Monday, December 23, 2019

The Words of Advent: Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Emmanuel, God with us. In the craziness of last minute Christmas preparations, stop for a moment and remember Who came into the world on Christmas.

Emmanuel, God with us. As you rush to finish everything before the big day arrives, take a breath and remember Who has arrived.

Emmanuel, God with us. As you wrap the final packages and label all the gifts, sit back and remember Who is the greatest gift of all.

Emmanuel, God with us. When you feel exhausted and stressed, relax and remember Who is the real meaning of Christmas.

Emmanuel, God with us, come and fill our hearts. Calm our worries. Clear our minds. Cleanse our souls. Free us from our sins. Draw us near to You. Wrap us in Your arms. Surround us with Your love.

Emmanuel, God with us. Amen.

Monday, December 16, 2019

The Words of Advent: Joy

Yesterday we celebrated Gaudete Sunday, and the Church implored us to rejoice. That's what gaudete means. It's the infinitive, the command form, of the Latin verb gaudeo, “to rejoice.”

We hear over and over in Scripture that we must rejoice. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus,” says Paul to the Thessalonians (1 Thess 5:16-18). “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice,” the same saint calls to Philemon (Phil 4:4). “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer,” he urges the Romans (Rom 12:12). “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad,” the psalmist sings out (Psalm 118:24).

The saints echo the Bible's invitation to joy. “Joy is prayer; joy is strength; joy is love; joy is a net of love by which we catch souls,” explains St. Teresa of Calcutta. You will never be happy if your happiness depends on getting solely what you want. Change the focus. Get a new center. Will what God wills, and your joy no man shall take from you,” Venerable Fulton Sheen instructs.

Prayer is nothing else than union with God. When our heart is pure and united to God, we feel within ourselves a joy, a sweetness that inebriates, a light that dazzles us. In this intimate union God and the soul are like two pieces of wax melted together; they cannot be separated. This union of God with His little creature is a most beautiful thing. It is a happiness that we cannot understand...God, in His goodness, has permitted us to speak to Him. Our prayer is an incense which He receives with extreme pleasure,” writes St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney.

The Divine Heart is an ocean full of all good things, wherein poor souls can cast all their needs; it is an ocean full of joy to drown all our sadness, an ocean of humility to drown our folly, an ocean of mercy to those in distress, an ocean of love in which to submerge our poverty,” St. Margaret Mary declares.

There is a joy which is not given to the ungodly, but to those who love Thee for Thine own sake, whose joy Thou Thyself art. And this is the happy life, to rejoice to Thee, of Thee, for Thee; this it is, and there is no other,” asserts St. Augustine.

Joy, then, is far more than an emotion. It is an experience deep within our hearts and souls that comes through an encounter with God. We experience joy when we are touched by truth, beauty, and goodness, when we are touched by God, sometimes directly, sometimes through earthly things that point to Him. When the Church tells us to rejoice, she is inviting us to come close to Christ, to recognize Him in all His glory, and to let Him fill us with joy.

Monday, December 9, 2019

The Words of Advent: Wait

We live in an on-demand culture. Much of what we think we need or want is at the tips of our fingers, and we've lost the ability to wait for anything. We become irritable and impatient when any delay prevents us from getting exactly what we want when we want it.

But during Advent, God says, “Wait!” And the Church obeys. That's why we don't see Christmas decorations at Church until Christmas Eve. That's why we don't sing Christmas music but rather songs of anticipation. That's why we light the candles in the Advent wreath, marking the weeks as we wait to celebrate the coming of our Savior.

As we wait, God teaches us about the value of waiting. Waiting guides us toward humility. We must give up control. We must surrender ourselves and our desires to God and His timing. Waiting provides an opportunity to pray and spend time with God, to read His Word, to reflect on His plans, to place Him at the center of our lives as we take a step back from the action and immerse ourselves in Him.

That's why God tells us to wait during Advent, for as we wait for Him, we can grow closer to Him if we allow ourselves to slow down and rest in His embrace.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

The Words of Advent: Come

The word “Advent” derives from the Latin verb advenio, to come to, to reach, to arrive at. During Advent, we should reflect deeply on Who is to come, on when He comes, and on how we must come in response.

So Who is to come? Jesus, our Lord and our God, comes to us. And with Him come God the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Trinity, three Persons, one God Who loves us more than we can ever imagine.

When does Jesus come? He came in the past when He became incarnate in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary and was born on Christmas Day. This coming we anticipate anew during Advent as we remember that God became a little Child for our sake. But Jesus also comes to us now. He comes into our hearts by His grace. He comes to us when we pray and read His Word in the Scriptures. He comes to us in a special way, an extremely intimate way, when we receive Him in the Eucharist, when He gives us His very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Jesus will come to us again at some unknown future time. He will come to us at the moment of our death when we will see Him face to face, and one day, at the end of time, He will come back, glorious and triumphant, to usher in a new Heaven and a new earth.

How must we come in response? We must come to Jesus with our whole hearts and minds and souls and with all our strength. We must come to Him with all we have and all we are. We must come to Him constantly at every moment. We must come to Him with all the love we have and, indeed, with the love He pours into us.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Constant Gladness

Grant us, we pray, O Lord our God, the constant gladness of being devoted to You, for it is full and lasting happiness to serve with constancy the Author of all that is good. 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.

Are you glad to be devoted to God? Do you find your happiness in serving Him? Do you recognize Him as the Author of all that is good?

Today's collect prayer calls us to reflect on our attitude toward God and His will. People often complain that prayer is “a waste of time” or that Mass is “boring” and they “don't get anything out of it.” They can't see how spending time with God can help them meet their goals or “get ahead” in this world, for they are too busy serving themselves to serve Him. And, therefore, they are unhappy.

If we are to be happy, we have to adjust our attitudes, to change our priorities, to learn how to put God in His proper place in our lives: first and foremost. Why? Because people who are truly devoted to God, who want to pray to Him, who want to spend time with Him, who find Him the best kind of company, who find joy in His presence, are happy. Because those who serve God willingly, who seek to bring forth His kingdom as far as possible in this world, who love His children for His sake, are happy. Because those who recognize that God is all good, who understand that God loves them more than they can ever imagine, who trust in God's mercy, are happy.

Our happiness cannot be complete while we are still in this world, but when we are devoted to God, when we serve Him, when we know Him and seek to know Him more and better, our happiness will grow into the constant gladness that we pray for in today's collect.

Grant us, we pray, O Lord our God, the constant gladness of being devoted to You, for it is full and lasting happiness to serve with constancy the Author of all that is good. 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. Amen.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Interacting with Samuel, Part 6

Let's continue our journey through the First Book of Samuel. Remember, these questions are designed to help us interact deeply with the text, and more importantly with the Author of the text, i.e., God. They are meant to start up a meditation and a conversation that begin with God's Word and lead into a personal encounter with our Lord.

1 Samuel 11

*The people of Jabesh are in quite a tight spot, for they cannot defend themselves against the Ammonites nor accept the terms of the Ammonite treaty. What are those terms? Why do the Ammonites demand such terms?

*When Saul hears of the Ammonite threat, he is furious. What happens to him, and how does he respond?

*Do you think God may have allowed such a threat for a reason? If so, what is that reason?

*Look closely at verse 10. What do the men of Jabesh do, and why do they do it?

*How do the people of Israel react to Saul's victory over the Ammonites? What does Saul's reply to the people's suggestion show about his character?

1 Samuel 12

*Now that the Israelites have the king they demanded, Samuel is retiring as their judge. In this chapter, he gives his farewell speech. Identify the various parts of his discourse. What does he start with, and where does he go from there?

*Why does Samuel spend so much time focusing on his innocence before the people?

*Samuel looks back into history to show how God has worked with and for His people in the past. Why does he do this? Examine your own history and that of your family and community. How has God worked for you?

*What was the Israelites' sin when they asked for a king?

*What does Samuel agree to do for the people? What does he tell them they must do in return?

*What do the words “fear the Lord” mean to you?

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Grace Before and After

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. Amen.

God's grace goes before us. We do nothing withour His grace. Without the favor that He pours out upon us, we wouldn't even exist. Without God's saving plan, we would still be dead in our sins. Without God's loving care, we would never be able to experience God's presence. Without God's desire for us, we would never get to Heaven.

So God's grace always goes before us, anticipating all our needs, providing all that is required for our lives and for our eternal salvation.

But God's grace also follows after us. We have free will, and we often misuse it and fall into sin. But God's grace waits for our repentance and showers forgiveness upon us. God's grace supports us in our suffering. God's grace calms us in our fears. God's grace heals our ills in God's perfect timing.

God's grace even urges us on to good works. We could do nothing without this grace. God gives us the ability to love. He whispers into our thoughts. He inspires our words. He nudges us to do good for others. At every step, His grace shows us the path we should take. Our job is to listen, to look, to discern, and to follow.

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. Amen.

(The prayer is the Sunday collect for the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time.)

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Interacting with Samuel, Part 5

Let's continue our journey through the First Book of Samuel. Remember, these questions are designed to help us interact deeply with the text, and more importantly with the Author of the text, i.e., God. They are meant to start up a meditation and a conversation that begin with God's Word and lead into a personal encounter with our Lord.

1 Samuel 9

*What does this chapter tell and show us about Saul's character? What is he like as a person? Which of Saul's features does the text emphasize?

*Is Saul cut out to be the king of Israel? Why or why not?

*Why does God choose Saul to be king? What point is He trying to make to His people?

*What might Saul think when Samuel invites him to the sacrifice and places him in the seat of honor? Does he understand what is going on? Why or why not?

*What might be Samuel's initial impression of Saul?

1 Samuel 10

*Samuel anoints Saul with a great outpouring of oil and kisses him. These are actions of consecration and homage that change Saul's status from private person to God's anointed. When have you experienced meaningful signs like these?

*Samuel gives Saul three signs to watch for; what are they? All three signs reveal that Saul is to take over the kingship, and they show him the responsibilities involved in his new duties. What do the three signs teach Saul?

*The Holy Spirit comes down upon Saul at Gibeah. Why is this important?

*Why doesn't Saul tell his uncle what has really happened to him?

*Samuel anoints Saul privately first and then “chooses” him by lot before all the people. Why does he perform this two-part selection? How is God in control of both events?

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Luke 14:26 – Hate?

“If anyone comes to Me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”

Huh? What? Hate? Did Jesus really say this? What did He mean?

We all have lots of questions when we hear this weekend's Gospel reading. It's shocking and a little scary, and it wakes us up. And that's exactly what Jesus meant to do.

To understand Jesus' statement, we need to first off understand something about the expressions of the Semitic culture in which Jesus lived. This culture was prone to exaggerated statements that got people's attention by shocking the daylights out of them. And certainly that's what Jesus is doing here. He wants us to be shocked so we pay attention and think deeply about His words.

Second, we must understand the meaning of the word “hate” in the original language. When I say “original language” here, though, I don't mean Greek this time. I mean Aramaic, the language Jesus and His disciples used in their common, everyday speech. Aramaic doesn't have a structure of comparatives. There isn't a way to say greater or less, better or best, worse or worst.

So the word “hate” had a much broader range of meaning in Aramaic than it does in Greek or English. It could mean everything from despising someone to renouncing someone to detaching oneself from someone to loving someone less than another.

Even in English, we use the word “hate” more broadly than our first impressions suggest. We might say, “I hate it!” about beets and really mean that they don't suit our taste at all. We might exclaim, “I hate that I did that!” and mean that we renounce our action and are sorry for it. We might even remark, “I hate to say it, but...” and mean that we reject (more or less) having to express an opinion or a fact.

When we examine Jesus' words in the broader context of His teachings, we know right away that He is not telling us to despise people or hurt them deliberately. This is, after all, the same Jesus Who tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves and, even more, as He loves us. What He means here is that we must choose Him above all else in our lives, even the people closest to us. We must love Him more than we love them even to the point of detaching ourselves from them if we must.

We might wonder, then, why Luke chose to render Jesus' Aramaic word and Semitic idiom as the strong word “hate” in the Greek. Matthew did not. He translated the idiom rather than the word (and this helps us understand Luke's version better): Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me...” (Matthew 10:37). So why did Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, leave the word “hate” in place?

Perhaps he could see that people would need a strong message like this in the future. Perhaps he knew that the shock value of the statement would get people thinking and talking. Perhaps he realized that Christians would sometimes face difficult choices and need to hear strong words to help them choose rightly.

And he was correct. Christians of every time and place have needed a strong reminder to put Christ first in their lives and keep Him there. Those who faced martyrdom, for example, sometimes had to tune out the pleas of their grieving families. “Remember us!” they may have cried. “Think of us! What will happen to us if you die? Can't you just say the words they want to hear without meaning them in your heart?” “No,” the martyr had to respond. “I love you, but I love Jesus more, and I will not renounce Him for anything in the world, even if it means leaving you behind.”

Maybe the scenario wouldn't even be as dramatic as martyrdom. Picture a family in poverty. The man has a chance to earn some extra money, but it would mean doing something morally wrong. His wife might encourage him to ignore his conscience just this once. “It's not much,” she might urge, “just a little thing, and think of how much that money would mean to our family. Couldn't you just do it for us?” But the husband, if he truly follows Christ, would have to refuse. He would have to put God's moral law first, trusting that God would provide for his family.

Divine love must always take priority over human affections. We must always choose Christ even when that means acting against the wishes of our families and friends. We must always strive to draw our human love up into divine love and to allow God to love our dear ones through us. Sometimes this might not look like love to them or to the world. As we detach ourselves from the world and follow Christ, our choices and actions might even seem like hate in human eyes. But it is not hate. It is a love stronger and deeper than any other, for when we belong to God Who is Love and when we are filled with His love, we can love our fellow human beings in a whole new way, a way that leads to eternity.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Have You Ever Thought About...

How often do we reflect on the “little things” of Scared Scripture, a word here, a phrase there, an event that at first glance doesn't seem too important? The Bible is packed with such details specifically designed to lead us to a greater understanding of God's Word.

Each of the short reflections in my latest book focuses on a detail from an all-too-familiar story in the Gospels or the Acts of the Apostles and uses that detail as a lens through which to view the story in a new way. This fresh perspective, in turn, broadens our experience of Scripture and leads us to a deeper encounter with God in His Word.

If you're interested, please click on the book cover below to link to Amazon. Thank you!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

An Old English Prayer

O beloved Lord! O good Judge!
Have mercy on me, eternal Ruler.
I know my soul with sins is grievously wounded;
Save it, Lord of heavens,
and heal it, Author of life,
because You most easily can of all physicians
of those who may be far and wide.
O, bright Lord, Creator of people!
Soften Your mind to me for goodness,
give Your mercy to Your wretched one.
He is wretched who here on earth
day and night fights for the devil
and works his will; woe to him for that pleasure,
when he those recompenses has and beholds,
but he that evil may abandon before.
He is blessed, who here on earth
day and night obeys the Lord
and always works His will; well for him of that labor,
when he those recompenses has and beholds,
if he an entirely good end accomplishes.
O, Light of lights! O Joy of life!
Grant to me, honor-blessed King,
when I ask for heaven for my soul,
eternal mercy. You are unquestionably God,
You have and You rule
alone over all earth and heavens
of wide creations. You are true Measurer,
alone over all earth-dwellers,
just as up in heavens You are Savior God.
Not any of men can praise You;
although You may unite us around wide ground,
men over world, around all middle-earth,
we can never express, nor know that truly,
how noble You are, eternal Lord.
Yet the host of angels up in heavens
wise together do not begin to say,
they cannot ever express, nor know that measurement,
how glorious You are, mighty Lord.
But it is a great wonder, Ruler of angels,
though You know it Yourself, Lord of victory,
how glorious You are, mighty and power-strong,
King of all kings, living Christ,
Creator of all worlds, Ruler of angels,
Power of all hosts, Lord Savior.
You are the noble One Who in former days
joy of all maidens beautifully brought forth
in Bethlehem that walled city for men as comfort,
for all as mercy for sons of ages,
for those who believe in the living God
and in that eternal light up in skies.
Your power is so glorious, mighty Lord,
so that not any of earth-dwellers know
the mystery of the powers of the Lord,
nor that any of the rank of angels know
the highness of the King of heavens.
I confess to You, almighty God,
that I believe in You, beloved Savior,
that You are the great One and the power-strong One
and the gracious One of all gods
and the eternal King of all creatures,
and I am the little one for You and the wretched man,
the one who sins here exceedingly often,
day and night, I do as I should not,
at times with work, at times with word,
at times with thought, grievously guilty,
treacherous enmities often and frequently.
But I implore You now, Lord of heavens,
and pray for myself to You, most excellent of sons,
that You may show mercy to me, mighty Lord,
High-king of heavens and the Holy Ghost,
and may protect me, Father almighty,
that I may be able to work Your will,
before I from this transitory life depart.
Refuse me not, Lord of glory,
but grant to me, honor-blessed King,
permit me with angels up to journey,
to sit in sky,
to praise heaven's God with holy voice
always without end. Amen.

Translated by Amy Troolin

Friday, August 2, 2019

Notes from the Hours: Peace

In today's Office of Readings, we reflect on parts of Psalm 35. One line in particular stood out to me as I prayed this familiar psalm yet again: “Great is the Lord Who delights in the peace of His servant.”

How often do we think about that? God delights in our peace. The word for “peace” in Hebrew is shalom, and it refers not just to a lack of conflict but also to a completeness, a wholeness, a soundness, a sense that everything is in its place and everything is as it should be.

This peace is what God wants for us, and He is extremely pleased when we embrace it. Notice that I say “embrace” it, for we don't get this kind of peace on our own. No matter how hard we try, no matter how many self-help techniques we practice, no matter how much we long for this peace, we cannot achieve it by ourselves. This kind of peace is a gift from God, and we can only (and must) accept it.

Yet God delights when we accept the peace He longs to give us. When we become the kind of human beings He wants us to be, whole, complete, sound, orderly, attuned to the right things in the right ways, then God rejoices with us. And we cling to Him, well aware that He is the source of this deep peace that cannot be shaken by the changes this world continually throws at us.

Lord, grant us this peace that You may delight in us and we may truly delight in You all the way to eternity. Amen.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Lost Prayers #17

Prayers Before Communion, Part 2

Act of Love
Ah! my God, the true and only love of my soul, what more couldst Thou do to induce me to love Thee! Thou wast not content with dying for me; Thou didst wish to institute this holy sacrament, to give Thyself entirely to me, and thus unite Thy whole Heart to the heart of a creature so vile and ungrateful as I am. And what is more Thou Thyself dost invite me to receive Thee; Thou dost ardently desire that I should receive Thee. O infinite love! incomprehensible love! a God wishes to give Himself to me!

My soul, dost thou believe all this? What art thou doing, or what hast thou to say? O God, infinitely amiable, the only object worthy of all love, I love Thee with my whole heart; I love Thee above all things; I love Thee more than myself – more than my life! Oh, that I could see Thee loved by all! Oh, that I could make all hearts love Thee as much as Thou dost desire! I love Thee, O most amiable God; and in loving Thee, I unite my miserable heart to the heart of the Seraphim, to the heart of most holy Mary, and to the Heart of Jesus, Thy most holy Son. Thus I love Thee, O infinite Goodness, with the love with which the saints, with which Jesus and Mary love Thee. I love Thee only because Thou art worthy of my love, and through the sole motive of pleasing Thee. Begone from my heart, all earthly affections, you tend not to God. Mother of pure love, most holy Mary, help me to love that God, Whom thou dost desire to see so much loved.

Act of Humility
O my Saviour! who am I that Thou shouldst invite me to receive Thee for the food of my soul? Is it possible that Thou, the God of infinite purity, shouldst come and dwell in my heart, which has been so long the abode of Thy enemy, and the sink of so much sin? Lord, if Thou wilt Thou canst make me clean. Say but the word, and my soul shall be healed. I come then, O my amiable Saviour, to receive Thee this morning, but I come covered with shame and confusion at the sight of my sins, but full of confidence in Thy mercy, and in the love which Thou does bear to me.

Act of Sorrow
O God of my soul, I am sincerely sorry for not having hitherto loved Thee. Instead of having loved Thee, I have, for the sake of my pleasures, offended and despised Thy infinite goodness; I have turned my back upon Thee; in a word, O my God, I have voluntarily lost Thee. Lord, I am sorry from the bottom of my heart, for all my sins. I hate above all things the offences, whether mortal or venial, which I have committed against Thee, Who art infinite goodness. I hope Thou hast already cleansed me from the stain of sin in the sacrament of penance, but I desire to become still purer in Thy sight. Vouchsafe then to wash in Thy blood this soul, which Thou dost wish soon to make Thy dwelling-place.

Act of Desire
O my soul, the happy hour is arrived; Jesus comes to dwell in my poor heart. Behold the King of heaven, thy Redeemer and thy God, coming to thee; prepare thyself to receive Him with love; say to Him with the most ardent desire: Come, O my Jesus, come to me; I desire to receive Thee. Before Thou dost give Thyself to me, I desire to give Thee my miserable heart; accept it, come and take full possession of it. Come, my God, make haste; do not delay. O my only and infinite good, my treasure, my life, my love, and my all. I would wish to receive Thee with that love with which the most holy and loving souls, with which Immaculate Mary received Thee. With their Communion I unite this Communion of mine. Most holy Virgin, my Mother, Mary, behold I am going to receive thy Son. I would wish to have thy heart, and the love with which thou didst communicate: give me this morning thy Jesus, as thou gavest Him to the shepherds and to the Magi. I wish to receive Him from thy most pure hands: tell Him that I am thy servant, and that I am devoted to thee; and when He comes to me, He will look on me with a more loving eye, and will unite Himself more closely to me.

From The Treasury of the Sacred Heart, 1878

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Lost Prayers #16

Prayers Before Communion, Part 1

Act of Right Intention
My dear Redeemer, it is not from custom or human respect that I come to receive Thee: but it is solely to love and be united to Thee, to live by Thee and for Thee, to be delivered from my miseries and to clothe myself with Thy virtues, to strengthen myself against my enemies; it is to ask from Thee the exaltation of the Church, Thy beloved spouse, the conversion of sinners, perseverance for the just, and deliverance for the poor souls in purgatory. Purify more and more my intentions, rectify them, O my Jesus, render them conformable to Thine; this is my sole desire.

Act of Faith
Lord Jesus, eternal and infallible Truth, since Thou has said that Thou art really present in the holy Eucharist, I believe it firmly. Yes, this host which I see, and which I am to receive, is not bread, but the living body of Jesus Christ, God and man; it is the God Whom the angels adore in heaven; I believe it. I do not understand this mystery, but I wish to believe it without seeking to penetrate it, that I may have the happiness of seeing and contemplating it one day in heaven. Strengthen my weakness, increase my faith, render it so lively, that I may honor Thee, love Thee, and receive Thee, as if I already beheld Thee.

Act of Adoration
I adore Thee, O my God present in the holy Eucharist, as my Creator, my Preserver, and my Redeemer. I offer Thee all that I have, all that I am, all that depends on me; I offer Thee my mind to think of Thee, my heart to love Thee; my will to serve Thee; my body to labor and suffer for Thy love. I am Thine, I give myself to Thee, I consecrate myself to Thee, I abandon myself to Thee, I wish to live and die for love of Thee.

Act of Confidence
My soul, dilate thy heart; thy Jesus can give thee every good gift; He loves thee ardently. Hope, then, for great favors from this Lord, Who, through an impulse of love, comes to thee all love. Yes, my Jesus, my hope, I trust in Thy goodness, that in giving Thyself to me this morning, Thou wilt kindle in my poor soul the flames of Thy pure love, and of an ardent desire to please Thee, that, from this day forward, I may wish only what Thou wishest.

From The Treasury of the Sacred Heart, 1878

Monday, July 1, 2019

Interacting with Samuel, Part 4

Let's continue our journey through the First Book of Samuel. Remember, these questions are designed to help us interact deeply with the text, and more importantly with the Author of the text, i.e., God. They are meant to start up a meditation and a conversation that begin with God's Word and lead into a personal encounter with our Lord.

1 Samuel 7

*Samuel tells the Israelites that if they wish to return to the Lord, they must do three things. What are those three things?

*What kinds of idols do we need to put away if we are to focus on God?

*Describe the attitude of the Israelites as they face another Philistine threat.

*What does Samuel do in the face of the Philistine threat?

*How does God fight for the Israelites? How does He fight our battles?

1 Samuel 8

*Why do the Israelites want a king? Are their motives good, bad, or somewhere in between?

*What is God's response to the Israelites' demand? Why does He respond in this way?

*What are the Israelites really telling God with their demand for a king?

*Samuel is quite clear about what a king will demand of Israel; list some of the points he makes.

*How convincing are Samuel's arguments?

*How do the Israelites respond to Samuel? Why?

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Notes from the Hours: Never Forget

Bless the Lord, my soul; never forget all He has done for you.

Never forget that God made you from nothing, that He loved you into being.

Never forget that God sustains you every moment of every day.

Never forget that God loves you, that He wants only the very best for you and that He knows exactly what that very best is.

Never forget that God became incarnate for you, that He suffered and died and rose again to save you from your sins and to open a way to Heaven for you.

Never forget that God made a covenant with you when you were baptized, that He adopted you as His child, that He accepted you as part of His family.

Never forget that God forgives your sins when you repent and confess with a sincere heart.

Never forget that God will give you all the graces you need to get to Heaven if you choose to accept them.

Never forget that God speaks to you through His Divine Revelation in Scripture and Tradition, that He has a personal message just for you.

Never forget that God waits for you in the Eucharist, that He longs for you to receive Him in Holy Communion and partake of the deep intimacy He desires.

Never forget that God wants you to show His love to others, to care for their needs, to speak to them about Him, to treat them as His beloved children.

Never forget that God is preparing a home for you in Heaven where you will see Him face to face for all eternity.

Bless the Lord, my soul; never forget all He has done for you.

(Antiphon from the Office of Readings for Wednesday, Week IV)

Monday, June 17, 2019


Harlot. I suppose I've been called worse. I am Rahab of Jericho, the harlot. Why those two Israelite spies stopped at my house, I'll never know for sure. Perhaps God guided them, for their sake and mine. He must have whispered in my heart, telling me to take them in and hide them on my roof. I wouldn't have had to do it. I could've just handed them over to the officials of the king and been done with the matter., I couldn't really.

You see, I knew somehow that change was coming. The Israelites would overcome Jericho. They would occupy our territory. They would kill our people or drive them out. Nothing had ever been so clear in my mind. We heard what God had already done for these people, how He had parted the Red Sea and defeated their opponents and led them through the wilderness for forty years. Now God had given them this land, and He would conquer it for them. There was no doubt about it. No escaping it. But when it happened, I would be on the winning side, and my family with me.

So I hid those Israelite men on the roof. I gave them food and drink. I gave them advice, told them how to escape the city and flee from their pursuers. I lied for them. If anyone had discovered the truth, I would have died because of them.

But before they left, I made them do something for me. I asked them to swear an oath by God that when the time came for them to take our city, they would spare me and my family, everyone in this house. Thus they promised in return for my silence. They gave me a red cord to tie in my window as a sign to the Israelite forces that this was a protected house, an untouchable house. Everyone inside would live.

As the two Israelites dashed off into the darkness, I tied the cord in the window. Now I wait. I have gathered my family around me. The Israelites approach. They have already crossed the Jordan river. Soon they will be on the threshold of Jericho. We will hide here, trusting in God and in the oath of those two men. But something about that red cord gives me hope, a hope beyond my little, insignificant life, a hope that someday one of my descendants will save people in a much greater way than that little red cord will save my family. Is that so impossible? I'm beginning to think that nothing will be impossible with God...even for a harlot like me.