Monday, December 22, 2014

Prepare My Heart

Jesus, prepare my heart for Christmas. Strengthen my faith that I may truly believe that You are the Son of God born for us as a tiny baby on that Christmas so long ago.

Jesus, prepare my heart for Christmas. Increase my hope that I may truly long for Heaven and trust that You will bring me home to be with You forever.

Jesus, prepare my heart for Christmas. Pour Your love into me that it may flow out to everyone I meet.

Jesus, prepare my heart for Christmas. Fill me with joy that I may truly delight in Your coming.

Jesus, prepare my heart for Christmas. Calm my mind and heart that I may experience true peace.

Jesus, prepare my heart for Christmas. Open me up to the wonder of the season that I may be like a little child who stands in awe of all that You have done, are doing, and will do.

Jesus, prepare my heart for Christmas. Help me to experience Your Real Presence in the Eucharist in a very special way during this season and throughout the year.

Jesus, prepare my heart for Christmas. Permeate my mind and heart with Your Word that I may know You ever better and love You ever more.

Jesus, prepare my heart for Christmas. Shine Your light through me to brighten the world this Christmas and throughout the new year.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Gaudete! Rejoice!

The Third Sunday of Advent is traditionally known as Gaudete Sunday. The Latin word “Gaudete” is an imperative verb that means “Rejoice,” and this Sunday gives us a prime opportunity to do just that. 

In the craziness of this time of the year, we often miss out on the joy of the season. We're so busy shopping, baking, decorating, writing cards, wrapping presents, and planning get-togethers that our joy often slips away and is replaced by stress and exhaustion. 

On this Gaudete Sunday, then, set aside a few minutes for a joy boost and reflect on these ten sources of great joy.

1. God is a loving Father Whose mercy never runs out and Whose compassion extends beyond our wildest dreams. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He loves us infinitely.

2. Jesus Christ was born as our Savior.

3. Jesus Christ died and rose again to save us from our sins.

4. Because Jesus Christ died for us and rose again, we have access to Heaven. We have the opportunity to one day live in God's presence face to face.

5. God has written a love letter to His children. It is called the Bible. We can read it and meditate on it and pray it whenever we want to.

6. Jesus Christ is really present in the Eucharist, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. We can receive Him in Holy Communion in the most intimate way possible here on earth.

7. In the Mass, we participate in the worship of Heaven. The angels and saints praise and worship God alongside us. Mass is truly a little piece of Heaven on earth.

8. The Catholic Church guides us along a sure path of faith and morals. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ and has the Holy Spirit as her soul. Her teaching is Jesus' teaching. We can trust it.

9. The Holy Spirit is our Advocate and Guide. If we listen to Him, He will show us the path we must follow all the way to Heaven.

10. Intimacy with God is ours for the asking. God longs to be our closest friend.

In today's Second Reading, St. Paul says, “Rejoice always.” Semper gaudete. We have much to be joyful for if only we spend some time reflecting on God and His gifts. 

Gaudete! Rejoice!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Everyday Prayers: The Act of Hope

Hope is essential to every Christian. According to Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper, hope is “a steadfast turning toward the true fulfillment of man's nature, that is, toward has its source in the reality of grace in man and is directed toward supernatural happiness in God.” He continues, “Hope is the confidently patient expectation of eternal beatitude in a contemplative and comprehensive sharing of the triune life of God...”

This hope is what we are expressing when we pray the Act of Hope

O my God, relying on Your almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Your grace and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer. Amen. 

Let's look closely at this beautiful little prayer.

1. O my God – With these three little words, we are claiming God as our own. We are saying that we have a personal relationship with Him. We are not, of course, asserting that we can control God or that we somehow possess Him. Quite the opposite is true. When we claim God, we submit to His will and His loving control of our lives, and we allow Him to possess us.

2. relying on Your almighty power – God is omnipotent. His power is limitless, and He puts that power to work for our good because He loves us. We, in turn, must rely on His power and not on our own strength, which is extremely limited. As St. Paul says, “So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

3. and infinite mercy – Like God's power, God's mercy has no end. He is always waiting to shower His mercy upon us. All we have to do is repent and confess our sins, just realize and acknowledge that we are sinners. Then our hearts become open to receive the infinite mercy that is always available from our loving God.

4. and promises – What does God promise? He promises forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ and an eternity in Heaven with Him. Our job is to accept those promises and respond to them.

5. I hope to obtain pardon of my sins – God longs to forgive us. He wants us to be in an intimate relationship with Him, one that is not broken or damaged by sin. We can have firm confidence, therefore, that when, with repentant hearts, we ask God to forgive us, He will do so.

6. the help of Your grace – We need God's grace at every moment of the day. The Catechism says that grace is “favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to His call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life” (#1996). Sanctifying grace is the presence of God in our souls. Actual grace is the help God gives us to choose Him and follow Him at every moment of the day. God loves to give us His grace. He wants to give us His grace. We just need to accept and embrace His grace.

7. and life everlasting – That is our goal, life with God forever and ever in Heaven. God longs to give us that everlasting life, that never-ending face-to-face relationship with Him that is the meaning and ultimate end of everything we are and everything we do. As always, we must respond to God's longing and reach out to receive what He yearns to give.

8. through the merits of Jesus Christ – Jesus died for us to open the way to eternal salvation that was closed by the sin of our first parents. He merited all the graces we receive from God. Because He is God Himself, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, He did what we could never do, namely, offer Himself as a perfect sacrifice to God to atone for all sin and open the door to Heaven.

9. my Lord and Redeemer – Jesus is God. He is the Lord of all. He is our King, and we must acknowledge His authority in our lives and give Him the proper love, respect, and obedience. Jesus is also our Redeemer. He has saved us from our sins and from the punishment that follows from them. He has purchased us with His own blood and brought us out of slavery to sin to be His beloved subjects and family for all eternity.

10. Amen – With this little word, we give our firm assent to everything we have just prayed. We once again express our hope in God and in His great love for us.

Let us pray:

O my God, relying on Your almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Your grace and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer. Amen.