Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Friday of the Third Week of Easter - The Gift Of God

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever." These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe that you are the true bread come down from heaven, the holy one of God. May your Eucharistic sacrifice on that night of Holy Thursday only bring me to believe more fully in you. May this sacrifice only bring me to hope in the kingdom to come, and may your love be more perfectly present in me. 

Petition: O Jesus, the flesh that gives life to the world, let me be filled by the love of your Eucharist.

1. “How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?” I will answer this question in my prayer and by offering a response of faith and love instead of doubt and rational calculation. I will answer it as one who knows the depth of Christ’s love for souls and his power as Son of the Most High. With the same self-donation with which he washed his disciples’ feet, he instituted the Eucharist sacrifice of his body and blood for me as a memorial of his death and resurrection. It is a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, and a pledge of future glory given to me personally in every Mass. (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1323). Take some time to contemplate this gift and thank Jesus for it. 

2. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” While Christ comes to us in every communion, he nonetheless remains veiled in the sacrament. It is a sacrament that keeps our eyes pointed to a more definitive possession of Christ in heaven. As the catechism states, “we celebrate the Eucharist ‘awaiting the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ,’ asking ‘to share in your glory when every tear will be wiped away. On that day we shall see you, our God, as you are. We shall become like you and praise you for ever through Christ our Lord.’” (cfr. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1404). This Eucharist is our nourishment on our pilgrimage until the moment of our death. It will then blossom as a seed into our eternal life and thus the words of our Lord are fulfilled “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1524).

3. “… remains in me and I in him.” Fidelity is the first fruit of Eucharistic communion. The catechism states, “As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life; and this living charity wipes away venial sins. By giving himself to us Christ revives our love and enables us to break our disordered attachments to creatures and root ourselves in him” (Catechism of the Cahtolich Church, 1394) Worthy reception of the Eucharist permits me to persevere through many battles in my vocation and apostolic mission. Adoration of the Eucharist can also help me to conquer long-term defects and overcome many obstacles in my path to fidelity. 

Dialogue with Christ: O Jesus, you are my way, my truth and my life. You remain in me and I pray to remain in you always, for the road is hard and hopeless without you, but my confidence is strong, for you have left me the greatest gift of your love: the Eucharist. Now I can always be with you in a very special way. 

Resolution: To partake in the Eucharistic feast (Mass) or visit him today in the tabernacle.

Thursday of the Third Week of Easter - The Obedience of Faith

Jesus said to the crowds: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world."

Introductory Prayer: Lord I believe in you. I believe that you see me and hear me. I believe in your love. I know that you love me, for nothing else explains your death on the cross and the gift of yourself in the Eucharist. Help me to return love for love. Help me to love as you love, and to love those whom you love. 

Petition: Lord, increase my faith in your presence in the Eucharist and in my life.

1. Approaching the Father. We continue our reflections on the Bread of Life discourse. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him.” God freely created us. There was no motive other than his love. We are not necessary to creation. God could have gotten along fabulously well if we had never been born. But he chose to give us life, not out of need or necessity, but out of love. He created us to be with him for all eternity. When we became lost in sin, he began to draw us to himself. We begin our search for God only because he draws us to himself. He gives us the grace of conversion both to start the journey of our spiritual life and to continue to get up each and every time we stumble into sin along the way. Often we think of our spiritual life as something we do, but it is more of what God does in us. God works within us to draw us to himself. He sends us his lights, insights into his love and his plan for our life. He sends us holy desires to break with sin and live for him.  

2. Receiving Eternal Life. “Whoever believes has eternal life.” God calls us to an obedience of faith. He reveals his love and his plan in the Scriptures. There he speaks to us. He reveals his love and his plan for our salvation through the sacrifice of his Son. He asks us to believe with the obedience of faith, with coherence of life. “To obey (from the Latin ob-audire, to ‘hear or listen to’) in faith is to submit freely to the word that has been heard, because its truth is guaranteed by God, who is Truth itself…. The Virgin Mary is its most perfect embodiment” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 144). Faith requires free submission of our will to God. We lovingly do what God asks of us. This is why Mary is the perfect model of faith. She didn’t understand everything, but she knew and loved God. She did what he asked of her; she gave herself to him to become the mother of God. 

3. Flesh for the World. “The bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world.” Jesus is speaking of the mystery of the Eucharist, of his real presence. He has been speaking of the bread of life that comes down from heaven. He can only be speaking of himself, for no one else has come down from heaven. He spoke of giving them the bread of life. Now he clarifies that this bread is his flesh. It is not simply a symbol or an image of another reality. The Eucharist is his flesh. He is present and gives himself to us because he loves us; self-donation is the form of love. 

Dialogue with Christ: Lord, help me to believe in your love. I know that you love me, but sometimes the cares of life and all my activities chase this thought from my mind. I forget and get wrapped up in passing things. Help me to return to you. Help me to love as you love. I can’t live without love. Help me to give myself to you today in all of my activities. When I’m with others, help me to love you in what I say and do, and in how I act. Let my love be practical and concrete.

Resolution: I will choose one act of charity to do for someone today.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary - God Lifts Up the Lowly

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary´s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord." And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever." And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in your wondrous, shining glory, although this is hidden from my eyes. I hope in the peace and everlasting joy of the world to come, for this world is a valley of tears. I love you, even though I am not always able to discern the love in your intentions when you permit me to suffer. You are my God and my all.

Petition: Lord, help me to be humble!

  1. All Generations Will Call Me Blessed: When Pius XII defined the dogma of the Assumption, it was a cause of great joy throughout the Catholic world. Believed for centuries, it entered the realm of official Catholic dogma. Our Lady is brought to heaven to share in the glory and joy of her Son and our Lord. We have always looked to Mary as our mother, and so the feast of the Assumption continues to fill us with happiness. She is with Christ, and she is our mother more than ever. We entrust ourselves to her in the same way that Pope Saint John Paul the Great did, “Totus Tuus.”

  1. Scattering the Proud: Proud people are generally very focused on whatever serves their best interests. So “scattering” is a very good verb to use to indicate what happens to the proud when God goes into action. Mary rejoices in that “scattering,” but who are the proud? Maybe we don’t have to look any further than ourselves. How much we fight with that root sin of pride! Mary is happy when pride gets scattered and the perspective we have widens. Instead of just seeing things from our own myopic point of view, this scattering opens up the “thoughts of our hearts” to see others and their needs. Nothing is more Mary-like than that.

  1. Lifting Up the Lowly: This feast of the Assumption is proof that God literally lifts up the lowly. Like her Son and his Ascension, Mary is lifted up by God into the realm of eternal life. Sometimes we cling to our pride out of a sort of instinct of self-preservation—“If I don’t look out for number one, who will?” But Mary’s humility is a lesson for us. Our true self-fulfillment lies in becoming everyday more filled with God; We can only do that if we are not filled with ourselves. Let’s ask Mary to help us to live more like her and experience the true joy—the lifting up—that there is in humility.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I thank you for giving us such a wonderful mother. She helps me to stay on the path of fulfilling your will. Help me to be able to sing a Magnificat in my own soul, “The Almighty has done great things for me!”

Resolution: I will be generous and joyful when I am asked to help out.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Easter - We Are One Body

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began. I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them. And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are.”

Introductory Prayer: Jesus Christ, true God and true man, my Creator and my Redeemer. I love you above all other things – even more than I love myself. Thank you for letting me live in communion with your divine life. I wish never to be separated from you.

Petition: Lord, help me to work for unity within your Church.

1. “I Pray for Them” – Christ desires unity for his people. He wants to share the love that has always existed between himself and his Father. To realize this goal he has come into a world broken by selfish divisions. Contrary to his Father’s will, sinful men and women in this world no longer see themselves as brothers and sisters but as enemies and rivals. Christ reveals himself in their midst as the only way to the Father and the one sent to unify all peoples into the one mystery of salvation, the Church. Do I look to Christ as the source of unity between myself and others?

2. “May They Be One Just As We Are” – The “master plan” is for all people to be united in Christ, regardless of race, gender, age, nationality, social background, politics or abilities. His focus is on “inclusion” not “diversity.” Diversity can break down unity if it emphasizes multiple points of difference. Even where a bond of oneness exists, a focus on diversity will often emphasize the lack of unity. Focusing on unity, on the other hand, builds up the Church by helping each person to discover his place within the Mystical Body of Christ. We are one body in Christ (Cf. Romans 12:5).

3. “Keep Them in Your Name” – No one can fully participate in this union with Christ and the Father unless he accepts the invitation to be part of the one body of the Church. For us to be included, we must enter through Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. There is no other name under heaven by which we are saved. It would be a great mistake for us to want and to seek membership in his Church while adopting conflicting attitudes that keep us separated from the Father, Christ and our brothers and sisters. Do I know how to appreciate the varying gifts and talents of others? Do I offer my own gifts and talents at the service of the Church?

 Conversation with Christ: Lord, you know there are many divisions in my life. I have created many of these. Help me overcome them. Help me eliminate those caused by my selfishness and pride. Help me make you the cornerstone of my life.

Resolution: This week, through my prayer and action, I will try to help mend broken bonds between people.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Monday of the Seventh Week of Easter - Trust in Christ’s Victory

The disciples said to Jesus: "Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech. Now we realize that you know everything and that you do not need to have anyone question you. Because of this we believe that you came from God." Jesus answered them, "Do you believe now? Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone. But I am not alone, because the Father is with me. I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you and all that you have revealed for our salvation. I hope in you because of your overflowing mercy. Every single act of yours on this earth demonstrated your love for us. Your ascent into heaven before the eyes of the Apostles inspires my hope of one day joining you there. I love you and wish you to be the center of my life.

Petition: Lord, give me an unwavering confidence in your victory over sin and evil in my life and in the world.

  1. Jesus Knows Our Weaknesses: Jesus warns his disciples that they will all flee from him in the Garden of Gethsemane when the guards come to arrest him. He is preparing them not for their fall, but for their recovery. He never expected them to be perfect, without flaws, mistakes or shortcomings. He doesn’t expect it of us either. There have been times when we have all abandoned him to follow the selfishness of sin. We sought our own pleasure, as he sought the nails of the cross and the scourging of the lash. Where am I struggling right now? Am I wavering over a compromise with sin in my life? Ask him for the strength and light to live as his faithful friend.

  1. Trust in the Father’s Presence: Even as the disciples left him, Jesus was not alone. His Father was with him. This essential union of love in his life with his Father was the strength that carried him forward to embrace the cross. He could be calm in the midst of the storm and endure unimaginable sufferings during his passion and death. Jesus lights the way for us in the midst of our own struggles and trials in life. It is natural for us to feel isolated from everyone when we are suffering and struggling, alone in the pain and the emptiness of our life. But God is with us; he is within us. We are never alone.

  1. Christ´s Victory is My Victory: Jesus never promised his disciples an easy life. He was very clear with them that in the world they would have trouble. It is the same for us. If the world has rejected Christ, it will reject us. We can’t be surprised when opposition and difficulties come our way. It is part and parcel of following Christ and shows that we are heading in the right direction. It is hard to keep fighting, fighting the enemies within and without, but Jesus is with us. We need faith to see that he has won the victory. He has overcome sin and death and he is there at the right hand of the Father.

 Conversation with Christ: Jesus, it is hard to keep fighting. Sometimes it seems I make little progress. I have the same struggles and difficulties every day. I’m overwhelmed by the evil I see in the world, and it can be hard to see your victory in many places, in many families and homes. Give me the hope that I need to keep seeking your will in all things.

Resolution: I will pray for those who are struggling in their faith.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Ascension of the Lord - Listening to Jesus

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you have the power to do all things, even the power to change my heart of stone into a heart that loves you unconditionally. The day ahead of me will be filled with countless activities, but I know that your presence will give me the strength to do all the things you have commanded me to do.

Petition: Jesus, help me to obey your command to spread your message.

1. Trust and Obedience: Obedience and trust in God are not highly touted virtues in today’s society, yet obedience to Jesus’ command to go to Galilee was the door that gave the apostles access to Christ. Any one of the apostles was free to go his own way, but that way would not necessarily lead him to the vision of the Risen Christ. They had trusted him until this point, and they showed by going that they were ready to entrust their lives entirely to his guidance. When we are obedient to the Word of God, to Christ’s teachings, to the teachings of the Church, we are giving God free rein to live in us and to act through us. Obedience of this kind is possible only when we commit ourselves to the Lord, when we trust in him and exercise a living faith that he wishes to guide us through his appointed instruments.

2. Doubt Is an Invitation: “Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124). Following Jesus is a challenge because he does not always allow us to perceive his presence. At times we see him acting clearly in our lives; at other times we doubt, just as the disciples did. Instead of causing us alarm, moments of doubt in our hearts should be countered by a firm decision to trust in him always. Christ drew closer to them precisely when the disciples doubted. At the moment when their vision was clouded, he reassured them: “All power in heaven and earth has been given to me.” Do I turn my mind and heart to Our Lord as soon as my spirit is troubled?

3. With God Everything Is Possible: Jesus wants to share his power with us, and he does so through the Sacraments, beginning with Baptism. With his power he also gives us a share in his mission: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” Friendship with Jesus is also a commitment to teach others to share in the joy of knowing and loving him. Our relationship with Jesus broadens our horizons because we share in his life and in the life of the Father and of the Holy Spirit. The mission to make disciples of all nations might seem daunting, but God himself is on our side: “Behold, I am with you always.” So our trust in the Lord widens the narrow horizon of our own self-seeking. We need to commit our ways to the Lord so that we can be loyal instruments of his mercy and love. We are called to fulfill his command to spread his message far and wide.

Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Jesus, for allowing me to share in your life and in your mission. I trust in your loving presence in my life. You are my strength in weakness and my light in darkness. Help me to follow your commandments. In them I find you and I find peace.

Resolution: I will build up charity today by saying only good things about others.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter - Confidence in the Father´s Love

Jesus said to his disciples: "Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. I have told you this in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures but I will tell you clearly about the Father. On that day you will ask in my name, and I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you. For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world. Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, as I begin this prayer I offer you my whole self: my thoughts, desires, decisions, actions, hopes, fears, weaknesses, failures and petty successes. I open my entire being to you, aware that you know everything already. I’m certain of your mercy and of the purifying power of your penetrating, loving gaze.

Petition: Father, help me to confide in you.

  1. Ask and You Shall Receive: As a child I was often bashful to the extreme when dealing with strangers. I remember once my dad asked me to leave a food package at the rectory office as a contribution to the parish food drive for the poor. I was scared stiff. Finally after I got up the courage, I rang the doorbell, dropped the box and ran. At times we can feel the same apprehension and uncertainty before prayer. We are not sure if God will take kindly to “being disturbed” in his care for the universe to listen to our request. Ultimately, we need to remember how much God likes to be asked and to trust that, if what we are asking for is for our good or that of another, God will certainly grant it.

  1. God’s Self-Revelation: Language is a vehicle of communication, and like every means of expressing ideas, it is limited. Speech, however, is really pushed to its limits when it tries to express realities about which humans have no clear conceptualizations. God’s power, his awesome majesty and his very being are far beyond our limited scope of comprehension. Jesus, as true God and true man, becomes the bridge between our human language and God, whom he knows intimately. Jesus uses the most adequate expressions possible for God –– such as Father ––, but he also reminds us that he is speaking in figures. One day he promises to tell us clearly and even introduce us to him. Is this my greatest hope? Would I be ready right now to be introduced to God the Father?

  1. “The Father Himself Loves You” - Our Holy Father, Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI, reminds us of the Father’s love: “True, no one has ever seen God as he is. And yet God is not totally invisible to us; he does not remain completely inaccessible. God loved us first, says the Letter of St John, and this love of God has appeared in our midst. He has become visible in as much as he ‘has sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him’ (1 John 4:9). God has made himself visible: in Jesus we are able to see the Father (cf. John 14:9). Indeed, God is visible in a number of ways. In the love-story recounted by the Bible, he comes towards us, he seeks to win our hearts, all the way to the Last Supper, to the piercing of his heart on the cross, to his appearances after the Resurrection and to the great deeds by which, through the activity of the apostles, he guided the nascent Church along its path” (Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est [God Is Love], December 25, 2005).

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, you have revealed the immense love the Father has for all people by the ultimate self-giving of your life. Help me never to doubt your love for me. Help me to respond to your love though fidelity to your will and the practice of exquisite charity.

Resolution: I will say a decade of the rosary for missionaries who are preaching God’s love to others.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter - Your Grief Will Turn to Joy

Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take that joy away from you. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.” 

Introductory Prayer:Jesus I need your help to pray. On my own, I’m buried by little concerns. Bring me out of myself. Help me to think of others and to be more concerned for them. Help me to reject every vain thought and spend this time with you alone. 

Petition:Lord, grant me an increase of faith in the power of prayer.

1. In His Name. “Your grief will turn to joy.” The disciples would be shocked and discouraged by the crucifixion. But death would not be the end. After Calvary comes Paschal joy, the resurrection, a new and glorious life. How happy the disciples must have been to see our Lord again! It is precisely this Easter joy that the Church seeks to prolong during the Easter season in the weeks leading up to Pentecost. Our lives should be filled with joy, and it should be infectious. Joy radiates itself and invites others in. It was this joy that led the disciples to go to the ends of the earth to proclaim the good news, and it was this joy that made new believers out of the people they met along the way. 

2. For Time We Live with Sorrow. Jesus wants our best, our true good. He wants to fill us with joy and for our joy to be complete, but this doesn’t mean he guards us from all sorrows. We experience the loss of family and friends. We face difficulties and struggles, temptations and sufferings. This is when we need to turn to Christ, to seek his consolation. He can fill us with joy even in the midst of great suffering. There is a joy to be found in his presence, the joy of his love, the joy of his promise. Perhaps we need to turn our thoughts to heaven more frequently, spending time reflecting on the peace and fullness of life that awaits us.  

3. Our Sorrow Will Turn to Joy. Jesus sits at his right side of the Father interceding for us and never fails to think of us. We may forget about him, but he never forgets us. He is there asking for the things we need, for our daily bread. Through baptism, our life is united to Christ, our life is hidden in his. In a way we are already in heaven. Even now we can experience the passing of sorrow and the coming of joy. There is a fullness of joy that God wants us to experience even in this life. There are so many other people in need of his love. They need me to transmit this Easter joy to them. We need to pray for them and trust Christ’s promise that the Father will answer our prayers in his name. 

Dialogue with Christ: Lord Jesus, thank you for this time. Thank you for revealing the Father’s love. Open my heart to this love. Convince me of the power of prayer. You always listen to me. Help me to trust in your promises. Help me to remember to turn to you more frequently, raising up in prayer all my loved ones, the people you have entrusted to me. Don’t let me forget them. Give them the things they need this day. Be with them and bring them into your kingdom.  

Resolution: I will make three spiritual communions, offering them for the Holy Father.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter - Very Truly I Tell You

"A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me." Then some of his disciples said to one another, "What does he mean by saying to us, ´A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me´; and ´Because I am going to the Father´?" They said, "What does he mean by this ´a little while´? We do not know what he is talking about." Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, "Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, ´A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me´? Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you (cf. John 21:17). You know when I need consolation and when I need dryness. Help me to accept all things as a gift from your loving hand. This is the simplicity with which I trust in your providence and mercy.

Petition: Lord, may I grow in my confidence in you.

1. What Does He Mean?
We frequently don’t understand what God is trying to do in our lives. Much of what he does or allows to happen doesn’t seem to make sense. “Why did this have to happen to me? Where was God in all of this?” We often like to have everything spelled out for us. We want to read the fine print of God’s plan for us so that we can first give our approval. God doesn’t work that way. He first told Abraham to leave his home; only later was God’s plan for his life revealed. Christ first called the apostles; only slowly did he show them what that entailed.

2. Very Truly I Tell You
Christ is truth itself. He can neither deceive nor be deceived. He clearly knows what the apostles are thinking, and he clearly knows what they need. He also knows the right moment to reveal his plan: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now” (John 16:12). We have to be ready for what he has to tell us. This requires a great deal of detachment and trust: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1).

3. Trust Leads to Joy
However, following Christ with a trusting attitude brings joy. Our trust in him never leads us down a blind alley. It is when we try to write our own history independent of Christ that fear and frustration ensue. We get ourselves into problems. “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). Yet to get there, we must make the pilgrimage of faith, a pilgrimage which at times leads through valleys of darkness: Still we go confidently, knowing he is there with his rod and his staff (cf. Psalm 23).

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, it is so easy for me to worry, to rely on my own strength. Help me to confide more in you each day. I know your path will lead to joy, even if I don’t always grasp the route.

Resolution: Today, I will accept the surprises God brings me with a confident and thankful spirit.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter - Nothing But the Truth

Jesus said to his disciples: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, as I begin this prayer I offer you my whole self: my thoughts, desires, decisions, actions, hopes, fears, weaknesses, failures and petty successes. I open my entire being to you, aware that you know everything already. I’m certain of your mercy and of the purifying power of your penetrating, loving gaze.

Petition: Lord, allow me to be sincerely and truthfully yours.

  1. My Truth Before God: Jesus tells his apostles he has many more things to tell them, but it seems that they are not yet ready to accept the truth. They were not ready, for one thing, to acknowledge the fact that in a few short hours all of them would flee before the prospect of the Cross, leaving Christ quite alone. I, too, may find it hard to see, or to accept, a realistic picture of my relationship with Christ or my state of soul. I may justify myself or my indifference with any number of psychological consolations. I might convince myself that I am not quite as bad off as so-and-so. Perhaps I put up an excellent external show, living all the motions, but with little true conviction and sincerity.
  1. Cheap Deceptions: In our consumer-oriented world, first impressions often seem to count more than the goodness or evil of a thing. Opinion polls appear to set the standard for right and wrong, and a false idea of tolerance is a highly held ideal. Truth can be seen as bluntly offensive, and so it is repackaged in a more appealing way. However, none of these attempts by the “spirit of the world” can ever succeed in the end, just as no amount of darkness can ever stop the smallest beam of light. The Holy Spirit is at work in the world declaring the truth loud and clear in the depths of the human soul. Only the truth — which comes from Christ — has the power to bring true peace and joy to the human heart when all illusions are shown up as such.
  1. Living in the Truth: As Christians we must be on guard against the spirit of insincerity. No one who lives outside the truth can claim to be a disciple of Christ. Little falsehoods in our lives are utterly destructive to the action of the “Spirit of Truth” in our souls. Our Savior never spoke out so strongly against anything as he did against the pretended righteousness of the leaders of his time. How many things have I done recently just to be praised by others? How many good things have I done which are known to God alone? Am I capable of standing firm to my convictions in the face of misunderstanding or ridicule?

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, the example of your life and death is one of complete honesty. Empower me through the “Spirit of Truth” to be sincere in all that I do before God and others.

Resolution: I will ask forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation at the first available opportunity for any insincerity in my life.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter - Condemnation and Righteousness

Jesus said to his disciples: "But now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, ´Where are you going?´ But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you because you have made yourself known to me. I desire to know you more each day. Let my knowledge of you be simple, real and personal. I hope in your grace because I am aware of my inclination to evil and I know my weakness. As an expression of my love for you, I want to live as you would have me live. I want to please you by my every action.

Petition: Lord, increase my faith.

1. Convict the World in Regard to Sin
Why does Christ come to convict the world in regard to sin? Didn’t he come, “(not) to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3: 17)? Which is it, condemnation or liberation? It’s both. If you are not aware that you’re sick, you will not go to the doctor. First we have to be aware that we are sinful, so that we experience the need for a savior in the first place. The greatest danger in today’s society isn’t that it’s sinful: Sin has been here since Adam and Eve. The greatest danger is no longer recognizing sin at all because of moral relativism (cf. John Paul II, The Splendor of Truth, 32). “This is fine for me; I make my own rules,” goes the battle cry of the relativist. Therefore, the Spirit must first make us aware that we are selfish, sinful and in need of a savior. Then the work of conversion can begin.

2. Convicted of … Sin Because They Do Not Believe in Me
Is Christ saying that every non-believer is a sinner and not worthy of salvation? This seems to be confirmed in John 3:18a: “Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already.” The Church teaches that those people, who through no fault of their own know neither Christ nor his Church, may be saved by following the dictates of their conscience (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 847). This said, there is also the danger of a will to unbelief: “For this people´s heart has grown dull…and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes…and understand with their heart and turn -- and I would heal them” (Matthew 13:15). Seeing, some chose not to believe because it would mean changing. It is this conscientious rejection of the truth out of obstinacy that must be avoided at all costs.

3. Righteousness
Christ’s resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit are proof of Christ’s righteousness and authenticity. He is what he claimed to be: the Messiah, the Son of the living God (cf. Matthew 16:16-17). It is also righteous or just that Christ, having completed his mission, returns to the Father. Yet Christ’s righteousness is also being offered to us if we but accept it. His mission was to condemn Satan, the Father of lies, and remake us in his image and likeness. Through his sacrifice we become much more than freed slaves: We become adopted children of God (cf. John 1:12).

Conversation with Christ: Lord, aware of the importance of faith, I ask you to increase my faith. You continuously offer me so many graces, let me take advantage of all of them and use them according to your will.

Resolution: During my conscience examen today I will recognize my faults with honesty, but also express a greater confidence in God’s mercy in my life.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter - The Spirit’s Witness

Jesus said to his disciples: "When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning. I have told you this so that you may not fall away. They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, as I begin this prayer I offer you my whole self: my thoughts, desires, decisions, actions, hopes, fears, weaknesses, failures and petty successes. I open my entire being to you, aware that you know everything already. I’m certain of your mercy and of the purifying power of your penetrating, loving gaze.

Petition: Lord God, help me to live as a true witness to Christ. 

1. Witness of Christ: Some people try to invoke the Holy Spirit as justification for ideas contrary to Christ’s teaching. A careful look at today’s Gospel illustrates how this can never be according to God’s plan. The Holy Spirit is not at odds with Christ’s message, nor is he working out a plan of salvation distinct from Christ’s Church. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of Christ and of the Father; his very purpose in coming is to testify to Christ. Every true inspiration of the Holy Spirit moves us to a greater fidelity to the truth. Am I attentive to the Spirit’s urging me to a greater fidelity to my Christian commitments? 

2. Witnesses in the Spirit: Our faith is by no means a static reality. Just as the first disciples experienced Christ’s preaching, miracles and personal love, all Christians serious about their faith discover Christ’s presence throughout their daily experience. This is especially true in the sacraments of penance and the Eucharist. Jesus is always with us, and his forgiveness and closeness are the source of our joy. The Holy Spirit empowers us through the grace of our baptism to give witness to what we have freely received. Do I take seriously my Christian vocation to give testimony to Christ’s love? Do I realize that my first act of testimony needs to be the witness of a truly Christian life? Do I remember that in this seemingly daunting task I should rely heavily on the Holy Spirit as my business partner? 

3. Fidelity Amidst Opposition: Christ shares with the apostles gathered in the Upper Room that being witnesses to him will not always be met with acceptance. Opposition seems to be an integral part of being a Christian. Deep-seated and unflinching adherence to Christ and the voice of conscience has never been compatible with the popular mindset. In fact, many times Christians are not called to “fit in” but to “stand out”, and this has inevitable consequences as it did in the life of Our Lord. The wonderful part is that we have been promised the final victory. Christ goes before us and the Holy Spirit is at our side.  

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, it has always been demanding to be an authentic witness to you. Teach me not to rely on my own capabilities, but to grow in strength and coherence through fidelity to the inspirations of your Holy Spirit.

Resolution: I will make some public sign of witness to my faith today.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Sixth Sunday of Easter - Intimacy with God

Jesus said to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, as I begin this prayer I offer you my whole self: my thoughts, desires, decisions, actions, hopes, fears, weaknesses, failures and petty successes. I open my entire being to you, aware that you know everything already. I’m certain of your mercy and of the purifying power of your penetrating, loving gaze.

Petition: Lord, I want to believe in your personal and passionate love for me.

1. Intimacy with Jesus: When we gaze at the cross, we need to remind ourselves that he died there for each one of us, for “me”. He died to forgive my sins and to pour his divine life into my soul. He wants there to be no divisions between us, barriers caused by sin. He wants us to be united in all things. This is why he says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” He wants our wills to be united, for his will represents our true good. He asks for our obedience out of love, not fear. There is a tendency in today’s society to separate love from obedience. Love of God gets reduced to some kind of vague feeling of goodwill toward God and others. Love requires sacrifice. Love is self-donation. Ask Jesus for the grace to love as he has loved us.

2. Intimacy with the Holy Spirit: Jesus promised his disciples another advocate, one who would remain with them forever. The disciples were upset to hear Jesus speak of his death and departure. They were distraught to think of themselves alone in the world, with all their hopes and plans crashing down around them. Jesus didn’t want to leave them alone, nor does he want to leave us alone. He does not leave us orphans in the world; he sends us a helper, a gift of love. In the Holy Spirit we find a guide and friend, another person who abides within us. We are never alone. He is always with us, even when we feel abandoned by others. 

3. Intimacy with the Father: “Whoever loves me, will be loved by my Father.” Now we turn to the Father, and we come to him through Jesus Christ. The Father’s plan from all eternity was to love us in his Son. He wants to love us with a fatherly love, to love us with the same love he has for his only-begotten son from all eternity. How much God loves us! He wants to draw us into his living and eternal relationship of love. In a thousand different ways he is calling us, inviting us, pulling us towards himself. Jesus reveals a Triune God, and he invites us to share in the communion of life and love that is the Holy Trinity. 

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, help me to believe in you and your love. Imprint your love very deeply onto my heart. I want to remain in your love always. I want to remain in the love of the Father and the Holy Spirit, but I need your strength and grace. Help me to set aside anything that displeases you.
Resolution: I will make three spiritual communions with Jesus during the day.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter - The Master and the Slave

Jesus said to his disciples: "If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, ´No slave is greater than his master.´ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me."


Introductory Prayer: Lord, thank you for granting me the opportunity to be with you. There are things in life, Lord, that attract me, but you attract me more. I hope in you, and I love you. Maybe I don’t really understand what it means to love, and maybe I don’t love the way I should, but I do love you.


Petition: Lord, help me to embrace my cross joyfully. 


1. Bearing the Burden: “The world hated me first.” This is the incredible story of the Gospels. Christ came and the culture was against him. As the story of Christ in the Gospel progresses, the forces of antagonism get worse: The dangers increase with the turning of every page. This was a real burden for Christ, the burden of a parent whose children turn against him. Perhaps I, too, feel that burden. Perhaps I experience that rejection from those who love me or from those who don’t believe.


2. Loving Acceptance: Christ courageously and lovingly accepted that burden. He did not complain. Perhaps he asked his Father for an easier way. It is the same in our lives. I often face problems, even when I want to do good. There comes a moment in life when I must accept my limitations and the limitations imposed on me by others. This is a memorable moment in life—the moment I accept my cross, like Christ did. That acceptance isn’t easy, but at the same time it fills my heart with a deep peace and sometimes even joy.


3. Seeking Solutions: After I accept my cross, I experience a new courage, and my imagination fires up. Love always looks for solutions: Christ never stopped searching for ways to get through to the culture. I must do the best I can to evangelize, even though I may encounter opposition. With Christ’s help, no obstacle is too great. He will help me to overcome all the problems I may encounter. The important thing is that I keep focused on the fulfillment of his will out of love. He will take care of the rest.


Conversation with Christ: Lord, you know my burden. You know what makes me lose sleep, what I wake up worrying about. Help me to accept it, as you accepted your cross.


Resolution: I will stop complaining and see what I can do to alleviate the burdens and sufferings of others.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter - Loving to the Extreme

Jesus said to his disciples: "This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one´s life for one´s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another."

Introductory Prayer: I believe in you, O Lord, in your great love for me. You are my creator and redeemer. I trust in your friendship; I trust that you will share with me all the insights and desires to love as you have loved. I love you, Lord, for you have loved me first. I want to love you by helping to bring your love and life to others.


Petition: With the love of your heart, inflame my heart!

  1. A New Commandment: “And can love be commanded?” Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI poses this very objection in his encyclical, “Deus Caritas Est.”. Love is not merely a sentiment; it is an act of will. “God does not demand of us a feeling which we ourselves are incapable of producing” (n. 17). We cannot be ordered to “like” someone or to “fall in love”, but we can “choose to love” our enemies. More importantly, when we experience God’s love for us, the joy of being loved leads us to want to respond to that love. And God has loved us first: “It was not you who chose me….” We experience his love for us as an ongoing reality each time we receive the sacraments, but also each time we reflect on the fact that he is keeping us in existence. This personal experience enables us both to understand love and want to share it.

  1. Friends Forever: Like love, friendship is easily misrepresented in today’s world, for it is more than convenience, mutual tolerance or mutual utility. Friends not only share love, they share secrets and intimate knowledge. Love leads “to a community of will and thought” (idem). I want to know what my friend is thinking and desiring so that I can share in those thoughts and even satisfy those desires. “The love-story between God and man consists in the very fact that this communion of will increases in a communion of thought and sentiment, and thus our will and God´s will increasingly coincide: God´s will is no longer for me an alien will, something imposed on me from without by the commandments, but it is now my own will based on the realization that God is in fact more deeply present to me than I am to myself” (idem).

  1. Chosen to Bear Fruit: Jesus’ commands are few, but they all have to do with love: “Do this in memory of me”; “Love one another”; “Love your enemies”; “Go and make disciples of all nations”, etc. The essential and urgent nature of this command of love is linked to the very mission of Christ. We are chosen and have been appointed to go and love others. If this love is authentic, grown from the vine of his love and great in sacrifice, it will bear fruit. The fruit which lasts, that for which he died, is an eternal life of friendship with God. What others most need from me then, is not material goods or consolation, or even my friendship, but an experience of God’s love for them, namely, knowledge of Christ. “Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give others much more than their outward necessities; I can give them the look of love which they crave” (ibid., n. 18).

Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord Jesus, grant me a constant, growing desire to live your commandment of love. Awaken in me an awareness of your ever-present love in my life. Let this inspire me to love without measure, without distinction of persons, without fears of losing all that is less than love.

Resolution: I will choose to serve someone today, not because I feel the desire to do so, but for love of Christ.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter - My Love for the Church

Jesus said to his disciples: "As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father´s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, thank you for granting me the opportunity to be with you. There are things in life, Lord, that attract me, but you attract me more. I hope in you, and I love you. Maybe I don’t really understand what it means to love, and maybe I don’t love the way I should, but I do love you.


Petition: Lord, increase my love and appreciation for the Church and her leaders.

  1. Christ and His Church: When Christ says, “Keep my commandments and remain in my love,” he is talking not only about the Ten Commandments but also about the Church. What is the Church? It is Christ’s extension through time. We cannot say, “Christ, yes; the Church, no,” because the Church is the mystical body of Christ; the two are inseparable as head and body. The Church, through its sacraments and its solid teachings, makes Christ present for me now, today. It is through this Church that I received the gift of faith. I want to remain in Christ. I want to remain enthusiastically in his Church.

  1. God’s Chosen Ministers: You chose the Apostles to continue your work of redemption throughout the ages. Therefore, Lord, I want to love your priests and your bishops. I know how hard their job is. I see their perseverance. The Eucharist is available all over the world because of the fidelity of priests. Thank you for bishops and priests. Thank you for our parish. I want to support the parish with joy; giving of my time and my financial sacrifices.

  1. The Pope: Lord, I want to love the Holy Father. He is the rock on which you chose to build your Church. Because he has kept the straight path, the world recognizes his moral authority. Lord, I want to learn more about what he is saying. Today with the Internet, it is so easy. It just takes a little interest and a little time. This is one way I can remain in your love. Thus, my joy will be complete.

Conversation with Christ: When you came, Lord, you wanted to heal us through the sacraments, and you set up the Church to administer them. Because you are present in your Church, it has lasted two thousand years. Thank you for giving us this instrument of salvation.

Resolution: I will read something Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI has written. Much can be found on the Vatican website.