Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wednesday of the First Week of Lent

With Christ I am nailed to the cross. And I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me. ~Galatians 2:19-20

The cross is everywhere; the cross is necessary; the cross makes saints. The cross, the great and the true cross was borne by our Lord Jesus Christ. What is there so extraordinary, then, about suffering a little or even a lot? Far from crushing us, accurate knowledge of our condition should bring us all the joy involved in being a real Christian. It is very good to be a little farther along on the way toward heaven. If it were not for our sufferings that the good Lord has imposed upon us out of love (because we ourselves would never have dared take on burdens), what would we have to offer Him? Where would be our resemblance to Christ?  ~Mother Marie des Douleurs in Joy Our of Sorrow

Thank you, dear Jesus, for the precious crosses You give me!
Passion of Christ, strengthen me!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Monday of the First Week of Lent

During Lent, let us find concrete ways to overcome our indifference. ~Pope Francis, 2/17/15 Tweet

Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. ~2 Corinthians 5:17

Take me, God, and make me over
Make me sweet as honey clover.
~Jessica Powers

Sunday, February 22, 2015

First Sunday of Lent

And behold, angels came and ministered to Him.  ~Matthew 4:11

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Accept surprises...

Accept surprises that upset your plans, shatter your dreams, give a completely different turn to your day, and -- who knows? -- to your life. It is not chance. Leave the Father free to weave the pattern of your days. 
~Dom Helder Camara

Fear not, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom. ~Luke 12:32

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday

I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Luke 15:7

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and let a willing spirit sustain me.  
~Psalm 51(50):12

Jesus, my mercy and joy!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Don't let the devil steal your joy!

Jesus came to bring joy to everyone in every age.  
~Pope Francis, 2/16/15 Tweet

These things I have spoken to you, 
that my joy may be in you, 
and your joy may be filled.  
~John 15:11

Sunday, February 15, 2015

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

"If you wish, you can make me clean."  ~Mark 1:40
However great our sinfulness, each one of us can be healed by God every day. We have only to worship him with humility and love, and wherever we are to say with faith: “Lord, if you want to you can make me clean." It is by believing from the heart that we are justified, so we must make our petitions with the utmost confidence, and without the slightest doubt of God’s power.

If we pray with a faith springing from love, God’s will need be in no doubt. He will be ready and able to save us by an all-powerful command. He immediately answered the leper’s request, saying: “I do want to.” Indeed, no sooner had the leper begun to pray with faith than the Savior’s hand began to cure him of his leprosy.

This leper is an excellent teacher of the right way to make petitions. He did not doubt the Lord’s willingness through disbelief in his compassion, but neither did he take it for granted, for he knew the depths of his own sinfulness. Yet because he acknowledged that the Lord was able to cleanse him if he wished, we praise this declaration of firm faith just as we praise the Lord’s mighty power.

For obtaining a favor from God rightly depends as much on having a real living faith as on the exercise of the Creator’s power and mercy. If faith is weak it must be strengthened, for only then will it succeed in obtaining health of body or soul.

The Apostle’s words, “purifying their hearts by faith” referred, surely, to strong faith like this. And so, if the hearts of believers are purified by faith, we must give thought to this virtue of faith, for, as the Apostle says, “Anyone who doubts is like a wave in the sea.”

A faith shown to be living by its love, steadfast by its perseverance, patient by its endurance of delay, humble by its confession, strong by its confidence, reverent by its way of presenting petitions, and discerning with regard to their content—such a faith may be certain that in every place it will hear the Lord saying: “I do want to.”

Pondering this wonderful reply, let us put the words together in their proper sequence. The leper began: “Lord, if you want to,” and the Savior said: “I do want to.” The leper continued: “You can make me clean,” and the Lord spoke his powerful word of command: “Be clean.”

All that the sinner’s true confession maintained with faith, love and power immediately conferred. And in case the gravity of his sins should make anyone despair, another Evangelist says this man who was cured had been completely covered with leprosy.

“For all have sinned and forfeited the glory of God.” Since, as we rightly believe, God’s power is operative everywhere, we ought to believe the same of his will, “for his will is that all should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.”

~Paschasius Radbertus, c. 785-860

Heal me, Lord, that I may be healed;
save me, that I may be saved,
for it is You Whom I praise.
~Jeremiah 17:14

Saturday, February 14, 2015

His love is everlasting!

Ave Maria! And Happy Valentine's Day! Ah, valentines! Who can resist them? Come February 15, I'm always delighted to find a red or pink envelope tucked inside my mailbox. Somebody loves me!

Well, of course! I know that! But sometimes I forget, and a Valentine helps me to remember. I cherish these Valentines sent to me by my family and friends. What about the ones from God?

Wait a minute, you might be thinking, what do you mean? God sends Valentines? Why not! Valentines are messages of love, aren't they? And lovers send Valentines to their beloved. God is the greatest Lover of all, and each one of us is His beloved. So why wouldn't God send us Valentines, not just on Valentine's Day but all year long?!

But how does God send us Valentines? Lots of ways! One is through the sacred Scriptures, the holy Word of the Lord, overflowing with messages of God's goodness and mercy, love and compassion. What Scriptural Valentines have you collected and treasured over the years? Here are some of my favorites. 

With age-old love I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you.  ~Jer. 31:3

His banner over me is love.  ~Song 2:4

The Lord your God is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will renew you in His love as on a day of festival.  ~Zeph. 3:17

I have called you by name: you are mine....I will be with you.... Because you are precious in my eyes and glorious, and because I love you.   ~Is. 43:1, 2, 4

Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love will never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the Lord, who has mercy on you.  ~Is. 54:10

O Lord, how precious is your love. My God, the children of the earth find refuge in the shelter of your wings.  ~Ps. 36:8

Your merciful love and your truth will always guard me.  ~Ps. 40:12

The favors of the Lord are not exhausted, his mercies are not spent; they are renewed each morning, so great is his faithfulness.  ~Lam. 3:22-23

I led them with cords of compassion, with the bands of love....  ~Hos. 11:4

The Lord came to my support. He set me free in the open, and rescued me, because He loves me.  ~Ps. 19:20

God will send forth His steadfast love and his faithfulness!  ~Ps. 57:3

For Your love is better than life; my lips will praise You.  ~Ps. 63:3

But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.  ~Ps. 86:15

Praise the Lord! O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures for ever!  ~Ps. 106:1

For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  ~Jn. 3:16

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.  ~Jn. 15:12-13

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Live on in my love.  ~Jn. 15:19

Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you.  ~Mt. 12:28

The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  ~Rom. 5:5

Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love Him.  ~1 Cor 2:9

I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you...for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.  ~2 Tim 1:6-7

See what love the Father has bestowed on us in letting us be called children of God! Yet that is what we are.  ~1 Jn. 3:1

We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.  ~1 Jn. 4:16-17

The Word became flesh, and made His dwelling among us, and we have seen His glory; the glory of an only Son coming from the Father, filled with enduring love.  ~Jn. 1:14

Of His fullness we have all had a share -- love following upon love.  ~Jn 1:16

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?....No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else is all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  ~Rom. 8:35, 37-39

How dearly God loves us! How much He yearns to fill our hearts to overflowing with His enduring, abiding love! What special Scriptural Valentine is this Tremendous Lover giving you today? Whatever it is, may you receive it with gratitude and rejoice greatly in His wondrous love! Amen! Alleluia!

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Presentation of the Lord

Ave Maria!  Below is an article on today's feast that I was asked to write for The Lamp, the official publication of the U.S. Association of Consecrated Virgins.  While the closing paragraph refers specifically to consecrated virgins, it applies to all of us whom our dear Lord loves so much and to Whom we strive daily to return love for love.  Each one of us is called to learn the many lessons of the Presentation of our Lord and to live them out according to our individual vocations.  Come, let us rejoice in His light and salvation!

Come, let us worship the Lord of creation;
he enters his holy temple.
~Invitatory Antiphon for the Presentation of the Lord

            On the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, the liturgy celebrates primarily the entrance of the Infant Jesus into the temple for the first time.  Let us go back in time to that glorious day when suddenly there comes to the temple the Lord whom we seek (Mal 3:1).  We don't notice anything out of the ordinary, just a typical Jewish mother and father coming to the temple 40 days after the birth of their firstborn to fulfill the Mosaic law.  In keeping with their Jewish customs, their little one will be presented to the Lord and his mother will be purified.  Nothing unusual, nothing special.  This has happened before, and it will happen again.  Such is life.

            Yes, but – !  Here is no ordinary child!  This small, weak, dependent, silent baby is called "Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace" (Is 9:6).  Jesus, whose name is above all other names! (Phil 2:9)  He is the King of Glory – the Lord, the mighty, the valiant! (Ps 24:8)  This is the Son of God – and, as such, He is not subject to the prescriptions of the Jewish law as are the other firstborn of the Hebrews.  But all is hidden right now, covered by the veil of the deep humility of this Divine Child. 

            From the moment of His birth in the obscure town of Bethlehem, amidst the squalor of animals whose crude trough serves as His makeshift bed, our Lord Jesus is teaching us His way of humility.  Wrapped in swaddling clothes that limit his movements and curtail his activity, the Holy Babe gazes upon us with pleading eyes and invites us to imitate Him.  "Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart!" (Mt 11:29).  He who by the oblation of His Body upon the Cross will show himself "the Priest, the Altar, and the Lamb of sacrifice" (Preface V of Easter), now allows His mother to offer Him to the Father. 

            The Incarnate Word, whose voice will one day go forth throughout all the earth and whose words will resound to the end of the world (Ps 19:4), remains silent as the righteous and devout Simeon takes Him into his arms, blesses God and utters the most stupendous prophecy.  This Child will be the salvation of mankind and the light for all the nations (Lk 2:29), a sign of contradiction, destined for the fall and rise of many (Lk 2:34).  Anna, who worships in the temple night and day with fasting and prayer (Lk 2:37), also gives thanks to God and prophesies of the Child to all who are awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem (Lk 2:38). 

            Mary and Joseph marvel at hearing these things about their Son (Lk. 2:33).  They also teach us humility for only the humble are amazed.  The proud are too full of themselves to be astonished by anything, not even by their own stupidity and foolishness, which squelch their capacity to be surprised by God.  Our Holy Father is fond of telling us that our God is "a God of surprises" and often reminds us that we must be open to being surprised by God.  He suggests that we ask ourselves the question "am I open to God's surprises?"  While meeting with thousands of young people at the university of Santo Tomas in Manila this past month, Pope Francis encouraged the youth to let themselves be "surprised by God's love."  Mary and Joseph's humility keeps the door of their hearts ajar to the wonders of God, not only here in the temple when they present Jesus to the Father but even before His birth as well forever after.

            There is humility as well in the couple's acceptance of Simeon's chilling warning to Mary that a sword will pierce her own heart (Lk 2:35).  Both she and Joseph must have been bewildered and afraid upon hearing these ominous words so far beyond their grasp, but with an unshakeable confidence born of humility, they accept in faith and love what they cannot humanly know.  The family returns to its own town of Nazareth, a village even more obscure than Bethlehem, where He whom heaven itself cannot hold (2 Chron 2:6) happily makes His home for the next 30 years.  Faithfully obedient to his earthly parents, the Lord quietly goes about His Father's business as He patiently waits for His hour to come.

            Along with humility, we learn obedience from our dear Lord in His Presentation in the Temple.  As the author of the book of Hebrews states, "Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said...'As is written of me in the scroll, Behold, I come to do your will, O God'" (Heb 10:5, 7).  Our Lord's whole life is a lesson in obedience for us.  He plainly tells us that He always does what is pleasing to His Father (Jn 8:29) and that it is His very food to do the Father's will and to accomplish His work (Jn 4:34).  Humility and obedience are so tightly intertwined that they cannot be separated.  True obedience in the fullest sense, in the manner in which Christ Himself practiced it consistently and uncompromisingly, is not possible without humility.  And true humility leads to obedience.  If it fails to do so, then it's a false humility that will lead us away from God and straight into the hands of Satan, the father of lies (Jn 8:44). 

            In the Entrance Antiphon at the beginning of the Mass for this splendid Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, we exult with joy as we pray:  "Your merciful love, O God, we have received in the midst of your temple" (cf. Ps 48:10).  We receive our Father's merciful love in the temple of the Catholic Church so many times during our lives, particularly in the holy Sacraments and through our blessed consecration to a life of virginity.  Indeed, all of us consecrated virgins can declare with St. John the Evangelist, "And from His fullness have we all received, grace upon grace" (Jn 1:16).  In profound  gratitude, let us bend the knee and adore this King of  Glory, our Beloved Spouse.  Let us lift up the gates of our hearts that He may come in and make them His own.  And let us pray for each other that we may always be Christ's humble, obedient brides and that through us His praise, like His name, shall reach the ends of the earth (Ps 48:11).

~Alice Claire Mansfield