Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Reflections on The Lord's Prayer

The  Lord's Prayer
                This is the prayer Jesus taught His disciples.  Sometimes we say it rapidly, from memory, but it can be a beautiful, personal prayer if we spend the time thinking about the words.  St. Augustine wrote to Proba with explanations and meditation ideas we too can use.  You may want to cut out this letter.
                Our Father who art in heaven: We need to use words so that we may remind ourselves to consider carefully what e are asking, not so that we may think we can instruct the Lord or prevail on him.
                Thus, when we say: Hallowed be your name, we are reminding ourselves to desire that his name, which in fact is always holy, should also be considered holy among men, that it should not be held in contempt.  But this is a help for men, not for God.
                And as for our saying, Your kingdom come, it will surely come whether we will it or not.  But we are stirring up our desires for the kingdom so that it can come to us and we can deserve to reign there.
                When we say: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we are asking him to make us obedient so that his will may be done in us as it is done in heaven by his angels.
                When we say: Give us this day our daily bread,  in saying this day we mean "in this world."  Here we ask for a sufficiency by specifying the most important part of it; that is, we use the word "bread" to stand for everything.  Or else we are asking for the sacrament of the faithful, which is necessary in this world, not to gain temporal happiness but to gain the happiness that is everlasting.
                When we say: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, we are reminding ourselves of what we must ask and what we must do in order to be worthy in turn to receive.
                When we say: Lead us not into temptation, we are reminding ourselves to ask that his help may not depart from us; otherwise we could be seduced and consent to some temptation, or despair and yield to it.
                When we say: Deliver us from evil, we are reminding ourselves to reflect on the fact that we do not yet enjoy the state of blessedness in which we shall suffer no evil.  This is the final petition, in which the Christian can utter his cries of sorrow, and through it he can begin, continue, and conclude his prayer.  Whatever be the other words we may prefer to say, we say nothing that is not contained in the Lord's Prayer. 
                May the Lord hear your prayers.  May He give to all of you a heart to worship Him and to do his will. kvs

Let My Prayer Come Before YOu

Let My Prayer Come Before You
                Let us always desire the happy life from the Lord God and always pray for it.  We turn our mind to the task of prayer at appointed hours, since that desire grows lukewarm, from our involvement in other concerns and occupations.  We remind ourselves through the words of prayer to focus our attention on the object of our desire; otherwise, the desire that began to grow lukewarm, may grow chill all together, and may be totally extinguished unless it is repeatedly stirred into flame.
                Therefore, when the Apostle says: Let your petitions become known before God, this should not be taken in the sense that they are in fact becoming known to God who certainly knew them even before they were made, but that they are becoming known to us before God through submission and not before men through boasting.
                Since this is the case, it is not wrong or useless to pray even for a long time when there is the opportunity.  To spend much time in prayer is to knock with a persistent and holy fervor at the door of the one who we beseech.  For it is even written in reference to the Lord himself that he spent the night in prayer and that he prayed at great length.  Was he not giving us an example by this?  In time, he prays when it is appropriate; and in eternity, he hears our prayers with the Father.   (Saint Augustine, bishop)
                Consider, one of the many reasons those in Monasteries practice The Liturgy of the Hours, is to remind themselves to pray always.  When the bell rings for prayer, the monastic stops his/her work immediately and heads to the chapel for prayer.  Consider the Muslim.  The cleric sings the call to prayer, and all stop, and bow to God and complete their prayers.  When I was in the library on campus, a young woman came and said, "Is it okay?"  I didn't know what she meant, but said yes.  She lay down her pray carpet, knelt, bowed and said her prayers.  Who among us would do likewise?  The least we can do is say our morning and bedtime prayers.  When we drive we can ask for blessings on the neighborhoods we pass, or say a requiescat in pace when we pass a cemetery.   Praying at all times for the sick, or those who have lost a loved one, or for the soul of a loved one or friend, this is something we can all do, whether in a monastery, a library, in the car, or at home.   kvs

Grace Comes After Tribulation

Grace Comes After Tribulation
                Our Lord and Savior lifted up his voice and said with incomparable majesty:  "Let all men know that grace comes after tribulation.  Let them know that without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace.  Let them know that the gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase.  Let them take care not to stray and be deceived.  This is the only true stairway to paradise, and without the cross they can find no road to climb to heaven."
            When I heard these words, a strong force came upon me and seemed to place me in the middle of a street, so that I might say in a loud voice to people of every age, sex and status:  "Hear, O people; hear, O nations.  I am warning you about the commandment of Christ by using words that come from his own lips: We cannot obtain grace unless we suffer afflictions.  We must heap trouble upon trouble to attain a deep participation in the divine nature, the glory of the sons of God and perfect happiness of soul."
            That same force strongly urged me to proclaim the beauty of divine grace.  It pressed me so that my breath came slow and forced me to sweat and pant: I felt as if my soul could no longer be kept in the prison of the body, but that it had burst its chains and was free and alone and was going very swiftly through the whole world saying:
            "If only mortals would learn how great it is to posses divine grace, how beautiful, how noble, how precious.  How many riches it hides within itself, how many joys and delights!  Without doubt they would devote all their care and concern to winning for themselves pains and afflictions.  All men throughout the world would seek trouble, infirmities and torments, instead of good fortune, in order to attain the unfathomable treasure of grace.  This is the reward and the final gain of patience.  No one would complain about his cross or about troubles that may happen to him, if he would come to know the scales on which they are weighed when they are distributed to men."  St. Rose of Lima, virgin
            We do not look for troubles or tribulations in this life.  We attempt to protect ourselves and our children from as many troubles as we are able.  For St. Rose they are not something to avoid, but to seek because of the graces received.  Have you ever heard the line, "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger."?  We become who we are by what we have survived. What we have lived through brings us each a step nearer to God, nearer to sharing the suffering Jesus endured for our salvation.  May we ever Praise His Name, and understand what St. Rose teaches us.  Her feast day is celebrated yearly on August 23rd.   kvs

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

#1 Stewardship

Stewardship 101*
#1  Stewardship

Who made me? 
God made me. 
Why did God make me? 
God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him in heaven. 
      Anytime is a marvelous time to consider Stewardship; another name for stewardship is responsibility. If we are made stewards of something, then we are responsible for that something. So who has made us stewards? God, of course, and he even tells us how easily the job can be done.
      First we have to learn to know Him. If we know Him then we will love Him. If we love Him, then we will serve Him in this world. Our reward is to be happy with Him in heaven. Of course we are free not to accept the job, especially if the idea of responsibility is unappealing.
      If we think of Lent as one long journey along the Via Delarosa filled with fasting and abstinence and self-denial, a time to confess our sins, and the only thing at the end the pain is crucifixion, then the idea of responsibility, of carrying our cross to follow Him, might not be attractive. But if we only think of that painful journey, and not of all that led up to the cross, then we miss the true beauty of Lent. 
     The beauty is in the wandering path that led to the choice to accept pain: the wonder of Baptism, and Transfiguration, of multiplication of loaves and fish; the beauty in the miracles: the blind were able to see, the deaf were able to hear the Good News, and the lame were able to walk. Along the way their sins were forgiven, and the dead were given life. Even the Sermons were filled with blessings-not “thou shalt not,” but “Blessed are those who…” Jesus said “My burden is light,” and it is. 
     We only have to get to know Him, so we and love Him and serve Him. In the next few weeks we will examine our call to stewardship, our call to responsibility. The rewards are great, the journey exciting, and filled with marvelous miracles!  

* Paper Copy of all Stewardship 101 entries available for $5.  Includes shipping and handling.  e-mail Kathy

2. Where to Begin

Stewardship 101*
  Where to Begin?

 Let’s assume we have chosen Stewardship.   We will be responsible for knowing, loving and serving God.  So where do we begin?  First, with regular attendance at Mass and partaking of the Eucharist.  With Christ within us we can attempt anything.
     We learned the rudiments of the Catechism as we prepared for First Communion and Confirmation.  As we attended Mass we heard parts of the Bible, something from the Old Testament, something from a Psalm, something from the Apostles, and something from the Life of Christ.  Over a three year period, we probably have heard most of the Bible, and heard each Sunday’s lesson, or teaching.
      If that is all we do, then we will only have a glimpse of the whole.  We can’t really know God if we don’t know who He is, so how do we learn?  He has given us a book that chronicles His relationship with humans, Men and Women, and through their failures and successes we can learn of the forgiveness and great love He has for us. 
     One way is to choose a Gospel to read, and since this is the year of Matthew, Matthew would be a great choice.  But, we don’t want to sit down and read Matthew all at once, rather we could read a chapter or part of a chapter at any one sitting.  And, just to read Matthew is probably not enough, remember we are reading with a purpose- to know God, so we can love and serve Him.
     We could keep a small notebook or spiral or even some stapled sheets of paper with our Bible, and write down what Jesus says and does in each selection as we read it.  Then, we could review what we’ve discovered each day and think about what that means about who God is.  We could also take our notebook to Mass on Sunday, and jot down one idea that comes to us.  
     This isn’t the time for full note taking or even thinking about what we’ve read, our focus should be on the Mass itself, but it would be a shame to forget our “aha moment”.  After Mass we can read over our insight and think about what this tells us about God.  Now, we are learning about God all over again or maybe for the time in our adult life.  We are really being Stewards.  How marvelous!

* Paper Copy of all Stewardship 101 entries available for $5.  Includes shipping and handling.  e-mail Kathy