Saturday, February 23, 2013

Devotion for today: “You are my helmsman, O God”

A poem by Saint Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament

The barque of my life sails along
Amid darkness and shadows of night,
And I see no shore;
I am sailing the high seas.

The slightest storm would drown me,
Engulfing my boat in the swirling depths,
If You Yourself did not watch over me, O God,
At each instant and moment of my life.

Amid the roaring waves
I sail peacefully, trustingly,
And I gaze like a child into the distance without fear,
Because You, O Jesus, are my Light.

Dread and terror is all about me,
But within my soul is peace more profound than the depths of the sea,
For he who is with You, O Lord, will not perish;
Of this Your love assures me, O God.

Though a host of dangers surround me,
None of them do I fear, for I fix my gaze on the starry sky,
And I sail along bravely and merrily,
As becomes a pure heart.

And if the ship of my life sails so peacefully,
This is due to but one thing above all:
You are my helmsman, O God.
This I confess with utmost humility.

O my God, I love You.

Sister Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament, Cracow, October 20, 1937

Taken from her Diary (1322)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Devotion for today: The Eucharistic Rite: leading people to their reception of Christ in the Eucharistic

Yesterday we began our look at the Eucharistic Rite by examining the introduction and concluding prayers surrounding the recitation of the Our Father. This part of the Mass not only includes the Our Father, but also the Rite of Peace, the Agnus Dei and other preparatory rites. All are designed to lead us to our reception of the Holy Eucharistic, the only food we will ever need to keep our spiritual fervor alive. Now we move into the Rite of Peace. The priest begins this with the words:

“Lord Jesus Christ, who said to the apostles, Peace I leave you, my peace I give you, look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and graciously grant her peace and unity in accordance with your will, Who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.”

Remember, we can have the peace of Christ in our lives only when our wills are united to His, and when we firmly believe that everything in our lives can be faced and handled if Christ is truly the Lord of our lives. If not, no peace of lasting concern is possible. It will always be something elusive we seek in secular ways, and we will always end up empty. As the Eucharist we will soon receive is the only “food” we will ever really need, so, too, the peace of Christ is the only peace that will last forever in our lives, even when the world turns us completely on our heads! Remember the words guiding the pontificate of John Paul II: Be not afraid!

Scripture for reflection: John 14:27:  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Genesis 15:1: After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram.  I am your shield,  your very great reward.”

Edward Sri tells us in his book “The Mass” (Ascension Press, 2011):  Many people seek the security and peace of this world, which is a peace based on success, on everything going well, on avoiding problems and suffering. But this kind of peace is quite fragile and fleeting. It is dependent on external circumstances that can easily change…. To base one’s life on these shaky foundations does not bring real peace at all. It breeds insecurity. Christ, however, offers us a deeper, longer lasting peace – one that the world does not give. When we allow Jesus to be the foundation of our lives and live according to his plan for us, he gives us an internal, spiritual peace that can withstand life’s many disappointments, trials and sufferings. This is the kind of peace of heart that also builds true unity within marriages, families, communities, parishes and nations. And this is what the priest prays for at this moment in the liturgy.

Psalm 91
You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shade of the Almighty, Say to the LORD, “My refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust.”  He will rescue you from the fowler’s snare, from the destroying plague, He will shelter you with his pinions, and under his wings you may take refuge; his faithfulness is a protecting shield. You shall not fear the terror of the night nor the arrow that flies by day,  Nor the pestilence that roams in darkness, nor the plague that ravages at noon. Though a thousand fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, near you it shall not come. You need simply watch; the punishment of the wicked you will see. Because you have the LORD for your refuge and have made the Most High your stronghold, No evil shall befall you, no affliction come near your tent. For he commands his angels with regard to you, to guard you wherever you go. With their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You can tread upon the asp and the viper, trample the lion and the dragon. Because he clings to me I will deliver him; because he knows my name I will set him on high. He will call upon me and I will answer; With length of days I will satisfy him,
and fill him with my saving power.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Devotion for today: The Embolism: a prayer for deliverance, peace, mercy and hope

I Chronicles 29:11
"Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all.

We have now arrived at the point in the Mass where we recite the Our Father, the prayer Jesus taught us to pray. Since we will be covering it in detail in another series of blogs, I will leave it for now. However, I think it is most worthy to spend a few minutes looking at the words with which the priest introduces the Our Father. Here is one commentary on the wording and changes recently made:    
  In the revised translation of The Roman Missal, there are no changes to the familiar words of the Lord’s Prayer as we pray them at Mass. But you will notice changes to the words with which the priest introduces the prayer: “At the Savior’s command / and formed by divine teaching, / we dare to say.” This introduction reminds us of why we pray: because through the Gospel, Jesus has invited us to pray to the Father as he does. The more we are “formed,” shaped by his teaching, the more we will make the words of this prayer our own, asking for the needs of the day, and praying for the coming of God’s kingdom. .
 It is good for us to ponder these words and ask ourselves at this point in the Mass if we really do believe we are truly formed by God’s teaching, or are we just saying words. The Our Father is so familiar to us that we may be tempted to recite it without remembering that it was by Jesus’ command that we offer this prayer to “Abba” literally translated, “Daddy”. Every word in it is put there by Jesus for a reason, for us to believe God can and will meet our needs and help us enter His kingdom.
The final part is called the Embolism, and here are a few thoughts on that:
…the final part, proclaimed by priest and people, rightly calls us to offer glory and praise to God, under whose authority, rule, and power we disciples live. Following the Lord’s Prayer is the Sign of Peace. God’s kingdom, rule, and power is one of peace, of true communion with and among human persons.
Only the Triune God can give us the peace, communion, and “daily bread” we need.'sPrayerandtheEmbolism.pdf
The embolism (the short prayer inserted between the Lord’s Prayer and the doxology) has also changed slightly, as the priest adds to the Lord’s Prayer a petition for peace. “Graciously grant peace in our days, / that, by the help of your mercy, / we may be always free from sin / and safe from all distress, / as we await the blessed hope / and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
A Prayer Belonging to the People:  While the invitation to pray the Lord’s Prayer is made by the priest-celebrant, the Prayer itself belongs to the people and is sung or recited aloud by all.  Because it is a prayer belonging to the people it should never be sung by the choir alone or by a soloist.   The Embolism:  At the end of the Our Father, the priest prays an additional prayer known as an “embolism” a term used in liturgy to identify a text which expands a portion of a prayer.  The embolism following the Lord’s Prayer is an expansion on the petition deliver us from evil, and, while it reiterates that prayer, it also introduces a note of peace and hope of the Lord’s second coming.  The people respond to the embolism with the words of an ancient doxology which dates back to the very early Church and is even found in manuscripts of the Gospel of Matthew:  For the kingdom,  the power and the glory are yours, 
now and forever. The translation of the embolism has been altered somewhat in this edition of the Roman Missal.  One of the more significant of these alterations is the replacing of the word “anxiety” (that we may be freed from all anxiety) with the word “distress” so that the embolism now reads:  we may be . . . safe from all distress.  The bishops agreed that because “anxiety” is a term defined today by its use in the contemporary language of psychology, it may have too limited or specific a meaning in today’s world.  “Distress” was the word selected as a more comprehensive description of human
Any of us who have felt distress will love to say this prayer. “Keep us safe from all distress” makes me picture a child’s confidence in his daddy that no distress will befall him while his daddy is around.  I also love the final words we, the people, utter: For the kingdom, the power and the glory are Yours, now and forever.” Setting aside all doubts and pride, we prepare for communion by admitting we are powerless without God’s grace.

Prayer: The Our Father

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Devotion for today: Amen, Amen, Amen!!!

Yesterday we looked at the Final Doxology, and today we will examine the simple but meaningful response the laity gives: AMEN, called the Great Amen. Read and learn what an incredible word “Amen” is, and then be sure to say it with great conviction every time you attend Mass!

Scriptures for reflection:
 1 Chron 16:36
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting!” Then all the people said, “Amen!” and praised the LORD.
Neh 8:6
Then Ezra blessed the LORD the great God. And all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, "Amen. Hallelujah!"
2 Cor 1:20
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God.

Explanation of the Mass - The Concluding Doxology
Only "through Christ, with Him and in Him" can we arrive to the Father.

The Christian people make the Eucharistic Prayer their own and complete the great Trinitarian Doxology by saying “Amen.” It is the most solemn Amen of the Mass. In the third century, the principal privileges of the Christian people were listed as: hearing the Eucharistic Prayer, pronouncing the Amen and receiving the Divine Bread. With this ‘Amen’, the faithful ratify the holy Sacrifice of the Mass. St. Augustine says, “To say ‘Amen’ means to endorse.”Even up through the Carolingian dynasty, the last words of the Canon were not spoken in silence so that the people could respond ‘Amen’ out loud.

The word ‘Amen’ is possibly the principal acclamation of the Christian liturgy. The term ‘Amen’ proceeds from the Old Covenant: "The Levites shall proclaim aloud to all the men of Israel... And all the people shall answer, 'Amen!'” (Dt 27:15-26; 1 Cron 16:36; Neh 8:6). According to different contexts, ‘Amen’ means: “This is it, this is the truth, so be it”.
The ancient ‘Amen’ continues to resound in the new covenant. It is the characteristic acclamation of the celestial liturgy. (Rev 3:14; 5:14, 7:11-12; 19:4) In Christian tradition, it conserves all of its ancient expressive vigor. (1 Cor 14:16; 2 Cor 1:20)

As in the whole liturgy, saying ‘Amen’ has a vital meaning. It shouldn’t be a mere response with the lips, but rather, it has the value of uniting us to the mystery that we celebrate. Saying ‘Amen’ means uniting ourselves with Christ, desiring to make our whole life a doxology, that is, a glorification of the Trinity, united to the Paschal mystery of the Redeemer.

An essential part of the Christian vocation is to be “the praise of His glory”. Once again we see how the liturgy should be lived. A summary of the glory of creation in Christ is found in the doxology. Through His obedience and love even unto the Cross, Christ has carried out the perfect glorification of the Father: “Father, glorify your Name” (Jn 17:5), and has achieved the perfect glorification of His humanity, united to the Incarnate Word: “Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.” (Jn 17:5) We must unite ourselves, with our lives, to this glorification of the Trinity. Uniting ourselves to Christ, offering our whole life with Him, joys and pains, success and failure, work and everything that we do, we will become praise of the glory of the Trinity “through Him, with Him and in Him.” (

Now feel it, sing it, live it, so be it!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Devotion for today: The Final Doxology

In our study of the Mass, we have now come to the end of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. It is indeed fitting to end the most glorious event we could ever witness, the Consecration, with a hymn of praise and total commitment of our lives, in every way, to God. The priest elevates the host and the chalice, and with great solemnity proclaims the final doxology, a short hymn of praise. Fr. Barron tells us it is the modern day equivalent to the sealing of the covenant performed in the Old Testament. The priest presents us with the Consecrated Elements, proclaiming that through this sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, all praise and honor and glory is due to God, and we willingly give it to Him, sealing the covenant between God and us with our lives joined to His Son’s.

Romans 11: 36
For from him and through him and for him all things are. To him be glory forever. Amen

Ephesians 4:3
 Make every effort to preserve the unity which has the Spirit as its origin and peace as its binding force.

Revelation 7:11-12
 All the angels who were standing around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures fell down before the throne to worship God. They said: “Amen! Praise the glory, wisdom and thanksgiving and honor, power and might, to our God forever and ever. Amen!”

Fr. Barron tells us: At the close of the Eucharistic prayer, Jesus, who is really present under the forms of bread and wine, is offered as a living sacrifice to the Father. Lifting up the elements, the priest prays,
“Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, for ever and ever.” At this moment the Catholic priest is in the true holy of holies, and what he does is analogous to what the high priest did in the Temple on the Day of Atonement. In ancient times the Jewish priest would enter the holy of holies, which was symbolic of the heavenly realm, and there he would sacrifice an animal to Yahweh on behalf of all the people. Then he would sprinkle some of the blood around the interior of the sanctuary, and the rest he would bring out in a bowl and sprinkle on the people, sealing thereby a kind of blood bond between God and the nation. The Catholic priest, at the climax of the Mass, offers to the Father not the blood of bulls and goats but the Blood of Christ beyond all price. Since the Father has no need of anything, that sacrifice redounds completely to our benefit. (Catholicism, Image Books, 2011)

And Edward Sri reminds us, “We praise the almighty Father best by offering our lives through, with and in the Son who surrendered Himself completely on Calvary and in the unity of his Spirit who abides in us.” (The Mass, Ascension Press, 2011)

Prayer: The Glory Be
Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
is now,
and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Devotion for today: No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States

Since this is Presidents’ Day, I thought it might serve us well to look 

at an excerpt from the first president’s inaugural speech, 

acknowledging God’s divine hand in the work of the new nation.

Excerpt from President George Washington's First Inaugural 

Speech (1789)

…Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge.
 In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow- citizens at large less than either.
No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. 
Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted cannot be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage.
 These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free government can more auspiciously commence….

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Devotion for today: Behold, I set before you the blessing and the curse

Let us reflect on an Old Testament passage as true today as it was then.

Scripture for reflection: Deuteronomy 30:15-20

15 See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity.
16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess.
 17 But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them,
18 I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live,
 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.