Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday "Empty Tomb, Expectant Heart"

On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran off to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and told them, "They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him." So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter, and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down to look in and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not lying with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he had to rise from the dead. (John 20:1-9)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the source of all life because you are life itself. Your resurrection gives me the hope of being raised from the dead to rejoice with you forever in heaven. Thank you for your presence in my life. I love you, and I want to follow after you with all my heart. Be with me now, and inspire my prayer.

Petition: Lord Jesus, grant me the joy of seeing my hopes constantly kindled by your power over sin and death. May the strength of your resurrection overcome the weaknesses of my human nature.

1. Confusing Signs: Without faith, realities that should inspire hope and expectation only cause confusion. Jesus’ empty tomb is the sign of the most complete victory, the most extreme love, and the most powerful presence. Mary Magdalene, Peter and John all see the empty tomb. But their limited faith needs time to grow and completely accept the great gift that is offered to them. In approaching the mystery of God, I must stoke up my faith. Otherwise, what should cause hope and courage will only wind up becoming a stumbling block for me. Only a sincere and generous faith in Christ enables me to take the circumstances of life in hope, confidence and security.

2. Running to the Experience of Faith: Running is an integral part of this Gospel. Mary Magdalene runs. Peter runs, and John outruns Peter. Love for the Lord creates a sense of urgency. What they saw at the tomb could have been seen without running at all. But promptness is a sign of love for the Lord. If I wish to experience Christ and the power of his resurrection, I need to have a sense of urgency in my relationship with the Lord. I must strive to meet him and give myself to him in my here and now. I can’t wait for the “ideal” moment. If I don´t give myself to Christ now, under the present conditions, there is no reason to think I ever will.

3. Faith Begins with the Experience of the Senses, but Does Not End There: John, Peter and Mary Magdalene will eventually have an unshakeable conviction in the Resurrection, and become messengers of the Resurrection. But they first need to see the empty tomb and pick up the wrappings. They would also need to see and touch the risen Christ. All this would cause wonderment, reflection, and eventually a growing realization that would induce faith. God works in the same way in my life. First there are the lived experiences of my life: people I meet, circumstances I face, events that occur… Then my wonderment and reflection on what it all means. Then the slow dawning of faith.

“It is clearly evident that Christ´s resurrection is the greatest Event in the history of salvation, and indeed, we can say in the history of humanity, since it gives definitive meaning to the world. The whole world revolves around the Cross, but only in the resurrection does the Cross reach its full significance of salvific Event. The Cross and Resurrection constitute the one paschal mystery in which the history of the world is centered. Therefore Easter is the Church´s greatest Solemnity. Every year she celebrates and renews this Event, fraught with all the prophecies of the Old Testament, beginning with the "Protoevangelium" of the Redemption, and of all the eschatological hopes and expectations projected towards the "fullness of time", which was realized when the Kingdom of God definitively entered human history and the universal order of salvation” (John Paul II, General Audience, March 1, 1989).

Conversation with Christ:  Lord Jesus, you know how to prepare your disciples to experience your presence deeply and know you intimately. I ask today for a deepening in my faith in your resurrection. Let all the events of my life point me to the truth that you are alive.

Resolution:I will be prompt in meeting the duties and responsibilities of today, in the truth of the risen Christ.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Holy Saturday – Vigil in the Holy Night of Easter


The Feast above all feasts

There is no night like this one. Heaven and earth sing loudly and proclaim the victory of Jesus over the powers of sin, death and the devil.

There is no night like this one. The house of the Father is filled with light and joy because we are redeemed and our debt is paid in full. The price is the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. 

That is why we say in the “Exulted” (The Paschal Proclamation): 

"Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels! Exult, all creation around God's throne! Jesus Christ, our King, is risen! Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor, radiant in the brightness of your King! Christ has conquered! Glory fills you! Darkness vanishes forever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory! The risen Savior shines upon you! Let this place resound with joy, echoing the mighty song of all God's people!"

This is the Night!

The Easter Vigil reminds us, with a substantial series of readings tracing the path that God has travelled with His People in the Old and New Testaments. Two words summarize well this history of love and redemption: Providence and compassion. That is why in This Holy Vigil we call to mind everything that The Lord has done and we thank Him in the name of all men and women as we say the Paschal Proclamation.

“This is our Passover feast, when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain, whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.
This is the night when first you saved our fathers: you freed the people of Israel from their slavery and led them dry-shod through the sea.
This is the night when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!
This is the night when Christians everywhere, washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement, are restored to grace and grow together in holiness”

Night of Mercy

Everything shines in this night. Above all shines a word, which is the central word of The New Testament: GRACE. It is a gift, it is a donation, it is unfathomable mercy from The One that we, with hatred or indifference in our hearts, threw out or banished from our lives, families, work, schools, universities… Tonight He rises, filled with love, to bring peace, to bring pardon, to announce redemption.” This is the night when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave.

“Father, how wonderful your care for us! How boundless your merciful love! To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.
O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!
Do not be afraid.

The joyful reality of Easter is an invitation to leave behind all forms of fear. What fears? Do not fear the enemy who has already been defeated! satan, sin, the lies of the world, the strength and power of sin, or death. Do not be afraid of them anymore!


Friday, March 29, 2013

Holy Saturday "Looking for Jesus in the Wrong Place"

Liturgical note: There is no liturgy for Holy Saturday. Christian tradition has the Church waiting at the Lord’s tomb, meditating on his suffering and death. Today’s meditation is taken from the Gospel reading for Easter Sunday at the Easter Vigil.

Luke 24:1-12

At daybreak on the first day of the week the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day." And they remembered his words. Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others. The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles, but their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb, bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone; then he went home amazed at what had happened.

Introductory Prayer: Heavenly Father, I contemplate the tomb of your Son who has loved us to the end. In the silence of this Holy Saturday, I meditate and prepare myself for the Resurrection. I come to you in quiet, expectant prayer, patiently awaiting the new dawn of Easter, knowing that what seems like defeat is really the victory of life. Help me to grasp the magnitude of your death and resurrection.

Petition: Jesus, grant me the grace to understand in a deeper way the glory of your resurrection.

1. A Day with Mary: Much has happened in the last few days. The Sabbath dawns serenely, quietly. Today is a day to wait quietly with Mary, to meditate slowly with her, to go to a lonely place and contemplate the Lord’s death while holding her hand. Holy Saturday is a day to take it all in. It is a day of sorrow and of hope. We must not let Holy Saturday pass by as just another day, as just the day in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It is a day of quiet contemplation with the Mother of God.

2. The Other Side of the Resurrection: From our vantage point, it’s easy to forget that for the apostles and the disciples of the Lord, all seemed over. Jesus was dead. There was something powerfully definitive about that “It is finished” Jesus had pronounced from the cross. They would no more hear his voice, feel the power of his preaching, or see the marvels of his works. For them there was no resurrection, only passion and death. The women were preparing everything to finish the task of anointing Jesus’ dead body. We must contemplate this day from the other side of the Resurrection.

3. Prayer Gives us the Answers to Life: Only in this silent contemplation will the apostles be able to see how it all fits together. Jesus had told them all that would happen to him, including his resurrection. Jesus had spoken plainly to them, yet their minds were not prepared to understand. It is only in the silence of this day, accompanied by Mary, that they could hope to understand what Jesus had told them. It is the same for us; we must remember Christ’s words with Mary because oftentimes our minds too are closed. Many times we think we know who Jesus is and what he is teaching us, but really it doesn’t enter our heart. We must listen carefully to what he tells us in the Gospels so as to comprehend the deeper meaning of his words. We must do this with Mary and allow her to help us.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, the silence of this day helps me to ponder in my heart all you have accomplished for me during the past few days. I know that the silence of Holy Saturday is not a silence of despair and hopelessness, but rather a silence of great expectation ready to burst forth in the overwhelming joy of Easter. I will go to the tomb with the holy women, not to anoint your dead body, but to rejoice with the angels as they proclaim, “He is not here. He has risen!”

Resolution:I will try to keep as much prayerful silence as I am able today in order to prepare well for the joy of Easter.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion "Invitation to Intimacy"

When he had said this, Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to where there was a garden, into which he and his disciples entered. Judas his betrayer also knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards from the chief priests and the Pharisees and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them, "Whom are you looking for?" They answered him, "Jesus the Nazorean." He said to them, "I AM." Judas his betrayer was also with them. When he said to them, "I AM," they turned away and fell to the ground. So he again asked them, "Whom are you looking for?" They said, "Jesus the Nazorean." Jesus answered, "I told you that I AM. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill what he had said, "I have not lost any of those you gave me." Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest´s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave´s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?" So the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus, bound him, and brought him to Annas first. He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews that it was better that one man should die rather than the people. Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Now the other disciple was known to the high priest, and he entered the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus. But Peter stood at the gate outside. So the other disciple, the acquaintance of the high priest, went out and spoke to the gatekeeper and brought Peter in. Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter, "You are not one of this man´s disciples, are you?" He said, "I am not." Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire that they had made, because it was cold, and were warming themselves. Peter was also standing there keeping warm. The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his doctrine. Jesus answered, "I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the Temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said." When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, "Is that how you answer the high priest?" Jesus answered, "If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?" Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, "You are not also one of his disciples, are you?" He denied it and said, "I am not." One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, "Did I not see you in the garden with him?" Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed. (John 18:1-19)

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, Good Friday is the day when you conquered sin by your death on the cross. You showed your mercy to be indestructible. The more the offenses thrown against you, the greater the forgiveness that came from your Sacred Heart. Thank you, Lord, for your humble, generous gift of yourself amidst such terrible suffering. I wish to accompany you closely today in your Passion. I wish to know you and to follow you more closely all the days of my life.

Petition: Lord, convince my heart that you truly died out of personal love for me.

1. The Affirmation: “I AM”. These are the courageous words of Christ before the cohort of soldiers sent to apprehend him in the garden of Gethsemane. They are the same words that God used to describe himself to Moses on Mt. Sinai. They are the words that have been used in Christian thought to refer to the Creator of all existing things. They are words in which Christ recognizes and proclaims his divinity before the soldiers. For this reason, they turned around and fell to the ground. As we meditate on Christ’s Passion, let us remember his divinity. He is my God and he is my Savior.

2. The Denial: “I am not.” These words of Peter stand in stark contrast to the words proclaiming Christ’s divinity. We could say that they represent all that is weak and fragile in man, expressed through the mouth of St. Peter. Unlike Christ in the garden, Peter stands by a warm fire and responds to a young servant girl. He denies being a follower of Christ and, in doing so, confirms his own weakness and his need for God’s grace and mercy. We should identify with Peter and recognize our need for Christ’s sacrifice. When “I Am Not”? When do I let my human fragility get the better of me and pull me down? What do I need to do to avoid the pitfalls in my life and be a more faithful follower of Christ?

3. Out of Love for Me: This Gospel scene juxtaposes Peter’s denial and Christ’s sentence to death. Even though Christ’s death would have happened without Peter’s denial, what was its effect on Our Lord? Jesus was dying for Peter and all people in order to save us from our sins. Peter’s lack of faith and love did not change that. But when he turned again and believed, he recognized that Jesus had done it all for him, and from then on he proclaimed it far and wide. May the Lord help us to realize that Christ sees all of our actions and they either console him or add to the pain of so many infidelities. We need to work steadily to build a second nature within ourselves so that in moments of temptation our heart turns first to Jesus, considers the offense we might cause him and then our will kicks in to reject doing wrong and thus please Our Lord and Savior.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, as I contemplate your loving self-giving on Good Friday, I ask you to fill my heart with a deeper knowledge and love of you. All of my infidelities and weaknesses contribute to what you have suffered. You did it out of love for me and for each one of my brothers and sisters. Thank you.

Resolution:I resolve to ask for the personal experience of Christ’s love today, especially when considering his passion and death.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Holy Thursday "Come to Serve and not to Be Served"

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples´ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Master, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later." Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus answered him, "Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me." Simon Peter said to him, "Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well." Jesus said to him, "Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all." For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, "Not all of you are clean." So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ´teacher´ and ´master,´ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another´s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do." (John 13:1-15)

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I wish to accompany you closely on the road to Calvary. If I were to contemplate you more often as you hang scourged and bloody upon the cross, I’m certain I would be able to rest in your love and base my actions on that one truth. I know that you have loved me with an eternal love: you have proven it there on the wood of the cross. So I long to respond with gratitude, peace and the firm determination to spread your love to everyone.

Petition: Lord, grant me the grace of final perseverance in the faith.

1. The Proof of His Unwavering Love: “Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father.” Jesus did not suffer crisis of identity. Throughout his entire public ministry he showed an awareness of who he was (the Fathers Anointed One) and what he had come to do (his mission). He knew the trials that were soon to crush his mortal body. They would be a means to prove his worth: his love. “He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.” Love endures anything. Love can draw forth good even from the worst of situations. Love redeems. The very betrayal of his friendship will let him demonstrate the authenticity of his own friendship: “There is no greater love than to lay one’s life down for one’s friends.”

2. Acceptance of Christ’s Love: Jesus has not asked ‘permission’ to be humble and of service. Peter’s question, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” does not come as a request, rather as a resistant acknowledgement of what Jesus is about to do. Do humility and love need our ‘permission’? The question is: who is humble enough to receive someone else’s love? Am I humble enough to receive Jesus’ love for me? Jesus’ humility and charity are purifying in their effect. In fact, precisely the attitude, “You will never wash my feet,” needs to be washed away. Only the poor in spirit, the pure of heart, the childlike enter the Kingdom of heaven: “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Let Christ bathe me, then, by his graceful example. Anything less, I will lose my part with him. Yet if he has bathed me by his word, then I must only keep my feet clean.

3. The Precious Lesson: If I am a disciple, I must be careful to learn the lesson. Jesus asks, “Do you realize what I have done for you?” If anything, the master could demand that his servant wash his feet, not the other way around. Jesus is Lord and master, he is the Good Teacher. I am his disciple. Nonetheless, he has demonstrated his authority not by exacting obedience through exertion of force, rather by revealing the power of virtue: humility and charity – and their capacity to teach and persuade. “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another´s feet.” He has given me a model to follow, so that I go and do likewise. Whose feet am I meant to wash?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, continue to bathe me with your word so that I may be found clean. Grant me the humility and charity to imitate your virtues. I wish to learn to wash the feet of others, so give me the grace to let down my defenses and simply reach out to do good, without worrying how others may react to me.

Resolution:Today I will humble myself to serve someone in need, especially anyone toward whom I have negative sentiments.

Wednesday of Holy Week "Unmasking the Betrayer"

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?" They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over. On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and said, "Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?" He said, "Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ´The teacher says, "My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples."´" The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover. When it was evening, he reclined at table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, "Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me." Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, "Surely it is not I, Lord?" He said in reply, "He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me. The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born." Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, "Surely it is not I, Rabbi?" He answered, "You have said so." (Matthew 26:14-25)

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I wish to accompany you closely on the road to Calvary. If I were to contemplate you more often as you hang scourged and bloody upon the cross, I’m certain I would be able to rest in your love and base my actions on that one truth. I know that you have loved me with an eternal love: you have proven it there on the wood of the cross. So I long to respond with gratitude, peace and the firm determination to spread your love to everyone.

Petition: Lord Jesus, help me to stay strong in my faith.

1. One of the Twelve a Traitor? We often think that Judas must have been different, obviously worse than the other disciples. If that were true, everyone would have suspected him when Jesus said, “One of you will betray me.” They would have thought: “It must be Judas. He’s always been bad. He’s capable of betraying Jesus. I don’t know why Jesus picked him.” Instead, Judas did not stand out as any worse than they were. If he did, they would have immediately suspected him. Each one of us, as well, could become a Judas little by little, first by giving up our principles on smaller matters and then later on more important matters. In the Christian life there always needs to be a healthy tension of straining forward and of watchfulness. The one who is trustworthy in small matters is trustworthy in greater matters.

2. Is It I? The apostles are all asking, “Is it I?” Why? Was there some widespread desire to betray him of which they were barely keeping control? No, but they were in a very dangerous situation. The Pharisees had decided to kill Jesus. The apostles know it. That’s why the whole group had gone to stay in Jericho for a while. Jerusalem was too dangerous. They can imagine themselves following Jesus to the Temple the next day, being singled out in the crush of the crowd and then having their life threatened to provide information about where Jesus can be found at night. They wonder what they would say. With my life on the line would I betray Jesus? This is why they ask, “Is it I?” When push comes to shove, what comes first in my life? Would I ever consider selling out on Jesus for something or someone else?

3. Vigilance of the Heart: Judas had everything he needed to be a great apostle. He had a magnanimous heart, which is why Jesus picked him. God never destines anyone for failure. So what happened to him? At some point he stopped working on his friendship with Jesus. Some would point to the moment of the discourse on the Bread of Life recorded in John 6. Judas couldn’t accept that he needed to eat Jesus’ body and drink his blood. Jesus must be wrong, and therefore he is a false Messiah. John 6:64 tells us that Jesus knew who his betrayer would be. Jesus gives Judas a chance to leave the group and remain an honest man in John 6:67. Instead, he stays, becoming a hypocrite – a “devil” in Jesus’ words – and begins the path that will lead to betrayal. Knowing that my faith is the most precious gift I have received from God, do I watch over and nourish my faith so that it grows and is strong?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I have betrayed you so many times, even when I do such a simple thing as not saying grace in a restaurant out of fear that others will realize I am a Catholic. May the experience of your Passion and death help me to have the courage to live by my convictions at all times.

Resolution:Today I will live all the demands of my faith, especially in the moments when they point me out as a follower of Christ. Today I will not betray him, even in the smallest way.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday of Holy Week "Peter’s Collision Course"

Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, "Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me." The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant. One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus´ side. So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant. He leaned back against Jesus´ chest and said to him, "Master, who is it?" Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it." So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. After he took the morsel, Satan entered him. So Jesus said to him, "What you are going to do, do quickly." Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him. Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him, "Buy what we need for the feast," or to give something to the poor. So he took the morsel and left at once. And it was night. When he had left, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ´Where I go you cannot come,´ so now I say it to you.” Simon Peter said to him, "Master, where are you going?" Jesus answered him, "Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later." Peter said to him, "Master, why can´t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times." (John 13:21-33, 36-38)

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I wish to accompany you closely on the road to Calvary. If I were to contemplate you more often as you hang scourged and bloody upon the cross, I’m certain I would be able to rest in your love and base my actions on that one truth. I know that you have loved me with an eternal love: you have proven it there on the wood of the cross. So I long to respond with gratitude, peace and the firm determination to spread your love to everyone.

Petition: Lord, help me to see and avoid the pitfalls of pride.

1. Trusts in Christ’s Love: Peter loves Jesus. Jesus is his best friend. Peter would do anything for him. Like us, it distresses Peter to think he might be separated from Jesus. He feels the strength of his love and doesn’t hesitate to proclaim that he is willing to die for Jesus. He means it. That same night in the Garden of Gethsemane, he will draw a rusty old sword and face a cohort of professional soldiers all by himself. With a mighty stroke (not much of a swordsman, but brave…), he will nick the ear of the High Priest’s servant. There really is love there and a serious intention to make sacrifices for Jesus’ sake. But like us, there is something he still lacks. At times I may feel so ready to take on anything for love of Christ. But as soon as the “anything” comes, I experience my weakness. There’s even the risk of giving into discouragement at my failures.

2. Making Poor Choices: We know that Peter can make a bad decision because he has done it often enough in the past. Five minutes after being named head of the apostles, he is advising Jesus to abandon the Father’s plan, a plan that involves going to Jerusalem to suffer and die. Jesus reacts strongly, totally rejecting this insinuation: No one comes between him and the Father’s will. Peter has made a big mistake, and Jesus makes that clear: “Stumbling block,” “Satan,” “You think not as God thinks but as man” (Cf. Matthew 16:23). And this was only one in a series of mistakes; the Gospels list more. Part of Peter’s appeal is that he is so much like us. We make lots of mistakes every day. Like Peter, we think not as God, but as men. Yet as we know, Peter will succeed in the end to become humble and to serve his Lord steadfastly.

3. Misjudgment of Situations: Peter is complacent. He thinks he understands the situation. Everything is going well. The people have finally acclaimed Jesus as Messiah. The chief priests, scribes and Pharisees are upset but powerless. They attempt to debate Jesus and show him up every day, but always end up bested by Jesus. It seems like it won’t be long now before Jesus has everyone convinced that he is the Messiah and from that point on, it should be clear sailing. Peter is about to be blindsided, but he doesn’t realize it. The only solution for him is to do what Jesus is urging him to do, but he doesn’t realize that. In spite of his respect for Jesus, he is still sure that he knows what it best for himself. I am convinced that my life must be rooted in prayer and union with God?

Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, like Peter I have fallen many times. Every time it was because I put my trust in myself rather than in you. Help me to listen to your inspirations and your inner promptings to prayer. Only with humility will I be able to avoid falls in the future. Please help me obtain it, Lord.

Resolution:I will start everything I do today with a prayer, offering its fruits up to God. When I finish each activity, I will give thanks to Christ, my friend, for all the help he has given me. I will offer him my successes and ask him to forgive my failings.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Monday of Holy Week "Blind Guides"

Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, "Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days´ wages and given to the poor?" He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions. So Jesus said, "Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me." The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of Jesus, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too, because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him. (John 12:1-11)

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I wish to accompany you closely on the road to Calvary. If I were to contemplate you more often as you hang scourged and bloody upon the cross, I’m certain I would be able to rest in your love and base my actions on that one truth. I know that you have loved me with an eternal love: you have proven it there on the wood of the cross. So I long to respond with gratitude, peace and the firm determination to spread your love to everyone.

Petition: Lord, grant me faith in your promise to raise everyone from the dead.

1. A Willful Blindness: Jesus produces one of his most convincing miracles – a sure sign that God sent him: He raises someone from the dead. The chief priests cannot deny this. The deed was not done far away in Galilee. Jesus is right there, in Bethany, just outside Jerusalem. Lazarus is there too. Anyone who wants to see can travel the short distance from Jerusalem, over the Mount of Olives, and visit with Jesus and Lazarus. The chief priests, rather than give in and accept Jesus as the Messiah, reject him. Their rejection is complete. They should be able to see that Jesus’ miracle is obviously an act of God’s divine power, but they refuse to accept it. They can think of no way to convince people that he is not the Messiah except to kill both Jesus and Lazarus. Sometimes mere association with Jesus can bring about costly consequences. How ironic it would have been to be killed for the “crime” of being raised from the dead…

2. Harden Not Your Hearts: Logically, if anyone is to accept Jesus as Messiah, it should be the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees. They are the ones who know Scripture the best. They are the ones who are supposed to be on the lookout for the Messiah. By now they should realize that Jesus is doing everything that the Messiah is supposed to do. Yet with only a few exceptions (Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea), they fail to acknowledge him as Messiah. God’s ways are not our ways. God’s plans and actions remain impenetrable to the rationalistic mind that demands scientific-like proofs even in the spiritual realm. Hardness of heart makes us see the good works of others as evil. Do I seek to attune my mind and my heart to God’s ways or do I demand reasons from him? Often times the cross in our lives does not make sense. However, we will one day understand it by first accepting and carrying it.

3. Pride and Envy Can Be Our Downfall: The Pharisees’ problem is pride. They think they’ve got everything figured out. They think (because they don’t want it to be true) that Jesus cannot be the Messiah. He doesn’t fulfill their expectations and they are not prepared to change – to examine themselves to see if they might be wrong. They are so sure they have it all figured out that they overlook all that Jesus does to fulfill Scripture. They go even so far as to overlook his having raised Lazarus from the dead! They clutch at any feeble excuse to discredit him: “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him” (Luke 7:39); “Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee” (John 7:52). God doesn’t conform himself to our plans and ideas. He expects us to conform to his.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, faith comes so hard to me. I should be aware of all the good you have worked in my life. Help me to look with the eyes of faith that will bring me to an unshakeable belief in you, a faith like that of those who witnessed your raising of Lazarus.

Resolution:Today, I will look back briefly on my life and try to notice all the things Christ has done for me, so that by reflecting on these things my faith and trust in him will deepen.

Palm Sunday of the Lord´s Passion "King of Hearts"

Then the whole assembly of them arose and brought him before Pilate. They brought charges against him, saying, "We found this man misleading our people; he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar and maintains that he is the Messiah, a king." Pilate asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" He said to him in reply, "You say so." Pilate then addressed the chief priests and the crowds, "I find this man not guilty." But they were adamant and said, "He is inciting the people with his teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to here." On hearing this Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean; and upon learning that he was under Herod´s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod who was in Jerusalem at that time. Herod was very glad to see Jesus; he had been wanting to see him for a long time, for he had heard about him and had been hoping to see him perform some sign. He questioned him at length, but he gave him no answer. The chief priests and scribes, meanwhile, stood by accusing him harshly. Even Herod and his soldiers treated him contemptuously and mocked him, and after clothing him in resplendent garb, he sent him back to Pilate. Herod and Pilate became friends that very day, even though they had been enemies formerly. Pilate then summoned the chief priests, the rulers, and the people and said to them, "You brought this man to me and accused him of inciting the people to revolt. I have conducted my investigation in your presence and have not found this man guilty of the charges you have brought against him, nor did Herod, for he sent him back to us. So no capital crime has been committed by him. Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him." But all together they shouted out, "Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us." (Now Barabbas had been imprisoned for a rebellion that had taken place in the city and for murder.) Again Pilate addressed them, still wishing to release Jesus, but they continued their shouting, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" Pilate addressed them a third time, "What evil has this man done? I found him guilty of no capital crime. Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him." With loud shouts, however, they persisted in calling for his crucifixion, and their voices prevailed. The verdict of Pilate was that their demand should be granted. So he released the man who had been imprisoned for rebellion and murder, for whom they asked, and he handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they wished. As they led him away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus. A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ´Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.´ At that time people will say to the mountains, ´Fall upon us!´ and to the hills, ´Cover us!´ for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?" Now two others, both criminals, were led away with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." They divided his garments by casting lots. The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, "He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God." Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself." Above him there was an inscription that read, "This is the King of the Jews." Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us." The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the Temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit"; and when he had said this he breathed his last. The centurion who witnessed what had happened glorified God and said, "This man was innocent beyond doubt." When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle saw what had happened, they returned home beating their breasts; but all his acquaintances stood at a distance, including the women who had followed him from Galilee and saw these events. (Luke 23:1-49)

Introductory Prayer: Heavenly Father, I look to you with great confidence as I set out this week to walk the path to Calvary accompanying your Beloved Son on his way to redeeming us. I know this period is an opportunity to see my difficulties and trials as ways to conform my life better to that of your Son. Here I am Lord, ready and desiring to learn from you and imitate you.

Petition: Lord Jesus, let my thirst for happiness be quenched by your love.

1. The Search for Happiness: Everyone is passionately fond of liberty, but there is one thing we crave even more, and without which existence and even liberty is painful: happiness. It is one of life’s greatest paradoxes that as much as people seek to be free, they still wish to be a slave; not a slave in the sense that their liberty is denied to them, but in the sense that they yearn for something they can worship, something that will solicit their will, pull at their heartstrings, tempt their energies and command their affections. They want to be free to choose between various kinds of happiness, but they do not want to be free from happiness; they wish to be its slave.

2. Two Ways: There are two ways of responding to this hunger of the soul and this thirst of the heart: one is the way of the world, the other is the way of Christ. Before we indulge in the pleasures of the world, they seem desirable and appear to be all that we will need to make us happy. But after we have them, they become disappointing and sometimes even disgusting. The contrary is true of the pleasures of Christ. Before we have them, they are hard, unattractive, and even repulsive. But after we possess them, they are satisfying and become all our heart could ever desire.

3. Jesus Christ Is the Answer: What the world deems success is really failure and unhappiness. What the world deems failure and defeat is really success and victory. This reality is played out in Our Lord’s Passion. Jesus is the happiness we seek and the answer to all our desires. His way is the way of the cross, and therefore, as his followers, we must follow the same path. Jesus assures us that the poor shall not always be poor; the crucified shall not be always on a cross; the poor shall be rich; the lowly shall be exalted; those who sow in tears shall reap in joy; those who mourn shall be comforted; and those who suffer with Christ shall reign with him. In the words of the poet Francis Thompson, Christ says to you, “All which I took from thee I did but take, not for thy harms, but just that thou might’st seek it in my arms. All which thy child’s mistake fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home: Rise, clasp my hand, and come!”

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, come and be the king of my heart. During this week of your Passion I want to grow in my love and appreciation for you and all you do for me. Help me with your grace to be a faithful follower and give me the strength to take up my cross with love and generosity.

Resolution:I will visit Our Lord in the Eucharist, renewing my desire to be totally his and praying that Jesus be totally mine.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent "Whoever is not With Me is Against Me"

Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, "What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs. If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation." But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing, nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish." He did not say this on his own, but since he was high priest for that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So from that day on they planned to kill him. So Jesus no longer walked about in public among the Jews, but he left for the region near the desert, to a town called Ephraim, and there he remained with his disciples. Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before Passover to purify themselves. They looked for Jesus and said to one another as they were in the Temple area, "What do you think? That he will not come to the feast?" (John 11:45-56)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are life and truth and goodness. You are also peace and mercy. How grateful I am to have this moment to turn to you. Without you I can do nothing good. In fact, when I do good, it is you working through me, despite my failings. Thank you, Lord. Here I am ready to love you more.

Petition: Help me to see your will, Lord, above and beyond my own will and my own plans.

1. No Middle Ground: Today’s Gospel opens with the response to Jesus’ raising of Lazarus from the dead. Some eyewitnesses of the miracle believed in him, but others did not; in fact, they went to “pour fuel on the fire” with the adversaries of Christ who were seeking a reason to condemn him. Here we see the mystery of human freedom at work. The overt action of God in our lives obliges us, in a certain sense, to move to either side of the truth. To what side of the truth am I moved when I sense the manifest action of God at work in my life, in the voice of my conscience, or in the lives of others? Does it help me to believe ever more deeply in Christ?

2. Is it All About Power? Why did the Pharisees so oppose the message and action of Jesus? One way of looking at the problem is to see it as the natural consequence of the human tendency toward control – even the control of things spiritual. The religious authorities of Christ’s time no doubt saw themselves as the custodians of the faith handed down to them by their forefathers. But it seems that slowly this custody became control. The authorities become less interested in the legitimacy of Jesus’ identity, message and mission and more interested in maintaining the established religious and political order. Yet even their resistance is incorporated into God’s plan. Their rejection leads Jesus to die for the nation, “and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God.” How much do I try to control God’s action in my life?

3. Willingly Embracing the Father’s Will: We can only imagine the inner thoughts and feelings of Christ as the events leading to his suffering and death begin to unfold, just as he knows they will. Instead of resisting the Father’s plan, we see Christ serene and composed as the tension builds. We see his sense of determination and decision increase. He is fully committed to the Father’s will. Jesus teaches us the wisdom of letting go of circumstances that are fully within the Father’s purview. He teaches us to embrace the divine will with total trust and serenity, no matter how difficult it may be for us.

Conversation with Christ: >You know, Lord, what is best for me because you are my Father, immensely good, inclined towards me, attentive to my pleas, eager to give me the body of your Son ever present in the great mystery of your Eucharist.

Resolution:I will embrace with faith what I cannot – and should not – control.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent "Actions Speak Louder than Words"

The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus. Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?" The Jews answered him, "We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God." Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, ´I said, "You are gods"´? If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came, and scripture cannot be set aside, can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemes because I said, ´I am the Son of God´? If I do not perform my Father´s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father." Then they tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power. He went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained. Many came to him and said, "John performed no sign, but everything John said about this man was true." And many there began to believe in him. (John 10:31-42)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are life and truth and goodness. You are also peace and mercy. How grateful I am to have this moment to turn to you. Without you I can do nothing good. In fact, when I do good, it is you working through me, despite my failings. Thank you, Lord. Here I am ready to love you more.

Petition: Lord, help me to put my faith into action.

1. The Works Give Testimony: In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus teaches us that our faith is based not only on what God has promised, but also on what he has done. Christ points to his works as the basis for faith in him as the Son: “Even if you do not believe me, believe the works….” The greatest of all these works is his resurrection from the dead, which we will commemorate a few days from now. Works are always more powerful than words. Words may convince the mind, but works move the will to action – to decision. Jesus still continues to do the works of the Father today, especially in the Eucharist and in sacramental confession, as well in the other sacraments. Do I see these works as they really are – true actions of Christ with the power to transform?

2. The World Needs the Testimony of Holy Lives: We can never underestimate the importance and the power of personal testimony in today’s world. We are inundated with information and external stimuli of all types. Words and images and slogans abound. Yet against this cacophonous backdrop, the works of true holiness speak louder than ever before. Pope Paul VI said it best: “Contemporary man needs testimony more than arguments.” In our personal case, do our works match our words? Do our works speak for themselves of what we profess? Or are we “all words and no works?”

3. Let Your Light Shine in the World so that They Might Believe: God’s word has a special ability to penetrate the human heart and conscience. We need to trust the transforming ability of Scripture. When that word is assimilated in the lives of believers, its power is multiplied even more. The tremendous and even virulent opposition Jesus meets at the hands of his adversaries cannot keep others from believing in him. This mystery is repeated over and over again in the life of the Church. Where there is the greatest opposition to the Gospel message, there are also the greatest conversions. “Where sin abounds, grace abounds more abundantly,” (Romans 5:20) to paraphrase Saint Paul. This proven truth should protect us from discouragement in our own efforts to evangelize.

Conversation with Christ: >

I believe in you, Lord,

when I cast out my nets one and one hundred times,

and I draw them in wet, empty, almost broken.

I believe that you test your chosen ones,

because when the seed is sunk down into the earth

then it can better take root in God.

I want to abandon myself to you,

that you may place me near you,

as a seal on your heart.

Resolution:I will strive today to make my works match what I profess to believe.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent "Keeping His Word"

Jesus said to the Jews: "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death." So the Jews said to him, "Now we are sure that you are possessed. Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ´Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.´ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Or the prophets, who died? Who do you make yourself out to be?" Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing; but it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ´He is our God.´ You do not know him, but I know him. And if I should say that I do not know him, I would be like you a liar. But I do know him and I keep his word. Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad. So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM." So they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the Temple area. (John 8:51-59)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are life and truth and goodness. You are also peace and mercy. How grateful I am to have this moment to turn to you. Without you I can do nothing good. In fact, when I do good, it is you working through me, despite my failings. Thank you, Lord. Here I am ready to love you more.

Petition: May I hear your voice, Lord, and not harden my heart to that which you ask of me today.

1. The Real Enemy: Today we find Jesus in animated conversation with the Jews. They seem to discuss the same topic – death — but in fact they refer to two very different understandings of one reality. The Jews speak of death in a material way, whereas Jesus speaks of it in a spiritual way, with his description of death of far greater consequence than the former. Christ warns us about the gravity of spiritual death, which is the consequence of serious sin. This is why the Church traditionally prays, in the Litany of the Saints, to be freed from mors perpetua (everlasting death), the spiritual death which Jesus warned against. Lent is the time to eradicate all forms of this evil from our lives, especially through the positive practices of prayer, penance and almsgiving.

2. Only the Spirit Gives Life: Jesus’ interlocutors are never able to penetrate the meaning of his words because they think in a purely material way. Only with a spirit of faith and the aid of the Holy Spirit can we understand the things of God. Today’s world is rife with what we could call a spirit of materialism. It looks to material things and values as the solution to everything. But have you noticed how it seems that the more our material wealth and technical capacity grow, the emptier we become on the inside, and the more hollow our western culture becomes? Material things are necessary, for we are part matter. But a purely material explanation will never be able to address the deeper needs of the human person. As Christ said: “Only the Spirit gives life” (John 6:63).We must strive to adopt a spiritual or supernatural way of living and see ourselves and our world from this point of view, so as not to become blind to a truth that transcends matter.

3. Open to a Challenge: Jesus’ challenge to raise the eyes of the heart and soul to a spiritual level is met with fierce opposition. In fact, his listeners want to stone him! Christ always challenges us to go higher. And he does this as a manifestation of his love. How do I respond to this challenge in my own life?

Conversation with Christ: >

You have spoken, Lord,

in the silence of my night

and your word has engraved your will in my heart.

Because you spoke,

there is a will in you that I know:

It is the will of your commands.

I want to fulfill that will, Lord.

I want to believe according to your doctrine.

To hope according to your promises.

To love and live according to your guidance and laws.

Resolution:I will foster a more spiritual way of seeing myself, others and the world.



Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent "The Truth Will Set You Free"

Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, "If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ´You will become free´?" Jesus answered them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if a son frees you, then you will truly be free. I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you. I tell you what I have seen in the Father´s presence; then do what you have heard from the Father." They answered and said to him, "Our father is Abraham." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham´s children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. You are doing the works of your father!" So they said to him, "We were not born of fornication. We have one Father, God." Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me." (John 8:31-42)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are life and truth and goodness. You are also peace and mercy. How grateful I am to have this moment to turn to you. Without you I can do nothing good. In fact, when I do good, it is you working through me, despite my failings. Thank you, Lord. Here I am ready to love you more.

Petition: Grant me the grace, Lord, to remain in your word and to be set free by your truth.

1. A Vibrant Faith: Faith isn’t real until it touches our attitudes and, above all, our concrete choices. To “remain” in the word of Christ means to conform our lives with his life and his virtues, especially the virtue of charity, which is the very essence of Christian doctrine and morality. To “remain” in his word is, as some would say, “to walk the walk.” In another passage we are told that it is not those who say “Lord, Lord…” who will enter the Kingdom, but only those who actually do the Father’s will in their lives. Remaining in his word is the stuff of sanctity – it’s also the stuff of daily perseverance and of knowing how to get up, dust ourselves off, and begin again each time we falter or fall along the way. How well do I “remain” in Christ’s word? Could an impartial observer see from my attitudes and actions that I follow Christ?

2. A True Disciple Lives the Truth: Christ seems to imply that there are true and false disciples. There is only one way to tell the difference between the two: whether one actually embraces his word not only as an ideal, but also as a rule of life. Today a plethora of voices, even within the Christian community, would have us follow a purely “therapeutic” Christianity – a form of Christianity in which we can supposedly believe in Christ while adopting behaviors or attitudes which are totally opposed to his “way” of discipleship as taught authoritatively by the Church. The temptation to separate faith and practice is never far from us. How much have these false voices impacted my own understanding of what it means to follow Christ as a member of his body, the Church?

3. Authentic Freedom: The freedom promised by Christ to those who remain in his word is much deeper than the freedom offered by the world. Christ’s freedom is not simply a political freedom. Neither is it the ability to choose whatever I want, when I want, and how I want. The freedom of Christ’s disciple is spiritual, moral, and interior; it is the freedom for which every person longs in the depths of his heart. And only Christ gives this kind of freedom.

Conversation with Christ: >Thank you, Lord, for the freedom you have given me! With it I could seek happiness in broken vessels of clay, forgetting you, the fountain of living waters. You could have made me not free.... But thus you have created me, and I want to be free. I want to know how to be free. I want to demonstrate that I am free, with the most sovereign act of my freedom: Lord, since I am free, I give my freedom, my will, to you, so that your will may be done.

Resolution:I will exercise my freedom responsibly, as Christ would have me do.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary "A Heroic Example"

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ. Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, in spite of difficulties I trust in your love and mercy. I believe in you, I hope in you, and I love you above all things. These ingredients – faith, hope and love – will help strengthen me for today’s battle. Lord, I entrust myself to you unconditionally. (Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a)

Petition: Lord, grant me a clean conscience like that of your foster father, Joseph.

1. My Situation: A danger could exist on our spiritual journey. When everything is quiet, works well and is intelligible, or when others esteem our efforts, our life seems to flourish. On the other hand, when everything is tough, humiliating or painful, a repugnance seems to cast a gray cloud over us. We may even begin to wonder if God still loves us. We need to keep our faith in God strong always. Joseph is a good example for us to emulate, for he did not become discouraged easily when undergoing trials.

2. A Clean Conscience: Joseph, a just man, wanted to believe Mary’s story, but the facts were too harsh to comprehend. He loved and cared for Mary, but he felt betrayed. Since he had a clean conscience, he tried to dismiss the perfect dream of taking Mary to be his wife and decided to divorce her quietly. God, seeing Joseph’s honesty, communicated to him the truth about Mary’s integrity. A message in a dream was enough to convince his willing heart. How willing am I to believe the works of God in my life? How willing am I to fulfill God’s will?

3. Not All Is Easy for a Just Man: God chose a man of great integrity and detail to shoulder the daunting responsibility of raising his Son. Would Joseph ever have imagined that five months after taking Mary into his home he would have to take her to Bethlehem without any comforts or security during the journey? Would he ever have imagined that he would have to flee to Egypt, dodging swords and soldiers? This was the price he paid for being an honorable man. However, the Lord rewarded Joseph with being the foster father of the Creator of the Universe, with all the blessings and satisfactions that this would imply.

Conversation with Christ: O Christ, King and Lord, your foster father Saint Joseph provides me with an example of courage in bearing serenely the weight of life’s crosses and difficulties. Help me to see the beauty of giving limitlessly and surrendering my life to you.

Resolution:I will chat with Saint Joseph at some moment during the day, asking him to teach me how to be serene in times of temptations.

Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent "In Your Light We See Light"

Jesus spoke to the scribes and Pharisees saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." So the Pharisees said to him, "You testify on your own behalf, so your testimony cannot be verified." Jesus answered and said to them, "Even if I do testify on my own behalf, my testimony can be verified, because I know where I came from and where I am going. But you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge by appearances, but I do not judge anyone. And even if I should judge, my judgment is valid, because I am not alone, but it is I and the Father who sent me. Even in your law it is written that the testimony of two men can be verified. I testify on my behalf and so does the Father who sent me." So they said to him, "Where is your father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also." He spoke these words while teaching in the treasury in the Temple area. But no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come. (John 8: 12-20)

Introductory Prayer: Father, you call your children to walk in the light of Christ. Free us from darkness and keep us in the radiance of your truth.

Petition: Lord, grant me the light of faith.

1. I am the Light of the World: The world needs light. I need light. Christ came to teach us about his Father. His life is a beacon amidst the gloom and haze of a life without purpose. His testimony of life enlightens our minds, our hearts and our consciences. Jesus will one day say, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” I am the Way to the Father. All creation came to be through the one Word of the Father. But creation itself was marred by man’s sin. So the Word became flesh to make all things new. Therefore all creation must pass through Me if it is to reach its point of rest in My Father’s house. I am the Truth about God and about man. Look to Me, meditate on My life and you will discover the meaning, the purpose and the infinite value of your own life. From Me you will learn how to properly conduct yourself in relation to the Father and your neighbor. My truth gives light to your conscience especially in those moments of morally difficult decisions. I am Life itself, the source of your natural and supernatural life. “And this life became the light of men” (John 1:4).

2. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life: There are moments when this statement seems altogether untrue; moments in life when the soul seeking to follow Christ and to dedicate itself to extending God’s Kingdom ends up persecuted, alone and confused. Consider how Our Lady faced situations when she did not clearly comprehend God’s ways: Joseph’s decision to divorce her, the birth in a stable, the martyrdom of the Holy Innocents, the flight to Egypt, the child Jesus lost in the Temple, the trial, scourging, crucifixion and death of her son. It was precisely in this ‘darkness’ that the light of faith guided her “more surely than the noon-day sun” (St. John of the Cross). It is the light of this faith in the God that we do not see that enables us to love our brothers and sisters that we do see. It is the light of this faith that permits us to grasp the divine and human presence of Our Lord in the consecrated host. It is the light of this faith that allows us to find God’s image in each person from the moment of conception up until the last drawn breath, regardless of race, creed, physical or mental capacities. Faith, real and true faith, transforms our entire lives. Even when faced with the deepest solitude, the cruelest sickness, the bitterest moral pain, a soul that believes and lives in accord with faith feels intimately happy. It knows that with its suffering it shows its love for God, becomes more like Jesus Christ, and collaborates a little in the salvation of souls by joining its suffering with those of Jesus”.

3. I know where I came from and where I am going: John’s Gospel insists on the total identity between the Father and the Son. Jesus does not “stumble upon” his identity nor does he just “happen to be” captured and crucified. ‘Though he was in the form of God he humbled himself and took the form of a slave” (Philippians 2) that we might “have life and have it fully” (John 10:10). He came to lay down his life so that he might put to death our sinful nature and take us up again in the newness of his life. As St. Irenaeus stated, “he recapitulates” all things in his person. The full self-knowledge of who he is reveals to us the boundless freedom of his love, a love that animates his every action, especially his death on the cross. Dying was his reason for living.

Dialogue with Christ: Dear Lord, in your light I see light. In your life I find the explanation of my own life. You are my meaning, my purpose and my lasting hope. You also know that the demands of daily living deeply affect my life. The tug and pull of the world constantly invite me down a path that, if followed, may one day separate me from you, my true joy. Grant me the light of faith and give me the grace to seek you generously and sincerely so that, united to you, I too may be light, salt and leaven for those I meet today. Mother of Purity, make my heart only for Jesus.

Resolution:At least three times today I will stop what I am doing to lift my heart, my thoughts and my will to Jesus, reorienting my actions towards him.