Saturday, August 25, 2012

Devotion for today: Novena to Our Lady of Good Health

Novena to Our Lady of Good Health
O Most Holy Virgin! You were chosen by the most adorable Trinity from all eternity to be the most pure Mother of Jesus. O Tender Mother of the afflicted, grant me under my present necessities a special protection. Relying upon the infinite mercies of your Divine Son, and penetrated with confidence in your powerful prayers, I humbly entreat you to intercede for me. I beg you to obtain for me the favors, which I petition for in this novena.
(Here specify your requests)
O Mother of God, accept my salutations in union with the respect with which the angel Gabriel first hailed you “Full of grace”.
I beseech you, O comfortress of the afflicted, to obtain for me the favors and graces, which I have now implored through your powerful intercession. For this end I offer you the good works I do and sufferings I endure. I humbly entreat you for the love of the amiable heart of Jesus with which yours was ever so inflamed to hear prayers and obtain my requests.

Recite the Hail Mary 3 times

Our Lady of Good Health…Pray for Us (Repeat 3 times)


Friday, August 24, 2012

Devotion for today: "every fiber of my flesh is made to find its peace in God"

Scripture for meditation: Romans 8:15
…For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”

Pope Benedict XVI tells us…To acknowledge that one is made for the infinite means journeying along a path of purification from what we have called “false infinites”, a path of conversion of heart and of mind. It is necessary to eradicate all the false promises of the infinite that seduce and enslave man. To truly find himself and his identity, to live up to his being, man must turn and recognize that he is a creature, who is dependent on God. The possibility of living a truly free and full life is linked to the acknowledgement of this dependence – which in its depths is the joyous discovery of being God’s children. It is interesting to note how St. Paul, in the Letter to the Romans, sees the opposite of slavery not so much in freedom as in filiation, in having received the Holy Spirit who makes us adopted sons and who allows us to cry out to God “AbbĂ ! Father” (cf. 8:15). The Apostle to the Gentiles speaks of a “bad” slavery: that of sin, of the law, of the passions of the flesh. To this, however, he does not contrast autonomy, but rather “slavery to Christ” (cf. 6:16-22), indeed he himself calls himself “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ” (1:1). The fundamental point, then, is not to eliminate dependence, which is constitutive of man, but to direct it towards the One who alone is able to make us truly free…. Thus do we discover the truest dimension of human existence, that to which the Servant of God Luigi Giussani continually referred: life as vocation. Everything, every relationship, every joy, as well as every difficulty, finds its ultimate meaning in being an opportunity for a relationship with the Infinite, a voice of God that continually calls to us and invites us to lift our gaze, to find the complete fulfillment of our humanity in belonging to Him. “You have made us for Yourself – wrote St. Augustine – and our hearts are restless until they rest in You” (Confessions I, 1, 1). We need not be afraid of what God asks of us, through the circumstance of our lives, were it even the dedication of ourselves in a special form of following and imitating Christ, in the priesthood or religious life. The Lord, in calling some to live totally for Him, calls everyone to recognize the essence of our own nature as human beings: we are made for the Infinite. And God has our happiness at heart, and our complete human fulfillment. Let us ask, then, to enter in and to remain in the gaze of faith that characterized the saints, in order that we might be able to discover the good seed that the Lord scatters along the path of our lives and joyfully adhere to our vocation. - excerpts from the message Benedict XVI sent to the Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples, sponsored by the Catholic Communion and Liberation Movement in Rimini, Italy. The message is dated Aug. 10. The meeting is under way through Saturday. From Castel Gandolfo, 10 August 2012
 [Translation by Diane Montagna]

Prayer: St. Augustine’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit
 Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.

My thoughts:  We are made for the Infinite. What a beautiful thought! “Let us remain in the gaze of faith…to discover the good seed that God scatters along the path of our lives…. ” How absolutely freeing this phrase will be for us if we adopt it as our mantra in life! Our gaze must always be on God: people, experiences, even troubles that come our way may all be the very seeds God has scattered to help us live our vocation in Him. If we have become a slave to sin, if we are filling our mind’s eye with things of the earth, and not of God, we may miss our special seeds and find great difficulty in realizing our life’s vocation. We are made for the infinite…we will always be empty until we are filled with Christ. Let us begin today to stay alert for the seeds which will lead us to Christ…let us seek them in the people around us and in our everyday activities. If "every fiber of my flesh is made to find its peace in God," then  let us joyfully live our vocations in life with our eyes lifted upward, from "whence cometh our strength!!" Have a lovely day!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Devotion for today: A vision in the subway

Scripture for meditation: Acts 17:28
…for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children.'

Scripture for reflection: Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Caryll Houselander tells us: I was in an underground train, a crowed train in which all sorts of people jostled together, sitting and strap-hanging workers of every description, going home at the end of the day. Quite suddenly I saw with my mind, but as vividly as a wonderful picture, Christ in them all. But I saw more than that; not only was Christ in every one of them, living in them, dying in them, rejoicing in them, sorrowing in them – but because He was in them, and because they were here, the whole world was here too, here in this underground train; not only the world as it was at that moment, not only all the people in all the countries of the world, but all those  people who had lived in the past and all those yet to come.  I came out into the street and walked for a long time in crowds. It was the same here, on every side, in every passerby, everywhere – Christ… The “vision” lasted with that intensity for several days…. It altered the course of my life completely.  Christ is everywhere; in Him every kind of life has a meaning and has an influence on every other kind of life. It is not the foolish sinner like myself, running about the world with reprobates and feeling magnanimous, who comes closest to them and brings them healing; it is the contemplative in her cell who has never set eyes on them, but in whom Christ fasts and prays for them - or it may be a charwoman in whom Christ makes Himself a servant again or a king whose crown of hides a crown of thorns. Realization of our oneness in Christ is the only cure for human loneliness. For me, too, it is the only ultimate meaning of life, the only thing that gives meaning and purpose to every life. Caryll Houselander: Essential Writings, edited by Wendy M. Wright.

Prayer: Looking  for God in all the wrong places

I searched for God in my heart, not quite convinced
I’d find anything of worth or holy there.
And I was right – or so I thought.

I looked for God in my home with greater doubt
the Lord of Hosts would dwell amid such messy madness,
no matter how great the joy or strong the bonds of love.
And sure enough the Lord eluded me again – or so I believed.

So I took my quest to fields afar, confident the farther I went,
the more desolate the desert,the starker my surroundings,
the greater my chances of finding the One
who alone could make me whole.

I climbed each sacred mountain,
I fasted and prayed and offered sacrifices before various altars at sundry shrines.
I chanted, sang or kept silent, doing works of charity along the way
 – all to no avail.

Tired, sad and discouraged I gave up my quest
And mourned the passing of a dream.
Then a child, curious, poor,
Watched me – and smiled.
A woman, too, older than the hills, nodded approval.

So I gave the child my dream, and handed the crone
My empty, broken heart…
And in that instant
Angels filled the sanctuary and rocked the Temple with their eternal
“Holy, holy, holy!” – Joseph R. Veneroso, M.M. from God in Unexpected Places.
(Both of the above selections were taken from A maryknoll Book of Inspiration, Michael Leach and Doris GHoodnough, Editors, Orbis Books, Ny 2010)

My thoughts: There was a song out several years ago which contained the line “I was looking for love in all the wrong places….” How appropriate that is for so many of us! Although the poet in the above passage searched for love throughout the world, he found it in the child and woman on the street. Caryll Houselander sat staring at the people on a subway and saw the love of her life existing in them. Christ is love; He is not filled with love, nor is he willing to display love. He is love. Christ, as love, fills every single person of the world, whether they choose to recognize it or not. And this is true whether we choose to recognize this fact or not. Rich is not more worthy; elite is not more worthy; far and exotic is not more worthy. Christ is found in the poorest of the poor, in the oldest of the old, and in the neediest of the needy, just as much as He is found  in you and me. Now it is our choice. We can keep love, which is Christ, buried in our hearts; we can search endlessly for a way to experience love, which is God, in the world, or we can simply look at the person next to us, and say, “Good morning! I hope you have a lovely day.” Talk about angels rocking the temple (or the subway)!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Devotion for today: Feast of the Queenship of Mary

Mary's Queenship

Scripture for meditation: Luke 1:31-33
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house Jacob forever and of his kingdom there will be no end.
Scripture for reflection: 1 Kings 2:20
Then she said, "I am making one small request of you; do not refuse me." And the king said to her, "Ask, my mother, for I will not refuse you."
Fr. William G. Most tells us: The beginning of the concept that Mary is a Queen is found in the annunciation narrative. For the angel tells her that her Son will be King over the house of Jacob forever. So she, His Mother, would be a Queen. The titles "king" and "queen" are often used loosely, for those beings that excel in some way. Thus we call the lion the king of beasts, the rose the queen of flowers. Surely Our Lady deserves the title richly for such reasons. But there is much more. Some inadequate reasons have been suggested: She is the daughter of David. But not every child of a king becomes a king or queen. Others have pointed out that she was free from original sin. Then, since Adam and Eve had a dominion over all things (Genesis 1. 26) she should have similar dominion. But the problem is that the royalty of Adam and Eve was largely metaphorical. The solidly theological reasons for her title of Queen are expressed splendidly by Pius XII, in his Radio message to Fatima, Bendito seja (AAS 38. 266): "He, the Son of God, reflects on His heavenly Mother the glory, the majesty and the dominion of His kingship, for, having been associated to the King of Martyrs in the unspeakable work of human Redemption as Mother and cooperator, she remains forever associated to Him, with a practically unlimited power, in the distribution of the graces which flow from the Redemption. Jesus is King throughout all eternity by nature and by right of conquest: through Him, with Him, and subordinate to Him, Mary is Queen by grace, by divine relationship, by right of conquest, and by singular choice [of the Father]. And her kingdom is as vast as that of her Son and God, since nothing is excluded from her dominion."… Pius XII added that "nothing is excluded from her dominion." As Mediatrix of all graces, who shared in earning all graces, she is, as Benedict XV said, "Suppliant omnipotence": she, united with her Son, can obtain by her intercession anything that the all-powerful God can do by His own inherent power.
In the Old Testament, under some Davidic kings, the gebirah, the "Great Lady", usually the Mother of the King, held great power as advocate with the king. Cf. 1 Kings 2:20, where Solomon said to his Mother Bathsheba, seated on a throne at his right: "Make your request, Mother, for I will not refuse you." Here is a prototype of Our Lady.
Prayer: Hail, Holy queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then O Most Gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.
My thoughts: I love the passage in the Bible referred to as “The Wedding Feast at Cana.” Mary tells Jesus that the wine is gone. Jesus tells Mary that He can’t do anything about it at this time. Mary turns to the servants and tells them to “Do whatever He tells you.” That is the action of a Queen Mother.  We all know the result of this conversation: Jesus changes water into wine. Out of complete love for her, He answered her request. That is how it is with us. Once Jesus gave Mary to us as our mother, she became our personal intercessor. She pleads our case before her Son, asking Him to be merciful and not judgmental in His dealings with us. A queen has the ear of the king, and our queen will intercede for us if we but ask. Turn to Mary in times of trouble, and ask her to have her Son change your troubled heart into a peaceful one.  Mary, Queen of the Universe, pray for us.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Devotion for today: Create in me a humble heart, O God.

Feast of Saint Pius X, Pope (1865-1914)

Scripture for meditation: James 3: 13-18
 Are any of you wise and understanding? Show that your actions are good with a humble lifestyle that comes from wisdom. However, if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, then stop bragging and living in ways that deny the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above. Instead, it is from the earth, natural and demonic. Wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and everything that is evil. What of the wisdom from above? First, it is pure, and then peaceful, gentle, obedient, filled with mercy and good actions, fair, and genuine. Those who make peace sow the seeds of justice by their peaceful acts.

Scripture for reflection: Micah 6:8
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Pope Pius X is perhaps best remembered for his encouragement of the frequent reception of Holy Communion, especially by children. The second of 10 children in a poor Italian family, Joseph Sarto became Pius X at 68, one of the 20th century’s greatest popes.
Ever mindful of his humble origin, he stated, “I was born poor, I lived poor, I will die poor.” He was embarrassed by some of the pomp of the papal court. “Look how they have dressed me up,” he said in tears to an old friend. To another, “It is a penance to be forced to accept all these practices. They lead me around surrounded by soldiers like Jesus when he was seized in Gethsemane.”
Interested in politics, he encouraged Italian Catholics to become more politically involved. One of his first papal acts was to end the supposed right of governments to interfere by veto in papal elections—a practice that reduced the freedom of the conclave which had elected him.
In 1905, when France renounced its agreement with the Holy See and threatened confiscation of Church property if governmental control of Church affairs were not granted, Pius X courageously rejected the demand.
While he did not author a famous social encyclical as his predecessor had done, he denounced the ill treatment of indigenous peoples on the plantations of Peru, sent a relief commission to Messina after an earthquake and sheltered refugees at his own expense.
On the 11th anniversary of his election as pope, Europe was plunged into World War I. Pius had foreseen it, but it killed him. “This is the last affliction the Lord will visit on me. I would gladly give my life to save my poor children from this ghastly scourge.” He died a few weeks after the war began. He was canonized in 1954.
His humble background was no obstacle in relating to a personal God and to people whom he loved genuinely. He gained his strength, his gentleness and warmth for people from the source of all gifts, the Spirit of Jesus. In contrast, we often feel embarrassed by our backgrounds. Shame makes us prefer to remain aloof from people whom we perceive as superior. If we are in a superior position, on the other hand, we often ignore simpler people. Yet we, too, have to help “restore all things in Christ,” especially the wounded people of God.

Quote: Describing Pius X, a historian wrote that he was “a man of God who knew the unhappiness of the world and the hardships of life, and in the greatness of his heart wanted to comfort everyone.”

Monday, August 20, 2012

Devotion for today: The role of desire in the spiritual journey

Scripture for meditation: Psalm 84:2
My soul longs, yea, faints for the courts of the Lord. My heart and flesh sing for joy to God, the living God.
Scripture for reflection: Psalm 63: 1-3,8
O God, you are my God, I seek you. My soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water… because your steadfast love is better than life…my soul clings to you…

St. Bernard of Clairvaux tells us: Unless we use the utmost vigilance in attending to these gift-laden visits of the Holy Spirit, we shall neither desire him when He seems absent, nor respond to Him when present. If He withdraws from us to simulate us to a more eager search for him, how shall we seek for Him if we do not perceive His absence? Or when He comes to animate us, how shall we give Him the welcome due His majesty if His visit passes unnoticed? The man who is indifferent to His absence will be led astray by other influences; the man who is blind to His coming cannot offer thanks for the visit…. The psalmist says, “Seek his face always” (PS. 104:4). Nor, I think, will a soul cease to seek him even when it has found him. It is not with steps of the feet that God is sought but with the heart’s desire; and when the soul happily finds him its desire is not quenched but kindled. Does the consummation of joy bring about the consuming of desire? Rather, it is oil poured upon the flames. So it is. Joy will be fulfilled, but there will be no end to desire and therefore no end to the search. Think, if you can, of this eagerness to see God as not caused by his absence, for he is always present; and think of the desire for God as without fear of failure, for grace is abundantly present. (Taken from The Fulfillment of All Desire, by Ralph Martin, Emmaus Road Publishing, 2006).

Prayer of St Bernard of Clairvaux:
Oh little while, little while! How long a little while! Dear Lord, you say it is for a little while that we do not see you. The word of my Lord may not be doubted, but it is a long while, far too long. Yet both are true: it is a little while compared to what we deserve, but a long while to what we desire. You have each meaning expressed by the prophet Habbakuk: “If he delays, wait for him. For he will come, and will not delay” (Hab. 2:3). How is it that he will not delay if he does delay, unless it is that he comes sooner than we deserve but not as soon as we desire? (Ibid)

My thoughts: Today is St. Bernard’s feast day. He is a doctor of the Church and one of the most brilliant writers to come along in Church history, famous for his discourses on the Song of Songs. St. Bernard is telling us here, in no uncertain terms, that unless we maintain a sense of longing for God, we will never care whether or not He is actively present in our lives. It is just like our feelings for our beloved. When we are in love with someone, we feel his absence. We feel incomplete and empty. When he returns, we are overjoyed at the feeling of completeness. If it doesn’t matter to us if he is with us or not, and if we don’t even notice when he is gone, I doubt he adds much to our lives. It is the same with our relationship with God. We must always long for Him, and even when we feel His presence and experience His blessings in our lives, we will never stop longing for Him. I have eaten and loved chocolate cake all my life. Just because I have experienced its deliciousness and tasted its sweetness doesn’t mean I don’t still long for it, especially because I know how good it is. And, if I haven’t had it in awhile, I long for it even more. Sometimes we feel as though God is far away and has maybe even abandoned us. That is all the more reason to continue our desire for Him, to pray for the sweetness of His presence to return. Our prayer will be answered; St. Bernard assures us, and when it is answered, “how sweet it is!” Our longing for God can never end until we are with Him in heaven. Let us always pray that we never tire of praying for His Spirit to abide in us and provide us with amazing grace. St. Bernard of Clairvaux, pray for us.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Devotion for today: Whatever happens, be grateful!

Saint Ignatius of Loyola says:

It seems to me, in the light of the divine Goodness, though others may think differently, that ingratitude is one of the things most worthy of detestation before our Creator and Lord, and before all creatures capable of his divine and everlasting glory, out of all the evils and sins which can be imagined. For it is a failure to recognize the good things, the graces, and the gifts received. As such, it is the cause, beginning, and origin of all evils and sins. On the contrary, recognition and gratitude for the good things and gifts received is greatly loved and esteemed both in heaven and on earth.

(San Ignacio de Loyola: Completas, edited by Ignacio Iparraguire, SJ, and Candido de Dalmases, SJ, Madrid: Bibliotecca de Autores Cristianos, 1982, p. 679)