Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lenten Tidbits - Examination of Conscience

In this season as we polish up our lives to follow Christ better, God often gives us delicious morsels from spiritual reading in place of the food we have renounced in fasting and abstinence.  In meditation #103 of Divine Intimacy Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene writes about examination of conscience:
Another important the remembrance of our duty to sustain and guard the desire for sanctity and to enliven our determination to do always what is most pleasing to God; here is the heart of the spiritual life, of generosity.  It is also an excellent method to examine ourselves from God's point of view instead of our own, to ask ourselves if God is pleased with us and how He will judge our conduct.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Method of Continual Prayer

Written by St. John Cassian, 360-433 (and only shared by Colleen @ InadequateDisciple who found it in The New Jerusalem Bible: Saints Devotional Edition (compiled by Bert Ghezzi)

"Pray constantly."  1 Thessalonians 5:17
IN ORDER TO KEEP God always in mind you should frequently pray this verse:

"Come to my help, O God. Lord, hurry to my rescue." (see Ps 70:1).

With good reason this text has been selected from all of Scripture as a method of continual prayer. It encompasses all the emotions that human beings can experience. We can effectively apply it to any circumstance and use it to resist every temptation. Since the verse appeals to God against all danger, it expresses our humble dependence on him, our anxieties and fears, our admission of our own weakness, and our confidence in answered prayer. And it conveys the assurance of God's present and ever ready help. A person constantly calling on his protector can be sure that he is near . . .  

So we will find this verse useful in all circumstances, whether adverse or prosperous and happy because it confesses our absolute dependence on God: When I am tempted to gluttony, desiring to eat much more than I need, I must immediately pray, "Come to my help, O God. Lord, hurry to my rescue." When a headache or drowsiness interferes with my spiritual reading, I must say, "Come to my help, O God. Lord, hurry to my rescue." When I cannot fall asleep at night, I must sigh and pray, "Come to my help, O God. Lord, hurry to my rescue."
When I am struggling against a sexual temptation and a pleasant feeling draws me to say yes to it, I must cry out, "Come to my help, O God. Lord, hurry to my rescue." When anger or envy threatens to disturb my peacefulness and embitter me, I must force myself to pray, groaning "Come to my help, O God. Lord, hurry to my rescue." When conceit and pride flatter me with the thought that I am more spiritual than other people, I must repent with all my heart and say, "Come to my help, O God. Lord, hurry to my rescue."

When memories of conversations or of business interrupt my prayer, or when dryness keeps me earthbound and blocks all spiritual thoughts, I can get free from this state of mind only by pleading, "Come to my help, O God. Lord, hurry to my rescue." When the Holy Spirit strengthens my soul, fills me with unspeakable joy and enlightens my mind with new insights, in order to continue enjoying these graces I must pray, "Come to my helpO God. Lord, hurry to my rescue." When diabolical horrors terrify me at night, and I fear that I cannot be saved, I must take refuge in this verse, crying out with all my strength, "Come to my helpO God. Lord, hurry to my rescue." And when the Lord's consolation has restored me and cheered me by his coming to my aid, and I feel as though countless thousands of angels are supporting me, in order to continue to be encouraged in my spiritual battles, I must exclaim, "Come to my help, O God. Lord, hurry to my rescue."
So we must continuously pray this verse both in adversity that we may be delivered, and in prosperity that we may be preserved and not puffed up. Always turn this verse over in your mind. Repeat it when you are working, performing some duty or going on a journey. Meditate on it when you are going to bed, or eating, or taking care of personal needs. This thought may be a saving formula for you, not only protecting you from all the devil's attacks, but also purifying you from your faults and sins, and leading you to ... that ineffable glow of prayer, which so few experience. Fall asleep while reflecting on this verse, and when you wake up let it be the first thing to come into your mind. So let it precede all your waking thoughts, and when you get out of bed let it send you down on your knees, then let it send you off to all your work and business, and let it follow you all day long.

St. John Cassian's feast day isn't celebrated this year as it falls on February 29th.  Still this is such an awesome passage from Conferences of John Cassian, 10, (NPNF Series 2, Vol. 11). 

From The New Jerusalem Bible: Saints Devotional Edition (compiled by Bert Ghezzi) "St. John Cassian was born about 360 in Romania, and died at Marseilles, France, around 433.  Around 380, John Cassian became a monk at Bethlehem.  After 385 he wandered the Egyptian desert, where he absorbed the teachings of the desert fathers.  Later he founded two monasteries in Marseilles, France, one for men and another for women.  To instruct his monks and nuns, Cassian wrote two significant books, the Institutes and the Conferences, which presented eastern monasticism's wisdom and pattern of life in the western church.  Through their influence Cassian shaped the practice of monasticism in the West through the middle ages and even into the present."

Monday, February 25, 2013

Quick Bytes #48: A Word Problem

If Johnny hears 100% of flirtatious whispers,
and 75% of juicy gossip whispers,
what percentage of God's whispers does he hear?

Assumptions:  (1) Johnny is just like us.  (2) If your answer 
is greater than 20% please go back and check your math.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Anything Can Happen

This Sunday's gospel reading was about the Transfiguration. Peter and John and James went with Jesus to the mountain. They saw this transfiguration and yet, they still did not seem to know who Jesus was. Or they did not want to know.

Ever live in denial of what is right in front of your face?

And they kept quiet too. They told no one. Can you imagine if we saw Jesus in all his glory? Would we keep quiet? It is an interesting question for us to ask ourselves.

And would we recognize Jesus if we saw Him? Do we really know Him?

I was listening to a talk by Jeff Cavins and he said that the disciples lived and ate and walked with Jesus and yet they did not know who he was. And his thought was, no wonder we need a pope. No wonder we need a Peter who will listen to the Holy Spirit and tell us who Jesus is.

It is good that we are here, Peter said. Yes, Peter. It is good that we are here. The Holy Spirit is alive and active in our Church. He is surely alive and active in the person who sits in the Chair of St. Peter. If we ever doubted before today, we should not doubt now.

Nothing is impossible with God. He is still full of surprises. He is still showing us that anything can happen on any given day.

We should probably pay attention. Stay awake. Listen.

We do not know the hour.

Friday, February 15, 2013

What difference do I make?


Homily from Father Francis Maple

 LUKE 5:1-11. 
There comes a time when we ask the question, 'What difference do I make?'Is the answer, "I matter very little?" I can understand why we come to that conclusion. After all the world is a big place and is full of big problems. Many of those problems are beyond our power to control or correct. Not one
of us can end the animosity between nations, and races and religions. Nor can we employ all the jobless, or feed all the hungry, or house all the homeless. We cannot even eliminate poverty in our own country, let alone the world. Not even the most gifted and able of us, can stop the drug traffic or free the addicts from their deadly habit. What hope have we of making a difference in the world?

This disparity between the size of the problem and the size of ourselves overwhelms us. On the one side we have the world crying out for help and on the other side we have individual men and women, willing to help but feeling so inadequate and insignificant. It is a situation like this that prompts the question, 'What difference do I make?' Our Gospel reading provides some insight. It tells us about three men, Peter James and John. We regard them as spiritual giants who are not in our class. It does not surprise us that these men made a difference in the world.  You would expect people of that calibre to have a major influence on the time and place in which they lived. But these men were not spiritual giants that day when they left everything to follow Jesus. They were just ordinary people, who lived by the Sea of Galilee and made their living as fishermen.

One morning, they were on the shore cleaning their nets, after an unsuccessful night of fishing. Jesus appeared on the scene, and a crowd gathered. This was an opportunity for Him to spread His message. He borrowed Peter's boat for a pulpit, and had it pushed a short distance from the shore. There He sat and taught the people.  When He had finished teaching them, He said to Peter, "Put out into the deep water and pay out your nets for a catch." Peter must have thought, "What's the point?" He had been working hard all night, trying to land a good catch, but had caught nothing. How frustrated and exhausted he must have been. Then along came Jesus, not a fisherman, and started giving him orders. He was sure there was no fish to be caught now, but to please Jesus he paid out his net. What a shock he got when he caught such a vast amount of big fish!

At first he was overwhelmed with a sense of his own unworthiness. Falling at the feet of Jesus, he cried, "Leave me, Lord, I am a sinful man." It was then that Peter discovered that on his own he could achieve very little, but with the help of Jesus's knowledge and power there were no limits to what he could do. So he accepted the invitation to become a follower of Jesus. That has to be our starting point if we are to make a difference in the world.  

There's a delightful story told about a young lad who was walking with his father along the sea shore. The tide had brought in on the beach many starfish, and as you know starfish cannot survive the rays of the sun. So the lad would pick up a fish and place it back in the water. After he had done this about five times his father said, "Son, there are so many starfish on the shore. What difference can you make?" The boy looked at the starfish in his hand and said, "It'll make a difference to this one, Dad."

There is a lesson we can learn from this. That boy had a kind, thoughtful nature which was given to him by the Lord. If we, like him, could open ourselves up to the Lord and let Him work through us we can make a difference. We may only be able to help one person, but that one has significance. Now, if there were many people opening themselves up to the Lord in this way, it would make a tremendous difference to the world.

This brings us back to our introduction. We must never look upon ourselves as isolated individuals who can achieve nothing. We must never be discouraged at the vastness of the problems and the little that our efforts can produce. As Peter discovered, if we have Jesus working on our side our efforts can make a tremendous difference.    

God bless,

Fr, Francis

Monday, February 11, 2013

Faith? Really? What Faith?

It's easy to jump and down Praising God when everything is well in our life. But what happens when things aren't so good?

Bad in fact.

Where is our Faith then?

Read more about this HERE.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Lenten Prayer

A Lenten Prayer

Fast from judging others; feast on Christ in them.
Fast from wanting more; feast on being thankful.
Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from worry; feast on trust.
Fast from complaining; feast on enjoyment.
Fast from negatives; feast on positives.
Fast from stress; feast on prayer.
Fast from anger; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from fear; feast on truth.
Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.
Fast from gossip; feast on silence.
Fast from fighting; feast on peace.

Gentle God, during this season of fasting and feasting, gift us with your presence
so we can be a gift to others in carrying out your work. 

--Adapted from A Lenten Prayer by William Arthur Ward

I found this prayer over at Our Sunday Visitor.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

One Plus God

We look around the world today and think how crazy the world seems. It can be overwhelming to  realize what we are up against these days:

 "What's the point? What difference can just one person make anyway?"

Have you ever heard these words spoken to you? Or spoken them yourself perhaps?

I have heard them too many times to count over the years and I've even heard them come out of my own mouth now and then.

The problem with this type of mindset is that it sets us up to lose before we've even begun. Imagine if the saints thought like this? All we need to do is look at what Mother Teresa did during the span of her lifetime and we can see that she did not allow herself to fall prey to this kind of thinking. One person can make a huge difference if God is in the equation. Think of what each of these people accomplished during their lifetimes:

Moses + God = the liberation of an enslaved people

Mother Mary + God = the salvation of the entire human race

 Peter + God = the birth of the Church

We cannot say, "Yeah, but they were saints!" Moses was not a saint - he killed a man. St. Peter
was simply a fisherman - a fisherman who denied Christ three times.

I love this example:  Therese + God = Doctor of the Church...with millions following her "little way" and she accomplished all this without ever leaving the convent or its grounds. (How's that for amazing?)

So never ask yourself what you can do.

Ask yourself what you + God can do.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Quick Bytes #47: We Are Dying

"Somebody should tell us, 
right at the start of our lives, 
that we are dying."
                   - Pope Paul VI

How would we live each day 
with that perspective?