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Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

The stations of the cross are a particularly suitable meditation for today. The Internet has a plethora of good online opportunities to meditate the stations. This one is very simple and moving.

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431797_10150623857983387_15337298386_9282229_892989336_nSeveral weeks ago, Joanne McPortland asked for ‘an average Joe’ for Pope. Take a look at her post for her reasons, but here’s the essence of her request:

May the Holy Spirit give us a new St Joseph, guardian of the Church as he was of Mary and her Child—a father, a protector, a craftsman, a man in the world but not of it. It strikes me that the feast of St Joseph the Worker, March 19, may fall within the Conclave. What better time for the Holy Spirit to give us a pope with the gifts of those two Josephs—Roncalli and Ratzinger?

Take a look at what Karl Rahner says in a homily for the Feast of St Joseph, and see if you think she’s got what she prayed for.

CommunionOfSaints3[1]The Catholic Church today [March 19] celebrates the feast of her patron, her heavenly protector. We can understand such a feast only if we believe in the communion of saints, if we know by faith that God is not a God of the dead, but a God of the living, if we confess that whoever has died in God’s grace lives with God and precisely for that reason is close to us, and if we are convinced that these citizens of heaven intercede for their brothers and sisters on earth in the eternal liturgy of heaven.

The meaning of such a feast can be grasped only if we believe that after death all the events of this earthly life are not simply gone and past, over and done with forever, but that they are preparatory steps that belong to us for eternity, that belong to us as our living future. For our mortality does not change to eternity in an instant; rather, it is slowly transformed into life.

The blessed men and women with whom we have fellowship in the communion of saints are not pale shadows. Rather, they have brought over into the eternal life of God the fruits of their earthly life, and thus have brought with them their own personal uniqueness.

Their God even calls them by name in the one today of eternity. They are ever the same as they were in the unique history of their own lives. We single out one individual from among them to honor him as our heavenly protector and intercessor, because his own individuality means something unique and irreplaceable to us. We mean that between him and us there exists a specific rapport that makes him a special blessing for us and assigns a special duty to us, if we are to be worthy of his protection.

40758From this point of view, is it possible to think that Joseph, the spouse of the Blessed Virgin and foster father of our Lord, is particularly suited to be a patron of a twentieth-century person? Is it possible to think that anyone living today will be able to see himself reflected in Joseph? Are there not people today who, if they are true to their character as willed by God, are a people of small means, of hard work, of only a few words, of loyalty of heart and simple sincerity?

Certainly every Christian and every Christian nation are charged with the entire fullness of Christian perfection as a duty that is never completed. But every nation and every human being have, so to speak, their own door, their own approach, through which they alone can come nearer to the fullness of Christianity. Not all of us will find access to the boundless vistas of God’s world through the great gate of surging rapture and burning ardor. Some must go through the small gate of quiet loyalty and the ordinary, exact performance of duty. And it is this fact, I am inclined to think, that can help us to discover a rapport between earth and heaven, between Christians today and their heavenly intercessor.

The pages of the Bible tell us little about Joseph. But they tell us enough to know something of our heavenly patron. Not a single word of his has been recorded for us. He pondered, yes; that is expressly attested to. But he spoke little, so little that these words did not have to be transmitted to posterity. We know that he was a descendant of the noble lineage of David, the greatest in his nation’s history. But that was the past that the present, in its sober poverty, had yet to make perceptible. This present, however, was the hard life of one insignificant carpenter in a tiny village in one corner of the world. For the poor this present meant paying taxes and standing in line.

migranticonIt was the destiny of the “displaced person,” who had to seek scanty shelter among strangers, until the political situation again permitted a return to his homeland, the homeland that he must have loved, since he renounced living in the neighbourhood of the capital city and stayed in the “province” country of Galilee. He lived very inconspicuously in his Nazareth, so that the life of his family furnished no spectacular background for the public appearance of Jesus (Lk 4:22). However, this humble routine of the life of an insignificant man concealed something else: the silent performance of duty.

Three times the scripture says of Joseph: “He rose up.” He rose up to carry out God’s will as he perceived it in his conscience, a conscience that was so alert that it perceived the message of the angel even in sleep, although that message called him to a path of duty that he himself neither devised nor expected.

According to the witness of the Bible, this insignificant man’s humble routine concealed a further object of value: righteousness. Joseph was a just man, the Bible says, a man who regulated his life according to the word and law of God. Not only when this law suited his desires, but always and at all times, even when it was hard, and when the law judged to his disadvantage that his neighbor was right. He was righteous in that he was impartial, tactful, and respectful of Mary’s individuality and even of that which he could not understand in her.

His loyalty to duty and impartial righteousness, which is a manly form of love, also lived in him with respect to God his Father. He was a devout man and he was manly in his devotion. For him the service of God was not a matter of pious feelings that come and go, but a matter of humble loyalty that really served God and not his own pious ego. As Luke says: “Every year he went to Jerusalem for the Passover feast, according to the custom.” Now we can tell what was the most important element in the life of this man whose everyday life was a life of duty, righteousness, and of manly devotion: this life was given the charge of protecting in a fatherly way the saviour of the world.

holy-cloakHe received into his family the one who came to redeem his nation from their sin, one to whom he himself gave the name of Jesus, a name which served the eternal Word of the Father, the Word who had become a child of this world. And people called their redeemer the son of a carpenter. When the eternal Word was audible in the world in the message of the Gospels, Joseph, having quietly done his duty, went away without any notice on the part of the world.

But the life of this insignificant man did have significance; it had one meaning that, in the long run, counts in each person’s life: God and his incarnate grace. To him it could be said: “Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.” Who can doubt that this man is a good patron for us? This man of humble, everyday routine, this man of silent performance of duty, of honest righteousness and of manly piety, this man who was charged with protecting the grace of God in its embodied life?

Contemporary Christians might find their way back to what is best in them if the individuality of this man, their patron, were again producing more stature in them. Granted, a nation must have greatness of spirit and pioneers who will lead it toward new goals. Just as much, if not more so, however, a nation needs men and women of lifelong performance of duty, of clearheaded loyalty, of discipline of heart and body. A nation needs men and women who know that true greatness is achieved only in selfless service to the greater and holy duty that is imposed upon each life; human beings of genuine reverence, conquerors of themselves, who hear the word of God and carry out the inflexible decrees of conscience. It needs men and women who through their lives bear the childlike, defenseless grace of God past all those who, like Herod, attempt to kill this grace. A nation needs men and women who do not lose confidence in God’s grace, even when they have to seek it as lost, as Joseph once sought the divine child. Such individuals are urgently needed in every situation and in every class.

Rollini2241PatronChurchRomeSHeartBasilicaWe have a good patron, who is suitable for everyone. For he is a patron of the poor, a patron of workers, a patron of exiles, a model for worshipers, an exemplar of the pure discipline of the heart, a prototype of fathers who protect in their children the Son of the Father. Joseph, who himself experienced death, is also the patron of the dying, standing at our bedside. We have inherited from our Father a good patron. But the question put to us is whether we remain worthy of this inheritance, whether we preserve and increase the mysterious rapport between us and our heavenly intercessor.

Joseph lives. He may seem far away from us, but he is not. For the communion of saints is near and the seeming distance is only appearance. The saints may seem eclipsed by the dazzling brightness of the eternal God, into which they have entered, like those who have vanished into the distance of lost centuries. God, however, is not a God of the dead, but of the living. He is the God of those who live forever in heaven, where they reap the fruits of their life on earth, the life that only seems to be past, over and done with forever. Their earthly life bore eternal fruit, and they have planted that fruit in the true soil of life, out of which all generations live.

And so Joseph lives. He is our patron. We, however, will experience the blessing of his protection if we, with God’s grace, open our heart and our life to his spirit and the quiet power of his intercession.

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article-2291993-189ABE56000005DC-746_964x577God knows what Pope we need, so why do we bother to pray? The Holy Spirit will provide, right?

Jimmy Akin has a post on this topic. Among other things, he quotes Pope Benedict:

When asked whether the Holy Spirit is responsible for the election of a pope, he said:

I would not say so, in the sense that the Holy Spirit picks out the Pope. . . . I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator, as it were, leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us. Thus the Spirit’s role should be understood in a much more elastic sense, not that he dictates the candidate for whom one must vote. Probably the only assurance he offers is that the thing cannot be totally ruined.

He continued:

There are too many contrary instances of popes the Holy Spirit obviously would not have picked!

A while back, I commented on conversations with atheists about the purpose of prayer, comparing such conversations to a game in which one side is playing to the rules of cricket, and the other to the rules of tennis. I suggest atheists (and in retrospect, many theists) have an ‘Our Santa Claus which art in Heaven’ view of prayer.

This isn’t the Catholic view of prayer (it may be the view of some Catholics, but it isn’t the teaching of the Church). What we believe is far more scary. We believe that God works through us – not just through our actions, but also through our prayer. Could He work without us? For God, all things are possible. But He doesn’t. He waits to be asked.

This is an awesome privilege, and also a terrifying responsibility. If we don’t ask – sincerely, adamently, and insistently – we won’t get.

In my post on intercessory prayer, I said:

We pray in order to participate in the work of God. God has so ordered the world that his intercession needs to be asked for. Some suggest praying triggers the action of a natural law built into the structure of the universe, others that God himself ‘stands at the door and knocks, and behold, if any should open it I will enter’.

To take a parenting analogy, we are like the six year old that helps make dinner. Mum could have done it herself – perhaps faster and more efficiently. But she didn’t. It was Junior that peeled the carrots, stirred the gravy, and put a date and a spoon of brown sugar in the space left after coring the apples. Yes, Mum chose to make the delivery of important parts of the meal dependent on Junior’s help –but nonetheless, Junior helped to make dinner.

And, like the six-year old, there is a point to this. We are learning how to intercede. According to the Bible, according to Catholic teachings, intercession is an important part of the work of the Church in Heaven. This fact, by the way, lends weight to the idea that prayer and natural law are closely linked. We sometimes talk about the saints praying for us as if they were members of the court of a distant oriental potentate. But, of course, they are the beloved children of the Father, and we are their younger siblings. So if the saints intercede on our behalf, as we are taught they do, it isn’t to bend God’s ear until he gives in to the nagging and changes his mind. Rather, surely, it is because the prayer of a saint has an effective impact on the universe.

Dan Burke, in a post called ‘Are you insane?’ sums it up. ‘If we don’t pray, God’s grace will not be granted.’ He quotes Carmelite Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen:

“God wishes our collaboration. He wants it so much that he has made the granting of certain graces, necessary for our salvation, and that of others, dependent upon our prayers. In other words, by the merits of Jesus, grace – God’s infinite mercy – is ready to be poured out for us abundantly… but it will not be poured out unless there is someone who raises supplicating hands to heaven asking for it. If prayer does not ascend to the throne of the Most High, grace will not be granted.” (Divine Intimacy – Apostolic Prayer)

So let’s storm heaven with prayers for a holy, wise, competent pope. And let’s keep praying after the conclave, in case we’re too late and he isn’t in the room to be chosen.

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On Egregious Twaddle, Joanne McPortland talks about her experience of Palm Sunday, and invites us to join her in a meditation. After sharing her feelings about the Palm Sunday reading, where the congregation takes the part of the crowd, she says:

…I had the privilege of being part of Palm Sunday in another, more joyful way today. After Mass, I zipped over to Sugar Creek Presbyterian Church, and in a parking-lot quick change worthy of Superman’s phone booth, transformed myself with skirts and scarves into Tamar the Tea Seller, part of the Jerusalem Marketplace reenactment that my friend Wendy Symonds runs every year as an intergenerational Christian formation event. (I was standing in for the usual tea seller.) Adults portray various merchants and craftspeople of Jerusalem, while parishioners, especially the children, rove from booth to booth. We remain in character and ask all we meet if they have news of Jesus. I had some amazing conversations–children who argued whether he was riding on a donkey or a colt, one young man who professed to be the boy whose loaves and fish Jesus had multiplied, and a couple of men who tried to get me to agree that Jesus should overthrow the Romans. (I told them I never mixed politics and commerce.) “I haven’t seen him yet,” one young girl confessed, “but I’m going to keep looking. And if I find him, I’ll bring him back to you.”

This day begins a week in which the world finds Jesus and brings him back to us, over and over. We are joyful palm wavers and gossipy tea sellers, Passover pilgrims, owners of colts and renters of party rooms, and as the week goes by we will be more and more those jeerers and spitters, deniers and runaways. And the silence of Golgotha will deafen us.

So on this Palm Sunday night I step back a little from the all-too-human pageant ahead, and reflect on a handful of silent inanimate objects that leapt out at me from Mark’s Passion account this morning. Three jars, three cups, three lengths of cloth, a mini-retreat to take myself through this holiest, most harrowing of weeks.

Go read the rest on her site.

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Words by Richard G Furey C Ss R

UPDATE: Jerry has pointed out that the video clips won’t play in the blog. Just click on them, and they’ll give you a link to YouTube where they will play.

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…it was discovered to me that you still wanted that which is the foundation of every virtue, and without which the whole superstructure dissolves, and falls in ruins. You want prayer. You want believing, persevering, courageous prayer. And the want of that prayer causes all that drought and disunion from which you say your soul suffers. That which was shown me as the way your lordship is henceforth to pray is this. You are to recollect and accuse yourself of all your sins since your last time of like prayer. You are to divest yourself of everything as if you were that moment to die.

You are to begin by reciting to yourself and to God the Fifty-first Psalm. And after that you must say this. ‘I come, O Lord, Bishop as I am, to Thy children’s school of prayer and obedience. I come to Thee not to teach, but to learn. I will speak to Thee, who am but dust and ashes.’ And all the time set before the eyes of your soul Jesus Christ crucified, and ruminate on Him in some such way as this. Fix your eyes on that stupendous humility of His whereby He so annihilated Himself. Look on His head crowned with thorns. Fix your eyes on His nailed hands, His feet, and His side. Meditate on and interrogate every one of His wounds for you.

It behoves you also to go to prayer with a most entire resignation and submission and pliantness to go that way in religion and in life that God points out to you. Sometimes He will teach you by turning His back on you: and, anon, by lifting up the light of His countenance upon you. Sometimes by shutting you out of His presence, and sometimes by bringing you into His banqueting-house. And you are to receive it all with the same equability of mind, knowing that He always acts for the best. Otherwise you will go to teach God in your prayers, which is not the proper scope and intent of prayer at all. And when you say that you are dust and ashes, you must observe and exhibit the proper quality of such. In our Lord’s prayer in the garden, He requested that the bitterness and the terrible trial He felt in overcoming His human nature might be taken away. He did not ask that His pains might be taken away, but only the disgust wherewith He suffered them. And when it was answered Him that it was not expedient but that He should drink that cup, He had to master that weakness and pusillanimity of the flesh, as must all other men.

One cannot be a great scholar, or even a finished courtier, without great pains and expense; and to be a scholar in the Church, and a minister, and a master in the science of Heaven, cannot be done without long time at school and much hard work.

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Elizabeth Scalia, attempting to explain that which is beyond comprehension:

Those hours of silent contemplation wrought a subtle but lasting change within me; at the time it did not feel subtle. It felt like dynamite applied beneath my soul: kaboom went everything I thought I knew, and I have been processing the experience, and working at restoration, ever since. And this has been difficult because, while words are my work and my play, they have utterly failed my process, and my comprehension.

Or not my comprehension, not really. I know what I comprehended, but it was something of such a different order. Imagine finding something—like a stone—covered with a strange writing that you are instantly, in a flash, able to understand. But you cannot translate it for anyone else because, although you know the message, there is no language on earth by which it may be conveyed.

You fall back on one word, “love,” but that word is wholly insufficient—using it is like trying to describe a deluge when the only word at your disposal is “damp.”

The love—it was blinding, mesmerizing, all-encompassing, warm, delightful—I still don’t have the words. One night I wrote to a friend, “I still have a long way to go before I can articulate what I learned there, in the amazing, tender presence of Him.”

Him. It was while I was on retreat, prostrate before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, awash in that otherworldly presence, that I very naturally addressed him as “Your Majesty.”

Read the rest here.

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(From an email I received – but I’m in.)

Greetings!

Imagine what might happen if every Catholic in the world would pray a Rosary on the same day! We have an example in October of 1573, when  Europe was saved from the invasion of the mighty Turkish fleet, by the praying of the Rosary by all Christians – the origin of the Feast of the Rosary.

In the 1920s, the Church in Portugal experienced a miraculous resurrection in the face of the fiercely anti-Catholic republican government, because the ordinary people who had seen the miracle of the sun in October 1917, willingly complied with Our Lady’s request to pray the Rosary every day …

In Austria in 1955, the Soviets voluntarily withdrew the Red Army of occupation, after 10% of the population joined in a Rosary crusade with public processions …

So, on Good Friday, let us all pray a Rosary for suffering and persecuted Christians wherever they might be, for peace in the world and the return of moral values into our communities. If possible, please pray your Rosary between Noon and 3:00pm.

Let’s unite in praying one of the most powerful prayers in existence,for these intentions, on one of the holiest days in our Church year.

Ave Maria !

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Jesus asked that the Feast of the Divine Mercy be preceded by a Novena to the Divine Mercy which would begin on Good Friday.  He gave St. Faustina an intention to pray for on each day of the Novena, saving for the last day the most difficult intention of all, the lukewarm and indifferent of whom He said: “These souls cause Me more suffering than any others; it was from such souls that My soul felt the most revulsion in the Garden of Olives. It was on their account that I said: ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass Me by.’ The last hope of salvation for them is to flee to My Mercy.”

In her diary, St. Faustina wrote that Jesus told her:

“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.”

The different souls prayed for on each day of the novena are:

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.
Read more: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/mercy/novena.htm#ixzz1K9FuN07p

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The National Catholic Register carries a blog post by Matthew Arnold that was all about me! Seven reasons why I stink at praying, he called it. He said:

I am:

Awesomely Humble. Sometimes, no sooner do I hit my knees when I start thinking about how wonderful I am to take time out of my day to pray. I’m like a short chubby St. Teresa of Avila, bursting with humility. And then because I’m so wonderful at being humble I start fretting about all those other bad people who are not as wonderfully humble as me and aren’t praying this very minute. I am so glad I am not them, the poor Hell-bound dears.

Lazy. Even though I know that the time I spend in prayer is a source of strength that I can draw on so that I can do well in all the other facets of my life, I tend to schedule it as catch when can. In between blogging, watching Phineas & Ferb, and getting dinner on the table I’ll find some time to thank God for creating the world, my family, me and loving us all so intensely that He sent His Son to die for our sins. I’ll get to God. He just has to be a little patient.

Easily Distracted. “Our Father, who art in….”  Art’s a funny word.  I wonder when they stopped using art in every day language?  I wonder when I say “Art,”  Does God think I’m Amish?  Do Amish people say “Art” when they pray?  Wouldn’t “Art” just sound like every day language to Amish people?  I wonder if they say “Is” instead, ya know,  just so it sounds different?  I art to Google it!  Hahaha.  Wait.  Where was I?

Short attenti……….

Waiting for the Right Time. The three year old is asking to go to the bathroom and let’s face it, when three year old’s need to go to the bathroom you don’t ignore that. Ever. (I learned that the hard and messy way.) The five year old is sick and throwing up in a bucket and his fever is at 100 degrees. The nine year old can’t find her tights for dance class and she swears that she “pacifically” remembers putting them in her dance bag and she wants to know who took them out. The eleven year old wants to know why you’re supposed to invert and multiply and the eight year old just ran by me with a light saber yelling a war cry. I’ll get to God as soon as things calm down around here.

A Thinker. Sometimes I’m too much of a thinker and not enough of a get down on your knees and pray to God guy. I’ll sometimes get on my knees to pray and I start wondering about why I pray petitionary prayers to God who’s always going to do the right thing for me anyway. I’ve prayed for lots of things that I’m darn thankful He didn’t let me have. God knows best and He’s going to do right by me so why am I bothering to ask. So I get down on my knees and I THINK about God. I THINK of an article I read by Scott Hahn or something Jimmy Akin said on the radio and I think what a great point it was and how that ties in with other theological thoughts I’ve read and considered. And instead of just praying to God I’m thinking about God. Sometimes I think I can ponder my way to holiness. I can’t.

In Control. I am doing well. Everyone I know and love is well. I haven’t been to the emergency room in months. Nobody is sick. School is going well for the kids. My career is doing fine. I myself am a Master of my own little Universe and I’m cruising through life with little difficulty. It’s not that I’m rejecting God, it’s just I don’t really need Him currently. I’m treating God like he is that “like a good neighbor- State farm is there” guy. It’s a “don’t call me—I’ll call you” kind of thing.

Boy, does that lot ring a bell for me!

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