Saints-In-The-Making

The saints have always known that the power of good is something incalculable.

–Sigrid Undset

Today the Church draws our attention to the lives of 18th-century Korean martyrs: ordinary people–scholars, farmers, court officials, wives, and merchants. They were martyred for believing in and living out the Gospel of Christ in an anti-christ society. The Church regularly venerates the lives of Martyrs and Saints, for they are our people; they have gone before us into the worship of eternity. They are in communion with us in our suffering and worship; they stand as witnesses and interceders, cheering us on as we strive to live as saints-in-the-making in our corner of the world.

As the faithful on this side of eternity, we don’t know what we don’t know, but the Saints and Martyrs know what we don’t know. We have much to learn from them.

The Saints and Martyrs knew who they were–the beloved of God; created to enjoy him forever, to live their lives in living sacrifice to and worship of the Name above all names. Their eyes were fixed on heaven, and now in Eternity they know the fulfillment of our chief end; they are glorifying God and enjoying him forever. That makes my brain sweat, but in the Sacrifice of the Mass, we get a glimpse of this as the curtain is drawn back, and there we saints-in-the-making join those who lived and died glorifying God in worship.

The Saints and Martyrs knew how to live–in essence, their martyrdom didn’t begin with the last death blow for they were already crucified with Christ. They died daily to sin and death with every choice they made to be transformed into the image of Christ in them. Nothing, nothing could take their eyes off this purpose. Earthy pursuits as well as earthly concerns didn’t hold sway over them for they knew their life was in Christ. To die physically was to live in the fulness of God! Something comes to mind that St. Paul wrote to the persecuted Church in Rome, that the Spirit of God bears witness with our spirit in our corner of the world so when we suffer with Christ we may also glorify him before others. That is what we are about!

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him…I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us…If God is for us, who is against us? “

The Saints and Martyrs knew where they were going–in essence, their martyrdom did not begin with the last death-blow, because they were already crucified with Christ. They died daily to sin and death with every choice they made to be transformed into the image of Christ in them. Nothing, nothing could take their eyes off this purpose. Earthly pursuits, as well as earthly concerns, didn’t hold sway over them for they knew their life was in Christ. To die physically was to live in the fulness of God! Something comes to mind that St. Paul wrote to the persecuted Church in Rome, that the Spirit of God bears witness with our spirit in our corner of the world so when we suffering to Christ, we complete what was lacking in Christ’s affliction on the Cross.

May we never forget that Christ bore his sufferings for our salvation; why would we expect anything less. St. Paul reminds the persecuted Church in Rome that we are to present ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual worship.

How do we present our bodies as living sacrifices? Well, by choosing not to go along with the tide of the culture that would remove us from the very One who created us and gave his life for us! We die to ourselves each time we say “no,” to any attitude, action, pursuit, or pressure that would drive us further from who we are created to be!

How is it with you today, fellow saint-in-the-making? Do the frustrations or sufferings of your life consume you so much that you forget who you are, what you’re about, and where you are going?

Do you feel isolated as you live your life with your eyes fixed on Jesus? Or perhaps, you find your eyes have been distracted by the shiny things you pursue? Perhaps fear of others and their empty power over you has gotten the best of you? Run to Christ, run to God in the Sacrifice of the Mass where we join the Saints and Martyrs who have struggled in some way as we do. Take heart. Don’t forget to remember who you are and that you are not alone.

As I close I would like to pray with you a paraphrased pray from the Letter to the Hebrews.

Fellow saint-in-the-making, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

Hebrews 12:1-4

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, it is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

A Healing Word

Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world.
Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.

When Jesus had finished all his words to the people,
he entered Capernaum.
A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die,
and he was valuable to him.
When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him,
asking him to come and save the life of his slave.
They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying,
“He deserves to have you do this for him,
for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.”
And Jesus went with them,
but when he was only a short distance from the house,
the centurion sent friends to tell him,
“Lord, do not trouble yourself,
for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof.
Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you;

but say the word and let my servant be healed.
For I too am a person subject to authority,
with soldiers subject to me.
And I say to one, Go, and he goes;
and to another, Come here, and he comes;
and to my slave, Do this, and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him
and, turning, said to the crowd following him,
“I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”
When the messengers returned to the house,

they found the slave in good health.

Luke 7:1-10

The words of the centurion to Jesus probably sound quite familiar to you, don’t they? We pray those words at every Mass in preparation to receive the Eucharist just after we have read the Liturgy of the Word. This is what I appreciate about the Liturgy of the Mass; as we read the Gospel we are connected to another’s interaction with Jesus, drawing us up into the eternal now of God’s Kingdom.

So, let’s consider the narrative as it applies to us as well. It is evident that the Roman centurion had won the hearts of the Jews there in Capernaum; the Jews spoke highly of this to Jesus. That in itself says something of the man because centurions were responsible for enforcing discipline from Rome that was very often counterculture to the Jews. We can also assume that the centurion believed Christ was a healer. He had apparently witnessed the healing work of Jesus in his interactions with the Jews, but he was an outsider. Rather than approaching Jesus himself, he asked some of his Jewish friends in the synagogue to request a word of healing from Jesus for one of his slaves, the centurion’s humility is revealed in this action. The narrative unfolds, the servant is healed with just a word from Jesus.

The immensity of Christ’s mercy toward the centurion and his slave in the gospel narrative is revealed in the healing the slave received based on the centurion’s faith. Now to the present day Church, in the reading of God’s Word in the worship of the Mass, the Liturgy ushers us from that gospel scene back into our lives. That is how God’s mercy works in our lives and we are reminded of that at every Mass!

So, let’s turn our attention to the Liturgy of the Mass. One of the most worshipful moments in the Liturgy of the Eucharist is when we kneel as a congregation of worshippers of the eternal Lamb of God and sing together with the angels, saints, martyrs, and the faithful who have proceeded us into the eternal worship of God. Our priest holds up the Host before us and declares, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Using the posture of our body to indicate the posture of our soul, we are preparing to receive the Eucharist, we kneel and bow our head recognizing our unworthiness; we pray, “Lord, I am not worthy for you to enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” It is a sober moment that moves me to tears as I think of how great Christ’s love must be for me in his sacrifice on the Cross!

Here’s the consideration for us today: How confident are we in the LORD’s mercy when we pray those words? Do we, like the centurion, believe that Jesus is already responding to our deepest needs? Do we expect mercy to flow over our lives, saturating us with virtue and hope? When we rise to walk toward our priest to receive Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist, do our spirits ring with affirmation that we receive salvation and healing as we respond with our “Amen”?

How is it with your soul today, friend? Do you find yourself in the centurion’s faith? Do you find yourself in the slaves dis-ease? Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Sometimes we forget that, me thinks.

Let’s pray as St. Faustina did before receiving the Eucharist, affirming our faith in Christ’s healing virtues poured into our lives as we receive his body and blood in the Eucharist.

“My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You! I ask pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You!”

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Loving Difficult People

To love is to will the good of the other.”

–St. Thomas Aquinas

Do you have people in your life that are difficult to love? Perhaps their attitude challenges your ability to be patient or to remain silent. Perhaps their words and actions cause you to lose your temper or to crawl under a rock and hide from them. Perhaps their very presence conjures up memories that cause you pain or resentment. I don’t believe I am the only one that has a difficult person or two in my life and, I also concede that I am probably considered as such to some people in my life. It’s the human condition! It is into this very condition that God chose to subject Himself. It is correct to assume that Jesus Christ himself was surrounded by difficult people. He knew a thing or two about dysfunctional relationships and the symptomatic resentments and bitterness that accompany them.

Grain of Sand One

What I find most challenging about Christ’s response to the difficult people in his own life is that he expects the same choice from me! There’s not one single reason I can offer up to him that would change His answer to me, not one! I’ve tried, oh, I’ve tried, to justify my feelings to Him about a difficult person by listing all the seemingly valid reasons I have for resenting them. And still, His answer is the same! He states it in varying ways but, it always comes down to how St. John penned it, “…love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.

We know that if Jesus Christ is telling us to do something, he will show us the way to do it. If our heart is inclined to his lordship in all things, we can see our way forward in learning to love difficult people if we are willing to swallow the hard pill of loving others we don’t like. The Sacred Scripture provides several glimpses into how we can love as Jesus loved; learning from His example is the way forward into peace in all our relationships. I’m reminded of St. Paul’s words to the quarreling Corinthians, “God is not the God of disorder, but of peace.” He did not will that we would be disordered by self-love and so He remedied that by becoming flesh and dwelling among us to demonstrate how to love Him and those around us. No self-help books are needed other than what the Gospel reveals to us about Jesus’ character; truly we can solve all the disorder in our relationships if we will but follow His lead.

What should be our disposition toward other’s who may have failed or betrayed us? When we are surrounded by “difficult people” who have an agenda that is soul-sucking, much like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, we can follow Jesus’ cue. Recorded in Saint John, chapter 2 are some extraordinary words about Jesus:

“…Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.”

If Jesus wasn’t understood, why would we expect to be understood, and why do we “entrust” our heart to people when Christ didn’t even entrust himself to them? To “entrust” means to assign responsibility to someone. When we live in a way that we hold others responsible for our peace of mind or our sense of worth, we surely will be disappointed. We, in effect, set the other up for failing us. It’s not the other’s job to do that for us; it is the LORD’s alone. The sooner we release others in our life from this responsibility, the sooner we will find our way out of disorder into God’s peace. The difficult person may be a family member that we have a hard time relating to; the way forward is to ask the Holy Spirit to pour His gift of understanding into our life. Other times we have to shut the door on a relationship; I know that sounds like a rather hard-lined approach, but in reality, given the circumstances, what better choice is there to make? It is natural to expect to be loved and understood, but anyone who has been through the school of hard knocks quickly learns to lower expectations. Some of the hard knocks can be eliminated when we allow a relationship to end.

We tend to expect more of others than they are able or willing to give; we set ourselves up for disappointment when we do so. Do you recall the scene in Mary Poppins where Mary has just moved in as a nanny for the Banks children? As Mary is unpacking her carpetbag looking for a measuring tape, Michael and Jane ask her why and she replies, I use it to measure people, and I want to measure you. The children are then accurately measured by her magical measuring tape, then the children ask to measure Mary; the results are exactly what Mary figured: Mary is practically perfect in every way. We can look at others like Mary Poppins, measuring people with a judging spirit toward them while measuring ourselves “practically perfect” in every way. When we choose to consider others in the way Jesus considers others, we, in effect, never use our measuring tape. This sounds much more simple than it is, but when we stop entrusting ourselves to others we allow them to be who they are without any judgment on our part. It’s the old “walk a mile in my shoes” advice, or better yet, “there but for the grace of God go I.”

How could this play out in our relationship with a difficult person? Perhaps you have a person whose actions or attitudes challenge your patience, but because they are a family member or co-worker you can’t avoid their presence in your life. Rather than expecting them to change, we choose to remind ourselves that it is not our job to change others. The job is already taken, and the Holy Spirit is much more qualified than we’ll ever be. Remembering that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me” is true insofar as another’s words cannot change our identity as beloved children of our Creator. We can train our way (through the counsel of the Holy Spirit) into righteous confidence in ourselves and our ability to graciously relate to others despite whatever challenges our relationship.

Grain of Sand Two

I was speaking recently with my spiritual director about the difficulty I was having in a relationship. I was flummoxed by another’s words used against me and in my mind I felt I must confront that person with my frustration. To my question about what to do, she wisely responded that we are called to bear witness to Christ’s love. Her words immediately changed my outlook on the relationship. Lesson learned: I must ask myself if whatever is being said or done a moral matter or a relational matter? Another question I need to ask myself, “Are they doing this because they are strong or weak?” Asking those questions as a prayer is helpful in reminding me to see with eyes of compassion and mercy. Very often a grievance is based on the human error of reacting to an unfair word or action in a relationship not on mortal sin. The particulars of how that conversation came to be really don’t matter, the response must always be the same–I am called to bear witness to Christ’s love. How so? Loving the other in spite of what has been said and done can require enormous effort, especially when the offense is repeated, even habitual. I take encouragement from something Samuel Johnson wrote, “Kindness is in our power even when fondness is not.” I know! Easier said than done. You are probably thinking thoughts I think when once again I’ve been burned by the same person in the same way–it’s even too hard to feel kind let alone respond kindly. But here’s the thing, Jesus Christ very nature is love and his actions bore that truth out. While we may only be able to endure someone’s presence in our lives, Christ in us is able to love through us even when it is hard to feel kind.

St. Thomas Aquinas penned that “to love is to will the good of the other.” To arrive at this response can be glacial, but it can happen through the Holy Spirit working in us, transforming our perceptions about another. Decades ago, I began asking the LORD to form in me a merciful spirit in keeping with His ways; he provided me with eye-opening circumstances that revealed my presumptions about a co-worker. It wasn’t long before I could see my co-worker with new eyes; it didn’t happen overnight and, it did take many experiences to will her good instead of ill. Today we consider ourselves good friends; we enjoy each other’s presence. Only the LORD’s transforming grace can accomplish what we see as unbearable.

Grain of Sand Three

I came across a quote years ago that has stuck with me as a measure for my own challenges that pop up in different circumstances. “Everywhere you go, there you are.” It aligns with something Watchman Nee wrote in the helpful book entitled, Release of the Spirit. The LORD’s great purpose for us is to transform us into the likeness of Christ; as Catholics we refer to that as the divinization of mankind. Saint Peter puts it this way in 2 Peter:1:3-4: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.“ In order for us to be partakers of the divine nature the LORD humbles us in different ways at different times in our life–all with the end goal of being so united with Christ that in Him we live and move and have our being. That is a tall order if left to our own devices.

I amend the above quote to illustrate where I am going with this thread of thought. “everywhere my willful nature goes, there my willful nature will be.” Watchman Nee put forth that we are all born with disordered thoughts and appetites which can lead to tremendous strain in our relationships with others and with the LORD. The Holy Spirit knows this of us and so he humbles us as we cooperate with him; we are trained by the Spirit, so to speak. Every trainer depends on the cooperation of the trainee–this is never more important than our training in holiness. If we refuse the Holy Spirit’s counsel due to our willful nature, he allows us to continue to digress in spiritual progress. He will come around again–“wherever you go, there you are“–bringing about another circumstance to nudge us again to choose his counsel.

St. Paul wrote to the Romans:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2

The renewing of our mind requires our cooperation. The testings that the Spirit allows are the stepping stones of discernment. I will use own nature to illustrate how this unfolds. My can-do nature (others may say stubborn) predisposes me to resistance when I sense another’s phoniness. I used to spout off using my tongue as a weapon more often than I care to admit. Everywhere I went, there I was. When I decided to cooperate with the LORD, he disciplined me into humble submission through each encounter. As I allowed Him to break my will, he, in a beautiful way, released my own spirit from that disordered disposition of my heart.

Watchman Nee drew attention to our need to present ourselves as living sacrifices each time we are faced with our disordered will. He concluded that every person will eventually bow their knee to the LORD’s will, either in this life or the next. In light of my own disordered stubbornness, I could refuse to allow my will to be disciplined by the Spirit, but He will continue to bring me back around to the disordered thinking for another lesson in humility. Better to be purged of sin now than in purgatory!

Grain of Sand Four

Lastly, years ago another co-worker of mine gave me a seed of advice that stayed with me and grew fruit in my own life to this day. She made the comment that if Jesus could die, conquer death and raise again in three days, then she could at least pray for three days before concluding something is worth doing or not doing. That’s worth writing on a wall, isn’t it? We can employ this rule in all our relationships. How so? In my early years of marriage and learning to love my husband the Holy Spirit led me to realize that what I needed most in learning to love my husband (and everyone else, for that matter) is understanding. That three-day rule has proved to be the most helpful rule for understanding others. I would take a matter to prayer for three-days asking the LORD to grant his Spirit’s understanding to me. You know what? He did! Why was I so surprised by the grace? Little by little, I learned a few things from the three-day rule. When I kept my tongue, I allowed the Spirit of the LORD to teach me his ways and he would faithfully give his gifts of Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Reverence. The astounding realization grew in me that there is very little in life to fret and stew over, three days allows room for the mind to marinate in God’s grace and not pride, anger, or fear. Then, if after the three days (I realize that some matters take much longer, but stay with me here) of prayerful ascension to the LORD about a matter, if words must be shared our spirit is in a better place to share them. It’s the difference between reaction and response.

One Pearl

(Allow me to digress. I share this pearl last because it has been the most spirit-changing practice for me, so I highly recommend it as a general rule of life. The breaking of my will that the Spirit has accomplished through this little rule has spilled into other areas of my life. Regarding my disordered attachments to the shiny distractions of this life, if I am attracted to something and want to purchase it, I mostly give it three days on my Amazon Wish List before purchasing it. You can bet what happens. The Holy Spirit gives me insight during those three days about why I want the item. If it is disordered, I will not purchase it (most of the time, I’m on my way to perfection–wink, wink). It has even gotten to the place that I forget the impulse. It is a satisfying practice to come back to that wish list from time to time because I can see how the Spirit has worked to release my grip on “shiny distractions” a little more. With a prayer of thanksgiving, I press the delete button on my wishlist.)

Just as the Holy Spirit can bring me to the place where I can press the delete button on my disordered appetites, he can bring us to the same place with a resentment or frustration with another person.

Just as Jesus would not entrust himself to others for confirmation of his worth, he opens our heart and mind to the FACT-“I am the beloved child of the Creator God, his word about me is the only voice I am to trust.”

Is there a consistent theme running through your relationships? A theme or resentment or of expecting too much from others. Everywhere we go the Spirit wants to train us out of our disordered thinking and into Christ’s image.

Holy Spirit, soul of my soul, I adore You. Enlighten, guide, strengthen and console me. Tell me what I ought to do and command me to do it.

I promise to be submissive in everything you ask of me, and to accept all that you permit to happen to me.

Only show me what is your will.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Amen. 

*Prayer by St. Therese of Avila

Labor Day

“I will give each of you what your work deserves.”

–Revelation 2:23

We celebrate Labor Day here in the United States today. Did you know that the words liturgy and labor are akin to each other? Liturgy is multi-layered in its definition; the Greeks defined it as “the work of the people.” As Christians, we understand that the work we do is meant to be sanctified labor in our worship of the Creator in the daily round of our lives. Practicing Catholics understand another sense of liturgy; celebrating the Mass is our collected worship of the LORD through the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. We give God correct worship in assigning worth (worth-ship) to the celebration of the Mass. The Early Church Fathers understood and emphasized that the continuity of both senses of the word, liturgy, must be retained in our hearts and minds if we are to live the good life of our Faith. Somewhere along the way, humanity lost its sense of labor as worship of Almighty God. The Liturgy of the Church continually helps us recognize the Sacred Scripture’s emphasis of this in the last act of our worship in the celebration of the Mass, as a reminder to continue our worship of God in the labor we do.

The very last action in the celebration of the Mass is the blessing we receive from our priest. Do you remember how the liturgy unfolds in this final action? We bow our heads as we trace the sign of the cross over our mind, soul, and body while the priest asks God to pour out His blessing on us. This Sacred Tradition harkens back to the blessings that are found throughout the Scriptures. Usually, the blessing is given when someone is taking leave of another. In the liturgy of the Mass, we remember Christ’s blessing of his disciples.

“Then he [Jesus] led them out as far as Bethany and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.” –Luke 24:50-51

This is the intentional communication of this last action in our worship: The Lord has come into our lives, and in the same way that the Lord sent out His disciples, He is sending us out, too. The Mass ends with the Latin phrase that means “Go, you are sent.” We hear it as, “Go forth, the Mass has ended.” to which we respond, “Thanks be to God.”

Sent to do what? We are sent on the mission of all ages; we are sent in peace to bring peace into our corners of the world. We cooperate with the LORD to redeem our corner of the world through our labor. Our question today is, how will we take the good news of Christ into the quotidian labor of our lives? How can the labor of our lives bring worship to our LORD and Creator, and salvation to our corner of the world? The Daily readings this week have been drawing our minds to consider labor as worship; this is how St. Paul puts it in the letter to Colossians chapter 3:17:

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

If we worship the Lord through our labor, then we will look at everything we do, doing it in the name of Jesus. How is your offering looking these days? Consider the most mundane and boorish part of your labor; how would it change if our mind ascended to the LORD in worship every moment of that labor?

If we worship the Lord through our labor, then what do our words sound like to him and to others? Do our words assign Beauty, Goodness, and Truth to the Name of Jesus? Do our words reflect his beauty, goodness, and truth to those who labor beside us?

Here’s a thought, what about those who labor before us? Do we speak our gratitude to others for their labor, as we do to our Creator? Let’s get down and dirty with this one? In your workplace, who takes care of your lawn? Who serves you in the IT department? Who serves you by keeping the bathroom clean? Who supplies the kitchen? Who serves you in making your workplace an enjoyable place? Who serves you at the window or table when you dine out? We can give thanksgiving to them through our words of gratitude thereby, we give thanks to God.

If we worship the Lord through our labor, then what should our deeds look like to him and others? Do we join in on gossip and backbiting? Or do we elevate conversations by stopping gossip and backbiting in its track by finding the good in others? Staying silent can be an act of worship to our LORD, but acting on that silence by walking away from those conversations is an act of worship that may leave a greater impact on working out salvation in our corner of the world. Someone wisely advised me to use the “3-strikes and your out” approach to circumstances like this? If after you try three times to elevate the conversation by deflection with your words, walk away. The workplace could do with a little more exercise of the “3-strikes and your out” approach, don’t you think?

If we worship the Lord through our labor, then we take our cues from the actions of Jesus. Today’s gospel account reveals his labor in healing! That is, at the very heart, what salvation is; the salve of God’s grace and mercy pours over our lives, healing us, and that healing is also for all the people we encounter; it’s intended so. Do our words pour healing salve over another’s life? Do our deeds pour healing salve into another’s brokenness?

Jesus, we offer you worship through how we labor when we reveal your goodness in our work, help us to see our labor with the eyes of worship.

Jesus, we offer our words in our labor as offerings of your beauty to others, tame our tongues, help us as we offer our worship to you in the way we speak.

Jesus, we offer the deeds of our labor in sacrifice of worship, thanking you for the ability and privilege we have to use our bodies to glorify you, sanctify every deed we do. May our every action worship you our Creator God.

May the words of our mouth and the meditation of our heart be acceptable to you, our LORD, our Rock, and Redeemer.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Glory Be

My bet is if I say, “Glory be to the Father,” to you as a practicing Catholic, the remainder of the prayer would roll off your tongue back to me, “…and to the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As it was, in the beginning, it is now and ever shall be world without end.” To say that the Glory Be is embedded in our Catholic identity would be an accurate conclusion. We have prayed The Gloria, and extended Glory Be, in chant or song when we celebrate the Mass since about 380 A.D. I counted up how many times we pray the Glory Be each day as a response in the Liturgy of the Hours: we pray it at least 38 times starting with Morning Prayer and concluding with Night Prayer. So, why does the liturgy of the Church train our minds to weave this sacred tradition of prayer into our daily lives?

We, in our finite existence, recognize the LORD’s infinite existence, we bow our minds to that truth when we pray the Glory Be. It takes time and not just a little bit of effort, on our part, for our hearts to believe what we pray, doesn’t it? To entirely abandon our desire for control is no small undertaking so The Church, in her wisdom, inches our minds closer and closer to detachment from the world’s ways and means through a habit of prayer.

I kindle to something St. Irenaeus wrote, “The glory of God is man fully alive”, we can stretch that truth a bit to read, “When I live fully alive to God I give him glory.” We can conclude that when we die to the world we are more fully alive to God’s glory. Praying the truth of the Glory Be with this understanding trains us in wisdom; it becomes a prayer of detachment from the sways of the culture. We may get to the place where we appreciate the beauty of God’s creation and the goods it provides for us without depending on them for our joy and peace of mind. I can imagine the LORD smiling as we pray the Glory Be because we ascend to him each time and with baby steps, we gain his Spirit’s wisdom. That gives him glory!

So how does praying, “As it was, in the beginning, it is now and ever shall be, world without end.” train us in the Spirit’s wisdom? It anchors us. I don’t know your life; however, I know mine. I NEED anchoring. Elsewise, I’m tossed to and fro by what is happening around me in the world. I remind myself through this prayer that the constancy of God from the beginning remains because He never changes. His faithfulness is new every morning, as the prophet Jeremiah wrote. When I stop my runaway thoughts to pray instead of wallow in distress, I glorify this constancy of our Triune God, and his Spirit grants me understanding and wisdom. Do you ever get carried away with angst or despair at what you see happening around you? Then pray, “Glory to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, it is now and ever shall be world without end.”

Knowing and believing that the love of God that spoke this world into existence and remains faithful through all time, enfolding us here and now and into the future liberates us from counting on this life to give us a security that only comes from God alone. Praying the Glory Be is a clarifying prayer in that believing what we are praying moves our eyes off the tide of changing history. We learn to give glory to God when we enjoy his blessings, remembering that he is the Giver of all good things. And then when the tide changes and we feel unsettled, God faithfully clarifies for us the way through that tide until we gain our equilibrium once more.

Praying the Glory Be is a calming prayer in that the weight of God’s glory settles down on us, enfolding us in the secure knowledge that “All is well, and all manner of things will be well.”* Much like a weighted blanket calms anxiety for a body that is agitated, the LORD in his goodness rests down upon us the glorious weight of the splendor of his eternal presence. It is a Presence that endures through all times and events (Psalm 145). We aren’t created to be hand-wringers, tossed to and fro by every possible change that comes along. No, we are created for eternal life with God here and now, we are created for peace. When we fix our gaze on the Kingdom of God knowing that “as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be world without end,” the weight of this truth presses our disordered reactions into responses secured in the knowledge and understanding that “Eternal life is [knowing God].” (St. John 17:3)

Father, you are near to all who call upon you. The more we call upon you, the more we learn to know ourselves. Transform us as we give glory to you.

Jesus, your Word tells us, “Blessed are those who are pure in heart for they shall see God.” You wouldn’t promise that if you didn’t mean it! With every upward surge of our heart, we glorify you, enlighten our darkened understanding of who you are.

Holy Spirit, foster in us a spirit of indifference toward the world. Train our desires to always give glory to you, and you alone.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

Home Improvement

By wisdom a house is built,
    and by understanding it is established;
by knowledge the rooms are filled
    with all precious and pleasant riches.

Proverbs 24:3-4

Today The Church honors the parents of Our Blessed Mother, Mary. The oral tradition of the early Church conveyed their names as Joachim and Anne and they are honored by The Church for their faith in the Covenant with God. They represent the entire quiet remnant that for generations faithfully lived their lives following the Shema. We know that they practiced their faith and established in their home an atmosphere for the coming of the Messiah.

The fruit of their faithfulness to God’s Covenant was Mary then ultimately the long-awaited Messiah Jesus. What we know of Mary is her humble and obedient spirit, her knowledge of God’s promises fulfilled in the Messiah, her charity toward others and most importantly the hope she put in God’s promise fulfilled in Jesus. These I believe is what we desire for ourselves and for our families.

The Shema that Sts. Joachim and Anne surely lived by remains a map of life for us here and now as we raise our families in The Catholic Faith.

“Hear (Shema), O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

The Shema is a sort of checklist for us as we live each day inclined to the LORD and listening to Him. The following quote by James Clear came to my mind as I was writing my thoughts down about the practice of the Shema. “Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.” So what is our goal as Christians that sets the direction of our lives? “To love the Lord God with all our heart, soul, and might.” What is the system that will lead us to this goal? The Shema offers the atomic habits, so to say, that will compound our growth and progress in reaching our goal for ourselves and our families.

How do we then achieve our goal in our family life? The daily habit of reading the Sacred Scripture writes on our hearts the truth, goodness and, beauty of our Faith; it embeds in our mind who we are and what we are to be about. Mary knew the prophecies of the Old Testament about the Messiah. She didn’t pick them up by accident. Her faithful parents’ practice of the daily reading of the Sacred Scripture and worship of the LORD in the synagogue formed in Mary wisdom, understanding and, knowledge.

Do we arrange the priorities of life below our priority to teach our children to love and honor God above all things? Stop and think about that. Do we consider building our family’s foundation of faith our ultimate purpose. The habit of daily prayer together and the reading of God’s Word must be the foundation of wisdom, understanding and, knowledge for our children to build their lives on.

It is our sacred responsibility and privilege to magnify the LORD before our children. Talking about our Faith when we “sit in our house” is a tall order. Fewer and fewer families have the habit of “family time” let alone “family worship”. The burden of responsibility relies on our parental stick-to-itivness. Remember the goal? It is up to us to practice atomic habits to achieve that goal. You may be thinking how can we do this? I’m glad you asked!

Incorporating our faith in God a little here and a little there as you “walk by the way…when you lie down….when you rise” wins the day. The habit of arrow prayers throughout the day can stay with a child for a lifetime. My mother would pray the psalm, “Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” over me when I struggled against melancholia. That prayer has come from my own lips many times for myself and as I parented our children. I now have opportunity with some of my melancholy grandchildren to pray that over them.

The priority of keeping Covenant with the LORD through the Sacraments of our Faith builds the foundation of faith in God for the next generation. Weekly worship at Mass isn’t just a duty, it’s a privilege; we, with our families, gather together to show our gratitude to God for becoming our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ. Foster an atmosphere of anticipation about worshipping at Mass. If we feel that way, our children will follow. Living our life of faith in the LORD is a frontlet before the eyes of our children, so to speak. Our habits imprint on the doorposts of our children’s lives. The consistency of our practice of The Faith is paramount and with the Holy Spirit’s leadership we are given the fortitude we need.

LORD, you promise us in your Word that if we raise our children up in the habits of our Faith they will not depart from them. Help us to Shema you; to hear and obey you as we strive toward the goal of our children and grandchildren knowing You and loving you with all their heart, mind, body and soul! Sts. Joachim and Anne, pray for us. Blessed Mother intercede for us.

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Amen


Clean

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.” –Matthew 23:25-26

As I’ve meditated this week on the gospel reading from Matthew 23 for today, I’ve been more curious about the Pharisees that seem to lurk around every encounter Jesus has with the people. They had it out for Jesus, always looking for a way to trap him or discredit him. The strong language Jesus uses against them causes me to sit up and take notice since, I’m sorry to say, there are vestiges of the pharisaical attitude in me sometimes. I like to place myself in the gospel scenes in my imagination in an effort to learn from other’s mistakes. That’s not always comforting, praying today’s passage being one example.

The scribes and Pharisees were a zealous lot; their intentions were noble. Their concern for what the Roman occupation was doing to their culture and religious beliefs propelled them in driving everyone to follow the letter of God’s law as a national agenda. Enter God, with skin on, whose law is love, peace, grace, and mercy. This Jesus, who emphasizes the spirit of the law with unmatched zeal, is a threat to the rigid beliefs of the scribes and Pharisees.

Jesus speaks to us today.

Like the Pharisees, when we pretend to be someone or something we aren’t and become obsessed with how we appear to others, we crowd our minds and heart with thoughts of comparison and competition, and even resentment. You say to us: you’ve missed the simplicity of my love for you with your thousand qualifications. You trouble your soul at the expense of those from whom you seek approval. Be the beautiful human I’ve created you to be. Stand down from proving yourself, dear one, become as a servant whose only thought is to keep your eyes on your Master.

Like the Pharisees, when we hide our insecurities behind our hubris, more concerned with what don’t do, we lose focus on what matters. Jesus says to us, don’t block the road of holiness with the debris of your shoulds and musts. Take my hand and allow me to lead you with love and understanding, learn to walk my way.

Like the Pharisees, when we keep a tight grip on our possessions and time, parsimoniously extending ourselves for others by measuring out just enough to appear holy before others. Jesus says to us, don’t nickel and dime your way before others and stop nitpicking other’s acts of generosity. Do you remember how I generously gave my life up for you? It never occurred to me to keep score because it is not in me. I’m the Eternal Giver of all good things you do likewise.

Like the Pharisees, when we strive to appear squeaky clean to others yet practice secret vices and sins, Jesus says to us you forget that I’m more concerned about what you look like on the inside so let’s do some heart-cleaning. Unlock and open wide to me the closets you think I can’t see. Allow my Holy Spirit to light your darkness and sweep away those tattered rags you like to wear when you are alone.

Like the Pharisees, when we attempt to look good by making others look bad, it always comes back to bite us. When we shove our sense of what’s right and wrong with no regard for love, peace, mercy, and grace, we cut ourselves off from the LORD’s presence in our lives. Jesus says to us, come to me, lay down your arms, and allow me to enfold you in my goodness, you’ll start seeing others differently the closer to me you stay.

LORD Jesus Christ, your Law is love, and your gospel is peace. You created us to live and move and have our being in your reality, not the ones we conjure out of our pharisaical motivations. Holy Spirit, grant us the understanding we each need to reflect your love and peace in all we think, say, and do.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

Amen

“Which Ones?”

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my
understanding, my entire will – all that I have and call my own.
You have given it all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything
is yours: do with it what you will. Give me only your love and
your grace. That is enough for me.

Salvation History is at the very heart a love story. God, the tremendous Lover of our Soul, created us to love him, not as the world loves (with strings attached) but as he loves. In God’s eyes, the covenant of love he made with us in creating us is not negotiable for it is perfect love. In our eyes, well……we are prone to wander from the Lover of our Soul. We, like the Israelites, forget to remember Who this lover is–and we are worse for the wear, are we not?

The biblical language of God’s love and his beloved communicates through the imagery of the covenant of marriage. What kind of marriage would we have with our spouse if all we were concerned with was ticking off the duties that accompany the covenant of marriage? The Israelites as well as the young man in the gospel reading for today seemed to measure their love God according to their adherence to the law of the covenant rather than giving themselves in complete union. What a stale and and unfulfilling understanding of God. I, too, can be carried away with that kind of mindset. Quite a while ago I began praying for the LORD to heal me from the thinking that I had to earn his love. As time passed, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to who I am to the LORD. I am the beloved daughter of the Most High God. I am united with Him through Jesus Christ and His Church–I am counted among the beloved Bride of Christ. His holy Spirit counsels me in the way of this love. When I receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist in the worship of the Mass, I’m not just ticking off a duty. I am loving Christ in receiving his body and blood in the understanding of the consummation of the covenant of marriage. Why would I ever want to neglect the Lover of my Soul?

With this in mind, let’s consider the readings from the Old Testament books of Judges 2 and Psalm 106 that are the antecedents to the gospel reading from St. Matthew 9 . The writers describes the all-too familiar pattern of God’s people. They offended the LOVER of their soul over and over by abandoning Him for the “shiny things”, as I like to say, of the cultures they were immersed in. The young man in the gospel account was very much set on keeping the Covenant with the LORD by following the law of the Covenant. Here we see the two extremes of misconceptions of who we are in the eyes of the Lover of our Soul. In common language, the Israelites disrespected the Covenant in their lust after the created goods and the young man respected the duty in performance to the Covenant absent of complete union with the LORD. Either extreme, in essence, leaves the LORD as the jilted lover.

Let’s put ourselves in the young man’s encounter with Jesus in Matthew 9:

A young man approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied, “You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Christ knew the young man better than he knew himself. The young man’s question, “Which ones?” reveals his heart. He was saying to Christ, “What do I have to do to love you?” rather than “How may I love you completely?” Jesus knew the young man kept the Commandments, but when it came to the essence of the commandments he was more concerned with what he loved rather than who he loved. And so, Jesus hones in on the heart of the matter, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Jesus knew of the man’s divided loyalty.

How’s it with you today? Is your loyalty to the Lover of our Soul divided? Perhaps you find yourself performing for God in keeping the commandments but you hold back in complete union with the Lover of our Soul?

As we pray the Suscipe of St. Ignatius of Loyola, may we allow the Holy Spirit to nurture in us complete love for the Lover of our Soul:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my
understanding, my entire will – all that I have and call my own.
You have given it all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything
is yours: do with it what you will. Give me only your love and
your grace. That is enough for me.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

I’ll Be Happy When….

I chuckled this week when a podcaster described a “new” problem referred to as the “I’ll be Happy When…” syndrome. The podcaster must not realize that it’s the human condition that has been with us from the beginning: always striving after the world’s empty promises only to be left empty and wanting more. What began with Adam and Eve’s deceived assumption that they would be happy when they tasted the forbidden fruit continues to this day with our preoccupation with what we can acquire through our efforts. Just like our ancestors we discover that happiness eludes us because it is always moving according to the measure of our dissatisfaction. This dissatisfaction with the present drives our striving after new ideas, new concepts, new things, new remedies. Granted it is within us to discover and innovate but when it is disordered it can consume us and suck the life out of us.

Consider today’s reading from Psalm 13 which begins with a question we may often find ourselves asking if we suffer from the “I’ll Be Happy When” syndrome. The psalmist pleads, “How long, O LORD?” and then proceeds to reveal his heart to the LORD, eventually concluding by remembering:

…I have trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
    because he has dealt bountifully with me.

The psalmist offers us a remedy for our discontent; when we recollect the LORD’s sufficiency, our minds shift our attention to our generous LORD. I, like the psalmist, sometimes find myself thinking about all the ifs and buts we are prone to place upon the LORD, ourselves, and those around us; it can take a lifetime to release our will to God. I grew up in an environment that inadvertently fostered a discontent with the present moment. The drive for the next thing to look forward to was consuming in those who influenced my life; it was an ill-fit for me. Happiness seemed to need to be scheduled with a whole lot of contingencies that drove contentment and peace into the future. The result was the restlessness that discontent fosters. Over the years I’ve witnessed up close the side-effects of the “I’ll Be Happy When” syndrome. Have you? Perhaps you even suffer from it yourself? Let’s consider today’s Gospel reading from Matthew and the other readings from Sacred Scripture and look for the remedy the LORD offers for this human condition we fight against.

The account of an altercation the temple tax collectors had with Christ’s disciples recorded in St. Matthew 17 is almost humorous to me. I kindle to the way Jesus flippantly instructs Peter to “go to the sea, drop in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax. Give that to them for me and you.” There was a duty that needed attention, instead of Christ allowing the disciples to fret about it, he gave an off-handed instruction as if to say “Meh, it’s not a problem, I got this.” Those twelve men suffered in varying degrees from the “I’ll be happy when…” syndrome just like we do.

What about you, friend? Do you wring your hands and murmur, “I will be happy when” I can get my taxes paid? I’ll be happy when life goes how I’ve scheduled it? I’ll be happy when this pandemic is over? I’ll be happy when all my social media friends press “like” on my posts? I’ll be happy when I make more money? Ohhh….there are so many ways that we undermine our peace in Christ by our thoughts and motivations, isn’t there? Mine is unique to me, yours are unique to you, but we both have the same problem. We do not trust God’s word to us just like Adam and Eve did not trust God’s word to them. We like to say we do, but when it comes down to it, do we? Can we release the death grip we have on our expectations? More often than not, I think we entrust ourselves to ourselves, pursuing ways to satisfy our own fearful and prideful pursuit of happiness.

Despite our disordered thinking, Jesus still says to us, “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink.” (John 7:37) He is the definition of true happiness. As the Psalms declare in varying ways, God is the fulfillment of all our longings. He is what the prophets refer to when they say, “On that day….” Now, there’s the only contingency we should focus on because that day the prophets refer to is the beautiful realization that God is present here and now, in the only moment we are promised. How he must laugh at our striving! How he must grieve over our useless pursuits. Isaiah prophesies, I am paraphrasing a bit:

“I will lead those who are blinded by pride, fear, anger in a way that they do not know, in paths they have not known. I will guide them. I will turn the darkness of their “I’ll Be Happy When” thinking into light, I will make their rough paths that they think leads to happiness into level ground. These are the things I do and I do not forsake them.”

–Isaiah 42

As for me, I find it helpful to prayerfully my disordered “I’ll be happy when…” drives. Sitting with the LORD and allowing him to light my darkened thinking always brings light. I ask our Blessed Mother to intercede for me as I unpack the motivations behind each statement. She is the perfect example of contentment. I ask the Holy Spirit to fill me with His wisdom and discernment.

Making a habit of reading through the anthologies of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom, and Ben Sira in the Old Testament exposes us to all the human struggle to relinquish control to the LORD. What we discover are treasures that satisfy every longing of our hearts. They do not fade or become stale; in fact, they increase in satisfaction the more we pursue them. To get a foretaste of the books, I encourage you to read Proverbs 2.

LORD Jesus, You are our Alpha and Omega. You are our Sufficiency. You are our Happiness. Holy Spirit, help us to order our thoughts and actions as we pursue the treasures that give abundant life. Holy God, may we live and move and have our being in You!

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Amen

Hunger Seeking Bread

“One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”

The timing of my weekly bread baking and the reading of the Gospel for today couldn’t be more apropos. While I’m writing these thoughts, the aroma of the loaf of sourdough bread baking in my oven has awakened my appetite; I wasn’t hungry before the bread started baking, but now….now I am anticipating the taste of butter on freshly baked bread. I’m counting the minutes until I can remove the bread from the oven, then I’ll count the minutes until the bread will cool enough for me to slice into it. My mouth waters at the thought of it! I’m consumed with a yearning for that bread in my oven, and no slice of store-bought bread is going to satisfy that need!

I wonder if the people who listened to Christ’s teachings on hunger and thirst for bread and water knew something of what I am feeling just now as my bread is baking? I wonder if they allowed their minds to go beyond their physical hunger and thirst into the appetite of the soul Jesus was awakening in them? They were familiar with the Old Testament’s scriptures that foreshadowed The Bread of Life that would be fulfilled in the New Covenant. They would have known the psalms and oracles from the Old Testament that we are reminded of in today’s readings. Let’s consider how from the beginning the LORD has whetted humanity’s appetite for the fulfillment of His promise in the body and blood of our Savior Jesus Christ.

The psalmist describes the faithfulness of the LORD in psalm 145 by saying, “The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.” The LORD prepared his people for the ultimate Bread from Heaven that would satisfy the hunger and thirst of their souls. The writer recalls what the ancient Israelites had learned about this heavenly food through the physical hunger they had in the dessert after escaping slavery in Egypt. The LORD poured forth manna from the heavens to satisfy their desires. He brought forth springs of fresh water from the rock to slake their thirst. In delivering them from slavery, He blessed them with the created bounty of bread and water to draw their minds beyond reality to the freedom that comes from the LORD alone.

The eyes of all look hopefully to you,
    and you give them their food in due season;
you open your hand
    and satisfy the desire of every living thing.

Psalm 145

Then through his holy prophet Isaiah, he beckoned His people to himself as their Source of Life. A life lived in covenant with Him. The covenant that made satisfaction between God and humanity for all of time. He drew them through their physical hunger to consider the everlasting covenant that would be fulfilled in the coming of the Messiah. This God/Man would be THE Bread of Life, and the grace would be that we would recognize that our soul’s deepest hunger is satiated in Him.


Why spend your money for what is not bread;
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life.
I will renew with you the everlasting covenant,
the benefits assured to David.

Isaiah 55:13

Something our priest said to my husband and me near the completion of our journey to The Roman Catholic Church has come to mind as I have meditated upon the Gospel readings during these days that surround the Bread of Life Discourse that we read yesterday at Sunday’s Mass. Father Fitzpatrick said to us, “You have been hunger seeking bread and now you have found The Bread who has sought your hunger for all these years.” You see we had never been fully-satisfied with the “store-bought bread,” so to speak, that we had hoped would satisfy our deepest longings. We were left weary and malnourished, our hunger drove us to the transcendent Mystery (“to shut the mouth”) of the Triune God present in the holy sacrifice of The Mass and the Truth, Beauty and Goodness of The Faith.

Has it been that way for you, friend? Have you been trying and trying to feast on the created goods of God’s creation and the distractions of this life but still find yourself hungry? I like how Bishop Barron describes how the satisfaction in things and experiences fades away. It is like a fireworks show, bursting before us as we ooh and ahh, but fading away, leaving the sky empty. Leaving us wanting more. We are created for perfect happiness with God and that is ultimately given through the receiving of Christ’s body and blood in The Eucharist. Why settle for eating the stale bread of this life? In the celebration of The Mass the heavens open with God’s bounty of grace through the memorial of Christ Jesus sacrifice for us–pouring into our hunger, filling us with the food that lasts forever.

We still eagerly anticipate the celebration of the Mass? Do you? Do you recognize it as the source and summit of your life? Do you believe it is the only feast that will heal your malnourished soul? Do you prioritize celebrating the Mass above all the things and distractions you enjoy?

Does your spiritual appetite make your mouth water when you hear the priest pray over us the words of Christ,

“Take, eat: this is my body…Drink [from my cup] this is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Matthew 26:27, 28

We are hunger seeking Bread, Jesus Christ is the Bread seeking our hunger!

Oh, LORD Jesus Christ you are our salvation, the source and sustenance of our lives. In consuming you we receive the peace that passes all our understanding.

We are infused with your love, mercy and faithfulness and you feed us with the fruit of your Spirit.

May we hunger and thirst for you in the holy sacrifice of the Mass!

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Amen.