NEW!!!Chris Stefanick is an internationally acclaimed author, speaker, and television host who has devoted his life to inspiring people to live a bold, contagious faith.

New! Litany of Supplication

We adore you, O Lord

True God and true man, truly present in this holy Sacrament.
     We adore you, O Lord
Our Savior, God with us, faithful and rich in mercy
     We adore you, O Lord
King and Lord of creation and of history
     We adore you, O Lord
Conqueror of sin and death
     We adore you, O Lord
Friend of humankind, the Risen One, the Living One who sits at the right hand of the Father.
     We adore you, O Lord

We believe in you, O Lord

Only begotten Son of the Father, descended from heaven for our salvation
     We believe in you, O Lord
Heavenly physician, who bows down over our misery
     We believe in you, O Lord
Lamb who was slain, who offer yourself to rescue us from evil
     We believe in you, O Lord
Good Shepherd, who give your life for the flock which you love
     We believe in you, O Lord
Living bread and medicine for immortality, who give us eternal life
     We believe in you, O Lord

Deliver us, O Lord

From the power of Satan and the seductions of the world
     Deliver us, O Lord
From the pride and presumption of being able to do anything without you
     Deliver us, O Lord
From the deceptions of fear and anxiety
     Deliver us, O Lord
From unbelief and desperation
     Deliver us, O Lord
From hardness of heart and the incapacity to love
     Deliver us, O Lord

Save us, O Lord

From every evil that afflicts humanity
     Save us, O Lord
From hunger, from famine and from egoism
     Save us, O Lord
From illnesses, epidemics and the fear of our brothers and sisters
     Save us, O Lord
From devastating madness, from ruthless interests and from violence
     Save us, O Lord
From being deceived, from false information and the manipulation of consciences
     Save us, O Lord

Comfort us, O Lord

Protect your Church which crosses the desert
     Comfort us, O Lord
Protect humanity terrified by fear and anguish
     Comfort us, O Lord
Protect the sick and the dying, oppressed by loneliness
     Comfort us, O Lord
Protect doctors and healthcare providers exhausted by the difficulties they are facing
     Comfort us, O Lord
Protect politicians and decision makers who bear the weight of having to make decisions
     Comfort us, O Lord

Grant us your Spirit, O Lord

In the hour of trial and from confusion
     Grant us your Spirit, O Lord
In temptation and in our fragility
     Grant us your Spirit, O Lord
In the battle against evil and sin
     Grant us your Spirit, O Lord
In the search for what is truly good and true joy
     Grant us your Spirit, O Lord
in the decision to remain in you and in your friendship
     Grant us your Spirit, O Lord

Open us to hope, O Lord

Should sin oppress us
     Open us to hope, O Lord
Should hatred close our hearts
     Open us to hope, O Lord
Should sorrow visit us
     Open us to hope, O Lord
Should indifference cause us anguish
     Open us to hope, O Lord
Should death overwhelm us
     Open us to hope, O Lord

This beautiful prayer was used in a service presided over by Pope Francis during the COVID-19 epidemic and is made available from:

https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-03/litany-supplication-urbi-et-orbi-pope-francis.html


New! Click here: How To Read Like The Saints


The Call of Christ, Our King

If the medieval imagery is distracting or unhelpful, consider the inspiration of a person of our time who personifies virtue and integrity, fights against injustice, or labors for the oppressed and marginalized. This person may be a civic leader, a modern-day saint or prophet, or a personal friend. Or you may rely on some mythical figure in literature or film. Reflect on anyone who inspires you and summons your zeal to make the world a more just and gentle place.

The Grace I Seek

I pray for the following graces: to listen more attentively to Christ’s call in my life; to become more ready and eager to do what Christ wants.

The Call of a Worldly Leader

Read through the scene slowly. Pause frequently as you immerse yourself in it.

First, I will place before my mind a human king, chosen by God our Lord himself, whom all Christian princes and all Christian persons reverence and obey. (SE 92)

Second, I will observe how this king speaks to all his people, saying, “My will is to conquer the whole land of the infidels. Hence, whoever wishes to come with me has to be content with the same food I eat, and the drink, and the clothing which I wear, and so forth. So too each one must labor with me during the day, and keep watch in the night, and so on, so that later each may have a part with me in the victory, just as each has shared in the toil.” (SE 93)

Third, I will consider what good subjects ought to respond to a king so generous and kind; and how, consequently, if someone did not answer his call, he would be scorned and upbraided by everyone and accounted as an unworthy knight. (SE 94)

What feelings does this leader stir in you? What do you imagine you could do if you followed such a leader? Make note of your thoughts in your journal.

For Reflection

There are so many world leaders whose words and actions inspire us to service and who can remind us of Christ’s even greater summons. One of my favorite inspirations is from Theodore Roosevelt, who said this in a speech at the Sorbonne in 1910:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

—Kevin O’Brien, SJ, Loyola Press

Foster a Contemplative Outlook

What we need to foster, in ourselves and in others, is a contemplative outlook. Such an outlook arises from faith in the God of life, who has created every individual as a wonder. It is the outlook of those who see life in its deeper meaning, who grasp its utter gratuitousness, its beauty, and its invitation to freedom and responsibility. It is the outlook of those who do not presume to take possession of reality, but instead accept it as a gift, discovering in all things the reflection of the Creator and seeing in every person their own living image.

Prayer not only opens up to a meeting with the Most High, but also disposes us to a meeting with our neighbors, helping us to establish with everyone—without discrimination—relationships of respect, understanding, esteem, and love. Prayer is the bond that most effectively unites us all. It is through prayer that believers meet one another at a level where inequalities, misunderstandings, bitterness, and hostility are overcome; namely, before God. Prayer is the authentic expression of a right relationship with God and with others.

We need to reaffirm our need for intense, humble, confident, and persevering prayer, if the world is finally to become a dwelling place of peace.

So, to take time to pray and to nourish prayer and activities through biblical, theological, and doctrinal study; and to live by Christ and His grace by receiving assiduously the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist: such are the fundamental requirements of every deeply Christian life. Thus, the Holy Spirit will be the source both of our action and of our contemplation, which will then interpenetrate each other, support each other, and yield abundant fruit.

This deep unity between prayer and action is at the basis of all spiritual renewal. It is at the basis of the great enterprises of evangelization and construction of the world according to God’s plan.

Loyola Press


Helping People Pray: Praying Through the Day

Prayer is simply an ongoing conversation with God.

Jesus called us friends, and friends talk to each other anytime about anything. You can help your children understand prayer as an ongoing conversation with God, one that is both talking and listening.

Children (and adults) pray a lot already.

Explain to your children that throughout the day they are already sending prayers up to God. Something gets broken, and the prayer is “Oh, don’t let Mom be too mad!” There’s a test at school: “Please help me do okay!” Grandpa is sent to the hospital: “Please take good care of him.” All of these are prayers. They are honest, they take our needs to God, and they place our trust in God’s love for us.

Children (and adults) can talk with God while doing other things.

One good time is when you first get up in the morning. Some of the best conversations with loved ones happen in the kitchen or in the car. In the same way you and your children visit while chopping up a salad or when running errands, people can talk to God in the middle of their daily routines.

Children can talk with God or sing to him while picking up their clothes or walking the dog. Look for activities that lead naturally to quiet time, such as coloring or playing in the sand. Help your children recognize opportunities to pray with their hearts by letting God know what’s going on inside, heart to heart, while they are working with their hands or feet. Do younger children have a daily nap time? Talking with God can make it more interesting. Why, even those time-outs used for discipline can turn into something meaningful and less stressful because God is invited to sit there too.

Why not pray for others when wrapping gifts for birthdays, graduations, weddings, and baby showers? You and your children can do this together, talking to God about the loved one while you wrap.

We can pray to God anytime because God is paying close attention to us all the time.

Life is full of little opportunities to say “hi” to God and just catch up on what’s happening in life. When your children learn that prayer is simply being with or having a conversation with a constant companion, they will begin to turn to their loving heavenly Father no matter what is happening or how they feel.

You too will notice a huge difference when you simply stay in touch with God throughout the day and discuss life as it happens. Then be quiet a moment with the One whom you know always loves you, no matter what.

by Marlene Halpin, OP, Loyola Press  


Distractions in Prayer

It’s natural to become distracted during prayer sometimes. If you can, simply acknowledge the distracting thought and let it go. Sometimes, however, what at first seems like a distraction offers an opportunity for a graced encounter with God. Thus, if the distracting thought continues, then carefully discern whether it’s really a distraction or something you need to pray about.

In the course of a retreat in daily life, things happen at home, at work, or in relationships that beg for prayerful reflection. We should not hesitate to pray over the “scripture of our lives” if we think that God is trying to get our attention through what we initially thought was a distraction.

In contrast, some thoughts are really unnecessary preoccupations; we can tend to them later. Review the suggestions for preparing for and structuring your prayer time. Following these long-tested counsels can help focus your prayer. If distractions persist, talk with a spiritual director or guide about them. If you tend to fall asleep when you pray, adjust your posture or time of prayer.

Sometimes it can seem that nothing is happening, but deep down, God might be stirring up something—we just haven’t realized it yet. As you grow in the habit of prayer, avoid the temptation to judge or rate your prayer: “Today was good prayer; yesterday was just OK.” (Imagine rating each time you spent with a friend or loved one!) God can put anything to good use, even distractions and preoccupations.

In the end, heed the encouragement of St. Francis de Sales and others after him: If all you do is return to God’s presence after distraction, then this is very good prayer. Your persistence shows how much you want to be with God.

Excerpt from The Ignatian Adventure by Kevin O’Brien, SJ. ©loyolapress


Finding God In The Laundry Room

Find God in all things. Saint Ignatius of Loyola discovered that God is present in every time and place. God has been with us in the past, is present in what we think are mundane realities of everyday life, and will be meeting us as we move moment by moment into the future. As I help my son prepare to leave for college, I wonder, How am I going to find God in all this mess? How can one boy have so many clothes?

“Two more loads and we should be ready to pack up,” I yell over the music video. Tomorrow my son leaves for college, and he is just sitting on the couch. Does he have enough money? Did we teach him enough? I fret as I move the whites into the dryer and pick up another basket of clothes.

“What are you worried about?” he answers. “I’ll pack later.”

Later than what? He must get from the airport to campus, loaded down with an overstuffed bag, and look as if he knows what he’s doing as he hails a cab. He’s got our written directions in his wallet … I think.

He gives me one of those what are you worried about, Mom? looks that he has mastered over the past 18 years.

Letting Go

Two images flash into my mind. One is Siddartha’s father, who wanted to keep his son locked in the past, enclosing the future Buddha in an artificial world where only happiness and comfort exist. The father was trying to prevent fulfillment of the prophecy that his son would experience much pain and become a great spiritual leader. The other image is Mary and Joseph finding their adolescent son in the Temple after three agonizing days of searching, and then listening, dumbfounded, to his explanation: Did you not know that I had to be about my Father’s business? Jesus was ready to find God in whatever future he was called to. As protective parents, that’s precisely what Mary and Joseph feared!

Suddenly I think about all those years of teaching my son’s religious education classes while he went through school. In how many Bible stories and lives of the saints do we as teachers and catechists discuss a hero or heroine who takes leave of a comfortable life and sets out on a journey to find God, finds the mission, and takes up the cross? Do we ever think of the parents of all those faith heroes and how they must have worried over their saints-in-the-making? What if more of those parents had succeeded in persuading their children to stay home, safe, out of the way of any cross with their name on it?

What did Mary think as she watched her son grow, with the echo of Simeon’s prophecy in her mind, with her son anxious to get to the work to which he was called? What was her task? I know—she had to let him go. How much faith and praying did that take? I ponder these things in my heart as I fold my son’s laundry and he gets ready to find God in the next stage of his journey.

“Hey, Mom, I’ve got two bags packed. Do you know where my toothbrush is?”

Whose journey is this anyway? I guess I did find God’s presence in all this mess after all.

by Julianne McCullagh 2020 loyolapress.com


Use The Bible To Conquer Discouragement!

1. The Psalm of the Good-Shepherd (Psalm 23)

Prayerfully and calmly read the most famous Psalm (Psalm 23) in the Bible, once, twice, or as many times as you like, starting with the words: “The Lord is my Shepherd; there is nothing I shall want…” The Lord will shine light in your darkness!

2. “Behold I am with you always, even until the end of the world.” (Mt 28: 20)

These were the last words of the Lord Jesus on earth before He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father. In discouragement, all too often we feel lonely; that nobody is there for me; nobody really cares for me. Not so! The Lord promised to be with us always, even until the end of the world.

3. Do not be afraid! (Mt. 11:28-30)

Time and time again Jesus reminds the Apostles and us not to be afraid, but rather to trust, to place all of our trust in Him. In addition to these four consoling words of Jesus are the five words that Jesus told Saint Faustina to paint on the Divine Mercy image: “Jesus, I trust in you.” May the Lord cast out your fears as you trust totally in His love, Presence, and Friendship.

4. “Come to me, all of you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Prayerfully repeat these words and the burden of your sorrows, the weight of your cross, the darkness of your sadness and desolation will dissipate like a cloud evaporates in the sun-light.

5. “If God is with us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

These ten short words contain the power to alleviate the heaviest of crosses due to the simple reason that we know that the Lord is in control and He can do whatever He wants. However, whatever the Lord does is always for our welfare, for our spiritual progress, and for the salvation of our immortal soul.

6. “For nothing will be impossible for God.” (Luke 1:37)

These short seven words actually were addressed to the Blessed Virgin Mary from the Messenger, the Archangel Gabriel, referring to the Virginal conception of Jesus in Mary’s womb. Immersed in the dense cloud of desolation, we feel as if we are lost and that nothing is possible to save us from this horrible interior state. Quite the contrary! The Word of God reminds us that absolutely nothing is impossible for God. He can move the highest mountains of our discouragement and desolation in a split-second if we trust in Him.

7. “Cast your cares upon the Lord because He cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7)

Once again, just a few words—11 in total—offer us infinite consolation and strength. The Lord commands us to unload, to unpack, to release the burden of discouragement that weighs us down. Give all to the Lord Jesus and He will resolve the most intricate and complicated case scenarios.

8. “I have come to set the captives free.” (Isaiah 61:1/Lk. 4:18)

If seven is one of those numbers of perfection, once again we have a seven-word Biblical passage gleaned from the Shakespeare of the Bible—the Prophet Isaiah. Jesus will quote the same passage in His early preaching! In a state of desolation and discouragement we might feel as if we are bound, as if we are chained, as if we are shackled, and as if we were a real slave of our interior state of darkness. Jesus, the Savior, the Redeemer, the Liberator, came to smash and destroy our interior slavery, and often that is our discouragement. We might even pray: “Lord free me; Lord liberate me; Lord shatter the bonds that enslave me!”

9. “So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and everything else will be given you besides. (Mt 6:31-33)

A good part of our desolation and discouragement stems from a lack of trust in God and useless and needless worry. These comforting, consoling, and challenging words of Jesus can put you back on the right path of trusting in His loving and Divine Providential plan in your life.

10. “Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you.” (Lk. 1:28)

These words of the Hail Mary that come from the Archangel Gabriel can prove to be most powerful in the midst of the dark nights, the dark tunnels, the stormy interior tempests that we all experience. Pray slowly and with trust and confidence the Hail Mary and Mary, who is truly “our life, our sweetness, and our hope” (Hail Holy Queen), will hurry to our rescue and place us in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, our true refuge in all our tribulations, afflictions, and the most profound desolations.

Conclusion

It is our firm hope and prayer that when you are passing through that painful and difficult time of desolation and discouragement, the quiet, peaceful, trusting, and prayerful reading of these Biblical passages will dissipate the dense clouds in your heart, so that you will experience and feel the sunshine and warmth of God’s infinite love and Mary’s tender embrace!

© Copyright 2020 Catholic Exchange. All rights reserved.


The Sin of Adam and Eve

Biblical scholarship has long held that the story of Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis is not history but a theological reflection by the people of Israel on the reality of good and evil. This story speaks a timeless truth known to all humanity: human beings, like the angels, enjoy the gift of freedom, yet we sometimes choose to abuse that freedom by trying to put ourselves at the center of creation and displacing God. This is the essence of original sin.

The Grace I Seek

I pray for the following grace: a healthy sense of shame and confusion before God as I consider the effects of sin in my life, my community, and my world.

Read

Prayerfully read the Story of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3).

What do you learn about the nature of sin and the effects of sin? Notice how subtle evil can be and how alluring the temptation to avoid responsibility. Consider some of your own sinful choices. In your journal, note any emotional responses to your considerations of sin.

For Reflection

Rev. Michael Himes of Boston College has an interesting take on this age-old story. The first chapter of Genesis tells us that human beings were created in the image and likeness of God and that God called our creation very good. The temptation of Adam and Eve is to disbelieve that good news and refuse to accept our innate goodness and the goodness of others. Instead, they think that they must do something else to become like God or become valuable in God’s eyes. Consider all the evil effects that flow from not accepting the inherent goodness and dignity of each person.

Kevin O’Brien, SJ, 2009-2020 Loyola Press


Looking for family fun activities?

Here’s one with benefits that last a lifetime . . .

When you think of family fun activities, you likely think of activities in the truest sense of the word: swimming, biking, sledding, and the like—in other words, doing something that involves activity. While all those things are, in fact, fun family activities, there’s likely one key element missing from them: real conversation—the kind that helps you get to know the most important people in your life and helps them get to know you!

Consider trying a NEW kind of family fun activity—learning about the ones you love. To do it, you only need a few questions to spark fun conversation. That’s right—having conversations with your family can be downright fun. How? Well, grab a bowl of popcorn, gather your family, and try the questions listed here for starters (excerpted from The Meal Box):

  • What has been the most exciting moment or event in your life to this point?
  • If you could change one thing about the way your favorite holiday is celebrated, what would you change?
  • Kids: What aspect of being an adult are you looking forward to the most? Adults: What aspect of being a kid do you miss the most?
  • If you had to describe your personality in terms of a farm animal, which one would it be?
  • When you consider our amazing earth, in what particular aspect of it do you find it easiest to “see” God?
    • by Bret Nicholaus, Tom McGrath @loyolapress.com

6 Ways to Pass on the Catholic Faith to Your Children

How do we pass on the Catholic faith to our kids? This is what we all want, right? Keep them Catholic? To raise little saints? But the really big question is, how do we accomplish that?

Boy, if I had the foolproof way to answer these questions, I’d be the smartest person in the world.  All we can do is our best. After all, God gave all of us free will, and our children will have to choose God for themselves freely. If  you wanted to say that Adam and Eve had “parents”, it would be God. God was the perfect parent to them, providing everything they needed, loving them, and nurturing them flawlessly. Yet, Adam and Eve still messed up, didn’t they? While keeping that in mind, we still want to do the best that we can.

Here are the ways I am working on passing on the Catholic faith to my kids.

¨ Teach them the basics. Your kids need to have an understanding of the basics from a young age. Basics such as understanding (as much as they can) the Trinity, the True Presence in the Eucharist, why we have Saints, what the Mass is all about, and the amazing blessing the Bible is to all Christians! Understanding these basic principles is going to help in the future lessons we teach them so they can have a greater understanding of everything later on.

¨ Saturate the home. Fill your home with prayers, love, Christian virtues, and yes, even statues, pictures, medals, another reminders of our religious heroes. These things can’t just exist at church, they need to be in the home.

¨ Make religion relatable and engaging for children. Meet them at their own level! For me, I have used a lot of crafts, activities, and songs to reach my children with the word of God at their own level. Now that my kids are getting a bit older, we’re having more discussions, starting prayer journals, and reading more books.

¨ Make sure they really get a good Catholic education. This education can’t come from 1 hour of CCD per week! It’s not enough. It has to come from you, the parent.

¨ Weave the faith into your Life. Do not let the faith be like a puzzle piece in your life that could be plucked out and tossed aside. The faith should be so interwoven into your life that if you tried to remove it, you wouldn’t even know where to start, and if you succeeded in removing it, the whole masterpiece would be destroyed.

¨ Lead by example. The whole do-what-I-say-and-not-what-I-do thing? Ya, that’s not gonna cut it.

–catholicicing.com


The Grace I Seek

I pray for the following graces: a deepening awareness of my fundamental vocation to praise, love, and serve God and others; a desire for greater indifference in my life; a willingness to embrace who I am before our loving God.

Read

The First Principle and Foundation
(St. Ignatius of Loyola, as paraphrased by David L. Fleming, S.J.)

The Goal of our life is to live with God forever.
God, who loves us, gave us life.
Our own response of love allows God’s life
to flow into us without limit.

All the things in this world are gifts from God,
Presented to us so that we can know God more easily
and make a return of love more readily.
As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God
Insofar as they help us to develop as loving persons.
But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives,
They displace God
And so hinder our growth toward our goal.

In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance
Before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice
And are not bound by some obligation.
We should not fix our desires on health or sickness,
Wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one.
For everything has the potential of calling forth in us
A deeper response to our life in God.

Our only desire and our one choice should be this:
I want and I choose what better leads
To God’s deepening his life in me.

Ask: How have I been a “good steward” of the gifts God has given me, including created things, my talents, and my abilities? From my own experience, what gets in the way of my praising, loving, and serving God? How do the following influence my choices and actions: titles, honors, possessions, career, opinion of others, lifestyle? Be as concrete as possible.

Reflection

The Meaning of Detachment by Margaret Silf

Ignatius urges us to seek the freedom of detachment or indifference. Neither of these words carries weight in today’s language or culture. Both sound cold and uncaring, which is far from the spirit in which Ignatius used them. A better word might be balance.

In his First Principle and Foundation, Ignatius talks about “making use of those things that help to bring us closer to God and leaving aside those things that don’t.”

At first this notion seemed rather exploitative to me, as if the whole of creation were only there for us to select from it the bits that seem to serve our purpose. It didn’t come to life for me until one day when I was sitting on a bench in a quiet, sunny courtyard, looking at a fuchsia bush. It was late August, and the bees were constantly visiting the fuchsia. They would land very gently on those flowers that were fully open to receive them. They made no attempt to enter a closed flower or to force the petals in any way. When they found an open flower they crept into its depths to extract the nectar. In doing so, of course, they also carried the pollen from flower to flower, bush to bush, thus ensuring further fruitfulness.

As I watched them, I realized that although the bees were choosing the fuchsia flowers and disregarding other plants growing in the courtyard, other insects were seeking their nourishment from different sources. In choosing what was exactly right for them, they were not only receiving their own nourishment but were also playing an essential role in the fruitfulness of their environment. And in choosing one plant rather than another, they were in no way rejecting or denigrating the others. The secret of this harmonious, cooperative life seemed to lie in each creature’s being true to its own essential nature. Each gained what it needed for survival and growth from the source that was right for it, and it did so without harm either to itself or to the flowers. In fact, after each encounter, both insect and flower were left in a richer state than before: the insect had been nourished and the flower had been pollinated.

I found this picture to be a very vivid illustration of what it might mean to “make use of what leads to life” and to leave aside what, for each individual, does not lead to life. It was a truly creative kind of “detachment.” It helped me to understand what God might be calling us to when he asks us to let go of our attachments. The bees, I noticed, made no attempt to “possess” the flowers, nor did the flowers attempt to trap and hold the bees. This was a free interchange, perfectly fulfilling the needs of the bees, the fuchsia, and the wider circle of creation around them.

Copyright © 2009-2020 Loyola Press. All rights reserved.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been, for countless people around the world, a great and unexpected trial.

But for Catholics, this trial is not only economic, social, or medical – it is spiritual. Plunged into a time of darkness and separated from the sacraments and their parish communities, the faithful are feeling isolated, disheartened, and uncertain about what the future holds.

Word on Fire is offering a free eBook, which offers an insightful and encouraging analysis of the coronavirus, shedding light not only on the Church’s present moment or similar crises of the past but also on the immediate future. Click here to download your FREE eBook.


LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS TO THE FAITHFUL FOR THE MONTH OF MAY

In his letter for the month of May, Pope Francis encourages us to rediscover the beauty and peace of praying the Rosary. In this time of uncertainty, we ask the Blessed Mother for her protection by reciting the two beautiful prayers Pope Francis has offered at the end of the Rosary.

Click here to read his letter and print the prayers.


Reflection on The Blessed Mother

“Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.”  Matthew 12:48-50

This passage offers a wonderful opportunity to speak about the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Some who read this passage fall into the trap of thinking that Jesus was in some way distancing Himself from His mother.  It’s as if they conclude that His statement ignores her special role in His life.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is that His statement affirms her motherhood more than anything.  Why?  Because He is speaking about how one becomes a true member of His family.  And that happens when one “does the will of my heavenly Father.” 

Think about that line.  Who better fulfilled the will of the Heavenly Father?  Who was more obedient in all things than the Blessed Virgin?  No one was.  She acted in perfect obedience throughout her life and, therefore, she perfectly fulfills the requirement of being Jesus’ family.

One thing we should take from this passage is that our Blessed Mother’s relationship with Jesus was lived on two levels.  First, there was the physical motherhood she was blessed with.  This was an incredible grace and one for which she deserves great honor.  But her physical motherhood was not the primary reason for her blessedness.  The primary reason was a result of her spiritual motherhood.  And this spiritual motherhood is seen in this passage above.  It is the result of her perfect “Yes” to God in all things.  This is the primary reason she is to be honored and called “blessed” for all ages.

Reflect, today, upon the role that our Blessed Mother holds in your life.  God wants you to honor her, to imitate her and to make her part of your family.  He wants you to receive her as your spiritual mother insofar as you are a member of Jesus’ family.  If you strive for obedience to the will of the Father in your life, you will also share in the blessings of His life.  One of those great blessings is to share His mother.

Lord, I do desire to be obedient to You and Your will in all things.  I desire to embrace the Father’s perfect plan for my life.  In that will, help me to share in Your divine life and become a full member of Your family.  In that family, help me to take Your mother as my own.  Dear Mother, pray for me.  Jesus, I trust in You.


Post-Resurrection Appearances

Three of the four Gospels give us accounts of more than half a dozen appearances of Jesus after his resurrection. Mark’s Gospel ends with the women fleeing the empty tomb and telling no one because they were afraid. Two separate endings were added to Mark’s Gospel later, however, that do contain appearances of Jesus. All the

Gospels but Luke tell about Jesus appearing to the women on Easter morning. Luke, on the other hand, tells about Jesus’ appearance with two disciples on the road to Emmaus. John describes two appearances, one to the disciples when Thomas was absent, and another when Thomas was present. Mark tells about Jesus appearing to the Eleven as they sat at table, and John describes the appearance of Jesus to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. Jesus’ final appearance includes the commissioning of the disciples in Matthew and the ascension in Mark and Luke. The cumulative effect of these accounts is the presentation of a truly resurrected and glorified Jesus and a community of disciples struggling to come to grips with the new reality of a Jesus who “has been raised” but “is not here.”

Explore John 20:19-31: Thomas believes because he sees Jesus. 

Explore Luke 24:13-35: Jesus appears to two disciples who are walking to Emmaus. 

Explore Luke 24:35-48: Jesus appears again to his disciples and shares a meal with them. 

Explore Matthew 28:16-20: Jesus charges his disciples to make disciples of all nations and promises to be with them forever


Divine Mercy Reflection

Each night, as you go to sleep, you are invited to sleep in the grace and Mercy of our Lord.  You are invited to rest in His arms so as to be rejuvenated and refreshed.  Sleep is an image of prayer and, in fact, can become a form of prayer.  To rest is to rest in God.  Every beat of your heart must become a prayer to God and every beat of His Heart must become the rhythm of your rest (See Diary #486).

Do you sleep in the presence of God?  Think about it.  When you retire to bed, do you pray?  Do you ask our Lord to surround you with His grace and to embrace you with His gentle arms?  God has spoken to the saints of old through their dreams.  He has put holy men and women into a deep rest so as to restore them and strengthen them.  Try to invite our Lord into your mind and heart as you lay your head down to sleep, this night.  And as you wake, let Him be the first one whom you greet.  Allow each night’s rest to be a resting in His Divine Mercy.

Lord, I thank You for the rhythm of each day.  I thank You for the ways You walk with me throughout my day and I thank You for being with me while I rest.  I offer to You, this night, my rest and my dreams.  I invite You to hold me close to You, that Your Heart of Mercy may be the gentle sound which soothes my weary soul.  Jesus, I trust in You.


Reflections on the Seven Penitential Psalms: Psalm 32

By Graziano Marcheschi, M.A. D.Min

Psalm 32 —Remission of Sin

Sin is inevitable. Because we fall short of the glory of God, because sin abounds in the world—though grace abounds the more!—it is inevitable that we humans fall into sin. But faith tells us sin is not the final word, and the author of this psalm knows that truth well.

The Psalms have endured for millennia because they are so personal and real; sometimes, so real they’re raw. They name our experience because they come out of lived experience. The author grasps the deep truth of the old maxim, “Confession is good for the soul.” He understands the value of confession because he first tried to resist it. He hid his faults, sealed his heart and lips and would not speak his sins, but the result was agony and groaning all the day. Because he “kept silent,” his “bones wasted away.” Would that we, too, could feel the weight of our sins upon us. Would that they would drive us to our knees so we, too, could experience the grace and the unburdening, the freedom and the joy the psalmist finds at last.


Finally, he says, finally “I declared my sin to you;/ my guilt I did not hide.” And rather than shame or wagging fingers, the psalmist finds relief. Read again the opening line: “Blessed is the one whose fault is removed,/ whose sin is forgiven.” Notice that blessing is given not to the blameless or the sinless (they don’t exist!), but to the sinner who, through confession, has had his sin removed. What’s more, in the Bible, the removal of sin removes theeffectsof sin on us. That’s why the psalmist’s frustration, fading enthusiasm, and loss of joy vanish the moment he experiences God’s mercy.

Therefore every loyal person should pray to God, he says, because God longs to shelter us and surrounds us with shouts of joy. But sin remains inevitable. And because we are so often dumb as oxen and stubborn as mules, God admonishes us to be docile and humble, putting our trust in him so he can shower his mercy on us.

Questions for Reflection:

Fewer Catholics today avail themselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Why do you think that is? If the psalmist’s experience is typical, the floodgates of grace open once we admit and repent our sins. What would help you be more open to the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

Do you think talk of sin is helpful or is it better to speak instead of God’s love and mercy? Does one make sense without the other?

Do you approach God with confidence or temerity?


Psalm 6 —Prayer in Distress

The Psalms stand against the human impulse to merit God’s love and mercy through goodness or obedience. A part of us clings to the naïve notion that God’s love for us is tied to our behavior: good behavior earns God’s love and acceptance; bad behavior means divine rejection. That’s a diabolical lie and the psalmist knows it. Instead, eyes wide open and looking in the mirror, the psalmist readily admits his sin and begs God’s mercy anyway. Sin darkens human vision and alienates the soul from God, self, and others. Sin’s greatest danger is its ability to make us doubt God’s love and willingness to forgive. The psalmist’s saving grace is his refusal to let sin drive that wedge between him and the Lord; in fact, it’s his painful awareness of his sin that draws the psalmist nearer. We often think we can approach God only when we’re “good” and have our lives in order. But it’s sin God rejects, not the sinner. The psalmist knows if we waited for a “worthy” time, we’d never pray.  So we don’t defer prayer; we don’t wait till God “is in a better mood.” At work, we might rely on a spike in sales to incline the boss to mercy, but our God has never been that kind of God. Scripture tells us to pray whenever there is the need. And need is greatest when we are mired in sin.

In his mercy, God does not spare us the consequences of sin. To spur our prayer, to draw us closer when we might otherwise sulk or hide, God lets sin impact our lives.  Sin’s consequence is not God’s punishment, but the natural result of our decisions that, in his love, God uses for our good (if we let him). The psalmist is well aware that his own sin has brought both physical distress and the attack of enemies into his life. Yet he prays unashamedly. As a child who has disregarded a parent’s injunction to not venture far from home comes running back when the playground bully threatens, the psalmist knows where home is. He knows where to find the strong arms and loving embrace of a God who eventually would send his own Son to save us—not when we were finally worthy, but while we were still steeped in sin. 

Questions for Reflection:

St. Paul says that God “proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). So why do we keep thinking that God will love us only when we stop sinning?

On the other hand, does knowledge of God’s unconditional love mean we needn’t worry about sinning? Is the destructiveness of sin related to the effects it has on God or to the effects it has on us?

Besides petitionary prayer, there are prayers of praise, thanksgiving, adoration, etc. Does a prayer of petition, asking for mercy and the forgiveness of sin, seem to you like a lower, less enlightened form of prayer?  How can you combine petition and praise?

©2020 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Reflection

One of the dangers many encounter in our modern technological world is that of constant noise.  We are easily bombarded with chatter all day long.  It could be through the radio, TV, Internet, or the ceaseless conversation of another.  Rarely do we find times of great silence.  As a result, when silence is offered us, we often look to fill that silence immediately.  But is this wise?  Is it good to occupy our minds day and night with noise?  Though every person will be different, especially depending upon their vocation, every person does need times of regular silence and solitude.  Without this it is hard to be recollected and to hear the Voice of God.  God speaks in the silence and He desires to communicate to you through this sacred language.  Do not run from silence for, if you do, you will be running from the Voice of God (See Diary #1476).

Try to take some time today alone in silence.  If you find that it is difficult to do even for five minutes, then this is a sign that there is too much noise in your life.  Entering silence can bring on a form of “withdrawal” from noise.  We tend to be comfortable with it as we are entertained all day long.  But try to take time in silence today.  Resolve to do so as long as you can.  Turn off the radio in the car, go for a walk, or sit and pray without thinking or speaking, just being quiet in the presence of God.  The gift of silent communication with God is a gift that you need and you will learn more from silence than from hours of the noise of the world.

Lord, I desire to seek You in the silence.  I choose to listen to Your quiet promptings of love spoken in this way.  Give me the wisdom and strength I need to dedicate myself to moments of quiet every day.  May these moments bring clarity to my soul and understanding to my life.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Spiritual Tips & Ideas

1. Family rosary at home for Coronavirus victims

2. Praying the divine mercy chaplet for an end to the pandemic

3. Read the daily readings Magnificat

4. Live-stream the Mass (many places are offering this)

5. Pray the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours)

6. Use social media to share your how your family or community is praying

7. Host a video live-stream for members of your friends to pray the rosary

8. Take time on Fridays to pray the stations of the cross on your own, connecting your struggles with isolation with Jesus’ solitude in carrying his cross to Calvary Download the Stations Of The Cross booklet

9. Watch a movie about the life of Christ and spend time reflecting on this image of Jesus and what it can teach you about your faith and your life

Mary, Undoer Of Knots Novena

DOWNLOAD THE NOVENA (printable .pdf)

The COVID-19 pandemic is truly global, and while you may not have symptoms…you’re feeling its effects. Are you missing the sacraments? Do you yearn for community? Are you uncertain about your job or a family member’s?

Social distancing, widespread quarantines, and the scramble to get food and essentials have severely impacted our lives. And now, many churches and dioceses have canceled public Masses. The problems we’re facing—physically and spiritually—seem insurmountable.

It is in times like these that Our Lady wants you to hand over the “knots” of your life so that she can untangle them with her own capable hands. Unemployment, anxiety, spiritual hunger…there’s no knot she can’t unravel.

Gretchen Filz, O.P. ©2017–2020 The Catholic Company

Magnificat

Will be making this month’s issue available for free to help people pray from home. To view online, click here.

Give Us This Day

Liturgical Press is making its resources free online, which includes Liturgy of the Hours, Mass readings/prayers, etc. To access, click here.

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