Saturday, March 9, 2013

Devotion for today: Dear Lord, I surrender myself to You

Here is a prayer we can all say to bring ourselves into total union with Jesus. It is taken from the book Full of Grace by Johnnette S. Benkovic, Servant Press, 2004. As you say this prayer, close your eyes and place yourself in front of Jesus.

Dear Jesus, in my journey through life,

 I have pridefully followed paths that have led me away from You.

I repent of my sins and I long to come home to You.

Inspired by Your Holy Spirit, I confess that You are the only begotten Son of God.

I ask You to be the Lord of my life.

Forgive me my sins as I surrender myself to Your healing love.

You are the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Strengthen me as I seek to place my feet in Your footsteps.

Thank you for your grace which has brought me home to You 

today. Amen.

Devotion for today: united to Christ, united to my neighbor

Pope Benedict XVI captures the essence of the word “communion” in this selection from his work, “On the Way to Jesus Christ.” Not only are we united to Jesus when we receive Holy Communion, we are united to each other:

We all “eat” the same man, not only the same thing; in this we all are wrested from our self-enclosed individuality and drawn into a greater one. We all are assimilated into Christ, and so through communion with Christ we are also identified with one another, identical and one in him, members of one another. To be in communion with Christ is by its very nature to be in communion with one another as well. No more are we alongside one another, each for himself, rather, everyone else who goes to communion is for me, so to speak, “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” (cf. Gen 2:23).

A true spirituality of communion, therefore, together with its Christological depth, necessarily has a social character also …. For this reason, in my prayers at communion I must, on the one hand, look totally toward Christ, allowing myself to be transformed by hi and, as needed, to be consumed in the fire of his love. But precisely for this reason I must always realize also that he joins me in this way with every other communicant – with the one next to me, whom I may not like very much; but also with those who are far away, whether in Asia, Africa, America or some other place. By becoming one with them, I must learn to open myself toward them and to become involved in their situations. This is the test of the authenticity of my love for Christ.

Whenever I am united with Christ, I am also united with my neighbor, and this unity does not end at the communion rail; rather, it is just beginning there. It comes alive, becomes flesh and blood, in everyday experience of being with others and standing by others. Thus the individual element in my going to communion is inseparably interwoven with my membership in the Church and my dependence upon her life.

An Act of Love: O my God, I love you above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because you are all-good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you. I forgive all who have injured me, and I ask pardon of all whom I have injured.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Devotion for today: The Eucharistic Bread, "a medicine of immortality, an antidote to death"

Here are some excerpts from  John Paul II’s  encyclical letter
ECCLESIA DE EUCHARISTIA (Life from the Eucharist)
presented on Holy Thursday, April 17, 2003, to help us realize the power and beauty of the gift of the Eucharist.

Inward union with Christ
The saving efficacy of the sacrifice is fully realized when the Lord's body and blood are received in Communion.

The Eucharistic Sacrifice is intrinsically directed to the inward union of the faithful with Christ through Communion; we receive the very One who offered Himself for us, we receive His body which He gave up for us on the Cross and His blood which He “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Mt 26:28). We are reminded of His words: “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me will live because of Me” (Jn 6:57).

 Jesus Himself reassures us that this union, which He compares to that of the life of the Trinity, is truly realized. The Eucharist is a true banquet, in which Christ offers Himself as our nourishment. When for the first time Jesus spoke of this food, His listeners were astonished and bewildered, which forced the Master to emphasize the objective truth of His words: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life within you” (Jn 6:53). This is no metaphorical food: “My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed” (Jn 6:55).

Through our Communion in His body and blood, Christ also grants us His Spirit. Saint Ephrem writes: “He called the bread His living body, and He filled it with Himself and His Spirit... He who eats it with faith, eats Fire and Spirit... Take and eat this, all of you, and eat with it the Holy Spirit. For it is truly My body and whoever eats it will have eternal life.”
Foretaste of Heaven
The acclamation of the assembly following the consecration appropriately ends by expressing the eschatological thrust which marks the celebration of the Eucharist (cf. 1 Cor 11:26): “until You come in glory.” The Eucharist is a straining towards the goal, a foretaste of the fullness of joy promised by Christ (cf. Jn 15:11); it is in some way the anticipation of heaven, the “pledge of future glory.” In the Eucharist, everything speaks of confident waiting “in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Those who feed on Christ in the Eucharist need not wait until the hereafter to receive eternal life: they already possess it on earth, as the first-fruits of a future fullness which will embrace man in his totality. For in the Eucharist we also receive the pledge of our bodily resurrection at the end of the world: “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (Jn 6:54).

This pledge of the future resurrection comes from the fact that the flesh of the Son of Man, given as food, is His body in its glorious state after the resurrection. With the Eucharist we digest, as it were, the “secret” of the resurrection. For this reason Saint Ignatius of Antioch rightly defined the Eucharistic Bread as “a medicine of immortality, an antidote to death.”

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Devotion for today: The Holy Eucharist: font of energy to live in Freedom

John 6:51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
At this point in the Mass the faithful are called to come forward and receive the body of Christ. Here we have a moment in our lives unsurpassed by any other. We received Christ into our bodies. We should never let the gloriousness of this moment pass us by. Our approach to the altar should be with deep reverence and awe. We should be clean of heart and mind, and concentrating on one thing only, the reception of the host. This reception will give us the power we need to become Christ to others, for once Christ enters us, we should radiate Him!
The Holy Eucharist is the font of energy to live in freedom, to love as Christ loves, purely and selflessly.
Pope Benedict XVI refers us to his encyclical letter Deus Caritas Est, in which he reminded us that participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice necessarily issues in a daily life marked by “the concrete practice of love”.
…It is our intimacy with the Lord in the Holy Eucharist which, at one and the same time, makes us conscious of our own sinfulness and inflames our desire to live always in Christ and, therefore, to love as He loves.
To help us understand the moral transformation which heartfelt participation in the Holy Eucharist brings about, Pope Benedict XVI refers us to the story of Zacchaeus (Lk 19:1-10). When Zacchaeus met our Lord he was at once moved to confess his sinfulness, to make superabundant restitution for what he had stolen, and to provide from his substance for the poor. Our Holy Father concludes: “The moral urgency born of welcoming Jesus into our lives is the fruit of gratitude for having experienced the Lord’s unmerited closeness.”
Pope Benedict XVI concludes his presentation on the moral transformation worked by the Holy Eucharist by reflecting on the public nature of our Eucharistic worship, that is, its “consequences for our relationships with others”. Receiving Holy Communion is never a merely private act. Because of our public communion with Christ in the Holy Eucharist, others rightly expect Christ-like living from us.
 If we receive Holy Communion and then think, speak and act in a way which betrays Christ, then we give scandal to others. We lead them to think that it is all right to receive Christ into our souls and, at the same time, to ignore or contradict His teaching by the way we live. We deceive them regarding the holiness of the Most Blessed Sacrament and its involvement in every aspect of our being and life.
Participation in the Holy Eucharist demands that all of us give witness to the truth and love which Christ teaches us. (Cardinal Raymond Burke,
Sweet Sacrament, We Thee Adore
Jesus, my Lord, my God, my all,
how can I love thee as I ought?
And how revere this wondrous gift
so far surpassing hope and thought?

Sweet Sacrament, we thee adore:
Oh, make us love the more and more.

Had I but Mary’s sinless heart
to love thee with, my dearest King.
Oh, with what bursts of fervent praise
thy goodness, Jesus, would I sing.

Sweet Sacrament, we thee adore:
Oh, make us love the more and more.

Ah, see! Within a creature’s hand
the vast Creator deigns to be,
reposing, infant-like, as though
on Joseph’s arm, on Mary’s knee.

Sweet Sacrament, we thee adore:
Oh, make us love the more and more.

Thy body, soul, and Godhead, all;
O mystery of love divine!
I cannot compass all I have,
for all thou hast and art are mine;

Sweet Sacrament, we thee adore:
Oh, make us love the more and more.

Come now ye angels to our aid,
sound, sound God’s praises higher still;
‘tis God, whose power created us,
and in whose praise creation thrills.

Sweet Sacrament, we thee adore:
Oh, make us love the more and more.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Devotion for today: But only say the word…

Yesterday we took a look at the very powerful statement of faith we make to God before we approach the altar for Holy Communion. We proclaim our belief that with one word, God can take our unworthy souls and forgive our transgressions. We only need to ask. The centurion was not too proud to ask Jesus for healing for his servant, and we cannot be too proud to do the same for our souls. Once we ask for this healing, then God has great things in store for us. Take a look at what he revealed to St. Faustina, the “Divine Mercy Saint”, and what Blessed John Paul II, the Divine Mercy Pope, told us.

Matthew 8:5-8: When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.”Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.”The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour.

Matthew 7:7-8: Ask and it will be given you… for everyone who asks receives”

All selections are taken from the Diary of St. Faustina

“Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight Me. To such souls I grant even more graces than they ask. I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion. (337)
 No soul that has called upon My mercy has been disappointed. (339)
Encourage the souls with whom you come in contact to trust in My infinite mercy. Oh, how I love those souls who have complete confidence in Me – I will do everything for them. (342)
I desire that the whole world know My infinite mercy. I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My mercy. (344)
I am Love and Mercy itself. When a soul approaches me with trust, I fill it with such an abundance of graces that it cannot contain within itself, but radiates them to other souls. (345)
 I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion (1146).
Beg for mercy for the whole world (570).
No soul that has called upon My mercy has ever been disappointed (1541).

August 18, 2002: John Paul II's Homily During Beatification of 4 Apostles of Mercy
Brothers and Sisters, today I repeat this invitation: open yourselves to God's greatest gift, to his love that, through the Cross of Christ, has revealed itself to the world as merciful love. Today, living in different times, at the dawn of the new century and millennium, continue to be "ready to bear witness to the cause of man." Today, with all my strength, I beseech the sons and daughters of the Church, and all people of good will: never, ever separate "the cause of man" from the love of God. Help modern men and women to experience God’s merciful love! This love, in its splendor and warmth, will save humanity!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Devotion for today: Do we believe we are truly unworthy?

Today we continue our Year of Faith look at the Mass. We concluded last week’s reflections by examining the priest’s proclamation: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the Supper of the Lamb.” Edward Sri reminds us that at this point we realize the Mass is really a wedding feast, and our hearts should be longing for the union with our bridegroom which is soon to come in Holy Communion. We respond: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” I wonder how many of us today honestly believe we are truly unworthy. We spend much mental space justifying our sins. We tell ourselves God doesn’t really view anyone as a sinner, just as a wayward son and then benevolently smiles at our transgressions and hopes we will get over whatever it is we hold sacred in this world. Sadly, our society propagates this lie. Society says that sexual sins of cohabitation, affairs, and pornography are not really offensive to God, so we go ahead and take communion, and in doing so, view ourselves as worthy. Society tells us it is ok to rid ourselves of unwanted pregnancies, aging parents, and anything else that stands in the way of our comfort and ease in life. Not so, I am afraid. We must stop and recognize at this point in the Mass that we are unworthy to receive Jesus, yet that will never stop Him from healing us of our sins. If we have committed a venial sin, we can simply tell God how sorry we are at this point and acknowledge that although unworthy, we believe in His very benevolent mercy. If we are living in mortal sin, we must not receive communion. It is not just a freebie given out to anyone in any stage of grace. Mortal sin must be confessed, repented, and stopped. It is a road block to our admittance into heaven, and we must save our souls by getting rid of it. If we believe we are unworthy, then we are truly living humble lives, and we are headed in the right direction. If not, we are living prideful lives and are fooling ourselves that we are ready for the judgment which awaits us all. Ask, and receive God’s healing word. Then go and sin no more.

Edward Sri tells us: But how can we mere human beings – and sinful ones at that! – dare to approach the all-holy, almighty God in this way? In response to  the invitation to the marriage supper of the Eucharist, we say a prayer that on one hand, acknowledges our complete unworthiness to receive our Lord, and at the same time, expresses confidence that Jesus calls us and can heal us….These words reflect the humility and trust of the Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant who is at his house, paralyzed and in distress. As a Gentile outside of God’s covenant, and as a Roman officer in charge of one hundred soldiers who were oppressing God’s people, this centurion humbly acknowledges that he is not worthy to have Jesus come to his home. Yet he expresses a great faith that surpasses many others in the gospels and amazes even Jesus: He believes Jesus can heal from afar, simply by speaking his word…(Mt 8:8). Jesus praises this man for his faith. Like the centurion, we recognize our unworthiness to have Jesus come under the “roof” of our souls in Holy Communion. Yet, just as the centurion believed Jesus was able to heal his servant so do we trust that Jesus can heal us as he becomes the most intimate guest of our souls in the Eucharist. (The Mass, Ascension Press, 2011)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Devotion for today: Against false teachers

I am going to declare Mondays as “meditation Mondays” and after careful prayer, will select a Bible passage which I will present by itself, no commentary, etc. for you to keep in mind and ponder throughout the day. Here is the one I felt led to share today.

2 Timothy 3: 1-9

Do not forget this: there will be terrible times in the last days. Men will be lovers of self and of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, profane, inhuman, implacable, slanderous, licentious, brutal, hating the good. They will be treacherous, reckless, pompous, lovers of pleasure rather than of God as they make a pretense of religion but negate its power. Stay clear of them. It is such as these who worm their way into homes and make captives of silly women burdened with sins and driven by desires of many kinds, always learning but never able to reach a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres (the magicians of Egypt) opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth; with perverted minds they falsify the faith. But they will not get very far, as with those two men, the stupidity of these will be plain for all to see. You, for your part, must remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know who your teachers were. Likewise, from your infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, the source of the wisdom which through faith in Jesus Christ leads to salvation. All Scripture is inspired of God and is useful for teaching – for reproof, correction, and training in holiness so that the man of God may be fully competent and equipped for every good work.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Devotion for today: Thou art Peter

I found this prayer on the back of a holy card in a Catholic Church yesterday and found it to be perfect for today.

Thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18

Heavenly Father: holding to Christ’s promise that His Church is built on the invincible Rock of Truth, we, Your children, beseech You:

Give us a Shepherd after your own heart – endowed with supernatural wisdom and courage, with unshakeable faith and deep humility, capable of sacrificial service. May he be zealous to defend Holy Mother Church, her sacred teaching, the integrity of her sacraments and her persecuted members throughout the world.

We invoke the Holy Spirit up the coming conclave – to reveal with clarity and convincing force the man You have chosen to succeed Peter in these trying times.

And may the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians and Mother of the Church, inspire and uphold all the Cardinal Electors, thwart any interference of the evil one and protect the next Bishop of Rome from every effort to harm or disarm him. Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death, Amen.