Friday, April 30, 2010

Anchoring Ourselves To The Two Pillars

As this month of April comes to a close, we end the month dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament and May begins the month dedicated to Our Blessed Mother. In thinking about this, I was reminded of the dream of John Bosco about the two pillars. In his dream he sees two majestic pillars, on one stands a large Host with the words "Salvation for the faithful" beneath it, and on the other pillar is a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary with the words "Help of Christians" beneath it. This is all happening in the midst of a sea battle in which the Pope finds himself in the middle. He is escorted by other smaller ships and in the course of the impending attack from the enemy ships, he attempts to consult with the captains of the smaller ships. This Pope is eventually fatally wounded and the captains immediately elect a new Pope who guides the ship between the two pillars and anchors the ship to them. It is at this point the enemy ships are scattered and flee. (I have given only a very sketchy synopsis of John Bosco's dream, click the link above for the full story.)
I took being reminded of this dream as a reminder that Our Lady, help of Christians will lead us to her Son who is salvation for the faithful. We, like the Pope in John Bosco's dream, need to anchor ourselves to these two mighty pillars. Devotion to Our Lady will bring us closer to Our Lord. Fr. John Corapi has often said that praying the Rosary is praying the Gospels. How true this is. If we stay close to Mary, she will teach us how to love her Son more and better, and what better way to show Him that love by spending time with Him before the Blessed Sacrament?
I am not someone who finds praying the Rosary an easy thing, but I know the power of it, so do my somewhat weak best to say it often. Today is the feast of Pope Pius V. If anyone knew the power of the Rosary, he did. When a Muslim fleet threatened Christendom, he entrusted the Christian fleet to Our Lady. On October 7, 1571, the Christian fleet won the Battle at Lepanto. Pius V called the feast that would be celebrated each year on this date the Feast of Our Lady of Victory; two years later Pope Gregory XIII would change the feast's name to Our Lady of the Rosary because the battle was won through the praying of the rosary.
So as the month of the Blessed Sacrament comes to a close, let us enter the month of May with a renewed sense of devotion to Our Blessed Mother. For my part, I am going to do my very best to say a rosary every day. Anchoring myself to Our Lady with my rosary will keep me anchored to Jesus.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Book Giveaway To Raise Awareness

My good friend Colleen at Thoughts On Grace is having a book giveaway  to raise awareness of sexual assault and child abuse prevention.
Colleen is a survivor of incest and courageously tells her story in her book The Third Floor Window, the book she is generously giving away to two blessed winners of this giveaway.
In addition to telling her story in her book, Colleen also continues to give her witness in talks and on her Survivor blog Surviving By Grace.
Go to Thoughts On Grace for details on how to enter the giveaway; you have until midnight, May 6, 2010 to enter.
Child abuse and sexual assault are crimes that affect us all. We all need to be aware and do what we can to stop it. I thank God for people like Colleen who have received the grace of God's healing and are courageous enough to speak out. The world and our culture can be changed by the words and deeds of wounded healers.
Thank you, Colleen for your courage.
Oh and be sure to wish my friend a happy birthday while you are visiting :)


St Catherine of Siena:Church Doctor and Activist

I sometimes wonder what some of the saints who lived in by gone centuries would be like in today's modern world. I imagine St Paul would be sending his epistles off in e-mail blasts, and the lady whose feast we celebrate today would most likely have a laptop and the phone number for the Vatican on speed dial on her cell phone.
Catherine of Siena lived in the 1300's and was considered a political activist for her day. She wrote letters to several public figures asking for civil reform in Siena. She also wrote much to Pope Urban VI whose papacy was part of a 35 year schism. While Catherine had great love and respect for the pope and his office, she was aware of his flaws and was not afraid to point them out to him with complete Christian charity.
Here are excerpts from two of her letters to Pope Urban VI:

I tell you in the name of Christ crucified that you must use your authority to do three essential things. You are in charge of the garden of holy Church. So uproot from the garden the stinking weeds full of impurity and avarice, and bloated with pride (I mean the evil pastors and administrators who poison and corrupt the garden)....Use your authority, you who are in charge of us!...
But just think, my dear father, how difficult it will be to do what I've been talking about unless you do the other two essential things: I mean your return [to Rome] and the raising of of the standard of the most holy cross [a crusade]. Don't let your holy desire falter on account of any dissent or rebellion you might see or hear about on the part of the [Italian] cities....
I beg you to hear and listen to what Frate Raimondo my father and my other sons who are in his company have to say to you. They come in the name of Christ crucified and in mine, for they are true servants of God and sons of holy Church.       [2: pp.61-64]


This one was written several months before her death:
I am telling you, divine Goodness is complaining because... the new plants, who ought to be confounding vice, are themselves beginning to pick up and spread the very style! The blessed Christ is complaining that the vices have not been cleared out, and that your holiness is not as conscientious about this as you should be.... I don't want you paying attention to clothes or anything else, to whether these things are of more value rather than less; I am concerned only that these people be honest, that they behave uprightly and not falsely.
Listen with benevolence and a tranquil heart to those who fear God, who tell you what should and must be done, who expose the sins they know are being committed all around your holiness.... Temper a bit, for love of Christ crucified, the sudden impulses of your nature; give nature a blow with holy virtue. God has given you by nature a big heart; so I want you and am begging you to try to have a big heart supernaturally as well.
Forgive my boldness, most holy father, in presuming to write to you so confidently. I am compelled by divine Goodness and by the the obvious need and by the love I bear you. I would have come rather than writing, but I didn't want to weary you by coming so often.       [4: pp.351-53]

As these letters show, this holy woman was on fire with love for Christ and His Church. She sets a fine example for us today as the Church endures the attacks of the modern culture. Her example shows that when we are secure in the Truth which is Christ Himself, we have nothing to fear for as Scripture tells us, it will be the Holy Spirit that will speak through us. Catherine certainly allowed the Spirit to speak through her.

One of the most beautiful expressions of love for the Church is this quote from her Dialogue. In the dialogue between God and Catherine, the Father assures her of His mercy, but as this excerpt reveals, she is not interested in only her personal salvation:

My Lord, turn the eye of your mercy on your people and on your mystic body, holy Church. How much greater would be your glory if you would pardon so many and give them the light of knowledge! For then they would surely all praise you, when they see that your infinite goodness has saved them from deadly sin and eternal damnation. How much greater this than to have praise only from my wretched self....
So I beg you, divine eternal love, to take your revenge on me, and be merciful to your people. I will not leave your presence till I see that you have been merciful to them.       [p.49]

Catherine's teachings and doctrinal writings have earned her the title of Doctor of the Church.
Let us thank and praise God for raising up this holy and faithful virgin who was not afraid to speak for her Lord.
St Catherine, pray for us!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

St Louis~Marie de Monfort: Truly Devoted To Our Lady


The universal Church celebrates the feast day of this great saint today. St Louis de Monfort is often called the Totus Tuus (I am all yours) saint because of his great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. His most well known work is the Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He wrote this work while recuperating from the effects of a poisoning inflicted upon him by the Jansenists. St Louis de Monfort prophesied that this work would be hidden by the devil for quite some time; in fact it wasn't discovered until 200 years after his death!
Thankfully this work is still in print today and while it is not an easy read, it is a beautiful and rich one. It has brought many to the heart of Our Lord through His Mother. Many have made the de Monfort Consecration because of this work.
The late Pope John Paul II was also deeply affected and moved by this particular writing by this saint; "Totus Tuus" was his episcopal motto.
Here is an excerpt from the Introduction of True Devotion. You can read more by following the link with the book's title.


 Mary is the supreme masterpiece of Almighty God and he has reserved the knowledge and possession of her for himself. She is the glorious Mother of God the Son who chose to humble and conceal her during her lifetime in order to foster her humility. He called her "Woman" as if she were a stranger, although in his heart he esteemed and loved her above all men and angels. Mary is the sealed fountain and the faithful spouse of the Holy Spirit where only he may enter. She is the sanctuary and resting-place of the Blessed Trinity where God dwells in greater and more divine splendour than anywhere else in the universe, not excluding his dwelling above the cherubim and seraphim. No creature, however pure, may enter there without being specially privileged.

 I declare with the saints: Mary is the earthly paradise of Jesus Christ the new Adam, where he became man by the power of the Holy Spirit, in order to accomplish in her wonders beyond our understanding. She is the vast and divine world of God where unutterable marvels and beauties are to be found. She is the magnificence of the Almighty where he hid his only Son, as in his own bosom, and with him everything that is most excellent and precious. What great and hidden things the all-powerful God has done for this wonderful creature, as she herself had to confess in spite of her great humility, "The Almighty has done great things for me." The world does not know these things because it is incapable and unworthy of knowing them.
 The saints have said wonderful things of Mary, the holy City of God, and, as they themselves admit, they were never more eloquent and more pleased than when they spoke of her. And yet they maintain that the height of her merits rising up to the throne of the Godhead cannot be perceived; the breadth of her love which is wider than the earth cannot be measured; the greatness of the power which she wields over one who is God cannot be conceived; and the depths of her profound humility and all her virtues and graces cannot be sounded. What incomprehensible height! What indescribable breadth! What immeasurable greatness! What an impenetrable abyss!
 Every day, from one end of the earth to the other, in the highest heaven and in the lowest abyss, all things preach, all things proclaim the wondrous Virgin Mary. The nine choirs of angels, men and women of every age, rank and religion, both good and evil, even the very devils themselves are compelled by the force of truth, willingly or unwillingly, to call her blessed.


Let us thank Our Lord for raising up this great saint who through his intercession leads so many to our Blessed Mother who leads us to her Son.
St Louis de Monfort, pray for us.

*Fr. Mark at Vultus Christi has a wonderful post on this saint as well as his thoughts and an excerpt  from Fr. Faber's translation of True Devotion.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Good Shepherd And This Rebel Sheep

John 10:27~30
The Gospel for this week is a short one, but there is much there for meditation and reflection~the image of Our Lord as the Good Shepherd and the sheep that know and hear His voice.
When I taught 7th and 8th graders some years ago, I would often say to them: "I know you heard me, but are you listening?" I still hold that there is a marked difference between hearing and listening.
Looking back on my own life, I think that there were and maybe still are, times when I behave very much like my students. I hear God, but I am not listening very closely to what He is saying. Or perhaps even worse, I can be like the spoiled brat who sticks her fingers in her ears refusing to listen because I just don't want to hear what my Father has to say.
Now I will admit since my return to the Good Shepherd, I have more interest in what it is He wants to say to me and I do strive to hear and listen to His voice most of the time.
Today's Gospel tells us that the sheep hear His voice and follow, and that the Good Shepherd gives His sheep eternal life which no one can take from them. Even when I try to take myself away from this gift, it is still offered. I can continue to refuse it, and heaven knows I tried for many years, but by virtue of my Baptism and Our Lord's Death and Resurrection, that gift of eternal life is mine if I accept it.
In Baptism we are grafted into Christ; this is what enables us to always be able to hear Him, and it is also what gives us the freedom to follow Him.
This rebel sheep has taken her fingers out of her ears. I much prefer the sound of the Good Shepherd's voice to the cacophony of others in this world.
Today is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. There are many who may be hearing the Good Shepherd's voice calling them to serve Him in the priesthood and religious life. Let us pray that they will truly listen and answer that call as Our Lord wishes.
Wishing you a blessed Good Shepherd Sunday!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Sunrise

I have always thought that one of God's most amazing and beautiful gifts to us is the sunrise. I often go back and forth between which is my favorite, sunrise or sunset. Truth be known I can't choose. However, I was desperately wanting to give this blog a complete makeover. I wanted simplicity and beauty all in one. Both a sunrise and a sunset offer those things.
When I came across this beautiful background of a sunrise, I knew I had found what I was looking for. For me a sunrise is a sign of hope and faith ~the hope that a new beginning brings and faith that even on a cloudy day, the sun still shines.
Some of my favorite sunrises have been those I have been privileged to witness as I walk along the beach during my silent retreat each year. The picture to the right is one of them. I live on the East coast so the sun rises over the ocean. It is truly a breathtaking and awesome (I use that word in its truest meaning) sight.
When I started this blog a year and a half ago, I wanted it to be something that gave glory to God, and expressed my love for Him and my faith in Him. Hopefully it has done that. The fact that over 350 posts later, I am still writing leads me to believe that it has to some degree.
When people visit, I want them to get a sunrise, both literally in the background, but also figuratively in what they read. Now my writing is by no means awe inspiring, but hopefully you will find hope, faith and a little love as well.
Thank you to all my faithful readers and those of you who have joined me most recently. I pray you enjoy your time here.
God Bless!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

In Wonder Of God's Creation

Today is Earth Day. All kinds of people celebrate this day in all kinds of ways~some quirkier than others. As for me, I would like to praise the Creator for all He has created and stand in wonder and awe at the work of His hands.
This song by the Newsboys as well as the video are a fitting tribute (well as fitting as this creature could find) of praise to the One who created it all. Praising the Creator not the creation is, in my humble opinion, how Earth Day should be celebrated.
Enjoy In Wonder by the Newsboys.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Vocations Website


I found this over at Catholic News Agency (CNA). The U.S. bishops are preparing to launch a new website to help clergy and the laity promote vocations. The site is ForYourVocation.org and is scheduled to be up and running on April 25, 2010. This date coincides with the World Day of Prayer For Vocations as well as Good Shepherd Sunday.
You can read more at the CNA site.
In the meantime, let us all continue to pray for those discerning vocations to the priesthood or consecrated religious life.

St Anselm


St Anselm was Archbishop of Canterbury and is a Doctor of the Church. He is known as the Doctor of Scholasticism. He wrote extensively and while extremely learned, he is remembered by those who knew him for his great love.
In researching this great saint, I found many of his writings to be very long and even a bit difficult to get through. However, I found  his Lord God, I Am Dazzled At the Brightness of Your Light from his Proslogion to be quite moving and thought I would share an excerpt from that work with you for this post.
An interesting note on his becoming one of the 33 Doctors of the Church~ he is one of only five who were named a Doctor without a decree by a pope or council.
There is much for us to learn from the saints and especially those who have been named as Doctors of the Church.
St Anselm, pray for us!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Our Lady And The Blessed Sacrament

Throughout this month I have been posting various writings and quotes related to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. I would be remiss in these posts if I did not devote a post to Our Blessed Mother. She is after all the Mother of our Lord, and it is her yes that gave Our Lord His flesh and blood.
It is also Mary's role and purpose to draw us closer to her Son. She is always pointing us in His direction. She loves nothing better than to intercede on our behalf in our prayers asking her to draw us closer to Jesus.
It is for this reason I believe that devotion to Our Blessed Mother goes hand in hand, or maybe heart to heart, with devotion to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
St Peter Julian Eymard is often called the Apostle of the Eucharist has written extensively on the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist. He also had great devotion to Our Lady. In fact Our Lady called him to found the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, a group of men who would dedicate themselves to adoration of Our Lord in the Eucharist. This saint was convinced that it was Mary who led him to the priesthood, from being a diocesan priest to the religious congregation of the Marists, and that it was Our Lady who forced him to leave the happiness he had known in the Marists to begin organizing the orders dedicated to Our Lord in the Eucharist. It is because of all this he gave her the title of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament.
In looking at my own life, I too can see how Mary was instrumental in leading me back to her Son. She is our Mother as well and wants the best for us. This is why she always points to Jesus. Fr. John Corapi has said the shortest path to Jesus is through His Mother. I believe he is right. She will show us how to love and follow Him.
You can read more on Our Lady and the Blessed Sacrament here.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

You Know All Things

White As Snow by Greg Olsen

Reflection based on John 21:1~19

At my baptism, my yes to You was said for me by others. In the years that would follow You allowed me to walk away from that yes for a time. Only for a time, for You know all things, my Lord, and You knew that in time I would renew that yes with my own voice more strongly and sincerely than before.
The grace of my baptism grafted me into You and so nothing I could do could change how You saw or felt about me.
You lived and died so that I might live despite the sins I would commit. In my repentance You are consoled.
Yes Lord, You know all things and You know that even though the things I do in the course of a day do not always show it, You know that I love You.
At the end of the day, You take me aside like You did Peter, and ask me: "Daughter, do you love me?" It is not that You need to hear me say that I do, because You can look into the depths of my heart and see that I do. You ask me because I need the reminder; the reminder that You allow a hundred little deaths to myself in the course of a day that if offered to You will glorify You. The reminder that You prepare a banquet for me, not simply a breakfast of fish and bread. The reminder that despite every wrong thing I do, every betrayal and denial of You, in the depths of my heart, Lord, You know and I know that I love You.
Peter was distressed at hearing You ask him if he loved You a third time. May I never tire of hearing You ask me this; may I always welcome the reminder of Your request of my declaration of love for You.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Real Place For The Real Presence

April is the month dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament, so I am trying to post as much as I can on Our Lord's Presence there. Today the reflection from My Daily Eucharist told of a priest in Ottawa who was assigned to a parish where only about 30 to 40 people attended Mass on Sunday each week. He began Eucharistic Adoration  with the practicing parishioners and soon the church was full on Sundays.
I have no trouble believing this miraculous story for two reasons: the first being Our Lord never fails to bless places where His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity are loved and adored, the second is my own experience in my own parish. My regular readers know that my parish has had Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration since December 8, 1996. I have been spending Sundays at midnight with Our Lord since Divine Mercy Sunday 2003. What I can attest to is basically the same thing this priest experienced. Now I don't know about my parish's humble beginnings, but I know when I arrived there in 2002, it was a large, active and thriving parish. We have 3 Masses daily, 2 Sunday Vigil Masses on Saturday evening, and 5 Sunday Masses, all very well attended.
I am not bragging (alright maybe just a little) but I firmly believe the driving force behind this parish and others like it is Eucharistic Adoration.
The saints knew the value in this devotion as well; here are what a few of them have to say on the subject:

"Know also that you will probably gain more by praying fifteen minutes before the Blessed Sacrament than by all the other spiritual exercises of the day. True, Our Lord hears our prayers anywhere, for He has made the promise, 'Ask, and you shall receive,' but He has revealed to His servants that those who visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament will obtain a more abundant measure of grace." (St Alphonsus Liguori)



"The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time that you will spend on earth. Each moment that you spend with Jesus will deepen your union with Him and make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in heaven, and will help bring about an everlasting peace on earth."
(Bl.. Mother Teresa of Calcutta)



"I understand that, each time we contemplate with desire and devotion the Host in which is hidden Christ's Eucharistic Body, we increase our merits in heaven and secure special joys to be ours later in the beatific vision of God." (St Gertrude)

And while he is not a saint yet, I love this one by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen:

"The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white Host."


So go ahead, spend an hour or even 15 minutes with Him; you will be glad you did.


Monday, April 12, 2010

More On The Holy Father

Father Robert Barron gives his thoughts on the abuse being hurled against Pope Benedict XVI. One of the things that he said that struck me most is that they are going after the one man in the world who can do the most to solve the problem (sexual abuse scandals).
Anyone who has read this blog over time knows that I am a fan of Fr. Barron; he truly has his eyes and ears and soul on the heart of the pertinent topics of the day.
You can read his article on his Word On Fire blog. The end of his post also gives some other links relating to this topic.
As I said in my previous post today, the best thing we as the faithful can do is pray, and if called to give a well formed and informed response to these attacks against the Holy Father. The links given at the end of Fr. Barron's post will help with that. The one thing I don't think we should be doing is stooping to the level of those dishing out the attacks with our own "mudslinging". Remember Jesus told us that we must pray for our enemies. Certainly not easy, but necessary.

Praying For Our Holy Father

Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, should always be in our prayers, but perhaps now more than ever. He and our Catholic Church have many enemies and they have been quite vocal of late. One of the best ways we can help in the fight against these enemies is through prayer (a little fasting probably wouldn't hurt either).
St Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians: "For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places." (Eph. 6:12)
This is true of what is going on in the attacks against our Holy Father and the Church.
The following novena  prayer was in my parish bulletin this week, it and variations of it are also around the Catholic blogosphere.
Please join me in praying for Our Holy Father now and always.


Novena For Pope Benedict XVI
Lord, source of eternal life and truth, give to your shepherd, Benedict, a spirit of courage and right judgement, a spirit of knowledge and love. By governing with fidelity those entrusted to his care, may he as successor to the Apostle Peter and Vicar of Christ, build Your Church into a sacrament of unity, love and peace for all the world.
Amen.


V/ Let us pray for Benedict, the Pope.
R/ May the Lord preserve him, give him a long life, make him blessed upon the earth, and not hand him over to the power of his enemies.
V/ May your hand be upon your holy servant
R/ And upon your son whom you have anointed.


Our Father....  Hail Mary...  Glory Be...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Thomas' Doubt And Devotion


During this Easter season, the Church presents us with the various meetings and appearances of Our Risen Lord to His Apostles and disciples. Today we meet up with Thomas. Personally I think Thomas sometimes gets a bad rap. He has been branded with the title of Doubting Thomas. Granted, he did want hard evidence of Our Lord's resurrection, but when finally presented with this most sacred evidence, it drove him to his knees and he uttered the most beautiful act of faith in the words "My Lord and My God!"
Thomas accepted Jesus' invitation to touch His sacred wounds. I sometimes wonder if when Thomas said he wanted to do this, he actually believed it would happen. But it did happen and in touching Our Lord's sacred wounds Thomas may have been the first to venerate and show devotion to them.
I know that at times I can be a little like Thomas and feel the need for hard evidence in the matters of my spiritual life. It is at those times I need to remember Thomas' act of faith and devotion.
Our Lord kept His sacred wounds in His glorified body; He didn't have to do this. They are a reminder to us of the suffering He endured out of the great love He has for each of us. They are also a source of devotion.
Divine Mercy Sunday is also celebrated today. I love that we hear about Thomas on this day because we see in the Gospel Our Lord pouring out His Divine Mercy upon Thomas in the way that He treats his doubt. He doesn't berate him, but gently reminds him that he believes because he sees, but blessed are those who believe without seeing. Well not to contradict Our Lord, but in Thomas' defense, he did not have over 2000 years of Salvation History as we do. We may not have Jesus here with us with His skin on, but He is just as present under the veils of the Holy Eucharist. We, like Thomas, can come before Our Lord and utter that same act of faith: "My Lord and My God!"
Blood and water gushed forth from the wound in Our Lord's side. Through this His Divine Mercy is poured out on all of us. We can enter this mercy through devotion to Jesus' sacred wounds. What a wonderful place of refuge they are!
Jesus, my Lord and my God, I trust in You!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April's Devotion: The Blessed Sacrament



It is the tradition of the Catholic Church to dedicate each month to a particular devotion. The month of April is dedicated to devotion to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
As Catholics, we believe in Jesus' Real Presence; the bread and wine become His Body and Blood. The term the Church gives to this is transubstantiation. Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament was for a time seen as something only clergy and consecrated religious practiced. For many years it was not encouraged among the faithful. In recent years, it has become once again  a devotion practiced by many of the faithful. This in large part is due to Pope John Paul II. In April 2003 he wrote Ecclesia de Eucharista, an entire encyclical dedicated to the Holy Eucharist. If you haven't read, I encourage you to so.
More and more parishes are starting chapels of Perpetual Adoration. My own parish of St John the Apostle has had this devotion for over 12 years now, the longest in the Archdiocese of Newark, NJ. I am convinced that it is the driving force behind this large and very active parish community.
I believe we need this devotion now more than ever. The Church, Christ's Mystical Body, is once again under attack. We as its members need to go and pray before its head, Our Lord Jesus Christ who humbles Himself to remain with us in our tabernacles.
While it is a wonderful and awesome privilege to pray before Our Lord exposed in a monstrance, it is not necessary. He is there in our churches in the tabernacle. There He waits for us.
I have committed to making a holy hour once a week on Sunday at midnight in my parish's Perpetual Adoration Chapel. I began this hour on Divine Mercy Sunday 7 years ago this month. It is truly one of the best hours of my week, second only to Holy Mass. It isn't always easy staying awake to make that hour, but Our Lord has a way of reviving me once I arrive in the chapel. My flesh may be weak and crying out for my comfy bed, but my soul and spirit know better.
There is so much we need to be praying for: our country whose moral fiber is coming apart at the very seams, our Church and its priesthood. We are still in the Year for Priests, they need our prayers and encouragement. Remember, no priests no Jesus in the Eucharist. We need to pray for our young people and for vocations to come from our families. All of these things need to be brought before Our Lord. We need to beg for His mercy and make reparation for the outrages and blasphemies committed against Him in this sacrament. He is there waiting to hear and answer us. Time spent with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is never wasted, in fact it may be some of the most productive time you spend.
Spend 15 or 20 minutes, I promise you, you will be back and those 15 or 20 minutes may soon turn into an hour on a regular basis.
While Jesus was here on this earth, Mary Magdalene spent many hours at His feet. She had the "better part". While we may not be able to see and hear Jesus physically, our Holy Hours are no different than Mary Magdalene's. He may be veiled, but He is no less real and truly present.
So take the better part; no one can take it from you...
You can find the devotion for each month on my sidebar. Clicking the image will lead you to a site for that month's particular devotion.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Do Not Hold Onto Me

 Christ Appearing To Magdalene: Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov

In today's Gospel we read the account of Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection.
(John 20:11~18). There is so much here on which to ponder and meditate. This is one passage I find both amusing and confusing. Amusing because I think Our Lord Himself must have been a little amused that Mary thought He was the gardener, and confusing because here in this passage Jesus tells her to stop holding onto Him. In other accounts we hear that when Mary Magdalene and the other women meet Jesus, they reach out to touch His feet; no sign of Him stopping them there.
Now I know there are countless theological commentaries on the reason behind this, but personally I just take it as one of those things that this side of heaven we may not ever fully understand. It is on my list of questions to ask Jesus when I hopefully make it to heaven some day.
While I am OK with waiting to find out, sometimes Our Lord gives us little glimpses into the reasons while we are still making our way here on this earth. I kind of think it is His way of rewarding us a little for putting the time and effort into meditating on and trying to understand, and in the end just plain believing in Him and His Word.
I was given one of those glimpses this morning at Mass in the form of the homily given by our priest. Father said that maybe the reason Jesus told Magdalene not to touch or hold onto Him was because He wants to be the One to reach out and touch us! Now I know this is not any kind of doctrine or dogma, but it did make a certain amount of sense to me. At the very least I stopped trying to figure the whole scene out.
Christ certainly wants to touch our lives and He does so every day in countless ways. If we are the ones constantly reaching for Him, we may never have that experience of feeling His reaching for us. He knows exactly the parts of our lives that need His perfect and gentle touch. In my own life I know that sometimes allowing Jesus to come and touch those parts that need it can be a scary thing.
He knew how much we would need this tangible experience of His touch, so He gave us the sacraments. I feel his healing touch every time I go to confession and hear the beautiful words of absolution, and every time I receive Him in Holy Communion. As our former pastor use to say, "Jesus doesn't get any closer to us than this!" I also feel and see it in others~ a kind word or deed, a hug, or a smile from a friend.
So while I may never find out the actual reason Jesus said this to Mary Magdalene while I walk this earth, I can see myself in her and allow Our Lord to reach out and touch my life where, when and how He sees fit.  And like Magdalene I can obey Our Lord's command to go and tell my brothers and sisters that "I have seen the Lord!"

Monday, April 5, 2010

Moments With Our Savior Between Resurrection And Ascension

We have made the journey through Lent, walked with Our Lord through the events Holy Week leading to His Passion and death, and celebrated with profound joy, His rising from the dead. Yes the tomb is empty, but it doesn't end there. The awesomeness of Easter is so great and so intense that we will celebrate it for the next 50 days!
The Church in her great wisdom does not just plop us back into Ordinary Time, but gives us yet another Liturgical season in these 50 days leading to Pentecost. It is the Church's and Our Lord's invitation to us to spend these days with our risen Savior. During these days, He will appear to countless people, appear to two of His disciples who seem to think He is someone who has been in a cave for the last 3 days and has no idea of the events that have taken place. Well He may have been in a cave, but they will recognize Him in the breaking of the bread. Our Lord will also invite one of His more skeptical disciples to place his hands into Our Lord's Sacred Wounds, and He will make breakfast for the Apostles after they have been out fishing. Before He ascends to take His rightful place at His Father's right hand, He will breathe the gift of His Holy Spirit into His Apostles.
These are wonderful event filled, grace filled days. I pray that we each travel this road between Resurrection and Ascension savoring these moments with our Savior.
I love reading the early Church Fathers. I found an excerpt from one of his sermons on precisely this topic. Follow the link to the Crossroad Initiative website to read what Pope St Leo the Great had to say about the days between Resurrection and Ascension.
May we all have a prayerful and grace filled Easter season.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

This Is The Day The Lord Has Made...

Rembrandt's The Resurrection

Let us rejoice and be glad!
Wishing my visitors a Happy and Blessed Easter Season!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Divine Mercy Novena


Today begins the Divine Mercy Novena. The Feast of Divine Mercy is celebrated on the Sunday after Easter. Our Lord told St Faustina that he wished this feast be preceded by a novena in which she (and all who would pray it) would bring to His Sacred Heart a specific group of souls on each of the nine days.
I find it rather edifying this year that the novena begins on the 5th anniversary of the death of John Paul II. This great pope proclaimed this feast for the Sunday after Easter each year. His death in 2005 was on the eve of this beautiful feast. As we pray this novena let us ask him for his intercession as well for the souls we immerse in the fount of Jesus' mercy.
Now more than ever perhaps, we need to pray this novena. We need to pray it for the souls Our Lord has asked for and for our country. We need to beg our heavenly Father, on the merits and strength of Our Lord's Passion, for His divine mercy.
The link above will give you the chaplet, prayers, and the souls to bring to Our Lord on each of the nine days.
Our Lord told St Faustina that He would deny nothing to the souls brought to the fount of His mercy.
 (Diary 1209)
Please join me on praying this powerful novena over the next nine days.

Good Friday

St Michael at the Crucifixion.

Closing Prayer

Psalm 45: Canticle of Love to the King

My heart overflows with a good theme;
I address my verses to the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
You are fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Your lips;
Therefore God has blessed You forever.

Gird Your sword on Your thigh, O Mighty One,
In Your splendor and Your majesty!
And in Your majesty ride on victoriously,
For the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
Let Your right hand teach You awesome things.
Your arrows are sharp;
The peoples fall under You;
Your arrows are in the heart of the King’s enemies.

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of joy above Your fellows.
All Your garments are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
Out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made You glad.
Kings’ daughters are among Your noble ladies;
At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir.