Prayers & Reflections
Seven Sisters Apostolate:
One Holy Hour/One Priest/Each Week In strengthening the priest, we strengthen the Church! Seven Sisters is an apostolate in which a core group of seven women join together to pray for a priest who holds a particular office within the diocese. The seven women commit for one year to pray a holy hour every week, each for a different day. The coordinator of a group is known as the Anchoress. The Holy Hour is solely for that one priest’s sanctification, his intentions and blessings, and for his deepening devotion to the Blessed Mother. Ideally the Holy Hour is prayed in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament – either in an Adoration Chapel or in front of a Tabernacle – but not restricted to the parish of which the Seven Sister is a member. Thus, one can remain faithful when traveling, or when access to a particular church is limited. If it isn’t possible to be in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, you should offer an hour of quiet prayer wherever you are. Praying a Holy Hour solely for one priest may seem like a challenge. Suggestions may be Prayers for Priests, a Rosary, chaplet, reading from Sacred Scripture. Also, the Apostolate offers several resources through their website, www.sevensistersapostolate.org. We are asking you to pray for this ministry as we pray for seven women who feel called to pray for Father Thomas McCabe. If you feel the Holy Spirit calling you to this ministry, please check out the website, www.sevensistersapostolate.org and call Judy at 612-804-1561 for more info.
The official prayer of the Year of St. Joseph (12/8/20-12/8/21)—To you, O blessed Joseph (Ad te, beate Ioseph)—was composed by Pope Leo XIII in his 1889 encyclical, Quamquam Pluries. The Holy Father asked that it be added to the end of the Rosary especially during October, the month of the Holy Rosary. This prayer is enriched with a partial indulgence. (Source: USCCB)
THE YEAR OF ST. JOSEPH PRAYER–
To you, O blessed Joseph 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.
From the Way of Perfection by St. Teresa of Avila
“What person, however careless, who had to address someone of importance, would not spend time in thinking how to approach him so as to please him and not be considered tedious? He would also think what he was going to ask for and what use he would make of it, especially if his petition were for some particular thing, as our good Jesus tells us our petitions must be. This point seems to me very important. Could you not, my Lord, have ended this prayer in a single sentence, by saying: “Give us, Father, whatever is good for us”? For, in addressing One Who knows everything, there would seem to be no need to say any more. Eternal Wisdom! Between you and your Father this was quite sufficient. This is how you made your request of Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. You showed Him what You wished for and what You feared, but left it all in His hands. But You know us, my Lord, and You know that we have not given ourselves up to the Will of Your Father as completely as You did. For us, it is best to pray for specific things, so that as each of them comes to mind we can pause to consider whether it is something good that we are asking for; so that if it is not, we should refrain from asking for it. Otherwise (being what we are, free will and all) we will not accept what God chooses to give us, even if it is far better than what we asked for, simply because it is not exactly what we asked for. We are the sort of people who cannot feel rich unless we feel the weight of the actual coins in our hand. Now the good Jesus bids us say these words, in which we pray that the Kingdom may come in us: Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come. See how great our Master’s Wisdom is! I am thinking of what it is we are asking for when we ask for the Kingdom: it is important that we should understand this. His Majesty saw that because of our weakness we could not hallow or praise or magnify or glorify the Holy Name of the Eternal Father in a way adequate to its greatness. We could not, that is, do it by ourselves, if His Majesty did not help us by giving us His Kingdom here on earth. And so the good Jesus places these two petitions - Hallowed be Thy Name and Thy Kingdom come next to each other, so that we can understand what we are asking for and why it is important to beg for it and to do all we can to please the One who is able to give it to us. Let me explain how I understand it. Now, then. The greatest joy in the Kingdom of Heaven (the greatest among many) seems to me to be that we will no longer be tied up with earthly concerns but will have rest and glory within us - rejoicing that gives joy to everyone, peace that lasts forever - satisfaction in ourselves, a satisfaction that comes from seeing how everyone is praising the Lord and blessing and hallowing His Name, while no one offends Him. Everyone loves Him. Each soul has no wish other than to love Him: it cannot stop loving Him because it knows Him truly. If only we knew Him like that even here on earth, we would love Him in the same way - not with that degree of perfection, of course, but in a very different way from the way we love Him now.”
From St Cyprian's treatise on the Lord's Prayer
“Christ has clearly added a law here, binding us to a definite condition, that we should ask for our debts to be forgiven us only as much as we ourselves forgive our debtors, knowing that we cannot obtain what we seek in respect of our own sins unless we ourselves have acted in exactly the same way to those who have sinned against us. This is why He says in another place: By whatever standard you measure, by that standard will you too be measured. And the servant who had all his debt forgiven him by his Master but would not forgive his fellow-servant was cast into prison: because he would not forgive his fellow-servant, he lost the indulgence that his Master had granted him. And Christ makes this point even more strongly in His teaching: When you stand up to pray, He says, if you have anything against anyone, forgive it, so that your Father who is in Heaven may forgive your sins. But if you do not forgive, nor will your Father in Heaven forgive you. On the day of judgment there are no possible excuses: you will be judged according to your own sentence, and whatever you have inflicted, that is what you will suffer. For God commands us to be peacemakers, and to agree, and to be of one mind in His House. What He has made us by the second birth He wishes us to continue during our infancy, that we who have begun to be children of God may abide in His peace, and that having one Spirit we should also have one heart and one mind. Thus God does not accept the sacrifice of one who is in disagreement but commands him to go back from the altar and first be reconciled with his brother, so that God may be placated by the prayers of a peacemaker. Our peace and concord are the greatest possible sacrifice to God - a people united in the unity of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Not even when Abel and Cain were making the first sacrifice - not even then did God pay attention to their gifts. He looked into their hearts, and the gift that was acceptable was the one offered by the one who was acceptable in his heart. Abel, peaceable and righteous in sacrificing in innocence to God, taught the rest of us that when we bring our gift to the altar we should come, like him, with the Fear of God, with a heart free of deceit, with the law of righteousness, with the peace of concord. He sacrificed in such a way, and so he was worthy to become, afterwards, himself a sacrifice to God: he who bore witness through the first martyrdom, who initiated the Lord’s passion by the glory of his blood, had both the Lord’s righteousness and the Lord’s peace. Such are those who are crowned by the Lord at the end; such are those who will sit and judge with Him on the day of judgment. But he who quarrels and stirs up discord, he who is not at peace with his brethren - the Apostle and holy Scripture together testify that even if he meets death for the sake of Christ’s Name, he will still be held guilty of fraternal dissension, for it is written, whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and the murderer cannot attain the Kingdom of Heaven or abide with God. No-one can be with Christ who preferred to imitate Judas rather than Christ.”
The 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to St . Margaret Mary Alacoque:
Our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to St. Margaret Mary between 1673-1675. Among the words spoken to her, she heard Jesus make 12 promises to those who would respond to the pleading of His Heart and make an effort to return His Love. St. Margaret Mary once said, “I do not know of any other exercise in the spiritual life that is more calculated to raise a soul in a short amount of time to the height of perfection and to make it taste the true sweetness to be found in the service of Jesus Christ.”
1. I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
2. I will establish peace in their homes.
3. I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
4. I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.
5. I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
6. Sinners will find in My Heart the source and infinite ocean of Mercy.
7. Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
9. I will bless every place in which an image of My Heart is exposed and honored.
10. I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
11. Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart.
12. I promise you in the excessive Mercy of My Heart that My all powerful Love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in My disgrace, nor without receiving their Sacraments. My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.
“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) He entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but His own Blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the Blood of Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Therefore He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.” --Hebrews 9:11-15
The Holy Trinity (From a letter by St. Athanasius)
“It will not be out of place to consider the ancient tradition, teaching and Faith of the Catholic Church, which was revealed by the Lord, proclaimed by the apostles and guarded by the fathers. For upon this Faith the Church is built, and if anyone were to lapse from it, he would no longer be a Christian either in fact or in name. We acknowledge the Trinity, holy and perfect, to consist of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In this Trinity there is no intrusion of any alien element or of anything from outside, nor is the Trinity a blend of creative and created being. It is a wholly creative and energizing reality, self-consistent and undivided in its active power, for the Father makes all things through the Word and in the Holy Spirit, and in this way the unity of the Holy Trinity is preserved. Accordingly, in the Church, one God is preached, one God who is above all things and through all things and in all things. God is above all things as Father, for He is principle and source; He is through all things through the Word; and He is in all things in the Holy Spirit. Writing to the Corinthians about spiritual matters, Paul traces all reality back to one God, the Father, saying: Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone. Even the Gifts that the Spirit dispenses to individuals are given by the Father through the Word. For all that belongs to the Father belongs also to the Son, and so the Graces given by the Son in the Spirit are true Gifts of the Father. Similarly, when the Spirit dwells in us, the Word who bestows the Spirit is in us too, and the Father is present in the Word. This is the meaning of the text: My Father and I will come to him and make Our home with him. For where the light is, there also is the radiance; and where the radiance is, there too are its power and its resplendent Grace. This is also Paul’s teaching in his Second Letter to the Corinthians: The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. For Grace and the Gift of the Trinity are given by the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. Just as Grace is given from the Father through the Son, so there could be no communication of the Gift to us except in the Holy Spirit. But when we share in the Spirit, we possess the Love of the Father, the Grace of the Son and the Fellowship of the Spirit Himself.”
Introductory Prayer + Humbly recognize the loving Presence of the indwelling Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. + Praise and thank Him for His Word and this moment of prayer. + Ask the Holy Spirit for the gift to receive the Word of God as He wills. Lectio (Reading) What does the Word of God say? + Slowly read the passage a few times with great attentive reverence, aloud if possible. + Notice the words that strike you in a particular way, positively or negatively. Meditatio (Meditation) What does the Word of God say to me? + Dialog with God about why those particular words and phrases struck you; how do they apply to you? + Reflect on your own reactions to the Word; what is God showing you about yourself? + Write down reflections and insights. Oratio (Praying) What do I say to God in response to His Word? + Respond sincerely in a conversation with God as with a friend; talk about what is really in your heart. + Praise, thank, trust Him; ask for forgiveness; intercede, petition for graces. Contemplatio (Contemplation) What conversion of heart is God asking of me? + Be present with the Word and rest in God. + Thank Jesus for living this gift of Himself in me. Concluding Prayer + Praise and thank God for the graces received. + Close with an Our Father.
Prayer for Priests by St. Therese of Lisieux, Carmelite
O Jesus, eternal Priest, keep you priests within the shelter of Your Sacred Heart, where none may touch them. Keep unstained their anointed hands, which daily touch Your Sacred Body. Keep unsullied their lips, daily purpled with Your Precious Blood. Keep pure and unearthly their hearts, sealed with the sublime mark of the Priesthood. Let Your holy Love surround them and shield them from the world’s contagion. Bless their labors with abundant fruit and may the souls to whom they minister be their joy and consolation here and in Heaven their beautiful and everlasting crown. Amen.
Victory in our Lord’s Precious Blood
“I, Caterina, servant and slave of the servants of Christ crucified, am writing to you in His Precious Blood. I long to see you sharing in the Blood of God’s Son - as a son created by the supreme Father in His image and likeness and as a ransomed servant, so that you may walk in love and in holy awe of God… What heart is so hard and stubborn that it would not melt contemplating the affectionate love Divine Goodness bears for it? Love, then, love! Ponder the fact that you were loved before ever you loved. For God looked within Himself and fell in love with the beauty of His creature and so created us. He was moved by the fire of His ineffable Charity to one purpose only: that we should have Eternal Life and enjoy the infinite good God was enjoying in Himself. Oh boundless Love, well have you shown that Love! When we lost grace by deadly sin, by disobedience to You, my Lord, we lost Love. But look at the way the Holy Spirit’s clemency chose to restore grace to us. See how God’s supreme exaltedness took on the servitude of our humanity in such lowliness and profound humility that our pride ought to be utterly confounded! Adam’s foolish children may well be ashamed. For is there any greater sight than to see God stooped down to humanity - as if humanity were in control of God rather than God having control over humanity? For humanity is nothing of itself; what we have, we have from God by grace, not because He owes it to us. This is why no man who knows himself will ever mortally offend God or become proud because of his position or greatness or power. If he were lord of the whole world, he would consider himself nothing… This is why the saints say that God’s servants are the ones who are free sovereigns; they have won the victory. There are many who have been victorious over a city or a fortress, but if they have failed to conquer themselves and their enemies - the world the flesh, and the devil - one could say they have nothing at all… Choose to hold fast your lordship over the city of your soul. Fight fiercely against those three enemies… These enemies of ours have been rendered powerless, because the spotless Lamb gave Himself up to the shameful death of the most Holy Cross in order to restore our liberty and make us free.” From a letter by St. Catherine of Siena (+1380) Doctor of the Church, Third Order Dominican, stigmatist and papal counselor
The Victory of the Holy Cross:
“Death trampled our Lord underfoot, but He in His turn treated death as a highroad for His own feet. He submitted to it, enduring it willingly, because by this means He would be able to destroy death in spite of itself. Death had its own way when our Lord went out from Jerusalem carrying His Cross; but when by a loud cry from that Cross He summoned the dead from the underworld, death was powerless to prevent it. Death slew Him by means of the Body which He had assumed, but that same Body proved to be the weapon with which He conquered death. Concealed beneath the cloak of His manhood, His Godhead engaged death in combat; but in slaying our Lord, death itself was slain. It was able to kill natural human life, but was itself killed by the Life that is above the nature of man. Death could not devour our Lord unless He possessed a Body, neither could hell swallow Him up unless He bore our flesh; and so He came in search of a chariot in which to ride to the underworld. This chariot was the Body which He received from the Virgin; in it He invaded death’s fortress, broke open its strong-room and scattered all its treasure. At length He came upon Eve, the mother of all the living. She was that vineyard whose enclosure her own hands had enabled death to violate, so that she could taste its fruit; thus the mother of all the living became the source of death for every living creature. But in her stead Mary grew up, a new vine in place of the old. Christ, the new Life, dwelt within her. When death, with its customary impudence, came foraging for her mortal fruit, it encountered its own destruction in the hidden Life that fruit contained. All unsuspecting, it swallowed Him up, and in so doing released Life itself and set free a multitude of men. He who was also the carpenter’s glorious Son set up His Cross above death’s all-consuming jaws, and led the human race into the dwelling place of Life. Since a tree had brought about the downfall of mankind, it was upon a Tree that mankind crossed over to the realm of life. Bitter was the branch that had once been grafted upon that ancient tree, but sweet the young shoot that has now been grafted in, the shoot in which we are meant to recognize the Lord whom no creature can resist. We give glory to You, Lord, who raised up Your Cross to span the jaws of death like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living. We give glory to You who put on the Body of a single mortal man and made it the source of Life for every other mortal man. You are incontestably alive. Your murderers sowed Your living Body in the earth as farmers sow grain, but it sprang up and yielded an abundant harvest of men raised from the dead. Come then, my brothers and sisters, let us offer our Lord the great and all-embracing Sacrifice of our Love, pouring out our treasury of hymns and prayers before Him who offered His Cross in Sacrifice to God for the enrichment of us all.” (St. Ephrem, Deacon and Doctor of the Church)
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!