Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Humility: how do you do it?

Consider inviting correction and pursuing opportunities to be humble. Follow Jesus’ example. Jesus walked of his own free will into Gethsemane and said, “Father not my will but yours be done.” It’s serious business to say yes to the Lord and then not allow Him to transform our character.

Ask yourself, “How can I wash others’ feet?” Some examples below:

See others as better/more deserving than myself.
Be available and look for ways to meet others’ needs
be sensitive to others
deny my own needs
be patient and forgiving
listen more to others
encourage and motivate others

Readers: what ideas do you have about how you can practice humility?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

For what do you depend on God?

For what do you depend on God?
1. Keeping me balanced so that I see the big picture and can keep all of life's events in perspective.
2. Strength to keep trying to be the person God made me to be and who He wants me to be.
3. Faithful, unconditional love.
4. Mercy.
5. Wisdom.
6. Sense of direction.
7. Eucharist
8. His Word.
9. Good example.
10. Peace like the world cannot give.
11. Surprises and challenges.
What would you add?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Jesus' Humility

Jesus, you learned humility
1.First from your parents, Mary and Joseph.
a) Your conception caused public speculation for them
b) Your birth place must have been hard for Joseph, the family's breadwinner, to handle. Surely he wanted to be a good provider.
c) Your parents were only able to offer pigeons at your Presentation...the offering of the poor.
d) Mary and Joseph must have been embarrassed at having lost you in the Temple at age 12.
2. During your own active ministry you didn't even have a home
3. Very few, including the Apostles, knew what you were preaching about
4. During your public life you were questioned and tested frequently by the "authorities"
5. An attempt was made to kill you by stoning
6. They ignored your values in turning the synagogue into a market place
7. the people in your hometown rejected your mission and others asked "can anything good come from Nazareth?"
8. You healed hundreds of people who never even said thank you.
9. You washed your apostles feet
10. You allowed yourself to be arrested by soldiers over whom you had real authority and power.
11. You allowed Judas to turn you in and Peter to deny he even knew you.
12. You were tortured, mocked and spit upon by the soldiers.
13. You were judged and condemned by Pilate , a frightened leader
14. You were stripped publicly.
15 You were given vinegar to drink while on the cross
16. You were nailed to a cross without complaining and left to die.
17. Like your birth, your burial place was not your own.

Readers: any other ideas?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Called to be Saints

Called to be Saints

Going to Mass on Sunday isn't enough. Trying to be a good person isn't enough. Never using bad language doesn't cut it. Being kind and patient to your kids and your neighbors is, at least, a step in the right direction. Scripture says in the Gospel of Luke, "When you have done all you have been commanded to do, say 'We are useless servants. We have done no more than our duty.'"
that's yucky, I know
You've all heard about Good Friday: The agony in the Garden, the scourging at the pillar. You heard how Jesus sweat drops of blood while he was hanging on the cross. And you remember His last words were "Father, forgive them."
I want to remind you of everything else your God has done for you, too. He woke you this morning to do his work. He gave you a job and the skills to do it well. He gave you a sense of sight, hearing and smell. He gave you people that love you and maybe even, people who don't. He waits for you everyday in every situation to turn your face toward him in prayer so he can share the experience with you. That's because, as Scripture says again, He delights in you. And lastly, though the list could go on and on, he gifts you with salvation - everlasting happiness awaits you in heaven. It's like knowing there's going to be a surprise party for you, the biggest one you've ever seen, but you just don't know when it is.
Jesus lived for you, died for you and still lives in and with you. God the Father designed you uniquely; sent his Son so you could enjoy heaven and delights in you at every moment of the day. The Holy Spirit is God's gift to you, too, so you'd never feel lonely after Jesus left this earth. We have our own, personal guardian angels to support and protect us and another precious gift: a nurturing, spiritual, very Blessed Mother.
If I kept listing God's gifts to us, I could honestly go on all night. I cite them here to give us motivation. As humans we require reasons to sacrifice for others. God has given us more reasons that we need and certainly more than we deserve.
Everyone feels like they are a good person and I'm absolutely sure you are. But I am looking at your potential. I see the creation your God made you to be and the work of art you can become. God, the Creator of the whole world, created you. He chose certain elements to be a part of your personality and purposely omitted others. From his closet shelf marked "talents" he selected a very special one for you. You may already know what it is or you may still need to discover it. Ask God about that. He can help you.
So you are a work of art, a unique and unrepeated design created by God Himself. What a blessing you are! What wonderful gifts He gave you to share with others. Are you sharing them? Have you even decided in which direction your life is headed? Do you have a goal?
What is your personal mission while you are on this earth? What is the one point you want to make with your life? If we just live day after day, responding spontaneously and haphazardly to situations around us, we become eclectic. That's fine in a living room, but its not a mission statement. You need an identified spiritual purpose: a message you think people need to hear. But it can't be your own message. It has to come from God, therefore, it requires prayer. In your private conversations with Jesus, ask him what message he wants you to bring his people. Some one theme will repeat in your head and your heart over time. It will feel really right. It will be a good "fit", so to speak. It will be a message you'll feel comfortable with. In your spiritual conversations here or with others, it will be your theme. It will be a reminder from Jesus through you to others.
Find out your purpose. Ask God what your mission is. Without a goal, we are simply walking along the road with no destination. Find your mission and use it as a measuring tool for your spiritual life's journey. That's what all the prophets and the saints did. They all had a goal for God, a race to run and a prize to capture. (That's from Scripture, too.)
When God made us with all the blessing and gifts and talents we have, he saw our potential. He saw what HE wanted us to become, and it is our purpose in this life. All the saints realized that, in order to attain God's mission for them on this earth, they had to put aside their own wants and needs many times. You know what that's like. You swallow a word of anger at someone who you think really deserves it. You allow that car to cut in front of you so as not to feed into road rage. You smile and are polite to people you don't really like.
The saints did that and much, much more. They did it to an elaborate degree because they knew God deserved it and that's what made them saints. They swallowed their self will and followed God's will for them. They figured God's will needed to be accomplished more that their own will and they didn't want to be in God's way.
Being in God's way means not having a spiritual goal or not living up to your potential. It means God has to work around you because you are not cooperating with him. It means you don't recognize the gifts God gave you and therefore don't use them. Or it could mean that you know you are gifted and use those gifts only to meet your own needs. You've forgotten that God made you, gave you those gifts and that He intended for you to use them to help Him help others. These are not easy words to hear, I know. We are not doing what we can. We forget. We are not doing what we should. We are mediocre and lukewarm.
The word I used is WE and I really mean that! I am a terrible sinner in this regard. It's my biggest weakness. I am NOT preaching or admonishing at all. I am a part of the problem.
I've gotten some support and motivation from reading the lives of some Saints, and I thought I'd share some of what I learned with you; I strongly recommend you read them for yourself.
St. Clare of Assisi was impressed by Jesus' poverty. He was born in a stable and died naked on a Cross. This caused her to leave her wealthy family and live in absolute poverty, owning nothing. The religious order she created still follows that rule. We may not live in that strict kind of poverty, but we can think about the possessions we tend to accumulate.
Sister Faustina, was completely overwhelmed by Jesus' mercy and forgiveness. She felt utterly unworthy of God's blessings because of her sinfulness. She said we would be too if we could see our souls as Jesus sees them. I dread to think of Jesus looking at my soul everyday; especially if Sister Faustina was ashamed of hers. St. Therese of Liseaux is one of my very favorites. She wanted everyone everywhere to love God as he deserved to be loved and she knew that would never happen in hell. So she offered her life and made sacrifices to make up for that. She was so caught up in reverencing God that she was sad that drops of blood fell from his cross and no one could catch them. That takes real sensitivity to Jesus as a person. Our prayer life can create a personal relationship with Jesus just like St. Therese had. All we have to do is look at him very, very closely and listen to him.
St.Catherine of Sienna changed the entire course of the Catholic Church all by herself by changing the Pope's location and status. Also, to personally sacrifice for Jesus she slept and ate as little as possible. She served the poor and helped the sick whom no one else wanted to be near.
Billy Simpson was born in Cincinnati and died at age 30 in 1970. He is described in a book of saints because of his sense of humor, and service to the poor. Both Billy and St.Catherine make us think about what we are really doing for the poor. When was the last time you visited a food pantry or made a meal for the homeless?
Padre Pio died in 1968 and had the bleeding stigmata for 50 years. He spent 12 hours a day hearing confessions, because that's what he believed his mission was. He also said, "It would be easier for the earth to carry on without the sun, than without Holy Mass." Reading his life can motivate us to name our life's mission and to set a spiritual goal. Mary Ann Long died in 1959 at the age of 12. She had cancer and felt her job was to go around the hospital and comfort everyone else who was sick. At age 12 she said she did not pray for a cure, she only wanted to be that way God wanted her to be. How many times do we complain when we've got a headache or the flu? Saints frequently want to offer personal gifts to God and realize they really have nothing to offer but themselves. That's our situation, too. They often tried to overcome small personal faults. One saint's name was Teresita. She died in 1950, but spent her life overcoming her impulsive tendency.
One Beatified person (that means almost-saint) that I am growing to really admire was born in Bayonne in 1901 and died at the age of 26. She was a Sister of Charity and taught at St. Aloysius's Academy in Jersey City. Sister Miriam Teresa was brilliant, but unaccepted by the sisters in her community. They completely misunderstood her. Her spiritual director knew all of this and also knew that Sister Miriam had visions and conversations with Jesus and even experienced the gift of wearing the Crown of Thorns. He did not share this with her community, but asked her to write instructions for him to give to the other novices in that community. She wrote 2 books which the priest used to educate not only the Sisters of Charity, but Congregations world wide. It was not until after Sister Miriam's death that this information was revealed. Listen to some comments she made in the book.
The reason why we have not yet become saints is because we have not understood what it means to love. We think we do; but we do not. To love means to annihilate ones' self for the beloved. The self sacrifice of a mother for her child is only a shadow of the love with which we should love the Beloved of our soul. We must conform our lives with his in the most intimate way possible.
In another section she says, "The saints only did one thing: the will of God. But they did it with all their might." Sister Miriam always says we need to give our liberty and free will over to God. "To bring that will into submission requires persistence and sacrifice - a constant and resolute effort in the monotony of daily tasks and frequent failures; a daily struggle to conquer self. Only one thing in the world is strong enough to overcome the love of self, and that is the love of God." It's so honestly difficult, even for Sister Miriam, that she says to her spiritual director: My physical strength decreases, until what with the heat and the weariness and the sleepiness and the mosquitoes and the incessant strain of doing things I naturally don't want to do, I wonder that I am able to take another step or even stand up straight.
We don't need to change the course of history in order to become saints. We only need to love God with all our might. We need to be so in love with him that we commit ourselves to doing something about it. One saint said that feelings are utterly worthless. How we feel about God is all well and good, but what we DO about it is much more important. God set the example. His love for us made him sacrifice his only Son. Jesus followed the example. His love for us committed him to crucifixion by sinners. What does our love say? How many petty annoyances do we suffer with silently? When your personal plans are upset or tossed aside by others, what is your reaction? I actually tried this and failed miserably. I prayed and asked God to let me be annoyed. He did. I didn't even come close to the challenge. I grunted and complained. When someone disagreed with me I felt the need to clarify myself and my view. When embarrassed and corrected in front of others I needed to defend myself. When I make plans and schedule something for my own convenience I am not exactly the picture of Sister Miriam's self annihilation if those plans get changed. I get stressed.
I am not talking here about self degradation. I do not feel as God's work of art that I should put my gifts aside and be the target of others scorn. Let's not go there. Let's not get this mixed up with poor self esteem or lack of self worth. I do not mean that. I mean honest self sacrifice. If your tendency is toward self degradation, pray about that so that you don't get carried away with this in an unhealthy way.
For the most part, we know deep in our hearts how self centered we are. To be a saint, to live up to our potential means to be Jesus centered and to make his message our mission.

As I said in the beginning, we really aren't just talking about going to Mass on Sunday and not using bad language. We are talking about much, much more. We are talking about giving back to Jesus the love he deserves. We need to learn how to love the one who loves us so completely. Go to him in prayer and ask him how you can do this in your own personal life. And then, let's pray for each other to become saints.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Novena to St. Therese of Lisieux

This novena is special in that it prays for the blessing of spiritual gifts rather than earthly favors.

Saint Therese, who in your short life attained to angelic purity, generous love, and wholehearted surrender to Almighty God, pray for us who trust in you. You have received the reward of your virtues; obtain for us the grace to be pure of heart and to avoid whatever may tarnish any virtue pleasing to God. May we know in every need the power of your prayer for us. Comfort us in the sorrows of this life and especially at its end, that we be worthy to share your happiness in Heaven. Amen.
Pray for us, blessed Therese, that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.
O Lord Who has said: "Unless you become as little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven," grant us, we implore you, to walk in the footsteps of Saint Therese. Amen.

Intention for the FIRST DAY - Faith Almighty God and Creator of all things, to overcome lukewarmness and inflame souls with Your love, you have enriched the soul of Your Little Flower with such firm faith that she longed to give her life for You. I ask You, by the merits of her lively faith, to infuse in me a like faith. Grant that I may believe all the truths taught by the Catholic Church and practice until death all virtues. Amen.
Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be
Intention for the SECOND DAY - Hope Almighty God, You Who are glorified in Your saints, grant me the gift of hope as was evident in the life of Saint Therese, that I may believe firmly in Your words:
Whatever you ask in My Name shall be given to you."
As Saint Therese turned away from the vanities of this world and consecrated herself to You with complete confidence, may I also turn from those vanities and seek You alone, my love and my all. Amen.
Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be
Intention for the THIRD DAY - Love My Jesus, grant that I may love You as much as Saint Therese, Your Little Flower, and say with her: "My Jesus, I beg You only for Your love, without limits and without bounds. Grant, my Jesus that I may love you with the strength of a martyr. I wish to love You as You have never been loved."
And you, Saint Therese, help me to be ever grateful to Him Who loves me so much. Amen.

Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be
Intention for the FOURTH DAY - Submission My Lord and my God, You always will what is best for me. As Your Little Flower consecrated herself to You to endure all sufferings and pain, may I accept with perfect resignation and even cheerfulness all the hardships that come to me in life, that I may be able to say, as did Your beloved spouse:
"Jesus, I offer my hardships to You in the name of Your love."
Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be
Intention for the FIFTH DAY - Patience My Lord, Innocence Itself, You endured all forms of shameful treatment for love of me. Give me the humility, self-denial, and patience to imitate Your spouse, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, and say with all my heart:
My despised Jesus, grant me, by the merits of Your humility and patience, to bear with a a calm spirit all the sufferings of this life, and then to enjoy Your company with Your spouse, the Little Flower. Amen.
Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be
Intention for the SIXTH DAY - Simplicity My sweet Jesus, give me the charity and simplicity of Saint Therese. She said her mission in Heaven would be to make others love God as she loved Him, and to teach others to seek and find God in the little things in life. Grant that I may not rest until I love God with all my strength and with the childlike simplicity of the Little Flower.
Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be
Intention for the SEVENTH DAY - Humility My Jesus, give me the grace to practice virtue in little things. It is sometimes difficult, but I trust in Your goodness, and Your love for humble persons. I am too weak to climb he ladder of perfection alone, but I know that I shall obtain from You the help I hope for. I join the Little Flower in asking You for this blessing. Amen. Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be
Intention for the EIGHTH DAY - Doing for Others My God and my Love, give me on earth the same mission You gave Your Little Flower in Heaven, of spending my life doing good to my neighbor. My Jesus, help me to console all men and encourage them to love You. May all love You as Your Immaculate Mother, Your foster father, Saint Joseph, Your holy angels, and Saint Therese love you. Allow me to pray with her: "Let Your divine glance rest upon a vast number of little souls, worthy of Your love."
Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be
Intention for the NINTH DAY - Happy Death My dear Lord, grant me the same childlike love for Your foster father and Your holy and immaculate Mother as Saint Therese had. And you, Saint Therese, ask my great protector and father, Saint Joseph, and my holy Mother, Mary, to obtain for me the grace of dying the friendship of Jesus, and expressing in your own words: "My God, I love You." Amen.
Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be

Monday, June 05, 2006

Examination of Conscience

The following is a thorough examination of conscience. Hopefully it can be helpful in your prayerful, personal reflection.

Sinfulness at work:

Do I go to my place of work knowing that this is the place God sent me?
Do I arrive prepared and eager to meet God throughout my day?
Do I look for God in everyone I meet throughout the day?
Do I get distracted and upset if things don't go smoothly or if things don't go my way?
Do I give my coworkers good example?
Do my coworkers know I am a Christian? Does my interaction with them indicate this?
Do I worry about my job stability?
Do I worry about anything in the work place so that it distracts me from looking for the gifts God is sending me?
Do I live out Christ's qualities of patience, joy, kindness, and understanding in my work place?
Do I forgive others in the work place when I am misjudged or misunderstood?
Do I work to the best of my ability? Am I just and fair in my dealings with others?
Do I leave my job at the end of the day knowing that I did the best I could, and satisfied that I fulfilled God's role for me this day?

Sinfulness in my Family Life:

Do I see my family as my chosen vocation in life?
Do I look for the good in each person in my family?
Do I appreciate each I tell them that I love and appreciate them?
Do I pray for each member of my family by name?
Do I take my family for granted?
Do I impose my moodiness on my family members?
Am I selfless in my personal decision making with regards to my family? Do I prefer the good of others to my own personal convenience?
Do I pray for guidance in each decision that needs to be made in my family?
Do I reflect Christ's qualities of patience, kindness, joy and understanding to my family?
Is prayer an integral part of my family life?
Do I set a good example to my family by going to Mass, daily private prayer, prayer before Meals?

Personal Sinfulness:

Do I recognize that I am God's beautiful creation?
Do I know and accept the gifts God has given me?
Do I develop and foster the relationship I have with my God through daily prayer?
Do I ask God for forgiveness for the sins I may have committed this day?
Do I seek direction from God in the way that my life continues to unfold?
Do I read Scripture in order to learn more about my God?
Do I thank God daily for the many gifts he has given me?
Do I fear and worry... or do I trust in God's unconditional love for me?
Do I live in peace, knowing that God is my Father and I am his beloved son/daughter?
Do I joyfully live out the Christian life style or do I complain when things don't go the way I think they should be going?
Do I see trials and other difficulties God allows me to experience as gifts from him?
Do I believe I am living out God's will in my life?


I stand in the Jordan and experience the healing flow of the waters upon me. Acknowledging my part in perpetuating the patterns of sinfulness, I pray to be cleansed and refreshed by the waters of God's free gift of grace and love. I beg God for a deep felt understanding of my sin and the disordered tendencies in my life. With Christ at my side, I allow myself to reflect freely, without inhibition. I pray to release any hurt or sorrow with tears, if God desires to grace me in this way.

Reflection of my sinfulness.(examination of conscience)

I turn to God for healing and forgiveness. Laying my wounds, my unfreedoms, my compulsions at the feet of Jesus I humbly acknowledge my need for Him to be my Savior. I thank Jesus for his love and healing. I thank him, too, for the cool water which will symbolize his healing touch and refreshment.
As I move toward the point where I am ready to feel the healing touch of God I walk toward the altar. My movement indicated my willingness to take steps toward being the person I was created to be. My movement also shows my need to be touched by God and to encounter him tonight.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

re St Therese of Lisieux's prayers for a criminal

Letting Jesus into Our Boat

May your love draw down upon you the mercy of the Lord, and may he let you see that within your soul a saint is sleeping. I shall ask him to make you so open and supple that you will be able to understand and do what he wants you to do. Your life is nothing; it is not even your own. Each time you say, “I’d like to do this or that,” you wound Christ, robbing him of what is his. You have to put to death everything within you except the desire to love God. This is not at all hard work to do. It is enough to have confidence and to thank the little Jesus for all the potentialities he has placed within you. You are called to holiness, like me, like everyone, don’t forget.

You have a large ship to steer. You must set about it courageously, but don’t count on yourself, for alone you can do nothing. It is not YOU who must act, but CHRIST in you. And then you will taste the marvels of divine love, prayers filled with honey, ravishing delights and ecstasies, and your soul will climb, without you noticing it, to the summit of love. But for this, you must put self-love to death, and pray. Become like the slave of others. Renounce yourself completely. Be like the clay which the divine potter can shape as he wills. The one who abandons himself to God in this way no longer has a heart of flesh in his breast but a ball of fire. And I assure you that when the Lord begins to kindle the fire of his love, his victim is quick to cry for mercy, for the joy is beyond our human strength to bear. May you, too, penetrate into this world! But don’t forget, you have to give everything.

By Jacques Fesch , a murderer who experienced a profound conversion before his death by execution. St. Therese of Lisieux prayed for this conversion