Saturday, April 6, 2013

Devotion for today: The blessings of Divine Mercy Sunday

Tomorrow is Divine Mercy Sunday. Many parishes throughout the world will hold special services at 3pm to honor what Jesus asked of St. Faustina: to designate the Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday. Please make an effort to attend these services. The blessings and graces available are amazing!
 The official observance of this Feast, which had already been granted to the nation of Poland and been celebrated within Vatican City, was granted to the Universal Church by Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the canonization of Sr. Faustina on 30 April 2000. In a decree dated 23 May 2000, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments stated that "throughout the world the Second Sunday of Easter will receive the name Divine Mercy Sunday, a perennial invitation to the Christian world to face, with confidence in divine benevolence, the difficulties and trials that mankind will experience in the years to come."Read more:
 Let’s contemplate what Jesus revealed to St. Faustina:

Whoever approaches the Fountain of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. (Diary300)

I want the image solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter, and I want it to be venerated publicly so that every soul may know about it. (Diary341)

This Feast emerged from the very depths of My mercy, and it is confirmed in the vast depths of my tender mercies. (Diary420)

On one occasion, I heard these words: My daughter, tell the whole world about My Inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.*[our emphasis] On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will I contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy. (Diary699)

Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to our neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to absolve yourself from it. (Diary742)

I want to grant complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My mercy. (Diary1109 Read more:

Friday, April 5, 2013

Devotion for today: Whack - that - sin!

I must admit that one of my favorite arcade games is Whack-a-mole. The idea is to whack a fake mole as soon as he pops his head up from the game box. It requires careful attention and quick action to bop him before he disappears into the game box again. It reminds me of my battle with repetitive sins. Really, it does, and here is why.
 Sister Frances Cabrini taught me, when I was seven years old, that this is the way to approach Confession: I must spend time finding out what my sins are; I must be sorry for my sins; I must make up my mind never to commit those sins again; I must tell those sins to the priest, and I must do the penance the priest gives me. I learned that in the second grade, and it is as true today as it was then. Those are the steps to a good confession.
Whack-a-mole focuses on the step which states that I must make up my mind never to commit the sins again. God is pleased, ready and waiting to extend His gift of mercy to us when we confess our sins. He assures us that we are forgiven, when we read Jesus’ words to the woman caught in the act of adultery:

Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”(John 8:10-11).

Aha! There it is. Go and leave your life of sin. He means we are to stop committing the sins that brought us to confession in the first place. I must make up my mind to do that. I must take responsibility for my own life. I must stop blaming everyone and every situation for causing my poor behavior. It was a funny line in the ‘70’s to say, “The devil made me do it!’ but the devil only has as much power as we allow him to have over us. So we must treat our sinful tendencies as moles in the game, and they must be whacked as soon as they raise their ugly heads.
If I have a tendency to a judgmental attitude, and I find myself thinking, as I am walking up the Communion line, “What was that lady thinking? How could she wear those boots with that skirt?” then that is a mole for me and I must whack it as soon as it starts. I must stop the thought and jump into a prayer, immediately and with careful attention to my words. I cannot pray like the Pharisee in this passage from Luke:

The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector.’(Luke 8:11),

 I cannot say, “Thank you God that I have fashion sense and please give this poor woman some.” That is another sin of pride, so before I even get to Communion I have sinned twice! No, a good, responsible prayer would be, “Dear God, please rid me of this judgmental attitude. Please bless this woman whom you have brought into my line of vision so that I may pray for her needs. Bless her and me, dear Lord, as you see fit.” 
See, now I have taken responsibility for my sin. I have taken myself seriously when I said I would sin no more. I have focused on my weakness and found a way to whack it.
 Just because we want our tendencies to go away simply by confessing the sin doesn’t mean it is going to happen. We took many years in getting into the ruts we are in today. But we can get out of them by consciously attacking the temptation the minute it pops up.
 You know how to delete a pop-up on your computer. Well, do it in your life. Come up with a good prayer and use it quickly to avoid a lust-filled website, a juicy piece of gossip that only you know, a hateful remark to the gentleman or lady who just darted in front of you in traffic. Be serious about changing your life – the result is peace, joy and mercy. Since we are preparing for the wonderful feast of Divine Mercy this Sunday, let us take a look at how Jesus addresses our efforts to remove sin in His conversations with St. Faustina in her Diary (1488):

You see, My child, what you are of yourself. The cause of your falls is that you rely too much upon yourself and too little on Me. But let this not sadden you so much. You are dealing with the God of mercy, which your misery cannot exhaust. Remember, I did not allot only a certain number of pardons.

(1488) Do not lose heart in coming for pardon, for I am always ready to forgive you.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Devotion for today: Did I do that?

I have a friend who recently told me she feels as though she doesn’t think she has any “real” sins to confess. In comparison to the big sins surrounding her in the world, she honestly believes her transgressions are not worth mentioning. She and I discussed this problem and concluded that most people who don’t believe that confessing to a priest is necessary truly believe only grave sins are dangerous. Interior conversion is a slow and arduous process. It requires a lot of honest and hard truth-telling.  We must admit that we have a lot of baggage from the past that still haunts us today, causing us to commit the same mistakes over and over again, grave or minor. If we spend time looking hard at our behavior, and tell a priest, who remember is acting “in Persona Christi”, that we have fallen and need God's grace, we will find that the more we search, the more we find, and the more we confess, the better we become. Our hearts do not harden, and we are able to live a loving and merciful life. Let us take a look at a few common transgressions that Fr. Michael Gaitley mentions in his book, “Consoling the Heart of Jesus” a beautiful book about joining our hearts to Jesus. This is only the introduction to these areas – please read this book to see the details.

All sin hardens our hearts, but some sins are particularly effective in doing so. Let’s take a brief look at some specific kinds of sin that do the best job of hardening our hearts….
Gossip and envy: Gossip and envy are especially effective at hardening hearts because of the way they twist our emotional responses to the suffering of others. So, for example, instead of feeling sorry for someone who suffers, gossip and envy get us to rejoice and delight over his suffering. In the case of gossip, this kind of emotional perversion may not happen immediately, but it leads in this direction. Envy is more directly destructive. By its very nature, it leads to a kind of wicked celebration over the misfortune of others whose goods we want for ourselves…. Lust and greed:  Sins that habituate us to seeing our neighbor as an object (instead of as a person) are particularly good at making us blind to the suffering of others. Such sins include lust, whereby we see others simply as objects for sexual pleasure, and greed, whereby we see others merely as opportunities for (or obstacles to) making money. Judgmental attitude: As Blessed Mother Teresa used to say, “If you take the time to judge, you don’t have time to love.” When we assume an attitude of judgment, a gap yawns between us and them, and we can’t connect. This is a diabolical attitude that stems from pride. It’s subtle, but it does more damage to the heart than sins of the flesh – the very sins over which it often sits in judgment….Unwillingness to forgive: Here I’ve saved what may be the “worst” for last. Nothing hardens a heart more than an unwillingness to forgive. When we cling to bitterness, resentment, grudges, and hate for those who have hurt us, our hearts quickly become as cold and hard as ice. When we don’t forgive, we may think we’re punishing the other person, but the reality is we’re destroying ourselves. We often pray to our heavenly Father, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Do we realize that if we don’t forgive, we won’t be forgiven? Still, we need not get discouraged or despair if we have even the slightest bit of good will, the Lord’s mercy is there for us….O Lord, please give us the grace to forgive! (Marian Press, 2011).

No one can ever say that a sin isn’t worth confessing. Anything that keeps us from a true and honest relationship with God needs to be eliminated, and what better way to do it than throwing away our pride, getting down on our knees, and asking God for forgiveness. Let us see what Jesus told St. Faustina about the mercy which awaits us when we return to His graces:

 “Let the greatest sinners place their trust in My mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy. My daughter, write about My mercy towards tormented souls. 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, but on the contrary, I justify him in My unfathomable and inscrutable mercy. Write: before I come as a just judge, I first open wide the door of My mercy. He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice…” (1146)

“Today the Lord said to me, Daughter, when you go to confession, to this fountain of My mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My heart always flows down upon your soul and ennobles it. Every time you go to confession, immerse yourself entirely in My mercy, with great trust, so that I may pour the bounty of My grace upon your soul. When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy. Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity. The torrents of grace inundate humble souls. The proud remain always in poverty and misery, because My grace turns away from them to humble souls.”(1602)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Devotion for today: Pray for your confessor

"As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. . . . Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (John 20:21–23). 

I have lived in many cities and have belonged to many parishes. I have had many wonderful experiences in the Confessional and some that were less than stellar. I have gone through stages which governed my choice of confessors: when young, I liked the priest who told me I was a good girl and not to worry about my little sins. That was fine when I was nine years old. Then as a young adult I wanted a confessor who gave me three Hail Mary’s and told me to make a good Act of Contrition no matter what I said to him. That was fine when I was 20. As I matured in my faith, however, I realized that I did not need a cheerleader, nor did I need a disinterested sleeper. I needed someone to tell me when I was really on a good path and making great headway in my relationship with God by searching my soul and finding its sins, or at other times, to wake me up and tell me what was really going on behind the sins I chose to tell. Choosing a good confessor is serious business. St. Faustina gives us this advice in her Diary, entry 938:

The soul should have prayed ardently and at greater length for a director and should have asked the Lord himself to choose a spiritual director for it. What begins in God will be godly, and what begins in a purely human manner will remain human. God is so merciful that, in order to help a soul He himself chooses the spiritual guide and will enlighten the soul concerning the one before whom it should uncover the most hidden depths of its soul just as it sees itself before the Lord Jesus himself. And when the soul considers and recognizes that God has been arranging all this, it should pray fervently for the confessor that he might have the divine light to know it well. And let it not change such a director except for a serious reason. Just as it had prayed fervently and at great length in order to learn God's will before choosing a director, so too should it pray fervently and at great length to discern whether it is truly God's will that he leave this director and choose another. If God's will is not absolutely clear, he should not make this change, for a person will not go far by himself, and Satan wants just this: to have the person who is aspiring for sanctity direct himself because then, without doubt, he will never attain it…
(Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, Marian Press, 2012).

Why do I bring this up? I am not attacking priests, by any means. I am not saying that you will not receive the graces offered in Confession if you get a disinterested priest. You will always receive the graces of the sacrament if your intention is pure and your desire is reconciliation with God. We are so blessed in the Catholic Church to have Confession, so that we can name our sins out loud, expel them from our souls, and receive God’s grace to begin a new life. That is why I am saying you must choose your confessor carefully. Most people put more time and energy into buying a new car than they do in choosing a confessor. It is very advisable to go to different priests until you find one who truly listens to you and offers you suggestions for ridding yourself of your sins. Matthew Kelly, in his excellent book “Rediscover Catholicism: A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion & Purpose” states it this way:

People say to me all the time, “I cannot go to Confession with my priest.” When I ask them why, they reply, “Because he knows me.” The priest is supposed to know you. It helps that he knows you. The more he knows you the more helpful he can be to you in your inner journey. You don’t go to a different doctor every time you are sick. Your doctor knows you – your medical history, your allergies, and the circumstances of your life. All this makes him or her infinitely more effective. Similarly, you can go to Confession with a priest who does not know you, or you can go to a different priest every time, but there is an additional advantage to having a regular confessor: Because he knows you and the various aspects of your life, he is able to provide unique insight and continuity to the experience….One thing that we have lost sight of is that the priest is there to help you become the best version of yourself. He has given his whole life to serve the people of God, so at that moment the only thing he is concerned with is helping you in your journey to become all God created you to be….(Beacon Publishing, 2010)

The honest truth is that we hate our sins and are ashamed of them. It is good for us for feeling that way!! It is bad for us if we let that stop us from getting rid of them. It is like a person who is a smoker not telling her doctor that fact in a yearly physical. You would shake your head and say she must really be ashamed of her smoking not to tell her doctor. It makes you wonder if she is afraid the doctor is going to tell her she must, absolutely must stop smoking. So it is with sin. Shame, sadness, and yes, fear that we will really have to stop the behavior all cause us to take the Sacrament of Confession too lightly. It is our gateway to heaven. Let us pray to God to find a good confessor for our souls, and for the strength to always seek reconciliation with our Lord who loves us so deeply. As we prepare for Divine Mercy Sunday this Sunday, let us reflect on what Jesus revealed to St. Faustina in Diary entry 1074:

My daughter, tell all people that 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 them within itself, but radiates them to other souls.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Devotion for today: Allow the Master to touch you


We have been examining the nature of our sins and the concept of God’s mercy this past week in the context of the holy days of the Lord’s passion and resurrection. Reconciliation with God is first and foremost acknowledging our sinfulness and admitting that, on our own, we are powerless to change unless we expose our sin to the light, humbly confess it and ask God to fill us with His grace. Jesus came and died for sinners. He understands our failings, and He also knows the horrendous cost of those failings. He is not willing for us to be second best, and out of touch with the reality of who we were created to be. Too many people today operate in a sin-filled life because they simply do not see the sin in which they are steeped. They are operating in a lie, and that lie is costing them the glorious touch of God’s hand, the touch that will change them from worldly and mediocre to heavenly and magnificent!! Let us remember the words of Scripture: When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him.  A man with leprosy  came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy (Matthew 8:1-3). Come back today to the mercy which awaits you in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and feel the touch of the Master.

The Touch of the Master’s Hand

‘Twas battered and scarred and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But he held it up with a smile.

“What am I bid, good folk?” he cried.
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?
A dollar, a dollar … now two … only two …
Two dollars, and who’ll make it three?

“Three dollars once, three dollars twice,
Going for three” … but no!
From the room far back a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow.

Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet,
As sweet as an angel sings.

The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said, “What am I bid for the old violin?”
As he held it up with the bow.

“A thousand dollars … and who’ll make it two?
Two…two thousand, and who’ll make it three?
Three thousand once and three thousand twice …
Three thousand and gone!” said he.

The people cheered, but some exclaimed
“We do not quite understand …
What changed its worth?” and the answer came:
” ‘Twas the touch of the master’s hand.”

And many a man with soul out of tune
And battered and scarred by sin
Is auctioned cheap by the thoughtless crowd
Just like the old violin.

But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul, and the change that is wrought
By the touch of the master’s hand.

O Master! I am the tuneless one
Lay, lay Thy hand on me,
Transform me now, put a song in my heart
Of melody, Lord, to Thee!
- – - written by Myra Brooks Welch


Monday, April 1, 2013

Devotion for today: For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised!

Today should be a holy day for all Christians to spend in wonder and awe at the gift of Easter. Jesus Christ conquered sin, death, and gave us entrance into heaven. It is too much to grasp on just one day, at just one service. Let us all spend Meditative Monday pondering the words of St. Paul, and giving thanks and praise to God the Eternal Father, Jesus Christ His only begotten Son, and the Holy Spirit, the source of wisdom and truth. We are so blessed to have this beautiful promise, this eternal truth to see us through the difficulties of life.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all Christians today greeted each other this week the way the early Christians did, with the words: Christ is risen….He is risen indeed!!!!

 1 Corinthians: 20-28, 50-58:
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.  Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.  For he “has put everything under his feet.”  Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.  When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality.  When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 

 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?” 

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Devotion for today: He is not here! He is risen!


The Christian Faith as a Peace Movement
At the beginning of Christian history the faithful were a marginal group, politically insignificant. They themselves were unable actively to participate in the shaping of public policy on any matter.

 Nonetheless, the peace of Christ was for them not merely an inner peace and not merely a future peace.

The first words of the Risen One to his confused disciples had been: Peace be with you (John 20:19). In each Eucharistic assembly what happened on the evening of Easter Day was repeated for them.
The Risen One came in among his disciples and spoke to them: Peace be with you. In this their paschal feast, in which the Church was truly alive, they experienced how the apostles’ saying is true: Christ is our peace (Eph 2:14).

Here they met with the new sphere of peace that faith had opened up – the reconciliation of slaves and free men, of Greeks and barbarians, of Jews and gentiles (Gal 3:28). Here, they who were deeply divided one from another in the framework of the society of that time were at one, were indeed one single person – the new man, Jesus Christ, who on the basis of the Father’s love bound them all together (Gal 3:17, 28).

That is why the Eucharist itself was often simply referred to as “peace”: it was the place of the presence of Jesus Christ and was thereby the sphere of a new peace, the sphere of a table fellowship that transcended all boundaries and limits, in which everyone was at home everywhere.

 The bishops of the whole world notified their election to each other by letters of peace. Any carrier of a letter of peace who came upon Christians somewhere was among his own family, wherever it was, a brother among brethren. It was with the inmost element of their faith, with the Eucharistic assembly, that the early Christians thus did something politically most significant: they created spheres of peace and built, as it were, highroads of peace through a world of strife.

 ( Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger: God is Near Us: The Eucharist, The Heart of Life, Ignatius Press, 2001).

Make Me a Channel of Your Peace

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord
And where there's doubt, true faith in

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace
Where there's despair in life, let me bring
Where there is darkness, only light
And where there's sadness, ever joy.


Make me a channel of your peace
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
In giving to all men that we receive
And in dying that we're born to eternal


Remember to pray day 3 of your Divine Mercy Novena