St. Bernard of Clairvaux, doctor of the Church, and whose memorial it is today, asked himself daily, “Why have I come here?” The question reminded him to respond, “To lead a holy life.” With the challenges facing society today, it’s easy to lose sight of our purpose. We should ask ourselves that same question and respond with the same answer.
Today’s scripture readings for the Memorial of St. Bernard give us clues as to how to do just that. First, we have to accept that we are God’s Beloved, that the Father loves us as He loved His only Son, that He has loved us for all of Eternity, and that He remains in us if we remain in Him. (Jn 17:20-26). In our daily prayer we need to give thanks for His great love and return that love to Him, and then, throughout the day, pass it along to others.
We need to seek God with all our heart and desire to do His will and keep His commandments and, thus, find joy more precious than any riches. (Ps 119:9-14). We need to ask God to send His Holy Spirit into our hearts, to open them wide to receive the message of His will for us that day, make a resolution to follow through on that message, and to rejoice when we have successfully completed our resolution.
We can’t sit idly by and not try to grow in holiness. We need to sit with our Blessed Mother, Mary, Seat of Wisdom, in praying the Rosary, and trust in her to teach us as she taught her son, Jesus, to Whom she will bring us (Sir 15:1-6).
These things don’t happen by themselves. They happen when we intentionally take time daily for solitude and silence, making time for prayer and conversation with God, telling Him what’s on our heart and, more importantly, listening to Him speak to it.
“Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love, a love so deep that You gave Your only Son so that I might live with You for all of Eternity. Thank You for the desire to do Your will and grow closer to You. And, thank You for our Blessed Mother, who gives me strength and teaches me to live a virtuous life. St. Bernard, pray for us. Mary, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us!”
(Why Are You Here? was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
In our pastor’s weekly Friday email to his parishioners last week, he mentioned that many people are on edge because of the challenges and upheaval that seem to be occurring in our country this summer. He recognized how good it would be for us to find some peace – “peace in our hearts…homes…communities…nation and world. We know that the Lord Jesus gives us a peace that the world cannot give, but we also know that we need to do our part to bring about peace.” He suggested two ways we can bring about our own peace: to not be troubled by trouble, and to spend time outdoors. This road trip has fulfilled both of those requirements for me, bringing me much peace.
Being troubled by trouble means, to me, letting events and situations that I don’t like, did not choose, cannot change, and even things that are beyond rational understanding, control my emotions. It includes worrying about the future. Here in the mountains of Montana, it is so very easy to forget about the outside world and all that is going on. We have no television, and we have limited cellular access so it is difficult to stay up on current events. After two weeks of this life it makes me want to never listen to or read a news report again. In place of those distractions, I have spent more time in prayer, time with family, and time in nature. All have brought me peace.
Rising early in the morning to spend time in mental prayer is something I do on a daily basis, even at home. But, sitting outside on a brisk morning in July/August, next to the little creek that runs just a few yards in front of the cabin, takes peaceful meditation to a whole new level. I not only read and hear the word of God, but it’s easy to feel His presence around me as I pray.
We spent most of our first week here with our children and grandchildren. After they left on Wednesday, Melinda and I had the cabin to ourselves for a couple days. On Friday, Melinda’s sister and her husband arrived from Marble Falls, Texas to stay at the cabin for a couple weeks after we leave. Another sister and her husband came in from Rapid City, South Dakota on Friday and stayed through Sunday. Together, we took advantage of the mild weather and spent peaceful time outside in nature as we hiked, fished, and sawed and cleaned up fallen timber around the cabin.
Talking about fishing, I fished Rock Creek on Thursday and got shut out, but caught a nice Rainbow and a small Brown trout on Saturday.
Melinda and I hiked the Corral Creek Trail, or rather, we hiked the first mile of the trail which included an 800 foot elevation gain, before we reached a questionable log bridge we would have had to cross. We decided it was a good place to turn around and head back down.
We saw many beautiful wildflowers lining the trail and took time to examine them and take photos. The trail itself was only a couple feet wide so we were thankful we saw no bears with whom we would have had to share that narrow path.
Talking about bears, Melinda and I were driving down the dirt road that runs along Rock Creek on Thursday evening and, as we rounded a bend, a large black bear crossed our path just a few yards in front of us. It stopped, looked at us and then headed up the hill towards our cabin. Fortunately, we didn’t see him again.
But, on Friday evening, we were looking out a window of the cabin and a cow moose and her calf came trotting up along side. Seeing Melinda’s sister walking up the path towards the cabin, the moose stopped in the middle of our outdoor sitting area. Moose are huge! And, a mama moose can get belligerent if she thinks her calf is in danger. Fortunately, she must not have felt threatened and they turned and sauntered back down the hill.
On Sunday evening, we drove up Rock Creek Canyon to the end of the road hoping to see more wildlife. They must have heard us coming because all we saw was a doe deer, a chipmunk and a squirrel. But, as a consolation prize, God granted us an almost unbelievably beautiful view of the creek and the mountain from which the creek flows. The sun shining on the mountain top was truly magnificent!
We packed and loaded up on Monday morning and began our return trip home. Our destination for the night was Rapid City, South Dakota to spend a couple days with Melinda’s sister and her family. But, first we stopped in Billings to visit an old friend, Mikey, with whom I used to work many years ago. The very first time I ever met Mikey in 1986 I asked him where he was from, and he replied, “God’s Country!” Not knowing where that was I asked him to be more specific to which he replied, “Montana”. Ever since then he has invited me to stop and see him the next time I came to “God’s Country”. This time I finally obliged his invitation. Mikey, it was great to see you and Annette again after so many years. Thanks for lunch!
Driving across the plains of northeastern Wyoming, we saw many pronghorn antelope beneath dark gray storm clouds that, thankfully, we were able to outrun. As we neared South Dakota, the Black Hills provided the perfect visual backdrop for praying our daily Rosary with our friend from Louisiana, with whom we joined our prayers with those of our Blessed Mother for the many people we know who are suffering. It was a perfect and peaceful way to end the day.
“Oh, Glorious God, thank You again for the beauty of Your creation, both the natural beauty and that which resides in the hearts of friends and family. Thank You for the peace You bring when we immerse ourselves in Your loving gifts instead of the fleeting pleasures the world has to offer. Amen.”
(Road Trip Reflections: Finding Peace in “God’s Country” was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
Sometimes when one is practicing meditation, or mental prayer, it is so frustratingly easy to get distracted! There you are, you’ve placed yourself in the presence of God and you’re trying to stay focused on Him. But then, your mind drifts to some far off place that may seem totally disassociated with anything else, and before you know it you’ve spent who knows how long down that path. When you eventually do realize how far you’ve strayed, you pull yourself back to the present moment and try to refocus on the Lord.
This happened to me yesterday. I was kneeling before the tabernacle in our Adoration chapel at church, giving thanks for His love and mercy, and just generally soaking up the grace of being in His presence. Then I got distracted. When I finally came back to the present moment I realized that I had just been replaying in my mind scenes from a favorite movie, Remember the Titans, a 2000 production based on a true story. A movie I haven’t watched in many years.
In the movie, Denzel Washington plays the role of Herman Boone, an African-American football head coach at a newly racially integrated high school in Alexandria, Virginia. Coach Boone is charged with integrating black and white students into a functioning and winning football team amidst a culture that not only has been segregated for generations, but one that lives for it’s high school football. The task seems insurmountable as it requires every ounce of his courage, leadership, and diplomacy.
After viewing Boone’s challenges of building a united team at summer football camp; attempting to build respect and cohesion with his white assistant coaches; and the ever present friction (including threats to his family) from the predominantly white community, we are taken to a scene at the football field the night before the first game of the season. Coach Boone walks out into the bleachers and, looking out over the lighted field, utters, “Yeah, this is my sanctuary right here!” The football field was where he could put the world, and all the problems in it, out of his mind. It was his safe harbor, his refuge. It was where he had some control.
It was after this “scene” that I realized I was daydreaming instead of praying. My first reactions were to apologize, thinking, “I’m sorry, Lord, I can’t even give you ten minutes without wandering off!”, and then to wonder, “Where in the world did that memory come from?”!
As I tried to get back into the moment, Coach Boone’s utterance, “Yeah, this is my sanctuary right here!” popped back into my mind. Then I realized what I was saying. I was in my sanctuary, my place of refuge, right there in front of Jesus in the tabernacle. The only difference was that, unlike it being Coach Boone’s place where he felt in control, it was my place of solitude where I could relinquish control and place all my trust in the goodness and mercy of God. It’s where I could forget the physical, economic and political messiness of the current world pandemic and simply bask in God’s love.
I recalled verses from Psalm 31 (vv. 2-6):
In you, Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness deliver me; incline your ear to me; make haste to rescue me! Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to save me. For you are my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me. Free me from the net that has been set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, Lord, God of truth.
And, I thought, “Wherever I am, Lord, especially in the Adoration chapel, you are there, also. Yeah, this is my sanctuary, right here!”
“Lord Jesus, You are my rock and my refuge, my sanctuary. Thank You for Your generosity. And, thank You for the grace to realize that sometimes distractions aren’t that at all, but actually loving inspirations sent from You through Your Holy Spirit. Amen.”
(My Sanctuary, My Refuge was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
Yesterday was odd: a Sunday forced to be away from church and not be present for mass. In the seven years I’ve been Catholic I’ve missed mass twice. Once because I had the worst “man-cold” in the history of the world, and once on vacation in Arkansas when we were sixty miles from the nearest Catholic church. Other than that, I’ve fulfilled my Sunday obligation no matter where I’ve happened to be. I know most of you are the same and yesterday was difficult for you, too.
My wife and I tuned into a live-streamed mass from St. Peter in Chains Cathedral in Cincinnati. That was odd, too. The only people in the entire cathedral were the Archbishop, a deacon, an altar server, a lector and a cantor. The Archbishop gave a very good homily. I assume it was the Archbishop – it sounded like his voice but the camera was so far away it was impossible to tell for sure. At the moment we would have received Holy Communion had we been there in person, we recited the Prayer of Spiritual Communion.
As much as I desired the grace that comes with receiving the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist in a state of grace, the circumstances with the Coronavirus pandemic weren’t going to allow it. I had to believe that Christ is still with me. I had to believe that the grace I received in receiving Him in the Eucharist the previous Sunday was enough to nourish my soul until I can receive Him again. I thought, “I can do that.”
This morning’s Gospel, Jn 4:43-54, The Second Sign at Cana, helped me to better come to terms with that resolution. Today we read about the royal official, a non-Jew, who traveled a long distance to ask Jesus to cure his dying son. Jesus, knowing that He would not win many hearts in Galilee, harshly replied to the man, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” The man, in humble supplication, responded, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Seeing the man’s faith without the need for a sign, Jesus replied, “You may go; your son will live.” John then tells us, “The man believed what Jesus said to him and left”, and during his two day journey home discovered that the fever had left his son the previous day at the exact time Jesus told him his son would live.
Most of Jesus’ miracles were performed in person and usually involved Him touching the one in need of healing followed by a required action on the receiver’s part. Since the recipient wasn’t present in this miracle, Jesus did neither in extending His healing grace because He sensed the father’s faith.
The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Catholic faith. We believe and take Christ for His word when He said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood will have eternal life” (Jn 6:54). He instructed us to “Do this in memory of Me” (Lk 22:19), which we do every Sunday, and even, if we’re so inclined, every day of the week.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “The sacraments are perceptible signs (words and actions) accessible to our human nature. By the action of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit they make present efficaciously the grace that they signify.” (CCC 1127). It’s like a husband giving flowers with a sincerely spoken and affectionate “I Love You” to his wife as a sign of his love.
But, the Catechism goes on to say, “Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them.” (CCC 1128).
What does this mean? It means that when you go to mass and receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist, you may not necessarily be receiving all the graces that are possible. Even though the Eucharist is always an infinite amount of grace, just because one goes to the Fount of Living Water doesn’t mean that one always drinks from it. Total refreshment comes only through a strong faith and living a life of prayer. Going back to the analogy of the flowers, the love felt by the wife is a function of the disposition of her heart and is independent of the love expressed by the husband.
So, where does this leave me? I know I cannot receive Jesus in the Eucharist at the present time nor the sacramental grace that goes with it. But, I can, with the help of the Holy Spirit, dispose my heart to loving Jesus more through deepening my faith, a deeper prayer life, living a life of virtue, and showing God more gratitude, thus receiving an increase in sanctifying grace.
How does one do this? Developing a deeper prayer life may mean spending 20 to 30 minutes a day reading daily Scripture and reflecting on it; meditating on the Word of God and asking the Holy Spirit to show you what His will is for you that day; and, then making a resolution to take action and follow His lead and do His will.
It may mean taking time for silence and solitude where you can simply love God more, feeling His presence, and trusting that His love will carry you through the day.
We can deepen our faith by seeing God around us in the people we meet, our family and friends; in the words and help offered by a kind person; by the phone call from someone you care about. We can imitate the virtue of Christ and serve others; call upon our loved ones; seek to serve the vulnerable elderly while they are shut-in.
And, we can pay attention to and give thanks for the circumstances of our lives: take pleasure in the flowers that are starting to bloom in our gardens; the birds who are feeding at the bird feeder; and the beautiful sunrises and sunsets (if there are such things in Ohio in the grayness of March!).
I believe our God is an understanding and loving God. He knows we long to receive Him in the Blessed Sacrament. But, in His infinite Wisdom, He has permitted the current situation. Maybe He’s giving us the opportunity to grow closer to Him, to show our faith without thesign that we cherish so much.
God bless and may the Peace of Christ be with you.
“Oh my Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.” (Prayer of Spiritual Communion)
(Believing Without Signs was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
Like many of you, I’m at home in self-imposed semi-quarantine due to the Coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world. I pray this finds you in good health physically, and not losing your sanity sitting at home.
For the two weeks prior to this week, while I was traveling and spending time with family, I unfortunately let my prayer life lag. Thus, in my semi-isolation this week, I’ve found consolation in returning to my morning routine of prayer, meditation and study.
My inspirations for yesterday came from the daily scripture readings. The first was from the first reading, Dt 4:1, 5-9, which tells us of the beauty and importance of the Commandments. Verse 9 particularly caught my attention: “Be on your guard and be very careful not to forget the things your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your heart as long as you live, but make them known to your children and to your children’s children.”
Isn’t this exactly what the Apostles did when they passed along from Jesus’ teaching and example and what they learned from the Holy Spirit? Obvious to all Christians is how they did this through the Sacred Scripture of the Gospels and the letters of the New Testament. We all agree that these works were written by men but inspired by God even though there are some minor inconsistencies between them.
But, what about the first generation of Christians who did not yet have a written New Testament? How was the faith handed down for them? It was handed down by word of mouth and stories from the Apostles and disciples that conveyed what was seen with their own eyes and held in their hearts to their children and others to whom they evangelized. For us Catholics, this is what we call Sacred Apostolic Tradition, and it is the second component of what we refer to as the Deposit of Faith.
Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture are bound closely together and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing and move towards the same goal. Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ, who promised to remain with his own always, to the close of the age.
Fortunately for us, the Catholic Church, unlike our Protestant cousins’ insistence on Sola Scriptura, does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.
The idea of Apostolic Tradition, even before I ever actually heard it called Apostolic Tradition, made total sense to me. Forty-three years before I became Catholic I was sitting in a history class in the 7th grade at an all boys school in southern England learning about the Protestant and English Reformations. We were lectured about Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, written in 1517, which, for good reason, denounced the Catholic practice of the day of selling indulgences. But, Luther also decreed that salvation could only be achieved by faith alone without regard to good deeds; and, in declaring that the Bible was the only source of divine revelation, effectively threw the baby out with the bathwater when he denied Sacred Tradition. We were especially expected to accept the teaching that King Henry VIII, in 1534, had the authority to defy Tradition and break away from the Catholic Church because he didn’t agree with the Church’s teaching on divorce. And, we learned about John Calvin who, in 1536, also denounced Tradition in favor of Scripture alone; and denied good works as a component of salvation, preaching that man’s destiny was predetermined at birth by God.
In the mind of a 12 year old who had very minimal Christian education, and virtually none about Catholicism, I thought, “How can Protestants simply erase fifteen hundred years of history and start over again?” I could understand their issue with the selling of indulgences, but wiping out tradition to suit their own convenience certainly didn’t seem right. In a way, I knew then that if there was a true Christian faith, it was Catholicism.
As I read that verse from Deuteronomy these memories came back to me and I realized this is one of the reasons why I love being Catholic! Having a faith that is based on both Sacred Scripture and Apostolic Tradition is like being able to trace one’s family tree back two thousand years and not just a few generations. It’s like hearing stories told and retold of things our ancestors personally did and believed and not simply a synopsis of what it was like living in their time.
After reliving this memory, I pulled my attention back to the passage and focused on it’s real intent of urging us to live and obey the laws of God and to hand those down to future generations. As I read on to the Gospel for the day, Mt 5:17-19, Teaching about the Law, I received my second inspiration of the morning. In these passages, Jesus teaches his followers about the importance of living, obeying, and teaching the commandments. In my reflection on the Gospel, I asked Jesus, “What, Lord, are You wanting me to take away from this today? What is Your will for me today and how will it help me grow closer to You?”
In my subsequent meditation, it didn’t take long for me to hear the Holy Spirit begin this conversation:
HS: Are you living My Commandments?
Me: Yes, I’m trying to.
HS: Okay, can you tell me what they are?
Me: Sure! They are: Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain; keep the Sabbath holy; love our parents; um, don’t steal; er, don’t lie; ….okay, You got me, I don’t remember the rest.
HS: Son, don’t you think it would be good for you to memorize these so you can live them?
Me: Yes, Lord. I will do that.
HS: Thank you. I love you.
Me: Thank You. I love You, too!
My resolution for the day was a no-brainer: begin committing the Ten Commandments to heart by writing them down and inserting them at the front of my journal where I can read them daily and be reminded of the basics God is asking of me.
“Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love, generosity and patience with me as I work to grow closer to You. Thank You for Your mercy as I swerve a little trying to keep it between the ditches on Your road to salvation: loving You with all my heart, mind, and soul on the left, and loving my neighbor as I love myself on the right. And, thank you, Lord, for our One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church as the true depository of our faith in You. Amen.”
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, Para. 83 (CCC 83)
 CCC 80
 CCC 82
(Tradition and Commandments, was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
A couple days ago a friend messaged me and asked me to pray for a priest, Fr. “V”, in his diocese who is having doubts about his worthiness to be a priest. Then, today, I read with sadness an article from the Catholic News Agency that a Kansas City, Missouri priest took his own life yesterday (KC Priest Harkins remembered as ‘A good man and a good priest’). The story alludes to the possibility that Fr. Harkins suffered from depression and anxiety which may have led him to suicide.
I don’t suffer from depression or anxiety nor have I ever had thoughts of committing suicide. Unfortunately, however, I have had two friends who succumbed to the pressures of life and took their own lives. I understand that, for someone like me who does not suffer these conditions, it is nearly impossible to know what it is like to be in their shoes. I give thanks to God that I don’t know.
But, there are two things I share with priests about which I do know: a love for our Lord, and the spiritual warfare that we wage against the devil because of our pursuit of holiness. They go hand-in-hand. As the former gets stronger, so the devil works harder against it. Priests, by the virtue of their vocation, are the devil’s prime target. If he can create chaos among the shepherds, the sheep will get lost. Often, the battle waged by the devil can be debilitating and when we feel we have lost that battle, it can lead to depression and anxiety.
A parish priest’s role can be unbelievably difficult and thankless. He is expected to be not only a shepherd of his parishioners but also the parish CEO, finance manager, HR director, activities coordinator, facilities superintendent, IT manager, and wear many more hats. While he’s trying to take care of business the best way he knows, his boss, the bishop or archbishop, often pulls him away to support the overall diocese. Having been a manager in the corporate world, I know how difficult it is to wear all those hats. It’s impossible to please everyone and when you can’t, they default to thinking they can do your job better than you can. Employees don’t always air their discontent, but that’s not always the case with a thousand or more parishioners who have no inhibition about complaining that something is not to their liking. All too often priests get bombarded with suggestions from well meaning parishioners on how to run the parish more effectively; requests to spend money on special interests; threats to withhold their time, treasure and talent if they don’t get their way; innuendos that they aren’t as good as the previous priest; and scathing letters of complaint to the diocese. It can be discouraging and cause a well meaning priest to doubt his ability and choice of vocation.
In many parts of the country we have too few priests to go around. They may have more than one parish. A pastor may have a Parochial Region and have the responsibility for overseeing an Associate Pastor or Parochial Vicar. Add all of the responsibilities of running a small business, and there is little time left to attend to the flock. The priest feels his inability to be there to care for the spiritual needs of the parish and begins to doubt his worthiness. The devil laughs. He doesn’t really care that the sheep are not being fed as long as the shepherd despairs over their hunger.
The responsibilities of overseeing a parish are enormous and the time commitment can be grueling. With masses to be conducted every day of the year, it’s difficult for a priest to take a vacation or get a day off. Even when they do schedule a day off, they often get called in to hospitals for anointing the sick, for conducting funerals, for impromptu confessions, among other things. And, because of the shortage of priests, the luxury of a week’s vacation may only be realized if a substitute priest can be found to offer daily masses to the faithful.
In my work life I knew the feeling of loneliness of being at the top of your organization. You know your employees but you can’t afford, nor have the time, to be close friends with them. Often, employees choose to be detached from their boss because they know they’ve not given their best shot. It’s no different for priests. Parishioners don’t talk to their priests because they think they’re too busy, or because the priest knows what their sins are from the confessional. It can be a lonely profession.
And finally, another thing priests and I have in common is that we are men and we are born with the God-given gift of sexual desire. As husbands, we take a vow of fidelity and chastity to our wives, to use that gift in a loving, self-giving way for the purpose of procreation. Yet, through our concupiscence, which the devil fully exploits, it can often be difficult to harness our natural urges. The devil is a master of taking something good and turning it into an evil under the disguise of goodness.
A priest’s bride is his Church and to Her he takes a vow of chastity. But, just because he’s a priest doesn’t mean he loses his humanness. No, just like us regular men, the innate desire remains in him and has to be controlled. Just like us, priests may have to take cold showers from time to time. And, just like us, we sometimes fail. We feel ashamed and we seek forgiveness through reconciliation. But, it’s not shame, rather the doubting of our faithfulness and love, that the devil desires.
So, why would anyone want to be a priest, you ask, when the road is so rough? Well, he has a secret weapon called “love “- something the devil detests. A priest discerns his vocation because he has an undeniable love for Jesus and a desire to commit his life to Him, along with a strong desire, born from love, to lead others to Christ. In the throes of despair, however, from constantly fighting the mind games that assault him, the power of that love can diminish and may ultimately be depleted. Fortunately, it has a rechargeable battery fueled from our love, yours and mine, through our prayers that provide the supernatural energy needed for the recipient to persevere. Every one of us needs prayers to sustain us but nobody needs our prayers more than our priests, bishops, deacons, religious, and, most of all, our pope.
Won’t you join me in praying every day for our spiritual leaders, those who are at the forefront of spiritual warfare with the Enemy? Let’s be loving, encouraging and grateful for our priests and let them know how much we appreciate them. Let’s offer up our sufferings – those things we do not like, did not choose, cannot change and do not understand – and unite them to the Cross of Christ for the benefit of our friends, and our enemies, but, especially, for our priests and religious.
Please share this post. Priests all across the country and around the world need our prayers, especially in many third world countries where they are being martyred for their faith. Thank you.
“Heavenly Father, may Your love and mercy be with Fr. Harkin, and with all priests like Fr. “V” who, through the wickedness and snares of the devil, are losing hope and abandoning themselves to despair. Pour Your grace upon us, O Lord, by reminding us daily to pray fervently for the Pope, our bishops, priests, deacons and religious, and all those who, through their love for You, are working to grow in holiness. Amen.”
(Please Pray for Our Priests, was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
On this Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul we hear St. Paul ask, “What shall I do, Lord?”, after he is blinded on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians. His question is proof of his instant conversion to follow Christ.
It’s a good question for each ofus to ask every day, as well, if we desire to follow Christ and grow in holiness. There’s no better way to begin one’s day than through meditation asking the Lord to reveal His will for us. It’s our job, then, to listen and make a resolution to go do it.
“Heavenly Father, through St. Paul and the other Apostles, the faith was spread throughout the world. As I celebrate his conversion today, I pray that I may follow his witness in at least my little part of the world. Amen.”
(What Shall I Do, Lord?, was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
In today’s first scripture passage we read about King Saul who, because of his jealousy and wounded pride, planned to kill David because David received more accolades for victory in battle than he did. Saul’s son, Jonathan, out of love for his friend, David, and, I believe, having a heart for the sanctity of innocent life, stood up and spoke to his father, intervening and discouraging him from taking David’s life. Through sensible and peaceful conversation, he prevented an evil and senseless murder.
As I read this in preparation for mass this morning, I thought about all the “Jonathans” who are traveling to Washington D.C. today to peacefully participate in tomorrow’s March for Life. And I prayed that, through the grace of God, their peaceful march on behalf of the most innocent and vulnerable will change the hearts of those who seek to senselessly destroy a human life for their own self-satisfaction.
Heavenly Father, I pray for the safety of all my friends and the hundreds of thousands of others who will be marching for the preservation and sanctity of life tomorrow in our nation’s capitol. May they feel in their hearts the prayers of all the faithful who cannot be there with them. By lifting our prayers up to You, Lord, may their strength and conviction be the agent needed to sensibly and peacefully change hearts to do Your will. And, may those who are touched and converted by Your disciples feel Your immense and merciful love. Amen. + Blessed Holy Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Patron Saint of the United States, pray for us. Amen.
(Praise and Prayer for the Pilgrims on the 2020 March for Life was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
Dear faithful readers, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on Reflections of a Lay Catholic. This post is not a normal post, rather it’s very special.
Ever since the inception of this blog back in early 2013, the single most popular post was a reflection posted in April 2013 by my friend Rich Brewers entitled, How We Respond to Prayer Requests, (https://reflectionsofalaycatholic.com/2013/04/15/how-we-respond-to-prayer-request/ ) It has been hit thousands of times by readers from over 100 countries around the world. It is so gratifying to know that so many people are willing to take time to pray effectively for those in need.
This post is a call to all of you faithful for your prayers.
A young friend of mine, Seth, 19 years old, was involved in a tragic vehicle accident on Monday night. He was hit head on by another vehicle traveling the wrong way on a divided highway. Seth survived the accident but, unfortunately, the other driver lost his life. Seth is in the hospital undergoing surgeries for two broken legs (femurs), a broken right ankle, a shattered knee, a shattered elbow, a broken collar bone, and a broken sternum. He has a brain bleed and lacerations to his face. Undoubtedly, he has a long road to recovery.
Seth is a quiet young man with a big heart. He has been a member of our parish mission team for five straight years to serve the less fortunate in Appalachian Kentucky. In September, I was with him on a men’’s retreat and I watched his relationship with our Lord grow even stronger.
Many friends from our parish community are praying for Seth and his family – prayers for healing and support as they endure a new reality for the unforeseeable future. The family has also asked for prayers for the peaceful repose of the soul of the elderly man who lost his life and for his family.
My hope is that, via this post, I can extend these local prayers world wide, especially to all of those who have shown such interest in how to respond to prayer requests. So, I ask you, as a Spiritual Work of Mercy, to pray for Seth and his family, and for the deceased gentleman. And, if you will, ask others to pray, as well. You have permission to forward and/or repost this post to spread the word.
Thank you in advance for your prayers! May God bless you always!
Yours in Christ, Jerry Robinson
“Good and gracious God, please hear our prayers of healing for Seth and for peace and comfort for his family, and for the peaceful repose of the soul of the gentleman who lost his life last Monday night. Lord, thank you for all the faithful around the world who, through their generosity and charity, also offer up their prayers and sacrifices. Amen.”
(A Special Prayer Request was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
In today’s scripture passage, the prophet admonishes the Israelites for being preoccupied about their personal lives and relegating God, and building His temple, to secondary importance. Their attitude was, “We’ll have time for that after taking care of our own problems.”
Haggai tells them, “Reflect on your experience”, suggesting that if they put God first their troubles may be lessened.
Ouch! Personal self-reflection tells me I’m often no different. How easy it is to get wrapped up in my own daily trials and push God to the side.
What’s keeping you from placing God first in your life today?
“Lord, each morning I offer you my prayers, works, joys and sufferings for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart, for union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, for reparation for my sins, for the intentions of my family and friends, and for the intentions of the Holy Father. Help me Lord, to consistently live each moment of the day, recognizing and accepting the nearness of Your presence, and look to you with each test and trial. Amen.”
(Reflect on Your Experience was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)