Saturday, June 2, 2012

Devotion for today: a guide to good living

Here is my favorite Bible passage for living a good life.

A passage from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans

Brothers and sisters: let love be sincere;
hate what is evil,
hold on to what is good;
 love one another with mutual affection;
anticipate one another in showing honor.

Do not grow slack in zeal,
 be fervent in spirit,
serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope,
 endure in affliction,
persevere in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the holy ones,
exercise hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you,
bless and do not curse them.
 Rejoice with those who rejoice,
weep with those who weep.

Have the same regard for one another;
do not be haughty but associate with the lowly;
do not be wise in your own estimation.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Devotion for today: the Sign of the Cross: a blessing


We conclude our study of the Sign of the Cross by reviewing its purpose as a blessing.

Scripture for meditation: Genesis 12:2-3
 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you. ”

Scripture for reflection: Luke 24:50
When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them.

Victor Hoagland, C.P. ( tells us:... In the Catholic Church and other Christian churches the Sign of the Cross is an important part of personal and public prayer. It originated in the earliest days of Christianity and so it is centuries old. It is the first sign made on us at Baptism and the last sign made as we pass to our future life. It's a vital part of liturgical prayer and the sacraments… The Sign of the Cross expresses blessing. It symbolizes God blessing us, God embracing us with blessings. And in this same sign we express our belief in God from whom all our blessings flow. In the Sign of the Cross we embrace our good God with mind and heart and all of our strength. God blesses. The Jewish scriptures describe God as, above all, the One who blesses. God blessed Noah and saved the world from the flood. God blessed Abraham and Sara with blessings more than the stars in the sky. God blessed the Jewish people, redeeming them from the slavery of Egypt. Life itself and all creation are God's gifts. And so the Jewish tradition of prayer always approaches God as One who blesses. "I will bless the Lord at all times," the psalmist prays. As we are blessed by God, so we bless the Lord in return. The Christian tradition of prayer follows this same pattern, but in addition it praises the One who blesses for another incomparable blessing: the blessing of Jesus Christ. "Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has bestowed on us in Christ every spiritual blessing."
 ( Eph 1,3)... With the Father he sends the Holy Spirit upon us "to complete his work on earth and bring us the fullness of grace." In Jesus, God has revealed to us the source of all blessings. When we bless ourselves with the Sign of the Cross we remember the One who blesses us: the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. .With the Sign of the Cross we recall in particular the blessing of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We trace a cross on ourselves, the cross of Jesus. His death on the Cross was an outpouring of love for us. The Sign of the Cross is a reminder of his love, a love found not only in the past, but here and now, as we make this sign upon ourselves; for the love of Jesus Christ abides forever…

Prayer: Psalm 67
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us—so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity
and guide the nations of the earth. May the peoples praise you, God;
may all the peoples praise you. The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us. May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.

My thoughts: We learn today that the Sign of the Cross is both a reminder of God’s blessings for us, and of the unfathomable love he has for us. We should always bless our family members with the Sign of the Cross before they leave home for the day, as they sleep in their beds, and in times of sickness and distress. It will remind us and them that God blesses, just as we “bless” and that the protection of God is only a Sign of the Cross away. As we celebrate Trinity Sunday this weekend, let us always remember the Father who created us, the Son who saved us and the Holy Spirit who empowers us. Then let us go forth to spread the love and blessings of God to others!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Devotion for today: Feast of the Visitation

 Scripture for meditation: Luke: 1:37-47
And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: Because no word shall be impossible with God. And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda. And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord. And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because he that is mighty hath done great things to me; and holy is his name. And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him. He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy: As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever. And Mary abode with her about three months; and she returned to her own house. Now Elizabeth's full time of being delivered was come, and she brought forth a son.

What an easily-overlooked but beautiful Feast the Visitation is! Begun by St. Bonaventure among the Franciscans in A.D. 1263, it became a universal Feast in 1389, during the papacy of Urban VI. This Feast commemorates what is the second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary: Our Lady's visit to her cousin, Elizabeth, who was six months pregnant with St. John the Baptist at the time. At the end of the Archangel Gabriel's Annunciation to Our Lady that she will conceive, he tells her that her cousin, Elizabeth, an older woman thought barren, will also conceive…. this Feast says something very profound about Mary and who she is. Compare how St. Luke describes Mary's visit with how David's visit to the Ark of the Covenant is described in II Kings (2 Samuel in some Bibles):

II Kings 6:2 And David arose and went, with all the people that were with him of the men of Juda to fetch the ark of God, upon which the name of the Lord of hosts is invoked, who sitteth over it upon the cherubims.
Luke 1:39 And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda
II Kings l 6:9 And David was afraid of the Lord that day, saying: How shall the ark of the Lord come to me?
Luke 1:43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
II Kings 6:11 And the ark of the Lord abode in the house of Obededom the Gethite three months...
Luke 1:56 And Mary abode with her about three months; and she returned to her own house...
II Kings 6:16 And when the ark of the Lord was come into the city of David, Michol the daughter of Saul, looking out through a window, saw king David leaping and dancing before the Lord [His Presence over the Ark]
Luke 1:41 And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb.

St. Luke clearly wants us to see Our Lady as the Ark of the New Covenant, the bearer the Word just as the Ark of the Old Covenant carried the tablets containing the ten words of God; the one who bore the Root of Jesse Who came back to life in three days, just as the Ark of the Old Covenant carried Aaron's rod which sprouted; the one who bore the Bread of Life just as the Ark of the Old Covenant carried some of the manna that sustained the children of Israel in the desert. St. John the Evangelist wrote of this same Truth when he described his Heavenly vision in Apocalypse 11:19-12:1-5: And the temple of God was opened in heaven: and the ark of his testament was seen in his temple, and there were lightnings, and voices, and an earthquake, and great hail. And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars: And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered. And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns: and on his head seven diadems: And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered; that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an iron rod: and her son was taken up to God, and to his throne.
Prayer of St. Athanasius: O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word? To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin? You are greater than them all, O Ark of the Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold! You are the Ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which Divinity resides.  Turn to Our Lady! (The above commentary and prayer are taken from
My Comments: So many wonderful events are happening in the visitation! We have God the Son present in Mary’s womb; God the Holy Spirit filling Elizabeth and John with his power of recognition; Mary’s acknowledgement of her role as the Mother of the Redeemer, John’s ordination as the forerunner of Christ and the completion in the New Testament of the Old Testament story of David and the Ark of the Covenant. Jesus is the New Covenant, the fulfillment of all God’s promises to the Israelites, and it is in this scene that the Old Testament meets the New. Christ is the promised Redeemer, and he has come to bring the world to his Father. Lastly, but probably most importantly, the holiness and sanctity of life in the womb is on display here as nowhere else in the Bible. Each of these babies will change the world according to a plan known only to God. Let us pray today for the babies in their mothers’ wombs, that they may live to fulfill the dream God has for them.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Devotion for today: the Creator, the Savior, the Power

 We continue our look at the Trinity through the Sign of the Cross.

 Scripture for meditation: John 17:20-23
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said: “Holy Father, I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.”

Scripture for reflection: John 14:26
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Fr. Tom, OFM tells us … When we are conscious of what we are doing in [the Sign of the Cross], it is a simple act of faith in the complexity of God who is revealed to us in the mystery of the Holy Trinity. I say “revealed to us” because we wouldn’t have a clue about the Trinity if Jesus didn’t tell us about it. Jesus talked about His Father in Heaven, about Himself as the Son of God, about going back to Heaven and sending to us the Holy Spirit… It is a mystery of God that God wants us to be drawn deeply into. So, let’s think about the sign of the cross and how it can draw us deeply into this mystery. First we touch our forehead and say, “In the Name of the Father…” When I hear those words, I think of so many things – the beauty of the trees, and flowers and plant life coming into bloom this time of year; I recall beautiful red sunsets at the beach as the setting sun shimmers on the water... And, I’m reminded not only of a Creator but of someone so totally in love with us that He sent His only Son to draw us back into His embrace… Next we move to our chest, to the place where the heart resides and say, “and of the Son.” Here I think of the love the Son of God showed us when He multiplied the loaves for the hungry, when He reached across social and racial barriers to the Samaritans, when He made room at His table for outcasts and sinners, …when He gave the ultimate and agonizing proof of His love for us on the Cross … And then we move to our shoulders and say, “and of the Holy Spirit.” We recall the Holy Spirit who gives so widely of Himself that it takes the full span of our shoulders to remind us of that – left and right, from one side of the world to the other. And I think of God’s desire to be intimate with all of us; to have the freedom of the wind…to be in your heart and my heart… all at the same time. I think of the Holy Spirit as … the power in my life – as a great force for good and holiness, as one to turn to when decisions are to be made, as one who consoles me when I make my mistakes. To console is to be with a person who is alone. With the Holy Spirit around, no one is ever alone... And, so we come to the end of the blessing – the joining of hands and the concluding, “Amen.” And we remind ourselves that the word “amen” is an expression of agreement, in itself an act of faith in all that has gone before; a “so be it,” an “I believe.” And so I renew my faith. I believe in you Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Prayer: Father I Adore you, by Terrye Coelho
Father, I adore you, lay my life before you, how I love you! Jesus, I adore you, lay my life before you, how I love you. Spirit, I adore you, lay my life before you, how I love you!

My thoughts: Scripture makes it very clear who the three persons in the Blessed Trinity are. It isn’t very clear how it all works, and we will probably never fully understand it while we live on this earth, but I think Father Tom helps us to see how God manifests himself: through his creation, through his love for man and death on the cross, and through his consoling power. Sometimes it is enough to simply understand the “who”, and not worry too much about the “how”.

Our prayer to God: The beauty of creation surrounds us, the love of Christ is evident in his death, and the power of the Holy Spirit is seen in every decision we make to help our fellow man and become a better person. When we make the Sign of the Cross today, let us take the time, as we place our fingers on our forehead, chest and shoulders, to thank God for the beauty, love and power that comes to us from him.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Devotion for today: In the Name of the Father...

On Sunday we will celebrate the Feast of the Holy Trinity. To prepare for this feast, let us look at the reasons for making the Sign of the Cross.

Scripture for meditation: Matthew 28:19
“Go therefore, and teach all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

OFFICE OF CATHOLIC PUBLICATIONS, Imprimatur, 1877 and THE CATECHIST, by the Very Rev. Canon Howe, Imprimatur, 1898 … Let us take, for example, the Sign of the Cross, that simple religious act which is so universal and so frequently practiced during the course of the day. We all make this holy sign, but how many of us give any thought to the mysteries it signifies! … From want of reflection, we fail to attach to the Sign of the Cross the importance that it merits. It was first instituted by the Apostles themselves, who, invested with the authority of Jesus Christ, taught this religious practice to the first disciples of the Gospel.  The Sign of the Cross is the sign of the Christian, that is to say, it is the outward sign which distinguishes the Christian from other men. And why is this?  1st. Because it recalls to him who makes it, and to those who see it made, that Jesus Christ is the God of Christians and the Lord of their whole lives. Because it reminds us that God has loved us so much as to give Himself up for our sakes to suffer on the Cross, and that we must love Him with our whole hearts...  2nd. The Sign of the Cross is distinctively the sign of the Christian, because it reminds him of the blessed eternity which awaits him. It was after His passion and death that Jesus rose again, and by His Cross He entered into glory. And so it must be with His disciples. Their glory in heaven must be the full fruition of the crucified life they have led on earth... The Gospel also declares to us that when He shall come at the last day to judge the world, the sacred sign of the Cross shall appear in the heavens, to be recognized by the elect with thankfulness and love, and by the reprobate with fear and trembling... 3rd. It is the sign of the Christian because it brings before his mind the most important doctrines of the Catholic religion. It recalls the mystery of the holy and undivided Trinity, for in making it we say, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; three persons, but one God. In the name; and not: In the names... And the mystery of the Church...for it recalls by its unity that the Church is one, and by its universality that the Church is Catholic.  In considering all that is symbolized by this sacred Sign, we may therefore clearly understand why it is employed by the Church in the administration of all holy things, in the Sacraments, in every blessing, at the beginning and end of her prayers, Let us make it often, but especially when tempted and when troubled; also before and after meals; and when we make it, let us be careful to remember what it signifies, and the obligations imposed on all who bear the holy name of Christians.

Prayer: The Sign of the Cross for children, by Victor Hoagland, C.P.
I open my hand and touch my brow, In the name of the Father I say. Come bless me, God, come bless me, bless me in every way. Come bless what I see, and bless what I hear, and bless what I think and say. Then I touch my heart with my hand, and say  and of the Son. Bless me, Jesus, bless my heart that I may love everyone. I touch my shoulders left and right, and of the Holy Spirit I say. Amen. O God, thank you, for all I have this day.  God's hand in mine as I bless myself, God in heaven above, and the Cross of Jesus blesses me too, the Cross of Jesus' love. (

My thoughts: Many Catholics today hesitate to make the Sign of the Cross in public. They have heard that the action may be offensive to others. It may draw unnecessary attention to themselves, or even that public displays of religious beliefs are to be avoided. When we read the power and meaning behind the Sign of the Cross, we should be afraid of not making it enough. It signifies who we are as Catholics. We learn in the above passage that  the Sign of the Cross reminds us of  the cross, and of Christ who died for us; of the cross, which we must live in this world; of the cross, which will signal the end of this world, and of  the cross, which is our solidarity with other Christians. To make the Sign of the Cross is to make a profession of faith. Never be afraid to profess who you are and what you stand for.  Never march into the battle of the secular world without making the Sign of the Cross first. It is your armor, your reminder, your sign of love and devotion to God.
The Cross before me, the Cross behind me.

Monday, May 28, 2012

May 24, 2009

O God, our Father,

endless source of life and peace,

welcome into Your merciful embrace

the fallen of the war that raged here,

the fallen of all wars that have bloodied the earth.

Grant that they may enjoy the light that does not fail,

which, in the reflection of Your splendor,

illumines the consciences of all men and women of good will.

You, Who in Your Son Jesus Christ gave suffering humanity

a glorious witness of Your love for us,

You, Who in our Lord Christ

gave us the sign of a suffering that is never in vain,

but fruitful in Your redeeming power,

grant those who yet suffer

for the blind violence of fratricidal wars

the strength of the hope that does not fade,

the dream of a definitive civilization of life,

the courage of a real and daily activity of peace.

Give us your Paraclete Spirit

so that the men of our time

may understand that the gift of peace

is much more precious than any corruptible treasure,

and that while awaiting the day that does not end

we are all called to be builders of peace for the future of Your children.

Make all Christians more convinced witnesses of life,

the inestimable gift of Your love,

You Who live and reign for ever and ever


Pope Benedict XVII

 Pope Benedict XVI  paid a visit in 2009 to the Polish military cemetery in Montecassino, Italy. The prayer he recited there for all those who have fallen in any war seems appropriate to share today when the United States marks Memorial Day.
This is the English translation of the pope’s prayer from the Vatican Information Service.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Devotion for today: Lord, send down your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth

Today is the great feast of Pentecost.
Scripture for meditation: Acts 2:1-4
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

Scripture for reflection: Joel 2:28-32
And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy,  your old men will dream dreams,  your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.  I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved;
for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.

Pentecost Graces: Holy Church at this time celebrates the sending of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, who received him in a  most interior manner. It  was necessary for our sakes that they should make such a beginning of a new existence, for we are by their means to receive the same divine gift. And it was good that they should be comforted, for they had languished comfortless and forsaken within and without. And it finally came to pass, that as long as they continued in this life,  the disciples constantly grew into deeper union with the Holy Spirit. So should every true friend of God celebrate this lovely festival every day he lives, yes, every day  and every hour should he receive the Holy Spirit in his soul. The whole task  of his life is to prepare a loving welcome for him. And his coming again and again continuously fits the soul better and better for his ever-renewed entrance. As Pentecost day was the festival of the Holy Spirit’s being sent to the disciples, so is every day of the year a Pentecost day to each Christian. If he will but thoroughly prepare his soul, the divine Spirit will enter in with all his graces and gifts….(Father John Tauler, O.P. as taken from The Magnificat, May, 2010)

 Prayer: Veni, Sancte Spiritus
Come, Holy Spirit,
send forth the heavenly
radiance of your light.
Come, father of the poor,
come, giver of gifts,
come, light of the heart.
Greatest comforter,
sweet guest of the soul,
sweet consolation.
In labor, rest,
in heat, temperance,
in tears, solace.
O most blessed light,
fill the inmost heart
of your faithful.
Without your grace,
there is nothing in us,
nothing that is not harmful.
Cleanse that which is unclean,
water that which is dry,
heal that which is wounded.
Bend that which is inflexible,
fire that which is chilled,
correct what goes astray.
Give to your faithful,
those who trust in you,
the sevenfold gifts.
Grant the reward of virtue,
grant the deliverance of salvation,
grant eternal joy.

My thoughts: Happy Birthday, Catholic Church! Today is a very special, holy and happy day. Today Christ’s disciples received the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Holy Trinity, the gift promised by Jesus himself when he told his disciples that he would not leave them orphaned. Jesus said that he must go so that the Holy Spirit could come. In the Old Testament we see God the Father as the dominant presence in the lives of his chosen people. In the New Testament we see God the Son in the flesh, teaching all men how to enter the kingdom. Now, in the modern age, we have the Holy Spirit, leading and guiding the Church. God has never abandoned us. This is the time prophesied by Joel. This is the age of the Holy Spirit. Let him into your soul to “fire that which is chilled” and “bend that which is inflexible.” Do as Father John Tauler tells us, and  thoroughly prepare your soul, so that the Divine Spirit will enter in with all his graces and gifts.