Saturday, January 14, 2012

Devotion for Saturday/Sunday: Ever Round His Throne

Anne Bronte reminds us that we should pray for everyone who needs salvation, even the worst sinners. Her hope is that by being purified by God, they will accept His mercy and begin to follow Him.

Anne Bronte

Oh! there lives within my heart
A hope, long nursed by me;
(And should its cheering ray depart,
How dark my soul would be!)

That as in Adam all have died,
In Christ shall all men live;
And ever round His throne abide,
Eternal praise to give.

That even the wicked shall at last
Be fitted for the skies;
And when their dreadful doom is past,
 To life and light arise.

I ask not how remote the day,
Nor what the sinners’ woe,
Before their dross is purged away;
Enough for me to know

That when the cup of wrath is drained,
The metal purified,
They’ll cling to what they once disdained,
And live by Him that died.
(The Book of Uncommon Prayer, 1996, World Publishing)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Devotion for today: a simple request

Today we will take a unique look at the Second Luminous mystery and Christ’s first public miracle.

Scripture for Meditation: Isaiah: 1:2-3
Hear, O heavens, and listen, O earth, for the Lord speaks; sons have I raised and reared, but they have disowned me! An ox knows its owner and an ass its master’s manger: But Israel does not know, my people have not understood.

The New Testament reveals this event: John 2:1-5
On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had likewise been invited to the celebration. At a certain point the wine ran out, and Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.” Jesus replied, “Woman, how does this concern of yours involve me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother instructed those waiting on table, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Fr. Robert Barron tells us: (Mary) is like the authors of the Psalms and the books of Wisdom and Proverbs, for she becomes the very seat of Wisdom. And she is like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel - the prophets who longed for the coming of the Messiah. This last connection can be seen very clearly in the account of the wedding feast at Cana in the Gospel of John. In the midst of their celebration (wedding banquets went on for days in first-century Palestine), a young couple runs out of wine, and Mary brings this problem to the attention of Jesus. We can read this story at the literal level and see Mary as graciously acting to spare the young people embarrassment, but we can also read it more symbolically and appreciate Mary as expressing the prophetic longing of Israel. Wine – delicious, refreshing, intoxicating – is a sign, throughout the Old Testament, of the divine life. Running out of wine, therefore, is an incisive description of the spiritual condition of Israel, alienated in its sin from God’s grace. In asking Jesus to act, Mary is acting in the rhythm and cadence of all the great prophets who continually called upon Yahweh to visit his people, and when she turns to the waiters and says, “Do whatever he asks,” she is summing up the instruction of every teacher, every patriarch and every prophet of Israel.
(Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith, Robert Barron, Copyright 2011 by Word on Fire Ministries)

Prayer: Psalm 4: 7-9
Many say, “Oh, that we might see better times!” O Lord, let the light of your countenance shine upon us! You put gladness into my heart, more than when grain and wine abound. As soon as I lie down, I fall peacefully asleep, for you alone, O Lord, bring security to my dwelling.

My thoughts: Fr. Barron brings to light a new point for most of us: running out of wine is running out of the divine life. Mary knew that her son, and only her son, could bring divine life back into the world which Isaiah tells us had disowned God. The miracle Christ performed at Cana shows us the depth of Christ’s love for all of us. Even though it wasn’t His time, Jesus did not reject the request of His mother. He provided the best wine the guests had ever tasted, saving the day for them. Doesn’t He do that for us? Doesn’t He save us by changing our sinful lives into beautiful reflections of Himself? Mary shows us that all we have to do is ask Him to change us, to fill us with His grace, and He will do it.

Our prayer to God: Jesus, I bring you my soul, my sinfulness, my neediness. I ask you to fill me with your new life, your holy grace, your divine light. May I become a new person, in your image, filled with the choicest gift of your salvation. I give you my empty heart; please fill it with your love. Amen.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Devotion for today: This is My Beloved Son

To begin our study of the Luminous Mysteries, we begin with Jesus’ Baptism in the River Jordan.
Scripture for meditation: Isaiah 61: 1, 10
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me, He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the broken hearted…I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul; For he has clothed me with a robe of salvation, and wrapped me in a mantle of justice.

The Gospel of Mark tells us: 9-11
It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

St. Gregory of Nazianzen explains: Christ is bathed in light; let us also be bathed in light. Christ is baptized; let us also go down with him, and rise with Him….Jesus rises from the waters; the world rises with him. The heavens, like Paradise with its flaming sword, closed by Adam for himself and his descendants, are rent open. The Spirit comes to him as an equal, bearing witness to his Godhead. A voice bears witness to him from heaven, his place of origin. The Spirit descends in bodily form like the dove that so long ago announced the ending of the flood and so gives honor to the body that is one with God. Today, let us do honor to Christ’s baptism…in holiness. Be cleansed entirely and continue to be cleansed. Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of men, for whom his every word and every revelation exist. He wants you to become a living force for all mankind, lights shining in the world. You are to be radiant lights as you stand beside Christ, the great light, bathed in the glory of him who is the light of heaven. You are to enjoy more and more the pure and dazzling light of the Trinity, as now you have received – though not its fullness – a ray of its splendor, proceeding from the one God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.

Prayer: Father in heaven, you revealed Christ as your Son by the voice that spoke over the waters of the Jordan. May all who share in the Sonship of Christ follow in his path of service to man, and reflect the glory of his kingdom even to the ends of the earth, for he is Lord forever and ever. (The Liturgy of the Hours, evening prayer II for the Baptism of the Lord.)

My thoughts: The Baptism of Jesus is a true mystery of light. Jesus is revealed as the Son of God when the Holy Spirit descends upon Him: His divine nature is revealed as He is immersed in a truly human act. Jesus is truly God and man, and in that divine nature He brings us salvation. St. Gregory reminds us that this light which now illumines our souls must be shared with the world. It is so powerful to hear him tell us that we must be a “living force to all mankind.” As you reflect on the first mystery of light, picture the light of Christ glowing in your heart, and ask yourself, “Am I shining brightly to all the people in my life?” If the answer is no, then today is the day to rent your heart open and let out the light of your love. God will be most pleased, and so will you!

Our prayer to God: Dear God, my Father in heaven, you love me so much that you have blessed me with the gift of faith. It is my anchor in the storms I face and my refuge in times of distress. Let me willingly and joyfully share that faith with others, so that they will come to a full realization of your love. I want to be a powerful force, a radiant light. Please give me the strength and discipline to do Your holy will, and bring others to You. Amen

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Devotion for today: The mysteries of light

Today we begin a study of the Luminous Mysteries.

Scripture for meditation: Isaiah 49: 6
I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

Christ tells us: John 12:36
“While you have the light, keep faith in the light; thus, you will become sons of light.”

Blessed John Paul II tells us, in his apostolic letter “ROSARIUM VIRGINIS MARIAE”:
19. I believe… that to bring out fully the Christological depth of the Rosary it would be suitable to make an addition to the traditional pattern… to include the mysteries of Christ's public ministry between his Baptism and his Passion. In the course of those mysteries we contemplate important aspects of the person of Christ as the definitive revelation of God. Declared the beloved Son of the Father at the Baptism in the Jordan, Christ is the one who announces the coming of the Kingdom, bears witness to it in his works and proclaims its demands. It is during the years of his public ministry that the mystery of Christ is most evidently a mystery of light: “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (Jn 9:5).Consequently, for the Rosary to become more fully a “compendium of the Gospel”, it is fitting to add, following reflection on the Incarnation and the hidden life of Christ (the joyful mysteries) and before focusing on the sufferings of his Passion (the sorrowful mysteries) and the triumph of his Resurrection (the glorious mysteries), a meditation on certain particularly significant moments in his public ministry (the mysteries of light). This addition of these new mysteries, without prejudice to any essential aspect of the prayer's traditional format, is meant to give it fresh life and to enkindle renewed interest in the Rosary's place within Christian spirituality as a true doorway to the depths of the Heart of Christ, ocean of joy and of light, of suffering and of glory. The Mysteries of Light: 21. Moving on from the infancy and the hidden life in Nazareth to the public life of Jesus, our contemplation brings us to those mysteries which may be called in a special way “mysteries of light”. Certainly the whole mystery of Christ is a mystery of light. He is the “light of the world” (Jn 8:12). Yet this truth emerges in a special way during the years of his public life, when he proclaims the Gospel of the Kingdom. In proposing to the Christian community five significant moments – “luminous” mysteries – during this phase of Christ's life, I think that the following can be fittingly singled out: (1) his Baptism in the Jordan, (2) his self-manifestation at the wedding of Cana, (3) his proclamation of the Kingdom of God, with his call to conversion, (4) his Transfiguration, and finally, (5) his institution of the Eucharist, as the sacramental expression of the Paschal Mystery.

Prayer: ” (At the start of the twenty-fifth year of my Pontificate, I entrust this Apostolic Letter to the loving hands of the Virgin Mary, prostrating myself in spirit before her image in the splendid Shrine built for her by Blessed Bartolo Longo, the apostle of the Rosary. I willingly make my own the touching words with which he concluded his well-known Supplication to the Queen of the Holy Rosary (John Paul II, from the Vatican, on the 16th day of October in the year 2002, the beginning of the twenty- fifth year of my Pontificate.)
  “O Blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet chain which unites us to God, bond of love which unites us to the angels, tower of salvation against the assaults of Hell, safe port in our universal shipwreck, we will never abandon you. You will be our comfort in the hour of death: yours our final kiss as life ebbs away. And the last word from our lips will be your sweet name, O Queen of the Rosary of Pompei, O dearest Mother, O Refuge of Sinners, O Sovereign Consoler of the Afflicted. May you be everywhere blessed, today and always, on earth and in heaven.

My thoughts: As we enter into Ordinary Time, the Luminous Mysteries can serve as a structure for us to meditate on the public life of Jesus. Beginning with His baptism, which the Church celebrated on Monday, and continuing through Christ’s first public miracle, His announcement of the Kingdom of God, His open display of His Godliness in the transfiguration, and the gift of Himself in the Eucharist, the Luminous Mysteries provide an excellent way for us to remain in the Light, and become sons and daughters of the Light now and forever.

Our prayer to God: Blessed John Paul introduced these mysteries in 2002, and the above excerpt from his Apostolic Letter lets us peek into the profound devotion he had to Mary and the rosary. May we, too, follow his example and entrust ourselves to her loving intercession as we explore the life of her most beloved Son. Let’s begin today by praying one decade of the rosary to prepare ourselves for our new study.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Devotion for today: The need for order

Today begins the Church Season known as Ordinary Time.
Scripture for meditation: Isaiah 42: 6-8
I, the Lord, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring our prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness. I am the Lord; this is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols.

The New Testament tells us: Matthew 4:23
Jesus toured all of Galilee. He taught in their synagogues, proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom, and cured the people of every disease and illness.

What is Ordinary Time?
The rhythm of the liturgical seasons reflects the rhythm of life — with its celebrations of anniversaries and its seasons of quiet growth and maturing. Ordinary Time, meaning ordered or numbered time, is celebrated in two segments: from the Monday following the Baptism of Our Lord up to Ash Wednesday; and from Pentecost Monday to the First Sunday of Advent. This makes it the largest season of the Liturgical Year. In vestments usually green, the color of hope and growth, the Church counts the thirty-three or thirty-four Sundays of Ordinary Time, inviting her children to meditate upon the whole mystery of Christ – his life, miracles and teachings – in the light of his Resurrection. If the faithful are to mature in the spiritual life and increase in faith, they must descend the great mountain peaks of Easter and Christmas in order to "pasture" in the vast verdant meadows of tempus per annum, or Ordinary Time. Sunday by Sunday, the Pilgrim Church marks her journey through the tempus per annum as she processes through time toward eternity. (

Prayer: For the Grace to Do God’s Will
Grant me grace, O merciful God, to desire ardently all that is pleasing to Thee, to examine it prudently, to acknowledge it truthfully, and to accomplish it perfectly for the praise and glory of Thy name. Amen. (St. Thomas Aquinas)

My thoughts: It sounds as though Ordinary Time is anything but “ordinary”. It is the time in the Church year where we are given the public life of Jesus to study, in order to find the strength and knowledge necessary for the day to day task of living a holy life. It is here that we will hear of Christ’s many miracles, read of the Kingdom of God, and learn of the trials and struggles Jesus faced as He brought the Good News to the World. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, as He is the One who brings us light, cures our sickness, and frees us from the dungeon of sin. What a great opportunity we now have to spend time concentrating on the messages Christ eagerly has in store for each and every one of us!

Our prayer to God: It follows that after we pack up our Christmas decorations, clean our homes, make our resolutions, and start our new year that we once again desire some order and structure. Ordinary time gives us that structure. Let us ask God for the determination to keep a daily prayer time where we can meditate, in a calm and orderly fashion, on the life and teachings of His Son, so that, like Thomas Aquinas, we may find the way to live our lives “for the praise and glory” of God’s name.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Devotion for today: Let us offer our resolutions to the Lord

Today is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and the day we offer our new resolutions to God.

Scripture for meditation: Isaiah 55:6-8; 12
Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near. Let the scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked man his thoughts; let him turn to the Lord for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. Yes, in joy you shall depart, in peace you shall be brought back; Mountains and hills shall break out in song before you, and all the trees of the countryside shall clap their hands.

Christ proclaims: Mark 1:14-15
After John’s arrest, Jesus appeared in Galilee proclaiming the good news of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The reign of God is at hand! Reform your lives and believe in the gospel!”

St. Francis de Sales summarizes our week’s work in this manner (An Introduction to the Devout Life):
...examine what you have done…thus: 1) In your love towards God, your neighbor, and yourself 2) In your hatred of your own sin and that of others, for we ought to seek to do away with both the one and the other 3) In your desire of worldly goods and pleasures and honors 4) In your fear of the dangers of sin, and of the loss of this world’s goods: men fear the one too much, and the other all too little 5) In your hope, which has perhaps been centered overmuch on the world and the flesh, and too little on God and things of eternity 6) In sadness, whether it has been inordinate 7) In joy, whether it was excessive for vain, empty trifles 8) What affections hinder your heart, what passions rule it and what most distracts it.
  O my soul (so should you say), you are able to know, love and long after God; why would you take pleasure in anything short of Him? You can aim at eternity, why would you trifle away your energies on time? It was one of the prodigal son’s sorrows that, instead of living sumptuously at his father’s table, he ate the coarse food of swine. My soul, you are capable of seeking God; woe to you if you rest in anything else.”
 Then pray, “O cherished resolutions! You are as the tree of life which God has with His own hand planted in the midst of my heart, and which my Savior waters with His own blood that it may bring forth fruit. I would rather die a thousand deaths than suffer any blast of wind to uproot you. No, neither vanity nor pleasure, neither poverty nor wealth shall ever alter my intentions. O my Lord, You have planted this lovely tree, and have preserved it for my garden from eternity in your paternal breast. Alas! How many souls have not been so richly blest! How then can I humble myself sufficiently before your tender pity and compassion?  Good and holy resolutions! I will keep you, and you shall keep me: if you live in my soul, my soul will live in you. Live forever, then. O good resolutions! Since, from God’s mercy, you are from all eternity, continue and dwell forever in me; let me never forsake you. Amen.

Prayer of St. John Neumann: O my Jesus, I rejoice that I can again show my love for you….From this day I will begin a new life. With the help of your grace I will be patient, diligent, and devout. Show me the occasions in which I may practice my good resolutions. Grant, O Jesus, my request to love and praise you with my whole heart, with my whole soul, and with all my strength. Mother of Jesus, pray to your Son for me. (St. John Neumann’s Favorite Prayers: Taken from his diary;

My thoughts: We have now completed our New Year’s spiritual resolution process and offered everything to God. May we strive with great passion to keep these resolutions and become the people God wants us to be. Happy New Year to all of you!