Monday, August 30, 2010

A Less Than Warm Welcome

 Jesus In the Temple at Nazareth by Greg Olsen

Today's Gospel reading from St Luke is one where I love to close my eyes and put myself in the scene as it is being read. This scene of Jesus reading from the scrolls in the temple is one that gives such vivid imagery. It is also one of those times in Our Lord's public life when he received a less than warm welcome from those in his home town. Once again these people wanted the sign and miracles they had heard him performing in other areas. Jesus was unable to do so because of their lack of faith.
These people could not accept Jesus' words that the Scripture they had just heard Him read was fulfilled in their hearing. The thought going through their head was: "How could this simple carpenter's son be the promised Messiah?" If they could just have believed, if I could just believe more!
Now, I have never had the desire to throw Our Lord over a cliff, but I have certainly pushed Him away and out of my life through my sinfulness.
Back in January I wrote a reflection on this Scripture passage. As I said at the beginning of this post, I love the imagery of this passage so I thought a re~post of that reflection might be food for your meditation on this passage today. You can read Fulfilled In Your Hearing by clicking the link.
May our hearts be more Bethany, a place Jesus always received a warm welcome, than Nazareth.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pride In Expectation

Claim no honor in the king's presence, nor occupy the place of great men; for it is better that you be told, "Come up closer!" than that you be humbled before the prince,
~Proverbs 25:6~7

Reflecting on today's Mass readings, the message is very clear; it is that of humility. Almost every saint has had something to say on this virtue, seeing it as the foundation of all the other virtues. Important as it is, it is also one of the most difficult to cultivate. Our society sees it as a weakness when in reality it is a sign of strength.
Our Lord's words in today's Gospel keep playing over in my mind; those words about taking the lowest place at the table. These words made me think of something else our society seems to be filled with~ disappointment.
I have asked myself why this is and the only answer I can come up with is that many people today seem to have an attitude of entitlement and expectation. All of it is pride which is the opposite of humility. I am not saying that we shouldn't have certain expectations in life, but that sense of "the world and all those in it owe me" is at the root of people's disappointment. Jesus gives us the antidote to this by telling us to take the lowest place. For by doing this, it is quite possible that we will be asked to come higher and be given more than we expected.
Having expectations that are too high, either of ourselves or others, will surely lead to disappointment. If we humble ourselves first, letting go of the sense of entitlement, we will be asked to come higher and be given more than we ever hoped for~ perhaps not in this life, but most certainly in the next at the heavenly banquet Our Lord has prepared.
Whenever my pride seems to be getting the best of me, I say the Litany of Humility. Mother Teresa and her sisters recited this prayer daily. I have to admit that it is not an easy prayer to pray and mean. Often I will concentrate on one line or section of it depending on where my life is lacking humility.
The other thing that puts me back in my proper place is God's words to Catherine of Siena: "I Am Who Am, you are she who is not." That is true humility; knowing who God is and who we are not.
Jesus and His Mother are our best examples of how to live out humility. May we follow their example as the saints surely did.

The Litany of Humility
O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved...
From the desire of being extolled ...
From the desire of being honored ...
From the desire of being praised ...
From the desire of being preferred to others...
From the desire of being consulted ...
From the desire of being approved ...
From the fear of being humiliated ...
 the fear of being despised...
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...
From the fear of being calumniated ...
From the fear of being forgotten ...
From the fear of being ridiculed ...
From the fear of being wronged ...
From the fear of being suspected ...
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I ...
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease ...
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I, 
provided that I may become as holy as I should…

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Late But Steadfast Love

I know I most likely posted this same excerpt from St Augustine's Confessions last year on this saint and Doctor of the Church's feast day, but it truly is one of my favorites and one of the most beautiful in the entire work.
When I first read them, I could identify with them somewhat in thinking of my own return to God.
Most of us who leave our faith and return have a person or persons who has prayed for our repentance. In the case of Augustine, it was his mother Monica. In my own case, it was the prayers of a very good friend who first extended the invitation to me to return, as well as the prayers of my daughter in heaven.
It took a long time for me to return, so with St Augustine I also say to Our Lord Late Have I Loved Thee...

Late have I loved you, Beauty so ancient and so new, late have I loved you!
Lo, you were within,
 but I outside, seeking there for you,
 and upon the shapely things you have made
 I rushed headlong – I, misshapen.
You were with me, but I was not with you.
They held me back far from you,
 those things which would have no being,
 were they not in you.

You called, shouted, broke through my deafness;
 you flared, blazed, banished my blindness;
 you lavished your fragrance, I gasped; and now I pant for you;
 I tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst;
 you touched me, and I burned for your peace.

Friday, August 27, 2010

He Answered Nothing

"...And Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, saying: Art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus saith to him: Thou sayest it.  And when he was accused by the chief priests and ancients, he answered nothing.  Then Pilate saith to him: Dost not thou hear how great testimonies they allege against thee? And he answered him to never a word; so that the governor wondered exceedingly." (Matt. 27:11~14)

I have been drawn to thinking, reading, and meditating on Christ's Passion. The various aspects of it seem to come to mind at different times. Typically my serious meditating on this time in Our Lord's life is done during Lent. However, I have looked to the many saints who had great devotion to meditating on Our Lord's Passion. Their words  and example show that there is great spiritual benefit and many graces bestowed in meditating on the Passion. After all it is through Jesus' Passion and death that our salvation was won. What better way to please Him than to prayerfully meditate on His sufferings for us and reflecting on the ways we have contributed to His suffering through our sins, and then begging His mercy in humble repentance.
The scene from Jesus' Passion that came to mind recently, and which I have chosen for my subject of meditation today, is recounted in the passage at the start of this post. When Jesus was brought before Pilate and accused. Through all the mockery and false accusations he never replied in His defense. It was His humility that allowed Him to do this.
I think about the situations in my own life when I am falsely accused of something or picked on for something, or asked to do something I don't feel is "my job". Very often my first reaction is to lash out in my own defense, or at the very least complain to myself about what has been said or what I have been asked to do. 
This happened to me yesterday at work. I was thinking about how I have been feeling a bit taken advantage of lately, and this scene from Jesus' Passion suddenly came to mind with the words, "He opened not His mouth." As I thought about Our Lord enduring this horrible scene, for love of me, I felt very guilty about my own selfish self pity. I stopped, told Him I was sorry and thought about how if He, the Son of God could endure all He did for me, that I surely could repay His love with my own for Him and offer my little suffering for those who continue to persecute and accuse Him.
Friday is typically the day devoted to Our Lord's Passion, and yes, the Church still teaches that we should offer some sacrifice on this day. The lifting of the meatless Friday, did not change the teaching, we are still to offer something.
I invite you to follow the example of the saints in meditating on some aspect of Our Lord's Passion and offer it in reparation for your own sins and those of poor sinners.

Dear Jesus,
Help me to follow Your example of love and humility when I am falsely accused or persecuted for something. Instead of lashing out in my own defense, let me allow my silence to speak my love for You and for those who persecute You still. Please accept this small sacrifice in reparation for the ways I have accused and persecuted You in the past; may I never do so again.
Thank You, Jesus for all You suffered for love of me. May I return some of that love with my own through prayer and sacrifice.

A Woman Of Powerful Prayer

St Monica, whose feast we celebrate today, is who I think of whenever I hear anyone say that no matter how much they pray for their children who have fallen away from their faith, it does not seem to be working; God just doesn't seem to be listening.
This great woman of prayer, tears and sacrifice knew all too well what it was to have a child and a husband not believe in God, at least not according to Christian principles. She spent some 30 or more years praying for her son, Augustine, and God did hear her prayers and He also seemed to gather her many tears and use them to wash the error from Augustine's eyes so that he was able to convert. Not only did he convert but he became bishop and one of the greatest minds the Catholic Church has ever known, but more on the is saint and Church Doctor later. So God did hear and answer Monica's prayers, but in His perfect time.
There are so many parents, spouses siblings and friends of those who have strayed far from their faith, or who have never believed in God. May St Monica be the role model for them and for all of us who pray for our loved ones to return to God. Our prayers are heard and will be answered in God's perfect time. All He asks of us is perseverance in prayer and love.

St Monica, through your intercession may the sons, daughters and all our loved ones who are far from God return to Him. Help us to be steadfast and patient in our prayers for them just as you were. Be a consolation to those of us who love them and suffer at seeing them live their lives away from their Creator.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jesus' Woes

 The twenty third chapter of Matthew's Gospel consists of those passages that spell out those things that I call Jesus' Woes. In actuality they were warnings to the pharisees and scribes of the day who were so often very hypocritical.
As I was listening to today's Gospel at Mass, the phrase Our Lord uses is white washed tombs. Those things that look real nice on the outside, but not so much inside. This was the case of most of the pharisees and scribes of Jesus' time.
The stark yet vivid imagery of that phrase, white washed tombs, really struck me. I began to think about the state of my own soul; is it a white washed tomb? Are the exteriors there all bright and shiny, but the interior beginning to look a little dingy and dirty?
Jesus gave us the perfect cleaning agent to get our souls bright and shiny inside and out when He instituted the sacrament of Reconciliation. The grace of this sacrament along with the Eucharist will keep our souls from taking on that dead white washed appearance and keep them as living tabernacles of His presence.
I don't know about you, but I am definitely a little overdue for cleaning off the white wash!
Thank You, Jesus for the grace of Your sacraments.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Some More On St Bartholomew

 In St John's Gospel, Bartholomew is referred to as Nathaniel. He is the one Jesus spots sitting under the fig tree. I have always suspected that the fig tree has some deeper symbolic meaning other than simply a place for Nathaniel to catch some shade.
This morning at Mass our priest gave a wonderful homily explaining more about the symbolism of the fig tree. As it turns out, in Jewish tradition the fig tree was a symbol for the Torah~ God's Word. It was further held that someone sitting under a fig tree received that word~symbolized by the fruit itself. The figs being as drops of God's word being given to the person there who is waiting for it and ready to be nourished by it.
I felt a little like those disciples on the road to Emmaus having Scripture opened up to them!
That message and symbolism is there for us just as it was for Nathaniel (Bartholomew). We are given God's Word in Holy Scripture; every word of the Bible points to Our Lord. We as Catholics are blessed to take part in God not just in His Word in Scripture, but in His very self in the sacrament of the Eucharist.
So go ahead~find the nearest fig tree, take your Bible along and be nourished by the fruit of God's Word.

St Bartholomew: A Little Known Apostle

There is much mystery surrounding this Apostle; very little is known about him. Scripture mentions him in the Gospels (Matt. 10:3, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:14) Nathaniel is mentioned in John's Gospel as one being without guile. Many scholars believe Nathaniel and Bartholomew to be the same person.
Whatever the case, I always remember St Bartholomew's feast day because I was born on this day. I am also always intrigued by the feast days people's birthdays fall on. In my own case, I kind of like that guilelessness associated with this saint. I am often told that I am a "what you see is what you get" kind of person.
But this is not about me, but about this saint.
He was believed to be martyred, but even the method of his martyrdom is unsure. Some say he was beheaded, some say he was flayed alive and crucified head down, some say he was both flayed and beheaded. Again the means does not matter, but that he gave his life for Christ does. This too is another example of his I would like to follow (although not the flaying and beheading part!).
St Bartholomew, pray and intercede for us; may no guile be found in us.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Finding And Keeping Our Peace In Jesus

Some years ago, in the early days of my return to my faith, I found a beautiful journal. It has a cover of soft golden suede with shafts of wheat and the words: "Give us this day our daily bread" embossed on it. This journal has become a spiritual scrapbook of sorts. I found myself collecting prayer cards, writings of saints, favorite Scripture passages, and some reflections from Magnificat that have spoken to me or touched me in a special way.
I find myself picking up this very personal prayerbook whenever I am feeling a bit restless and in need of spiritual comfort. Last night was one such night. God often speaks to me in repetitious ways; He certainly knows I need it. When I picked my prayerbook up to begin perusing its contents, a page I had torn out of an old Magnificat had literally fallen in my lap. The title of the reflection was How To Have Peace In Jesus. Somehow I think Jesus knew this was what I was in need of at that moment. The reflection was written in the style of a prayer and expressed everything I was feeling and wanted to ask of Our Lord at that moment. I so often and so easily lose my peace in Jesus. This prayerful reflection by Servant of God Catherine de Hueck Doherty helped me to regain that peace and reminded me of how to keep it as well.
Read these words when you have time to allow them to sink in to your heart, mind and soul. May they be among the ways you find and keep your peace in Jesus.

Look at my unworthiness; look at Your kindness, Jesus, Son of Man, my Lord and my God. Forgive me and accept my thanks for allowing me another chance. I know my weakness. I know that without You I am nothing. Help me! Alone I cannot make one step. Let me see myself as I am. 
Make me realize these graces that You have allowed. Give me tolerance, understanding, humility, patience! Above all inflame my heart with an unquenchable love for You. Make me an alert servant, not a sloppy, tired lazy one as I have been until now. Do not allow me, Sweet Lord, to take unto myself any pride about my achievement; make me humbly realize that I am only an instrument. You know it is all for Your glory.
Make me more charitable, more gentle, more understanding with people. Give me humility~ then I shall be able to serve You as I must. Cure my laziness. Give me strength and determination for sacrifices and mortifications. Make me patient, controlling all anger, irritability and impatience.
Help me, O Master. Look not at the unworthiness of Your servant, but only on her desire to serve You. Enkindle that desire until, as a flame, it consumes me entirely! Bless all the things I do in Your name. Give me understanding of what I should do and what I should run away from. Give me Your love! In temporal things, give me my daily bread, and the rest as You will.Your will be done, not mine.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Prayer Of The Narrow Gate

My Lord and my God,
I have prayed this prayer many times for I know well the gate through which You would have me come to You. How am I to pass through this gate of such narrow dimensions? Along the way the world and its trappings seem to attach themselves. It is when this happens that I feel the needed sting of Your discipline. You desire my salvation and know that I cannot pass through this gate with all of these worldly attachments. Without Your grace I am weak and am unable to walk the straight path You have set.
I continue to hear Your words: "Strive to enter through the narrow gate..." 
The road just beyond the gate is also narrow and in the shape of a cross. You have walked this road yourself and it is marked with Your precious blood. You are there on the road for my strength and You await at its end in judgement. It will not be enough to say to You that I have worshiped in Your Church and received You in Your Sacraments. If those worldly attachments are still part of me, You will not recognize Your lowly creature.
My Lord, I do not want to be among those You call evildoers. I would rather be among the last and the least in this life so as to be among those in whom Your image, in which You have created us all, can be seen, and be among the first in life eternal with You.
So please, my God, in Your great love and mercy, continue to discipline this stubborn creature as she strives to accept Your invitation and command to enter through the narrow gate that will one day lead to Your Holy Mountain.

*Reflection based on readings for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Friday, August 20, 2010

St Bernard And Christ's Passion

St Bernard of Clairvaux, whose feast we celebrate today, is the last of the Church Fathers as well as a Doctor of the Church. In his annals it is recorded that he asked Our Lord which was His greatest unrecorded suffering. Our Lord responded to Bernard:
"I had on My Shoulder, while I bore My Cross on the Way of Sorrows, a grievous Wound, which was more painful than the others, and which is not recorded by men. Honor this wound with thy devotion, and I will grant thee whatsoever thou dost ask through its virtue and merit. And in regard to all those who shall venerate this Wound, I will remit to them all their venial sins, and will no longer remember their mortal sins."
Friday is traditionally the day dedicated to Our Lord's Passion. One of the ways we can do this is with this prayer to the Shoulder Wound of Christ.
St Bernard, along with many of the saints, had a great devotion to Jesus Crucified. They speak of the endless treasures and graces in this devotion.
St Bernard, pray for us and by your intercession may we grow in love for our Crucified Lord.

Prayer To the Shoulder Wound of Christ
O Loving Jesus, meek Lamb of God, I miserable sinner, salute and worship the most Sacred Wound of Thy Shoulder on which Thou didst bear Thy heavy Cross, which so tore Thy flesh and laid bare Thy Bones as to inflict on Thee an anguish greater than any other wound of Thy Most Blessed Body. I adore Thee, O Jesus most sorrowful; I praise and glorify Thee, and give Thee thanks for this most sacred and painful Wound, beseeching Thee by that exceeding pain, and by the crushing burden of Thy heavy Cross to be merciful to me, a sinner, to forgive me all my mortal and venial sins, and to lead me on towards Heaven along the Way of Thy Cross. Amen.
(Imprimatur: Thomas D. Beven, Bishop of Springfield )

Thursday, August 19, 2010

St John Eudes: Devoted To The Hearts Of Jesus And Mary

Today the Church celebrates the feast of St John Eudes. This saint has been called by the Holy See, the father, the doctor and the Apostle of devotion to the sacred hearts of Jesus and Mary because of his deep devotion and understanding of these sacred and immaculate hearts.
As we continue in this month dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady, I offer you this beautiful prayer written by St John Eudes.
You can read more about the life of this saint here.
Salutation to the Glory of Mary
By St. John Eudes
  Hail Mary!  Daughter of God the Father,
Hail Mary!  Mother of God the Son,
Hail Mary!  Spouse of God the Holy Ghost,
Hail Mary!  Temple of the Most Blessed Trinity,
Hail Mary!  Celestial Rose of the ineffable love of God.
Hail Mary!  Virgin pure and humble, of whom the King of Heaven
willed to be born and with thy milk to be nourished.
Hail Mary!  Virgin of virgins,
Hail Mary!  Queen of Martyrs, whose soul a sword transfixed,
Hail Mary!  Lady most Blessed! unto whom all power in
Heaven and earth is given,
Hail Mary!  my Queen and my Mother!  my Life,
my Sweetness, and my Hope,
Hail Mary!  Mother most Amiable,
Hail Mary!  Mother most Admirable,
Hail Mary!  Mother of Divine Love,
Hail Mary!  IMMACULATE; Conceived without sin!
Hail Mary!  Full of Grace!  the Lord is with thee!
Blessed art thou among women!
And blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, JESUS!
Blessed by thy Spouse, St. Joseph,
Blessed by thy Father, St. Joachim,
Blessed by thy Mother, St. Anne,
Blessed by thy Guardian, St. John,
Blessed by thy Holy Angel, St. Gabriel,
Glory be to God the Father, who chose thee,
Glory be to God the Son, who loved thee,
Glory be to God the Holy Ghost, who espoused thee,
Glorious Virgin Mary, may all men love and praise thee,
Holy Mary, Mother of God! pray for us and bless us, now
and at death in the Name of JESUS, thy Divine Son!

This salutation was found in a book belonging to St. Margaret Mary after her death, and was promoted faithfully by Fr. Paul of Mall, O.S.B., Belgian Priest [1824-1896]

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Assumption Of Our Lady

I don't have adequate words for this beautiful Marian feast we celebrate today, so I will leave you with perhaps the most perfect prayer to our Blessed Mother, the Hail Mary. It is sung by Andrea Bocelli in one of my favorite pieces of music, Ave Maria.
May we all in some way consecrate ourselves, body and soul, to Our Lady so that with her we may grow closer to our Lord Jesus Christ.
O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Maximilian Kolbe And Our Lady's Army

Today is the feast of St Maximilian Kolbe. He died on this day in 1941 by giving his life so that a fellow prisoner in Auschwitz could live. His captors became somewhat impatient when he did not die fast enough and so hastened his death with a lethal injection.
St Max is an icon of Our Lord's words: "No greater love hath a man than one who lays down his life for his friends." (see John 15:13)
This great saint also had deep devotion to Our Blessed Mother and in 1917 formed the Militia of the Immaculata. This organization, which is worldwide, was founded as a means of total consecration to Jesus's Sacred Heart through Mary.
I made my Consecration to Our Blessed Mother through the MI on June 19, 2004, the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary that year. I try to remember to renew it on that day each year. This year I will join Fr. Gordon MacRae of These Stone Walls, along with other members of the Militia of the Immaculata, in renewing our consecration to Our Lady.
Fr. John Corapi has been known to say that: "Our Lady wears combat boots." Well she has an army in those who have consecrated themselves to her Son through her.
We constantly need to remember that until Our Lord comes again, we are engaged in battle, but there is strength in numbers; all of us fighting together with prayer and sacrifice can do much for the salvation of souls. In a sense it is following Jesus' and Maximilian Kolbe's example of laying our lives down for others.
You can read more about St Kolbe as well as the Militia of the Immaculata at the above link.

St Maximilian's Miraculous Medal Prayer
O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee, and for those who do not, especially the enemies of the Church, and for all those who have been recommended to you.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Urgent Prayer Request

If I could enlist the help of all the diligent prayer warriors... A dear friend delivered her beautiful baby boy 3 weeks early by emergency C-Section. The baby was born with Down's Syndrome and possibly also leukemia.
Please pray for this little guy and his parents that they will be able to accept the grace God gives them to deal with this difficult time.
Thanks in advance!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Road Of The Unexpected

I often think of myself as a traveler on a road. I am walking this road, not driving it. It is a road I have been on before, but left it. I remember when I returned to the journey and when the realization came to me that this road I am on is not part of my home, but rather it is one that leads to my home. That thought brought both comfort and also a little fear~ comfort in knowing that the home I travel toward is heaven, but some fear in what I will come up against that may throw me off course, and will I be ready when my Lord and God calls me to that home?
God has given me a map in His own example and in 2000 years of Salvation History. He has also given me the gift of faith, that realization of all that is hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. As I travel this road, I can look back to all those who accepted the gift of faith. Abraham, Sarah, Isaac~ all of whom knew that God had a plan and was faithful to His promises, but just how and when those plans would be carried out remained a mystery. Their faith helped them to expect and accept the unexpected in their lives.
I sometimes find myself asking Jesus a question similar to the one Peter asked about the parable of the servant waiting for his master's return. "Lord, I read these parables you taught with so long ago, are they really also meant for me?" And always I hear His gentle yet firm, "Yes, my daughter they are meant for you as well."
So I continue on this road, knowing where it will lead but not knowing what will happen along the way or how or when the journey will end. I just know that my Master waits at the end and He will want to know if I have readied myself for what He has promised. Knowing this much is all I really need to know; anymore than this may become burdensome as I travel toward my own passover. I have the moneybag that will never wear out and that nothing can destroy, and in it all I need to carry is my faith, and the history and example of those who have gone before.
My heart lies with my Master, for He is where my treasure lies.

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.
~Thomas Merton

Friday, August 6, 2010

Splendor On Sinai, Tabor And The Eucharist

O God of everlasting love, You spoke from the cloud on Sinai and on Tabor: reveal Yourself within the cloud of faith to all who seek to know You.

And when Moses came down from the mount Sinai, he held the two tables of the testimony, and he knew not that his face was horned (shining) from the conversation of the Lord. 
~Exodus 34:29

And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him.
~Matthew 17:5

We know, that, when he shall appear, we shall be like to him: because we shall see him as he is.
~1John 3:2

Master, it is good that we are here.
~Luke 9:33

A Transfiguration Prayer
Heavenly Father,
You spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai and to the Apostles on Mount Tabor where You revealed the splendor of Your glory in Your Son, Jesus Christ.
Moses came down from Sinai with his face aglow from being in Your Presence, the Apostles saw Jesus radiant and never wanted to leave Tabor.
As we come before the Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist may we be transformed; may we not leave Your Presence the same way we entered, but aglow with Your grace. May we become luminaries of Your splendor and glory in this world, for in Your light we see light.
May we become what we behold and what we receive.
All of this we pray in Jesus' name.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Apostle Of The Blessed Sacrament

One of the saints whose feast we celebrate today is St Peter Julian Eymard. He had tremendous devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and so has been called the Apostle of the Blessed Sacrament. His writings are some of the most beautiful written on Our Lord's Real Presence in this sacrament.
Here is some advice on adoring Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament from this great saint.

The Father seeks such to adore him . . . in spirit and in truth.  (Jn 4:23)
The object of Eucharistic adoration is the divine person of our Lord Jesus Christ present in the most Blessed Sacrament.  He is living there.  He wants us to speak to him, and he will speak to us.  Anybody may speak to our Lord.  Is he not there for everybody?  Does he not tell us, "Come you all to me"?
This conversation between the soul and our Lord is the Eucharistic meditation, i.e., adoration.
The grace of it is given to everybody.  In order, however, to succeed in it and avoid routine or dryness of mind and heart, adorers must seek inspiration in the grace of their vocation, in the various mysteries of the life of our Lord and of the Blessed Virgin, or in the virtues of the saints.  In this way, they will honor and glorify the God of the Eucharist through the virtues of his mortal life as through those of all the saints, of whose holiness he was the grace and end as he is now its crown of glory.
Look upon the hour of adoration assigned to you as an hour in paradise.  Go to your adoration as one would to heaven, to the divine banquet.  You will then long for that hour and hail it with joy.  Take delight in fostering a longing for it in your heart.  Tell yourself, "In four hours, in two hours, in one hour, our Lord will give me an audience of grace and love.  He has invited me; he is waiting for me; he is longing for me."
When your hour is particularly difficult, rejoice all the more; your love will be greater for its suffering more.  It is a privileged hour that will count for two.
When on account of illness, infirmity, or some other reason, you cannot make your hour, let your heart be saddened for a moment.  Then in spirit imagine yourself at adoration in union with those who are actually adoring.  On a bed of sickness, or on a journey, or at a task that detains you, be more recollected, and you will derive the same fruit as if you had been able to kneel at the feet of the good Master.  That hour will be written down to your credit and perhaps even counted for two.
Go to our Lord just as you are.  Be natural in your meditation.  Use up your own stock of piety and love before resorting to books.  Cherish the inexhaustible book of a humble love.  It is all very well to take a pious book with you to regain control of yourself in case the mind wanders or the senses grow drowsy; but remember that our good Master prefers the poverty of our heart to the most sublime thoughts and affections from others.
You can be sure that our Lord wants our heart and not that of someone else.  He wants the thought and prayer of that heart as the genuine expression of its love for him.
It may be that we do not want to go to our Lord because we are ashamed of our misery and wretchedness: that is the fruit of subtle self-love, impatience, or cowardice.  Our Lord prefers our helplessness to everything else; he is pleased with it and blesses it.
You are suffering from spiritual dryness?  You can at least give glory to God's grace without which you can do nothing.  Open your soul toward heaven just as a flower opens its petals at sunrise to receive the refreshing dew.
You are stricken with utter powerlessness; your mind is lost in darkness; your heart is crushed with the weight of its nothingness; your body is ailing.  Offer him the adoration he should expect from one so destitute; forget your poverty and abide in our Lord.  Or again, present your poverty to him that he may make it rich; that is a masterpiece worthy of his glory.
But you are in a state of temptation and of sadness; everything rebels in you; everything induces you to leave your adoration under the pretext that you are offending God, and that you are dishonoring rather than serving him.  Do not listen to that insidious temptation; you adore him by resisting, by being loyal to him against yourself.  No, no, you are not displeasing him.  You are bringing joy to the Master who is looking on and who permitted Satan to upset you.  He expects you to honor him by remaining with Him to the last minute of the time you were to devote to him.
May confidence and simplicity and love bring you to adoration.

St Peter Julian Eymard also had a special devotion to Our Lady and because of her special relationship with Our Lord, gave her the title of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament. As August begins the month dedicated to The Immaculate Heart of Mary, I thought I would share this prayer to Our Lady under this beautiful title.

Prayer to Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament
                                          O Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament,
you are the glory of Christians,
the joy of the universal church,
the hope of the world,
pray for us.
Bring to life in all the faithful
a devotion to the most Holy Eucharist.
Hence, we will be worthy
to receive Holy Communion every day.
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, pray for us.

Today is also the feast of St Eusebius. He lived in the 4th Century and did much as bishop to defend the Church against the Arian heresy. You can read more about him by clicking the above link.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Minds Not At Rest

Most of us can recall those nights where we can't seem to get to sleep or stay asleep because our minds just won't shut off. You know the ones I am talking about~ try as you might, you can't sleep because there is this never ending tape running through your head. It plays and replays the days events or the worries and concerns we have in general. When I have one of those nights, my list goes something like this: my finances are not what they should be, did I do the right thing in a given situation at work, why is my boss the way she is... You get the idea.
The thing is these things that keep me awake, as important as they may seem to be, are really just temporary. It was the line in Ecclesiastes that got my attention today at Mass; "...even at night his mind is not at rest." But it is the toiling away that keeps our minds from resting at times.
Today's Gospel puts it all in perspective; we are to store our treasure for and in heaven. So maybe my nightly tape should go something more like this: when was the last time I went to confession, am I praying often and well enough, am I doing enough to serve God and others. Those are the things that will help me to get to heaven. My job and my bank account will surely fade away.

Heavenly Father,
Help me to remember that the things of this earth will pass away, but that You and Your Word will not. Grant me the grace to store up my treasure in heaven and be less concerned with material things, desiring only what I truly need.
In keeping my eyes and mind on You, I know that I will someday gain the treasure that awaits me in my true heavenly home.
All of this I pray in Jesus' name.

Readings for today, the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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.