Monday, December 31, 2012

Devotion for today: a new year’s resolution that will change your life

Our Lady of Kibeho
 “Thirteen years before the bloody 1994 genocide that swept across Rwanda and left more than a million people dead, the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ appeared to eight young people (three of the visionaries have already been approved by the Church, unheard of given the length of time it normally takes to approve visions-my words). Through these visionaries, Mary and Jesus warned of the looming holocaust, which, they assured, could be averted if Rwandans opened their hearts to God and embraced His love.” (Our Lady of Kibeho, Immaculee Ilibagiza, Hay House, 2008). Although tens of thousands of pilgrims came to Kibeho, the sight of the apparitions, many did not take the messages seriously and did not repent, give up hatred and pride, and turn their lives over to God. As a result, many of these same pilgrims participated in the killings. Mary left many messages at Kibeho which, she said at the time, were not just warnings and pleadings for Rwanda, but for the world. I give you today Mary’s plea for us to change the way we pray and live, to humble ourselves before God and beg for His forgiveness and then to show that same mercy and forgiveness to others. Mary told us at Kibeho that the tragedy which would befall Rwanda would only happen there and to the rest of the world if men choose to ignore God’s ways and keep themselves as their own Gods. Sadly, the title of Immaculee’s latest documentary on Kibeho, Rwanda, says it all: “If Only We Had Listened.” For more information on Our Lady of Kibeho, and on Immaculee Ilibagiza, a young woman who survived the holocaust and has written several books on her experiences, go to or If you make any resolutions this year, resolve to read Imaculee’s books and take the messages to heart.
Here is what Mary said in Kibeho:
My children, there are many who want to pray, who try to pray, but do not know how to pray. You must ask for the strength and knowledge to understand what is expected of you. My love goes out to you all, for there are many here who want to reach the road to heaven, but do not have the strength or knowledge to ask for God’s help. My dear children, listen to my words, for I will teach you how to pray from the bottom of your hearts.
You must begin your prayers by offering God all you conceal in your soul. God sees your every action and knows your every thought; you can hide nothing from Him. But you must tell Him yourself – you must be willing and strong enough to confess all of your transgressions of body, mind and spirit to Him. Hold back nothing; admit all your bad deeds and thoughts. Then, you must ask for God’s forgiveness from the bottom of your heart. Rest assured that if you confess and seek forgiveness sincerely, He will forgive you. By beginning this way, the sins you carried will not distract you from praying sincerely. You can then speak to Him knowing that your heart is clean and your conscience is clear. Pray to Him fervently, make a petition, beg His favor, ask for His blessing; God sees into your soul and knows you seek His help with a repentant heart.
Then, my children, you too must offer forgiveness by asking God to forgive all those who have trespassed against you, all who have caused you suffering or given you insult or injury. Forgive them in prayer and ask God to bless and help them.
Then pray for the spiritual and physical welfare of your relatives, for all of your brothers and sisters, that God may bless them. Then give thanks to Him for having received and answered your prayers. Most important, you must ask God for the strength you need to do His will; ask for the strength not to stray from his light, Pray for the courage and wisdom to walk only the road leading to heaven.
And never forget, my children, to pray for the strength to be humble. Your prayers have no meaning if they do not come from the depths of your heart, and you cannot open your heart to the Lord without humility. I love you, my children. When you lack the strength to pray, ask for my help. Pray for my intercession, and I will strengthen you and bring you to my Son and to the Father through your prayer.
My friends: Will We Listen?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Devotion for today: Feast of the Holy Family

The Holy Family Prayer

JESUS, Son of God and Son of Mary, bless our family. Graciously inspire in us the unity, peace, and mutual love that you found in your own family in the little town of Nazareth.

MARY, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, nourish our family with your faith and your love. Keep us close to your Son, Jesus, in all our sorrows and joys.

JOSEPH, Foster-father to Jesus, guardian and spouse of Mary, keep our family safe from harm. Help us in all times of discouragement or anxiety.

HOLY FAMILY OF NAZARETH, make our family one with you. Help us to be instruments of peace. Grant that love, strengthened by grace, may prove mightier than all the weaknesses and trials through which our families sometimes pass. May we always have God at the center of our hearts and homes until we are all one family, happy and at peace in our true home with you. Amen.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Devotion for today: Grown –up Christmas List

As adults, we pray to God to grant us our Christmas list wishes. He promises to bring truth and light to a sad world. Just believe….

Do you remember me?
I sat upon your knee;
I wrote to you
With childhood fantasies.

Well, I’m all grown-up now,
And still need help somehow
I’m not a child,
But my heart still can dream.

So here’s my lifelong wish,
My grown-up Christmas list.
Not for myself,
But for a world in need.

No more lives torn apart,
That wars would never start,
 And time would heal all hearts.
And everyone would have a friend,
And right would always win,
And love would never end.
This is my grown-up Christmas list.

As children we believed
The grandest sight to see
Was something lovely
Wrapped beneath our tree
Well heaven surely knows
That packages and bows
Can never heal
A hurting human soul.

No more lives torn apart,
That wars would never start,
And time would heal all hearts.
And everyone would have a friend,
And right would always win,
And love would never end.
This is my grown-up Christmas list.

What is this illusion called the innocence of youth?
Maybe only in our blind belief can we ever find the truth.

No more lives torn apart,
That wars would never start,
And time would heal all hearts.
And everyone would have a friend,
And right would always win,
And love would never end, oh.
This is my grown-up Christmas list.

This is my grown-up Christmas list. Amy Grant

Prayer of St. Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Devotion for today: Truth has sprung out of the earth!

VATICAN CITY -- Here is the official Vatican English translation of the "Urbi et Orbi" Christmas Day message read in Italian by Pope Benedict XVI Tuesday. "Urbi et Orbi" is Latin for to "The city and to the world."

Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, a happy Christmas to you and your families!

In this Year of Faith, I express my Christmas greetings and good wishes in these words taken from one of the Psalms: "Truth has sprung out of the earth". Actually, in the text of the Psalm, these words are in the future: "Kindness and truth shall meet; / justice and peace shall kiss. / Truth shall spring out of the earth, /and justice shall look down from heaven. / The Lord himself will give his benefits; / our land shall yield its increase. / Justice shall walk before him, / and salvation, along the way of his steps" (Ps 85:11-14).
Today these prophetic words have been fulfilled! In Jesus, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, kindness and truth do indeed meet; justice and peace have kissed; truth has sprung out of the earth and justice has looked down from heaven.

 Saint Augustine explains with admirable brevity: "What is truth? The Son of God. What is the earth? The flesh. Ask whence Christ has been born, and you will see that truth has sprung out of the earth . Truth has been born of the Virgin Mary" (En. in Ps. 84:13). And in a Christmas sermon he says that "in this yearly feast we celebrate that day when the prophecy was fulfilled: `truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from heaven'.
The Truth, which is in the bosom of the Father has sprung out of the earth, to be in the womb of a mother too. The Truth which rules the whole world has sprung out of the earth, to be held in the arms of a woman ... The Truth which heaven cannot contain has sprung out of the earth, to be laid in a manger. For whose benefit did so lofty a God become so lowly? Certainly not for his own, but for our great benefit, if we believe" (Sermones, 185, 1).

"If we believe". Here we see the power of faith! God has done everything; he has done the impossible: he was made flesh. His all-powerful love has accomplished something which surpasses all human understanding: the Infinite has become a child, has entered the human family. And yet, this same God cannot enter my heart unless I open the door to him. Porta fidei! The door of faith!

We could be frightened by this, our inverse omnipotence. This human ability to be closed to God can make us fearful. But see the reality which chases away this gloomy thought, the hope that conquers fear: truth has sprung up! God is born! "The earth has yielded its fruits" (Ps 67:7). Yes, there is a good earth, a healthy earth, an earth freed of all selfishness and all lack of openness. In this world there is a good soil which God has prepared, that he might come to dwell among us. A dwelling place for his presence in the world. This good earth exists, and today too, in 2012, from this earth truth has sprung up! Consequently, there is hope in the world, a hope in which we can trust, even at the most difficult times and in the most difficult situations. Truth has sprung up, bringing kindness, justice and peace.

Yes, may peace spring up for the people of Syria, deeply wounded and divided by a conflict which does not spare even the defenseless and reaps innocent victims. Once again I appeal for an end to the bloodshed, easier access for the relief of refugees and the displaced, and dialogue in the pursuit of a political solution to the conflict.
May peace spring up in the Land where the Redeemer was born, and may he grant Israelis and Palestinians courage to end to long years of conflict and division, and to embark resolutely on the path of negotiation.

In the countries of North Africa, which are experiencing a major transition in pursuit of a new future - and especially the beloved land of Egypt, blessed by the childhood of Jesus - may citizens work together to build societies founded on justice and respect for the freedom and dignity of every person.

May peace spring up on the vast continent of Asia. May the Child Jesus look graciously on the many peoples who dwell in those lands and, in a special way, upon all those who believe in him. May the King of Peace turn his gaze to the new leaders of the People's Republic of China for the high task which awaits them. I express my hope that, in fulfilling this task, they will esteem the contribution of the religions, in respect for each, in such a way that they can help to build a fraternal society for the benefit of that noble People and of the whole world.

May the Birth of Christ favor the return of peace in Mali and that of concord in Nigeria, where savage acts of terrorism continue to reap victims, particularly among Christians. May the Redeemer bring help and comfort to the refugees from the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and grant peace to Kenya, where brutal attacks have struck the civilian population and places of worship.

May the Child Jesus bless the great numbers of the faithful who celebrate him in Latin America. May he increase their human and Christian virtues, sustain all those forced to leave behind their families and their land, and confirm government leaders in their commitment to development and fighting crime.

Dear brothers and sisters! Kindness and truth, justice and peace have met; they have become incarnate in the child born of Mary in Bethlehem. That child is the Son of God; he is God appearing in history. His birth is a flowering of new life for all humanity. May every land become a good earth which receives and brings forth kindness and truth, justice and peace. Happy Christmas to all of you!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Devotion for today: Remember our service men and women this Christmas Season

A Soldier's Silent Night - Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt

'Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
in a one bedroom house made of plaster and stone.
I had come down the chimney with presents to give,
and to see just who in this home did live.
I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
no tinsel, no presents, net even a tree.

No stocking by mantle, just boots filled with sand,
on the wall hung pictures of far distant lands.
With medals and badges, awards of all kinds,
a sober thought came through my mind.
For this house was different, it was dark and dreary,
I found the home of a soldier, once I could see clearly.

The soldier lay sleeping, silent, alone,
curled up on the floor in this one bedroom home.
The face was so gentle, the room in such disorder,
not how I pictured a United States Soldier.
Was this the hero of whom I'd just read?
Curled up on a poncho, the floor for a bed?

I realized the families that I saw this night,
owed their lives to these soldiers who were willing to fight.
Soon round the world, the children would play,
and grownups would celebrate a bright Christmas Day.
They all enjoyed freedom each month of the year,
because of the soldiers, like the one lying here.

I couldn't help wonder how many lay alone,
on a cold Christmas Eve in a land far from home.
The very thought brought a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees and started to cry.
The soldier awakened and I heard a rough voice,
"Santa don't cry, this life is my choice;

I fight for freedom, I don't ask for more,
my life is my God, my Country, My Corps."
The soldier rolled over and drifted to sleep,
I couldn't control it, I continued to weep.
I kept watch for hours, so silent and still
and we both shivered from the cold night's chill.

I didn't want to leave on that cold, dark night,
this guardian of honor so willing to fight.
The the soldier rolled over, with a voice soft and pure,
whispered, "Carry on Santa, it's Christmas day, all is secure."
One look at my watch and I knew he was right.
Merry Christmas my friend, and to all a good night.

Never forget....
Merry Christmas Warriors

Prayer for our service men and women

Dear God,
Hold our troops in your loving arms.
Protect them as they protect us.
Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need.
I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Devotion for today: 20 Beautiful Children

‘Twas 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38...

when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate.
their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air...

they could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
they were filled with such joy, they didn't know what to say.
they remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
"where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
"this is heaven." declared a small boy. "we're spending Christmas at God's house."
when what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
and in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring
those children all flew into the arms of their King
and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face.
and as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of mom and dad."
then He looked down on earth, the world far below
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe
then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
"Let My power and presence re-enter this land!"
"may this country be delivered from the hands of fools"
"I'm taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!"
then He and the children stood up without a sound.
"come now my children, let me show you around."
excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
all displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
and I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
"in the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT."

Written by Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, PA

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Devotion for today: have yourself a blessed, blessed Christmas Day!

Here are some thoughts on Christmas by Fulton J. Sheen
What is Peace? Peace is the tranquility of order...body to soul and of man to God.

There are two births of Christ: One unto this world in Bethlehem, the other in the soul when it is spiritually reborn. Both result from a kind of Divine invasion.
What can I Give?
There is only one thing in the world that is really our own--and that is our will...Our will is ours for all eternity. That is why the most precious gift that one can give to another is his will.
There were only two classes of people who heard the cry Christmas night: shepherds and wise men. Shepherds: those who know they know nothing. Wise men: those who know they do not know everything. Only the very simple and very learned discovered God -- never the man with one book.
The Christmas gift of peace was the uncoiling of the links of a triple chain that first unites a person with God, then with himself, then with his neighbor. ("Peace" from Rejoice)
The Christmas secret of peace is giving this secret garden and our whole human nature to God, as Mary gave Christ His human nature. Christmas reminds us that the reason we are not as happy as saints is because we do not wish to be saints. (Rejoice)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Devotion for today: The time of Christ’s coming is near!!


The King shall come when morning dawns
The King shall come when morning dawns
and light triumphant breaks;
when beauty gilds the eastern hills
and life to joy awakes.

Not, as of old, a little child,
to bear and fight and die,
but crowned with glory like the sun
that lights the morning sky.

The King shall come when morning dawns
and earth's dark night is past;
O haste the rising of that morn,
the day that e'er shall last;

And let the endless bliss begin,
by weary saints foretold,
when right shall triumph over wrong,
and truth shall be extolled.

The King shall come when morning dawns
and light and beauty brings:
Hail, Christ the Lord! Thy people pray,
come quickly, King of kings.

Words: Greek; trans. John Brownlie, 1907

My thoughts: This hymn reminds us today, Christmas Eve, that as we prepare for the festivities of tomorrow, we are going to celebrate the coming of Christ, our King, not Santa Clause! As adults, we must be awed and overwhelmed at the idea that God chose to come to earth as a baby, in poor conditions, born to a virgin and sought by Herod to be put to death. He was loved by those who believed in Him, and hated by those who didn’t. He was killed and then triumphantly rose, and He will come again. This hymn reminds us that tomorrow is the birth of the the Baby Jesus, but our King reigns, and will come again in glory. The darkness which covered the earth at His first coming reminds many of us of the darkness which covers our world today. But we are ever hopeful. The last verse tells us that Christ brings light and beauty. Those of us who believe in Him live in that world, one where we pray, “Come Quickly, King of Kings.” May your Christmas Eve be filled with a child-like anticipation, not for the coming of Santa, but for the coming of Christ the King, whose gifts of peace, love and eternal life, will never break or grow old.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Devotion: Lord, hear our prayer

This week’s study of the Mass ends with the Prayers of the Faithful, a beautiful form of petitioning and interceding to God. The passage below is a bit long so maybe if you are busy you can read it in segments throughout the day and the weekend as my friend Sue does. She says it works, so why not try it? There is just too much wonderful thought to leave anything out!

Scripture for meditation: Romans 10:1
Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: II. PRAYER OF PETITION (read this today)
2629 The vocabulary of supplication in the New Testament is rich in shades of meaning: ask, beseech, plead, invoke, entreat, cry out, even "struggle in prayer."102 Its most usual form, because the most spontaneous, is petition: by prayer of petition we express awareness of our relationship with God. We are creatures who are not our own beginning, not the masters of adversity, not our own last end. We are sinners who as Christians know that we have turned away from our Father. Our petition is already a turning back to him.
2630 The New Testament contains scarcely any prayers of lamentation, so frequent in the Old Testament. In the risen Christ the Church's petition is buoyed by hope, even if we still wait in a state of expectation and must be converted anew every day. Christian petition, what St. Paul calls {"groaning," arises from another depth, that of creation "in labor pains" and that of ourselves "as we wait for the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved."103 In the end, however, "with sighs too deep for words" the Holy Spirit "helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words."104
2631 The first movement of the prayer of petition is asking forgiveness, like the tax collector in the parable: "God, be merciful to me a sinner!"105 It is a prerequisite for righteous and pure prayer. A trusting humility brings us back into the light of communion between the Father and his Son Jesus Christ and with one another, so that "we receive from him whatever we ask."106 Asking forgiveness is the prerequisite for both the Eucharistic liturgy and personal prayer.
2632 Christian petition is centered on the desire and search for the Kingdom to come, in keeping with the teaching of Christ.107 There is a hierarchy in these petitions: we pray first for the Kingdom, then for what is necessary to welcome it and cooperate with its coming. This collaboration with the mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit, which is now that of the Church, is the object of the prayer of the apostolic community.108 It is the prayer of Paul, the apostle par excellence, which reveals to us how the divine solicitude for all the churches ought to inspire Christian prayer.109 By prayer every baptized person works for the coming of the Kingdom.
2633 When we share in God's saving love, we understand that every need can become the object of petition. Christ, who assumed all things in order to redeem all things, is glorified by what we ask the Father in his name.110 It is with this confidence that St. James and St. Paul exhort us to pray at all times.111
 III. PRAYER OF INTERCESSION (read this Saturday)
2634 Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men, especially sinners.112 He is "able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them."113 The Holy Spirit "himself intercedes for us . . . and intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."114
2635 Since Abraham, intercession - asking on behalf of another has been characteristic of a heart attuned to God's mercy. In the age of the Church, Christian intercession participates in Christ's, as an expression of the communion of saints. In intercession, he who prays looks "not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others," even to the point of praying for those who do him harm.115
2636 The first Christian communities lived this form of fellowship intensely.116 Thus the Apostle Paul gives them a share in his ministry of preaching the Gospel117 but also intercedes for them.118 The intercession of Christians recognizes no boundaries: "for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions," for persecutors, for the salvation of those who reject the Gospel.119
.102 Cf. Rom 15:30; Col 4:12.103 Rom 8:22-24104 Rom 8:26.105 Lk 18:13. 106 1 Jn 3:22; cf. 1:7-2:2.107 Cf. Mt 6:10,33; Lk 11:2,13.108 Cf. Acts 6:6; 13:3.109 Cf. Rom 10:1; Eph 1:16-23; Phil 1:9-11; Col 1:3-6; 4:3-4,12.110 Cf. Jn 14:13.111 Cf. Jas 1:5-8; Eph 5:20; Phil 4:6-7; Col 3:16-17; 1 Thess 5:17-18.112 Cf. Rom 8:34; 1 Jn 2:1; 1 Tim 2:5-8.113 Heb 7:25.114 Rom 8:26-27.115 Phil 2:4; cf. Acts 7:60; Lk 23:28,34.116 Cf. Acts 12:5; 20:36; 21:5; 2 Cor 9:14.117 Cf. Eph 6:18-20; Col 4:3-4; 1 Thess 5:25.118 Cf. 2 Thess 1:11; Col 1:3; Phil 1:3-4. 119 2 Tim 2:1; cf. Rom 12:14; 10:1.

My thoughts: We have learned a lot in the above passages from the Catechism. What jumps out at me is the line 2630: “The New Testament contains scarcely any prayers of lamentation, so frequent in the Old Testament. In the risen Christ the Church's petition is buoyed by hope, even if we still wait in a state of expectation and must be converted anew every day.” I never thought about the fact that we don’t have long passages of deep mourning and lamenting in the New Testament as the Old Testament does. It makes sense. As Christians, we have the knowledge and the hope of the Redeemer, the Messiah, right in our hearts. We are saved, we are loved, and we know it for fact. When we present our petitions to the Lord at Mass, we do so not out of doubt or despair, but out of confident assurance that God will hear our prayer and answer us. The Church prays for many needs at this time. Listen carefully to the petitions, pray with all your heart, and believe in your power to intercede for others. It was given to you by God. Use it. And remember to always pray for the redemption of your loved ones. We want everyone to go to heaven with us!!!

Prayer: Novena to the Divine Child Jesus (read this Sunday. It is a nine day novena, very powerful)
Divine Child Jesus, we believe in You; We adore You; and we love You; have mercy on us, sinners.
We've come to this Temple in response to your love. We've come in response to your mercy and grace. We are here because You invited us to come before You and to pour out the cares of our hearts to You since You deeply care for each of us.
We remember Your words to the disciples: Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened. Trusting in your infinite goodness and trusting that You always keep your promise, we now ask this intention which we pray in the silence of our hearts...<silently mention the request>...
Thank you, Divine Child Jesus, for listening attentively to our prayers all the time. We hope that You will ask this before Our Heavenly Father. And, if what we ask for may not be good for our salvation and sanctification, we trust that you will grant us instead what we truly need, so that one day we may be with You for all eternity enjoying that ultimate happiness of Heaven.
Divine Child Jesus, bless and protect us.
Divine Child Jesus, bless and lead us.
Divine Child Jesus, bless and provide for us.
All this we ask through the intercession of your Holy Mother, Mary, and in Your powerful and Most Holy Name, Jesus. Amen

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Devotion for today: We stand in the presence of Christ

Today we answer some frequently asked questions about the reading of the Gospel.

Scripture for meditation: Exodus 19:16-19
Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp tremble. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice.

The Gospel Reading: Why do we stand: Standing has always been a gesture of deep respect. We stand in the presence of royalty, when we meet dignitaries, or when we’re introduced to someone. Many people still stand to greet women or their elders. It is only natural that this respect would flow into our liturgical life, as well. Standing to pray was the usual posture in the Jewish temple and synagogues… thus during the Mass, we stand during the reading of the Gospel, we stand during many of the prayers and, in the United States, the norm for the reception of holy Communion is standing. Elizabeth Solsburg
At last we have reached the highpoint of the Liturgy of the Word, the Gospel reading. The word Gospel means “good news.” What we hear proclaimed at Mass truly is good news — the best news we can hear: Jesus Christ speaks to us! It is important to remember that when the Gospel is proclaimed, it is no longer the priest or deacon speaking, but Christ himself. We should pay especially close attention to the words of the Gospel as they are proclaimed. To help us focus on this very important reading, the Church gives us some additional postures and symbols of respect. First, we stand out of respect for the Gospel reading. Second, the Gospel is often carried in a special book, the Book of Gospels, that is placed in a place of honor during the Mass. Incense and candles are used on solemn feasts to indicate that Christ is present, speaking to us, through the Gospel we hear. It has become a custom for one to make a small sign of the cross on the forehead, lips, and heart before the proclamation of the Gospel. Why do we make small crosses before the Gospel is read? Originally this gesture belonged only to the deacon or priest proclaiming the Gospel, and only then if the Mass was celebrated by the bishop. Over time, priests and deacons began to use this gesture at all of the Masses they celebrated, and the laity adopted the same gesture. Even though this gesture has been used for centuries, there were no regulations requiring this gesture at Mass until the 1980s! When you make this gesture, ask God to bless your mind, that you may ponder his Word; your lips, that you may speak his praise; and your heart, that you may love the Word of God!

My thoughts: It is so important to remember that the Gospel is the highlight of the Liturgy of the Word. We stand because God is speaking to us. Just as the Jewish people stood when God spoke to them, out of respect and wondrous fear, we, too, should realize that we are actually hearing the words of Christ as He spoke them, the actions of Christ as He lived them, and the love of Christ as He poured it into the hearts of those who lived in His time, and into the hearts of us present now in the assembly of the faithful. It must be a priest or deacon who proclaims the Word of God; they are In Persona Christi, in the Person of Christ. Some people tell me they never read along with the priest when the Gospel is proclaimed. Rather, they close their eyes and picture themselves in the scene and at Christ’s side at that moment. I like that. Here is the Word of God being proclaimed; let us listen, and learn.

Prayer: Speak, Lord, by Gary Ault (you can hear the hymn at this site…so beautiful)
Speak, Lord, I’m listening
Plant your word down deep in me.
Speak, Lord, I’m listening
Please show me the way.

1.       Sometimes my heart is slow to follow you;
Touch me to hear and understand;
And I’m told the things you promise;
And I hope they all come true;
And I know what waits for those who wait;
And put their trust in You.

2.       Sometimes I stumble on my way to you;
Stretch out again, your healing hand;
And I’m told the things you promise;
And I hope they all come true;
And I know what waits for those who wait;
And put their trust in You.
 From St. John Fisher Chapel Community Songbook; #32





Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Devotion for today: The Second Reading at Mass

Today our study takes us to the New Testament.

Scripture for meditation: Psalm 119:105 
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us: 133: The Church "forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. . . to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.

Here is some interesting information on one source of the Second Reading at Mass: The Epistles are the twenty-one books of the New Testament written in the form of letters to churches or individuals. The fourteen Epistles of St. Paul are called after the group or person to whom they were addressed. The remaining seven are called by the name of the author. They are called "Catholic" because they were intended for the Church at large, although the second and third Epistles of St. John are addressed to individuals. St. Paul's Epistles were not deliberate treatises and systematic expositions of Christian theology. They were not something studied and literary. They were simple letters, pastoral and not personal, written on a specific occasion and to a particular body of converts. They were suggestions in regard to local difficulties, or words of counsel, encouragement or consolation. They were supplementary to the ordinary teaching, and he does not dwell in them on anything that is not a matter of controversy or difficulty. Hence, they were not called forth by any inward purpose or necessity on the part of the Apostle to formulate his thought, but each of them was written in response to particular conditions in the community to which it was addressed. And the contents and form are often due to the Apostle's vivid realization of the situation to which he is addressing himself.

My thoughts: The Second Reading at Mass comes from the above mentioned Epistles, as well as from the Acts of the Apostles, and the Book of Revelation. St. Paul wrote his epistles before the gospels were written, as he was actively seeking to correct errors in his young church communities and to set the newly formed Christians on fire with a love and passion for Christ. His young church communities were constantly falling back into their pagan ways, getting lazy about practicing their faith, and falling prey to false teachers and ideologies. Sound familiar? Nothing has changed, really. Today more than ever, we must listen to the Second Reading at Mass to be reminded of the saving work of Jesus, of His love for us, and of the practical life-changing attitudes we must adopt in order to be part of the kingdom of God on earth. The Second Reading usually shows us how to turn from sin and turn to Christ.

Prayer: Psalm 86:11-13
Teach me your way, O Lord,
and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Devotion for today: Sing psalms of praise and petition

Today we look at the Responsorial Psalm, said or sung after the first reading at Mass.

Scripture for meditation: Ephesians 5:18-19
Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another (in) psalms and hymns and spiritual songs ….

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us: 2579 David is par excellence the king "after God's own heart," the shepherd who prays for his people and prays in their name. His submission to the will of God, his praise, and his repentance, will be a model for the prayer of the people. His prayer, the prayer of God's Anointed, is a faithful adherence to the divine promise and expresses a loving and joyful trust in God, the only King and Lord. In the Psalms David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is the first prophet of Jewish and Christian prayer. The prayer of Christ, the true Messiah and Son of David, will reveal and fulfill the meaning of this prayer.

I found the following explanation on the internet and I think it is quite good: The Psalms are prayers of Praise, Thanksgiving and Petition we inherited from the service of the synagogue and we pray them [recited or sung] after the first reading from Scripture in order to join prayer to instruction. The Psalm chosen usually echoes or "responds" to the message contained in the Scripture reading. Liturgical use of the Psalms dates from the time of Christ and His Apostles. The gospels tell us Jesus and His Apostles recited chants of praise (Psalms 113 through 118) during His last Passover meal, “Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” Jesus also quoted His dying words from Psalm 22 “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” The Book of Psalms consists of 150 sacred poems expressing virtually the full range of Israel's faith…. Mary and Joseph would have taught the Psalms to Jesus and they were committed to memory. Therefore, even if they were unable to attend temple, they would be able to worship the Lord by singing the Psalms. The tradition of singing prayers of thanksgiving to God can be traced back to the prophets of Israel, e.g. the prophetess Miriam (Exod. 15:20-21), Isaiah (Isa.26:1-6) and Ezekiel (Ezek. 33:32). Today when we either recite or sing the responsorial Psalm, we do so following St. Paul's dictum “give thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father” (Ephesians 5:20).

My thoughts: The events of this past weekend in Connecticut have left us all shaken and confused. Our hearts are troubled and our spirits cannot rest. Sadness fills us all, and we feel united in grief with the victims’ families. Where can we go to put voice to our sadness and pleading for answers? Go to the Psalms. David captures the essence of sadness, joy, despair and promise in the Psalms. We hear them at Mass as pleadings, repentance, thankfulness and praise. We must always pay attention to the Psalm at Mass. It is a beautiful prayer which goes back and forth between the reader and the congregation, an antiphonal movement with roots in our Jewish ancestors. It was a common form of prayer for them, and one we retain in our Mass, to hear an exaltation and then to respond. In this troubled time, listen to the Psalms at Mass, and read them on your own. You will find a voice for your soul.

Letter from Archbishop Lori,
Former Bishop of Bridgeport
Read at all Masses today (December 16) at St. Rose of Lima Parish

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Along with you, and along with the rest of our nation and, indeed, the rest of the world, I was shocked and horrified to learn of what had taken place in Newtown so suddenly and terribly on Friday morning. I was in Rome for meetings, and it was early evening there when I heard.

Since that moment, my heart has been heavy, and I can't stop thinking about everyone in Newtown, especially the victims, the children, and their families. So I just wanted to say very sincerely and simply that I am close to all of you in my thoughts and prayers right now.

Coming at this time of year, so close to Christmas, the tragedy is all the more difficult to bear. I can only say that, especially for the sake of the victims and their families, we cannot allow ourselves to lose hope, but indeed, now more than ever, must strengthen one another through our friendships in Christ, and our unity of faith in him and his resurrection.

I have been thinking very much of the words of Blessed John Paul II, who once said, "To receive Jesus Christ means believing that in the history of humanity, even though it is marked by evil and suffering, the final word belongs to life, and to love, because God came to dwell among us, so we might dwell in Him."

So in these days of Advent, let us not forget that, as we read in Saint John's Gospel, "The light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

Our lives will never be the same. But neither will we have to face a single day without the strength and peace that only Christ can give to us. In that strength and in that peace I am very much united with you today.

Most Reverend William E. Lori
Archbishop of Baltimore

Friday, December 14, 2012

Devotion for today: We find the new in the old…

Today we will look at the first Sunday reading, which usually comes from the Old Testament.

Scripture for meditation: Luke 4:16-21
And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.  And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed, To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”
And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us: 2583: Finally, taking the desert road that leads to the place where the living and true God reveals himself to his people, Elijah, like Moses before him, hides "in a cleft of the rock" until the mysterious presence of God has passed by. But only on the mountain of the Transfiguration will Moses and Elijah behold the unveiled face of him whom they sought; "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God [shines] in the face of Christ," crucified and risen. 

Edward Sri tells us: The first reading is usually from the Old Testament (except during Easter Season, when it is from Acts of the Apostles, following an ancient practice). Although the Old Testament awaits the fullness of divine revelation in Jesus Christ, it is accepted by the Church with veneration as “authentic divine teaching.” In the Old Testament, “the mystery of our salvation is present in a hidden way.” In fact, one cannot adequately understand Jesus and the New Testament Scriptures without knowing the story of Israel in the Old. For the New Testament is like the last chapter of a great book or the climactic scene in a great movie. The more one grasps the many dramatic twists and turns in the story that went before – the Old Testament story of Israel – the more one will be able to understand the climax of the story of Jesus Christ and his Kingdom in the new.(The Mass, Ascension Press, 2010)

My thoughts: I am a lector at my church, and I feel it is a tremendous honor to proclaim the Word of God, yet sometimes the Old Testament readings can be difficult to understand. By listening carefully, however, the beautiful story of God’s chosen people unfolds throughout the year, and we come to understand their trials, tribulations, and longing for the Messiah. As Edward Sri tells us, we can see the New Testament in the Old if we look for the many actions, and prophecies that foretold the coming of the Messiah. A good study of the Old Testament can always be found through the writer and speaker Jeff Cavins and also Scott Hahn. They trace salvation history from Genesis to Christ, and what a fascinating history it is. So listen carefully to the Old Testament. It leads you into a fuller understanding of the awesomeness of the New.

Prayer: Lord, you know my heart,
my weaknesses,
and the times that I fail you and others.
I really need you now to speak to me through these words. Please inspire me in this time I have with you.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Devotion for today: gather the people, then tell the stories…

Today we begin a look at the Liturgy of the Word, the next part of our study of the Mass.

Scriptures for reflection: Romans 10:19
Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Acts 13:14-15
 But going on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. After the reading of the Law and the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, “Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.”

Revelation 1:3
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.

Fr. Robert Barron tells us: After these extremely significant opening liturgical elements, everyone sits in order to listen to the Word of God: usually on Sunday, a reading from the Old Testament, followed by a responsorial psalm, then a New Testament epistle, and finally a Gospel reading that is thematically coordinated to the first reading. The posture of sitting is not to be overlooked. In the ancient world, one would sit at the feet of a master in order to listen and learn. Sitting was therefore universally recognized, from the earliest days of the Church, as the proper attitude of the apprentice or student. Seated in silence, prepared to hear the voice of the Lord, Catholics at Mass signal that they are humble learners, apprentices to the Word.(Catholicism, Image Books, 2011)

My thoughts: There is that word again: humble. Everything we have looked at in the Mass asks us to approach God with humble and sincere hearts, with a contrite spirit. We have just finished recalling our sins, asking for mercy, and praising God for giving it to us. Now we sit and quiet our minds, stop the laundry list from unraveling in our brains, and focus on the Word of God. From the pattern carried over from the Old Testament, we assume the posture of the humble learner, not the wise and learned teacher. In the face of God, we are empty. Our ears and hearts are open as we eagerly wait to hear what God has to say to us personally in His inspired word. Everything written in the Bible, as we have already learned, is meant for every human being ever created by God, through all eternity. If you aren’t listening, you aren’t hearing God’s personal message to you.

Prayer: From the hymn:  Open My Eyes, That I May See (Text: Clara H. Scott)    
Open my ears, that I may hear
voices of truth thou sendest clear;
and while the wavenotes fall on my ear,
everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Devotion for today: My little son, there are many I could send. But you are the one I have chosen."

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Let us examine a few lines from her apparitions to Juan Diego. For a complete history of the apparitions, and an explanation of the image, see the links at the end of the blog.



“My dear little son, I love you. I desire you to know who I am. I am the ever-virgin Mary, Mother of the true God who gives life and maintains its existence. He created all things. He is in all places. He is Lord of Heaven and Earth.”

“My little son, there are many I could send. But you are the one I have chosen."

"My little son, am I not your Mother? Do not fear.” 

"Do not be distressed, my littlest son. Am I not here with you who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection?


My thoughts: Our Lady of Guadalupe gave Juan Diego several messages, yet one theme emerges from them all: “I am your mother. Do not be afraid”. We need to hear these words today, as many fears plague us in our daily struggles to be holy, healthy, happy and financially secure. We seem to always be on the precipice of disaster, yet here is Our Blessed Mother, coming to us in a vision, and reminding us that we are “under her shadow and protection”. Our hearts should be calm, our spirits light, as we reflect on the fact that this is Our Lady of the Americas. We are in good hands. Let us not tremble at the thought of being chosen by Mary to do her work, and that of her Son. Just as she gave Juan Diego all he needed to fulfill her requests, so, too, will we be given all we need when we say yes to Mary and do the work she asks of us. Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

Prayer: Prayer to the Virgin of Guadalupe
By Msgr. Eduardo Chávez

Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe,

mother of the true God for whom we live, Bearer of

Jesus Christ who gives us his Spirit and life in the Church.

We thank you for being our loving and compassionate

mother; because you hear our weeping and our sorrow;

because you are the remedy and the cure for our grief,

our misery and our pain.

Thank you, Mother, for placing us in your heart, for

allowing us to be under your shadow and your

protection, for being the source of our joy, and for

keeping us in the hollow of your robe and the crossing

of your arms.

Thank you, our Mother, for sending this message

through your humble son St. Juan Diego, and through

his intercession we ask that you fortify us in Peace, in

Unity and in Love.



For a description of the Tilma image:

For a brief history of the apparitions:


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Devotion for today: it is time to “collect our petitions” and present them to God

Today we examine the small but powerful prayer known as the Collect.
Scripture for meditation: John 6, 13-14
 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

The catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us: 2614When Jesus openly entrusts to his disciples the mystery of prayer to the Father, he reveals to them what their prayer and ours must be, once he has returned to the Father in his glorified humanity. What is new is to "ask in his name." Faith in the Son introduces the disciples into the knowledge of the Father, because Jesus is "the way, and the truth, and the life." Faith bears its fruit in love: it means keeping the word and the commandments of Jesus, it means abiding with him in the Father who, in him, so loves us that he abides with us. In this new covenant the certitude that our petitions will be heard is founded on the prayer of Jesus.

Here is an explanation of the “Collect” I found on the internet: This prayer begins with the presider inviting the assembly to pray, then providing a period of silence for members of the assembly to pray their personal prayer in the silence of their hearts, and then the presider praying this oration in the name of the faithful. This silence is a deliberate communal silence inviting the members of the assembly to recollect their thoughts and recall the petitions that each person brings to a particular celebration of the Eucharist. The spoken prayer of the presider is to sum up the silent prayer of the people. This opening prayer has traditionally been referred to as "the collect" based on the fact that the presider, so to speak, collects the prayers of the faithful in this prayer addressed to the Father, through Jesus, the Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. When there is adequate shared silence then the "collect" will truly have something to collect. During this prayer the presider also extends his hands. This gesture is referred to as the "orans posture of prayer" and conveys that it is to God the Father to whom the prayer is addressed. The out-stretched arms was also a gesture of the early Christians that symbolized liberation - a gesture of being free from the shackles of slavery.
[Source: Sunday Bulletin, St. Paul Roman Catholic Cathedral, Saskatoon, SK, Canada; March 16, 2008]

My thoughts: I honestly never paid much attention to the “Collect” until I started to subscribe to “The Magnificat” and had an opportunity to read the prayer with the priest. It usually is a beautiful short prayer that brings the theme of the upcoming readings to light. More importantly, this is where we present our petitions to God, our intentions for this Mass. We all have great needs in our families, workplaces and in the world in general. Here is where we offer these needs to God and let Him know we are “offering this Mass” for these needs. We learn two more things today: the “Collect” usually ends with the words, “We ask this in the name of Jesus…” or reference to Christ and the Holy Spirit. The Jews had always prayed to God; now Jesus was instructing them to pray through Him and thereby acknowledge Him as the Way, the Truth and the Life in their lives and in their prayers. Also, I never knew the outstretched arms symbolize liberation from slavery! I think when the priest opens his arms he is “in persona Christi “and is opening the heart of God to our petitions, and asking us to open our hearts to the Word of God which will now follow. It is a beautiful gesture in a beautiful prayer.

Collect for December 11, 2012
O God, who have shown forth your salvation to all the ends of the earth, grant, we pray, that we may look forward in joy to the glorious Nativity of Christ, Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.