Sunday, November 30, 2014

Monday of the First Week of Advent "Faith that Moves Rain Clouds"

When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ´Go,´ and he goes; to another, ´Come here,´ and he comes; and to my slave, ´Do this,´ and the slave does it." When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, "Amen I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I say to you, many will come from east and west and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus I place myself before you with great confidence, sure of your desire to spend this time with me and accompany me throughout the day. I am grateful for your unconditional and unfailing love. I humbly offer you my desire to love you more and serve you more faithfully.

Petition: Lord help me to have a profound and yet childlike faith in you.

1. I Will Come and Cure Him: Jesus has a heart that is prompt in serving those in need. Doubtless Christ had other plans when he arrived to Capernaum, plans that didn’t include making another trip to cure the slave of a foreigner. Often we can find ourselves in similar situations in our daily life. We are just about to relax after a grueling day when the phone rings or a little voice asks for help with his or her homework. It is in those moments that Jesus is inviting us to imitate his example of service. Turn the tables around for just a moment. How many times have I been the one on the other side asking for a little of someone else’s time? Ask Jesus for the grace to be flexible and always available to the needs of others.

2. I Am Not Worthy: The centurion has a profound awareness of his own unworthiness and this is key to his finding favor with Jesus. At times we pray as if we deserved God’s favor, but here the centurion recognizes that he is unworthy that Jesus should come to him. So great was this man’s faith and humility that we use his words to express our own sentiments before receiving Jesus in Holy Communion: “Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” As we continue to prepare for Christ’s coming during the Advent season, let’s make these words of the centurion our own.

3. Faith Moves Rain Clouds: If it can be said that Jesus had a weakness for something, it would seem that Christ’s “weakness” showed itself when he perceived faith in others. He never worked a miracle without first demanding faith from the one to receive it, and he never refused anyone who asked anything from him with faith. Jesus says that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed you can move mountains. Although I personally have never seen anyone move mountains, I surely have seen prayer move smaller things, like rain clouds for instance. If you need mountains, rain clouds or anything else to be moved, ask for it with faith, and you will really touch Jesus’ weak spot. Direct your prayer of petition to Our Lord with confident faith and love for his will. He really listens and he can move whatever needs to be moved.

Conversation with Christ: Christ Jesus let me ask you for the faith that you demand from me. I’m going to remember now to turn to you with my concerns, no matter how small, knowing you’re accompanying me, and wish to help and guide me. Please help me to recognize you in those who seek my aid, and give me the generosity to answer promptly and graciously in imitation of you.

Resolution: Just before lunch, I will make a simple act of faith in Christ, that he is guiding and protecting me.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

First Sunday of Advent "Always on the Watch"

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge,
each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore;
you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I all too easily forget that you deserve the first spot in my life. In this moment, though, I recognize you as my King and Master. I know you are present with me now and that you wish to fill me with your grace. Thank you for your friendship; I offer my weak love in return. I love you, Lord, and wish you to reign in my life.

Petition: Lord Jesus, help me to stay vigilant and attentive to your holy inspirations.

1. “You Do Not Know When the Master of the House Will Come.” Lord Jesus, I am not the master of my life; you are. I therefore ought not to fritter away my time simply doing as I please. I will need to render to you an account of my stewardship over my life, which really belongs to you, my Creator and Redeemer. What will you ask of me when you come for my soul? Do my daily actions demonstrate your ownership of my life?

2. Keep Alert Lord Jesus, this Gospel may sound a bit harsh, but I thank you for its message. You’re reminding me how important it is to live my Christian life in a state of healthy tension – a tension that doesn’t imply frustration or anxiety of any sort, but rather is a constant desire to draw closer to you and be more like you. Just as a lover is exquisitely attentive to fulfill the every desire of the beloved, I should be watchful for the least occasion to please you.

3. When He Comes Will I Be Asleep? This Gospel makes me reflect on my need to receive pardon in the sacrament of reconciliation. The definitive moment of my death, that very special face-to-face encounter with you, Lord, might come when I am not expecting it. I must be ready for that moment. I want to be able to look you fully in the eye. I have sought to please you in my actions, and when I have failed, I have turned to you through confession to be washed of my sins. I want to hear you say to me: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Come share my joy” (Matthew 25:23).

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, help me to “stay awake” in my daily life, keeping heaven as my true goal in all that I do. Help me to be ready in every moment of my life to be called into your presence.

Resolution: I will set a regular time to receive the sacrament of reconciliation frequently.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Saturday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time "Ready or Not?"

Jesus said to his disciples: "Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man."

Introductory Prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe in you and in the Kingdom you are building in and through me. I believe in the value of my sacrifice and struggles united to yours. I hope to arrive to heaven when you say it is time. I wish to spend myself for those I should love the most.

Petition: Rouse my heart, Lord, to live in you!

1. Drowsy Hearts: Our life is a time of preparation, not only for an eternal friendship with God, but for the “assault” of the “tribulations” that must come first. The spiritual battle is real, whether or not we are aware of it, whether or not we want it. We fight each day and in many ways, but the battle is ultimately won in the depths of our hearts. All that puts our hearts to sleep and gives us a false sense of security must be avoided. I may not “carouse and get drunk” in the typical fashion, but do I wander about seeking satisfaction from the world? Am I superficial in my judgments? Do I become so engrossed and absorbed in material matters, works and worries that I am unable to pursue my spiritual life and vocation with a clear and focused attention?

2. That Day: It seems that none of us will escape the trial of that last day. For some it will be sudden and painful, for others it will be prolonged and difficult. But we are all mortal creatures. The great saints all lived with their end in mind. Death was a healthy meditation that moved them to live the present day to the full. Death is the door to my real life. The anticipation of that day need not rob us of joy; rather, it must call us to love. How I live this day determines how I will live “that day” and the everlasting day of eternal life with God. How do I want to live that day?

3. Vigilance and Prayer: This is how Jesus invited his closest friends, the apostles, to live “that day” of his Passion: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Matthew 26:41). The final words of the Our Father must find resonance with how we live. Vigilance requires awareness not only of the enemies and threats that surround us, but also of the weaknesses within us. These elements are at work each day, and so we must be on guard each day to check their influence. This must be the simple and serene priority in our life. But it must always lead us to Christ, to stand before him sincerely and trustingly in prayer. Prayer and vigilance lead to each other. If we do not make prayer the air we breathe, we will suffocate in a polluted world. How much importance am I giving to my habits and life of prayer?

Conversation with Christ: Grant me, dear Jesus, a sense of urgency. Wake me up from any drowsiness or spiritual carelessness. Allow me to see both the threats and opportunities for my life of grace. Keep before my eyes the real meaning of my life and the limited time I have to conquer and to grow in love.

Resolution: I will pray today for the soul in purgatory who was most distracted or least prepared for “that day” of his death.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Friday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time "The Kingdom Is Near"

Jesus told his disciples a parable. "Consider the fig tree and all the other trees. When their buds burst open, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near; in the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near. Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away."

Introductory Prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe in you and in the Kingdom you are building in and through me. I believe in the value of my sacrifice and struggles united to yours. I hope to arrive to heaven when you say it is time. I wish to spend myself for those I should love the most.

Petition: Thy Kingdom come, both now and forever!

1. See for Yourselves: In today’s Gospel, Jesus is responding to the disciples’ anxious plea for a “when” and a “with what warning” the end will come (Luke 21:7). He tells them some signs that will precede the imminent fall of Jerusalem as well as the coming of the Son of Man “on the clouds.” But these will all be very apparent, like the coming of summer. So don’t be obsessed with figuring out the “when.” Focus on living and knowing the Kingdom of God now. How easily we are distracted with all that happens around us, yet how difficult it is to be aware of the Kingdom and its demands in my heart and my relations to others in my life! What efforts do I make to discover and to know the present demands of his Kingdom in my life?

2. The Kingdom of God Will Come: Jesus has used many images to describe the Kingdom of God. Like the mustard seed, it is hard to recognize at first. It begins small and grows slowly. But it will come, and this must be our daily prayer of desire: “Thy Kingdom Come!” We must resist a very real temptation. Almost unconsciously we want it to be a worldly Kingdom that will come during our lifetime. We work and pray as though we will soon arrive at our goals and rest from all our spiritual labors. This leads us to get easily discouraged at our lack of progress in prayer and virtue, no less than with the problems that surround us. No, we must live with hope, pushing forward with growing confidence that the Lord will bring his Kingdom to fulfillment, both in us and in the world – when the time is right. Whose kingdom am I seeking?

3. My Words Will Not Pass Away: Another temptation in awaiting the Kingdom is to despair of the times of trial through which we must pass. But in the words of St. Theresa of Jesus, “all things pass,” only God remains. Nothing we suffer will remain as the Kingdom approaches. And yet all these “trials” are the most valuable and powerful means to bring about the Kingdom in our own souls and in the lives of others, especially in those who wander. Use the tools of the Kingdom: Suffer trials with faith, and respond with a love that gives them an eternal value. May we never lose a moment in which to merit graces and to build the Kingdom that comes. In the end, only what we have done for God and for our brothers and sisters remains.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, give me a greater faith and confidence that every cross and burden, no matter how trivial or small, is a means to love. I want to build your Kingdom with you. Keep me focused on the opportunities and demands of the present moment.

Resolution: I will make one small sacrifice at a meal today for someone I wish I could help more.


Some reflections from today's gospel

Mature Christians look for God himself, not the things that we receive from Him.

This episode of the lepers helps us clearly to Highlight the virtue of thankfulness, but if we accept the ongoing invitation of God to grow in our faith, we ought to make another step forward. I think we can see also two different attitudes: one of the Christian that looks for a specific favor from God and of the Christian that looks just for God himself. 

If we do the math, we see in today's gospel that nine didn't return and one did it... We can assume that the first attitude is the most common one. We can say that is more frequent to look for what God can do for us than to look for God that is all-powerful in us and for us. 

We can also see in this two attitudes, two ways of being a Christian, I mean two stages of the Christian life: in the first stage, we all look for the things of God. Those things could material, like food or health or cold be also spiritual like peace, happiness... In both cases are still things and not purely things.

In a second stage of the Christian life, we learn to believe that in Him we find everything... This is a mature Christian, the one that can see life through the eyes of God. I was just thinking in the procession last Sunday and because of the size of the Eucharist I couldn't see almost anything, and I though to myself, maybe this is it, to see things through the Eucharist.

... There is yet another lesson we can learn today.  Jesus is on His way.  He meets the lepers, cures them, and sends them out.  There is motion in today's Gospel.  This is the way our Lord works in our souls as well.  He is never static - and he never wants our faith to become static or stale.  When the lepers are cured and sent to the priests, one leper returns to give Him thanks.  One leper lets his faith move him.  And to this leper, Jesus says, "Your faith has saved you."

This is a very important teaching for us, brothers and sisters.  The Christian life consists in a continual process of going to Jesus and being sent by Him.  It consists in going to our Lord to ask for His grace, His mercy and forgiveness, and then being sent out by Him to serve others, to bring Him to those He has entrusted to us, and in this way, to strengthen the Church.

Jesus is always in motion, and He is always putting us into motion.  He did not say to the lepers, "Come, I will heal you and together we will form a small and comfortable group."  To the one who returns to thank Him, He does not say, "Now that you understand, stay by my side - rest with me..."    

Rather, to the lepers and to each of us, He gives a mission.  He sends us out.  He says to the lepers, "Go and find your brothers and sisters - look for the priests - announce salvation to them and tell them all that God has done in you."   He sends us to carry Him to the world too.  He puts us in motion each day, for His glory.

Hard times and Thanksgiving

Look at today’s news reports and you might have a feeling that America has never been more divided — not to mention the problems in the rest of the world.  But following is a proclamation from an American President who faced a much more divided nation; he still found cause to be grateful…


Washington, D.C.

October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.



The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelt in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward, Secretary of State

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

"From Thanksgiving to Communion" (The following gospel may be used on thanksgiving day)

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.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Wednesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time "Costly Catholicism"

Jesus said to his disciples: "Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

Introductory Prayer: Jesus my Savior, thank you for another day and another chance to grow in holiness with your grace. I love you and wish to make you the true center of my thoughts, desires and actions.

Petition: Lord, help me face the difficulties of practicing my faith day-to-day.

1. Persecution: Opposition from the world is the price we pay for following Christ. No pain, no gain. Why should that surprise us? If living the Gospel were easy, all the world would be saints. But the Gospel is demanding. It rubs against our fallen human nature. It demands of us — and even makes us unpopular. Why? Because people who do good are a thorny reminder to those who don´t. It shouldn´t surprise us that the neighbors look down on us for having so many kids. Or that the guys in the dorm snicker at us for living chastely. Or that the boss overlooks us for a promotion because we wouldn´t donate to that pro-abortion group last Christmas during the company fund drive. Do I realize that to be a Christian is to be persecuted?

2. No Defense: When Christ tells us not to prepare our defense he´s not telling us to sit back and do nothing. Rather, he wants us to use our talents for the Kingdom. Christ is inviting us to trust that ultimately the victory of good over evil belongs to him. God has his time and place for everything. In the meantime we are called to build the Kingdom wherever we can—in our families, our offices, our schools, our communities. How am I building the Kingdom in the areas around me?

3. Wisdom from Above: "I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking…" When we stay close to Christ in prayer and deed, he takes over our lives little by little. And that´s good. Our selfishness fades. Our heart grows. We die to ourselves. "He must increase; I must decrease" (John 3:30). But we have to ask ourselves: Do we really believe in the Gospel? Do we believe in it enough to use Christ´s words when we have to respond to the nonbelievers around us? How often do we identify ourselves as Catholic in public?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, you know it´s not easy to be seen as your friend. People laugh at us — if they don´t feel sorry for us. They don´t understand where we are coming from. Help me understand some of the loneliness you must have felt when you went against the world´s standards. Help me be faithful to you regardless of the cost.

Resolution: In conversation or in an e-mail I will use a line of Christ’s wisdom from the Gospel.




Monday, November 24, 2014

Tuesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time "Why So Glum?"

While some people were speaking about how the Temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, "All that you see here -- the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down." Then they asked him, "Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?" He answered, "See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ´I am he,´ and ´The time has come.´ Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end." Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for this special time I have with you. It´s one of the few calm moments of the day. Your presence reassures me that I don´t have to endure the trials of the day alone. You are my strength and my peace. I wish to abide in your love.

Petition: Jesus, help me to keep hoping despite the crises in my life.

1. Temple of Doom: For the Jews, the Temple in Jerusalem was the center of religious and cultural life. It contained the Holy of Holies, the sanctuary that once housed the Ark of the Covenant. The people were proud of the Temple, but Jesus warns them that the day will arrive when it will be destroyed (as indeed it was, in A.D. 70). Yet the end of the Temple will not be the end of religion. Jesus himself will remain with us, as he does to this day, in the Eucharist. Likewise, no matter what else passes away — our house, our office, our school — Christ remains. Does that belief fill me with confidence?

2. Be Not Deceived: Jesus doesn´t directly answer the question about when the Temple will be destroyed. Rather, he tries to get his listeners to focus on what is really important: their faith. Our Lord warns them not to listen to the wrong people. Throughout the course of a normal day, to whom do we listen? Whose voices are on our radios, our TV sets? Who really has our ear day–by-day? Worldly talk-show hosts? The news media´s "instant experts"? MTV gurus? Jesus cautions us that the people we listen to might affect the quality of our lives — and the quality of our eternity. Do I judge carefully, then, the voices I listen to?

3. Do Not Be Terrified: Tsunamis, floods, terrorist attacks, wars, abortion, euthanasia -- is the world a nicer place today than in Jesus´ time? Our Lord was no stranger to bad news. He knew about the tower in Siloam that killed 18 people (see Luke 13:4) -- and he knew what awaited him on Good Friday. Yet he always remained hopeful and encouraged the best in people. As his followers, we too must be witnesses to hope. We need to brighten the lives of those around us. More importantly we need to remind others that God will win in the end. "Good, not evil, has the last word," Pope John Paul II told the general audience of Oct. 17, 2001, "God triumphs over the hostile powers, even when they seem great and invincible."

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I know in my mind that you will win in the end. If only my heart would believe that, too! Grant me this grace. Grant that my life will show that kind of optimism at every moment.

Resolution:I will make a small sacrifice or offer up a special prayer for someone suffering today.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Memorial of Saint Andrew Dũng-Lac, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs "The Richest Gift"

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, "I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood."

Introductory Prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe that you have blessed me with life and with a vibrant faith. Thank you. I dedicate this time and prayer to you. I love you, and I offer you all that I am and all that I have with the desire of becoming a joyful gift to you.

Petition: Lord, teach me to share joyfully all that I have received!

1. Some Wealthy People: Jesus sat before the temple treasury. What did Jesus see as he looked on? He saw more than we do. He saw the heart. Wealth tends to captivate us with desire and enslave us with concerns and worries. Jesus saw many hearts squeeze out just a couple drops of their abundant security, a gesture that was neither painful nor difficult. The act of fulfilling, or thinking they were fulfilling a duty to God, caused them to glow with self-satisfaction. Some even were bloated with pride for having given so much, and yet their act was empty of real self-giving. They gave with routine indifference. Their giving lacked love. What does Jesus see in my daily or weekly gifts? Do I generously give God my all when I see him on the altar? Do I generously give him my all when I am on my knees in prayer? Do  I give him my all on my feet at work?

2. A Poor Widow: Only Jesus could have seen that this widow was now reduced to total dependence on family or friends. She gave more because she gave herself with a heart full of surrender. Is there anything we can give God that he has not already given us? We can give God our trustful surrender. The poor widow gave to God with trust since she knew that he would continue to care for her. She had no other real desire but to be with him and be enriched by him. Her giving was serene and resigned, not despairing, but rather full of hope. She had the hope of one who knows deep down how much God loves her. How much do I trust and depend on him, particularly when other securities begin to disappear?

3. Offering My Whole Life: Jesus shows the great importance of how we give—not only of what we give. What we have—our possessions and those, which in some way we have made our own—are not for us. We have them so that we might give them, and we should give them back to God, for they are his. We give them as an expression of our love for God. I give my life when I work diligently, practice charity, pray, or sacrifice for love of Christ. All these acts of love, if not made explicit before, are made into an intentional gift to Jesus, when I mentally place them upon the paten along with the hosts to be consecrated during the Offertory at Mass. Do I give him my whole life?

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, awaken me to all you are for me, and let me realize all that you have given me. May I never cease to thank you through my own self-giving. You are my living and constant invitation to be more generous, to give more often and with more love. Open my heart, Lord, to your work!

Resolution: In prayer, I will make a list of all that I can do for Jesus this week and offer this to him. Then, on Sunday during the Offertory, I will mentally place before him on the paten all the sacrifices I have made during the week—my real gift to him, given with faith and love.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe "Sheep and Goats"

Jesus said to his disciples: "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ´Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.´ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ´Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?´ And the king will say to them in reply, ´Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.´ Then he will say to those on his left, ´Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.´ Then they will answer and say, ´Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?´ He will answer them, ´Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.´ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for this chance to spend time with you in prayer. You are the Prince of Peace and the Lord of Mercy. I trust in your goodness and love. I love you and earnestly long to love you more each day.

Petition: Lord, help me to translate my faith in you into good deeds done for others.

1. Judgment Day: All of our life is, in a sense, a preparation for the judgment we face at life´s end. That is when we go before Our Lord and give account for everything we have done or failed to do. No excuses will be accepted, no more "second chances" given. Jesus´ mercy doesn’t mean he ignores justice. "Mercy differs from justice, but is not in opposition to it," wrote Pope Saint John Paul II in his 1980 encyclical, Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy). Would I be ready to face the Lord this very day? If not, why not? What facet of my life do I need to change right now?

2. The Sheep: The sheep to be saved are the people who helped others, who showed mercy, who didn´t turn a cold shoulder to someone in need. Our Lord doesn´t praise them for their many prayers so much as for their good deeds. Prayer is important, of course. But it´s not enough. Christ wants our love for him to be reflected in our love for others. Oddly, many of those to be saved will not have realized that it was really Christ they were helping. Do I see Christ in those who need help? Do I see Christ in my family members? My co-workers? The demanding boss? The unpopular classmate? The smelly beggar?

3. The Goats: It´s scary to think that those who will be lost were not necessarily "bad people." In this passage Our Lord doesn´t chide them for doing wicked things. He doesn´t accuse them of starting wars or peddling drugs or committing acts of terrorism. Rather, he faults them for the sin of omission, for things they didn´t do. "You gave me no food …. You gave me no clothing." We may think ourselves good Christians because we don´t cheat on our taxes or look at pornography or miss Mass on Sundays. But acts of charity are key, too. We should do these without neglecting the others.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I don´t want to end up with the goats at the Last Judgment. That´s why I want to take my faith seriously. I want to have a generous heart. But do I limit my generosity? Why can´t I see you in my neighbor? You have loved me unconditionally. Help me to respond to your love by loving others unconditionally.

Resolution: Before noon, I will perform one small act of charity for someone close to me.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Memorial of Saint Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr Christ Is the Answer"

Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man´s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her." Jesus said to them, "Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive." Then some of the scribes answered, "Teacher, you have spoken well." For they no longer dared to ask him another question.

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the Alpha and the Omega. You have given me life and offer me eternal life with you. You deserve my honor, gratitude and love, and yet you never impose yourself upon me. Thank you for respecting my freedom so that I can offer myself to you. All that I have is yours; I return it to you.

Petition: Lord Jesus, help me to be a child of God, a child of the resurrection.

1. Simple and Constant Conversation: Today we see some Sadducees asking Christ an important question about heaven. Christ teaches us that once we are in heaven, things will be considerably different than they are here on earth. This is a beautiful example how we can converse with Christ. We simply need to ask him questions: questions about our faith, about difficulties we may be having with certain relationships, about career changes, etc. The answers we receive may not be what we were expecting or hoping for, but what is important is that we engage Christ in conversation every day and that we seek to please him in everything we do. This open, warm contact with Our Lord is already a little taste of heaven.

2. Union with Christ: Christ reminds us that he and the Father are the God of the living. He gave us our life; we lost it. He became man, suffered, died and rose on the third day that we might have a new life — a life in and with God, now and for all eternity. Our ultimate marriage will be in heaven, as we will be one with God as Jesus is.

3. Participation in the Life of God: When God reveals his mysteries to us, we participate in his life. God has made us so we would pursue him, so we would listen to him, so we would understand him, so we would crave the things of God. Is not that a mystery unto itself? We have a God who wants to speak with us constantly about the things of heaven! This reality, this inestimable gift, should move us to share with others the Good News.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, through your death and resurrection and my baptism, you have made me a child of God. Help me to appreciate more fully this day and what it means to be a child of God. Grant me the grace to live in accord with this gift of gifts.

Resolution: Today I will look on all things as if God were speaking to me in every moment.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary "God’s House Is Holy"

Then Jesus entered the Temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, "It is written, ´My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.´" And every day he was teaching in the Temple area. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile, were seeking to put him to death, but they could find no way to accomplish their purpose because all the people were hanging on his words.

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the Alpha and the Omega. You have given me life and offer me eternal life with you. You deserve my honor, gratitude and love, and yet you never impose yourself upon me. Thank you for respecting my freedom so that I can offer myself to you. All that I have is yours; I return it to you.

Petition: Lord God, teach me greater reverence for your house.

1. Zeal for the Father’s House: Jesus was not an enemy of commerce. In fact, many times the Gospel makes references to buying and selling without any negative connotations at all. However, in today’s Gospel passage we find Our Lord irate for two principal reasons. First, business activity was taking place within the Temple area. This was, in a sense, a “profanation” of God’s house. The Temple of Jerusalem contained, veiled behind a massive curtain, the Holy of Holies, where God’s mysterious presence dwelled. Yet, paradoxically, Temple worshipers had first to cross what had the appearance of a marketplace to be able to worship before the Lord. Second, Jesus was indignant due to the fact that the temple merchants were dishonest. Am I always honest in my business dealings? Do I always respect God’s name and the things of God?

2. Return to Reverence: Jesus was on fire with zeal for the house of his Father and determined that it be respected as a house of prayer. Silence, worship and prayer are elements that should be an essential part of every visit to a church, especially for Sunday Mass. In the tabernacle of every Catholic Church, Our Lord is present in the Eucharist as a prisoner of love waiting to enter into dialogue with us. We are never closer to heaven than when we are before Our Eucharistic Lord. Yet we can forget this truth. Our postures, chatter, and dress might contribute to a general “profanation” of God’s house. Do I try to remember every time I enter a church that I am standing before my Lord who made heaven and earth? Can others see that I believe Jesus is really present in the Eucharist? Is he the center of my attention? Can I put aside all distractions?

3. Hanging on Jesus’ Words: The crowds are described as “hanging” on Jesus’ every word. Jesus showed a reverence for his Father’s house far greater than any external piety the Pharisees demonstrated. He spoke the truth and was never afraid to stand up for it, even when it was less than convenient to do so. He was unafraid of those who “were seeking to put him to death.” Jesus’ uprightness was the key to his effectiveness and the attractive power of his words. As Christians we are called by vocation to imitate the uprightness of Our Lord in our words and actions.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, many times I have entered Church distractedly and forgotten that you were present. I beg your forgiveness. I ask to be a zealous witness of your love, and I promise to show you greater reverence in the Blessed Sacrament.

Resolution: I will live the Mass this Sunday with a special reverence.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thursday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time "Build Your Life on the Rock That Is Christ"

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If this day you only knew what makes for peace-- but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation."

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, many times I have overlooked your love in the circumstances of my life. I know you are always present, even if I don’t feel your love. This time of prayer is an opportunity to show you my love, and I truly desire to bring you consolation as you so often bring consolation to me.

Petition: Heavenly Father, help me to stand firm amidst the vicissitudes of life.

1. “As for Me and My Household, We Will Serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). 
The beauty of this life is that it offers us so many options. We have all been given the grace of free will, and we can choose to do many things. We can choose where we would like to work, where we want to vacation, who our friends are, what we are going to do this very moment. But the most important choice we make in life is to decide whether to love and serve God or to deny him. God’s greatest, natural gift to us is free will, and with it we direct our own destiny. What a truly beautiful soul who chooses to spend his life serving God! Clearly opting for God and his ways gives direction to a person’s life and provides clarity in moments of darkness and trial.

2. The Time to Prepare for a Storm Is Now: The worst time to clean out the gutters is in the middle of a thunder storm. And that roof would have worked a lot better had it been fixed before a week of rain. The concept of being prepared is so hard for us human beings. Christ told his disciples, “Watch and pray, that you may not undergo the test” (Matthew 26:41). He was saying, “Be prepared. You never know when temptations or tough times are going to strike.”

3. Holding the Fort: The spiritual life is a lot like a castle. A castle has its strong points and its not-so-strong points. It has a moat, high stone walls and turrets, but it also has a gate made only of wood. Each of us has one or two things that can be likened to that wooden gate. We all have our weaknesses, but do we know what those weaknesses are? One of the keys to being able to resist sin is self-knowledge. If we know ourselves, we can avoid putting ourselves in compromising situations. We can use our strong points to fight the enemy and fortify those areas that are the weakest. In the end, the strongest weapon we have both to resist and to fight is our dependence on the Lord – our prayer and fidelity to his will!

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, I don’t want to base my life just on feelings and on what makes me happy. I want to live for you, to take a risk for you.

Resolution: I will start a constant prayer life by praying the Rosary every day this week.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Wednesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time "Kings and Gold Coins"

While they were listening to Jesus speak, he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem and they thought that the kingdom of God would appear there immediately. So he said, "A nobleman went off to a distant country to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return. He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins and told them, ´Engage in trade with these until I return.´ His fellow citizens, however, despised him and sent a delegation after him to announce, ´We do not want this man to be our king.´ But when he returned after obtaining the kingship, he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money, to learn what they had gained by trading. The first came forward and said, ´Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.´ He replied, ´Well done, good servant! You have been faithful in this very small matter; take charge of ten cities.´ Then the second came and reported, ´Your gold coin, sir, has earned five more.´ And to this servant too he said, ´You, take charge of five cities.´ Then the other servant came and said, ´Sir, here is your gold coin; I kept it stored away in a handkerchief, for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding person; you take up what you did not lay down and you harvest what you did not plant.´ He said to him, ´With your own words I shall condemn you, you wicked servant. You knew I was a demanding person, taking up what I did not lay down and harvesting what I did not plant; why did you not put my money in a bank? Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.´ And to those standing by he said, ´Take the gold coin from him and give it to the servant who has ten.´ But they said to him, ´Sir, he has ten gold coins.´ ´I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me.´" After he had said this, he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the Alpha and the Omega. You have  given me life and offer me eternal life with you. You deserve my honor, gratitude and love, and yet you never impose yourself upon me. Thank you for respecting my freedom so that I can offer myself to you. All that I have is yours; I return it to you.

Petition: Lord Jesus, teach me to be patient and persevering in using my talents to serve you and my neighbor.

1. Jesus, the King of Kings: Nowadays there is renewed interest in the imminence of the Lord’s return in glory. Every Sunday when we recite the Creed we attest to our faith that Christ “will come again to judge the living and the dead.” But we also know that we do not know when it will be, as Our Lord clearly states: “But about that day and hour no one knows” (Matthew 24:36). So what should we do in the meantime? The answer is very simple: Live faithful to the values of Christ’s Kingdom and show that he is our King right now. Are there any areas in my life where Christ is not ruler? Am I faithful to my Christian commitments? Do I use my time well?

2. Earning One Gold Coin at a Time: In today’s parable each servant receives only one gold coin, but some invest it better than others. There are some gifts that God has given all of us in equal measure and some that we each receive in varying degrees. At baptism we receive the gifts of faith, hope and love in seed form, so to speak, and it is up to us to make sure they are cultivated, irrigated and exposed to enough light so that they will grow and bear fruit. These gifts of faith, hope and love are not given to us just for rainy days or moments of trial, but rather to keep us focused on who we are as children of God and heirs to the kingdom of heaven. Exercising these virtues is like earning gold, one coin at a time. How often have I thanked God for his gifts of faith, hope and love? Do I strive to grow in these virtues by keeping my heart set on the things of heaven and through charity towards my neighbor?

3. God’s Generosity: St. John reminds us that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). God’s essence is self-giving. The man who hid his coin could not discover or fathom this reality, but the man who “spent” his gold coin found this out as he was able to earn many more. Jesus tells us that “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain” (John 12:24). Later however a metamorphosis occurs which brings many new grains of wheat into being. Jesus’ death on the cross is the perfect example of the transformation of sacrifice and self-giving into fruitfulness. We can’t have Jesus as our king unless we are willing to follow him on his journey to Jerusalem and impending death. We have much to give up, but we have so much more to gain by using our talents for the Kingdom.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I am sometimes afraid of what it means to die to myself. Help me to use all of my talents for your kingdom. Help me to realize that I have nothing to lose and everything to gain and to take steps courageously to love you.

Resolution: As a way of showing my love for Jesus, today I will practice patience with someone who annoys me.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tuesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time "Jesus Is My Guest"

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today." So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, "He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner." Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much." Then Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost."

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the Alpha and the Omega. You have given me life and offer me eternal life with you. You deserve my honor, gratitude and love, and yet you never impose yourself upon me. Thank you for respecting my freedom so that I can offer myself to you. All that I have is yours; I return it to you.

Petition: Lord, increase my faith.

1. Zacchaeus up a Tree: Yesterday and today’s Gospel passages speak eloquently of the need to encounter Christ at all costs. The blind man we read about yesterday would not stop shouting until he was brought to the Lord. Today a short and very unpopular man named Zacchaeus runs back and forth among the crowd until finally, in his determination to encounter Christ, he breaks all protocol and scrambles up a tree. Jesus wastes no time in entering decisively this tax collector’s life and transforming it. This resembles our own encounter with Christ. At times different obstacles stand in our way and prevent us from seeing Our Lord and his action in our lives. Above all we lack determination. How easy it is to craft excuses: “I am just too short,” “Maybe Jesus is too busy,” “I am just a sinner.” If we really want Our Lord to stay at our house, he will, but there may be trees that we need to climb first.

2. Welcoming Jesus: Few people ever welcomed Jesus with the joy and exuberance as did this little man. He came down from the tree, gave half of his wealth to the poor, and promised to restore any fraudulent transactions four times over. Zacchaeus has truly been like that merchant in search of fine pearls (see Matthew 13:45-46). He is willing to sell all he has to buy the pearl of great price: friendship and intimacy with the Lord. How many times has Jesus looked up at us and asked us to remain with him? How many times have we had the immense grace of receiving the King of kings into our hearts in the Blessed Eucharist? Do we offer merely a corner of our hearts for him or do we reserve the presidential suite? How pure do we maintain our souls for our Guest?

3. Of Sinners and Saints: What makes someone a saint and someone else a sinner? Certainly it is not the grumbling of the jealous crowd who are unwilling to climb up the tree to see Jesus yet are quick to criticize anyone who does. In fact, everyone is a sinner. St. Paul writes, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the foremost” (1 Timothy 1:15). Yet St. Paul, Zacchaeus, you and I all go from being sinners to saints when we encounter Christ and are faithful to his friendship. Salvation came to Zacchaeus’ house when Jesus entered it, and salvation comes to us through the graces received at baptism, renewed in the Sacrament of Penance, and nurtured in the Eucharist.

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, help me to be willing to do whatever it takes to grow in a deeper friendship with you. Don’t allow me to worry about the murmurings of the crowd, but only to listen to your voice and respond to it with generosity.

Resolution: I will make a point to go to confession at the next possible opportunity asking Jesus to forgive me my sins and to help me to turn from being a sinner into being a saint. I will make it a real encounter with Jesus.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Memorial of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious "Seeing with Faith"

Now as Jesus approached Jericho a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging, and hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what was happening. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by." He shouted, "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!" The people walking in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent, but he kept calling out all the more, "Son of David, have pity on me!" Then Jesus stopped and ordered that he be brought to him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" He replied, "Lord, please let me see." Jesus told him, "Have sight; your faith has saved you." He immediately received his sight and followed him, giving glory to God. When they saw this, all the people gave praise to God.

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the Alpha and the Omega. You have given me life and offer me eternal life with you. You deserve my honor, gratitude and love, and yet you never impose yourself upon me. Thank you for respecting my freedom so that I can offer myself to you. All that I have is yours; I return it to you.

Petition: Lord, grant me greater faith in your constant and continual presence in my life.

1. Begging by the Roadside: How many times in life have we felt like this blind beggar sitting by the roadside, down-and-out and hard on luck – physically, spiritually or emotionally? Witnessing our distress, some people simply walked by without a care. Maybe they tossed us a coin, though they didn’t really help us out of our discouragement or difficulty. Others might have jeered at us or not dared to look at us. Some may even have scolded us, like the people in the Gospel telling the beggar “to be silent.” Just as the blind beggar of today’s Gospel could not give himself what he most desired – sight, we are unable to give ourselves what we most need – faith. Do I regularly ask for an increase of faith? Am I aware of how much I need a strong faith?

2. Jesus Is Passing By: The book of Job tells us that “human beings have a hard service on earth” (Job 7:1). It shouldn’t be surprising, then, when in our lives as Christians we take some real blows and even some falls. God doesn’t want us to become discouraged. He wants us to see these as opportunities to turn to him, the source of the strength and help we need. Other voices will tell us to be quiet and not bother the Master: “After all, you just need to work things out”, “With so much going on, how can you find time to pray?” Jesus constantly passes by. He is the only one who can bring me the peace my heart desires and longs for. “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”

3. Lord, Please Let Me See: Jesus promises us that he will listen to our request, just as he did to the blind man. But what should our request be? To have a more comfortable stool so as to sit by the road and beg with ease? To have a beautiful silver cup to collect coins in? Or to see? Often what we really need is not what we ask for in prayer. We need the vision that only the supernatural virtue of faith can give. We need the ability to see everything from God’s vantage point and to see how the difficulties and trials we experience are part of a bigger picture. We need to have the firm assurance of the final victory of the Lamb, Jesus, and the strength to persevere in fidelity. Lord, please let me see…. Please increase my faith.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, allow me to praise and glorify you for your constant companionship and for never leaving me alone in my struggles and trials. Increase my faith so that I will be able to experience your love even amidst difficulty and trials.

Resolution: I will pray three “Our Fathers” for an increase of faith among my family members.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time "Invest in Christ"

For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master´s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ´Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.´ His master said to him, ´Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.´ And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ´Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.´ His master said to him, ´Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.´ Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ´Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.´ But his master replied, ´You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.´

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I know that you don’t want me to live my life in fear. Only one type of fear is legitimate: the fear of losing you. Because I know you will never leave me, I am not afraid of this either. I know that I can lose you only if I leave you. Jesus, I place my hope in you and offer you all my love.

Petition: Heavenly Father, grant me the grace of increased hope and trust in you.

1. To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Expected: At times, life can seem a little overwhelming, and we can feel we just don’t have what it takes. Then we are reminded of a certain truth: Christ never gives us more than we can handle! When Christ gives us a mission or allows a temptation, he always provides the talents and grace to complete that mission or resist that temptation. What, then, is there to be afraid of? Each of us has been given a certain amount of talents; thus, we are expected to bear a certain amount of fruit. We are not expected to bear fruit beyond the talents we have been given. Each of us is faithful to the degree in which we glorify God by using our talents!

2. There Is Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself: St. John tells us that “God is love.” There is, then, only one proper response to him: love. It is amazing to think that we can fear him who is described simply as “love.” We might fear what will happen in the future – college, job, family, and so on – but does this really solve anything? If we look into the past, it’s easy to see that many of our fears were unfounded and unrealized. So why is this fear present? Satan will use any means to separate us from our God who is love. If he can’t get us to fall by committing sin, he paints a picture that might make us fear or fall into discouragement. It has been said that “after mortal sin our biggest enemy is discouragement.” Our faults keep us humble, aware that we are always in need of Christ. No disposition brings greater joy to the heart of Christ than that of a humble, trustful child.

3. Take a Risk for Christ: Christ took the ultimate risk for me! He died knowing full well that I might not choose him, and yet the small chance that I would, far outweighed the chance that I would reject him. Again I am reminded that Christ didn’t die for a whole mass of people, but that he died for each of us individually: He died for me! Jesus, I want to be like the first disciples who loved you with an unrestrained love. I want to go out on a limb for you! I want to offer my life for the salvation of one soul, knowing full well that he might not choose you!

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I know that you do not want me to be afraid of failure. I know that if I try my hardest for you, there will be no such thing. Please help me always to fight courageously in order to better myself for your glory.

Resolution: Today, when the opportunity presents itself, I will speak to someone about Christ.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Saturday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time "Pray With Faith"

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.

1. 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?

2. 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.

3. 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 13, 2014

Friday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time "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 12, 2014

Memorial of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Virgin "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.

1. 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.

2. 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?

3. 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.