Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bless the Lord, O My Soul

Psalm 103:

Bless the LORD, my soul;
all my being, bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, my soul;
and do not forget all his gifts,
Who pardons all your sins,
and heals all your ills,
Who redeems your life from the pit,
and crowns you with mercy and compassion,
Who fills your days with good things,
so your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The LORD does righteous deeds,
brings justice to all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
to the Israelites his deeds.
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger, abounding in mercy.
He will not always accuse,
and nurses no lasting anger;
He has not dealt with us as our sins merit,
nor requited us as our wrongs deserve.
For as the heavens tower over the earth,
so his mercy towers over those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our sins from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.
For he knows how we are formed,
remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like the grass;
he blossoms like a flower in the field.
A wind sweeps over it and it is gone;
its place knows it no more.
But the LORD’s mercy is from age to age,
toward those who fear him.
His salvation is for the children’s children
of those who keep his covenant,
and remember to carry out his precepts.
The LORD has set his throne in heaven;
his dominion extends over all.
Bless the LORD, all you his angels,
mighty in strength, acting at his behest,
obedient to his command.
Bless the LORD, all you his hosts,
his ministers who carry out his will.
Bless the LORD, all his creatures,
everywhere in his domain.
Bless the LORD, my soul!

By The Blood That Flowed From Thee

By the Blood that flowed from Thee
In Thy bitter agony
By the scourge so meekly borne
By Thy purple robe of scorn

Jesus Savior hear our cry
Thou wert suffering
Once as we Hear the loving litany
We Thy children sing to Thee

By the Thorns that crown Thy Head
By Thy Scepter of a reed
By Thy footstep faint and slow
Weighed beneath Thy Cross of woe

By the nails and pointed spear
By Thy people's cruel jeer
By Thy dying prayer which rose
Begging mercy for Thy foes.

Remember to pray day 2 of your Divine Mercy Novena

Friday, March 29, 2013

Devotion for today: They shall look on him whom they have pierced

In the book, “God Is Near Us: The Eucharist, The Heart of Life” by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, we receive the following meditation. Let us ponder these words today as we place ourselves at the foot of His cross, and grieve our sins, yet claim the victory over them won by Christ:

St. John’s account of the Lord’s death closes with the words: “They shall look on him whom they have pierced” (John 19:37 = Zech 12:10). He begins his Revelation with these words, which in that place constitute the opening of the Day of Judgment, that day on which the one who was pierced will rise over the world as its judgment and its life. But he commands us to look upon him now, so that the judgment may be turned to salvation.

 “They shall look on him whom they have pierced.” This might be a description of the inner direction of our Christian life, our learning ever more truly to look upon him, to keep the eyes of our heart turned upon him, to see him, and thereby to grow more humble, to recognize our sins, to recognize how we have struck him, how we have wounded our brethren and thereby wounded him; to look upon him and at the same time, to take hope, because he whom we have wounded is he who loves us; to look upon him and to receive the way of life.

 Lord, grant to us to look upon you and, in so doing, to find true life!

O Sacred Head, Surrounded
O sacred head, surrounded
by crown of piercing thorn!
O bleeding head, so wounded,
reviled and put to scorn!
Our sins have marred the glory
of thy most holy face,
yet angel hosts adore thee
and tremble as they gaze

I see thy strength and vigor
all fading in the strife,
and death with cruel rigor,
bereaving thee of life;
O agony and dying!
O love to sinners free!
Jesus, all grace supplying,
O turn thy face on me.

In this thy bitter passion,
Good Shepherd, think of me
with thy most sweet compassion,
unworthy though I be:
beneath thy cross abiding
for ever would I rest,
in thy dear love confiding,
and with thy presence blest.

Words: Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877), 1861;
after Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153);
and Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676)

Remember to start your Divine Mercy Novena today:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Devotion for today: The Eucharist is for the reconciled

There has been a debate in the Catholic Church for some time between those who feel that the Eucharist should be considered a meal for all, since Jesus often dined with sinners and partook of the” meal of fellowship”, and those who believe the Eucharist is reserved for those who have atoned for their sins and come to the banquet as chosen people, like the apostles chosen to partake in the Last Supper. Let us see what Pope Benedict XVI tells us about this issue in his book, “God Is Near Us, The Eucharist, The Heart of Life” by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Ignatius Press, 2001.

Nowadays New Testament scholars essentially give one of two answers. Some of them say that the Eucharist of the early Church built upon meals that Jesus shared with his disciples day after day. Others say that the Eucharist is the continuation of the meals with sinners that Jesus had held.

 This second idea has become for many people a fascinating notion with far-reaching consequences. For it would mean that the Eucharist is the sinners’ banquet, where Jesus sits at the table; the Eucharist is the public gesture by which he invites everyone without exception. The logic of this is expressed in a far-reaching criticism of the Church’s Eucharist, since it implies that the Eucharist cannot be conditional on anything, not dependent on denomination or even on baptism. It is necessarily an open table to which all may come to encounter the universal God, without any limit or denominational pre-conditions.

But then, again – however tempting the idea may be – it contradicts what we find in the Bible. Jesus’ Last Supper was not one of those meals he held with “publicans and sinners”. He made it subject to the basic form of the Passover, which implies that this meal was held in a family setting.

This he kept it with his new family, with the Twelve; with those whose feet he washed, whom he had prepared, by his Word and by this cleansing of absolution (Jn 13:10), to receive a blood relationship with him, to become one body with him. The Eucharist is not itself the sacrament of reconciliation, but in fact it presupposes that sacrament. It is the sacrament of the reconciled, to which the Lord invites all those who have become one with him; who certainly still remain weak sinners, but yet have given their hand to him and have become part of his family.

 That is why, from the beginning, the Eucharist has been preceded by a discernment. We … heard this, in very dramatic form from Paul: Whoever eats unworthily eats and drinks judgment on himself, because he does not distinguish the Body of the Lord (1 Cor 11:27). The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, one of the oldest writings outside the New Testament, from the beginning of the second century, takes up this apostolic tradition and has the priest, just before distributing the Sacrament, saying: “Whoever is holy, let him approach – whoever is not, let him do penance!”

 The Eucharist is – let us repeat it – the sacrament of those who have let themselves be reconciled by God, who have thus become members of his family and put themselves into his hands. That is why there are conditions for participating in it; it presupposes that we have voluntarily entered into the mystery of Jesus Christ.

Now is a good time to review our attitude toward sin and its relationship to the gift given to us at the Last Supper, the Eucharist. In receiving Christ in the form of the host, do we believe that we should be in the state of grace, that our souls should be clean of mortal sin and that we should have said we are sorry for the venial sins we commit every single day? Do we believe we should present our best selves to Christ? Today is a good time to ask Jesus to place His hand in ours, and lead us to a reconciled life with Him.

O Lord, I Am Not Worthy

1. O Lord, I am not worthy
That Thou should'st come to me,
But speak the words of comfort,
My spirit healed shall be.

2. Oh, come, all you who labor
In sorrow and in pain,
Come, eat This Bread from heaven;
Thy peace and strength regain.

3. O Jesus, we adore Thee,
Our Victim and our Priest,
Whose precious Blood and Body
Become our sacred Feast.

4. O Sacrament most holy,
O Sacrament divine!
All praise and all thanksgiving
Be ev'ry moment Thine. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Devotion for today: So what is truth?

I love to read Jesus' final discourse  as recorded in the Gospel of John, particularly during Holy Week. This week I have been struck by how many times Jesus uses the word “truth” as He gives His final good-bye to His disciples before He heads into His passion and death. It causes me to wonder: is it here we find the answer to the question Pilate poses to Jesus as he interrogates him? Remember in John’s account of the passion, Pilate asks Jesus if He is a king, and Jesus replies in John 18:37: “It is you who say I am a king. The reason I was born, the reason why I came into the world, is to testify to the truth. Anyone committed to the truth hears my voice.” Pilate responds in John 18:18: “Truth? What does that mean?” Jesus makes it very clear what truth is, if we carefully read His last words at the Last Supper. They remind me of what Fulton Sheen used to say: “The truth is still the truth even when no one believes it, and a lie is still a lie even when everyone believes it.” That sounds a bit like our world today, doesn’t it? Holy Week is a good time for us to reflect on the word ‘truth’ and to examine ourselves carefully. Do we believe in Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life? Is His the truth upon which we base our lives, or do we buy into the lies surrounding us in our daily lives: the lies the world preaches, the lies the evil one whispers in our ears to bring us down, the lies we tell ourselves to justify actions or hold onto past hurts? It is time this week to explore the Truth, to claim it as our path for life, and to atone for any lies which govern or have governed our minds and hearts. The Truth, my friends, will set us free, so pray to have the Spirit of Truth enter your soul, and release you from the spirit of lies. Remember, the words Jesus spoke to His disciples that Holy Thursday night, He speaks to us today.

John 14:5: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father also. From this point on you know him; you have seen him.”

John 14:16-17: I will ask the Father and he will give you another Paraclete- to be with you always: the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot accept, since it neither sees him nor recognizes him; but you can recognize him, because he remains with you, and will be within you.

John 14:23: Jesus answered: “Anyone who loves me will be true to my word, and my Father will love him; we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.

John 15:26-27: When the Paraclete comes, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father – and whom I myself will send from the Father – he will bear witness on my behalf. You must bear witness as well…

John 16:7-8, 13: “Yet I tell you the sober truth: It is much better for you that I go. If I fail to go, the Paraclete will never come to you, whereas if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin, about justice, about condemnation. When he comes, however, being the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but will speak only what he hears, and will announce to you the things to come.

John 17:14-19: I gave them your word, and the world has hated them for it; they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but to guard them from the evil one. They are not of the world, any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them by means of truth – ‘Your word is truth.’ As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world; I consecrate myself for their sakes now, that they may be consecrated in truth.

Prayer: Prayer for the Indwelling of the Spirit by Saint Augustine of Hippo

Holy Spirit, powerful Consoler, sacred Bond of the Father and the Son, hope of the afflicted, descend into my heart and establish in it your loving dominion. Enkindle in my tepid soul the fire of your Love so that I may be wholly subject to you. We believe that when you dwell in us, you also prepare a dwelling for the Father and the Son. Deign, therefore, to come to me, Consoler of abandoned souls, and Protector of the needy. Help the afflicted, strengthen the weak, and support the wavering. Come and purify me. Let no evil desire take possession of me. You love the humble and resist the proud. Come to me, glory of the living, and hope of the dying. Lead me by your grace that I may always be pleasing to you. Amen.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Devotion for today: Jesus looked at him...

As I read this part of the passion of Christ on Sunday, the words jumped off the page and into my heart. I was utterly struck by the image of Peter, so bold and brave as to follow Jesus in this dangerous situation, yet overcome with such fear for his mortal life that he would deny his dearest friend. How many times have I purposefully and with great resolve turned my life over to Jesus, promising to follow Him no matter where, only to cave in fear as I am challenged by the outside world, cave to the imagined fear of mocking and ridicule if I remain true to Jesus and openly profess my relationship with Him through direct action, words, or by rejecting popular yet sinful conversation and activities. Peter wanted to be faithful, but fear got in the way. Remember Peter said in Luke 22:33 that he would die for Jesus, yet here he is, refusing to even acknowledge Jesus as someone he knew. Haven’t we all, some time in our lives, turned our backs on our only hope of salvation in order to fit in, or be loved, or gain worldly respect? Haven’t we all sold out at some time to the fear we might be recognized as “on fire” for Christ? I think through Peter we learn that the difference between the brave heart in us and the coward in us is very tenuous at best, and that we can fall at any time. That is why our lives must be steeped in Scripture reading, service, and Sacraments. We must cultivate our faith to such a point that it totally outweighs the fear that exists in us all.

How can we even read the following verse without being struck by the horrible pain that Peter must have felt?  “…and the Lord turned and looked at Peter;” I can only imagine how Peter felt as he looked up from his adamant denial of any relationship with Jesus, only to see Jesus looking at him! The word in Greek translates as “to look at something directly and therefore intently.” This was not a mere glance; this was a gaze. Were Jesus’ eyes filled with pain? Did they reflect pity? Was Jesus only showing more love through His eyes at that moment than Peter had ever experienced in his life? My guess is all three, and I think I am right. When I knowingly commit a sin, no matter how small, I picture Jesus looking right at me. His eyes reflect the sorrow He is feeling at my denial of Him, for every single sin is nothing more than a denial of the One who sets us free. I see Him gazing at me with love and mercy, telling me that I may have pained Him at this moment, but if I ask Him for it, He will give me the grace to get up and get going again. I know this must be true. Jesus took Peter’s contrition to heart and made Him the head of His Church on earth. He will give us great blessings if we acknowledge our sin, ask forgiveness, and start again more determined than ever to stay close to Christ, so that the only gaze we receive from Him is one filled with pride. Peter wept as do we. This week we will weep for our sins and what they did to Christ. Let us never forget, however, that He loved us to death. We can be brave enough to do the same for Him by putting to death our sinful practices and habits, and turning our eyes upon Jesus.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus by Helen Lemmel

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!
His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Devotion for today: Let the one who walks in the dark…trust in the name of the Lord

We have now entered Holy Week. Let us take a few minutes to reflect on the words of Isaiah the prophet. Can we, too, refuse to rebel against God when our cross is upon us? When we are attacked by those who do not want us to do the will of God, can we give them our backs, stare boldly ahead and know that God will always be by our sides?

Isaiah 50:4-10

The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.

The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears;
I have not been rebellious,
I have not turned away.

I offered my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
from mocking and spitting.

Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame.

He who vindicates me is near.
Who then will bring charges against me?
Let us face each other!
Who is my accuser?
Let him confront me!

It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me.
Who will condemn me?
They will all wear out like a garment;
the moths will eat them up.

Who among you fears the Lord
and obeys the word of his servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark,
who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord
and rely on their God.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Devotion for today: Jesus invites us all into His kingdom

Today is Palm Sunday of the Passion of Jesus Christ. Let us reflect on the part of the passion where Jesus admits the good thief into His kingdom, and let us pray we hear the same words as we pass.

Luke 23: 39-43
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. 
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Jesus, Remember Me Lyrics

Jesus remember me, when you come into your kingdom.
Jesus remember me, when you come into your kingdom.

Jesus remember me, when you come into your kingdom.
Jesus remember me, when you come into your kingdom.

"I assure, this day you will be with me, 
this day you will be, with me in paradise."

Jesus remember me, when you come into your kingdom.
Jesus remember me, when you come into your kingdom.