Saturday, April 13, 2013

Devotion for today: I will attain sanctity

Today is a perfect day to renew our commitment to God to attain sanctity, and who better to help us understand this than St. Faustina? I offer for our meditation today several excerpts from her diary, including messages from Jesus. I have taken these excerpts from the book “Consoling the Heart of Jesus” by Father Michael Gaitley, Marian Press, 2011). The italicized writing is from St. Faustina and the bold are the words of Jesus revealed to her.

I have come to a knowledge of my destiny; that is, an inward certainty that I will attain sanctity. This deep conviction has filled my soul with gratitude to God, and I have given back all the glory to God, because I know very well what I am of myself. (1362)

Tell souls not to place within their own hearts obstacles to My mercy, which so greatly wants to act within them. My mercy works in all those hearts which open their doors to it. Both the sinner and the righteous person have need of My mercy. Conversion, as well as perseverance, is a grace of My mercy.

Let souls who are striving for perfection particularly adore My mercy, because the abundance of graces which I grant them flows from My mercy. I desire that these souls distinguish themselves by boundless trust in My mercy. I myself will attend to the sanctification of such souls. I will provide them with everything they will need to attain sanctity. The graces of My mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is – trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive. Souls that trust boundlessly are a great comfort to Me, because I pour all the treasures of My graces into them. I rejoice that they ask for much, because it is my desire to give much, very much. On the other hand, I am sad when souls ask for little, when they narrow their hearts. (1577-1578).

If souls would put themselves completely in My care, I Myself would undertake the task of sanctifying them, and I would lavish even greater graces on them (1682).

Despite my misery, with Your help, I can become a saint. (1718).

(Here is a thought from me: This is a good prayer to say when spending time in front of the Blessed Sacrament):

O eternal God, how ardently I desire to glorify this greatest of Your attributes; namely, Your unfathomable mercy. I see all my littleness, and cannot compare myself to the heavenly beings who praise the Lord’s mercy with holy admiration. But I, too, have found a way to give perfect glory to the incomprehensible mercy of God.
 O most sweet Jesus, who have deigned to allow miserable me to gain a knowledge of Your unfathomable mercy; this day I take into my hands the two rays that spring from Your merciful Heart; that is, the Blood and the Water; and I scatter them all over the globe so that each soul may receive Your mercy and, having received it, may glorify it for endless ages. O most sweet Jesus who, in Your incomprehensible kindness, have deigned to unite my wretched heart to Your most merciful Heart, it is with Your own Heart that I glorify God, our Father, as no soul has ever glorified Him before .(835-836)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Devotion for today: Jesus I believe in Your love for me

This is what we proclaim to you; what was from the beginning; what we have heard; what we have seen with our eyes. What we have looked upon and our hands have touched – we speak of the word of Life. This Life became visible; we have seen and bear witness to it, and we proclaim to you the Eternal Life that was present to the Father and became visible to us. (John 1:1-3)

John is the Apostle whom Jesus brought close to Himself on Holy Thursday night. At the Last Supper, as John reclined near the Heart of Christ, he experienced the deep, personal love of the God-Man. As he rested on the Savior’s breast, he drank from the springs of salvation, from the living waters of eternal love that flowed from the Heart of Christ. From that moment on, John saw himself as “the one Jesus loved”, the Beloved Apostle of the Lord. All of the writings of John are animated with the theme of the incarnation – God becoming man and dwelling among us – whom we have “heard”, “seen” and “looked upon”. The Eucharist is the continuation of Christ’s incarnation on earth. In St. John’s prologue we understand the beauty and the meaning of the Eucharist: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we have seen His glory; the glory of an only Son coming from the Father, filled with enduring love.” John really believed that Jesus loved him. This is what Jesus wants everyone to do – to really believe that He loves us in a deep, personal, unconditional way in spite of our sins and how many times we have failed in the past. John represents each and every one of us. We are all special in His eyes, called to be holy and to be an intimate friend of Christ. Because of the Eucharist, everyone should see themselves as “the one Jesus loves” (John 20:2). You don’t have to feel His love to know it. The simple fact that the God who created the whole universe contains Himself in the small Sacred Host to be our friend and companion in life speaks more eloquently of His love than the intimate scene of St. John resting on His Heart on Holy Thursday night. Nothing is greater proof of His Love than the gift of Himself to us in the Eucharist. Like John, Jesus wants you to exclaim in appreciation: “Jesus, I believe in Your love for me”.  (Fr. Vincent Martin Lucia, Come to Me in the Blessed Sacrament, Apostolate for Perpetual Adoration).

Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to be the apostle John at the Last Supper, to be able to rest your head on Jesus’ heart and feel His unconditional love for you? I can only imagine, yet I do have a sense of it. As Fr. Lucia tells us, John really believed that Jesus loved him. He knew it because he knew Jesus so well. We can have that experience of Jesus’ love as well, when we come before Him in the Blessed Sacrament and lean upon His loving heart. Jesus is there for us, to come and get to know Him in an intimate way. People in love spend as much time with each other as possible, sometimes just gazing into each other’s eyes. They love the mere presence of each other. That is what happens when we spend time before the Blessed Sacrament. We quiet our minds, quiet our souls and open ourselves to the voice of God. He speaks softly and gently to us, and we learn to hear His voice as our visits increase. The world is shut out, and God is let in. As St. John Vianney learned from an old man who spent much time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, “Father, I look at Him, and He looks at me.” Come and find the God who created the entire universe, yet personally and intimately loves you so very, very much.

Prayer :
All praise be to You, Jesus, truly present in the most Blessed Sacrament,
The Lamb of God, the Bread of Angels, the Friend of Man, the Light of the World.
By the light of Your Eucharistic love, cast out all the darkness from my mind and heart
that I may see clearly the height and the depth of Your personal love for me.

With this light, Jesus, increase my faith, perfect my hope, that I may never give into any form of sadness or discouragement. Give me wisdom to see everything from God’s point of view, that I may walk in the light of truth and virtue, living according to the Father’s will.

In your light, Jesus, teach us to live and love in fellowship with one another. By your precious Blood, cleanse the world from all sin, especially those in most need of Your mercy.
May the Heart of Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored and loved, with grateful affection, at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even to end of time. (Come to Me in the Blessed Sacrament, Fr. Vincent Martin Lucia, Apostolate for Perpetual Adoration)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Devotion for today: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28)

“Above all things and in all things, rest, my soul, in my Lord God, for He is the eternal rest of all angels and saints.” (Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ)

"Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Are you tired because of the burden of your duties, because of frustration due to unsuccessful projects, because many misunderstand you? Are you heavy laden with guilt from past sins? Are you trying to find hope and meaning in life? Do not lose heart! Abandon yourself to Jesus in this "Sacrament of Love": He will refresh you!
The more time you spend with Jesus, the more you will come away feeling renewed and healed. Miracles of conversion, peace, discovery of vocations, answers to prayers, physical healings, and many other wonderful things happen where and when the Lord Jesus is adored in the Blessed Sacrament. They are the "gifts" that point to the Almighty Giver and testify to His Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament...
Let us love being with the Lord! There we can speak with Him about everything. We can offer Him our petitions, our concerns, our troubles, our joys, our gratitude, our disappointments, our needs and our aspirations. Above all we can remember to pray: 'Lord send laborers into Your harvest! Help me to be a good worker in Your vineyard!'
When asked, "What would save the world?”... Mother Teresa replied: "My answer is prayer. What we need is for every parish to come before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in holy hours of prayer."

One form of Eucharistic Adoration is to spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, present in every tabernacle of the world. I have started a new habit of going to daily Mass a half an hour early to spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Although troubles still fill my days, and the world still seems to be going crazy at a very fast rate, I cannot describe the peace and tranquility I find in that time. The church has many people in it who are doing the same thing. Some are praying rosaries; others are quietly praying the Liturgy of the Hours; others are just sitting and gazing at the home of their King and Savior, and others have their head in their hands, obviously grieving and yet coming to the only place where they will find true solace. I now stop by the church in the afternoon as well, just for 15 minutes as I rush from one responsibility to the next. It is a different scene at this time. The church is so quiet, so I go up really close to the tabernacle, thinking it is just God and me. It has never once just been God and me. Someone else is always in the Church, praying, gazing, crying, or basking in the glory of God. I feel so renewed and peaceful, so filled with the presence of God that I am able to carry that feeling into the rest of my day. This practice has changed my life, and I love it. Try it yourself. The world can become so depressing these days, but unloading our burdens on the One who offers us “rest” is the best answer there is.
I will offer prayers every day to use in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Soon, you will have enough to fill a solid holy hour! Some people told me they have trouble finding words to simply praise and adore God. Here is a lovely prayer from Thomas a Kempis in his book “The Imitation of Christ”:

You, Lord God, are most good, most high, most mighty, most sufficient and most full of goodness, most sweet, most consoling, most fair, most loving, most noble, and most glorious above all things. In You all goodness is together, perfectly and fully – has been and will be. Therefore, whatever You give me, beside Yourself, is little and insufficient to me, for my heart cannot rest, or be fully brought to peace, so that it may ascend above all gifts and above all manner of created things, save in you. O my Lord Jesus Christ, most loving Spouse, most pure Lover and Governor of every creature, who will give me wings of perfect liberty, so that I may fly high and rest in You. Oh, when shall I fully tend to You and see and feel how sweet You are? When shall I recollect myself so perfectly that I shall not, for Your love, recognize myself, but You alone above myself and above all physical things? You will visit me in such manner as You visit Your faithful lovers.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Devotion for today: Can You Not Watch One Hour With Me?

So far in this Year of Faith, we have journeyed through an in-depth look at the Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Today we will begin an intriguing aspect of the Catholic Faith: Eucharistic Adoration. This is firmly based on the belief that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, and that we, as Catholics, have the unique experience of being in the presence of Jesus Christ when we come before Him in Eucharistic Adoration. We believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and that He remains with us in the Eucharist. Just as we believe the curtain between heaven and earth was torn in two at the  crucifixion, we can truly believe that although Jesus is in heaven, He is also present in the Eucharist for us to adore and worship. He kept His promise. He did not leave us orphaned, but remains with us today.
So what is adoration?
“Adoration, in the first place, is creation’s highest act of worship. It is giving to God what belongs to him alone, He who alone is holy! It is the supreme form of reverence, glory and honor. But adoration is also creation’s attempt to reach out, with the help of God’s invitation and grace, to become holy in the presence of God.”

Though we speak much we cannot reach the end,
And the sum of our words is: "He is all."
Where shall we find strength to praise him?
For he is greater than all his work.
Terrible is the Lord and very great,
And marvelous is his power.
When you praise the Lord exalt him as much as you can;
For he even surpasses that.
When you exalt him, put forth all your strength,
And do not grow weary, for you cannot praise him enough. (Sirach 43: 27-30)

Blessed John Paul II tells us: “The worship given to the Trinity of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit... must fill our churches also outside the timetable of Masses…This worship must be prominent in all our encounters with the Blessed Sacrament… Adoration of Christ in this sacrament of love must also find expression in various forms of Eucharistic devotion: personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, hours of adoration, periods of exposition – short, prolonged, and annual (Forty Hours) - Eucharistic benediction, Eucharistic processions, Eucharistic Congresses… Let us be generous with our time in going to meet him in adoration and in contemplation that is full of faith and ready to make reparation for the great faults and crimes of the world. May our adoration never cease.”

In our study, we will look at the various forms of Eucharistic Adoration, the purpose of it, and the beautiful results of time spent in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

Adoration Prayer
    I adore you, O Jesus, God of Love, truly present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I adore you Who has come to Your Own but were not received by them. I adore you, Whom the majority of mankind rejected and despised. I adore you, Whom the impious incessantly are offend by their sacrileges and blasphemies. I adore you, Who are grieved by the coldness and indifference of a vast number of Christians. I adore you, O Infinite Goodness, Who has wrought so many miracles, in order to reveal Your love to us. I adore you, with all the angels and saints, and with those chosen souls that are now already the blessed of Your Father and are all aglow with burning love for you. I adore you with all Your friends, O Jesus! With them I prostrate myself at the foot of the Altar, to offer you my most profound homage, to receive Your Divine Inspiration, and to implore Your grace. Oh, how good it is for me to be here with you! How sweet to hear the Voice of my Beloved! O Victim of Divine Love! A piercing cry breaks forth from Your Heart here on the Altar, as it once did on Calvary; it is the cry of Love; "I thirst," You call to You children, "I thirst for your love! Come all, whom I love as My Father has loved Me; come and quench the thirst that consumes Me!
     Lord Jesus, behold I come. My heart is small, but it is all Yours. You are a prisoner in our Tabernacles, You the Lord of Lords! And love it is, that holds you here as such! You leave the Tabernacle only to come to us, to unite Yourself with the faithful soul and allow Your Divine Love to reign within. O King of Love! Come, live and reign in me. I want no other law but the law of Your Love! No, no, I henceforth desire to know nothing, neither of this world nor of what is in it, nor of myself; Your Love alone shall rule in me eternally.
     O Jesus, grant me this grace! Break all my fetters, strip me of all that is not of Yourself, in order that Your Love may be my life here below, and my happiness and delight in eternity, Amen.
Decree of S. Congregation of indulgences, May 30th, 1908.
Approved, Cleveland, May 1st, 1923.
Joseph Schrembs, D. D., Bishop of Cleveland.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Devotion for today: Come near to God and He will come near to you.

Mark 1:14-15: After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.  “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Today we will conclude our discussion of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We have covered all the aspects of a good confession, emphasizing the need for true sorrow for our sins. In that light we looked at the need for penance given to us by the priest. Why receive penance? In our Catholic faith, we believe the steps of a good confession to be: know my sins, be sorry for my sins, make up my mind not to commit these sins again, tell my sins to a priest and do the penance the priest gives me. Well, there are several obvious reasons. First of all, we know that if our child does something wrong and says he is sorry, we accept the apology, but we also let the child know that his actions carry consequences. He must do something to make up for the wrong he has done. If he has stolen something, he must apologize and return the item. If he has broken curfew, he is usually grounded so that he will appreciate the gift of freedom and trust given to him by his parents. If an adult is speeding, he is given a ticket to remind him of the “cost” of breaking the law. It is the same with our sins. They not only offend and hurt God, they offend and hurt our fellow man, since there is no private sin. All sin makes us less good, and thus takes away from the gift we can be to others. Secondly, sin is to be mourned. Along with feeling remorse, a true penitent should also feel a sense of sorrow for the wrong he has done. We long for a way to replace the sin which is now out of our behavior with something that is pure and good. We pull weeds and fill the empty space with a beautiful flower. That is what penance does for our souls. We say we are sorry, the priest prays the words of forgiveness, and now we proceed to enter into prayer, works of mercy, and restitution for what we have done. Prayer fills our soul with the music of God’s love; works of mercy remind us of our true calling as Christians, and restitution makes us one again with the one we have offended. We are not called to obsess over our sins. We do need to believe it is ok to be a little sad once in awhile. In a world filled with distractions to keep us happy and numb, we must be willing to call ourselves to responsibility for our behavior, to feel the sadness over what we have done, and to know that our sadness will be turned to joy when our union with God is complete. On our knees, in complete humility, filled with sorrow and repentance, we confess to our priest “in persona Christi” and listen to his words. We make a good Act of Contrition and resolve to leave these sins forever, and we wait to hear a way we can return to God’s grace and help restore the well-being of the world we have somehow diminished. We leave the church feeling renewed and refreshed, light and joyful. We are a new creation, and we will shine before men. How awesome is that!!!

In the Latin Rite the proper form of absolution is as follows:

God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

For pastoral reasons the priest may shorten the formula to:
I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good,
I have sinned against you
whom I should love above all things.
I firmly intend, with your help,
to do penance, to sin no more,
and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.
In His Name, my God, have mercy. Amen.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Devotion for today: “Through the Pierced Chest of the Crucified Christ, Divine Mercy reaches humanity”

For “Meditative Monday” today I have chosen a passage from Sunday’s Gospel for our reflection, along with a wonderful commentary by Monsignor Francesco Follo. I think it clarifies the beauty of God’s divine mercy.

John 20:24-29
Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

PARIS, April 05, 2013 ( - Mercy is God's charity By Monsignor Francesco Follo

Through the pierced chest of the crucified Christ, divine mercy reaches humanity. Jesus is "Love and Mercy personified" (Saint Faustina Kowlaska, Diaries 374). Mercy is the "second name" of Love (Dives in misericordia, 7) caught in his most deep and tender meaning and in his ability to take charge of every need, above all of the need of forgiveness. "The great wound of the soul is the great mercy of God" (Saint Eusebius).
Jesus "uses" the ointment of his chest's sore to cure Thomas's heart, which has been wounded by incredulity. The medicine of his mercy is greater than human sins. He goes to Thomas, to his disciples and to every one of us and doesn't ask "What did you do?" but "Do you love me?" as He did to Peter on the lake's shore after the resurrection. The answer that Peter and we have is our pain, but that's enough for Him. In the same way He did with Peter, He confirms us in his merciful love, a love that makes free, heals and saves.
We are poor and fragile things, but we can rejoice if we say, "My God I trust you" (as suggested to Saint Faustina by Jesus; Diaries, 327) because the announcement of this mercy is source of gladness: Jesus is mercy. He is the envoy by the Father to let us know that the supreme characteristic of the essence of God is mercy.
We should ask ourselves if we are always conscious of the fact that we live because of God's mercy and of his charity that gives us life, freedom, love, hope, forgiveness and all graces. We should also ask ourselves if we practice charity. Charity is a fact that touches the roots of man's life because it is acceptance of the way of living of Christ, who "for your sake became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich" (2 Cor 8:9). It is the acceptance that Christ is the richness of our life and that we must follow him without regretting what we leave behind. (Mt 19, 21)
Charity – mercy is not pure and simple philanthropy, but it is the love for Christ that we reach through our poorest brothers:  "whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me." (Mt 25). This is why Christ accepts the fact that the most expensive perfume is "wasted" on him instead of being sold to get money for the poor. Christ is the valid foundation of every love for the poor.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Devotion for today: The Heart of Christ!

Excerpt from Pope John Paul II's Homily
On the first universal celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday, 2001.

His "Sacred Heart" has given men everything: redemption, salvation, sanctification. Saint Faustina Kowalska saw coming from this Heart that was overflowing with generous love, two rays of light which illuminated the world.

The two rays, [according to what Jesus Himself told her], denote blood and water (Diary, 299). The blood recalls the sacrifice of Golgotha and the mystery of the Eucharist; the water, according to the rich symbolism of the Evangelist John, makes us think of Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Spirit (See Jn 3:5; 4:14).

Through the mystery of this wounded Heart, the restorative tide of God's merciful love continues to spread over the men and women of our time. Here alone can those who long for true and lasting happiness find its secret.

"Jesus, I trust in You!"

This prayer, dear to so many of the devout, clearly expresses the attitude with which we too would like to abandon ourselves trustfully in Your hands, 0 Lord, our only Savior.

You are burning with the desire to be loved and those in tune with the sentiments of Your Heart learn how to build the new civilization of love. A simple act of abandonment is enough to overcome the barriers of darkness and sorrow, of doubt and desperation. The rays of Your Divine Mercy restore hope, in a special way, to those-who feel overwhelmed by the burden of sin.

Mary, Mother of Mercy, help us always to have this trust in your Son, our Redeemer. Help us too, St. Faustina, whom we remember today with special affection. Fixing our weak gaze on the divine Savior's face, we would like to repeat with you: "Jesus, I trust in You!" Now and for ever. Amen