Saturday, July 7, 2012

Devotion for today: God, make my life a little light

Unless we become like little children, we shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Hymn for a Little Child
Matilda Betham- Edwards

God make my life a little light,
Within the world to glow;
A little flame that burneth bright,
Wherever I may go.

God make my life a little flower,
That giveth joy to all,
Content to bloom in native bower,
Although its place be small.

God make my life a little song,
That comforteth the sad;
That helpeth others to be strong,
And makes the singer glad.

God make my life a little staff
Whereon the weak may rest,
That so what health and strength I have
May serve my neighbours best.

God make my life a little hymn
Of tenderness and praise;
Of faith - that never waxeth dim,
In all his wondrous ways.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Devotion for today: St. Maria Goretti, pray for us

Today is the feast day of St. Maria Goretti. To honor her today, I am reposting a blog from November.
St. Maria Goretti: Born in Corinaldo, Ancona, Italy, on October 16 1890; her farm worker father moved his family to Ferrier di Conca, near Anzio. Her father died of malaria and her mother had to struggle to feed her children. In 1902 an eighteen-year-old neighbor, Alexander, grabbed her from her steps and tried to rape her. When Maria said that she would rather die than submit, Alexander began stabbing her with a knife. Maria continually cried out to her assailant, "No! It is a sin! God forbids it! You will go to hell!" On her deathbed a day later, in her agony, she forgave her murderer. "For the love of Jesus I forgive him, and I want him to be with me one day in heaven!" Her death didn't end her forgiveness, however. Alexander was captured and sentenced to thirty years. He was unrepentant until he had a dream that he was in a garden. Maria was there and gave him flowers. When he woke, he was a changed man, repenting of his crime and living a reformed life. When he was released after 27 years he went directly to Maria's mother to beg her forgiveness, which she gave. "If my daughter can forgive him, who am I to withhold forgiveness," she said. When Maria was declared a saint in 1950, Alexander was there in the St. Peter's crowd to celebrate her canonization. She was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1950 for her purity as model for youth. She is called a martyr because she fought against Alexander's attempts at sexual assault. However, the most important aspect of her story is her forgiveness of her attacker -- her concern for her enemy extending even beyond death.,
Scripture for meditation: 1 Thessalonians:3-5, 7: It is God's will that you grow in holiness: that you abstain from immorality, each of you guarding his member in sanctity and honor, not in passionate desire as do the Gentiles who know not God. God has not called us to immorality but to holiness.
Scripture for reflection: Luke 23: 33-35: When they came to Skull Place, as it was called, they crucified Him there and the criminals as well, one on His right, and one on His left. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing."
Blessed John Paul II tells us:
 "She did not flee from the voice of the Holy Spirit, from the voice of her conscience. She rather chose death. Through the gift of fortitude the Holy Spirit helped her to 'judge"- and to choose with her young spirit. She chose death when there was no other way to defend her virginal purity. Maria Goretti's blood, shed in a sacrifice of total fidelity to God, reminds us that we are also called to offer ourselves to the Father. We are called to fulfill the divine will in order to be found holy and pleasing in His sight. Our call to holiness, which is the vocation of every baptized person, is encouraged by the example of this young martyr. Look at her especially, adolescents and young people. Like her, be capable of defending your purity of heart and body; be committed to the struggle against evil and sin, nourishing your communion with the Lord through prayer, the daily practice of mortification, and scrupulously observing the commandments. Do not be afraid to take a counter-cultural stance, to reject the world's idols when it is a question of courageously witnessing by your lives that you belong to a chaste and poor Christ. Always esteem and love purity and virginity. In a Homily commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the virgin-martyr's birth
Prayer: Official Prayer to St. Maria Goretti
Oh Saint Maria Goretti who, strengthened by God's grace, did not hesitate even at the age of twelve to shed your blood and sacrifice life itself to defend your virginal purity, look graciously on the unhappy human race which has strayed far from the path of eternal salvation. Teach us all, and especially youth, with what courage and promptitude we should flee for the love of Jesus anything that could offend Him or stain our souls with sin. Obtain for us from our Lord victory in temptation, comfort in the sorrows of life, and the grace which we earnestly beg of thee (here insert intention), and may we one day enjoy with thee the imperishable glory of Heaven. Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.
My thoughts: What is "Love's greatest choice"? Is it to resist the sin of impurity because of our love for God? Is it the forgiveness of someone who has maliciously harmed us? Or is it to care in all situations for the salvation of another person's soul? Maria Goretti, in her resistance, feared that the act would send her attacker to hell. On her deathbed, she expressed her desire for him to be in heaven, and in death, she appeared to him to offer him a new life. He accepted, and died a good and holy man. Maria is remembered for her purity, her ability to forgive, and her desire to save a soul. May we, too, pray for the graces of fortitude, forgiveness, and spiritual concern for our neighbor. It is such a beautiful way to live, and die.
St. Maria Goretti, pray for us.
St. Maria Goretti's feast day is July 6.
St. Maria Goretti is the patron saint of youth, young women, purity, and victims of rape.
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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Devotion for today: my words fail me

Edith Stein, Edith Stein poetry, Christian, Christian poetry, Catholic poetry,  poetry,  poetry

This week we have learned from two marvelous “Teresa’s”. Here is a third to help us see the glory of our life in Christ.

Edith Stein, also known by her monastic name of Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, was a mystic, philosopher, and Carmelite nun who died at Auschwitz. Edith Stein was born in 1891 in Breslau, Germany to Jewish parents…. In 1922, Edith Stein converted to Catholicism after reading the autobiography of Saint Teresa of Avila…. When the Nazis invaded Holland, Sister Benedicta was arrested and sent in the trains to the death camp at Auschwitz. There she died in the gas chambers on August 9, 1942. She was canonized as a saint in 1998. (

I Remain in You

You reign at the Father's right hand
In the kingdom of his eternal glory
As God's Word from the beginning.

You reign on the Almighty's throne
Also in transfigured human form,
Ever since the completion of your work on earth.

I believe this because your word teaches me so,
And because I believe, I know it gives me joy,
And blessed hope blooms forth from it.

For where you are, there also are your own,
Heaven is my glorious homeland,
I share with you the Father's throne.

The Eternal who made all creatures,
Who, thrice holy, encompasses all being,
In addition has a silent, special kingdom of his own.

The innermost chamber of the human soul
Is the Trinity's favorite place to be,
His heavenly throne on earth.

To deliver this heavenly kingdom from the hand of the enemy,
The Son of God has come as Son of Man,
He gave his blood as the price of deliverance.

In the heart of Jesus, which was pierced,
The kingdom of heaven and the land of earth are bound together.
Here is for us the source of life.

This heart is the heart of the triune Divinity,
And the center of all human hearts
That bestows on us the life of God.

It draws us to itself with secret power;
It conceals us in itself in the Father's bosom
And floods us with the Holy Spirit.

This Heart, it beats for us in a small tabernacle
Where it remains mysteriously hidden
In that still, white host.

That is your royal throne on earth, O Lord,
Which visibly you have erected for us,
And you are pleased when I approach it.

Full of love, you sink your gaze into mine
And bend your ear to my quiet words
And deeply fill my heart with peace.

Yet your love is not satisfied
With this exchange that could still lead to separation:
Your heart requires more.

You come to me as early morning's meal each daybreak.
Your flesh and blood become food and drink for me
And something wonderful happens.

Your body mysteriously permeates mine
And your soul unites with mine:
I am no longer what once I was.

You come and go, but the seed
That you sowed for future glory, remains behind
Buried in this body of dust.

A luster of heaven remains in the soul,
A deep glow remains in the eyes,
A soaring in the tone of voice.

There remains the bond that binds heart to heart,
The stream of life that springs from yours
And animates each limb.

How wonderful are your gracious wonders!
All we can do is be amazed and stammer and fall silent
Because intellect and words fail.

And I Remain With You. (from The Hidden Life: Hagiographic Essays, Meditations, Spiritual Texts (The Collected Works of Edith Stein))

My thoughts: If you have never done so, please consider reading the life story of Edith Stein, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Highly educated, a prolific writer, philosopher, and advocate for women, Edith Stein was above all a lover of Christ. Her poem reminds us that souls are the chosen dwelling place of the Holy Trinity, and that through the reception of Holy Communion, “Your body mysteriously permeates mine, and your soul unites with mine: I am no longer what once I was.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, each time we received the body and blood of Christ, we were filled with the awe and wonder of Edith Stein? Let us make that our goal, never to take the Eucharist for granted, but to always and forever more, receive it and say, “All we can do is be amazed and stammer and fall silent
Because intellect and words fail.”

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Devotion for today: and the truth will set us free

Today is Independence Day in the United States of America. Today we celebrate our freedom. Let us study the Catholic Church’s concept of freedom by looking at the Bible, the Catechism and some really great men and women.

John 8:31-32: “If you live according to my teachings, you are truly my disciples; then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
James 1:25 “But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does.”

Galatians 5:1, 13"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery... For you were called to freedom... only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another."

The Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1731: Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By free will one shapes one’s own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude. 1733: The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to “the slavery of sin.” (Romans 6:17).

Cardinal Timothy Dolan: “Is genuine freedom the license to do what we ought or the ability to do whatever we want? … Is law tethered to objective truth, or is it ruled by a 'dictatorship of relativism'?”…. “Should laws be tailored to suit changing wants, demands, or recently discovered 'rights'?”  “Or should wants, demands, and novel rights be tempered by law to uphold the sacredness of life, the common good, and the objective moral law?”

Pope Benedict XVI: "We think we are free and truly ourselves only if we follow our own will. God appears as the opposite of our freedom. We need to be free of him – so we think – and only then will we be free. This is the fundamental rebellion present throughout history and the fundamental lie which perverts life. When human beings set themselves against God, they set themselves against the truth of their own being and consequently do not become free, but alienated from themselves. We are free only if we stand in the truth of our being, if we are united to God. Then we become truly “like God” – not by resisting God, eliminating him, or denying him. "

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta:The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give. But the less you have the more free you are. Poverty for us is a freedom. It is not mortification, a penance.
It is joyful freedom. There is no television here, no this, no that. But we are perfectly happy.”

St. Edith Stein: "There is a rest status in God, where every activity of the mind is suspended, in which you can’t plan anything anymore, or make any decision, or do anything, but in which one is transported with his own destiny, after having committed all his future to the divine will....At first it was the silence of death. Then you can feel a sense of intimate safeness, of liberation from all that is anxiety, duty, responsibility in connection to action. And while I am transported with this feeling, little by little a new life starts to fill me and – with no strain of my will- to push me to new realizations."

Blessed John Paul II: “True freedom is not advanced in the permissive society, which confuses freedom with license to do anything whatever and which in the name of freedom proclaims a kind of general amorality. It is a caricature of freedom to claim that people are free to organize their lives with no reference to moral values, and to say that society does not have to ensure the protection and advancement of ethical values. Such an attitude is destructive of freedom and peace.” “Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.” “When freedom does not have a purpose, when it does not wish to know anything about the rule of law engraved in the hearts of men and women, when it does not listen to the voice of conscience, it turns against humanity and society.”

Let Freedom Ring, by Bill Gaither
Deep within the heart has always known that there was freedom
Somehow breathed into the very soul alive
The prisoner, the powerless, the saved have always known it
There’s something that keeps reaching for the sky
Even life begins because a baby fights for freedom
And songs we love to sing have freedom’s theme
Some have walked through fire and flood to find a place of freedom
And some faced hell itself for freedom’s dream
Let freedom ring wherever minds know what it means to be in chains
Let freedom ring wherever hearts know pain
Let freedom echo through the lonely streets where prisons have no key
We can be free and we can sing --- let freedom ring
God built freedom into every fiber of creation
And He meant for us to all be free and whole
When my Lord bought freedom with the blood of His redemption
His cross stamped pardon on my very soul
I’ll sing it out with every breath, I’ll let the whole world hear it
This hallelujah anthem of the free
That iron bars and heavy chains can never hold us captive
The Son has made us free and free indeed
Let freedom ring down through the ages from a hill called Calvary
Let freedom ring wherever hearts know pain
Let freedom echo through the lonely streets where prisons have no key
You can be free and you can sing let freedom ring.
Let freedom echo through the lonely streets where prisons have no key
You can be free and you can sing let freedom ring
You can be free and you can sing --- let freedom ring --- let freedom ring

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Devotion for today: strive to pass the test

Today we look at another Teresa, this one a modern day “saint”.

Scripture for meditation: Colossians 3:15-17
Christ’s peace must reign in your hearts, since as members of the one body you have been called to that peace. Dedicate yourselves to thankfulness. Let the word of Christ, rich as it is, dwell in you. In wisdom made perfect, instruct and admonish one another. Sing gratefully to God from your hearts in psalms, hymns, and inspired songs. Whatever you do, whether in speech or in action, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus. Give thanks to God the Father through him.

Scripture for reflection: Genesis 4:3-7
In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”...

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta tells us: We are all capable of good and evil. We are not born bad: everybody has something good inside. Some hide it, some neglect it, but it is there. God created us to love and to be loved, so it is our test from God to choose one path or the other. Any negligence in loving can lead someone to say yes to evil, and when that happens we have no idea how far it can spread. That’s the sad part. If someone chooses evil, then an obstacle is set up between that person and God, and the burdened person cannot see God clearly at all. That’s why we have to avoid any kind of temptation that will destroy us. We gain the strength to overcome this from prayer, because if we are close to God we spread joy and love to everybody around us. If evil takes possession of someone, that person in turn may spread evil to everybody around him. If we are in contact with such people we must try to help them and show them that God cares for them. Pray hard to help bring prayer back to them so that they may once more see God in themselves and then see Him in others. It is this which will help the person who is bad because everybody – it doesn’t matter who – has been created by the same loving hand. Christ’s love is always stronger than the evil in the world, so we need to love and to be loved: it’s as simple as that. This shouldn’t be such a struggle to achieve (Mother Teresa, A Simple Path by Lucinda Vardey, Ballentine Books, 1995).

 Prayer: Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi
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;
and 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. Amen

My thoughts: Blessed Teresa of Calcutta has such a straight way of speaking. She takes the issue of good vs. evil and makes it so applicable to our lives. Life is a test. We get a choice. We can choose good, or we can choose evil. If we choose good, we will spread good to all those who come in contact with us. If we choose evil, we will infect those around us. She also puts a great responsibility on us: if we neglect to love someone out of feelings of superiority, righteousness, hatred, etc., we can cause evil to be born in them. Remember, the absence of love is evil. “God is love, and he who abides in God abides in love.” If someone you know is destroying his or her life by sin and wrongdoing, first pray for them, seek good spiritual advice on how to deal with it, and then do as Blessed Teresa says, and try to help them. We want to take everyone to heaven with us. That is why God put so many people in our lives! We are to bring them all to heaven. It shouldn’t be a struggle; it should be a joy.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Devotion for today: how long must I suffer, O Lord?

Today we will take a look at physical suffering by spending time with St. Theresa of Avila.

Scripture for meditation: Job 1:20-22
Then Job began to tear his cloak and cut off his hair He cast himself prostrate upon the ground, and said, “Naked came I forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back again. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!” In all this Job did not sin, nor did he say anything disrespectful of God.

Scripture for reflection: Luke 12: 8-10
“I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men – The Son of Man will acknowledge him before the angels of God. But the man who has disowned me in the presence of men will be disowned in the presence of the angels of God.”

St. Theresa of Avila tells us: “For sometimes it seemed that sharp teeth were biting into me…. With the continuous fever and the great lack of strength…I was so shriveled and wasted away…that my nerves began to shrink causing such unbearable pains that I found no rest either by day or by night – a very deep sadness…. The pains were what exhausted me, for they were like one continuous entity throughout my whole body, from head to foot. Pain of the nerves is unbearable, as doctors affirm, and since my nerves were all shrunken, certainly it was a bitter torment…. I remained in this excruciating state no more than three months, for it seemed impossible to be able to suffer so many ills together. Now I am amazed; and I consider the patience His Majesty gave me a great favor from the Lord, for this patience was clearly seen to come from Him. It greatly profited me to have read the story of Job…for it seems the Lord prepared me by this means, together with my having begun to experience prayer, so that I could be able to bear the suffering with so much conformity to His will. All my conversations were with Him. I kept these words of Job very habitually in my mind and recited them: Since we receive good things from the hand of the Lord why do we not suffer the evil things? This, it seems, gave me great strength (The Collected Works of St. Theresa of Avila, Volume One, translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D., and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D., Institute of Carmelite Studies Publications, 1987).

Prayer: O Lord, I confess Your great power. If You are powerful, as You are, what is impossible for you who can do everything? Please, my Lord, give the order, give the order, for although I am miserable, I firmly believe You can do what You desire. And the more I hear of Your greater marvels, and consider that You can add to them, the more my faith is strengthened; and I believe with greater determination that You will do this. What is there to marvel at in what the Almighty does? You know well, my God, that in the midst of all my miseries I never failed to acknowledge Your great power and mercy. May that in which I have not offended You, Lord, help me. Recover, my God, the lost time by giving me grace in the present and future so that I may appear before You with wedding garments; for if You want to, You can do so.

My thoughts:  Like many of us, St. Theresa of Avila led a very painful life. Unlike many of us, she never once lost her vision of her loving Father through all her pain and torment. Like Job, she remained faithful and never said anything “disrespectful of God.” St. Theresa of Avila is a doctor of the Church; she passed through her intense illnesses and went on to become a saint. So can we. When the great deceiver tries to lead us astray by telling us this horrible suffering is because God has abandoned us, tell him to go back to his horrible home. Claim the Lord’s love for you, ask Him for strength to hang on, receive the Sacrament of the Sick, and call into your life other people who can pray for you when you can’t. Most importantly, offer up the suffering for some cause. St. Theresa, in this book, states that she wishes she had caught on the redemptive aspect of suffering a little sooner. God never gives us more than we can handle; just hold onto His hand and let others help you as well. We all need help in our times of suffering. Be there for others, and let others be there for you. And never stop believing in God. He will never stop believing in you.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Devotion for today: heal me, O Lord!

Today’s gospel readings center on the healing power of Jesus Christ. Let us take time to tap into this fount of mercy and love ourselves.

For Healing Lord, You invite all who are burdened to come to You. Allow your healing hand to heal me. Touch my soul with Your compassion for others. Touch my heart with Your courage and infinite love for all. Touch my mind with Your wisdom, that my mouth may always proclaim Your praise. Teach me to reach out to You in my need, and help me to lead others to You by my example. Most loving Heart of Jesus, bring me health in body and spirit that I may serve You with all my strength. Touch gently this life which You have created, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer for Healing Lord, look upon me with eyes of mercy, may your healing hand rest upon me, may your life-giving powers flow into every cell of my body and into the depths of my soul, cleansing, purifying, restoring me to wholeness and strength for service in your Kingdom. Amen.

Prayer for Healing O God who are the only source of health and healing, the spirit of calm and the central peace of this universe, grant to me such a consciousness of your indwelling and surrounding presence that I may permit you to give me health and strength and peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for the Dying Most merciful Jesus, lover of souls, I pray you by the agony of your most sacred heart, and by the sorrows of your Immaculate Mother, to wash in your most Precious Blood the sinners of the world who are now in their agony, and who will die today.

Heart of Jesus, once in agony, have mercy on the dying.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I give you my heart and my soul. Assist me in my last agony, and grant that I may breathe forth my soul in peace with you. Amen.

Prayer for the Sick Omnipotent and eternal God, the everlasting Salvation of those who believe, hear us on behalf of Thy sick servant, N., for whom we beg the aid of Thy pitying mercy, that, with his bodily health restored, he may give thanks to Thee in Thy church. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.