Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter - Very Truly I Tell You

"A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me." Then some of his disciples said to one another, "What does he mean by saying to us, ´A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me´; and ´Because I am going to the Father´?" They said, "What does he mean by this ´a little while´? We do not know what he is talking about." Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, "Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, ´A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me´? Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you (cf. John 21:17). You know when I need consolation and when I need dryness. Help me to accept all things as a gift from your loving hand. This is the simplicity with which I trust in your providence and mercy.

Petition: Lord, may I grow in my confidence in you.

1. What Does He Mean?
We frequently don’t understand what God is trying to do in our lives. Much of what he does or allows to happen doesn’t seem to make sense. “Why did this have to happen to me? Where was God in all of this?” We often like to have everything spelled out for us. We want to read the fine print of God’s plan for us so that we can first give our approval. God doesn’t work that way. He first told Abraham to leave his home; only later was God’s plan for his life revealed. Christ first called the apostles; only slowly did he show them what that entailed.

2. Very Truly I Tell You
Christ is truth itself. He can neither deceive nor be deceived. He clearly knows what the apostles are thinking, and he clearly knows what they need. He also knows the right moment to reveal his plan: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now” (John 16:12). We have to be ready for what he has to tell us. This requires a great deal of detachment and trust: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1).

3. Trust Leads to Joy
However, following Christ with a trusting attitude brings joy. Our trust in him never leads us down a blind alley. It is when we try to write our own history independent of Christ that fear and frustration ensue. We get ourselves into problems. “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). Yet to get there, we must make the pilgrimage of faith, a pilgrimage which at times leads through valleys of darkness: Still we go confidently, knowing he is there with his rod and his staff (cf. Psalm 23).

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, it is so easy for me to worry, to rely on my own strength. Help me to confide more in you each day. I know your path will lead to joy, even if I don’t always grasp the route.

Resolution: Today, I will accept the surprises God brings me with a confident and thankful spirit.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter - Nothing But the Truth

Jesus said to his disciples: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, as I begin this prayer I offer you my whole self: my thoughts, desires, decisions, actions, hopes, fears, weaknesses, failures and petty successes. I open my entire being to you, aware that you know everything already. I’m certain of your mercy and of the purifying power of your penetrating, loving gaze.

Petition: Lord, allow me to be sincerely and truthfully yours.

  1. My Truth Before God: Jesus tells his apostles he has many more things to tell them, but it seems that they are not yet ready to accept the truth. They were not ready, for one thing, to acknowledge the fact that in a few short hours all of them would flee before the prospect of the Cross, leaving Christ quite alone. I, too, may find it hard to see, or to accept, a realistic picture of my relationship with Christ or my state of soul. I may justify myself or my indifference with any number of psychological consolations. I might convince myself that I am not quite as bad off as so-and-so. Perhaps I put up an excellent external show, living all the motions, but with little true conviction and sincerity.
  1. Cheap Deceptions: In our consumer-oriented world, first impressions often seem to count more than the goodness or evil of a thing. Opinion polls appear to set the standard for right and wrong, and a false idea of tolerance is a highly held ideal. Truth can be seen as bluntly offensive, and so it is repackaged in a more appealing way. However, none of these attempts by the “spirit of the world” can ever succeed in the end, just as no amount of darkness can ever stop the smallest beam of light. The Holy Spirit is at work in the world declaring the truth loud and clear in the depths of the human soul. Only the truth — which comes from Christ — has the power to bring true peace and joy to the human heart when all illusions are shown up as such.
  1. Living in the Truth: As Christians we must be on guard against the spirit of insincerity. No one who lives outside the truth can claim to be a disciple of Christ. Little falsehoods in our lives are utterly destructive to the action of the “Spirit of Truth” in our souls. Our Savior never spoke out so strongly against anything as he did against the pretended righteousness of the leaders of his time. How many things have I done recently just to be praised by others? How many good things have I done which are known to God alone? Am I capable of standing firm to my convictions in the face of misunderstanding or ridicule?

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, the example of your life and death is one of complete honesty. Empower me through the “Spirit of Truth” to be sincere in all that I do before God and others.

Resolution: I will ask forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation at the first available opportunity for any insincerity in my life.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter - Condemnation and Righteousness

Jesus said to his disciples: "But now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, ´Where are you going?´ But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you because you have made yourself known to me. I desire to know you more each day. Let my knowledge of you be simple, real and personal. I hope in your grace because I am aware of my inclination to evil and I know my weakness. As an expression of my love for you, I want to live as you would have me live. I want to please you by my every action.

Petition: Lord, increase my faith.

1. Convict the World in Regard to Sin
Why does Christ come to convict the world in regard to sin? Didn’t he come, “(not) to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3: 17)? Which is it, condemnation or liberation? It’s both. If you are not aware that you’re sick, you will not go to the doctor. First we have to be aware that we are sinful, so that we experience the need for a savior in the first place. The greatest danger in today’s society isn’t that it’s sinful: Sin has been here since Adam and Eve. The greatest danger is no longer recognizing sin at all because of moral relativism (cf. John Paul II, The Splendor of Truth, 32). “This is fine for me; I make my own rules,” goes the battle cry of the relativist. Therefore, the Spirit must first make us aware that we are selfish, sinful and in need of a savior. Then the work of conversion can begin.

2. Convicted of … Sin Because They Do Not Believe in Me
Is Christ saying that every non-believer is a sinner and not worthy of salvation? This seems to be confirmed in John 3:18a: “Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already.” The Church teaches that those people, who through no fault of their own know neither Christ nor his Church, may be saved by following the dictates of their conscience (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 847). This said, there is also the danger of a will to unbelief: “For this people´s heart has grown dull…and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes…and understand with their heart and turn -- and I would heal them” (Matthew 13:15). Seeing, some chose not to believe because it would mean changing. It is this conscientious rejection of the truth out of obstinacy that must be avoided at all costs.

3. Righteousness
Christ’s resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit are proof of Christ’s righteousness and authenticity. He is what he claimed to be: the Messiah, the Son of the living God (cf. Matthew 16:16-17). It is also righteous or just that Christ, having completed his mission, returns to the Father. Yet Christ’s righteousness is also being offered to us if we but accept it. His mission was to condemn Satan, the Father of lies, and remake us in his image and likeness. Through his sacrifice we become much more than freed slaves: We become adopted children of God (cf. John 1:12).

Conversation with Christ: Lord, aware of the importance of faith, I ask you to increase my faith. You continuously offer me so many graces, let me take advantage of all of them and use them according to your will.

Resolution: During my conscience examen today I will recognize my faults with honesty, but also express a greater confidence in God’s mercy in my life.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter - The Spirit’s Witness

Jesus said to his disciples: "When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning. I have told you this so that you may not fall away. They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, as I begin this prayer I offer you my whole self: my thoughts, desires, decisions, actions, hopes, fears, weaknesses, failures and petty successes. I open my entire being to you, aware that you know everything already. I’m certain of your mercy and of the purifying power of your penetrating, loving gaze.

Petition: Lord God, help me to live as a true witness to Christ. 

1. Witness of Christ: Some people try to invoke the Holy Spirit as justification for ideas contrary to Christ’s teaching. A careful look at today’s Gospel illustrates how this can never be according to God’s plan. The Holy Spirit is not at odds with Christ’s message, nor is he working out a plan of salvation distinct from Christ’s Church. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of Christ and of the Father; his very purpose in coming is to testify to Christ. Every true inspiration of the Holy Spirit moves us to a greater fidelity to the truth. Am I attentive to the Spirit’s urging me to a greater fidelity to my Christian commitments? 

2. Witnesses in the Spirit: Our faith is by no means a static reality. Just as the first disciples experienced Christ’s preaching, miracles and personal love, all Christians serious about their faith discover Christ’s presence throughout their daily experience. This is especially true in the sacraments of penance and the Eucharist. Jesus is always with us, and his forgiveness and closeness are the source of our joy. The Holy Spirit empowers us through the grace of our baptism to give witness to what we have freely received. Do I take seriously my Christian vocation to give testimony to Christ’s love? Do I realize that my first act of testimony needs to be the witness of a truly Christian life? Do I remember that in this seemingly daunting task I should rely heavily on the Holy Spirit as my business partner? 

3. Fidelity Amidst Opposition: Christ shares with the apostles gathered in the Upper Room that being witnesses to him will not always be met with acceptance. Opposition seems to be an integral part of being a Christian. Deep-seated and unflinching adherence to Christ and the voice of conscience has never been compatible with the popular mindset. In fact, many times Christians are not called to “fit in” but to “stand out”, and this has inevitable consequences as it did in the life of Our Lord. The wonderful part is that we have been promised the final victory. Christ goes before us and the Holy Spirit is at our side.  

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, it has always been demanding to be an authentic witness to you. Teach me not to rely on my own capabilities, but to grow in strength and coherence through fidelity to the inspirations of your Holy Spirit.

Resolution: I will make some public sign of witness to my faith today.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Sixth Sunday of Easter - Intimacy with God

Jesus said to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, as I begin this prayer I offer you my whole self: my thoughts, desires, decisions, actions, hopes, fears, weaknesses, failures and petty successes. I open my entire being to you, aware that you know everything already. I’m certain of your mercy and of the purifying power of your penetrating, loving gaze.

Petition: Lord, I want to believe in your personal and passionate love for me.

1. Intimacy with Jesus: When we gaze at the cross, we need to remind ourselves that he died there for each one of us, for “me”. He died to forgive my sins and to pour his divine life into my soul. He wants there to be no divisions between us, barriers caused by sin. He wants us to be united in all things. This is why he says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” He wants our wills to be united, for his will represents our true good. He asks for our obedience out of love, not fear. There is a tendency in today’s society to separate love from obedience. Love of God gets reduced to some kind of vague feeling of goodwill toward God and others. Love requires sacrifice. Love is self-donation. Ask Jesus for the grace to love as he has loved us.

2. Intimacy with the Holy Spirit: Jesus promised his disciples another advocate, one who would remain with them forever. The disciples were upset to hear Jesus speak of his death and departure. They were distraught to think of themselves alone in the world, with all their hopes and plans crashing down around them. Jesus didn’t want to leave them alone, nor does he want to leave us alone. He does not leave us orphans in the world; he sends us a helper, a gift of love. In the Holy Spirit we find a guide and friend, another person who abides within us. We are never alone. He is always with us, even when we feel abandoned by others. 

3. Intimacy with the Father: “Whoever loves me, will be loved by my Father.” Now we turn to the Father, and we come to him through Jesus Christ. The Father’s plan from all eternity was to love us in his Son. He wants to love us with a fatherly love, to love us with the same love he has for his only-begotten son from all eternity. How much God loves us! He wants to draw us into his living and eternal relationship of love. In a thousand different ways he is calling us, inviting us, pulling us towards himself. Jesus reveals a Triune God, and he invites us to share in the communion of life and love that is the Holy Trinity. 

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, help me to believe in you and your love. Imprint your love very deeply onto my heart. I want to remain in your love always. I want to remain in the love of the Father and the Holy Spirit, but I need your strength and grace. Help me to set aside anything that displeases you.
 
Resolution: I will make three spiritual communions with Jesus during the day.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter - The Master and the Slave


Jesus said to his disciples: "If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, ´No slave is greater than his master.´ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me."

 

Introductory Prayer: Lord, thank you for granting me the opportunity to be with you. There are things in life, Lord, that attract me, but you attract me more. I hope in you, and I love you. Maybe I don’t really understand what it means to love, and maybe I don’t love the way I should, but I do love you.

 

Petition: Lord, help me to embrace my cross joyfully. 

 

1. Bearing the Burden: “The world hated me first.” This is the incredible story of the Gospels. Christ came and the culture was against him. As the story of Christ in the Gospel progresses, the forces of antagonism get worse: The dangers increase with the turning of every page. This was a real burden for Christ, the burden of a parent whose children turn against him. Perhaps I, too, feel that burden. Perhaps I experience that rejection from those who love me or from those who don’t believe.

 

2. Loving Acceptance: Christ courageously and lovingly accepted that burden. He did not complain. Perhaps he asked his Father for an easier way. It is the same in our lives. I often face problems, even when I want to do good. There comes a moment in life when I must accept my limitations and the limitations imposed on me by others. This is a memorable moment in life—the moment I accept my cross, like Christ did. That acceptance isn’t easy, but at the same time it fills my heart with a deep peace and sometimes even joy.

 

3. Seeking Solutions: After I accept my cross, I experience a new courage, and my imagination fires up. Love always looks for solutions: Christ never stopped searching for ways to get through to the culture. I must do the best I can to evangelize, even though I may encounter opposition. With Christ’s help, no obstacle is too great. He will help me to overcome all the problems I may encounter. The important thing is that I keep focused on the fulfillment of his will out of love. He will take care of the rest.

 

Conversation with Christ: Lord, you know my burden. You know what makes me lose sleep, what I wake up worrying about. Help me to accept it, as you accepted your cross.

 

Resolution: I will stop complaining and see what I can do to alleviate the burdens and sufferings of others.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter - Loving to the Extreme


Jesus said to his disciples: "This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one´s life for one´s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another."

Introductory Prayer: I believe in you, O Lord, in your great love for me. You are my creator and redeemer. I trust in your friendship; I trust that you will share with me all the insights and desires to love as you have loved. I love you, Lord, for you have loved me first. I want to love you by helping to bring your love and life to others.

 

Petition: With the love of your heart, inflame my heart!


  1. A New Commandment: “And can love be commanded?” Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI poses this very objection in his encyclical, “Deus Caritas Est.”. Love is not merely a sentiment; it is an act of will. “God does not demand of us a feeling which we ourselves are incapable of producing” (n. 17). We cannot be ordered to “like” someone or to “fall in love”, but we can “choose to love” our enemies. More importantly, when we experience God’s love for us, the joy of being loved leads us to want to respond to that love. And God has loved us first: “It was not you who chose me….” We experience his love for us as an ongoing reality each time we receive the sacraments, but also each time we reflect on the fact that he is keeping us in existence. This personal experience enables us both to understand love and want to share it.



  1. Friends Forever: Like love, friendship is easily misrepresented in today’s world, for it is more than convenience, mutual tolerance or mutual utility. Friends not only share love, they share secrets and intimate knowledge. Love leads “to a community of will and thought” (idem). I want to know what my friend is thinking and desiring so that I can share in those thoughts and even satisfy those desires. “The love-story between God and man consists in the very fact that this communion of will increases in a communion of thought and sentiment, and thus our will and God´s will increasingly coincide: God´s will is no longer for me an alien will, something imposed on me from without by the commandments, but it is now my own will based on the realization that God is in fact more deeply present to me than I am to myself” (idem).



  1. Chosen to Bear Fruit: Jesus’ commands are few, but they all have to do with love: “Do this in memory of me”; “Love one another”; “Love your enemies”; “Go and make disciples of all nations”, etc. The essential and urgent nature of this command of love is linked to the very mission of Christ. We are chosen and have been appointed to go and love others. If this love is authentic, grown from the vine of his love and great in sacrifice, it will bear fruit. The fruit which lasts, that for which he died, is an eternal life of friendship with God. What others most need from me then, is not material goods or consolation, or even my friendship, but an experience of God’s love for them, namely, knowledge of Christ. “Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give others much more than their outward necessities; I can give them the look of love which they crave” (ibid., n. 18).


Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord Jesus, grant me a constant, growing desire to live your commandment of love. Awaken in me an awareness of your ever-present love in my life. Let this inspire me to love without measure, without distinction of persons, without fears of losing all that is less than love.

Resolution: I will choose to serve someone today, not because I feel the desire to do so, but for love of Christ.