Saturday, August 18, 2012

Devotion for today: A Morning Offering

A Morning Offering Designed to Console the Heart of Jesus

Dear Jesus, I know that your Sacred Heart is sorrowful because so many people neither love you nor trust in you. Behold, Lord, here I am. Though weak and sinful, I love you and I trust in you. I intend that all my actions this day be for the purpose of consoling you.

Heavenly Father, in union with all the Masses being offered today, I give you praise and thanks for the many gifts you will send me, including the gift of my small sharing in the Cross. May this, my prayer, glorify you and console your Son. With the help of your grace, I resolve to remain all day in this prayerful spirit of praise and thanks and, further, to console Jesus by being merciful to my neighbor through my deeds, words, and prayers.

Mary, my mother, come with your spouse, the Spirit. Make my sacrifice of praise, thanks, and mercy a most pleasing consolation to your Son. Behold, I present to you all I am and have Take my offering so it may pass through your Immaculate Heart, to Jesus’ Sacred Heart, and on to the Father, for his greater glory. Amen. (Consoling the Heart of Jesus, Fr. Michael Gaitley, Marian Press, 2011).

Friday, August 17, 2012

Devotion for today: “If you take time to judge, you don’t have time to love” – Blessed Mother Teresa

Scripture for meditation: Matthew 5:7
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Scripture for reflection: Luke 6:38
“Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”

Fr. Michael Gaitley tells us: When we assume an attitude of judgment toward another, a gap yawns between us and them, and we can’t connect. This is a diabolical attitude that stems from pride. It’s subtle, but it does more damage to the heart than sins of the flesh – the very same sins over which it often sits in judgment.  Do I see myself as superior to others? Do I look down on particular groups of people because of their race, opinions, or ways of life? Do I impute motives to the actions of others, or do I leave such judgments to God? Am I quick to judge priests and bishops, or do I leave them, especially, to God’s judgment? Do I pray for priests and bishops? Do I tend to make rash judgments of others? In other words, do I assume as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral faults of others? Do I realize rash judgment is grave matter when it rashly judges acts that are grave? To avoid rash judgment, am I careful, as the Catechism says, “to interpret, insofar as possible, [my] neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way”? Am I insecure in my own life of faith and judge others out of a need to feel righteous? Or, while striving for holiness, do I recognize my own weaknesses, sinfulness, and attachments and go to Jesus, whom I know is rich in mercy? Do I relate to the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son (Lk 15:11-32)? (Consoling the Heart of Jesus, Marian Press, 2011)

Prayer: Oh my Jesus, I beg You on behalf of the whole Church: grant it love and the light of Your Spirit, and give power to the words of priests so that hardened hearts might be brought to repentance and return to You, O Lord. Lord, give us holy priests; You Yourself maintain them in holiness. O Divine and Great High Priest, may the power of Your mercy accompany them everywhere and protect them from the devil’s traps and snares which are continually being set for the souls of priests. May the power of Your mercy, O Lord, shatter and bring to naught all that might tarnish the sanctity of priests, for You can do all things (Diary of St. Faustina, 1052)

My thoughts: I think we have entered into a dangerous period in history. Because news is so readily available and so easily spread, I think we are becoming a people addicted to judging. People are tried and convicted in the court of public opinion every day. An attitude of superiority invades the workplace so that co-workers’ mistakes or misfortunes are mocked and ridiculed. Anyone in the public eye who makes the slightest mistake is raked over the coals and subjected to extreme levels of scorn.  We must beware of this terrible sin, for as Fr. Gaitley points out, it stems from the deadly sin of pride. We are no better than the man we look down upon. Our sins may even be worse. Our job in life to approach everyone with the mercy we hope and pray God will extend to us when we die. If we only knew the ramifications of our littlest sins, we would be horrified, for we affect the world, our families and our souls with every sin we commit. So why waste time trying to feel better about ourselves by condemning others? Why constantly compare ourselves to black, when we should compare ourselves to white (Christ)? Do that, and at best we come out a dingy shade of gray. Let us start today to have mercy on everyone, to hold our comments unless they are compassionate and understanding, and to try ourselves every day in the court of righteousness and love. As Blessed Mother Teresa says, “If you take time to judge, you don’t have time to love.”

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Devotion for today: “An apostle is a chalice full of Jesus…”

Scripture for meditation: John 15:4-5
“As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you the branches. He that abides in me, and I in him, the same bears much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.”

Father Jean C. J. d’Elbee tells us: Be a soul of love in order to become an apostle, and you will discover a very beautiful thing: that at the bank of love, the more you give, the richer you become. You must hear the continuous echo in your heart of the cry of sorrowful love, of great redemptive desire, the cry of anguish and at the same time of tenderness, the cry of Jesus on the Cross – Sitio: “I thirst.” “I thirst for your love; you upon whom I have showered my love, give me to drink. Treasure the spiritual riches I have given you without limit. Find for me hearts whose love will be like dew upon my burning lips on Calvary.” To be an apostle is to give Jesus to souls and souls to Jesus by making Him known in order to make Him loved, by filling yourself with Him in order to give Him, according to the beautiful definition of Father Mateo, “An apostle is a chalice full of Jesus which overflows onto souls.” Be such a chalice, first of all, and even before acting, you will be an apostle. (I Believe in Love: A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Therese of Lisieux, by Father Jean C. J. d’Elbee, Sophia Institute Press, Manchester, NH, 1969)

Prayer: Direct, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our actions by Thine inspiration, and carry them on by Thy gracious assistance; that every prayer and work of ours may always begin from Thee, and through Thee be happily ended. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

My thoughts: If any of you went to Catholic Schools in the 60’s, you will probably recognize this prayer. We said it before every subject or class change, which means we said this prayer about 7 times a day! It sums up beautifully what Father d’Elbee tells us, though, doesn’t it? Unless we are grafted onto Jesus in our thoughts, words and deeds, we cannot bring Him into our own actions, nor can we ever be “a chalice which overflows onto souls.” It also makes sense that if our chalices are filled with Christ, there isn’t any room for anything else!

I think so many people today feel a sense of meaningless in their lives because, when it all comes down to it, they work and play. Period. What is the point of any of our daily activities? To make money? To find pleasure? To obtain power over others, or the admiration of others? I don’t think any of these reasons brings a smile to our faces. I think they make us tired. Bringing our hearts and actions to God to be blessed and inspired makes more sense to me than trying to do it on our own. We can do the same activities as those around us, but for a higher purpose. The key is in the prayer for today: if every prayer and work of ours may always begin in Christ, we will happily end them in Him. If He guides our ship, we are sure to come ashore, and bring others with us. We don't have to do it alone; thus, we don't have to be so tired. Now that is a reason to smile!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Devotion for today: Mary is assumed body and soul into heaven: feast of the Assumption (holy day of obligation)

Scripture for meditation: Hosea 13:14
I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?
Scripture for reflection: 1 Corinthians 15:55
O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?
Venerable Fulton Sheen tells us: In Mary there is a triple transition. In the Annunciation we pass from the holiness of the Old Testament to the holiness of Christ. At Pentecost we pass from the holiness of the historical Christ to the holiness of the Mystical Christ, or His Body, which is the Church. Mary here receives the Spirit for a second time. The first overshadowing was to give birth to the Head of the Church; this second overshadowing is to give birth to His Body as she is in the midst of the Apostles abiding in prayer. The third transition is the Assumption, as she becomes the first human person to realize the historical destiny of the faithful as members of Christ’s Mystical body, beyond time, beyond death, and beyond judgment. Mary is always in the vanguard of humanity. She is compared to Wisdom, presiding at Creation; she is announced as the Woman who will conquer Satan, as the Virgin who will conceive. She becomes the first person since the Fall to have a unique and unrepeatable kind of union with God; she mothers the infant Christ in Bethlehem; she mothers the Mystical Christ at Jerusalem; and now, by her Assumption, she goes ahead like her Son to prepare a place for us. She participates in the glory of her Son, reigns with Him, presides at His Side over the destinies of the Church in time, and intercedes for us, to Him, as He in His turn, intercedes to the Heavenly Father….As the World fears defeat by death, the Church sings the defeat of death. Is not this the harbinger of a better world, as the refrain of life rings out amidst the clamors of the philosophers of death? (The World’s First Love, Ignatius Press, 1952).

Prayer: Dedicated to the Woman I Love
The Woman whom even God dreamed of
Before the world was made;
The Woman of whom I was born
At cost of pain and labor at a Cross;
The Woman who, though no priest,
Could yet on Calvary’s Hill breathe,
“This is my Body; This is my Blood” –
For none save her gave Him human life.
The Woman who guides my pen,
Which falters so with words
In telling of the Word.
The Woman who, in a world of Reds,
Shows forth the blue of hope.
Accept these dried grapes of thoughts
From this poor author, who has no wine;
And with Cana’s magic and thy Son’s Power
Work a miracle and save a soul –
Forgetting not my own.
                                Fulton J. Sheen ( dedication in his book, The World’s First Love, Ignatius Press, 1952)
My thoughts: Many people wonder why the Church demands total respect for a dead person’s body. Ashes cannot be scattered; bodies cannot be left to rot on battle grounds. The reason for this is illuminated in the Assumption of Mary. She is in heaven, body and soul, just as our bodies will be united to our souls “on the last day.” God gave us these bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit who resides in each one of us. Just as a holy object blessed by a priest cannot be desecrated, so, too, our bodies, blessed by God on the day of our birth, cannot be defiled. We must look to Mary as our hope for eternal life, as our example of what our life in heaven will be like, and as our Mother, who will lovingly pray us to herself and her Son. Take care of the dead, honor them and inter them with dignity and respect, and demand the same for yourself. Then live every single day in preparation for the last.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Devotion for today: Feast of Maximilian Kolbe (August 14)

Scripture for meditation: John 15:13
"Greater love has no one than this: that one lay down his life for his friends.”
The amazing story of Maximilian Kolbe
The story begins on 8 January, 1894 - Raymond Kolbe was born the second son of a poor weaver at Zdunska Wola near Lodz in Poland. In his infancy Raymond seems to have been normally mischievous but one day, after his mother had scolded him for some mischief or other, her words took effect and brought about a radical change in the child's behavior. Later Raymond explained this change: ‘That night I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both.' Thus early did the child believe and accept that he was destined for martyrdom. His belief in his dream colored all his future actions. In 1910 he became a Franciscan, taking the name Maximilian. He studied at Rome and was ordained in 1919. He returned to Poland and taught Church history in a seminary. He built a friary just west of Warsaw, which eventually housed 762 Franciscans and printed eleven periodicals, one with a circulation of over a million, including a daily newspaper. In 1930 he went to Asia, where he founded friaries in Nagasaki and in India. In 1936 he was recalled to supervise the original friary near Warsaw. When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, he knew that the friary would be seized, and sent most of the friars home. He was imprisoned briefly and then released, and returned to the friary, where he and the other friars began to organize a shelter for 3,000 Polish refugees, among whom were 2,000 Jews. The friars shared everything they had with the refugees. They housed, fed and clothed them, and brought all their machinery into use in their service. Inevitably, the community came under suspicion and was watched closely. Then in May 1941 the friary was closed down and Maximilian and four companions were taken to the death camp Auschwitz, where they worked with the other prisoners. Prisoners at Auschwitz were slowly and systematically starved, and their pitiful rations were barely enough to sustain a child: one cup of imitation coffee in the morning, and weak soup and half a loaf of bread after work. When food was brought, everyone struggled to get his place and be sure of a portion. Father Maximilian Kolbe however, stood aside in spite of the ravages of starvation, and frequently there would be none left for him. At other times he shared his meager ration of soup or bread with others. In the harshness of the slaughterhouse Father Kolbe maintained the gentleness of Christ. At night he seldom would lie down to rest. He moved from bunk to bunk, saying: 'I am a Catholic priest. Can I do anything for you?' A prisoner later recalled how he and several others often crawled across the floor at night to be near the bed of Father Kolbe, to make their confessions and ask for consolation. Father Kolbe pleaded with his fellow prisoners to forgive their persecutors and to overcome evil with good. When he was beaten by the guards, he never cried out. Instead, he prayed for his tormentors. In order to discourage escapes, Auschwitz had a rule that if a man escaped, ten men would be killed in retaliation. In July 1941 a man from Kolbe's bunker escaped. The dreadful irony of the story is that the escaped prisoner was later found drowned in a camp latrine, so the terrible reprisals had been exercised without cause. But the remaining men of the bunker were led out. 'The fugitive has not been found!' the commandant Karl Fritsch screamed. 'You will all pay for this. Ten of you will be locked in the starvation bunker without food or water until they die.' The prisoners trembled in terror. A few days in this bunker without food and water, and a man's intestines dried up and his brain turned to fire. The ten were selected, including Franciszek Gajowniczek, imprisoned for helping the Polish Resistance. He couldn't help a cry of anguish. 'My poor wife!' he sobbed. 'My poor children! What will they do?' When he uttered this cry of dismay, Maximilian stepped silently forward, took off his cap, and stood before the commandant and said, 'I am a Catholic priest. Let me take his place. I am old. He has a wife and children.' Astounded, the icy-faced Nazi commandant asked, 'What does this Polish pig want?'Father Kolbe pointed with his hand to the condemned Franciszek Gajowniczek and repeated “I am a Catholic priest from Poland; I would like to take his place, because he has a wife and children”. Observers believed in horror that the commandant would be angered and would refuse the request, or would order the death of both men. The commandant remained silent for a moment. What his thoughts were on being confronted by this brave priest we have no idea. Amazingly, however, he acceded to the request. Apparently the Nazis had more use for a young worker than for an old one, and was happy to make the exchange. Franciszek Gajowniczek was returned to the ranks, and the priest took his place. Personal testimony about the way Maximilian Kolbe met death is given by Bruno Borgowiec, one of the few Poles who were assigned to render service to the starvation bunker. He told it to his parish priest before he died in 1947: 'The ten condemned to death went through terrible days. From the underground cell in which they were shut up there continually arose the echo of prayers and canticles. The man in-charge of emptying the buckets of urine found them always empty. Thirst drove the prisoners to drink the contents. Since they had grown very weak, prayers were now only whispered. At every inspection, when almost all the others were now lying on the floor, Father Kolbe was seen kneeling or standing in the centre as he looked cheerfully in the face of the SS men. Father Kolbe never asked for anything and did not complain, rather he encouraged the others, saying that the fugitive might be found and then they would all be freed. One of the SS guards remarked: this priest is really a great man. We have never seen anyone like him. Two weeks passed in this way. Meanwhile one after another they died, until only Father Kolbe was left. The authorities felt this was too long. The cell was needed for new victims. So one day they brought in the head of the sick-quarters, a German named Bock, who gave Father Kolbe an injection of carbolic acid in the vein of his left arm. Father Kolbe, with a prayer on his lips, himself gave his arm to the executioner. Unable to watch this I left under the pretext of work to be done. Immediately after the SS men had left I returned to the cell, where I found Father Kolbe leaning in a sitting position against the back wall with his eyes open and his head drooping sideways. His face was calm and radiant.' So it was that Father Maximilian Kolbe was executed on 14 August, 1941 at the age of forty-seven years, a martyr of charity. The death certificate, as always made out with German precision, indicated the hour of death 12.30. Father Kolbe's body was removed to the crematorium, and without dignity or ceremony was disposed of, like hundreds of thousands who had gone before him, and hundreds of thousands more who would follow. The heroism of Father Kolbe went echoing through Auschwitz. In that desert of hatred he had sown love. A survivor Jozef Stemler later recalled: 'In the midst of a brutalization of thought, feeling and words such as had never before been known, man indeed became a ravening wolf in his relations with other men. And into this state of affairs came the heroic self-sacrifice of Father Kolbe.' Another survivor Jerzy Bielecki declared that Father Kolbe's death was 'a shock filled with hope, bringing new life and strength ... It was like a powerful shaft of light in the darkness of the camp.' The cell where Father Kolbe died is now a shrine. Maximilian Kolbe was beatified as Confessor by Paul VI in 1970, and canonized as Martyr by Pope John Paul II in 1981. (
The Immaculata prayer by Saint Maximillian Kolbe
O Immaculata, Queen of Heaven and earth, refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you. I, (name), a repentant sinner, cast myself at your feet, humbly imploring you to take me with all that I am and have, wholly to yourself as your possession and property. Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death and eternity, whatever most pleases you. If it pleases you, use all that I am and have without reserve, wholly to accomplish what was said of you: “She will crush your head,” and “You alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world.” Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for introducing and increasing your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Allow me to praise you, O Sacred Virgin. Give me strength against your enemies. Amen. (

Monday, August 13, 2012

Devotion for today: Seek ye first the kingdom of God, then ask for favors!

Scripture for meditation: Matthew 6: 30-34
“If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Scripture for reflection: Psalm 145:18
The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.

Saint Claude de la Columbiere tells us: Christ promised on behalf of His Father that He would give us everything, even the very smallest things. But He laid down an order to be observed in all that we ask, and if we do not obey this rule we are unlikely to obtain anything. He tells us in St. Matthew: Seek first the kingdom of God and His justice…. If then this is the order God observes in the distribution of His benefits, we must not be surprised if our prayers have so far been unsuccessful. I confess that I am often moved to pity when I see the eagerness of some people in giving alms, making vows of pilgrimage and fasting, or having Masses said for the success of their temporal affairs. I am afraid the prayers they say and get said are of little use. They should make their offerings and vow their pilgrimages to obtain from God the amendment of their lives, the gift of Christian patience, contempt for the things of the world and detachment from creatures. Then afterwards they could pray for return of health or success in business. God would then answer these prayers, or rather He would anticipate them; it would be enough to know their desires for Him to fulfill them. Until we have obtained these first graces, anything else may be harmful to us and, in fact, usually is so. That is the reason why we are refused. We murmur and accuse God of not keeping His promises. But our God is a Father of kindness who prefers to put up with our complaints and criticisms rather than stop them by gifts which would be fatal to us. (Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence: the Secret of Peace and Happiness, Tan Publishing, 1980)

Prayer: Father in heaven, God of power and Lord of mercy, from whose fullness we have received, direct our steps in our everyday efforts. May the changing moods of the human heart and the limits which our failings impose on hope never blind us to you, source of every good. Faith gives us the promise of peace and makes known the demands of love. Remove the selfishness that blurs the vision of faith. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen. (Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Morning Prayer: Liturgy of the Hours.)

My thoughts: I think we finally have an answer here as to why some of our prayers go unanswered. How many times do we say that we prayed and prayed for something and didn’t get it? We expected God to give us what we wanted simply because it is what we wanted. That is the sin of pride, because we are assuming we know what is best for our lives and for the lives of those we love. St. Claude points out so well that only one prayer is necessary: to ask God to free us from our attachments in this world, to help us set our eyes on those things which will bring us closer to Him, and to ask Him to do what is best for those we love and for us. We can’t lose if we stop writing the script and let the author of life take over. “Not my will but Thine be done.” St. Claude has it so right. God is our Father, and He is a good and loving Father, and good and loving fathers do what is best for the long-term well-being of their children. To simply give children their immediate desire is to be a foolish parent. To give children what will bring them lasting peace and happiness is the gift of true love. We know that God is love, so let us believe that all prayers are answered if we seek Him first, and pray in truth.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Devotion for today: there is a line that cannot be crossed

When Caesar, having exacted what is Caesar's, demands still more insistently that we render unto him what is God's - that is a sacrifice we dare not make!

Alexander Solzhenitzyn