Coming Out of Ourselves
“God does not wait for us to go to him, but it is he who moves toward us, without calculation, without quantification. That is what God is like. He always takes the first step; he comes toward us” (Pope Francis, The Church of Mercy, “Coming Out of Ourselves”, p.71).
Although man and woman were created in the image and likeness of God, through Original Sin the relationship between the Creator and the human creature was ruptured and the likeness of God was lost. It is in and through Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, that it is possible for each one of us to be restored to the likeness of God. This process of restoration begins with the gift of our baptism into his death and resurrection; but it is a lifelong sanctifying process. It is the essence of the spiritual journey through which we are freed in Christ, conformed to Christ, and ultimately brought into union with him and the whole Trinity God.
This journey is impossible without the cooperation of our free will; however, as Pope Francis reminds us, the journey is always initiated by God. “He always takes the first step; he comes toward us.” As we respond to this grace of God by taking a step toward him at his invitation, the process of sanctification begins to happen; we are being conformed to Christ; we are being restored to the likeness of God.
So, what does it mean to be in the likeness of God? Although we can never know the essence of God, we can know what God is like. As Jesus told Philip, “Anyone who has seen me, has seen the Father” (John 14:9). As some would say, Jesus is God with a face! If we can imagine seeing everything through the eyes of Jesus; or feeling with the heart of Jesus; or extending mercy and forgiveness with the compassion of Jesus; or giving of ourselves as Jesus did . . . if we can imagine these things, we can begin to grasp something of what it means to be in the likeness of God.
Pope Francis sums up all of these ways of being in the likeness of God as “coming out of ourselves”. We often talk about the spiritual journey as our battle against not only the “enemy of human nature” but also the selfish self. Francis tells us that if we truly want to be in the likeness of God, we need to come out of the self and go out to the other in our thoughts, words and deeds. “God came out of himself to come among us . . . (W)e too must ‘go out’ with him . . . Be sure to remember: we need to come out of ourselves, just as God came out of himself in Jesus and Jesus came out of himself for all of us (“Coming Out of Ourselves”, p. 73).
Being a LTMTP facilitator regularly calls us to come out of ourselves! Every time a new “semester” is about to begin, we have to respond to God’s grace to come out of ourselves for others. We can find ourselves hesitating or procrastinating; we can be tempted to skip this time around. Pope Francis encourages us “. . . to come out always! And to do so with God’s love and tenderness, with respect and with patience, knowing that God takes our hands, our feet, our heart, and guides them and makes all our actions fruitful” (“Coming Out of Ourselves”, p. 74).
As we look towards the future, think about the many people whom Jesus is calling to get on the Ignatian Journey of prayer. He wants to be known and loved by them! Jesus needs you to be his hands, feet and heart and invite them to a LTMTP group and facilitate for them. If you have been trained but have not yet taken that step to facilitate, or if you haven’t facilitated in a while, take that step. You will not regret it. As Pope Francis reminds us: “That is what God is like. He always takes the first step!” (“Coming Out of Ourselves”, p. 71).
“The Lord Has Risen As He Promised!”
“But God raised him up,
having freed him from death,
because it was impossible for him
to be held in its power”
In the second volume of his book, Jesus of Nazareth Pope Emeritus Benedict writes: “The Christian faith stands or falls with the truth of the testimony that Christ is risen from the dead” (p. 241). He references St. Paul who tells the Corinthians that if Jesus was not raised from the dead, if for this life only we have placed our hope in Christ (as a mere prophet, teacher, good example, etc), then we Christians would be the most pitiable of all people.
But he indeed is risen, just as he promised! We are in awe, but we are never surprised. After all, Jesus Christ is the Word made flesh. How could this eternal Word, through whom all things were created (in Genesis, God spoke and it came to be) be held by the power of death! He not only is the WAY and the TRUTH, but also the LIFE, and as St. Luke tells us in his second book, the Acts of the Apostles, it was IMPOSSIBLE for Jesus to be held in death’s power!
Pope Benedict goes on to say in his book that Christ’s resurrection is a historical event that nevertheless bursts open the dimensions of history and transcends it (p 273-74). He tells us that in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, a new dimension of human life emerges, one that never existed before. Jesus “pierces the iron door of death” and “a new possibility of human existence is attained that affects everyone, and that opens up a future, a new kind of future, for mankind” (p 244).
To our Lord Teach Me To Pray facilitators: Thank you for your “yes” as a LTMTP facilitator. Every time you facilitate a part of the series, you are spreading the truth of the testimony of the Resurrection. We facilitate because He is risen just as He promised! Happy Easter! May our good and gracious God bless you and your loved ones in great abundance today and throughout this Easter Season!!!
Does Sin Still Exist?
Is there still such a thing as sin today? Have you ever found yourself thinking that the common understanding of sin has changed? Does sin still exist today? The topic is seldom if ever mentioned. If I were to say someone’s actions are sinful then I would be accused of judging them. What is going on here? The only time I hear the word sin mentioned is in the Holy Mass. Elsewhere, if moral failings are talked about, personal culpability for those failings are often minimized or excused. All kinds of reasons outside of the person take on, or at least share in, the blame: a dysfunctional family; immoral acting out labeled as addiction; an imperfect father or mother; a teacher that ignored me; classmates who bullied me. We seem to be able to find an excuse for everything that used to be called sin. We all too quickly turn to the therapist or psychologist, even non-Christian ones, as if they are the moral authorities. We let them define good and evil for us, and we let them tell us what we are, and are not, responsible for. It used to be that we turned to our pastors and priests with those questions and to learn from them the ways and commands of God.
I recently picked up the Catechism of the Catholic Church to read about the definition of sin. In paragraph 1850 we read:
Sin is an offense against God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight” (Ps 51:4). Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods” (Gen 3:5), knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God” (St. Augustine). In this proud self-exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.
We are there! I mean by turning away from God and looking elsewhere for more palatable answers and explanations in matters of sin, we are making ourselves like gods, knowing and determining good and evil. And I realize that we have found a way to do this. It is easy to justify sinful actions to ourselves. With the knowledge of modern psychology to assist us, we appeal to the intellect thereby replacing the Inspired Word of God today with the teaching of modern psychology. Yes, psychology and the popular news magazines love to tell us that in today’s culture we suffer from narcissism, and they quickly add that there just isn’t anything to do for this condition. They make the observation, but they fail to name it or accept it for what it really is – sin! Didn’t we just read about this in section 1850 of the Catechism where it says “Sin is thus love of oneself even to the contempt of God”?
Yes, sin does exist today! And I have to be truthful and say I know that I myself am a sinner and, furthermore, I know that I am culpable for my sins and for the consequences of my sins. No matter how many articles are written telling me that my parents, my teachers, my dysfunctional family or whatever are to blame for my self-loathing and selfishness, I know it is not true. No matter how good it might make me feel to blame everyone in the world but myself for my sinfulness, I know I would be embracing a lie. The truth is, I am a sinner, and I am grateful to know and accept the fact that I am a sinner. I say this because I know that to be stuck in my selfish self for all eternity, blaming others while absolving myself, would be living in hell eternally. Don’t laugh! I know that spending even ten minutes bashing myself or attending my own pity party drains all life out of me. It has been the greatest grace imaginable to me to embrace the truth of who I am and to own my personal darkness because it is there that I meet in the confessional, my Lord, Christ Jesus, who died for sinners, including me. This is the “Good News”!
Every day I grow in gratitude to God for gracing me with the knowledge that I am not the center of the universe. He has freed me from the narcissistic tendency of trying to force God to think and act as I want Him to think and act. He has freed me from the tyranny of my selfish self, at least enough to desire what God wants, and to think of God and about God long enough to forget about me. This is more of the “Good News”.
Yes, the psychologists are right! There is no cure for narcissism, the deadly spiritual disease of self-love. Yes, I said deadly! Self-love may initially manifest itself as venial sin, but if we refuse to recognize it as sin, and stay mired in it, it will pull us deeper into the darkness and eventually bring us to everlasting death, cutting us off from God forever. This is why St. Ignatius cautions us against minimizing our venial sins and he warns us that our venial sin is a vulnerable place where the enemy still has access to our lives. He tells us that well intentioned people who minimize the seriousness of their venial sins are playing with the enemy; and he reminds us that we are no match for the subtle and clever strategies of Satan.
But the “Good News” is that with God everything is made new in Christ Jesus! By grace I am now able to look back upon my life and see truthfully my own complicity in deciding and determining good and evil so as to please my selfish self, and to now be able to name it what it is — sin! In other words I was doing what I wanted to do. I decided, not God! I determined, not God! By grace I am now able to look back and see how the enemy forever tries to gain access to my life through my selfish self.
It is a great grace to have been shown this truth about my selfish self; and it is an even greater grace to have discovered the truth of God’s great love for even this selfish sinner. So much does He love her that he died for her, so that she can freely choose to abandon herself for Him forever! Choose Christ!!!!
(Christmas Eve through the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord)
We would like to share the following with you from “A Pilgrim’s Journey” which is the Autobiography of Ignatius of Loyola.
“Since Ignatius’ desire to celebrate his First Mass in the very land where Jesus had lived had never come to pass, he did the next best thing. At Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, there was a Chapel of the Manger where a relic of Bethlehem was preserved, and there Ignatius and companions went on Christmas eve 1538. Surrounded by his closest friends and with eyes so filled with tears that he could hardly read the missal, Ignatius celebrated the Mass he has so long desired to celebrate.” (p. 184)
We will all meet together with the Holy Family, all the angels and saints this Christmas in the greatest celebration of love, the Holy Mass! Hallelujah!!
March 31, 2013
“He is not here, for he has been raised
just as he said” (Matthew 28:6a)
“It is a historical event that nevertheless bursts open the dimensions of history and transcend it . . . a new dimension of life emerges, a new dimension of human existence . . . Jesus’ resurrection was not just about some deceased individual coming back to life at a certain point, but that an ontological leap occurred, one that touches being as such, opening up a dimension that affects us all, creating for all of us a new space of life, a new space of being in union with God” (His Holiness Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth Volume 2, pp 273-74).
O God grant me the grace to live each day in the state of grace and with a deep gratitude for your gift of Eternal Life through the death and resurrection of your Son, our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen!
March 27, 2013
Wednesday of Holy Week
Pope Benedict XVI
“Judas is neither a master of evil nor the figure of a demoniacal power of darkness but rather a sycophant who bows down before the anonymous power of changing moods and current fashion. But it is precisely this anonymous power that crucified Jesus, for it was anonymous voices that cried ‘Away with him! Crucify him!'”
The dictionary defines sycophant as “one who attempts to win favor or advance himself by flattering persons of influence; self-seeker.” Are people today any different than 2000 years ago? What are the voices of influence telling us today? The voices today are shouting, “I will do it my way, I will decide my own truth and I will live as I choose.” It is politically incorrect even 2000 years later to voice faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
O God, I beg for the grace to stand with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and the apostle St. John faithfully beneath your cross of salvation. Amen
March 26, 2013
Tuesday of Holy Week
Isaiah 49: 1-6
“Hear me, O islands, listen, O distant peoples. The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. He made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me. You are my servant, he said to me, Israel, through whom I show my glory.
Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength. Yet my reward is with the Lord, my recompense is with my God. For now the Lord has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb. That Jacob may be brought back to him, and Israel gathered to him; and I am made glorious in the sight of the Lord, and my God is now my strength! It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel, I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
Every nation on planet earth today struggles because of a deepening darkness. It is like a garden that was lovingly planted by the Master Gardener. But over the years many men and women came along and worked to build a large magnificent enclosure over the garden obstructing all sunlight and preventing all water from reaching the garden. So today, the garden sits rotting inside a beautiful immense edifice designed and built by men and women to enhance the garden. Every now and then a passerby notices the beautiful structure and ventures to open a door to explore further inside, while at the same time allowing the bright sunlight to fall on the soil closest to where the light enters near the door. Sometime the door would remain open for a length of time as the visitor stayed and worked in the garden. Often, then, a heavy rain would fall causing water to rush into the garden. But eventually the visitor would leave and the door would once again shut out the sunlight and the water. A certain visitor, remembering the garden, returned. Immediately the visitor got to work and removed all the doors, and windows. The visitor also provided openings in the roof for sunlight and rainfall to enter. The visitor wasn’t able to stay there very long as he was on his way home.
Today, many whom this certain visitor meets for the first time, tell him about visiting the garden surrounded by the magnificent edifice. They tell the visitor that it was in that garden they saw for the first time true beauty and felt a divine peace. They also told the visitor that it was when they were in the garden they were overwhelmed by the Light within the garden. The Light was so bright and inviting they stopped to pray and there they found God.
O God, I beg for the courage to bring You, Divine Light to the World. Amen.
March 25, 2013
Monday of Holy Week
“She has done what she could. She has anticipated anointing my body for burial.”
What was Martha’s sister Mary like? We do know from the Scriptures that her sister Martha thought she wasn’t doing her part to help Martha. In fact Scripture tells us she actually complained to Jesus about her sister Mary. Somewhere in history the word fair became the measuring stick by which we measure how we are treated, how we are paid, etc. But, Mary, who seemed not to be very good at much, saw beyond fair all the way to gratitude and love and worship of God. Mary recognized Jesus was the Son of God, her Lord, her Master, her Redeemer. As she poured the aromatic nard over the feet of Jesus she saw something we all long to see. She saw the face of her Savior, Christ Jesus.
O God, I beg you to take my foresight and exchange it with the Light of my Redeemer, Christ Jesus. Amen.
March 24, 2013
Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord
Luke 22: 31-32
“Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back you must strengthen your brothers.”
How appropriate are these words of Jesus to our new Peter, Pope Francis. To be chosen to sit on the chair of the great St. Peter is awing to say the least. But St. Peter was very much an ordinary man. He made his living fishing. There was nothing extraordinary about St. Peter, the man, except his faith. By the time Jesus spoke these words to him he had already spent years with Jesus. He had seen with his own eyes miracle after miracle, and he was with Jesus at the Transfiguration along with James and John on Mount Tabor. Yet, Jesus knew, and was warning him, that Satan will never stop his scheming and plotting in order to destroy Peter’s faith in Jesus as the Son of God. But Jesus said he had prayed for St. Peter to remain faithful. Jesus praying for his apostle whom he called his rock? In these words of Jesus is a warning to all, and also the antidote: pray, pray, pray.
O God, I beg for the grace to desire to pray more until I love to pray. Amen.
March 23, 2013
Feast of Saint Turibius of Mogrovej
Saint Turibius of Mogrovej
“Christ said, ‘I am the truth’; he did not say, ‘I am the custom.'”
Together with Rose of Lima, Turibius is the first known saint of the New World, serving the Lord in Peru, South America, for 26 years.
Born in Spain and educated for the law, he became so brilliant a scholar that he was made professor of law at the University of Salamanca and eventually became chief judge of the Inquisition at Granada. He succeeded too well. But he was not sharp enough a lawyer to prevent a surprising sequence of events.
When the archdiocese of Lima in Peru required a new leader, Turibius was chosen to fill the post: He was the one person with the strength of character and holiness of spirit to heal the scandals that had infected that area.
He cited all the canons that forbade giving laymen ecclesiastical dignities, but he was overruled. He was ordained priest and bishop and sent to Peru, where he found colonialism at its worst. The Spanish conquerors were guilty of every sort of oppression of the native population. Abuses among the clergy were flagrant, and he devoted his energies (and suffering) to this area first.
He began the long and arduous visitation of an immense archdiocese, studying the language, staying two or three days in each place, often with neither bed nor food. He confessed every morning to his chaplain, and celebrated Mass with intense fervor. Among those to whom he gave the Sacrament of Confirmation was St. Rose of Lima, and possibly St. Martin de Porres (November 3). After 1590 he had the help of another great missionary, St. Francis Solanus.
His people, though very poor, were sensitive, dreading to accept public charity from others. Turibius solved the problem by helping them anonymously.
O God, I beg for the grace to love the Truth of the Gospel. Amen.
March 22, 2013
Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent
“If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
To be speaking the truth with a pure heart, as Jesus could only do, and then to be hated because of jealousy and envy, is a horrific form of suffering. His motive was pure and selfless and many were starting to listen to him and to follow him. The sick were being cured and the blind were healed. Jesus even raised the dead back to life. How excited would we feel to be healed today? But the envy and jealousy of the Jewish leaders wanted Jesus stopped.
Today, these two “sisters” of our selfish self love – envy and jealousy – no longer try to destroy others covertly. All around us is terrible violence and hatred. Countries threaten to nuke each other! Goodness and innocence is reviled or taken advantage of overtly. Fear and self promotion rule our world. Who do you hate? Why? Is it for revenge? Is it out of jealousy and envy? What do they have that you want? If only the Jews would have listened and understood that “Jesus was in the Father and the Father was in Him and Jesus was inviting them to become one with the Father and He the Son!”
O God, I beg for the grace of understanding. Amen
March 21, 2013
Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Saint Thomas Aquinas
“There is always a remedy provided through Christ’s Passion.”
We see advertising all around us for remedies for anything a human being could be suffering with. There is everything from coconut oil for Alzheimer’s, dating websites for the lonely, to space flights for the super rich. The dictionary defines “remedy” as something such as medicine or therapy that relieves pain, cures disease, or corrects a disorder; something that corrects any evil, fault, or error. It seems like almost every day there is a new discovery for these same old sufferings that we have been experiencing throughout history. You would think that by now the world would have discovered that the only True remedy to all human suffering is the LOVE pouring out, still today, from “Christ’s Passion”. It sounds so simple yet it is the most profound of discoveries. It is a discovery that will permanently change you. No, actually it will eternally change your suffering into redemptive joy!
O God, I beg for the grace to join my suffering to the Passion of Christ’s in order to receive my eternal reward. Amen
March 20, 2013
Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Colossians 1: 13-14
“He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we seek redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
How confusing sin can become in our lives, especially today in the world of relativism. God has given us the powerful gift of free will in order to freely choose His love; but there is something about humankind that causes us to believe ourselves over God. Maybe we have forgotten that we have the ability to lie and fool ourselves? We can become so good at lying to ourselves, drifting so far away from truth, that we find ourselves in darkness, no longer knowing who we are. We can even find ourselves shocked to see how our lives have turned out. We are no longer free like we thought we were. We are entangled mentally or physically in ways that are causing us great anxiety and suffering. The Son of Man came for just this reason: to free us from the darkness of ourselves, and our slavishness to sin. Christ Jesus alone will deliver us from all darkness in our lives and transfer us into His kingdom of Light and Truth. He alone is the Way. “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8: 31b-32)
O God, I beg for the grace to be delivered from the darkness of my selfish self will. Amen
March 19, 2013
Feast of Saint Joseph
“Well done, good and faithful servant. Come, share your master’s joy.”
Today is the feast of one of the greatest saints in the Church, Saint Joseph. His faith in God was unwavering no matter how everything appeared around him. Saint Joseph trusted completely that everything God presented to him to embrace, even if he wasn’t able to understand , was the will of God. It is not written that Saint Joseph even had to ask Mary to confirm God’s plans. Saint Joseph would always obey with perfect virtue. He was a man who lived for God alone. He was the man God choose to love and protect the only begotten Son. He was the man chosen by God to model God the Father here on earth for the Divine Son.
O God, I beg for the grace of deeper faith and trust in your plans for my life. Amen
March 18, 2013
Feast of St. Cyril of Jerusalem
John 8: 19
“So they said to him, ‘Where is your father?’ Jesus answered, ‘You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.'”
Can we know God like we know another person or like we know math? The answer is no, according to Jesus. Jesus has told us that, “no one knows the Father except the Son”. How can this be? It is quite easy to grasp. A creature of God that is lower in the hierarchy of creation than man, such as a cow for example, cannot know what it is to be a human being. God is infinite in being, He is all truth, and in all ways He is far greater than my mind or any human mind is capable of knowing. So actually, only God can truly know God. Only God can reveal Himself. Jesus Christ is the revelation of God, the Word made flesh through the Incarnation. In order to know God I must come to “know and love” His only begotten Son, Christ Jesus. It is the Word made flesh who came to lift me all the way up on the Cross in order that I might “know and love” His Father through the Holy Spirit whom he sent and who dwells within me.
O God, I beg for the grace to embrace Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected in order to “know and love” God. Amen
March 17, 2013
Fifth Sunday of Lent
“I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ (Jesus).”
The monumental question of today seems to be who am I? These words of St. Paul to the Philippians answer this question. I am totally possessed by Christ Jesus through my baptism.
I am not my own master and lord. I must decrease that Christ Jesus might increase and be Lord of my life.
O God, I beg for the grace to be totally possessed by Christ Jesus and that He alone be Lord over my understanding, my memory, my will, my body and my spirit. Amen.
March 16, 2013
Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent
“Some in the crowd who heard these words of Jesus said, ‘This is truly the Prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Christ.’ But others said, ‘The Christ will not come from Galilee, will He?'”
Is Jesus the Christ of God or not? What do you believe? Are you still searching for Truth?
Why, if baptized and given the theological virtue of faith, do we doubt? Is it because we want proof? What about 2000 years of proof? Is it because there are so many other possibilities to look into? Is it because the realization of personal responsibility for sin doesn’t exist? How is it that a baptized soul, a child of God, could get so far away from belief that Jesus is the Christ of God? Adam and Eve were the first children of God who lived an intimate relationship with God.
Our catechism tells us: “The sum of your word is truth; and every one of your righteous ordinances endures forever.” “And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, this is why God’s promises always come true.” God is Truth itself, whose words cannot deceive. This is why one can abandon oneself in full trust to the truth and faithfulness of his word in all things. The beginning of sin and of man’s fall was due to a lie of the tempter who induced doubt of God’s word, kindness and faithfulness (#215 Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition).
O God, I beg for the obedience of faith in you, all Truth. Amen
March 15, 2013
Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Psalm 54: 1
“O God, by your name save me.”
This is the Good News; “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). “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 death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2: 7-11).
O God, I beg for the grace to bend my knee and confess with my tongue Jesus Christ is my Lord to the glory of You, Father. Amen.
March 14, 2013
Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Please join us in pray to Our Lady for the rebuilding of our Church!
Prayer to Mary, Undoer of Knots
Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exists in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exist in my life. You know very well how desperate I am, my pain, and how I am bound by these knots. Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of his children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life. No one, not even the Evil One himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone. Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot.
[Mention your request here]
I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all. You are my hope. O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution, and, with Christ, the freedom from my chains. Hear my plea. Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!
Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me. Amen
March 13, 2013
Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
“God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”
Can we find any more beautiful words? God very much wishes to save every soul and this is why He sent His Son. It was necessary! Without Jesus Christ there is no salvation. This is not a take it or leave it statement. Christ Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God, is the doorway to our Father in heaven. We hear Jesus in John 5 speaking to the Jews say: “Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my words and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life” (Jn 5: 23b-24). Jesus Christ, who is safe passage from death into eternal life with His Father, was sent to save the world.
O God, I beg for the grace to remain steadfast, believing in Jesus Christ and His promise of salvation. Amen.
March 12, 2013
Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
John 5: 6-8
“When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be well?’ The sick man answered him, ‘Sir I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Rise, take up your mat, and walk.'”
How could it happen that someone so ill for thirty-five years almost missed Jesus. Remember it was Jesus who approached the man at the pool Bethesda. Imagine that for thirty-five years this man was brought and laid beside the pool! What really prevented him from getting to the pool? He said “when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.” Did all these others have the power to prevent this man from getting into the pool? Thirty-five years of people beating him to the pool is amazing. Yet, there he was on the day Jesus happened to walk by. That day he didn’t even need to enter the pool for the Living Water came to him.
O God, I beg for the grace to desire true healing found only in the Living Waters flowing from the side of Christ Jesus. Amen
March 11, 2013
Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent
John 4: 50
‘“Jesus said to him, ‘You may go; your son will live.’ The man believed what Jesus said to him and left.”
How many times have we longed to hear Jesus say to us; “Go, your son or daughter, mother or brother, will live, be healed”? It can seem like we have prayed forever for the conversion of the ones we love. Does Jesus ever fail us? Does he not care or hear our prayers? Of course Jesus cares! He wept at the tomb of Lazarus. What then is the greatest obstacle to our healing or the healing and conversion of others? Could it be our faith? Do you really believe what Jesus has said? “I am the resurrection and the life. He who comes to me even though he should die will live forever”. “Knock and the door shall be opened to you. Seek and you shall find. Ask and you shall receive? Whatever you ask in my name shall be given to you.” Do we expect magic or do we believe and walk in faith in Jesus Christ. “Nothing is impossible for God” (Angel Gabriel).
O God, I beg for faith in your promises and in you Christ Jesus, Son of God. Amen.
March 10, 2013
Fourth Sunday of Lent
John: 9: 1
“As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.”
To be blind and have to live in darkness is difficult for most of us to imagine. Sometimes little children try to tightly close their eyes and pretend to be blind. Stop and imagine that you have never seen daylight, or the faces of those who love you, and that you have to always have someone leading the way so you don’t fall. In fact, imagine you have never seen your own image in a mirror. To be born blind would mean having to be totally dependent on others. This can be applied to a soul who has never known God; never received Baptism. This soul would be living in complete darkness. Even though the person would be able to see with their physical eyes, the spiritual eyes of their soul would be darkened by blindness. The soul would be totally dependent on others to lead them; therefore anyone who would come along and offer direction might seem very appealing and greatly desired. It is in receiving the sacrament of Baptism that the light of faith and truth is infused into the soul to open the soul’s spiritual eyes to hope in God and the love of God. The Sacrament of Baptism actually produces a miracle for everyone who receives it. No one can come to faith in God on their own. It is always given to us by God. We were born blind but now we “see”!
O God, I beg for the grace of gratitude for my Sacrament of Baptism and the gift of faith which you infused into my soul at that moment. Amen
March 9, 2013
Feast Saint Frances of Rome
Luke 18: 13
“O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”
Mercy reveals most magnificently the divine heart of God. The dictionary defines mercy as “kind and compassionate treatment of an offender, enemy, prisoner, or other person under one’s power; clemency.” Yet, unless we admit our sin and take responsibility for our choices and actions there will never be an experience of God’s mercy for us. We would never desire to seek or accept forgiveness. On occasions even the hardest of hearts experiences flashes of truth of their sinfulness. These are profound graces which must be held onto. These are graces that open opportunity to acknowledge sinfulness and to seek forgiveness from God in the confessional. It is in the confessional where we experience the merciful heart of God when the priest says to us, ” your sins are forgiven, go in peace.” No one can do this for us except God! Let us do this for one another too in the name of the Son of God JESUS CHRIST!
O God, I beg for the desire to acknowledge my sin and to take responsibility for my actions in order to seek in humble truth your forgiveness and mercy today. Amen.
March 8, 2013
Feast of St. John of God
“One of the Scribes came to Jesus and asked him,’ What is the first of all the commandments?’ Jesus replied: ‘The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'”
These words of Jesus are most profound and challenging. Does Jesus really mean to love God as he is describing how to love God? Is Jesus revealing the secret of love? Does to love mean to completely give over our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength to the beloved? There isn’t any mention of keeping anything of ourselves. Are we capable of such love? Absolutely, because God first loved us with all His heart, all His soul, all His mind and all His strength. It is His love poured into our hearts now returning to Him and spilling over onto our neighbor. There is no other Way but the Way of love.
O God, I beg for the grace to love as you have loved me. Amen.
March 7, 2013
Feast of Saints Perpetua and Felicity
St. Perpetua’s last words
“Stand fast in the faith and love one another.”
In the year 203, Vibia Perpetua made the decision to become a Christian although she knew it would mean her death during Septimus’ persecution. Her father was frantic with worry and tried to talk her out of her decision. At 22 years old this well educated, high spirited woman had every reason to live, including a baby son. Perpetua’s answer to her father was simple. Pointing to a water jug she asked her father; “See that pot lying there? Can you call it by any other name than what it is?” Her father answered “Of course not.” Perpetua responded: “Neither can I call myself by any other than what I am – a Christian.” Perpetua and her friend, Felicity, stood side by side as their throats were cut. (Quoted from Catholic Online: www.catholic.org/saints)
O God, I beg for the grace to live fully my Christian faith. Amen.
March 6, 2013
Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent
John 14: 21
“Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me”.
Obedience is the highest of all calls. So how can a selfish, defiant person become obedient? This would seem impossible. Actually it is quite easy and it takes a very simple skill but one that is being lost. The word obedience is from the Latin ab-audir, to “hear or listen”. Something happens to us when we actually listen to another’s words. To really “hear or listen” means we allow the words to move through our whole being, opening our heart and becoming vulnerable. When we hear the voice of one we love their words move into and through our whole being leaving us vulnerable and listening and changed.
O God, I beg for the grace to love to hear your Word above the clang of my own voice. Amen
March 5, 2013
Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent
“Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?”
Throughout our lives we can accumulate unforgiveness without being aware of it until we are confronted by a wrong. It is then that what is in our heart shows itself. We can be surprised by our reaction to being wronged. How wonderful it is when miraculously we show mercy. This is why it is very important to always keep our sins before us as St. Paul would say. It is in never allowing ourselves to forget the mercy God has shown us, that mercy will flow freely from our heart.
O God, I beg for the grace to daily remember your mercy towards me, a repenting sinner. Amen.
March 4, 2013
Monday of the Third Week of Lent
Saint Gaspar del Bufalo
“May Jesus be in your mind, Jesus in your heart, Jesus on your lips, Jesus in all your words.”
This is a good question to ask ourselves: “Is Jesus in our mind, in our heart, on our lips and in all our words?” It seems as though the world rushes at us daily with its words, thoughts, anxieties, fears, and sorrows, which most certainly seem obstructive to the Holy Name of Jesus. How different would our thinking and our attitudes of heart be if we opened our mind and heart daily with the intention of including the Holy Name of Jesus with our thoughts, anxieties, fears, sorrows! There is power in the Name of Jesus!
O God, I beg for the grace to offer all my thoughts, words and actions for the glory of the Holy Name of Jesus today. Amen
March 3, 2013
Third Sunday of Lent
I heard a bell very softly , so very gentle, so very sweet a sound, this sound ever so soft filled my heart and then my body. It’s delight called me so I listened joyfully. The sound enriches all my being like a warm breeze in the cool of the evening. This sound wrapped around me and was alive with embrace and strength. It began to guide me along the Way. One day it , the bell , startled me with the sound of a voice ever so sweet and accepting. How do you like our life it asked? It seemed so natural to speak of my happiness and gratitude for life. No the voice said, I asked about our life. O I felt my awful shame! No it could never be! I said. We have been together a long time the voice told. You are mine. You belong to me. I paid for you with my life therefore you are not your own any longer. I am master of your soul. Don’t be frightened. I am the master who is able to refashion you into my image and who desires to share my life with you. The world does not know such a master. You will shine for all eternity and reign with me. I the Lord of All who has the power to lay down my life and to take it up again chose to die that you might live forever in goodness and splendor. Fling your heart into mine. Throw it away into me. Have freedom from the tyranny of self-love, the other master who steals your joy all day long with anxieties and fears. Stoop low and thrust upward to heaven your burdened and bruised heart. Give away yourself and I will live in you.
March 2, 2013
Saturday of the Second Week of Lent
Micah 7: 19b
“You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins”
“…this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again, he was lost, and has been found”.
What is our normal reaction when someone seriously offends us? Usually we become angry, then maybe mad at the person forever. We may try to act like we are not angry, but somewhere deep down within us remains our “mad”. So how is it that God will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea? We can’t even do this for ourselves. How difficult it is to forgive ourselves.
Some may say it comes from our lack of self esteem. Could it, rather, be coming from the same place as our “mad” at others, our pride. Of course it does! Have you ever heard yourself say, “I don’t deserve this”? Or, have you heard; “it just isn’t fair!”? How joyful to hear; “I will cast your sins into the depths of the sea. This son of mine was dead, and has come to life again, he was lost, and has been found”. Our God is Mercy not pride.
O God, I beg for the grace to become merciful rather than prideful. Amen
March 1, 2013
Friday of the Second Week of Lent
Matthew 21: 45-46
“Therefore, I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce fruit.”
How would you feel hearing God speaking these words to you: “. . . the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce fruit.”? These words would be shocking to most of us. Aren’t we doing enough, believing in God and worshiping God?
You might find yourself thinking, “I have to work every day to make a living for my family and there isn’t enough time for more”. All day long we are in the field of life whether it is in our family or business, and right there is fertile soil in which to sow love for God. Pour love for God, along with love for one another, into the hearts you encounter daily and God will produce sweet, juicy hearts dripping the love of God over the earth.
O God, I beg for the grace to become a sower of love for God and to grow a vast orchard for His Kingdom. Amen
February 28, 2013
Thursday of the Second Week of Lent
Luke 16: 19-21
“There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day, and lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.”
Are not we, who are in Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism, the richest of all? In the giving of His only Begotten Son, Christ Jesus, to die for us and be resurrected so that we might receive forgiveness of our sins and salvation, the Eternal Father has made us eternally rich. Actually we have been given a share in Christ’s own glory! So is it our responsibility to recognize the souls who are starving and tell them of the abundance of wealth that is available to them in Christ Jesus? And what about the “dogs” in our lives who are so starved for Christ that it is a matter of life or death for them. Who are they? Are they not the ones who have bitten and wounded us coming back for forgiveness and life? How close will we let them come? Do you know that the saliva in a dog’s mouth has curative ability? But it will be painful to receive. Were the wounds Christ received painful? “By his stripes I was healed”.
O God, I beg for the desire to lavishly share you, your love, your mercy! Amen.
February 27, 2013
Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent
Matthew 20: 25-28
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
We would probably bristle today to hear it suggested that we should desire to be a slave or servant to someone. These words do not belong in today’s vocabulary. We believe we are master over our lives. We look for ways to rise above others and to be served. In some business offices there is fighting because no one will do something unless it is their specific job assignment. You hear a lot of “I don’t do that” today. So, how amazing is it that the Son of God said, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles, to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day”. It’s not only amazing but it is divine, Divine Love perfected in Christ Jesus. He, though God, said “he will be raised on the third day”. There is not a letter of selfishness even in His words. This shows the greatness of God. Everyone can make themselves a ruler or a king, even if only in only in their minds, but only God made Himself a slave, a servant.
O God, I beg for the grace to desire to become your servant, your slave, and to give my life away for you in gratitude for paying my ransom with your life. Amen
February 26, 2013
Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent
Sirach 10: 12-13
“The beginning of pride is man’s stubbornness in withdrawing his heart from his Maker. For pride is a reservoir of sin, a source which runs over with vice.”
Pride is a reservoir of sin! This is most disturbing. A reservoir is usually a reserve of water, pure water to be released when there are days without sufficient water in order for one to drink to have life. A reservoir of sin sounds disgusting; filled with filth and poison. This is what pride reserves in my heart for use! It is now time to break down pride’s walls forever so that vice cannot find a place to remain, thus opening the way for the Living Waters of Baptism to flow freely, purifying my heart.
O God, I beg you to tear down the walls of pride that reserves and supports evil within my heart; and cleanse me daily with the Living Water, Jesus Christ Himself. Amen
February 25, 2013
Monday of the Second Week of Lent
Luke 6: 36-38
“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.'”
We hear in the Gospel of Luke Jesus telling us to “stop judging”. He means exactly what he is saying. No one can know the motive for anyone’s actions except God; therefore, God alone is the judge of our hearts. He is not telling us, though, to stop judging between what is right and what is wrong. We are responsible before God for our choices. We must judge every situation, problem, relationship, etc. in our own lives, as either right or wrong, in order to be able to choose truth and life in Christ over sin. Jesus tells us, too, to be “merciful, just as your Father is merciful”. There is nothing sweeter than the mercy of God! Recall Jesus’ encounter with the woman caught in adultery in the Gospel of John. He said to her: “Nor do I condemn you. You may go. But from now on avoid this sin.” Every time we step into the confessional we encounter our merciful Lord and like the woman caught in adultery Christ is saying to us “Nor do I condemn you. You may go. But from now on avoid this sin.”
O God, I beg for the grace to desire to seek your mercy and forgiveness frequently in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Amen
February 24, 2013
Second Sunday of Lent
Luke 9: 35
“Then from the cloud came a voice which said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to Him.'”
What must it have been like for Peter, John and James up on the mountain witnessing Jesus praying, his face changing in appearance and his clothes becoming dazzling white? Next appeared Moses and Elijah in glory speaking to our Lord. Luke goes on to say, “Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.” Isn’t this often our experience in prayer? We go to prayer tired finding ourselves struggling to read the scriptures for that day and to stay awake. Peter, John and James were human just as we are. Even in the presence of Jesus they had to struggle against their natural human weakness until they were startled “fully awake” by what was happening before their very eyes! Isn’t this our experience often in prayer? In a flash of an instant the “holy mystery” becomes alive and we are in the presence of our Lord! As Peter was fully awakened to the “holy mystery” before him, he immediately began to speak. “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Luke then writes;
“. . . but he did not know what he was saying.” That sure sounds familiar to me! I am making the plans for God! It took the Father himself to speak to Peter, John and James; “This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to Him.” Prayer is 99.9% LISTENING.
O God, I beg for the grace of a greater desire for prayer, greater desire to listen for Your voice and the humility to ignore my own voice. Amen
February 23, 2013
Feast of St. Polycarp
“God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
Polycarp was recognized as a Christian leader by all Asia Minor Christians – a strong fortress of faith and loyalty to Jesus Christ. His own strength emerged from his trust in God, even when events contradicted this trust. Living among pagans and under a government opposed to the new religion, he led and fed his flock. At 86 Polycarp was led into the crowded Smyrna Stadium to be burned alive. The flames did not harm him and he was finally killed by a dagger. The centurion ordered the Saint’s body burned. The “Acts” of Polycarp’s martyrdom are the earliest preserved, fully reliable, account of a Christian martyr’s death. He died in 156 AD (American Catholic.org).
To know the Lord’s love well and to be filled with firm love and gratitude for the mercy of God bestowed upon him in the death and resurrection of the only begotten Son of God, Christ Jesus, was the fuel feeding the ever burning fire that burned within the heart of St. Polycarp. Yes, but far greater is the infinite, divine, eternal fire, our God, who loves us so much that He gave His only begotten Son even though we had sinned and abandoned Him.
O God, I beg for the grace of firm love and trust in Your perfect care and love for me in everything you ask of me today and throughout my life. Amen
February 22, 2013
The Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle
Matthew 16: 16, 18
“Peter said to Jesus: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’. And Jesus replied: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.’”
One of the definitions in Webster’s dictionary for rock is: “anything similar to or suggesting a mass of stone in stability, such as a support, foundation, or source of strength.” Today on this beautiful feast of the Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle we can and must raise our voices to God in thanksgiving for His chosen one, Peter, the rock. A tsunami of secularism has spread over the earth even entering the Church. It has taken a huge toll on our Church; but Peter remains, proclaiming God’s great love for all peoples and inviting all to reconciliation in the embrace of Christ Jesus His son. Only in Christ Jesus will we find Truth, Life and our Way once again.
O God, I beg you for the grace of gratitude today for Holy Mother the Church established by Jesus on the unmovable rock of Peter. Blow Holy Spirit; blow your sweet powerful fragrance today over Pope Benedict XVI and the Petrine Chair, drawing ever greater strength from Christ Jesus, who is Lord! Amen.
February 21, 2013
Thursday of the First Week of Lent
“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
These are beautiful words of Scripture, the Word of God saying “have no anxiety at all”. Anxiety reigns supreme today. Stress is stealing the joy of living from us. Every which way we turn there is someone or something that stresses us. It could be something small like traffic or as great as “Katrina”. Where or how can we restore joy to our lives. Here we have our instructions “by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God” and “have no anxiety at all”. I remember when I first had children and one came home every day from school stressed because they had no one to eat lunch with. I heard this every day until I couldn’t take their suffering so I went to see the principal. She listened to my stress over this child and said “let me share something I have learned about children”. She went on to say, ” that as soon as they opened and emptied all their worry or anxiety on her they would run off and play for they were freed as they had given it to someone else, their teacher”. I have never forgotten these words of wisdom. Jesus has told us that we need to be as little children so this child of God runs and leaves with him the daily needs and stresses and on the way out I always remember to turn around to say thank you!
O God, I beg for the grace to become small and needy as a child in order to meet you every day to exchange my sorry or anxiety for your joy. Amen
February 20, 2013
Wednesday of the First Week of Lent
“A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.”
The mercy of God is beyond all our wildest expectations. It seems almost like a crazy act because the world does not believe people deserve mercy and opportunity to repent. Society is vindictive today. Society wants it’s revenge. This attitude is like fuel for the violence we see engulfing our world. If God thought this way none of us would have a chance for heaven. God is different from us as He sees the heart of the individual while we only see the act and react. Mercy is about looking beyond the act, the sin, the violence and at the person. In the eyes of God every person is redeemable and no one is waste.
O God, I beg for the grace to look beyond my injuries and sufferings and injustices all the way into the redeemable soul of all people. Amen
February 19, 2013
Tuesday of the First Week of Lent
John 1: 1
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Every word we speak has power behind it. I love watching how carefully my own children are in speaking to their own little children. Today we are very aware of the power in the spoken word. As their little ones are growing and developing I sometimes hear their mothers say “Use your words” when their children are frustrated. When I am speaking to even the little babies I notice them watching my mouth and every word I am speaking. When my husband tells the grandchildren stories their eyes grow large and are fixed on his every word. Words have the power to destroy or to build up. The Word of God made flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ, came to destroy the works of Satan and to build up the Kingdom of God!
O God, I beg for the grace to bring the Living Word alive in the world and to use the Word to destroy the works of the enemy around me. Amen
February 18, 2013
Monday of the First Week of Lent
“I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”
1 John 4:10
“In this is love; not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.”
Love is the most mysterious word. We are a society starved for true lasting love. We hear time and again that we must love ourselves and then we will be happy. The world seems to have it backwards. We are unable to love ourselves until we experience personally the love of God for us. It is really all about looking outside of ourselves and above ourselves to God. Once we experience who our Creator is, and that our existence and salvation came forth from Divine Love, the truth of the gift of life bursts through our selfish self love and we begin to love and adore our Creator and our neighbor.
O God, I beg you for the grace to experience your love deeply, throughout my entire being and to be able to sing with gratitude for the gift of my life in Christ Jesus, your Divine Son! Amen
Sunday, February 17, 2013
First Sunday in Lent
Luke 4: 1-13
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry.
Jesus spent forty days fasting and praying before he would encounter the devil and the devil’s temptations. I think of St. Ignatius who shows us how to be in the world but not of the world through using his different methods of prayer to strength our will for battle with the enemy. Today we can feel whichever way we turn we are tempted through all of our senses and our pride. Our appetites for everything are gluttonous. All of our senses are over-stuffed and exploding with excesses. It almost seems like the enemy is in our face all day long barking at us. St. Ignatius would remind us that the enemy can bark all day long but cannot harm us. St. Ignatius tells us to remember the Counterattack. He says that only 5 minutes longer in prayer and a little fasting will free us from temptations. Jesus himself spent 40 days fasting before he encountered the devil for the first time.
O God, I beg for the grace to fast from seeing, hearing, touching and tasting anything today but your goodness and mercy. Amen
February 16, 2013
Saturday after Ash Wednesday
Luke 5: 32
“Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”
We live in a very health conscious society today. We are all trying to eat right and exercise to stay healthy. These are wonderful ways to take care of our body. Yet there is a terrible disease within our hearts which we have and this is sin. The “good news” though is that there is a cure for the disease of sin. It is a miraculous cure. His Name is Jesus. In the Sacrament of Baptism we are cleansed from original sin and in the Sacrament of Penance time after time we are forgiven our sins and healed. This miraculous cure in Christ Jesus is for everyone who will recognize their sinfulness and who wishes to receive the cure and the promise of a new eternal bodily life of joy, and peace. St. Ignatius said that in Paris he noticed that many well intentioned people were deceived when it came to their personal sinfulness. We do the same when it comes to our physical health. We deceive ourselves until pain forces us to admit our need for healing and to go to a doctor. Lent is the opportunity for us to look at our sinfulness and approach Jesus in the Sacrament of Penance for forgiveness and healing.
O God, I beg for the grace to see my sinfulness and to meet you in the Sacrament of Reconciliation for forgiveness and healing. Amen
February 15, 2013
Friday after Ash Wednesday
1 Samuel 15:22
“Obedience is better than sacrifice.”
Why is it that we don’t like to be obedient? What does it take for someone to listen to God and obey? Do I only listen to myself? Have I allowed my “selfish-self” to grow that powerful! Imagine that you are at the base of Mt. Everest ready to make the climb and everyone around you has told you that there is someone already at the summit waiting for you. In fact he has the equipment necessary to watch as you climb and give you directions to ensure your safety and success in reaching the summit. But you reject his offer for direction and decide even though you have never climbed to such a height before that you are strong enough to undergo any suffering or sacrifice to reach the summit. Yes, you have heard that some have died or frozen to death climbing Mt. Everest but that will never happen to you. You will make it on your own. You know yourself better than anyone else and feel assured that you can travel the path of your own choosing. Stop now for a minute and ask just who is advising this climber? Who is he listening too? He has refused to listen to the one at the top of Mt. Everest. Is he listening to his selfish self? St. Ignatius tells us that the voice most difficult to recognize is our selfish self often called our pride. Don’t we do the same thing as this climber when we refuse to follow God’s Way, Truth and Life, Christ Jesus, into eternal life?
O God, today I beg You to open my will through grace in order to listen and obey Your Word Made Flesh, Christ Jesus, Amen.
Feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius
Sirach 15: 14-15
“When God, in the beginning, created man he made him subject to his own free choice. If you choose you can keep the commandments; it is loyalty to do his will.”
Section 1730 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church it says “God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions. God willed that man should be ‘left in the hand of his own counsel’, so that he might of is own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him”.
Man is rational and therefore like God; he is created with free will and is master over his acts.
(St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 4, 4, 5: PG 7/1, 983)
“Before man are life and death, whichever he chooses shall be given him.”
O God, I beg for the grace to desire to be obedient to your commandments and choose life eternal.
2 Corinthians 5:20b
“We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God,”
This Lent is our opportunity to renew, or perhaps for the first time establish, an intimate friendship with God who first loved us. God, in sending His Son Jesus, settled forever the rupture that was caused by sin between humankind and Himself. Jesus so loves the Father that He laid down His life for us in order that we might share with Him in the everlasting love and glory of His Father.
O God, please, I beg for the grace to return to You with my whole heart. Grant me the grace to trust that you will receive me with mercy and will help me to grow in holiness of life.
Rich Foolby Carol Weiler: How is it, O Lord, that you have not destroyed me and damned me to eternal death? “Child of God, it is my Love and Mercy, in Christ my Son – your salvation and justification. You, child of man, are nothing but sin. Yes, you deserve in all my justice to be condemned for your sinfulness; yet even when you didn’t deserve my mercy it came to you in Christ Jesus. Never can you justify yourself before me. Christ’s blood and his resurrection has justified your whole being and saved you from my justice. Never refuse anyone my mercy which you have been given. Hold no one bound; for, I, All Justice, have acted through my Mercy Heart. What I ask of you is to hold no one bound in unforgiveness. Always hand those who hate and despise you to me for my mercy, and remember the truth that you were born in sin until Mercy redeemed you.” Sin, O God, is a great mystery. I acknowledge the truth that within my heart lives a frighteningly selfish self. All day long she tortured me until your grace began to flow through my heart like little droplets of water on a hot desert sand helping to extinguish the terrible suffering of self love. I long for the River of Life to spring up and send her to the bottom of the deep peaceful sea of your Mercy and Forgiveness. June 26, 2012 At Mass recently, the Gospel reading had Jesus saying to his disciples; “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘let me remove the splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye?” Could Jesus be speaking here about an obstacle? Well it certainly sounds like he is; and if my response to another’s “splinter” is irritation and anger then yes, I have an obstacle. Jesus being the wisdom of God knows that my irritation, my impatience, my anger, or my superior or judgmental attitude, etc. is my problem. The problem is not the one I want to blame and point to as the cause. This reminds me of what St. Ignatius said of himself; that he was his own worst obstacle. I have learned through Ignatian prayer of my need to be constantly begging God for the Christ LIGHT to shine into every situation and encounter daily. This is one of the reasons why I like to use the daily Consciousness Examen prayer. I need this prayer of St. Ignatius to be able to see myself through the eyes of God. So much of our days are spent focusing on everyone around us and thinking of how “not with the program” they are. Our society thinks it is even funny to belittle others because they are different. I even found myself having this sinful attitude about my loved ones. So, does Jesus never want us to speak to another about their “splinter”? No, of course not, Jesus always wants us to help our brothers and sister to grown in knowledge and love of him but with love and kindness. Jesus tells us in Matthew 7 to “remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” I need to first approach God to beg to see the truth of my actions and motives because the “beauty” of my own pride is forever blinding me. Gos has surprised me quite unexpectedly time after time in showing me of His goodness in a very bad situation. Yes, God always points us in the direction of Himself who is all Goodness IF we desire to see through his eyes. April 2012
This morning at Mass our pastor asked this question; where is the Holy Spirit in your life? He said one could talk about receiving the Holy Spirit at Baptism and the gifts or charisms of the Spirit but he asked us to stop and reflect on where is the Holy Spirit in your life.
I stopped and looked and saw he is the God who dwells within my soul and the animator of my thoughts, words and actions that glorify God. Unsuspectingly he animates me acting out love for my husband. He suggests myriads of good actions throughout my day. He’s always the desire within drawing me to God, to pray, to Holy Mass, to the sacraments.
He’s the moments of insight when I am wrestling with confusion. He’s the powerful correction that confronts my selfish desires. He’s my comforter, my strength, in times of worry and insecurity. He’s the wisdom that speaks to me the Word of God. He is the surprising humility that moves within me to absolute obedience. He’s the sweetest words that flow off my tongue. He’s the burning love for God in my heart. He’s the cavernous desire within for God. He’s my blinding hope.
He’s the passionate love crazy love all around me that lifts me into joy. He’s the beacon pouring light into my darkness. He’s the gentle breath that gives me life. He’s the restorer of my brokenness. He’s the warmth within my being. He is the peace when I should be weeping but don’t.
He’s my clothes folder and meal planner. He’s my hands that bathe and cook and clean. He’s the generous thoughts, unselfish thoughts, the animator to loving others.
He’s the pray-er, the adorer, the worshiper of God within. He’s the long suffering servant. He’s my confidant, my daily teacher in the school of selfless love. He’s the healer who closes my wounds and forgives my sins. He’s the mind, the will, the love of Jesus Christ within me. He’s the hope that drives away my doubts. He’s the waiter from heaven who feeds me the “divine food”. He’s my fire to share love for Jesus. He’s the truth that forms my heart. He’s my “yes, yes, yes, Lord” all day every day.
He’s my silent peaceful waiting. He gives me new life daily. He’s my every heartbeat. He’s sublime beauty in the ordinariness of my life. He’s ecstatic joy in my most mundane times. He enlightens, he heals, he restores, he forgives and he transforms my being. He’s alive, the Spirit of God, in ordinary me!