Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Feast Of Catholicity

El Greco:Sts Peter and Paul

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. I find it interesting that these two saints have their feasts together. I often try to imagine what it would have been like to be with them both in the same room at the same time. From what we know of them, they were both very passionate and strong willed men. We also know that while they knew Christ in different ways and at different times, they both loved Him and the Gospel He preached very much.
While it might be easy to look at the more obvious similarities and differences in these two saints, the strongest thread of commonality that runs through the lives of these two men is that of unity.
After the Resurrection, Peter preached to the Jews. Paul after his conversion, became the Apostle to the Gentiles. These two disciples of Christ worked in different ways and with different groups of people toward a common goal~building the one holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Perhaps this is one of the reasons we celebrate their feast on the same day.
Pope Benedict XVI in his 2005 homily for this feast calls it a feast of catholicity. He defines this term saying:
"Catholicity means universality - a multiplicity that becomes unity; a unity that nevertheless remains multiplicity."
In the more than 2000 years since the birth of Christianity, the Catholic Church as grown; the Gospel continues to be preached to the ends of the earth. In so doing, there is certainly diversity in the way the Catholic faith is expressed, but the teachings and tenets are the same no matter where we go in the world. The Church is universal and diverse, but it remains One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. The lives of the two great saints we celebrate today were living proof of that.Christ, the firm Foundation, built His Church upon the rock of Peter and spread it to the Gentiles through Paul.  May they intercede for each of us in our quest for holiness and for unity in the Church.

Almighty God, 
whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul 
glorified you by their martyrdom: 
Grant that your Church, 
instructed by their teaching and example, 
and knit together in unity by your Spirit, 
may ever stand firm upon the one foundation, 
which is Jesus Christ our Lord; 
who lives and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, for ever and ever.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cyril Of Alexandria On Mary's Divine Motherhood

One of the most difficult points of faith for many Protestants is Mary as Mother of God in as much as giving her the honor that is due her in this regard. They may believe that she is the mother of Jesus, but feel that Catholics err greatly in honoring her as the Mother of God; in their eyes they see it as us taking away the honor that is due God alone.
Nothing can be farther from the truth. We do not worship Mary (or any of the saints for that matter), but honor her and seek her intercession. No one is closer to God than Mary and no one can obtain the graces we so desperately need from God the Father through Jesus, the Son of God. Mary herself would be appalled if we attempted to worship her, for worship rightly belongs to God alone. Mary wants only to point us and bring us closer to Jesus. At the wedding feast in Cana, she tells the wine stewards: "Whatever He tells you; do it!" She tells us the same thing.
Today is the feast of St Cyril of Alexandria. He is an early Church Father and Doctor of the Church. He lived in the 5th century and was bishop of Alexandria for 32 years. During this time he defended the orthodoxy of the Catholic faith against the heresies of Nestorius who looked to strip the Blessed Virgin of her Divine Motherhood and thereby making Christ two separate entities: one divine and the other human. Cyril proclaimed Mary as Mother of God long before it became an official dogma of our faith. His feast is celebrated mainly in the eastern churches (June 9), but is also on the Roman calendar as well for today.
I always learn so much from reading the writings of the Church Fathers and Doctors. Their deep faith and insight always edify me and deepen my own faith.
Here is an excerpt from Cyril's essay The Blessed Virgin Mary is Truly Theotokos, Mother of God.

"That anyone could doubt the right of the holy Virgin to be called the Mother of God fills me with astonishment. Surely she must be the Mother of God if our Lord Jesus Christ is God, and she gave birth to him! Our Lord's disciples may not have used those exact words, but they delivered to us the belief those words enshrine, and this has also been taught us by the holy fathers."

Heavenly Father,
the bishop Cyril courageously taught
that Mary was the Mother of God.
May we who cherish this belief
receive salvation through the incarnation of Christ your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.

More on the life of St Cyril
Related post by Fr. Joseph Homick: Love Your Mother (don't miss this one!)

*excerpt and prayer courtesy of Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio at Crossroads Initiative

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Prayer For Corpus Christi

I stumbled across this beautiful prayer for the feast of Corpus Christi. May Our Lord Jesus Christ be praised, loved and adored in all the tabernacles throughout all the world until the end of time.

Throughout the year, O Jesus,
thou dost remain humbly hidden within the tabernacle,
awaiting, receiving, and hearing the souls
who come to Thy feet in search of sympathy
and consolation in their sorrows,
light and support in the trials of life.
Only on this day,
leaving Thy silent loneliness,
Thou goest forth,
passing in triumph and benediction
through the streets and squares of the cities
in a maze of lights and music,
incense and flowers,
in the midst of joyous multitudes,
who fall down in adoration before Thee.

In the synagogue of Capharnaum,
the unbelieving throng,
rebelling against Thy words of faith and love, deserted Thee;
but in the Upper Room that last evening of Thine earthly life,
when the dark clouds of betrayal
were already settling upon Thy sorrowful soul,
Thou didst make Thy divine promise a reality,
perpetuating in the institution of the Holy Eucharist,
as in a living memorial,
the infinite love with which Thy Heart
was overflowing towards mankind.
By means of this august Sacrament,
Thou wouldst prolong Thy presence in the world
even to the end of time;
and the souls of men,
seated at Thy heavenly banquet,
were to taste inwardly the sweet irradiations of Thy grace
and the ineffable delights of Thy love.

O Jesus, make me feel the overwhelming attraction of Thy silent tabernacle,
which has ever drawn not only the little ones,
but has always been and will continue to be
the joy of pure and great souls.
Grant me a living faith and an ardent love
for Thee hidden under the sacramental species,
so that, frequently drawing near to Thy table
where the “Bread of Life” is set out,
I may receive the germ of a life that will not die.


*Prayer from Catholic Doors Ministry.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Prayer Book Par Excellence

This is how the Holy Father described the Book of Psalms today in his continuing catechesis on prayer. The Psalms have always been one of my favorite books in Sacred Scripture. When I read the pope's words on these beautiful prayers, I realized why~because as he says, the psalms are speaking to God with the words of God. What better way to pray.
In the 150 prayers that make up the Book of Psalms, there is a prayer for every mood and emotion we human beings can have. In the words of the Holy Father, the psalms "express all human experience" Whenever I feel drawn to Scripture, but don't know where to go, I go to the psalms. In these beautiful prayers I find the words of praise, thanksgiving, lamentation and petition in a way God wishes me to pray them.
If we need any more reason to pray the psalms, perhaps the best one is that Jesus Himself prayed them until His dying breath. Pope Benedict also expands on this point as well.
If you are someone who struggles with prayer, (that is all of us at various times)you might want to go to the Book of Psalms and let the Holy Spirit guide you to the one you most need to pray at the moment.
You can read the Holy Father's catechesis in its entirety here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Strong Defense Of Faithful Friends

A faithful friend is a strong defence: and he that hath found him, hath found a treasure. Nothing can be compared to a faithful friend, and no weight of gold and silver is able to countervail the goodness of his fidelity.
~Sirach 6:14~15

I am always amazed at God's gift of friendship~ the friendship He calls us to with Himself, but also human friendship. Christ sanctified human friendship when He called His twelve Apostles to be His companions during His public ministry, and in His friendship with Lazarus, Martha and Mary. In these friendships, He also sets for us an example of being in friendship with God, for He is God.
I have been thinking a lot about human friendship lately and am so very grateful for the good friends with which God has blessed me. One friend in particular comes to mind. My friend Shari and I have been friends for almost 20 years. Ironically we met through our former spouses. We have seen each other through divorce, and family troubles, but also many good times. I am Godmother to her daughter.
Recently, we fell out of touch for quite some time~ not due to any disagreement, but simply allowing life to get in the way. I called her last night mainly to R.S.V.P to my Goddaughter's high school graduation party, but more because I missed her and our friendship. We spoke for about 45 minutes picking up as if we had spoken only the day before.
When I hung up, I felt a deep sense of gratitude to God, not just for my friend and her friendship, but for the gift of friendship in general. God knows we can not go it alone on this earth so He has blessed us with companions for this journey.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Feminine Soul

When Holly invited me to check out her blog and this meme, I couldn't resist since Pay It Forward is one of my favorite movies. This is my first post for this meme so I hope I do it right~here goes!
ThereseRita has a wonderful blog called Zeal For Your House Consumes Me. Yesterday she posted an article written by Fr. Benjamin Bradshaw called The Unique Nature of the Feminine Soul. The article used the writings of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) and Blessed John Paul II's Theology of the Body.
The lines of what it truly means to live our femininity have become severely blurred, if not completely erased in our current culture. Fr. Bradshaw used the writings of these great saints to help clarify them.
St Teresa Benedicta sums up the heart of what I believe is meant by the "unique nature of the feminine soul" when she says: "I would also like to believe that even the relationship of soul and body is not completely similar in man and woman; with the woman, the soul’s union with the body is naturally more intimately emphasized…Woman’s soul is present and lives more intensely in all parts of the body, and it is inwardly affected by that which happens to the body; whereas with men, the body has more pronouncedly the character of an instrument which serves them in their work and which is accompanied by a certain detachment.'(Essays p.95). 
Men and women are different in the obvious ways but the difference and uniqueness goes deeper than the surface. I think that when more women start to understand and embrace this, true femininity will flourish and become more than what the "feminists" of today have reduced it to. Too many try to work against what St Teresa Benedicta speaks of. I came away from this article with a deeper appreciation of the gift of womanhood, and the sense of freedom that accepting this gift as God intended it brings.
Don't let the mention of the Theology of the Body scare you~ the post is easy to read and understand.
Thanks to ThereseRita for sharing this insightful post with us. You can read it by clicking the title of ThereseRita's blog above.
Please be sure to visit Holly at A Life~ Size Catholic Blog where you can more about what's good and useful in the blog world.

St. Aloysius Gonzaga

The Church celebrates the feast of St Aloysius Gonzaga. He lived during the 16th Century. Aloysius came from a wealthy royal family, but renounced his inheritance in order to join the Jesuits.
When the plague hit Italy, this young man dedicated himself to caring for those stricken with the disease. He contracted it himself and died at the age of 23.
He was beatified in 1621 by Pope Gregory XV and canonized by Benedict XIII in1726.
These holy men and women who go to their deaths at a young age are wonderful examples of what God can do with a life in a short period of time.
I came across this reflection on the saint. It tells of how he would spend days preparing for his next Holy Communion and days after in thanksgiving, therefore making his entire life, moment by moment, a life lived entirely in God's presence.
May we follow his example of service and holiness.
St Aloysius Gonzaga, pray for us.

It is said of St. Aloysius Gonzaga that he used to receive Communion once a week and that he was accustomed to spend three days in preparation before it and three days in thanksgiving after it. How did he manage to do this? Was he all the time prostrated before the Altar or reading a spiritual book? Not at all; he went wherever obedience called him, quietly performing his duties and keeping his heart lifted up to God. He offered up all his actions to Jesus Christ by way of thanksgiving, and he made now and then some short acts of faith, hope and charity, some acts of self-oblation or admiration or supplication. By this means, the angelic youth was enabled to walk continually with God; one Communion was the preparation for another; thus, he constantly advanced in purity of heart and in love for Jesus Christ.  

~The Blessed Eucharist: Our Greatest Treasure 
Fr. Michael Muller, C.S.S.R

Community Of Catholic Bloggers

It is always exciting to find a new solidly Catholic blog and that is what you will find at Community of Catholic Bloggers; I am also happy to be part of this new writing community. I hope you will visit and let us know what you think. Instead of going into my own description of the blog, I am going to send you over to Mary at The Beautiful Gate, who started this wonderful project. You can read her post telling about the blog, its purpose and how you can help it to grow, here.
Please visit and join in some good Catholic reading and discussion.

Where two or three are gathered  in My name, there am I in the midst of them. ~Matt.18:20

Sunday, June 19, 2011

God's Feast Day

This title may be simplifying things a bit, but while the Blessed and Most Holy Trinity is pure Mystery, while reflecting on this divine reality, that is what I thought, that the Solemnity of the Trinity that we celebrate this Sunday is truly God's feast day. It celebrates God~Father, Son and Holy Spirit for the Godhead they are. There are no words to explain or describe this adequately. I guess in my feeble attempt, what I mean by all this is that today we celebrate God for being God.
As far as my thoughts go, I will leave it at that. However, there have been saints who in their earthly lives have been given the grace of a deeper knowledge or understanding of the Trinity. St Faustina Kowalska is one of them. Here are a few excerpts from her Diary on the subject of the Trinity in her own life.

I understand the spiritual espousal of a soul with God, which has no exterior manifestation. It is a purely interior act between the soul and God. This grace has drawn me into the very burning center of God's love. I have come to understand His Trinitarian quality and the absolute Oneness of His Being. (Diary 1020)
After Holy Communion I communed for a while with the heavenly Father. My soul was drawn into the glowing center of love. I understood that no exterior works could stand comparison with the pure love of God. ... I saw the joy of the Incarnate Word, and I was immersed in the Divine Trinity. When I came to myself, longing filled my soul, and I yearned to be united with God (Diary, 1121).

And I will close with the TeDeum and by wishing all fathers a Happy Father's Day.

WE praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee, the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud; the Heavens, and all the Powers therein;
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of thy glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge thee;
The Father, of an infinite Majesty;
Thine adorable, true, and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.

THOU art the King of Glory, O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man, thou didst humble thyself to be born of a Virgin.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants, whom thou
hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints, in glory everlasting.

O LORD, save thy people, and bless thine heritage.
Govern them, and lift them up for ever.
Day by day we magnify thee;
And we worship thy Name ever, world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy be upon us, as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted; let me never be confounded.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Refuge In His Sacred Heart

 “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death. . . . Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.”
 Songs 8:6

Several years ago during my annual silent retreat, a powerful storm raged for most of the week I was there. The retreat house is on the beach so there was a bird's eye view of the sea from the upstairs room that led out onto the upper deck of the house.
One afternoon during this storm, I stood watching the storm and the sea from this room~the only sounds being of the crashing waves and the howling winds. As I stood there, I felt very safe inside the house. I prayed for the safety of anyone who may have been caught out on the sea that day. Then my thoughts turned to Our Lord's Sacred Heart.
The house was a refuge for me from the storm outside. Jesus' Sacred Heart is a refuge from the storms that arise in my life. Whenever I feel vulnerable to the storms in my life, especially the spiritual ones, I pray for Jesus to draw me into the safe refuge of His Sacred Heart. In that very brief prayer, I feel a peace and safety. The storms in my life may continue, but I am protected.
That image of His heart as a refuge is nothing new; the saints attest to to it in their writings. For me, though, that image took on real meaning for me during that week in that storm; it was one of the many gifts with which Our Lord graced me that week.
Jesus Himself wants us to take refuge in His Heart. At the Crucifixion, His Heart was pierced with a lance and was emptied of every last drop of blood and water~the flood of His mercy. After the Resurrection He retained His wounds, including the one in His side. Through this Sacred Wound we can gain entrance to His Sacred Heart and find the peace and protection we so desperately need.

My Lord Jesus, draw me deeply into the refuge of Your most Sacred Heart.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Objective Of Prayer: Conversion

The Holy Father continued his catecheses on prayer today referring to the prophet Elijah. The basis of his remarks were from 1Kings 18, the account of the confrontation between Elijah and Baal. Pope Benedict XVI unfolds this Scripture passage for us as it relates to prayer.
What I especially loved about the Holy Father's address was his definition of conversion:  "the main objective of prayer is conversion: the fire of God which transforms our hearts and makes us capable of seeing God and living for Him and for others".
In order to be converted (which is a life long process) we need to speak to God and allow God to speak to us; this is done through prayer in all its forms.
Read the Holy Father's catecheses for today here
May the fire of God continue to transform us.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

When God Enters The Ordinary

The Liturgical calendar resumes Ordinary Time. In reflecting on this, I began to reflect how down through the centuries, God has entered the ordinary.
Sacred Scripture contains one example after another of what happens when God enters the ordinary. The most profound, of course, is that of He Himself entering the human race in the person of Jesus Christ. However, if we go back to the very beginning of the Bible in Genesis and read the chapters on creation, we can see God entering the ordinary.  He made man from dust; it doesn’t get more ordinary than dust! We see God’s transforming powers in the lives of ordinary people like Abraham and Sarah, Zechariah and Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna. He enters the lives of 12 ordinary men, some fishermen, others tax collectors. All of these people were leading simple ordinary lives. Then God stepped in and nothing in their lives was ever ordinary again.
The lives of the saints attest to this as well. St Ignatius of Loyola’s own conversion came about in some difficult, but ordinary circumstances. He was a soldier who had great plans for his own glory in fighting great military battles ~ that is, until he was injured one day on the battlefield. During his recovery, his sister had brought him some books on the life of Christ and on the lives of the saints.  Ignatius wasn’t much interested in these, but began to read them anyway. What he read in these books became the catalyst for his conversion. His plans became less about his glory and all about God’s. 
All of this got me thinking about my own life. I sometimes like to imagine my own conception.  As God breathed my soul into the cells of my humble beginnings, what was He thinking? What did He see?  I can almost hear Him say, “I know the plans I have for you…”  (see Jeremiah 29:11) I know that for most of my life I did not allow God to carry out the plans He had for me, but once I got out of the way and began to see that my life is not about me, but about God, extraordinary things began to happen.  I know there are still times I tend to get in His way, but that is no longer my intention. I slowly have begun to recognize those times I make my life to be more about me, and I don’t like the results of those times.
God is always striving to enter our lives at each and every ordinary moment. He won’t come into them uninvited though. Our goal in this life is to live our lives, ordinary as they may be, in such a way that will get us home to God for eternity. In order for that to happen, we have to let Him in and transform our ordinariness into His extraordinariness, for heaven is no ordinary place!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Some More Thoughts For Pentecost

I have posted some more thoughts  for today's feast of Pentecost over at Association of Catholic Women Bloggers. You can read my post Pentecost: A Beginning there.
If you haven't visited this wonderful blog yet, please do so. There are over 34 contributors, among whom are three priests.
Wishing our one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church a Happy Birthday!

Restoring Paradise

I love reading the early Church Fathers; there is so much for us to learn from them. So on this feast of Pentecost, as we close this great season of Easter, I offer you a few words form St Basil the Great.
“The Spirit restores paradise to us and the way to heaven and adoption as children of God; he instills confidence that we may call God truly Father and grants us the grace of Christ to be children of the light and to enjoy eternal glory. In a word, he bestows the fullness of blessings in this world and the next; for we may contemplate now in the mirror of faith the promised things we shall someday enjoy.  If this is the foretaste, what must the reality be? If these are the first fruits, what must be the harvest?” 

Come Holy Spirit and enkindle in us the fire of Your love; that we may be recreated in the image of God by Your breath of life, and renew the face of the earth.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Theology Of The Sacred Heart

As the month of June continues, I wanted to write something related to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I came across an article written by Fr. Mark Kirby. In his article he speaks about the writings of Pope Benedict XVI~ two of his works in particular, Behold the Pierced One and Spirit of the Liturgy. Both of these books were written before he was pope as Cardinal Ratzinger.
As Father Mark read the works of the Holy Father, he began to see what he calls elements of a Theology of the Sacred Heart. To quote Fr. Mark: "Cardinal Ratzinger's writings on the Sacred Heart are warm and luminous. Fire and light are characteristic of a theology forged in experience."
I will leave you with a section of the Holy Father's writings on Our Lord's Sacred Heart.

Sacred Heart: God's Word  Addressed to Us

Theology is, first of all, God's word addressed to us. Apply this immediately to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The pierced Heart of the Crucified is God speaking a word to us, a word carved out in the flesh of Jesus' side by the soldier's lance. It is the love of God laid bare for all to see: "God stepping out of his hiddenness".4
When we speak of a theology of the Sacred Heart, we mean this first of all: not our discourse about love, but the love of God revealed first to us, the poem of love that issues forth from the Heart of God. This is exactly what St John, whom the Eastern tradition calls, "The Theologian", says in his First Letter: "In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins" (I Jn 4:10).
The difficulty here is that, in order to receive this word inscribed in the flesh of the Word (cf. Jn 1:14), we have first to stop in front of it, to linger there and to look long at the wound made by love. "They shall look on him whom they have pierced" (Jn 19:37). To contemplate is to look, not with a passing glance, but with the gaze of one utterly
conquered by love. Jeremiah says, "You have seduced me, O Lord, and I was seduced; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed" (20:7).
The call to be an adorer and an apostle of the Sacred Heart is addressed to every Christian. The apostle is, in essence, the bearer of a word, one sent forth and entrusted with a message. The message that the apostle carries into the world is the one he has learned by looking long with the eyes of adoration at the pierced Heart of the Crucified.
The word of Crucified Love is hard to pronounce  not with our lips but with our lives. Adoration is the school wherein one learns how to say the Sacred Heart. It is in adoration that the apostle receives the word of the pierced Heart that, in turn, becomes his life's message.
Adoration and apostleship together model a spirituality accessible to all Christians: the word received in adoration is communicated in the dynamism of one sent forth with something to say.

*Note: I found the article by Fr. Kirby in an EWTN archive. More of the article and Cardinal Ratzinger's, now Pope Benedict XVI, writing on the Sacred Heart can be found here.
More from Fr. Mark can be found on his beautifully spiritual and insightful blog, Vultus Christi

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My Spiritual Wishlist

I know we are approaching Pentecost and the close of the Easter Season, but I did this activity during Lent. It was a suggested penance for the day given at the end of a reflection. The suggestion was to make a spiritual wishlist~listing the virtues and graces you would like to cultivate in your spiritual life. I quickly jotted down the first things that came to mind after praying and asking God what it is He would like from me.
I recently came across that piece of paper with my wishlist and thought I would share it here. Done prayerfully it can be quite revealing in showing the areas you need to change or develop as you grow in your relationship with God.
I am not setting this up as a tag or meme, but feel free to run with it yourself. You may wish to use it as an entry if you keep a spiritual journal.
We are meant for relationship with God. In order for that relationship to grow, we need to grow in virtue and holiness. If we ask Him, Our Lord will be happy to show us how to do that.

My Spiritual Wishlist
My Dear Lord Jesus,
Here are the desires of my heart so as to grow closer to You:
*To know and love You as You are~on Your terms, not mine.
*To love others as You have commanded me to better than I do now.
*To be able to surrender myself to You and Your Holy Will in everything; to let go of my fears.
*To suffer the crosses with which You bless me with joy and without complaining.
*To be able to accept Your love for me in such a way that I desire no other love.
*To accept my weakness, but always seek Your grace in overcoming my sins.
*Perseverance in trial and temptation.
*That my life reflect You and not me.
*Ultimately complete union with You.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Prayer That Transcends The Ages

*Here in the Archdiocese of Newark, NJ we celebrate today the seventh Sunday of Easter. The reflection is based on the Gospel for that Sunday (John 17:1~11).

Chapter 17 of John's Gospel is the prayer of Jesus. He prays this prayer before going to His Passion and Death. However, the Church gives us this Gospel passage after the Ascension and it is appropriate at this time as well.
I have always loved this chapter of John's Gospel; they are some of the most beautiful words in all of Scripture. Jesus prays this prayer from deep within His Sacred Heart for his disciples who have followed Him during His earthly life, but also for all those who would follow Him in the ages to come. It is a prayer that echoes through every age.
In Jesus' prayer I also see the example He sets for how we should pray. Jesus and the Father were of the same nature; the Father knew what was in His Son's Heart and the prayer was already answered. Jesus did not have to voice His prayer, but He did and I believe more so for our benefit than His. We too need to pray with that same spirit of faith. Yes, God knows what we will say and pray before the prayer is ever formed in our own hearts and minds, but He wants us to bring these prayers to Him.
Finally, Jesus tells His Father that He has been glorified in those He has chosen out of the world. Those today and in the times to come who live their faith have been chosen by Christ as well. We have not chosen Him, but He has chosen us. If we live the commandments He has given us, Jesus is glorified in us. That is truly an awesome thought and an awesome gift.

Lord Jesus,
Thank You for the gift of faith, for Your prayer for those of us You have chosen to follow You. May I remain open to the promptings of Your Holy Spirit so that You will be glorified in me, and at the end of this life the Father will see You reflected in my soul.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Catholic Women Bloggers

Jackie asked me to be a contributor to the Association of Catholic Women Bloggers. I posted my first post earlier today with Thoughts On the Ascension of Our Lord. Please stop by to read mine as well as the posts of many other wonderful Catholic women bloggers.
Thanks to Anne and Mary for stopping by there earlier and commenting on my post, and thanks to Jackie for the invitation; I am honored to be among these wonderful Catholic women writers.

Desire For Heaven

They knew this day was coming. Jesus gave them the time and the place to meet Him for that final bittersweet meeting. He had taught them so much in the three years He spent with them and in the forty days after His Resurrection, they had come to understand it all just a little more than they had before His Passion and Death. In a few short days on Pentecost, they will understand it fully.
Now is the appointed time for Jesus to return to His Father and His glory, but not before He gives His Apostles their lifelong mission to carry on the work He has begun~ to spread His Gospel to the ends of the earth.
Jesus must have seen the sorrow of His leaving in their eyes and reminds them that He is with them always.
He leaves them and us with the desire for heaven; to be with Him forever, in that place He has gone to prepare for us.
~For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.
Luke 12:34

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Intercession Of Moses

The Holy Father resumes his catechesis on prayer today with a return to the Old Testament and the importance and purpose of intercessory prayer. Moses is the focal point of the Holy Father's teaching today.
I sometimes think that intercessory prayer is somewhat, at times taken lightly. Reading the pope's remarks today helped me to realize not only the importance of this form of prayer, but also the proper way in which we should approach it. Pope Benedict points out that Moses, in interceding for the Israelites after the whole golden calf incident, does not approach God making excuses for what they have done, but acknowledges the full gravity of their sin and appeals to God's goodness and mercy. This is how we too should come before God when interceding in prayer on the behalf of sinners. Repentant sinners know first hand the healing power of God's mercy. We need to pray as Jesus did from the cross~ Forgive them; they know not what they do.
Here is the Holy Father's brief but insightful teaching on Moses and intercessory prayer.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Continuing our catechesis on Christian prayer, we now turn to the great prophetic figure of Moses. As the mediator between God and Israel, Moses is a model of intercessory prayer. We see this clearly in the episode of the golden calf (Ex 32). As Moses descends from Mount Sinai where he has spoken to God and received the gift of the Law, he confronts both the infidelity of the people, who now worship an idol of gold, and the God’s wrath. Moses intercedes for his people, fully acknowledging the gravity of their sin. He also pleads with God to remember his mercy, to forgive their sin and thus to reveal his saving power. Moses’ prayer of petition is an expression of God’s own desire for the salvation of his people and his fidelity to the covenant. Through his intercessory prayer Moses grows in deeper knowledge of the Lord and his mercy, and becomes capable of a love which extends to the total gift of self. In this prayer Moses points beyond himself to that perfect intercessor who is Jesus, the Son of God, who brings about the new and eternal covenant in his blood, shed for the forgiveness of sin and the reconciliation of all God’s children.

June: Devoted To The Sacred Heart Of Jesus

The month of June is dedicated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Our Lord appeared to St Margaret Mary Alacoque and asked her to spread devotion to His Sacred Heart. He made Twelve Promises to those who would keep this devotion.
Like many devotions, devotion to the Sacred Heart diminished for a time. In my own heart and mind, I see a very strong connection between devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Eucharist. It seems in our current age, belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist has diminished~even among some Catholics, I am sorry to say. As belief in Christ's Presence in the Eucharist flourishes, so will devotion to His Sacred Heart. 

The Eucharist is our strength and spiritual nourishment in our earthly lives. Receiving, loving and adoring Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament will lead us to the refuge of His Most Sacred Heart.
Throughout the centuries there have been blasphemies and outrages against the Eucharist and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but perhaps never as much as in our current age. This calls for reparation to be made by faithful Catholics. Below is a Prayer of Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. You can also find other prayers to the Sacred Heart by clicking on the picture for this month's devotion on the left sidebar.
Following the Prayer of Reparation, I have included a brief writing on the Eucharist by St Margaret Mary Alacoque .
Jesus desires and deserves our love and adoration. During this month and always, let us love and adore Him for those who do not love Him.

Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
O Jesus, divine Savior, deign to cast a look of mercy upon Your children, who assemble  in the same spirit of faith, reparation, and love, and come to deplore their own infidelities, and those of all poor sinners, their brethren.
May we touch Your divine Heart by the unanimous and solemn promises we are about to make and obtain mercy for ourselves, for the world, and for all who are so unhappy as not to love You.  We all promise that for the future:
For the forgetfulness and ingratitude of men, *(We will console you O Lord)

For the way You are deserted in Your holy tabernacle,
For the crimes of sinners,
For the hatred of the impious,
For the blasphemies uttered against You,
For the sacrileges that profane Your Sacrament of Love, 
For the outrages against Your divinity,
For the injuries of which You are the adorable Victim,
For the coldness of the greater part of your children,
For the contempt of your loving invitation,
For the infidelity of those who called themselves Your friends,
For the abuse of Your grace, 
For our own unfaithfulness,
For the incomprehensible hardness of our hearts,
For our long delay in loving You,
For our tepidity in Your holy service,
For Your bitter sadness at the loss of souls,
For Your long waiting at the door of our hearts,
For the heartless scorn that grieves You, 
For Your loving sighs,
For Your loving tears,
For Your loving imprisonment,
For Your loving death,

* We will console you, 0 Lord

Let us pray
O Jesus!  divine Savior, from whose Heart comes forth this bitter complaint, "I looked for one that would comfort me, and I found none," graciously accept the feeble consolation we offer You, and aid us so powerfully by your grace, that we may, for the time to come, shun more and more all that can displease You, and prove ourselves in everything, and everywhere, and forever Your most faithful and devoted servants.  We ask it through Your Sacred Heart, O Lord, who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit  one God, world without end.  Amen.

"What made me happiest when I left the world was the thought that I would be able to go to communion often, because I had been permitted to go only rarely up to then. I would have been the happiest person in the world if I had been able to receive more often, and spend the night alone before the Blessed Sacrament. I was so unafraid that even though in most things I was very timid, I would not even think of my fears as soon as I was in this place of my delight. The eve of communion days I felt myself buried in such deep silence that I could bring myself to speak only by doing myself violence, on account of the greatness of the action I would accomplish the next day. When I had received communion I would have wished not to have to drink, eat, see, or speak, so great were the consolation and peace I felt. I kept myself hidden as much as possible, to learn in silence how to love my Sovereign Good, who was urging me so powerfully to return him love for love."
... Once, when I yearned to receive communion, my divine Master appeared to me as I was carrying out the sweepings, and said, 'My daughter, I have heard your sighs, and the desires of your heart are so agreeable to me that if I had not already instituted the sacrament of my love, I would do so now for love of you, to have the joy of coming to dwell in your soul and to rest there like a lover in your heart.' This filled me with such great love that I felt my soul completely unnerved, and unable to express itself..."
The Eucharist in the Life of St. Margaret Mary

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.