Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Epitome Of Authority

Merriam~Webster defines the word authority as: the power to influence or command thought, opinion or behavior; a convincing force.
Listening to today's Gospel, we can see how these definitions apply to Jesus. Through His teaching in the synagogue He was able to influence the thoughts of those who heard Him; they no longer listened to the scribes because they were amazed by what they heard from Jesus, He was for them, a convincing force.
The unclean spirit recognized Him as the Holy One of God, and Jesus had power and influence over this spirit.  Jesus is the epitome of true authority.
How does this transfer into my own life? Do I allow Jesus' words, works and teaching to influence my thoughts and behaviors? Am I amazed by Him, so much so that I listen only to His voice and not to the scribes of this world? Has Jesus become the convincing force in my life and does my life convince others of Him?
When I am finally able to honestly answer yes to these questions, I will have submitted myself over completely to Jesus' loving and powerful authority.

Dear Jesus,
I want to submit myself to You completely. Help me to humbly recognize You as the authority in and of my life so that I may live according to Your teaching. May my life in You convince those around me of Your existence. May I always be amazed by You.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Called Out of the Ordinary

What struck me most about today's Gospel(Mark 1:14~20) is how Jesus called Simon, Andrew, James and John while they were by the shore mending their fishing nets. Jesus called them to come after Him to do the extraordinary~ being fishers of men, but He calls them while they are going about their ordinary routine of daily life.
I believe Jesus does the same with each of us. He calls us out of the ordinary~ness of our daily lives to come after Him, to follow Him. Where He leads is never ordinary and we find ourselves doing the extraordinary, things we never imagined we could or would do.
Being called out of the ordinary is possible only because of Jesus' invitation to us to follow Him. If and when we accept this invitation from the Master we will find the extraordinary. When we accept His invitation to come after Him, nothing is ever the same again.

Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank you for Your invitation to follow You. Give me the courage to take Your hand to go wherever You may lead me. May I trust You implicitly in everything. May I always anticipate the extraordinary in living life in and with You.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Priestly Version Of This Award

Patricia from I Want to See God has awarded me the Liebster Award. The criteria for this award are that it go to blogs with less than 200 followers. It is also intended to bring smaller and less known blogs to the attention of the blogosphere.
I thank Patricia for her kind words about my blog and also for her own blog which I found through another blogger. Patricia always writes from her heart. I love the picture on her sidebar with the caption: "May you be glorified in this place." That should be the essence and purpose of every Catholic blog; God should be glorified in them. He certainly is in Patricia's blog, as well as those with whom she has shared the award. He is also greatly glorified in the blogs I am about to mention, but before I get to that, I need to say this:
I am not always an obedient little blogger when it comes to these awards. I often break the rules. Here I go again, but only partly. When looking over my bloglist, I realized I have a few noteworthy priest bloggers, so I have decided to give mention and link to five of them. Where the rules get broken is that I have no idea how many followers they have for most do not show that on their blog. The other is that I do not expect them to pass the award on. That being said, they certainly do deserve the attention. In this day and age when there is so much criticism of our priests, I thought I would turn the tables and give them so encouragement and maybe one or two more readers. You will not be disappointed by your visit to any one of these priest's blogs.
So forgive me for breaking the blog award rules once again. What can I say~I can't help myself!
Please pay a visit to the following five priestly blogs:
 Fr. Joseph Hommick's Making All Things New and Two Pillars: The Eucharist and Our Lady. Bl. Pope John Paul II once said the Church needs to breathe with both lungs, meaning that both Eastern and Western Rites should be known. Fr. Joseph is a Catholic Byzantine priest and monk who writes beautiful, but straightforward, no nonsense posts involving solid Catholic teaching. His latest book on Our Lady is a must read.

Fr. Mark Kirby at Vultus Christi: Fr. Mark writes beautiful reflections. I always come away from his blog feeling like I have just spent time with Our Lord.

Brother Charles at A Minor Friar: With Br. Charles you will get a little of everything~some insight into his life as a priest, his views on what is going on in the Church, and always good solid Catholic teaching.

Fr. Gordon MacRae at These Stone Walls: Fr. Gordon is a priest who is serving what amounts to a life sentence in prison. He has been falsely accused of crimes of sexual abuse. His posts are unabashedly honest as well as Catholic. You will even get a history lesson from time to time and a little humor as well.

Fr. Robert Barron at Word on Fire: This is probably one of the more well known and followed priestly sites. Fr. Barron's commentary on what is going on not only in the Church, but in the world at large is always informative and insightful. If you haven't caught any of his Catholicism series on PBS, do yourself a favor and try to catch a few episodes. He has brought our beautiful Catholic faith to life with this project.

So there you have it. Pay these priestly blogs a visit. I promise your faith will be edified. I thank these priests and all the priests in my life for their priesthood.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Jesus' Perfect Prayer

In his Wednesday Audience yesterday, the Holy Father spoke about the prayer of Jesus during the Last Supper. Since I can not say anything near as beautiful on this topic as the Pope did, I will just say this: On that first Holy Thursday, Jesus celebrated the first Mass in which He offered Himself to the Father for His Apostles and for each of us.We can never pray as perfectly as Jesus did, but He gave us the command to "do this in memory of Me.", and so with the institution of the priesthood on that same night, we still today take part in Jesus' perfect prayer. We offer, with the priest, Jesus to His Heavenly Father, and with that we also offer ourselves and all that we are and have. There is nothing better we can do, no better prayer we can pray, than assisting at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Please take a few minutes to read Pope Benedict XVI's catechesis on The Prayer of Jesus.
I also invite you to visit Fr. Mark Kirby's blog, Vultus Christi and prayerfully read the meditation he posted yesterday, Intercession: A Work of Love. The meditation speaks in Our Lord's words about the power of intercessory prayer and coming to Him in the Blessed Sacrament. This meditation is a wonderful extension of the Holy Father's words on Jesus' prayer.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sacred Rhythm

This post has nothing to do with music theory as the title may imply. Rather I am talking about the rhythm of the Liturgical Year. For Catholics of the Roman Rite, the Christmas season ended yesterday with the feast of Our Lord's Baptism; we now enter the season of Ordinary Time.
This is one of my favorite periods in the liturgical year because it brings us back to the sacred rhythm of the ordinary, of the day to day. I also believe it helps us to appreciate more the other great seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter.
Today's readings from the book of Samuel show us the sacred in the ordinary, of living and praying the day to day. Hannah prayed consistently for years for a child. In time, in His time, God answered her prayer.
God always listens to our prayer no matter the day, no matter the season. May we follow Hannah's example of perseverance and faith, finding the sacred rhythm in the ordinary of each day.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Road Less Traveled

There is much we can learn from the magi who set out on a journey from a far off land in search of a King about whom they had heard prophesied. There is also much, perhaps, we see of them in ourselves. We too are on a journey from a far off land. We too seek our Divine King, and we, like the magi, come bearing gifts. Our gifts are the gifts born of our faith in the One whom we seek. We bring Him our love, our praise and our gratitude.
In a dream these three wise men were warned not to return to Herod so they took another road home. To me, Herod has always been a symbol of the world, of earthly power. Each of us who follow and practice our faith have been given the same warning~do not return to the things of this world. We have been shown another road home. We do not follow the Star of Bethlehem, but the One to whom it led. Christ's light shines on the road that will lead us to Him.
The magi found Jesus at His birth. We find Him too when we come before Him in the Blessed Sacrament and at every Mass. We find Him in those who follow Him as well.
In an essay by Heather King in this month's Magnificat, she quotes the 13th Century mystic, Meister Eckhart: "God is at home; we are in the far country."
So let us continue the journey on the road less traveled~it will lead us home to where God awaits us.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Invoking The Holy Name Of Jesus

Today is the feast dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. In our current culture where God is so disregarded and Jesus' name spoken so often in vain, it is good for us to remember that we can and should pray Jesus' holy name. As St Paul tells us in his letter to the Philippians: 
For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names: That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:9~10)

Here are some thoughts from St Bernard of Clairvaux:
O Jesus, how consoling You are to those who invoke You!
How good You are to those who seek You!
What will you not be to those who find You?
Only he who has felt it can know what it is to languish in love for Thee, O Jesus.
(Sermons on the Canticles, 15)

St Thomas of Villanova says the following in a sermon he gave:
What could be more powerful than this Name? What could be more efficacious? At the sound of this Name the dead are revived, the lame walk, the blind see and the sick are healed. What power in a Name! Consider these miracles, and others no less great, no less startling, that are accomplished by virtue of this Name. Henceforth who can dare to mention this powerful and most sacred Name without fear, and without respect? At the sound of this Name the angels bow down, men bend their knees and demons tremble. This Name puts Satan to flight, reduces the violence of temptations, and pierces heaven to obtain every grace, for our Lord has said that “whatever you ask in My Name, that will I do in order that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:14), and again I say it, “whatever you ask in My Name, I will do it.”
What a great respect we should have for this Name! How great a punishment is deserved by those who have the audacity and temerity to blaspheme the Name of God, to take it in vain or to pronounce it without respect.
(Sermon for The Feast of the Circumcision on the Divine Name)

I will return to St Bernard and leave you with this prayer of his for this beautiful and holy feast:
May Thy name, O Jesus, always be deep within my heart, and in reach of my hands so that all my affections and all of my actions may be directed to Thee... In Thy name, O Jesus, I have the remedy to rid me of my wickedness and to turn my defects into perfections, also a medicine with which to preserve my affections from corruption or to heal them if they have already been corrupted.

So let us say Jesus' name often, but in a spirit of prayer and with utmost reverence and devotion, for there is great power in His Holy Name.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Writing The Pages Of Our Lives

I have never been big on making New Year's resolutions primarily because I rarely keep them past the first week or two of the new year (some not even that long). That being said, the last year or two I have tried to make resolutions that are more of a spiritual nature. Doing this helps me to be more aware of the fact that I need God for everything, that nothing good I can do can be done on my own.
This year my resolution came early in Advent when I was reading daily meditation from In Conversation With God. The particular meditation was about making an examination of conscience, more specifically, a daily examination of conscience. Fr. Fernandez, the author of the meditation, makes the analogy of this daily examine being "a thorough inspection of what we have written on the page of each unrepeatable day of our lives." He goes on to say:
 "A page of sheer horror can be turned into something good, even very good, by means of repentance and the resolution to begin again with renewed effort on the clean page which our Guardian Angel offers us on God's behalf~ a unique and unrepeatable page, like each unique and unrepeatable day of our life."
I love the idea of the new and clean page. Beginning a new year is like being given a new and clean page, or even a new journal in which to record the thoughts and events of each day of the year. The year is made up of days and each of those days is a clean page to begin again.
Fr. Fernandez gives a wonderful heading for each of these pages; he says:
 "And at the top of these blank pages which we begin to scribble each day...I like to put as a heading just one word; 'Serviam'. I will serve. It is both a desire and a hope..."
So this is my spiritual resolution for this year~to begin each day with the desire and hope of serving God and those He outs in my life to the best of my ability with the help of His grace. And on those days where my page is looking a bit horrific, may I remember to come to Our Lord with contrition and a spirit of repentance for then His mercy will erase the smudges and clean the page.
No one started her days in this desire of serving God more perfectly than Our Lady. As we celebrate her today as the Mother of God, may we ask her intercession in helping us follow her example and say with her each day: "May it be done to me according to His holy will."

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.