Passages for Prayer

April 18, 2015

Praying with the Bible can make both Scripture reading and times of prayer more fruitful. Inspired by our upcoming Sunday Mass readings, below is a schedule of suggested passages you can use in your daily prayer.

April 20          Acts 3:1-10

April 21          Acts 4:8-12

April 22          Psalm 118

April 23          1st John 3:1-2

April 24          John 10:1-11

April 25          John 10:11-18

April 26          (4th Sunday of Easter)

April 27          Acts 9:1-9

April 28          Acts 9:10-19

April 29          Acts 9:26-31

April 30          1st John 3:18-24

May 1             John 15:1-8

May 2             Repeat a Previous Passage

May 3             (5th Sunday of Easter)

(Note that “1st John” refers to the first letter of John, while simply “John” denotes the Gospel of John.)

Our Glorified Bodies Shall Be Like His

April 18, 2015

In inspired Scripture, St. Paul tells us:

“[The Lord Jesus Christ] will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.” 1

This means that we can glimpse what our own resurrected bodies will be like someday by studying the resurrected body of Jesus Christ.

The Resurrection by El Greco, Madrid, 1596-1600.•  Jesus’ Resurrected Body is the Same Body He Died In

        The tomb is empty on Easter morning because Jesus’ body is raised.2 On Easter evening, Jesus shows his disciples the wounds of his hands, feet, and side, which he received on the cross.3 His body retains its “flesh and bones” and can be touched and held.4 Our own dead bodies will similarly be reclaimed and resurrected, from the tomb, the sea, or the dust of the earth.5 St. Paul is so insistent on our own future resurrection he says, “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised.” 6

•  Jesus Resurrected can do the Ordinary Things He did Before

        On Easter Sunday, Jesus walks and talks.7 He can breathe and eat.8 He knows who he is and he remembers his friends.9 (There is no reason to think that the dead will forget the lives they lived or their loved ones.)

•  Jesus’ Resurrected Body can also do Extraordinary Things

        Though he is no ghost, Jesus can appear suddenly within a locked room or vanish from another.10 He can make himself unrecognizable to those who know him.11 His body can ascend into heaven.12 And now, resurrected to life, he dies no more, for “death no longer has power over him.” 13

        The spiritual gifts granted to some saints on earth (such as bi-location, levitation, incorruptibility, etc.) suggest powers belonging to our future glorified bodies. For her various apparitions, the Blessed Virgin Mary may be modifying her glorified body’s physical appearance (for example, to be as a dark-haired native at Guadalupe in Mexico, but fair and blond-haired at Champion, Wisconsin.)

•  Our Conclusion

        The bodies in which we live and die will be same ones in which we rise. Our glorified bodies will be able to do the familiar things we know, yet we shall also possess new abilities which seem extraordinary to us now. St. Paul describes our future glorified bodies in this way:

“Someone may say, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come back?’

It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible. It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious. It is sown weak; it is raised powerful. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.

That which is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with immortality.”14

Endnotes:

  1. Philippians 3:21
  2. Matthew 28:6
  3. Luke 24:40, John 20:20
  4. Luke 24:39, John 20:17, Matthew 28:9
  5. John 5:28-29, Revelation 20:13
  6. 1 Corinthians 15:13
  7. Luke 24:15
  8. John 20:22, Luke 24:42-43
  9. Luke 24:39, John 20:16-17
  10. John 20:19 & 26, Luke 24:31
  11. Luke 24:16, John 21:12
  12. Acts 1:9, Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51
  13. Romans 6:9
  14. 1 Corinthians 15:35, 42-44 & 53

Shalom x 3

April 11, 2015

Isaiah saw Seraphim in the temple before God crying out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts! All the earth is filled with his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3) God is indeed the most holy.

The charge nailed to the cross above Jesus’ head reads three times: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” (written in Hebrew, Greek, & Latin.) Jesus is the greatest king.

After his resurrection, Jesus appears twice in the upper room and says the same thing three times: “Peace be with you.” He offers us the profoundest peace.

5 Fresh Ways to Pray the Psalms

April 3, 2015

Daily prayer is essential to the Christian life and the psalms are prayers  inspired for us by God. They were prayed in the Old Testament Jewish Temple and within the New Covenant Christian Church up to our day. Here are five fresh ways to pray the psalms:

Mount Calvary's Cross - Sacred Heart Catholic Church -  Wauzeka WI1.  Pray Jesus’ Passion Psalms

For thousands of years, Jews have ritually prayed Psalms 113–118 at their Passover meals. These are psalms of joy and thanksgiving at God delivering his people. At the Last Supper, Jesus and his apostles chanted these psalms: “Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Mark 14:26, Matthew 26:30)

Later, hanging on the cross, Jesus said, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” This is the opening line of Psalm 22, which describes the anguish of someone suffering just like Jesus. For example, it says, “They have pierced my hands and my feet…” The psalm, however, ends in hope: “I will live for the LORD.”

Praying these psalms (113-118 & 22) can connect us more to Jesus and his Passion.

2.  Pray the Psalms Through Jesus or Mary

Fleur-De-Lis - Sacred Heart Catholic Church -  Wauzeka WIWould you like to read Jesus and Mary’s prayer book? This is what we have in the psalms. Being faithful Jews, Jesus and his mother would have known them well and prayed them often. A fresh way to approach the psalms is to open yourself to sharing in Jesus or Mary’s thoughts and emotions. Praying with their minds and hearts helps us to experience the psalms with new insights and depths.

3.  Pray the Psalms to Jesus

Jesus said, “The Father and I are one,” and St. Paul wrote, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” (John 10:30, Philippians 2:11) Therefore, wherever the psalms mention “(the) Lord,” substituting “Jesus” usually applies just as truly. Here, for example, is a converted passage from Psalm 27:

Hear my voice, Jesus, when I call;
have mercy on me and answer me.
“Come,” says my heart, “seek his face”;
your face, Jesus, do I seek!

Praying the psalms’ to Jesus in this way brings us personally closer to him. Here are a few suggested Jesus Psalms: 3, 27, 86, 100, 103, & 138.

4.  Pray Repeating Each Line of the Psalm

Burning Incense - Sacred Heart Catholic Church -  Wauzeka WIAs you read through a psalm, pray each line twice, meditating on the profound, absolute truth of each statement. Praying in this way helps to make the prayer “yours” and yields greater focus and personal conviction.

5.  Pray the Psalms for Others

Some people do not, or cannot, pray the psalms. Some lack belief in God and prayer. Others feel too overwhelmed by their pains, anxieties, or other burdens to offer these prayers themselves. Among the 150 psalms there are prayers for the vast range of human experience. Not every one will resonate with your personal situation on a particular day, but each one is exactly the prayer that, somewhere, someone else desperately needs. Pray it for them to help them go through their darkness into the light.

Jesus Psalm 4

March 31, 2015

Answer me when I call, my saving God.
When troubles hem me in, set me free;
take pity on me, hear my prayer.

How long, O people, will you be hard of heart?
Why do you love what is worthless, chase after lies? Selah

Know that Jesus works wonders for his faithful one;
Jesus hears when I call out to him.

Tremble and sin no more;
weep bitterly within your hearts,
wail upon your beds,
offer fitting sacrifices
and trust in Jesus.

Many say, “May we see better times!
Jesus, show us the light of your face!” Selah

But you have given my heart more joy
than they have when grain and wine abound.

In peace I will lie down and fall asleep,
for you alone, Jesus, make me secure.


Jesus Psalms substitute instances of “(the) Lord” with “Jesus” as a way to pray the psalms anew.

Jesus Psalm 34

March 30, 2015

I will bless Jesus at all times;
his praise shall be always in my mouth.
My soul will glory in Jesus;
let the poor hear and be glad.

Magnify Jesus with me;
and let us exalt his name together.
I sought Jesus, and he answered me,
delivered me from all my fears.

Look to him and be radiant,
and your faces may not blush for shame.
This poor one cried out and Jesus heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.

The angel of Jesus encamps
around those who fear him, and he saves them.
Taste and see that Jesus is good;
blessed is the stalwart one who takes refuge in him.

Fear Jesus, you his holy ones;
nothing is lacking to those who fear him.
The rich grow poor and go hungry,
but those who seek Jesus lack no good thing.

Come, children, listen to me;
I will teach you fear of Jesus.
Who is the man who delights in life,
who loves to see the good days?

Keep your tongue from evil,
your lips from speaking lies.
Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of Jesus are directed toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
Jesus’ face is against evildoers
to wipe out their memory from the earth.

The righteous cry out, Jesus hears
and he rescues them from all their afflictions.
Jesus is close to the brokenhearted,
saves those whose spirit is crushed.

Many are the troubles of the righteous,
but Jesus delivers him from them all.
He watches over all his bones;
not one of them shall be broken.

Evil will slay the wicked;
those who hate the righteous are condemned.
Jesus is the redeemer of the souls of his servants;
and none are condemned who take refuge in him.


Jesus Psalms substitute instances of “(the) Lord” with “Jesus” as a way to pray the psalms anew.

“One on His Right, the Other on His Left”

March 24, 2015

Revealing fascinating prophetic connections between Moses, Joshua, Samson, and Jesus Christ on the Cross; featuring the religious paintings of James Tissot (1836-1902.)

A Game of Monopoly & the Rich Man

March 10, 2015

Lazarus at the Rich Man's DoorGospel: Luke 16:19-31
Thursday, 2nd Week of Lent

    A UC-Berkley psychology professor sets two people down for an experiment: the pair will play a game of Monopoly with modified rules. One player will get the Rolls Royce while the other will be the old shoe. The player with the car will start with $2,000 and play by standard Monopoly rules, while the old shoe’s player gets $1,000, rolls just one die (making doubles impossible,) and collects only $100 for passing “Go.” Who gets which is decided by a fateful coin-flip. At the end of the game, the professor asks the winner (invariably the Rolls Royce player) whether they feel like they deserved to win the game. And the winner always says ‘yes.’

    I can understand the winner’s perspective. At the beginning of the game both players had a fair chance of winning (for either could have ended up with the car,) but the winner won that coin flip, played by the rules, and did what was necessary to arrive at victory. If the winner had cheated the loser, stealing cash or refusing rents, then that victory would feel undeserved.

Abraham, Lazarus, and the Rich Man    The Rich Man who showed no concern for poor Lazarus may have felt like one of those Rolls Royce players. He “dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day,” but nothing in the text indicates that he had defrauded or exploited anyone to obtain his wealth. Maybe he looked at poor people like Lazarus and shrugged, “Some receive what is good in their lifetimes while others receive what is bad,” words that Father Abraham would throw back in his face. Perhaps the Rich Man had not so much perpetrated evils, but rather (ignoring the Scriptures) felt no responsibility to help the less fortunate outside his door.

    May the one who reads this—a winner in the coin-toss of life—not be condemned for failing to give alms.

What Happened to our “Alleluia” & the Gloria?

February 26, 2015

Glorious Godlike Creatures   You may have noticed that the Gloria and the Alleluia have gone missing since Ash Wednesday. “Alleluia” is Hebrew for “Praise the Lord,” (literally, “Praise Yahweh,”) and it is typically sung before the proclamation of the Gospel. The Gloria, an ancient hymn of ecstatic praise to God, is usually sung at Sunday Masses. However, in Lent, the Church sets both of these aside.

Throughout this penitential season, we deprive ourselves of things so that we may be more perfectly prepared to celebrate Easter joy. By refraining from saying “Alleluia” or singing the Gloria (except for Solemnities) during Lent, their Easter resurrection is made that much more special.

Reflections on The Passion of the Christ

February 26, 2015
  • Jesus Writing on the Ground from the Passion of the Christ with Jim CaviezelThe 2004 film begins quoting Isaiah 53, “He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah foretold Christ’s sufferings seven centuries before they came to pass.
  • We see a full moon, for Passover was always celebrated upon a full moon (similar to how Easter is always the Sunday after the first full moon following spring equinox on March 20th.)
  • We find Jesus in the garden, praying the psalms to his Father: “Rise up, defend me” (Ps 94) “Save me from the traps they set for me” (Ps 141) “Shelter me, O Lord, I trust in you. In you I take my refuge.” (Ps 16)
  • Satan appears in the garden; androgynous, attractive, and deathly pale. He speaks doubts to Jesus: “Do you really believe that one man can bear the full burden of sin? No one can carry this burden… No one. Ever. No. Never. … Who is your Father? Who are you?” Jesus never speaks to the devil throughout the film, but here he stands, locks eyes with Satan, and crushes the snake’s head underfoot. This recalls God’s words to the ancient serpent in Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.
  • Awoken from her sleep, the Virgin Mother senses something is awry. She asks Mary Magdalene, “Why is this night different from every other night?” She answers, “Because once we were slaves and we are slaves no longer.” This quotes the traditional dialogue of the Jewish Passover meal ritual.
  • Given the choice, the crowd calls for the unsavory prisoner Barabbas, a violent revolutionary, to be freed instead of Jesus. “Barabbas” means “Son of the Father.
  • At the pillar, Jesus quotes Psalm 108: “My heart is ready, Father. My heart is ready.” In Hebrew, to say “very,” you repeat a word twice. To say something is so in the greatest measure, it is said thrice (e.g. “Holy, Holy, Holy.”) The Romans directing the flogging of Jesus say “Satis / Enough” three times.
  • The angry crowd from the Passion of the ChristPilate presents the lacerated Jesus saying, “Ecce Homo / Behold (the) man!” The shot is from behind, emphasizing the angry, riotous mob in the background, for these words are a critique of fallen man/mankind.
  • Pilate asks, “Shall I crucify your king?” The high priest replies, “We have no king but Caesar,” denying the kingship of God.
  • The 14 Stations of the Cross make appearances throughout the film, including the three times Jesus falls.
  • Embracing his cross, Jesus alludes to Psalm 116: “I am your servant Father. Your servant and the son of your handmaid.
  • Mary, recalling when Jesus once fell as a child, rushes to his side. Jesus tells her, “See, Mother, I make all things new,” foreshadowing Revelation 21:5, “Behold, I make all things new.
  • Veronica, who gives Jesus her veil to wipe his face, has a name which means “true image.”
  • Jesus’ experiences at Golgotha are paralleled with flashbacks to the Last Supper. Jesus is stripped, the bread is uncovered. The Host is lifted, his cross is raised.
  • The Virgin Mary at the foot of the cross calls Jesus, “Flesh of my flesh, heart of my heart…” echoing the words of Adam toward Eve.
  • On the cross, Jesus quotes Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

21 Ideas for Lent

February 18, 2015

Prayer

  • Practice intentional, daily prayer.
  • Pray with passages from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.
  • Pray the Stations of the Cross communally or on your own.
  • Read spiritual books and talk about them with Jesus.
  • Learn more about a saint and grow closer to him or her.
  • Pray the Rosary, imagining yourself present at each of the mysteries.
  • Attend daily Mass.

Fasting

  • Buy nothing that you do not need.
  • Drink water in place of other beverages.
  • Refrain from complaining.
  • Say only good things about others unless your duty requires otherwise.
  • Keep from the TV, internet, smart phone, iPad, and/or radio.
  • Sleep without a pillow.
  • Choose a distant parking space.

Almsgiving

  • Save the money you would normally spend on something else to donate to a cause.
  • Fill a give-away box with things you don’t really need.
  • Clear your closet of clothes the clothes you don’t wear and give them away.
  • When you go shopping, pick up non-perishable food items for the food bank.
  • Contribute to our diocesan annual appeal to support Christ’s work.
  • Give those living in nursing homes or the homebound the gift of a visit.
  • Say three loving things to your spouse and kids each day.

Renewing Your Baptismal Vows

January 11, 2015

On this feast day of our Lord’s baptism, let us renew the vows of our own baptisms:

Baptism of Christ, the Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altar, c. 1485/1500Do you reject sin, so as to live in the freedom of God’s children?  (“I do.”)

Do you reject the glamour of evil, and refuse to be mastered by sin?

Do you reject Satan, father of sin and prince of darkness?

Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth?

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?

This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it, in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Encountering Jesus at His Ministry’s Beginning & End

January 9, 2015

Comparing John 1:35-43 & 20:11-18

  • John the Baptist is with two of his disciples when he points out Jesus “the Lamb of God” passing by. Jesus turns, sees the two disciples following him, and asks, “What are you looking for?
  • Mary of Magdala is with two angels at the empty tomb when Jesus comes by. She turns around and sees Jesus, but does not know it’s him. He asks her, “Whom are you looking for?
  • John the Baptist’s two disciples answer Jesus, “Rabbi, (that is, Teacher) where are you staying?
  • Mary, recognizing the risen Lord, says to him, “Rabbouni!” (which also means Teacher.)
  • Jesus tells the curious duo, (one of whom we are told is St. Andrew the Apostle) “Come, and you will see.
  • Jesus tells the overjoyed Mary, “Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.

Points for Reflection:

St. Mary Magdalene Clings to Jesus□ We first come to Jesus looking for something. (“What are you looking for?”) But we are in fact looking for a Someone. (“Whom are you looking for?”)

□ Our search begins with curiosity, but grows finally into love.

□ Jesus is a Teacher to them all, but he more than a teacher to Mary of Magdela. (Similarly, in Matthew’s telling of the Last Supper, all the apostles call Jesus “Lord,” while Judas calls him merely, “Rabbi.”)

□ Jesus makes the first two apostles, but he makes Mary (as the Church Fathers call her) “the Apostle to the Apostles.

□ Jesus draws us near (“Come and see,”) and then he sends us forth on mission (“Go to my brothers and tell them…”)

□ Jesus’ baptism leads to his tomb and resurrection.

□ Jesus, who dwelt on earth, now dwells in His Father and Our Father’s house. Jesus wills that we come to dwell with him, in Heaven, as it is on earth.

Mysteries of the Holy Family

December 26, 2014
  • Mary with Jesus in Swaddling ClothesThe Holy Family’s first Christmas was both stressful and joyful.
  • Jesus the Bread of Life was born in Bethlehem, which means “House of Bread.”
  • Jesus was born and laid to rest in caves. His body was wrapped, in birth and death.
  • Joseph taught carpentry to Him through whom all things were made.
  • Mary taught prayers to God.
  • St. Joseph, protector of the Holy Family, is now universal patron of the Church.
  • St. Mary, the bearer of one child, is now mother of all Christians.

The Christmas Proclamation

December 23, 2014

This proclamation recalls the great events which set the stage for the birth of Jesus Christ within our human history. Its reading has traditionally preceded the Mass of Christmas Eve.

The 25th Day of December,
   when ages beyond number had run their course from the creation of the world, when God in the beginning created heaven and earth, and formed man in his own likeness;
   when century upon century had passed since the Almighty set his bow 1 in the clouds after the Great Flood, as a sign of covenant and peace;
   in the 21st century since Abraham, our father in faith, came out of Ur of the Chaldees 2;
   in the 13th century since the People of Israel were led by Moses in the Exodus from Egypt;
   around the thousandth year since David was anointed King;
   in the 65th week of the prophecy of Daniel 3;
   in the 194th Olympiad 4;
   in the year seven hundred and fifty-two since the foundation of the City of Rome;
   in the 42nd year of the reign of Caesar Octavian Augustus5,
   the whole world being at peace 6,
   JESUS CHRIST, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, desiring to consecrate the world by his most loving presence, was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and when nine months had passed since his conception, was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judah, and was made man:
   The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

* * * * * * *

  1. That is, the rainbow.
  2. The land of Chaldea would be modern-day Iraq.
  3. The Book of Daniel, chapter 9, foretold that “Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and your holy city: then transgression will stop and sin will end, guilt will be expiated, everlasting justice will be introduced…” Seventy times 7 years, equals 490 years, which corresponds with the time between Daniel’s prophesy and Christ’s crucifixion.
  4. The ancient Olympics were held every 4 years & attracted widespread attention, as sports do today.
  5. He was Julius Caesar’s immediate successor.
  6. Caesar Augustus’ reign began an era of relative peace in the empire lasting two centuries. This Roman Peace (or Pax Romana) allowed the Gospel message to spread quickly across the known world.

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