Saturday, March 16, 2013

Devotion for today: Talk about a humble Pope!!!

Pope Francis' 1st Words
VATICAN CITY, March 13, 2013 ( - Here is a translation of the brief greeting Pope Francis gave from the central balcony of St. Peter's Square following his election as the Successor of St. Peter.
* * *
Brothers and sisters, good evening!
You know that the duty of the Conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems as though my brother cardinals went almost to the end of the world to get him. But here we are. I thank you for your welcome. The diocesan community of Rome has a bishop. Thank you! 
Before all else, I would like to say a prayer for our Bishop Emeritus Benedict XVI. Let us all pray together for him, that the Lord may bless him and that Our Lady may watch over him …
[Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory be]
And now let us begin this journey, [together] as bishop and people. This journey of the Church of Rome, which is to preside over all the Churches in charity. It is a journey of fraternity, of love, of trust between us. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the world, so that a great brotherhood may be created. I hope that this journey of the Church, which we begin today and in which my Cardinal Vicar who is present here will assist me, will be fruitful for the Evangelization of this beautiful city. 
And now I would like to give you my blessing. But before I do, I would like to ask you a favor: before the bishop blesses the people, I ask you to pray to the Lord that He bless me…. the prayer of the people for a blessing upon their bishop. Let us take a moment of silence for you to offer your prayer for me.”
[Silence … the Holy Father bows]
[Cardinal N. says … “The Holy Father, Francesco …”]
“Now I will give you my blessing and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will.”
[Pope’s blessing]
Brothers and Sisters,
I leave you now. Thank you for your welcome. Pray for me. And we’ll see one another again soon. Tomorrow I want to go and pray to Our Lady, asking her to watch over Rome. Good night and have a good rest.
Please pray for Pope Francis I.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Devotion for today: Thanks be to God

Here we are at the last installment of our study of the Mass, which we began a long time ago! I hope you have found your participation in the Mass to now be more active and informed. I know I have! Thank you for going on this journey with me. Today we examine the last statement we make before leaving the Church. It is rich in Biblical tradition and steeped in meaning. We thank God for a beautiful opportunity to share in the Paschal Sacrifice; we thank God to be more prepared to go into the world as His disciples; we thank God He loves us and has given us such a gift. When we say, “Thanks be to God,” let’s say it with all our hearts!

2 Corinthians 9:15: Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

2 Corinthians 2:14: But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ's triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.

Fr. Dominic Grassi and Joe Paprocki tell us: … when we are sent forth … our only response must be a resounding “Thanks be to God.” When we say these words, we are doing more than thanking God for what we have experienced in the past hour or so. Likewise, we are not thanking God that Mass is over, as relieved parents of a two-year-old who just made it through the liturgy with Cheerios, picture books, and a minimum of trips to the bathroom might be inclined to do. When we say, “Thanks be to God,” we are thanking God for the faith that brought us to the Mass and for all those with whom we have shared that faith: from the saints to our deceased loved ones, all of whom we have remembered in the Mass. For two thousand years, people of faith have gathered to celebrate the Eucharist. We continue to do so today, united with them all.
 Most important, when we say, “Thanks be to God,” we are showing gratitude for the trust that God places in us to be Christ's loving presence in the world. We call ourselves Christians. Christ lives and works in and through us, the people of God. We are happy to be called to the Lord's Supper…. When we say, “Thanks be to God,” we are thanking God profoundly and joyfully that the Mass is over and that we can leave church with renewed power to make God's love and peace real in our individual circles of influence. It's as if we are runners at the starting line after months of training, waiting for the race to finally begin. Everything has led up to this moment. Now we will give it our best effort. We'll see what we can do, and we'll be ready for whatever comes our way. God has freed us from serving other “masters” that we have allowed into our lives. We are free to do what we were truly created to do: love and serve the Lord, our God. (Living the Mass: How One Hour a Week Can Change Your Life, Loyola Press)

The Prayer: Thank You God

For all You have given,
Thank You God.
For all You have withheld,
Thank You God.
For all You have withdrawn,
Thank You God.
For all You have permitted,
Thank You God.
For all You have prevented,
Thank You God.
For all You have forgiven me,
Thank You God.
For all You have prepared for me,
Thank You God.
For the death You have chosen for me,
Thank you God.
For the place you are keeping for me in heaven,
Thank You God.
For having created me to love You for eternity,
Thank You God.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Devotion for today: God’s ways are not our ways

I have been thinking a lot lately about His Holiness Benedict XVI’s retirement. Many, many speculations have been offered as to why he did it, including health, feebleness of body and mind, and fatigue. I do honestly believe his primary reason is one he offered so freely: after much prayer, he felt led by God to retire to a life of complete solitude and prayer for the Church and the world. In a sense, we can see why the media and the secular world would not understand this. What good is that going to do? Wouldn’t he be more effective speaking, writing, traveling and governing? What man handed such a powerful position would ever leave it? Well, how about a man who is in such a deep relationship with God that he can actually discern the Father’s voice when he hears it? And how about a man so in tune with the Father’s will that he will give up everything he has: power, position, prestige, and influence to do what he feels God is asking him to do? What about a man who knew he would be mocked, ridiculed, scorned and misunderstood for what he would do, and went ahead and did it anyway? Now, why would God ask this of him? This is very much akin to placing him on the cross with Christ, then burying him in the tomb for the rest of his life, to suffer and pray for the Church and the world. Why? Well, I think, and this is my own opinion, that God knows the Church and the world are in such a state that we actually need a "Pope Emeritus in Prayer" and a Pope in action, one who spends his life in prayer and sacrifice for the flock, and one who actively leads it. Don’t we always say that there are two classes of warriors in God’s army: those who are on the front lines fighting the fight in active ministry and daily living, and those who are basically cloistered in a life of prayer and sacrifice? The Church is different from the secular world in that we acknowledge the power of constant, faithful prayer as much as we acknowledge the need for brilliant minds and active, willing spirits. This is like having a Secretary of Prayer and Sacrifice in every world government, which would house people who did nothing but pray that their country’s leaders heard the word of God and acted on it when governing their nation! Imagine that! Believing that God could have a hand in governing, believing that prayer could keep out the evil one from distorting leader’s minds into believing they are their own gods and their beliefs supersede those of God! I think we must believe that God’s ways are not our ways, and that if He asked His Holiness Benedict to step aside and become a much needed prayer warrior in a world that is crying for help, then He knows we need it. I am just thankful to God that His Holiness Benedict was so humble and compliant to the will of God, that he was willing to be a scandal to the world to follow God instead. May we always immerse ourselves so deeply in prayer that we, too, can hear the word of the Father and His call for our lives, and if it is not what we have chosen as the path for life, that we be brave and bold enough to give up our plans for His. It is hard; it hurts; it involves great faith and sacrifice, but when God meets us with open arms in heaven  to thank us personally for helping Him bring His sons and daughters into a life of grace and holiness, I think we may be very happy with our choice!!! 

Habemus Papam: God bless Pope Francis I!

Isaiah 55:8: "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD.

Isaiah 53:3,4, 7, 10-12:  He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Devotion for today: What did Jesus see in Peter?

I have been having a bit of fun this week wondering what today’s media would have to say about Jesus’ choice for the first head of His Church. Let’s take a look at some Bible passages that may make this choice clear, and  make us realize that God sees more in us and others than we do!

Luke 5:1-11: One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
 I find it interesting that although other men, who also became apostles,were present, this passage is definitely about Jesus’ call to Simon Peter. First he gets into Simon’s boat. Fr. Robert Barron tells us in his series “Catholicism” that we should all know this: once you let Jesus in your boat, you will never be the same again! We know that is true about Peter! Then Jesus tells him to do something a bit ridiculous, to continue fishing where they have not caught any fish. Peter does it, recognizes the miracle, and immediately perceives that he is in the presence of holiness. He confesses his sinfulness and drops everything to follow Jesus. Again, note that Jesus tells only him, “From now on you will fish for men.” Here we see the Holy Spirit at work, something the media would not understand. It becomes clear from the onset of the Gospels that Peter is definitely singled out for special consideration by Christ. Do we realize that God has this kind of plan for each of us? Do we even let Jesus into our boats, much less do the ridiculous, sense holiness, see our sinfulness and drop everything to follow Him? I think we are beginning to find out what it takes to be a true follower of Christ, and to be a Pope! Let’s look at another “Peter Passage”.

Matthew 14:28-31:  “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” I like this passage so much. Here we find Peter jumping into the water once he is sure it is Jesus. What he was thinking, we will never know. What we do know is that he had faith enough to leap, faith enough to admit he was afraid and faith enough to cry to Jesus for help. Jesus does save him, mildly chiding him . I think Jesus must have smiled many times at Peter. He was so willing, so eager, so impetuous when it came to his feelings for Jesus, and so remarkably human in his failings to hold onto his first leap to Christ! So the future Pope is allowed to reach out in faith and admit he is sinking = brave, humble and very, very human!

Luke 22:31-34
 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” If you ever had any doubt that Jesus is fully aware of your shortcomings, and chooses you anyway, read this passage every night before you go to bed. Substitute your name for Peter’s when Jesus says, “But I have prayed for you…” and never forget that this person whom Jesus knew would betray Him three times was still His choice for Pope. Why should we ever be surprised at the workings of God, especially in choosing the head of His Church? The important part of this passage is that since Peter was chosen by Jesus, Jesus never abandoned him; He prayed for him, just as He will always hold His new Pope (and us) close to His heart.
John 21:15-17: When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep." Why three times? Didn’t Jesus hear Peter the first time? If this is His choice for Pope, why does He continue to ask him this question? Because, Jesus gives Peter three chances to proclaim his love, thus denouncing his three-time denial. Jesus always gives us a second chance, and when He does, He does not reduce the role in life He has chosen for us. He simply allows us to willingly choose Him back. Remember, God always chooses us first. We must do as Peter did and announce our love, then love and serve God’s people. Remember one of the titles of the Pope is this: “Servant of the servants of God.” Servant: that is what the media will never get.
Now, onto serious prayer for the selection of our next Pope: Pray and pray hard. Jesus prayed for His first Pope, and heaven knows he needed it, so we too must pray for our next Pope. And remember, we are being called every single day to do a job Jesus has chosen for us. Pray for me, and I will pray for you to know what that job is. At least we are not going to bed tonight wondering if we will awaken tomorrow to find out we are the next Pope!!!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Devotion for today: Ite Missa Est

In our study of the Mass, we have come to the Concluding Rites. The faithful have received Holy Communion, the priest or deacon has cleaned and purified the sacred vessels, and quiet time has been provided for silent prayer. Now the priest bestows his final blessing and says, “Go forth, the Mass is ended.” Fr. Robert Barron tells us, “It has been said that after the words of consecration these are the most sacred words of the entire Mass. Now that the people have gathered as one family, heard the word of God, professed their faith, prayed for one another, offered sacrifice to the Father, and received the Body and Blood of Jesus, the faithful are, at least in principle, more properly formed and hence ready to go out to effect the transformation of the world…. The priest dismisses the people, scattering them like seed into the fallen world.” (Catholicism, Image Books, 2011). As you leave your church, picture these words above the doors, “You are now entering mission territory.” Who else is there to bring the mercy, peace, forgiveness and new life you have just received into the world, but you? Go forth, and bring the love of God to everyone you meet, or at least to everyone waiting to get out of the parking lot!!!!

Matthew 28:19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit….

Where does the word, “Mass,” come from? The final words of the Holy Sacrifice in Latin are, “Ite, missa est,” most literally, “Go, it is sent.” From the middle word, “missa,” “sent,”comes the word for Mass. At first, people would speak about staying until the ‘missa,’ and it wasn’t long before people were simply saying that they were going to “missa.” So, in the West “Mass” became a common term for the Holy Sacrifice, the Divine Liturgy, the Eucharist.
“Go forth, the Mass is ended,” the deacon or priest will say. Our response will be the same: “Thanks be to God.” Why “Go forth”? Mass is not static… it cannot be confined to a sixty minute period on Sunday. When we are at Mass, the sacrifice of Calvary is being re-presented before our heavenly Father. If our lives are not drawn more and more deeply into this mystery each and every time that we go, then we are missing the point. “Go forth,” faithful, and live lives that resonate with what just happened. Conquer sin, grow in virtue, and seek to love God above all things. In short, the life of the Catholic is the Mass. It is the source and summit of our faith, and it is the source and summit of each of our lives. Everything we do in the week leads up to that
moment when we can lay it all on the altar as an oblation to our heavenly Father. By the merits of Christ, we are filled with every grace and blessing so that we can go into the world and live
the apostolate to which we are called by our baptism. No action ought to be done without being offered for the glory of God! The Mass reaches everything. Go forth, and make the Mass the
summit of your life!

Prayer: St. Michael the archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into hell satan and all his evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Devotion for today: Meditation for a Monday – You are in the Spirit

Here is our Monday Meditation on a Scripture passage from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. It reminds us that we are filled with the Holy Spirit and therefore are children of God.

Romans 8:9-14:  But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. 

Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 
But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 

 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.