedral one night…  He never ate chicken.  It seems one of his jobs on the farm was wringing the necks of the chickens.  That forever repulsed him to even considering the idea of eating chicken. 



by Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy (1883-1929)
N.B. His last name was “Studdert Kennedy”, not “Kennedy”.

When Jesus came to Golgotha, they hanged Him on a tree,
They drove great nails through hands and feet, and made a Calvary;
They crowned Him with a crown of thorns, red were His wounds and deep,
For those were crude and cruel days, and human flesh was cheap.

When Jesus came to Birmingham, they simply passed Him by.
They would not hurt a hair of Him, they only let Him die;
For men had grown more tender, and they would not give Him pain,
They only just passed down the street, and left Him in the rain.

Still Jesus cried, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do,”
And still it rained the winter rain that drenched Him through and through;
The crowds went home and left the streets without a soul to see,
And Jesus crouched against a wall, and cried for Calvary.



Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel… and now the rest of the story.

Tomorrow, at 9 AM, Eastern Time,  many many priests across the world will offer an exorcism for the time and place in which we live.

On Oct. 13, 1884, Pope Leo XIII had a terrible vision of the assault of the powers of Hell against Holy Mother Church, and ordered the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel to be said at the end of Mass. He also composed an act of exorcism and ordered it to be inserted into the Roman ritual, and explicitly mentioned what he had seen:

The Church, the Spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, has been filled with bitterness and inebriated with poison by her crafty enemies, who have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions. In the place where the See of Holy Peter and the Chair of Truth has been set up as the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.

In these modern times of terrible tribulation, when the pandemic has deprived Catholics of Holy Mass and the sacraments, the Evil One has gone into a frenzy and multiplied his attacks to tempt souls into sin. These blessed days of Holy Week, which used to be the ideal time to go to confession to prepare ourselves for our Easter Communion, now see us locked inside our houses, but they cannot stop us praying to Our Lord.

Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò

 Since it is a day of silence, while we await His glorious resurrection, this Holy Saturday ought to be an ideal opportunity for sacred ministers. There is no need to go out, or to breach any of the laws currently in force.

I should like to ask you all to pray together, using the form given by Leo XIII, the Exorcism against Satan and the Apostate Angels (Exorcismus in Satanam et angelos apostaticos, Rituale Romanum, Tit. XII, Caput III), at 3 p.m. Roman time  [9 a.m. ET] on Saturday, April 11, 2020, so we can all fight together the common enemy of the whole human race.

Holy Saturday is the day when we remember Our Lord Jesus Christ as He descended into Hell to free the souls of the fathers from Satan’s chains. In the great silence after Our Lord’s passion and death, Our Lady kept watch and believed, waiting in hope for the resurrection of her dearly beloved Son. It was a time when the world seemed to have won, but when everything was being prepared for the glory of Easter.

I should like to ask all my brother bishops and priests to join me as I recite this exorcism, knowing the power of this sacramental — especially when it is recited together with all other priests — to help the Church in Her fight against Satan. I should also like to recommend that all of you wear a stole, the sign of your priestly power, and Holy Water.

The great Mother of God, Mary Most Holy, terrible as an army set in array, and St. Michael the Archangel, patron of the Holy Church and Prince of the Heavenly Host, will help all of us.

+ Carlo Maria Viganò,
Titular Archbishop of Ulpiana

 For the exorcism prayer tap on the website below.

 Let us pray for one another.

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