Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I wanted to do something a little special for the Advent Season on this blog, so I have created a new page dedicated to Advent Reflections. Each day will provide you with a short and simple reflection. Today's related to the feast of St Andrew and Christ's call and invitation to each of us.
This season can be so busy and it is easy to get caught up in that busyness. I hope you find these reflections a brief but quiet refuge from all of that and help you to go a little deeper into what this season of preparation and anticipation is all about.
I read the following quote on St Anthony Messenger Press and it really captures the true spirit of Advent and Christmas: "Remember that achieving the perfectly orchestrated holiday doesn't matter. What matters is watching for God in every situation."
Let us take the time to watch and wait for our Savior!
You can find my reflection for each day by clicking on the tab above for Advent Reflections located just below the quote by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.
On this feast of one of the first Apostles to be called to follow Jesus, I thought I would offer you this repost from last year. There is a little bit of history as well as the Christmas Novena Prayer of St Andrew. Maybe some of you have more spiritual discipline than I do for fulfilling this novena :)
In any case, let us ask this great Apostle and saint's intercession in helping us to answer Our Lord's call to each of us to follow Him.
Andrew and Peter would eventually give up their fishing business to follow Christ at all times.
It is believed that Andrew went to Greece after the Ascension of Our Lord. He would be given the crown of martyrdom by being put to death on a cross to which he was tied, not nailed. He would suffer for two days before dying, but continued to preach to those who gathered around him in those two days.
Prayer To St Andrew
O glorious St. Andrew, you were the first to recognize and follow the Lamb of God. With your friend, St. John, you remained with Jesus for that first day, for your entire life, and now throughout eternity. As you led your brother, St. Peter, to Christ and many others after him, draw us also to Him. Teach us to lead others to Christ solely out of love for Him and dedication in His service. Help us to learn the lesson of the Cross and to carry our daily crosses without complaint so that they may carry us to Jesus. Amen.
St Andrew Christmas Novena
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.
+MICHAEL AUGUSTINE, Archbishop of New York
New York, February 6, 1897
Monday, November 29, 2010
"Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."
Each year my parish gives us the gift of the devotional Daybreaks during Advent and Lent. This year's Advent meditations are written by Mary Katharine Deeley. In her opening reflection she talks about having an Advent Mission.
I took the thoughts she wrote about in the reflection and personalized them and added a little as well to form my own Advent Mission Prayer.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Reflection for the 1st Sunday of Advent
I love preparation. It is a sign of anticipation of something desired. It might be a meal, a gathering of special family or friends, or maybe the birth of a baby.
Advent is the Church's gift to us of preparation time. It is a time of anticipation of Christ's coming both at the end of time and as a baby at Christmas. We need these next four weeks to prepare, not just our homes with decoration, but also, perhaps more importantly, our hearts.
In today's Gospel, Jesus tells His followers (us included) to stay awake! This season of Advent when we are given this time to prepare helps us to do just that. If we take our time and mark the weeks of this season with special preparations in our homes and hearts, we will be ready to greet our Savior both at the end of time and on Christmas morning.
For myself, my home will be decorated gradually. All that will appear this week is my Advent Wreath. Next week the manger will appear, but empty, and a fresh Christmas wreath will go on my door. During week three I will put the animals around the manger, and decorate the rest of my home with fresh pine greens and decorations I have collected over the years. (My apartment is not really conducive to a Christmas tree, so I substitute in other ways). Then in the final week just before Christmas Eve, Mary and Joseph will be in the manger awaiting the birth of the Christ Child, the shepherds will be approaching and the wise men in the distance, and at Midnight the Christ Child is placed in His crib.
As for preparing my heart, well Confession is always helpful, and I usually have some Advent spiritual reading. The Magnificat Advent Companion has become one of my favorites. I also have a book of essays for the Advent and Christmas seasons.
So let us heed Jesus' words and stay awake so that we can prepare ourselves to receive this most Divine Guest.
To get things started I offer you this lighthearted meditation called The Advent Virus.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
The Liturgical Year comes to a close today and so the Gospel reading for Mass is from the end of the Book of Revelation. In it we hear Jesus tell us to be vigilant for the day of His return. He tells us that that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. I must admit, those are chilling words! They also got me to thinking about would I rather be one who is still living on this earth when that day comes, or would I rather be already called from this world. I think that as long as my soul is in the condition Our Lord would have it, it really won't matter where I am on that day.
We are all going to stand before Our Lord sooner or later~ either at the end of time or at a time He sees fit to call us, and we are all going to have to give an account of our lives. Sometimes I envision that moment with my telling Him: "I got nothing, Lord; please have mercy!" I will take Jesus' advice though, and pray for the grace and strength to escape the imminent tribulations.
On this Liturgical New Year's Eve, I look forward to these coming weeks of Advent when we prepare to meet Christ when He comes again, and at Christmas.
Happy New Year!
Friday, November 26, 2010
Catholic blogging has opened up a whole new wonderful world to me and has also rejuvenated the creative spirit in me that died when I turned my back on God.
Thank you to all of you who take the time to read what I write. To those of you who comment, thank you for your support and encouragement. I am glad if something on this blog helps you or someone you know, enriches your faith, or simply puts a smile on your face. More than anything I pray it gives glory to God.
I don't have any major changes in mind for Daughter of the King this year, but I have given her a face lift as you can see~ something a little more fitting for the winter months ahead.
I look forward to beginning a new Liturgical Year with all of you as Advent begins on Sunday.
Thank you and may God continue to bless each of you.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
To all my readers, a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving. May God continue to bless us and may we always remember to show Him our gratitude.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
The Liturgical Year comes to a close today with the Solemnity of Christ the King. As we begin a new year in the Church, let us begin to prepare ourselves for the coming season of Advent when we prepare for Our Lord's coming both at the end of time and at Christmas.
I offer you on this great feast the Litany to Christ the King.
May all nations come to love and serve Him.
Monday, November 15, 2010
I found a link over at Fr. Robert Barron's blog at Word On Fire that gave a link that allows us to write letters via e-mail to our brothers and sisters who have suffered through these terrible events, and continue to suffer this persecution.
We may not be able to hop the next flight to Iraq, but we can certainly bridge the distance with our prayer and support.
You can get more details on how to do this over at Why I Am Catholic.
It may seem like a small thing, but as St Therese advises in her Little Way, it is small things done with great love that matters most to God.
*Last day to write letter is Tuesday, November 16, 2010.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
What I take away from today's Mass readings is that we need to have a Holy Fear. After all, fear of the Lord is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. However, this is not a fear of irrational anticipation of God's wrath and judgement, but rather a fear in which we acknowledge who God is and who we are not. It is to be in awe of God.
If we have that kind of holy fear, we can see the hope and promise God gives us in today's readings, without it, we might just see the doom and gloom.
Jesus tells us in the Gospel that the wars, famines etc. all must happen. If we look around us, we see they are happening. Jesus may come again today, tomorrow, or in a year not of our lifetime, but He will come~ at the end of time and for us individually at our death. Holy fear allows us to be ready for Him.
There are many who still do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah. The day is coming when every knee will bend, and every tongue confess to the glory of God the Father that Jesus Christ is Lord. (see Philippians 2:10~11)
*Musical artist is John Michael Talbot
Friday, November 12, 2010
Mary Magdalen was one of my patrons for this year. This was a bit of a spiritual honor for me as I have had special devotion to her since my reversion. Given my life in the past, I can relate to this woman whom Jesus cast out seven demons.
One of the Scripture passages that has always perplexed me is the account of Mary's meeting Jesus after the Resurrection. He tells her: "Noli mi tangere."~ Do not hold onto Me. Recently I have been given a little more insight into this phrase which also helped to shed some light on that Scripture passage.
Awhile ago I was having a conversation with a friend before our prayer meeting started. I was saying that someday when, by God's grace and mercy, I make it to heaven, I have this list of questions for Our Lord. One of which is "Why did you say this to Mary Magdalen?" Well one of our priests overheard this conversation and told me that of course when I reach heaven I won't have to ask Jesus these things because I will know. The conversation ended there.
Back to recently... This same priest remembered this conversation of several months ago and brought me a reply to an article he had read on this very topic. (Seems I am not the only one perplexed by Jesus' words.) This kind monsignor also went on to explain to me the literal translation of Noli mi tangere from the Greek; it is not so much "Do not hold onto Me", but more precisely, "Do not hold Me back." A light bulb seemed to go on in my soul as soon as he told me this. This I could understand! Jesus was trying to tell Mary that there was more for Him and for her. He would ascend to His Father in glory, and she was to go and spread the news of His Resurrection. "Go and tell my brothers..." is what Jesus tells her.
God always reveals more of Himself to us when we are ready. He also uses the people He knows we will listen to. Kind of like Jesus trusted Mary to go and reveal the news of His Resurrection to the Apostles. They may have been a little skeptical, but they believed her enough to go and check the tomb out for themselves. And later Jesus would appear to them, revealing Himself in His glorified body.
As I get ready for the new saint who will be my companion for this upcoming year, I thank St Mary Magdalen for her intercession and will continue to go to her asking her guidance in loving Jesus as she did.
St Anselm has written a beautiful prayer titled Prayer to St Mary Magdalen and Our Lord. It reads more like a meditation than simply a prayer. It is on the long side, but quite beautiful and worth the time.
Our Lord and His saints never cease to amaze me.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Last year I began a tradition of sorts where I asked my readers if they would like me to choose a patron saint for them for the upcoming year. I decided to offer this once again this year, but instead of doing the calendar year I thought I would begin with the Liturgical year. The Church celebrates the Solemnity of Christ the King on November 21 this year. This Solemnity marks the end of the current Liturgical year. The first Sunday in Advent is the following Sunday on November 28.
Before choosing the saint for the person, I always say a short prayer. God knows what is in store for each of us and he knows who among His saints is best fit to walk through the year's circumstances with each of us. So in reality, it is the saints who do the choosing, not me.
I have tried to include some of the lesser known saints among the usual big boys and girls of heaven. Once you receive your saint, I invite you to learn more about them since they will be your trusted friend for the year.
God has given such a wonderful and beautiful gift in the Communion of Saints; their help, intercession and friendship is only a prayer away.
So dear readers if you would like a personal patron for this upcoming year, let me know by leaving your request in the comments. I will respond with your saint by e-mail if you have one on your blog or if not I will leave it in a comment on your blog. For anyone without a blog, you can leave me your e-mail in the comments, but I will not publish the comment so as not leave your e-mail address out in cyberspace.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
I have to be honest; I have never really given too much thought to today's feast of the Lateran Basilica in Rome. However after listening to our priest's homily at Mass this morning, I have a new appreciation for this feast and the basilica.
The Pope is the bishop of Rome, and this basilica is where he carries out his ministry as such. The basilica, and today's feast are a sign of unity in our one holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. While there are various chuches, places in which we worship, across the globe, there is only one Catholic Church. In our English vernacular, we sometimes say we are from or we belong to St such and such church. Perhaps it would be more correct to say that I attend St such and such church, but I belong to the Catholic Church of which there is only one. As our priest this morning pointed out, the belonging to various churches is a Protestant notion.
Now I don't mean to get caught up in semantics, it was just that father's homily this morning made me think about what I say and how I say it.
For a little bit of history on this feast, it is interesting to note that the basilica was first dedicated to Jesus Himself as Basilica Salvatoris~the Basilica of the Savior. Later it was dedicated to John the Baptist and John the Evangelist because of an adjoining Benedictine monastery which had these two Johns as their patrons. The members of this monastery were given the charge of holding regular services in the basilica. (This little bit of history comes from Fr. Richard Veras in his article on today's feast in Magnificat.)
Jesus prayed that we all may be one. In these difficult times, the Catholic Church is experiencing divisions on some subtle and not so subtle levels. Let us pray that Christ's prayer for unity in His Church will be fulfilled.
So happy feast of the Dedication of St John Lateran, for this feast is the feast of our Universal Parish!
*If you are interested in more on the history of this feast and the basilica, like any good teacher I am going to let you all do it yourself this time. If you Google it, you will find any number of articles for your reading pleasure.
Monday, November 8, 2010
I have always been drawn to the Carmelite saints and Carmelite spirituality. Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity's writings have spoken volumes to me. She wrote much about the importance of silence; not so much exterior silence, but interior silence.
This brief excerpt from her speaks of going to that place within to be with God in interior silence, even in the busyness of our everyday lives.
The world in which we live is full of noise and activity. Let us look to Elizabeth as an example of how to be still and know that God is God. Let us, as Mary of Bethany, choose the better part, even in the course of our busy and often hectic lives.
*You can read more from Bl. Elizabeth here.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
In this day and age it seems being a Catholic priest who lives out his vocation according to God's will is one of the toughest jobs around. These men are truly heroes. I liked the statement by the army chaplain who said: "Don't ask me why I became a priest; ask me why I am still a priest." That's a powerful and thought provoking statement given what the Church and its priesthood are going through in these times.
Let us continue to pray for and encourage our priests.
Thanks to Jane for posting this video.
Endurance. Webster defines this word as the ability to withstand hardship or adversity. The seven brothers in the reading from Maccabees had it, the Sadducees in today's Gospel did not. The brothers believed that their God was a God of the living and therefore they believed in resurrection. The Sadducees did not believe in resurrection after death and mocked Jesus with their crazy hypothesis of who the woman would belong to after death.
Taking Webster's definition a bit further, I would say that endurance also implies that those hardships are being born for something greater. We who believe in resurrection know who and what that something greater is; it is Jesus Himself and life with Him for eternity.
Jesus said: "I am the Resurrection and the Life; whoever believes in Me will also live." The Maccabees did not know Jesus, but they knew and believed that faith in the one true God led to eternal life. The Sadducees did not believe Jesus was the Messiah, Son of that same one true God and so it is clear why they did not, could not believe in resurrection.
There are those like the Sadducees in our own time as well. Those who believe that this earthly life is all there is and that when this life ends, it is the end of everything. These same people also have difficulty believing in God and because of this they too lack endurance. There simply isn't anything to endure for except to get from one day to the next. Life lived this way is not really life at all, it is simply existing. A life without faith is one without hope.
Jesus came to give us hope. He came and endured the hardships of life on this earth, and He endured the sufferings of His Passion and death. He rose from the dead so that we may believe in Him and the Father who sent Him~ the God of the living. That faith gives us the hope to believe in His promise that we too will rise and have life everlasting.
As this liturgical year nears its end, the Sunday readings will concentrate more on death and the end times. There are some who find this disturbing or bleak. It is true that we will have to endure trial and tribulation before Our Lord returns, but we who live our faith in Him do not see these end times as bleak. They are merely a passage to the beginning of a better and eternal life.
May the Lord direct our hearts to the love of God and to the endurance of Christ. (see 2Thes2:16~3:5)
Friday, November 5, 2010
This month of November is one dedicated to praying for the dead~ for those souls who are in purgatory. In my post for the feast of All Souls, I mentioned offering Mass for the souls of our departed loved ones. When I read Fr. Mateo's exhortations on the Mass for the conversion of sinners, I found additional meaning in praying for the dead. Those souls who are still walking this earth, but who are doing so in a state of mortal sin are the walking dead. Their situation is much more serious than those who are in purgatory. Those souls are saved; they are simply in need of final purification. Those souls still here, but who have severed their relationship with God through mortal sin are in danger of going to hell if they die in that state. Please note that I said in danger. God's mercy knows no bounds, and none of us knows what occurs between God and a soul at the moment of death. Repentance is possible. However, that is cutting it a bit close.
In reading Fr.Mateo's words about "paying the ransom" for these souls with the Chalice, I realized I can offer these souls to Jesus by placing them in the Chalice at the moment of Consecration. Christ's Precious Blood is the remedy to restore life to these spiritually dead souls.
Now free will does play into this of course. God forces no one to come to Him and love Him, for that would not be true love, but we all know how powerful prayer is and joining that prayer to the Precious Blood of Christ, I believe, intensifies and purifies that prayer.
We all have family or friends who have either strayed from God or who perhaps have never believed in Him. Offer your Masses and your Communions for them. Place them in the Chalice at the Consecration. Give the angels and the saints cause to rejoice over repentant sinners.
I spent much of my life as one of these walking dead. I know it was the prayers and most likely the prayer of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, offered for me by a dear friend, that resurrected my soul to life in Christ. Let us offer just one more Mass and be bold enough to ask God for this miracle.
Well, enough of my own musings on this; here are Fr. Mateo's wise words...
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
November is the month dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory. These souls suffer because even though they know they will eventually be in God's presence for eternity, they are not there yet. We as the Church Militant can do much to shorten their time in this place of purgation. We can offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for them, and we can remember them, especially those of our family and friends, in our daily prayers.
St Therese of Liseux believed that with enough love and trust in God, Purgatory could be avoided. She believed to see Purgatory as the norm for souls rather than the exception was a grave error on our parts.
Her teaching on this is not dogma; we are not obliged to believe it. However, this great saint is a Doctor of the Church, and there is much truth in what she says. You can read what the Little Flower has to say about avoiding Purgatory here.
All that being said, I am still grateful that God gives us this last chance, so to speak, to become totally clean and purified so that we may enter His Kingdom to love and praise Him forever.
Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says on the teaching of Purgatory:
Monday, November 1, 2010
~Hebrews 12: 1~2
Today the Church celebrates all the saints of heaven. These holy men and women are one of God's great gift to us. The saints in heaven are our friends and helpers while we remain here in this earthly exile. They pray for us and intercede for us. We can ask them to pray with us. They are also examples for us, as well as signs of hope. It is sometimes easy to forget that many of these men and women did not always live saintly lives. Just pick up a copy of St Augustine's Confessions for proof of this.
One of the things, perhaps the thing that made these men and women saints was their never giving up on the process of conversion. Because they were human, they were also sinful, but they knew and trusted in the abundance of God's mercy. When they fell, they got back up again, and started fresh.
On this feast of All Saints, let us ask our patron saints to pray and intercede for us, so that we may have the courage and the strength to seek God's mercy when we fall.
All you holy men and women, pray for us!
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.