Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Dear readers,

I will be taking a break from my blogging until the new year. I pray you have a blessed Christmas and that the season of Christmas brings you the peace that only the Christ Child can bring.

Much love,


Friday, December 13, 2013

Devotion for today: but deliver us from evil…the Good News

Romans 8:31-39:  What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”Psalm 44:22
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Yesterday we looked at the final petition of The Our Father and identified the singular evil that is at the heart of all evils in the world, and the biggest threat to our holiness. Today we look at the Good News, the salvation won for us by Christ Jesus. “If God is for us, who can be against?” We see in today’s commentary that Jesus is with us always, and no power on earth or under the earth or anywhere can harm us as long as we fill ourselves with Him and Him alone. Who could ask for anything more?

Catechism of the Catholic Church: 2853 Victory over the "prince of this world" was won once for all at the Hour when Jesus freely gave himself up to death to give us his life. This is the judgment of this world, and the prince of this world is "cast out." "He pursued the woman" but had no hold on her: the new Eve, "full of grace" of the Holy Spirit, is preserved from sin and the corruption of death (the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the Most Holy Mother of God, Mary, ever virgin). "Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring." Therefore the Spirit and the Church pray: "Come, Lord Jesus," since his coming will deliver us from the Evil One.

Pope Benedict XVI (Jesus of Nazareth, Ignatius Press, 2007): Today, on the other hand, there is also the ideology of success, of well-being that tells us, “God is just a fiction. He only robs us of our time and our enjoyment of life. Don’t bother with him! Just try to squeeze as much out of life as you can.”  These temptations seem irresistible…. The Our Father in general and this petition in particular are trying to tell us that it is only when you have lost God that you have lost yourself; then you are nothing more than a random product of evolution. Then the “dragon” really has won. So long as the dragon cannot wrest God from you, your deepest being remains unharmed, even in the midst of all the evils that threaten you…. This then is why we pray from the depths of our souls not to be robbed of our faith, which enables us to see God, which binds us with Christ. This is why we pray that, in our concern for goods, we may not lose the Good itself; that even faced with the loss of goods, we may not also lose the Good, which is God; that we ourselves may not be lost: Deliver us from evil!
 Cyprian, the martyr bishop… finds a marvelous way of putting all of this: “When we say ‘deliver us from evil’ then there is nothing further left for us to ask for. Once we have asked for and obtained protection against evil, we are safely sheltered against anything the devil and the world can contrive. What could the world make you fear if you are protected in the world by God Himself? (de dominica oration 19; CSEL III, 27, p. 287)

Catechism of the Catholic Church: 2854: When we ask to be delivered from the Evil One, we pray as well to be freed from all evils, present, past, and future, of which he is the author or instigator. In this final petition, the Church brings before the Father all the distress of the world. Along with deliverance from the evils that overwhelm humanity, she implores the precious gift of peace and the grace of perseverance in expectation of Christ's return By praying in this way, she anticipates in humility of faith the gathering together of everyone and everything in him who has "the keys of Death and Hades," who "is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." Deliver us, Lord, we beseech you, from every evil and grant us peace in our day, so that aided by your mercy we might be ever free from sin and protected from all anxiety, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are Yours, now and forever. Amen.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Devotion for today: but deliver us from evil

John 17:15. "I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one."

John 8:40-44: As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father.”“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.  You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Romans 8:31: If God is for us, who is against us?

Catechism of the Catholic Church: 2851: In this petition, evil is not an abstraction, but refers to a person, Satan, the Evil One, the angel who opposes God. The devil (dia-bolos) is the one who "throws himself across" God's plan and his work of salvation accomplished in Christ.

2852: "A murderer from the beginning, . . . a liar and the father of lies," Satan is "the deceiver of the whole world." Through him sin and death entered the world and by his definitive defeat all creation will be "freed from the corruption of sin and death." Now "we know that anyone born of God does not sin, but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one."
The Lord who has taken away your sin and pardoned your faults also protects you and keeps you from the wiles of your adversary the devil, so that the enemy, who is accustomed to leading into sin, may not surprise you. One who entrusts himself to God does not dread the devil…

We now come to the last petition in the Our Father. In it we find Jesus addressing the presence of the devil within our lives and within the world. As we look at the words Jesus uses, we see that He has us pray in the plural as He does throughout the prayer. We are reminded that the evil one attacks every human being on the face of the earth. We note that we need to be delivered from this evil, that we cannot do it ourselves, and that we need God to fill us with His grace to fight the master of lies and deception. We need to pray for all our brothers and sisters to be delivered from their personal sins as well. As we have noted time and again in this blog, it is not enough to get ourselves to heaven, but it is necessary to bring as many people with us as possible.

 This is very difficult today. It is not “correct” to even mention the reality of sin, the possibility that actions accepted by the world are unacceptable to God. It is not “correct” to call a sin “a sin” and to remind people that the devil exists, he is real, as are his minions, and that they wreak havoc on the beautiful souls of the beloved children God created in His image. 

The world has always succumbed to the dance of the devil in the acceptance of inhumane practices such as euthanasia, human trafficking, abortion, sexual abuse, oppression of human rights and the indifference of the rich towards the sick, the elderly, and the poor. We cannot help but picture the devil sitting in a chair, puffing on a fine Cuban cigar, wearing an Alexander Amosu suit and fine leather shoes, smirking as he watches countless souls buy his lie. He must love it every time someone clicks on a pornographic image, or fights for abortion rights, buys another expensive unnecessary gadget and chooses to play games with strangers on the internet instead of joining an organization to mentor youth, offer financial support and personal time to help women in unwanted pregnancies, or assist in programs which are designed to give the unemployed the skills they need to get a job. Why does this make him happy? Because, it causes us to put ourselves and our own desires ahead of the needs of others. We then become easy targets for any action, even sin that will make us happy. We have become immune to the feeling of shame in sinful thoughts, words, and deeds because we have locked our consciences in a box and thrown away the key. 

Not a single person in the world, now or in the past, or in the days to come can escape the evil one. The best we can do is tell ourselves He doesn’t exist, or blame the evil in the world on everyone else, or waste our time asking “Where was God” when horrible crime happens. Horrible crimes happen when horrible people commit them. Horrible people exist because they threw God away, or never had the chance to meet Him. This has been true throughout history: once societies decided they were better off keeping God away from the people, stopped using the instruction manual God created for the world, and came up with their own gods and laws, evil was unleashed. For us today our freedom truly can be defined as “nothing left to lose.” We have to be monitored everywhere by cameras because we can no longer be trusted to respect our fellow man. We have to be stopped from living our faiths in society because we cannot be tolerated as marching to a different drummer.

 The evil one, my friends, laughs all the way to hell, taking as many hapless souls with him as he can. Remember Jesus’ words: deliver us from evil. We must believe that Jesus is present in the Eucharist and receive Him often. We must believe that the Bible holds the truth about living and follow its commands. We must study Jesus, and live the way He lived. And we must frequent confession. Once we are too proud to admit that we have sinned, and too proud to get down on our knees and ask forgiveness, do penance and begin again, we will have a tough time avoiding the temptations of the evil one.

 A child might not believe you when you tell him that fire is hot, but once he sticks his finger in a burning candle he knows the laws of physics and the truth of a wise parent. My friends, the fire exists, and it will burn you.

Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy. Amen (prayer given to the children at Fatima by the Blessed Virgin Mary, to be prayed after each decade of the rosary)


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Devotion for today: “and lead us not into temptation”

As we continue our meditation of The Lord’s Prayer, we will consider the somewhat curious line “…and lead us not into temptation.

James 1:13: Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one.”

When I began to carefully study the Our Father, I was a bit taken aback when I realized that I was not saying what I thought I was saying. My mind said, “and pull us away from temptation” but what I was actually praying was, “Oh Abba, (Oh Daddy), please don’t lead me into temptation.” What child of a loving father ever asks his daddy not to lead him into temptation? It sounds as though we are expecting God to take us directly into temptation unless we ask Him not to do it. Given that this prayer comes from the lips of Jesus Himself, I knew there had to be more. Obviously the clue had to exist somewhere in the translation of the words ‘lead’ and ‘temptation’.  So I began to research. The answers that I think are most succinct are from the Catechism and from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Let’s start with the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2846: 

This petition goes to the root of the preceding one, for our sins result from our consenting to temptation; we therefore ask our Father not to "lead" us into temptation. It is difficult to translate the Greek verb used by a single English word: the Greek means both "do not allow us to enter into temptation" and "do not let us yield to temptation." "God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one"; on the contrary, he wants to set us free from evil. We ask him not to allow us to take the way that leads to sin. We are engaged in the battle "between flesh and spirit"; this petition implores the Spirit of discernment and strength.

Pope Benedict XVI (Jesus of Nazareth, Ignatius Press, 2007): 

The way this petition is phrased is shocking for many people: God certainly does not lead us into temptation. In fact, as St. James tells us …. ‘He himself tempts no one’.

Okay, now I understand that the word “lead” is not the literal English translation, so what I had been praying and meaning were really the same thing. Now, let’s move onto the word “temptation”.

2847 The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man, and temptation, which leads to sin and death. We must also discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. Finally, discernment unmasks the lie of temptation, whose object appears to be good, a "delight to the eyes" and desirable, when in reality its fruit is death.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Jesus of Nazareth): 

The Book of Job can also help us to understand the difference between trial and temptation. In order to mature, in order to make real progress on the path leading from a superficial piety into profound oneness with God’s will, man needs to be tried. Just as the juice of the grape has to ferment in order to become a fine wine, so too man needs purifications and transformations; they are dangerous for him, because they present an opportunity for him to fall, and yet they are indispensable as paths on which he comes to himself and to God. Love is always a process involving purifications, renunciations, and painful transformations of ourselves – and that is how it is a journey to maturity… When we pray the sixth petition of the Our Father, we must therefore, on the one hand, be ready to take upon ourselves the burden of trials that is meted out to us. On the other hand, the object of the petition is to ask God not to mete out more than we can bear, not to let us slip from his hands. We make this prayer in the trustful certainty that Saint Paul has articulated for us: “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Cor 10:13).

Aha! That’s it! The truth lies in the difference between a trial and a temptation. God always allows trials. If we want to see how that works, we really should read the Book of Job. Every one of us is constantly undergoing trials. Some of us are surrounded by difficult people; others have constant illnesses, and still others pray for the fulfillment of dreams that may never happen. God allows trials because that is the only way we will grow in our faith. As Michael Jordan discovered when he was cut from the freshman basketball team in high school, our reaction to trial is what makes us failures or great people. Michael worked and trained and threw himself into becoming an outstanding basketball player. He didn’t give into the temptation to become discouraged, hate the coach, and whine about not getting what he wanted. No, he turned himself into a superstar on the basketball court. That is how we are to react when God sends us yet another trial. We pray that we not yield to the temptation to reject Him, to give up and to cave into the devastation of sin. The trial is from God; the temptation to turn it into evil and sin is from the devil. We pray to be delivered from those wicked hands, and to be place into the loving hands of a loving Abba.

A Prayer Against Temptation

Behold me, O my God, at Your feet! I do not deserve mercy, but O my Redeemer, the blood which You have shed for me encourages me and obliges me to hope for it. How often I have offended You, repented, and yet have I again fallen into the same sin. O my God, I wish to amend, and in order to be faithful to You, I will place all my confidence in You. I will, whenever I am tempted, instantly have recourse to You. Until now, I have trusted in my own promises and resolutions and have neglected to recommend myself to You in my temptations. This has been the cause of my repeated failures. From this day forward, be You, O Lord, my strength, and this shall I be able to do all things, for “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.” Amen. http://www.ourcatholicprayers.com/prayers-against-temptation.html

Monday, December 9, 2013

Devotion for today: take a risk

Today’s Monday meditation asks us to evaluate our trust in God and our desire to risk everything for Him.

Psalm 23:4
 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Psalm 9:10

  Those who know your name trust in you,

    for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

John 12:26

 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

Be willing to go out on a limb with Me. If that is where I am leading you, it is the safest place to be. Your desire to lead a risk-free life is a form of unbelief. Your longing to live close to Me is at odds with your attempts to minimize risk. You are approaching a crossroads in your journey. In order to follow Me wholeheartedly, you must relinquish your tendency to play it safe.

Let me lead you step by step through this day. If your primary focus is on Me, you can walk along perilous paths without being afraid. Eventually, you will learn to relax and enjoy the adventure of our journey together. As long as you stay close to Me, My sovereign Presence protects you wherever you go. (Jesus Calling, Sarah Young, Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1993)

Selflessness Prayer

O Dearly beloved Word of God, teach me to be generous, to serve Thee as Thou dost deserve, to give without counting the cost, to fight without fretting at my wounds, to labor without seeking rest, to spend myself without looking for any reward other than that of knowing that I do Thy holy will. Amen. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

I forgive

Pour yourself a cup of coffee or brew a cup of tea, and enjoy Jerry Vale remind you of God's power, love and mercy.


 performed by Jerry Vale

I forgive

He can turn the tides and calm the angry sea

He alone decides who writes a symphony

He lights every star that makes a darkness bright

He keeps watch all through each long and lonely night

He still finds the time to hear a child's first prayer

Saint or sinner call and always find Him there

Though it makes Him sad to see the way we live

He'll always say, I forgive

He can grant a wish or make a dream come true

He can paint the clouds and turn gray to blue

He alone is there to find a rainbow's end

He alone can see what lies beyond the bend

He can touch a tree and turn the leaves to gold

He knows every lie that you and I have told

Though it makes Him sad to see the way we live

He'll always say, I forgive

Friday, December 6, 2013

Devotion for today: There is no relationship with God without forgiveness


Matthew 6:14-15: If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

We have spent the last few days taking a look at what the Bible  tells us about the need to forgive others. There simply is no room in God’s kingdom for anyone who can’t forgive as God forgives. We can’t even imagine how horrible life would be if God didn't forgive those who trespass against Him. The why do we justify our pride in feeling we are better than God when it comes to withholding forgiveness? Henri Nouwen wrote an amazing book, “The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming.’” (1992, Doubleday Press). In it he covers the issue of forgiveness from a look at the prodigal son, the older brother, and the father. Of course, in reading the book we start to see ourselves in all three roles throughout our lifetime. Here is a small section which helps to clarify the issue of holding back on forgiveness. Here Nouwen is talking about the role of the father in the forgiveness story. He has been wronged by his younger son who basically declared his father dead when he asked for his inheritance, something one gets upon the death of a parent, and by the older son, who now reveals that his love for his father had a string attached: his good deeds meant his father had to love him best – always.This is long, but you have all weekend to read it, and listen carefully to the attached song.

Nouwen writes:
Can I give without wanting anything in return, love without putting any conditions on my love? Considering my immense need for human recognition and affection, I realize that it will be a lifelong struggle. But I am also convinced that each time I step over this need and act free of my concern for return, I can trust that my life can truly bear the fruits of God’s Spirit…. It is through constant forgiveness that we become like the Father. Forgiveness from the heart is very, very difficult. It is next to impossible. Jesus said to his disciples: “When your brother wrongs you seven times a day and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I am sorry’ you must forgive him.”

I have often said, “I forgive you,” but even as I said these words my heart remained angry or resentful. I still wanted to hear the story that tells me that I was right after all; I still wanted to hear apologies and excuses; I still wanted the satisfaction of receiving some praise in return – if only the praise for being so forgiving!

But God’s forgiveness is unconditional; it comes from a heart that does not demand anything for itself, a heart that is completely empty of self-seeking. It is this divine forgiveness that I have to practice in my daily life. It calls me to keep stepping over all my arguments that say forgiveness is unwise, unhealthy, and impractical. It challenges me to step over all my needs for gratitude and compliments. Finally, it demands of me that I step over that wounded part of my heart that feels hurt and wronged and that wants to stay in control and put a few conditions between me and the one whom I am asked to forgive.

This “stepping over” is the authentic discipline of forgiveness. Maybe it is more “climbing over” than stepping over.” Often I have to climb over the wall of arguments and angry feelings that I have erected between myself and all those whom I love but who so often do not return that love. It is a wall of fear of being used or hurt again. It is a wall of pride, and the desire to stay in control. But every time that I can step or climb over that wall, I enter into the house where the Father dwells, and there touch my neighbor with genuine compassionate love….

There is a dreadful emptiness in this spiritual fatherhood. No power, no success, no popularity, no easy satisfaction. But that same dreadful emptiness is also the place of true freedom. It is the place where there is “nothing left to lose”, where love has no strings attached, and where real spiritual strength is found.

Prayer of St. Teresa of Avila:

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

-- St. Teresa of Avila


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Devotion for today: Dear Lord, I forgive…

This is a long prayer, but if you find a quiet spot, or go to church, and clear your mind, then pray this without interruption, and mean it, you should begin to feel the inner stirrings of peace which can only come from forgiving, and being forgiven.

Forgiveness Prayer:

 LORD JESUS CHRIST, I ask today to forgive everyone in my life. I know that You will give me the strength to forgive and I thank You that You love me more than I love myself and want my happiness more than I desire it for myself.

Father, I forgive You for the times death has come into my family, hard times, financial difficulties, or what I thought were punishments sent by You and people said "It's God's will," and I became bitter and resentful towards You. Purify my heart and mind today.

Lord, I forgive MYSELF for my sins, faults and failings, and for all that is bad in myself or that I think is bad. For any delving in superstition, using Ouija boards, horoscopes, going to séances, using fortune telling or wearing lucky charms, I reject all that superstition and choose You alone as my Lord and Savior. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit.

I further forgive myself for taking Your name in vain, not worshiping You by attending church, for hurting my parents, getting drunk, fornication, adultery…. You have forgiven me; today I forgive myself. Also, for abortion, stealing, lying, defrauding, hurting peoples' reputation, I forgive myself.

I truly forgive my MOTHER. I forgive her for all the times she hurt me, she resented me, she was angry with me and for all the times she punished me. I forgive her for the times she preferred my brothers and sisters to me. I forgive her for the times she told me I was dumb, ugly, stupid, the worst of the children or that I cost the family a lot of money. For the times she told me I was unwanted, an accident, a mistake or not what she expected, I forgive her.

I forgive my FATHER. I forgive him for any non-support, any lack of love, affection, or attention. I forgive him for any lack of time, for not giving me his companionship, for his drinking, arguing and fighting with my mother or the other children. For his severe punishments, for desertion, for being away from home, for divorcing my mother or for any running around, I do forgive him.

Lord, I extend forgiveness to my SISTERS AND BROTHERS. I forgive those who rejected me, lied about me, hated me, resented me, competed for my parents' love, those who hurt me, who physically harmed me. For those who were too severe on me, punished me or made my life unpleasant in any way, I do forgive them.

Lord, I forgive my SPOUSE for lack of love, affection, consideration, support, attention, communication; for faults, failings, weaknesses and those other acts or words that hurt or disturb me.

Jesus, I forgive my CHILDREN for their lack of respect, obedience, love, attention, support, warmth, understanding; for their bad habits, falling away from the church, any bad actions which disturb me.

My God, I forgive my IN-LAWS, my mother-in-law, father-in-law, son/daughter-in-law and other relatives by marriage, who treat my family with a lack of love. For all their words, thoughts, actions or omissions which injure and cause pain, I forgive them.

Please help me to forgive my RELATIVES, my grandmother and grandfather, aunts, uncles, cousins who may have interfered in our family, been possessive of my parents, who may have caused confusion or turned one parent against another.

Jesus, help me to forgive my CO-WORKERS who are disagreeable or make life miserable for me. For those who push their work off on me, gossip about me, won't cooperate with me, try to take my job, I do forgive them.

My NEIGHBORS need to be forgiven, Lord. For all their noise, letting their property run down, not tying up their dogs, who run through my yard, not taking in their trash barrels, being prejudiced and running down the neighborhood, I do forgive them.

I now forgive all priests, ministers, nuns, my parish, parish organizations, my pastor, bishop, the Pope, and the church for their lack of support, affirmation, bad sermons, pettiness, lack of friendliness, not providing my family with the inspiration we needed, for any hurts they have inflicted on me or my family, even in the distant past, I forgive them today.

Lord, I forgive all those who are of different PERSUASIONS, those of opposite political views who have attacked me, ridiculed me, discriminated against me, made fun of me, economically hurt me.

I forgive those of different religious DENOMINATIONS who have tried to convert me, harassed me, attacked me, argued with me, forced their views on me.

Those who have harmed me ETHNICALLY, have discriminated against me, mocked me, made jokes about my race or nationality, hurt my family physically, emotionally or economically, I do forgive them today.

Lord, I forgive all PROFESSIONAL PEOPLE who have hurt me in any way: doctors, nurses, lawyers, judges, politicians and civil servants. I forgive all service people: policemen, firemen, bus drivers, hospital workers and especially repairmen who have taken advantage of me in their work.

Lord, I forgive my EMPLOYER for not paying me enough money, for not appreciating my work, for being unkind and unreasonable with me, for being angry and unfriendly, for not promoting me, and for not complimenting me on my work.

Lord, I forgive my SCHOOLTEACHERS AND INSTRUCTORS of the past as well as the present. For those who punished me, humiliated me, insulted me, treated me unjustly, made fun of me, called me dumb or stupid, made me stay after school, I truly forgive them.

Lord, I forgive my FRIENDS who have let me down, lost contact with me, do not support me, were not available when I needed help, borrowed money and did not return it, gossiped about me.

Lord Jesus, I especially pray for the grace of forgiveness for that ONE PERSON in life who has HURT ME THE MOST. I ask to forgive anyone who I consider my greatest enemy, the one who is the hardest to forgive, the one I said I will never forgive.

Lord, I beg pardon of all these people for the hurt I have inflicted on them, especially my mother and father, and my marriage partner. I am especially sorry for the three greatest hurts I have inflicted on them.

Thank you, Jesus, that I am being freed of the evil of unforgiveness. Let your Holy Spirit fill me with light and let every dark area of my mind be enlightened.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Devotion for today: Our death is in the details, or in the little word “as”

Matthew 6:12: And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

This petition in The Lord’s Prayer, given to us by Jesus Himself, has a qualifier in it, the only one that does. Jesus is telling us in no uncertain terms that God will forgive us “as” we forgive others. Plain and simple: this is not hard to understand. We cannot hold back forgiveness, continue to punish others for actual or perceived wrongs, stand in judgment of others and declare them unworthy of our forgiveness, or continue to exact payment for wrongs once the offenders have said they are sorry unless we want God to do this to us when we die. Our offenses against God, every day of our lives, are horrible when we realize that God is pure love, and we are not. It is like mixing pure white snow with snow from the street. One is so beautiful, the other, well, not so much. If we honestly feel justified in withholding forgiveness and love from someone who we believe has offended us, then let us meditate on the Scripture passages below. It doesn’t get any clearer than this. We will continue our meditation tomorrow.
In answer to the question: Is it that important to forgive even if I believe I have been seriously wronged, meditate on Jesus’ words:

Matthew 6:14-15: For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 18:34-35: In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.  “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (parable of the servant who was forgiven a large debt by his master, but refused to forgive a small debt owed to him)

Matthew 18:21-22: Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me- up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Matthew 26:28: This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Mark 11:25: And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

Luke 6:37: Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Luke 7:41-44: Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Luke 7:47: Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.

Luke 17:3: So watch yourselves. If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.

Luke 17:4: Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

Luke 23:34: Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Prayer for the grace to forgive:

Dear Lord, I come to you with a heart that is heavy with resentment. The hurt I carry with me is taking its toll… slowly closing the door of my heart to love. I have been unjustly hurt and I don’t want to forgive, yet, I beg you to grant me the grace to forgive the one who has hurt me, even though the very thought of doing so is painful to me.

Turn my eyes now to you and show me your wounds. Show me your bloody face. Show me your torn flesh. Help me to always remember that you are the True Victim who was suffered the most unjust hurt ever know to humankind. Give me the grace to be sorrowful for my sins that nailed you to the cross and whisper in my ear your loving words, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” With your tenderness, O Lord, I know my heart will melt and be filled with your love, that I may forgive my offender. Amen.

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44) 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Devotion for today: I have no voice, except an inner cry…

I was talking to a friend last week who is going through a really rough time. She told me that the glitz and glamour of this commercial holiday season makes her feel terrible, like there is something wrong with her. Her sadness is deep, and real. She finds herself believing the lie that everyone is walking around beaming and laughing and going to a million parties all bedecked in gorgeous clothes, walking into gorgeously decorated homes. Holiday madness makes her so sad. She wants to feel happy, yet she cannot. Many of us have times like these. The holly jolly season gets lost on those of us who have children deployed or wounded by war, spouses who have lost their jobs, loved ones who have died, illnesses and wounds (mental and physical) that keep us weak and frustrated, and a host of other sad events that strip us of any desire to trim a tree and tie a bow. What can we do? It is tough. To tell someone to pray is, of course, the best answer, but to know how deep the sadness runs, we need a prayer that speaks to really deep sadness, sadness this commercial Christmas season may bring to a head. Commercial Christmas, you ask? Yes, this, for us Catholics, is Advent, a solemn time of year when we meditate on the second coming of Christ, when we clean our personal homes of the heart and soul and mind for a renewed love of all things that belong to God, and when we wait for the time when He will be among us forever. The secular world is celebrating Christmas now because they have no idea why they are even celebrating. We begin on the 25th, the birth of Christ, because our reason for joy will then enter our lives.  But for now, for those whose hurt is so deep, here is a prayer I found in the November issue of the Magnificat (www.magnificat.com).  Let us pray daily for those of us who are suffering at this time. (We will return to our meditation on The Lord’s Prayer tomorrow.)

Matthew 26:38: Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”

Persecution and Perseverance
Lord Jesus, I am struck dumb,
inside and outside.
My heart is shrouded by this misery;
my eyes, which look upon your holy face, are stricken, assaulted by the light,
aching red, longing to be shut beneath their lids.

I have no voice
except an inner cry,
a mute, distressed animal whimper
that cannot even summon itself to ask for mercy.
My fingers drift
away from my hands,
and the tokens of your love
are beyond their reach.

How do I pray?
O Lord, where is the longing of my prayer?
Jesus, Mercy,
hear the scream inside
the shaken contours of this skull,
with brain pierced
by some fiery blade.

O God, Love!
Hear the endless noise,
the pounding,
the howling of skin and nerve,
muscle and joint;
this cacophony of pain
that groans all through the place
where I once felt that I had a body.

Jesus, Mercy, forgive me.
Jesus, Love.
Jesus, I offer.

I long for these to be my words to you,
but lips are speechless quiver,
and thought and heart are frozen in exhaustion.
Prayer is ice that does not flow.
Prayer is a voice of distant memory;
it feels like a still corpse
beneath my soul’s total turmoil.

In the end there is nothing
but the hollowness of a thing called me
wanting You.

I want You, Jesus.
                                                John Janaro

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Devotion for today: Food for thought

We spent Thursday concentrating on food for the tummy. Now let us partake of some food for thought from Pope Francis I.

Pope Francis: Times of Persecution Mean the Lord Is Near
Pontiff Warns of Worldly Temptation to Keep Religion Private
VATICAN CITY, November 28, 2013 (Zenit.org) - Worldly powers that wish to make religion something private exists in this world. This was the warning Pope Francis gave this morning during Mass at Casa Santa Marta.

The Holy Father reflected on the first reading where Daniel is thrown in the Lion’s den for praying to God, while the Gospel recalled Jesus’ description of the end of days.
Speaking on the final battle described by Jesus, the Pope said that there is an underlying temptation that will be faced by all which he called “the universal temptation”: the desecration of the temple, the desecration of faith.

“What does this mean? It will be like the triumph of the prince of this world: the defeat of God. It seems that in that final moment of calamity, he will take possession of this world, that he will be the master of this world,” he said.
An example of this desecration of faith can be shown in the book of Daniel who is condemned to death for adoring God. This desecration has a specific name: “the prohibition of worship.”

“[There] religion cannot be spoken of, it is something private, no? Publicly it is not spoken about. Te religious signs are taken down. The laws that come from the worldly powers must be obeyed. You can do so many beautiful things except adore God. Worship is prohibited,” the Pope said.

“This is the center of this end. And when this arrives in its fullness - to the ‘kairos’ of this pagan attitude, when this is fulfilled - then yes, He will come: ‘And they will see the Son of man come on a cloud with great power and glory.’ Christians who have suffered in times of persecution, in times of the prohibition of worship are a prophecy of that which will happen to all.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to be loyal and patient. The times of persecution mean that that the victory of Jesus Christ is near.

“This week it will do us well to think of this general apostasy, which is called the prohibition of adoration and ask ourselves: ‘Do I adore the Lord? Do I adore Jesus Christ, the Lord? Or is it half and half, do I play the play the prince of this world,” he said. “To adore till the end, with loyalty and faithfulness: this is the grace that we should ask for this week.” (J.A.E.)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Devotion for today: Give us this day our physical and spiritual bread.

John 6:48-54: I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the desert, and have died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that if anyone eats of it, he will not die. ... If anyone eats of this bread he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is My flesh for the life of the world.” Many disciples grumbled at this, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?" "Amen, amen I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink of His blood, you shall not have life in you. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has life everlasting and I will raise him up on the last day.”

I am sure that we all understand the meaning of the petition in” The Our Father” which asks God to provide us with our daily physical bread. We are not asking for more physical bread than we need lest we become gluttonous, nor do we ask to be ignored when it is time to pass out the daily allotment of food, lest we become desperate and criminal in our attempt to eat. No, we ask God to provide for us in the best way He can, so that we can care for our bodily needs. In using the pronoun “us” we acknowledge that we belong to the family of God and must do for others what God does for us. It will always be this way. Pay it forward, as the popular expression goes. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us:

 2831 But the presence of those who hunger because they lack bread opens up another profound meaning of this petition. The drama of hunger in the world calls Christians who pray sincerely to exercise responsibility toward their brethren, both in their personal behavior and in their solidarity with the human family. This petition of the Lord's Prayer cannot be isolated from the parables of the poor man Lazarus and of the Last Judgment. (Lk 16:19-31; Mt 25:31-46).

There is more to life, however, than satiating our physical appetites. There is a hunger, a need in each and every one of us to be fed the Bread of Life. Jesus left us the gift of Himself in the Eucharist for this very purpose. Again, we see in the Catechism:

2837 "Daily" (epiousios) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Taken in a temporal sense, this word is a pedagogical repetition of "this day," to confirm us in trust "without reservation." Taken in the qualitative sense, it signifies what is necessary for life, and more broadly every good thing sufficient for subsistence. Taken literally (epi-ousios: "super-essential"), it refers directly to the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ, the "medicine of immortality," without which we have no life within us.  Finally in this connection, its heavenly meaning is evident: "this day" is the Day of the Lord, the day of the feast of the kingdom, anticipated in the Eucharist that is already the foretaste of the kingdom to come. For this reason it is fitting for the Eucharistic liturgy to be celebrated each day.

The Eucharist is our daily bread. The power belonging to this divine food makes it a bond of union. Its effect is then understood as unity, so that, gathered into his Body and made members of him, we may become what we receive.... This also is our daily bread: the readings you hear each day in church and the hymns you hear and sing. All these are necessities for our pilgrimage. 
The Father in heaven urges us, as children of heaven, to ask for the bread of heaven. [Christ] himself is the bread who, sown in the Virgin, raised up in the flesh, kneaded in the Passion, baked in the oven of the tomb, reserved in churches, brought to altars, furnishes the faithful each day with food from heaven.

When we partake daily of the Bread of Life, we literally touch God with our hands, and consume God into our bodies. We consume Him, and He consumes us. We touch Him, and He touches us. To feed ourselves on the body of Christ is to understand that we daily need to come to the source of true life, to partake of the only food we ever will really need in our lives. At Mass the priest proclaims the words of Christ: “Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my Body, which will be given up for you.” To take and eat, of course, also means to take up the cross, as Christ did after the Last Supper.

In the book The Redeemer’s Call to Consecrated Souls (Logus Institute Press), Our Lord speaks to a French nun in the 1930’s. He reveals to her His desire for us to become “hosts” as He is “host”. Here is what He says:

There is no more perfect model of abandonment than my Eucharistic Host. See how, without the least trace of resistance, not even unyieldingness, It lets Itself be touched, carried, given, allowing Itself to be hidden in the back of the Tabernacle as well as exposed in the bright light of the monstrance. And even allowing Itself to be profaned by ungrateful hearts…. Meditate often on this marvelous attitude of abandonment by the Host, that you may imitate it. Renew again and again this return of your soul, for while it requires a courageous abdication of self, its…fruit is an ever deeper divine takeover, a celestial hold on you that transforms you more and more.

Let us pray to become a perfect “host” as Jesus has taught us to be.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Devotion for today: Thank you, God, and let me be generous

As we thank God today for what we have, let us remember that “to whom much is given, much is expected.”

Lord, teach me to be generous,

to serve you as you deserve,

to give and not to count the cost,

to fight and not to heed the wounds,

to toil and not to seek for rest,

to labor and not to look for any reward,

save that of knowing that I do your holy will.

St. Ignatius of Loyola