A Memorial Day Prayer

May 25, 2015

Lord Jesus Christ, you journeyed far from your home in heaven to save those on earth who could not save themselves.

You were not eager to suffer and die, but you gave your life so that goodness would prevail.

Lord Jesus, you taught us: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend.”

Today we remember those who journeyed far from home, to defend, to fight for, to save people who could not save themselves.

We remember those who, while still loving life, risked their lives, and ultimately gave their lives, for freedom, for goodness, and for right to prevail.

We honor those who laid down their lives for Americans at home, for innocents abroad, and for brothers-in-arms at their side.

May our remembrance today of these fallen dead honor them fittingly, and be pleasing to you, as we honor the virtues found in them which you love so much. 

Amen.

U.S. Flag

The “Light” of the Holy Spirit

May 21, 2015

        “The Spirit is the source of holiness, a spiritual light, and he offers His own light to every mind to help it in its search for truth. By nature the Spirit is beyond the reach of our mind, but we can know Him by His goodness. The power of the Spirit fills the whole universe, but he gives Himself only to those who are worthy, acting in each according to the measure of his faith.

“I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored & glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.

        Simple in Himself, the Spirit is manifold in His mighty works. The whole of His being is present to each individual; the whole of His being is present everywhere. Though shared in by many, He remains unchanged; His self giving is no loss to Himself. Like the sunshine, which permeates all the atmosphere, spreading over land and sea, and yet is enjoyed by each person as though it were for him alone, so the Spirit pours forth His grace in full measure, sufficient for all, and yet is present as though exclusively to everyone who can receive Him. To all creatures that share in Him he gives a delight limited only by their own nature, not by His ability to give.  …

        As clear, transparent substances become very bright when sunlight falls on them and shine with a new radiance, so also souls in whom the Spirit dwells, and who are enlightened by the Spirit, become spiritual themselves and a source of grace for others. From the Spirit comes foreknowledge of the future, understanding of the mysteries of faith, insight into the hidden meaning of Scripture, and other special gifts. Through the Spirit we become citizens of heaven, we enter into eternal happiness, and abide in God. Through the Spirit we acquire a likeness to God; indeed, we attain what is beyond our most sublime aspirations—we become God.”

— St. Basil the Great (c. 329-379 AD)

Why Did Christ Call the Grace of the Holy Spirit Water?

May 21, 2015

In John’s gospel, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well, “Whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Later, Jesus stands up at the Temple and exclaims, “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scripture says: ‘Rivers of living water will flow from within him.’” The text explains, “He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who came to believe in him were to receive.” Why did Jesus liken the grace of the Holy Spirit to water? St. Cyril of Jerusalem (313-386 AD) gives this insightful explanation:

“[A]ll things are dependent on water; plants and animals have their origin in water. Water comes down from heaven as rain, and although it is always the same in itself, it produces many different effects, one in the palm tree, another in the vine, and so on throughout the whole of creation. It does not come down, now as one thing, now as another, but while remaining essentially the same, it adapts itself to the needs of every creature that receives it.

Holy Spirit Dove - Sacred Heart Catholic Church -  Wauzeka WIIn the same way the Holy Spirit, whose nature is always the same, simple and indivisible, apportions grace to each man as he wills. Like a dry tree which puts forth shoots when watered, the soul bears the fruit of holiness when repentance has made it worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit.

Although the Spirit never changes, the effects of his action, by the will of God and in the name of Christ, are both many and marvelous. The Spirit makes one man a teacher of divine truth, inspires another to prophesy, gives another the power of casting out devils, enables another to interpret holy Scripture. The Spirit strengthens one man’s self-control, shows another how to help the poor, teaches another to fast and lead a life of asceticism, makes another oblivious to the needs of the body, trains another for martyrdom. His action is different in different people, but the Spirit Himself is always the same. In each person, Scripture says, the Spirit reveals his presence in a particular way for the common good.

The Spirit comes gently and makes Himself known by His fragrance. He is not felt as a burden, for He is light, very light. Rays of light and knowledge stream before Him as He approaches. The Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend and protector to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen, to console. The Spirit comes to enlighten the mind first of the one who receives Him, and then, through Him, the minds of others as well.

As light strikes the eyes of a man who comes out of darkness into the sunshine and enables him to see clearly things he could not discern before, so light floods the soul of the man counted worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit and enables him to see things beyond the range of human vision, thing hitherto undreamed of.”

A Holy Spirit Novena

May 14, 2015

All novenas are inspired by the nine days during which Mary, the apostles, and the other disciples prayed in the upper room for the coming of the Spirit with power. To pray a novena to the Holy Spirit preceding this Pentecost yourself, begin this Friday, May 15th. Many Pentecost novenas are available online, but your daily prayer could simply be this:

 “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit & they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.”

Friends of Jesus — 6th Sunday of Easter—Year B

May 13, 2015

Readings: Acts 10:25-26, 1st John 4:7-10, & John 15:9-17

In our first reading, St. Peter is sent by the Holy Spirit to the house of Cornelius, a Gentile and Roman centurion:

When Peter entered, Cornelius met him
and, falling at his feet, paid him homage.
Peter, however, raised him up, saying,
“Get up. I myself am also a human being.”

In other words, Peter says, “Relax, I’m made from the same stuff as you.” This was said for Cornelius’ benefit and for ours.

Icon of the Twelve ApostlesThe Evangelists and the Holy Spirit did us a huge favor by recording the early disciples’ flaws and infidelities. Most of these first followers of Christ went on to live their lives for him, some even dying for him, and so we rightly call them saints. Yet the New Testament reveals that they were far from perfect at the start. It would have been so understandable, so easy, for the Gospel writers to omit the embarrassing, regrettable, and even sinful moments of the Church’s founding figures. The fact these unflattering details were included points to the veracity of the Gospels. Imagine how deprived we would be today if these details had been had whitewashed away.

St. Mary Magdalene Clings to JesusLuke tells us that Jesus cast seven demons from out of Mary Magdalene. We are never told how their evil influence had affected Mary’s life, but it probably was neither subtle or pretty. Without this knowing this detail, some might think, “Jesus couldn’t accept someone with an ugly past like mine. I’m no model of perfect devotion, like Mary Magdalene.”

James and John had their mother ask Jesus to seat them upon thrones at his left and right in glory. Without this story, those who struggle with ambition and vainglory might lament, “Why can’t I be content to humbly serve, like the fisherman sons of Zebedee?”

Without the story of Doubting Thomas, times of struggle with questions and doubts might bring the self-reproach, “Why can’t I just trust in Jesus, like Believing Thomas?”

Without the story of Peter’s three denials of Christ, after a great fall we might despair, “How could Jesus forgive me? I was not faithful to him like St. Peter the Rock.”

All this is not to say that our sins and imperfections do not matter. As Jesus says in today’s Gospel, “Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love… This I command you: love one another [and (by implication) love me as well.]” Every sin is a failure to love as we ought, so we must do our best to root our the lusts, prides, and infidelities from our lives. Jesus says, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” Recognizing our own sins and failings, this raises a concern within us: Are we Jesus’ friends?

The setting for today’s Gospel is the Last Supper. Jesus, knowing everything the apostles had done wrong in the past, knowing how poorly they would perform in the near future, told them, “I no longer call you slaves… I have called you friends…” Jesus declares them to be his friends, long before they are perfect. Jesus’ plan, for them and us, is to love us into holy righteousness and glory.

From today’s second reading, from John’s first epistle, we learn:

In this is love:
not that we have loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

Jesus died for us as surely as he ‘laid down his life for his friends‘ the apostles, and Jesus loves us in the same way as them. Relationship, Identity, and Mission: Your relationship is a friendship with Christ. Your identity is a friend of Christ. Your mission is to live as a friend of Jesus Christ. And with the friendship of Christ, we can do all things in him who loves us.

Jesus Psalm 12

May 6, 2015

Help, Jesus, for no one loyal remains;
the faithful have vanished from the children of men.
They tell lies to one another,
speak with deceiving lips and a double heart.

May Jesus cut off all deceiving lips,
and every boastful tongue,
Those who say, “By our tongues we prevail;
when our lips speak, who can lord it over us?”

“Because they rob the weak, and the needy groan,
I will now arise,” says Jesus;
“I will grant safety to whoever longs for it.”

The promises of Jesus are sure,
silver refined in a crucible,
silver purified seven times.

You, Jesus, protect us always;
preserve us from this generation.
On every side the wicked roam;
the shameless are extolled by the children of men.


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

Scripture Suggestions for Prayer

May 2, 2015

May 4              Acts 10:9-33

May 5              Acts 10:34-49

May 6              Psalm 98:1-4

May 7              1st John 4:7-10

May 8              John 15:9-12

May 9              John 15:13-17

May 10            (6th Sunday of Easter)

May 11             John 20:11-18

May 12             Acts 1:1-11

May 13             Psalm 27:2-9

May 14             Ephesians 1:27-33

May 15             Ephesians 4:1-13

May 16             Mark 16:15-20

May 17             (Ascension, 7th Sunday of Easter)

May 18             John 15:18-27

May 19             John 16:12-15

May 20             John 20:19-23

May 21             Acts 2:1-11

May 22             1st Corinthians 12:3-13

May 23             Galatians 5:16-25

May 24             (Pentecost Sunday)

A Persistent, Predictable Trend

May 2, 2015

Wedding Cake Man and WifeIn the garden, the first married couple was approached by the tempter. He sowed distrust of God and His teaching within their minds and hearts. He told them to decide for themselves what was good for them. So they ate the fruit that God had warned them about, and they tasted its consequences. Yet God did not abandon them.

The early Church was not unaware of contraceptive means and methods. She insisted that acts of marital union must not be cut off from an openness to life. Before 1930, all Protestant denominations agreed, but one by one their positions changed. By 1968, some were surprised that Pope Paul VI upheld the Church’s teaching in Humanae Vitae. The pope warned that contraception would lead to increased fornication, marital infidelity, disrespect toward women, and government coercion. The world did not listen.

What has come from our culture intentionally severing an openness to life from its lovemaking? It has led to millions of children having single mothers because fathers considered themselves under no obligation. It has led to the death of millions of “mistakes” before they could be born. Contraceptives promised to make families stronger, but broken marriages are widespread.

The contraceptive mentality has progressed so far that many no longer see physical complimentarily as essential to marriage at all. How will children be impacted if new forms of marriage become the law of the land? If marriage is merely an emotional bond between persons, why should it be limited to pairs? Marital union between one man and one wife is a gift from God for love and life. And what God has joined, we human beings separate to our own harm.

We see the Sexual Revolution becoming an open war against the Bride of Christ and her sons and daughters. As Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George, who passed away last month, once said, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.” Trials await us. Yet, anchored in the truth, our hope always remains, for God will not abandon us.

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 afresh.

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 afresh.

“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.)


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 497 other followers