Saturday, April 20, 2013

Devotion for today: Holy Spirit: do not let my words be empty

I think one of the greatest parts of a true Holy Hour is interceding for the woes of the world. We live in the midst of many sad and hurting people; we have many societies in the world where people are abused and tortured, starved and rejected. We have so much at our fingertips, yet there are those who have nothing, absolutely nothing. In a Holy Hour, it is good to reclaim the world for God! It is a good time to pray for the conversion of hearts and for the return to God’s laws. Spend time adoring, yes, and spend time interceding for those who have lost all hope. We need hope to be returned to the world. We can do it by our Holy Hours. They are our secret attack on the evils of the world!!!
Today we continue with part 4 of the Holy Hour Prayers offered by Fr. Barbaric, O.F.M. in his book, “Pray With the Heart!” published by Franciscan University Press, 1988.

4. Lord Jesus, let every word I say during this hour of adoration be in Your Spirit! Do not let them be empty words! Inspire me to understand Your word which You pronounced to draw me completely to You! You said You were the bread for our soul, for our life, for every hunger, but first and foremost for the hunger of love. Jesus, feed my soul, for I am adoring You!
So that we can put faith in you,” they asked Him, “what sign are you going to perform for us to see? What is the work you do? Our ancestors had manna to eat in the desert; according to Scripture, ‘He gave them bread from the heavens to eat.’”
Jesus said to them: “I solemnly assure you. It was not Moses who gave you bread from the heavens; it is my Father who gives you the real heavenly bread. God’s bread comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir, give us this bread always,” they besought him. Jesus explained to them: “I myself am the bread of life. No one who comes to me shall ever be hungry; no one who believes in me shall ever thirst.” (John 6:30-35)
Attracted by Your word which applies to me as well, I am here, Jesus, beseeching You: Give me to eat, give me to drink! I am hungry and thirsty. Nothing else can appease my hunger or my thirst, for everything is transient, everything is deficient. Thank You for being an answer to my hunger and thirst! (Remain in silence)
Jesus, here I am kneeling in the name of all those who are hungry and thirsty for truth, justice, love, reconciliation. I am kneeling in the name of all the children who are hungry for the motherly bread of love and of their parents’ home. I am kneeling in the name of all the thirsty who, on the roads of this life, are seeking the drinks which make drunk and lead to death, not to life. O, Bread of Eternal Life, I am kneeling before You in the name of all who are quarreling and waging wars, who hate or persecute each other, who behave jealously toward each other because of earthly bread! Jesus, reveal Yourself to them as the eternal heavenly bread! Let them find You and feel Your presence so that they will no more wander about the world, beaten up with evil and sin. Jesus, the manna of the Father for us travelers and pilgrims through the desert of this world, I also pray to You for all those who are hungry for earthly bread, who work, but do not get a pay, because the stronger and the richer exploit them.
This evening, Jesus, I am kneeling before You. Let my heart plunge into Your presence and let Your life completely absorb me so that, from now on, I may be a sweetness to all who are seeking you, that I may never again embitter life for anybody! Let me become the bread of life with You! (silence)
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be…

Friday, April 19, 2013

Devotion for today: This is My Body

Matthew 26:26: While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."
Luke 24:35: And they told what things were done in the way; and how they knew him in the breaking of the bread.

I was listening to a Catholic program one day when a woman called in and said she really had a hard time seeing Jesus in the host. It looks like a host, it tastes like a host, and when she tries to spend time in adoration, she just doesn’t see anything but a host. Here is a thought. You are sitting in the “ordinary people class seats" on an airplane, having a wonderful conversation with the gentleman next to you. From all appearances and from the conversation, he seems like an ordinary “Joe” who enjoys sports and good books, etc. When the plane lands, you ask for his business card so you can send him an email with some information he had requested. When you see his name, you almost faint. You have been talking to a very famous person! He smiles as you stare at the card, then at him. “What are you doing sitting in this section?” you ask in amazement. “Well,” he replies, “I guess you could say I am thoroughly enjoying being with you.” And with that, he gets off the plane. Isn’t it the same with us as we spend time with Jesus in the Eucharist? His true identity is hidden, yet He is there. He told us He was there. Just as you never recognized this special person until you saw his card, we can only see Jesus when we look with the eyes of faith. We know it is Jesus when we let Him into our lives and see the remarkable difference He will make. Why does Jesus choose to be present in the host? Well, among many reasons, “I guess you could say He is just thoroughly enjoying being with you.” Believe it.  Let’s take a look at the explanation Fr. Robert Barron gives in his book “Catholicism”:

Like Ambrose of Milan, Aquinas saw the change as a consequence of the power of Jesus’ words: “this is my body” and “this is the cup of my blood.” As the language philosophers of the twentieth century have helped us to see, not only are words descriptive; they can also be, under certain circumstances, transformative: they can change the way things are. If someone walked up to you at a party and said, “You’re under arrest,” you would assume that he was making a joke or was deluded. But if a properly deputized and uniformed officer of the law told you that you were under arrest, you would be, in point of fact, under arrest, his words having effected what they enunciated….But those are only puny human words. Consider the divine Word. In the Bible, God creates the whole of the universe through the power of his word….God’s speech does not so much describe the world as create it and constitute it….The night before he died, Jesus took bread and said, “This is my body, which will be given for you” (Luke 22:19). In the same way, after the meal, he took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you” (Luke 22:20). Since Jesus’ word is the divine Word, it is not merely descriptive but transformative. It creates, sustains, and changes reality at the most fundamental level. When at the consecration the priest moves into the mode of first-person quotation, he is not speaking in his own person but in the person of Jesus – and that’s why those words change the elements.

No longer bread, but Christ. Come, let us adore!

The Adoration of Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament (part three)

3. Jesus You loved me unto death, and beyond it. You were born for me. You lived for me. You died and rose for me. When You realized that death would separate You from Me, Your love was inventive: You remained with me and for me in the Most Blessed Sacrament. O be praised, Jesus, in this simple bread, in this host! Be praised, You who are all-worthy of every praise and glory!
Praise and glory to the Father who sent You to give Yourself up to us and for us in this way! Praise and glory to the Holy Spirit who, through Mary’s intercession, is crying for joy through me: Praise and glory forever and ever!
Therefore, I adore You in every church in the world: Be praised and glorified in every host!
Be praised and glorified in every Communion in which I meet You. Be praised and glorified for all those meetings when I received You without being fully aware that You had come to me, the living and true God. Be praised and glorified for every moment which I have passed with You so far and which I am going to pass with You in the future! Be praised and glorified in all those who forget You, who do not adore You! Be praised in all who oppose or persecute You! Be praised and glorified in all who receive You but do not think of Your presence, nor live on it, but come back from Holy Communion or Mass as if they had not met You at all! O, be praised and glorified because You are alive now and want to present everyone around You with love and fullness of life! (Remain in silence and let these words echo in you.)
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be…("Pray With the Heart" by Fr. Slavko Barbaric, Franciscan University Press,1988)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Devotion for today: If the Lord does not build the house…

Psalm 127:1-2
If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor; if the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil.
In vain is your earlier rising, your going later to rest, you who toil for the bread you eat: when he pours gifts on his beloved while they slumber.

I had a fascinating conversation recently. “Sandy, I think if I had an extra hour in my day, I would spend it at a soup kitchen helping in a tangible way. I don’t see the point in just sitting and staring  in adoration when work needs to be done.” Ahhh. How many of us have had these exact thoughts! I bet you quite a few of us. Here is the thing. If you were recently hired into a very large corporation, and were told to get to know the boss and find out what He wanted you to do, wouldn’t you do it? Let’s say instead you notice that there are things wrong and that, with your gifts and talents, you could come up with a way to make them better. So you launch into a plan of action and soon have a program going and people involved and then you get called into the boss’ office. Your heart races as you try to picture the size of the medal he is going to put around your neck for making such a difference in his corporation. Instead he sits you down and asks you why you didn’t ask him before taking off on an idea of your own. He explains that although you did a good thing, it wasn’t the good thing he had hired you to do. By jumping in and doing it yourself, you denied another person the opportunity to do it, and it was this very person who needed to do this job, not you. Besides, you used gifts and talents you already had, but the boss had a plan for you which would force you to do things you didn’t even know you could do. So although you did a good thing, you didn’t bother to find out what the plan was. You cost someone else the opportunity to grow, and you cost yourself the chance to do something new and unique. God is our boss, and we need to ask Him what He wants of us. We are not in charge; He is. The mere fact that food needs to be distributed doesn’t mean you are the one to do it. This doesn’t mean you must launch into hours of prayer every time the Church asks you to help out, but it does mean that you need to know if you are on a path God has chosen for you, and you are only going to know that if you spend time getting to know the Boss, and recognizing His voice and how He speaks to you. Someone once told me that the greatest tool the devil has to get really good Christian workers to burn out and get out of ministry is to tell them that it is a really bad thing to say, “No, I am sorry. I just can’t do that right now.” Spending time in front of the Blessed Sacrament removes us from the world and places us in front of God, who alone knows what His world needs from us, and who knows exactly what we need for our salvation. Remember ol’ Joshua who was told to march around the walls of Jericho blowing a horn. I am sure that if he had not taken time to listen to God, he would have taken a different course of action. Yet, the walls fell, didn’t they, and the Chosen People entered the Promised Land. Just believe that is what God wants to do for us. Pray, listen and “the walls will come tumblin’ down”! (Remember to ask Mary, your Mother, to help you adore with a sense of importance and purpose. She will show you the way to her Son!)

Prayer: The Adoration of Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament (parts one and two)
1. Holy, holy, holy, Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Yes, holy and all-holy are You, Jesus. You are silently present in a simple small piece of bread. You are in front of me. Grant that I may understand with the heart that You are alive here for me and because of me! O, grant me grace that I may adore You this evening with all my being: soul, spirit and body!
O, all you saints and angels, be here now! Adore the living Lord Jesus Christ with me! Mary, Mother of my Savior and Mother of us all, be with us, too. You called me to adore and assured me that I would not be alone at the moment before your living Son. Thank you for this message:
This evening, too, dear children, I am grateful in a special way that you are here. Adore the Most Blessed Sacrament all the time! I am always present when the faithful are adoring. Special graces are received then.” (March 15, 1984, Marian apparition in Medugorje) O Mary, thank you for your presence!
Like St. Thomas I would like to say this evening: My Lord and My God! I am not asking You, Lord Jesus, to hold out Your hands with the wounds for me. I believe that You are alive here and that You are really present with the fullness of Your life and love. I remain in silence before You… (keep silent and meditate). Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be…
2. Jesus, You are my God. You are the fountain of holiness and holiness itself. Only to You is my adoration due, to nobody else. Therefore, I leave all things, all persons, all programs. I leave everything and adore You. I want my heart and my mind to become one with You. I give myself up to You with all my being.
Mother Mary, I feel how unworthy I am to adore Jesus. Thank you for being  with me! You were worthy of adoring and loving Him more than anybody else in the world, because you are His Mother, loving and faithful. So, Mary, to you do I give my heart that you may adore Jesus in me and with me. To you do I devote my family, my friends, my community, my people and my Church.
O my Mother! I love you immensely and offer myself to you. Through your goodness, love and grace, save me! I want to be yours. I love you endlessly and I want you to protect me. I ask you, Mother of Goodness, from my whole heart, to give me your goodness that I may be able to love everybody as you loved Jesus Christ! And I also ask grace of you that I may be gracious to you. I present myself completely to you and want you to be with me at every step, for you are full of grace. Amen.
Jesus, I have devoted myself to Your Mother now, that I may be Yours with her, as she was Yours! Look on her love! Grant that I may love You all the days of my life as she loved You! Remove from my heart every haughtiness, selfishness, and all that is in the way of my adoring You deeply! (Remain in deep silence). Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be… (taken from Pray With the Heart! Medugorje Manual of Prayer by Fr. Slavko Barbaric, O.F.M., Franciscan University Press, Steubenville,  Ohio, 1988).

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Devotion for today: How do we make a Holy Hour?

1 Samuel 3:10: The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."

There are several ways to find a way to adore Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. As we have seen, it is very simple to stop into a church and place yourself before the tabernacle. In many parishes across the globe, Perpetual Adoration is offered in Blessed Sacrament Chapels. This is where a parish offers continual Exposition of the Eucharist, and people sign up for a Holy Hour usually at the same time every week. My husband, for example, has a Holy Hour in Perpetual Adoration at 4 a.m. every Monday morning. He has been doing this for over 20 years, and can attest to the power of this commitment in his life. You can check your diocesan website to find parishes where Perpetual Adoration is occurring, and stop in to adore any time of the day or night. There is a beauty in the commitment of a certain hour every week. You will find yourself preparing in advance, planning your prayer time and collecting prayer requests from family and friends. Coming into the chapel at that precious time every week is similar to visiting a physician or a therapist; here is Jesus, truly present to you, who is waiting to hear your ailments and comfort you in your trials – every week!  Other parishes offer weekly Holy Hours, where the Eucharist is exposed and venerated, followed by benediction, prayers, a short homily, singing adoration songs such as Tantum Ego and O Salutaris, recitation of the rosary, confession, and praying of the Divine Praises. Many Holy Hours are offered on the same night of the week, every week and can even include a novena to Mary.  Still other parishes will expose the Eucharist on a special day every month, say on the First Friday of the month. Once the Eucharist is exposed, the church is quiet and people come to spend an hour in quiet prayer. 
Maybe you aren’t sure what to do in a silent Holy Hour. Johnnette Benkovic offers this advice in her book, “Full of Grace”:

First and foremost, a Holy Hour is a time of prayer. As with any prayer time, we must first recollect ourselves, aware of what we intend to do (pray) and of whose Presence we are in. Next, we engage in the prayer itself. If we are unaccustomed to spending an entire hour in prayer, we may find it helpful at first to structure our Holy Hour….We might divide our hour into four equal parts spending fifteen minutes on each of these intentions: adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and supplication. But as we grow comfortable in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament, our time in prayer should gradually give over to a contemplation. A time of simply gazing into the face of the One who we love. Just sitting quietly before the Radiant Splendor of Jesus Christ, allowing the rays of His love to penetrate into all areas of our hearts, offering our hearts to Him in quiet exchange for the One which He offers us, letting His presence transform us into His image and likeness – this should eventually make up the bulk of our time with Him. Our disposition should be one of listening, the ears of our hearts fastened to the mouth of God, ready to hear all that He has to say. “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening,” should be the words of our lips.

Prayer While Visiting The Most Blessed Sacrament
 by St. Alphonsus Liguori

My Lord Jesus Christ, for the love which You bear to men, You remain night and day in this Sacrament full of compassion and of love, awaiting, calling, and welcoming all who come to visit You. I believe that You are present in the Sacrament of the Altar: I adore You from the abyss of my nothingness, and I thank You for all the graces which You have bestowed upon me and in particular for having given me Yourself in this Sacrament, for having given me your holy Mother Mary for my advocate, and for having called me to visit You in this chapel. I now salute
Your most loving Heart: and this for three ends:
1. In thanksgiving for this great gift;
2. To make amends to You for all the outrages which You receive in this Sacrament from all Your enemies;
3. I intend by this visit to adore You in all the places on earth in which You are the least revered and the most abandoned.

My Jesus, I love You with all my heart. I grieve for having so many times offended Your infinite goodness. I promise with Your grace never more to offend You in the future.
Now, miserable and unworthy though I be, I consecrate myself to You without reserve;
I give You my entire will, my affections, my desires, and all that I possess. From now on dispose of me and of all that I have as You please. All that I ask of You and desire is Your holy love, final perseverance, and the perfect accomplishment of Your will. I recommend to You the souls in purgatory; but especially those who had the greatest devotion to the most Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I also recommend to You all poor sinners.

My dear Savior, I unite all my affections with the affections of Your most loving Heart; and I offer them, thus united, to Your eternal Father, and beseech Him in Your name to vouchsafe, for Your love, to accept them.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Devotion for today: “They knew it was the Lord” John 21:22

As we continue to look at the beautiful practice of spending time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I offer yet another reason: that it is the way to make God's will the driving force in our lives. It is in the quiet of these visits that the Lord speaks to us. Worshiping God helps us to stop worshiping ourselves. Taking time very often to let God into our hearts lets Him tell us what He wants from us and stops us from simply telling Him what we are willing to give Him. Almost everyone sets boundaries for God, “Use me but don’t disrupt my comfortable life. Don’t ask me to put away my toys and games and luxury activities in order to spend time with You or to do Your work. “Any or all of these thoughts have entered most minds. It means we are settling for spiritual mediocrity. Try to spend time with the Lord, often, and in the quiet of His home, and learn His plan for you. It is a beautiful way, also, to get to know Him. We cannot love and serve the Lord if we don’t know Him. How many hours can we add up of enjoyment and how many minutes can we add up of worship and adoration in our lives? I bet you the totals are startling. Of course, if you are ill or house-bound, make a holy hour in your home as often as you can. Turn off the computer and television and place yourself in the presence of the Lord. Let us see what Pope Francis said in his homily this weekend about worshiping the Lord.
I would like all of us to ask ourselves this question: You, I, do we worship the Lord? Do we turn to God only to ask him for things, to thank him, or do we also turn to him to worship him?

 What does it mean, then, to worship God? It means learning to be with him, it means that we stop trying to dialogue with him, and it means sensing that his presence is the most true, the most good, the most important thing of all.

All of us, in our own lives, consciously and perhaps sometimes unconsciously, have a very clear order of priority concerning the things we consider important. Worshiping the Lord means giving him the place that he must have; worshiping the Lord means stating, believing – not only by our words – that he alone truly guides our lives; worshiping the Lord means that we are convinced before him that he is the only God, the God of our lives, the God of our history.

This has a consequence in our lives: we have to empty ourselves of the many small or great idols that we have and in which we take refuge, on which we often seek to base our security. They are idols that we sometimes keep well hidden; they can be ambition, a taste for success, placing ourselves at the center  the tendency to dominate others, the claim to be the sole masters of our lives, some sins to which we are bound, and many others.

This evening I would like a question to resound in the heart of each one of you, and I would like you to answer it honestly: Have I considered which idol lies hidden in my life that prevents me from worshiping the Lord? Worshiping is stripping ourselves of our idols, even the most hidden ones, and choosing the Lord as the center  as the highway of our lives. Dear brothers and sisters, each day the Lord calls us to follow him with courage and fidelity; he has made us the great gift of choosing us as his disciples; he sends us to proclaim him with joy as the Risen one, but he asks us to do so by word and by the witness of our lives, in daily life. The Lord is the only God of our lives, and he invites us to strip ourselves of our many idols and to worship him alone. May the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Paul help us on this journey and intercede for us.

Psalm to contemplate in a time of adoration: Psalm 27:4   One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Devotion for today: Open my eyes, that I may see

Today, for Meditative Monday, I have selected a passage from Psalm 119 which I think all of us who are trying to follow God’s teachings can ponder, and take to heart.
Psalm 119: 17-24

Be good to your servant while I live,
    that I may obey your word.
Open my eyes that I may see
    wonderful things in your law.
 I am a stranger on earth;
    do not hide your commands from me.
 My soul is consumed with longing
    for your laws at all times.
 You rebuke the arrogant, who are accursed,
    those who stray from your commands.
 Remove from me their scorn and contempt,
    for I keep your statutes.
 Though rulers sit together and slander me,
    your servant will meditate on your decrees.
 Your statutes are my delight;
    they are my counselors.
A Pro-Life Prayer for Our President and Public Officials

Lord God, Author of Life and Source of Eternal Life, move the hearts of all our public officials and especially our President, to fulfill their responsibilities worthily and well to all those entrusted to their care. Help them in their special leadership roles, to extend the mantle of protection to the most vulnerable, especially the defenseless unborn, whose lives are threatened with extermination by an indifferent society. Guide all public officials by your wisdom and grace to cease supporting any law that fails to protect the fundamental good that is human life itself, which is a gift from God and parents. You are the Protector and Defender of the lives of the innocent unborn. Change the hearts of those who compromise the call to protect and defend life. Bring our nation to the values that have made us a great nation, a society that upholds the values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all. Mary, the Mother of the living, help us to bear witness to the Gospel of Life with our lives and our laws, through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Imprimatur: January 22, 2009 + Most Reverend Robert J. Baker Bishop of Birmingham in Alabama

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Devotion for today: Worthy is the Lamb… to receive honor

Revelation 5: 11 - 14
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,
saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!"
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, "To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!"
And the four living creatures said, "Amen!" and the elders fell down and worshiped.

When I am before the Blessed Sacrament I feel such a lively faith that I can't describe it. Christ in the Eucharist is almost tangible to me...When it is time for me to leave, I have to tear myself away from His sacred presence.
-- St Anthony of Claret