Well, with Palm Sunday occurring tomorrow we begin Holy Week, the
solemn days of grace. If we are not
careful we will be celebrating Easter and wondering what happened to my time
with the Lord. I have a suggestion. Beginning today, Friday, start praying the
Stations of the Cross. I was under the
weather one day this week and prayed a version of the prayer written by
Dominican Father Peter John Cameron, a version I clipped out of the MAGNIFICAT
missalette several years ago. The reflections contained a word from the Lord that I very much needed at the time.
Perhaps you could pray just one or two stations a day. They are brief but take the time to picture
the moment recalled and pray a simple prayer like: “Lord
Jesus, thank you for suffering and dying for me. I love you, Jesus. Have mercy on me, a sinner.”
When Easter Sunday arrives, you will be so happy that you accompanied the Lord on his way - the way of the Cross - a path that led to His Resurrection.
If the devil can’t
make you bad he’ll make you busy.
Have you ever heard that phrase?
Perhaps it is not theologically sound but I think there is a grain of
truth in it. The evil one has a lot at
stake if he can tempt us to live our lives on the run. Being busy prevents us from growing in our
relationship with God!
culture sets the tempo for our lives. It
takes a lot of spiritual strength and courage to slow down in order to take a
look at our priorities. What is
important – what is not? We
can begin each day by asking God what does He want for my life today?How
does He want me to handle my commitments – to my job, to my family. How does He want me to handle those things
that I have to do and what are those things that I can let go?
are not already making a “Morning Offering” here is one suggestion:
My God, I adore You, and I love You with all my
heart. I thank you for having created me, made me a Christian, and preserved me
this night. I offer You the actions of this day. Grant that all of them may be
in accordance with Your holy Will and for Your greater glory. Protect me from
sin and from all evil. Let Your grace be always with me and with all my dear
As I was putting this note together I
was reminded of a young mother who attends daily Mass. She is very reverent and recollected. However, when Mass is over she is out the door. She jumps into her car, turns on the engine,
flips open her cell phone and off she goes – into the day! I think she might have her priorities
straight – at least she has made a wonderful morning offering!
Perhaps you have already seen this stunning photo of Pope Francis going to Confession and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation at St. Peter's Basilica this past Friday. His action took place during a special Penance Service which launched "24 Hours for the Lord" called for by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. Dioceses around the world were asked to provide round-the-clock times for Confession in parishes during this fourth week of Lent. On his way to hear confessions himself, the Holy Father walked to this confessional and knelt before the priest. His humility is edifying and convicting.
Sometimes when you hear a homily or read a passage in
Scripture a lightning bolt hits your heart and you just know that a word or
phrase in that passage is for you. That
happened to me today. The Gospel is the
familiar story of the Publican and the Pharisee. The Pharisee stands in the front of the
temple and in his prayer he thanks God because he (the Pharisee) is so good and
so wonderful and not like others who are sinners. The
Publican, on the other hand, remains in the back of the temple, and refusing to
raise his eyes to heaven, begs God to have mercy on him because he is a
sinner. Father Robert Barron, in his DVD
series on "Conversion," says over and over again, “Jesus loves sinners!”
In the past, when meditating on this passage I would always
see myself in the place of the Publican.
However, today, I saw myself as the Pharisee. He was one self-righteous man! ooooo I hate that word – self-righteous! But I know that at times I am that way,
looking down my nose at someone who is less than perfect – like me!! I am sure that is God’s word for me this
Lent. I was reminded of the Indian
proverb which, with great wisdom, tells us not to judge a man unless we have
walked a mile in his moccasins. I am
glad I remembered that.
You know, when you come to Religious Life, it is not because
you are holy but in order to become holy!
When I entered religious life I came dragging behind me my pride, my
selfishness, my impatience with others.
God’s way of helping me to grow in holiness is, at the right time,
convicting me of my sin. He did that
today. So, like the Publican I am
standing before the Lord with my head bowed, begging for his mercy – because I
am a sinner.
Let us ask ourselves today, "What would life be like without Jesus?"There would be no Catholic Churches, no
tabernacles.There would be no
Sacraments (Baptism, Eucharist, Penance, Confirmation…) There would be no
Rosary, no Christmas no Easter, noAdvent or Lent.There would be no
hymns to sing, no saints to pray to, no Blessed Mother! Without Jesus there would be no inner peace,
there would be no hope! But, because a very young Jewish girl was willing to say “Yes”
to God’s will for all creation we have Jesus, the reason for our hope and our joy!
Today the Church celebrates the solemn feast of the
Annunciation, the moment when the Angel Gabriel came to Mary and asked her to
be the mother of God.Mary didn’t
understand but she told the angel, “Let it be done to me according to your
word.”At that very moment, the Holy
Spirit overshadowed Mary and Jesus, the Son of God, was conceived in her virginal womb. That's whyi n the Church’s tradition we
often call Mary “the cause of our joy.”
We all know the story but perhaps we take this mystery
lightly. The Annunciation is the greatest event in all of human history!How should we respond?By thanking our Blessed Mother from the
bottom of our hearts for what she has done for us.Because of her consent we have Jesus, her Son,
and that Good News is indeed the cause of our joy!
As I was reflecting on the mystery of today's solemn feast - the Solemnity of St. Joseph - I was asking God what it was he wanted me to take from the readings. Millions of words have been written about Saint Joseph. What could I possibly add to that number? But with the saints, as with Scripture, the word God has for us is never exhausted. It is new every day. Then I thought of the silence of St. Joseph and remembered that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had written about St. Joseph's silence. Here is an excerpt from his reflection:
"His is a silence permeated by contemplation of the mystery of God, in an attitude of total availability to his divine wishes. Let us allow ourselves to be "infected" by the silence of St Joseph! We have much need of it in a world which is often too noisy, which does not encourage reflection and listening to the voice of God." (Pope Benedict XVI, December 18, 2005)
That was God's word for me today and for all of Lent. Sometimes I talk too much. Sometimes I voice an opinion when what I think is best unsaid. Sometimes I complain. Sometimes I feel a pull toward gossip. God is gently saying to me to ask St. Joseph for the grace of silence. When I come to prayer I can ask St. Joseph for the grace to silence my thoughts that whirl with distractions. Mary pondered in her heart the events in the life of her Son. I can ask St. Joseph for the grace to quietly and silently ponder those same events in my own heart. And on and on...
What is God saying to you today? Meditate on the person of St. Joseph. So much to think about! St. Joseph, pray for us.