Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,
and their guilt he shall bear.
Therefore I will give him his portion among the great,
and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty,
Because he surrendered himself to death
and was counted among the wicked:
And he shall take away the sins of many,
and win pardon for their offenses.
Sent from my iPod
From a homily by Saint John Chrysostom, bishop
(Supp., Hom. 6 De precatione: PG 64, 462-466)
Prayer is the light of the spirit
Prayer and converse with God is a supreme good: it is a partnership and union with God. As the eyes of the body are enlightened when they see light, so our spirit, when it is intent on God, is illumined by his infinite light. I do not mean the prayer of outward observance but prayer from the heart, not confined to fixed times or periods but continuous throughout the day and night.
Our spirit should be quick to reach out toward God, not only when it is engaged in meditation; at other times also, when it is carrying out its duties, caring for the needy, performing works of charity, giving generously in the service of others, our spirit should long for God and call him to mind, so that these works may be seasoned with the salt of Gods love, and so make a palatable offering to the Lord of the universe. Throughout the whole of our lives we may enjoy the benefit that comes from prayer if we devote a great deal of time to it.
Prayer is the light of the spirit, true knowledge of God, mediating between God and man. The spirit, raised up to heaven by prayer, clings to God with the utmost tenderness; like a child crying tearfully for its mother, it craves the milk that God provides. It seeks the satisfaction of its own desires, and receives gifts outweighing the whole world of nature.
Prayer stands before God as an honored ambassador. It gives joy to the spirit, peace to the heart. I speak of prayer, not words. It is the longing for God, love too deep for words, a gift not given by man but by Gods grace. The apostle Paul says: We do not know how we are to pray but the Spirit himself pleads for us with inexpressible longings.
When the Lord gives this kind of prayer to a man, he gives him riches that cannot be taken away, heavenly food that satisfies the spirit. One who tastes this food is set on fire with an eternal longing for the Lord: his spirit burns as in a fire of utmost intensity.
Practice prayer from the beginning. Paint your house with the colors of modesty and humility. Make it radiant with the light of justice. Decorate it with the finest gold leaf of good deeds. Adorn it with the walls and stones of faith and generosity. Crown it with the pinnacle of prayer. In this way you will make it a perfect dwelling place for the Lord. You will be able to receive him as in a splendid palace, and through his grace you will already possess him, his image enthroned in the temple of your spirit.
Sent from my iPod
Day40 Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan 4/11/09
St. Leo the Great: Sermon LXXII (On the Lord’s Resurrection): complete
Day 40Lite Version
St. Leo the Great: Sermon LXXII (On the Lord’s Resurrection): complete
From the HOLY THURSDAY – HOMILY OF POPE BENEDICT XVI -EVENING MASS OF THE LORD’S SUPPER -BASILICA OF ST JOHN LATERAN – ROME
“Yes indeed, the Eucharist is more than a meal, it is a wedding-feast. And this wedding is rooted in God’s gift of himself even to death. In the words of Jesus at the Last Supper and in the Church’s Canon, the solemn mystery of the wedding is concealed under the expression “novum Testamentum”. This chalice is the new Testament – “the new Covenant in my blood”, as Saint Paul presents the words of Jesus over the chalice in today’s second reading (1 Cor 11:25). The Roman Canon adds: “of the new and everlasting covenant”, in order to express the indissolubility of God’s nuptial bond with humanity. The reason why older translations of the Bible do not say Covenant, but Testament, lies in the fact that this is no mere contract between two parties on the same level, but it brings into play the infinite distance between God and man. What we call the new and the ancient Covenant is not an agreement between two equal parties, but simply the gift of God who bequeaths to us his love – himself. Certainly, through this gift of his love, he transcends all distance and makes us truly his “partners” – the nuptial mystery of love is accomplished.
In order to understand profoundly what is taking place here, we must pay even greater attention to the words of the Bible and their original meaning. Scholars tell us that in those ancient times of which the histories of Israel’s forefathers speak, to “ratify a Covenant” means “to enter with others into a bond based on blood or to welcome the other into one’s own covenant fellowship and thus to enter into a communion of mutual rights and obligations”. In this way, a real, if non-material form of consanguinity is established. The partners become in some way “brothers of the same flesh and the same bones”. The covenant brings about a fellowship that means peace (cf. ThWNT II, 105-137). Can we now form at least an idea of what happened at the hour of the Last Supper, and what has been renewed ever since, whenever we celebrate the Eucharist? God, the living God, establishes a communion of peace with us, or to put it more strongly, he creates “consanguinity” between himself and us. Through the incarnation of Jesus, through the outpouring of his blood, we have been drawn into an utterly real consanguinity with Jesus and thus with God himself. The blood of Jesus is his love, in which divine life and human life have become one. Let us pray to the Lord, that we may come to understand ever more deeply the greatness of this mystery. Let us pray that in our innermost selves its transforming power will increase, so that we truly acquire consanguinity with Jesus, so that we are filled with his peace and grow in communion with one another.”
The entire homily at Whispers in the Loggia
From Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux: How can a soul so imperfect as mine aspire to the plenitude of Love? What is the key of this mystery? O my only Friend, why dost Thou not reserve these infinite longings to lofty souls, to the eagles that soar in the heights? Alas! I am but a poor little unfledged bird. I am not an eagle, I have but the eagle's eyes and heart! Yet, notwithstanding my exceeding littleness, I dare to gaze upon the Divine Sun of Love, and I burn to dart upwards unto Him! I would fly, I would imitate the eagles; but all that I can do is to lift up my little wings--it is beyond my feeble power to soar. What is to become of me? Must I die of sorrow because of my helplessness? Oh, no! I will not even grieve. With daring self-abandonment there will I remain until death, my gaze fixed upon that Divine Sun. Nothing shall affright me, nor wind nor rain. And should impenetrable clouds conceal the Orb of Love, and should I seem to believe that beyond this life there is darkness only, that would be the hour of perfect joy, the hour in which to push my confidence to its uttermost bounds. I should not dare to detach my gaze, well knowing that beyond the dark clouds the sweet Sun still shines. So far, O my God, I understand Thy Love for me. But Thou knowest how often I forget this, my only care. I stray from Thy side, and my scarcely fledged wings become draggled in the muddy pools of earth; then I lament "like a young swallow,"and my lament tells Thee all, and I remember, O Infinite Mercy! that "Thou didst not come to call the just, but sinners." Yet shouldst Thou still be deaf to the plaintive cries of Thy feeble creature, shouldst Thou still be veiled, then I am content to remain benumbed with cold, my wings bedraggled, and once more I rejoice in this well-deserved suffering. O Sun, my only Love, I am happy to feel myself so small, so frail in Thy sunshine, and I am in peace . . . I know that all the eagles of Thy Celestial Court have pity on me, they guard and defend me, they put to flight the vultures--the demons that fain would devour me. I fear them not, these demons, I am not destined to be their prey, but the prey of the Divine Eagle. O Eternal Word! O my Saviour! Thou art the Divine Eagle Whom I love--Who lurest me. Thou Who, descending to this land of exile, didst will to suffer and to die, in order to bear away the souls of men and plunge them into the very heart of the Blessed Trinity--Love's Eternal Home! Thou Who, reascending into inaccessible light, dost still remain concealed here in our vale of tears under the snow-white semblance of the Host, and this, to nourish me with Thine own substance! O Jesus! forgive me if I tell Thee that Thy Love reacheth even unto folly. And in face of this folly, what wilt Thou, but that my heart leap up to Thee? How could my trust have any limits? I know that the Saints have made themselves as fools for Thy sake; being 'eagles,' they have done great things. I am too little for great things, and my folly it is to hope that Thy Love accepts me as victim; my folly it is to count on the aid of Angels and Saints, in order that I may fly unto Thee with thine own wings, O my Divine Eagle! For as long a time as Thou willest I shall remain--my eyes fixed upon Thee. I long to be allured by Thy Divine Eyes; I would become Love's prey. I have the hope that Thou wilt one day swoop down upon me, and, bearing me away to the Source of all Love, Thou wilt plunge me at last into that glowing abyss, that I may become for ever its happy Victim. O Jesus! would that I could tell all _little souls_ of Thine ineffable condescension! I feel that if by any possibility Thou couldst find one weaker than my own, Thou wouldst take delight in loading her with still greater favours, provided that she abandoned herself with entire confidence to Thine Infinite Mercy. But, O my Spouse, why these desires of mine to make known the secrets of Thy Love? Is it not Thyself alone Who hast taught them to me, and canst Thou not unveil them to others? Yea! I know it, and this I implore Thee! . . . I ENTREAT THEE TO LET THY DIVINE EYES REST UPON A VAST NUMBER OF LITTLE SOULS, I ENTREAT THEE TO CHOOSE, IN THIS WORLD, A LEGION OF LITTLE VICTIMS OF THY LOVE. (The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Ame)
How are we to understand the Agony in the Garden? Sweating drops of blood is beyond the ordinary experience of the sinner or saint. Look at those who suffer well for a glimpse into the mystery.
St. Therese of Lisieux experienced her first hemorrhage on Holy Thursday 1896. In her Story of a Soul we read something of her agony:
For several days, during the month of August, Therese remained, so to speak, beside herself, and implored that prayers might be offered for her. She had never before been seen in this state, and in her inexpressible anguish she kept repeating: “Oh! how necessary it is to pray for the agonising! If one only knew!” One night she entreated the Infirmarian to sprinkle her bed with Holy Water, saying: “I am besieged by the devil. I do not see him, but I feel him; he torments me and holds me with a grip of iron, that I may not find one crumb of comfort; he augments my woes, that I may be driven to despair. . . . And I cannot pray. I can only look at Our Blessed Lady and say: ‘Jesus!’ How needful is that prayer we use at Compline: ‘Procul recedant somnia et noctium phantasmata!’ (‘Free us from the phantoms of the night.’) Something mysterious is happening within me. I am not suffering for myself, but for some other soul, and satan is angry.” The Infirmarian, startled, lighted a blessed candle, and the spirit of darkness fled, never to return; but the sufferer remained to the end in a state of extreme anguish. One day, while she was contemplating the beautiful heavens, some one said to her: “soon your home will be there, beyond the blue sky. How lovingly you gaze at it!” She only smiled, but afterwards she said to the Mother Prioress: “Dear Mother, the Sisters do not realise my sufferings. Just now, when looking at the sky, I merely admired the beauty of the material heaven–the true Heaven seems more than ever closed against me. At first their words troubled me, but an interior voice whispered: ‘Yes, you were looking to Heaven out of love. Since your soul is entirely delivered up to love, all your actions, even the most indifferent, are marked with this divine seal.’ At once I was consoled.”
I’ll be headed out the door in a few minutes to attend the Mass. It amazes me that year after year I have been given the grace to participate in daily mass. It is a great blessing especially since I am no saint. I’m slogging it out here below hoping one day that Jesus will call me and bid me come to Him that with angels and saints I might be with Him forever.
Sometimes at communion, I am overjoyed but most often my feelings are like those expressed by the Little Flower. Would that my response also be as hers.
What can I tell you, dear Mother, about my thanksgivings after Communion? There is no time when I taste less consolation. But this is what I should expect. I desire to receive Our Lord, not for my own satisfaction, but simply to give Him pleasure. I picture my soul as a piece of waste ground and beg Our Blessed Lady to take away my imperfections–which are as heaps of rubbish–and to build upon it a splendid tabernacle worthy of Heaven, and adorn it with her own adornments. Then I invite all the Angels and Saints to come and sing canticles of love, and it seems to me that Jesus is well pleased to see Himself received so grandly, and I share in His joy. But all this does not prevent distractions and drowsiness from troubling me, and not unfrequently I resolve to continue my thanksgiving throughout the day, since I made it so badly in choir. You see, dear Mother, that my way is not the way of fear; I can always make myself happy, and profit by my imperfections, and Our Lord Himself encourages me in this path.”
Here is a site with much to offer by secular Carmelites . Their calling: “to listen to hear the whisper of God in the silence of our hearts. We seek Him, who we know loves us, and contemplate His wonders…… The meditations (& podcasts) are taken directly from the writings of the Church Doctors of Prayer, Mysticism, Confidence and Missionaries (Saints Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross and Thérèse of Lisieux) as well as many other Carmelites you may not have known before!”
Mother Isabel of the Sacred Heart
“My desires are infinite. . . I have often made them known: firstly, the salvation of souls, of all the souls now on earth and of those which will exist until the end of the world; then that divine love may reign in every soul; that those consecrated to God, especially priests, may reach the height of sanctity to which their vocation calls them; to obtain baptism for infants; that Purgatory may free its captives and may be closed for ever by souls being taught how to fly straight to heaven on leaving this world; that physical and bodily pain may be consoled, soothed, and to a great extent abolished. Yet these desires, like Saint Teresa’s become very grievous when I reflect that Jesus Himself could not obtain the salvation of all souls, nor make Himself loved by all, nor save them all from the tortures of Purgatory or from Limbo. I am troubled by the profound mystery of God s will being frustrated in His wishes by the contrary designs of His creatures, and I pray: “Father, since this is so, I entreat Thee to grant as far as possible the longings of the Heart of Jesus, for all His desires are mine,” and this brings me peace.
This was, for a long time, my only way of hearing Mass. When the sacred Host was up raised after the words of Consecration, I used to say: “Father, behold Thy beloved Son in “Whom Thou has set all Thy pleasure; hear Him!” This “Hear Him!” which expressed all my longings, meant: “Grant all He asks; realize all His desires!”
– Mother Isabel of the Sacred Heart
For those of us who are small at heart, ill equipped for great undertakings, yet desiring to fulfill in perfection the Will of God in our little lives simply to please Him, take heart. There is a Little Way.
From Story of a Soul by St. Theresa of Lisieux – Manuscript B, Chapter IX – MY VOCATION IS LOVE:
St. Theresa of Lisieux, “I feel the vocation of the WARRIOR, THE PRIEST, THE APOSTLE, THE DOCTOR, THE MARTYR. finally I feel the need and the desire of carrying out the most heroic deeds for You, O Jesus. I feel within my the courage of the crusader, the Papal Guard, and I would want to die on the field of battle in defense of the Church………….
At prayer these desires made me suffer a true martydom. I opened the Epistles of St. Paul to seek some relief. The 12th and 13th chapters of the First Epistle to the Corinthians fell before my eyes. I read, in the first, that not all can be apostles, prophets, and doctors, etc., that the Church is composed of different members, and that the eye cannot also be at the same time the hand.
The answer was clear, but it did not satisfy my desires, it did not give me peace…. Without being discouraged I continued my reading, and this phrase comforted me: “Earnestly desire the more perfect gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way” (1 Cor 12:31). And the Apostle explains how all gifts, even the most perfect, are nothing without Love… that charity is the excellent way that leads surely to God. At last I had found rest…. Considering the mystical Body of the Church, I had not recognized myself in any of the members described by St. Paul, or rather, I wanted to recognize myself in all… Charity gave me the key to my vocation. I understood that if the Church has a body composed of different members, the noblest and most necessary of all the members would not be lacking to her. I understood that the Church has a heart, and that this heart burns with Love. I understood that Love alone makes its members act, that if this Love were to be extinguished, the Apostles would no longer preach the Gospel, the Martyrs would refuse to shed their blood… I understood that Love embraces all vocations, that Love is all things, that it embraces all times and all places… in a word, that it is eternal!
Then in the excess of my delirious joy, I cried out: “O Jesus, my Love, at last I have found my vocation, my vocation is Love!… Yes, I have found my place in the Church, and it is you, O my God, who have given me this place… in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I will be Love!…. Thus I shall be all things: thus my dream shall be realized!!!”
I am a child… It is not riches or glory (not even the glory of Heaven) that this child asks for… No, she asks for Love. She knows but one desire: to love you, Jesus. Glorious deeds are forbidden her; she cannot preach the Gospel or shed her blood… But what does that matter, her brothers work in her place, and she, a little child, stays close to the throne of the King and Queen, and loves for her brothers who are in the combat… But how shall she show her love, since love proves itself by deeds? Well! the little child will strew flowers, she will embalm the royal throne with their fragrance, she will sing with a silver voice the canticle of Love.
Yes, my Beloved, I wish to spend my life thus… I have no other means of proving my love except by strewing flowers, that is to say, letting no little sacrifice pass, no look, no word–profiting by the littlest actions, and doing them out of love. I wish to suffer out of love and to rejoice out of love; thus I shall strew flowers before your throne. I shall not find one without scattering its petals before you… and in strewing my flowers I will sing (can one weep in doing so joyous an action?) I will sing, even if my roses must be gathered from among thorns; and the longer and sharper the thorns, the sweeter shall be my song.
Begin today with a desire and a prayer, looking not at yourself but at the generous Heart of Jesus.
Do I hear an, “Amen” ?
I’m thinking about Fr. Jeff’s homily. He was serious today, though he always is,so much so, it makes me laugh hearing his mental gymnastics. Today he got straight to the point, however. The point being: haven’t we all felt a part of something bigger than ourselves?
Some times changes in direction happen quickly, even with just one impulsive decision. I guess all the other choices in our lives leads us to make that decision, so impulsive or not, it’s more than happenstance, it’s who we are at the moment. With that said, Fr. Jeff spoke of God breaking into the world He had created and wanting, at this moment in Time, to renew it. He offers a Covenant, which if lived out in the lives of this people, peculiar to the Lord, His Chosen People, would cause all peoples to look on them and desire their God.
Fr.Jeff said, “God’s modus operandi has not changed. Human history is repeating this scenario day after day.” We are called to live exemplary lives. What a dreamer God must be! That’s the vision, though. When Jesus faced the pharisees and said “I Am” they had a choice to make. They could recognize Him as God, the new Moses, and follow Him…….. or stone him. You know how it goes from here, from bad to worse. “Stone him!” they say.” Later it becomes, “Crucify him!”
Jesus confronts us,when we least expect it, and confounds us, as he did the pharisees. We are unprepared at many junctures in our lives and being unprepared, caught of guard, or rebellious, with the pharisees and mob, we holler, “Stone him!” Thankfully, moments of reflection follow in our lives, changes in course, second chances. The Jews got it wrong, but St. Paul promises a day when their blindness will end. The Church is the New Israel, a second chance at Covenant. We, too, have a hard time getting it right, but we have the promise made to the Church, “The Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.”Matthew 16:18
The Reading from Genesis 17:3-9 was:
When Abram prostrated himself, God spoke to him:
“My covenant with you is this:
you are to become the father of a host of nations.
No longer shall you be called Abram;
your name shall be Abraham,
for I am making you the father of a host of nations.
I will render you exceedingly fertile;
I will make nations of you;
kings shall stem from you.
I will maintain my covenant with you
and your descendants after you
throughout the ages as an everlasting pact,
to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.
I will give to you
and to your descendants after you
the land in which you are now staying,
the whole land of Canaan, as a permanent possession;
and I will be their God.”
must keep my covenant throughout the ages.”
God also said to Abraham:
“On your part, you and your descendants after you
The Gospel was:
Jesus said to the Jews:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever keeps my word will never see death.”
So the Jews said to him,
“Now we are sure that you are possessed.
Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say,
‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’
Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died?
Or the prophets, who died?
Who do you make yourself out to be?”
Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing;
but it is my Father who glorifies me,
of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’
You do not know him, but I know him.
And if I should say that I do not know him,
I would be like you a liar.
But I do know him and I keep his word.
Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day;
he saw it and was glad.”
So the Jews said to him,
“You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
before Abraham came to be, I AM.”
So they picked up stones to throw at him;
but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area. John 8: 51-59
Hard to know God’s will,
to do no less,
to do no more.
Hard to stay with the ordinary things of holiness,
to pray for the good,
to succor the poor,
to love our enemies.
Hard, though, is not without hope.
Reaching down, He picks us up.
Wiping our tears, He cheers us.
Seeing our holy desire, He supplies all.
President Obama seems a man flying in the face of the Holy Spirit and not prone to be moved the Spirit, especially in areas of life, morality and the Natural Law…unless by “natural law” we mean survival of the most well-positioned, power-hungry and powerful.
Modern Medieval writes: “It appears that Joachim of Fiore is still around and voting for Obama.” “From the annals of strange stuff, I ran across this Italian article that has the mayor San Giovanni of Fiore inviting Barack Obama to his town in order to become an honorary citizen. Apparently, according to this article, Obama has invoked the 12th-century mystic and theologian Joachim of Fiore on no fewer than 3 occasions.”
In a Lenten sermon by P. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFMCAP – delivered in the presence of Benedict XVI 3-29-2009 Joachim of Fiore comes up again with regard to Obama and what this Presisent could possibly be doing in Joachim’s corner:
The fact that the recently elected president of the United States referenced Joachim of Fiore three times during his electoral campaign has renewed interest in medieval monk’s teachings. Few of the people who talk about him, especially on the internet, know or care to know just what exactly this author said. Every idea of church or world renewal is offhandedly attributed to him, even the idea of a new Pentecost for the Church, which was invoked by John XXIII.
One thing is certain: whether or not it should be attributed to Joachim of Fiore, the idea of a third era of the Spirit that would follow on the era of the Old Testament Father and the New Testament Christ is false and heretical because it affects the very heart of the Trinitarian dogma. St. Gregory Nazianzen’s statement is entirely different. He makes a distinction between three phases in the revelation of the Trinity: in the Old Testament the Father fully revealed himself and the Son is promised and announced; in the New Testament the Son fully revealed himself and the Holy Spirit is promised and announced; in the time of the Church, the Holy Spirit is finally fully known and we rejoice in his presence.
The Church speaks with the voice of the Holy Spirit teaching and guiding through its Magisterium. In speaking of the Holy Spirit Cantalamessa says:
St. Ignatius suggested practical means to apply these criteria. One is this: when we are faced with two possible choices, it is useful to first consider one of them, as if we must follow it, and to stay in that state for a day or more; then we should evaluate how our heart reacts to that choice: is there peace, harmony with the rest of our own decisions; is there something inside of you that encourages you in that direction, or on the contrary has it left a haze of restlessness… Then repeat the process with the second hypothesis. All this should be done in an atmosphere of prayer, abandonment to God’s will, and openness to the Holy Spirit.
And in closing he says:
When everything is reduced to just the personal, private listening to the Spirit, the path is opened to a unstoppable process of division and subdivision, because everyone believe they are right. And the very division and multiplication of denominations and sects, often contrasting each other in their essential points, demonstrates that the same Spirit of truth in speaking cannot be in all, because otherwise he would be contradicting himself.
It is well known that this is the danger to which the protestant world is most exposed, having built the “interior testimony” of the Holy Spirit as the only criteria of truth, against every exterior, ecclesial testimony, other than that of the written Word. Some extreme fringes will even go as far as to separate the interior guidance of the Spirit even from word of the Scriptures. We then have the various movements of “enthusiasts” or “enlightened” who have punctuated the history of the Church, whether catholic, orthodox or protestant. The most frequent result of this tendency, which concentrates all attention on the internal testimony of the Spirit, is that the Spirit slowly looses the capital letter and comes to coincide with the simple human spirit. That is what happened with rationalism.
My Imitation of Christ
by Thomas a’ Kempis
Book 4 chapter 9:
With a sincere heart I offer myself this day to You, O Lord, to Your eternal service, to Your homage, and as a sacrifice of everlasting praise. Receive me with this holy offering of Your precious Body which also I make to You this day, in the presence of angels invisibly attending, for my salvation and that of all Your people.
O Lord, upon Your altar of expiation, I offer You all the sins and offenses I have committed in Your presence and in the presence of Your holy angels, from the day when I first could sin until this hour, that You may burn and consume them all in the fire of Your love, that You may wipe away their every stain, cleanse my conscience of every fault, and restore to me Your grace which I lost in sin by granting full pardon for all and receiving me mercifully with the kiss of peace.
What can I do for all my sins but humbly confess and lament them, and implore Your mercy without ceasing? In Your mercy, I implore You, hear me when I stand before You, my God. All my sins are most displeasing to me. I wish never to commit them again. I am sorry for them and will be sorry as long as I live. I am ready to do penance and make satisfaction to the utmost of my power.
Forgive me, O God, forgive me my sins for Your Holy Name. Save my soul which You have redeemed by Your most precious Blood. See, I place myself at Your mercy. I commit myself to Your hands. Deal with me according to Your goodness, not according to my malicious and evil ways.
I offer to You also all the good I have, small and imperfect though it be, that You may make it more pure and more holy, that You may be pleased with it, render it acceptable to Yourself, and perfect it more and more, and finally that You may lead me, an indolent and worthless creature, to a good and happy end.
I offer You also all the holy desires of Your devoted servants, the needs of my parents, friends, brothers, sisters, and all who are dear to me; of all who for Your sake have been kind to me or to others; of all who have wished and asked my prayers and Masses for them and theirs, whether they yet live in the flesh or are now departed from this world, that they may all experience the help of Your grace, the strength of Your consolation, protection from dangers, deliverance from punishment to come, and that, free from all evils, they may gladly give abundant thanks to You.
I offer You also these prayers and the Sacrifice of Propitiation for those especially who have in any way injured, saddened, or slandered me, inflicted loss or pain upon me, and also for all those whom I have at any time saddened, disturbed, offended, and abused by word or deed, willfully or in ignorance. May it please You to forgive us all alike our sins and offenses against one another.
Take away from our hearts, O Lord, all suspicion, anger, wrath, contention, and whatever may injure charity and lessen brotherly love. Have mercy, O Lord, have mercy on those who ask Your mercy, give grace to those who need it, and make us such that we may be worthy to enjoy Your favor and gain eternal life.
In today’s reading, Jer 11:18-20, Jeremiah wants revenge. He sees himself as a trusting lamb led to slaughter; although he knew he was in danger, he did not realize that his enemies were hatching plots against him. Jeremiah wants vengeance and he wants to be there to witness it in spades.
“Let me witness the vengeance you take on them, for to you I have entrusted my cause!”
In today’s homily, Monsignor, asks, “How does Jesus take vengeance on His enemies?” Monsignor answers, “He dies for them!”
Christians imitate Jesus. Scripture directs us in dealing with our enemies:
- “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
- But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,” Matthew 5:43-44
- If your enemy be hungry, give him food to eat, if he be thirsty, give him to drink;
- For live coals you will heap on his head, and the LORD will vindicate you. Proverbs 25:22
We are all in the same boat, we are all sinners, enemies of God, so long as we persist in Sin. Jesus, for his part, dies for us. He has prayed for his enemies, “Father, forgive them!” He has fed them, “Take and eat!” He has satisfied their thirst, “Take and drink!”
Jesus appeals to the heart of men. We can turn away. We can experience, with Jesus, rejection. In all these circumstances Jesus says pray. That prayer is powerful, whether it is prayer of praise, worship, thanksgiving, adoration, or petition.
If we could only see it with Heaven’s eyes as John did as he records in the Book of Revelation:
“And when he had taken the book, the four living creatures and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” Rev 5:8
“These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason they stand before God’s throne and worship him day and night in his temple.”Rev 7:14
What is this washing of their robes, if it is not the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If it were referring to Baptism, they would not be doing the washing, whereas in Reconciliation we have an active role.
Jesus wants what’s best for each of us. He wants enemies (sinners) to feel the hot coals of prayer heaped upon them. To see ourselves as Jesus sees us when we sin can be distressing. Such a moment, though wrenching, is a moment of grace. Jesus desires a response of the heart that sends the sick and sorrowful to show themselves to the priest for healing and forgiveness.
Our revenge is to be like our Christ. Our revenge is to die to ourselves with our Christ. Our revenge is to see the enemies of Christ come forth from the confessional with tears of joy and thanksgiving in all humility; no longer enemies but as brothers.
What will it take? Prayer. All are called, moment by moment, while we live, “Repent and believe the Good News!” Mk 1:15
The Lenten readings are growing darker as Jesus approaches His hour
In Wisdom 2, we read:
The wicked said among themselves,
thinking not aright…
“Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
Reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
He professes to have knowledge of God
and styles himself a child of the LORD.
The Gospel of John, too, sounds an ominous note:
“Jesus moved about within Galilee; he did not wish to travel in Judea, because the Jews were trying to kill him. But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near…But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, he himself also went up, not openly but as it were in secret.” John 7:1,10
Why did things have to go this way. Why the rejection? Why the Cross? And while we’re questioning; why do they sour for us?
Today, Fr. Michael, faced with these questions, asked one of his own (I’m paraphrasing.) Who made us judge and jury? Who confirmed us in our righteousness; which is, if honest, our self-righteousness?”
The Gospel of Light treads a path through every darkness and Darkness, itself. Without the stuff of darkness, weakness, war, tragedy and desperate dilemma, we go unchallenged, self-satisfied. We pursue our dreams and go willy-nilly, perhaps, even, to our own dissolution, seeing only the darkness around us, and none within. What we don’t like of Gospel or Church, we ignore or eliminate from our daily lives. “Let us condemn him to a shameful death.”
Until the unthinkable forces itself upon us and our decisions, we are content not to think but to ride the fence. The problems remain out there with “them.” If we do take a stand and speak the Gospel truth, we find what Jesus found: rejection and betrayal, even from within our families, the cruelest blow. It might not be explicit. It may be that no one has time to visit. Perhaps, the grand-kids are withheld and holidays less joyful. How doesn’t matter so much as that it happens. We are left on our Cross.
What to do? Look first to yourself. Question your ways and your motives. Repent, is the Gospel word for it. Then pray and wait. Wait upon God; first of all with praise and adoration, thanksgiving, and finally with petition. Place all the rest, loves ones and world, in the Tabernacle with the Lamb who was Slain and still lives. Then go on; “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.” This is the Way until the end of the world and the coming of the Day.
From the Office of Readings – for Friday of fourth week of Lent from Easter Letter of Athanasias:
How fine a thing it is to move from festival to festival, from prayer to prayer, from holy day to holy day. The time is now at hand when we enter on a new beginning: the proclamation of the blessed Passover, in which the Lord was sacrificed.
From The Life and Revelations of St. Gertrude the Great: (with my italics noting promises and favors)
May my heart and my soul, with all the substance of my flesh, all my senses, and all the powers of my body and my mind, with all creatures, praise Thee and give Thee thanks, O sweetest Lord, faithful Lover of mankind, for Thy signal mercy, which has not only dissimulated the utterly unworthy preparation with which I have not feared to approached the super celestial banquet of Thy most sacred Body and Blood, but has added this gift to me, the most utterly vile and perfectly useless of Thy creatures. First, of having been assured by Thy grace that all who desire to approach this Sacrament, and who are restrained by fear from a timid conscience, who come to me, who am the least of Thy servants, led by humility, to receive this Sacrament with fruit to eternal life. Thou hast also added that Thou wilt not permit anyone whom Thy justice deems unworthy to abase themselves to ask counsel of me, O Supreme Ruler, Who, through Thou dwellest on high, regardest the humble. (CF. Ps. 112:5).
What prompted Thy mercy, when Thou sawest me approach so often unworthily, to suspend Thy judgment, and not to inflict on me the punishment I deserve? Thou willest to make others worthy by the virtue of humility; and though Thou couldst do so more effectually without my assistance, Thy love, looking upon my misery, made Thee effect this through me, so that thus I may be a sharer in the merits of those who, through my admonitions, enjoy the fruit of salvation.
But, alas this is not the only remedy which my misery requires; nor will one remedy satisfy Thy mercy, O most kind Lord! For (secondly) Thou didst assure my unworthiness that Thou wouldst consider whoever should expose their defects to me, with a contrite and humble heart, guilty or innocent, as I had declared them more or less guilty, and from henceforward Thy grace would so sustain them that They should never again be in such danger from their faults as they had been previously. And thus Thou hast relieved my indigence, which is so great that I have never even for a single day corrected myself as I ought, and yet Thou dost permit me to participate in the victories of others, when Thou, my good God, dost condescend, to give the grace of victory to Thine other more deserving friends through my words.
Thirdly. The abundant liberality of Thy grace has enriched my poverty of merit by this assurance – that whenever I promise a favor to anyone, or the pardon of any fault, through confidence in Thy mercy, Thy benign love will ratify my words and execute my promise as faithfully as if it has been confirmed by an oath of the Eternal Truth. Thou didst add further, that if anyone found that the salutary effects of my promises were deferred, they should continually remind Thee that I had promised this grace from Thee. Thus dost Thou provide for my salvation according to the words of the Gospel: “With what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matt. 7:2). And as, I alas, continually fall into the greatest faults, Thou desirest by this means to remit the punishment I deserve.
Fourthly. To solace my miseries, Thou hast assured me, amongst other things, that whoever recommend themselves humbly and devoutly to my prayers will certainly obtain all the fruits which they hoped to obtain by the intercession of any other person: in which Thou hast provided for my negligence, which prevents me from satisfying, not only for the prayers which are made gratuitously for the Church, but also for those of obligation; and Thou hast found the means of applying the fruit of them to me, according to the words of David “My prayers shall be turned into my bosom” (Ps 34: 13); making me participate in the merits of Thine elect, who shall ask these graces of Thee through my intermission, although I am utterly unworthy of it, and granting me a share in them to supply for my indigence.
Fifthly. Thou hast further promised my salvation by conferring these special favors on me, that whom ever with a good will, a right intention and a humble confidence, shall come to speak to me upon their spiritual advancement, should never leave me without being edified or receiving spiritual consolation. In this also Thou hast most suitably supplied for my indigence: for alas, I have wasted the talent Thou didst so liberally bestow on me by my useless words, but now I may gain some merit by what I confide to others!
Sixthly. Thy liberality, O Lord, has bestowed on me thus gift, more necessary than all – certify to me that whoever, in their charity, will either pray for me – the vilest of God’s creatures – or perform any good works, either for the amendment of my life, or the forgiveness of the sins of my youth, or the correction of my iniquity and malice, shall receive this reward from Thy abundant liberality – namely, that they shall nit die until, by Thy grace, their lives have been pleasing to Thee; and that Thou wilt dwell in their souls by a special friendship and intimacy.
And this Thou hast granted of Thy paternal tenderness, to assist my extreme indigence, as Thou knowest how many great corrections are needed for my innumerable sins and negligences. Thus, as Thy loving mercy will not permit me to perish, and, on the contrary by reason of justice, will not permit me to be saved with all my imperfections, Thou hast provided for me by means of the gains and merits of others.
Thou hast added to all these favors, my kind God, by an abundant liberality – that if anyone, after my death, considering with how much familiarity Thou didst communicate with my unworthiness while in this life, should recommend themselves humbly to my prayers, Thou wouldst hear them as willingly as if they invoked the intercession of any other person, provided that they had the intention of repairing their faults and negligences, and that they humbly and devoutly thanked Thee for five special benefits which Thou didst grant me.
First. For the love by which Thou didst freely choose me from all eternity, and which I declare to be the greatest of all the benefits which Thou hast bestowed on me: for as Thou wert not ignorant of, or rather didst foresee, the corrupt life which I should lead, the excess of my ingratitude, and how I should abuse Thy gifts, so that I deserve to have been born a pagan, and not an enlightened human being – Thy mercy, which infinitely exceeds our crimes, has chosen me, in preference to many other Christians, to bear the holy character of a religious.
Secondly. Because Thou hast drawn me blessedly to Thee; and I acknowledged it to be an effect of the clemency and charity which is natural to Thee, Who hast won, by the attractions of Thy caresses, this rebellious and stubborn heart, which deserves to be loaded with fetters and chains; and it has seemed as if Thou hadst found in me the faithful companion of Thy love, and that Thy greatest pleasure was to be united to me.
Thirdly. Because Thou hast united me so intimately to Thee; and I declare, as I am bound, that I am indebted for this only to Thy signal liberality, as if the number of the just was not great enough to receive the immense abundance of Thy mercies, not that I had better dispositions than others, but, on the contrary, that Thy charity might be the more signalized in me thereby.
Fourthly. That Thou hast taken pleasure and delight in dwelling in my soul; and this, if I may so speak, proceeds from the ardor of Thy love, which has deigned to testify, even by words, that it is the joy of Thy all – powerful wisdom to stop to one so dissimilar to Thee, and so utterly ungrateful.
Fifthly. That it has pleased Thee to accomplish Thy work happily in me; and, it is a favor which I have hoped with humble confidence from the tenderness of Thy most benign charity, and for which I adore Thee with gratitude, declaring, O sovereign, true, and only treasure of my soul, that I have in no way contributed to it by my merits, but that it is a true gift of Thy liberality.
All these benefits coming from Thine immense charity, and being so far above my nothingness, I am unable to give thanks for them worthily; but Thou has further assisted my misery, in exciting others, by the most condescending promises, to render thanksgivings to Thee, the merit of which may supply my deficiencies. For which may all creatures in Heaven, on earth and under the earth, glorify Thee and thank Thee continually!
Psalm 143: 8-11
In the morning let me know your love
For I put my trust in you.
Make me know the way I should walk;
To you I lift up my soul.
Rescue me, Lord, from my enemies;
I have fled to you for refuge.
Teach me to do your will
For you, O Lord, are my God.
Let your good spirit guide me
In ways that are level and smooth.
For you name’s sake, Lord, save my like;
In your justice save my soul from distress.