Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Joyous Day It All Changed

The minute that stone rolled away nothing was or ever would be the same again~not for the Apostles, Mary Magdalene, and not for us.
All glory, honor and praise  to Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is Risen!

Happy and Blessed Easter to all!

The Front Porch

Friday, March 29, 2013

The View From the Cross

James Tissot: What Jesus Saw From the Cross

I have followed You through the days of Your ministry. I have watched You teach, heal and console all who came to You. Now the lips that have taught and consoled have been dealt harsh blows by prideful hands, the hands  that have healed have been pierced with nails as have the sacred feet that have walked this earth.
My journey with You has lead to this mountain, the place of the skull. As I walk among the crowd that has gathered here, I see familiar faces. There is BarTimeaus whose sight You restored, the woman who was brought to You for her crime of adultery but left You that day and strives now to live Your forgiveness, and there are the siblings from Bethany~ Lazarus and his sister Martha stand amongst the crowd, but Mary, the Magdalen is where she always was, at Your feet. Even now as You are nailed to the Cross she is there weeping at the foot of it.
As Your Cross is raised, You can see all of them~those who are here out of love and those who are here with hearts hardened by hatred.
  Not all are here to jeer and taunt their God. There are those whom You have touched and healed who remember what You did for them, and they are here to console You. They were there 2000 years ago at Your Crucifixion, and we are here now on this day when we remember and commemorate it.
As we approach Your Cross to venerate it today, may we each remember what You have done in our lives. You have and continue to teach, heal and console each one of us.

Lord Jesus,
We praise You and bless Your Holy Name. By Your Cross and Precious Blood, you have redeemed each one of us.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Supper of the Lord

James Tissot's: The Last Supper

Our Lord's last Passover meal on earth was shared with eleven of His Apostles. That Passover meal was unlike any other He or any other good Jew had ever or will ever observe, for from it came the gifts of the priesthood and the Holy Eucharist.
Tonight as evening falls around the world, Holy Thursday Mass will be celebrated. This time, it is not just eleven men celebrating with Jesus, but over a billion men, women and children, not just celebrating with Jesus, but celebrating Jesus.
This day is not a Holy Day of obligation, the people who assist at this Mass are there because they want to be. For those who cannot be there, but wish to be, and for those who do not see the need to be there, those of us who are there will bring you there in prayer.
Jesus told His Apostles that He longed to share this meal with them; we too long to share it with Him. While it is a celebration, it is one that is bittersweet. As soon as it is over, Jesus begins His Passion which will lead to Calvary. Just as He invited a few Apostles to come and pray with Him in the Garden, He invites us to stay~ to pray and adore Him after Mass in Eucharistic Adoration.
Our Jesus, who is meek, humble and loving of heart made the sacrifice of His life for us so that we may have life in and with Him. Whether we are able to attend the Holy Thursday Mass or not, let us observe it prayerfully with love and gratitude in our hearts. Let us return love for love. Let us return love to Love.

Stay With Him:  Holy Thursday Reflection 2012

Thoughts and comments welcome at The Front Porch.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Review: Consoling The Heart of Jesus


Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC is an "at home retreat" with the central theme of, as the title says, Consoling the Heart of Jesus. It is a response to Jesus' words that His Sacred Heart that loves souls so much is barely loved in return.
The retreat combines the teachings of Divine Mercy, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, as well as St. Therese of Liseux's "Little Way".
Fr. Gaitley presents these important spiritual concepts in a way anyone can understand.
The retreat is designed with busy people in mind; Father offers a schedule so that it can be made in a weekend, but the reader can spread it out over a longer period of time. I used it as my spiritual reading for the season of Lent. He also stresses that it is for "little souls" which is why he incorporates St. Therese's Little Way.
Throughout the retreat, Fr. Gaitley presents some beautiful and powerful reflections and meditations that help the retreatant understand and delve more deeply into the Divine Mercy.
There are two appendixes at the end of the retreat. The first is on St. Ignatius' Discernment of Spirits, the good spirit which leads to spiritual joy, and the bad spirit which robs us of that joy. The second appendix is on the Diary of St. Faustina. It includes excerpts that arranged by category. (The Chaplet, Confession, Divine Mercy~For Sinners, etc,)
By the time the retreatant completes the retreat, he or she has the "tools" necessary for returning the love which Our Lord so desperately desires from us, in essence the ways and means for consoling the heart of Jesus.
I highly recommend this book for anyone, no matter where you are on your spiritual journey. Fr. Gaitley makes making the retreat easy and enjoyable. He also adds some humor along the way.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus burns with love for each of us, we owe it to Him to learn how we can return that love in a deeper and richer way. Making this retreat over five weeks of Lent has made my Lenten journey more blessed and I believe more fruitful. I will take what I have learned as we enter into Holy Week.
Thank you to Fr. Michael Gaitley for making Divine Mercy and St. Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises more accessible to all of us.

*This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Consoling the Heart of Jesus. The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your seasonal needs such as First Communion gifts as well as ideas and gifts for the special papal Year of Faith.

Comments welcome at The Front Porch.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday: An Exercise In Faith

There it was again on the Liturgical calendar~Palm Sunday! I could feel my spiritual angst rising at the mere thought of it. I am one of those people who does not quite know how to feel on Passion (Palm Sunday). This day begins the most different and amazing week of the entire year, Holy Week. It is the week that changed the world, the week in which our salvation is won. And here I was feeling spiritual angst.
I go to my parish's 5:30 vigil Mass because I have the midnight hour of Eucharistic Adoration, and sometimes that hour turns into two or more, so getting up for Mass on Sunday morning is a bit dicey. As I entered the church last evening, I knelt and prayed as I usually do, but I decided to have a little conversation with Jesus about how I was feeling. I asked Him how He wanted me to live this day.  I started thinking about the events of that first Palm Sunday. Jesus was coming from his friends' home in Bethany to the Mount of Olives, and then it was on to Jerusalem.  I thought about those who accompanied Him from Bethany: the Apostles, Martha, Mary and Lazarus, and I decided that I would join them... and in that moment I began to feel more peaceful.
Mass had begun, and then it was time for the reading of the Gospel, the Lord's Passion. It is the one Gospel (read today and then again on Good Friday) that we as the faithful are allowed to participate in its reading. Holy Mother Church, in her wisdom has us take the parts of the Crowd;in some spots it is the voice of those who "accuse" Peter of being one of Jesus' followers, and at others we are the voice of the crowd shouting "Crucify Him!" I became more aware of those different voices this year, and thought that one of the reasons the Church may have the faithful be different voices is because at any given time, we could be any of those people.
The other thought that came to me in my pre-Mass prayer was the advice that Fr. Michael Gaitley gives at the beginning of Consoling the Heart of Jesus, and that is that all during Lent, and especially during Holy Week, Jesus wants us to walk with Him~ not behind Him or ahead of Him, but with Him. (Actually that's where we should always be.) I realized much of my Palm Sunday angst was coming from running ahead of Our Lord. I also realized that it was OK for me to not understand why Our Lord chose to do this (aside from fulfilling Scripture). I just had to believe and trust.
I said earlier that I chose to join those accompanying Jesus on that first Palm Sunday. I will stick by them all through this holiest of weeks. I will stay especially close to Mary Magdalen and Our Lady. I am sure they will both be sure to pull me back if I start to fall be hind or get ahead of Jesus.
In addition to Fr. Gaitley's advice, I will also follow Andrew of Crete's:
"So let us spread before His feet, not garments or soul~less olives branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in His grace, or rather clothed completely in Him. We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments we spread before Him. (Office of Readings for Palm Sunday)

Lord Jesus,you do
I may not always understand why You did and do the things  You do, and I know that You don't require my understanding, just my faith and love. As we commemorate Your entrance into Jerusalem, may I lay down my heart and soul before You; may they be Jerusalem for You. I welcome You and adore You with all that I am.

A Blessed Holy Week to all who visit here.

Comments welcome at The Front Porch.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Protecting Christ In Our Lives

"Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!" ~Pope Francis

That one line from Pope Francis' Inauguration Homily stopped me dead in my reading tracks. It seemed to sum up what we are called to as Catholic Christians.
Christ is, or at least He should be the center of our lives. When we look around at the world and the culture, it is clear that so many have lost sight of this.
God, and more specifically, Jesus Christ is being pushed out of the fabric of daily life.
The mere prayerful mention of His name can bring a whole host of negative reactions.
So I see the Holy Father reminding us that we need to protect Christ in our lives as an awesome call to holiness. I also see it as a call to love; to love Christ, and to love Christ in each other.
As I thought more about this statement, I began to wonder how I can respond to this call to protect Christ in my life, and then live it in my daily life.
We are still in the season of Lent and fast approaching Holy Week. This holy season's practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving are perfect ways to protect Christ in our lives.
By turning to God in prayer, we can listen to God speak to us in Scripture, in meditation on those Scriptures, and in prayer before Him in the Blessed Sacrament. We can discern what it is God wants each of us to do to protect the gift of faith He has given us.
Fasting, not so much from food, but from things that do not really matter, or that pose as a distraction to our spiritual lives will help us to protect Christ in our lives. When we turn off the TV, the radio, the cell phones, etc., we begin to focus more on Christ and His love for us, and ours for Him.
Almsgiving whether it be monetary, or the giving of our time and talents not only protects Christ in our own lives, but takes this protection to others as well.
In order for us to protect others and the creation God has entrusted to us, we need to begin with ourselves. Not in a selfish, self~centered way, but in loving ourselves as Children of God. The Cross is a good example. The vertical beam of the cross is our relationship with God through prayer and the sacraments. It is only through nourishing our souls and our lives in this way that we can take on the horizontal beam of sharing Christ with others. It is the old axiom of "You can't give what you don't have."
When we protect Christ in our own lives, we then have all that we need to go out and protect others, especially the poor and the marginalized.
So as we continue our Lenten journeys, let us protect, in our hearts and in our lives, God's greatest gift to us, His Son Jesus Christ. Then let's go share Him with those whom He has put on our paths.

Comments welcome at The Front Porch.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Living Forgiven~Meeting His Gaze

They bring this woman to You; she has been caught in the act of adultery. The religious of Your day ask what is to be done with her. They know the law; they didn't need to ask You. It was just one more opportunity for them to trap You, or so they thought.
But You turned this evil opportunity into a moment of grace and mercy for the woman.
After the scribes and pharisees were gone, You told her You did not condemn her, and from that moment to go and sin no more.
She was no longer to think of her past, but from now on she was to live forgiven. She could feel Your loving gaze upon her, and in that moment she forgave herself and met Your loving gaze. She knew, having encountered You, her Lord, she could live forgiven.
I have been that woman. No, Lord, my sins may not have been the same as hers, but they were equally grievous. I remember what it was like to stand in the center and feel condemned, not so much by the world, but by me, myself. How could I be forgiven for all I had done? How could I forgive myself. Yes the stones were taken up and ready to be thrown, but they were in my hand. The stones of shame and guilt in my own hands poised and ready to kill what was left of me.
Like the woman, You found me~ beaten up by my own guilt and shame. Your voice pierced the shrieks of my doubt, my fear, my guilt and shame. And like the woman, there was no one to condemn me. No one that is except for me. I heard You tell me that You did not condemn me and that my sins were forgiven. You told me, just like You told her: From now on, go and sin no more." I knew in that moment that You, my Lord and God had forgiven me, and all I could think was that if You forgive me, who am I not to forgive myself. I could feel the warmth of Your gaze, and I no longer wanted to fight it. I looked into Your eyes, and knew that I could go and live forgiven. In that moment of grace, the stones fell from my hands.

*Reflection based on John 8:1~11

My Dear Lord Jesus,
In Your great love for me and in Your mercy, You have forgiven me. You invite me now to live forgiven. Your powerful and loving gaze holds me, compels me to keep my eyes on You always. Help me to never doubt Your love and mercy. Let me never pick up those stones of self~hatred, self~condemnation and shame ever again. May I live forever in Your love. Knowing this, may I go and sin no more.

Comments welcome at The Front Porch.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Thanking God For Our Beloved Benedict

While I rejoice and thank God for giving us our Holy Father Francis, I also would like to take a moment to thank Him for our Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who has been affectionately become known as Benedict the Beloved.
In our lifetimes, we have not had a Pope and a Pope Emeritus; this is a rare gift, and one I suspect the Church desperately needs and will need in the times to come.

Almighty God and Father,
We humbly come before You to thank and praise You for the gift of our new Holy Father Francis. We also thank You for the eight years of love, prayer and teaching You gave us in Pope Benedict XVI. Bless him and protect him as he begins his monastic life in prayer for Your Church and its people.
We ask this through the intercession of St Peter, our first Pope, and in the name of Your Beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

I have written 26 posts relating to Pope Benedict XVI and his teachings, especially those from his Wednesday Audiences, as well as some of his writings. You can find them by clicking on Pope Benedict XVI in the Labels list on the left sidebar.

Thoughts and prayers welcome at The Front Porch.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Little More Insight Into Pope Francis

A friend sent me a link to George Weigel's article on the national Review Online site. His article titled: The First American Pope gives us some more background on our Holy Father as well as some insight into where his papacy may be headed.
Mr. Weigel met with the then Cardinal Bergoglio back in may 2012. He relates some of their conversation in his article.
While I knew that this cardinal was the right choice when he asked the faithful to pray for him before he gave us his blessing, I know it even more after reading this article.
Here is the link to The First American Pope.

Comments and discussion welcome at The Front Porch.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Thank You Heavenly Father for Our New Holy Father

I just wanted to add my voice to the excitement of having a new Pope!
May our Almighty God bless Pope Francis and Our Lady keep him and protect him under her mantle of loving protection.
You can read more about him here.

Join me in prayer for our new Holy Father at The Front Porch.

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.