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)

Monday, November 26, 2018

Notes from the Hours: Ringing Praise

The vaults of heaven ring with Your praise, O Lord.

The saints and angels in Heaven are continually praising God. They recognize fully the wonders of His being and the marvels of His works, and they express their recognition with great joy and gratitude.

Do we do the same? Are our prayers laced with praise? Or are they focused mostly on what we think we want and need from God, both for ourselves and others?

Prayers of petition and intercession are, of course, important. God wants us to talk to Him about our needs and desires. We're supposed to ask Him for His help and His blessings. He listens; He always responds; and these prayers can make a huge difference, even a critical difference, in our lives and the lives of those around us. After all, as Pascal once said, God gives us prayer that we may have the dignity of causing good things to happen.

But in the midst our petitions and intercessions, we must not forget praise. When we send up our praise to God with grateful hearts, we begin to give Him the worship, the adoration, that He so deserves. We acknowledge the wonderful things He has done for us...our creation, our redemption, our every breath. We express our love for Him, and our love grows deeper and richer as we pour it out.

It can be difficult to establish a habit of praise, for our petitions and intercessions tend to multiply and crowd out other prayers. Begin, perhaps, by praying a psalm of praise each day. Try Psalms 136, 93, 100, 111, 135, 138, 150, and 19. Turn on praise and worship music, and listen to it in the car and/or while doing daily tasks. Take a few moments during morning and evening prayer to simply praise God. Just tell Him how amazing He is, how worthy of all the love His creatures can give, how merciful, how perfect, how beautiful, how loving. The more we say these truths to God, the more they will take root in our hearts and the better we will know and love our Lord.

May the vaults of heaven ring with Your praise, O Lord, and may we help to multiply that praise forever. Amen.

(Antiphon from Monday, Week II, Morning Prayer of the Divine Office)

Monday, November 19, 2018

Psalm 73: A Psalm for Our Times

Even though Psalm 73 was probably composed in the early 900s BC, it sounds as if it might have been written yesterday. That's how applicable the Bible is to every time and every place. Of course, since the Scripture is God's inspired Word, that's not particularly surprising, but every once in a while, a text will stand out as especially relevant, and Psalm 73 is one of those.

The psalm begins with a confession. The author, who is identified as Asaph, a Levite musician in the days of King David, admits that God is good to the pure of heart, to those who are upright, but he doesn't feel like he belongs to that group. He always seems to be on the edge of stumbling, nearly slipping away from God. Why? Asaph notices the arrogance of the wicked and how much they prosper in this world, and his heart becomes full of envy.

Those wicked ones, he observes, don't seem to have any problems at all. They're healthy. They don't experience the trials of other people. They control everyone else with their powerful presence (and their threats). People praise them on every side (mostly because they are afraid not to), and their wealth just keeps on increasing.

Asaph can't understand it, and he wonders why he works so hard to remain innocent. He is plagued by trials right, left, and center, and those who couldn't care less about purity seem to flourish. It makes no sense.

But then Asaph catches himself in his folly. If he were to speak like that, he too would be wicked. He would be turning away from the faith of God's people, the faith he has loyally embraced for so long. He decides that he must broaden his perspective if he's going to understand this problem, and he must bring his questions to prayer. So he enters the sanctuary of God, and suddenly everything became clear.

The wicked may prosper in this world. They may seem to have everything going for them. But this world isn't all there is. God is in control, and the eternity of the wicked will be far from prosperous. Those wicked people, Asaph realizes, are the ones who are truly standing on slippery ground. Their ruin will overtake them. In God's time, they will suffer the consequences of their actions. They will be destroyed, swept away in terror. They will fade away. Justice will come, perhaps not in this world, but certainly in the world to come.

Asaph actually feels pretty stupid after this realization hits him. How could he not have seen it before? Is he no more than a brute beast? He is just so weak, so ignorant. But he remembers, with gratitude, that even in his weakness and ignorance, God has never left his side. God is always holding him by the hand, guiding him, supporting him, giving him strength. “Whom have I in heaven but You?” he calls out to God. “And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than You.”

Asaph gives himself fully to God in the midst of the crazy, mixed up, nasty world in which he lives. He trusts God completely. When his body and his heart fail, he knows that God will be his portion forever. Those who are far from God will perish, but those who cling to Him in trust will remain with Him forever. No matter how bad the world gets, Asaph proclaims that it is simply good to be with God, to make Him one's refuge, to tell everyone that God's works are wonderful, are perfect, and to proclaim that God has a plan for His people even in the darkest times.

Really, Asaph might well have written the exact same psalm if he had been living today.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Colossians 1:5 – Word of Truth

...because of the hope being stored for you in heaven which you heard before in the word of the truth of the Gospel...

In our last reflection on Colossians, we talked about hope being stored up for us in Heaven. But how do we know about that? How do we know that we can and must desire and expect the eternal life God holds out to us and the grace He gives us to attain it? How do we know that our hope, our eternal life, is waiting for us, that God is preparing marvelous things for us? Paul tells us: we have heard about it beforehand in the Gospel.

The verb for “heard before” is proēkousate. There is a delightful anticipation in this verb. We can know something about our hope, our eternal life, before we realize it in full. The more we hear about it, the more we desire it; the greater our expectation becomes. We can start living eternity now in a limited way because we understand (at least in part) what is in store for us in the future if only we hold firm to the grace of God. God doesn't keep secrets from us. He wants us to look forward to the fullness of life with Him. He wants us to have an idea of what's coming. He wants us to begin to grasp the greatness of His gift of salvation even now in this life.

Where, then, do we hear about our hope? In the word of truth of the Gospel. This is actually quite a complicated little prepositional phrase in the Greek. It begins with the preposition en, which identifies the sphere where the information is located. That sphere is the word, tō logō. Logos is a loaded word, for Jesus Himself is the Logos, the Word of God. And indeed, we do hear about our hope through Him. He is the One Who brings our hope to fruition by His life, death, and resurrection. He is the One Who opened the gates of Heaven that we may have eternal life with Him. He is the One Who speaks hope into our hearts.

God's word also comes to us through the channels of Divine Revelation: Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, both of which are interpreted by the Church's Magisterium. The Bible and the Church's living Tradition (which includes the sacraments) are both filled with hope. They teach us that God is preparing a place for us; they show us how to get there; and they serve as pathways for the grace that God pours out upon us. Our job is to read and to listen and to open our hearts in humility to receive the message.

This message, this word, is truth. Paul makes this very clear in the construction he chooses: ō logō tēs alētheias, literally, the word of the truth. Paul might simply have used the adjective “true,” but he chose the abstract noun instead to give his phrase greater punch. This isn't just any true word; it is the word of truth, something unique, something special, something amazing. He might also be hinting at Jesus' assertion, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.” In that case, the word belongs to Truth Himself, and Truth Himself has shared it with us.

Where do we find this word of truth? In the Gospel, the euaggelion, the good news. Good news! Isn't that the understatement of the millennium? The Gospel is the best possible news ever, for it gives us the word of truth that our God loves us so much that He became one of us. He died on the cross for us. He rose again from the dead. He opened Heaven to us. He pours His divine life into our souls so we can live with Him and for Him and in Him right now. He gives us hope for eternal life that we may be with Him forever. It doesn't get any better than that.

(Greek definitions come from, especially HELPS Word Studies.)

Monday, November 5, 2018

Lost Prayers #10

A Selection of Morning Prayers

Remember, O Christian soul, that you have this day, and every day of your life –
God to glorify,
Jesus to imitate,
The angels and saints to invoke,
A soul to save,
A body to mortify,
Sins to expiate,
Virtues to acquire,
Hell to avoid,
Heaven to gain,
Eternity to prepare for,
Time to profit of,
Your neighbor to edify,
Passions to subdue,
Devils to combat,
The world to despise,
Death, perhaps, to encounter,
And judgment to undergo.

Prayer of St. Mechtilde

When you awake in the morning,” said our Blessed Lord to St. Mechtilde, “let your first act be to salute My Heart, and to offer Me yours.”

I adore, praise, and salute Thee, O most sweet Heart of my Jesus, fresh and gladdening as the breath of spring, from which, as from a fountain of graces, far sweeter than the honeycomb, floweth for ever all good and all delight. I give Thee thanks with all the powers of my heart for having preserved me through this night, and for having rendered to God the Father praises and thanksgivings on my behalf. And now, O my sweet Love, I offer Thee my miserable and worthless heart as a morning sacrifice; I place it in Thy most tender Heart, and commit it to Thy holy keeping; entreating Thee to deign to pour into it Thy divine inspirations, and to enkindle it with Thy holy love. Amen.

Devotions for the Morning

O my God, I adore Thee, and give Thee thanks for all Thy benefits, and especially for having preserved me during the past night. I love Thee with my whole heart, and I offer to Thee whatever I shall do or suffer in the course of this day, in union with the sufferings of Jesus Christ and of Mary, and with an intention of gaining all the indulgences I am able.

I will endeavor, by the assistance of Thy holy grace, to avoid all sin; and I beseech Thee, for the love of Jesus, to pardon me my past sins, and to grant me perseverance in virtue. I will endeavor, particularly in such things as shall be contrary to my inclinations, to unite myself to Thy blessed will, saying: “Lord, Thy will be done.” O Jesus, extend Thy hands over me this day. Most holy Mary, protect me. Faithful guardian, my good angel, and you, my holy advocates, saints in heaven, assist me. Amen.

From The Treasury of the Sacred Heart, 1877

Sunday, October 28, 2018

A Book Log #2

Just a few recommendations from bookworm to bookworm...

The Beggar's Banquet
By Regis Martin

As always, Dr. Regis Martin is a delight to read. The Beggar's Banquet, a collection of reflections original given to a community of monks, combines deep theological reflection; poetry from the likes of Dante, T.S. Eliot, and Gerard Manley Hopkins; and delightful spots of humor. While we are all beggars before God, we can be certain that when we open our hearts and minds to Him, He provides a banquet beyond our wildest imaginings. Dr. Martin helps his readers grasp the wonder and the delight of God's great gifts.

The House on the Strand
By Daphne du Maurier

I didn't expect to like this book. It was an assignment for a class, but it turned out to be an interesting read. While the psychological time travel motif only partly worked for me, I enjoyed the author's portrayal of medieval life and the connections between the modern and medieval characters. Most successful, perhaps, was the book's exploration of addiction and the effects of immoderate attachments on individuals and families. Overall, I would recommend The House on the Strand to readers who don't mind feeling a bit uncomfortable at times as they explore difficult issues and all the foibles of humanity past and present.

Tolkien: Man and Myth
By Joseph Pearce

J.R.R. Tolkien's Catholicism stands at the heart of his sub-created world. In Tolkien: Man and Myth, Joseph Pearce explores the subtle yet beautiful ways in which Tolkien's faith shines through his fantasy. Pearce also delves into the fruitful literary friendship between Tolkien and C.S. Lewis; Tolkien's love of family and rural life; and the delightful and illuminating concepts of true myth and sub-creation. If you love Tolkien, read this...seriously.

Jesus Appeals to the World: From the Writings of Sr. Consolata Betrone
By Lorenzo Sales, IMC

An unceasing act of perfect love... This is what Jesus asked of Sister Consolata, and this is what stands at the heart of Jesus Appeals to the World. Jesus appeared to Sister Consolata, a Capuchin nun, over a period of several years, instructing her on how to make the unceasing act of love using the formula “Jesus, Mary, I love You! Save souls!” Jesus also taught her to give a smiling “Yes!” to everyone; to thank God for everything; and to purify her mind of useless thoughts and her speech of useless words in order to focus entirely on loving Him. While not everyone is called to the intensity of Sister Consolata's mission, we are all called to love God and our neighbor, and through this book, Jesus speaks to our hearts about the form this love is to take in our own lives.

Doors in the Walls of the World
By Peter Kreeft

We human beings are not alone, and the material world that we live in is not all there is. What we don't see is far more real and far more wonderful than what is visible to our physical eyes. In Doors in the Walls of the World, Dr. Peter Kreeft shows us how we can catch marvelous glimpses of the “moreness” within and beyond our human story. As always, Dr. Kreeft packs his writing with material for deep reflection, including the subtleties of natural and supernatural and the effects that our smallest prayers, words, and actions can have on the whole world. Prayerfully reading this book is an excellent way to recover some of the wonder and joy we all tend to lose as we try to navigate the craziness of our world.

Happy reading!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Hannah's Prayer: A Prophecy

The end of Hannah's song of exaltation flows into prophecy. “The Lord will judge the ends of the earth,” Hannah announces, “He will give strength to His king, and exalt the power of His anointed.”

She probably didn't even understand completely what she was saying, for the Holy Spirit was using her as His instrument, speaking through her to send a message to people of all times and places.

Indeed, the Lord has judged, is judging, and will judge the ends of the earth. All things lie in His hands. He sees and knows and understands all and can therefore judge perfectly. He will do so ultimately at the end of time when all things will be made manifest and we shall understand His judgments fully.

When Hannah lifted up her prayer, Israel as yet had no king. The one who would someday appoint that king was her own son who was still a small child. Nonetheless, Hannah speaks confidently that Israel would have a king, and when it did, he would draw his strength from God Himself. Hannah's words would be fulfilled first in David and later, perfectly, in Jesus.

The final phrase of Hannah's prophecy would also find fulfillment in David and especially Jesus. God would raise up the power of His anointed. David was anointed as king by Samuel and given power to reign as king over Israel. Jesus, too, was anointed, only by the Holy Spirit directly at His Baptism, and of course, He was and is the most powerful of kings, for He is God incarnate.

Hannah could not have known any of this, yet she spoke with confidence. God would do exactly as He promised; Hannah was certain of that, and she would always praise Him for it.

(1 Samuel 2:10 – NSRV-CE)

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Hannah's Prayer: God's Control

Hannah's experiences have taught her something important about who is really in control of the world and of individual lives: God.

God knows all, Hannah proclaims. He weighs the actions of every person; nothing is hidden from Him. And because of Him, because of the knowledge He has and the decisions He makes, individual lives can change in the blink of an eye.

Mighty and arrogant ones fall. Weak ones become strong. Those who had plenty suddenly have nothing. Those who had nothing suddenly have much. The barren woman becomes the mother of many children. The mother of many children languishes as her children are taken from her.

And this is all God's doing. He knows exactly what to do and when to do it that each person may have exactly what he or she needs when he or she needs it. Sometimes God's actions may not feel good. They may hurt. They may seem evil and horrible to the person affected, but they never are. God always does what is best for His people even when He must discipline and correct them, even when they must suffer in order to learn and grow.

Indeed, as Hannah says, the Lord takes life and gives it, brings low and raises up, and He knows what He's doing every single time. He is in control; He is our Rock; and we must trust Him completely.

(1 Samuel 2:1-8 – NRSV-CE)

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Lost Prayers #9

To the Risen Saviour in the Blessed Sacrament

O Lord Jesus Christ! The magnificence of Thy works shines so brightly, that we are compelled to give glory to Thy name everywhere and at all times.

We believed in Thee, when Thou didst show Thyself a weak babe in the crib of Bethlehem; there was a mysterious power that attracted us, and with the Angels we adored Thee, wrapt in Thy humble swathing bands.

When we saw Thee hanging on the cross, outraged and blasphemed by a whole people, we still acknowledged Thee to be our king, and said to Thee with the good thief: Remember us, O Lord! when Thou shalt come into Thy kingdom.

But now that Thou hast triumphed over death and art risen gloriously from the tomb; now that the whole earth resounds with Thy praise, and the tidings of Thy resurrection fill all nations with gladness, as fresh as though Thy triumph were but of yesterday; who should refuse to confess Thy divinity, adore Thy mysteries, and cry out with Thy disciple: my Lord and my God!

Though my eyes see Thee not; though my hands cannot touch Thy sacred wounds, yet do I most firmly believe Thee to be my Lord and my God.

Thou has said: Happy they that have not seen and have believed: of these happy believers I would be one, O Jesus!

I confess that Thou hast verily risen, the Son of God, and the Son of man.

I believe also that Thou art the living bread come down from heaven to give life to the world, and that I am really kneeling in Thy holy presence.

When Thou didst visit Thy Apostles on the day of Thy resurrection, Thou saidst to them: It is I; fear not!

The same words, Thou speakest to my soul at this moment; Thou biddest me fear not at the sight of Thy majesty in the tabernacle, and mine own misery and unworthiness.

The soul of Magdalen was melting within her, when she was at Thy tomb and heard the sound of Thy voice; and throwing herself at Thy feet she could say nothing, but call Thee Master.

And I, dear Jesus! My Master! I who not only hear Thy voice for a moment, but kneel in Thy very presence for hours, nay, receive Thee into my heart in holy communion, what do I say to Thee?

The disciples of Emmaus had but a short conversation with Thee, and they said to each other: Was not our heart burning within us, whilst He spoke in that way?

And thou, my heart, why art thou not consumed with love for thy risen Saviour, Who is so near to thee?

O risen Jesus! Thou didst take Magdalen's love; Thou didst encourage that of Thy disciples; deign to inspire me with the same love.

I belonged to Thee, O Jesus, because I was redeemed by Thee: I am Thine now because Thou hast restored life to me by Thy resurrection, and because of Thy sacramental presence amongst us, and by Thy coming to me in holy communion, Thou hast made me a partaker in all the glory of Thy victory over death.

O Jesus! Let this most holy Sacrament be to me a pledge of my own future resurrection, and of my eternal and perfect union with Thee in heaven.

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Hannah's Prayer: Exultation

Hannah is on top of the world. She has just brought her dear little son, the child for whom she had prayed so long, to Shiloh to Eli the priest. Little Samuel would now serve the Lord, fulfilling the promise she had made before he was conceived. Hannah's prayers have been answered, and now she would uphold her end of the bargain.

We might think that a mother would be upset to leave her son behind, sorrowful to be far away from him much of the year, but Hannah realizes that she is giving Samuel the best possible gift. He will now belong to God, and God will care for him perfectly.

So Hannah cries out in joy: “My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory.”

The Hebrew in this verse offers some important clues to the deep meaning of Hannah's prayer. The first verb, translated here as “exults,” is alats, and it does mean “to exult” but also “to rejoice” or even “to triumph.” Hannah's joy knows no bounds because it is a response to God and His work in her life. Her whole being, all the strength she has, rises up to God. The verb here is rum, and while “is exalted” serves nicely as a translation, the word also includes shades of offering and triumph. Hannah presents herself to God yet again, completely, joyfully, triumphantly.

What's more, Hannah's enemies no longer have power over her. God has answered her prayers; He is in control. She merely has to look down and smile upon those who once opposed her. In fact, the verb translated here as “derides” is rachab, and it means simply “to enlarge.” Hannah opens her mouth, perhaps to deride those who tormented her or perhaps simply to show them her great satisfaction.

She can do this because she rejoices in her victory. The verb for “rejoice” here is samach, and it emphasizes the sheer gladness and pleasure that Hannah is experiencing because God has answered her prayers.

Indeed, Hannah's heart overflows with exultation, and her prayer expresses her joy in the God Who has so graciously heard her and given her her heart's desire.

(1 Samuel 2:1 – NRSV-CE; Hebrew words from

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Lost Prayers #8

Chaplet of the Twelve Stars

All praise and thanksgiving be to Thee, ever blessed Trinity! Who hath manifested to us Mary, ever Virgin, clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and on her head a mystic crown of twelve stars. For ever and ever. Amen.

Let us praise and give thanks to God the Father, Who chose her for His daughter. Amen. Our Father.

Praise be to God the Father, Who predestined her to be the Mother of His Son. Amen. Hail Mary.

Praise be to God the Father, Who saved her from all stain in her conception. Amen. Hail Mary.

Praise be to God the Father, Who, on her birthday, adorned her with His choicest gifts. Amen. Hail Mary.

Praise be to God the Father, Who gave her St. Joseph for her pure spouse and companion. Amen. Hail Mary and Glory Be to the Father.

Let us praise and give thanks to God the Son, Who chose her for His Mother. Amen. Our Father.

Praise be to God the Son Who became incarnate in her womb, and dwelt there for nine months. Amen. Hail Mary.

Praise be to God the Son, Who was born of her and nourished with her milk. Amen. Hail Mary.

Praise be to God the Son, Who, in His childhood, willed that Mary should teach Him. Amen. Hail Mary.

Praise be to God the Son, Who revealed to her the mysteries of the redemption of the world. Amen. Hail Mary and Glory Be to the Father.

Let us praise and give thanks to God the Holy Ghost, Who made her His spouse. Amen. Our Father.

Praise be to God the Holy Ghost, Who first revealed to her His name of Holy Ghost. Amen. Hail Mary.

Praise be to the Holy Ghost, through Whose operation she was at once Virgin and Mother. Amen. Hail Mary.

Praise be to the Holy Ghost, through Whom she became the living temple of the most holy Trinity. Amen. Hail Mary.

Praise be to the Holy Ghost, by Whom she was exalted in heaven high above all creatures. Amen. Hail Mary and Glory Be to the Father.

For the holy Catholic Church, for the propagation of the faith, for peace among Christian princes and for the uprooting of all heresy.

Hail holy Queen! Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope; to thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, O clement, O pious, O sweet Virgin Mary!

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Notes from the Hours: Light and Humility

In today's Office of Readings, we encounter the following antiphon between the psalms and the readings:

When we listen to Your word, our minds are filled with light.
It is the lowly heart that understands.

God's word does indeed fill our minds with light. In the Scriptures, God reveals Himself to us. He shows us Who He is (at least as much as we can understand) and what He has planned for our salvation. He explains how He prepared a people for Himself through the centuries, and then He tells us how He Himself came as a human being like us both to show us how to live in this world and then to die that we might live with Him eternally in Heaven. We learn how much God loves us and the lengths He is willing to go so that we might be all His for all time.

But to truly understand the Scriptures, we must humble ourselves. We must be open to God's word, allowing it to speak to us rather than imposing our preconceived notions upon it. What's more, we should ask God to guide us as we interact with His word that He may send the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit by which the Scriptures were inspired, to teach us what we need to know.

If we allow ourselves to be led, we will discover that we understand God's word more deeply than we ever thought we could, and even more importantly, we will meet God in it as He speaks to our hearts and fills our minds with His brilliant light.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Hannah's Prayer: Outpouring of the Heart

Hannah felt like her heart was breaking. She had been married for quite a long time, but she still had no children. Her husband, Elkanah, loved her, but even that wasn't enough, especially since he had taken another wife in order to have an heir. Hannah just wanted a baby of her own, so she did the only thing she knew to do: she took her request to God.

But she did not present her prayer in any formal, stiff fashion. Instead, she wept and poured her whole heart out before the Lord, vowing that if He gave her her heart's desire, a male child, she would give him back to God. She would dedicate her son to His service for life. That, Hannah believed, was the greatest gift she could give both the child and God.

As Hannah continued to pray, her voice faded away. Her lips moved as her heart cried to God. Her whole body became wrapped up in her plea, so much so that to the priest Eli, she looked as though she'd had too much wine.

When Eli confronted her, Hannah was quick to explain. “No, my lord,” she respectfully assured the priest, “I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord.”

Hannah gave her entire self to God in prayer, heart, soul, mind, spirit, thoughts, words, actions, everything, and she did so with complete trust that God would hear her and graciously grant her desire. Indeed He did. God remembered Hannah, just as she requested, and nine months later, she gave birth to a little boy, Samuel.

(1 Samuel 1, NRSV-CE)