Friday, December 14, 2012

Devotion for today: We find the new in the old…

Today we will look at the first Sunday reading, which usually comes from the Old Testament.

Scripture for meditation: Luke 4:16-21
And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.  And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed, To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”
And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us: 2583: Finally, taking the desert road that leads to the place where the living and true God reveals himself to his people, Elijah, like Moses before him, hides "in a cleft of the rock" until the mysterious presence of God has passed by. But only on the mountain of the Transfiguration will Moses and Elijah behold the unveiled face of him whom they sought; "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God [shines] in the face of Christ," crucified and risen. 

Edward Sri tells us: The first reading is usually from the Old Testament (except during Easter Season, when it is from Acts of the Apostles, following an ancient practice). Although the Old Testament awaits the fullness of divine revelation in Jesus Christ, it is accepted by the Church with veneration as “authentic divine teaching.” In the Old Testament, “the mystery of our salvation is present in a hidden way.” In fact, one cannot adequately understand Jesus and the New Testament Scriptures without knowing the story of Israel in the Old. For the New Testament is like the last chapter of a great book or the climactic scene in a great movie. The more one grasps the many dramatic twists and turns in the story that went before – the Old Testament story of Israel – the more one will be able to understand the climax of the story of Jesus Christ and his Kingdom in the new.(The Mass, Ascension Press, 2010)

My thoughts: I am a lector at my church, and I feel it is a tremendous honor to proclaim the Word of God, yet sometimes the Old Testament readings can be difficult to understand. By listening carefully, however, the beautiful story of God’s chosen people unfolds throughout the year, and we come to understand their trials, tribulations, and longing for the Messiah. As Edward Sri tells us, we can see the New Testament in the Old if we look for the many actions, and prophecies that foretold the coming of the Messiah. A good study of the Old Testament can always be found through the writer and speaker Jeff Cavins and also Scott Hahn. They trace salvation history from Genesis to Christ, and what a fascinating history it is. So listen carefully to the Old Testament. It leads you into a fuller understanding of the awesomeness of the New.

Prayer: Lord, you know my heart,
my weaknesses,
and the times that I fail you and others.
I really need you now to speak to me through these words. Please inspire me in this time I have with you.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Devotion for today: gather the people, then tell the stories…

Today we begin a look at the Liturgy of the Word, the next part of our study of the Mass.

Scriptures for reflection: Romans 10:19
Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Acts 13:14-15
 But going on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. After the reading of the Law and the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, “Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.”

Revelation 1:3
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.

Fr. Robert Barron tells us: After these extremely significant opening liturgical elements, everyone sits in order to listen to the Word of God: usually on Sunday, a reading from the Old Testament, followed by a responsorial psalm, then a New Testament epistle, and finally a Gospel reading that is thematically coordinated to the first reading. The posture of sitting is not to be overlooked. In the ancient world, one would sit at the feet of a master in order to listen and learn. Sitting was therefore universally recognized, from the earliest days of the Church, as the proper attitude of the apprentice or student. Seated in silence, prepared to hear the voice of the Lord, Catholics at Mass signal that they are humble learners, apprentices to the Word.(Catholicism, Image Books, 2011)

My thoughts: There is that word again: humble. Everything we have looked at in the Mass asks us to approach God with humble and sincere hearts, with a contrite spirit. We have just finished recalling our sins, asking for mercy, and praising God for giving it to us. Now we sit and quiet our minds, stop the laundry list from unraveling in our brains, and focus on the Word of God. From the pattern carried over from the Old Testament, we assume the posture of the humble learner, not the wise and learned teacher. In the face of God, we are empty. Our ears and hearts are open as we eagerly wait to hear what God has to say to us personally in His inspired word. Everything written in the Bible, as we have already learned, is meant for every human being ever created by God, through all eternity. If you aren’t listening, you aren’t hearing God’s personal message to you.

Prayer: From the hymn:  Open My Eyes, That I May See (Text: Clara H. Scott)    
Open my ears, that I may hear
voices of truth thou sendest clear;
and while the wavenotes fall on my ear,
everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Devotion for today: My little son, there are many I could send. But you are the one I have chosen."

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Let us examine a few lines from her apparitions to Juan Diego. For a complete history of the apparitions, and an explanation of the image, see the links at the end of the blog.



“My dear little son, I love you. I desire you to know who I am. I am the ever-virgin Mary, Mother of the true God who gives life and maintains its existence. He created all things. He is in all places. He is Lord of Heaven and Earth.”

“My little son, there are many I could send. But you are the one I have chosen."

"My little son, am I not your Mother? Do not fear.” 

"Do not be distressed, my littlest son. Am I not here with you who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection?


My thoughts: Our Lady of Guadalupe gave Juan Diego several messages, yet one theme emerges from them all: “I am your mother. Do not be afraid”. We need to hear these words today, as many fears plague us in our daily struggles to be holy, healthy, happy and financially secure. We seem to always be on the precipice of disaster, yet here is Our Blessed Mother, coming to us in a vision, and reminding us that we are “under her shadow and protection”. Our hearts should be calm, our spirits light, as we reflect on the fact that this is Our Lady of the Americas. We are in good hands. Let us not tremble at the thought of being chosen by Mary to do her work, and that of her Son. Just as she gave Juan Diego all he needed to fulfill her requests, so, too, will we be given all we need when we say yes to Mary and do the work she asks of us. Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

Prayer: Prayer to the Virgin of Guadalupe
By Msgr. Eduardo Chávez

Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe,

mother of the true God for whom we live, Bearer of

Jesus Christ who gives us his Spirit and life in the Church.

We thank you for being our loving and compassionate

mother; because you hear our weeping and our sorrow;

because you are the remedy and the cure for our grief,

our misery and our pain.

Thank you, Mother, for placing us in your heart, for

allowing us to be under your shadow and your

protection, for being the source of our joy, and for

keeping us in the hollow of your robe and the crossing

of your arms.

Thank you, our Mother, for sending this message

through your humble son St. Juan Diego, and through

his intercession we ask that you fortify us in Peace, in

Unity and in Love.



For a description of the Tilma image:

For a brief history of the apparitions:


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Devotion for today: it is time to “collect our petitions” and present them to God

Today we examine the small but powerful prayer known as the Collect.
Scripture for meditation: John 6, 13-14
 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

The catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us: 2614When Jesus openly entrusts to his disciples the mystery of prayer to the Father, he reveals to them what their prayer and ours must be, once he has returned to the Father in his glorified humanity. What is new is to "ask in his name." Faith in the Son introduces the disciples into the knowledge of the Father, because Jesus is "the way, and the truth, and the life." Faith bears its fruit in love: it means keeping the word and the commandments of Jesus, it means abiding with him in the Father who, in him, so loves us that he abides with us. In this new covenant the certitude that our petitions will be heard is founded on the prayer of Jesus.

Here is an explanation of the “Collect” I found on the internet: This prayer begins with the presider inviting the assembly to pray, then providing a period of silence for members of the assembly to pray their personal prayer in the silence of their hearts, and then the presider praying this oration in the name of the faithful. This silence is a deliberate communal silence inviting the members of the assembly to recollect their thoughts and recall the petitions that each person brings to a particular celebration of the Eucharist. The spoken prayer of the presider is to sum up the silent prayer of the people. This opening prayer has traditionally been referred to as "the collect" based on the fact that the presider, so to speak, collects the prayers of the faithful in this prayer addressed to the Father, through Jesus, the Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. When there is adequate shared silence then the "collect" will truly have something to collect. During this prayer the presider also extends his hands. This gesture is referred to as the "orans posture of prayer" and conveys that it is to God the Father to whom the prayer is addressed. The out-stretched arms was also a gesture of the early Christians that symbolized liberation - a gesture of being free from the shackles of slavery.
[Source: Sunday Bulletin, St. Paul Roman Catholic Cathedral, Saskatoon, SK, Canada; March 16, 2008]

My thoughts: I honestly never paid much attention to the “Collect” until I started to subscribe to “The Magnificat” and had an opportunity to read the prayer with the priest. It usually is a beautiful short prayer that brings the theme of the upcoming readings to light. More importantly, this is where we present our petitions to God, our intentions for this Mass. We all have great needs in our families, workplaces and in the world in general. Here is where we offer these needs to God and let Him know we are “offering this Mass” for these needs. We learn two more things today: the “Collect” usually ends with the words, “We ask this in the name of Jesus…” or reference to Christ and the Holy Spirit. The Jews had always prayed to God; now Jesus was instructing them to pray through Him and thereby acknowledge Him as the Way, the Truth and the Life in their lives and in their prayers. Also, I never knew the outstretched arms symbolize liberation from slavery! I think when the priest opens his arms he is “in persona Christi “and is opening the heart of God to our petitions, and asking us to open our hearts to the Word of God which will now follow. It is a beautiful gesture in a beautiful prayer.

Collect for December 11, 2012
O God, who have shown forth your salvation to all the ends of the earth, grant, we pray, that we may look forward in joy to the glorious Nativity of Christ, Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Devotion for today: The Gloria: the praise of Jesus our Lord

Today we complete our look at the Gloria in the Mass.

Scripture for reflection: John 1:29-33
The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’  I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.”  John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us: 1708: BY his Passion, Christ delivered us from Satan and from sins. He merited for us the new life in the Holy Spirit. His grace restores what sin had damaged in us. 1715: He who believes in Christ has new life in the Holy Spirit. Then moral life, increased and brought to maturity in grace, is to reach its fulfillment in the glory of heaven.

…. Scriptural allusions are also made to Jn. 1:29, where St. John the Baptist points to Christ and exclaims Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.  Jesus is the one perfect sacrificial offering who takes away the sins of the world.  In the Gospel according to St. John, sin is spoken of in the singular, namely the failure or refusal to recognize Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God.  In the Gloria, the Latin official text refers to sin in the plural reminding us that the forgiveness of every sin is made possible only by the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God.  The New Translation reflects the Latin text where it says, you take away the sins of the world. Finally, in the praise offered to Christ by the phrases you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, there is an incorporation of Rev. 15:4 (For you alone are holy) and Ps. 83:19 (Show them you alone are the LORD, the Most High over all the earth) we see a confession of faith in the Divine nature of Christ in the nature of God as the Holy Trinity.  …The confession of sins leads into the confession of praise, which instinctively reveals a confession of faith.

My thoughts: The Gloria is such an incredibly beautiful prayer. In it we take time to joyfully express our complete love for God. Just as we find many ways to express our love for those who have captured our hearts in our lives, so we now find so many ways to let God know how much we love him, how much we acknowledge his power and might. We praise Jesus who made the ultimate sacrifice for us on the Cross so that one day we could be with him in heaven. We beg for mercy, and receive it; we offer our prayer, and it is heard! Most importantly, we acknowledge Jesus as our Lord, the Most High. In doing so, we readily give our hearts and souls to him, to mold us into true disciples. Sing or say the Gloria with all your heart as you give the gift of yourself to your beloved. This is the hint of the prayer we will be saying around the throne when we reach heaven!

Prayer: The Gloria
Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth. Lord God heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father; receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Devotion for today: Second Sunday in Advent: put on the robe of righteousness

FIRST READING: Baruch 5: 1-9. Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, 0 Jerusalem, and put on for ever the beauty of the glory from God. Put on the robe of the righteousness from God; put on your head the diadem of the glory of the Everlasting. For God will show your splendor everywhere under heaven. For your name will for ever be called by God, "Peace of righteousness and glory of godliness." Arise, 0 Jerusalem, stand upon the height and look toward the east, and see your children gathered from west and east, at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that God has remembered them. For they went forth from you on foot, led away by their enemies; but God will bring them back to you, carried in glory, as on a royal throne. For God has ordered that every high mountain and the everlasting hills be made low and the valleys filled up, to make level ground, so that Israel may walk safely in the glory of God. The woods and every fragrant tree have shaded Israel at God's command. For God will lead Israel with joy, in the light of his glory, with the mercy and righteousness that come from him.

The section read today is a poem full of hope and encouragement. The days of mourning are over---Jerusalem and Israel will be glorious once more and will be recognized by the whole world as God's chosen abode. It is evident that something much more than the return of the Jews from the Babylonian exile (in 538 B.C.) is meant here. It is the New Jerusalem and the new Chosen People the writer has in mind, hence its insertion in the Advent readings.
Jerusalem . . . beauty of the glory: Jerusalem stands for the citizens of the new kingdom of God, a kingdom that will have the beauty and glory of God forever, the messianic kingdom namely.
robe . . . righteousness: Uprightness and integrity towards God and towards their fellow-men will be the distinguishing mark of the new Chosen People.
glory of the Everlasting: "Sacred to Yahweh" were the words inscribed on the miter of the High Priest in the Old Law---this will now be the inscription on the head of the new citizens of Jerusalem---they will all be consecrated to God.
God will show . . . your splendor: The New Jerusalem will be the capital of the whole world, "all the earth" will know of it. Peace of righteousness . . . glory: Jerusalem was interpreted as city of peace---now it will be a city of true peace founded on justice, the only true basis for peace, and the true worship of God (as opposed to the so often empty external ritual of the old Jerusalem) will be carried out in it forever.
look to the East . . . and the West: The citizens of the New Jerusalem will come from the whole world "east and west." The new kingdom will not be restricted to the children of Abraham but will embrace the whole human race as was foretold to Abraham (Gen. 12: 3 etc.).
rejoicing . . . remembered them: As the Jews of Jerusalem had gone into exile (in Babylon) because of their sins, so the Gentiles had been for centuries exiles from God because of their sins, but as he brought back the Jews from Babylon so now will he bring back the Gentiles from their long exile to the New Jerusalem, to his messianic kingdom. He had not forgotten them but remembered them when the "fullness of time had come."
went forth . . . on foot . . . royal throne: This refers primarily to the Babylonian exiles but it refers especially to the recalled Gentiles who will be not only citizens of the new Jerusalem but princes "on royal thrones," sons of God namely.
every high mountain . . . low: The way will be made smooth and easy for their return (see Is. 40: 3-5; Mt. 3: 3).
woods . . . and tree: To make the return easy for the exiles, God will cause forests to grow to shade them from the burning desert sun.
God will lead Israel: This recall of Jew and Gentile to the new kingdom is the gratuitous gift of God. "God loved us . . . when we were dead through our sins, be brought us to life with Christ" (Eph. 2: 4ff).
his mercy and righteousness . . . him: Through his infinite mercy God forgives men's sins and through his justice, his fidelity to himself, he has fulfilled the promise he made to Abraham to "bless" all nations notwithstanding our total unworthiness.