Posts Tagged 'Prayer'

Pope Benedict’s 60th Annivesary of Ordination

Prayer for Priests prayer card

Dear Friends,

Pope Benedict will be celebrating his 60th anniversary of priestly ordination on June 29th this year! Dioceses and parishes across the world are planning to pray 60 hours of Eucharistic Adoration for the intention of the sanctification of the priesthood and for new and holy vocations to the priesthood. Read more here, and enjoy a prayer card that was made to use for this intention (but can be used any time of the year, too!).

Who is your company for Holy Week?

After Jesus celebrated Hanukkah, he got in a discussion in the Temple area. It became so heated, that the crowd picked up rocks to stone him. Afterwards, he went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing (John 10).

That is significant! When you feel like the world is against you, where do you go?

Jesus went back to the place where he heard His Father’s voice say from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” It was reassuring to go back to the place where his mission started to regain his focus and purpose. It was not just the place, but the relationship that sustained him.

This Gospel is read the Friday before Holy Week. I think it is a great choice because it gives us a peek into the way Jesus found strength to do His Father’s will. As you journey through Holy Week, find those places and people that help you to do God’s will.

Making Tents

I’ve always been somewhat bemused by Peter’s response to the experience of the Transfiguration. Picture this: Jesus invites you, personally, to join him on a private journey up the mountain to join him in prayer. As he prays, the most incredible white light surrounds him and dazzles you with visions of pure brilliance. The Jesus you see before you is, indeed, the Jesus you know and love, but he is transfigured into the most beautiful, resplendent version of a human being you could ever imagine. As his prayer continues, you see with him Elijah, the ancient prophet of Israel, and Moses, the father of all that Hebrew Law holds. If this were your experience of the Lord, quite likely you might utter what Peter did: “Lord, it is good that we are here!” But, it seems unlikely that you would continue with the somewhat awkward suggestion “…let me make three tents…” (no offense meant to St. Peter, mind you!)

Peter is, indeed, dazzled by the experience, and seems to want to make some sense out of what is happening—and perhaps even more courageously, wants to respond to this incredible experience with a fitting gesture or act of adoration. He recognizes, it seems, that he is privileged with an experience that is quite extraordinary…the recipient of a gift of grace that he neither anticipated nor requested…but that, nonetheless, he is being given gratuitously. He is struck to the heart with the realization that this Jesus is, undeniably, the Beloved Son of God, and he desires with all his heart to adore this Christ with full heart. In his reflections on this Gospel of the 2nd Sunday of Lent, Pope Benedict writes that the Transfiguration of Christ is an indication that God desires “to hand down to us, each day, a Word that penetrates the depths of our spirit.” May we, with Peter, find a way to respond to that Word, that brilliance, that resplendence, with gratitude, awe, and reverence.

At the foot of the Cross

Today, the second Friday of Lent, we remember Our Lord’s crucifixion on Good Friday. He carried his Cross and died because he loves us inifintely and wanted us to be set free from our enslavement to sin. Only through the grace of salvation won by His passion, death and resurrection are we set free from sin…and no sin is impossible for God to forgive!

Today, as we seek to love and imitate Christ more deeply and allow Him to love us, lets take a few minutes to pray the Stations of the Cross or reflect on the love Jesus showed us on the Cross. His passion, death and resurrection is at the heart of every vocation, and priests and religious are called to help others understand its meaning in our lives.

Here is a Stations of the Cross you are invited to pray as you discern your vocation, or as you support others who are discerning their vocations. May Our Lord enable each of us to be his disciples and follow his loving way!

Frailty and Temptation

During this frist week of Lent we are invited to meditate on two points: our human frailty weakened by original sin (Genesis 3), as well as to reflect on Jesus’ temptations in the desert (Matthew 4). Reflecting on these two points, Pope Benedict’s Lenten Message for 2011 states the following: “The First Sunday of the Lenten journey reveals our condition as human beings here on earth. The victorious battle against temptation, the starting point of Jesus’ mission, is an invitation to become aware of our own fragility in order to accept the Grace that frees from sin and infuses new strength in Christ – the way, the truth and the life (cf. Ordo Initiationis Christianae Adultorum, n. 25).”

Recognizing our need for God’s grace implies a real struggle with the power of sin that has taken hold of our heart in manifold ways. One response that the Devil often wants to produce in us is an initial resistance to convert or change our lives. He uses fear to make us think we will loose something precious if we abandon our familiar ways of sin. However, in Christ’s temptations in the desert we are encouraged to recognize that the devil only promises distortions of what only belongs to God. In following Christ through these fourty days of penance and prayer we are strengthened in grace to turn away from sin and trust in the Lord’s plan for our lives. Our frailty as human beings is not something bad in itself, since dependance on God is the way we were created to exist. However, the frailty we suffer because of the effects of original sin in our souls is a great reminder that we cannot save ourselves from sin. The latter frailty mentioned, which is caused by sin, is the clearest sign that we need to walk closely with the one who is our strength.

During this first week of the Lenten season, let’s renew our resolution to pray and fast with Christ, so that we too may overcome temptation and sinful frailty. St. Paul reminds us that “If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” (Romans 6:8)

Know Thyself

When it comes to our relationship with God, the spiritual masters tell us that before we can know God, we must first know ourselves. Well that seems kind of silly, doesn’t it, the notion that we need to “know ourselves”? I mean, how can I not know myself? I am myself and I live with myself everyday, how could I possibly not know who I am?

Knowing who we are has to do with knowing who we’ve been made to be by God, knowing how our life circumstances, events, and choices have shaped us, and knowing who it is that we wish to become. None of this comes to us automatically. Instead, we have to spend time thinking, reflecting, praying, and even plain-old just noticing how these things are affecting us and forming us. Too often, maybe, the high-speed pace of our lives and the relentlessness of our schedules prevent us from doing this…and thus maybe we don’t “know ourselves” as well as we think we do.

Consider this: when’s the last time you had a conversation with yourself about how fulfilled you feel in life? Sure we complain or feel drained about the things that aren’t fulfilling, and we are grateful for the things that do bring enjoyment or a sense of satisfaction…but when’s the last time you stopped to actually consider what that fulfillment or lack of fulfillment is actually inviting you to do? Or when’s the last time you stopped to pay attention to the parts of your day that made you a better person? All of this has to do with knowing ourselves. Only when we know what provides a sense of fulfillment, makes us better people, or brings joy to our lives can we look at it and say, “Hey, that’s all from God…and I’m grateful.” Reflection leads to reverence. Reverence leads to relationship. And relationship leads to revelation. Fr. James Martin, SJ, says in his popular book Becoming Who You Are, that “finding our true selves means allowing God to find and reveal our true selves to us.” What a beautiful cycle! The more we know ourselves, the more we come to know God, and the more we know God, the better we come to know ourselves! One of my favorite quotes is from a T.S. Eliot poem and, I think, also speaks to this reality: “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” Happy journeying—and happy homecoming!

St. Teresa of Avila: Transverberation

In chapter 29, inThe Life of St. Teresa of Avila, we read the following description of St. Teresa’s mystical ecstasy, also known as “transverberation”. In this description we hear St. Teresa narrate her mystical experience, in which she was spiritually consumed by God’s love:

“In his hands I saw a long golden spear
and at the end of the iron tip
I seemed to see a point of fire.
With this he seemed to pierce my heart several times
so that it penetrated to my entrails.
When he drew it out,
I thought he was drawing them out with it
and he left me completely afire with a great love for God.
The pain was so sharp
that it made me utter several moans;
and so excessive was the sweetness
caused me by this intense pain
that one can never wish to lose it,
nor will one’s soul be content
with anything less than God.
It is not bodily pain, but spiritual,
though the body has a share in it–indeed, a great share.
So sweet are the colloquies of love
which pass between the soul and God
that if anyone thinks I am lying I beseech God,
in His goodness, to give him the same experience.”

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