Thursday, December 14, 2017

Friday of the Second Week of Advent - A Lesson about the Heart – Eyes of Faith



Jesus said to the crowds: “To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children who sit in the marketplaces and call to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge, but you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said. ‘Look he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by her works.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for this new day and all the graces you will bless me with. I believe in you and your love for me. I wish to show my love for you by staying focused on what is most important during this time of prayer: you and your most holy will.

Petition: Lord Jesus, help me to see your actions and the actions of others with the eyes of faith.

  1. Eyes of Faith: God comes to us in many and various ways each day. Sometimes he reveals his goodness to us when he allows us to succeed in life. Other times he permits trials in our life so that we can cling more surely to him. The proper response to God’s constant action in our lives will only be possible if we are able to discern that it is indeed God who is acting –– that it is God who is “playing the flute for us” or “singing a dirge for us”. We need the eyes of faith. A habitual interior attitude of faith and trust in God allows us to live with great peace and purpose.
  1. Worldly Standards of Judgment: Jesus complains when the crowds use worldly standards to size him up. They are caught up in their opinions and all too easily pass judgment on him. They accuse Jesus of being possessed by a demon, a drunkard, and so on. How easy is it for me to judge others by accepting or rejecting them for mere external things? What are my internal attitudes towards others? Lord, help me to be detached from all worldly standards of judging and to embrace each soul, loving them as you do, and to leave the judging to you.
  1. But Wisdom is Vindicated by Her Works: Despite the rejection and harsh judgments of many, Jesus went about doing good. This is what he meant by saying that “wisdom is vindicated by her works”. In the same vein he also taught that you can recognize a tree by its fruits. Knowing how easy it is to misjudge others, I cannot permit myself to worry about what others may say or think of me. Rather I need to be busy like Jesus, going about doing good. Good actions speak for themselves, even if it may take a while for others to perceive or appreciate them. When we trustfully follow along to the flute or the dirge Our Lord is playing for us, and we do so for his sake and for the sake of spreading his message, we can rest in the certainty that God is blessing us and will bring his good works to fruition through us.

Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Jesus, for this opportunity to spend time with you in prayer. Let it be my motivation for the day and bring me to live a greater spirit of faith in you and the mission you have entrusted me. How much it would help me to consider my actions, the actions of others and your actions under the light of your love and good will. I do believe that you permit everything that happens in my life for the sake of bringing about a greater good, but Lord, increase my faith.

Resolution: I will strive to interpret the actions of others in a positive way, excusing any defects I may perceive.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church - A Kingdom for the Violent?


Jesus said to the crowds: “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force. All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in your presence here with me as I humbly kneel before you to do you homage and praise you. I long for the reward you have promised to those who love you with undivided hearts. My heart is not at peace until it rests in you.

Petition: Lord, help me to long for and strive for the inexpressible joy of heaven. 

  1. None Greater Than John: In a phrase tinged with admiration, Christ pays St. John the Baptist the highest of compliments: “Among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist.” And Christ reveals why: He is the last of the prophets, the one who brings the age of the law and the prophets to a close. But he is even more. He is Elijah, the one sent before the promised Messiah to prepare the way for him. Then comes an unexpected reversal: “Yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Do not Christ’s words awaken in our hearts an ardent longing for heaven? What else could matter in life but to arrive there, where the least of us will be greater than the greatest one on this earth?
  1. Longing for Heaven: How much do we really desire to reach our final goal? Does our attitude sometimes reflect St. Augustine’s during the process of his conversion, before he received the final, definitive grace of entrusting his life entirely to God? Do we not have to confess that we often say to God, “Lord, please bring me to heaven—but not yet!”? St. Cyprian reflects on this phenomenon in one of his homilies: “How unreasonable it is to pray that God’s will be done, and then not promptly obey it when he calls us from this world! Instead we struggle and resist like self-willed slaves and are brought into the Lord’s presence with sorrow and lamentation, not freely consenting to our departure, but constrained by necessity. And yet we expect to be rewarded with heavenly honors by him to whom we come against our will!”
  1. The Kingdom of Heaven Suffers Violence: A true longing for heaven is necessary, because it is not easy to arrive there. Christ assures us, “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence.” What does Our Lord mean by this enigmatic affirmation? Surely he does not intend to contradict his own new commandment of love? The “violence” Christ speaks of must be done exclusively to ourselves. In order to ascend the heights of holiness we need to follow in the footsteps of St. John the Baptist, dying to our earthly tendencies. Am I prepared to renounce what often seems most intimately a part of me? Can I beg the Lord for humility? “That others may be more loved than I. That others may be called to occupy posts and I may be forgotten. That others may be preferred to me in everything. Lord Jesus, make this my prayer” (from Litany of Humility, traditional prayer).

Conversation with Christ: Lord, you are showing me that heaven is not for the weak and the soft, but for those who are strong in dying to themselves and living for you and for souls. Help me to grow in fortitude in order to win heaven.

Resolution: Today, when I experience something painful or difficult, I will offer up the unpleasantness to God, knowing it is nothing in comparison to the reward of heaven that awaits me.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Memorial of Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr "The Yoke of Love"

Jesus said to the crowds: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”


Introductory Prayer: Lord, you know the sincerity of my desire to spend this time with you. As I begin this meditation, I believe that you are here with me, that you never abandon me. Because I love you, my one wish is to please and console you in your solitude in the tabernacle. I hope in the boundless mercy that motivated your incarnation. May we one day meet again in your heavenly kingdom.

Petition: Mary, you who are the perfect model of humility, help me to be meek and humble like Christ your Son, who out of love for me became a helpless infant at Bethlehem.

Who Is This Man? Who is this man who stands before us in this Gospel—the man whose gaze has penetrated into the most secret recesses of our souls and discovered what lies hidden there? A man who recognizes that we labor, that we are burdened by the demands of life, weighed down by our sins and imperfections, straining under the load of our passions and unfulfilled desires. Who is this man who would dare promise what we have always longed for in the inner sanctuaries of our consciences, yet never quite allowed ourselves to hope for? Who could utter such a simple, gentle, and appealing invitation, more than we could ever find ourselves worthy of: “Come to me… and I will give you rest”? Who but God himself?

How Can We Come to Him? How can we accept the invitation of the one who is God become man? How can we come to him? How can we attain what our souls have longed for all the days of our existence? Christ himself gives us the answer: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” He is so humble that he does not even wait for us to respond to his invitation. He humbles himself so that he can first come to us at Christmas. To discover how to turn to him with our heavy burden of selfishness and unrestrained passions, we can first approach the manger where the King of Kings lies so helplessly.

A Mystery of Humility and Love: Bethlehem is a mystery of humility and love. Doesn’t Christ seem humble to you, reduced to the state of a helpless infant? Without words or speeches he teaches a living lesson we need to feel with all the intensity of which we are capable, allowing the consequences to spring forth on their own. Can we imagine any other state in which the goodness and humility of God radiate more clearly? Before this helpless child, who is God Incarnate out of love for us, we are reduced to silent wonder. All vain ambitions fade, all anger and bitter passion soften and all idle pursuits are driven far from our hearts. The yoke that burdened us, the rod of our taskmaster, is smashed and it is replaced by the light and easy yoke of love.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me to penetrate more deeply into the mystery of your becoming a helpless and innocent child at Bethlehem for me. Help me to grow in goodness of heart so I can radiate your goodness to those around me.

Resolution: On my way to and from work today, I will contemplate Christ meek and humble in the manger at Bethlehem. I will imitate his loving humility in my own life and have the confidence to turn to him for help with my failings.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe “God Is with You”

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,

has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I know by faith that these are some of the most important moments of my day. I freely open my mind, heart and will for you to do as you please, because I know you can desire and do only what is good for me. I know that you will give me the grace to do whatever you ask of me and that you will always accompany me. That is enough for me.

Petition: Lord, give me the grace to do your holy will.

1. Pleasing God through the Small, Daily Tasks: The angel Gabriel finds Mary doing nothing extraordinary, but rather doing ordinary tasks like washing clothes, sweeping, getting water, doing the same daily prayer as every devout Jew. But in doing the ordinary she is doing what is pleasing to God. Her example should be our guide. Work can be an ordinary means of holiness. Man, as Pope Saint John Paul II said, “not only transforms nature, adapting it to his own needs, but he also achieves fulfillment as a human being and indeed, in a sense, becomes ‘more a human being’” (Laborem Exercens, no. 9). We please God when we do our duties, fulfill our responsibilities, work to meet our basic needs. While we may not be doing something extraordinary at every moment, we still praise and glorify God when we undertake the ordinary with love. If an angel were to come looking for me, would he find me doing my daily tasks lovingly?

2. “Do Not Be Afraid!” Mary “was greatly troubled and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.” When God presents us with his plan, we too might be afraid. We may not fully understand what he has in mind. It can seem that his plan is too great for us. But when God wants something from us, he shows us that it is not beyond our reach. As with Mary at the Incarnation, God will make it happen and will provide all the grace necessary for its completion.

3. “May It Be Done to Me According to Your Word” When Gabriel clarifies Mary’s mission and illustrates that with God all things are possible, Mary makes an act of faith. Her act of faith is what the Second Vatican Council terms the ‘obedience of faith’. The obedience of faith “is to be given to God who reveals, an obedience by which man commits his whole self freely to God, offering the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals, and freely assenting to the truth revealed by Him” (Dei Verbum, 5). God supplied Mary with his grace and did not abandon her; nor will he abandon us. When we do what God wants and cooperate with his plan, he will support us. He will accompany us as we carry out his will and bring his plan to fulfillment. God’s will is our holiness, and when we do his will we help God to make us saints.

Conversation with Mary: Mary, teach me how to do God’s will as you did, so that I can remain in his company. I want to do his will, even though at times I know that it may seem difficult or impossible. Ask your son for the grace of perseverance for me so that I, too, may cooperate with the Lord, whether he is asking something of me that is ordinary or extraordinary.

Resolution: In a difficult situation, I will pray a “Hail Mary,” asking Mary for help in being faithful.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Monday of the Second Week of Advent "The Paralytic Versus the Pharisees"

One day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there, and the power of the Lord was with him for healing. And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence. But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.” Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, “What are you thinking in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk?’ But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the one who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, “We have seen incredible things today.”


Introductory Prayer: Lord you are the author of all things and you have power to forgive sins. Though my faith is still weak I do believe in you. And I also trust in your goodness and mercy. Here I am before you in prayer, longing once more to love you with all my mind, heart, soul and strength.

Petition: Lord, help me to seek you in my life above all else.

The Pharisees’ Faith: The Pharisees sat in front of Christ watching him cure the sick. Earlier they had seen many other miracles, but despite what they saw they could not bring themselves to believe in Christ. Miracle after miracle couldn’t change their mind. Jesus decides to give them a decisive miracle so that they will believe. He decides to cure the paralytic to show his power to forgive sins. Since disease for the Pharisees was a sign of sin, they should have been ready to accept Jesus’ message of healing and forgiveness. But they were too wrapped up in seeking their own plans and protecting their own honor to discern God’s loving mercy behind what they witnessed. How often do we want God to give us a sign so we can follow his plan? And how often are we not open to what he tells us, simply and directly because we’re too focused on achieving our own plans?

The Paralytic’s Faith: The paralytic needed no signs. He believed Jesus could help him. His faith was so strong he would not let the difficulties overcome him. He couldn’t walk so he found someone to carry him. When he arrived he couldn’t get to Christ, so his men brought him in through the roof. He was determined to see Christ because he knew what Christ could do for him. His faith was so strong it moved him to action. He had a living faith, which goes far beyond mere ideas. His faith moved him to find our Lord no matter the difficulties. What have I done to seek Christ, to meet him face to face? What have I been prepared to do in order to receive his grace? Do I give up my prayer or my apostolate at the first difficulty?

For God’s Glory: Jesus didn’t perform this miracle for himself or his own glory. He sought only God’s glory. We see how everyone glorifies God after the miracle. It’s almost as if Christ is forgotten. Christ sought only to do what would glorify the Father. How often do we seek our own glory when we work on the apostolate or perform an act of charity? How often do we hope someone will remember us and say “Thank You” although we are here to build Christ’s Kingdom for God’s glory alone? We need to constantly renew our purity of intention.

Dialogue with Christ: Lord, how great was the faith of the paralytic! He was humble enough to find you and strong enough in his faith that nothing could keep him from you. Grant me the gift of a humble heart and a strong faith so I can be constant and dedicated in seeking to encounter you in my life and in fulfilling your will for your glory and the good of others alone.

Resolution: Today I will look for solutions to the problems that come my way, and I will renew my intention to perform my duties for God’s glory throughout the day.



Saturday, December 9, 2017

Second Sunday of Advent "Preparing for Christmas"

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River

as they acknowledged their sins. John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. And this is what he proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you have given me a new day. You have given me a new opportunity to prepare myself for your coming. I believe that you will be with me as I continue my preparation for your coming. My heart is too often divided and pulled in many directions, but I wish to set my heart totally on you so that I may love you above all else. Here I am, Lord, to know you and love you more.

Petition: Lord, help me to embrace the proper means to prepare myself for your birth.

1. John’s Preparation: John the Baptist ate locusts and wild honey. He wore a camel’s skin and lived in the desert. In this manner he prepared himself for Christ’s coming. He had removed himself from the world and all its temptations. He had forfeited his home, family, friends, money, food—anything that would take him from fulfilling his call to prepare the way of the Lord. Compared with John, how deep is my commitment? What price am I prepared to pay to be his messenger?

2. John’s Preaching: John invites sinners to repentance. Thousands flock to hear him. His words move the people to listen. Probably more so does his example: the people see him living in the desert without the comforts of the world. By his actions they see he is truly a prophet. He has come before them so he can rightly call them to conversion. His life has strength and meaning that is not found in others. If we could be authentic and lead by our example, how many more people would be moved to follow Christ!

3. John’s Repentance: Those who recognize their sins go to John to be baptized. For John, baptism is a symbol of repentance: the people recognize their sins and ask God for forgiveness. John knows that he cannot forgive sins, but he realizes that it is important for everyone to take the step of being sorry and asking God to forgive them. John tells us clearly that it is Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who will forgive sins. He doesn’t try to obtain forgiveness in another way. He doesn’t try to circumvent God’s plan. God has given us the sacrament of confession for the forgiveness of our sins. How often do I take advantage of it? Am I faithful to frequent confession, or perhaps do I look elsewhere for the grace that only comes from confession?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, often I fall into the ways of the world, letting myself get caught up in its comforts and vanities. Teach me that only one thing matters: you and the life you promised us. Help me to use this Advent to prepare for your coming by detaching myself from the ways of the world and by being an example of Christian living for those whom I encounter. Help me to be always faithful to my frequent confession.

Resolution: Today I will make a sacrifice, foregoing a comfort or something I really like, and offer it up to God in reparation for sins––especially my own.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Saturday of the First Week of Advent "Power in Weakness – An abundant harvest"

Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” Then he summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus, “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”


Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe in you, the Lord of heaven and earth. Lord Jesus, I trust in your goodness and tender concern for my good and the good of every single person on this earth. Lord Jesus, I love you and wish to cooperate more fully with you. I am such a poor weak instrument, but I know that you can do anything through those who trust in you.

Petition: Help me Lord, to know the mysteries of your Sacred Heart and to respond with love. 

The Heart of Christ: “His heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus is our creator and our redeemer. He knows that what we seek is his friendship, whether we realize it or not. He knows that only he can satisfy our innermost desires. We need to be moved with compassion at the thought of Jesus’ pain, wounded by so many souls who refuse to turn to him, our only source of light, life and happiness. Do I ever consider how Jesus’ heart needs to be consoled because of the indifference and rejection of so many souls whom he loves infinitely?

Pray to the Lord of the Harvest: “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.” There are so many souls in need of healing and so few to help Our Lord with building his Kingdom and saving souls. “Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers to the harvest.” Christ is calling us to help him in this mission. We cannot be indifferent to the cries of our brothers and sisters who do not know the truth and who have not experienced God’s awesome love. We must be convinced that Jesus is the only answer for their yearnings. Do I pray often to the Lord of the harvest? Do I realize that I am also called to be a laborer in the Lord’s harvest?

Go to the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel: Jesus sends us out although we feel weak and helpless. Can we “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and drive out demons?” Isn’t there someone else, Lord? No. Christ calls us for the same reason he called the first apostles, namely because he chooses the weak to show that he is in charge. “Apart from the vine you can do nothing” (cf. John 15:5). But united to him, we will bear much fruit. Trust in him especially when we feel our own weakness and incapability. For, as the apostle St Paul, reminds us, “There is nothing I cannot do in him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13), and “It is when I am weak that I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Conversation with Christ: Oh Lord Jesus, I want to respond to the longings of your heart. You have loved us to the point of dying on the cross for us, and we repay you so poorly. You deserve our grateful, loyal love, but so often we abandon you. I want to console your Sacred Heart by helping to bring many souls back into your friendship. I want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem; however, I do not feel worthy or up to the task of being your apostle. Help me to cooperate with you. Help me to soothe your longing to heal us and care for us. Here I am Lord, to do your loving will.

Resolution: I will go before the Blessed Sacrament today, intensifying my union and friendship with my Risen Lord, and ask him to send more holy, priestly vocations for his Church.