Saturday, October 17, 2020

The Collect for the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Almighty ever-living God, grant that we may always conform our will to Yours and serve Your majesty in sincerity of heart. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

grant that we may always conform our will to YoursThis is an easy prayer to pray and a difficult calling to live. God's will is perfect. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He sees infinitely farther in space and time then we do. We must be humble enough to recognize this and say “yes” to whatever God is doing or permitting in our lives, whether we understand it our not. As St. Paul says in Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” That said, though, we need God's grace to help us conform our will to His because we tend to rebel and complain and try to go our own way. This is why we pray as we do today, that our hearts open to grace and that grace moves our wills to join as one with His.

serve Your majesty – God created us to love and serve Him. Period. That is the whole purpose of our life, and it should be our highest joy. Yet it is so easy to get distracted by the things of this world. They tend to take priority over our service to God when they are actually given to us that we may use them to serve God.

in sincerity of heartWe humans are plagued by mixed motives. We love God and want to serve Him and please Him and conform ourselves to His will, but then we falter. We turn selfish. We want to be recognized and honored by others so that we feel better about ourselves. We fail to become transparent and allow God's light to shine through us. Rather, we block the light with our own desires and intentions. This is why we need to pray for sincerity of heart. Sincerity refers to a freedom from deceit and a truth in intention. We can never deceive God, but we must stop deceiving ourselves and allow God to purify our motives and our service with His grace and love.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

The Collect for the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

May Your grace, O Lord, we pray, at all times go before us and follow after and make us always determined to carry out good works. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Your grace – God's grace is divine power in action in our lives. Sanctifying grace fills us with the divine presence. Actual grace guides and helps us along the path of God; it gives us the direction and strength we need to do God's will. Sacramental grace is poured out upon us in the sacraments, which communicate and strength sanctifying grace and provide actual graces according to the nature of the sacrament. We must, of course, be properly disposed to receive grace, and we must cooperate with God's grace.

go before usWe can do nothing without God's grace. His grace saves us from sin and death. His grace gives us the ability to believe, to hope, to love, and to accept the salvation He offers. His grace gives us the ability to pray, to do good works, and to respond to God according to His will. Yet we must always cooperate with God's grace, and our free will comes into play here, for we are free to reject God's grace well as accept and embrace it.

follow after Aren't we lucky that God's grace also follows after us? We make horrible messes of our lives sometimes. We sin. We fall. We turn our backs on God. But God's grace still pursues us, poking our consciences, nudging us back toward Him. When we do turn back to God and repent and confess our sins, He is right there waiting for us, filling us with His forgiveness and His grace.

make us always determined to carry out good works – We human beings tend to want to be independent, to do things on our own. But when we rely on our own strength and our own shaky motives, we often fail to do good to others. In fact, we tend to do more harm than good. That's why we need to ask God to guide us, first to give us the desire and determination to do good things out of love and second to give us the ability to accomplish them and then to attribute them all to His glory.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

The Collect for the Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Almighty ever-living God, Who in the abundance of Your kindness surpass the merits and the desires of those who entreat You, pour out Your mercy upon us to pardon what conscience dreads and to give what prayer does not dare to ask. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Almighty ever-living God – Sometimes it's good to stop for a while and reflect on God's greatness. We get so caught up in asking Him for what we need and want that we don't take time to simply praise Him for how wonderful He is. We can never wrap our minds around God's almighty, eternal power, but we can worship Him for it.

the abundance of Your kindness – These days we hear plenty about an “abundance of caution,” but what we really need to focus our attention on is God's abundance of kindness. In the Old Testament a word often translated as “kindness” is the Hebrew hesed, which refers to God's covenant faithfulness and love. God has made a series of covenants (family bonds created by swearing an oath) with His people down through the centuries, and now He has sworn the ultimate covenant through Jesus Christ, pouring out upon us the bounty of His love and care.

surpass the merits and the desires of those who entreat YouGod gives us far more than we deserve or desire. We actually do not deserve anything but God's contempt. After all, we sin all the time. We flaunt His will and His word to follow our own “miserable interests” (a phrase used by Our Lady at Medjugorje). Yet God doesn't give us what we deserve; He gives us His grace and His love instead. What's more, our desires often fall far short of our needs, and God in His wisdom gives us what we need but not always what we desire. We have trouble figuring out what is truly good for us. God always knows that, and He provides accordingly. That's why He says “no” to our prayers sometimes, for His plan is to give us far more than our meager, often disordered desires.

pour out Your mercy upon usWe all sin, and we all need God's mercy in abundance. Let us take a moment to enter into the silence of our hearts, bring before God all that we have on our consciences, and beg Him for His mercy.

to pardon what conscience dreads – If our consciences are properly trained, we know when we have done wrong. Our consciences will be appalled by our sins, and we will turn to God for forgiveness.

to give what prayer does not dare to ask – Is there anything we do not dare to ask of God? Is there anything we dare not bring before Him in prayer? There shouldn't be because if there is, we shouldn't be asking for it or thinking about it. That said, though, we know that God always gives us far more than we ask for, for He knows our needs far better than we do.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

The Collect for the Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

O God, Who manifest Your almighty power above all by pardoning and showing mercy, bestow, we pray, Your grace abundantly upon us and make those hastening to attain Your promises heirs to the treasures of heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Your almighty powerDo you ever stop to think how powerful God really is? There is no limit to His might. He is infinite in His abilities. Yet He acts in ways that are perfectly in tune with the nature of His creatures. He is never arbitrary. He never does something just because He can. He always acts for our good because He loves us and wants only the very best for us: our salvation.

pardoning and showing mercyThis is especially where God shows His almighty power. We should marvel at this. God's power is particularly manifest in forgiving us and giving us His mercy so that we may be with Him in Heaven forever. Just bask in that for a while.

bestow, we pray, Your grace abundantly upon us We must ask God for His grace continually. He knows, of course, that we need it, but He wants us to ask so that we, too, are aware of our great need for His favor and assistance. Our prayer also helps us to open ourselves to God's grace.

hastening to attain Your promisesAre we eager to attain God's promises? Are we hastening toward our salvation? How much to we desire to be with God forever, to see Him face to face, to enter into intimacy with Him? Are we committed to obeying Him, to living the divine life as much as possible now, that we may live it fully one day in Heaven?

heirs to the treasures of heavenHere is our ultimate goal: the treasures of Heaven. And what are these treasures? Nothing less than God Himself and His intimate love for all eternity. We are heirs in the Heir, sons and daughters in the Son, Jesus Christ, and in Heaven, we will share fully in the divine life. This is our treasure and our heritage, and our hearts must already be where our treasure lies.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Collect for the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

O God, Who founded all the commands of Your sacred Law upon love of You and of our neighbor, grant that, by keeping Your precepts, we may merit to attain eternal life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Your sacred LawOur culture tends to have a negative impression of law. Law is restrictive of our freedoms, some people proclaim. It prevents us from doing what we want when we want. But this isn't the intention of law (even though human law sometimes fails) and especially not of God's law. God's moral laws are designed to make us truly free, free to choose good, free to embrace truth, free to enjoy beauty, free to live up to the potential God has given us. Indeed, God's laws are not arbitrary. He created us and knows our nature perfectly, so He gives us exactly what we need when we need it to become the best human beings we can be. He gives us His sacred Law.

love of You and of our neighbor – Everything in that sacred Law is geared toward love of God and love of neighbor. God wants to draw us out of ourselves and into a self-giving communion with Him and with each other. He knows that because of our sinful weakness, we have a hard time entering into such a relationship on our own, so He helps us by giving us the moral law. That moral law assists us to understand how love can, should, and must be applied in the day-to-day circumstances of our lives.

by keeping your preceptsGod knows how unsteady and frail we are, yet He still expects us to keep the precepts of His law. He doesn't leave us to try and fail on our own, though; He gives us His grace that we may obey Him. We must accept that grace and cooperate with it, but it is always there to support us, to help us overcome to temptation, to guide us toward correct decisions, and to make us better, more God-like human beings.

we may merit to attain eternal life No, we do not earn our way to Heaven! The Catholic Church does not and has never taught that. Our salvation is due to God's grace, but we must accept that grace and live according to it. That is how we merit, through our cooperation. And Who gives us the grace to cooperate? God does! He thereby gives us the grace even to merit. The goal of all this, of keeping His commandments, of cooperating with His grace, of loving God and others, is, of course, eternal life, intimacy with God beginning now and fulfilled perfectly in Heaven.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

The Collect for the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

 Look upon us, O God, Creator and ruler of all things, and, that we may feel the working of Your mercy, grant that we may serve You with all our heart. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Look upon us, O God – When God turns His face toward us, we are illuminated by His glory. He fills us with His love and His light. Are we prepared to stand before God's gaze? He sees right into our minds, hearts, and souls. What will He see? No matter what He sees in us, God loves us anyway, and He wants us to repent of our sins and hand over our weaknesses to Him that He may fill us with His grace.

Creator and ruler of all thingsThese titles for God are so familiar to us that we seldom stop to think about them. Yet God created all things from nothing. Why? He wanted to share the great love that flows between the Persons of the Blessed Trinity, allowing that love to pour into creation. Indeed, God is not the watchmaker that some philosophers identify Him as, admitting that He created the universe but claiming that then He sat back and let it run on its own without any further intervention from its Maker. That, however, is far from true, for God rules the entire universe in His divine wisdom and providence.

we may feel the working of Your mercy – How do we feel God's mercy at work? There are so many ways of experiencing God's mercy. When we receive absolution in the sacrament of Confession, God reaches down through the priest to shower us in His mercy. When we receive the Eucharist, Jesus' presence, the fire of His love, burns up all our venial sins and strengthens us to fight against temptation. When we pray, God mercy calms and encourages our hearts.

grant that we may serve You will all our heart – Our ability to serve God is itself a gift from God. But we must cooperate and strive to serve and obey God with all our heart, not by half measures, not for our own benefits, but completely for love of Him.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

The Collect for the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time

O God, by Whom we are redeemed and receive adoption, look graciously upon Your beloved sons and daughters, that those who believe in Christ may receive true freedom and an everlasting inheritance. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

redeemedThis word is so familiar, we hear it so often, that it has lost its power. To redeem someone is to buy that person out of slavery. Jesus Christ bought us out of the slavery of sin and death, and He paid for us with His own blood.

receive adoption – From the beginning, God has made a series of covenants with His people. A covenant is a family bond created by swearing an oath. When God makes a covenant with us, He adopts us into His divine family, and in the New Covenant enacted by Jesus Christ, He gives us a share in His own divine life as He pours His sanctifying grace into our souls.

look graciously – The Greek word for “grace” is charis, and it literally means something like “leaning toward favorably” or “extending toward with a benefit.” So when God looks upon us graciously, He is leaning toward us, extending Himself to give us His favor, to provide us with His benefits.

Your beloved sons and daughtersTake a few minutes and reflect on the amazing fact that God loves you.

those who believe in Christ – What does it mean to believe in Christ? Is it merely accepting some facts about Him as being true? Is it holding to the proposition that He is the divine Son of God Who brings us salvation? Or is it something more? To truly believe in Christ, we must indeed hold fast to the truths revealed about Him, but we must also live those truths each and every day in obedience and love. As St. James says, “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead” (2:17). Faith that is not lived will not save.

true freedomFreedom does not mean doing whatever we want. Far from it! True freedom is freedom to love and serve God. It means being free from sin that we may do what it right. It means being free from error that we may embrace the truth. It means being free from ugliness and boredom that we may appreciate beauty. True freedom is the freedom to begin living eternal life now and find its fulfillment in Heaven.

everlasting inheritanceWe are members of God's covenant family and heirs with Christ. So what do we inherit? God! Our inheritance is God. In Heaven we will see Him face to face and, as St. Paul says, we will know as we are known (1 Cor 13:12). We will enjoy Him forever in the fullness of eternal life.