Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Lost Prayers #12

A Universal Prayer for All Things Necessary to Salvation

O my God, I believe in Thee; do Thou strengthen my faith. All my hopes are in Thee; do Thou secure them. I love Thee with my whole heart; teach me to love Thee daily more and more. I am sorry that I have offended Thee; do Thou increase my sorrow.

I adore Thee as my first beginning. I aspire after Thee as my last end. I give Thee thanks as my constant benefactor. I call upon Thee as my sovereign protector. Vouchsafe, O my God, to conduct me by Thy wisdom, to restrain me by Thy justice, to comfort me by Thy mercy, and to defend me by Thy power.

To Thee I desire to consecrate all my thoughts, words, actions, and sufferings; that henceforward I may think of Thee, speak of Thee, willingly refer all my actions to Thy greater glory, and suffer willingly whatever Thou shalt appoint.

Lord, I desire that in all things Thy will may be done, because it is Thy will, and in the manner that Thou willest.

I beg of Thee to enlighten my understanding, to inflame my will, to purify my body, and to sanctify my soul.

Give me strength, O my God, to expiate my offenses, to overcome temptations, to subdue my passions, and to acquire the virtues proper for my state.

Fill my heart with tender affection for Thy goodness, hatred for my faults, love for my neighbor, and contempt of the world.

Let me always remember to be submissive to my superiors, condescending to my inferiors, faithful to my friends, and charitable to my enemies.

Assist me to overcome sensuality by mortification, avarice by alms-deeds, anger by meekness, and tepidity by devotion.

O my God, make me prudent in my undertakings, courageous in dangers, patient in afflictions, and humble in prosperity. Grant that I may be ever attentive at my prayers, temperate at my meals, diligent in my employments, and constant in my resolutions.

Let my conscience be ever upright and pure, my exterior modest, my conversation edifying, and my comportment regular.

Assist me, that I may continually labor to overcome nature, to correspond with Thy grace, to keep Thy commandments, and to work out my salvation.

Discover to me, O my God, the nothingness of this world, the greatness of heaven, the shortness of time, and the length of eternity.

Grant that I may prepare for death, that I may fear Thy judgments, that I may escape hell, and, in the end, obtain heaven: through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

From The Treasury of the Sacred Heart, 1877

Monday, January 7, 2019

Zechariah's Prayer: Freedom

The modern, secular world promotes a rather odd notion of freedom. Many people believe that freedom means doing whatever we want whenever we want regardless of what other people may think, sometimes with the condition that we don't hurt anyone else (usually without much thought to what actually hurts others and ourselves).

Zechariah's prayer provides a different idea of freedom...God's idea of freedom. God, says Zechariah, remembers His covenant, shows mercy, and frees His people from their enemies, but He doesn't free them so that they may simply do whatever they feel like. He frees them that they may serve Him and worship Him in holiness and righteousness.

So God frees us from something, namely, our enemies, whatever brings sin and death into our lives. But He also frees us for something, namely, to serve and worship Him in holiness and righteousness.

Freedom, then, in God's eyes is the ability to pursue Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. It is the power to worship without fear. It is the opportunity to discover what is right and to do it, to learn the truth and to embrace it, without the restraints of sin and error. It is the privilege to appreciate the beauty around and within us with wonder and joy. It is the delightful capacity to know and love God, to receive His plan for our lives with peace, to be set apart for Him as His beloved children, and to one day join Him in eternal bliss.

Now that is true freedom.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year's Resolutions

As the new year begins, many people take a little time to reflect on what they would like to change about themselves and their lives. Some may decide to adjust their eating habits or exercise more; others may resolve to work on getting rid of a bad habit.

But the most important New Year's resolutions we can make are those that focus on our spiritual lives, those that will help us grow closer to God throughout the new year.

#1 – Pray more. We can always pray more. Even if we only add a heartfelt, loving Our Father to our prayers every day, we will grow closer to God. Resolve, perhaps, to greet God first thing in the morning and offer yourself to Him. Then stop a few times during the day (no matter how busy you get) to say a quick prayer and remember the One Who is with you always. Take a few moments at night as you're going to bed to examine your conscience, ask for forgiveness for your failures, and commend yourself into God's hands for the night.

#2 – Read Scripture. Select a Gospel or one of Paul's letters to read slowly and meditatively each week or even each month. A few verses a day will do to start if you allow God's words sink into your heart. Or you might decide to study the daily Mass readings, which are available on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website.

#3 – Learn more about your Catholic faith. Read selections from the Catechism. Challenge yourself to a theology book, perhaps something by Scott Hahn or Brant Pitre. Watch a few videos at the Institute of Catholic Culture library. Participate in an online study from the St. Paul Center. The deeper you delve, the more your faith will come alive and the more you'll understand exactly what God has done for His children.

#4 – Get to know the saints. Has your saint chosen you yet in this new year? Use the Saint's Name Generator to find your saint and then take some time to learn about him or her. You might even study some of your saints writings (if any). Then make a habit to ask that saint to intercede for you.

#5 – Immerse yourself in the sacraments. Go to Mass more often if you can, and whenever you go to Mass, strive to be fully present and fully involved. Greet Jesus with great love when He comes to you in Holy Communion. Prepare your heart for Him by going to Confession more often and receiving the great graces He offers you. If you must, receive the Anointing of the Sick for physical and spiritual healing according to God's will. Pray for those who will be baptized, confirmed, married, or ordained this year.

Yes, all of this certainly takes effort, but if we resolve to improve other areas of our lives, we must certainly strive to grow in our spiritual lives. After all, that effort, combined with the grace of God, will last into eternity.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Notes from the Hours: In the Morning

Today you will know the Lord is coming, and in the morning you will see His glory.

In the morning...may Jesus be born in our hearts as He was in a stable in Bethlehem so long ago.

In the morning...may we encounter Jesus in His holy Word and embrace His message of love.

In the morning...may we welcome Jesus in Holy Communion and let Him fill our souls with His presence.

In the morning...may our loved ones feel Jesus' warmth in a special way.

In the morning...may Jesus grant us the deepest desires of our hearts according to His holy will.

In the morning...may we celebrate Christmas, the birth of our Savior, with joy, peace, and love.

Today you will know the Lord is coming, and in the morning you will see His glory.

(Antiphon from the Invitatory of December 24)

Monday, December 17, 2018

Lost Prayers #11

The Joy of Advent

May the sun, and stars, and land, and sea sound forth the coming of the most high God.

May the rich and the poor unite their songs of praise to the Son of the supreme Creator.

He is the Savior promised to our fathers; the glorious offspring of the Virgin; the Son of the mighty God, born of Him before the morning star.

He is the King of glory and is coming to rule as God over kings; to trample our wicked enemy beneath His feet, and heal this sick world of ours.

Let the Angels rejoice; let all nations exult. He that is high is coming in lowliness, to save what had been lost.

A God-Man is born. The Son, co-eternal with the Father, our Lord descends upon earth.

Let the prophets cry out and prophesy: “Emmanuel is nigh unto us.” Let the tongues of the dumb speak, and ye, poor lame ones, run to meet Him.

Let the lamb and the wild beasts feed with each other; let the ox and the ass know Him that lies in the manger.

Oh, the blessed message sent to the Virgin Mary! By believing she conceives; she is a Mother and Virgin knowing not man.

All ye nations and peoples applaud this grand triumph.

Let the eyes of the blind who have been sitting in darkness now learn to throw off the night, and open to the true light.

Let Galilee and Greece, Persia and Judea, receive the faith. A God deigns to become man and remains the Word with the Father.

Praise, honor, power, and glory be to the Word made man, and ever since living amongst us in the most holy Sacrament of the Altar.

(From Manual of Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, 1897)

Monday, December 10, 2018

Zechariah's Prayer: Promises Fulfilled

Zechariah was a priest, so he knew well the promises God had made to His people Israel. He remembered the covenants. He kept the prophet's words in his heart. He looked forward to the eventual fulfillment of everything God had spoken. Eventual. For a long time, that was the key word. Zechariah hadn't been able to get beyond it. Hope seemed distant and rather weak, and Zechariah had doubted he would see any change in his lifetime.

How wrong he was.

Now at the birth of his son, Zechariah's lips were opened, and he could finally speak again (after nine months of silence because of his doubts). Filled with the Holy Spirit, immersed in God's light, he proclaimed that God does indeed fulfill His promises, that He was doing so right at this moment, in this very time and place.

God had promised to raise up a mighty savior from the house of David. He was doing so. Right now. Zechariah knew full well that the Child his wife's kinswoman Mary was carrying would be this savior. And through Him, God would save Israel from its enemies. God would deliver His people from those who hated them.

God had promised to show mercy and to remember His covenant with Abraham. He was doing so. Right now. He was pouring out His blessing upon His people in the coming of the Messiah. He would finally make of them a great nation, a royal nation, a nation that would extend His blessings to the whole world.

What's more, Zechariah's own son would have a crucial role in the fulfillment of God's promises. John would be a prophet in his own right, one who would prepare the way for the Messiah. He would help the people repent of their sins and be ready to accept the forgiveness God would offer. He would point the way to the new life that would arise from God's fulfilled promises.

Zechariah's joy poured out along with his words. Hope soared in his heart. God's promises were at hand, right now, right here, in his own time and place. How could he have ever doubted that God would remember His people?

(See Luke 1:68-79)

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Notes from the Hours: Advent Antiphons

This is our heavenly King; He comes with power and might to save the nations, alleluia.

Lord Jesus, You are our King. Rule over us. Give us the grace we need to conform our minds, our hearts, and our wills to You. May we accept You as our Leader, now and always. May we follow You. May we never turn away from You. May we never reject Your rule.

For You come with power and might to save all of us. Once You came as a tiny Baby. You seemed powerless, and in a human sense, You were. You were dependent upon Your Mother for everything. Yet Your power and might was always and is always divine, for You are God, and You use that power and might to save all peoples, if they accept You. But first, You once again became powerless (at least in the eyes of men) as You hung on the cross and died to free us from our sins.

Daughter of Jerusalem, rejoice and be glad; your King will come to you. Zion, do not fear, Your Savior hastens on His way.

Lord Jesus, Israel waited many centuries for the Messiah to come, but when You finally arrived, You were not what Your people expected. So many of them wanted a political king, one who would defeat the Romans and give Israel worldly prestige. Instead, You, the Savior, redeemed Your people not from the power of the Romans but from the power of sin and death.

May we, Your Church, always rejoice and be glad that our King has come and will come again, that You come to us always in the Eucharist, that You visit us in the depths of our souls. May we never fear the world or the enemy, for our King, our Savior, is with us always.

Let us cleanse our hearts for the coming of our great King, that we may be ready to welcome Him; He is coming and will not delay.

Lord Jesus, cleanse our hearts. Forgive us our sins. Scrub away the spiritual muck that accumulates in our souls. Purify our minds. Strengthen our wills. Make us ready to welcome You with joy...every morning when we wake up, every time we receive You in Holy Communion, every moment of our day, during Advent, on Christmas morning, at the hour of our death.

You are coming, Jesus. You will not delay. Your timing is perfect. And the most mysterious, wonderful thing is that while we wait for You to come to us in new and amazing ways, we can enjoy Your presence right now, for You are always with us, Jesus. Amen.

(Antiphons from Office of Readings, First Sunday of Advent)