Monthly Archives: September 2015

Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this. Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened up and angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

(John 1:50-51)

Nathaniel was amazed that you knew him, Lord. He was to learn who you are and that you know each or us intimately, but at that time he saw you only as a man. Would I know you if you came to me in the Flesh?

How do I know you now? You come to me twice a week in the Eucharist. I read your Word daily. In prayer, I give myself up to your personal guidance. If I care for others, I see you in them.

Nathaniel would know you in your life, death, and resurrection. He will witness more than angels. Today, though, on the feast of the archangels, we commemorate your divine messengers, who look eternally upon your Presence. One day we will join them in an everlasting “Gloria.” Until then, we thank you for their help in proclaiming your will and defending us.

You show us as much as we need to know, though we cannot yet see you clearly. With the eyes of faith, let us contemplate your infinite embrace.

Let me see you as Nathaniel did, first in awe, and then in trust. Help me to look for you in every circumstance. Watch me, whether I am sitting under a tree, doing my chores, praying or resting.

[Jesus] said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me. For the one who is least among you is the one who is greatest.”

(Luke 9:49)

So lowly was a child, Lord, that the evangelist uses the neuter, “’it.” That is how lowly we must become if we want to be great in you. Like John the Baptist, we say, “He must increase; I must decrease.” (John 3:36)

How can I make room for you by letting go of myself? Let me embrace interruptions, pain, frustration, and even distractions. When the phone rings or someone knocks on the door, let me welcome the caller or visitor as you welcomed the child.

If I enter a room, let me sit with those who are shunned by others, or start a new table and greet anyone who joins me. Let me speak to those who are ignored and despised as well as to those who ignore or despise me.

Pope Francis chose to go to lunch with the homeless rather than to dine with state leaders. Some said he was going to serve the meal, but I prefer to envision him eating alongside them and humbly giving thanks. What we do with ;others can mean more than what we do for them. There is no condescension when we are “one of them.” The “them” becomes “us.”

To put these words into action, I need your grace. You who ate with sinners and tax collectors, please remind and guide me the next time I have an opportunity to become smaller.

For whoever is not against us is with us. Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

(Mark 9:40 -41)

The smallest kindness done in your name, Lord, you notice. When we invoke you, if we are open to your guidance, you will work in us.

I cannot forget a time, several years ago, when a neighbor came to my rescue by literally bringing me water. I had gone to the exercise room and overdone it. She knew what I needed and provided it. I thought of this passage and quoted it to her.

Last week, I heard that she had died unexpectedly. As I remember her in prayer, that encounter stands out.

Let me do everything in your name, Lord. Help me to discern your will for me and to relieve the needs of my neighbors.

But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

(Luke 9:45)

Once again, Lord, after the three of the apostles had seen you transfigured, after you had cast out another demon, you speak of your arrest. Still, they are not ready to understand, and they are afraid to ask.

What am I afraid to ask you, Lord? Sometime I hesitate to pray for some grace because I am afraid I will fail. How arrogant can I be? It’s like saying I won’t ask because you might say no.

Sometimes I don’t ask because I think my wants are selfish and trivial. I promised myself I wouldn’t worry about money, since I know you provide for me, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t ask for guidance in financial matters.

This week I have neglected my diet and exercise programs. I don’t want to ask you for help because I’ll feel even guiltier if I don’t follow through. How foolish I am! Forgive my stupid pride, please, and let me focus on your will. You want me to fulfill my responsibilities to myself, as well as to others. I plead for your help.

I have neglected others, too, and I ask you to bless them and to show me how I can help. I don’t trust myself, but I do trust you. I give myself to you, body and soul. Take me out of myself and into you.

[Jesus] said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”

(Luke 9:22)

You continue to alert your disciples of your impending Sacrifice, Lord, and yet they will not be ready. While acknowledging you as the Christ, they don’t see you as the suffering servant. They have forgotten that without atonement by a worthy victim, they cannot share in your kingdom.

We, today, still find it easier to contemplate your ministry than the cost of our salvation. We know that you arose, that you reign now and forever. Nonetheless, we remember with reverence your passion and death.

The cross, alone, is a symbol, but, without a Corpus, it does not remind us of the love with which you redeem us. Had you not risen, it would be a gruesome object. We venerate the whole crucifix. We do not worship it; we worship the One who endured it out of pure love.

Suffering would be meaningless without the example of your love, Lord. Please give me enough love to endure my pain and grief and unite it with yours. I offer my setbacks, my disappointments, my frustrations and my limitations for the good of all for whom you came.

But Herod said, “John, I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”

(Luke 9:9)

Why did Herod want to see you, Lord? He will do so when you are tried, but, still, he will not know you. He is curious, but not open to faith. He is the antithesis of those who believe though they do not see. Unlike Thomas, who believes once he sees you, Herod sees and does not believe.

You do not deny the gift of faith to those who seek sincerely. Please help me to trust you more and more, not only when you give me consolations, but also when I feel far from you. Even when my soul is dry, help me to thank you for the favors you send continuously.

I have bird feeders outside. It is up to me to fill them, but up to the birds to find the seed. Today, I will seek your nourishment.

Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing disease everywhere.

(Luke 9:6)

Holy Spirit, you, with the Father and Son, are eternal. The Son became incarnate at a point in history. After he had ascended, you, the Advocate, settled upon the apostles in the form of tongues of fire. But you always were, and you have always inspired the prophets. In this passage, Blessed Trinity, you send forth the apostles.

Where and how are you sending me, Lord? I have entered this house, this segment of my life, and I will stay until you direct me elsewhere. Meanwhile, please work in me and through me.

I may not be able to heal, but I can listen. A neighbor told me recently that she always feels better after talking with me. I do not expect such validation, but when it comes I feel reassured about being where you want me to be.

I don’t think that I am called to preach, either. It is easier for me to write than to speak, and even then I feel that I am doing it for my own clarification. You help me to know more clearly who you are and who I am. I cannot fully comprehend in this life, but you provide insights to sustain me. If my experience can benefit anyone else, you will use it in ways I cannot know.

Please guide my thoughts, words, and deeds toward your love and the good of all of us, your children.

My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.

(Luke 8:21)

Lord, open my ears to your Word. We honor Mary, not just for being your mother, but essentially because of her “Fiat,” the complete assent of her will. She acted always in accordance with your divine plan.

The more we are in accord with your will, the more closely we are connected. What is my “Fiat” right now? I have promised to listen for you and praise you every day. With your grace, I can persevere. It costs me so little time and yet the peace you bestow on me is overwhelming. Let me never fail to consult you about every trial, every obstacle, and every decision. Make me yours.

He said to him, “Follow me,” and he got up and followed him.”

(Matthew 9:9)

Matthew writes so casually about the encounter that transformed him. He doesn’t describe the look that must have passed between you and him, my Jesus. He saw what he could neither comprehend nor resist. Just as the fishermen had done, he walked away from everything he knew. Because of his response, we can follow you today in his narration. Thank you for all the disciples and evangelists, and for all whom you use as your instruments.

What am I afraid to leave in order to follow you, Lord? I have few possessions, and yet I am owned by them. Some of them I keep for sentimental reasons, some in case I need them in the future, and some simply for pleasure and comfort. Many of them have accumulated because I don’t take time to sort and dispose of them. What will I do if you beckon to me today? Am I detached enough to walk away? Surely, your invitation can overcome the pull of worldly concerns. Be my magnet; attract me to you and scatter all that is not you. This week I will work more diligently to unclutter my space and my soul. Please help me. Don’t let me postpone your summons.

Whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the One who sent me.

(Mark 8:37)

We are not told whose child you embraced, Lord, only that you were in the house at Capernaum. I don’t know why I am intrigued by this setting, when usually I pay more attention to your words. Anyway, you give us an example of the humility you expect from your followers.

You had just reminded them of your imminent passion and death, and yet they began arguing about who was the greatest! Perhaps it was a defense mechanism to shield them from the truth they could not confront, let alone absorb. They were ashamed when you questioned them, but you said nothing more about their discussion. Instead, you showed them that the lowly and vulnerable child is preferable to one who has honor and status above others. The way we treat the underling reveals how we treat you and the Father.

It is easier to receive a child than to approach others with childlike humility. Please help me to remember that we are all your children.

And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold.

(Luke 8:8)

Lord,
Prepare me as your garden,
And sow your Word of pardon
Within me.

Dig up the rocks that strangle;
Weed out the thorns that tangle.
Grow in me.

Let me not be the path, Lord, hardened with age and with all the futile thoughts and deeds that have trodden over my soul.

What are the rocks that block my growth? They are my sins, the obstacles that I set up and do not clear, and the grains of resentment that I let petrify. I am so weak, but you can lift them if I just let go. Crumble me. Dissolve me. Open me to your Word.

The thorns that tangle, you have identified: the “anxieties, riches, and pleasures of life.” Why do I tolerate my attachments? Release me.

I will contemplate in silence the rich, warm, damp and nurturing ground that surrounds me, hides me, protects me and yields your blessings. Thy will be done.

For we brought nothing into the world, just as we will be able to take nothing out of it. If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that.

(1 Timothy: 7-8)

Lord, when I read this, I thought of the expression, “born with a silver spoon in his mouth.’ Even if that could happen, what good would that spoon be without a hand to guide it and food to fill it?

Yours is the hand, and you provide the food. You give me so much more than I need. I have shelves full of food and closets full of clothes. I need not be preoccupied with anything except loving you and my neighbor.

I promised you and myself that I will not worry about money. If I have too much, I just squander it and want more. Today, if I find myself thinking about material possessions, I will change my own subject and “think on what is good,” for my soul and for us all. Please remind me, Lord. Help me to “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness.” (1 Timothy: 11)

The others said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.

(Luke 7:49-50)

The sinful woman’s faith flows into her action when she bathes your feet and anoints you, my Jesus. No matter how many times we say, “I believe,” if that belief doesn’t spill into our words and actions, it is dead.

You forgive me constantly. Please let my gratitude well up and overflow. Thy will be done.

For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine, and you said, “He is possessed by a demon.” The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said, “Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.”

(Luke 7:33-34)

When we judge others, Lord, we are never satisfied. We build up expectations that reflect our own moods and desires. When we are sad, we want them to cry; when we are happy we want them to laugh.
John fasted in preparation for you, as we fast in preparation for the holiest days. Because his life was different, he was ridiculed.

Fasting is not intrinsically good, nor are feasting and drinking intrinsically bad. There is a time for either. You are the bridegroom. We celebrate you and welcome all in your name.

Even though I hate gossip and try to walk away from it, I still tend to judge others by their demeanor, their friends, by the attitudes I attribute to them. I compare them to my standards, even when I don’t apply them to myself.

They judged you by your actions, Lord, and by the company you kept. Please help me to be gracious to everyone. There is someone I consider rude, selfish, and downright nasty. I pray for her daily because I think she must be miserable. Even so, I bolster myself for every encounter with her, something I wouldn’t do if I could forget my last interaction and start anew. I can’t erase my memories, but with your grace, I can step over them. Please help me to leave yesterday behind, to have no expectations, but to trust in you.

Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

You do not ask for sacrifice and offerings/ but an open ear.

(Psalm 40:7

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother.”

(John 19:26-27)

Here I am, Lord. Please open me to your Word.

My Jesus, you called your mother, “Woman,” when she encouraged you at Cana to work your first miracle. You told her your time had not yet come, but perhaps you were just waiting for her request, as you wait for our faith.
Here, your time has come. You are on the cross, your Sacrifice almost complete. Through your beloved disciple, John, you give Mary to us and us to her.

Father, you gave us your perfect Son, and he gives us his immaculate mother, also without blemish, unstained even by original sin. How can we thank you?

The day isn’t over yet. I will put a statue of Mary on the shelf outside my door. This morning, I sang the “Stabat Mater,” in Latin while watching Mass on TV and in English when I read my prayers. No grief can compare to the sorrows of Mary, and no joy can surpass her reunion with you, once in the temple when you were twelve, again at your Resurrection, and finally when you assumed her into heaven.

Holy Mother, intercede for me as you did for the wedding host. Remind me, again and again, to do whatever he tells me.

God, Father and Creator, you gave your Son, our Savior. Through the Holy Spirit, you give us courage and trust. By the example of Mary, and through her intercession, make us gentle and obedient.

Today, I will pay more attention to whatever interrupts my activities and respond more readily to the faith and works they suggest. Thy will be done.