Saturday, July 14, 2012

Devotion for today: Litany of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha

 Litany of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the World have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Kateri, lily of purity, pray for us.
Kateri, consoler of the heart of Jesus, pray for us.
Kateri, bright light for all Indians, pray for us.
Kateri, courage of the afflicted, pray for us.
Kateri, lover of the cross of Jesus, pray for us.
Kateri, flower of fortitude for the persecuted, pray for us.
Kateri, unshakeable in temptations, pray for us.
Kateri, full of patience in suffering, pray for us.
Kateri, keeper of your virginity in persecutions, pray for us.
Kateri, leader of many Indians to the true faith through your love for Mary, pray for us.
Kateri, who loved Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, pray for us.
Kateri, lover of penance, pray for us.
Kateri, who traveled many miles to learn the faith, pray for us.
Kateri, steadfast in all prayer, pray for us.
Kateri, who loved to pray the rosary for all people, pray for us.
Kateri, example to your people in all virtues, pray for us.
Kateri, humble servant to the sick, pray for us.
Kateri, who by your love of humility, gave joy to the angels, pray for us.
Kateri, your holy death gave strength to all Indians to love Jesus and Mary, pray for us.
Kateri, whose scarred face in life became beautiful after death, pray for us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, 0 Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, 0 Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
0 Jesus, who gave Kateri to the Indians as an example of purity, teach
all men to love purity, and to console your immaculate Mother Mary
through the lily, Kateri Tekakwitha, and your Holy Cross, Amen.
Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Devotion for today: Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha “Lily of the Mohawks”

Tomorrow is the feast of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, who will become the first Native American Saint on October 21, 2012. Read and learn about this amazing young woman, an inspiration to all of us to grow in purity and love of the Eucharist.

Kateri said: “I am not my own; I have given myself to Jesus. He must be my only love.”

Kateri was born in 1656 in Ossernenon, now called Auriesville, a few miles west of Amsterdam. Her mother was a Christian Algonquin and her father was a Mohawk chief who died of smallpox when she was 4 years old — a disease that damaged the girl's eyesight and scarred her face. Her mother and younger brother also died during the smallpox epidemic when she was a young girl. At age 10, her village was burned down by French forces. She was given the name Tekakwitha, a native word denoting her poor vision, She defied Mohawk culture by refusing to marry and was further ostracized when she converted to Catholicism at age 20. Two years later, she fled to Canada and lived in a settlement of Christian Indians near Montreal. She led a dozen women who practiced asceticism and cared for children and the elderly in her village. She helped missionaries convert other Indians to Christianity. She is entombed inside the St. Francis-Xavier Church in Kahnawake, Canada. Kateri died at 24. Witnesses who attended her death said her body glowed and the smallpox scars on her face disappeared. She was known as "Lily of the Mohawks."

Documentation for the final miracle needed for her canonization was sent to the Vatican in July 2009. It involved the recovery of a young boy in Seattle whose face had been disfigured by flesh-eating bacteria and who almost died from the disease. But he recovered completely, and the Vatican confirmed the work of a tribunal who determined there was no medical explanation for it. On Dec. 19, the pope signed the decree recognizing the miracle in Blessed Kateri's cause clearing the way for her canonization on October 21, 2012. She is listed as patron of American Indians, ecology and the environment and is held up as a model for Catholic youths.

It was through the beauty and the power of Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist that Blessed Kateri was strengthened to endure the intense persecution for her choice of virginity, as well as, her great sufferings which resulted from small pox. Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, Who is purity Itself, transformed her into His own image - the image of the unblemished Lamb. Pope Pius XII explains in his encyclical that such virgins and souls are described in Revelation as those who “follow the Lamb [Who is Jesus Eucharistic] wherever He goes.” And it is these same souls, he writes, who will sing the new canticle, that is the song of those whose robes have been washed clean by the Blood of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, the unblemished Lamb. (Rev.14:4, 14:3 & 7:14).

May we travel in the footsteps of Blessed Kateri - Lily of the Mohawks and Lily of the Holy Eucharist - to the Throne of the Eucharistic Lamb of Love, singing with her the song of the new day “Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power!” (Rev. 4:11). For those who receive and adore Him, who are washed clean in the Holy Eucharist will be transformed into Lilies of the Eucharist, and “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 7:17b). And they will see the dawn of which “the glory of God is its Light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev. 21:23b).
Prayer: Lily of purity, consoler of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, bright light for all Indians, courage of the afflicted, lover of the Cross of Jesus, flower of fortitude for the persecuted who loved Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament - pray for us. (Copyright 1998, M.B.S. All rights reserved.)

Excerpts from the Catholic Network's biography of Blessed Kateri's Tekakwitha:
"Every morning, even in bitterest winter, she stood before the chapel door until it opened at four and remained there until after the last Mass."
"Out from her Caughnawaga cabin at dawn and straight-way to chapel to adore the Blessed Sacrament, hear every Mass; back again during the day to hear instruction, and at night for a last prayer or Benediction. Her neighbors sought to be near her when she received Holy Communion, as her manner excited devotion."


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Devotion for today: benefit from the Church's teachings

Scripture for meditation: Romans 13:1
Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Scripture for reflection: Matthew 24:24
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Pope Leo XIII tells us: The Church, if she directs men to render obedience chiefly and above all to God the Sovereign Lord, is wrongly and falsely believed either to be envious of the civil power or to arrogate to herself something of the rights of the sovereigns.
 On the contrary, she teaches that what is rightly due to the civil power must be rendered to it with a conviction and consciousness of duty. In teaching that from God Himself comes the right of ruling, she adds a great dignity to civil authority, and no small help towards obtaining the obedience and good will of the citizens.
The friend of peace and sustainer of concord, she embraces all with maternal love, and, intent only upon giving help to mortal man, she teaches that to justice must be joined clemency, equity to authority and moderation to lawgiving; that no one’s right must be violated; that order and public tranquility are to be maintained and that the poverty of those who are in need is, as far as possible, to be relieved by public and private charity.
 “But for this reason,” to use the words of St. Augustine, “men think, or would have it believed, that Christian teaching is not suited to the good of the State, for they wish the State to be founded not on solid virtue, but on the impunity of vice.” Knowing these things, both princes and people would act with political wisdom and according to the needs of general safety, if, instead of joining…to destroy the Church, they joined with the Church in repelling their attacks.” (Humanus Genus, April 20, 1884, as found in The Popes Against Modern Errors, arranged and edited by Anthony Mioni, Jr., Tan Books, 1999)

Prayer: God our Father, you have guided the Church since its foundation. You show us the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church. Through the gospel and the Eucharist, bring us together in the Holy Spirit and guide us in your love. Help us to grow in holiness, charity and service and to show the living presence of Christ in the world, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen. (adapted from the back of a holy card of the Diocese of Arlington, VA)

My thoughts: Did you catch the date on the above Papal Document? If I hadn’t told you who said it and when, my guess is that you would have thought this was written by some modern day theologian. The attacks against the true word of God existed long before Christ founded His Church and The Declaration of Independence gave America its freedom. God’s laws have never been popular because they forbid us to commit the seven deadly sins. In order to be free to commit them, we must do away with God’s laws. Every generation from the beginning of time has found ways to do this, either by worshiping pagan gods, worshiping themselves, declaring that God is dead or professing from the political pulpit that the Church (which represents God) is off its rocker, or worse, downright mean and ridiculous. Whatever means man may find to negate the reality of sin, it is up to us to remain faithful to what we know is truth. God loves us and wants us with Him in heaven. He gave us a road map to follow to get there. It isn’t always going to make us worldly happy because it calls us to a higher happiness: the happiness that comes with right living, and the eternal happiness that comes with heaven. Look to the saints who suffered persecution in their day; read the plight of the prophets in the Old Testament who tried to warn the Israelites of impending dome, and carefully study the writings of the Church Fathers. You will find the strength you need to believe the words you read in the Gospels: “My words are truth and light.”

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Devotion for today: enter the dark night

Scripture for meditation: Matthew, 4:8-11
The devil then took him up a very high mountain and displayed before him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, promising, “All these will I bestow on you if you prostrate yourself in homage before me.” At this Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan!” scripture has it: ‘You shall do homage to the Lord your God; him alone shall you adore.’” At that the devil left him, and angels came and waited on him.

St. Therese of Lisieux tells us: Since childhood, as I said, I had been certain that one day I would leave my dark world far behind. I do not think that this was only from what I had heard. The very desires and intuitions of my inmost heart assured me that another and more lovely land awaited me, an abiding city – just as the genius of Christopher Columbus gave him a presentiment of a new world.
 Then suddenly the fog about me seems to enter my very soul and fill it to such an extent that I cannot even find there the lovely picture I had formed of my homeland; everything has disappeared! When, weary of being enveloped by nothing but darkness, I try to comfort and encourage myself with the thought of the eternal life to come, it only makes matters worse. The very darkness seems to echo the voices of those who do not believe and mocks at me: “You dream of light and of a fragrant land; you dream that the Creator of this loveliness will be your own for all eternity; you dream of escaping one day from these mists in which you languish: Dream on, welcome death; it will not bring you what you hope; it will bring an even darker night, the night of nothingness!”
Whenever I find myself faced with the prospect of an attack by my enemy, I am most courageous; I turn my back on him, without so much as looking at him, and run to Jesus. I tell Him I am ready to shed all my blood to prove my faith in heaven. I tell Him I am quite happy that the eyes of my soul should be blind, while I am on earth, to the heavenly wonders in store for me, so long as He will open the eyes of unbelieving souls for all eternity. So, in spite of the fact that this trial takes away all sense of joy, I can still say: “Thou hast given me, O Lord, a delight in Thy doings” (Psalm 91:5), for what can give such keen delight as suffering for love of You!” (The Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux, Tan Books and Publishers, 1997).

Prayer: Judith 16:13-16
“A new hymn I will sing to my God. O Lord, great are you and glorious, wonderful in power and unsurpassable. Let your every creature serve you; for you spoke, and they were made. You sent forth your spirit, and they were created; no one can resist your word. The mountains to their bases, and the seas, are shaken; the rocks, like wax, melt before your glance. But to those who fear you, you are very merciful.”

My thoughts: Anyone who has sought a close relationship with Jesus has been tempted by the devil. It makes sense: if he tempted the Son of God, he is certainly going to tempt us. Jesus used strong words to dispel him and remind him who was in charge. St. Therese of Lisieux shows us another way, but one that is just as effective. Whenever she feels the devil trying to rob her of her joy, to fill her with depression and sadness, and to kill her faith and hope, she quickly turns her back on him and runs to Jesus. A smart child leaves a bully behind and runs to his big brother for protection. We must do the same. Do not give the devil a second of your time. When you feel the darkness of doubt and despair begin to fog your soul, turn your back, run into Jesus’ waiting arms, and ignore the devil by firmly stating your love and trust in Christ. Then let Jesus know that you are willing to suffer this attack and offer it up for all the poor souls in the world who no longer believe in Him. St. Therese says that although we may not feel instant joy and relief, we can be confident that Jesus will take care of us and protect us, and that our suffering will gain merit in this world. St. Therese knew her Scripture, the Psalms and passages like the one I offer in “Prayer” to repeat over and over until peace comes once again. I suggest we do the same. Then, do not fear the dark night; rather, gather your strength, run to Our Lord, promise Him your fidelity, offer up your pain, and pray. The devil will leave, and the angels will arrive to wait on you. So be it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Devotion for today: they found him too much for them

Scripture for meditation: Mark 6:1-6
Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, "Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house." So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

Dr. Marcellino tells us: Over the last two Sundays, the gospel of Mark has been making it abundantly clear that Jesus is indeed God Almighty, ruler of the world and lord over life and death. But this week we come to a story that leaves us scratching our heads. Jesus goes to his own native place, and receives less than a jubilant reception. “They found him too much for them.” That may not be so surprising to those of us accustomed to family life. But what does come as a shock are these words: “He could work no miracle there . . . so much did their lack of faith distress him.”Wait a minute. I thought that Jesus was God and therefore omnipotent. Wouldn’t it be admitting that he is not God to say that he was unable to work miracles in a given place? Hardly. God’s exercises his power only in a way befitting his nature. …He seeks to give his love to those who freely accept it and open their hearts to him. He refuses to violate the wishes of those whom he has created in his image and likeness, who possess intellect and free will. He directly controls the wind and the waves through a word of simple command, for wind and waves are inanimate forces. But with regards to human beings, he makes himself available and waits for an invitation. That invitation whereby we ask him to come into our lives and calm our interior storms is called faith. Faith is not, therefore, an emotion. It is not about an inner assurance, a feeling of confidence that is free of all shadow of doubt or fear. It is rather a decision, sometimes made with knees knocking. It is a yes that gives God permission to work in our lives and rearrange the furniture if he so chooses. That means blessing, healing, salvation and miracles. But it also means yielding to his will, his plan, his timetable. And of course, that is the part we don’t like. What will others think of me...Sometimes we are not really happy with the way things are, but at least they are familiar. We know what to expect. We are in control, or at least we think we are. Faith means handing over control, and that scares us. We are free to say no, and quite frankly we often do. Sometimes we say no in small ways–we only let God take us so far. Sometimes it’s a very firm “no”, that shuts God completely out of our lives. This is the sort of “no” that Jesus encountered during his visit to Nazareth, and which the prophets before him often encountered from the people of Israel. So if Jesus was divine and therefore all-knowing, why did he bother to go to Nazareth at all? For the same reason that God sent Ezekiel to the Israelites and told him in advance that they’d resist. The Lord wanted to take away all excuses. God loved his people enough to offer them every opportunity for the healing and deliverance that they prayed for. He called their bluff, so to speak. Jerusalem pleaded for deliverance from the Babylonians and the people of Nazareth probably prayed for healing for Uncle Jacob or food for the town orphans. But in both cases when God showed up, ready to pour out his gifts, they didn’t like the packaging and rejected the terms. At the last judgment, when our lives flash before our eyes, we’ll be reminded of the times that God made a house call and we slammed the door in his face. I say it’s time to apologize, unbolt the door, and roll out the red carpet.

Prayer: O sweet Jesus! Pierce my heart so that my tears of penitence and love will be my bread day and night; may I be converted entirely to You, may my heart be Your perpetual habitation; may my conversation be pleasing to You, and may the end of my life be so praiseworthy that I may merit heaven and there with Your Saints praise You forever. Amen (Conclusion to the Fifteen Prayers of St. Bridget of Sweden).

My thoughts: Does any of this sound familiar to you? How many of us have family situations that resemble Christ’s “family” in His home town. “Just who does he think he is, coming in here and, well, performing miracles and all that?” Yup, just like our families. The problem, this was no ordinary family member; this was God, revealing Himself with love and affection to His favorite people, and they rejected Him. Dr. Marcellino makes it so clear that we stand in peril of doing the same thing when we resent God’s will for our lives and think we know better, or know more than He does. That seems to be common today, so we must be careful not to fall into that trap. By giving our lives to God, we surrender control. Is this frightening? Maybe it is. But who knows better what we need for our salvation than God? Remember, God stands at the door and knocks. He doesn’t shove it open, and we shouldn’t slam it shut.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Devotion for today: all of heaven holds its breath

Scripture for meditation: Luke 1:31-33, 35
Blessed are you among women. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end….The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

Scripture for reflection: Luke 1:38
“I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to your word.”

Johnnette S. Benkovic tells us: We know that, at the moment of the Annunciation, the Blessed Virgin Mary was uniquely commissioned to bring Jesus into the world. She was to become the perfect channel of God’s greatest Gift. This is why we esteem her above all the saints, for God entrusted this singular and holy honor to Mary alone. And yet, in a certain sense, God extends the call He issued to Mary to each of us. Will you bring my Son into the world? Will you carry Him in the womb of your heart as Mary carried Him in the womb of her body? Will you birth Him into the lives of others, that all might come to experience the grace of redemption and eternal life? Like the Blessed Mother, you and I have a choice. We can say “yes” to God’s request, or we can say “no”. And, just like Mary’s response, our answer has eternal consequences, both in our lives and in the lives of others. If we say “yes” as Mary did, God will empower us with His Holy Spirit and we, too, will be filled with the life of Jesus Christ. Like Mary, we will become a channel of grace through which the love of God enters into the world. And, because the spiritual needs of our day are so great, all of heaven is holding its breath waiting for our response (Full of Grace by Johnnette Benkovic, Servant Books, 2004).

Prayer: Consoler Consecration to Mary (Fr. Michael E. Gaitley)
Mary, I want to be a saint. I know that you also want me to be a saint and that it’s your God-given mission to form me into one. So, Mary, at this moment, on this day, I freely choose to give you my full permission to do your work in me, with your Spouse, the Holy Spirit.

My thoughts: Johnnette Benkovic’s above passage really struck a chord with me. We think of Mary as being so highly favored by God as to be chosen to carry and bring forth His Son. And she was. But when we realize that God is asking the same thing of us, it is mind-boggling. Mary suffered great heartache as she carried out God’s will, and so will we. It isn’t easy to bring Christ into today’s world. People scoff at His message and ignore His teachings. Those of us who try to live the faithful life, presenting Christ as the answer to life’s hurts and confusions, are often ignored at best and mocked at worst. So was Mary as she carried Christ, and then stood at the foot of His cross. We must have her courage, and say “yes” to God’s call to be the bearer of His Son into today’s world. “All of heaven is holding its breath for our response.” Awesome.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Devotion for today:God's will: so be it

Your Will Be Done

Lord, you placed me in the world to be its salt.

I was afraid of committing myself,

afraid of being stained by the world.

I did not want to hear what “they” might say.

And my salt dissolved as if in water.

Forgive me, Jesus.

Lord, you placed me in the world

To be its light.

I was afraid of the shadows, afraid of the poverty.

I did not want to know other people.

And my light slowly faded away.

Forgive me, Jesus.

Lord, you placed me in the world

To live in community.

Thus you taught me to love, to share in life,

To struggle for bread and for justice,

Your truth incarnate in my life.

So be it, Jesus.

-Peggy M. de Cuehlo, from Bread of Tomorrow, edited by Janet Morley

(taken from A Maryknoll Book of Inspiration, edited by Michael Leach and Doris Goodnough, Orbis Books, 2010.)