Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Preciousness Of Jesus And His Blood

As this month of July comes to a close, so also does the month dedicated to Our Lord's Precious Blood. In looking for something to post here, I came across something rather unexpected~ a sermon given by American Evangelist and revivalist, John Wilbur Chapman. 
I am usually a little overly cautious when it comes to reading protestant writers only because they do not hold the same belief about the Real Presence that Catholics do. However in reading this one sermon, I did not find anything to go against Catholic belief, in fact much of the sermon is Scripture based. While there were one or two points with which I may have taken issue, it is still worth reading. I think what struck me most about it was the passion and conviction with which he spoke, and while Mr. Chapman may not have believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, we can apply much of this sermon to our own lives and faith.
I especially liked this excerpt from the end:

"Nobody is too sinful. Nobody is too far away. The precious blood of Christ can cleanse and save unto the uttermost. Nothing less than his blood can do this. "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
I can say no more. With all my heart I wish that I might. I can only add this. I love Him. I love Him. He is to me as real as you are. I love Him. I want you to love Him. I want you to take Him. I know that there are people who want to say this evening — "Pray for me." Lift up your hand to express this desire of your heart."
You can read the entire sermon here.
Thank You, dear Jesus for shedding Your Precious Blood in Your Passion and Death, and for offering it to us each day in the Eucharist.

St Ignatius: A Soldier For Christ

I love the story of St Ignatius of Loyola's conversion. He had been injured in battle and was bedridden. His sister brought him some books on the life of Christ and the saints for him to read. Well, he wasn't particularly happy with her selection, but read them anyway. I guess he figured it would at least pass the time. I can just see the grin on Our Lord's face and the faces of all those saints he read about; they knew what was going to happen even if Ignatius didn't.
I know that grin of God's; it was on his holy face right before my return to Him when I agreed to read Scripture and the Catechism and then discuss it through letters with a friend. At the time I figured it would just make for interesting letter writing. Boy, did God have other plans for me! Just like He did for this soldier who would become a great saint.
We are all called to this in one shape or form. God calls us to take our place on the battlefield because here on this earth we truly fight a battle. The battle is with and against ourselves at times but even more so against the devil and his minions.
Ignatius knew that if he served God and sought Him and His will, he could fight this battle. He also knew that God would not leave him to fight unarmed. We need to remember this too. We can and should armor ourselves with the spiritual weapons God provides~ the Eucharist, prayer, especially the Rosary, and Confession. Availing ourselves to prayer and the sacraments, we will be armored in Christ and be able to take our place on that battlefield. Then one day we too can become great saints.
I am reminded at this point of a line from Mother Angelica: "God calls us to be great saints, don't miss the opportunity."
This website has wonderful prayers and the Daily Examen as well as other Ignatian Spirituality items.
St Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Saint, A Vampire Queen, And A Commentator

If that crazy title doesn't get your attention, I don't know what will! This post is a mixed bag of sorts of a few things that caught my attention around the Catholic blogosphere today. I am going to mention them here, not in the order of my title, but rather in saving the best for last so to speak.
First up the Vampire Queen; Ann Rice is in the news again, this time she claims she is leaving Christianity. I know a lot of good Catholics read her book on the "hidden years" of Christ and had some positive things to say. That being said, I have always been a little confused about where she really stands in her Catholic beliefs. My personal opinion is that she is on shaky ground. Today's article on Ms. Rice leaving Christianity confirms my opinion. I don't say this to condemn her; I believe she desperately needs prayers. Much of what she gives as reasons for leaving Christianity seems to show a lack of true understanding of what Catholicism teaches. For example, she says that she does not want to be anti-gay. Well, what exactly does she mean by this? The Catholic Church has nothing against the people who are homosexual, but it does have a problem with the behavior. In reading Ms. Rice's litany of reasons, I wondered if that is what she also meant, or rather that she is tired of being against the behavior. Though she did say she was also tired of being anti-life; I'm with her on that one if nothing else; that is of course if she means that in the truest sense of the phrase and not in one of her mixed up meanings. Like I said; her so called faith confuses me. Read the article for yourself here
Next, the Commentator. Andy Rooney has some straightforward things to say on prayer. I haven't always agreed with Mr. Rooney, but he is always no-nonsense in what he has to say. In his commentary, Mr. Rooney muses about the reasons some people have with prayer being said in public arenas such as sporting events. He also says that the silent majority (Christians) have been silent long enough. I have heard all the fuss made by many that a Christian prayer is being said and therefore excludes others of other religions. Here I have to agree with Mr. Rooney in the fact that these United States as well as Canada were founded on Christian principles. I know this is a weak analogy but would someone be offended if they were at a sporting event in a foreign country and their own national anthem wasn't sung? You can read Andy Rooney's honest and outspoken comments here.
And finally, and most definitely more important than all the rest, today is the feast of St Peter Chrysologus, Doctor of the Church.  His name is Greek for "golden word". We can always rely on the Church Doctors to write solidly on the treasures and teachings of our Catholic faith. You can read some of his sermons here at Google Books.
Well that about wraps up my mixed bag of stories of interest around the blogosphere today.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Prayerful Meme

Mary at The Beautiful Gate tagged me for this meme. I am to list and tell about my three favorite prayers and then tag five others. Since this meme has been going around for awhile, as usual I am going to be the one to break the rules a bit. Just about anyone I could tag for this has been tagged, so if you are reading this and have not, please feel free to join in this prayer~filled meme.

My 3 favorite prayers are (in no particular order):
1. The Anima Christi- I love this prayer because I always feel "wrapped in Christ" when I pray it or that I am wrapping others on Christ when I pray it for someone else.

2. The Jesus Prayer- I love the humility and simplicity of this prayer.

3. Prayer of Abandonment by Bl. Charles de Foucauld- This beautiful prayer reminds me that God is control of everything and that I need to place my entire life in His hands.

Here are the prayers in their entirety.

The Anima Christi
Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from Christ's side, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That I may praise Thee with Thy saints 

and with Thy angels
Forever and ever

The Jesus Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner.

Prayer of Abandonment
I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to you
with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands,
without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy People Dancing On Earth

I know I'm a little video crazy today, but I couldn't resist this one; it put a huge smile on my face. I thought it would be a good way to start a Monday. I found it over at Astronomy Picture of the Day.
Sorry for the title on You Tube; just ignore and enjoy the video, and maybe go out and dance if you feel so inclined!

Saints Anne And Joachim

Today the Church remembers Sts. Anne and Joachim. Tradition holds that they were the parents of our Blessed Mother and therefore the earthly grandparents of Our Lord.
Not much past that is known of them. However they serve as shining examples of Godly parenthood and grandparenthood for all families.
Many women also pray to St Anne when trying to conceive or for her intercession when choosing a husband.
For today's feast I offer you this prayer in praying for their intercession. I also offer you this video and song by Sanctus Real. In these days when so many families and marriages struggle to hold on, may these powerful saints intercede for them and may all couples and families see them as an example of a good Christian marriage where couples and families put their trust in God.

Prayer To Sts Anne and Joachim
Great and glorious patriarch, St Joachim, and good St Anne, what joy is mine when I consider that you were chosen among all God's holy ones to assist in the fulfillment of the mysteries of God, and to enrich our earth with the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.
By this singular privilege, you have become most powerful with both the Mother and her Son, so as to be able to obtain for us the graces that are needful to us.
With great confidence I have recourse to your mighty protection, and I commend to you all my needs, both spiritual and temporal, and those of my family.
Especially do I entrust to your keeping the particular favour that I desire and look for from your intercession.
And since you were a perfect pattern of the interior life, obtain for me the grace to pray earnestly, and never to set m heart on the passing goods of this life. Give me a lively and enduring love for Jesus and Mary.
Obtain for me also a sincere devotion and obedience to Holy church and the sovereign pontiff who rules over her, in order that I may live an die in faith and hope and perfect charity.
Let me ever invoke the holy Names of Jesus and Mary.And may I thus be saved.
 (Prayer from Catholic Prayers)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Shroud Codex

The Shroud Codex by Jerome R.Corsi, PhD was given to me to read by a friend. She handed it to me and said. "Just curious to hear what you think." Well as I have just finished the book this evening, she will have to wait until tomorrow to hear those thoughts.
The Shroud Codex is a work of fiction. It tells the story of Fr. Paul Bartholomew who dies in a car accident but is given the choice by God to return to earth should he accept the mission God wants to give him. The mission being to reveal the message embedded by Christ into the shroud. The story proceeds from there. I do not want to give much away should you decide to read it.
But here are my thoughts on this book. I am always very careful in what I choose to read, especially when it comes to religious fiction. As this book was backed by Bill Donahue of the Catholic League, I knew it was safe reading.
The story involves a lot of science, physics in particular, but you don't need to be a scientist to read this. What I found this book doing is reaffirming the fact that there is a connection between science and religion, that faith and reason do go hand in hand.
We have always been taught that God does not live in time, and that the Mass is the unbloody re~presentation of Calvary. To me that meant it was like God pulling back a veil allowing us to see 2000 years back. Aside from not wanting to give too much away, it is also difficult to summarize here.
Fr. Bartholomew also suffers the stigmata, and it is this that connects him to the Shroud of Turin.
I have never been too much into relics, and whether or not the shroud is actually the burial cloth of Our Lord does not affect my faith one way or another. I don't mean to sound flip or put down the veneration of relics. There certainly is a place for them. As for the shroud, the Catholic Church simply states that is is a relic worthy of veneration.
In this story, the shroud itself becomes one the characters as it is central to the storyline.
You can read Chapter 1 by following this link.
Read it for yourself, or share your thoughts if you already have.

Bold Faith And Perseverance

I love the readings from Mass today, especially Genesis (18:20~32) and the Gospel (Luke 11:1~13). The running themes seem to be faith and perseverance in prayer, and underlying it all is God's tremendous love for each of us. I find these readings to be a little boost for my prayer life~ Abraham, the Apostles and Jesus Himself all being such great examples of faith and perseverance.
The reading from Genesis always makes me grin a bit. I love Abraham"s gutsy negotiations with God. It could only be his deep faith and knowledge of God's love for him that gave him the courage to speak so bravely to our Creator!
In the Gospel passage,we have the Apostles desire to pray. Now being the good Jews that they were, I am sure they prayed before this, but they had been with Jesus and had seen Him pray. Their desire now seemed to be not simply to pray as they had been, but they saw something in Jesus' prayer that they didn't have~ relationship with the Father. They knew that when Jesus went off to pray, He was going to be with and speak with His Father. They wanted this too. So when Jesus is asked by them to teach them to pray, I think what they were really asking was, "Teach us to pray as You pray." And Jesus did just that in telling them to pray Abba Father.
The Our Father has always been one of my favorite prayers because it contains everything. It praises and blesses God and His holy name, it petitions and asks not only for our daily bread, but for God's will to be done. It gives us the trust and faith of Abraham in daring to ask God for forgiveness, and finally like all children, we want and need to protected from danger and so the words are given for this as well.
Praying this prayer reminds me of something our late pastor taught about the different types and reasons for prayer. He did it in the form of simple questions.
1. What do you say when love someone? I love you (Adoration)
2. What do you say when you want or need something? Please... (Petition)
3. What do you say when you have done something wrong? I am sorry. (Pardon)
4. What do you say when you receive something? Thank you. (Thanksgiving)

With the exception of thanksgiving (I think God leaves that part up to us),all of these things are wrapped up in the Lord's prayer.
May we have the desire of the Apostles to speak to God in prayer, and the faith of Abraham to boldly ask God for what we truly need and want. If our prayer is sincere, we will be able to respond as the Psalmist today, trusting in God's love for us, "Lord, on the day I called for help, You answered me." (Psalm 137/138)

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Journey Through Annulment

Victor at Time For Reflections has written two posts that have sparked some honest and lively discussion. He has used his character, the beloved Fr. Ignatius to discuss the Catholic Church's teaching on the topic of annulment.
After reading Victor's posts (Part 1 and Part 2), I felt the need to write about my own experiences through this process as well as my thoughts on what our Church teaches. Please bear with me because this could turn into a lengthy post, but hopefully it will help someone else along the way.
I begin with the disclaimer that this is my own personal experience thus far; everyone's circumstances are different. I am not trying to convert anyone or condemn anyone for how they have handled their own situation.
Five years ago after I separated from my husband because of his infidelity and refusal to turn from it, he filed for divorce. As I saw no sign of remorse or willingness to seek help for our marriage in his part, I agreed to the divorce. Since I was well on my way to living my Catholic faith after being away from it for some 20 or more years, I knew what this meant; I would not be permitted to marry again in the Catholic Church without an annulment.
My reasons for wanting to seek an annulment have more to do with having spiritual closure than wanting to remarry. I am not saying that remarriage is not in my future, but that is up to God. That is more my point; I want the annulment so that I can be fully open to whatever it is God has in mind for me.
In some respects this mindset makes it easier for me than for others who have someone in their lives whom they wish to marry. Easier, perhaps but not easy.
I began the process 2 years ago. I am blessed to have the assistance of a patient and helpful priest in all of this. I also, at this priest's strong urging sought professional counseling for myself from a trusted Catholic counselor. The counseling helped me to understand myself as well as all that led to my decision to marry in the first place.
What I have come to firmly believe is that I never should have married this man in the first place. However, a wedding did take place and that needs to be dealt with.
My case is about to be sent to the marriage tribunal. It has taken me this long to write my own history and obtain the accounts of witnesses (all required by the Church). It has been a slow and painful process.
Please also understand that when I married, I did so for life; I did not want my marriage to end.
So far in going through the process, the priest I am working with has never said anything that would lead me to believe I did not have a strong case. However, I am fully aware that all will be in the hands of the tribunal and ultimately in the hands of God. I am prepared for whatever they decide.
I also understand and accept the teachings of the Catholic Church on this matter. I understand that I am a married woman until the Church says otherwise. I know to many who may read this, this sounds like I am simply leaving my fate to a bunch of canon lawyers/priests, but here I join St Joan of Arc in saying that to me Christ and His Church are one and the same... So if in their wisdom, guided by the Holy Spirit, they read in the facts of my case that a marriage did indeed take place, thereby denying an annulment, I will accept that and lead a life of chaste celibacy for the rest of my days. That sounds simpler than it is to actually live. Trust me when I say I have had and continue to have my fair share of temptations. God's grace and the strength in His sacraments are the only things that get me through.
One of the graces Our Lord has given me upon my return to His Church is that while being happy in this earthly life is not a bad thing in and of itself, it is eternal happiness that really matters. Christ said that following Him would lead to eternal life and happiness with Him; He never said this would be easy. I keep reminding myself when things get especially tough in this area, that I need to keep my eye on the prize so to speak. I also know that if I truly seek God's will for my life, it will be possible to experience happiness and true freedom here.
For those who read this and say, "This is all fine and dandy for you.", I simply ask you to take your situation to prayer. Also ask yourself, "What is it that I truly want?" The Church's teachings on marriage are steeped in Scripture, therefore steeped in Christ. If you are Catholic and wish to remain so, are you willing to give up Christ for being happy here and now? This a tough question, but one you truly need to answer. The bottom line is that we have a Magesterium, the teaching body of the Church, and as Catholics we are bound to live by these teachings. If you find that you can not, perhaps you need to walk away. I know that sounds harsh and condemning; again my purpose is not to condemn anyone, but the Truth is the Truth~ you either accept it or you don't.
A few other recommendations:
1. Be very honest with yourself about the circumstances of your own life and situation. If you truly want to live your Catholic faith, God will provide the necessary graces to do so.

2. Find a good and trusted priest to help guide you through the process.

3. A good book for anyone contemplating annulment is Annulments and the Catholic Church by Edward Peters, J.D., J.C.D.

4. And again, pray and then pray some more!
My prayers are with anyone going through this difficult process, as well as with those who have left the Church because they could not in their heart of hearts abide by the Church's teaching; I pray for healing for all those involved.

Some additional related reading:
A New Creation: My Reversion Story (it may give you some more background into my reasons for petitioning for annulment)

Catechism of the Catholic Church (Paragraphs 1663-1665 on marriage and divorce)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mary Magdalene:Witness To Christ's Mercy And Love

St Mary Magdalene the Penitent by Daniel Kansky

“The story of Mary of Magdala reminds us all of a fundamental truth,” Pope Benedict said. “A disciple of Christ is one who, in the experience of human weakness, has had the humility to ask for his help, has been healed by him and has set out following closely after him, becoming a witness of the power of his merciful love that is stronger than sin and death.”

I love this quote from Pope Benedict XVI on St Mary Magdalene. He seems to have captured her very essence. Yes, she was one of Christ's disciples, but it took great humility and courage on her part to ask for the healing only Christ could give her.
From the very first days of my return to my faith, I felt a strong desire to pray to this saint. While we don't know too much about her, I could identify with much of why and how she came to Christ.
The sin of abortion causes a terribly deep wound, and it is only one that the mercy and love of God can heal. When I realized that this awful sin was what stood between Christ and me, I was compelled by sheer desire to find Him and ask for His forgiveness. Like Mary Magdalene, I had my own demons that needed driving out.
I often wonder what it was like for her to follow Jesus on a day to day basis. Did she ever find herself falling into sinful habits again? She was human after all. Or being in the constant presence of Christ, was she able to truly "sin no more"?
This thought brought me back to my own life. I know that there are times in most of my days when I seem to fall away from Christ's presence within me, and that's usually when things start to unravel. If I could simply remember to call on Jesus when I feel that start to happen, perhaps I could remain in His presence and keep from falling into sin.
That seems to be a simple but tall order, but I think that that is what the path to holiness is all about~remaining in Christ's presence and bringing that presence to those around us. 
This is not to say that I am never able to do this. There are the times when I am called to do it quite formally as when I am asked to give my post~abortion healing witness. During those talks I know that I am a witness to Christ's mercy and love. Those who hear me speak, hear where I have been and see where I am now.
Mary Magdalene also had her strong defining moments as a witness to Christ; she was at the foot of the cross and she was the first to see Him after His Resurrection. But there were also the day to day moments~ in the house at Bethany and in the places she may have been when Christ preached and taught. 
We don't know much about her life after the Ascension until her death, but from the little we do know, it is probably safe to say that she continued to bear witness to Christ no matter where her life led her. 
I am privileged to have this saint as one of my patrons this year, so I continue to ask her intercession in my life so that I may remain in Christ's presence and bear witness to the mercy and love He has shown me.

Prayer to St Mary Magdalene
St Mary Magdalene, woman of many sins, who by conversion became the beloved of Jesus, thank you for your witness that Jesus forgives through the miracle of love.

You who already possess eternal happiness in His glorious presence, please intercede for me so that one day I may share in the same everlasting joy.
(Prayer from EWTN)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Our Hearts As Bethany

James Tissot's: Jesus at Bethany

I would like to look at today's Gospel (Luke 10:38~42) from a slightly different perspective. It is one related to an experience I had about a month ago while listening to and reflecting on a meditation I had heard on this very reading.
Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus were friends of Jesus. The house in Bethany was a place Our Lord often visited during His earthly life. Scripture tells us that: "foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of man has no where to lay his head." (Luke 9:58) But Jesus knew that He would be welcomed at this home of His friends at any time.
In today's reading we hear how the two sisters related very differently to Our Lord. Martha was always busy with the details of showing hospitality to their Divine Guest, while Mary, as always, was content to sit at His feet and hang on His every word. I sometimes imagine Lazarus in this scene in the background just rolling his eyes at the two of them. Our Lord gently but firmly rebukes Martha in her complaints about her sister's refusal to help; He tells her that Mary has chosen the better part. We never find out Martha's reaction to Jesus' rebuke.
During the evening of reflection in which I heard the meditation on this reading, we were given some quiet time for personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. It was during this time that the thought occurred to me that our hearts should be Bethany for Our Lord. He desires each of us to welcome Him, give Him a place to rest, and simply sit at His feet.
I don't think Jesus was all that upset with Martha; he realized that the preparations she was making were necessary, but He also desired her company.
He desires ours as well. Our hearts being a Bethany for Jesus is a thought that has remained with me since that prayerful evening. It helped me to realize that preparing my heart for Jesus in Holy Communion is important, but once I have done that, He simply desires my loving attention to His Presence. The same holds true for my visits with Him during my holy hours. I don't have to spend every one of those hours in formal prayer; sometimes it is just enough to sit quietly and prayerfully gazing at Him in the sanctuary (Psalm 63:2).

My Dear Lord Jesus,
Come Divine Guest and find my heart a place of welcome rest. May You always find my heart and soul ready to receive You. May I never again neglect Your Presence within me because my head is too busy with the details of my day. You always felt welcomed at the home of Your friends in Bethany; may my heart be like Bethany, always ready to receive and welcome You.
May I prepare it as Martha did, then choose the better part, and sit at Your feet as Mary did.
Help me to be content in gazing upon You in prayerful adoration as You gaze lovingly upon me.
Thank You for desiring to be with me always.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

If We Ever Needed Him

I am not sure why, but I always seem to be amazed at how God uses the simple little everyday pleasures of my life to speak to me. This really shouldn't surprise me. Two things I find great pleasure in are  music and reading. God used both of those things today to speak to me.
The song by Casting Crowns, If We Ever Needed You speaks volumes to me and is a heartfelt prayer. The group wrote the song when a member of their church was killed while serving in Iraq. The song became for them, a way to work through the grief of that experience. When I hear this song, I think of our world today, not just the war being fought in the Middle East, but the war being fought right here in our midst~ the war for life, and for God. Both are being extinguished from our world and from this country. So yes, if we ever needed Him, we need Him NOW!
Indeed we do need God now and always, but He also has need of us in a way. Certainly God being God, He doesn't really need us, but as His children He requires of us our service to Him. He asks us to spread His Word and make Him known. He asks us to draw souls to Him through prayer and sacrifice. This fact was brought to mind today through a post I read by Fr. Slusz on his blog Come, Holy Spirit. His post, Do We Recognize the Messiah? is a spiritual pep talk of sorts. I don't know about you, but I need this shot in the arm every now and then.
The song and this post seemed to work together, at least for me. In order for the chaos of this world to stop, we need to remember that we do need God, and to need Him we need to recognize Him in His Son Jesus whom He sent as Messiah.
Enjoy the song and Fr. Slusz's post.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Prayer To Our Lady Of Mt. Carmel

Prayer To Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
O most beautiful flower of Mount Carmel,
fruitful vine,
splendor of heaven,
Blessed Mother of the Son of God,
Immaculate Virgin,
assist me in this my necessity...
O star of the sea,
help me and show me herein
you are my Mother.
O holy Mary, Mother of God,
Queen of heaven and earth,
I humbly beseech you
from the bottom of my heart,
to aid me in my need;
there are none that can withstand your power.
O show me herein you are my Mother.
O Mary, conceived without sin,
pray for us who have recourse to thee.
(three times)
Sweet Mother, I place this cause in your hands.(three times)

Daily Grace has posted a video by John Paul II on the Brown Scapular and Louange de sa Gloire has a beautiful reflection on the feast.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

St Bonaventure~Seraphic Doctor

Bonaventure Receiving Banner of St Sepulchre From the Madonna

Today the Church celebrates the feast of St Bonaventure. He was a Franciscan and is called the Seraphic Doctor because he showed a certain warmth toward others as a divine fire. There is much written about him and by him. I have chosen a quote and a prayer to highlight here. You can click the link at the end of this post to read more about this great saint and Doctor of the Church as well as many of his writings.
I love reading the writings of the Church Doctors; their wisdom and piety is something we can learn much from.
I chose this quote because in a sense I found it almost prophetic. St Bonaventure could not begin to know what the world would be like in our day and time, but his own had its share difficulties as well. Some not so different from what we experience today. This quote seems to sum it all up~ what humanity becomes when it tries to go it alone without the help of God's grace.

"reading without repentance,
knowledge without devotion,
research without the impulse of wonder,
prudence without the ability to surrender to joy,
action divorced from religion,
learning sundered from love,
intelligence without humility,
study unsustained by divine grace,
thought without the wisdom inspired of God."

The prayer that follows is St Bonaventure's prayer after communion. It is deeply moving and encompasses all that we should strive for when receiving our Precious Lord.

Prayer of St Bonaventure

        Pierce, O most sweet Lord Jesus, my inmost soul with the
        most joyous and healthful wound of Thy love, and with true,
        calm and most holy apostolic charity, that my soul may ever
        languish and melt with entire love and longing for Thee,
        may yearn for Thee and for thy courts, may long to be
        dissolved and to be with Thee.  Grant that my soul may
        hunger after Thee, the Bread of Angels, the refreshment of
        holy souls, our daily and supersubstantial bread, having
        all sweetness and savor and every delightful taste.  May my
        heart ever hunger after and feed upon Thee, Whom the angels
        desire to look upon, and may my inmost soul be filled with
        the sweetness of Thy savor; may it ever thirst for Thee,
        the fountain of life, the fountain of widsom and knowledge,
        the fountain of eternal light, the torrent of pleasure, the
        fulness of the house of God; may it ever compass Thee, seek
        Thee, find Thee, run to Thee, come up to Thee, meditate on
        Thee, speak of Thee, and do all for the praise and glory of
        Thy name, with humility and discretion, with love and
        delight, with ease and affection, with perseverence to the
        end; and be Thou alone ever my hope, my entire confidence,
        my riches, my delight, my pleasure, my joy, my rest and
        tranquility, my peace, my sweetness, my food, my
        refreshment, my refuge, my help, my wisdom, my portion, my
        possession, my treasure; in Whom may my mind and my heart
        be ever fixed and firm and rooted immovably.  Amen.

May St Bonaventure intercede for us as we strive to live holy lives.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mercy From Where We Least Expect

The Good Samaritan: James Tissot

Parables such as the one of the Good Samaritan in today's gospel are often so familiar that their deeper meaning can get lost in the familiarity. Listening to this story that Jesus uses to teach about love for our neighbor, several things surfaced for me. One is how Jesus uses Samaritans several times throughout the Gospels; the two that stand out for me are today's parable and also His meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well. This is not a mere detail. The Jews listening to Jesus tell about the Good Samaritan understood what a big deal this was~ Samaritans were harshly scorned by the Jews. They were the remnant of Israel who did not worship as the rest of the Jews. The other thought I had while meditating on this passage was that in the Samaritan, mercy came from a person and place least expected.
This is where I started to think about this story as related to life today. The man in today's Gospel is physically beaten and left for dead. The priest and the Levite whom we would expect to come to the aid of the man do not. The Samaritan, the last person the people of Jesus's day would expect, shows the injured man mercy and compassion.
As I look around today, there are many who cross my path who are not so much physically beaten, but beaten up by sin and left spiritually dead. I was one of them, and mercy came to me through a person and place I least expected~ a friend in prison. When I couldn't find the where with all to forgive myself, my friend showed me God's love and mercy, and his prayers led me to receive the healing my wounds, left by a life of sinful behavior, so desperately needed.
Life for each of us is our own Jericho road and we never know who God will put in our paths. Having received God's mercy and experiencing His compassion, I can love my neighbor  whoever it may be at any given time and place. I may be the person they least expect, but that doesn't matter for all are my neighbor.

Have a blessed Sunday!

Friday, July 9, 2010

But One Drop...

As this month dedicated to the Precious Blood of Christ continues, I offer you a thought or two of my own, but even better than those, some from John XXIII in his Apostolic Letter on this devotion.
I am truly awestruck at the fact that just one single drop of Our Lord's Precious Blood would have been sufficient to save us, but that His love for us compelled Him to shed every last drop! I am also acutely aware of how much I need the cleansing power of His blood. When I returned to Mass, I eventually found myself uttering the following prayer silently at the elevation of the chalice: "Into your cup I pour my joys, pains, sorrows and trials; may Your Precious Blood cleanse me, heal me in body and soul, and enable me to do Your will this and each day that You grant me." I don't know if this is a prayer that I heard somewhere along the way in my youth, or something that the Holy Spirit gave me upon my return to the Church. Whatever the case may be, I pray Our Lord finds it pleasing. I have a feeling He does or He would have caused me to stop saying it.
So much for my humble musings. Here is an excerpt from Blessed Pope John XXIII's Apostolic Letter. You can read the letter in its entirety by clicking the link.

Blood that but one drop of has the world to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin. [11]
Unlimited is the effectiveness of the God-Man's Blood -- just as unlimited as the love that impelled him to pour it out for us, first at his circumcision eight days after birth, and more profusely later on in his agony in the garden,[12] in his scourging and crowning with thorns, in his climb to Calvary and crucifixion, and finally from out that great wide wound in his side which symbolizes the divine Blood cascading down into all the Church's sacraments. Such sur passing love suggests, nay demands, that everyone reborn in the torrents of that Blood adore it with grateful love.
The Blood of the new and eternal covenant especially deserves this worship of latria when it is elevated during the sacrifice of the Mass. But such worship achieves its normal fulfilment in sacramental communion with the same Blood, indissolubly united with Christ's eucharistic Body. In intimate association with the celebrant the faithful can then truly make his sentiments at communion their own: "I will take the chalice of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord. . . The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve my soul for everlasting life. Amen." Thus as often as they come worthily to this holy table they will receive more abundant fruits of the redemption and resurrection and eternal life won for all men by the Blood Christ shed "through the Holy Spirit."[13] Nourished by his Body and Blood, sharing the divine strength that has sustained count less martyrs, they will stand up to the slings and arrows of each day's fortunes -- even if need be to martyrdom itself for the sake of Christian virtue and the kingdom of God. Theirs will be the experience of that burning love which made St. John Chrysostom cry out:
Let us, then, come back from that table like lions breathing out fire, thus becoming terrifying to the Devil, and remaining mindful of our Head and of the love he has shown for us. . . This Blood, when worthily received, drives away demons and puts them at a distance from us, and even summons to us angels and the Lord of angels. . . This Blood, poured out in abundance, has washed the whole world clean. . . This is the price of the world; by it Christ purchased the Church... This thought will check in us unruly passions. How long, in truth, shall we be attached to present things? How long shall we remain asleep? How long shall we not take thought for our own salvation? Let us remember what privileges God has bestowed on us, let us give thanks, let us glorify him, not only by faith, but also by our very works. [14]
If only Christians would reflect more frequently on the fatherly warning of the first pope: "Look anxiously, then, to the ordering of your lives while your stay on earth lasts.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Christ's Grace To Go Among The Wolves

IN GOD WE TRUST Pictures, Images and Photos"The grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ is that force beyond ourselves by which God in His mercy makes the impossible come to be in our life."
I loved this quote when I read it in a bit of commentary on today's Mass readings. It is so true. It was true for the 72 that Jesus sent out to proclaim the Good News of God's kingdom, and it is true for each of us today in our own lives.
I get a kick out of those 72 disciples who came back to report to Jesus all that they were able to do in His name. They seemed so surprised. I can almost see them running up to Him like little children who just learned how to do some simple thing and succeeded for the first time. I can also almost see a little amused grin developing on Our Lord's face as well.
I am not unlike those disciples. I am still amazed at what God has done and continues to do in my life when I let Him. I am truly amazed at how God reveals His power to me His unprofitable servant!
Jesus' response to the disciples rejoicing puts the whole thing in perspective for them and for me. As His servants, many awesome things may be done through us, but that isn't what we should get excited about. Our rejoicing and excitement should come because as His servants our names, like those of those disciples is written in heaven! Now that is truly something to get excited about and rejoice over! I mean really, take a minute and just picture it~ God Himself writing your name in heaven and then gazing lovingly at it as He watches you go as a lamb among the wolves armed with His grace.
I guess my point in all this musing is that God calls us to go out among the wolves of our own day and time, but it is His grace that allows the impossible to become possible. Sure some will refuse to listen, some may even become hostile, but some will listen. I know that if I trust in and cooperate with the grace that comes through Our Lord Jesus Christ, I can do anything He asks of me.
In the United States today we celebrate Independence Day. Our founding Fathers lived by the maxim In God We Trust. The wolves of our day have lost sight of that, and have changed it to in ourselves we trust. May those of us who remain the lambs cling to trust in our faithful and merciful God.
May the peace of Christ control our hearts and may the word of Christ dwell in us richly.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Freedom: The American Idol

I have posted this painting before. It is Jon McNaughton's One Nation Under God and gives a powerful message. It is hard not to be struck by the figure of Christ holding the U.S. Constitution standing in the midst of this representation of the American people.
As we celebrate another Independence Day in this country, I am grateful for the freedoms, the true freedoms, for which our founding fathers risked their lives, but I am also dismayed at what our society and even our government has made of those freedoms. The freedoms of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; those three very basic freedoms which Thomas Jefferson and the others wrote into the Declaration of Independence have come to mean something quite different today.
The writers and framers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution put God at the core of these documents and all for which they stood. In the 200 plus years since then, God has been slowly but surely begun to be cast aside. We seem to be becoming one nation under ourselves rather than under God; we have begun to idolize freedom, and this is a very slippery slope! If we choose to be guided by ourselves and not by God, we will stay on the collision course with our sure demise.
I don't mean to be the voice of doom, but things in our beloved USA are not good, but there is always hope. God knows the meaning of true freedom, and He gives it to us in allowing us to freely choose Him and His ways or not. He also hears the prayers of the faithful in this country and throughout the world, and He sees and delights in the acts of reparation made by those who truly love Him and this country.
It is not too late, we can return to being One Nation Under God. May He continue to bless us and those who selflessly fight for our true freedom.

*You can read more on Jon McNaughton's painting here and listen to Fr. Robert Barron's commentary on the idolatry of freedom at Word On Fire.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Act Of Consecration To The Most Precious Blood

July is the month dedicated to the most precious Blood of Christ. Our salvation was bought with Our Lord shedding every drop of His precious blood. Let us consecrate ourselves to Him more deeply during this month dedicated to His life saving blood.
More prayers to the Precious blood of Christ can be found by clicking the image at the top of this page.

Act of Consecration to the  Most Precious Blood
Blood of Jesus, inebriate me! O Jesus, my Beloved Savior, ever present in the Tabernacle, to be the strength, the joy and the food of souls, I come to consecrate myself to Thy Precious Blood, and to pledge Thee my sincere love and fidelity. Pierced with sorrow at the remembrance of Thy sufferings, the contemplation of the Cross, and the thought of the outrages and contempt lavished by ungrateful souls upon Thy dear Blood, I long, O my Jesus, to bring joy to Thy Heart, and to make Thee forget my sins, and those of the whole world, by consecrating my body and soul to Thy service. I desire, my Jesus, to live henceforth, only by Thy Blood and for Thy Blood. I now choose It as my greatest treasure and the dearest object of my love. 
O merciful Redeemer, deign to regard me as a perpetual adorer of Thy Most Precious Blood, and be pleased to accept my prayers, my deeds and my sacrifices, as so many acts of reparation and love. 
Heavenly Wine, giver of purity and strength, pour down upon my soul. Make of my heart a living chalice from which grace shall constantly flow on those that love Thee, and especially on poor sinners that offend Thee. Teach me to honor Thee and to make Thee honored by others. Give me power to draw to Thee cold and hardened hearts, that they may feel how infinitely Thy consolations surpass those of the world.
O Blood of my Crucified Savior, detach me from the world, and the spirit of the world. Make me love suffering and sacrifice, after the example of St. Catherine of Sienna, who loved Thee so much [and whom I choose again today as my special patroness]. 
O Precious Blood, be my strength amid the trials and struggles of exile. Grant that at the hour of death I may be able to bless Thee for having been the comfort and the sanctification of my soul, before becoming, in Heaven, the everlasting object of my love and praise.
Saints of God, who owe thy happiness to the Blood of Jesus; Angelic spirits, who sing Its glory and power, august Virgin, who to It owest the privileges of thine Immaculate Conception and Divine Maternity, help me to pay to the Precious Blood of my Redeemer a perpetual homage of adoration, reparation and thanksgiving. 

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.