Saturday, September 22, 2012

Devotion for today: Thanksgiving for Mary’s Fiat

For Mary’s role in salvation history one may wish to give thanks and praise to God with the following meditation: canticles, a reading from the gospel the hymn of praise and a prayer. This thanksgiving may be said at any time. It may be used as a beginning point for reflection on the mystery of Christ’s coming for all nations. (Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Compiled and edited by John E. Rotelle, O.S.A. Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York, 1988).
Antiphon: Be glad, Virgin Mary, for you have deserved to bear the Christ, the creator of heaven and earth, you have brought forth the Savior of the World.

Canticle I: Isaiah 61:10-62 (The prophet rejoices over the new Jerusalem)
I saw the new Jerusalem, the holy city, prepared as a bride adorned foe her bridegroom (Revelation 21:2)

I will rejoice greatly in the Lord,
My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
And as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up,
So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
To spring up before all the nations.

 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet,
Until her righteousness goes forth like brightness,
And her salvation like a torch that is burning.
The nations will see your righteousness,
And all kings your glory;
And you will be called by a new name
Which the mouth of the Lord will designate.
You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
And a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

Canticle II:  Isaiah 62:4-7 (The glory of the new Jerusalem)
Here God lives among men. He will make his home among them (Rev. 21:3).
It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken,”
Nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate”;
But you will be called, “My delight is in her,”
And your land, “Married”;
For the Lord delights in you,
And to Him your land will be married.
 For as a young man marries a virgin,
So your sons will marry you;
And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So your God will rejoice over you.
On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen;
All day and all night they will never keep silent.
You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves;
And give Him no rest until He establishes
And makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.

Canticle III: Sirach 39:13-16 (How praiseworthy are the works of the Lord!)
Thanks be to God who through us is spreading the knowledge of himself like a pleasant fragrance (2 Cor. 2:14)
Listen, my faithful children:
open up your petals,
like roses planted near running waters;
Send up the sweet odor of incense,
break forth in blossoms like the lily.
Send up the sweet odor of your hymn of praise;
bless Lord for all he has done!
Proclaim the greatness of his name,
loudly sing his praises,"
With music on the harp and all stringed instruments;
Sing out with joy as you proclaim:
The works of God are all of them good.

Antiphon: Be glad, Virgin Mary, for you have deserved to bear the Christ, the creator of heaven and earth; you have brought forth the Savior of the world.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke (Luke 1:26-38)
You will conceive and bear a son.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.  The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him 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 ancestor David.  He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”  The angel said to her, “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 holy; he will be called Son of God.  And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren.  For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Reading from a homily of Blessed Simon of Cascia, priest: Present in spirit at the annunciation
Imagine how reverently the angel stood before this glorious village girl, knowing that she was to be the mother of the Son of God! See and contemplate how humbly and modestly she listened and gave answer to the angel who had come as ambassador and was awaiting her reply. What would you have done if you had been at the door of this room or cell and had heard this holy, pleasing dialogue between this blessed girl and the angel? Would not your heart have been sweetly riven by great joy and boundless consolation? Harder than stone and steel is the heart that is not riven as it reads or hears or thinks about the words the virgin spoke to the angel and the angel to the virgin. Would you not have cried aloud, humbly but very fervently and from a full heart: “Sweet Madonna, kindest of women, I beg you, agree quickly to what the angel says, so that your Son may deliver us from the damnation in which our first mother has put us!” What would you have said and done, Christian soul, when you heard the Virgin Mary say to the angel: “I am the servant and handmaiden of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word”? At that moment, the power of the Holy Spirit immediately formed and generated the body of Christ from the pure blood of the Virgin, infused the newly created soul into that body, and united the divinity inseparably with that soul and body. We must therefore firmly believe that Christ is true god and true man, the Son of Mary who was a virgin, before, during and after his birth.

Concluding Prayer
God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, look upon the Virgin Mary, whose earthly existence was governed by a spirit of gracious acceptance. Grant to us also the gifts of constant prayer and of silence, that our daily lives may be transfigured by the presence of your Spirit.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Let us praise the Lord. And gives him thanks.Cross references:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Devotion for today: the Gospel in the Mass

 Today is the feast of St. Matthew, apostle. Since he was a Gospel writer, we will look at the role of the Gospel in the Mass.

Scripture for mediation; Nehemiah 8:5-6
Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. Then Ezra blessed the Lord the great God. And all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

Scripture for reflection: Luke 4:21
And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

Edward Sri tells us: While the whole of the Bible is inspired, Vatican II taught that the gospels rightly have “a special place… because they are our principal source for the life and teaching of the Incarnate Word, our Savior.” (Dei Verbum, no. 18) The Mass reflects this preeminence. Notice how the liturgy shows special reverence to the reading of the Gospel. For this particular reading the priests, deacons, and people do things they that they did not do for the other readings from Scripture. Standing: First, the people stand to welcome the Lord Jesus who is about to be proclaimed in the Gospel reading. Standing was the reverent posture of the assembled Jews when Ezra read from the book of the law (Neh 8:5). As we prepare to hear Jesus speak to us in the Gospel, it is fitting that we welcome him in this way, expressing our reverence and our readiness to listen to him. Alleluia: Second, the people say or sing “Alleluia” which is a Hebrew expression of joy meaning, “Praise Yahweh!” or “Praise the Lord!” It is found at the beginning or end of many Psalms…and was used by the angels in heaven to praise God for his work of salvation and to announce the coming of Christ to his people in the wedding supper of the lamb (Rev. 19:1-9). This joyful praise is a fitting way to welcome Jesus who will come to us in the Gospel. Procession: Third, during the Alleluia, the deacon or priest begins to process in the sanctuary…. To prepare himself for the sacred task of reading the Gospel, the priest quietly prays at the altar: “Cleanse my heart and my lips, almighty God, that I may worthily proclaim your holy Gospel.” This prayer recalls how the prophet Isaiah’s lips needed to be purified before he proclaimed the word of the Lord to Israel. When an angel touched his mouth with a burning coal, Isaiah’s sin was forgiven and he was then called to begin his prophetic ministry. (Is 6:1-9)…. Sign of the Cross…the priest or deacon…traces the sign of the cross on his forehead, mouth, breast, and the book. The people also make the three-fold sign of the cross over themselves, a ritual by which we consecrate our thoughts, words and actions to the Lord, asking that his Word in the Gospel be always on our minds, on our lips, and in our heart…. When the Sacred Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself speaks to his people, and Christ, present in his own word, proclaims the Gospel.” (A Biblical Walk through the Mass: Understanding What We Say and Do in the Liturgy, Ascension Press, 2011)

Prayer: God be on my mind, that I may be open to your word; God be on my lips, that I may joyfully proclaim your word; God be in my heart, that I may always love your word. Amen

My thoughts:  I highly recommend the book, “A Biblical Walk through the Mass” by Edward Sri. So many people today say that they just don’t identify with the Mass anymore, that they don’t see the point in what we do there. Many don’t believe there is any real value in what is said and the ceremonies that are preformed. Edward Sri takes the time to tell us why we do what we do in the Mass. This is a book worth reading. It will change your attitude toward the Mass for the better, whatever your attitude may be. So now, when you enter into the time for the Gospel to be read, you will now know why you do and say what you do! How great is that!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Devotion for today: memorial of St. Andrew Kim Taegon, St. Paul Chong Hasang and companions

(photo taken from
“I urge you to remain steadfast in faith; so that at last we will all reach heaven and here rejoice together.” (Final exhortation of St. Andrew Kim Taegon)
Scripture for meditation: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
We are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.
About St. Andrew Kim Taegon and companions: This first native Korean priest was the son of Korean converts. His father, Ignatius Kim, was martyred during the persecution of 1839 and was beatified in 1925. After Baptism at the age of 15, Andrew traveled 1,300 miles to the seminary in Macao, China. After six years he managed to return to his country through Manchuria. That same year he crossed the Yellow Sea to Shanghai and was ordained a priest. Back home again, he was assigned to arrange for more missionaries to enter by a water route that would elude the border patrol. He was arrested, tortured and finally beheaded at the Han River near Seoul, the capital. Paul Chong Hasang was a lay apostle and married man, aged 45.
Christianity came to Korea during the Japanese invasion in 1592 when some Koreans were baptized, probably by Christian Japanese soldiers. Evangelization was difficult because Korea refused all contact with the outside world except for bringing taxes to Beijing annually. On one of these occasions, around 1777, Christian literature obtained from Jesuits in China led educated Korean Christians to study. A home Church began. When a Chinese priest managed to enter secretly a dozen years later, he found 4,000 Catholics, none of whom had ever seen a priest. Seven years later there were 10,000 Catholics. Religious freedom came in 1883.
When Pope John Paul II visited Korea in 1984 he canonized, besides Andrew and Paul, 98 Koreans and three French missionaries who had been martyred between 1839 and 1867. Among them were bishops and priests, but for the most part they were lay persons: 47 women, 45 men.
Today, there are almost 4.7 million Catholics in Korea.
"The Korean Church is unique because it was founded entirely by lay people. This fledgling Church, so young and yet so strong in faith, withstood wave after wave of fierce persecution. Thus, in less than a century, it could boast of 10,000 martyrs. The death of these martyrs became the leaven of the Church and led to today's splendid flowering of the Church in Korea. Even today their undying spirit sustains the Christians in the Church of silence in the north of this tragically divided land" (Pope John Paul II, speaking at the canonization).
Prayer: Opening prayer for the Mass for the Memorial of St. Andrew Kim Taegon and companions
O God, you have created all nations and you are their salvation. In the land of Korea your call to Catholic faith formed a people of adoption, whose growth you nurtured by the blood of Andrew, Paul, and their companions. Through their martyrdom and their intercession grant us strength that we too may remain faithful to your commandments even until death. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
My thoughts: The story of the Korean martyrs is surely an inspiration to us all. To begin with, the Korean Christians kept the faith alive for a dozen years without one priest to give them the sacraments and say a Mass! They simply lived on the bread of desire since they had no access to the Eucharist. Now there are over 4 million Catholics in Korea! For another thing, the Korean martyrs were fearless in their desire to keep their faith, even in the face of cruel and extreme torture. How quickly many of us today disavow our faith when a conversation turns against us or when we want something the Church says we can’t have! We must look to the Korean martyrs to see the face of a people in love with God first and foremost, the face of a people we must become today in order for the faith to survive. God is calling us today to be brave and fearless as we stand up for the truths He has taught us. Let us look to the Korean martyrs for inspiration and courage as we begin the battle of our faith lives.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Devotion for today: God, speak to me

Scripture for meditation: Psalm 104:1-4
Bless the Lord, my soul! Lord, my God, you are great indeed! You are clothed with majesty and glory, robed in light as with a cloak. You spread out the heavens like a tent; you raised your palace upon the waters. You make the clouds your chariot; you travel on the wings of the wind. You make the winds your messenger; flaming fire, your ministers.

A passage from the book “Good Leaders, Good Shepherds”: As Frank opened his eyes to start recording his thoughts in his notepad, he noticed a doe and her fawn in the meadow. The mother was peacefully grazing as the spotted fawn played awkwardly around her, chasing an odd butterfly here and there and exploring the different flowers that bloomed in the morning sun. The doe looked up at him and froze for a moment as Frank slowly turned to a blank page. Once she realized he was staying where he was and doing his own thing, she casually resumed her grazing. The scene reminded Frank of something he had read and then memorized in high school. He replayed the words in his mind as he had done at least a thousand times before:

A man whispered, “God, speak to me.”
And a meadowlark sang, but the man did not hear.
So the man yelled, “God, speak to me.”
And thunder rolled across the sky, but the man did not listen.
The man looked around and said, “God, let me see you.”
And a star shined brightly, but the man did not notice.
And the man shouted, “God, show me a miracle!”
And a life was born, but the man did not know.
So the man cried out in despair, “Touch me, God, and let me know you are here!”
Whereupon God reached down and touched the man,
But the man brushed away the butterfly and walked on.  Author unknown.

As Frank reflected on these words, a powerful feeling overwhelmed him….he felt as though his entire being radiated with a grace so pure that he could have disintegrated into the world around him. God is present in me…too! With a flood of emotion he suddenly realized he was developing an entirely new appreciation for God’s statement to Moses in the book of Exodus: “Fear not, for I shall be with you.”(Good Leaders, Good Shepherds, by Dick Lyles, Tim Flanagan, Susan Fowler, and Drea Zagarmi, Ascension Press, 2007).

Prayer: Dear Father, hear and bless
Thy beasts and singing birds:
And guard with tenderness
Small things that have no words.

My thoughts: I was sitting on my back porch the other day and my heart was filled with many worries. “Dear God,” I prayed, “I know you are always present in my life, but sometimes I feel that You are so far away. Are you really here?” My back yard faces the woods, and then a small trail, so I am literally surrounded by nature. Suddenly a doe and her fawn appeared in my backyard and began to eat my hostice plants. They were so sweet and peaceful, so unafraid. I thought of the above passage I had just read in the book, “Good Leaders, Good Shepherds” and it made me wonder how many times God was speaking to me in the wonders of His universe, and I never bothered to see or hear his voice. Why not take time to just sit outside today, and watch God’s miracles unfold. You will surely believe the words, “Be still, and know that I am with you.”

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Devotion for today: the characteristics of true devotion to Mary

Scripture for meditation: John 19:25-27Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.”
 Scripture for reflection: Luke 2:34-35And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted, and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
 According to Saint Louis de Montfort, there are five characteristics of true devotion to Mary: Interior: True Devotion to our Lady is interior: that is, it comes from the mind and the heart, it flows from the esteem we have for her, the high idea we have formed of her greatness and the love which we have for her. Tender: It is tender, that is, full of confidence in her like a child’s confidence in his loving Mother. This confidence makes the soul have recourse to her in all its bodily and mental necessities, with much simplicity, trust and tenderness. Holy: This devotion to our Lady is holy: that is to say, it leads the soul to avoid sin and imitate the virtues of the Blessed Virgin, particularly her profound humility, her lively faith, her blind obedience, her continual prayer, her universal mortification, her divine purity, her ardent charity, her heroic patience, her angelic sweetness and her divine wisdom. These are the ten principal virtues of the Most Holy Virgin. Constant: It is constant, that is to say, it confirms the soul in good, and does not let it easily abandon its spiritual exercises. It makes it courageous in opposing the world and its fashions and maxims, the flesh in its weariness and passions; and the devil in his temptations, so that a person truly devout to our Blessed Lady is neither changeable, irritable, scrupulous nor timid. Disinterested: True Devotion to our Lady is disinterested: that is to say, it inspires the soul not to seek itself but God only and God in His holy Mother. A true client of Mary does not serve that august Queen from a spirit of lucre and interest, nor for his own good, whether temporal or eternal, corporal or spiritual, but exclusively because she deserves to be served and God alone in her. (Preparation for Total Consecration according to Saint Louis de Montfort, Montfort Publications, 1989)
 Prayer: Ave, Maris StellaHail, bright star of ocean, God’s own Mother blest,
Ever sinless Virgin, Gate of heavenly rest.
Taking that sweet Ave, which from Gabriel came,
Peace confirm within us, Changing Eva’s name.
 Break the captives’ fetters, light on blindness pour,
All our ills expelling, every bliss implore.
Show thyself a Mother, may the Word Divine,
Born for us thy infant, hear our prayers through thine.
 Virgin all excelling, mildest of the mild,
Freed from guilt, preserve us, pure and undefiled.
Keep our life all spotless, make our way secure,
Till we find in Jesus, joy forever more.
 Through the highest Heaven, to the almighty Three,
Father, Son and Spirit, one same glory be. Amen.
 My thoughts: When we read the benefits of a true devotion to Mary, it is hard to understand why anyone would not want to commit their lives to her loving protection. Saint Louis de Montfort has written one way to completely consecrate your life to Mary in his thirty-three day program entitled,
“Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary.” A newer, easier way to make the consecration is by reading “Thirty-three Days to Morning Glory” by Father Michael Gaitely. Both programs take you through 33 days of prayer and meditation to reach the goal of living the above characteristics of true devotion to Mary. I have made the consecration both ways, and both ways worked for me. My friend truly loves the more modern adaptation found in “Thirty-three Days to Morning Glory” and yet I know many people willing to make the necessary time commitment to proceed through St. Louis de Montfort’s program. Either way, consider turning your life over to your Blessed Mother, and let her begin the work of transforming your life. She did that to mine, and thank God, I will never be the same again. Mary, our Mother, pray for us. Amen.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Devotion for today: Christian, remember your dignity

Scripture for meditation: Ephesians 2:4-5
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life, with Christ (by grace you have been saved);

Scripture for reflection: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.

From a sermon by St. Leo the Great, pope: The fear of death has been swallowed up; life brings us joy with the promise of eternal happiness. No one is shut out from this joy; all share the same reason for rejoicing. Our Lord, victor over sin and death, finding no man free from sin, came to free us all. Let the saint rejoice as he sees the palm of victory at hand. Let the sinner be glad as he receives the offer of forgiveness. Let the pagan take courage as he is summoned to life….Beloved, let us give thanks to God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit, because in his great love for us he took pity on us, and when we were dead in our sins he brought us to life with Christ, so that in him we might be a new creation. Let us throw off our old nature and all its ways and, as we have come to birth in Christ, let us renounce the works of the flesh. Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head, and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom. Through the sacrament of baptism you have become a temple of the Holy Spirit. Do not drive away so great a guest by evil conduct and become again a slave to the devil, for your liberty was bought by the blood of Christ. (Taken from Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours, St. Paul Editions, 1976)

Prayer: “Shepherd of Souls”
Shepherd of souls, in love come feed us,
Life-giving Bread for hungry hearts!
To those refreshing waters lead us
Where dwells that peace your grace imparts.
 May we, the wayward in your fold
By your forgiveness rest consoled. (Taken from Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours, St. Paul Editions, 1976)
My thoughts: I was recently engaged in a conversation with someone who was insisting that God made us all good, and therefore all we do is good, as long as we don’t hurt anyone. I was a bit taken aback at this statement. I wondered if my friend had recently taken a good look at the world. Man is capable of intense evil and hatred; man can hurt his fellow man in thought, word and deed; man cannot save himself from this nature. Only Christ, who is God come to earth, can do that. St. Leo tells us that we have been rescued from darkness, and that we should strive every single day not to return to it. We are reminded that we are temples of the Holy Spirit. If we let him guide our every action, we will live in the light. If we choose to persist in our evil ways, we will drive him away. I shudder to think what replaces him in our hearts. Choose the light, acknowledge your weaknesses before God and ask Him to fill you with His redeeming grace so that a world that has gone dark with violence may one day reflect the light that now lives in us! Christ Jesus, save us from ourselves. Amen.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Devotion for today: the bank of love

Quote from St. Therese of Lisieux

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.”