Saturday, November 10, 2012

Devotion for today: Those who hear the word of God…

Scripture for meditation: Luke 8:19-21
The Mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd. He was told, “Your Mother and brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you.” He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”

Sister Ruth Burrows, O.C.D. tells us: Jesus is with us always, not so as to pillow our weary heads on his breast and continually murmur words of solace in our ears, but so as to share with us his vision, his passionate dedication to the Father’s will. He is with us to brace, reinforce, and underpin us for our life’s great task. True, he lifts from our shoulders the crushing yoke of an alien master, the god we have fashioned in our own likeness, by revealing to us the true face of the Father. He breaks off self-made shackles of bondage and sets us free. Thus his companionship gives us rest and real happiness. Nevertheless, there remains a yoke and a burden that has to be carried with courage and love. Life-giving, joy-giving knowledge of Jesus and of the Father he reveals does not drop into our lap from heaven. We have to work for it. “Come to me” says Jesus, and we must go to him. And the prime way of going to him is by intent, loving absorption of Scripture…, particularly the New Testament. Put simply: we must strive to acquire an intellectual knowledge of him, of his attitudes, values, and teaching. This intellectual knowledge is certainly not intimacy, certainly not a “knowing Jesus” but it is an indispensable ingredient for intimacy and real knowing. It is work we have to do, a practical expression of our earnest desire to get to know our Lord. (Taken from the Magnificat, September, 2012).

Friday, November 9, 2012

Devotion for today: Blessed are the pure in heart…

Our study today centers on those whose purity reflects that of God.

Scripture for meditation: Matthew 5:8

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.


Scripture for reflection: Philippians 4:8

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.


The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us: 2518:  The sixth beatitude proclaims, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” “Pure in heart” refers to those who have attuned their intellects and wills to the demands of God’s holiness, chiefly in three areas: charity, chastity or sexual rectitude, love of truth and orthodoxy of faith. There is a connection between purity of heart, of body, and of faith: the faithful must believe the articles of the Creed “so that by believing they may obey God, by obeying may live well, by living well may purify their hearts, and with pure hearts may understand what they believe.” (St. Augustine, De fide et symbol.) 2519: The “pure in heart” are promised that they will see God face to face and be like him. Purity of heart is the precondition of the vision of God. Even now it enables us to see according to God, to accept others as “neighbors”; it lets us perceive the human body  - ours and our neighbor’s – as a temple of the Holy Spirit, a manifestation of divine beauty.


The Navarre Bible commentary tells us: Christ teaches us that the source of the quality of human acts lies in the heart, that is, in a man’s soul, in the depths of this spirit. “When we speak of a person’s heart, we refer not just to his sentiments, but to the whole person in his loving dealings with others. In order to help us understand divine things, Scripture uses the expression ‘heart’ in its full human meaning, as the summary and source, expression and ultimate basis of one’s thoughts, words and actions. A man is worth what his heart is worth” (B. J. Escriva, Christ is passing by, 164). Cleanliness of heart is a gift of God, which expresses itself in a capacity to love, in having an upright and pure attitude to everything noble. Helped by God’s grace, a Christian should constantly strive to cleanse his heart and acquire this purity, whose reward is the vision of God.

My thoughts: I must admit that I used to have a bit of a problem with the concept of purgatory until I came to understand this beatitude. I believed what many people said of their beloved dead, “They went straight to heaven because they were such good people.” This beatitude cleared up any misunderstanding I may have had. Jesus himself says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”: He did not say the good-hearted, but the pure in heart. We learn from the above teachings that “pure in heart” means our minds, bodies and souls are free of anything that is not God-like. God’s love is pure, without any motives. How can we possibly think that we live pure enough lives, every second of every day, to enter immediately into the beatific vision, which is pure love? I do believe some people have, and they are living saints. But for the most part, we can’t go one minute without judging, evaluating, condemning, preening our egos, putting ourselves ahead of others, doing whatever it takes to get to the top, entertaining ourselves or obsessing over a good bank account. Life is just like that. Our job is to force ourselves to step out of the world every single night and examine our minds, bodies and souls. How close did we come to our goal of loving everyone we encountered, no matter how difficult? How hard was it to sit in traffic and not entertain one thought of anger or frustration, to find ways to be kind to our fellow drivers? How hard was it to pass up movies and TV shows we know would entertain us but be offensive to God? How hard was it to take 15 or 20 minutes and just meditate on God’s word, seeking His direction for our lives, and surrendering our plan to His? How hard was it today to know we should pray before making a big decision, or saying an unkind word, or engaging in gossip? How hard was it to give God all the credit for our accomplishments and check our pride at the office or home door? See? If you died right now, could you honestly say you were so pure that you could let God see your mind, body, and soul? So how do we get that way? We all know the answer by now. We frequent confession and admit our guilt, do our penance and receive the outpouring of graces which will strengthen our lives. We give our minds over to prayer, our lives over to sacrifice, our wills over to God. We start with baby steps, and build to a life centered completely and joyfully on getting to heaven and bringing our worst enemy with us.  In other words, we live the beatitudes! Then we know we shall see the face of God, and live!!

Prayer: Psalm 51:10-12
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.







Thursday, November 8, 2012

Devotion for today: Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

As we continue our look at the Beatitudes in this, the Year of Faith, let us take a good look at what it means to truly be merciful. It is more than giving alms to the poor.

Scripture for meditation: Matthew 5:7
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Scripture for reflection: Luke 15:32
"It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead and is alive; he was lost and is found."

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us: 2447: The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead.

Pope John Paul II tells us: What took place in the relationship between the father and the son in Christ's parable is not to be evaluated "from the outside." Our prejudices about mercy are mostly the result of appraising them only from the outside. At times it happens that by following this method of evaluation we see in mercy above all a relationship of inequality between the one offering it and the one receiving it. And, in consequence, we are quick to deduce that mercy belittles the receiver, that it offends the dignity of man. The parable of the prodigal son shows that the reality is different: the relationship of mercy is based on the common experience of that good which is man, on the common experience of the dignity that is proper to him. This common experience makes the prodigal son begin to see himself and his actions in their full truth (this vision in truth is a genuine form of humility); on the other hand, for this very reason he becomes a particular good for his father: the father sees so clearly the good which has been achieved thanks to a mysterious radiation of truth and love, that he seems to forget all the evil which the son had committed. The parable of the prodigal son expresses in a simple but profound way the reality of conversion. Conversion is the most concrete expression of the working of love and of the presence of mercy in the human world. The true and proper meaning of mercy does not consist only in looking, however penetratingly and compassionately, at moral, physical or material evil: mercy is manifested in its true and proper aspect when it restores to value, promotes and draws good from all the forms of evil existing in the world and in man. Understood in this way, mercy constitutes the fundamental content of the messianic message of Christ and the constitutive power of His mission. His disciples and followers understood and practiced mercy in the same way. Mercy never ceased to reveal itself, in their hearts and in their actions, as an especially creative proof of the love which does not allow itself to be "conquered by evil," but overcomes "evil with good." The genuine face of mercy has to be ever revealed anew. In spite of many prejudices, mercy seems particularly necessary for our times. (Encyclical Letter: Dives in Misericordia - On the Mercy of God)

My thoughts: We don’t always get what we want, on any level in our lives. Our friends disappoint us, our family members disappoint us, and even our own country can disappoint us. Blessed John Paul II tells us that we must take our feelings of anger and hurt and instead of giving into them, lifting them to a higher level of love which will cause us to exhibit the true and proper meaning of mercy: that which restores to value, promotes and draws good from all the forms of evil existing in the world and in man. Blessed John Paul refers to the parable of the prodigal son, where the father is able to see that his mercy for his son leads his son to true conversion. That is the goal of our lives, isn't it: to bring as many people to God as possible? We can’t do this if our behavior simply judges and evaluates people, and finds them deficient. We must be merciful, even if that means that, in the midst of our hurt and upset, the best we can do is pray for the person who has so upset us. As Blessed John Paul II points out, the person giving mercy receives mercy as well. It is good to know that the more merciful we become, the holier we become. We must also remember that we too will commit grave errors in our lives and will need to be forgiven by others as well as by God. Let us never forget that receiving the mercy of a fellow human being keeps us humble, and holy, and receiving the mercy of God will give us eternal life. Mercy, for all of us, is a two way street. As Shakespeare tells us, “It blesses him who gives, and him who receives.”
 (The Merchant of Venice).

Written by St. Maria Faustina 

"O Lord. I want to be completely transformed into Your mercy and to be Your living reflection. May the greatest of all divine attributes, that of Your unfathomable mercy, pass through my heart and soul to my neighbor.
Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbors’ souls and come to their rescue.
Help me, O Lord, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbors’ needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moaning.
Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbor, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.
Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbors and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks.
Help me, O Lord, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor, overcoming my own fatigue and weariness
Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbor. 
May Your mercy, O Lord, rest upon me" (Diary # 163).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Devotion for today: Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness

Continuing with our look at the Beatitudes, we come to one which challenges our approach to life.

Scripture for meditation: Matthew 5:6
”Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us: IV. CHRISTIAN HOLINESS
2013 "All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity."All are called to holiness: "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Mt 5:48.
In order to reach this perfection the faithful should use the strength dealt out to them by Christ's gift, so that . . . doing the will of the Father in everything, they may wholeheartedly devote themselves to the glory of God and to the service of their neighbor. Thus the holiness of the People of God will grow in fruitful abundance, as is clearly shown in the history of the Church through the lives of so many saints.
2014 Spiritual progress tends toward ever more intimate union with Christ. This union is called "mystical" because it participates in the mystery of Christ through the sacraments - "the holy mysteries" - and, in him, in the mystery of the Holy Trinity. God calls us all to this intimate union with him, even if the special graces or extraordinary signs of this mystical life are granted only to some for the sake of manifesting the gratuitous gift given to all.
2015 The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle. Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes:
He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows. (St. Gregory of Nyssa, Hom. in Cant. 8: PG 44,941C.)  
2016 The children of our holy mother the Church rightly hope for the grace of final perseverance and the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in communion with Jesus. Keeping the same rule of life, believers share the "blessed hope" of those whom the divine mercy gathers into the "holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."

St. Jerome tells us: In the fourth beatitude our Lord is asking us not simply to have a vague desire for righteousness: we should hunger and thirst for it, that is, we should love and strive earnestly to seek what makes a man righteous in God’s eyes. A person who genuinely wants to attain Christian holiness should love the means which the Church, the universal vehicle of salvation, offers all men and teaches them to use – frequent use of the sacraments, an intimate relationship with God in prayer, a valiant effort to meet one’s social, professional and family responsibilities.(Commentary on Matthew, 5,6)

My thoughts: To be righteous is to be holy: to be determined to do the will of God. It follows that if we have emptied ourselves of all earthly attachments, have mourned our past sinful lives, and have developed an attitude of humility, we should then be obsessed with God, in a good way. Living out the Ten Commandments, finding ways to bring God’s will into our workplaces and family lives, and developing a strong prayer life will help us to achieve holiness. If you have ever been truly hungry or horribly thirsty, you know how strongly you desired to be satisfied. That is the radical way we must now lead our lives – so hungry and thirsty for God, that nothing of this world will ever satisfy our need.

Prayer: Saint Joseph, chaste spouse of the Virgin Mary,
intercede to obtain for me the gift of purity.

You, who despite your personal insecurities
accepted the plan of God with docility
as soon as you knew of it,
help me to have that same attitude
to respond always and everywhere
to whatever the Lord may ask of me.

Prudent man,
who do not attach yourself to human securities
but was always open to respond to the unexpected
obtain for me the help of the divine spirit
so that I may also live in prudent detachment
of earthly securities.

Model of zeal, of constant work,
of silent faithfulness, of paternal kindness,
obtain for me these blessings,
so that I may grow more in them every day,
and thus, day by day,
resemble Jesus, who is the model of full humanity.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Devotion for today: Blessed are the Meek

We take a look today at what it means to be truly “meek”

Scripture for meditation: Matthew 5:5
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the land.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us: 1820: Christian hope unfolds from the beginning of Jesus’ preaching in the proclamation of the beatitudes. The beatitudes raise our hope toward heaven as the new Promised Land; they trace the path that leads through the trials that await the disciples of Jesus….

Father Jean-Pierre Herman, of St. Francis de Sales Oratory teaches us: Who is pure in heart? Who is the meek one? Who is the one who is persecuted for justice? It is Jesus Christ Himself. The beatitudes are self-descriptions of Jesus, inviting those who want to follow him to imitate His perfections.
Meekness… who are the meek? “Beati mites quoniam ipsi possidebunt terram,” says the second beatitude, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the land.”  If we want to understand what Jesus says, we have to ask two questions: “What is meekness?” and “What does inherit the land mean?”
The word used in Latin is mites: “Beati mites.” It has been translated in numerous manners by the different Bible translations. In English, the word “meek” has usually been chosen; French translations speak of “les doux,” the sweet, whereas many others talk about “the humble” and in more progressive translations “the non-violent.” In fact, mitis is a word difficult to translate adequately and we could say that it embraces all the meanings of those translations. The meek are those who can be humble, sweet in character, docile to the will of God, and who will never use violence. What about the second part of the statement: they will inherit the land? Meekness never was the best means of conquering the world. Can the meek rule over this world on earth? No! The land of which Christ speaks is not down-to-earth reality, it is not the land once promised to our forefathers on earth, but the land promised to all those who follow Christ: life eternal. “My kingdom, “says Jesus, “is not from this world.”…. Nevertheless we must notice that Jesus’ meekness never means passivity or leaving room to the adversary. Jesus’ meekness is also imbued with firmness, one of the best examples being when He kicks the merchants out of the temple.  But the climax of Jesus’ meekness is to be found in the sacrifice of the Cross. The meekness of God manifested in Christ is revealed in the Cross. The way by which Christ is going to win the victory over death is not violence, but submission. "When he was reviled,” Peter says, “he did not revile in return, when he suffered, he did not threaten." (

My thoughts: Vindication, revenge, getting even – can we associate these words with Christ? Did He ever seek to teach His persecutors “a lesson they would never forget”? Did He ever fume inside over a perceived hurt or slight? The answer is, of course, no. Jesus was meek. He accepted everything the Father sent Him with obedience and understanding, praying for His persecutors and loving those who hurt Him. He stood up for the truth, of course, and saved His anger for those who were leading people into sin. To be meek is to be humble, to be accepting, and to be free of pride. We seek not to hurt, but to heal; not to embarrass, but to elevate, and not to get even, but to show mercy. Ours, then, is the inheritance promised to us by God: the heavenly land of His kingdom.

Prayer: Sixth Day of the Novena to Divine Mercy (revealed to Saint Faustina)
Most Merciful Jesus, You yourself have said, "Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart." Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart all meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These souls send all heaven into ecstasy and they are the heavenly Father's favorites. They are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God himself takes delight in their fragrance. These souls have a permanent abode in Your Most Compassionate Heart, O Jesus, and they unceasingly sing out a hymn of love and mercy.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon meek souls, upon humble souls, and upon little children who are enfolded in the abode which is the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls bear the closest resemblance to Your Son. Their fragrance rises from the earth and reaches Your very throne. Father of mercy and of all goodness, I beg You by the love You bear these souls and by the delight You take in them: Bless the whole world, that all souls together may sing out the praises of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Devotion for today: Who are “those who mourn”?

Today we resume our study of the Beatitudes in this, the Year of Faith. We look at the second beatitude.

Scripture for meditation: Matthew 5:4
“Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us: Article 3: Man’s Freedom: I. Freedom and Responsibility
1732: As long as freedom has not bound itself definitively to its ultimate good which is God, there is the possibility of choosing between good and evil,  and thus of growing in perfection or of failing and sinning. This freedom characterizes properly human acts. It is the basis of praise or blame, merit or reproach. 1733: The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to “the slavery of sin.” (Romans 6:17)

We learn in the Navarre Bible Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew: “Those who mourn”: here our Lord is saying that those are blessed who suffer from any kind of affliction – particularly those who are genuinely sorry for their sins, or are pained by the offences which others offer God, and who bear their suffering with love and in a spirit of atonement. “You are crying? Don’t be ashamed of it. Yes, cry: men also cry like you, when they are alone and before God. Each night, says King David, I soak my bed with tears. With those tears, those burning manly tears, you can purify your past and supernaturalize your present life” (Bl. J. Escriva, The Way, 216). The Spirit of God will console with peace and joy, even in this life, those who weep for their sins, and later will give them a share in the fullness of happiness and glory in heaven: these are the blessed. (The Navarre Bible, Saint Matthew’s Gospel, Four Courts Press, 1988).

My thoughts: If you remember our former lesson on the Beatitudes, we learned that no other beatitude is possible in our lives unless we obtain the first: to be poor in spirit. We must be so empty of every attachment in our lives that only the will of God can enter and lead us in life. It follows then, that when we are empty, we mourn. How sad we are to think about the wasted time in our lives we have spent in sin! How mournful we become when we think we freely chose the work of Satan in our lives over the Word of the Lord! When emptied of our attachment to pleasure, riches, fame, recognition, selfishness, and the like, we are left with the knowledge that those things took up the space and time God wanted in our lives. That is true sorrow. Blessed are those who see the sin in their lives, and mourn, for they now know that making excuses for themselves and others only causes slavery and not freedom, and that is truly sad. We grieve our sins, and those of our loved ones, and those of our nations, for they lead only to death and isolation, yet we are comforted by the knowledge that once we have reached this level of attachment to God and God alone, we will be comforted.


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.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Devotion for today: Pray the Office for the Dead (Liturgy of the Hours) Part Two

Antiphon 3: As the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son gives life to whom he wills.

Canticle: Philippians 2:6-11
Though he was in the form of God,
Jesus did not deem equality with God
something to be grasped at.

Rather, he emptied himself
and took the form of a slave,
being born in the likeness of men.

He was known to be of human estate,
and it was thus that he humbled himself,
obediently accepting even death,
death on a cross!

Because of this,
God Highly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
above every other name,

so that at Jesus’ name
every knee must bend
in the heavens, on the earth,
and under the earth,
and every tongue proclaim
to the glory of God the Father:

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Antiphon 3: As the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son gives life to whom he wills.

READING: 1 Corinthians 15:55-57
O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? But thanks be to God who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lord, in your steadfast love, give them eternal rest.
--Lord, in your steadfast love, give them eternal rest.

You will come to judge the living and the dead.
–Give them eternal rest.

Glory to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
–Lord, in your steadfast love, give them eternal rest.


Antiphon: Our Crucified and risen Lord has redeemed us, alleluia.

(Make the sign of the Cross)

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen

Antiphon: Our Crucified and risen Lord has redeemed us, alleluia.


We acknowledge Christ the Lord through whom we hope that our lowly bodies will be made like his in glory, and we say:
Lord, you are our life and resurrection.

Christ, Son of the living God, who raised up Lazarus, your friend, from the dead:
–raise up to life and glory the dead whom you have redeemed by your precious blood.

Christ, consoler of those who mourn, you dried the tears of the family of Lazarus, of the widow’s son, and the daughter of Jairus,
–comfort those who mourn for the dead.

Christ, Savior, destroy the reign of sin in our earthly bodies, so that just as through sin we deserved punishment,
–so through you we may gain eternal life.

Christ, Redeemer, look on those who have no hope because they do not know you,
–may they receive faith in the resurrection and in the life of the world to come.

You revealed yourself to the blind man who begged for light of his eyes,
–show your face to the dead who are still deprived of your light.

When at last our earthy home is dissolved,
–give us a home, not of earthly making, but built of eternity in heaven.

Our Father, who art in heaven...(recite the whole prayer)


Almighty and merciful God,
may our dearly departed share in the victory of Christ
who loved us so much that he died and rose again
to bring us new life.

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.


May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life.