Thursday, April 17, 2014

Where do I stand this night?

By Melanie Jean Juneau

File:Jaume Huguet - Last Supper - WGA11797.jpg
The Last Supper by Jaume Huguet (Wikimedia Commons).

It is Holy Thursday, the night we celebrate the Chrism Mass.Tonight, churches around the entire globe will wait in  prayerful vigil, with lights dimmed, all images covered with the congregation in respectful, sombre silence. The Church is remembering the end of Jesus’ public life as a teacher and healer and walking with Him as He begins His most important work, the work of salvation in His passion, death and resurrection.

Yet today’s Gospel takes us back to the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. He has just emerged from the desert, filled by the power of the Holy Spirit, astonishing crowds with His words. As He stands on the podium in the synagogue to read from the book of Isaiah, repeating the Old Testament reading which we have just heard minutes before, Jesus summarizes His entire ministry in a few short verses.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Continue reading at Melanie's blog Joy of Nine9.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Into your hands I commend my spirit

By Heidi

File:The Denial of Saint Peter-Caravaggio (1610).jpg
The Denial of St. Peter by Caravaggio (Wikimedia Commons).

"Though all may have their faith in you shaken, mine will never be.” Matthew 26:33

It has been a tough Lent for me, a long dry spell in prayer has continued, though not completely without respite.  Along with that a family situation suddenly came upon us that will continue to demand much prayer, love and sacrifice into an uncertain future.  And here I am with nothing to offer, not a thing. 

One day, as my husband and I were waiting on some news with our loved one, I reflected on how empty I felt, how impoverished I was in this particular situation.  How impoverished I had always been.  I stand at a crucial moment, like Peter at his denial of the Lord, relying on my own store of love and fidelity and I find am empty! In that emptiness, fear, resentment and bitterness were threatening to invade. “Lord!”  I cried, “I have no love!” 

The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame. 
Isaiah 50:7

It was a Thursday, so, since I had nothing to do but wait, I prayed the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary.  Oh, because of my dryness in prayer I tried to distract myself with other things, but in the end I relented to the call to pray. 

I don’t think I ever finished it, because as I prayed the second Luminous mystery, The Wedding of Cana I began to realize that Our Blessed Mother was helping me to ask for His love to minister to this situation, and in fact to overflow into my past failures to endure in love and faithful patience.  In turn, I was being invited to wait on the Lord.  How can one trust such an intuition?  How can one cling to it with nothing to see as proof it will come to fruition?

Continue reading at Heidi's blog Journey to Wisdom.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Facing temptations while fasting

By Lora Goulet

File:Robert Kemm Gebet vor dem Stierkampf.jpg
Painting by Robert Kemm (Wikimedia Commons).

Prayer and fasting cause a holy peace to flourish deep within our souls. Therefore, during a fast, it is not unusual for the evil one to attack with external (usually interpersonal) disruptions, provoking an internal "crankiness". Our obligation to forgive others coincides with a necessary examination of our own conscience.

Our hearts must be willing to repent. How humbling it is to confront that for which we require forgiveness! This can be more painful than the struggle against cravings for things of this world. We may even be tempted to give up praying and fasting. The strength to persevere comes from total reliance on Jesus. We are then free to experience the peace that comes from forgiveness and acceptance of God's will.  

"And Jesus said
'Father forgive them 
for they know not what they do.'"
Luke 23:34 
Douay Rheims Roman Catholic Bible

Lora has written a short series on prayer and fasting for Lent at her blog mommynovenas.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mirror, mirror

By Nancy Ward
Julie Lebrun  by Vigee-Lebrun (Wikimedia Commons).

“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh,” (Rom 13:14).

The witch in “Snow White” spent a lot of time in front of her mirror, asking, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” She built her self-image on her attractiveness. Today’s culture takes up this chant, unrelenting in its insistence that beauty and sexual attractiveness are all that matters.  How easily these surface values can become our way of life.

God created our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit, sacramentals of procreation and means of holiness. They are fearfully and wonderfully made yet often desecrated by sin or used to tempt others. God meant for us to enjoy our bodies and our sexuality in a holy way. He reveals himself to us through the beauty of our own bodies.

As a temple of the Holy Spirit, there are places I can’t go, movies I can’t see, fashions I can’t wear because they dishonor the human body, and therefore Christ’s body. Good stewardship of my body involves keeping it healthy and strong, and dressing attractively, yet modestly. I am to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh,”< (Rom 13:14).

God created our bodies to translate his invisible spirit into readable terms. We dress in harmony with our inner tabernacle and thus attract others to the Lord, not to ourselves. We decorate our body temple with the same reverence we apply in our churches to inspire worship, not of the temple, but of the God within the temple.

We can love God with our whole being by honoring his will for our body. We can choose to use our body temple to become one body, one spirit with Jesus and not to satisfy a temporary demand of our body, whether it be adultery or gluttony. Yes, with his grace, we can choose to give our body what it needs and not obey our fleeting compulsions. We can choose to glorify God with our body.

God sees your true image reflection of his life unfolding in your body, mind, and spirit. When you look in the mirror he wants you to see him in yourself. Then you can mirror his character to the world from within your body. He wants you to brightly shine his reflection until the day you see him face to face. He meant for your body to belong entirely to him so that you will become more like him in every way possible.

How do you mirror God’s character with your body?

Do you see a glimpse of God when you look in the mirror?

Copyright 2014 Nancy Ward. Nancy blogs at  JOY Alive in our hearts.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Why Mary's portrait hangs in a Catholic home

By Anabelle Hazard

You’ve seen pictures of the Immaculate Heart of Mary beside the Sacred Heart of Jesus in many Catholic homes, I'm sure. In our home, the "alliance of the two hearts” devotion, (as it is also called) is not just a design fix to balance out our fireplace mantle decor.  Mary is enthroned with Jesus after a solemn ceremony based on theologically sound reasons for Mary’s role in our family:  she is our mother, queen and intercessor.

1. Mary is Our Mother

            Mary was shared with us when Jesus presented her to St. John at the foot of the cross, “Son, behold thy mother.”  Just as St. John obeyed Jesus and took Mary into his home, we do, too. Thus, Mary’s portraits beautify our walls the way a picture of my mother and mother-in-law remind our family of the mothers who have passed on to us remarkable faith and assure us of their constant support, guidance and intercession.  Mary’s picture is bigger, more ornate and recurs in more rooms because we love and venerate her and want to be constantly reminded of her motherly love for us.  

2. Mary is Our Queen

            In Fatima, Portugal, June 13, 1917, Mary confided to Servant of God Lucia Dos Santos, why she came to earth:  “Jesus wishes to establish throughout the world a devotion to my Immaculate Heart.” Devotion to Mary was the brainchild of her son, Jesus and the plan was within the will of God. Further, St. Jacinta Marto told Lucia before her death, “Tell them that the heart of Jesus wishes that by his side should be venerated the heart of Mary.”  This reference to the Sacred Heart recalls Jesus’ apparition and promise to St. Mary Margaret Alacoque: “I will bless every place where the image of my Sacred Heart is exposed and venerated.”

Read the rest at Anabelle's blog Written By the Finger of God.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A clouded mind, a heavy heart

By Robert Batch

File:Ansdell Richard Lost In The Storm.jpg
Lost in the Storm by Ansdell Richard (Wikimedia Commons)

As some of you may know the band Mumford and Sons have become very popular in today’s generation. One of their songs that really did stick out to me on my journey back from Boston was Hopeless Wonderer. If you were to listen to the song you would get the impression that it was very Christian, and from a first impression I would say that is accurate!  I would like to take some of their lyrics and briefly reflect.

 “Left a clouded mind and a heavy heart, but i was sure we could see a new start.  So when your hope is on fire.  But you know your desire don’t hold the glass over the flame don’t let your heart grow cold, I will call you by name, I will share your road.”

Continue reading at Robert's blog Love is Calling.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Jesus is the Chief Shepherd

By Beryl Baterina
The Good Shepherd by Giordano (Wikimedia Commons)

"But be examples to the flock."
In our life, there will be instances that we will show leadership among other people. It can be just by taking initiative in doing the dishes or feeding the pet. It can also be by volunteering for charitable activities in the community. Encouraging others or teaching them also shows leadership.  
We must remember that in doing so we must show compassion and inspiration. We should be a role model and not be high and mighty because we are knowledgeable. We must keep our humility even we are in high positions. We are just humans and also belong to the flock. And only the Lord is the Greatest Shepherd.
Continue reading at Beryl's blog, Beryl Baterina: Daily Dose.