Saturday, April 27, 2013

Devotion for today: Hail, Lady of the Angels!

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote a prayer to the most Blessed Virgin Mary, expressing his own need for help and dependence upon her as his mediatrix. From this prayer, several pages in length, I quote a few brief excerpts:

O most blessed and sweet Virgin Mary,
Mother of God, filled with all tenderness,
Daughter of the most high King,
Lady of the Angels,
Mother of all the faithful,
On this day and all the days of my life,
I entrust to your merciful heart my body and my soul,
all my acts, thoughts, choices,
desires, words, deeds,
my entire life and death,
So that, with your assistance,
all may be ordered to the good
according to the will of your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ....

From your beloved Son...
request for me the grace to resist firmly
the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil....

My most holy Lady,
I also beseech you to obtain for me
true obedience and true humility of heart
So that I may recognize myself truly
as a sinner--wretched and weak--
and powerless,
without the grace and help of my Creator
and without your holy prayers....

Obtain for me as well,
O most sweet Lady,
true charity with which from the depths of my heart
I may love your most holy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
and, after Him,
love you above all other things....

Grant, O Queen of Heaven,
that ever in my heart
I may have fear and love alike
for your most sweet Son....
I pray also that, at the end of my life,
Mother without compare,
Gate of Heaven and Advocate of sinners....
will protect me with your great piety and mercy....
and obtain for me, through the blessed and glorious Passion of your Son
and through your own intercession,
received in hope, the forgiveness of all my sins.
When I die in your love and His love,
may you direct me
into the way of salvation and blessedness.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Devotion for today: The Angel of the Lord Declared Unto Mary…

Today, in our look at Marian Devotion in poetry, our poem comes from an unlikely source. It is a reflection on this prayer: The Angelus
The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. 
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of
our death. Amen. 
Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word. 
Hail Mary . . . 
And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us. 
Hail Mary . . . 
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray: 
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.

"Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you" (Lk 1:28) 
 "Blessed are you among women,
 and blessed is the fruit of your womb"
(Lk 1:42).
Hymn of the Angelus

Sancta Maria! Turn thine eyes
Upon the sinner's sacrifice
Of fervent prayer, and humble love,
From thy holy throne above.
At morn, at noon, at twilight dim,
Maria, thou hast heard my hymn!
In joy and woe, in good and ill,
Mother of God, be with me still!
When the hours flew brightly by,
And not a cloud obscured the sky,
My soul, lest it should truant be,
Thy grace did guide to thine and thee;
Now, when the storms of fate overcast
Darkly my present and my past,
Let my future radiant shine
With sweet hopes of thee and thine.
Edgar Allen Poe
Walter E. Croarkin. Our Lady in Poetry: An Anthology.
Chicago: John Maher Company, 1940.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Devotion for today: Sing of Mary!

Next week we will be studying the beautiful devotions our Catholic faith offers to us as a way to pray to our heavenly mother, Mary. To prepare for our study of Mary, let us spend time this week reading some beautiful poetry regarding Our Lady. We begin today with two poems by Blessed John Paul II. As we prepare for our study, spend time reflecting on the life of Mary in her role as Mother of God, Mother of us all!

Her Amazement at Her Only Child
Light piercing, gradually, everyday events; 
a woman's eyes, hands
used to them since childhood.
Then brightness flared, too huge for simple days,
and hands clasped when the words lost their space.
In that little town, my son, where they knew us together, 
you called me mother; but no one had eyes to see
the astounding events as they took place day by day.
Your life became the life of the poor
in your wish to be with them through the work of your hands.
I knew: the light that lingered in ordinary things, 
like a spark sheltered under the skin of our days -
the light was you;
it did not come from me.
And I had more of you in that luminous silence 
than I had of you as the fruit of my body, my blood.
Collected Poems.
Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II)

Translated by Jerry Peterkiewicz.
New York: Random House, 1982. 

First Moment of the Glorified Body
My place flows by in memory. The silence 
of those distant streets does not pass away,
held up in space like glass which limpid eyes
break into sapphire and light. Nearest
are the child's words on which silence takes wing:
Mamma - mamma -
then silence falls again into the same streets,
an invisible bird.
There I have returned many a time to memories:
from which life overflows, surging from within
with unlikely meaning,
thought and emotion balanced
as if the scales were poised in pulsing blood
leaving silence undisturbed, attuned to breathing
thought and song.
Perhaps this is prayer, my Son, and these are simple days 
already beyond their measure, flowing
into the pupils of my eyes, into my weightless blood.
These are simple days, my Son, 
carried from those streets where silence stands
unveiling your childish voice.
How different your words now, heard from afar. 
Lips once whispered them, now they reach
into my soul as thought alone, speech
simple, immediate.
Collected Poems.
Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II)

Translated by Jerry Peterkiewicz.
New York: Random House, 1982. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Devotion for today: A Message from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Our final look at the beautiful Catholic practice of Eucharistic Adoration comes from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

I make a holy hour each day in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. All my sisters of the Missionaries of Charity make a daily holy hour, as well, because we find that through our daily holy hour our love for Jesus becomes more intimate, our love for each other more understanding, and our love for the poor more compassionate. Our holy hour is our daily family prayer where we get together and pray the Rosary before the exposed Blessed Sacrament the first half hour, and second half hour we pray in silence. Our adoration has doubled the number of our vocations. In 1963 we were making a weekly holy hour together, but it was not until 1973, when we began our daily holy hour, that our community started to grow and blossom. That is why I encourage you to… through Mary, the cause of our joy, you may discover that no where on earth are you more welcomed, no where on earth are you more loved, than by Jesus, living and truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time that you will spend on earth. Each moment that you spend with Jesus will deepen your union with Him and make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in heaven, and will help bring about an everlasting peace on earth. (Come to Me in the Blessed Sacrament, Apostolate for Perpetual Adoration)

…Prayer makes the heart large enough until it can contain God’s gift of Himself. Ask and seek, and your heart will grow big enough to receive Him and keep Him as your own.
The following are prayers that we say every day from our prayer book. I hope they may be helpful if you do not know any prayers, or would like to know more.

Let us all become a true and fruitful branch on the vine Jesus, by accepting Him in our lives as it pleases Him to come: as the Truth- to be told; as the Life – to be lived; as the Light – to be lighted; as the Love – to be loved; as the Way – to be walked; as the Joy – to be given; as the Peace – to be spread; as the Sacrifice – to be offered, in our families and within our neighborhood.

O God, we believe You are here. We adore and love You with our whole heart and soul because You are most worthy of all our love. We desire to love You as the Blessed do in Heaven. We adore all the designs of Your Divine Providence, resigning ourselves entirely to Your Will. We also love our neighbor for Your sake as we love ourselves. We sincerely forgive all who have injured us, and ask pardon of all whom we have injured.
Dear Jesus, help us to spread Your fragrance everywhere we go. Flood our souls with Your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess our whole being, so utterly, that our lives may only be a radiance of Yours. Shine through us, and be so in us, that every soul we come in contact with may feel Your presence in our soul. Let them look up and see no longer us, but only Jesus!
Stay with us, and then we shall begin to shine as You shine; so to shine as to be a light to others. The light, O Jesus, will be all from You, none of it will be ours; it will be You, shining on others through us. Let us thus praise You in the way You love best by shining on those around us.
Let us preach you without preaching, not by words but by example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what we do, the evident fullness of the love our hearts bear to You. Amen.

Deliver me, O Jesus:
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,
From the desire of being popular,
From the fear of being humiliated,
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being suspected.

(Mother Teresa, A Simple Path, compiled by Lucinda Vardey, Ballentine Books, 1995)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Devotion for today: Thoughts on Eucharistic Adoration by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

One of my favorite explanations of the gift of a Holy Hour is written in the book, “A Treasure in Clay” which is the autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen. Today, let us just sit back and reflect on some of his thoughts on what he called, “The Hour that makes my day.”

First, the Holy Hour is not a devotion; it is a sharing in the work of redemption. Our Blessed Lord used the words "hour" and "day" in two totally different connotations in the Gospel of John. "Day" belongs to God; the "hour" belongs to evil. Seven times in the Gospel of John, the word "hour" is used, and in each instance it refers to the demonic, and to the moments when Christ is no longer in the Father's Hands, but in the hands of men. In the Garden, our Lord contrasted two "hours" - one was the evil hour "this is your hour" - with which Judas could turn out the lights of the world. In contrast, our Lord asked: "Could you not watch one hour with Me?"In other words, he asked for an hour of reparation to combat the hour of evil; an hour of victimal union with the Cross to overcome the anti-love of sin.

Secondly, the only time Our Lord asked the Apostles for anything was the night he went into his agony. Then he did not ask all of them ... perhaps because he knew he could not count on their fidelity. But at least he expected three to be faithful to him: Peter, James and John. As often in the history of the Church since that time, evil was awake, but the disciples were asleep. That is why there came out of His anguished and lonely Heart the sigh: "Could you not watch one hour with me?" Not for an hour of activity did He plead, but for an hour of companionship.

The third reason I keep up the Holy Hour is to grow more and more into his likeness. As Paul puts it: "We are transfigured into his likeness, from splendor to splendor." We become like that which we gaze upon. Looking into a sunset, the face takes on a golden glow. Looking at the Eucharistic Lord for an hour transforms the heart in a mysterious way as the face of Moses was transformed after his companionship with God on the mountain. Something happens to us similar to that which happened to the disciples at Emmaus. On Easter Sunday afternoon when the Lord met them, he asked why they were so gloomy. After spending some time in his presence, and hearing again the secret of spirituality - "The Son of Man must suffer to enter into his Glory" - their time with him ended and their "hearts were on fire."…

The purpose of the Holy Hour is to encourage deep personal encounter with Christ. The holy and glorious God is constantly inviting us to come to Him, to hold converse with Him, to ask for such things as we need and to experience what a blessing there is in fellowship with Him…

Neither theological knowledge nor social action alone is enough to keep us in love with Christ unless both are preceded by a personal encounter with him. When Moses saw the burning bush in the desert, it did not feed on any fuel. The flame, unfed by anything visible, continued to exist without destroying the wood. So personal dedication to Christ does not deform any of our natural gifts, disposition, or character; it just renews without killing. As the wood becomes fire and the fire endures, so we become Christ and Christ endures.

I have found that it takes some time to catch fire in prayer. This has been one of the advantages of the daily Hour. It is not so brief as to prevent the soul from collecting itself and shaking off the multitudinous distractions of the world. Sitting before the Presence is like a body exposing itself before the sun to absorb its rays. Silence in the Hour is a tête-á-tête with the Lord. In those moments, one does not so much pour out written prayers, but listening takes its place. We do not say: "Listen, Lord, for Thy servant speaks," but "Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth."

….So the Holy Hour, quite apart from all its positive spiritual benefits, kept my feet from wandering too far. Being tethered to a tabernacle, one's rope for finding other pastures is not so long. That dim tabernacle lamp, however pale and faint, had some mysterious luminosity to darken the brightness of "bright lights." The Holy Hour became like an oxygen tank to revive the breath of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the foul and fetid atmosphere of the world. Even when it seemed so unprofitable and lacking in spiritual intimacy, I still had the sensation of being at least like a dog at the master's door, ready in case he called me.

The Hour, too, became a magister and teacher, for although before we love anyone we must have a knowledge of that person, nevertheless, after we know, it is love that increases knowledge. Theological insights are gained not only from the two covers of a treatise, but from two knees on a prie-dieu before a tabernacle.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Devotion for today: But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness…

For Meditation Monday, I have chosen a passage that has given me much strength in the last few confusing days here in America where I live. We can be tempted to feel God has abandoned us and left us to fend for ourselves against evil. That is never true. Let us listen to the  words of Paul as many of his people wondered if the times in which they lived, filled with persecution and violence, were indeed the end times.

1 Thessalonians 5

The Day of the Lord
Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.  So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.  For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.  Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.  And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

 Rejoice always,  pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

 Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt  but test them all; hold on to what is good,  reject every kind of evil.

 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

 Brothers and sisters, pray for us.  Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss.  I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers and sisters.

 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Devotion for today: They will not hunger or thirst anymore

I, John, had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.

Then one of the elders said to me,
“These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress;
they have washed their robes
and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

“For this reason they stand before God’s throne
and worship him day and night in his temple.
The one who sits on the throne will shelter them.
They will not hunger or thirst anymore,
nor will the sun or any heat strike them.
For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne
will shepherd them
and lead them to springs of life-giving water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Msgr. John S. Mbinda tells us: The good news this Sunday is one of hope and comfort for millions people in the world today, who suffer persecution, ridicule, and injustice. We find that good news in the Gospel passage that offers us both comfort and great challenge. The comforting message is that no one can snatch the sheep out of the Father’s hands. The challenge for both the pastors and lay faithful alike is being shepherds to those entrusted to their care, and indeed to all our brothers and sisters. We become shepherds by listening to the voice of the Shepherd in a world with so many conflicting voices; by following the Shepherd faithfully; and by being what Pope Francis has called custodians of one another; giving witness to the Shepherd, the Risen Lord. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) The Risen Lord is the Lamb who shepherds us through the Church and gives us spiritual nourishment; 2) Shepherds are cautioned on the danger of leaving the flock alone for whatever reason, because the sheep will sooner or later be snatched away by the wolves of this world; 3) Both pastors and lay faithful are challenged in a number of ways: to listen to Jesus Christ the Shepherd and to follow Him; to proclaim the Good News of hope and comfort to those who are weak in their faith; those tested by the many conflicting voices in the world; those led away from the flock, away from the Shepherd and bring them back to the fold.©2013