Friday, March 31, 2017
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Introductory Prayer: Jesus, the gift of faith permits me to soar higher. I believe in you! I lend myself to this intricate duty of faith, and with a hopeful trust, I leap toward your infinite love. I love you, Lord. I have come to spend this time with you just because I want to be with you.
Petition: Lord, help me to live with purity of intention.
1. Seeking Human Praise: Jesus said, “I do not accept human praise.” Why? His Father deserves all the credit for anything that exists because, after all, he created everything. Knowing and accepting this is indeed a quick path to holiness. Jesus is God, but he leaves us a splendid example of how man should search for God’s glory and not his own. When we look for our own “fan club,” we are really stripping God of the glory that he alone deserves. When we seek praise from men and work hard to be accepted by them, we are standing before a guillotine that severs a head from its body. However, by purifying our intentions and glorifying God alone through all our actions and thoughts, eternal life is merited for us and for many souls.
2. The Proper Motives for Our Deeds: Self-seeking doesn’t work. True, selfless love does. There are some advantages to living a life that seeks only God’s glory. The benefit achieved is order. We learn to maintain the proper hierarchy in our values and to keep things in their place. When parents need to punish a wayward child, their question is: “Are we punishing him because he has done something wrong and needs to be taught a lesson?” Or do they allow their anger to get the best of them, and the punishment then becomes a release valve for their fury? Likewise, in our use of the material goods we have at our disposal, do we use them out of pure love of God or only for our comfort?
3. True Peace of Heart: When children do something wrong, they usually act nervously when their wrongdoing is uncovered. However, when they are mistakenly blamed, they show a convincing innocence, and the accuser retracts in time to avoid harm. The same could be said about purity of intention. If a soul labors only for God’s glory, then a certain guarantee of fulfillment necessarily accompanies his destiny. No matter how many obstacles and misunderstandings might besiege him, the soul who follows God’s will enjoys peace.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, you teach me in the Gospel to add a supernatural dimension to all my enterprises and efforts. This mortal existence on earth is a mere drop in the ocean compared to eternity that will quickly engulf me. Help me to do all for your greater glory.
Resolution: In my conversations today, I will not brag about myself. I will try to focus the conversation on the interests of others.
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Petition: Lord, grant me the gift of piety.
- Like Father, Like Son: “I say to you, a son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees his father doing; for what he does, his son will do also. For the Father loves his Son and shows him everything that he himself does.” The relationship between Christ and his Father was one of total respect and love. It wasn’t marred by the breakdown so frequently and tragically experienced in our modern family. The intensity of filial love that Jesus lived toward his Father was so powerful that it provides a path for all of us to follow. One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the gift of piety. Piety lavishes the soul with the capacity for considering God as our Father and all men as our brothers. A forgiving heart, which prevails over any rancor for injuries received, is one of the fruits of this gift.
- The Requirements of Piety: Jesus said, “Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.” There is no need to squander time in hatred for our brothers and sisters. Only God can judge their hearts. Our duty is to treat everyone with respect and love; this is the best way we have to foster the gift of piety.
- Humility is The Key: Jesus said, “I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me.” Believe it or not, the humble are the only ones who can lead a peaceful coexistence with all and, at the same time, stalwartly uphold truths and principles. Who can imagine a sunny day without the sun? Who can imagine the gift of piety without the practice of humility? I should examine those times when I blame everyone else for my impatience. Are they not a result of the difficulty I experience in shouldering someone else’s plans over my own or in accepting God’s will at the expense of my preferences?
Resolution: I will be a pious friend and a forgiving neighbor. I will humbly offer my services to the neighbor who interests me the least.
Monday, March 27, 2017
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Introductory Prayer: Father, I come before you with faith, hope and love. I will give my best effort to be attentive to your grace and inspiration during this time of prayer.
Petition: Lord, help me to have greater fortitude and faith.
1. No Prophet Has Honor in His Native Place: Pay careful attention to how St. John the Evangelist introduced this saying of Jesus. “At that time Jesus left Samaria for Galilee. For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his native place.” If Jesus knew there were no honors awaiting him in Galilee, why not go somewhere where the reception would be better? Jesus is trying to give us an example: he is not interested in “honor”, but rather in carrying out the mission. He is the Prophet par excellence. He himself is the message the Father has for humanity, and personal considerations will not keep him from his appointed task. We must be committed in our own personal mission, whether or not we can expect to be honored, or even appreciated. Our purity of intention is a good thermometer for following Christ.
2. Signs and Wonders: Jesus does the miracle, but not without reminding everyone that true faith cannot simply be based on “signs and wonders.” Why is this? Perhaps what Jesus is criticizing is the jaded religious outlook that can experience the presence of the divine only in the spectacular, while failing to perceive it in the quiet and small ways that God makes his presence known. With deeper faith, we can see God all around us. That beautiful sunset – isn’t it a masterpiece of God’s creative power on display? The unexpected apology – wasn’t that the working of grace? That helping hand stretched out to us just when we needed it – wasn’t that Christ in our midst? The person whose faith doesn’t need “signs and wonders” is precisely the person who sees so many more signs and wonders – the everyday, loving presence of the Lord.
3. “He and His Whole Household Came to Believe.” No grace given is strictly personal, just between “me and Jesus.” Everything is meant to radiate beyond the individual to build up the entire body of Christ. The royal official received the miracle he requested, but afterwards it wasn’t simply a return to business as usual, now that his son was back in action. Indeed, the healing was the occasion for something far bigger: “His whole household came to believe.” This grace has borne abundant fruit. At the outset, our Lord had remarked about the lack of honor given to the native son-prophet. This entire family and household coming to faith is the confirmation that sacrificing honor is more than compensated by saving souls.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, what joy this family’s conversion must have given to your heart! Their faith was a marvelous sign of the efficacy of your grace. Help me to have greater faith, to see you present in the small and big things of life, and to draw others closer to you.
Resolution: Like the royal official, I want to help my family to have a deeper faith. I will bring up a spiritual topic at family dinner and try to encourage a more faith-filled perspective.
Saturday, March 25, 2017
Introductory Prayer: Father, I come to you like the man born blind. I am totally dependent on your grace. I want to show you my love by being totally open to the graces you will give me through this meditation.
Petition: Lord, help my faith grow when I encounter adversity.
1. Who’s to Blame? Many people, moved by compassion, would drop a coin into the cup, thinking all the while, “Poor devil, must have been quite a sinner.” The disciples, though they had heard Jesus’ many parables about mercy, show a tiny bit of this “misfortune-equals-divine-punishment” outlook themselves. But, perhaps it could have been his parents who are to blame? The disciples are frequently criticized for being slow on the uptake, but that is because they are the mirror that deflects the criticism from where it should really go: to ourselves. How often, when bad things happen, we wonder if God really loves us. We can find ourselves shaking our fist and muttering, “He doesn’t care what happens to me.” Jesus’ answer to this lack of faith is as sharp as it is consoling: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God´s works might be revealed in him.”
2. Faith Can Grow through Adversity! The simple life of the formerly blind beggar became quite complicated indeed. Instead of encountering rejoicing friends and family upon receiving the miracle, he encounters confrontation. The adversity is intense; the hostility of the Pharisees is palpable. Yet through it all, the man remains steadfast in his belief in Jesus. In fact, with each attack at his credibility and even with his parents wanting to keep a safe distance, the man’s adherence to Jesus grows and grows. This is seen in the way he refers to Jesus. “The man Jesus” … “He is a Prophet” … “I do believe, LORD.” From “man” to “prophet” to “Lord”: That is the work of God shining through this unlikely apostle! Let’s look at the situations in our life that challenge our faith. Could we, like this man, turn the tables and make it a faith-growing opportunity? Like him, could we be better witnesses to Jesus?
3. He Worshiped Him: Faith not only grows through adversity. It can sometimes make a giant leap. Nowhere else in the New Testament, before the Resurrection, do we encounter Jesus being “worshiped.” The man once blind now is gifted with dazzling light: Jesus is Lord, Jesus is God! That gift is so great, so amazing, that there is no looking back. The man has been tossed out of the synagogue which, according to the Jewish culture of the time, was the moral equivalent of a death sentence; cut off from the people, he was a non-person. Yet there are no regrets. The vision of spiritual truth, the astounding realization of who Jesus is, more than repays any sacrifice.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I long to please you with my life. Help me to recognize when you are trying to do God’s works through me. Often I am slow to see any positive value to passing adversity. But I know with your help I can be a witness to you. Like the man you cured of his blindness, I cry out to you, “I do believe, Lord!”
Resolution: Each time I encounter adversity, I will make an act of faith stronger than the last one.
Friday, March 24, 2017
Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the author of life and of love. You wish to draw me closer to you, and yet I seem to find so many ways to escape from you. Forgive my dullness and coldness of heart. At least here I am now, hungry to know you and love you more and more.
Heavenly Father, help me to decide once and for all to strive for holiness.
1. God Makes the First Choice: When we read the Old Testament we marvel at the many accounts of people chosen by God to fulfill a certain mission. We are familiar with the calling of the prophets Isaiah (cf. Isaiah 6), Jeremiah (cf. Jeremiah 1), Moses (cf. Exodus 3), and so on. Mary is the New Testament prototype of God’s calling. In all cases, God is the one who takes the initiative; he sends his messenger to communicate his choice. For Mary, the humble girl of Nazareth, this calling comes unexpectedly and is beyond purely human possibilities. For this reason she is troubled by the words of the angel Gabriel and wonders about the greeting he gives. Do I keep in mind that God’s plan for my life comes of his own initiative? Have I given my answer yet? Lord, help me to cooperate with you fully in putting into action your ‘golden’ blueprint for my life.
2. A Case Presented to Confirm Freedom: God doesn’t want Mary to act blindly; he wants a response that involves her whole heart, mind and soul. For this reason the angel Gabriel answers Mary’s questions and concerns, which do not manifest doubt but, rather, humility in seeking to understand God’s will. God created Mary free of sin and filled her with grace and goodness. Yet he respects her freedom to choose to do his will. What a mystery that the all-powerful God who created all things and who lovingly cares for us should be so generous in respecting our freedom! Lord, keep me from abusing my freedom in willfully subjecting myself to the slavery of my passions: pride, vanity, sensuality.
3. Holiness Is Just a “Yes” Away: After hearing God’s messenger, Mary must give her answer. She does so with flying colors. Her generosity perfectly echoes God’s. Every moment of the day is a new opportunity for us to imitate Mary’s excellent example. She dedicated her life to saying “yes” to everything God asked of her, no matter what it was. She was rewarded with the grace of the Assumption. Only saints get into heaven, so we need to dedicate ourselves to following the path of holiness, too. That means giving a simple, humble “yes” to every opportunity provided by God to become more Christlike. Lord, give me the courage to offer you my life as a blank sheet of paper, so you can write whatever you wish upon it.
Conversation with Christ: Jesus, I know that you are calling me to be more like you today! I know this is not an easy task, but you will give me the grace to achieve such a high ideal. I need to trust you and to see everything as something you send my way to help me achieve my goal of holiness. Grant me the grace, motivation, and continued good examples of others to be generous like Mary, your Mother.
Resolution: I will take a moment to encourage another person to strive for holiness, too. In a special way, I will be mindful to encourage young people to be open to the consecrated vocation, should the Lord be calling them.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Petition: Lord, help me live according to the New Testament.
- Getting Beyond Myself: A scribe asks Jesus a pointed question and assumes that there is only a one-step answer. In fact, Jesus goes beyond a one-step response and links love of God with love of neighbor. "Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness" (2 John 1:9). Christianity is not strictly a me-and-Jesus affair; such a faith can fall into self-centeredness and disdain for the world. We are called to be leaven in the world, to bring light to the darkness. Jesus wants us to be his arms and legs and voice in the world. Am I content to say prayers and make weekly Mass ― but to do little else? Might God be asking me to get more involved in the parish? In the school? In some kind of charity work?
- The Gift of Self Is the Greatest Gift: The scribe senses that burnt offerings are not enough. Burnt offerings are something external to us. We let go of things (money, used clothes, old furniture) much faster than we let go of our time, our way of thinking. We give things but not ourselves. Am I loathe to give more of my time to help the Church? Why?
- Fear of God’s Demands: The scribes understood that Jesus was raising the bar on religious observance. Sacrificing a sheep or a goat wasn´t enough anymore. Christ wanted them to give of themselves ― and that left them uneasy. The Old Testament sacrifices were giving way to the New Testament sacrifice ― the very sacrifice of self. That´s what Jesus wanted; that´s what Jesus himself gave. He gave himself up to a cross to confound our self-love. Does it scare me to die to myself? To my whims? What is Jesus asking of me that makes me uneasy?
Resolution: I will offer to do a favor that is costly in personal terms.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Petition: Lord, help me to accept with simple faith the reality of who you are.
- All for God’s Glory: When Christ works this simple miracle, the crowds are amazed. They are amazed at what Christ has done, but surely they were also amazed at what the mute person said. We do not know what was said, but it is likely that they were words that glorified God in thanksgiving for his miracle. Christ bestows freedom by loosening the tongue of the mute person so that he can glorify God his creator. When Jesus frees the mute person from Satan – who does not want God to be glorified and who wants to keep mankind in the chains of sin, it is so that God will be glorified. In my life, do I seek to glorify God for the wonders of his creation and all the good things he has done for me?
- Truth or Lies: Jesus’ enemies could not deny the miracle he had just worked, but instead of accepting his power to drive out evil spirits, they came up with an accusation that it was Beelzebub who caused the miracle. Their envy gets the best of their common sense. Envy always tries to find a way around the truth. It asks for a sign or proposes a false accusation. Jesus counters envy’s contorted reasoning with simple straightforward logic: “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house.” It cannot be by the Beelzebub’s power that he drives out demons because that would mean Beelzebub is driving out his own demons. Simple logic shows that this is not so. Does my own faith help me to differentiate between lies that I hear and the truth?
- Jesus Challenges Satan’s Reign: The strong man that Jesus speaks of is the devil. He has kept mankind under his control since Adam and Eve’s fall. He has had nothing to worry about up to now because he has been the strong man able to defend from all comers his prize of corrupted human nature. But Jesus is stronger, and he has come to attack the devil and win back from him what he has taken. He takes away his armor of evil, hate, anger, lust and egoism. He redeems mankind from the clutches of the evil one. Can I truly say that I set my faith in God and that he truly brings about good despite the natural calamities or bad intentions and actions of others, including the devil himself?
Resolution: When I am faced with a temptation, I will call to mind that Jesus is stronger than Satan and he can give me the strength to reject the temptation.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Petition: Lord, teach me what it means to fulfill the law.
- The Spirit Fulfills the Mere Letter: We can speak of fulfilling the law in two ways: by doing everything that is asked or by completing that which is missing. Jesus completes the law of the Old Testament with the new law of love – to love one another as he has loved us. Jesus fulfills the law not by simply fulfilling each of the many precepts, but by showing where all of the precepts have their end: in loving God above all things. When we obey the law of love we are fulfilling all of the laws – we are bringing them to their natural end.
- The All-Encompassing New Law: The law of love reaches to the ends of the earth. There is no created being in the universe that is outside the law of love that Jesus has come to teach us. There is no being, not even the smallest, that escapes the demand of this law. When Jesus uses the metaphor, “the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter,” he is showing us the completeness of this law. Love and its demands reach to the farthest ends of the universe, to the smallest created being, and to the end of time. Am I convinced in my heart and in my actions that the law of love asks me to love all people – not just my family, friends and those who rub me the right way?
- Seeking Perfection: The commandments of the old law as exemplified in the Ten Commandments (e.g. Thou shall not kill; Thou shall not commit adultery; etc.) are grave transgressions but easy to define, referring as they do to external actions. Christ’s commandments (e.g. to not show anger; to not lust in the heart; to forgive our enemies; etc.) have more subtle expressions, and because of this often times they are more difficult to obey. Living these commandments with the proper motivation and a considerate, dedicated attitude is what makes a person great. Having love as the motivation of all of our actions not only helps us make it to heaven, but also will win us a greater share in God’s happiness and glory there.
Resolution: When I am obeying the laws of the Church I will stop to reflect how they fit into the greater law of love.
Monday, March 20, 2017
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are present in my life. I believe that you are my creator and that you hold me in existence at every moment. I hope in you because I know that you created me and want what’s best for me. I know that you want to give me the living water you promised to the Samaritan woman. I am the one who places obstacles in your way. My lack of faith, attachments to worldly things, egoism and vanity all get in the way of receiving your gift. I come to you in prayer today with a humble and contrite heart. You know my misery and how much I need your grace. Accept my prayer today as a token of my desire to remove the obstacles that come between us.
Petition: Lord help me to turn to you, the Wellspring of Eternal Life, to satisfy my thirst.
1. Making Trips to the Well: The Samaritan woman comes to the well to draw water as she has so many times before. When her water runs out and she is thirsty, she must go back to the well again. The water she draws from the well has the power to satisfy for only a short time. We can go through life just like this woman, searching for the little things in life that satisfy our thirst – perhaps pleasure, the latest news, an interesting job or a friendship. All these things satisfy, but their satisfaction is limited and we must return to them again and again. To what do you turn to satisfy your thirst for happiness and fulfillment? Reflect on how that satisfaction is limited and how you must go back time and time again to quench your thirst.
2. The Living Water: The Samaritan woman comes to draw water, but this time there is a Jewish man at the well and he asks her for a drink. She is taken aback by his request because Jews do not associate with Samaritans. A Jew would not ask a Samaritan for a drink because, according to Jewish law, the buckets that the Samaritans used were unclean. In spite of her initial shock, she is willing to converse with him and is startled when he offers her living water. It is soon clear that he is speaking about something much greater than well water. He is speaking about the life of grace – the life-giving water he has come to give all mankind. He shares this life of grace with us in abundance – so much so that when we accept his offer of life-giving grace, we no longer have need for inferior satisfactions.
3. We Must Ask for This Water: Christ tells the woman, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” The woman does not know she is speaking to the very source of life and grace. If she only knew she was talking to the Christ, she would beg for the living water that Christ has to offer. No doubt many times we are close to Christ in our prayer or the Eucharist without recognizing him. We are like this Samaritan woman – unaware that we speaking with Christ. Only when we are truly aware of how close Christ and the great treasure he is offering us are to us when we converse with him in prayer, are we able to beg him for the living water of his grace.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I want to see beyond the ordinary and grasp the reality of what you are offering me. You died on the cross so that I might partake in the living water that flowed from your side. Grant me your grace of living water, and teach me to thirst for it alone.
Resolution: I will ask Christ, by short invocations throughout the day, to give me the living water of his grace.