As a short guide and aid to your March liturgical living, I have compiled some quick tips, ideas, and links to bring joy and festivity into your domestic church. This is not a list of every single March feast day, but will be a very good start.
Feast days that you will find in this post!
1. St. Katharine Drexel
2. St. Patrick
3. St. Joseph
4. The Annunciation
Note: This is not a full list of resources on my blog for feast day celebrations, activities, and recipes in the month of March. Go browse around for saints and feast days that are special to you.
The Month of February is Dedicated to the St. Joseph
St. Katharine Drexel- March 3
If your father is an international banker and you ride in a private railroad car, you are not likely to be drawn into a life of voluntary poverty. But if your mother opens your home to the poor three days each week and your father spends half an hour each evening in prayer, it is not impossible that you will devote your life to the poor and give away millions of dollars. Katharine Drexel did that.
Born in Philadelphia in 1858, she had an excellent education and traveled widely. As a rich girl, Katharine also had a grand debut into society. But when she nursed her stepmother through a three-year terminal illness, she saw that all the Drexel money could not buy safety from pain or death, and her life took a profound turn.
Katharine had always been interested in the plight of the Indians, having been appalled by what she read in Helen Hunt Jackson’s A Century of Dishonor. While on a European tour, she met Pope Leo XIII and asked him to send more missionaries to Wyoming for her friend Bishop James O’Connor. The pope replied, “Why don’t you become a missionary?” His answer shocked her into considering new possibilities.
Back home, Katharine visited the Dakotas, met the Sioux leader Red Cloud and began her systematic aid to Indian missions.
Katharine Drexel could easily have married. But after much discussion with Bishop O’Connor, she wrote in 1889, “The feast of Saint Joseph brought me the grace to give the remainder of my life to the Indians and the Colored.” Newspaper headlines screamed “Gives Up Seven Million!”
After three and a half years of training, Mother Drexel and her first band of nuns—Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored—opened a boarding school in Santa Fe. A string of foundations followed. By 1942, she had a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states, plus 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools. Segregationists harassed her work, even burning a school in Pennsylvania. In all, she established 50 missions for Indians in 16 states.
Two saints met when Mother Drexel was advised by Mother Cabrini about the “politics” of getting her order’s Rule approved in Rome. Her crowning achievement was the founding of Xavier University in New Orleans, the first Catholic university in the United States for African Americans.
At 77, Mother Drexel suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. Apparently her life was over. But now came almost 20 years of quiet, intense prayer from a small room overlooking the sanctuary. Small notebooks and slips of paper record her various prayers, ceaseless aspirations, and meditations. She died at 96 and was canonized in 2000. (Franciscan Media)
St. Katharine Prayer
Ever loving God, you called Saint Katharine Drexel to teach the message of the Gospel and to bring the life of the Eucharist to the Black and Native American peoples. By her prayers and example, enable us to work for justice among the poor and oppressed. Draw us all into the Eucharistic community of your Church, that we may be one in you. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
1. New Orleans Beignets because she founded Xavier University in New Orleans.
St. Patrick- March 17
On March 17, Catholics celebrate St. Patrick, the fifth century bishop and patron of Ireland, whose life of holiness set the example for many of the Church's future saints.
St. Patrick is said to have been born around 389 AD in Britain. Captured by Irish raiders when he was about 16, St. Patrick was taken as a slave to Ireland where he lived for six years as a shepherd before escaping and returning to his home.
At home, he studied the Christian faith at monastic settlements in Italy and in what is now modern-day France. He was ordained a deacon by the Bishop of Auxerre, France around the year 418 AD and ordained a bishop in 432 AD.
It was around this time when that he was assigned to minister to the small, Christian communities in Ireland who lacked a central authority and were isolated from one another.
When St. Patrick returned to Ireland, he was able to use his knowledge of Irish culture that he gained during his years of captivity. Using the traditions and symbols of the Celtic people, he explained Christianity in a way that made sense to the Irish and was thus very successful in converting the natives.
The shamrock, which St. Patrick used to explain the Holy Trinity, is a symbol that has become synonymous with Irish Catholic culture.
Although St. Patrick's Day is widely known and celebrated every March the world over, various folklore and legend that surround the saint can make it difficult to determine fact from fiction.
Legends falsely site him as the man who drove away snakes during his ministry despite the climate and location of Ireland, which have never allowed snakes to inhabit the area.
St. Patrick is most revered not for what he drove away from Ireland, but for what he brought, and the foundation he built for the generations of Christians who followed him. Although not the first missionary to the country, he is widely regarded as the most successful. The life of sacrifice, prayer and fasting has laid the foundation for the many saints that the small island was home to following his missionary work.
To this day, he continues to be revered as one of the most beloved Saints of Ireland.
In March of 2011, the Irish bishops' conference marked their patron's feast by remembering him as “pioneer in an inhospitable climate.”
As the Church in Ireland faces her own recent difficulties following clerical sex abuse scandals, comfort can be found in the plight of St. Patrick, the bishops said.
They quoted The Confession of St. Patrick, which reads: “May it never befall me to be separated by my God from his people whom he has won in this most remote land. I pray God that he gives me perseverance, and that he will deign that I should be a faithful witness for his sake right up to the time of my passing.” (CNA)
As I arise today, may the strength of God pilot me, the power of God uphold me, the wisdom of God guide me. May the eye of God look before me, the ear of God hear me, the word of God speak for me. May the hand of God protect me, the way of God lie before me, the shield of God defend me, the host of God save me. May Christ shield me today. Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit, Christ when I stand, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.
St. Joseph- March 19
The Bible pays Joseph the highest compliment: he was a “just” man. The quality meant a lot more than faithfulness in paying debts.
When the Bible speaks of God “justifying” someone, it means that God, the all-holy or “righteous” one, so transforms a person that the individual shares somehow in God’s own holiness, and hence it is really “right” for God to love him or her. In other words, God is not playing games, acting as if we were lovable when we are not.
By saying Joseph was “just,” the Bible means that he was one who was completely open to all that God wanted to do for him. He became holy by opening himself totally to God.
The rest we can easily surmise. Think of the kind of love with which he wooed and won Mary, and the depth of the love they shared during their marriage.
It is no contradiction of Joseph’s manly holiness that he decided to divorce Mary when she was found to be with child. The important words of the Bible are that he planned to do this “quietly” because he was “a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame” (Matthew 1:19).
The just man was simply, joyfully, wholeheartedly obedient to God—in marrying Mary, in naming Jesus, in shepherding the precious pair to Egypt, in bringing them to Nazareth, in the undetermined number of years of quiet faith and courage. (Franciscan Media)
St. Joseph Prayer
To you, O blessed Joseph, do we come in our tribulation, and having implored the help of your most holy Spouse, we confidently invoke your patronage also. Through that charity which bound you to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God and through the paternal love with which you embraced the Child Jesus, we humbly beg you graciously to regard the inheritance which Jesus Christ has purchased by his Blood, and with your power and strength to aid us in our necessities.
O most watchful guardian of the Holy Family, defend the chosen children of Jesus Christ; O most loving father, ward off from us every contagion of error and corrupting influence; O our most mighty protector, be kind to us and from heaven assist us in our struggle with the power of darkness. As once you rescued the Child Jesus from deadly peril, so now protect God's Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity; shield, too, each one of us by your constant protection, so that, supported by your example and your aid, we may be able to live piously, to die in holiness, and to obtain eternal happiness in heaven.
Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord- March 25
The Feast of the Annunciation is one of the most important in the Church calendar. First, it celebrates the actual Incarnation of Our Savior -- the Word made flesh in the womb of His mother, Mary. Second, it is a principal Marian feast. Two other feasts honoring Our Lord's mother, the Assumption (August 15), and the Immaculate Conception (December 8), are celebrated as Holy Days of Obligation in the United States. New Year's Day, January 1, is observed as a Solemnity of Mary.
Many Catholics who are deeply concerned with the defense of the life of unborn children believe that it would be most fitting if the Feast of the Annunciation were also to be accorded this status. Although it seems unlikely that the American bishops will add another obligatory feast to the Church calendar, we can certainly take on the 'obligation' ourselves to attend Mass, if at all possible. In any case, it is most appropriate that we encourage special celebrations in the "Domestic Church"-- even, perhaps, in our parishes.
The biblical account of the Annunciation is in the first chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke, which describes the news given to Mary that she was to become the mother of the Incarnation of God, records the "angelic salutation" of Gabriel to Mary, 'Hail, thou who art highly favored. The Lord is with thee." This is the origin of the repeated "Hail Mary" prayer of the Rosary); and Mary's response to God's will, "Let it be done to me according to thy word." Her exultant hymn, the Magnificat, found in Luke 1:46-55, has been part of the Church's liturgy of the hours, at Vespers (evening prayer), and has been repeated nightly in churches, convents and monasteries for many centuries.
The significance of this Christian feast on Western culture is made clear from the fact that New Years Day used to be celebrated on March 25. This was the case in England until as late as 1752.
Another remnant of the historic universality of Christianity in the world is the universal use of BC (before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini -- The Year of Our Lord) to denote periods of time in history. Although there has been an attempt in some circles to change 'BC' to 'BCE' (before the common era), AD to CE (common era), and although it is true that the religious significance of our system of dating has been effectively obliterated, nevertheless, Christians and non-Christians alike consent to the birth of Christ as the "fulcrum" of the dating the events of human history.
****Family observance of the Annunciation****
In families with young children, this feast would be a good time to begin teaching youngsters important lessons about the inestimable value God places on human life.
First, that He loved us so much that He chose to become one of us -- to take on our humanity so completely that he "became flesh", as utterly weak and dependent as any human infant is. Second, God became "like us in all things except sin" at the moment of His conception in Mary's womb, not at some later time. The Feast of the Annunciation is a celebration of the actual Incarnation of Jesus Christ.
Children may, quite naturally, think that the birth of Jesus is the time when Our Savior first 'became Man,' especially since Christmas has become the Christian holiday in our culture. We understand best what we can see, what is visible. The invisible, the hidden is, no less real for our lack of seeing it. (We think of the baby in its mother's womb, known and felt, though unseen, only to her.)
Even very young children can know the truth about the growth of a baby inside its mother's body, especially If the mother of the family (or an aunt, perhaps) happens to be pregnant on the holiday. The exactly nine months' wait from March 25th to December 25th for the Baby to be born would be interesting to most children. (God made no special rules for His own bodily development!) What better way than the reading first chapter of Luke to gently begin teaching children about the beginning of each new human life?
Children should be told how important it is to every person that "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1), and parents can find this feast a valuable teaching moment.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church on Article 3 of the Creed, "He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and was born of the Virgin Mary" (#436-511), should be read by parents. This will not only give adults a timely review of Catholic doctrine, but it can be a great help to us in transmitting important truths of the faith to our children. The summary at the end can help formulate points we want to emphasize. Excerpts from the Catechism could be read aloud to older children. (EWTN)
I greet you, Ever-blessed Virgin, Mother of God, Throne of Grace, miracle of Almighty Power! I greet you, Sanctuary of the Most Holy Trinity and Queen of the Universe, Mother of Mercy and refuge of sinners!
Most loving Mother, attracted by your beauty and sweetness, and by your tender compassion, I confidently turn to you, miserable as I am, and beg of you to obtain for me from your dear Son the favor I request in this novena:
(Mention your request).
Obtain for me also, Queen of heaven, the most lively contrition for my many sins and the grace to imitate closely those virtues which you practiced so faithfully, especially humility, purity and obedience. Above all, I beg you to be my Mother and Protectress, to receive me into the number of your devoted children, and to guide me from your high throne of glory.
Do not neglect my petitions, Mother of Mercy! Have pity on me, and do not abandon me during life or at the moment of my death.