Saturday, August 4, 2012

Devotion for today: St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests

Today is the feast day of St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars.
 St. John Vianney, pray for us.

Scripture for meditation: 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God.

Scripture for reflection: Luke 1:48
“He has looked upon his lowly servant.”

Who was the Cure of Ars? Called the "Cure of Ars", St. John Vianney was the son of a poor farmer in Dardilly, France. He worked as a shepherd and didn't begin his education until he was 20 years old. While an ecclesiastical student he was called for military service, and became a "delinquent conscript" more or less because of illness, and hid to escape Napoleon's police.
He had difficulty learning Latin, and twice failed the examinations required before ordination. He was finally ordained at the age of 30, but was thought to be so incompetent he was placed under the direction of Fr. Balley, a holy priest in a neighboring village, for further training.
St. John lived an austere life, ate potatoes he boiled, and learned to keep suspended by a rope from the ceiling, so the rats wouldn't get to them. He allowed himself 2 hours of sleep each night and was frequently interrupted by the devil, who assaulted him with deafening noises, insulting conversation, and physical abuse. These diabolical visitations were occasionally witnessed with alarm by the men of the parish, but the pious Cure accepted the attacks as a matter of course and often joked about them.
St. John was given many spiritual gifts, such as the power of healing and the ability to read the hearts of his penitents. It was this latter gift which caused his fame to spread throughout France, and created large crowds seeking guidance from him.
The frail Cure began hearing confessions at 1 o'clock in the morning, and it has been reported that he spent from 13 to 17 hours a day in the cramped confessional.
St. John died peacefully on August 4, 1859. His body was exhumed because of his impending beatification, and was found dried and darkened, but perfectly entire.
St. John Vianney, who as a student had difficulties being accepted for the priesthood, was canonized in 1925 and was named later the Patron of Parish Priests throughout the world.
More information on St. John Vianney can be obtained from The Cure of Ars, by Fr. O'Brien, or The Incorruptibles, Joan Carroll Cruz.(

Prayer of St. John Vianney
I love You, O my God,
and my only desire is to love You
until the last breath of my life.
I love You, O my infinitely lovable God,
and I would rather die loving You,
than live without loving You.
I love You, Lord
and the only grace I ask is to love You eternally...
My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love You,
I want my heart to repeat it to You as often as I draw breath.

My thoughts: Sometimes we cave into the belief that we could never do God’s work simply because we are not great enough. Maybe you are not particularly eloquent, or charismatic, or even very knowledgeable in the faith. If you do have a love for God, however, and a desire to do His will, well then, St. John Vianney is the saint for you! He had a tough start since he wasn’t particularly scholarly or impressive. Once he became a priest he was sent to a village so remote that he missed it several times in his first attempt to get there! He became, however, one of the greatest saints, known for his total devotion to the people of God, his inspirational homilies, and his tremendous power in the confessional. Before long, Ars, a remote, faithless village in France, became a mecca for pilgrims seeking to hear St. John's words and feel his healing power. In his simple way, St. John Vianney let himself be filled with the Holy Spirit and the words of God. He did not have a huge ego which would get in the way and block the graces from flowing in and out of him. Because of this, God honored St. John Vianney with many spiritual gifts. Believe this: He can do the same for you. It isn’t the person who is great in the eyes of the world who can do God’s work; it is the person who has great love for God and His people. Just let go, and let God begin

Friday, August 3, 2012

Devotion for today: and I know, I have to go away...

Scripture for meditation: Luke 10:21
“I bless Thee, O Father, because Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and the prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones.”

St. John of the Cross in his Canticle of the Soul:  I had no guide, no light, save that which burned within my heart, and yet this love did guide my way, more surely than the noonday sun, unto the place where waited One Who knew me well.

St. Therese tells us: There was a look of Heaven on Father’s noble face, and I felt sure his heart was filled with peace. I sat down beside him, not saying a word, but there were tears in my eyes. He looked at me more tenderly than I can express, pressed my head to his heart and said: “What is it, Little Queen? Tell me.” Then, to hide what he was feeling too, he rose and walked slowly up and down, still holding me all the while close to his heart. Through my tears I told him about Carmel and my longing to enter soon, and then he too began to weep, but never said a word against my vocation, only that I was still rather young to make such a serious decision. When I insisted and gave him all my reasons, his upright, generous heart was soon convinced. We went on walking for a long time; my heart grew light again, and Father dried his tears, talking to me just like a Saint. Going to a low stone wall, he showed me some little white flowers, like very small lilies; then he picked one of them and gave it to me, explaining how carefully God had brought it to blossom and preserved it till that day. So striking was the resemblance between the little flower and little Therese that it seemed as if I were listening to the story of my own life. I took the flower as if it were some relic, noticing that when Father had tried to pluck it, the roots had come out too, but quite undamaged, as though destined to start life  again in some other and more fertile soil. Father was doing just the same for me, by letting me be transplanted to Mount Carmel from the lovely valley which had been the scene of my life’s first steps. I fastened the little flower onto a picture of Our Lady of Victories; the Child Jesus seemed to hold it in His hand, and so it has remained, except that now the stalk is broken near the root. I am sure that this is God’s way of telling me that it will not be long before He severs the roots of His little flower, and that she will not be left on earth to fade. (The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, Tan Publishing, 1997)
Prayer: Last words of St. Therese: My God, I love Thee.

My thoughts: Being a parent isn’t easy. We tend to believe that our children are just that, ours, and yet they are not. They are a gift from God, and we are to guide them along the path that God has chosen for them. It isn’t always easy to let a child go to follow his dream, be it a vocation as St. Therese had to the Carmelites, or a move to a far away country to pursue a career, or to enter into a life of marriage and commitment to another person. We see by the action of St. Therese’s father that we have nothing to fear if we have placed our children into God’s hands: although they have been torn from the fertile soil of our homes, they will be transplanted carefully and lovingly to bring beauty and love into the world where God places them. We must remember this for ourselves as well. God may well move us about as He sees fit: new town, new job, or maybe even a new health status. He will pull us out by the roots, but He will lovingly transplant us in the way He needs. We must trust as St. Therese trusted, and believe that we will never “be left on earth to fade.”

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Devotion for today: sometimes our goggles are twisted

Scripture for meditation: 1 Corinthians 10:13
God is faithful and will not permit you to be tempted beyond your strength.

Scripture for reflection: Luke 24:26
“Did not Christ have to suffer all these things before entering into his glory?”

Father Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure, S.J. tells us:  Do not let ourselves be troubled when we are sometimes beset by adversity, for we know that it is meant for our spiritual welfare and carefully proportioned to our needs, and that a limit has been set to it by the wisdom of the same God who has set a bound to the ocean. Sometimes it might seem as if the sea in its fury would overflow and flood the land, but it respects the limits of its shore and its waves break upon the yielding sand. There is no tribulation whose limits God has not appointed so as to serve not for our destruction but for our salvation… “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:21).” If you refused to accept these tribulations you would be acting against your own best interests. You are like a block of marble in the hands of the sculptor. The sculptor must chip, hew and smooth it to make it into a statue that is a work of art. God wishes to make us the living image of Himself. All we need to think of is to keep still in His hands while He works on us, and we can rest assured that the chisel will never strike the slightest blow that is not needed for His purposes and our sanctification; for as St. Paul says, “The will of God is your sanctification (1Thess. 4:3).” (Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence, Tan Publishing, 1980)

Prayer: Prayer of St. Faustina
O Lord, You who penetrate my whole being and the most secret depths of my soul, You see that I desire You alone and long only for the fulfillment of Your holy will, paying no heed to difficulties or sufferings or humiliations or to what others might think.

My thoughts: Like most people in the world, I am spending time this week watching the Olympics. I was struck by a comment that swimmer Michael Phelps made the other night. He said that his coach would periodically set him up to face a very big difficulty. One time the coach even twisted his goggles so that they would fill up with water as Michael swam. He had to come into the wall by counting his strokes. In the Olympics in Beijing, sometime later, his goggles filled with water and could have cost him a medal. From having gone through the adversity in practice, however, Michael knew to count his strokes, hit the wall first and win a gold medal. That is the best example of our lives I can think of. Sometimes we are handed disappointments and setbacks we just don’t understand. We can choose to get mad at God and blame Him for our problems, or we can settle down and see what we can learn from them. Like Michael Phelps, we all want to win the gold in the end. If we let the best coach I know hand us some difficulties to help us get it, I think we can safely say we will know how to get to the wall when it really counts.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Devotion for today: The mountains are calling and I must go - John Muir

Scripture for meditation: Psalm 121:1
I raise my eyes unto the mountains, from whence comes my strength. My strength comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

Scripture for reflection: John 12:24
“Amen, amen I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio tells us: The Garden of Gethsemane, by the way, is on the slope of a mountain. The guards approaching the garden with their torches were visible to Our Lord from a long way off, as they made their way along the Kidron Valley. Jesus saw them coming. He could have simply walked over the crest of the Mount of Olives and disappeared into the Judean wilderness…. Unless a grain of wheat fall to the ground and die, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it produces much fruit. Jesus knew that his death would be fruitful beyond all imagining. And being fruitful was more important to him than being safe or comfortable.  We gratefully celebrate this love in every Eucharist…But the Lord calls us not just to remember it, but to imitate it. We are called to be not just believers, but disciples. Jesus lost his natural human life, but was given in return a new, risen, humanity which explodes the limits of the humanity we know.  We all have a life that we’re rather attached to, with people, places, things, and activities that we are comfortable with. My life may not be perfect, but it is familiar. And it’s mine. The Lord invites me not just to give up dessert for a few weeks, but to give up myself. He asks me to die to my own plans, my own will, and put my destiny entirely in his hands. Incidentally, that is what baptism is supposed to mean–that it is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me (Gal 2:19b-20). That I’m no longer in the driver’s seat, but I’ve put Jesus there. That all that is dearest to me, I’ve put on the altar, and will only take it back if the Lord gives it back.  Why would we do such a radical thing? Only if we truly believe that planting the seed of our lives and dreams in the fertile soil of the Lord’s vineyard will produce much fruit. That we, like the apostles, will grow to be more than we’d ever hoped we’d be. That he would do through us, as through them, more than we’d ever dreamt possible. So here’s the question: is being fruitful was more important to you than being safe . . . or comfortable . . . or in control? (

Prayer: Psalm 23


The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want;
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters;
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for His name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil;
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the
Lord forever.

 My thoughts: My daughter Lauren lost a good friend this week. He had been scaling a mountain in Peru and fell to his death. Apart from the tragedy of such a loss, I am speechless at the legacy he left behind in his short life. Reports about him have been in all the major and local newspapers and on all the television broadcasts. Every one of them centered their reports on the profound love for Christ this young man had. Whether he was climbing or working, hanging out or studying, he managed to bring his love for Christ into every aspect of his life. One young woman said that even if he disagreed with you, he still loved you with his eyes, just as Christ would do. He loved this quote from Russian climber Anatoli Boukreev: “Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve; they are the cathedral where I practice my religion.” I think this young man brought many people to Christ even in his death. I think many young people hearing the commentary on his life will now say to themselves, “It is ok to be in love with Christ, to seek that love in all I do, and to let that love be known.” I think that would make him happy. A seed has fallen to the earth, but new life has sprung from it. We should all learn this lesson: love Christ, see Him in the beauty of His creation, and proclaim Him from the mountain tops. Ben Horne, rest in peace.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Devotion for today: St. Ignatius of Loyola

Scripture for meditation: Mathew 16:24-27
 The Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of his father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.

St. Ignatius Loyola, Founder of the Society of Jesus, underwent a profound experience of God during his stay in the little town of Manresa in Spain in 1522. His heart's desire was, as a lay person, to share with other lay people this same experience. As time went on he wrote a small book to assist in doing this. He called this book of directions The Spiritual Exercises. It was intended to help the person who directed another in a structured thirty-day or even 9-month long program of prayer and contemplation.
Some of the major themes normally addressed in the four weeks or phases of the Exercises are:

Week 1
God's unconditional, ever-faithful love.
Sin: our failure and the failure of the human family to respond with love to God's love.
God's ever-greater love, mercy and forgiveness.
Week 2
The person and life of Christ.
Our call to discipleship, ministry and friendship with Jesus.
Knowing Christ more intimately, loving Him more ardently, following him more faithfully.
Week 3:
The ultimate expression of God's love.
The suffering and death of Jesus for us.
Week 4:
The victory of Jesus over death.
His sharing His joy with us.
Being missioned by Jesus.
Being empowered by His Spirit.


Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.

And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and that they may help him in attaining the end for which he is created.

Hence, man is to use them as much as they help him in the attainment of his end, and he must rid himself of them as far as they prove a hindrance to him.

Therefore, we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things as far as we are allowed free choice and are not under any prohibition.
 Consequently, on our part, we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life. The same holds for all other things.

Our one desire and choice should be what is most conducive to the end for which we are created.
(Consoling the Heart of Jesus, Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, Marian Press, 2010)

Prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola:
O my God, teach me to be generous:
to serve you as you deserve to be served;
to give without counting the cost;
to fight without fear of being wounded;
to work without seeking rest;
and to spend myself without expecting any reward,
but the knowledge that I am doing your holy will.

My thoughts: If there were a Hall of Fame for Saints, St. Ignatius of Loyola would definitely be inducted. His life was filled with physical pain, spiritual suffering, betrayal, persecution even by his own beloved Church, and rejection. He never stopped preaching Christ and teaching his Spiritual Exercises, one of the greatest means to sanctity ever written. For those of us in today’s modern world who would not have time to make a 30 day retreat, I highly recommend Fr. Michael Gaitley’s book, Consoling the Heart of Jesus.  My husband and I went to the beach and used it as a weekend retreat. It changed our lives. Many of my friends read it at a leisurely pace and it changed their lives. It can be done as a discussion group, and it will change lives. It is a modern day adaptation of the Spiritual Exercises St. Ignatius was inspired to write to direct people’s lives to the only goal we should have in life: total surrender to God’s will, and total indifference to the things of this world that do not lead us to God. What a world this would be if we all lived a life which held no desire for comfort, attention, recognition, money or pleasure. We would never be afraid to fight for the word of God, because we would have nothing to lose in doing so. Nothing to lose…what a freeing thought! Let us begin today to detach and redirect. God is waiting with open arms, but they can’t hold us and all of our things at one time. Free up, and fly up to God.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Devotion for today:how blessed are those who dwell in your house

Psalm 84

How lovely are Your dwelling places,
of hosts!
My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the L
My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.
The bird also has found a house,
And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young,
Even Your altars, O L
of hosts,
My King and my God.

 How blessed are those who dwell in Your house!
They are ever praising You. 

How blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
In whose heart are the highways to Zion!
Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring;
The early rain also covers it with blessings.
They go from strength to strength,
Every one of them appears before God in Zion.

 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
Give ear, O God of Jacob!
Behold our shield, O God,
And look upon the face of Your anointed.

 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside.
I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD gives grace and glory;
No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
 O LORD of hosts,
How blessed is the man who trusts in You!

Pope John Paul II tells us …This is a most charming song, pervaded by mystical longing for the God of life, repeatedly celebrated with the name: “Lord of the Armies”, that is, Lord of the heavenly hosts, hence of the cosmos. Moreover, this title had a special connection with the ark preserved in the temple that was known as the “ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, who is enthroned upon the cherubim”. Indeed, it was regarded as the sign of divine protection in times of danger and war….The temple is present in all its fascination at the beginning and end of the Psalm. It opens with the wonderful and delicate imagery of birds who have built their nests in the sanctuary, an enviable privilege. It is a representation of the happiness of all who – like the priests of the temple – dwell permanently in God’s House, enjoying its intimacy and peace. In fact, the whole of the believer’s being is stretched out to the Lord, impelled by an almost physical and instinctive desire for him: “My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God” Then the temple reappears at the end of the Psalm. The pilgrim expresses his great happiness at spending some time in the courts of the house of God and compares this spiritual happiness with the idolatrous illusion that pushes a person towards “the tents of wickedness”, that is, the infamous temples of injustice and perversion. There is light, life and joy only in the sanctuary of the living God and “blessed are those” who “trust” in the Lord, choosing the path of righteousness…. Even in the desert of daily life, the six workdays are made fruitful, illuminated and sanctified by the meeting with God on the seventh day, through the liturgy and prayer of our ecclesial gathering on Sunday. Let us walk then, when we are in the “valley of tears”, keeping our eyes fixed on the bright goal of peace and communion. Let us repeat in our hearts the final beatitude, which is like an antiphon that seals the Psalm: “O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in you!” (GENERAL AUDIENCE OF JOHN PAUL II Wednesday 28 August 2002)

My thoughts: I love this psalm. It brings into such clear light the reason so many of us find shelter in the temple of God. In a physical sense, it reminds us to compare the peace, joy and beauty we experience when we are in Church; at Mass, or just sitting quietly in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, with what you experience in today’s media presentations: dysfunctional families, lust, greed and sin of every kind meant to entice you into an agitated state of mind. This psalm reminds us that there is only “light, life and joy in the sanctuary of the living God.” We must spend time in His sacred house and spend time in His presence. We must then stop fooling ourselves into believing that what we see today in the “temple of perversion” is not harmful to our souls. Let us become so enamored with God that we seek only to fix our eyes on the “bright goal of peace and communion.” Go to Mass on Sunday, pray regularly, read the scriptures and keep the beauty of God’s face ever before you. You will find your life filled with grace and peace.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Devotion for today: prayer for the Olympics

Prayer for the Olympics
As we watch the athletes of the world strive for the gold, let us keep them and all associated with the Olympics in our prayers.

Eternal God,
Giver of joy and source of all strength,
we pray for those
who prepare for the London Olympic and Paralympic games.
For the competitors training for the Games and their loved ones,
For the many thousands who will support them,
And for the Churches and others who are organizing special events and who will welcome many people from many nations.
In a world where many are rejected and abused,
we pray for a spirit
of tolerance and acceptance, of humility and respect
and for the health and safety of all.
May we at the last be led towards the love of Christ who is more than gold, today and forever. Amen