Friday, November 17, 2017

Saturday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time “Faithfull Prayer”

Then Jesus told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'” The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”


Introductory Prayer: I believe in you, Lord, for you are mine and have proved your love for me. I trust you, for you have never let me down and know what is best for my life. I love you Lord for all your gifts. I desire to love and to do your will.

Petition: Teach me to pray always, Lord.

Becoming Weary: We can become weary in prayer when we don’t see results. This happens because either we have a distorted idea of prayer, or we have taken on worldly views that undermine our appreciation for its true value, or simply because we experience what seems to be failure in prayer (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 2726-2728). Prayer is a gift and comes from the Holy Spirit. It is neither a machine nor a magic formula. It requires effort on our part, for it is an act of love, self-giving. Prayer works if I persevere and allow God to act. Sometimes I will not see its effects. To continue to seek God in prayer is already the best fruit of prayer. Do I depend on him?

The Judge: If prayer is about giving myself and depending more on God, then it becomes a question of how I understand God. I depend only on those I trust, and I trust only those who have proven their love and ability to support me. Do I really believe God is all good, all-loving and all-powerful? Do I believe he cares about me? God for us is a judge, but so much more. He is first of all a loving father and a dedicated, unconditional savior and lover. As a loving Father he wants our trusting dependence. He wants us to believe.

The Chosen Ones: Who are we for God? We are more than simple creatures, more than worthless slaves. We are beloved children, for whom he died and to whom he gives everything. We are the frustrated scholars and broken lovers that he desires to raise up to share his infinite truth and love. We are chosen ones, chosen for him, for happiness, forever. Out of the darkness and slavery of sin, he frees us so that his glory will shine in us. Now, if we are all this and more for God, why do we doubt in prayer? Let us place all our confidence in him.

Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord Jesus, increase my knowledge of your love for me. Help me to trust you in my everyday life. Open my heart to persevere in prayer. Grant me the humility to see how I need to pray, always and in so many ways. Teach me what prayer is and how to do it well for love of you.

Resolution: Throughout the day, I will dedicate myself to simple, small invocations and prayers that express my love, gratitude and trust in God.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Memorial of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious “Living My Encounter with Christ”

Jesus said to his disciples: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man; they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up to the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Similarly, as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building; on the day when Lot left Sodom, fire and brimstone rained from the sky to destroy them all. So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, a person who is on the housetop and whose belongings are in the house must not go down to get them, and likewise a person in the field must not return to what was left behind. Remember the wife of Lot. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it. I tell you, on that night there will be two people in one bed; one will be taken, the other left. And there will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken, the other left.” They said to him in reply, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will gather.”


Introductory Prayer: I believe in you, Lord, my companion and strength. I believe that you come out to meet me each day, asking me to depend more on you and less on creatures. I hope in you, Lord, as the one who fills my longing to love and be loved. I love you here and now with my prayer and with my desire to be faithful and generous in the little things you ask of me.

Petition: Lord, help me to put you first in my life.

1. They Were Eating and Drinking: In the time of Noah and of Lot, God’s judgment was said to come down upon man. Yet the real moment of judgment for each one of us comes immediately upon our own death. It is then that the kingdom will be fully revealed to us, and it will be decided whether we will be part of it or not. But it is in the course of my own life that my option for being received into the kingdom is decided. God comes to me today. How will I respond? My response now and each day determines my eternal place in the kingdom.

2. Do Not Return to What Was Left Behind: In most disasters people have little chance to collect belongings; those who try are often lost as a result. The same will be true of the Final Judgment – or at our own death; when Jesus comes, will I be ready? What do I most cherish? What I must hold on to is my relationship with Christ. And this implies in so many ways losing “my life” here. Do I live with the attitude of losing my life a little more each day, detaching myself from things, activities and people, so as to be freer to love, serve and be with Christ?

3. Where the Body Is? “Where Lord?” the disciples ask; where will the day of the Son of man take place? It will take place, says Jesus, wherever you are. Whether we die and encounter Christ in a personal judgment or are alive to encounter the Lord at his Second Coming and the Final Judgment, the reality is the same. Standing next to a saint or a sinner will not alter our fate. Who we know or what contacts we have will do little. Where we are in our relationship with Christ will be the only real determining factor. Where am I, Lord, today, in relationship with you? May this be my only concern!

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, increase my desire to live my life in close relation with you. Order all my activities according to your will, and my relationships according to your heart. “I want whatever you want, because you want it, the way you want it, as long as you want it” (Prayer of Pope Clement XI).

Resolution: I will give priority to my relationship with Christ. I will make prayer my first act today before every meal.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Thursday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time “The Kingdom Within”

Asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus said in reply, “The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or, ‘There it is.’ For behold, the kingdom of God is among you.” Then he said to his disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. There will be those who will say to you, ‘Look, there he is,’ or ‘Look, here he is.’ Do not go off, do not run in pursuit. For just as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation.


Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in your presence in my life. You have called me to share in your faith and love. I trust that you will help me grow closer to you. I love you, Lord, here and now. I will live this day in prayer.

Petition: Lord, help me to understand your Kingdom better. 

When? Since the Pharisees had the wrong notion of the Kingdom of God, they could hardly ask the proper questions concerning it. Their expected kingdom was a worldly kingdom that would cast off foreign domination and restore sovereignty to Israel. But Christ’s kingdom is concerned more about the state of the soul and the struggle between good and evil than external nations. The Pharisees’ misperception kept them from recognizing Christ and his kingdom. Thousands of years later we, too, can be susceptible to the errors of the Pharisees. For us, a lack of faith can keep us from seeing that the Kingdom of God comes only when we accept Jesus as king of our souls. Only when we allow him to rule and order our lives does his kingdom come. The “when” is now. Now is the moment for me to encounter Christ and make him my king.

Where? Christ’s disciples also struggled to understand the nature of the kingdom. They sought to see “the days of the Son of Man,” a powerful reign where Christ was supreme with the entire world subject to him. Yet, Christ comes first to reign in the heart of each person. In my own heart, do I believe in Christ and accept his will? Do I love him and sacrifice myself in order to respond to his will? Am I building the kingdom from my prayer and life of grace?

How? If the kingdom is here and now, then how do we enter? We enter the same way our King enters – through the door of suffering and perseverance. “First he must suffer greatly and be rejected.” Belief is not just a one-time acceptance. Faith must be lived throughout the great and little trials we encounter in life. In this way we make faith and the kingdom more our own. We need to remember that in the end, it is the kingdom — and the King himself — who comes to us, like lighting across the sky.

Conversation with Christ: Dear Jesus, help me to understand your kingdom. Build your kingdom within me, in my thoughts and desires. Become my life and my love. Cut away any distance between us. Make my life the light and salt to spread your kingdom effectively to those with whom I cross paths.

Resolution: I will dedicate a longer and calmer time to examine my conscience tonight, and look for progress as well as the struggles of the kingdom within me.



Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Wednesday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time “The Highest of All Prayers – a life of thanksgiving”

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”


Introductory Prayer: I love you my Lord, because you are love itself. Forgive all that is in me that does not come from your love and does not reflect your love. If I am to become what you want me to be, it will happen only if I allow you to act in me.

Petition: Lord, grant me the gift of gratitude towards you.

From Receiver to Giver: These poor lepers are outcasts, banned from communion with all society. Their only hope is Christ. They have nothing to lose by asking, and so they make their plea. Standing at a distance from Christ, according to the law, they acknowledge their own helplessness and beg for mercy. They receive it: Christ heals them, and they go on their way, satisfied with his gift. To our Lord’s dismay, however, only one returns to give thanks. To give thanks in Greek is EuXaristia. Only one is Eucharistic; only one is saved.

A Just Return: Our Lord rewards gratitude. Why is our thanksgiving so important to God? In a way, by showing gratitude we justly return to God what he deserves. Take the example of the lepers: They are helpless outcasts. They can’t do anything for themselves except beg – much like our situation before God. We, too, are spiritual lepers begging God’s mercy. If we were to accept God’s gift without giving thanks, we would be reduced to mere consumers of grace, incapable of giving anything back. But God wants to save us from that predicament, and he asks our thanksgiving, euXaristia.

From Thanksgiving to Communion: What is the dynamic of thanksgiving? When we give thanks, we are no longer passive recipients; we become active givers, giving back to One who has given us what we do not deserve. When we become active givers, God places us on another level – another level capable of receiving even more from him. By giving thanks for what he had received, the leper was capable of receiving more from God. Indeed, he did receive more – he was saved. Saved by God’s mercy, he was now capable of receiving still more, of growing in intimacy with God. God invites us into a personal relationship today, into a Eucharistic relationship in which we are no longer mere passive recipients of his grace, but coworkers of his redemption. In living a life of thanksgiving, a Eucharistic life, we attract many blessings for our own souls, our families, our parish, and for souls in danger of being lost.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, make me aware of the many gifts you have given me so that I may respond to them and give you what you deserve: my heartfelt thanksgiving. May I be more thankful and thus deepen my communion with you.

Resolution: I will make a visit to the Eucharist today and consider the many gifts God has given me. In adoration I will thank him with all my being.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Tuesday of the Thirty-Second Week in Ordinary Time “The “Right” of Gratitude”

Jesus said to the apostles: “Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'”


Introductory Prayer: Jesus, I believe in you, my Lord and my Creator! You have given me everything, and you owe me nothing. You have forgiven me everything when I owed you more than I could ever pay. I trust in your forgiveness and love, Lord.

Petition: Jesus, help me to be grateful to you.

Proud Attitudes: How often are we offended by how others treat us, by a lack of gratitude, respect or appreciation? However justified the reactions of our sensitivity, what lies at the root of our complaints is pride. Looking out from my own broken creaturely condition, I can’t help but see myself for more than I am and expect more respect from everyone – including God. Yet, before God I am but a poor, tiny and dependent creature. From him I receive all that I am and need. How can I demand anything from him? Even worse, how can I complain when I recognize that I am an ungrateful sinner who has denied the rights and love of my Creator?

The Fundamental Relationship: Our culture has become one of “entitlement.” We view ourselves as having rights – “just” expectations –, and we expect that much is owed to us. Thus we see children demanding what they want, spouses expecting their preferences to be respected, and the belief that government must provide us with everything. God gets thrown into the fray as well, so that he, too, must deliver according to our attitude of spoiled children. What we forget is that we have received everything from God and we owe him everything. Jesus’ image of the slave and master is not just a metaphor. Although his free and generous gift of redemption raises us up to the level of children and friends, he owes us nothing. Our fundamental relationship with God must be that of a grateful creature with a loving creator. We must start there.

Humble Attitudes: Far from asking us to act as “worthless slaves,” Jesus wants to free us from the pride that enslaves. The virtues of service, gratitude, honor and obedience may not be popular today, but they forever reflect the heart of a child of God. Jesus embraced all these virtues and the attitudes of humility that they require. My first duty in life is to serve and obey God. My duty of gratitude can never be exhausted, for he gives me so many gifts – life, faith, family, etc. –, and he leads me to a love that is self-giving rather than demanding my rights before God and others.

Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord Jesus, help me to embrace my condition as creature with humble simplicity. Open my mind and heart to the many endless expressions of your generous love. Teach me a gratitude that thinks more of you than of me.

Resolution: I will pray for the grace to show gratitude to God in my daily activities, striving to make these acts of gratitude occur.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Memorial of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Virgin “Uprooting Sin”

Jesus said to his disciples, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive him.” And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to (this) mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.


Introductory Prayer: I believe in you, Lord Jesus, as the only one who can fill my heart. I believe in the power of faith to change my life and the lives of others. I trust that you will grant me the light and strength to cast out sin from my life. I come to you in prayer so that I can love you even more with a firm but serene opposition to sin.

 Petition: Lord, may I desire “death before sin.”

Causing Others to Sin: The negative effects of sin are many: offending God, damaging my conscience and soul, hardening my heart, forming bad habits, losing grace and will power, creating distance and difficulty in prayer, etc. But no result of sin is more damaging than that of scandal, where my sin leads others to sin. Why is this so serious? As a Christian I am called to live and teach Christ’s life to others. Scandal falsifies and contradicts my vocation and mission in life. We all have “little ones” entrusted to us: children, family members, those new to the faith, those searching, those who are especially weak…. If I am truly dedicated to lead them to Christ, then sin and scandal will have little room. How real and determined is my dedication?

Rebuke and Forgive: We must fight sin wherever we find it. How much more difficult does this become in a world where tolerance is ranked above virtue! Even in family life we are tempted to let things go and not create friction and uneasiness. But if sin is our greatest enemy, then we must always cast it out. The key is to do everything with the heart of Christ, a heart of love: ready to forgive the sinner, never judging their heart, but never minimizing an evil action. How well do I teach moral truth? Do I distinguish the sin from the sinner? Is Christ’s love always my motivation and dominant message?

Faith Uproots Sin: All of this — fighting personal sin and helping others conquer it — seemed a bit much for the apostles. They begged for an increase of faith. Faith of any size embraces God’s understanding of the evil of sin and seeks to live accordingly. Yet sin is not overcome easily, and mere understanding is not enough. We must uproot sin from our lives and reject it constantly in the lives of others. Only Christ’s love provides the strength we need, and often the perseverance in battling the same sins over time only comes through the strength that comes from Christ’s love. Only through Christ can our hearts be filled and not return to old habits of sin.

Conversation with Christ: Give me, Lord, the courage to fight sin in my life. Grant me your heart, Lord, so I can fight and suffer without cowardice, without taking time out and without discouragement, even if others do not understand or thank me. Help me to uproot sin from my life and put you first.

Resolution: I will fight to eradicate sins against charity in my family or work life. I will avoid it and call others to do so too in a gentle but firm manner.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time “Ready or Not!”

Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”


Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come to you again in prayer. Even though I cannot see you, I know through faith that you are present in my life. I hope in your promise to be with me. I love you, and I know you love me. Accept this prayer as a token of my love.

Petition: Lord, make me long for and strive to enter the kingdom of heaven.

1. A Severe Oil Shortage: The Gospel invites us to have oil for our lamps, that is, to be always ready for the coming of the Lord. He appears in moments and ways we do not expect and at all times throughout our day. The foolish virgins failed to anticipate when and how the Lord would come to them, and they were not prepared. So often we, too, get caught up in a thousand affairs and worries, and we can miss what is essential. We miss the presence of Christ in the people around us, in the circumstances in which we are living. Sometimes, Christ comes to us through some sacrifice or suffering; but we do not recognize him in it, and we reject it. We need to strengthen our faith and see how the Lord may appear in our lives.

2. The Door Closes: Over and over in the New Testament, Jesus makes clear that there is a real possibility some people, due to their own choices, may not be saved. The most terrible thing that could happen to any person would be to hear those words from the Lord who created us and died to save us: “I do not know you.” The Lord takes our freedom to choose very seriously. He never forces our will. He never imposes himself on us. Rather he invites us to make a free response of love and obedience to him and the way of life he taught us. We must choose to remain steadfast in the way of the Christian life. God cannot save us without our cooperation.

3. Stay Awake: Saint Augustine said, “Beware of the grace of God that passes and does not return.” We need to perceive God’s presence in the little things of each day and never let the opportunity to love and serve him pass us by. Our faith must be ready and watching for him. If we take him for granted, or presume that we are already saved, we can miss our chance to be with him.

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, thank you for teaching us so clearly about the seriousness of our choices. How terrible it would be to opt for death instead of eternal life with you! I want to choose you and your ways, but I am weak. Make me watch and wait always, ready to see you in all things and do your will.

Resolution: I will actively look for signs of Christ in others today.