Thursday, December 14, 2017

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 11, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 10, 2017

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Saturday, December 9, 2017

Second Sunday of Advent "Preparing for Christmas"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 8, 2017

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary "Mary Is My Master Educator in Virtue"

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.


Introductory Prayer: Heavenly Father, you have given Mary to us as our Blessed Mother. Thank you. I know that she constantly intercedes on our behalf and that you listen to her prayer. I am confident in your mercy and love. You are guiding me home to spend eternity with you. I place all my trust in you. I offer you my weak, but grateful love in return.

 Petition: Lord, grant me the grace to embrace you in faith, hope, and love.

“Sent from God”: Too often we attribute too much of our achievements to our own doing. Our education, wealth, or technological ability can lead us to have a false sense of security in our ability to shape our world. Today’s Gospel reminds us that God’s plan for the salvation of the human race is his own initiative. He sends his Son into the world at a precise time and in a precise place. He prepares Mary beforehand with everything she will need to fulfill her mission as Mother of the Redeemer – a mission that she accepts in freedom and through faith. I do well to realize more and more that God is also the true protagonist of my own life.

“Do Not Be Afraid”: One of the constant refrains of the Gospel is Jesus’ admonition: “Do not be afraid.” When the Lord draws near, our natural tendency is to be afraid. We can be afraid of his presence. We can be afraid of what he might ask of us. We can be afraid of our own limitations in the face of the call to true conversion and holiness of life. We can be afraid of the apparent obstacles along the path of Christian discipleship. Like Mary, we need to overcome our fear by embracing God’s will with faith and love. As our confidence in God increases, our fear decreases. As our love increases, our fear disappears. Of what am I afraid in my relationship with the Lord? Am I surrendering my fear by giving myself in faith?

“May It Be Done to Me”: What a truly incredible thing it is to make the salvation of the human race dependent upon the free response of Mary! Mary’s “yes” to God shows us the power and transcendence of personal choice. It also sheds light on the importance of our own personal “yes” to God with regard to his plan for our lives. Mary’s loving, faith-filled consent to a plan she did not fully understand becomes the model of our own daily consent to the divine will as it manifests itself in our daily lives.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I have remembered through this meditation that you are the one guiding my life and all of history. I need to be mindful that you always intend good for me, even if it is painful and purifying. So I should never be afraid of your hand in my life. I believe and trust in you my Lord, but increase my faith, hope and love.

Resolution: I will embrace God’s will today as Mary did — with faith and love.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Memorial of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church "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.

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?

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?

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, December 5, 2017

Wednesday of the First Week of Advent "A Decisive Response on the mountain"

At that time: Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, went up on the mountain, and sat down there. Great crowds came to him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others. They placed them at his feet, and he cured them. The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the deformed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind able to see, and they glorified the God of Israel. Jesus summoned his disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, for fear they may collapse on the way.” The disciples said to him, “Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place to satisfy such a crowd?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven”, they replied, “and a few fish.” He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets full.


Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I now turn confidently to you, who are my friend and savior. You are always watching over me and protecting me whether I am mindful of you or not. Thank you. I love you, and I’m grateful for these moments to refresh myself in your presence.

Petition: My Jesus, give me an unshakeable confidence in your unconditional love.

1. Jesus on the Mountain: Jesus is the focal point of history and of all human aspirations. Even when he goes to out-of-the-way places, as is the case in this Gospel passage, he is sought after. He strides by the Sea of Galilee and scales up the mountain, and all humanity seeks him out. He doesn’t interrogate them about their past or condemn them for their sins. He simply gives to each what he or she needs: to the blind, sight; to the mute, the gift of speech; to the deaf, hearing. Imagine for a moment this poor mass of humanity around the Master. Place yourself with them. Your turn comes, and suddenly it is as if the crowd disappears and you are alone with Jesus. He looks into your eyes with loving concern and asks what you are seeking––even though he already knows it. My Jesus, it is you that I seek. Heal me, and do not let any sin separate me from you today.

2. “They Have Nothing to Eat.” Love is not always very practical. Jesus’ heart is moved with compassion for all those who have sought him out. He knows the sacrifices that they have made in searching him out, and he is not going to leave them disappointed. The disciples saw only the practical problem, but in his charity towards his neighbor, Jesus all but ignores it. What can I learn from Christ’s attitude? Will I ever be let down or not be satisfied if I seek Christ with a sincere heart?

3. The Bread of Life: The miracle that Jesus works in multiplying the loaves is a prelude to an even greater miracle he plans to bring about. Jesus knows the longings of our hearts, and he knows that material food has its limits, even when it is abundant. St Augustine states, “You made us for yourself, Oh Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” How can I not trust that Jesus will always provide for what I truly need, after his lowering himself to appear as bread so that we can feed on him and be satisfied?

Conversation with Christ: My Jesus, I have a very wayward heart. I know that you are the only one who can fulfill the longing of my soul; yet so often I put my confidence in the fleeting things of this world instead. Reassure my heart that you will always provide for me if I put all my trust in you. Keep me going up the mountain towards your heavenly Kingdom, where you will be all in all.

Resolution: I will pause sometime during the day––perhaps before lunch––and make a spiritual communion by inviting Christ into my heart. I will thank him for the gift of himself in the blessed Eucharist and renew my confidence in him.

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.

2. 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.

3. 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, December 3, 2017

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.



First Sunday of Advent “Always Watchful”

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, December 1, 2017

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 30, 2017

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! 

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?

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?

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 29, 2017

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!

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.

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?

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.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Wednesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time “Costly Catholic Price”

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 27, 2017

Tuesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time “Why So Glum? – The adorned Temple”

While some people were speaking about how the Temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “f.” 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.

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?

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?

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 26, 2017

Monday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time “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 25, 2017

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

“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 24, 2017

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.

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.

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.

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 23, 2017

Memorial of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs “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.

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?

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?

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 22, 2017

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.

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Memorial of Saint Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr "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. 

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?

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?

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.