Prayers & Reflections
All are called to Holiness:
“If the business of becoming holy seems to present insufferable difficulties, it is merely because we have a wrong idea of it. In reality, holiness consists of one thing only: complete loyalty to God’s Will. Now everyone can practice this loyalty, whether actively or passively. To be actively loyal means obeying the laws of God and the Church and fulfilling all the duties imposed on us by our way of life. Passive loyalty means that we lovingly accept all that God sends us at each moment of the day. Now is there anything here too difficult for us? Certainly nothing in active loyalty, for if the duties are beyond our powers, we are not expected to attempt to fulfill them. If we are too ill to go to (Holy) Mass, we need not. And it is the same for all other precepts which lay down duties. But, of course, there can be no exemption from precepts which forbid wrongdoing, for we are never allowed to sin. Can anything be more sensible? Or easier? We are left with no excuse. Yet God asks nothing more than this. But He does require it from everyone without exception. Class, time and place mean nothing. Everyone must obey.” Abandonment to Divine Providence, by Fr. Jean-Pierre Caussade
Lord Jesus, Have Mercy on Us (Diary of St. Faustina, 72 & 73)
“O Jesus, eternal Truth, our Life, I call upon You and I beg Your mercy for poor sinners. O sweetest Heart of my Lord, full of pity and unfathomable mercy, I plead with You for poor sinners. O Most Sacred Heart, Fount of Mercy from which gush forth rays of inconceivable graces upon the entire human race, I beg of You light for poor sinners. O Jesus, be mindful of Your own bitter Passion and do not permit the loss of souls redeemed at so dear a price of Your most Precious Blood. O Jesus, when I consider the great price of Your Blood, I rejoice at its immensity, for one drop alone would have been enough for the salvation of all sinners. Although sin is an abyss of wickedness and ingratitude, the price paid for us can never be equaled. Therefore, let every soul trust in the Passion of the Lord, and place its hope in His mercy. God will not deny His mercy to anyone. Heaven and earth may change, but God's mercy will never be exhausted. Oh, what immense joy burns in my heart when I contemplate Your incomprehensible goodness, O Jesus! I desire to bring all sinners to Your feet that they may glorify Your mercy throughout endless ages. O my Jesus, despite the deep night that is all around me and the dark clouds which hide the horizon, I know that the sun never goes out. O Lord, though I cannot comprehend You and do not understand Your ways, I nonetheless trust in Your mercy. If it is Your will, Lord, that I live always in such darkness, may You be blessed. I ask You only one thing, Jesus: do not allow me to offend You in any way. O my Jesus, You alone know the longings and the sufferings of my heart. I am glad I can suffer for You, however little. When I feel that the suffering is more than I can bear, I take refuge in the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and I speak to Him with profound silence.”
What is the Easter Octave?
The octave of Easter is made up of the eight days from Easter Sunday to Divine Mercy Sunday (the Second Sunday of Easter). It is a way of continuing in the experience of the spiritual blessings of Easter Sunday and prolonging the joy of Jesus’ victory over sin and death. Spiritually, each day of the Octave calls us to continue to experience the joy we celebrate in the mystery of Christ’s love for us and His promise to give us a share in His victory.
Jesus: Our Consolation:
“Go and sin no more. This is what Jesus says to me every time I go to confession. How great is the goodness of heart of my Beloved, and I wish to respond to His delicacy towards me with a pure soul and the heart of an angel! These words of our Lord touch me to the quick. How delicate is the Heart of Jesus. Such love and such tenderness could proceed only from God! I undertake, O my Jesus, to sin no more. At your feet in the Sacrament of Penance, I, a penitent sinner, will humbly implore your infinite Mercy. I will be direct and open, and will ask you unceasingly for that grace, which is so uncommon, to walk straight before the Lord… You have the words of Eternal Life, and I will listen to no other voice but Yours, Jesus, the God of my soul! Only You, O my Jesus, Life of my life, speak to my heart. O divine Speech, O beloved Word! O beloved Host! O my Jesus meek and humble of Heart. Speak to my heart and calm the storms which agitate it. Say but a word, and peace will return to it. Speak, my Lord, speak; your poor servant listens to You, one word from You and my soul shall be saved. To whom shall I go, Life of my life, if not to You who are Life Eternal? When my soul is sad and weary through desolation and abandonment, where shall I find refreshment, and peace, if not in Your most Precious Blood, which rejoices the soul by the visits of Its Grace. When I am overcome with weakness and discouragement, when temptations surround me on every side, to whom shall I have recourse, but to Him who is consolation and strength itself? And when my soul is flooded and filled with consolation, and peace and happiness reign in my heart, to whom shall I go, if not to You, O my Jesus, that I may share my joy and happiness with You. On every occasion, O my Beloved, it is to You that I wish to go; it is upon Your most loving Heart that I wish to lean, both now and through eternity.” --Blessed Concepcion Cabrera de Armida (Blessed Concepcion (+1937),also known as ‘Conchita’, was a wife, mother, widow and mystic; and the first Mexican laywoman to be beatified.)
God’s trust in St. Joseph:
“If the name of trustee is a mark of honor and testifies to probity; if, in order to confide a trust, we choose the one whose virtue is most assured, whose fidelity is most proven, and finally, the one who is the most intimate and most confidential of our friends, then how shall we measure the glory of Saint Joseph? God made him the trustee not only of blessed Mary, whose angelic purity made her so acceptable in his eyes, but still more of his own Son, the sole object of his delight and the unique hope of our salvation. Saint Joseph he made the trustee of the common treasure of God and man: the person of Jesus Christ. What eloquence could equal the grandeur and majesty of this title? He cannot be rightly praised without the assistance of grace. Grace will help me to plumb so deep a mystery… The first of the treasures committed to his trust - the first, that is, in the order of time - was the holy virginity of Mary, which he had to preserve inviolate under the sacred veil of marriage, and which he always religiously protected as a sacred trust. The second and the more imposing was the person of Jesus Christ, whom the heavenly Father placed in his hands so that he might serve as the earthly father of the Holy Child. The third you will find most admirable, if I am able to explain it to you clearly. To understand it, we must realize that a secret is a kind of treasure. To betray the secret of a friend is to violate the sanctity of trust. The law says that if you spread abroad the secret of a testament that I confide in you, I may then take action against you for your lapse as trustee. The reason for this is plain: a secret is a kind of trust. From this you will easily comprehend that Joseph was the trustee of the eternal Father because God told him His secret. Which secret? The marvelous secret of the Incarnation of His Son. God’s plan was not to reveal Jesus Christ to the world before His hour had come. Saint Joseph was chosen not only to keep the secret, but even to conceal it. Thus, we read in the Gospel that, with Mary, he marveled at all that was said of the Savior, but we do not read that he spoke, because the eternal Father revealed the mystery to him in secret and under the obligation of silence. Saint Bernard explained: “God desired to entrust to his faithfulness the most sacred secret of His heart.” How precious you are to God, O peerless Joseph, for to you He confided His three great treasures: the virginity of Mary, the person of His only-begotten Son, and the secret of all His mystery.” Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet (+1704)
“But remember, we cannot attain such a great good as seeing God without first making an effort in this life to experience Him through burning, blazing love, a love that attracts and embraces all the virtues. Anyone who has been wounded by the arrow of Divine Charity will not be lacking in virtue, and that Charity is gotten at the table of the most Holy Cross, where the spotless Lamb is table, food, and waiter. Now how can we keep from loving our gentle Savior, when we see how much we have been loved by Him? It is the character and way of Love always to return Love for Love, and lover is transformed into beloved. So it is with the soul, Christ’s bride, who sees herself loved by Him: let her show that she wants to make a return to Him by returning His Love. I mean, let her because of her Love be willing to endure pain and dishonor for Him, and she will thus be transformed and become one with Him through Love and desire. She will Love what God Loves and hate what God hates, for she will see that the gentle Jesus found His greatest joy in enduring the burdensome Cross for Love of the Father’s honor and our salvation, as one who relished souls. And we must relish them in the same way, and conform ourselves with Him. So let’s run! Let’s sleep no longer in the bed of apathy! Let’s run to get to this true Good! I’ll say no more. Keep living in God’s holy and tender Love. Gentle Jesus! Jesus Love!” St. Catherine of Sienna (d. 1380; Doctor of the Church)
The Year of St. Joseph Prayer
Ad te, beate Ioseph: To you, O blessed Joseph, do we come in our afflictions, and having implored the help of your most holy Spouse, we confidently invoke your patronage also. Through that charity which bound you to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God and through the paternal love with which you embraced the Child Jesus, we humbly beg you graciously to regard the inheritance which Jesus Christ has purchased by His Blood, and with your power and strength to aid us in our necessities. O most watchful guardian of the Holy Family, defend the chosen children of Jesus Christ; O most loving father, ward off from us every contagion of error and corrupting influence; O our most mighty protector, be kind to us and from Heaven assist us in our struggle with the power of darkness. As once you rescued the Child Jesus from deadly peril, so now protect God‟s Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity; shield, too, each one of us by your constant protection, so that, supported by your example and your aid, we may be able to live piously, to die in holiness, and to obtain eternal happiness in Heaven. Amen. by Pope Leo XIII in his 1889 encyclical, Quamquam Pluries.
Our Life, our Sweetness, our Hope!
“The Kingdom of Mercy would be of no use if there were none who needed mercy; because it would be a kingdom without subjects. “Who are the subjects of mercy,” asks St. Bernard, “if not the miserable?” The Kingdom of Mary, Queen of Mercy, is immense, and extends over the whole earth; because the whole earth is full of miseries. But of all miseries, the greatest is sin; of all who are miserable, the most miserable are sinners. Over these, more than all others, does Mary, the Queen of Mercy, exercise her power and command. These are the subjects who most of all oppress her heart, and employ all her cares, all her thoughts, and all her authority, in order to liberate them from their extreme miseries and render them happy and blessed, provided they only desire it. These are the most precious gems of her royal crown. Come from Lebanon, my spouse; come from Lebanon, come, says the Holy Spirit, her Spouse. You shall be crowned…from the dens of the lions, from the mountains of the leopards (Sg 4:8). Why should her crown be so monstrous, so horrible, composed of lions, of leopards, tigers, and wild beasts? These monsters, these wild beasts, are the bright gems in the crown of the Queen of Mercy, for these monsters and these wild beasts are sinners, whom Mary has converted and saved. “You shall be crowned from the dens of these lions,” says Rupert the Abbot, “for their salvation shall be your crown.” St. Gertrude once saw this most merciful Lady with her mantle spread out, and under it lions, bears, tigers, and many other wild beasts, who were gathered together and protected by Mary, with the greatest kindness; and the saint understood that those wild beasts were sinners, not yet lost, on whom Mary exercises her most tender compassion.” DOM ROBERTO, ER. CAM. (Dom Roberto was a 17th-century Camaldolese hermit at Monte Corona in Italy. Taken from The Love of Mary: Readings for the Month of May. © 1984, TAN Books, Charlotte, NC)
Prayer is the light of the soul
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 God’s 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 God’s 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 someone, 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 the utmost intensity. Practice prayer from the beginning. Paint your house with the colors of modesty and humility. Make it radiant withthe 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. From a homily by St. John Chrysostom
The Truth of the Cross
“The Catholic Church glories in every deed of Christ. Her supreme glory, however, is the Cross. Well aware of this, Paul says: God forbid that I glory in anything but the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ! At Siloam, there was a sense of wonder, and rightly so: a man born blind recovered his sight. But of what importance is this, when there are so many blind people in the world? Lazarus rose from the dead, but even this affected only Lazarus: what of those countless numbers who have died because of their sins? Those miraculous loaves fed five thousand people; yet this is a small number compared to those all over the world who were starved by ignorance. After eighteen years a woman was freed from the bondage of Satan; but are we not all shackled by the chains of our own sins? For us all, however, the Cross is the crown of victory. It has brought light to those blinded by ignorance. It has released those enslaved by sin. Indeed, it has redeemed the whole of mankind! Do not, then, be ashamed of the Cross of Christ; rather, glory in it. Although it is a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles, the message of the Cross is our salvation. Of course it is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it was not a mere man who died for us, but the Son of God, God made man. In the Mosaic law a sacrificial lamb banished the destroyer. But now it is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Will He not free us from our sins even more? The blood of an animal, a sheep, brought salvation. Will not the Blood of the only-begotten Son bring us greater salvation? He was not killed by violence, He was not forced to give up His life: His was a willing sacrifice. Listen to His own words: I have the power to lay down my life and take it up again. Yes, He willingly submitted to His own passion. He took joy in His achievement; in His crown of victory He was glad and in the salvation of man He rejoiced. He did not blush at the Cross, for by it He was to save the world. No, it was not a lowly man who suffered, but God incarnate. He entered the contest for the reward He would win by His patient endurance. Certainly in times of tranquility the Cross should give you joy. But maintain the same Faith in times of persecution. Otherwise you will be a friend of Jesus in times of peace and His enemy during war. Now you receive the forgiveness of your sins and the generous gift of grace from your King. When war comes, fight courageously for Him. Jesus never sinned; yet He was crucified for you. Will you refuse to be crucified for Him, who for your sake was nailed to the Cross? You are not the one who gives the favor; you have received one first. For your sake He was crucified on Golgotha. Now you are returning His favor: you are fulfilling your debt to Him.” St. Cyril of Jerusalem (From the Instructions to Catechumens)
All our love must be for God
“No one who is in love with himself is capable of loving God. The man who loves God is the one who mortifies his self-love for the sake of the immeasurable blessings of Divine Love. Such a man never seeks his own glory but only the glory of God. If a person loves himself he seeks his own glory, but the man who loves God loves the glory of his Creator. Anyone alive to the love of God can be recognized from the way he constantly strives to glorify Him by fulfilling all His commandments and by delighting in his own abasement. Because of His great majesty it is fitting that God should receive glory, but if he hopes to win God’s favor it becomes man to be humble. If we possess this love for God, we too will rejoice in His glory as St. John the Baptist did, and we shall never stop repeating: His fame must increase, but mine must diminish… Anyone who loves God in the depths of his heart has already been loved by God. In fact, the measure of a man’s love for God depends upon how deeply aware he is of God’s love for him. When this awareness is keen it makes whoever possesses it long to be enlightened by the Divine Light, and this longing is so intense that it seems to penetrate his very bones. He loses all consciousness of himself and is entirely transformed by the love of God. Such a man lives in this life and at the same time does not live in it, for although he still inhabits his body, he is constantly leaving it in spirit because of the love that draws him toward God. Once the love of God has released him from self-love, the flame of Divine Love never ceases to burn in his heart and he remains united to God by an irresistible longing. As the Apostle says: If we are taken out of ourselves it is for the love of God; if we are brought back to our senses it is for your sake.” - from the Treatise On Spiritual Perfection by Diadochus of Photice, Bishop
Love and True Prayer
“Our Spouse is a Doctor of Love who follows us and cures, as they occur, the little injuries of the journey. Our dispositions change quite often, but our love must not change, and the needle of our compass must be always turned toward the north of Divine Love. What do all our feelings and beautiful thoughts amount to? Nothing, absolutely nothing… Let us just remain in peace, our eyes fixed upon the holy mountain whence comes our help. Look at Jesus and love Him, that is all. It is Heaven on earth, before being Heaven above. Recently a tiny shellfish gave me a lesson in interior recollection. I had difficulty in opening it because it resisted strongly, and I said to myself: “It is quite a vigorous little creature; no one would think it is so far from the sea.” It taught me a great lesson. I must be sufficiently filled with the water of recollection to resist as strongly as he did the pressure of work and various happenings of the day, anything that could make me lose the drop of water which makes possible my union with God…True prayer, unending and indispensable prayer, is fidelity to the lights that Jesus may give us whenever He wants to do so… That is what I understand by prayer, and to me it does not look difficult; it seems as easy as breathing fresh air. That is familiar to us, it is our particular grace, it was the particular grace of the Holy Family in Nazareth and Jesus in His public life. My Father never leaves me alone, because I do always the things that please Him, Jesus said. Let us then try always to please our heavenly Father so as always to enjoy His presence.” Mother Agnes of Jesus, O.C.D. (Mother Agnes was the sister of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and prioress at the Carmel of Lisieux for over 50 years.)
Honoring the Immaculate Conception
“Would that I could fully express the thoughts that, in His goodness, God has granted to me on the subject of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, so that the true understanding that I possess of her merits and the desire that I have to render her fitting homage may remain always in my heart… The most pure body of the Blessed Virgin is a worthy dwelling place for the soul that God created for her. Both are agreeable to God because, from the moment of her Pure Conception, both have been enriched by the merits of the death of her Son. As into a very precious vessel, more and more graces have been poured into her soul and she has never failed to make good use of them. Therefore, with every good reason, she should be honored by all creatures and served in a particular way by Christians since she is the only pure creature who has always found favor in the eyes of God. This makes her the astonishment of the heavenly court and the admiration of all humanity. The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin leads us to realize and to adore the omnipotence of God because grace totally vanquished nature in her. She was saved without ever having been lost, not only through mercy
but also through justice, since this was essential for the Incarnation of the Son of God in the eternal plan for the Redemption of mankind. We must, therefore, honor this Holy Conception that made her so precious in the eyes of God and believe that [we can] receive the assistance of the Blessed Virgin in all our needs. This is so because it seems to me that it would be impossible for God to refuse her anything. His divine and loving glance never left her since she always lived according to His Will. Therefore, we must be convinced that He is always ready to grant whatever she requests because she asks for nothing that is not for His glory and our good.” St. Louise de Marillac (St. Louise [+1660] co-founded, with St. Vincent de Paul, the Daughters of Charity)
All For the Glory of God!
As soon as a good Christian awakens in the morning, he should…profess the Most Holy Trinity, three Persons in one sole God, which Christians alone truthfully and faithfully profess when they bless themselves with the words: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. [Then he should] profess Jesus Christ, the true Son of God, by reciting the Creed and by firmly and faithfully believing without any doubt that which contains all our Catholic Faith...True God! I freely and from my heart, as a good and faithful Christian, profess the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three Persons in one God. I firmly believe, without doubting, all that our Holy Mother the Church of Rome believes and teaches. I promise to live and die as a true Christian in the holy Catholic Faith of my Lord Jesus Christ. And if I should not be able to speak at the hour of my death, I now, for when I shall die, acknowledge with all my heart my Lord Jesus Christ as the only Son of God... I ask you, my Lord Jesus Christ, to give me the grace to keep the Ten Commandments today, during this day, and during all the time of my life. I ask you, my Lady Saint Mary, that you intercede for me with your blessed Son Jesus Christ, so that He may give me the grace today, during this day, and during all the time of my life, to keep these Ten Commandments. I ask you, my Lord Jesus Christ, to forgive me the sins which I have committed today, during this day, and during all the time of my life... I ask you my Lady Saint Mary, Queen of Angels, to obtain pardon for me from your blessed Son Jesus Christ for the sins which I have committed today, during this day, and during all the time of my life. -St. Francis Xavier (+1552, a great Spanish Jesuit missionary to Asia.)
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord: This is a perfect day to remember and renew our baptismal vows and to thank God for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit through Baptism!
Renewal of Baptismal Promises
V. Do you reject Satan? R. I do. V. And all his works? R. I do. V. And all his empty promises? R. I do. V. Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth? R. I do. V. Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father? R. I do. V. Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting? R. I do. V. God, the all-powerful Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and forgiven all our sins. May He also keep us faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ forever and ever. R. Amen.
CONSECRATION TO THE HOLY FAMILY:
O Lord Jesus, you lived in the home of Mary and Joseph in Nazareth. There you grew in age, wisdom and grace as you prepared to fulfill your mission as our Redeemer. We entrust our family to you. O Blessed Mary, you are the Mother of our Savior. At Nazareth you cared for Jesus and nurtured him in the peace and joy of your home. We entrust our family to you. O Saint Joseph, you provided a secure and loving home for Jesus and Mary, and gave us a model of fatherhood while showing us the dignity of work. We entrust our family to you.
Holy Family, we consecrate ourselves and our family to you. May we be completely united in a love that is lasting, faithful and open to the gift of new life. Help us to grow in virtue, to forgive one another from our hearts, and to live in peace all our days. Keep us strong in faith, persevering in prayer, diligent in our work, and generous toward those in need. May our home, O Holy Family, truly become a domestic church where we reflect your example in our daily life. Amen. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, pray for us!