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.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Interacting with Samuel, Part 3

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 5

*Why do the Philistines put the Ark of God in the temple of Dagon, one of their “gods”?

*What happens to the idol of Dagon and why? What does this show us about the relationship between God and idols?

*The Philistines play a game of pass the buck with the Ark of God; what does this tell us about human nature?

*What message is God trying to send to the Philistines? Are they understanding it? Why or why not?

*What are the Philistines implicitly admitting when they decide to send the Ark back to Israel?

1 Samuel 6

*In pagan cultures, guilt offerings were commonly crafted in the form of whatever was plaguing the people. What do the Philistine priests and diviners propose as a guilt offering? What are they suggesting by recommending a guilt offering in the first place?

*How do the Philistines look to the past to determine what to do in the present?

*Are the Philistines completely certain about what is going on regarding the Ark and their sufferings? Why or why not?

*What sign did God give to the Philistines? Why did He do so?

*How did the people of Israel respond to the return of the Ark?

*Why were the people of Beth-shemesh unwilling to allow the Ark to remain with them?

*How do we treat the holy things of God? Do we behave with reverence or not?

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Loved into Holiness

In his book Everything is Grace: The Life and Way of Thérèse of Lisieux, Joseph F. Schmidt remarks that St. Thérèse possessed a “desire to become a great saint by being loved into holiness by divine love” (103).

Loved into holiness... Isn't that beautiful? It is God's love that makes us saints. Certainly we must accept and cooperate with that love, but ultimately our Lord's great love for us is what will immerse us in holiness.

But how? How can we experience this kind of love and the sanctity that arises from it?

First, we must pray to recognize God's love. God's love is all around us. Our very existence is a product of God's love. Every blessing we have comes from God's love. Even every trial we face arises from God's love as He seeks to purify and teach us and to allow us to share in His suffering. Every sunrise, every sunset, every flower, every friend, every creature should remind us that God loves us. If He didn't, nothing would exist at all. We must recall, too, that our Lord suffered and died for us. He chose to experience a torturous death on the cross that He might free us from our sins and open the gates of Heaven. Now that's love.

Second, we must bask in God's love. We must keep God's love before our eyes, remembering it, feeling its warmth, enjoying its beauty. If it is a marvelous thing to be truly loved by another person, how much more amazing is it to be loved by the Creator of the universe? How much more amazing is it to be loved by the Savior Who died for us?

Third, we must allow God's love to transform our minds and hearts. God's love can tame our sour, critical, cynical, even nasty attitudes and thoughts and give our minds and hearts a more peaceful, cheerful, kind, even joyful outlook. If we ask Him to do this, He will, but we must be willing to let go and give His love a chance to work wonders in the very depths of our being.

Finally, we must allow God's love to act through us. If our minds and hearts have been transformed by God's love, we will find it much easier, with the help of God's grace, to act with love, to truly desire the best for other people and to do everything we can to help them attain that best. God will use us as His instruments to spread His divine love to others that they, too, may recognize it, bask in it, be transformed by it, and eventually live it.

Thus we become loved into holiness by God's great love...just like St. Thérèse.