Novena to Blessed Solanus Casey-Day 4

“For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2 Cor 4:11).

“By death He conquered death, and to those in the tombs He granted life!”  This is the Paschal troparion sung on Easter morning in the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Byzantine Rite of the Catholic Church.  The compelling truth that Jesus has conquered death is the joy in the hearts of all Christians.  It is the one thing that always conquers the evil one — the Love that is willing to experience suffering, and even death, for the sake of another.

St. James the Greater was the brother of John the apostle and son of Zebedee.  He was the first apostle to be martyred in AD 44. He was buried in Jerusalem, but in the 9th Century his remains were brought to the city of Santiago de Compostela in Spain.  The Cathedral that holds his remains is the conclusion of the pilgrimage called The Way of St. James, or el Camino de Santiago.

We are the pilgrim Church that travels the path of everyday life and the joys and sorrows that come with it.  Most of us are not called to be martyrs in the way of the Apostles, but we embrace the crosses of daily sufferings, moment by moment, and offer them to Jesus.  Blessed Solanus wrote of five ways to do this everyday:

1. Detachment of oneself from earthly affections, Singleness of purpose.

2. Meditation on the passion of Jesus Christ.

3. Uniformity with the Divine Will.

4. Mental prayer – meditation and contemplation

5. Prayer – “Ask and it will be given to you.” (Mt 7:7)

Today let us pray for the grace of suffering well and embracing whatever trials we encounter on the way of life, thus sharing in the joy of Resurrection that Jesus offers us in every moment.

Prayer for the Canonization of Father Solanus Casey

O God, I adore You.  I give myself to You.

May I be the person You want me to be,

and may Your will be done in my life today.

I thank You for the gifts You gave Father Solanus.

If it is Your will, bless us with the Canonization of

Father Solanus so that others may imitate

and carry on his love for all the poor and suffering of our world.

As he joyfully accepted Your divine plans,

I ask You, according to Your will,

to hear my prayer for…(your intention)

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

“Blessed be God in all His designs.”

Novena to Blessed Solanus Casey – Day 3

“But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” (Mt 13:23).

Unity.  It is a mark of the Church. The seeds of the Word of God sown in unity will bear the fruits of peace and joy.  Scripture tells us “…in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians” (Acts 11:26c).  Antioch was the birthplace of the the first Gentile Christian community, and began when Christians were scattered from Jerusalem because of persecution.  The home of the Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch, born from the seed of the Antiochian Church, is Lebanon. One of her great saints is St. Sharbel Makhluf.  St. Sharbel is known for uniting Christians and Muslims in prayer and in favors granted through his intercession. He is therefore a great intercessor, along with Blessed Solanus, in times of disunity and persecution.

There are two great virtues in the life of Blessed Solanus that are essential for the grace of unity: humility and docility to the Holy Spirit.  Insisting that we must praise God “in all His designs,” he responded to major disappointments in life with gratitude, always thanking God ahead of time for prayers answered.  He lived every moment of his priesthood with confidence in God’s gracious Providence.  Through this docility he was able to comfort the afflicted through prophetic words, and multitudes of souls received the graces of conversion of heart and miraculous healings through his intercessory prayer.  He literally opened the door to all and sowed the seeds of God’s mercy, bearing fruit “a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”

Today let us pray for the Lord to sow the seeds of conversion into the hearts of all His people, bearing the fruits of unity, peace, and joy.

Prayer for the Canonization of Father Solanus Casey

O God, I adore You.  I give myself to You.

May I be the person You want me to be,

and may Your will be done in my life today.

I thank You for the gifts You gave Father Solanus.

If it is Your will, bless us with the Canonization of

Father Solanus so that others may imitate

and carry on his love for all the poor and suffering of our world.

As he joyfully accepted Your divine plans,

I ask You, according to Your will,

to hear my prayer for…(your intention)

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

“Blessed be God in all His designs.”

Novena to Blessed Solanus Casey-Day 2

Day 2 — The Memorial of Saint Brigid of Sweden: we are invited to open the doors of our hearts (especially during times of upheaval and uncertainty) to the holiness of marriage and family life.

“How precious is your mercy, O God! The children of men take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They have their fill of the prime gifts of your house; from your delightful stream you give them to drink” (Ps 36:2-3).

The family is the fundamental unit of society and is a refuge for children “in the shadow of [the Lord’s] wings.”  There is no societal institution that can support, nurture, and educate children like one in which the mother and the father are unified through marriage, and live in harmony. In the Gospel today Jesus speaks of “knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven” that is freely given to His disciples.  The family is the first school of discipleship.  Indeed, family life provides the “prime gifts” of which the psalm speaks, and in which the material and spiritual needs of persons are best met.  The family is meant to image the Blessed Trinity in its love and unity, and be God’s light of truth to the world.

St. Bridget of Sweden (c. 1303-1373), whose memorial we celebrate today, lived her married life serving as lady-in-waiting to the queen in the court of the Swedish king Magnus II. She was the mother of eight children.  She received mystical visions that compelled her to serve the sick, often with her children in tow.  She did her best to be a holy influence on the king and his court, eventually encouraging him to give her not only what she needed to care for the poor and sick, but also to found a monastery for men and women.  She is a true example of a disciple, formed and nurtured through family life, who then brought the healing love of Jesus to the world.

Blessed Solanus was formed and nurtured as a disciple in the domestic Church as the sixth of 16 children born to Irish immigrant parents in Big River, Wisconsin.  He had nine brothers and six sisters!  Fr. Solanus once recalled his father’s exhortation to him and his brothers, “Prayer, boys, prayer!”  His mother taught him to pray the Rosary, and this became his favorite daily devotion. Several of his siblings also entered religious life.  The Casey household was a school of divine love, and was a springboard that propelled Solanus to continually live in the presence of God and serve as a powerful witness of Jesus’ love for all.

Today let us pray for a renewal of marriage and family life, and for all those who are suffering difficulties in their marriages and families — that God’s healing love is poured out upon them in abundance!

Prayer for the Canonization of Father Solanus Casey

O God, I adore You.  I give myself to You.

May I be the person You want me to be,

and may Your will be done in my life today.

I thank You for the gifts You gave Father Solanus.

If it is Your will, bless us with the Canonization of

Father Solanus so that others may imitate

and carry on his love for all the poor and suffering of our world.

As he joyfully accepted Your divine plans,

I ask You, according to Your will,

to hear my prayer for…(your intention)

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

“Blessed be God in all His designs.”

Novena to Blessed Solanus Casey

“I will rise then and go about the city;

in the streets and crossings I will seek

Him whom my heart loves” (Sgs 3:2).

The readings for Mass on today’s special feast begin with the love poem from the Song of Songs, in which the beloved is sought and finally found.  The Psalm chant is the beautiful morning prayer, “My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God” (Ps 63:2). We then hear the story in the Gospel when Mary Magdalene is searching for her Lord in the tomb (Jn 20:1-2, 11-18).

She who stayed with him in death was given the grace of first seeing Him alive again!  The scene is a sign of the intimacy between a shepherd and his sheep that Jesus describes earlier in John, “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (Jn 10:3b).  It is when Jesus calls Mary by name that she instantly recognizes him.  St. Gregory the Great reflected: “Jesus is not recognized when he calls her “woman”; so he calls her by name, as though he were saying: Recognize me as I recognize you; for I do not know you as I know others; I know you as yourself.

A person’s name is not just a word.  It is by virtue of our name that we are known by others at the very beginnings of relationship.  For Christians, it is by our name that we are baptized and by which we are welcomed into the heavenly realm (cf. Rev 3:5).  Fr. Solanus Casey exemplified this truth as the Porter for the Capuchin Friary of St. Bonaventure in Detroit.  All who visited were known by name and welcomed.  He was a channel of God’s love through person-to-person engagement. He opened the door of his heart to God’s people and listened to them, having “ears to hear” their concerns.  He helped all encounter Christ — to know that He loved them, had a plan for them, and that faith in God would set them free.  Like the Good Shepherd, he turned away no-one who was seeking, and he joyfully delivered the Good News of God’s saving and healing power.

We ask Fr. Solanus to intercede for us as we pray for the gift of knowing others in Christ — that we may recognize Jesus in all whom we encounter, and that they may know Him through us.

Prayer for the Canonization of Father Solanus Casey

O God, I adore You.  I give myself to You.

May I be the person You want me to be,

and may Your will be done in my life today.

I thank You for the gifts You gave Father Solanus.

If it is Your will, bless us with the Canonization of

Father Solanus so that others may imitate

and carry on his love for all the poor and suffering of our world.

As he joyfully accepted Your divine plans,

I ask You, according to Your will,

to hear my prayer for…(your intention)

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

“Blessed be God in all His designs.”

Other Sources:

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https://aod.app.box.com/s/fu7m7jpkezoee89rgiurx24rvi2049gw/file/227291626368

https://aod.app.box.com/s/oqmt2w78ik8gg7ymm16g3677qck3a564/file/227166157286

We all bleed the same.

Moses’ prayer in the first reading on Trinity Sunday is as follows:

“If I find favor with you, O Lord, do come along in our company. This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins, and receive us as your own.”

We are indeed a stiff-necked people.  We don’t listen.  We wonder why there is violence.  We know not what we are doing. We are even violent in the face of violence, thinking that violence will stop if we can just “win.”  All the while we lose sight of what love really is.

Go and read the Gospels.  Read them. Pray with them, and read them some more.  Ask God for an open mind and heart.  Ask for the courage to love.  To really love.  Again, go and read the Gospels. Read Mark from start to finish. Then read John from start to finish.

How do we know what love is?  Love is what we see on a crucifix.  Love is Who we see on a crucifix. The Holy Father tweeted today: “There are two Christian responses to escape the spiral of violence: prayer and the gift of self.”

Love is a gift of self. Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 to really know the qualities of love.  True love bears fruit, namely, the fruits of the Holy Spirit.  St. Paul tells us what those are too: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal 5:22-23).

When we produce this fruit we will promote and find within ourselves:

Peace amidst persecution.

A peaceful and gentle call to repentance when encountering sinfulness, even the gravest, and especially in ourselves.

We will know at the depths of our being that darkness is overcome by the Light and Love is Light.

We will be patient: with sinners, including and especially ourselves — and with those who consistently challenge us in bad faith, ie.,“to test.”

We will always speak love and goodness, with kindness and joy.

We will be always faithful, trusting in the Father and His eternal presence and action in our life. 

We will be self-controlled, living in the virtues of prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice. 

These are the discerning criteria of a Christian.  Every Christian should ask, “Is this the fruit I produce?”

Again, Paul said, “Against these there is no law.” 

For your discernment:  Who in our modern politics and media exhibits this?  Who in our Church exhibits this?

Find them and follow them.  To follow Christ is life and gain.  For one and for all.

The change that must come is in our hearts. Our hearts of stone must be surrendered to Christ so He can turn them into hearts of flesh. 

The First Joyful Mystery – Important Virtues of Obedience, Faith, and Perseverance

For what it’s worth, I wrote most of this in 2003.  I am editing it today, and I can vouch for the prayer at the end.  God answers prayers like this.  Conversion is a continual turning.  Pray for it everyday! When we pray for closeness to God it can only be the Holy Spirit praying through us (cf Rom 8:26).

My favorite prayer is the Rosary (after the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, of course). I began praying it nearly everyday (again) about a year ago.  This is actually something that I began in 2003, when my first daughter was a newborn.  It was the beginning of a renewal of my life.  I cannot begin to tell you the difference the Rosary has made.  In 2003 I realized that I attended 16 years of Catholic education, yet I never knew that the Rosary was not just a bunch of repetitive prayers. I finally learned that it is a meditation on the life of Christ and His Blessed Mother, Mary. I didn’t learn this until someone gave me a little book called “The Scriptural Rosary.”  I received the gift and set it aside for a few years…

At the time I began praying the Rosary I was weary about the Church teaching on Mary! This is an example of how God can take a doubt in our heart and help us grow in faith (cf Rom 8:28). I felt like if I prayed to her, asking for her intercession, that I was ignoring Jesus. I now know that I didn’t understand the Love that Jesus has for us and his Mother. A son cannot refuse his mother, can he? If Mary desires something that is good for us Jesus will not refuse her, and this is why we ask her to intercede. This is why my own children may come to me first, before asking their dad!  The Church honors Jesus’ mother because Jesus honors His mother. He not only honored her when she asked him to begin His ministry, (the wedding at Cana) but He gave her to us as our mother in His dying moments on the Cross.

The first mystery is the Annunciation (Lk 1:26-38) – Mary says “Yes” to God and via the Holy Spirit conceives the Son of God. Think about her, a human being, (by this I mean she was no different than we are, except for Original Sin), hearing this news. Would you believe it? God created Mary as the “New Eve,” except this time Eve lived in a sinful world. God had long before made a plan to redeem the world through her (cf Gen 3:15). She had free will – she chose God’s will always. She could have said no! She chose to do the will of the Father saying, “Be it done unto me according to Thy Word.” Think about the tremendous Faith she must have had to say this. How many of us are being asked by God to do something extraordinary? We are all called by our Baptism to live and spread the Word of God as Christ showed us. We are called to obey His commandments. We are called to love everyone, even (and especially) our enemies. These are all extraordinary tasks that can only be achieved with God’s grace. We can receive God’s grace when we ask Him for it through prayer, or someone else asks God to give it to us through their prayers. We receive “grace upon grace” (cf John 1:17) every time we go to confession and/or receive the Eucharist. We cooperate with the grace received and accept God’s will into our own hearts every time we obey His commandments and love Him by loving our neighbor.

Now think of the Faith of St. Joseph – he stayed with Mary. He was told in a dream not to worry (Mt 1:18-25), that he must stay with Mary and be the earthly father of this child. Would you believe it? Most of us could never imagine getting messages from God like this. The obedience to the Father by these two human beings in our history is extraordinary. The souls of Mary and Joseph must have been in full communion with God, with their minds and hearts always attuned to His presence. How did they achieve this? Through incessant prayer and obeying God’s commandments. The Holy Spirit lived in them and worked through them.  The lives of Mary and Joseph teach us much about living out the will of God. God can only communicate with us if we want Him to and if we listen. We talk to Him through prayer. We listen through silence — through meditation and contemplation. We show Him that we want a relationship through continuous prayer. Everything we do, except for sin, can be offered as a prayer and sacrifice to God. (Phil 4:6). If we look at our lives this way, we cannot help but grow in love for God and His people.

“Lord, may thoughts of you be on my mind every moment of every day.”