Saturday, January 7, 2012

Devotion for Saturday/Sunday: Singing with the Kings

Devotion for Saturday/Sunday: Singing with the Kings
Sunday is the Feast of the Epiphany. The word basically means a sudden realization of the entire meaning of something quite amazing. The kings followed the star, and came to the site of Christ the King, whom they recognized as greater than any being that had ever lived. “In his meditations on the story of the visit of the Magi, Archbishop Fulton Sheen indicated that the three kings, having traversed a great distance, having withstood opposition from King Herod, having found the baby, having opened their treasures for him, and finally, ‘having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way’ (Mt 2:12). Of course they did, Sheen concluded, ‘for no one comes to Christ and goes back the same way he came!’ (For us) the liturgy is the privileged communion with the Lord; it is the source and summit of the Christian life. And therefore those who participate in it never leave unchanged; they never go back the same way they came." (Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of Faith by Robert Barron, 2011, Word on Fire Ministries)
Let us sing with the Kings!
We Three Kings
By Rev. John Henry Hopkins, Jr.
We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star
O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light

Born a King on Bethlehem's plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign

Frankincense to offer have I
Incense owns a Deity nigh
Prayer and praising, all men raising
Worship Him, God most high

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb

Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and Sacrifice
Alleluia, Alleluia
Earth to heav'n replies
O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light

Friday, January 6, 2012

Devotion for today: Resolve to love your neighbor

This is our final day for making resolution, and taking inventory of our souls. Monday, on the feast of the Baptism of Christ, we will offer up our good intentions to the Lord, as St. Francis de Sales recommends.

Scripture for meditation: 1 Peter 1:22
By obedience to the truth you have purified yourselves for a genuine love of your brothers; therefore, love one another constantly from the heart.

Christ tells us: Matthew 5:43-48 
 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

St. Francis de Sales exhorts us, in “An Introduction to the Devout Life”: The Christian should love husband or wife with a calm, tranquil, firm and constant love, chiefly because God desires and enjoins us to do so. The same reason applies to children, relatives and friends, each one according to his rank. But as a general thing, what is the state of your heart with regard to your neighbor? Do you love him from your heart and for the love of God? In order to prove this, you must call to mind certain disagreeable, troublesome individuals; for it is with these that we practice the love of God toward our neighbor, and still more towards those who do us any injury either in word or deed. See whether your heart is clear with regard to these, and whether you have to force yourself to love them? Are you slow to speak evil of your neighbor, especially of those whom you do not like? Do you never injure him either directly or indirectly? A very little reflection will easily satisfy you on these points.

Prayer: Jesus, Prince of Peace, you have asked us to love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us. We pray for our enemies and those who oppose us. With the help of the Holy Spirit, may all people learn to work together for that justice which brings true and lasting peace. To you be glory and honor, forever and ever. Amen (

My thoughts: Ouch. This one hurts. St. Francis de Sales says marital love must be calm. I can think of a resolution I need to make right now. How about loving troublesome individuals? Does he really mean the guy who cuts me off in traffic, or the lady who waits until all of her groceries are bagged to start rummaging around in her purse for her wallet? How about the man at the table next to me in the restaurant who is completing a business deal with loud and invasive laughter? Really? Yes, really. He means everyone. The parochial vicar at my parish, Fr. Stephen Holmes, said today in his homily that loving each other is our duty in life. Not a choice, mind you, but he said it was a duty, one that God expects us to fulfill as He did. And we all know He loved us to death. This is a good day to take inventory on our attitudes towards mankind in general, and family, friends, and co-workers in particular. In truth, we can only be loved as much as we are willing to love. That takes humility, and a desire to be perfect, as our heavenly father is perfect. Remember, we must love the person. We don’t have to love everything they do!

Our prayer to God: Probably the best resolution we can make in the New Year is to tame our tongues. It is one thing to feel anger toward our neighbor, and it is another to verbalize that frustration and anger to anyone who happens to be around. By resolving to love those who drive us crazy, and by resolving to let gentle words guide our day, we are amending two faults at the same time. Now that is a good start to the New Year! “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine. Amen”

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Devotion for today: How do you love yourself?

This part is a little difficult. How do we love ourselves?
Scripture for meditation: Jeremiah 9: 22-23
Thus says the Lord: Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, nor the strong man glory in his strength, nor the rich man glory in his riches; but rather, let him who glories, glory in this, that in his prudence he knows Me, knows that I, the Lord, bring about kindness, justice and uprightness on the earth; for with such am I pleased, says the Lord.

Christ asks us: John 1:38
“What are you looking for?”

St. Francis de Sales continues with our examination in “An Introduction to the Devout Life”: 1) how do you love yourself? Is your love a purely worldly one? If so, you will always desire to abide here and your cares will all be given to your establishment on earth; but if your love is a heavenly love, you will desire, or at least be ready and glad to depart this world whenever it pleases the Lord. 2) Do you keep your self-love in good control? (For ill- regulated self-love ruins us) Well-regulated love requires us to love the soul more than the body, to endeavor to acquire virtue more than anything else, and to desire heavenly honor far above low, earthly honor. A well-regulated heart often asks itself, “What will the angels say if I do or think this?” and not, “What will men say?” 3) What love do you bear your own soul? Are you willing to care for its maladies? You should put everything else aside when your soul is harassed by its own passions. 4) Do you boast of yourself in one way or another? Do you flatter yourself when speaking of yourself? 6) In your pleasures, do you indulge in pleasures which can injure your health? I mean useless, vain pleasures; unprofitable watching, and the like?

Prayer of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton:
Unite me to yourself, O adorable victim, life-giving heavenly bread, feed me, sanctify me, reign in me, transform me to yourself – live in me, and let me live in you, let me adore you in your life-giving sacraments as my God – listen to you as to my Master – obey you as my King – imitate you as my Model – follow you as my Shepherd – love you as my Father – seek you as my Physician who will heal all the maladies of my soul – be indeed my way, truth and life, sustain me O heavenly manna, through the desert of this world, till I shall behold you unveiled in your glory. (Elizabeth Seton, Selected Writings, Ellin Kelly and Annabelle Melville, ed. 1987, Paulist Press)

My thoughts: In today’s scripture passage, Christ asks us, “What are you looking for?” This is a great time to answer that question. If we don’t know what we want out of a relationship with Christ, then making resolutions is a waste of time. We must really spend time on this question. Are we looking for a relationship with Santa Claus…someone who will give us what we want when we want it? Maybe we want a relationship with a benevolent being that turns a blind eye to our wrongdoings and asks us only to “be a good person” based on our definition of good. Or maybe we just want a good friend, someone who will not call us to action, demand that we correct wrongs, stand up for what is right, or ask us to do anything we find uncomfortable. What do we want out of life, and out of God? What resolutions must we make to turn our love of self into love of God, the real God? This will take all of us, I am sure, a good while to answer honestly. We know what we should say, but are we willing to completely turn our lives over to God, so that He can make us saints in our daily lives? That would be total surrender, and that is hard, but not impossible with much effort, resolve and God’s grace. By the way, I love the way St. Francis de Sales asks us, in his last point, if we engage in “unprofitable watching”. Did he know about facebook, twitter, the internet, video games, and on-demand TV back in the 1600’s? Amazing!

Our prayer today: God speaks through Jeremiah, the prophet, and reminds us that if we are to boast of anything, it is that we know God. Let us resolve to acknowledge the gifts that make us so special, so blessed and so wonderful as coming from our loving God. Let us thank Him, as we pray with St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, “Unite me to yourself, O adorable victim, transform me to yourself – live in me, and let me live in you.”

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Devotion for today: Examination of the state of our soul toward God

Today we will begin to take our consciences apart, by looking at our attitude toward God.
Scriptures for Meditation:1) Luke 1: 46-47; 2) 1 Samuel 2:1, 3) Habakkuk 3:18 (song of Hannah), 4) Isaiah 61:10, 5) Deuteronomy 32:3 (song of Moses)
1)      My Being proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit finds joy in God my savior
2)      My heart exults in Yahweh, in my God is my strength lifted up, my mouth derides my foes, for I rejoice in your deliverance.
3)      But I shall rejoice in Yahweh, I shall rejoice in God my savior.
4)      I exult for joy in Yahweh, my soul rejoices in my God.
5)      For I shall proclaim the name of Yahweh, Oh tell the greatness of our God.  (
Christ tells us: Matthew: 23:39
I tell you, you will not see me from this time on until you declare, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

Continuing with St. Francis de Sales in “An Introduction to the Devout Life”:  How does your heart stand with regard to mortal sin? Have you a fixed resolution never to yield to it under any circumstances whatever…. In this resolution lies the foundation of the spiritual life. 1) What is the state of your heart with regard to God’s commandments? Do you find them easy, light and pleasant? 2) What is the state of your heart with regard to venial sins? You cannot altogether avoid them, but are there any to which you are especially inclined, or in which you take delight or even love? 3) What is the state of your heart toward spiritual exercises? Do you value and love…hearing the word of God and meditating on it, longing after God, confession, spiritual direction, preparation for Communion and Communion itself, the restraint of your passions? 4) What is the state of your heart towards God Himself? Does it delight in remembering Him? Do you feel within your heart a readiness to love Him, and a desire to rejoice in that love? Does your heart seek time to rest in the sweetness of God? If the remembrance of God comes upon you in the occupations of your day, does it find room in your heart? Does your heart turn gladly towards this remembrance? 7) How is your heart toward Jesus Christ, both God and man? Do you delight in being near Him? Holy souls find their delight in Jesus Christ, and are kindled with an ardent love towards Him.

Prayer: Psalm 71: 1-2, 5, 8
In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me, and deliver me; Incline your ear to me, and save me.
For you are my hope, O Lord, my trust, O God, from my youth.
My mouth shall be filled with your praise, with your glory day by day.

My thoughts: St. Francis de Sales reminds us that the first priority in our lives is our relationship with God. If we do not find ourselves seeking to know, love and serve Him in this world, we are not going to be with Him in the next. The above questions force us to take inventory and make some resolutions for our spiritual growth in the New Year. May we be able to add our voices to the ones in the scriptures who, from the beginning of time, sang the glories of God.

Our prayer to God:  To do this examination well, place yourself in the presence of God by finding a quiet place and time of day; ask the Holy Spirit for help in being honest and contrite; give God’s grace the credit for all the areas where you find you are strong, and never be disheartened or grow cold through discouragement, but find the courage to correct your faults, ask for grace and forgiveness, and begin anew. Do this in a calm and quiet manner. (Recommendations of St. Francis de Sales)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Devotion for today: The mercy of God is calling us to His service

Today we remember the resolutions we have already made to God, and the promises He has made to us.
Scripture for meditation: Revelation 21: 6-7: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To anyone who thirsts, I will give to drink without cost from the spring of life-giving water. He who wins the victory shall inherit these gifts: I will be his God and he shall be my son.”
Christ tells us in the parable of the silver pieces: Matthew 25:21: “His master said to him, ‘Well done! You are an industrious and reliable servant. Since you were dependable in a small matter, I will put you in charge of larger affairs. Come; share your master’s joy!
Prayer: Psalm 91: 14-16: Because he clings to Me, I will deliver him; I will set him on high because he acknowledges my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in distress; I will deliver him and glorify him; with length of days I will gratify him and will show him my salvation.
St. Francis de Sales, in An Introduction to the Devout Life leads us into considering what we already promised God: Consider the points of your resolution. The first is to forsake, reject, detest, and forever renounce all mortal sin; secondly, to dedicate your soul, heart, and body…to the service and love of God. And thirdly, that if you fall into sin, you should speedily rise again with the help of His grace. Now, are not these good, just, worthy and noble resolutions? Think well within your soul how holy, reasonable and excellent such resolutions are…. Is it not a blessing to have a heart that holds conversations with God in prayer, to take pleasure in seeking to love Him, to have mastered and quieted many passions which disturbed you….Oh how great are these mercies! Weigh them in the scales of the Sanctuary – for it is the Lord who has done all this for you! After these reflections, which will abundantly supply you with devout affections, you should conclude with a prayer of thanksgiving and a fervent prayer to profit from the above by remaining in humility and confidence in God….
My thoughts: Taking apart our consciences is not a painful task if we first remind ourselves of our accomplishments. St. Francis de Sales reminds us of the commitments we have already made to God by dedicating ourselves to Him and seeking to avoid sin, and in asking pardon if we fail. We all do this, as witnessed by the fact that we all seek a short devotional time with God each day! So let us pat ourselves on the back, in humility and acknowledgement that any progress we have made this year is because of God’s grace, and find great joy and comfort in God’s promises to those of us who have decided to follow Him and Him alone. Tomorrow we will begin a little deeper examination of where we stand with God.
Our prayer to God:  Taking stock of ourselves requires pen and paper, or keyboard and screen. Let us take the time to really take inventory on the spiritual aspects of our lives which we have worked on in 2011, and list the positive results we see in ourselves. Then let us give thanks to God for the fact that He loves us so much to call us to perfection, so that He can fulfill the dream He had for us when He placed us in our mother’s wombs. Dear God, my heart is filled with joy as I reflect on the past year, and see how much you love me, that you would call me to a greater life of holiness. Although it is hard to admit my failings and weaknesses, I do so willingly in order to become all that I can be, so that you can use me for “higher affairs” and bring more people to the peaceful, loving life that awaits them in you. Thank you for loving me so much. May I always be faithful to the resolutions I am about to make, and if I fail, may I never stop seeking your forgiveness and grace. Amen

Monday, January 2, 2012

Devotion for today: I firmly resolve…

As we begin our new year, let us take time to make some resolutions regarding our relationship with God.

Scripture for meditation: Jeremiah 9:22-23
Thus says the Lord: Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, nor the strong man glory in his strength, nor the rich man glory in his riches; But rather, let him who glories, glory in this, that in his prudence he knows me, Knows that I, the Lord, bring about kindness, justice and uprightness on the earth; For with such am I pleased, says the Lord.

Christ instructs us: John 4:23-24
Yet an hour is coming, and is already here, when authentic worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Indeed, it is just such worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and truth.

St. Francis de Sales tells us: Human nature easily loses ground in what is good, through the frailty and evil tendencies of the flesh, which weigh upon the soul and constantly drags her down, unless she fights this by fervent resolution…. To this end, you must frequently repeat and renew your devout purpose of serving God…He who takes good care of his heart will wind it up towards God night and morning…. Besides this, he will, from time to time, examine his conscience, correct and regulate it; and at least once a year he will take it to pieces and examine all its parts in detail, in order to correct its defects… The devout Christian, after examining his heart in order to renew it, should oil it with the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. These will restore your strength which time has impaired, kindle your heart, revive your good resolutions, and cause the virtues of your soul to flourish anew. The early Christians carefully practiced this good work on the anniversary of our blessed Lord’s Baptism, when, as St. Gregory Nazianzen relates, they renewed their professions and vows made in that Sacrament. Let us do likewise, preparing with readiness and giving ourselves seriously to the work.

Prayer: The Act of Contrition
O My God, I am heartily sorry, for having offended thee; and I detest all my sins, because of Thy just punishments. But most of all, because they have offended Thee, my God, Who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more, and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.

My thoughts: St. Francis de Sales has outlined a beautiful path to firm resolutions in this work An Introduction to the Devout Life. We will spend the next few days with him as he takes us through a step-by-step path to forming resolutions for the New Year, as they apply to our relationships with God, Christ, ourselves, our neighbors, and our own soul’s affections. We begin today by simply and honestly confessing to God that we have not been all that we could have been in the past year; and with firm resolve, we look to tomorrow to begin anew.

Our prayer to God: This is a great day to ask the Holy Spirit to open our minds and hearts to the “real” person we have become, and ask His strength and guidance to be honest in the evaluation of what we find. “Come Holy Spirit, fill the heart of me, your faithful servant, and kindle in me the fire of your love. Send me your Spirit, and I shall be recreated, and help you renew the face of the earth. Amen.”