Power, Humility, Sobriety, Vigilance

“Clothe yourselves with humility
in your dealings with one another…

Be sober and vigilant.
Your opponent the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion
looking for someone to devour” (1 Pt 5:5b, 8).

What is the Christian vision when it comes to the words above?  

Jesus before Pilate.  Jesus on the Cross.  

“Jesus answered [Pilate], ‘You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above’” (Jn 19:11). 

It is a scandal. The devil tried to devour the Lord, indeed.  The devil is incapable of understanding the Law of Love. 

St. Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians: “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,  but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,  but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor 1:22-25).

To look at Jesus before Pilate and see power and vigilance is foolishness to those who think that power is getting the most attention, getting the most votes, having the most people watch or listen to you, or having the most money. These are all worldly cares.  Signs are also “of the world” because those who see them are still tempted not to believe.  Our Heavenly Father gives us signs of His presence everyday and we discount these signs because of our worldly cares and attention.  

At least I do, anyway.

Power is the ability to see things the way our Creator sees things. It is living in the Spirit of God — living the law of God because it is written on our hearts.  Living the Law of Love means looking at the person across the aisle, the table, the Church, the border, the ocean…and forgiving them and seeking abundant life for them.

To be sober and vigilant is to choose to believe without seeing.  It is to choose to believe that God will take care of me, of us: to remember His promises, and to know, by faith, that we are in His hands.

This is foolishness to the world.  This is foolishness to politicians.  This is even foolishness to some Catholics and other Christians.  This is foolishness to anyone who seeks a worldly solution to a spiritual problem.  The root of the spiritual problem is UNBELIEF.

The letter from Peter quoted above also says, “Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you” (1 Pt 5:7).  

I am not sure it could be made clearer.  We are in a spiritual battle, which means that it is on the inside.  Jesus told us to follow Him.  He promised us abundant life if we follow His ways. Do we believe?

The inner battle against the powers that seek to devour us, to divide us, is found in our hearts and in our choices (free will).  Following Him means dying with Him.  This may or may not be a material death.  He, as the author of life, will determine that.  

There is no power of ours that can add a second to our lives.  There is no human wisdom that can trump even the foolishness of God.

It is the power of God, living in us, that can and will save the world from all its ills.  We unleash the power of God when we surrender to His love.

Thoughts on the Resurrection and Eternity. There is only one thing that matters.

This may be the last post I write.  I write this for my children, especially, but also for anyone else who might be seeking.  Since it is about the “One Thing” there may be nothing else worth writing!  In this time of uncertainty and fear, getting the “One Thing” right becomes even more important.

The guy to the right is Curly.  He is a character in the hilarious 1980’s movie, City Slickers, starring Billy Crystal as Mitch.  Here is how the “One Thing” dialogue goes (this is the last time I put those two words in quotes!):

Curly: None of you get it. Do you know what the secret of life is?

Mitch: No, what?

Curly: [holds up one finger] This.

Mitch: Your finger?

Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean shit.

Mitch: That’s great, but, what is the “one thing?”

Curly: [smiles] That’s what you gotta figure out.

Yesterday, Easter Sunday, was the day that we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, which is a celebration of the destruction of sin and death. Right? Doesn’t that sound incredible?! Some people might say, “For Christians, of course.  For us it is a day to be with our family.” Some may have other reasons to celebrate: springtime, new life, hope.

They have not yet found the one thing, but they are getting closer.  Those who celebrate these things on Easter Sunday are seeking things on earth that reflect the One Thing, and that is very good.  But it is not enough.

—-

What is it within us that drives us to be with others, to seek the joy of unity with other human persons?  Why is social distancing so difficult? Could it be merely an instinct to be social, to mix with our kin and our friends and have fun? Is it just an instinct, like a dog’s desire for attention?

This instinct is indeed satisfied through our social interactions, yet it is much more than my sweet puppy’s desire for attention.  Humans desire more; we seek something beyond us that satisfies a longing that is deep within our hearts.  We think in terms of eternity, and ultimately the only thing that will satisfy us has to be eternal.

It doesn’t matter what religion you are, or whether you even consider yourself “religious.”  The truth is that we all follow something. We all strive for something beyond ourselves.

—-

The One Thing has been revealed to us.  The One, Eternal Word, has been spoken.  

“I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

“Follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Our desire for communion that is within us can attach itself to only One Thing.  All truth, goodness, and beauty culminates in this One Thing, this One Word: Jesus.  Until we find Him we will always be seeking, always restless.

Think of the largest, tallest mountain.  We are all trying to climb it.  There are multiple paths to the pinnacle: around and around, zig-zag, straight up.  Along the way we find many signs that point us to the top.  There may even be signs that keep us where we are for a time. Throughout the journey we find refreshment and nourishment to get us there, if we look carefully.  We may fall and start again.  The important thing is to keep going, to keep climbing.

Yes, indeed, yesterday and today we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. The Resurrection is so important that Catholics celebrate it for 50 days.  Just to be clear, I use the term Catholics as a universal term.  This feast is celebrated pro multis, for all.  It is celebrated as such because it is, indeed, the One Thing!  It is Eternal Life in God, Who created us and loves us!

To be resurrected means to live eternally.  This is something that all humans understand and seek.  It is a constant, if you will, of the universe.  It is a universal law that humanity longs to live forever.  Eternity is at the essence of everything we strive for.  It is the pinnacle, the summit.

This pinnacle is a Person.  He has come down to be one of us in order to bring us back up with Him, in a union of Love with the Father, in the Holy Spirit.  The Resurrected King is Resurrecting me.  And you.

That is the One Thing.

At the Cross His Divine Mercy Flows

Today we remember the cost of our sins and the Love Who paid the price.

What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26).

The photo to the right is from a scene in The Passion of the Christ.  It is unforgettable.  Jesus not only accepts the cross — He caresses it.  He welcomes it.  He knows that it alone is the way to Eternal Life.  He knows that His love poured out pro multis, for the many, on the Cross, will give eternal life to those who accept it.

What does it mean to accept it?

It means to surrender to the truth that we are sinners and we need a savior.  It is to recognize our own crosses and carry them, yoked with Jesus.  (More on this glorious yoke below). It is to recognize that our heaviest cross is the hatred and unforgiveness in our hearts, the center of all our sins — pride.  Yes, this is the center, the Original Sin that plagues all of us.  This is what Jesus meant when He said:

What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:20-23).

Who me?

Yes, me.  

G.K. Chesterton, a prolific and wise British author of the early 20th century once said, “What is wrong with the world? ME.”

My daughter asked me last night, as we were watching Jesus of Nazareth, “Why does it seem like all the men rejected Jesus?”

The rejection is not limited to men.  It is not even limited to Pharisees and Saducees.  We are all susceptible.  There is one common illness.  We all have the spiritual virus of pride.  This is how it manifests and spreads:

“I can do it myself.”

“I will never forgive what he/she did to me.”

“He/She should know better.”

History and tradition in movie depictions of the Cross. | Peter T ...
Be yoked to Jesus

There are many more ways.  This spiritual virus is prolific.  There is only one inoculation: Carrying the Cross with Jesus, and being yoked to Him in our sorrows and pain.  It is the only way.

Sometimes I will hear people say, “I send Jesus away from me when I sin.”  No.  Absolutely not!  Jesus is always there!  Look at the picture!  He embraces us when we sin!

It is we who fight Him.  It is we who fight the solution.  The only answer is to surrender to His love.

Surrender our unforgiveness.  Surrender our hatred.  Surrender our hateful thoughts.  Surrender our disordered desires for things that do not give us life, both material and spiritual! Surrender our anger.  

Jesus is always there waiting for us.  He has conquered all of this through His death on the Cross.  He looked at the ones hurting Him and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Through Him, with Him, and in Him…we can do this too.  At the Cross his Divine Mercy flows pro multis.

My Holy Week Miracle

Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart. 

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act (Ps 37:4). 

It was February of 2017 and I was in the midst of the most difficult spiritual and emotional trial I had ever experienced in my life. There was an event that occurred in previous months that had exacerbated the deep pain I was experiencing — something that opened the can of worms, so to speak. I was a bit uneasy in my job trying to balance home and work, and this event added to my emotional stress.  I don’t want to go into the details of these days except to give the underlying cause of it: I didn’t have a father. The above psalm verse spoke to me deep in my heart at this time, so much so that I put it on my computer desktop so that I would read it everyday.  It gave me hope that there was peace and healing at the end of this emotional pain I was experiencing.

It may seem strange to say that I didn’t have a father.  Everyone has a father, don’t they?  And indeed I do too, but there were some very difficult circumstances regarding our relationship.  To make a long story short, my father abandoned me.  I met him when I was 16.  We had 10 years of seeing each other a few times a year, and then, after I had my first child, we had a falling out and he wouldn’t talk to me anymore.  By the time I placed this psalm quote on my desktop it had been twenty years since we had spoken.  I had sent him many cards throughout the years, and even tried to speak to him on the phone one Christmas.  Nothing.  I was, however, in contact with my aunt, his only sibling.

For this next section of the story I would like to give a different quote from Sacred Scripture, because it provides the purpose of this testimony: 

Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you (1 Pt 3:15).  

Fast forward to Tuesday of Holy Week of 2017.  The date was April 11.  I was up early to say my morning prayers.  Since it was Holy Week I was trying to pray the Office of Readings every morning. The Letter to the Hebrews spoke of how fathers discipline their children (cf. Heb 12:1-13).  The passage from Hebrews quotes the book of Proverbs:

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights (Prov 3:11-12). 

I was surely feeling like I was being punished or disciplined, yet I didn’t know why or by whom.

In whom he delights…” I thought.

“Show me that you delight in me, Lord!” I cried out.  This idea of “delight” was intriguing to read, because my spiritual director kept telling me this — that God delights in me — but I didn’t believe it.  (nota bene —This is an example of spiritual darkness that can happen to anyone).

My thoughts immediately went to St. Joseph.  I thought of how he must have loved Jesus so much, and how he took such good care of Him.  I looked for a picture on Google of Joseph with Jesus.  I found the one above, and put it on the background for my phone, so that every time I looked at my phone I would see an image of a father’s love for his child.  I said a little prayer to St. Joseph: “Please be with me.  Pray for me to know that God delights in me.”

I finished my morning preparation, got the kids off to school, and went to work.  I began my work day with Mass, still offering this intention and asking St. Joseph to intercede for me.  I worked at my computer that morning preparing binders for the Sacred Triduum Masses.  At 10:22 a.m., about 4 hours after I had cried out to God, I received an email from my aunt, with subject line, “Your Dad.”

The most important information in the email was, “Your dad would definitely like to speak with you.  If you could find it in your heart to call him, I know it would help him very much to hear from you.”

I was stunned.  Find it in my heart?  I looked at the picture on my phone.  “You really came through, St. Joseph!  I don’t know what exactly this means, but you really came through!”

Twenty years had passed since I last spoke to my dad, and now he wanted me to call.  Amazing… and it happened right after I had cried out to God…during Holy Week.  It was truly a miracle.

This miracle was the beginning of a lot of healing that God has done in my heart for the last three years.  I was able to see my dad again, and he was able to meet my children.  Nevertheless, he was never a father to me, nor a grandfather to my children.  But he and I are two souls to whom God wanted to bring His healing grace.  God brought my dad a necessary reconciliation towards the end of  his life, and He brought me a better and increasing knowledge of Himself as my Heavenly Father who created me, loves me, and delights in me.  

He has truly given me the desires of my heart.

My dad died September 9, 2018.  Every Holy Week from now on is not only a beautiful reminder of what God has done for all of us, but what He has done personally for me.  God is truly a Good, Good Father.

The Coronavirus Novena (last day)

Today (04/07/20) is the last day of the Novena. We turn to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots. Pope Francis has a special devotion to Mary under this title.

Mary, Undoer of Knots

It is important to remember the Truth about God during times of great trial: God is our Father, leading us and guiding us through all these things. He doesn’t cause them. He created us to be one with Him in joy and peace. When sin entered the world not only was the human person broken, but all creation suffered. God became one of us through the Word made flesh, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to show us the way through the suffering we endure. We are seen and known and loved by the Father through the sacrifice of Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit, Who is always working things for our good. The Lord accompanies us through all things, (even our own sins), and He gave us His mother from the Cross to be our Mother. This is why we ask for her intercession today and always.

Below is a pdf document of the Mary, Undoer of Knots Novena, which is prayed in the context of the Rosary.

Day 9 – Final Day of the Coronavirus Novena

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Father in Heaven, have mercy on us and on the whole world. We come to you today with our fears and concerns — You know what’s in our hearts. We love You, trust You, we need You. We ask You to be with us. Stay with us. Help us through these times of uncertainty and sorrow.

We know you are the Divine Physician, the healer of all. And so we ask that you bring your loving and healing presence to all those who are sick and suffering right now. Please comfort them.

Please be with the grieving families of those who have passed away. 

Please have mercy on those who have died, may they be with You in heaven. 

Please stand at the side of all medical professionals who are putting themselves at risk while they work to bring healing to others.

Lord, we are scared and we are sorrowful. Please heal us. Send us your peace and overwhelming presence. 

(Mention your intentions here)

Mary, Undoer of Knots, please pray for the knot of this virus to be undone for the greater glory of God!

Jesus, we thirst for You. You chose to enter this world as a vulnerable baby. Be with the most vulnerable now. Help us to continue to return to You with our whole hearts throughout this ordeal. 

Amen. 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Day 8

Read more at: https://www.praymorenovenas.com/pandemic-novena

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Mother Cabrini the Foundress circa 1880
Mother Cabrini

Father in Heaven, have mercy on us and on the whole world. We come to you today with our fears and concerns — You know what’s in our hearts. We love You, trust You, we need You. We ask You to be with us. Stay with us. Help us through these times of uncertainty and sorrow.

We know you are the Divine Physician, the healer of all. And so we ask that you bring your loving and healing presence to all those who are sick and suffering right now. Please comfort them.

Please be with the grieving families of those who have passed away. 

Please have mercy on those who have died, may they be with You in heaven. 

Please stand at the side of all medical professionals who are putting themselves at risk while they work to bring healing to others.

Lord, we are scared and we are sorrowful. Please heal us. Send us your peace and overwhelming presence. 

(Mention your intentions here)

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, you founded hospitals dedicated to caring for the sick, pray for us!

Jesus, we thirst for You. You chose to enter this world as a vulnerable baby. Be with the most vulnerable now. Help us to continue to return to You with our whole hearts throughout this ordeal. 

Amen. 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Day 7

Read more at: https://www.praymorenovenas.com/pandemic-novena


In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Father in Heaven, have mercy on us and on the whole world. We come to you today with our fears and concerns — You know what’s in our hearts. We love You, trust You, we need You. We ask You to be with us. Stay with us. Help us through these times of uncertainty and sorrow.

We know you are the Divine Physician, the healer of all. And so we ask that you bring your loving and healing presence to all those who are sick and suffering right now. Please comfort them.

Please be with the grieving families of those who have passed away. 

Please have mercy on those who have died, may they be with You in heaven. 

Please stand at the side of all medical professionals who are putting themselves at risk while they work to bring healing to others.

Lord, we are scared and we are sorrowful. Please heal us. Send us your peace and overwhelming presence. 

(Mention your intentions here)

St. Jude and St. Rita, patrons of impossible causes, pray for us!

Jesus, we thirst for You. You chose to enter this world as a vulnerable baby. Be with the most vulnerable now. Help us to continue to return to You with our whole hearts throughout this ordeal. 

Amen. 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Day 6

Read more at: https://www.praymorenovenas.com/pandemic-novena

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

From Sacred Heart Basilica, Notre Dame, IN

Father in Heaven, have mercy on us and on the whole world. We come to you today with our fears and concerns — You know what’s in our hearts. We love You, trust You, we need You. We ask You to be with us. Stay with us. Help us through these times of uncertainty and sorrow.

We know you are the Divine Physician, the healer of all. And so we ask that you bring your loving and healing presence to all those who are sick and suffering right now. Please comfort them.

Please be with the grieving families of those who have passed away. 

Please have mercy on those who have died, may they be with You in heaven. 

Please stand at the side of all medical professionals who are putting themselves at risk while they work to bring healing to others.

Lord, we are scared and we are sorrowful. Please heal us. Send us your peace and overwhelming presence. 

(Mention your intentions here)

St. Joseph, patron of the dying, pray for us!

Jesus, we thirst for You. You chose to enter this world as a vulnerable baby. Be with the most vulnerable now. Help us to continue to return to You with our whole hearts throughout this ordeal. 

Amen. 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Day 5

Read more at: https://www.praymorenovenas.com/pandemic-novena

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Father in Heaven, have mercy on us and on the whole world. We come to you today with our fears and concerns — You know what’s in our hearts. We love You, trust You, we need You. We ask You to be with us. Stay with us. Help us through these times of uncertainty and sorrow.

We know you are the Divine Physician, the healer of all. And so we ask that you bring your loving and healing presence to all those who are sick and suffering right now. Please comfort them.

Please be with the grieving families of those who have passed away. 

Please have mercy on those who have died, may they be with You in heaven. 

Please stand at the side of all medical professionals who are putting themselves at risk while they work to bring healing to others.

Lord, we are scared and we are sorrowful. Please heal us. Send us your peace and overwhelming presence. 

(Mention your intentions here)

St. Rocco, you are venerated for your prayers for those suffering from infectious diseases, pray for us!

Jesus, we thirst for You. You chose to enter this world as a vulnerable baby. Be with the most vulnerable now. Help us to continue to return to You with our whole hearts throughout this ordeal. 

Amen. 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Day 4

Read more at: https://www.praymorenovenas.com/pandemic-novena

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Father in Heaven, have mercy on us and on the whole world. We come to you today with our fears and concerns — You know what’s in our hearts. We love You, trust You, we need You. We ask You to be with us. Stay with us. Help us through these times of uncertainty and sorrow. We know you are the Divine Physician, the healer of all. And so we ask that you bring your loving and healing presence to all those who are sick and suffering right now. Please comfort them. Please be with the grieving families of those who have passed away. Please have mercy on those who have died, may they be with You in heaven. Please stand at the side of all medical professionals who are putting themselves at risk while they work to bring healing to others. Lord, we are scared and we are sorrowful. Please heal us. Send us your peace and overwhelming presence. (Mention your intentions here). St. Damien of Molokai, you put yourself at risk to minister to those suffering from leprosy, pray for us! Jesus, we thirst for You. You chose to enter this world as a vulnerable baby. Be with the most vulnerable now. Help us to continue to return to You with our whole hearts throughout this ordeal. Amen. 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Day 3

Read more at: https://www.praymorenovenas.com/pandemic-novena

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Stedmundcrownedbyangelspierpontms736f42.jpg

Father in Heaven, have mercy on us and on the whole world. We come to you today with our fears and concerns — You know what’s in our hearts. We love You, trust You, we need You. We ask You to be with us. Stay with us. Help us through these times of uncertainty and sorrow. We know you are the Divine Physician, the healer of all. And so we ask that you bring your loving and healing presence to all those who are sick and suffering right now. Please comfort them. Please be with the grieving families of those who have passed away.  Please have mercy on those who have died, may they be with You in heaven. Please stand at the side of all medical professionals who are putting themselves at risk while they work to bring healing to others. Lord, we are scared and we are sorrowful. Please heal us. Send us your peace and overwhelming presence. (Mention your intentions here). St. Edmund, patron for victims of pandemics, pray for us! Jesus, we thirst for You. You chose to enter this world as a vulnerable baby. Be with the most vulnerable now. Help us to continue to return to You with our whole hearts throughout this ordeal. Amen. 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Day 2

Read more at: https://www.praymorenovenas.com/pandemic-novena

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Father in Heaven, have mercy on us and on the whole world. We come to you today with our fears and concerns — You know what’s in our hearts. We love You, trust You, we need You. We ask You to be with us. Stay with us. Help us through these times of uncertainty and sorrow. We know you are the Divine Physician, the healer of all. And so we ask that you bring your loving and healing presence to all those who are sick and suffering right now. Please comfort them. Please be with the grieving families of those who have passed away.  Please have mercy on those who have died, may they be with You in heaven.  Please stand at the side of all medical professionals who are putting themselves at risk while they work to bring healing to others. Lord, we are scared and we are sorrowful. Please heal us. Send us your peace and overwhelming presence.  (Mention your intentions here) St. Anthony the Great, patron of those affected by infectious diseases, pray for us! Jesus, we thirst for You. You chose to enter this world as a vulnerable baby. Be with the most vulnerable now. Help us to continue to return to You with our whole hearts throughout this ordeal.  Amen. 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Day 1

Read more at: https://www.praymorenovenas.com/pandemic-novena

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In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Father in Heaven, have mercy on us and on the whole world. We come to you today with our fears and concerns — You know what’s in our hearts.  We love You, trust You, we need You.  We ask You to be with us. Stay with us. Help us through these times of uncertainty and sorrow. We know you are the Divine Physician, the healer of all.  And so we ask that you bring your loving and healing presence to all those who are sick and suffering right now. Please comfort them. Please be with the grieving families of those who have passed away.  Please have mercy on those who have died, may they be with You in heaven.  Please stand at the side of all medical professionals who are putting themselves at risk while they work to bring healing to others. Lord, we are scared and we are sorrowful. Please heal us. Send us your peace and overwhelming presence.  (Mention your specific intentions here) We ask the Fourteen Holy Helpers, those who lived during the time of the plague, to pray for us and all who are at-risk! Jesus, we thirst for You. You chose to enter this world as a vulnerable baby. Be with the most vulnerable now.  Help us to continue to return to You with our whole hearts throughout this ordeal.  Amen. 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

St. Thérèse, St. Teresa Benedicta, and St. Elisabeth of the Trinity on the Eucharist (or lack thereof)…

Ah! I cannot receive Holy Communion as often as I desire; but, Lord, are you not all-powerful?
Remain in me as in a tabernacle and never separate yourself from your little victim (St. Thérèse, Oblation to Merciful Love).

During the time of St. Thérèse (1873-1897) the approval and encouragement of the practice of frequent Holy Communion was not yet promulgated (Pope St. Pius X, 1905). St. Thérèse understood well, because of her closeness to God through prayer and sacred reading, the holy and divine indwelling.

The truth of the divine indwelling was promoted by another Carmelite saint, St. Elisabeth of the Trinity. Here I have linked to an article by Dr. Anthony Lilles, who is an expert in Carmelite spirituality. I encourage all to read the links associated with these saints.

What is the truth we can know and believe through these examples? Jesus is as close to us as our minds are willing to turn to Him, despite our current inability to receive Him in the Eucharist. I say this as encouragement, not only to you, the reader, but to myself.

Finally, another Carmelite saint, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (1891-1942), was without the Eucharist for another reason: she was held captive by the Nazis and died at Auchwitz. Here is her opinion on the matter: “We are very calm and cheerful. Of course, so far there has been no Mass and Communion; maybe that will come later. Now we have a chance to experience a little how to live purely from within” (Written from Westerbork transit camp, August 1942). She was gassed on 9 August, 1942.

The greater our longing, the greater our opportunity to begin to understand how God has placed Himself in our hearts. Let us live in the longing, pray into it, with the hope of once again receiving our Lord in Holy Communion. Soon.

Scriptures to pray with:

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

‘Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed,  nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you”‘ (Lk 17:20-21).

“But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him…do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” (1 Cor 6:17, 19).

A Prophecy for the Ages about Life for the Soul

See daily Mass readings at USCCB

Thus says the Lord GOD:
I will take the children of Israel from among the nations
to which they have come,
and gather them from all sides to bring them back to their land.
I will make them one nation upon the land,
in the mountains of Israel,
and there shall be one prince for them all.
Never again shall they be two nations,
and never again shall they be divided into two kingdoms.

No longer shall they defile themselves with their idols,
their abominations, and all their transgressions.
I will deliver them from all their sins of apostasy,
and cleanse them so that they may be my people
and I may be their God.
My servant David shall be prince over them,
and there shall be one shepherd for them all;
they shall live by my statutes and carefully observe my decrees.
They shall live on the land that I gave to my servant Jacob,
the land where their fathers lived;
they shall live on it forever,
they, and their children, and their children’s children,
with my servant David their prince forever.
I will make with them a covenant of peace;
it shall be an everlasting covenant with them,
and I will multiply them, and put my sanctuary among them forever.
My dwelling shall be with them;
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Thus the nations shall know that it is I, the LORD,
who make Israel holy,
when my sanctuary shall be set up among them forever. –Ezekiel 37:21-28

I didn’t mean to do a Lectio post today but this reading speaks to something that has been on my heart for three weeks — since the time that I last received Holy Communion. Holy Communion is sustenance for the spirit; just as a healthy meal feeds the body, the Eucharist feeds the soul. This whole chapter from Ezekiel speaks to me about the Eucharist, because it is about life, and the Eucharist is life for the soul.

The reading is from Ezekiel 37, (I recommend reading the whole thing), in which God tells Ezekiel to prophesy to the dead, dry bones. He is told to do this in two stages: prophesy to the bones to hear the word of the LORD, saying, “Listen! I will make breath enter you so you may come to life,” and then to prophesy to the breath, saying, “From the four winds come, O breath, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life.”

Wow. I want to make an important point about Ezekiel: he had never received the Sacraments but God was clearly working through him. Remember this. This event occurred almost 600 years before Jesus. God was speaking particularly about the unification of the two kingdoms: Israel and Judah. They were in exile, both physically and spiritually. God was preparing to bring the dead back to life — God is always wanting to unify His people! This prophecy is indeed one for the ages.

The Church teaches that God normally works through the Sacraments, especially Baptism. We are encouraged to do what we can within our own natural powers to be fed supernaturally through the Sacraments, but it is clear from Ezekiel that God can and will work outside the Sacraments.

This is so important in our times today. I firmly believe that God is calling us to seek Him in the depths of our spirits — the depths of the life He has already breathed into us. We all have become complacent. God is calling us to unity, to recognize the beauty and glory of the life within us, and the life within the persons near us. We are unified through His life — the seed of the Gospel already planted within us. He has made an everlasting covenant through “His servant David” who is our KING. He is our Shepherd and He has made His dwelling with us — His sanctuary is our HEARTS!

This prophecy is for us, too. It is not just for the ancient people of Israel and Judah. It is for us TODAY.

It is time for the Baptized to truly understand the Spirit dwelling within, and the power of God, through intercession of His people, to heal.  It is through our action, in Christ and through the Holy Spirit, that the world will know the holiness of God. 

Indeed, the Eucharist is the source and summit, but any liturgy on earth pales in comparison to the divine, eternal liturgy celebrated for all time in the heavenly realm. The heavenly liturgy is as near as our choice to participate in it in every moment. And we do, as our priests continue to offer the Holy Sacrifice on earth, and we “lift up our hearts,” in union with them!

God is with us and we need to live like He is, in the covenant of peace. 

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:37-39).”

Amen!

Do we BELIEVE?

For more on partaking in our hearts of the Heavenly Banquet, read this by St. Gregory Nazianzen (click link).

REMEMBER

What is the Lord going to do for us next week?

This may seem like a silly question, because He has already done it.

Do we remember? Do I remember? What has God done for me?

This week I was praying with a friend over FaceTime, and my prayer was to remember.  “Lord, help us to never forget what You have done for us!  You will bring us out of this great trial.  We will triumph in You.  Help us to remember, in gratitude — every day…Every moment.  Please help us to remember.”

Jesus knew how important remembering is.  We saw this in the readings throughout this week, beginning with the Resurrection of Lazarus on Sunday.  It is beneficial to remember this story of Lazarus in the light of another one in the Gospel of Luke.  Jesus told a story about a rich man who neglected a poor man, (named Lazarus), at his door.  He never saw him.  Both men died, and Lazarus was in the bosom of father Abraham, while the rich man was in Gehenna.  The rich man, unable to participate in this beatitude because he never saw and he never heard, pleaded with Abraham to warn his brothers — surely they shall see and hear! “But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And [the rich man] said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ [Abraham] said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead’” (Luke 16:30-31). Do we see the irony?

Part of remembering is looking and listening, noticing and hearing.  Humans are capable of listening without hearing.  We are capable of hearing without doing.  We are capable of seeing without believing.  We all have these amazing senses that are meant to help us learn, not only in the mind, but in the heart. It is here that we choose to remember, where we choose to live in gratitude.

What did the Pharisees and those who killed Jesus forget? We are reminded in this week’s daily Mass readings.

–They forgot about their ancestors, who grumbled against the LORD in the desert, yet through the repeated intercession of Moses were saved from pestilence and death (cf. Num 21:4-9).

–They forgot about Susanna, who “trusted in the Lord wholeheartedly” (Dan 13:35) when she was falsely accused.

–They forgot about Daniel, strong in the Holy Spirit, who spoke out and defended her (cf. Dan 13:45-46).

–They forgot about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who refused to serve a false god, even if it meant facing a painful death in the furnace (Dan 3:17-18).

–They forgot about Nebudchadnezzar, the pagan Babylon king, whose heart turned when he saw the power of God, and exclaimed, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him; they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any God except their own God” (Dan 3:95).

And finally, they forgot the prophets, especially Jeremiah and Ezekiel, both whom we read today and tomorrow in the daily Mass readings:  

–They couldn’t see that what they were doing, and what they were about to do, is what their ancestors did to Jeremiah: “All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine. ‘Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail, and take our vengeance on him’”  (Jer 20:10).

–They couldn’t see that Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophesy of Ezekiel, “My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Thus the nations shall know that it is I, the LORD, who make Israel holy, when my sanctuary shall be set up among them forever” (Ezek 37:27-28).

Do we remember?  Do I remember? What has God done for me?

“Remember the marvels the LORD has done” (Ps 105:5).

“In my distress I called upon the LORD and cried out to my God; From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears” (Ps 18:7).

Lord, help us to remember that You dwell with us in our hearts, right here, right now.  You have made Your dwelling with us; You are one with the Father, in the Holy Spirit, and You are tabernacled in our hearts.  We implore You to help us to remember! 

You are the way.  

You are the truth.  

You are the life.  

You alone bring us out of the darkness.  You are calling all people to Yourself.  May we be one in You. May we abide in You, in sickness and in health.  May we carry our Cross with You, knowing that You lead us into eternal life of peace and joy.

May we remember the marvels You have done in our personal lives, and live in hope and gratitude for what You are about to do. Amen.

Jesus, I trust in You!