Saturday, August 29, 2015

Upcoming World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

Earlier this month, Pope Francis instituted the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, to be celebrated each year on September 1.  Pope Francis has reflected upon our current ecological crisis at length in his recent encyclical "Laudato Si'" ("Praise Be To You"), on the care of our common home.  He concluded his encyclical with the proposal that we offer two prayers, which appear below.  They are excellent prayers for any day and every day but especially for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.

A prayer for our earth

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live 
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives, 
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.

A Christian prayer in union with creation

Father, we praise you with all your creatures. 
They came forth from your all-powerful hand;
they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love.
Praise be to you!

Son of God, Jesus,
through you all things were made.
You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother,
you became part of this earth,
and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.
Today you are alive in every creature
in your risen glory.
Praise be to you!

Holy Spirit, by your light
you guide this world towards the Father’s love
and accompany creation as it groans in travail.
You also dwell in our hearts 
and you inspire us to do what is good.
Praise be to you!

Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love,
teach us to contemplate you
in the beauty of the universe,
for all things speak of you.
Awaken our praise and thankfulness
for every being that you have made. 
Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined
to everything that is.

God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth,
for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and money
that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
that they may love the common good, advance the weak, 
and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out.
O Lord, seize us with your power and light, 
help us to protect all life,
to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your Kingdom
of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you!


Friday, August 28, 2015

"Peace is His word to us all."

"When it was late and the disciples were gathered together, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them:  Peace be to you."  Peace is His word to each and to all.  Peace, His peace, in the midst of the world's rush and excitement and unrest: in the midst of its business, and its gaieties, its dangers and cares.

Peace amid the storm of persecution, the heart-sinking at failure, the monotony of well-doing, and watching and waiting for better things.

Peace in the harder trials of life, the coldness of the nearest, the peril of the dearest.

Peace in the struggle with self -– sharp, daily, unrelenting.  In the struggle with God Himself; in the weary search for Him who hides; in the separation from Him who seems to have forsaken.

Peace is His word to us all.  Peace, like the rays of His monstrance, radiates from Him on every side.  How could it be otherwise when He himself is in our midst.  "It is I, fear not.  It is I Myself.  Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth do I give unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled nor let it be afraid (John 14).  If the world hates you, know that it hath hated Me before you… The servant is not greater than his Master (John 15).  In the world you shall have distress, but have confidence, I have overcome the world… You will indeed have sorrow, but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man shall take from you" (John 16).

~Mother Mary Loyola in Hail! Full of Grace
First published 9012; reprinted 2011 by St. Augustine Academy Press

In Your peace, O Lord, I take my rest.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Prayer and Love

Ave Maria!  Yesterday in his Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis stressed how important it is for families to pray.  His message applies to all of us because prayer really is the breath of the soul. Without it, we not only falter, we collapse and utterly fail.
"In our continuing catechesis on the family, today we reflect on the importance of devoting time to prayer.  We all know how important prayer is, yet it seems so difficult to find time for it.  Perhaps we need to ask if we truly love God, as he asks us to, with all our heart, and all our mind and all our strength.  For the heart of prayer is the love of God, the source of our life, who constantly 'caresses' us with his own love. 
"A heart filled with the love of God can make even a silent thought or a small gesture of devotion a moment of prayer.  The Holy Spirit teaches us to pray, to call God our Father, and to grow daily in his love.  Our families need to ask for the gift of the Spirit!  Through prayer, even in the busiest times, we give time back to God, we find the peace that comes from appreciating the important things, and we encounter the joy of God’s unexpected gifts.  Through daily prayer may our homes become, like the house of Martha and Mary, places where Jesus always finds a warm welcome."
Dear Lord, help me to love You truly enough to make time to pray!  Amen.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

"Love ... a powerful weapon ... an invincible force ... "

"For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us: so also by Christ doth our comfort abound."   ~2 Corinthians 1:5

"We can go through great difficulties, suffer grave contradictions, endure deep sufferings, but from the moment that we set ourselves to serve God through love, those difficulties, those contradictions, those sufferings, serve as the food of love.  When one loves God, one can still feel the cross; God will even make us feel it more in the measure that we advance, because the cross establishes in us a greater likeness to Christ:  but one loves then, if not the cross itself, at least the hand of Jesus that places the cross on our shoulders.  For this hand gives us also the unguent of grace for bearing our burden.  Love is a powerful weapon against temptation and an invincible force in adversity."  ~Bl. Columba Marmion in Christ, the Life of the Soul

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Now I'm found...

No man can come to me, unless it be given him by my Father.  ~John 6:65

When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me.  
~Charles Spurgeon

Father, dear Father!  Thank You for seeking me -- and finding me -- and drawing me to Your Beloved Son, Jesus.  How I rejoice to be found forever!

Monday, August 24, 2015

"Who is Jesus for me?"

Ave Maria!  The Gospel for yesterday, the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, was John 6:60-69.   Below is Pope Francis' Angelus address for yesterday, a powerful reflection on this Gospel passage.  "Who is Jesus for me?" the Holy Father asks.  Today I will pray about this and ponder anew the One to whom I have pledged my truth.  Is it really You, Lord?

Today is the conclusion of the readings from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of St John, with the discourse on the “Bread of Life,” proclaimed by Jesus on the day after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. At the end of that discourse, the great enthusiasm of the day before faded, because Jesus had said He was the Bread come down from heaven, and that He would give His Flesh as food and His Blood as drink, clearly alluding to the sacrifice of His very life. These words provoked disappointment in the people, who considered them unworthy of the Messiah, not “winning.” That’s how some saw Jesus: as a Messiah who ought to speak and act in such a way that His mission would be successful, immediately! But they erred precisely in this: in manner of understanding the mission of the Messiah! Even the disciples failed to accept that language, that disturbing language of the Master. And today’s passage refers to their discomfort: “This saying is hard,” they said, “Who can accept it?” (John 6:60).
In reality, they understood well the discourse of Jesus—so well that they did not want to hear it, because it is a discourse that undermines their mindset. The Words of Jesus always discomfort us; discomfort us, for example, with regard to the spirit of the world, of worldliness. But Jesus offers the key to overcome the difficulty; a key made of three elements. First, His divine origin: He is come down from heaven and will rise up “to where He was before” (v. 62). Second: His words can only be understood through the action of the Holy Spirit, He “who gives life” (v. 63). It is precisely the Holy Spirit that makes us understand Jesus well. Third: the true cause of misunderstanding of His words is lack of faith: “Among you there are some who do not believe” (v. 64), Jesus says. In fact, from that point, “many of His disciples turned back” (v. 66). In the face of these defections, Jesus does not take back or soften His words, in fact, He forces us to make a clear choice—either to remain with Him or to separate ourselves from Him—and He says to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” (v. 67).
At this point Peter makes his confession of faith in the name of the other Apostles: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (v. 68). He does not say “where shall we go?” but “to whom shall we go?” The fundamental problem is not leaving and abandoning the work that has been undertaken, but rather “to whom” to go. From that question of Peter, we understand that faithfulness to God is a question of faithfulness to a person, with whom we are joined in order to walk together along the same road. All that we have in the world does not satisfy our hunger for the infinite. We need Jesus, to remain with Him, to nourish ourselves at His table, on His words of eternal life! To believe in Jesus means making Him the centre, the meaning of our life. Christ is not an accessory element: He is the “living bread,” the indispensable nourishment. Attaching ourselves to Him, in a true relationship of faith and love, does not mean being chained, but [rather] profoundly free, always on a journey.
Each one of us can ask himself, right now, “Who is Jesus for me? Is He a name? an idea? Is He simply a person from history? Or is He really the person Who loves me, Who gave His life for me and walks with me?” Who is Jesus for you? Do you remain with Jesus? Do you seek to know Him in His word? Do you read the Gospel every day, a passage from the Gospel in order to know Jesus? Do you carry the little Gospel in your pocket, in your bag, in order to read it everywhere. Because the more we are with Him the more the desire to remain with Him grows. Now I kindly ask you, let us take a moment of silence, and each one of us, in silence, in his or her heart, ask yourself the question: “Who is Jesus for me?” In silence, everyone answer in his or her heart. “Who is Jesus for me?”
[A moment of silence.]  
May the Virgin Mary help us always “to go” to Jesus in order to experience the freedom that He offers us, and that allows us to purify our choices from worldly incrustations and fear. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

21st Sunday of Ordinary Time

"Master, to whom shall we go? 
You have the words of eternal life."  
~Luke 6:68

“To whom shall we go?” Peter asks. In other words, “Who else will instruct us the way you do?” or, “To whom shall we go to find anything better?”

“You have the words of eternal life”; not hard words, as those other disciples say, but words that will bring us to the loftiest goal, unceasing, endless life removed from all corruption.

These words surely make quite obvious to us the necessity for sitting at the feet of Christ, taking him as our one and only teacher, and giving him our constant and undivided attention. He must be our guide who knows well how to lead us to everlasting life.

Thus, shall we ascend to the divine court of heaven, and entering the church of the first born, delight in blessings passing all human understanding.

That the desire to follow Christ alone and to be with him always is a good thing leading to our salvation is entirely self-evident; yet we may learn this from the Old Testament as well.

When the Israelites had shaken off Egyptian tyranny and were hastening toward the promised land, God did not allow them to make disorderly marches; nor did the lawgiver let each one go where he would, for without a guide they should undoubtedly have lost the way completely. They were ordered to follow: to set out with the cloud, to come to a halt again with it, and to rest with it.

Keeping with their guide was the Israelites’ salvation then, just as not leaving Christ is ours now. For he was with those people of old under the form of the tabernacle, the cloud, and the fire.

They were commanded to follow, and not undertake the journey on their own initiative. They were to halt with the cloud and to abide with it, that by this symbol you might understand Christ’s words: “Whoever serves me must follow me, so as to be with me wherever I am.”

For being always in his company means being steadfast in following him and constant in cleaving to him. But accompanying the Savior Christ and following him is by no means to be thought of as something done by the body. It is accomplished rather by deeds springing from virtue.

Upon such virtue the wisest disciples firmly fixed their minds and refused to depart with the unbelievers, which they saw would be fatal. With good reason they cried out, “Where can we go?”

It was as though they said: “We will stay with you always and hold fast to your commandments. We will receive your words without finding fault or thinking your teaching hard as the ignorant do, but thinking rather, "How sweet are your words to my throat! Sweeter to my mouth are they than honey or the honeycomb.”

St. Cyril of Alexandria, d. 444

You, O Lord!  You, You, and only You!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

I remember Daddy...

Richard Joseph Mansfield, born to eternal life on August 22, 1972

But O for the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!
~Alfred Lord Tennyson

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Gladness for the day...

I do not deserve to be so loved, but I rejoice fully in it.  ~Elisabeth Leseur

Satisfy us in the morning with Thy steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
~Psalm 90:14

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

So close to us...

Be joyful and gladdened in your interior recollection with Him,
for you have Him so close to you.
~St. John of the Cross

Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say rejoice.  ~Phil 4:4

Dear Lord, when I turn to You, I find true joy.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Keeping Silence

How can you expect God to speak in that gentle and inward voice which melts the soul, when you are making so much noise with your rapid reflections? Be silent, and God will speak again.  ~Fr. Francois Fenelon, 1651-1715

But the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.  ~Habakkuk 2:20

Dear Lord, help me to keep silence before You that I may hear Your voice.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

How sweet is Thy mercy!

"We are all sinners. Let us be transformed by God’s mercy."
~Pope Francis, 8/8/15 Tweet

"I will be glad and rejoice in Thy mercy."
~Psalm 31:7

Monday, August 10, 2015

Feast of St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr

"Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit."  ~John 12:24

"...being a Christian means, constantly and in the first instance, letting ourselves be torn away from the selfishness of someone who is living only for himself and entering into the great basic orientation of existing for the sake of another....  For fundamentally, love cannot mean anything but this: that we allow ourselves to be parted from that narrow view directed toward our own ego and that we begin to move out from our own self, in order to be there for others."  ~Pope Benedict XVI

Oh dear Lord, I so want to be more than just a grain of wheat!  In Your goodness and mercy, tear me away from myself and make it so, please, for Your praise and glory.  Amen.

Friday, August 7, 2015

"rooted and grounded in love" ~Ephesians 3:17

Let us allow the love of God to take deep root within us.
In so doing, we will be able to give ourselves to others.
~Pope Francis, 8/5/15 Tweet

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Heaven and earth are full of your glory!

Crab Nebula

Oh, how comfortable is a little glimpse of God!  ~Rev. David Brainerd, 1718-1747

Monday, August 3, 2015

Historic 2015 National 54 Day Rosary Novena

August 15 through October 7, 2015

Join thousands of people of all ages in prayer across America!

Why:  A Message of Hope in response to the spiritual crisis in our culture and nation and to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops call to prayer.

What: Pray the rosary for 54 straight days for the Novena Intentions:  27 days in petition from August 15 through September 10, 2015 and 27 days in thanksgiving from September 11 through October 7, 2015

Where:  Pray the rosary individually or as a family in your home or as part of your parish community

Primary Novena Intention:  “For the Family & Marriage” including for peace, sanctity of human life, and religious freedom

For more information, visit