Monday, April 30, 2012

The Unity Between Prayer and Action

The saying goes that if you are too busy to pray then you are too busy. In his most recent Wednesday Audience, Pope Benedict XVI explained how prayer gives meaning to our daily activities. He uses the example of the early Church which we are hearing about at Mass in the Acts of the Apostles during this Easter season.  He also uses the example of the saints citing St Bernard as being a model of harmony between prayer and action. The saint says:  "...too many concerns ... often end up by hardening our heart and causing our spirit to suffer." 
My own life has taught me that prayer is an essential part of my life. Without it, the ups and downs of life, especially the downs are sources of fear and anxiety. In prayer, I can bring my burdens to God, speak to Him and listen for His guidance and His reassurance.
Jesus too, during His earthly life, prayed to His Father always, but especially during those important and trying times of His life. He prayed before choosing the Apostles, and we see Him in the Garden of Gethsemane praying at the start of His Passion.
Let's listen to the Holy Father, the saints and Jesus Himself and follow their example in making prayer and the sacraments the foundation of our spiritual lives.
Here is the link for Pope Benedict XVI's catechesis: Prayer Gives Essential Meaning to Our Daily Activities

Sunday, April 29, 2012

St Catherine And The Eucharist

St Catherine of Siena: The Dictation of The Dialogue

I didn't want to let the day end without honoring St Catherine of Siena whose feast it is today. Today being Sunday, the Lord's Day takes precedence over saints' feast days. (Somehow I don't think they mind.)
The Dialogue are the words spoken to Catherine by God the Father. This is an excerpt from that Dialogue on the Holy Eucharist and its effect on the soul.

Nor is the sacrament itself diminished by being divided, any more than is fire, to take an example. If you had a burning lamp and all the world came to you for light, the light of your lamp would not be diminished by the sharing, yet each person who shared it would have the whole light. True, each one's light would be more or less intense depending on what sort of material each brought to receive the fire. I give you this example so that you may better understand me. Imagine that many people brought candles, and one person's candle weighed one ounce, another's more than that, and they all came to your lamp to light their candles. Each candle, the smallest as well as the largest, would have the whole light with all its heat and color and brightness. Still, you would think that the person who carried the one-ounce candle would have less than the one whose candle weighed a pound. Well, this is how it goes with those who receive this sacrament. Each one of you brings your own candle, that is, the holy desire with which you receive and eat this sacrament. Your candle by itself is unlit, and it is lighted when you receive this sacrament. I say it is unlit because by yourselves you are nothing at all. It is I who have given you the candle with which you can receive this light and nourish it within you. And your candle is love, because it is for love that I created you, so without love you cannot have life.

~The Dialogue
St. Catherine of Siena

Prayer To The Good Shepherd

Lord Jesus, our Good Shepherd,
You desire those You have called to hear Your voice and to stay with Your flock.
Many wolves threaten to scatter the flock, but You are no ordinary shepherd who leaves his flock at the sight of the wolves; You handed Yourself over to them and sacrificed Yourself for love of Your flock.
Grant me the grace to always hear and heed Your voice so as to avoid the snare of the wolves that threaten my faith and my life in You.
Bring all those You seek into the safety of Your fold. 
It is only through You and by You that we can be saved.
Lead us, our one True Shepherd, safely to our heavenly home.

Friday, April 27, 2012

In The Arms Of An Angel

Abortion Survivor Meets Nurse Who Saved Her was a feature article on LifeNews. It is the story of Melissa Ohden who survived a failed saline infusion abortion 34 years ago and Michelle Lehr, the nurse who held her and rocked her back to life. They met, after all these years, at a Vitae Foundation banquet. What a wonderful gift for both of these ladies who work and speak in defense of life.
You can read the story here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Voting For Values And Freedom

The link for this video came from one of our Archdiocesan Commission members. It is a powerful ad reminding us of the issues, that as voting Catholics, are non-negotiable.
Please watch and share with others.

For Zion's sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem's sake I will not be quiet,
until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
and her salvation as a burning torch.
~Isaiah 62:1

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Prayer For Boldness

One of the things God has been showing me through my prayer and meditation lately is that the words of Scripture are not some mere recording of events that took place thousands of years ago; they are words for our times and times to come as well.
I think that on some level, I have always known this, but as I immerse myself more and more in Scripture, I can actually see how this is true.
God being God has seen the whole picture of humanity from the beginning. He can see every age and time. We, being mere creatures, and sinful ones at that, are right in the thick of it; we can not see the whole picture. It is like those wacky crop circles~ you have to be in the air to see them. Well God has the aerial view and we do not.
But every once in awhile, He takes us for a ride so we can at least glimpse that aerial view.
Such was the case as I read a particular passage from Acts in which the growing community of believers pray for boldness.
In this passage these early Christians listen to the Apostles as they have just returned from being questioned by the leaders of the day~questioned, but also warned to stop spreading the Gospel. Upon hearing the reports from Peter and the others, they immediately turn to prayer. The crux of their prayer is that they may be able to speak God's Word with boldness.
Well this stopped me in my prayerful tracks! It is not just those early Christians who needed this grace, we need it as well. The Herods and Pilates of our time have different names and faces, but they still exist. We who believe in Christ as the Anointed of the Father need to also speak His word with boldness.
The end of this passage from Acts says that: "...and when they prayed, the place where they were gathered together was shaken; and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God with boldness."
We need this boldness in the face of all that threatens our faith in these troubled times. We have been given the gifts of the Holy Spirit at Baptism and Confirmation. Let us pray to our Divine Advocate that His gifts may be enlivened in us. Let's shake the world with our bold prayer.

Prayer For Boldness~ from Acts 4:23~31

When they were released they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them.
And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, 

"Sovereign Lord, who didst make the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who by the mouth of our father David, thy servant, didst say by the Holy Spirit, `Why did the Gentiles rage,

and the peoples imagine vain things?
 The kings of the earth set themselves in array,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed' –

for truly in this city there were gathered together against thy holy servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever thy hand and thy plan had predestined to take place. 
 And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness, while thou stretchest out thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of thy holy servant Jesus." 
And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness. 

Around The Blogosphere

First up in this edition of Around the Blogosphere is a new e-book from fellow Catholic blogger, Victor at Time For Reflections. Victor's latest e-book is Fr. Ignatius Teaches. If you have ever visited Victor's blog, you have surely read a post or two featuring the kind and wise priest, Fr. Ignatius. Victor is offering a free download of his e-book. Click the book's title above to find out more. Thank you for this generous offer, Victor.

Next, Mary at The Beautiful Gate has a series of posts that really are a must read. In The Kingdom of Darkness; Reality? Whose? Mine or Yours?; and The Kingdom of Light, Mary courageously writes about our need to heed the "wake up call" of the Holy Spirit. The second post is really a segue into the last. While they each stand on their own, you really should read all three (if you haven't already).

Finally, this link is from the Catholic News Agency. They report on Pope Benedict XVI's homily for Divine Mercy Sunday in which the Holy Father talks about Holy Mass is an encounter with the risen Jesus.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Apostles Of Divine Mercy

...but I trust in the LORD. I will rejoice and be glad for thy steadfast love... 
~Psalm 31:6~7

St Faustina, through whom and to whom Our Lord revealed His Divine Mercy, is often referred to as the Apostle of Divine Mercy. As the term Apostle implies, she was sent by Jesus on a mission to spread devotion to God in His greatest attribute which is mercy.
Today's feast is one of trust; Jesus gave St Faustina and us the Divine Mercy prayer, "Jesus, I trust in You." It is also a feast of mission for like Faustina, we too  are called by Jesus to be Apostles of His mercy. It is in trusting Him with childlike faith that we can respond to that mission.
In these days of the Easter season, we read from the Acts of the Apostles. We see and hear how the Apostles bore witness to Christ's Resurrection. In doing this they brought more souls to Christ. Jesus is asking the same from us. We who have been shown His mercy are called to give it away to those who are still in need of it.
Maybe this is why Jesus told Mary Magdalene: "Do not hold on to Me" on that first Easter morning. He gave her a mission~ to go and tell the Apostles that she had seen the risen Lord.
Do not hold on to Me; do not hold on to what you have seen or to the gifts you have been given, but go and tell others and share what you have been given.
The gifts God gives us He does not give for ourselves alone. It is all meant to be shared. Like those first Christians who did not keep what they had for themselves, but instead brought all they had and laid it at the feet of the Apostles to be distributed as needed (see Acts 4:32~35), we are asked by Our Lord to lay all we have at His feet so that others may benefit as needed. We do this whenever we practice the corporal and spiritual acts of mercy.
Today's feast of Divine Mercy teaches us to trust in Jesus and it also teaches us how to love our neighbor by sharing all we have been given by our loving and merciful God.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pay It Forward:

Holly over at A Life~Size Catholic Blog has opened up her Pay It Forward meme for April. You still have a few days left to link up something from your own blog. The link is open for the first fourteen days of each month. Don't forget to check out the other entries while you are over there as well.
I've shared my Holy Thursday post: Stay With Him. There is a beautiful Taize version of the hymn Stay with Me at the end of my post.
Thanks for allowing us to share our writing on your blog, Holly.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Review: First Things First

First Things First: A Personal Retreat Journal is Colleen Spiro's latest e-book. Colleen's writing, whether it be on her blog, Thoughts on Grace or in her books, is always filled with insight as well as practical advice for our spiritual lives. This retreat journal is no different.
Colleen chronicles her thoughts and activities from her most recent silent retreat. She shares both the joys and the difficulties that can arise before, during and even after a retreat.
Reading Colleen's retreat journal was like being along with on this retreat. As someone who has made several silent retreats over the last several years, I could relate to much of what Colleen experienced during her days away with God. The beautiful moments of feeling God's presence, the difficult moments of distractions that sometimes come, or even a little dryness in prayer sometimes, and the peace that comes in just being with God and allowing Him to be God.
Everyone needs time alone with God in silence. This book will be an aid to the first time retreatant or for those like myself who have been on several retreats. While getting away is nice and maybe even ideal, not everyone can, but it is possible to create a mini-silent retreat in your own home. As Colleen says in her introduction, if getting away is not possible, we then need to "be creative: in scheduling time with God. Colleen's book will be a wonderful resource for doing that as well.
In addition to being a wonderful retreat guide, the journal makes for good spiritual reading. We are all at different places in our spiritual lives; sometimes it is helpful to see where others are, and to see what some of their practices are. Colleen's journal lets us into a little intimate piece of her spiritual life.
You can sample some of Colleen's writing by visiting her at Thoughts on Grace. You will find a link to First Things First there as well.
Thank you, Colleen for reminding us of the importance of quiet time with our God, and for sharing your retreat experience with all of us.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Lifting Of The Veil

There are certain things that this side of heaven we will never know or understand, but I do believe that God is always revealing Himself to us in any number of ways on a daily basis~we just need to open the eyes of our souls to see how He is doing so.
As I entered into Holy Week this year, I asked Jesus to let me stay by His side and walk with Him through each of the days of that blessed week. He was more ready to answer that prayer than I would have thought. It was as if I had found myself transported back to Jerusalem to that first Holy Week. Now before you go deleting me from your blog list because you think I've gone round the bend, fear not, I am not talking private revelations or anything like that. I just mean it was like God lifted or parted the veil that separates our world from heaven's. I steeped myself in the Scriptures that week, putting myself in those scenes~especially those of Holy Thursday and Good Friday. I woke up on Holy Saturday barely able to contain the Easter joy that was already bubbling inside of me, but knew I needed to stay in the tomb with Jesus until that evening's Easter Vigil.
After Holy Thursday or perhaps tied with it, the Easter Vigil is my favorite Mass of the Liturgical year, and this year I felt that Easter joy more than I have in past years.
I am not sure why this is. Maybe it started with that simple prayer prayed at the beginning of Holy Week. Whatever the reason, I am just grateful for those graces.
As we enter the Easter season, I am asking Jesus once again to let me walk with Him through these last fifty days He spent on this earth. I am asking Him to once again lift that veil just a little more. A bold prayer perhaps, but why not? I know He has heard it and will answer according to how He sees fit.
Holy Week and the Easter season are wonderful times filled with special graces, but God parts the veil every time Mass is offered. We enter into the Paschal Mystery every time. The veil is parted and we are at Calvary. This too is a time of special graces, especially when we receive Our Lord in Holy Communion. He wants to give us so many graces and He will if we are properly disposed to receive them.
As we read and hear the readings from The Acts of the Apostles during these fifty days, let us ask Our Lord to lift that veil, let us ask the intercession of the Apostles who bore witness to Christ's Resurrection so that we too can bear witness to it in our own time. Finally, let us ask Our Lady's intercession each time we assist at Mass so that we may be properly disposed to receive all the graces her Son wants to lavish upon our souls.
May God continue to bless us with the graces of this Easter season, and may we use them to His greater glory.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

He's Alive

I love this song by Dolly Parton and it is so appropriate for this great feast of Easter.  It is told from Peter's view.
A Happy and Blessed Easter to all my readers.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Holy Darkness, Holy Waiting

Caravaggio: Putting Christ in the Tomb

The sun has set on Good Friday and darkness has set in. We have spent time with our Savior in the Upper Room, spent an hour or two in the Garden where His agonizing Passion began, and we walked the road to Calvary with Him and watched as He was nailed to a cross.
It is now Saturday~Holy Saturday, and we wait. This is a different waiting than others we experience because this waiting is filled with hope not just wishful thinking. The sun may have risen this morning but our hearts still remain dark for the Son has not yet risen. That darkness will remain with us until the Holy Fire is lit at Easter Vigils around the world tonight. The fire that announces that Christ has and is risen.
It would be easy to get caught up in the busy~ness of this day, forgetting what it is all about. Let's not desert Jesus as He lay in the tomb, but rather let us wait with Him and for Him in this holy darkness with holy anticipation of the joy that awaits us today and into eternity.

Friday, April 6, 2012

My Heart Is Ready, O God

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione: Crucifixion

My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready... Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth.
~Psalm 56/57:8, 12

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Stay With Him

James Tissot's: You Could Not Watch One Hour

I made the choice to follow You, and now the path has led me here to this garden in an olive grove where I find You at prayer. I see and hear the anguish born of Your intense love for me. I think back to the other times we have met: on the roadside where You cured the blindness of my soul, at Jacob's Well where You told me everything about me, even those things I thought I could hide, and You were there in a public square to save me from the stones of my shame and guilt.
I want to do something; I want to console You in some way, but what could I possibly do or even say. My sins are what brought You to this moment. Your love for Your Father and His will led You to endure this and the suffering to come. Your love for me kept You on this path. Your mercy and healing have brought me here with You now.
There is a pause in Your prayer, and for the briefest moment Your eyes meet mine. Through the blood and the tears, I can see what You desire. You do not require my words, or even any action. All you desire is my presence. 
So many others have fallen asleep. All I ask of you is to stay with Me, keep watch with Me. and pray~not for Me, but that you may remain strong in your faith and in your love for Me.
Just Stay With Me...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Praying For Divine Mercy

"On each day of the novena you will bring to My Heart a different group of souls and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy... On each day you will beg My Father, on the strength of My passion, for the graces for these souls. By this novena I will grant every possible grace to souls." (Diary 1209, 796)

Just a reminder~ The Divine Mercy Novena begins on Good Friday and continues through to next Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday. Please join me in praying this powerful prayer which Our Lord Himself asked for. It is needed perhaps now more than ever.
Jesus asks that a particular group of souls be brought to Him on each of the nine days.

These are the nine groups of souls:
Day 1 (Good Friday)All mankind, especially sinners
DAY  2 (Holy Saturday)- The souls of priests and religious
DAY 3 (Easter Sunday) - All devout and faithful souls
DAY 4 (Easter Monday)- Those who do not believe in Jesus and those who do not yet know Him

DAY  5 (Easter Tuesday)- The souls of separated brethren
DAY  6 (Easter Wednesday)- The meek and humble souls and the souls of children
DAY  7 (Easter Thursday)- The souls who especially venerate and glorify Jesus' mercy
DAY  8 (Easter Friday)- The souls who are detained in purgatory; 
DAY  9 (Easter Saturday)- The souls who have become lukewarm.

Click the above link for the intention prayers and chaplet to be prayed each day.

The Cost of Those Silver Pieces

Thirty pieces of silver~that's what he sold you out for; that's what he sold his own soul for. His heart too hardened, his ears too clogged by the voices of the powers of the day and time, his eyes too blinded by the gloss and shine of those thirty pieces of silver. Had he only allowed Your love into his heart, your message into his ears, and the scales to fall from his eyes by Your loving gaze.
I too have at times in my life have sold you out, and sold my soul. My ears too clogged by the shouting of the masses holding out their thirty pieces of silver in the form of convenience, lust, riches and power. By Your grace, I allowed myself to accept Your gift of salvation and be washed clean by Your Precious Blood.
So many today still remain blinded, some deliberately choosing to do so. Lord, if they only knew.
Satan's offering only cost him thirty pieces of silver, and in return the traitor found despair and death. Your offering cost You everything You had down to Your last drop of blood, and in return, for those who accept Your gift, a life of eternal joy and happiness is found. May all come to know and accept, with loving gratitude and humility, the saving power of Your love.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Entering Into Holy Week

And so it begins... the week that changed everything for everyone of us. Holy Week begins with Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem. He enters this city to joyful shouts of Hosanna. Five days from now, He will leave it, carrying the weight of our sins, to the hateful shouts of Crucify Him!
But between these two events, the Master still has more to teach those who follow Him. He still has more He wishes to share with them. On Thursday, He will share the meal He has so desired to share with them. One last Passover with His closest friends and followers. In washing their feet, He will teach them and us what it means to follow Him, and what it means to serve, not only Him, but others as well. For as He has done for them and for us, we are to do for each other.
I often wonder what it must have been like for the Apostles, Mary Magdalen and Our Lady during this first Holy Week. What were their thoughts, their fears, their prayers? Our Blessed Mother shared every part of Her Son's Passion with Him. The Apostles and Magdalen, well they were still human beings with sinful and fallen natures. They needed Our Lady and her strength to live this week that Jesus had told them of several times in the course of His ministry. Yes, He spoke of it, but they just couldn't seem to wrap their hearts and heads around it.
I am very much like the Apostles and Magdalen. I too need Our Lady to walk these steps with Jesus. Walking with her, I know just where those steps will lead. I will find myself with her next to Jesus as He prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, is scourged at the pillar, crowned with thorns, embraces His Cross and is then nailed to it. I will find myself next to Our Lady, John and Magdalen standing beneath His Cross as I shed tears of sorrow for my sins and gratitude for His gift to me of salvation and eternal life with Him.
And all I know is there is no where else I want to be.

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.