Saturday, October 15, 2011

Devotion for today: Do it anyway

 The version found written on the wall
 in Mother Teresa's home for children in Calcutta:
              People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.
           If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.
            If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.
           If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.
            What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.
            If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.
            The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.
         Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.
         In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.
-this version is credited to Mother Teresa

Friday, October 14, 2011

Devotion for today: Yearning for eternal life

Scripture for meditation: Revelation 7:13-14, 16-17:
Then one of the elders asked me, "Who are these people all dressed in white?" I said to him, "Sir, you should know better than I." He then told me, "These are the ones who have survived the great period of trial; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
"Never again shall they know hunger or thirst, nor shall the sun or its heat beat down on them, for the Lamb on the throne will shepherd them. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe every tear from their eyes."

Christ says: Matthew 5:8:
Blest are the single-hearted, for they shall see God.

St. Teresa of Avila tells us: Blessed are those who are written in the book of this life; but, you, my soul, if you are written there, why are you sad and why do you disturb me? Hope in God, for even now I will confess my sins and His mercies. And putting these all together, I shall make a song of praise with perpetual sighs to my savior and my God. There may come a day when my glory will sing to Him, and when my conscience will not feel compunction, where all sighs and fears will have ceased; but in the meantime, in silence and hope will be my strength. I want to live and die in striving and hoping for eternal life more than for the possession of all creatures and all their goods; for these will come to an end. Don't abandon me, Lord, because I hope that in You my hope will not be confounded; may I always serve You; and do with me whatever you will. (The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, vol.1)

Prayer: Psalm 42:2-3, 6: Desire for God and His temple
As the hind longs for running water, so my soul longs for you, O God.
Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.
When shall I behold the face of God?
Why are you so downcast O my soul?
Why do you sigh within me?
Hope in God! For I shall again be thanking Him,
in the presence of my savior and my God.

My thoughts: Tomorrow is the feast of St. Teresa of Avila. She is one of my favorite saints for many reasons, one of which is that she had a sense of humor. She once said, "If this is the way you treat your friends, Lord, no wonder you have so few!" She was also capable of tremendous insight as her lesson teaches us today. Longing for heaven, for the life to come, will keep us focused on our true goal in life and put all our suffering and sacrifice in perspective. Christ reminds us that those who serve God out of love for Him and not primarily for their own interests are headed for heaven. Washed in the blood of the Lamb, we will no longer long for our God: we shall see Him face to face and bask in His love. Let us join St. Teresa as she states, "I want to live and die striving for eternal life."

Your prayer to God: We all have a picture of heaven. For some it is  a place filled with angels and friends; for others it is a lush garden filled with trickling streams and vibrant flowers. Whatever you see when you think about heaven, imagine yourself sitting there now, completely at peace, having survived your great trial. Your robe is white, and Christ is smiling at you, welcoming you home. Keep this vision before you when you are tempted to seek the transitory glories of this world, and say to God, "May I always serve you; and then do with me as you will."

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Devotion for today: Angels in our midst

Scripture meditation:  Exodus 23:20-21
"See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared. Be attentive to him and heed his voice."

Christ says:  Matthew 18:10:
"See that you never despise one of these little ones. I assure you, their angels in heaven constantly behold my heavenly Father's face."

Pope Benedict XVI tells us: "Dear friends, the Lord is ever close and active in humanity’s history and accompanies us with the unique presence of his Angels, whom today the Church venerates as “Guardian Angels”, that is, ministers of the divine care for every human being. From the beginning until the hour of death, human life is surrounded by their constant protection."Angelus Address, Oct. 2, 2011 (Feast of the Guardian Angels)

Prayer: The Guardian Angel Prayer:
Angel of God, my guardian dear,
to whom God's love commits me here.
ever this day be at my side,
to light and guard, to rule and guide.  Amen.

My thoughts: Padre Pio often told his followers to whisper messages to their guardian angels, and ask them to deliver the messages to the intended receivers.  He said it worked for him, and I believe him!  Angels surround us and protect us. God let His people know their power in the Old Testament.  Jesus speaks of them in the new.  Pope Benedict reminds us that our entire life is guarded by a special angel given just to us. Remember to pray to your guardian angel, and ask his help during the long and arduous journey of your life.  No matter how despondent you might feel, you are never alone.

Your prayer to God: It is a beautiful practice to entrust our loved ones to the care of their guardian angels.  When we fear for their safety, hurt for their sorrow, worry about their cares and hope for their salvation, we should hand them over to their special angels, who have been with them since the day they were conceived. Give your guardian angel a name, and ask him to protect you.  Then whisper your special message of love or concern to him, ask him to deliver it, and worry no more. Your life, and their lives, are in good hands.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Devotion for today: To speak or not to speak

Scripture for today: James 3:
Power of the Tongue.  Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you realize that we will be judged more strictly, for we all fall short in many respects. If anyone does not fall short in speech, he is a perfect man, able to bridle his whole body also. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide their whole bodies. It is the same with ships: even though they are so large and driven by fierce winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot’s inclination wishes. In the same way the tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions. Consider how a small fire can set a huge forest ablaze. The tongue is also a fire. It exists among our members as a world of malice, defiling the whole body and setting the entire course of our lives on fire, itself set on fire by Gehenna. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. This need not be so, my brothers. Does a spring gush forth from the same opening both pure and brackish water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, produce olives, or a grapevine figs? Neither can salt water yield fresh.

Christ says: Matthew 5:37
"Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes' and your 'No' mean 'No'.  Anything more is from the evil one."

St. Francis de Sales tells us: An Introduction to the Devout Life:
"Let your speech be gentle, frank, sincere, clear, simple, and truthful. Avoid all duplicit, artifice, and affectation; for although it is not expedient to tell everything which is true, it is at no time allowable to tell what is not.  Never permit yourself to tell a lie in the way of excuse or otherwise, remembering that God is a God of truth.  If you accidentally say what is untrue, and it is possible to correct yourself by explanation or reparation, do so. A sincere excuse is of far more avail and more powerful than a lie." "No art is so valuable as simplicity. Worldly prudence and carnal wisdom appertain to the children of this world, but the children of God go on in a straightforward course, and their hearts are steady and confident.  Lying, duplicity, and dissimulation are the sure signs of a low, groveling mind."

Prayer:  Psalm 141:1-9
I have called to you Lord; hasten to help me!
Hear my voice when I cry to you.
Let my prayer arise before you like incense,
the raising of my hands like an evening oblation.

Set, O Lord, a guard over my mouth;
keep watch at the door of my lips!
Do not turn my heart to things that are wrong,
to evil deeds with men who are sinners.

Never allow me to share in their feasting.
If a good man strikes or reproves me it is kindness;
but let the oil of the wicked not anoint my head.
Let my prayer be ever against their malice.

My thoughts: St. James certainly doesn't try to sugar-coat the terrible sins we commit with our tongues! People's reputations can be destroyed; our hearts become selfish, set on doing whatever it takes to get what we want. The harmful words of others can destroy us, and need to be avoided, as David warns us in the Psalm. We must be vigilant over our tongues, and ask ourselves if our "yes' really does mean "yes". None of us wants to be guilty of having a "groveling mind"!

Your prayer to God:  Let us bring before God today all of the people we have willingly or unwillingly harmed by our words.  Let us ask Him to heal the hurt we have caused and the pain we have inflicted by not being honest, by gossip, by spinning the truth to our advantage.  Then let us tell God how sorry we are, ask His forgiveness, and resolve to use our tongues for His honor and glory, and not our own.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Devotion for today: I place before you life and death; choose life

Scripture for meditation: Jeremiah 31:15
Rachel mourns her children. She refuses to be consoled because they are no more.

Christ says: Matthew 18:5
And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me.

Blessed John Paul II says:
Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights—for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture—is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination. (Christifideles Laici, no. 38)” "The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life from the moment of conception until natural death is always wrong and is not just one issue among many (n. 28)." "Abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others" (Living the Gospel of Life, no. 5) (n. 22).
Prayer: Prayer for life by Pope John Paul II
Mary, bright dawn of the new world,
Mother of the living,
to you do we entrust the cause of life:
Look down, O Mother, upon the vast numbers
of babies to be born,
of the poor whose lives are made difficult,
of men and women who are victims of brutal violence,
of the elderly and the sick killed
by indifference or out of misguided mercy.
Grant that all who believe in your Son
may proclaim the Gospel of life
with honesty and love to the people of our time.
Obtain for them the grace
to accept that Gospel as a gift ever new,
the joy of celebrating it with gratitude
throughout their lives
and the courage to bear witness to it resolutely,
in order to build,
together with all people of good will,
the civilization of truth and love,
to the praise and glory of God,
the Creator and lover of life.
~~ Pope John Paul II
Encyclical Letter "The Gospel of Life"
Given in Rome, on March 25,
the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord,
in the year 1995.

My thoughts: It is very difficult to deny the existence of a child in his mother's womb.  Technology has given us photos of these blessed little beings growing and developing according to a divine plan.  Just as the figurative language shows Rachel weeping over the lost tribes, her children who shall be no more, so, too, we weep over those children never given a chance to live.  We are charged by Christ to see Him in every child.  John Paul warns us that the argument for other issues in society fails to hold water when compared to the charge to protect life in all stages.  May we never become so "correct" in our thinking that we fail to choose life.  The alternative is death.
Your prayer:  A host of women today face the devastating decision to carry their child to term, or to end their pregnancy.  Let us offer their anxiety and distress to our Blessed Mother, begging her to help her children choose life.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Devotion for today: To be a Soldier for Christ

Scripture for meditation: Eph 6:13-17
"Take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having fastened the belt of truth around your waist and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench the flaming darts of the Evil One.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

Christ says: John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

Commentary by Paul Cantalanotta: "So, while being 'soldiers for Christ' may not be the most popular image for Christians today, it does capture the essence of what it means to follow Jesus: a discipleship that places the needs of others before one's own, that allows a person to set aside ego for the sake of serving others, and that promotes self-sacrifice in order to move toward a difficult and dangerous goal.  St. Paul teaches that  we are 'not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places' (Eph 6:12).  But as G.K. Chesterton reminds us, 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.'" Homiletic and Pastoral Review, March 2011, pg. 42.

Prayer: St. Ignatius of Loyola:
Prayer for Generosity
Eternal Word, only begotten Son of God,
Teach me true generosity.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve.
To give without counting the cost,
To fight heedless of wounds,
To labor without seeking rest,
To sacrifice myself without thought of any reward
Save the knowledge that I have done your will.

My thoughts: Today we are reminded of a very important part of our salvation: it is not enough for us to protect ourselves from the dangers of this world, as described in the scripture passage, although that is something we definitely must do. We are to include everyone in our lives. A good soldier, the commentary states, lays down his life for those "behind him." We are not to strive only to obtain our own salvation by fending off the evils of this world, we must protect and defend all who are in our lives, by praying, sacrificing and laboring "without seeking rest." Christ laid down His life for His friends.  We must do the same.

Your prayer to God: Take a few minutes today to think of the people in your life who need you to bring them to God.  Present them to God, entrust them to His care, and then ask Him to give you the courage to fight for their souls.