Saturday, February 24, 2024

The Litany Project: Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus, Part 8

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, have mercy on us.

The Divine Son, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, “though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-7). 

Jesus, fully God, became fully Man to save us from sin. He humbled Himself in a way we can hardly even imagine. As God, He remained omnipotent, but He became meek for our sake. Meekness, though, does not mean being wimpy or passive or tame or boring. Meekness, in the Scriptural sense of the word, means strength under control. It is the result of self-discipline and humility.  It arises because of a deliberate choice to follow the path of self-giving love.  

Jesus, lover of chastity, have mercy on us.

Chastity gets a back rap in the modern world, for many people view it as repressive or prudish or simply unattainable. Yet none of this is true. Chastity is actually all about conforming our minds, our hearts, and our lives to God’s will for us. With the virtue of chastity, we put our sexuality in its proper place and use it only according to God’s moral law and His plan for our lives. 

Jesus loves chastity in us because when we are chaste, we are pure. We are rightly ordered. We put God first and control our passions so that they conform to His design for human beings, and that design allows sex only within the lifelong covenant of marriage between one man and one woman. 

Jesus, our lover, have mercy on us.

Jesus loves us. Perhaps that sounds cliche. Perhaps some people reading this do no truly believe it or at least do not seem to experience it in their lives. But it is perfectly, wonderfully, beautifully true: Jesus loves us. He loves us so much that He died on the cross for us. He would not have had to. One drop of His blood would have been enough to save the world. But He chose to go all the way, to pour out every drop of His blood for us so that no matter how far we run from Him, He will be right there waiting with arms stretched out to embrace us. Now that’s love. 


Saturday, February 17, 2024

The Litany Project: Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus, Part 7

Jesus, most powerful, have mercy on us.

Since Jesus is fully God, He is indeed most powerful. He is omnipotent. Yet our Lord’s infinite power is always directed toward our good. He loves us; He made us; and He knows exactly what we need to flourish as human beings and as children of God. Our Lord’s power, then, works in perfect union with His perfect love.

Jesus, most patient, have mercy on us.

In his second letter, Peter tells us that we must “consider the patience of our Lord as salvation” (3:15, NAB). Jesus is perfectly patient with us. He gives us chance after chance, grace after grace. Why? Because He died for us and wants us to live with Him forever in Heaven. Paul adds that “God our Savior...desires all men to be saved and come to knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:3, RSV-CE). We never have to worry about Jesus giving up on us; we just have to remain faithful to Him.

Jesus, most obedient, have mercy on us.

It may seem kind of strange to us that Jesus, fully God as well as fully Man, would be obedient. Yet He obeyed, accepted, and even embraced His Father’s will all the way to death on the Cross. Jesus’ obedience was not servile. He was not a slave to His Father. His obedience arose from the total, perfect self-giving love that flows between the Father and the Son. That love is the Holy Spirit. There is no opposition in the Family that is the Blessed Trinity. 

This shows us something important about where our own obedience should flow from. We, too, are called to obey out of love. God knows us better than we know ourselves. He created us after all, so He knows what is best for us. He know what should be our highest goal (eternal life with Him!) and how we can best get there. So why would we not hear and obey, imitating Jesus, Who gave Himself completely to His Father?

Saturday, February 10, 2024

The Litany Project: Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus, Part 6

Jesus, Father of the world to come, have mercy on us.

It seems rather strange to think of Jesus as “Father.” We are used to addressing the First Person of the Blessed Trinity as “God the Father,” just as Jesus Himself did. Yet we can think of a “father” as a source or an origin, and that can help us clarify this reference. Jesus is the source or the origin of the world to come. He died for us that we might enter into Heaven, into eternal beatitude, face to face with God Himself. 

What’s more, Jesus’ death and resurrection have brought into being a new covenant, a new family relationship between God and humanity. This new covenant is the last one, for it is the highest one, mediated by the God-Man Himself. The new covenant has ushered in a new era, and we are beginning to live eternity right now even as we await its fulfillment. 

Jesus, angel of great counsel, have mercy on us.

Again, it seems strange to think of Jesus as an “angel,” yet the word “angel” actually only means a messenger. Jesus does indeed bring us the message of great counsel. Counsel here refers to good judgment, the ability to make right decisions based on God’s will. So part of counsel is knowing God’s will, and Jesus certainly teaches us that. He is, in fact, the perfect messenger of God’s will, for He obeyed His Father perfectly all the way to the cross

The other part of counsel, however, is acting on what we know. When we have determined what God wants of us, the gift of counsel helps us choose that and carry it out. Jesus gives us the ability to do that through His great grace and love.

Saturday, February 3, 2024

The Litany Project: Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus, Part 5

Jesus, most amiable, have mercy on us.

We don’t use the word “amiable” must these days, and when we do, we tend to mean that a person is friendly and pleasant, good-natured and easy to be around. But the word’s history runs much deeper than that. If we look back into the development of “amiable,” we see that it comes from the Latin verb amare, to love. So someone who is amiable is loving and lovable, and that, of course, describes Jesus perfectly.

Jesus, most admirable, have mercy on us.

“Admirable” is another word that has lost some of its force of meaning over the years. When we think of someone admirable, we might consider that person a good example, a role-model, someone we look up to and try to imitate. Jesus is certainly all of those, but if we look at the older meaning of the word, we, again, get a broader picture. In its foundational sense, something that is admirable is awe-inspiring, marvelous, amazing, truly wonderful, as in jaw-dropping, delightful beauty. Now that’s Jesus!

Jesus, mighty God, have mercy on us.

Our modern world tends to downplay Jesus’ divinity. It’s easier, after all, to see Jesus as a good man or a wise teacher or some kind of guru. That makes fewer demands on us. It lets us off the hook.  

But it simply isn’t true. Jesus is fully human, but He is also fully God, completely and totally divine. And because He is God, Jesus is omnipotent, all-powerful. Yet He uses that power to love us more than we can even imagine.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

The Litany Project: Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus, Part 4

Jesus, King of glory, have mercy on us.

Jesus, fully God and fully man, is the true King of the universe. His Father has given Him dominion over all peoples and all things, over the entire cosmos, and Jesus rules at His Father’s right hand in the kingdom of Heaven, in the brightness of divine glory. 

But do we allow Jesus to be King over our lives? Do we surrender to Him as our sovereign? Do we let Him governor us and obediently submit? Or do we rebel? It is important to remember, especially for people who are not especially familiar with or favorable toward a monarchy, that Jesus’ reign is not like those of human kings and queens. Jesus’ rule is perfect. He knows exactly what we need and exactly what is best for us at all times, and when He commands us to do or not do something, it is only and always for our own good. Only our stubborn minds and hearts prevent us from seeing that and embracing our King’s loving will.

Jesus, sun of justice, have mercy on us.

This petition associates justice with the light of the sun. We, on the other hand, might think of justice as something harsh and demanding. We who are sinners may be afraid of the idea of justice because, quite justly, we deserve punishment.

Yet Jesus is the sun of justice, the bright, shining warmth of perfect justice, which, in God, is always balanced by perfect mercy. How this can be is a mystery to us, but Jesus is perfectly just in His mercy and perfectly merciful in His justice. 

Jesus, Son of the Virgin Mary, have mercy on us.

Here we remember that Jesus is fully human, that He is the son of a human mother who was beautifully prepared to miraculously conceive her Son. Our Lady was conceived without sin, perfectly imbued with God’s indwelling presence from the moment of her conception. She herself conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and gave birth to Jesus Christ, truly Son of God and truly Son of the Virgin Mary.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

The Litany Project: Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus, Part 3

Jesus, Son of the living God, have mercy on us.

Jesus is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, begotten by the Father from all eternity. This Divine Son took on our humanity in the Incarnation and became like us in all things except sin, yet He did not cease to be truly and completely God. 

Notice how Jesus is called the Son of the living God. This adjective distinguishes between the one true God and the many idols we human beings create for ourselves. We give ourselves to those idols, but they are not alive. Rather, they are dead, and they draw us into death, whether they be material objects of stone or metal or the lures of wealth, sex, fame, or whatever else we put before God and worship instead of God. Rather, we must turn to the living God, the God Who wants to give us eternal life.

Jesus, splendor of the Father, have mercy on us.

When Philip told Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied,” Jesus replied, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:8-9). Jesus shows us the Father. He radiates the Father, for He is perfectly united to the Father in a way we cannot grasp. But we must believe because Jesus commands us to: “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in me” (John 14:11). From that unity of Father and Son, Jesus reveals the beauty, the magnificence, the splendor, and the love of God, His Father and ours.

Jesus, brightness of eternal light, have mercy on us.

“I am the light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Jesus is the light of the world because He is the brightness of eternal light. His divine glory shines upon us and shines out of us when we are in a state of grace because of the divine indwelling we received at Baptism. The Fathers of the Church called Baptism “illumination” or “enlightenment,” for when we are baptized, we receive the light of Christ, really Christ Himself. We are united to Him, and we must let His light shine through us to a world wrapped in darkness.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

The Litany Project: Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus, Part 2

God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.

As with most litanies, this one invokes all three Persons of the Blessed Trinity, praying for mercy from each One. We begin by reaching up in love to God the Father of heaven. Jesus teaches us to call God our Father, to refer to Him even as “Abba,” an intimate name that emphasizes God’s love and care for us. It should also express our devotion to Him in love and obedience. 

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.

Next, we pray to God the Son, the Redeemer of the world. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity became incarnate for us in Jesus Christ, God and Man. He went to the cross for us, taking the covenant curses upon Himself for all the times when we broke our covenant with God. He bought us back from slavery to sin and death and opened the gates of Heaven. He made it possible for us to partake in the divine life, to bask in the indwelling presence of God Himself in our very souls.  

God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.

The Holy Spirit is the very love between the Father and the Son. The First and Second Persons of the Blessed Trinity pour themselves out in love for one another, and that Love is so powerful, so vivid, so alive, so perfect, so infinite, that He is another Person. 

Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Our God, then, is three and one, Trinity and Unity. This is a great, beautiful mystery, and it surpasses our human ability to understand. We cannot grasp it, but we must believe it, for God has revealed it.  We should stand amazed that our God, Who is so perfect in and of Himself, needing nothing, created us out of love, holds us in existence out of love, redeems us out of love, and allows us to share in His own love.