Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I've Adopted a Cardinal!

As the College of Cardinals prepares to elect a new Pope,  a group got together and thought it would be a good idea for the faithful to adopt a cardinal from the college offering prayers and sacrifices so that they may be led by the Holy Spirit in electing our next Holy Father.
My cardinal's name is Lluis Martinez Sistach, the Archbishop of Barcelona, Spain.
I love the idea of praying for our cardinals as they take on this very important and difficult task.
You can adopt a cardinal here. More than 77,000 people have joined in so far.
Thanks to Nancy at The Breadbox Letters for sharing this wonderful opportunity with us.

Comments welcome at The Front Porch.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Promise and Hope of Heaven

"If then we are steadfast in our faith in Him, and in our love for Him, we win the victory He has won; we receive what He has promised." 
~Pope St Leo the Great

James Tissot: The Transfiguration

No matter how many times I hear the account of Jesus' transfiguration during Lent, I always feel like it is a little out of place, but in a good way. As we begin this second week of Lent, we might be feeling a little sluggish in keeping our Lenten promises. The story of Jesus' transfiguration is like a little shot in the spiritual arm. Through it Jesus does for us what He did for Peter, James and John~He strengthened them for what lay ahead during His Passion and death. In hearing this Gospel account today, we too are strengthened.
Peter, upon seeing Our Lord transfigured in the presence of Moses and Elijah tells Jesus that he does not want this moment to end. On that holy mountain  the Apostles got a glimpse of heaven and its promises. That same glory they were seeing in Jesus would be theirs as well one day. That same promise is made to us. St Paul tells us in his letter to the Philippians that: "...He will change our lowly bodies to conform to His glorified body..." Now that is something for which we can all truly hope!
So as we continue our Lenten journeys and move closer to Holy Week, let us be encouraged and strengthened by the hope and promise of heaven. All we need to do to attain that heaven is heed the Father's command to listen to His Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Comments welcome at The Front Porch

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Headed For the Storm

Or perhaps we are right smack in the middle of it. With the breaking news of Pope Benedict XVI stepping down from the Chair of St Peter and Bishop of Rome, there have been as many reactions as there are people and news agencies to have them.
While I try not to read to much into the Pope's decision, or the talk it has illicited, I can't help but wonder if we are more into that final battle and trial that the Church must and will go through.
As if God wanted to confirm my wonderings, I came across Mark Mallet's recent post. It is a response to a letter he received from a reader. This reader seems to feel that a relationship with Christ is all that is needed. Loyalty to Christ's Church, well maybe not so much.
Mark does an excellent job of clearly and lovingly explaining not just to his reader, but to all of us, why loyalty to Christ's Church is necessary.
I urge you to read Mark's post. We all need to be alert, aware and attentive in the days, weeks, months and years ahead.
May the College of Cardinals entrusted with the task of electing the next Holy Father allow themselves to be led by the Holy Spirit.

And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 
~Matt. 16:18

Comments welcome at The Front Porch

Friday, February 22, 2013

Prisoner Love

I offer this reflection for your prayer and meditation today. It is from The Way of Divine Love. This book contains the words of  Our Lord to Sr. Josefa Mendez. In this reflection, Jesus speaks to her of His love for us, and His desire for souls to spend time with Him, even for just a few minutes, before the Blessed Sacrament.
At the end of the reflection, Jesus asks Sr. Josefa if she loves Him; we can insert our names into that question as well.

"I live in the midst of sinners that I may be their life, their physician, and the remedy of the diseases bred by corrupt nature. And in return they forsake, insult and despise Me!... 

"Poor pitiable sinners, do not turn away from Me... Day and night I am on the watch for you in the tabernacle. I will not reproach you... I will not cast your sins in your face... But I will wash them in My Blood and in My Wounds. No need to be afraid... come to Me... If you but knew how dearly I love you.

"And you, dear souls, why this coldness and indifference on your part?... Do I not know that family cares... household concerns... and the requirements of your position in life... make continual calls upon you?...But cannot you spare a few minutes in which to come and prove your affection and gratitude? Do not allow yourselves to be involved in useless and incessant cares, but spare a few moments to visit and receive this Prisoner Love!...

"Were you weak or ill in body surely you would find time to see a doctor who would cure you?... Come, then, to One who is able to give both strength and health to your soul, and bestow the alms of love on this Divine Prisoner who watches for you, calls for you and longs to see you at His side.

"When about to institute the Blessed Sacrament, Josefa, these were My feelings, but I have not yet told you what My Heart felt at the thought of My chosen souls; My religious, My priests... but I will tell you all this later on. Go, now, and do not forget that My Heart loves you... and, Josefa, do you love Me?... "

The Way of Divine Love
The Words of Our Lord to Sr. Josefa Menendez

Comments welcome at The Front Porch

Sunday, February 17, 2013

He Was Hungry

James Tissot's Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness

Little phrases in Sacred Scripture sometimes grab hold of my attention. This one in Luke's Gospel for the First Sunday in Lent did just that. "He was hungry." The He being Jesus at the end of His 40 days in the desert. Little phrases like this one seem at face value, to mean nothing more than what they say. Of course Jesus was physically hungry at the end of a 40 day fast!
All of the writing in Sacred Scripture is divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit. So I often feel that those little phrases that sometimes overstate the obvious, are there for a reason and offer us some food for deeper reflection. I have used this phrase from today's Gospel for such a purpose. This is not the first time this has happened while reading or listening to a Scripture passage. Over time I have learned to pay attention to these spiritual tugs from the Holy Spirit (or at least I try to).
Since Jesus' physical hunger would have been an obvious fact to anyone, St Luke may have been inspired to include it for a deeper reason. Let's take a look at the context of what was going on in this passage, what came before and what would follow.
Jesus had just come from the Jordan where He was baptized by John the Baptist. Scripture then tells us that He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. Here Jesus spends 40 days and nights during which time He is tempted three times (probably more) by Satan. So at the end of that 40 days, Jesus leaves the wilderness, yes physically hungry and tired, but I dare say probably spiritually charged for what would lie ahead~ three years of public ministry, and eventually the Cross.
This why I felt that there was more to that three worded phrase than met the eye. The more I let those words roll around my heart and brain, it seemed that maybe Jesus hungered for more than mere bread. After all, during His first temptation from the devil, Jesus' response to him is that "One does not live by bread alone..." St Matthew's version of this scene goes on to say: "but by every word that comes from the mouth of God."
Jesus is the Word sent by God His Father. Perhaps Jesus was hungry for souls to hear His message during the time He would travel, teach and preach. He hungered for souls, those He met during those three years of public ministry, and those that would come to know Him down through the ages~that includes each of us.
Jesus hungered for souls then at the beginning of His ministry, just as He thirsted for them as He hung on the Cross at the end of it.
As we journey with Jesus during these 40 days in our own Lenten wildernesses, let us remember Jesus' hunger for each of us and for those who do not yet know Him. May our lives reflect that spiritual hunger of His just as it was reflected in the lives of the Apostles.

Lord Jesus,
As we spend these 40 days in the Lenten wilderness, may we too hunger and thirst for souls. May our lives reflect the love You have for each of us so as to touch those who do not yet know You. May the grace of this blessed season leave us spiritually nourished ready to live and share the Good News of the Paschal Mystery.

*Comments welcome at The Front Porch.

Friday, February 15, 2013

All Seems to Be Well

Those of you who have tried to visit here over the last two days found some unpleasant warnings from Google. I have, with Blogger's help, managed to fix the problem. So the coast is clear.
It seems the malware was embedded in one of the sites I was following either on my bloglist or my Catholic Links list. I have removed both of those gadgets. That seemed to do the trick. Since I do like the benefit of allowing other vistors to visit the blogs I follow, I will try rebuilding that gadget with your blogs. If the warning comes back, I guess it will have to be removed permanently~we'll see.
Some of this was brought on by my own naivete and laziness. Here are a few things you may want to do to beef up the security of your own blogs (if you don't already do them.)

1. Change your password every so often.

2. If using Google Chrome, do not leave your Dashboard or e-mail open via a bookmark on the toolbar.

3. Sign out of e-mail and Google account at the end of each session.

Thanks for your patience in this. Hope you come back to visit soon.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Our Lenten Journeys and Splinters of the Cross

James Tissot's: Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness

This blessed season has come a little earlier than usual this year, but here we are again readying ourselves to enter into the desert with Our Lord. I know I have said this before, but I really do enjoy the season of Lent; it is like spiritual boot camp for me. By entering that desert with Jesus, I have the opportunity to draw closer to Him.
As Lent approaches every year, I listen to people talk about what they are giving up. Giving up chocolate, coffee, social networking is all good, but what this season really calls us to do is to give up sin. The way to do that is to turn to the Cross. By dying to ourselves, which is what all that giving up is really about, we find ourselves drawing closer to Christ. It is only through Him that we can turn from sin with any measure of success.
The Gospel for today tells us just that. Jesus tells us to pick up our cross and follow Him; to lose our lives so that we can gain life in Him. The priest who said Mass today spoke about "accepting the splinters" of the Cross. Meaning that our everyday lives give us many small crosses to pick up, or splinters. Sitting in traffic, the person at work who loves to get under your skin, living with a cold or flu for a week~ you get the idea. All of these things are crosses we can pick up and offer to Jesus. I always pray the prayer "Thank you Jesus for giving me something to offer you." when one of those little annoying splinters finds it way into my day. For on my own I would probably not choose to accept suffering, even minor suffering. Accepting the splinters helps us to accept the bigger wooden beams when they come, and all of this can help us as we begin our Lenten journey and continue our lives as Christians.
As for my own Lenten formula, I am giving up television because it is my biggest distraction, especially at night. I plan to use the extra time for prayer (praying evening and night prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours more regularly), spiritual reading, and writing here on this blog with a little more regularity. I also use the reflections from The Spiritual Exercises Blog. I discovered this blog about 4 years ago and find it that helps keep me on track. I use the reflections and the questions as journal prompts. My journal entries are always "letters to Jesus" so it makes journaling feel more like a conversation with Him. The reflections are based on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola. This happens to pair well with my main source of reading this year which is Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Fr. Michael Gaitley.
May we all have a blessed and fruitful Lent so to rejoice even more deeply at Easter.

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.