Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Thursday of the First Week in Advent - Flood-Proof

Jesus said to his disciples: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come before you in humility and with a spirit of hope. You no doubt have something to tell me. I approach you in prayer, confident of your love and trustful of your grace to enable me to carry out whatever you ask. I offer this prayer for those in my family who might be far away from you.

Petition: Lord, help me deepen my life of faith and charity, to better prepare for the trials ahead.

  1. The Fa├žade: It is easy to address Jesus as “Lord, Lord.” After all, we know by faith that he is the Son of God. His miracles and the endurance of his Church attest to his divine nature. Yet, our recognition of his divinity isn’t enough. Our admission that “Jesus is my savior” won’t guarantee us a place in heaven. Faith in Christ can’t just remain on our lips; it must penetrate our hearts and minds as well. Faith, then, implies doing the will of God the Father – in thoughts, words and deeds. How does my faith in Christ translate into acts? Am I satisfied with saying a few prayers, and little else?
  1. Out of Sight: Christ exhorts his disciples to build their faith on rock, not on sentimentality. To dig a solid foundation of faith takes hard work. It demands constancy in prayer, charity and generosity. It also requires humility and purity of intention, since the work of preparing a foundation is not glamorous. There’s nothing particularly beautiful about a big hole in the ground at a construction site. So it is in the spiritual life, too; digging a foundation forces us to go deep, to remove our worst faults. The process isn’t pretty. It forces us to face our vices honestly and to rip away the mask we might wear in front of others. Without this step we risk building our lives on sand. How well am I digging my foundation?
  1. Too Late: Foundations seem firm when all is calm. Fair weather doesn’t test the strength of a building. The real test comes when the climate turns nasty. The same occurs in the spiritual life. When serenity reigns around us, peace blossoms effortlessly. But when a crisis befalls us – a rejection, an illness, a bit of opposition over a moral matter – that’s when we learn the sturdiness of our faith. Peter, who boasted that he would stand by Our Lord “though all may have their faith in you shaken” (Matthew 26:33), learned the hard way that his courage wasn’t what he thought it was. He abandoned Christ in the garden of Gethsemane, as did all the apostles. How well do I face ordinary temptations and setbacks? How well could I face a serious crisis?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I fear sometimes that I’m not much better than Peter, who bragged that he would stand by you, but then fled when the guards arrested you on Holy Thursday night. I want to be a true Christian witness in the world, but I need your help to overcome my human respect and laziness.

Resolution: I will do one external act of witness to the faith.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Feast of Saint Andrew, apostle - Decisive Response


As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.

Introductory Prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe that you have called me to follow you more closely today. I trust that in this prayer, you will help me see the concrete implications of following your will. I love you and want to respond to all that you ask of me, today and always. Thank you for watching over me and guiding me home to heaven.

Petition: Make me a fisher of men, here and now, Lord!

  1. As Jesus Walked By: One summer afternoon a priest just happened to be in the area and visited my home. Within three years, two of my brothers and I were following Christ on the road to the priesthood. Jesus didn’t just happen to walk by these two pairs of brothers! He had every intention of inviting those brothers to become “fishers of men.” How much happens in my life, prepared and intended by God, to help me follow him more closely? And all I see is an accident, a coincidence? Ask him when was the last time he just happened by.
  1. At Once They Followed Him: Jesus never calls someone when it’s perfectly convenient, when that person has nothing better to do. No, he calls precisely when we are in the middle of living our life, doing what we do best, what we do most, “casting or mending our nets.” “What a losing formula!” we are tempted to conclude. Yet what is it he really wants of us when he calls? He wants a response — a reply of love. Love is all about preference and priority. If I love him more than myself, I can follow him “at once.” If I prefer him over my own activities and life, I can follow him “immediately.” What is the response of love I am giving or want to give Jesus today in my life?
  1. They Left Something Behind: “Pro-choice:” That’s what God is! He wants us to choose. But he is not indifferent about what we choose. Every choice implies the rejection of other options. We cannot follow someone somewhere without leaving something and someone else behind. Peter and Andrew left their nets behind. James and John left their boat and their father behind. This was possible only with Jesus before them. Yet we, too, often try to follow Christ without leaving things and others behind: the world, comforts, my preferences… We think that we can have it all. We can’t. We are in danger of “taming our faith,” bending to the demands of our passions and the world’s insistence. Love requires a choice, a choice for the real, complete Jesus. It asks me to reject everything in me that is not him. How wholehearted is my following of Christ?

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, you have called me and continue to call me throughout this day. Help me to respond with love, a love that trumps all my other loves, likes and desires. I don’t want you to have to wait for me, Lord. Just show me what you want and give me the courage and generosity to give it to you, no matter the cost.

Resolution: I will give up something today that diminishes the attention that I give to my spouse, family or friends.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent - God’s Ways


Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” Turning to the disciples in private he said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

Introductory Prayer: Christ, I believe that you can put my talents to good use. I hope that you will allow me to come to know you better each day. I love you and trust that you are guiding me through life. Not only are you guiding me in my life; you are also letting others be edified by my example.

Petition: Lord, help me to trust in you through every circumstance of life. 

  1. God Reveals Himself to the Childlike: We long to know Christ better. How we yearn to understand a little more about God and his infinite love! Our small intellects can barely lay hold of any notion or attribute of the Divine Persons. Even if we were to study long hours, we would come to the conclusion that our learning is nothing. True knowledge of Christ and of God doesn’t come by learning from books. True knowledge of Christ and of God is revealed to those who learn to quiet their souls in prayer. We need to imitate the resourceful little child who falls on the ground and then runs to his mother to be scooped up in a loving embrace. If we can remember our littleness on one hand and God’s pure, loving benevolence on the other, we’ll permit—even delight in—his wiping away from our faces the blood and tears caused by our sins. Only when we surrender ourselves into God’s forgiving, tender hands can we say that we know him.
  1. God Chooses the Childlike: Christ singles out each one of us for a particular mission in life. We might think of the many people around us––educated, wise, learned people––who would surely be better suited for the calling at hand, who could do a far better job than we could. However, Christ isn’t looking always for the cleverest person, the one with the quickest wit, or the one with the best education. Many times he scrutinizes the corners of the globe for the soul that is innocent, open to his plan, and willing to carry it out. Simplicity and humility are the key words when it comes to being chosen by God to participate more actively in his plan of redemption.
  1. The Childlike Can Entrust the Bigger Picture to God: How many prophets and kings longed for the time of Christ, when the work of salvation would be fulfilled! During their time of waiting they left us an example of constancy and dedication to the things of God, despite never seeing many of the things promised them. They played an active role in leading and guiding the people of their time, but they didn’t see the fulfillment of all God’s entire design. God asks us to be like them, planting the seeds of redemption that may not sprout for years. We, like the prophets, aren’t always given the grace to see the entire picture. That is part of being childlike: trusting that God our Father knows what he is doing. Cardinal John Henry Newman prayed in his famous poem, The Pillar of the Cloud:

“Keep thou my feet: I do not ask to see

the distant scene – one step enough for me”.


Do I entrust the big picture of my life to God my Father, or do I try to yank the “video control” from his loving hands?

Conversation with Christ: Christ, I don’t ask for great understanding or knowledge. Help me to accept with the simplicity and trust of a child all that you want to do in me. I don’t ask for great insight into the depths of your divine attributes. I just want to grow in friendship with you, and I know that means I need an unshakeable confidence in your infinite love for me. I want to allow you to love me and direct me according to your good will.

 Resolution: I will open my heart more widely to God’s plan for my life.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

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. In return, 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 26, 2016

First Sunday of Advent - a time of preparation, renewal and anticipation


For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

Petition:  “All-powerful God, increase our strength of will for doing good that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven.” (Opening prayer of the Mass)

1. Advent, a time of preparation: “Stay awake, therefore! You cannot know the day your Lord is coming.” Although the date for Christ’s birth, and probably a few Christmas parties with family and friends, is set on our calendar, we really have no idea of the day or the moment that Christ will knock at the door of our hearts. God’s time is God’s time, not ours. We cannot second-guess him; we cannot know what he will do for us in any moment. There is a story of an old shoemaker who dreamt the Christ Child was going to come and visit him on Christmas day. He waited, anxiously looking for the divine guest. Although many people visited his shop, and he welcomed each with joy and kindness, the day passed without Christ coming; or so he thought. It was later revealed to him that each person who had passed through his shop was Christ. We are not always aware of Christ’s presence in our lives, because we get too busy to notice him. How would you treat Christ if he were to come to you today? Have you been treating everyone as if they were Christ coming to see you? This Advent is the perfect opportunity to stop and get ourselves ready for Christ. It is a time to prepare ourselves spiritually so that we are able to recognize Christ and to be aware of how much he actually presents himself in our lives.

2. Advent, a time of renewal: In the second reading St. Paul says, “Let us cast off the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” How merciful God is to give us time to renew our lives, to purify them from the bad habits and ways of darkness that we have fallen into. God wants us to be renewed, refreshed, purified, not because he needs it, but rather because we need it. He gives us this time to prepare and renew ourselves so that we will be happier. No one appreciates an unexpected guest or visitor when their room, house, or apartment is a disaster! We hate to have people arrive at our front door when we are not ready for them. So, God is giving us the chance (several weeks) to get ourselves ready for his coming. Is your room clean? Are you ready for Christ to come into your home and see you?

3. Advent, a time of anticipation: Is there a holiday better than Christmas? Who does not get excited about presents, Christmas trees, caroling, Midnight Mass, and many other holiday traditions? Our culture and society begin preparing us for the parties and gifts, food and decorations from the day after Thanksgiving, and our anticipation of the great event grows each day that passes. What about our spiritual anticipation? Is there also a spiritual anticipation building up each day? 

Christ, give me the grace of anticipating you, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, coming to my heart. There can be nothing better than the moment that you enter my heart and conquer it for your kingdom. Jesus, I love you. Help me to grow in the joy and excitement of your coming. What can I do to prepare?

Resolution: Plan to meet Christ in the sacrament of Reconciliation this first week of Advent as a way to prepare for his coming at Christmas. Set the date and time.

Friday, November 25, 2016

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 24, 2016

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?



  1. 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?



  1. 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.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Day - The Highest of All Prayers – a life of thanksgiving

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

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

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

  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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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 22, 2016

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 21, 2016

Memorial of Saint Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr - 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"? Hollywood stars? 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: Terrorist attacks, wars, abortion, euthanasia, natural disasters-- 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 Saint 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 20, 2016

Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary - 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 19, 2016

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe - Standing by the King

And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!" The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!" There was also an inscription over him, "This is the King of the Jews." One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, thank you for this moment in which I can be alone with you. I believe that you are truth itself, that you are the foundation of all moral judgments. I trust that you really care for me and give me the light to see the needs of others. I love you, Lord, and show it now with my desire to pray. 

Petition: Lord, help me to be always faithful to Christ my King in the smallest duties of my state in life. 

1. They Scoffed and Mocked Him Contemplate the scene of the Crucifixion, what we see and what we hear. We see three men being crucified. The one in the middle has a sign affixed to his cross which reads: “Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews.” Who is this king? We hear the leaders of the Jews ridicule him and the soldiers mock him. Even one of the dying criminals derides him. Jesus provoked strong reactions from these diverse individuals; he continues to provoke strong reactions today. Reflect on the frenetic energy with which individuals try to erase his name from public life today. Look at the time and resources spent to undo his teaching, his influence and his values in Western culture. He is ridiculed in books, movies and works of art. His Church is attacked, as is his vicar on earth and all those who remain loyal to him and his teachings. 

2. The People Stood By We tend to overlook the crowd who stood by watching. They did nothing actively wrong; they were merely passive. As Jesus was mocked and ridiculed and scorned, they remained silent and did nothing. No one stood up for Jesus; no one came to his defense. How few stand up for him and his Church today! Why is it that other groups are so quick to defend their own while we remain silent, watching and standing by, but not standing up? 

3. One Man Believes The good thief put his faith in Christ. A moment of grace came to him in the waning moments of his life. He was able to see Christ the King in all his humble glory and he reached out for salvation. “This day you will be with me in paradise.” This king was a political failure. He had no success, no power to save his own life. The power he did have he freely surrendered rather than use it for personal gain. He died with only a few followers standing at the cross. He had no wealth or army, but he loved his own in the world. He loved them to the end. Would I follow such a king? 

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, I don’t want to be just part of the crowd who remained silent. Give me the strength to stand up for you and to defend you. Help me never to deny you in my life. Help me to be faithful to your teachings and your will.

Resolution:I will speak of Christ today in my conversations with others.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Saturday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time - 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 17, 2016

Friday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time - 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?
  1. 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?
  1. 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 16, 2016

Memorial of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious - 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 15, 2016

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?
  1. 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?
  1. 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.