Saturday, March 31, 2018

Holy Saturday – Some Remarkable Readings

As we wait to celebrate our Lord's Resurrection tomorrow, we should spend some time meditating on the great truths of our faith and on salvation history. On this Holy Saturday, then, we might read and reflect on the Easter Vigil readings available here:

We may also wish to focus our attention on what Jesus did during the time His body lay in the tomb. The Office of Readings in today's Liturgy of the Hours presents an ancient homily about this very thing. It may be found here:

Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday – Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith, Who for the sake of the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of God. (NRSV-CE)

On this Good Friday, meditate on Jesus, enduring the cross, unashamed, looking ahead to the joy of our salvation, longing to open Heaven to us that we may shed our sin, run the race of faith, and gather around Him as part of the great cloud of witnesses. Then, simply thank our Savior for His amazing love.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Holy Thursday – God's Great Gift

Almost two thousand years ago, on the night before He died, our Lord gave us a great gift, a gift that would remain with us until the end of time. He gave us Himself, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. He gave us the Eucharist. 

Jesus is really present in the Eucharist. He meant what He said when He proclaimed, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35). He was serious when He said, “Those who eat My flesh and drink My blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for My flesh is true food and My blood is true drink. Those who eat My flesh and drink My blood abide in Me, and I in them” (John 6:54-56). At the Last Supper, the bread and wine truly became Jesus' Body and Blood as He said, “This is My Body,” and “This is My Blood of the covenant” (Matthew 26:26, 28). This happens again and again, every time the priest, speaking in the person of Christ, proclaims these words, for Jesus also instructed, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19). 

When we receive Holy Communion at Mass, we receive Jesus, really and truly. Our God enters into our bodies and our hearts. We are united more closely to Jesus. Our venial sins disappear, and we are strengthened to avoid sin in the future. We are joined more perfectly to the Church, the Body of Christ. We receive a foretaste of Heaven. 

This evening, as we commemorate God's great gift of the Eucharist, we should take a few minutes to grow in our appreciation of the Sacrament. We might read the Catechism (#1322-1419) or perhaps learn about some of the amazing Eucharistic miracles our Lord has provided to strengthen our faith ( But most of all, we should spend some time thanking Jesus for remaining with us in such a truly awesome way.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Colossians 1:2 – Grace and Peace

...grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ... 

Grace and peace. These are what St. Paul bestows in blessing upon the Colossians. We've all heard these words hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times, so often that we don't stop to think about what they really mean. As usual, the original Greek can offer us some insight. 

The Greek word for grace is charis, and it typically means favor and kindness as well as grace. The word's root, however, adds another dimension to its meaning, for it denotes a leaning, an extension, and an inclination toward someone or something. Grace, then, is God leaning toward us, extending Himself toward us, inclining toward us in His kindness. Indeed, God's grace reaches out to provide us with more help and benefit than we can imagine, including and especially a share in God's very own life. By grace, God bends down to us that He may lift us up to Him. 

The Greek word for peace, eirēnē, also brings to light a deeper meaning. The noun derives from the verb eirō, which means “to join, tie together into a whole.” This is a wonderful way to think about peace, as wholeness, with everything in order, just as it should be, nothing missing, everything in place, all parts working smoothly, all relationships intact in love. When we are truly at peace, we are whole; we are complete; we are everything God intends us to be. 

May God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ grant us grace and peace in the deepest, most beautiful sense of these words. Amen. 

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

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Lost Prayers #2

Chaplet of Acts of the Love of God

1. O My God, and Sovereign Good, would that I had always loved Thee!
2. My God, I detest that time when I loved Thee not.
3. How could I ever live so long without Thy holy love?
4. And Thou, too my God, how couldst Thou bear with me?
5. My God, I give Thee thanks for Thy great patience.
6. But now I desire to love Thee for ever.
7. I am content rather to die than love Thee not.
8. Take from me my life, O my God, if I am not to love Thee.
9. The grace I beg of Thee is to love Thee ever.
10. With Thy love I shall be blessed.
Glory to the Father...

1. My God, I would see Thee loved by all.
2. Happy should I be, could I but shed my blood that all might love Thee.
3. He who loves Thee not is blind indeed.
4. My God, give him Thy light.
5. Miserable indeed are they who love not Thee, the Sovereign Good.
6. My God, let me never be one of those wretched ones who love Thee not.
7. My God, be Thou my joy, and all my good.
8. I would be wholly Thine for ever.
9. Who shall separate me from Thy holy love?
10. Come all ye creatures, love ye my God.
Glory to the Father...

1. My God, I would that I had a thousand hearts wherewith to love Thee.
2. I would that I had all hearts of all men wherewith to love Thee.
3. I would there were more worlds, that all might love Thee.
4. How blessed would he be who could love Thee with the hearts of all possible creatures!
5. Thou meritest, my God, to be so loved.
6. My heart is too poor, too cold, to love Thee.
7. Alas for the dead coldness of men in not loving their Sovereign Good!
8. Alas for the miserable blindness of the world which knows not Thee, Who art true love.
9. O blessed inhabitants of heaven, who know and love Him!
10. O blessed necessity of loving God!
Glory to the Father...

1. My God, when will the time come that I shall burn with love for Thee?
2. Oh, then what happiness were mine!
3. But, since I know not how to love Thee, I will at least rejoice that there are so many others who love Thee with their whole hearts.
4. In particular I rejoice that Thou art loved by all angels and all saints in heaven.
5. With the hearts of all these I unite the love of my poor heart.
6. In a special manner I intend to love Thee with the love with which those Saints who loved Thee best have love Thee.
7. Wherefore I intend to love Thee with the love wherewith St. Mary Magdalene, St. Catherine, and St. Teresa loved Thee.
8. With the love wherewith St. Augustine, St. Dominic, St. Francis Xavier, St. Philip Neri, and St. Louis Gonzaga loved Thee.
9. With the love wherewith Thy Holy Apostles, especially St. Peter, St. Paul, and the beloved Disciple, loved Thee.
10. With that same love wherewith St. Joseph the great Patriarch loved Thee.
Glory to the Father...

1. Moreover, I intend to love Thee with that love wherewith Mary most holy, loved Thee when on earth.
2. In particular with that love wherewith she loved Thee when she conceived Thy Divine Son in her virgin womb, when she brought Him forth, when she suckled Him, and when she saw Him die.
3. Yet more, I intend to love Thee with that love wherewith she loves Thee, and will love Thee for ever in heaven.
4. But to love Thee worthily, O my God of infinite goodness, not even this love suffices.
5. Wherefore I would love Thee as Thy Son, the Divine Word made Man, did love Thee.
6. As He loved Thee when He was born.
7. As He loved Thee when He died upon the Cross.
8. As He loves Thee ever in those sacred tabernacles where He lies hid.
9. And with that love with which He loves Thee and will love Thee in heaven for all eternity.
10. Lastly, I would fain love Thee with that love with which Thou lovest Thyself; but since that is impossible, grant me, O my God, of Thy tender pity, that I may love Thee as far as I know how and am able, and as Thou art pleased that I should love Thee. Amen and Amen.
Glory to the Father...

Let us pray.
O God, Who hast prepared invisible good things for them that love Thee, pour into our hearts such a desire of Thy love, that we loving Thee in all things and above all things, may attain Thy heavenly promises, which exceed all that we can desire. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(This prayer comes from the 1910 edition of the Raccolta.)

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Fifteenth Station

As we walk the Way of the Cross with Jesus, we meditate through fourteen stations, focusing on His condemnation, His falls, His meetings, and His death. Some versions of the prayer add a fifteenth station that directs our attention to the Resurrection, and indeed, Jesus' story does not end when He is placed in the tomb. He does rise again on Easter, alive and glorious. 

After several years of praying the Way of the Cross, though, I've discovered a fifteenth station that's a bit different. This fifteenth station isn't hung on a wall or written in a prayer book; it's the station that is in our hearts, the station that reminds us that Jesus' Passion and Death is not some story from the past but rather an integral part of our own lives. The fifteenth station should remind us that we are part of salvation history, that this story is our story, too. 

Perhaps, then, the fifteenth station of our Way of the Cross should first be a station of humility. Jesus died for us. Our sins nailed Him to that cross. We are all guilty. But He died for us anyway. And if only one person in the whole world of space and time had needed to be redeemed, Jesus would have died for that one person even though that one person would have been the one nailing Him to the cross. 

The fifteenth station, the station in our hearts, should also be a station of gratitude. How often do we sincerely thank Jesus for what He has done for us? 

The fifteenth station should be a station that helps us embrace our own crosses. We all have our crosses, and Jesus has told us to take them up and follow Him. We should say a little prayer asking Jesus to give us the grace to do that, the grace to unite our sufferings with His and to walk the Way of the Cross with Him. 

The fifteenth station should also be a station of resolution. We can all do better. We can always improve. Jesus has done so much for us; can we think of something we can do for Him that will both please Him and help us grow in virtue? 

Finally, the fifteenth station should be a station of love. Jesus died for love of us. We need to tell Him that we love Him, and we need to ask Him to fill us with His love that we may love Him and others more and more. 

So every time we pray the Way of the Cross, we should take a few moments and enter into the fifteenth station in our hearts, to embrace Jesus' Passion and Death, for we, too, are part of that truly awesome story of God's great love.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Colossians 1:2 – Brothers

To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae... (NRSV-CE) 

Covenants make families. Christ came to institute a new covenant in His blood. Through His death and resurrection, He reconciled us to God, creating a new covenant and making us God's family, the Father's children, the siblings of Christ. 

That's why Paul addresses his hearers as brothers and sisters in Christ, at least in translation. In the original Greek, the word translated as “brothers and sisters” is adelphois. It is literally “brothers,” but modern people, of course, like to be inclusive and include sisters as well. 

I would argue that this addition isn't necessary or perhaps even desirable. Adelphos, brother, literally means someone from the same womb, so the plural of this word could, perhaps, include female siblings as well, as plurals of mixed groups often conjugate in the masculine. But there is a Greek word for sister: adelphē. If Paul had meant to say “brothers and sisters,” he might have written adelphois kai adelphais. But he doesn't. 

Why doesn't he? In Biblical days, the heirs to a family's wealth were sons, brothers from the same father. Daughters/sisters were usually married off into another family and expected to become part of their new family's heritage (which their husbands inherited). 

Paul knows that we are all heirs to God in Christ. We inherit the good things of God, our patrimony, because we are joined to Christ and reconciled through Him to God our Father. But sisters don't inherit. Brothers do. That's why Paul addresses his hearers as brothers in Christ. He's certainly writing to a mixed audience of men and women (in fact, many of the most faithful people in early Christian communities were women, and Paul realized that – think Priscilla, who with her husband, Aquila, taught the Christian faith). But he's also emphasizing that all the people he's addressing are brothers in Christ and therefore heirs in Christ. We are all sons in the Son. We are all family members who receive an inheritance because we are incorporated into the Heir. 

When Paul doesn't write adelphois kai adelphais, then, he's not being misogynistic or trying to leave women out of the picture. Instead, he's recognizing that all Christians, both male and female, are inheritors of God's amazing grace. 

(Greek definitions come from, especially HELPS Word Studies, and the Perseus Tufts Greek Word Study Tool.)

Monday, March 5, 2018

Colossians 1:2 – Holy and Faithful

To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae... (NRSV-CE) 

Many Bible translations have something like the above for the first half of chapter 1, verse 2 of St. Paul's letter to the Colossians. The translation does the job for the most part, but it misses a couple points in the Greek that can guide us to a deeper understanding of the people Paul is addressing (and those people are not only the Colossians but us, too!). 

Here's the original Greek: tois en kolossais agiois kai pistois adelphois... 

The first word, tois, is an article, basically “the.” This article (and the adjectives and noun to follow) is in dative case, which here indicates recipients. Then we have the prepositional phrase en kolossais that shows place, “in Colossae.” Next we have two adjectives, hagiois and pistois (more about those in a minute), linked by the conjunction kai, “and.” Finally, we see the noun adelphois, “brothers.” 

Let's take a closer look at the two adjectives. Hagiois, translated above as “saints,” literally means holy or set apart or sacred. The person who is hagios is different from other people, different from the world, because he or she strives to be like God, Who is the ultimate Holy One. Pistois means faithful and believing. It derives from the verb peithō, which signifies to urge, persuade, trust, assent, yield, and/or have confidence. So faithful people are those who are persuaded to assent to, trust, and have confidence in God. They yield to God, letting go of their own notions to accept His truth. This faith can and should lead to hagios, holiness, because those who sincerely abandon themselves to God become quite different from the rest of the world. They are set apart in and for God. The two adjectives, then, complement each other well. 

In the translation above, hagios appears as “saints.” This is legitimate because adjectives can be translated substatively and used as nouns, but I think that isn't necessary or desirable here. First off, the article tois, even though a preposition phrase comes right after it, can easily govern two adjectives (connected by a conjunction) and a noun. There is no parallel tois before pistois to indicate a firm separation. Second, the substantive use of hagios weakens the complementary connection between hagiois and pistois identified above. 

A better translation, then, might read “to the holy and faithful brothers in Christ in Colossae.” If both adjectives modify adelphois, readers get a much clearer picture of the nature of God's family. They are both holy and faithful, set apart and believing, perhaps even different because they have been persuaded and have yielded to God's truth. This is one people, both holy and faithful, all children of God (more about that in a future post). 

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