Sunday, February 28, 2010
"We are realizing more and more clearly that silence is part of the liturgy. We respond, by singing and praying, to the God who addresses us, but the greater mystery, surpassing all words, summons us to silence. It must, of course, be a silence with content, not just the absence of speech and action. We should expect the liturgy to give us a positive stillness that will restore us. Such stillness will not be just a pause, in which a thousand thoughts and desires assault us, but a time of recollection, giving us an inward peace, allowing us to draw breath and rediscover the one thing necessary, which we have forgotten. That is why silence cannot be simply "made", organized as if it were one activity among many. It is no accident that on all sides people are seeking techniques of meditation, a spirituality for emptying the mind. One of man's deepest needs is making its presence felt, a need that is manifestly not being met in our present form of the liturgy. For silence to be fruitful, as we have already said, it must not be just a pause in the action of the liturgy. No, it must be an integral part of the liturgical event." ( Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, p 209)
This message is for any liturgical directors, those who chair liturgical committees, pastors, deacons, and anyone involved in the liturgy. It has become a matter of practice to fill every minute of Mass time when the priests is not praying, with music. At the very beginning of Mass we have the Penitential Rite. The priest will say "to prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries, let us call to mind our sins." That is the cue for the musical director to hit it and go into the Kyrie. No pause, no time to call into mind our sinfulness just run right to the music. In my opinion that is ridiculous. This is the Penitential Rite, no its is not a sacrament, but it is a time to remind ourselves that we all come to this altar with sinfulness. The message conveyed here is clear, "hey I don't have any sins, you must be talking about someone else." The non-absolutory nature of the penitential rite does not mean that venial sins are not forgiven during this rite; they are also forgiven by receiving Communion and by the other intercessory prayers of Mass. Another time when music detracts from the liturgy is after Communion. This is an extremely important time for reflection and prayer as we have just put into our bodies the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the World. Can I get a few minutes of silence here? This is what Pope Benedict XVI is talking about. When you play music so much, it says the music is the more important part of the liturgy, the sacrifice of the Mass, including the Eucharist is secondary. That message is sent out to every one in that Church. Take your cue from John the Baptist, I must decrease, He must increase. Everyone involved with the liturgy should get a copy of and read The Spirit of the Liturgy just click on the link here.
Now continuing the subject of the Eucharist, let me say this. I have been receiving the Eucharist for over over 50 years. At times it has become something I have taken for granted. That is a grave mistake. The Eucharist is the "source and summit of the Catholic Christian's spiritual life" as defined by the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This Lent try to renew yourself to a deeper appreciation of what takes place when you receive the Eucharist. Meditate before and after receiving. I once told a priest that if we Catholics truly believed in the Real Presence as we should, we would knock the doors down of the church to get to Jesus Christ, the Living Waters, the path to Eternal Life.
Before I write about my thoughts on the Transfiguration note that before this event happened Jesus took his closest disciples up to the mountain to pray. You will also note that before he selected his disciples Jesus prayed, and of course he prayed at the Garden of Gethsemane. Prayer is a poison to pride. In praying Jesus is showing us to connect with the Father so that we can have understanding, wisdom, humility, strength, patience, faith, and thanksgiving. True prayer comes from the depth of your heart and kindles the flame of the Holy Spirit, who is the bearer of those spiritual gifts.
The Church shows us today in the Gospel reading from Luke, Chapter 9, a glimpse of what God's glory is and thus a glimpse of heaven. If you back up in the Gospel of Luke you will read two paragraphs back, Peter's declaration that Jesus is the Christ. In the next paragraph after that acknowledgment, Jesus now tells his disciples what is necessary to follow him:" If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up the cross daily and follow me," then follows the the Transfiguration. Now reading all three in order Luke presents to us this: Jesus is the Christ, the Saviour, the Redeemer. In order to follow him we must deny ourselves, that is deny the attachment to the world's things, and take on the weight of our own crosses, in the sufferings that accompany living the life of the Beatitudes. Finally, we see what it is to see heaven, in the witness of God's glory at the mountain top, what will be our own crowning glory united with Christ and the Church in eternity. That is why St. Paul writes in the 2nd Reading in his Letter to the Philippians : Brothers and sisters :Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.
The crosses that we bear in serving others with the love of Christ that emanates from the center of heart, is what identifies us in gaining heavenly citizenship.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
And my soul is removed far off from peace, I forgot prosperity. And I said: 'My strength is perished, and mine expectation from the LORD Lamentations 3:17-18
Surely the LORD'S mercies are not consumed, surely His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
The LORD is my portion', saith my soul; 'Therefore will I hope in Him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him Lamentations 3:24-25
As for us, our eyes do yet fail for our vain help; in our watching we have watched for a nation that could not save. Turn Thou us unto Thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old. Lamentations 4:17, 5:21
Friday, February 26, 2010
- Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear. For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. Notice the ravens: they do not sow or reap; they have neither storehouse nor barn, yet God feeds them. How much more important are you than birds! Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your lifespan? If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? Notice how the flowers grow. They do not toil or spin. But I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? As for you, do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not worry anymore.
- Luke 12:22-29
in black of night.
The eternal fountain is unseen.
How well I know where she has been
in black of night.
I do not know her origin.
None. Yet in her all things begin
in black of night.
I know that nothing is so fair
and earth and firmament drink there
in black of night.
I know that none can wade inside
to find her bright bottomless tide
in black of night.
Her shining never has a blur;
I know that all light comes from her
in black of night.
I know her streams converge and swell
and nourish people, skies and hell
in black of night.
The stream whose birth is in this source
I know has a gigantic force
in black of night.
The stream from but these two proceeds
yet neither one, I know, precedes
in black of night.
The eternal fountain is unseen
in living bread that gives us being
in black of night.
She calls on all mankind to start
to drink her water, though in dark,
for black is night.
O living fountain that I crave,
in bread of life I see her flame
in black of night.
John of the Cross "The Fountin"
Thursday, February 25, 2010
I have been reading this book at the rate of about two pages a week. It is what I call bathroom reading, something you pick up and read every time nature calls. It is a zany, Southern character filled, novel that touches on a lot of things about existence, good and evil, God and society's ills. Anyway I have considered myself lately somewhat of a prophet. I don't mean it like most people interpret it, that somehow I can see into the future. The Prophets of the Old Testament, were very much concerned with the people of the times they lived in, however if those times included people who turned away from God, well, it is rather easy to predict the outcome. I began this blog by stating that I felt as though I had become a stranger in the world I lived in. Not that I am some kind of special person who is immune from the goings on. No I'm a late bloomer, well actually I'm someone who returned to the path I was following up until my adolescence. The Church and Catholicism was very much a part of my life, (secondary to baseball, my first love). I have traversed rather rapidly with the grace of God and the Holy Spirit. It as though I have been in a coma. When did society become so anti-religious, so anti-God? There is nothing sacred now -the Church is the same as a Wal-Mart or the shopping mall, a place where you might spend some time there if necessary. America has "dumbed down" quite a ways. Education is about learning disorders and medications. Reading has gone the way of the dinosaurs. Schools now want a curriculum that more and more prepares you to be a little worker in the capitalist clog. Anything thing outside of that is useless. Try finding a philosophy program at a major university, hell,try finding a philosophy course. Many Catholic universities don't even offer theology degrees, business is far more important. The values and principles that guided us through the infancy of our nation to the civil war, past two world wars, the cold war and to some extent 9-11 has been discarded. America is a hedonistic, greedy, materialistic nation, that pays lip service to religion at best and persecutes it at worst. People care far more about American Idol than Jesus Christ. The national debt is a disgrace and is going to collapse America one day. I have already cashed my chips in on America, sorry but I believe the future is bleak, not just economically, but more importantly spiritually. Please understand this: I am not in a state of despair. I am in a state of hope, because historically people will seek God when all else fails. My vocation is to bring that hope now, to equip people with the Everlasting Man, the Love that does not fail, The Way, The Truth and the Life. So when the seas get rough they will get to know the one as described in Mark 4:41 "“Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
“Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Which one of you would hand his son a stone
when he asked for a loaf of bread,
or a snake when he asked for a fish?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.
“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.”
God is generous with His blessings when we seek to be perfect, like He who is perfect. That is, when we ask for Spiritual Graces. Unfortunately many people chose to hear the message of the "feel good," materialistic, mega churches, that this passage refers to strictly material blessings. God will provide, but He wants what is best for us, and that does not necessarily mean a BMW and a Rolex watch. He will, however, bestow upon us the most excellent graces when we desire to work for the kingdom. More than you will ever believe, he can take a mess like a me and give me wings to fly and joy in my heart. God never, never, never ceases to amaze me with His love and generosity. I am forever indebted, a slave to Him.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
What follows comes directly from IgnatianSpirituality.com
How Can I Pray?
A great way to pray is to look for God’s presence in your life. More than 400 years ago St. Ignatius Loyola encouraged prayer-filled mindfulness by proposing what has been called the Daily Examen. The Examen is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and to discern his direction for us. Try this version of St. Ignatius’s prayer.
1. Become aware of God’s presence. Look back on the events of the day in the company of the Holy Spirit. The day may seem confusing to you—a blur, a jumble, a muddle. Ask God to bring clarity and understanding.
2. Review the day with gratitude. Gratitude is the foundation of our relationship with God. Walk through your day in the presence of God and note its joys and delights. Focus on the day’s gifts. Look at the work you did, the people you interacted with. What did you receive from these people? What did you give them? Pay attention to small things—the food you ate, the sights you saw, and other seemingly small pleasures. God is in the details.
3. Pay attention to your emotions. One of St. Ignatius’s great insights was that we detect the presence of the Spirit of God in the movements of our emotions. Reflect on the feelings you experienced during the day. Boredom? Elation? Resentment? Compassion? Anger? Confidence? What is God saying through these feelings?
God will most likely show you some ways that you fell short. Make note of these sins and faults. But look deeply for other implications. Does a feeling of frustration perhaps mean that God wants you consider a new direction in some area of your work? Are you concerned about a friend? Perhaps you should reach out to her in some way.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it. Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to something during the day that God thinks is particularly important. It may involve a feeling—positive or negative. It may be a significant encounter with another person or a vivid moment of pleasure or peace. Or it may be something that seems rather insignificant. Look at it. Pray about it. Allow the prayer to arise spontaneously from your heart—whether intercession, praise, repentance, or gratitude.
5. Look toward tomorrow. Ask God to give you light for tomorrow’s challenges. Pay attention to the feelings that surface as you survey what’s coming up. Are you doubtful? Cheerful? Apprehensive? Full of delighted anticipation? Allow these feelings to turn into prayer. Seek God’s guidance. Ask him for help and understanding. Pray for hope.
St. Ignatius encouraged people to talk to Jesus like a friend. End the Daily Examen with a conversation with Jesus. Ask forgiveness for your sins. Ask for his protection and help. Ask for his wisdom about the questions you have and the problems you face. Do all this in the spirit of gratitude. Your life is a gift, and it is adorned with gifts from God. End the Daily Examen with the Our Father.
I truly love St. Ignatius and how he understood the love of Jesus and the human experience. Practice the Examen, it can change your life
It is to those who have the most need of us that we ought to show our love more especially.
Let us run to Mary, and, as her little children, cast ourselves into her arms with a perfect confidence.
Salvation is shown to faith, it is prepared for hope, but it is given only to charity. Faith points out the way to the land of promise as a pillar of fire hope feeds us with its manna of sweetness, but charity actually introduces us into the Promised Land.
Oh what remorse we shall feel at the end of our lives, when we look back upon the great number of instructions and examples afforded by God and the Saints for our perfection, and so carelessly received by us! If this end were to come to you today, how would you be pleased with the life you have led this year?
We must fear God out of love, not love Him out of fear.
In the royal galley of divine Love, there is no galley slave: all rowers are volunteers.
We are not drawn to God by iron chains, but by sweet attractions and holy inspirations.
Perfection of life is the perfection of love. For love is the life of the soul.
By giving yourself to God, you not only receive Himself in exchange, but eternal life as well.
Man is the perfection of the Universe. The spirit is the perfection of man. Love is the perfection of the spirit, and charity that of love. Therefore, the love of God is the end, the perfection of the Universe.
St. Frances De Sales, from an "Introduction to the Devout Life"
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
From the Martyrdom of Polycarp, Eusebius writes :
"Now, as Polycarp was entering into the stadium, there came to him a voice from heaven, saying, “Be strong, and show thyself a man, O Polycarp!” No one saw who it was that spoke to him; but those of our brethren who were present heard the voice. And as he was brought forward, the tumult became great when they heard that Polycarp was taken. And when he came near, the proconsul asked him whether he was Polycarp. On his confessing that he was, [the proconsul] sought to persuade him to deny [Christ], saying, “Have respect to thy old age,” and other similar things, according to their custom, [such as], “Swear by the fortune of Cæsar; repent, and say, Away with the Atheists.” But Polycarp, gazing with a stern countenance on all the multitude of the wicked heathen then in the stadium, and waving his hand towards them, while with groans he looked up to heaven, said, “Away with the Atheists.” Then, the proconsul urging him, and saying, “Swear, and I will set thee at liberty, reproach Christ;” Polycarp declared, “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?”
Where are today's Polycarps?
Monday, February 22, 2010
It is rather obvious when you read the New Testament that Peter is the major player of all the disciples. He is at every significant event from the Baptism of Christ,to The Transfiguration, to The Garden of Gethsemane. Peter even walked on water. Peter was told by Jesus to feed my lambs in John 21:15-19 Peter is written about exstensively in the Acts of the Apostles and later by the Early Church Fathers. The rejection of Peter by Protestants is the rejection of the Apostolic Tradition and to put it bluntly they are flat out wrong. If you view Jesus as the fulfillment of the promise to King David that he would rein forever then where is this kingdom that is left on earth? It is the Church. The Church was founded by Jesus Christ and handed on to his apostles, who in turn passed it on to each successive generation. You can line up all the faults of the Catholic Church from the first century to this current day and it has a multitude of sins and a multitude sinners, but that does not change the fact of what it is - the one true Church first handed to St. Peter by Christ himself.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
The Congregation for Divine Worship (the Vatican committee that oversees all things liturgical) issued a response in 2000 to a request for clarification on this issue. In their response, they say that removing holy water from the fonts during the season of Lent is not permitted, in particular, for two reasons:
- This is an issue of custom, not law, and so the liturgical laws in place do not address this recent innovation. However, this practice "is contrary to a balanced understanding of the season of Lent, which though truly being a season of penance, is also a season rich in the symbolism of water and baptism, constantly evoked in liturgical texts."
- The fasting of Lent does not include fasting from sacramentals, such as the use of holy water.
The response continues: "The practice of the Church has been to empty the Holy Water fonts on the days of the Sacred Triduum in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil, and it corresponds to those days on which the Eucharist is not celebrated (i.e. Good Friday and Holy Saturday)."
The cheerful love that fills the soul with happiness is founded on suffering. There is no love without renunciation.
The longing for atonement that your Father God puts in your soul will be satisfied if you unite your poor personal expiation to the infinite merits of Jesus.
—Rectify your intention, and love suffering in him, with him, and through him.
Self-giving is the first step along the road of sacrifice, joy, love, union with God. —And so an entire life is filled with a holy madness which makes us find happiness where human logic would only see denial, suffering, pain.
Nobody is happy on earth until he decides not to be. This is the way the path goes: suffering — in Christian terms! — the Cross; God’s Will, Love; happiness here and, afterwards, eternally.
Renew in your own soul the resolution that friend of ours made long ago: “Lord, what I want is suffering, not exhibitionism.”
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Jacob departed from Beer-sheba and proceeded toward Haran. When he came upon a certain shrine, as the sun had already set, he stopped there for the night. Taking one of the stones at the shrine, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep at that spot. Then he had a dream: a stairway rested on the ground, with its top reaching to the heavens; and God's messengers were going up and down on it.
Be at peace with your own soul then heaven & earth will be at peace with you. Enter eagerly into the treasure house that is within you, And you will see the things that are in heaven, for there is but one single entry to them both. The ladder that leads to the Kingdom is hidden within your soul...
Dive into yourself and in your soul and you will discover the stairs by which to ascend. (Isaac the Syrian)
A ladder is one of the most curious of creations. Its intent can be seen as both to ascend, and to descend. This makes it the great metaphor for the spiritual life. Christ both descends to hell and ascends to heaven. When we descend into our own being we can be trapped by the attraction to ourselves or we can deny ourselves and traverse to the core of our being and in that case ascend to another state. If the ascent of life is strictly about ourselves we will descend into a world of narcissism and self absorption. This game of ladders is intriguing and is perhaps a mysterious dynamic about whether we see the world upside down or not.
Our Lord and Master was "lifted up before man", affixed to a cross and in that state was viewed as being the lowest of lows, another man condemned by the ruling government to death by crucifixion. He was carefully removed from the cross perhaps by men on ladders.
- I am a man who knows affliction from the rod of his anger,
- One whom he has led and forced to walk in darkness, not in the light;
- Against me alone he brings back his hand again and again all the day.
- He has worn away my flesh and my skin, he has broken my bones;
- He has beset me round about with poverty and weariness;
- He has left me to dwell in the dark like those long dead.
- He has hemmed me in with no escape and weighed me down with chains;
- Even when I cry out for help, he stops my prayer;
- He has blocked my ways with fitted stones, and turned my paths aside.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world."
Come, all you who pass by the way, look around and see. Is any suffering like My suffering that was inflicted on Me?
Sorrowful Mother Mary, allow me to share your sorrow so that the Holy Passion of my Lord remains always vivid within me as a reminder of God's Love for me .Come to meet me also in my sorrowful journey to the Lord.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Almighty and Everlasting God,
You have given the human race
Jesus Christ our Savior as a model of humility.
He fulfilled Your Will by becoming Man
And giving His life on the Cross.
Help us to bear witness to You
By following His example of suffering
And make us worthy to share in His Resurrection.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
“The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
Then he said to all,“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?” Luke 9: 22-25
Jesus declares "whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." This is sacrifice: handing our imperfect self over to the One who responds by handing us back our true self through his gift of self on the cross. The Lord sets before us life and death and asks us to "choose life" by obediently taking up Christ's cross of death.
"Without a 'dying,' without the demise of what is simply our own, there is no communion with God and no redemption." (Pope Benedict XVI)
The modern secular version of Jesus is one that fits neatly alongside the feel good, don't hassle me, I'm too busy enjoying life mentality. Those in that school of thought parade Christ around like an Olympic Gold medal. "See how good I am, you can overlook all the other stuff I do." Christ is a vending machine, put in a prayer or two and you'll get that new car, new house, new job, new boyfriend or girlfriend. They may know their scripture but they don't know who Christ really is. Jesus is not about feeling good, sorry but that is the truth. There is no crossless Christ
Two mounts are related as the first and second acts in a two-act drama: the Mount of the Beatitudes and the Mount of Calvary. He who climbed the first to preach the Beatitudes must necessarily climb the second to practice what he preached. The unthinking often say the Sermon on the Mount Constitutes the "essence of Christianity." But let any man put these Beatitudes into practice in his own life and he too will draw down upon himself the wrath of the world. The Sermon on the Mount cannot be separated from His Crucifixion, anymore than day can be separated from night. The day Our Lord taught the Beatitudes, He signed His own death warrant. The sound of nails and hammers digging through human flesh were the echoes thrown back from the mountainside where He told men how to be happy...Everybody wants to be happy; but His ways were the very opposite of the ways of the world.
The Sermon on the Mount is so much at variance with all that our world holds dear that the world will crucify anyone who tries. to live up to its values. Because Christ preached them,'he had to die. Calvary was the price he paid for the Sermon on the Mount...
The Beatitudes cannot be taken alone; they are not ideals; they are hard facts and realities inseparable from the Cross of Calvary. What He taught was self-crucifixion... Those who heard Him preach the Beatitudes were invited to stretch themselves out on a cross, to find happiness on a higher level by death to a lower order, to despise all the world holds sacred, and to venerate as sacred all the world regards as an ideal.. .
On the Mount of the Beatitudes, He bade men hurl themselves on the cross of self-denial; on the Mount of Calvary, He embraced that very cross. Though the shadow of the Cross would not fall across the place of the skull until three years later, it was already in His Heart the day He preached on "How to be Happy'"
(Fulton Sheen, Life of Christ, 145-46, 15 1, 1 53-54)
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Whatever ideas may fill the mind, whatever feelings afflict the body; even if the mind should be tormented with distractions and troubles, and the body with sickness and pain, nevertheless the divine will is ever for the present moment the life of the soul and of the body; in fact, neither the one nor the other, no matter in what condition it may be, can be sustained by any other power.
The divine influence alone can sanctify us. Without it bread may be poison, and poison a salutary remedy. Without it reading only darkens the mind; with it darkness is made light. It is everything that is good and true in all things, and in all things it unites us to God, who, being infinite in all perfections, leaves nothing to be desired by the soul that possesses Him.
from Abandonment to Divine Providence
We can begin by reflecting on those cardinal or moral virtues: prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude. Will we allow them govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to faith and reason, or will we fall to the ways of the world. Jesus said "the truth will set you free" The truth is we were meant for much more than this world, we are sons and daughters of God. Lent affords us the time and the place to restore that natural order of our birthright as His children. Lent is the time to rid of ourselves the baggage that will not lead to eternal life. It is all about finding God in all things and to strive for holiness as we are called to do.
Monday, February 15, 2010
- The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.
- He(Jesus) sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, "Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation."
- Mark 8:11-13
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Faith is the humility of the mind which renounces its own judgement and surrenders to the verdict and authority of the Church.
Obedience is the humility of the will which subjects itself to the will of another, for God’s sake.
Chastity is the humility of the flesh, which subjects itself to the spirit.
Exterior mortification is the humility of the senses.
Penance is the humility of all the passions, immolated to the Lord.
—Humility is truth on the road of the ascetical struggle.
From Furrow - St. Josemaria Escriva'
In the book of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3, the author writes:
"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. "
It is only in keeping all things in perspective and in time do we come to know and appreciate life. Labor balances with recreation, restraint and sacrifice balances with future success, learning and education balances with wisdom and proficiency. All of this requires patience and discipline. What has become commonplace in our society is the propensity to dismiss the seasons. Young people want a large home, new car, as much material possessions as possible, without the restraint and sacrifice to save for it. Learning and education become things that are in the vernacular "annoying." Sexual pleasure can't wait for the beauty and sanctity of a marriage. Many young men have a mantra of lets party now and not think about tomorrow, totally unbalanced. These young men take many years to attain adulthood, some well into their 30's and 40's. God made all things to be in perfect balance and harmony. Which brings us to the time of the Church known as Lent. Lent is a season of restraint, of giving back, of interior retrospect, of prayer, and most important a time to repent. It is a time to put celebration and self indulgence on hold. God's wisdom in giving us this season to reflect and give back through the Church and the sacramental life, is most beneficial, for it will make you a better human being. It will put into focus, by contrast, all the marvelous and wonderful things that life has for all of us. We have to take time from them to appreciate them. Lent is that time, a time to work on becoming holy.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
- "Trust in a faithless man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips.
- "He who sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, or pours vinegar on a wound." Proverbs 25:19-20
Friday, February 12, 2010
R. Lord, Give me the Grace of Conversion
When I look at my life from the starting point of my own insufficiences, instead of from the fact of your compassion, grace, and love for me. R.
When I would prefer to live by my own thoughts and my own understanding instead of by your Truth which alone can set me free. R.
When I would rather brood over what annoys me than turn myself over to you always invite me to come to you. R.
When I obsess over self-absorption, complacency, and self-assertiveness. R.
When I get dejected about my sin, not because it offends you, but because it prevents me from being able to take delight in myself. R.
Whenever I live in a dualistic way, as if my faith and "my real life" are two separate things, R.
When I am deceived into thinking that my happiness depends on something in the future instead of what you give me in the present moment, R.
When discouragement and shame make hard for me to be faithful, R.
When I become distraught over the evil I would commit if left to myself, forgetting that I do not live according to myself but that I live in you, R.
When self-doubt and fear seem to have the last say, R.
When I miss the point of my fragility, a gift you give me so that I will always be prompted to rely on you, R.
When I am inclined to interpret my problems as punishments and my miseries as being abandoned by God, R.
When impenetrability takes over my life, making me resistant to your beauty and all the little ways you ordain yourself to me, R.
When I get distracted by my feelings, my emotions, my passions, my regrets, R.
When I get duped into thinking that I must fix myself up in order to have a relationship with you, forgetting that you come to me with your love just the way I am, R.
When I treat my faith like some abstract answer to be sought instead of as a loving Presence to be affirmed, R.
When I get discouraged by chronic or recurring sins in my life, R.
When I would attempt to earn you favor by achievements, forgetting that I did not choose you, but it is you who chose me, R.
When scandalized by my own selfishness and self assertion, R.
When the oppressive nihilism of life makes me ignore or reduce the desires of my heart that lead me to you, R.
When independence and self-sufficiency make me resist the companionship with others through which you will give me your friendship and tenderness, R.
Whenever I treaty my preconceptions like idols that drain my life of wonder and simplicity, R.
When the evidence of all that is wrong with my life leads me to become paralyzed, indifferent or lax, R.
When I get preoccupied with my self-justifications trying to convince myself that I am loveable, R.
When I would rather live my life in a safe or sheltered way instead of living my life as a risk, putting your will first in all things, R.
Composed by Father Peter John Cameron, O.P. editor Magnificat
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
After the thousands of years of human history it is quite easy to discern that man lives in a fallen state. Chesterton is without question my favorite writer, and for that matter my favorite thinker.
People have pretty much diminished sin today. I guess when you diminish God you diminish sin. There was time however when sin was taken seriously. Once upon a time there were things known as the 7 Deadly Sins -
LUST, GLUTTONY, GREED, SLOTH, WRATH, ENVY AND PRIDE. These sins now pretty much represent the every day life of the secular world. I saw a commercial for this birth control YAZ. It is so silly, all these women running around beaming with pride that they can have sex with anybody they want at anytime. Oh yeah, that's what dogs do. Greed is the overwhelming factor that the United States is in this economic mess - greed of bankers, greed of corporate CEO's, greed of politicians, greed of the people who want more and more toys, what is excessive is now considered a necessity. Children are entitled all those nice little things: the cell phone, the computer, the purses, the ipods and on and on. People wanted a big new house that they really couldn't afford. America needs to wake up. This season of Lent to come can be a time of examination of conscience - a time to look at the person you are and see exactly where you are in building God's Kingdom. This planet earth belongs to God, it is a part of his Kingdom, we are servants in the Kingdom. Our goal is not to seek carnal pleasures, stockpile gold, grab as much power and prestige as we can possible get. No, our goal is to build up God's Kingdom through obedience to the will of the Father. It doesn't really matter if the calendar stops at 2012, because if you are living in sin, your life is already over.
This is from St. Gregory the Great Dialogues, Book II the Life of St. Benedict: Chapter 33, A Miracle Wrought By Sister Scholastica
GREGORY: Who is there, Peter, in this world, that is in greater favor with God than St. Paul was: who yet three times desired our Lord to be delivered from the sting of the flesh, and obtained not his petition? Concerning which point also I must needs tell you, how there was one thing which the venerable father Benedict would have done, and yet he could not. For his sister called Scholastica, dedicated from her infancy to our Lord, used once a year to come and visit her brother. To whom the man of God went not far from the gate, to a place that did belong to the Abbey, there to give her entertainment.
And she coming thither on a time according to her custom, her venerable brother with his monks went to meet her, where they spent the whole day in the praises of God and spiritual talk: and when it was almost night they supped together, and as they were yet sitting at the table, talking of devout matters, and darkness came on, the holy Nun his sister entreated him to stay there all night, that they might spend it in discoursing of the joys of heaven. But by no persuasion would he agree to that, saying that he might not by any means tarry all night out of his Abbey.
At that time, the sky was so clear that no cloud was to be seen. The Nun, receiving this denial of her brother, joining her hands together, laid them upon the table: and so, bowing down her head upon them, she made her prayers to almighty God: and lifting her head from the table, there fell suddenly such a tempest of lightning and thundering, and such abundance of rain, that neither venerable Benedict, nor his monks that were with him, could put their head out of door: for the holy Nun, resting her head upon her hands, poured forth such a flood of tears upon the table, that she drew the clear air to a watery sky, so that after the end of her devotions, that storm of rain followed: and her prayer and the rain did so meet together, that as she lifted up her head from the table, the thunder, so that in one and the very same instant, she lifted up her head and brought down the rain.
The man of God, seeing that he could not by reason of such thunder and lightning and great abundance of rain return back to his Abbey, he began to be heavy and to complain of his sister, saying: "God forgive you, what have you done?" to whom she answered: "I desired you to stay, and you would not hear me, I have desired our good Lord, and he hath vouchsafed to grant my petition: wherefore if you can now depart, in God's name return to your monastery, and leave me here alone."
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
1. Many Churches supply a Lenten guide book. In it it has all the daily scripture readings and perhaps a meditation for the day. I have found them most useful. If you don't have one either go online or the nearest Catholic bookstore and find one. Set a time daily to use it.
2. Attend Mass whenever you can get an opportunity. Daily would be great, but for many of us maybe once during the week is all we can do. (Yes Virginia, I mean in addition to Sunday, duh)
3. Liturgy of the Hours, The Magnificat or daily scripture reading if you are not currently doing so
4. Reconciliation - a good Confession really is good for the soul
5. Volunteer to work in a food bank or a soup kitchen or other charitable work
6. The Stations of the Cross - skip going out and re-live Christ's suffering
7. Try this..I found it to be an excellent exercise... read Part Three from the Catechism of the Catholic Church: LIFE IN CHRIST. Read about 5 pages or so a day... it is wonderful
8. Send a donation to Food for the Poor (just click on the link) or any other good catholic Charity
9. Spend an hour before the Lord in Eucharistic Adoration. If your church doesn't have an adoration chapel - find one that does
10. Fast - whenever the time is right but try it at least once or twice during Lent
11. Pray the Rosary in The Sorrowful Mysteries taking time to read the Gospel accounts for The Agony in the Garden, The Scourging at the Pillar, The Crowning with Thorns, The Way of the Cross, and the Crucifixion
Look at Lent as an opportunity to purify yourself through self denial and good works. Our goal as Catholics is to be in daily conversion, to seek holiness, to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is. Set the bar high as Christ did for us.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
The next passage that so moves me is , Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any fish?" They answered him, "No." He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, for the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and sprang into the sea.
I love Peter so much. Peter knows who Christ really is and he so much wants forgiveness. Peter truly is the heart of all Christians who desire to follow Jesus, we want dive into the water and swim to him, we need his love so. When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught." 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Now none of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. Jesus the Bread of Life wants to feed his disciples once more. Now is the climax when Jesus calls Peter to fulfill his role: When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." ( he asks the same question to you and me and dare I say that I passionately reply you know I love you!) He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved ( his love for Jesus was spilling over and how could Jesus not know) because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep
The Gospel of John is so powerful and touches the very heart of me. He gives us Jesus the Lover who so much wants us all to be with Him!