Sunday, January 31, 2010

Moments In Our Lord's Life

 OK, I usually do not post on Sundays (my Sunday Meditation each week is a pre~scheduled post), but I saw this over at Michael's blog Reach Paradise. He has done a meme of sorts and is asking his readers to answer this question: If you could witness any moment in Christ's life, what would it be? You get to choose three. This is a wonderful meditative exercise.

 Here are the rules for Michael's meme:
  • To make this a bit easier, you can choose 3 one-hour time periods. (Your "top 3", if you will)
  • To make things harder, you cannot choose His birth or any time period from the Last Supper on.
  • If you have a blog, post this question and rules and answer it there. If you would rather not spend a post quenching my curiosity, or if you do not have a blog, feel free to post your answer in the comments section here.
  • Go to Reach Paradise (link above) and leave Michael a comment with a link to your post.
  • Tag 3 other people to do the same. 

Here are my top three:
1. Jesus' Baptism at the Jordan~ I often try to imagine what it would have been like to be the person behind Him in that line; to witness this awesome moment of humility. Would I have realized who He truly was? 

2. The meeting with the Woman at the Well~ I can somehow relate to this woman on certain levels. But in the case of this woman, the times she and Jesus lived in would have dictated that He had no business anywhere near her for two reasons: Samaritans and Jews wanted nothing to do with each other and the fact that she was a woman (and not exactly an upstanding one at that). I would have loved to have witnessed her enthusiasm after hearing Jesus tell her everything about her life, and I would have loved to see the smile on Jesus' face after His conversation with her.

3. The day Jesus left His home in Nazareth~ While I am sure this was a very private and intimate moment between He and our Blessed Mother, I still would have liked to witness this most bittersweet moment~even from a distance. I would have also liked to have been there as He cleaned up the carpenter shop one last time.

So there they are; my top three moments with our Lord. If you ask me this again tomorrow or even an hour from now, they would probably change.

Those of you who follow my meme over at my Blessings for the Day blog (sorry for the shameless self promotion), as well as those whose memes I regularly participate in, know how much I love to bend the rules a bit.
As far as tagging others, I am following Michael's lead on this; if you've read this, you have been tagged. So go and post in peace!

Seek In Faith

Today's Gospel is a continuation of last week's passage from Luke. The people who formed that angry mob were of the mind of "Show us what you can do. Do what you did in all those other places you visited." Jesus knew this and responded to their lack of faith with "A prophet is not accepted in his own native place."
I am going to break from my Living Scripture format for this week and instead leave you with a writing from St John of the Cross. This reflection seems to sum up what was going on in Nazareth that day as well as what continues in our own time. The people in that mob had their own pre~conceived notions of who and what the Messiah should be. Jesus was not what they expected.  Many seek to know God through understanding and proof rather than faith.

No Prophet Is Accepted
God usually affirms, promises and teaches many things, not so that there be an immediate understanding of them, but that afterwards at the proper time, or when the effect is produced, one may receive light about them...
By order of him who spoke, everything will be understood at the opportune time; and he whom God wills shall understand clearly that so it was fitting, since God does nothing without cause and truth.  But believe me, a person cannot completely grasp the meaning of God's locutions and deeds, nor can he determine this by appearances without extreme error and bewilderment.
The prophets, entrusted with the Word of God, were well aware of this. Prophecy for them was a severe trial because as we affirmed, the people observed that a good portion of the prophecy did not come true according to the literal meaning.  As a result, the people jibed and mocked the prophets excessively...
Why then should we be surprised if God's locutions and revelations so not materialize as expected?  Suppose God affirms or represents to an individual some promise (good or bad pertaining to the person himself or another); if this promise is based on certain causes (devotion or service rendered to God, or offense committed against him, now or in the future) and these causes remain, the promise will be accomplished.  But since the duration of these causes is uncertain, the fulfillment of the promise is too.  One should seek  assurance, therefore, not in understanding, but in faith.
~St John of the Cross
(as printed in Magnificat)

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Sacraments: Seven Sacred Crown Jewels Of Our Faith

No this is not going to be a theological discussion on the sacraments. It is more of a relating of a personal experience this past week. I posted about this experience over at my Blessings For the Day blog. If you haven't read my Friday post, I'll Take You Back, you may want to do that first to give you the basis for what I am going to write about here.
Why post about this on both blogs? Because the close call I talk about in that post can happen to any of us if we are not careful.
The span of time leading to the events of last week was about four months. That's how long it had been since my last confession. Don't worry, I am not going to make a public confession; thankfully those days are a thing of the ancient past. My point here is that Christ knew we would need all the help we could get while on this earth; more specifically, He knew we would need all the grace we could get. He instituted the seven sacraments as a means for obtaining that grace. Two of those sacraments we can receive almost as often as we like, The Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Frequent reception of both of these is an endless fountain of grace if we are properly disposed. I lost sight of this in regard to frequent or at least regular confession. As you will see from my above mentioned post, I was on a slippery slope and the devil was waiting for me at the bottom of it!
If I couldn't see where I was headed, God sure could, and in hindsight I could see He was sending me all kinds of signs which I seemed to ignore or at the very least, put off. Mercifully, He was not going to let me slide back into Satan's slimy clutches without a good fight, and mercifully, I finally listened.
Looking back on all of this, I can learn much from it. I know I certainly don't want to sail into that type of near shipwreck again, and I am ready to begin again and do all that it takes so I don't.
I began this post by talking about the sacraments as the crown jewels of our faith. I think sometimes I allow myself to get lulled and don't see these gifts of channels of grace for all that they are.
In addition to my own experiences this past week, this was also brought to mind by several posts from other bloggers. These too are also worth reading. I will include their links at the end of this post.
Our Lord loves each of us more than we can ever imagine and He has given us all that we need in the sacraments to keep us in His grace. We live in a crazy, busy world and it is easy for any of us to let too much of it get in the way of our living our faith.

Other Good Related Posts
Avoiding Shipwrecks from Secret Harbor
My Friend, Judy's post on my Friday Meme, Touch of Our Savior's Hand. In her post today she talks about her powerful experience of studying the sacraments with her daughter.
Two posts by Abbot Joseph at Word Incarnate: Divine Mercy and the Horror of Sin and
Root Sin

I know I've led you to a lot more reading than just this post, but this is an important topic and all of the related posts are worth the time.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thomas Aquinas: All Things For The Glory Of God

Thomas Aquinas was a priest, professor, and is a Doctor of the Church. He is considered to be one of, if not the greatest thinker in the history of the Church. I am in no way qualified to discuss his writings, and to be honest, I have great difficulty understanding them. However, when I do come across something of his that I am able to understand, I take it as a very clear sign that it is something that God needs for me to hear and understand.
Thomas Aquinas studied, taught and wrote constantly, but he also prayed constantly. This is the lesson I can take from this great saint's life. He prayed much and his writing, study and teaching bore much good fruit in his life and for the life of the Church. He did all of this, not for his own fame or recognition, but for God's.
In my own life, I need to remember to do the same. It starts with prayer. I can't give what I don't have. Without prayer, I am attempting to fly solo and in my experience that always leads to some sort of disastrous crash! When I give my day to God and ask for the Holy Spirit's guidance, things seem to be better. Even if they don't go as I hope, my reaction to the upsets and setbacks is better. Somehow I think St Thomas knew this and lived it.
There is much we can learn form this learned saint, but what I am taking from his life is that while he studied, wrote and taught much, he also prayed much.
I ask St Thomas Aquinas' intercession today that I will give all that I do to God for His glory, not mine.
I am going to leave you with a story of one of the miracles surrounding St Thomas and the Eucharist.

Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you.~
St. Thomas Aquinas

Monday, January 25, 2010

Generation X~er Turned Catholic Priest

  In this Year For Priests, I like to highlight and feature the story of priests and their priesthoods when I come across them.The mainstream media is still insistent on focusing on the negatives (whether true or not). I found this edifying story over at Ignatius Insights.
Ain't Talkin' "Bout Love is Fr. John Cihak's story of his road to the priesthood. It is a story of stark contrast; he went from singer in a rock band to the priesthood. Fr.Cihak says that he isn't one of those priests who knew he had a calling from a very young age. He had his ideas about where his life would go, a family and being a doctor, and well, God had His own plans for this man! Follow the link with article's title to read Father's whole story.
Let us continue to pray for all our priests.

Feast Of The Conversion Of St Paul

 The Conversion on the Way to Damascus: Caravaggio

I love that the Church celebrates the feast of St Paul's Conversion. It reminds me of the fact that while I was knocked off my high horse some years ago, I am in need of constant and on~going conversion in order to grow spiritually. One of my favorite verses from Scripture is found in Galations:
"I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and sacrificed Himself for me." (Gal 2:20)
It is only because of His love and sacrifice that conversion is possible.
I pray for St Paul's intercession today that I may live and spread the Gospel in my own life and times.
St Paul, pray for us!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fulfilled In Your Hearing

 *Reflection based on the Gospel for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Luke 4:14~21

 James Tissot: Jesus Unrolls Scroll In the Synagogue

You are among those in the synagogue the day Jesus returns to His hometown of Nazareth. He gets up to read from the prophet Isaiah. As he stands before those gathered, all becomes still and quiet. You watch Him intently. Yes, this is the son of the carpenter Joseph; you remember seeing him during the days he grew up here, but now there seems to be something different about Him.
He begins to read, but it is more than just someone reading words from a page. He seems to read the words with a conviction and authority that strikes something deep within you. As He finishes and hands the scroll back to the attendant, you hear whispers from those around you. They too seem to be affected by Jesus' words; especially those with which He ended: "This day this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." 
The Jewish people have been waiting for the Messiah. Did this man, the boy who grew up in Nazareth, mean to imply, to say that He is the Messiah?  You remain very quiet. His words do not affect you the way they seem to be affecting the others. The whispers are now turning to anger. Jesus leaves the synagogue and an angry mob follows Him. You don't follow the crowd; you remain there in the synagogue for a few more moments. The words you have just heard Jesus say play over and over again in your mind; they begin to take root in your heart, and you believe, you know He is the Messiah!
It seems quiet outside now; the crowd seems to have dispersed. As you walk out of the synagogue, a bystander recounts what went on out here. The mob tried to run Jesus off a cliff! This person tells you though that Jesus seemed to walk right through them unharmed.
You begin to walk along the path leading you back home and in the distance you see someone sitting on a rock. As you get closer, you can see that it is Jesus. Part of you wants to run up to Him and ask Him a million questions, but you think better of it. You simply stop in front of Him and smile; He returns the smile. In His eyes, you see a deep and intense love. In your eyes, He sees a deep and abiding faith.
You continue on home content in the knowledge that God has kept His promise; the promise of the Messiah.

View of Nazareth

Dear Jesus,
I know and believe that You are the Messiah, our Lord and Savior, but still I find there are times that my heart becomes hardened. I become blind to the Way you show me, the Truth You proclaim and the Life You are and offer to me. Through Your Sacraments, heal my heart of stone and make it one of flesh. Stay with me, Lord so that I may never be blinded by my own pride or the trappings of the world. Unite my heart to Your own Sacred Heart; conform my will to Your Holy Will so that my life will always proclaim Your Way, Your Truth and Your Life.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

New And Noteworthy Blogger

Yesterday I received an e-mail from my friend Judy of BenMakesTen fame. In it was a link to the blog of a young woman who is seriously seeking a vocation to religious life. She writes under the name of Sadie and her blog is called Seeking a Vocation.
When I followed Judy's link I never expected to read such beautiful, faith~filled writing. This young woman is truly in love with her Lord and her writing reflects it; it also is of a depth way beyond her 16 years!
After reading several of her posts, I e-mailed her to first of all tell her what a beautiful blog she is keeping, and secondly to ask her if I could write a post linking to her blog.  She kindly agreed.
In these times when our youth sometimes get a bad rap, and too many seem to focus on their negatives, I thought it would be nice to highlight a young woman of incredible faith and trust in God. I also know there are several of my readers who have sons and daughters seriously seeking and discerning vocations to the priesthood and religious life; Sadie's blog is an excellent one for them to read and add to their blogrolls. Our young people need the support of their peers who are of like minded faith and morals just as we adults do.
The link above (2nd link) will take you to Sadie's post titled The Pearl City. In addition to being a young woman of faith, she is also a very talented writer.
So go visit Sadie's blog and those of you with teens, be sure to share it with them as well.
Finally let us all keep her and all those who are discerning vocations to the priesthood and religious life in our prayers.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Rachel Rosary

"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.  And here is hope for thy last end, saith the Lord: and the children shall return to their own border."
~Jeremiah 31:15~17

As this Day of Penance and Prayer comes to a close, I thought I would end my blogging day with a post about a very powerful prayer~A Rachel Rosary. This rosary was written by Fr. Larry  Kupferman, a priest who felt called to use his priestly ministry to help those who have suffered from the trauma of an abortion.
A Rachel Rosary is said just as any rosary would be said with a few differences. It is said using the Sorrowful Mysteries with an extra decade at the end~the Resurrection. Before each Hail Mary there is a petition offered for a specific group or individual who may be suffering from post abortion syndrome. ( Counselors who counsel young women that abortion is their best option, the teenage girl afraid to face her parents, the woman too ashamed to go to church etc)
This is a wonderful prayer for pro~life organizations. It can be said as a group or individually.
Abortion must end, but until it does, there are countless men and women in desperate need of healing; a healing that only God can give. This rosary is a very specific way to pray for them.
You can read the forward and the introduction here. The booklet is also available for purchase.
I am grateful to Fr Kupferman for writing this prayer. I am also grateful to all the priests who work tirelessly and compassionately in post abortion healing ministries, especially those in my own archdiocese.
My sincere thanks to all those who went to Washington to march for life today.

 Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

A Sad Day In Our Nation's History

This day in 1973 is the day when this country legalized the brutal killing of its children through abortion. Since then hundreds of thousands of faithful Catholics of all ages have made the trip to Washington DC to show their love and support in the March For Life.
Many who have committed this sin and have repented will express their regret publicly; these brave men and women speak for all of us who have received God's healing and mercy.
The Church calls for this day to be a Day of Penance, and so it should be. Those of us who work for life need to make reparation for those who do not.
Make no mistake; our country is in serious trouble on many levels. God is not pleased with us as a nation! We need to beg for His mercy and pray and fast for the conversion of this country.

There is always hope. For all of the steps back we seem to take in the cause for life, there also many steps forward. More post~abortive men and women are holding themselves accountable for what they have done and are seeking healing, more of our young people realize the seriousness of this situation and are becoming more and more pro~life and less and less pro~choice. They are the future of our country. More parishes seem to be holding Holy Hours for life. These are just to name a very few.
So as we mourn the loss of so many of our children, let us not lose hope, but continue to pray, fast and speak out for life wherever and whenever we can.
Twenty~one years ago when I took the life of my own child, I never thought I would regret that decision. By God's grace I do. I am living proof of how God can change a heart and a life and there are many more just like me.
Pray for the end of abortion, pray for those who will contemplate abortion, and pray for those still in need of healing.

*Fr.Richard John Neuhaus' speech, We Shall Not Weary,We Shall Not Rest can be read at First Things. Father gave this speech at the National Right To Life Convention 6 months before he died.

Prayer to the Author of Life
Father of us all, Author of all life,
I thank you for my life and the appreciation of it. Please help me to always respect the lives of all your children, from conception to natural death. Let your Spirit enlighten the minds and open the hearts of those who do not fully respect all human life according to your will. Where there is remorse, grant peace to all women and everyone affected by past abortions. Lighten the burdens of all women with problem pregnancies. Bring adoption of a Human Life Amendment soon. Thank you, Father. 

Prayer For Mothers
Father in Heaven, 
We thank you for the gift of life.
Grant that all mothers who give birth may welcome their babies with love.
But if some mothers feel they are unable to raise their babies, grant that they may be compassionate toward the life which You have given and not destroy it before birth.
To those children who have been wantonly deprived of earthly life grant whatever happiness to which they are entitled, and to the mothers who have denied them life in this world, grant Your merciful grace of repentance and reconciliation with our Savior so that they may obtain eternal life in the next!
With ecclesiastical approval
Most Rev. Romeo R. Blanchette, D.D. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Pro~Life Issue No One Wants To talk About

 As Catholics and Christians, we are a people for life, but we constantly see life being attacked in a multitude of ways. When we hear the term pro~life, we usually think of the issues of abortion and euthanasia. However there is one that no wants to discuss or bring up~incest. How is this a life issue? Well, those who have suffered this horrible trauma need to receive treatment and healing if their children are going to grow up healthy.
My dear friend Colleen at Thoughts On Grace has posted a very important post and video. For those of you who do not know Colleen, she is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Through her own healing she now strives to help others. This video from the Let Go Let Peace Come In organization is trying to reach survivors still in need of healing through this video.
I didn't post the video here because I really want you to visit Colleen's blog. Click the above link and it will take you directly to Colleen's post with the video. The video is 10 minutes long, but well worth the time.
As Colleen says in her post, this is a pro-life issue.
After you view the video, you can visit Colleen's survivor blog Surviving By Grace to read more about her and her journey from abuse to healing.
I admit this is not an easy topic to think about, but it needs to be, not only to help those who have been traumatized by this heinous act, but also so that future generations can grow up healthy in mind, body and spirit.
Thank you, Colleen for your courage in sharing your own story and for all you do to help others.

St Agnes~Model Of Purity And Chastity

St Agnes was given the gift of martyrdom at the very young age of 13. She preferred death to life in that she would not renounce God or compromise her purity; Christ was to be her only love and spouse and she would give her life in order to remain faithful to Him.
In this day and age, our culture is telling our youth to do just the opposite. This saint, whose feast we celebrate today, is a wonderful role model for our youth. Remaining faithful to God and living moral, chaste lives is no easy task in today's culture; our young people need all the help they can get.
Let us ask this wise and faithful virgin, who went with lighted lamp to meet her Lord to intercede for all of us, but most especially for our youth.
You can read more about this saint here.

Prayer to St Agnes
Let us gain courage for our own battle
by honoring the martyrdom of the glorious virgin Agnes. 
St. Agnes, vessel of honor, 
flower of unfading fragrance, 
beloved of the choirs of Angels, 
you are an example to the worth of virtue and chastity. 
O you who wear a Martyr's palm 
and a virgin's wreath, 
pray for us that, 
though unworthy of a special crown, 
we may have our names written in the list of Saints. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Known Universe

This video is put out by the American Museum of Natural History. It will take you from the Himalayas through the atmosphere to the afterglow of the Big Bang. I dare any atheist to say there is no God after watching this!
This is one of those "too cool not to share" videos. Be sure to watch in full screen mode.
Sit back and enjoy the ride!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Whatever He Tells You; Do It

 James Tissot's Wedding at Cana

There is a wedding. Our Lady, Jesus and His disciples are invited~ and so are you. I invite you to place yourself at this festive occasion. In the midst of the festivities you seem to notice a bit of a fuss going on between the bride and groom and perhaps their families. Our Lady notices as well and she knows just what the problem is~the wine has run out. She knows the embarrassment this could cause the newly married couple, and she knows her Son could certainly help the situation. Your attention is now on Jesus and His Mother; they seem to be discussing the problem. You move in a little closer to see if you can hear what they are saying. The conversation is calm but firm and Mary seems to have convinced her Son to help; that His hour has indeed come to manifest His divinity and begin His public ministry.
She now turns to the wine stewards and again in a kind but firm voice tells them, "Whatever He tells you; do it!"
Jesus now gives them instructions, and they heed Our Lady's command; they follow them. In doing so they, the disciples and you witness a miracle~Jesus has changed the water into fine wine.
Jesus has not only captivated His disciples, but He has captivated you as well.
His disciples will continue to follow Him in the days, weeks, years ahead and they will witness so many more miracles. You too long to follow and be near Jesus and wonder if you can follow also. It is then that you again hear Our Lady's words: "Whatever He tells you; do it!"

Dear Jesus,
In this scene from the wedding at Cana, You show us how you are unable to resist a request from your Mother. You have given her to us as our Mother too. Help me to remember to go to her with my needs because all she wants to do is bring me closer to You. Just as You could not refuse her at Cana, You will not refuse her when she comes to You on my behalf. Like these wine stewards, may I too be obedient to her command to do whatever you tell me for she knows that whatever You ask is for my good and Your glory.
May my petitions be purified through our Blessed Mother's Immaculate Heart.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Welcome To All

I have to admit, I am a little remiss in my blogging duties when it comes to noticing my follower count. It sometimes takes me a few days to notice the number has increased.
So that being said, I have noticed that this blog has had a bit more follower activity in recent weeks.
I would just like to offer a hi, thanks and welcome to the following new followers:
Jackie, Gabriella, OCD Sister, Margaret, Catholic With Attitude, Squelly, Molly and Free In Christ. You can click on their pictures in the Followers section of my sidebar for links to their sites.
Thanks to all who follow and comment here.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Samuel, Israel And Us

Scripture never ceases to amaze or surprise me, which I guess is to say that God never ceases to amaze or surprise me. As I was reading the Old Testament reading for today's Mass in Samuel, I was struck by a particular verse: 
"And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and rehearsed them in the ears of the Lord.  And the Lord said to Samuel: Hearken to their voice, and make them a king." (1Kings 8:21~22)
Right before this the people of Israel are pleading with Samuel for a king so they could be like other nations. Even after Samuel reports to them what God has said will happen if a king is appointed, they still want the king.
This is where the irony struck me. After thousands of years, not much has changed. In reading the reports of Obama's ratings after his first year in office, it would seem that things have not turned out as many of those who voted for him had hoped. I am not going on a political rant here, but this passage just brought to mind the adage: "Be careful what you ask and pray for!"
Israel was relying on the knowledge of the culture instead of God. The same could be said of our current society.
St Augustine also had something to say about this: 
 "Don't be presumptuous, and as it were give knowledge priority over God's instruction, or you will remain full of hot air, instead of solid understanding."

 I just love Augustine; he knows how to just say it as it is!
My own observations of the "signs of the times" is that too many in our culture are relying on their own knowledge instead of God's instructions. It didn't work out for Israel they way they had hoped, and I don't think its working out too well for those who voted for our current president.
But there is always hope. God can and will bring about a greater good. From that line of kings came David and from his line came our King, Jesus Christ.
Israel didn't know how the story would end; I am glad that I do!

Notes: You can read the full text of today's Mass readings by clicking the Readings for the Day widget on my sidebar. For those of you who prefer the Douay~Rheims translation from 1Kings, you can find it here in 1Kings 8:4~22

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday Meditation: The Baptism Of Jesus~A Time Of Transition

 Jesus' baptism by John at the Jordan River is the third of His manifestations; it is the solemnity that ends the Christmas season. It indicates a time of transition, for Jesus and for us. We are told in Scripture that immediately after His baptism, Jesus was driven by the Spirit into the desert. After spending 40 intense days and nights there, He would begin His public ministry. It was a transition from a very private life to one that was very public.
For us too, celebrating this feast indicates a transition; we move from the festive and busy season of Christmas, back into the routine of Ordinary Time. This year we are given about six weeks to catch our breath, so to speak, before entering the rigorous season of Lent.
I invite you to take this theme of transition a step further; perhaps to what this feast is really all about~our own baptism.
In my very humble opinion, baptism is the one sacrament that is most taken for granted. That may be due to the fact that most of us received this sacrament when we were infants. However, our baptism, no matter when we received it, is a transition. This all important sacrament transitions us from life lived in the stain of original sin to life in Christ. Once we are baptized, we belong to God!
Christ was given a mission by His Heavenly Father. He spent three years preaching repentance and the nearness of God's Kingdom. In that time he healed the sick, raised the dead, and made the blind see. He would complete His mission by dying and rising for each of us so that through our baptism, we might live in and with Him for all eternity.

After His baptism, Jesus was given and accepted His mission. We too are given a mission at our own baptism. We are to make that transition from living private lives to living our faith and our life publicly. The mission we are given is the vocation God calls each of us to; we can choose, by the gift of our free will, to accept the mission as Jesus did, or reject it as Satan did.
The Catechism in Paragraph 1213 tells us that the sacrament of Baptism is the gateway to life in the Spirit and the doorway to all the other sacraments. I know in my own life, I don't always live up to my baptismal promises, but because I have been baptized I have access to the sacrament of Reconciliation which brings me back to right relationship with God, and the Eucharist which strengthens me so that I am able to cooperate with God's grace.

So as we transition from Christmas to Ordinary Time, let us resume and continue the work begun in us at our baptism. Let us accept the mission of living our lives in Christ.

Have a Blessed Sunday!

James Tissot's Baptism of Jesus

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Great Priest Remembered

Today is the one year anniversary of the death of Fr Richard John Neuhaus. Tonight a Mass for the repose of his soul is being said in St Patrick's Cathedral. First Things Magazine, of which Fr Neuhaus was chief editor, has printed the homily given by Fr George Rutler at that Mass.
The library of Fr Neuhaus' writings is extensive.
If you've read anything by this priest, you know what an asset he was and his writings continue to be to the Church. If you haven't read anything by him, I suggest Death On a Friday Afternoon. This article is Fr Neuhaus' reflection and meditation on the seven last words of Christ.
My first encounter with Fr Neuhaus' writing was an article he wrote in First Things about Bible translations. It was because of this article that I now use the Douay~Rheims translation. Fr Neuhaus was not a fan of the New American Bible which is the translation used in or Lectionary for Mass. When I read some of the Douay~Rheims, that was it, I was hooked! (I apologize for not giving a link to that article, but I can't remember which one it was. If you search First Things Archives, you will find several articles written by father on this topic.)
Fr. Rutler gave a beautiful homily at this Mass for Fr Neuhaus; you can read it here.
May this good and faithful priest rest in the peace of Christ.

Noteworthy Blog: St Conleth's Catholic Heritage

I received a comment  from a contributor of the blog, St Conleth's Catholic Heritage. The commenter asked if I would alert my readers to their blog and Catholic Journal, Christvs Regnat. 
As I am extremely careful who I support on this blog, I went and checked them out before writing this post.
They are with the Catholic Church in Ireland and support the Traditional Latin Mass. Their site is faithful to Catholic teaching and the Holy Father. I am not sure if there is a charge for the subscription to the journal, but you can e-mail them by going to the Christvs Regnat link above.
The Church in Ireland has had its share of difficulties lately, so do keep them in your prayers.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Eucharistic Novena: January 6~14

 This novena was brought to my attention by Jane at Spiritual Mothers of Priests. Fr. Mark at Vultus Christi is starting a Eucharistic Novena on January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany.
In this Year for Priests it is so important to pray for our priests. This novena seems to be a powerful way to do that.
You can find out more about why Fr. Mark will be praying this novena, and also find the text for the prayers by visiting his blog.
If you decide to pray this novena, please leave him a comment.
O Mary, Queen of the Apostles, obtain for us many holy and faithful priests!

John Neumann And The Blessed Sacrament

  St John Neumann in repose at National Shrine in Philadelphia

Sometimes as I sit before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, I often think, "If I could just sit here and never leave." In fact sometimes when my hour is over, I very many times, find it difficult to leave, so I just sit for a few more minutes until I feel like it is Jesus telling me it is OK to leave.
Today the Church remembers St John Neumann. He was born in Bohemia in 1811. His desire was to work for the American missions and so came to the United States  and was ordained to the priesthood in 1836 in New York. In 1852 he was ordained bishop of Philadelphia where he worked tirelessly for the poor, Catholic education and immigrants. He died on this day in 1860, was beatified in 1963 and canonized in 1977.
St John Neumann had great devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament as is clear from a prayer I found in Magnificat for today's meditation. He too wished to spend much time there in Jesus' Presence.
As I read this prayer today while sitting in church before Mass, I once again had that thought, :If only I could sit here and never leave." But for most of us, Jesus has us out in the world in order to bring Him to those who need Him. St John Neumann knew this, and so do I.
So while I will spend as much time as the Lord permits me in His holy Presence, I will ask St John Neumann's intercession today for the grace to be in the world to bring Christ's gospel to my little part of it.
The following is the prayer/reflection written by St John Neumann.

How much I love you, O my Jesus. I wish to love you with my whole heart; yet I do not love you enough. My lack of devotion and my sloth make me anxious. I have one desire, that of being near you in the Blessed Sacrament. You are the sweet bridegroom of my soul. My Jesus, my love, my all, gladly would I endure hunger, thirst, heat, and cold to remain always with you in the Blessed Sacrament. Would that you in your Eucharistic presence I might unceasingly weep over my sins. Take entire possession of me. To you I consecrate all the powers of my soul and body, my whole being. Would that I could infuse into all hearts a burning love for you. What great glory would be given to you here on earth, if every heart were an altar on which every human will were laid in perfect conformity with your will to be consumed by the fire of your love.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sunday Meditation: Epiphany

 Adoration of the Magi by Murillo

"In choosing to be born for us, God chose to be known by us." 
                                                                                            ~Peter Chrysologus

The Epiphany is one of the three manifestations God makes through His Son, Jesus Christ. The other two being the miracle at the wedding at Cana and the baptism of Jesus. Today the Church in the United States celebrates the Epiphany. (In Orthodox and Eastern Rite Churches this feast is celebrated on January 6th; it is sometimes called Little Christmas.)
While these are the three events the Church recognizes as God manifesting Himself, in each of our own lives we have our individual epiphanies; those seemingly miraculous moments where God chooses to manifest Himself to us personally. I am not speaking of private revelation in the typical sense of that term, but just our own personal God Moments. These moments can range from major conversion experiences to seeing God in another person or a sunset.
However, today my thoughts turn to the Magi who traveled for months following a star and their faith. They brought with them gifts that truly represented who Christ was and is: gold because He was a King, frankincense because He is God, and myrrh because this God and King would die. Their faith in the prophecies kept them going; their faith also enabled them to trust the dream telling them to return home a different way in order to avoid telling Herod of where they found this new born King. These wise men had their faith rewarded; God revealed Himself in the Christ Child, not to three of His chosen people, but to three foreigners. This was a revelation to the Gentiles!
I don't know about you, but I find my faith edified by the Magi. I may not have gold, frankincense or myrrh to give Him, but I do have adoration, praise and sacrifice; I somehow think He would rather receive those from me anyway. I know that if I continue my own journey of faith, God will reward me with epiphanies throughout my life leading to the one that will come at the end when I finally see Him face to face as He truly is.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Saints And Feasts Of East And West

 I like to think of today as a day when East meets West in the Catholic Church. In the Eastern church, the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus is celebrated; in the Western church, it is the feast of two great saints who, along with St John Chrysostom, in the Eastern church are part of the three Hierarchs.

The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus has been relegated to an optional memorial on the new Liturgical Calendar where it may be celebrated on January 3rd. Since that date is a Sunday, it most likely will not even be mentioned. In this day and age when our Lord's holy name is often thrown around like a wet dish rag, I seem to feel that this feast should be anything but optional! Since I am not holier or even as holy as the Pope, I will stop my rant right there. I will just remind my readers that the month of January is also devoted to the Holy Name of Jesus; you can see my sidebar for more about this feast.

As for our two great saints for today, Sts Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen were doctors of the Church as well as bishops. In celebrating their feasts on the same day, the Church also recognizes God's gift of friendship. These two men despite having very different personalities and temperaments, were good friends. St Basil had great leadership qualities while St Gregory was more the contemplative and poet. Each man worked with his own God~given gifts to build God's Kingdom here on earth. Their opposite personalities complimented each other and allowed them to enjoy a friendship.
God raised up these two saints as examples of hard working servants for His Church and also to extol His earthly gift of friendship. May their lives of both service and friendship be models for us today.
You can read more about these saints here.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Solemnity Of Mary, The Mother Of God

We begin a new year on this day, but perhaps even more importantly we celebrate Mary's Motherhood. In doing so, we celebrate God's gift of His Son, but also the gift of motherhood itself. All women, whether married with their own children, consecrated virgins, or single laity, are called to create and nurture life according to their given state in this life. For many it is physical motherhood, for others it is spiritual motherhood.
In Mary we are given the model to imitate, for no matter what type of motherhood we are called to, we are all called to bring Christ into our own part of the world.
Today as we celebrate this Marian feast and give honor to the Mother of our Lord, let us pray for all mothers, physical and spiritual. Let us also pray for those women who are being called to motherhood but feel tempted to refuse that gift, may they look to Mary for strength and courage to fulfill God's plan for them.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us now and at the hour of death.

 Loving Mother of the Redeemer
Loving Mother of the Redeemer,
Gate of heaven, star of the sea,
Assist your people
who have fallen yet strive to rise again,
To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator,
yet remained a virgin after as before,
You who received Gabriel's joyful greeting,
have pity on us, poor sinners.
~Ancient Liturgy of the Hours Prayer

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.