Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Time Of The End

The Time of the End Is the Time of No Room is an essay from Thomas Merton's book, Raids on the Unspeakable. This essay was the reading for today in a book of Advent/Christmas readings I've been using throughout the season. Merton wrote this essay in 1966, but over 40 years later, its message is still a timely and important one for us.
It is not the usual light~hearted fare typically found in literature for this time of year, but if read in the spirit in which I believe Merton wrote it, it is truly hopeful. For we as Catholics believe that what the world sees as an end, is really the beginning.
I thought this essay was a good way to bring my 2009 posting to a close. Unfortunately I could not find the essay in its entirety on line, but I did find an excerpt over at Google Books which I have included here.
As 2009 comes to a close and we look ahead to all that 2010 holds, let us keep our eyes on the Child in the manger who was born to die so that we might live forever. It is in Him that we live and move and have our being.
Have a Happy and Blessed New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fr. Gordon MacRae's Must Read Article

I have posted about Fr. MacRae before on this blog. He is a priest falsely accused of sexual abuse and serving a 15 year prison sentence. You can read his full story at his blog, These Stone Walls. (Links at the end of this post.)
However, if you only read one post Fr. MacRae has written, I suggest it be his final one for this year, The Dark Night of a Priestly Soul. It tells the story of Fr. Richard Lower who seven years ago on December 29th, took his own life because of accusations of sexual abuse.
While I understand that there were and are priests guilty of this heinous crime, there are more priests that were accused falsely and have either taken their lives or are seving prison sentences. Fr. MacRae gives more detail and statistics on these things in his post.
My reason for writing this post and encouraging you to read Fr. MacRae's is to get as many people as possible to pray for priests, all priests.
I will repeat here what I said to Fr. MacRae in my comment to him. Our priests are on the front lines in fighting this battle against Satan. What Satan is well aware of is that if he can get rid of our priests, there is no Jesus in the Eucharist, no Jesus in the Eucharist~ well let's not even go there!
I know that Christ promised us that the gates of the netherworld would not prevail against His Church, but it is taking a beating. Our prayers are needed to help fight the battle.
Let us pray for our priests. Give them an encouraging word when we can. They need our help, not our criticism.
We also need to pray for those priests who are guilty; they are in need of healing. Finally, let us pray for those priests who have been falsely accused and succumbed to the despair and anguish caused by these accusations and have taken their own lives.
Here are the links to Fr. MacRae's post wriiten at Priests In Crisis and the link to his blog These Stone Walls.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Feast Of The Holy Innocents

 Giotto di Bondone
No. 21 Scenes from the Life of Christ
Massacre of the Innocents
1304-06 -- Fresco
Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua

"Thus saith the Lord: A voice was heard on high of lamentation, of mourning, and weeping, of Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted for them, because they are not.  Thus saith the Lord: Let thy voice cease from weeping, and thy eyes from tears: for there is a reward for thy work, saith the Lord: and they shall return out of the land of the enemy" (Jeremias 31:15~16)
 Today the Church remembers those children who were killed shortly after Jesus' birth in the massacre ordered by King Herod. Herod was so threatened by the possibility of another King, that he took the lives of these innocent baby boys.
Unfortunately things are not too different more than 2000 years later. Today the lives of millions of children are taken before they are even born in the form of abortion.
No matter what our legislators may tell us, it is still murder, and the massacre continues.
Those of us, who by God's grace, have recognized the sin we committed and have repented of it, have received God's healing.
Today as we remember those children of Christ's time, let us also offer a prayer so that the killing may come to an end in our time. Please pray for the continued healing of those of us who have received it from the healing ministries and the sacraments of the Church, but more importantly pray for those who are still in need of healing and those who will contemplate making this horrible decision in the future, and let us pray that our culture will convert from one of death to one of life.
Holy Innocents of yesterday and today, pray for us!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Holy Family~ A Model For All Families

My parish priest made a good point in his very powerful homily today. He said that Scripture does not tell us about family, or give us some kind of treatise on how a family should work, rather God gave us an example or a model of what family should be in Jesus, Mary and Joseph~the Holy Family.
Yes indeed, this was truly the holiest of families, but they were also living in a struggling, sinful world. From the moment of Jesus' conception, there were obstacles this family would face: Mary's "apparent" infidelity which could have very surely resulted in both her's and the Child's death had Joseph not been the kind, humble, God~fearing man that he was. Then this young couple had to flee to Egypt with a newborn in order to save His life.
Then we come to the event that is the subject of today's Gospel~the finding of the 12 year old Jesus in the Temple among the doctors and teachers of the time. In the eyes of this young Mother and father, a child missing for 3 days! When they finally find Him, they ask why He has done this. He seemed surprised that they would be looking for Him. Jesus' reply seemed logical enough for Him, but was one His Mother and probably Joseph would need to ponder awhile in order to understand.
I like the Douay~Rheims translation of Jesus's reply: 
"And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father's business?  And they understood not the word that he spoke unto them." 
(Luke 2:49-50) 
About His Father's business, doing His Father's will.
I think that this is where the message lies for families today. Our world today is a sinful, struggling place. It is the job of Christian families to imitate the Holy family, beginning with the parents who are to pass on and teach the faith to their children so that when the time comes, they like Jesus, can be about their Heavenly Father's business.
Once again I find myself in a very precarious position in writing this because I am not a parent. However as an educator for the last 24 years I have been witness to some parents who do not know how or refuse to see that their children are a gift from God, that they are God's children before they are theirs. The results are that the children are dictated to: You will go to that college, receive this or that degree, and become what I want you to become. They never see or help their children to see what God's will for them is.
While Mary and Joseph may not have readily understood their Son's reply, they did understand one important thing, that God is in control and has a plan for each of His children.
As I listened to Father's homily and thought more about this Gospel reading, I realized what my prayer intention for this coming year is to be; it will be to pray for all families. I pray especially for parents that they will do as Hannah did with Samuel, and consecrate their children to God so that these children will be able to discern God's plan for them, and then be about His business.
May God bless all families and heal those where division and estrangement exist.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Blueberry Muffins: An E~Book Review

 My dear friend, Colleen from Thoughts On Grace, recently sent me the gift of a copy of her new e~book, Blueberrry Muffins: Everyday Stories of God's Love. As a thank you for her kindness I thought I would review the book here.
The eight stories Colleen shares with her readers are beautifully and simply written. The common thread through all of them being that God manifests His love for us, sometimes, most times, in the simplest of ways. It might be through blueberry muffins, a prayer chair, a sunset on a retreat, or even through a personal crisis. Colleen uses each of these things and more to tell how God has shown His love to her in her own life.
While these stories are the author's, you will find God in your own life's circumstances in each of them. I was able to relate very easily to Colleen's story of the prayer chair she uses as her special place for prayer; I too have a special place where I like to pray and sit with spiritual reading. The story of her retreat and how she allowed herself to "melt into God's arms", anytime I have been on retreat, that's what I find happening to me as well.
The stories in Colleen's book serve as wonderful meditations to help us see how God is in the everyday circumstances of life. The stories will make you smile and some will even make you cry, but above all they will make you more aware of God's love for you.
Click the link at the top of this post to read excerpts and for details on how to order the e~book which sells for $4.99.
Once you receive the book, sit down with a nice cup of something and maybe even a blueberry muffin!
Thank you for sharing these stories, Colleen.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Mary, Show Us Jesus

Holy Mary, Mother of God, you have given the world its true light, Jesus, your son, 
the Son of God. 
Show us Jesus, 
Lead us to Him. 
Teach us to know and love Him, so that we too can become capable of true love and be fountains of living water in the midst of a thirsting world.
~Pope Benedict XVI

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry And Blessed Christmas!

 A Merry and Blessed Christmas to all of my readers. May the blessings and grace of the Christ Child fill your hearts and homes during this holy season.

Joy To The World!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

O Antiphon~ Emmanuel

Over the course of this past week we have prayed these antiphons, hearing Jesus named by many wonderful and deserving titles, but today as we pray the last of the O Antiphons, I believe we call Him by the most hopeful of all titles: Emmanuel~God with us. This title is a constant reminder to us that God wants to be and truly is with us. Jesus promised us Himself, that He would be with us until the end of time.
So yes, God is with us. As Advent comes to a close, let us thank our great God for being with us, and beg Him to stay with us.
Maranatha~Come Lord Jesus!


Emmanuel (God With Us)

O Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God! 


Isaias 7:14
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son and his name shall be called Emmanuel.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

O Antiphon~ Rex Gentium

 Jesus Christ, King of all nations, came as a baby and would grow into the man who is  Lord of Lords and King of Kings. I have seen today's antiphon referred to as a "little Ash Wednesday" because we are reminded that from dust we were formed.
Jesus~who was, and is, and is to come. As we gaze upon the baby in the manger, may we also remember He is the Rex Gentium who came to live and die to save us.

O Rex Gentium(King of All Nations, King of the Gentiles)

O King of the Gentiles, yea, and desire thereof! O Corner-stone, that makest of two one, come to save man, whom Thou hast made out of the dust of the earth! 

Isaias 9:7
His empire shall be multiplied, and there shall be no end of peace: he shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom; to establish it and strengthen it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth and for ever: the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Isaias 2:4
And he shall judge the Gentiles, and rebuke many people: and they shall turn their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into sickles: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they be exercised any more to war.

Monday, December 21, 2009

O Antiphon~ Oriens

 As this week progresses and we draw closer to Christmas, our attention is drawn to that star in the East whose light begins to shine brighter in order to guide us to the Savior. He has come so that we who have walked in darkness can see His great light and let it shine in our lives.
I believe that is what conversion is all about~letting Christ's light shine on those areas of our lives that need change and cooperating with the grace He gives to change them.
Let us allow Christ to be the Light on our paths so that we may be led straight to Him at Christmas and every day of our lives.

 O Oriens (Dayspring, Radiant Dawn)

O Dayspring, Brightness of the everlasting light, Son of justice, come to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death! 


Isaias 9:2
The people that walked in darkness, have seen a great light: to them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death, light is risen.

Icon Of The Mother Of God Of Fatima

 This is another one of those "too beautiful not to pass along" posts. This is a new icon of  Our lady. It is absolutely beautiful and captivating. You can read the story of the icon at Svyatoy Nikolay.
I don't want to say too much of what this icon says to me, I will let it speak on its own to you.
Mantilla Twitch to Christopher at Sanctus Christopher for passing this one along to us.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday Advent Reflection: Visitation

  The Visitation by James Tissot

The Blessed Virgin was certainly given a vocation in being the Mother of God, but she was also given an apostolate of sorts in that of bringing Jesus to people in a personal way. It began with Elizabeth.
The first thing Mary did after the Annunciation was to go, in haste, to Elizabeth, who in her advanced years, was also given the vocation of motherhood. At first glance it looks as if that was all they had in common, but they had more. Both women, as excited as they both were, probably experienced a bit of fear and anxiety. In the eyes of the world, neither was really at what it would call the optimum age for pregnancy. They were at opposite ends of that spectrum~Mary a mere teenager and Elizabeth in advanced years. However, the other thing they had in common was trust in God. This trust is what dissipated the anxiety. Their sons would both be great. Jesus would come to save mankind and John would make straight His way.
In the Visitation Mary began her apostolate of bringing Christ to others. She continues it even today; all she wants to do is bring each of us closer to her Son. In that, each of us, like Elizabeth has had our own visitation. What should our response to this visitation be? The same as Elizabeth's~humble recognition : "Who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke 1:43)
Two thousand years ago, Mary went in haste to the hill country of Judea. Today she comes in haste to each of us. As Advent comes to an end, may we each be alert, aware and attentive to our own visitation by the Blessed Virgin and may our hearts leap within us as we recognize the One she carries.

O Most Blessed Virgin,
I am no one that you, the Mother of my Lord should come to me, but you recognize my need for a Savior and you have brought Him to me. May my heart leap within me as John leaped within the womb of Elizabeth, and may my spirit rejoice in God my Savior as yours did. For He has looked with kindness and mercy on me, His poor and humble servant and despite my many sins has done great things in and for me.
With Elizabeth, I too cry in a loud voice, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus." (Luke 1:42)

 Have a Blessed Sunday!

Note on the above statue: This statue actually sits in my living room. It was a gift from the Respect Life Office of the Diocese of Metuchen, NJ for giving my witness at their Post-Abortion Healing Seminar several years ago. You can read more about the statue and its rich symbolism by clicking the link under the statue above.

O Antiphon~ Clavis David

Jesus came to set the captives free. Prisons take many shapes and forms in our lives. We don't have to be physically behind bars to be in prison; some are of our own making through the sins we find ourselves falling into. Jesus, Key of David, is the only key that can unlock those chains that bind us. He does it through confession, through our prayer, and in the Eucharist. But He won't unlock our chains to free us without our consent; we have to go to Him and simply ask. He is waiting with the key of His love and mercy.
That being said, there are many who are in physical prisons, some justly, some unjustly, but no matter the circumstances it is still difficult for them and their families. Please keep the imprisoned in your prayers this Advent and Christmas season.

O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth, come to liberate the prisoner from the prison, and them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.

Isaias 22:22
And I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder: and he shall open, and none shall shut: and he shall shut, and none shall open.

Isaias 9:6
For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

O Antiphon~ Radix Jesse

Today's antiphon and Scripture references demonstrate the connection between Old and New Testament, how the New fulfills the Old's prophecies of the Messiah's coming.
To quote Fr. John Corapi," God's Word is not a something, it is a Somebody; His name is Jesus." The Father spoke this Word, and it was all He needed to say.
As we prayerfully read the Scripture references for today's antiphon, may we hear more clearly God speaking His Word to us in the depths of our hearts. As Christmas draws closer, may God's Word prepare our hearts to receive the Word made flesh.

 Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse)

 O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, at Whom the kings shall shut their mouths, Whom the Gentiles shall seek, come to deliver us, do not tarry.

Scripture References
Isaias 11:1
And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root.

Isaias 11:10
In that day the root of Jesse, who standeth for an ensign of the people, him the Gentiles shall beseech, and his sepulchre shall be glorious.

Micheas 5:1
Now shalt thou be laid waste, O daughter of the robber: they have laid siege against us, with a rod shall they strike the cheek of the judge of Israel.

Romans 15:8-13
For I say that Christ Jesus was minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers. But that the Gentiles are to glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: Therefore will I confess to thee, O Lord, among the Gentiles, and will sing to thy name. And again he saith: Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again: Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and magnify him, all ye people. And again Isaias saith: There shall be a root of Jesse; and he that shall rise up to rule the Gentiles, in him the Gentiles shall hope. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing; that you may abound in hope, and in the power of the Holy Ghost.

Apocalypse 5:1-5
And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne, a book written within and without, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel, proclaiming with a loud voice: Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man was able, neither in heaven, nor on earth, nor under the earth, to open the book, nor to look on it. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open the book, nor to see it. And one of the ancients said to me: Weep not; behold the lion of the tribe of Juda, the root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

Friday, December 18, 2009

O Antiphon~ Adonai

 God reveals Himself as He will to whom He wills. The Father is revealed to us at Christmas in the Christ Child. This Child would grow to be the Man whose mighty hand would calm a sea, heal the sick and raise the dead; the mighty hand of God that would set each of us free.
As we pray this antiphon this evening, let us each reflect on how God has personally revealed Himself to each of us.

 O Adonai (Lord of Israel)

“O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.” 

Scripture References
Isaias 11:4-5
But he shall judge the poor with justice, and shall reprove with equity the meek of the earth: and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. And justice shall be the girdle of his loins: and faith the girdle of his reins.

Isaias 33:22
For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king: he will save us.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The O Antiphons~ Sapientia

The O Antiphons begin this evening. These traditional verses are sung before and after the Canticle of Mary at Vespers.
I love these short but beautiful verses that refer to Christ under a different title each day beginning on December 17 and continuing until Christmas. For me, each title reflects a different aspect of God in the person of Jesus Christ.

Here are  the seven titles refered to in each of the antiphons. When the acrostic is read backward, it forms the Latin phrase Ero Cras which means Tomorrow I come.

Radix Jesse
Clavis David
Rex Gentium

The O Antiphons are also based on Scripture. I will post the antiphon for each day over the course of the next week along with its Scripture roots.
May the O Antiphons and their corresponding Scripture passages enrich your prayer and meditation during these last days of Advent.

O Sapientia (Wisdom)
O Wisdom that comest out of the mouth of the Most High, that reachest from one end to another, and orderest all things mightily and sweetly, come to teach us the way of prudence!

Isaias 11:2-3
And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord, He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears.

Isaias 28:29
This also is come forth from the Lord God of hosts, to make his counsel wonderful, and magnify justice.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A To Do List For The Soul

I found this on my homepage this morning. I thought it was worth sharing.
With so much to do during this potentially busy season, it is easy to neglect the things that really need to get done.
Here is a Scripturally sound list of things to do in preparation for our Savior's coming both at Christmas and at the end of time.

  • Repent and believe in Him [Jesus]" (Mt 21:32).
  • Do what our Father wants (Mt 21:31).
  • "Go out and work in the vineyard" (Mt 21:28).
  • Hear God's voice and accept correction (Zep 3:2).
  • Trust in God and draw near to Him (Zep 3:2).
  • Let the Lord change and purify our lips (Zep 3:9).
  • "Call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord" (Zep 3:9).

Monday, December 14, 2009

St John Of The Cross:Mystic And Doctor Of The Church

"Going everywhere, my God, with you, everywhere things will happen as I desire for you."

                                                                                                                      ~St John of the Cross

St John of the Cross, whose feast day we celebrate today, is co~founder along with St Teresa of Avila, of the Order of Carmelites Discalced.
St John of the Cross is probably best known for his writings on the Dark Night of the Soul, as well as his many maxims on the soul and her union with God. The Carmelite order has given us many saints and Doctors of the Church, along with Sts John and Teresa of Avila is also St Therese of Liseux.
Much of St John's poetry was written while he spent 9 months imprisoned for not returning to the house of his profession in Medina.
The writings of St John of the Cross are not always easy to read, but are a rich source of spiritual reading and meditation. I find his Maxims aiding  my own spiritual life.

Jesus Christ, God's Final Word is one of St John's Advent readings. It is usually used in the Roman Office of readings on Monday during the second week of Advent. I've included an excerpt here.
While we are on the topic of saints, I posted on my other blog that I have some saints left over from my parish prayer meeting. If you would like me to prayerfully choose a saint for you for 2010, leave a comment and I will gladly do so. Some interesting things have happened for those who asked for saints. The saints are really the ones who choose us.

Jesus Christ, God's Final Word
The principal reason why the Old Law permitted us to ask questions of God, and why prophets and priests had to seek visions and revelations of God, was because at that time faith had no firm foundation and the law of the Gospel was not yet established; and thus it was necessary that men should enquire of God and that he should speak, whether by words or by visions and revelations or whether by figures and images or by many other ways of expressing His meaning. For all that he answered and revealed belonged to the mysteries of our faith and things touching it or leading to it.

But now that the faith is founded in Christ, now that in this era of grace the law of the Gospel has been made manifest, there is no reason to enquire of God in that manner nor for him to speak to us or answer us as he did then. For, in giving us, as he did, his Son, who is his one and only Word, he spoke to us once and for all, in this single Word, and he has no occasion to speak further.

And this is the meaning of that passage with which the Letter to the Hebrews begins, trying to persuade the Hebrews that they should abandon those first ways of dealing and communicating with God which are in the law of Moses, and should set their eyes on Christ alone: At various times in the past and in various different ways, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our own time, in the last days, he has spoken to us through his Son. That is, God has said so much about so many things through his Word that nothing more is needed, since that which he revealed partially in the past through the prophets, he has now revealed completely by giving us the All, which is his Son.

Therefore if someone were now to ask questions of God or seek any vision or revelation, he would not only be acting foolishly but would be committing an offence against God – for he should set his eyes altogether upon Christ and seek nothing beyond Christ.

God might answer him after this manner, saying: This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; listen to him. I have spoken all things to you in my Word. Set your eyes on him alone, for in him I have spoken and revealed to thee all things, and in him you shall find more than you ask for, even more than you want.

I descended upon him with my Spirit on Mount Tabor and said This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; listen to him. You have no reason to ask for new teaching or new answers from me because if I spoke to you in the past then it was to promise Christ. If people asked questions of me in the past then their questions were really a desire of Christ and a hope for his coming. For in him they were to find all good things, as has now been revealed in the teaching of the Evangelists and the Apostles.

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Fr. Robert Barron Making Sense of Things

In this clip, Fr. Barron tells about his recent trip to England. In the Cathedral at Leeds, the bishop of this diocese shows him the preserved skulls of two Blesseds who were executed during the Elizabethan era.. Bl. Peter Snow and Bl. Ralph Grimston. Peter Snow was a young priest and Ralph Grimston was a laymen who accompanied him to the places where the priest would clandestinely say Mass.
Father Barron uses the example of these two men to show how Catholic anthropology explains and makes sense of the light and dark sides of this life.
I found this to be one of Father's most interesting commentaries. I will let Father Barron explain the rest.
Be sure to visit Word On Fire(link on my sidebar under Catholic Links) to view the new trailer for Father Barron's Catholicism Project.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

TSO Rocked The Meadowlands

This a "just for fun" post.
The Trans~Siberian Orchestra (TSO) is one of my favorite bands. I especially enjoy listening to them around Christmastime. I had the great pleasure of seeing them live in concert yesterday. They rocked the Meadowlands here in NJ!
The tickets were a birthday gift for my sister. My gifts to her for the last several years has been to treat her a play and dinner. She always leaves me to surprise her with the choice of show. This year I decided to treat her to something a little different. When I saw that TSO was in our area, I asked her if she was up for something different~my sister always is!
For those of you who have never seen them live, their show is two plus hours of amazing laser light effects, pyrotechnics and great music. Both their Christmas and non-Christmas music incorporates their spin on classical favorites.
At yesterday's concert we even got a bonus~Joe Walsh (of 70's & 80's supergroup, The Eagles) came out to treat us to a little blast from our past.
My sister thoroughly enjoyed the show, as did I.
I wanted to incude a concert clip to give you a taste of one of their concerts, but the ones I found on You Tube are not of great quality. So instead, enjoy this one with winter scenery set to their Christmas Canon Rock. It is TSO's version of classical composer, Pachabel's Canon.
To sample their latest work, Night Castle, just click the link.

What Should We Do?

It seems like such a simple question. The people following John the Baptist sought from him an answer to this question. John had an answer for them, although I am not sure it was one they were expecting because it was very simple and perhaps should have seemed obvious. His message on that particular day was to share what you have with those around you who are in need. Then he pointed them toward the One who would have all the answers.
We too can take this question to Jesus, and ask Him collectively as His Church, "What should we do?" And He certainly has answers for us. However, today I find myself making that question a bit more personal: "What should I do?" It is a question I seem to be asking God all the time. The specific for a given situation are not always clear, but in general He seems to be telling me, "Here are the circumstances of your life; live them each day along side of Me and they will be lived, no matter what they may be, according to my will. Bring Me to those I place in your life for some of them may not see Me in any other way. Find Me and bring Me into the ordinary of your everyday life."
So go ahead~ask Him.

Have a Blessed Sunday!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today we celebrate another Marian feast day, this one under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In 1531 our lady appeared to Juan Diego in Mexico and shortly after, miracles began to happen. The roses in his tilma to prove to the bishop that what Juan was reporting was real, his uncle being cured of a deadly disease and nearly six million Native Mexicans being baptized Christians!
Our Lady of Guadalupe is patroness of the Americas and of the unborn.
We here in the United States need her intercession now more than ever. Our unborn children and their parents need her intercession.
The Franciscan Friars of the renewal of Our Lady of the Angels Friary in the South Bronx, NY decided to pay our Lady homage in a big way last Spring. A 40 ft. x 23 ft. mural divided into 600 12"x18" spaces was painted on the side of the friary. In order to help with the cost of the project, a space could be "adopted" for a donation of $35. The dress of our Lady was reserved for those who had lost children to abortion or miscarriage. There is also a prayerbook with the intentions of the mothers who memorialized their children.
The mural can me seen for miles! It is a beautiful reminder to pray to our Blessed Mother and ask her intercession as well as a beautiful memorial to our children in heaven.
This picture doesn't do it justice, but I haven't made it out to the Bronx to see it in person yet.
I am grateful to the friars for undertaking this project and for all their work in the pro~life movement and post~abortion healing ministries. Above all I am eternally grateful for our Blessed Mother's intercession in my own healing and in bringing me back to her Son.

Prayer of Pope John Paul II To Our Lady of Guadalupe

O Immaculate Virgin, Mother of the true God and Mother of the Church!, who from this place reveal your clemency and your pity to all those who ask for your protection, hear the prayer that we address to you with filial trust, and present it to your Son Jesus, our sole Redeemer.

Mother of Mercy, Teacher of hidden and silent sacrifice, to you, who come to meet us sinners, we dedicate on this day all our being and all our love. We also dedicate to you our life, our work, our joys, our infirmities and our sorrows. Grant peace, justice and prosperity to our peoples; for we entrust to your care all that we have and all that we are, our Lady and Mother. We wish to be entirely yours and to walk with you along the way of complete faithfulness to Jesus Christ in His Church; hold us always with your loving hand.

Virgin of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, we pray to you for all the Bishops, that they may lead the faithful along paths of intense Christian life, of love and humble service of God and souls. Contemplate this immense harvest, and intercede with the Lord that He may instill a hunger for holiness in the whole people of God, and grant abundant vocations of priests and religious, strong in the faith and zealous dispensers of God’s mysteries.

Grant to our homes the grace of loving and respecting life in its beginnings, with the same love with which you conceived in your womb the life of the Son of God. Blessed Virgin Mary, protect our families, so that they may always be united, and bless the upbringing of our children.

Our hope, look upon us with compassion, teach us to go continually to Jesus and, if we fall, help us to rise again, to return to Him, by means of the confession of our faults and sins in the Sacrament of Penance, which gives peace to the soul.

We beg you to grant us a great love for all the holy Sacraments, which are, as it were, the signs that your Son left us on earth.

Thus, Most Holy Mother, with the peace of God in our conscience, with our hearts free from evil and hatred, we will be able to bring to all true joy and true peace, which come to us from your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns for ever and ever.


His Holiness John Paul II
Mexico, January 1979. Visiting Her Basilica during his first foreign trip as Pope

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Annunciation: A Meditation

I wrote the following meditation for a prayer meeting. I thought I would share it here. The meditation is based on the Annunciation in Luke 1:26~38.

An Intimate and Insightful Moment With Mary
A young Jewish girl named Mary is asleep in her room. She is awakened by a bright light. This light she finds out is from one of God's angels. This angel's name is Gabriel and he has a message for this young girl. Gabriel addresses Mary as "full of grace". He sees that she is startled and a bit frightened, but tells her not to be afraid for God has found favor with her, hence the reason for his strange greeting. Yes, God has found favor with Mary, so much so that He has chosen her to be the mother of His only Son!
Now Mary is confused because she has never been with a man; how could it be that she will become a mother? Well, Gabriel explains all of that to her as well.
Now this angel must await Mary's reply. It was probably only the briefest of moments, but one in which all of heaven and earth held its breath!
Once Mary understood this was all from God, she immediately gave her consent, "Let it be done to me according to your word." She said yes!
These 15 or so years of Mary's young life have led to this one incredible moment. A moment and a "yes" that would change Mary's life. This baby, Jesus, the Son of God, would not only change Mary's life, but ours as well.
Dear Jesus,
Your Mother had the courage to say yes to God's will putting aside her own. How often You ask me to bear You to my little part of the world and how often to I shrink away in fear and lack of trust.
Give me the heart of Mary, a heart that surrenders to Your every prompting. Help me to remember always, that I am Your handmaid, Your lowly servant, so that I may give my consent for You to be conceived in my heart and soul and be born into my little part of the world.
Let me heed the angel's voice and not be afraid knowing that You will send Your Holy Spirit and Your power will overshadow me in all You call me to do.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Face Of Heaven

This is Steven Curtis Chapman's latest single, Heaven Is The Face I haven't read the full story on it yet, but judging from the lyrics, he wrote it for his daughter who was killed in an accident about a year ago.
I thought I would borrow it today for the sentiments are mine as well especially today.
For my own little girl who would have, should have turned 21 today and for all those who have lost a child.
In loving memory.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Feast Of The Immaculate Conception

In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin."

Prayer of the Immaculate Conception

O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, didst prepare a worthy dwelling place for thy Son, we beseech thee that, as by the foreseen death of this, thy Son, thou didst preserve her from all stain, so too thou wouldst permit us, purified through her intercession, to come unto thee. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who livest and reignest with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Feast Of St Nicholas~More Than Santa Claus

I knew today's date rang a bell (no Christmas pun intended) for some reason. It is the feast day of St Nicholas. Unfortunately he gets "bumped" so to speak, on the Latin Rite calendar, because it is Sunday. This is not the case with our Eastern Rite brethren.
Thanks to Abbot Joseph at Word Incarnate, I was pleasantly and beautifully reminded of this great saint's feast day and his role as intercessor and overseer of our souls.
So instead of my usual saint feast day type of post, I am going to direct you to Abbot Joseph's post for today; just click the Word Incarnate link above to read his post.

Second Sunday of Advent~The Voice In The Wilderness

St John the Baptist Bearing Witness by Francesco Granacci

John the Baptist was the voice crying in the wilderness, "Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight His paths." As this Advent season continues, his voice can still be heard. It cries out to each one of us, but we must listen for it and then act on it.
St Paul tells us in today's second reading (Philippians 1:4~6, 8~11) , "...that the one who has begun a great work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus." That great work was started in us at our baptism. The voice began its whisperings then, and it continues. God began the work, but He will not complete it without our consent and cooperation with His grace.
We can ask ourselves during this second week of Advent as we continue to prepare the way for our Lord's second coming, "Have I heard the voice crying out in the wilderness of my heart and soul and acted on it by receiving the sacraments and drawing on their graces in living my faith each day? Or have I begun to ignore the voice, letting things slip a bit?"
Our Lady heard the voice; in her case it came from the Angel Gabriel, but through Gabriel, God was asking Mary's consent to bring the great work He had begun in her to completion in the birth of His Son. The Son, our Lord Jesus Christ in whom we are all baptized and brought in to share in His life.
Let us prayerfully continue this Advent season making straight His paths in our hearts.
Continued Advent Blessings!

Friday, December 4, 2009

My Review Of How To Pray Well

My latest review for Catholic Company is the book How to Pray Well by Raoul Plus, S.J.

How To Pray Well by Raoul Plus, S.J. is wonderful book to add to your library of books on prayer.
In this book, Father Plus discusses in great detail the four major types of prayer: Adoration, Thanksgiving, Repentance and Petition.
I especially liked the section on the prayer of Adoration because as the author states, it is "the most perfect prayer." In this type of prayer, "we forget ourselves entirely and think of God alone."
He also illustrates how the prayer of adoration and the prayer of thanksgiving are related when we thank God, not so much for the things He has done for us (which is important), but when we thank Him for "the riches with which He Himself is infinitely endowed." In other words, we thank God for His being God!
When Father Plus discusses the prayer of Repentance, he talks about the "sense of sin"; that knowledge of having done something wrong that comes with a well~formed conscience. He says that remorse is a great grace and remains even after a soul is pardoned as an incentive to further prayer.
In one of the chapters on the prayer of Petition, the author quotes the words of our Lord to Ven. Balthasar Alvarez. Our Lord says to him, "Why are you so moderate in your requests, when God is so free with His gifts?" This quote brings into perspective the importance and the power in praying for spiritual and temporal favors for others as well as for ourselves.
This book is a treasure trove of advice and instuction on prayer. In reading it, I have found ways to add more meaning and depth to my own prayerlife.
While the book is a mere 174 pages, it is not a quick or easy read. I found it necessary to give some time between chapters and I even took some notes. This book is really 4 separate mini books within one larger one; each type of prayer is its own book subdivided into separate chapters. Having said that, it is well worth the time and effort and I highly recommend it. We all need ways to deepen our prayer life; this book will certainly help the reader to do so.

*Note: Nothing but a copy of the book reviewed here was exchanged for this review.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Let God Tickle You

One of the devotionals I am using as part of my Advent reading is Daybreaks put out by Liguori Press. My parish is kind enough to distribute these little booklets each Advent and Lent. The short meditations in this year's issue are by Kenneth G. Davis, O.F.M Conv.
Today's meditation really made me think about my sense of joy in recognizing the source of that joy. It also made me think about those times I fail to recognize it.
Have you ever tried to tickle yourself? Go ahead; I will give you a minute to try. Can't do it can you? In fact it is impossible for some reason. However, someone else can cause the uncontrollable laughter that results from being tickled.
After reading Fr. Davis' meditation today, I thought about all he was saying about how joyous we should always be because we know that God is always with us. That thought alone should put a perpetual grin on our faces. But as he points out, how often do we have the scowls of the Pharisees on our faces. They did not, would not, recognize God in their midst. No wonder they never smiled!
When I am really honest with myself and think about those times that I loose my cool, become impatient, or just walk around looking like I have the weight of the entire world on my shoulders, it is because I forget and lose the Presence of God that I know is within me.
Like being tickled, we can not create our own joy; our joy comes from Another. Advent is a good time to reflect on this so that we can rejoice and rejoice heartily in the Lord.
So go on, let our awesome God tickle you to the point of uncontrollable joy and laughter that you can't help but spread to everyone with whom you come in contact.
Advent Blessings!

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.