Saturday, February 16, 2013

Devotion for today: Plea to be filled with mercy

This selection is from the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, “Divine Mercy in My Soul”.
In concluding our week of reflection on faith and its connection to charity, it is wise to look at the words of the saint to whom Christ revealed Himself as the Divine Mercy. Then let us pray to adopt these words as our own this lent.

Selection 692: O Jesus, I understand that Your mercy is beyond all imagining, and therefore I ask You to make my heart so big that there will be room in it for the needs of all the souls living on the face of the earth. O Jesus, my love extends beyond the world, to the souls suffering in purgatory, and I want to exercise mercy toward them by means of indulgenced prayers.

God’s mercy is unfathomable and inexhaustible, just as God Himself is unfathomable. Even if I were to use the strongest words there are to express this mercy of God, all this would be nothing in comparison with what it is in reality.

 O Jesus, make my heart sensitive to all the sufferings of my neighbor, whether of body or of soul. O my Jesus, I know that You act toward us as we act toward our neighbor.  My Jesus, make my heart like unto Your merciful heart. Jesus, help me to go through life doing good to everyone.

St. Faustina and The Divine Mercy

Friday, February 15, 2013

Devotion for today: Profiles in Charity

I wish I had a lot of money. I really do. Then I would start GNN - Good News Network. Can you imagine it? Instead of 24 hour coverage intended to upset and hype the viewer into a sense of urgency and doom, we would be viewing news coverage of the amazing wonderful things man is doing for his fellow man. Every single day people give of themselves, totally without reward or recognition, for the betterment of their fellow man. I would love to have that broadcasted into our homes instead of the latest piece of gossip or distorted, discussed and dissected news event, wouldn’t you? Well, today my friends, I am here to satisfy that desire. After Mass the other day I was challenged on my recent blog “pet peeve” comment where I stated that I really don’t think too much of the statement: “Let me know if there is anything I can do for you” when I am in a desperate situation. The key word, of course, is desperate. I said people should list the things they can do to help and then do them. My commenter stated that we don’t always know what is needed. I guess that may be true, but it doesn’t take too much brain power to analyze a desperate situation, see a need and fill it. What it takes is time and self-commitment, and that is much tougher than a passing, albeit well intended comment. So today, here on GNN, I present three examples of Profiles in Charity from the lives of people I have the privilege of knowing. We have spent the week acknowledging that Faith and Charity are inseparable. Let us see how that looks in the real world.

Profile #1: Here is what a podiatrist did
A friend of mine is a podiatrist. He works in a lovely office in a nice part of town. Recently, while on business in the city, he was taken aback by the physical condition of the homeless. Why it hit him so hard on that day, when he had been in the city for years, is beyond me. But it did. Now, what could he do about it? He could walk around passing out his business card saying, “Let me know if there is anything I can do for you,” or he could actually do something. He assessed the situation, and to make a very complicated story simple (bureaucracy being what it is) he started a podiatry on wheels clinic where he drove around the city caring for the feet of the poor at no cost. Hmmm, washing the feet of others….

Profile #2: Here is what a mother and father did
A friend of mine has a daughter who came home from college “with child.” She wanted to keep her baby. She is bright, beautiful and loving. Her parents took her in, paid for her to go to a local college while the dad took early retirement and the mom gave up all her activities to care for the baby.  Their daughter finished college with a job waiting for her. Her child is three, and thriving. My friends, well, let’s just say they saw a need and never asked the cost, like maybe dying on the cross for others….

Profile #3: Here is what a friend did
Not too long ago, I had surgery to remove cancer from my eye rim. It required my eye to be sewn shut for three months, with no driving, exercise, or any activity that would cause the stitches to come loose. My dear friend took a look and my situation and announced that she would do three things for me: she would drive me once a week to my beloved Bible study; she would bring me dinner on Thursdays, and she would visit my 90 year old mother and 91 year old aunt in their apartment every Wednesday afternoon. Now let’s see, when I was hungry, when I was lonely, when I was desperate for activity….

See? It really isn’t too hard. In fact, it is very simple. When you are tempted to think of yourself, think of God instead. Then see what He has done for you in your desperation, and turn those same beautiful eyes of mercy onto others. It will cost you something, for sure, but the gift you will give is priceless. Why not spend this Lenten season not giving up, but giving out?

Here are the words of Pope Benedict XVI to inspire you. He addressed these words to the sick at the International Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Poland on May 26, 2006:
 Dear friends who are sick, who are marked by suffering in body and soul, you are most closely united to the Cross of Christ, and at the same time you are the most eloquent witnesses of God’s mercy. Through you and through your suffering, He bows down to humanity with love. You who say in silence: “Jesus, I trust in You,” teach us that there is no faith more profound, no hope more alive, and no love more ardent that the faith, hope, and love of a person who in the midst of suffering places himself squarely in God’s hands. May the human hands of those who care for you in the name of mercy be an extension of the open hands of God.

Scripture to live by: Matthew 25:40:
 and the King will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Devotion for today: faith is genuine only if crowned by charity

Two thoughts for today: I recently had a great conversation with a friend who was so exasperated in her efforts to bring a relative into a full understanding of our faith.  “He just kept saying that I had no proof; that for all I know the Bible was created by a bunch of men who told a good story in able to control a lot of people. I just don’t know what to say to that.” We all have encountered this type of opposition at some time in our lives. There are people who intellectually dismiss Christianity by such arguments. What is missing in their lives, of course, is a personal encounter with Christ as He lives in Divine Mercy. When Christ in His mercy steps into your life, pulls you from the depths of despair, heals the broken pieces of your heart and gives you the strength and courage to go  on living, you do not need an intellectual understanding of Christ or proof that He is God. He is God. He is God in you. He is God in His Church. He is God of the universe, and when you encounter Him as the Almighty God who saw fit to create you and place you in His plan for the salvation of the world, Sacred Scripture stops being a nice holy book you place on a shelf and becomes the collection of love letters God wrote specifically for you. Today is Valentine’s Day. Why not take time to open a few of these beautiful healing and caressing letters and let the words sink into your heart. When they do, take their message and share it with those who need your love. That is faith crowned in charity.

Thought number two: I couldn’t help but cry a bit as I watched the Pope’s last public Mass yesterday on EWTN. The wonderful “Papa” to us all has given his children a legacy of hope, inspiration and sound Catholic teaching. As we complete his Lenten message by reflecting on part 4, the final part, let us offer a prayer to God in thanksgiving for the gift of this fine man.

Scripture for reflection: 1 Corinthians 13:13
And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Revelation 22:20
 The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

4. Priority of faith, primacy of charity

Like any gift of God, faith and charity have their origin in the action of one and the same Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 13), the Spirit within us that cries out “Abba, Father” (Gal 4:6), and makes us say: “Jesus is Lord!” (1 Cor 12:3) and “Maranatha!” (1 Cor 16:22; Rev 22:20).

Faith, as gift and response, causes us to know the truth of Christ as Love incarnate and crucified, as full and perfect obedience to the Father’s will and infinite divine mercy towards neighbor;

Faith implants in hearts and minds the firm conviction that only this Love is able to conquer evil and death.

Faith invites us to look towards the future with the virtue of hope, in the confident expectation that the victory of Christ’s love will come to its fullness.

 For its part, charity ushers us into the love of God manifested in Christ and joins us in a personal and existential way to the total and unconditional self-giving of Jesus to the Father and to his brothers and sisters. By filling our hearts with his love, the Holy Spirit makes us sharers in Jesus’ filial devotion to God and fraternal devotion to every man (cf. Rom 5:5).

The relationship between these two virtues resembles that between the two fundamental sacraments of the Church: Baptism and Eucharist. Baptism (sacramentum fidei) precedes the Eucharist (sacramentum caritatis), but is ordered to it, the Eucharist being the fullness of the Christian journey. In a similar way, faith precedes charity, but. Everything begins from the humble acceptance of faith (“knowing that one is loved by God”), but has to arrive at the truth of charity (“knowing how to love God and neighbor”), which remains for ever, as the fulfillment of all the virtues (cf. 1 Cor 13:13).

Dear brothers and sisters, in this season of Lent, as we prepare to celebrate the event of the Cross and Resurrection – in which the love of God redeemed the world and shone its light upon history – I express my wish that all of you may spend this precious time rekindling your faith in Jesus Christ, so as to enter with him into the dynamic of love for the Father and for every brother and sister that we encounter in our lives. For this intention, I raise my prayer to God, and I invoke the Lord’s blessing upon each individual and upon every community!

He Knows My Name by Maranatha Singers

I have a Maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in his hands 

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
and He hears me when I call 
I have a Father
He calls me His own
He’ll never leave me
No matter where I go 

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
and He hears me when I call

(please disable commercial which precedes this  beautiful song)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Devotion for today: Scale the mountain to meet God, but don't forget to come back down

Today is Ash Wednesday. We are reminded of our mortality as the ashes are placed on our foreheads. We are asked by Mother Church to spend 40 days in the desert, replacing our obsession with comfort and profit with sacrifice and charity. In part three of Pope Benedict XVI’s Lenten Message, we learn that faith and charity balance one another and go hand in hand. Charity without Faith is not Catholic. It is giving bread to feed the hungry without giving them the bread of Eternal Life, or building homes for the homeless without teaching them about the heavenly home which awaits them with God. As Catholics, we always bring our faith into our charity, as the greatest charity we can give anyone, the Pope points out, is to bring him into the love of God. That is true evangelization. The Pope reminds us that it is so wonderful to pray and read scripture and meditate: indeed, it is critical to our spiritual life. But as he so fabulously points out, if we scale the mountain to meet God, we cannot forget to come back down!! As Pope Benedict states at the conclusion of section three: Lent invites us, through the traditional practices of the Christian life, to nourish our faith by careful and extended listening to the word of God and by receiving the sacraments, and at the same time to grow in charity and in love for God and neighbor, not least through the specific practices of fasting, penance and almsgiving.

Ephesians 2:8-10: For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God; not because of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

3. The indissoluble interrelation of faith and charity
In light of the above, it is clear that we can never separate, let alone oppose, faith and charity. These two theological virtues are intimately linked, and it is misleading to posit a contrast or “dialectic” between them. On the one hand, it would be too one-sided to place a strong emphasis on the priority and decisiveness of faith and to undervalue and almost despise concrete works of charity, reducing them to a vague humanitarianism. On the other hand, though, it is equally unhelpful to overstate the primacy of charity and the activity it generates, as if works could take the place of faith. For a healthy spiritual life, it is necessary to avoid both fideism and moral activism.

The Christian life consists in continuously scaling the mountain to meet God and then coming back down, bearing the love and strength drawn from him, so as to serve our brothers and sisters with God’s own love. In sacred Scripture, we see how the zeal of the Apostles to proclaim the Gospel and awaken people’s faith is closely related to their charitable concern to be of service to the poor (cf. Acts 6:1-4). In the Church, contemplation and action, symbolized in some way by the Gospel figures of Mary and Martha, have to coexist and complement each other (cf. Lk 10:38-42). The relationship with God must always be the priority, and any true sharing of goods, in the spirit of the Gospel, must be rooted in faith (cf. General Audience, 25 April 2012). Sometimes we tend, in fact, to reduce the term “charity “to solidarity or simply humanitarian aid. It is important, however, to remember that the greatest work of charity is evangelization, which is the “ministry of the word”. There is no action more beneficial – and therefore more charitable – towards one’s neighbor than to break the bread of the word of God, to share with him the Good News of the Gospel, to introduce him to a relationship with God:

evangelization is the highest and the most integral promotion of the human person. As the Servant of God Pope Paul VI wrote in the Encyclical Populorum Progressio, the proclamation of Christ is the first and principal contributor to development (cf. n. 16). It is the primordial truth of the love of God for us, lived and proclaimed, that opens our lives to receive this love and makes possible the integral development of humanity and of every man (cf. Caritas in Veritate, 8).

Essentially, everything proceeds from Love and tends towards Love. God’s gratuitous love is made known to us through the proclamation of the Gospel. If we welcome it with faith, we receive the first and indispensable contact with the Divine, capable of making us “fall in love with Love”, and then we dwell within this Love, we grow in it and we joyfully communicate it to others.

Concerning the relationship between faith and works of charity, there is a passage in the Letter to the Ephesians which provides perhaps the best account of the link between the two: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God; not because of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (2:8-10). It can be seen here that the entire redemptive initiative comes from God, from his grace, from his forgiveness received in faith; but this initiative, far from limiting our freedom and our responsibility, is actually what makes them authentic and directs them towards works of charity. These are not primarily the result of human effort, in which to take pride, but they are born of faith and they flow from the grace that God gives in abundance. Faith without works is like a tree without fruit: the two virtues imply one another. Lent invites us, through the traditional practices of the Christian life, to nourish our faith by careful and extended listening to the word of God and by receiving the sacraments, and at the same time to grow in charity and in love for God and neighbor, not least through the specific practices of fasting, penance and almsgiving.

Prayer for the New Evangelization

Heavenly Father,

Pour forth your Holy Spirit to inspire me with these words from Holy Scripture.
Stir in my soul the desire to renew my faith and deepen my relationship with your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ so that I might truly believe in and live the Good News.
Open my heart to hear the Gospel and grant me the confidence to proclaim the Good News to others.
Pour out your Spirit, so that I might be strengthened to go forth and witness to the Gospel in my everyday life through my words and actions.
In moments of hesitation, remind me:
If not me, then who will proclaim the Gospel?
If not now, then when will the Gospel be proclaimed?
If not the truth of the Gospel, then what shall I proclaim?
God, our Father, I pray that through the Holy Spirit I might hear the call of the New Evangelization to deepen my faith, grow in confidence to proclaim the Gospel and boldly witness to the saving grace of your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Devotion for today: Charity is walking in the Truth

I can tell you with complete honesty that I did not have an inside ear in the Vatican to tell me to feature Pope Benedict XVI on my blog this week! What a shock his “stepping down” is to all of us! We must believe that he is so finely tuned into God living in him that when he hears His voice, he knows it and listens to it. That is how we all want to be. If you live in faith, Christ lives in you. If He lives in you, He gently guides you in the ways of righteous and charity. If you have become accustomed to His voice, you know when to act, when to step out in faith, and when to give yourself up for the good of others. Isn't that what Christ did for us? In part two of his message for Lent, Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that our entire life is nothing but a response to God’s love, and it is not enough to just say, “Thank you for loving us.” We must share that charity with others. I have a pet peeve that fits here. When I am in a desperate situation, I do not like it when people say to me, “Well, please, let me know if there is anything I can do for you.” To me, that is not charity. That is putting me in the position of having to ask for help. Charity to me is saying, “I have looked at your situation, and I can see three ways that I can help you. Which one do you want me to do?” Or, just do it. God never asks what He can do for us. He does it. We must do the same. True charity is fruitful; if Christ lives in us, then our very existence, our very being must shout out the love we have for Him, and for His people. The world is desperate for that kind of love. We must be the ones to act in charity, always act in charity, and stop asking, “But what impact will this have on me?” I just don’t think that was the pressing question on Jesus’ mind as He entered into His passion.

Galatians 2:20: and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

1 John 4-12: No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Galatians 5:22: By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,

Part 2: Charity as life in faith

The entire Christian life is a response to God’s love. The first response is precisely faith as the acceptance, filled with wonder and gratitude, of the unprecedented divine initiative that precedes us and summons us. And the “yes” of faith marks the beginning of a radiant story of friendship with the Lord, which fills and gives full meaning to our whole life. But it is not enough for God that we simply accept his gratuitous love. Not only does he love us, but he wants to draw us to himself, to transform us in such a profound way as to bring us to say with Saint Paul: “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (cf.
Gal 2:20).

When we make room for the love of God, then we become like him, sharing in his own charity. If we open ourselves to his love, we allow him to live in us and to bring us to love with him, in him and like him; only then does our faith become truly “active through love” (
Gal 5:6); only then does he abide in us (cf. 1 Jn 4:12).
Faith is knowing the truth and adhering to it (cf.
1 Tim 2:4); charity is “walking” in the truth (cf. Eph 4:15). 

Through faith we enter into friendship with the Lord, through charity this friendship is lived and cultivated (cf. Jn 15:14ff). Faith causes us to embrace the commandment of our Lord and Master; charity gives us the happiness of putting it into practice (cf. Jn 13:13-17). In faith we are begotten as children of God (cf. Jn 1:12ff); charity causes us to persevere concretely in our divine sonship, bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22). Faith enables us to recognize the gifts that the good and generous God has entrusted to us; charity makes them fruitful (cf. Mt 25:14-30).
Thought for the day: 

LET us Dare to Encounter JESUS with Love and Conviction in our hearts.

LET us want TO LIVE ... a fulfilling, loving, peaceful, Christian life align with the Gospel values.

LET us want to CONTEMPLATE ... to meditate and discern

LET us want to SERVE ... CHRIST and mankind.


Matthew 5:16 (

Monday, February 11, 2013

Devotion for today: “Believing in charity calls forth charity”

Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, when the Church begins the season of Lent. We will spend a few days this week looking at Pope Benedict XVI’s Message for Lent, 2013. In part one of the message, the Holy Father asks us to consider the link between faith (believing in God) and love, which leads us to become devoted to others. His first teaching is very simple: being a Christian is our response to the calling God gave us, to the gift of love He shared with us first. He goes on to tell us that having faith requires us to use not only our hearts, but our intellects as well, freely choosing to acknowledge that God is the perfect path toward love, freely choosing to unite our will to His perfect will, and freely letting the love which results from our encounter with the loving God to flow out onto others. He teaches us that our love for our neighbor arises naturally from the total understanding that we are loved, forgiven and even served by the great God almighty. Why wouldn’t we want to do the same for others?  He reminds us that faith tells us that God really did give His Son for our sakes, and that is the supreme act of love which can illumine a world grown dim. He concludes part one by reminding us that “that the principal distinguishing mark of Christians is precisely ‘love grounded in and shaped by faith’”.

Message of Pope Benedict XVI for Lent 2013

“We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us” (1 Jn 4:16)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The celebration of Lent, in the context of the Year of Faith, offers us a valuable opportunity to meditate on the relationship between faith and charity: between believing in God – the God of Jesus Christ – and love, which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and which guides us on the path of devotion to God and others.

1. Faith as a response to the love of God

In my first Encyclical, I offered some thoughts on the close relationship between the theological virtues of faith and charity. Setting out from Saint John’s fundamental assertion: “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us” (1 Jn 4:16), I observed that “being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction … Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:10), love is now no longer a mere ‘command’; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us” (Deus Caritas Est, 1).

Faith is this personal adherence – which involves all our faculties – to the revelation of God’s gratuitous and “passionate” love for us, fully revealed in Jesus Christ. The encounter with God who is Love engages not only the heart but also the intellect: “Acknowledgement of the living God is one path towards love, and the ‘yes’ of our will to his will unites our intellect, will and sentiments in the all-embracing act of love. But this process is always open-ended; love is never ‘finished’ and complete” (ibid., 17). Hence, for all Christians, and especially for “charity workers”, there is a need for faith, for “that encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to others. As a result, love of neighbour will no longer be for them a commandment imposed, so to speak, from without, but a consequence deriving from their faith, a faith which becomes active through love” (ibid., 31a).

 Christians are people who have been conquered by Christ’s love and accordingly, under the influence of that love – “Caritas Christi urget nos” (2 Cor 5:14) – they are profoundly open to loving their neighbour in concrete ways (cf. ibid., 33). This attitude arises primarily from the consciousness of being loved, forgiven, and even served by the Lord, who bends down to wash the feet of the Apostles and offers himself on the Cross to draw humanity into God’s love.

“Faith tells us that God has given his Son for our sakes and gives us the victorious certainty that it is really true: God is love! … Faith, which sees the love of God revealed in the pierced heart of Jesus on the Cross, gives rise to love. Love is the light – and in the end, the only light – that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working” (ibid., 39). All this helps us to understand that the principal distinguishing mark of Christians is precisely “love grounded in and shaped by faith” (ibid., 7). (

Act of Faith
O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins, and that he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the holy Catholic Church teaches, because in revealing them you can neither deceive nor be deceived. Amen



Sunday, February 10, 2013

Devotion for today: Make a joyful noise unto the Lord!!! (Psalm 100)

How Great Is Our God

How great is our God
How great is His name
How great is our God
Forever the same
He rolled back the waters
Of the mighty Red Sea
And He said, "I'll never leave you,
Put your trust in Me"