Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Own Personal Lenten Retreat

The Holy season of Lent is upon us once again. It is a season I look forward to~ a spiritual boot camp of sorts for me as I have said here before. This year in the weeks before Lent has even begun, I did as I always do, started going over in my mind what I should do, read, give up etc. I try to take this to prayer as it really is more about what Our Lord wants from me.
The last few years I have tried to do more rather than the usual just give up something that really isn't good for me anyway (chocolate, caffeine and the like). The one thing that did keep coming to mind repeatedly was this blog. Perhaps a bit of a blog fast was in order. I will admit I struggled with this one as I really didn't want to stop writing. After all what about all of the great Lenten blogstuff I could post! No sooner that I had that thought one opposing and more truthful one set in. This blog is not about me and neither is Lent! Both are about God and what He wants. Since this thought of blog fasting keeps nudging me, I have taken it as a word from Our Lord that this is what He wants of me. So as of this post, I will not return again until the close of Lent. The only exceptions being that I have prescheduled  a re-post for the monthly devotions for April since it is dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament. I may return during Holy Week, but I will leave that up to Jesus.
I really want to spend these six weeks immersed in prayer as much as my life allows. Some of the resources I plan to use are:
1. Spiritual Reading- My book of focus other than Sacred Scripture will be What Jesus Saw From the Cross by A.G Sertillanges.

2. The Spiritual Exercises blog based on the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises which I used last year and found quite helpful.

3. My Journal- My journal has always been for me, another way of communicating with Our Lord and sometimes He with me. I've gotten away from it lately; it's time to return to it.

While I will not be posting, I can't promise I won't pay a visit to your blogs every now and then. So many of you write in ways that enrich my spiritual life.
So as we begin this holy season, please know that I will keep you all in my prayers and ask that you keep me in yours. See again around Easter.
Have a Blessed Lent!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Father Speaks...

And He says: "My Word is alive." As I was reading and listening to the Scripture readings for today's Mass, I saw the bridge between Old and New Testaments. In the first reading from Deuteronomy, we hear Moses imploring his people to "take these words of mine into your heart and soul..." and in the Gospel we hear Jesus use very similar language: "Everyone who listens to these words of mine..." In both instances it is our Heavenly Father who speaks~first through Moses and then through His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
Yes, His Word is alive; it lives in Scripture, in Sacred Tradition and in the Eucharist. So let us do as Moses tells us and observe God's statutes and decrees, but let us also live them in faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ~ the Father's Word and love revealed to us.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

St Katherine Drexel's Radical Conversion

 I once read that every conversion story is a love letter to God. One of the most radical and beautiful of those is of St Katherine Drexel whose feast we celebrate today. St Katherine came from a family of considerable wealth, but with her conversion saw how that material wealth was truly passing away. She started the religious order of the Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament along with numerous other foundations including Xavier University in New Orleans.
Fr. Robert Barron has a wonderful post on this saint in which he highlights an excerpt from the letter St Katherine wrote to Bishop O'Connor in 1884. The letter gives some insight to this saints radical conversion and her subsequent dedication to her life in Christ. Don't miss Fr. Barron's post on his Word On Fire blog.
May St katherine's radical conversion inspire us to deeper conversion in our own lives.
St Katherine Drexel, pray for us!

Conserving Spiritual Energy

We are constantly being told to conserve energy, along with other resources such as water. This is an important thing to do as we go through our lives and leave our imprint on this planet. However, more importantly perhaps is to conserve our spiritual energy so that we will have enough to live this earthly life according to God's will and spend Eternity with Him in the next life.
I was reading a reflection by Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis on today's Gospel about the blind man Bar-Timaeus. Two quotes from this reflection struck me: "Such joyful relinquishing of independence bestows extraordinary spiritual energy and vitality, because it connects one with the source of divine power." Bar-Timaeus showed great faith and trust in God; he showed humility and surrendered himself to God's power in asking Jesus to let him see. To do this we need to give our full attention to God. Erasmo gives some insight into this as well in this second quote: "But remember this requires an ability to pray continuously with great concentration and energy; and since we have only a limited supply of attention, we will be too weak and scattered to pray as we ought if we habitually squander our spiritual energy in other directions."
It is very easy in this non-stop world we live in to be distracted by it and squander our spiritual energy. We need to remain connected to the One who is the ultimate Source of Power.
In six days we begin the holy season of Lent. I always look forward to this season because it helps me to grow closer to Our Lord. It also allows me the time and grace to look at my life to see where I have squandered my spiritual energy and again through God's grace, restore some of it through fasting, increased prayer and almsgiving.
So as we prepare for another Lent, let us look to Bar-Timaeus, and as he did, cry out to Jesus with all trust and humility: "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!"

*Note: Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis is Cistercian monk of St Joseph's Abbey in Massachusetts.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March Devotion:St Joseph

March is devoted to St Joseph. While we do not hear much about this great saint in Scripture, he is an extremely powerful intercessor. In his earthly life he was a humble carpenter by trade. Yet beneath that humble exterior was the strength God gave him to be the earthly spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the foster father of Our Lord Jesus Christ. St Joseph is the patron of many causes: the universal Church, a happy death, and workers, just to name a few. I often think he is the saint most taken for granted.
The saints throughout the ages, though tell us of the importance of devotion to Joseph. St Teresa of Avila had said that progress in the spiritual life was not possible without devotion to St Joseph.
So let us take this month to either begin or renew our devotion to Joseph. After all, if he was good enough for Jesus and Mary, he is certainly good enough for all of us.
As always, you can find prayers for the monthly devotion on my left side bar~ just click the picture.

St Joseph, most humble and chaste spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster father of Our Lord Jesus Christ pray for us, intercede for those we love. Renew and protect the Universal Church and bring all those who have died and will die this day to a holy and happy death.

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.