Friday, October 31, 2014

Papal Intentions for November 2014

Prayer for the Pope

V. Let us pray for Francis, our Pope.
R. May the Lord preserve him, give him life, 
and make him blessed upon the earth, 
and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.
Our Father... Hail Mary...
O God, Shepherd and Ruler of all Thy faithful people, look mercifully upon Thy servant Francis, whom Thou hast chosen as shepherd to preside over Thy Church. Grant him, we beseech Thee, that by his word and example, he may edify those over whom he hath charge, so that together with the flock committed to him, may he attain everlasting life. 
Through Christ our Lord. 

Papal Intentions for November 2014

Universal Intention: That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of god and the support of others.
Mission Intention: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

HWP: Souls in Purgatory

This Saturday is the Solemnity of All Saints, the first day of November, in which we pray for the souls in purgatory to be welcomed to the glory of their promised inheritance. Stay tuned for the post on Plenary Indulgences that can be gained on their behalf! But for now, we offer this simple...

Prayer for the Souls in Purgatory
O Lord, who art ever merciful and bounteous with Thy gifts, look down upon the suffering souls in purgatory. Remember not their offenses and negligences, but be mindful of Thy loving mercy, which is from all eternity. Cleanse them of their sins and fulfill their ardent desires that they may be made worthy to behold Thee face to face in Thy glory. May they soon be united with Thee and hear those blessed words which will call them to their heavenly home: "Come, blessed of My Father, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."

Monday, October 27, 2014

How and Why

Readings for Sunday, October 26 / 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time:
Exodus 22:20-26
Psalm 18:2-4, 47, 51
1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
Matthew 22:34-40

The questions continue. Last week we saw the transition from Jesus questioning others to them questioning Him, beginning with the malicious inquiry into whether one ought to pay the Roman tax or not. The question was brought up such that no matter the answer the Lord could face the penalty of death. The question this week, while probably not entirely pure in motive, was a bit more benign. To ask the question of which commandment was the greatest wasn’t so much a move to have the Lord killed as much as it was a sort of litmus test. The question of the greatest commandment was a commonly discussed topic in the days of the Lord and the response would often give insight into the individual’s theological beliefs and their ranking of what’s most important.

As Christians, we shouldn’t be surprised at the response of Jesus. I didn’t hear anyone gasp in shock as I read the passage just now and none of you has stood up and shouted that I’m a fool for believing it. It’s the basic premise of much of our daily interaction: love God, love neighbor. We know. Maybe too well. We’ve become used to it, comfortable with it. But the idea is a challenging one because it’s not something that can simply be marked off as complete. Many laws are such that they could lead us to a sort of ‘checklist Catholicism’. “Have you killed anyone?” “No.” Did you steal?” “No.” Those are clear ideas, black and white. But “Have you loved God?” and “Have you loved neighbor?” are never quite so clear because our love is often changes over time, depending on life’s circumstances, and a whole host of reasons that you and I know from lived experience. Ultimately, love isn’t just a yes-no type of question. To discern how we live out the commandment of love we have to look also at two other aspects: how we love and why we love.

When I was younger (at the Saturday Vigil Mass I said ‘young’ and the congregation chuckled, as I’m still very young compared to many of the them) I was a pretty messy child. My room generally looked like a pig lived there and it had recently been hit by a tornado and a hurricane one after the other. And inevitably there would come a time where my mom asked me to clean my room and I (not so politely) let her know that I didn’t want to. After the usual back and forth of me trying to wiggle out of this chore, I submitted and went to work on my room. How did I do it? By shoving everything in the closet, in my dresser, under my dresser, behind the tv cabinet, under the bed, and anywhere else I could hide stuff to make things look nice. All the while I was muttering under my breathe “I don’t wanna clean this stupid room. Stupid mom. I was gonna go have fun but not now…” and so on. Any merit that I might have gained from listening to my mom was immediately lost (and almost always wound up in the negative) because I did things not out of love but because I wanted to get what I wanted and the way to get it was to do what mom wanted, and I did it only begrudgingly at that. And it’s easy to do the same in the course of our daily life with others.

A thousand times a day we are faced with opportunities to love God and others. Sometimes we do really well. Sometimes we fail miserably. But the key is not simply doing or not doing things, but is the how and why behind them. I can come to Mass every week, but if I come simply to fulfill an obligation and don’t actually put forth an effort to worship, it’s not really an act of love that gains us much merit. I can do chores at home, tasks at work, homework for school, or any number of things, but if I do them without the right how and why - if I pursue them only to satisfy my desires - then I don’t really fulfill the call to love as much as I could otherwise. But with time and effort we can come to a way of living that helps us to see things much more like the way Jesus sees things. If we think rightly, then every action can become an action of love that can inspire us to do it more perfectly.

I may have mentioned it already, but it comes to mind again the trip I made to Madonna House in Ontario, Canada. Stacking wood for several hours. A menial task if I’ve ever done one! And yet the guy I was working with called to mind how each log would be used by someone to heat their home, to cook food, and provide for various other needs through the winter. With a little perspective things changed and each log stacked was a little act of charity. And the same can be with us. Each chore at home, each task at work, each kind deed not known by another soul. Everything, when we have our hearts in the right place, can become an act of love toward God or our neighbor.

This week I want to conclude a little differently, rather than just something to think about, I want to give you all a little homework. I want each of you to take a few minutes each night this week and reflect back upon your day. Find just three ways that you tried to show love to God or neighbor and, reflecting upon those three things, ask yourself ‘How did I love?’ and ‘Why did I love?’ When we ask these questions of ourselves they can help us to see where we might need to grow in charity toward others and sometimes it affirms us in the good we’re already doing. It’s simple – How did I love? Why did I love? – but when we approach the world through that lens, the lens of Jesus, the whole changes and our hearts change. How and Why.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

HWP: St. John Paul II

Happy feast of Pope SAINT John Paul II! Today we celebrate the official feast of this man of God who had such a profound impact upon the Church and the world, and whose effects are still manifesting themselves as time unfolds. I keep in my office a little prayer card of Fr. McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus, that says 'One good priest can make a difference.' Pope St. John Paul shows us the truth of that statement. As a suggestion, maybe pick up something he wrote and start reading it - during his pontificate he wrote on just about anything you might find fascinating. So, I'll quit my gushing of this saint of God and get to this week's Half-Way Prayer: 

A Prayer to St. John Paul II
O, St. John Paul, from the window of heaven, grant us your blessing! Bless the church that you loved and served and guided, courageously leading it along the paths of the world in order to bring Jesus to everyone and everyone to Jesus. Bless the young, who were your great passion. Help them dream again, help them look up high again to find the light that illuminates the paths of life here on earth. 
May you bless families, bless each family! You warned of Satan’s assault against this precious and indispensable divine spark that God lit on earth. St. John Paul, with your prayer, may you protect the family and every life that blossoms from the family. 
Pray for the whole world, which is still marked by tensions, wars and injustice. You tackled war by invoking dialogue and planting the seeds of love: pray for us so that we may be tireless sowers of peace. 
O St. John Paul, from heaven’s window, where we see you next to Mary, send God’s blessing down upon us all. Amen.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Faith's Mid-Term Exam

Readings for Sunday, October 19/ 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time:
Isaiah 45:1, 4-6
Psalm 96:1, 3-5, 7-10
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5
Matthew 22:15-21

God acts in strange ways sometimes. One day I was at the seminary in the chapel and felt convicted that I needed to simplify my life a bit, so I prayed for the grace to spend less time on the computer, internet, and my phone. I concluded my prayer, went upstairs, sat down in my chair and swung around to work at my desk. In this swing I hit my knee on the desk, causing my solid glass picture frame to come crashing down directly on the screen of my laptop. Prayer answered! Not how I had expected and much more expensively than anticipated, but prayer answered.

For the past couple of weeks there has been a Synod of Bishops (a gathering of Cardinals, Bishops, lay men and women, and various professionals from across the globe) in Rome to discuss “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” That’s a mouthful of a title, but the basic idea seems great – how can the Church help families today to thrive in life and in faith. And so they had hours and hours of discussions on a whole host of topics, but interestingly enough, when the secular media read the document that was released half-way through the Synod as a summary of their discussions something entirely different came up – ‘The Church is Okay with Gays!’, ‘Ground-breaking changes in the Church!’ and ‘Church finally coming out of dark ages!’ And my first thoughts were basically (pardon my language) ‘What the hell does any of that have to do with the family!?’ Nothing! And with those announcements came a great uproar from all sides. Some greatly in favor of such changes and other in shock because they Church cannot make such changes. But in the midst of all of this, we have to realize one thing: this is a test. Do we trust God to work through all of this? It’s a test.

We don’t often think about God testing us these days. It’s not part of our concept of God and yet it is very much God’s concept of Himself. It happens all throughout the Scriptures, over and over again; testing the love of the people for God. We see one instance in our first reading from Isaiah about ‘the anointed, Cyrus.’ Such a description would have caused a great scandal among the Israelites because the anointed was the Messiah, the savior of God’s people, but Cyrus wasn’t even a Jew. He wasn’t even a believer! “It is I who arm you, though you know me not,” the Lord says of him. Talk about a test – the savior of the people chosen by God wouldn’t even believe in that God himself? Wow.

And it’s not just the Lord who puts us to the test, right? Sometimes we put God to the test, though we aren’t necessary supposed to do so. But that’s what happens in the Gospel this week. For the past few weeks, Jesus has been on the offensive, asking questions and speaking parables. But this week they come after Him with questions, beginning with that of the tax to Caesar. It was a good question because either way He answered it meant rebellion; to pay the tax was to rebel against the Jewish culture and apparently acknowledge an earthly ‘god’ in Casear, to not pay the tax was to rebel against Caesar and surely merit death. And to this quandary Jesus poses the question about whose image is there. In the coin, we see the image of Caesar and are challenged to give to Caesar what is his, but the next step is the catch – but we must give to God what belongs to God. The coin was in Caesar’s image, but what is made in God’s image? Us – you and me. And that’s the problem.

It’s hard to ‘give to God what is God’s’ because means that we must give God our entire self. Our mind, our heart, our will, our desires, our hopes, our dreams. It goes against one of our deepest desires, which is to have control. To have control means we can have some comfort in knowing what to expect of the future, we can put our trust in our own work and not have to interact with anyone higher (or so we think). So the real question here is do we trust God that much? Each night for the Church’s official Night Prayer there is a response that echoes the Psalms and the Lord Jesus on the Cross which says, “Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.” I had prayed those words well over a thousand times but then one night I prayed them and looked at the crucifix and realized what was in the hands of the Lord: nails. “Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.” Into your hands I place my life, my will, ever wish I have for the future, there to be nailed with your hands to the Cross and there to die, trusting that the resurrection reality you have in store for me is that much greater.

With the Synod there were three main responses and to each of them the invitation is to trust. For those who are afraid that the Church is making all sorts of seismic shifts and changes, it is an opportunity to trust that the Lord who gave the Church the Holy Spirit to lead us in all truth and promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail against her will be faithful to us and protect us from the influence of the evil one. For those who are excited about the prospect of radical change in the Church, it is an opportunity to trust that the Lord who gave us the law of Love 2000 years ago has not abandoned us and that the Law that sometimes feels harsh, or exclusive is meant not to weigh us down but to lift us up into heaven. And for those who have no concern one way or the other, this time is a chance to trust that all of these things being discussed and the decisions to be made have a great importance in the life of the Church and the world.

God works in strange ways sometimes, but in those strangest of times we need only remember that it is likely a test to measure the extent of our love for the Lord. It is a test to see just how much we are willing to place our will into the crucified hands of Jesus. It is a test to see how firm we our in awareness of the Spirit’s action all around us. As we come to receive Holy Communion today it is an opportunity to unite ourselves to God not only in the flesh, but also to let our will become more conformed to His. Do we love God that much? 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

HWP: St. Teresa

Today is the feast of St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church and foundress of the Discalced Carmelites. Noted for her great spiritual insights, gleaned from years of poor prayer followed by fervent prayer, she was one in whom I found much consolation in my early years of seminary. So, this week we honor her with:

A Prayer of St. Teresa
Let nothing trouble you,
Let nothing scare you, 
All is fleeting, 
God alone is unchanging. 
Everything obtains.
Who possesses God
Nothing wants. 
God alone suffices. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Feast on the Mountaintop

Mass Readings for Sunday, October 12/28th Sunday in Ordinary Time:
Isaiah 25:6-10
Psalm 23:1-6
Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
Matthew 22:1-14

Heaven. We all want to go there. Most of us probably don’t want to go just yet, though I think we ought to be prepared, what with Mississippi State being #1 in the country and the end of the world likely soon to follow! But seriously, we all want to know what Heaven is like. Most often we take those things about which we are most passionate and put them on a grand scale. If we like cotton candy, Heaven is a whole world of cotton candy where we can eat it all day and never get a stomachache. If we like cars, Heaven is a car show where we can drive anything before our eyes.  If we like clothes, Heaven is a closet bigger than any mall we’ve ever stepped foot in.  But the reality is so so much more that we cannot even conceive of it, and yet the Lord in His mercy gives us some clues to help us at least think about it.

From Isaiah the prophet we hear that intriguing description: “On this mountain the Lord of Hosts will provide for all people a feast of rich food and choice wines; juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. On this mountain He will destroy the veil that veils all people.” Heaven is like a great banquet. We shouldn’t be surprised by this, after all, since the Lord is often found sitting at table or sharing meals with others and a banquet is that place where joy is found in abundance, the senses are overwhelmed by food, drink, music, and dancing, and the person is able to know and be known by others. The thing, though, is that the feast of heaven isn’t just a normal feast – it’s a wedding feast.

The image of a wedding feast resonates greatly with me right now, as I celebrated weddings Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Those occasions were beautiful and filled with a palpable joy. The build-up and preparations that go into a wedding bring great excitement to the heart of those who take part and when the day finally arrives, you can almost grab handfuls of joy right out of the air. The radiant couple makes their vows to one another and exit the Church to applause, cheers, and great fanfare, proceeding to the party where time seems unimportant. Most people aren’t looking at their watch all through the reception afterward. Rather, they’re enjoying the good food, watching the ceremonial first dances, listening to the music, and visiting with family and friends. It’s a situation in which hours can easily pass without thinking about it because of the richness of the celebration. It’s fitting that such an image would be used to help us contemplate Heaven. But in order to really grasp the meaning of this imagery we have to ask ourselves three very important questions: Who is the Bridegroom? Who is the Bride? Where is the feast?

First, who is the Bridegroom? Well, of course, it’s God. All throughout the Scriptures we hear the Lord God described analogously as a spouse to the people of Israel. The prophets are loaded with these references, but another place we can look for great insight is the book of Song of Songs. This Old Testament book might seem a bit racy to some, but it is a poetic text that richly describes the love between a man and woman, symbolically between God and humanity. The New Testament picks up on this strong marital imagery in the person of Jesus, who we hear described by St. John the Baptist as the bridegroom and by St. Paul as spouse of the Church. The passionate love of the God, the Divine Bridegroom, is made manifest most clearly in the self-emptying love of the Crucifixion, where Christ died that to make His bride perfect, free from the bondage of sin.

We’ve answered the second question already – the Bride is the Church, it’s us! Though sinful individuals, the Catholic Church as a whole is that spotless, perfect bride that Christ Jesus came to join to Himself for all eternity. Interestingly, in Jesus’ day, it was part of the ceremony to have the bride undergo a washing with water before the wedding celebration (it’s always good to take a bath before your wedding, right?) and we see this lived out still. St. John the Baptist symbolically washes the Bride of the Lord Jesus in his baptisms of repentance and even today we become members of the Church only through the washing of water in Baptism. How great is the joy of the Heart of Jesus to see us spotless before Him waiting for us to say yes to His invitation to go to the marriage feast. So that leaves us at the final question: what is the feast?

Believe it or not, ladies and gentleman, you’re already there. The feast is happening right here in the celebration of the Mass. A couple of weeks back I spent time with the 1st, 2nd & 3rd grade students for CCD and went over the one thing I know best: the Mass. I brought them all over here and as we all walked up the front steps one boy looked up and said, “Wow! It’s like climbing a mountain!” The other students laughed a little and the adults just smiled at how imaginative he was, but I stopped him and said, “You are absolutely right and it was built to make us think that.” Have you ever noticed that most churches have step to get up into them? And that sanctuaries and altars are also elevated? It’s not just to be able to see better. “On this mountain the Lord of Hosts will provide for all people a feast of rich food and choice wines.” On this mountain, right here (pointing to the altar), the Lord of Hosts feeds us with food the likes of which we could never have conceived to ask – His own flesh and blood. Here our Beloved comes to us to give us Himself and seeks to have us respond in an exchange of love. Here is where we the bride come to meet our Bridegroom and for a brief moment, the veil that veils all things is lifted.

You’ve likely noticed that when I celebrate Mass, I have placed over the chalice a cloth that matches my vestments. It’s called a chalice veil and I use it to remind myself and each of you of two realities. First, that we are the bride.  The veil is nice and decorative, but the attention to detail that I give to it is not just me being picky in the liturgy. It’s because of the simple fact that nobody wants to see a bride walk down the aisle looking sloppy. I spend those extra moments preparing the chalice veil just right to highlight the attention we need to have for ourselves as we come to meet the Lord. The wedding garment that Christ wants to see on us is that of virtue, holiness; the perfect bride prepared for the perfect Bridegroom. And the second reason I use the veil is because in that moment, we enter into the heavenly banquet, where the veil is lifted. The ultimate veil that veils all things is death, after which we will (hopefully!) be able to see God face to face. But for now, we come and have the veil lifted in a small way to He calls us all to Himself, literally coming forward to meet Him down the aisle. He comes and repeats those blessed words from Revelation 3, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock” as He knocks at the door of our heart and stands there waiting for the answer to one simple question: Will you marry Me?

Reading Suggestions:
Jesus the Bridegroom by Dr. Brant Pitre
This Tremendous Lover by Fr. Eugene Boylan

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

HWP: St. Bruno!

This past Monday was the feast of St. Bruno, founder of the Carthusians. When you hear about monks taking a vow of silence - these are those monks! Learn more about his life HERE. For now, though, enjoy this week's HWP: 

A Prayer to St. Bruno
O glorious patriarch, holy Father Bruno, look down upon us with those eyes of kindness that so often won men's hearts. Day and night as of old, thou dost hear in heaven's court the voices of thy sons upon earth joined in God's praises, linked with the angel choirs. 
Sweet Father, if our voices may reach that Throne of Majesty, we ourselves are not yet come there. Guard and guide us on that heaveward road thou hast trod before us. Thou knowest its dangers; thou knowest our weakness. Be our helper that we may keep unquenched that fire of fervor which thou didst light up so long ago. Then shall we be thy crown of glory both here and hereafter. Amen. 
O glorious St. Bruno, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pyramids & Furbabies

Readings for Sunday, October 5/ 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time:
Isaiah 5:1-7
Psalm 80:9, 12-16, 19-20
Philippians 4:6-9
Matthew 21:33-43

I’ve always enjoyed building things. There’s something about doing something with your hands that gives you a great satisfaction at the end. One night when I was in 6th grade I went to my mom with the words that every parent loves to hear: “Mom, I just remembered I have a project due tomorrow morning. I have to build a pyramid.” My mom shrugged her shoulders at her forgetful son once again we got to work building my project. We had a cardboard base and found some sand-colored carpet in our garage to make a nice landscape. Then we took the cardboard and made a pyramid and covered it with the only things we had that would come close to looking decent: birdseed. A few small rocks and a fake tree supplied the finishing touches and I was thrilled. I brought it to school the next day proud as a peacock. I don’t remember what grade I received on it, but I remember bringing it back home and, unlike other projects that found the garbage asap, I placed in on my shelf to marvel at. Even when we moved houses a couple of times in subsequent years, I made sure to have a special box to ensure my birdseed pyramid arrived safely at the next place. I was proud of it, this little masterpiece I had made.

In the Scriptures today we hear of the Lord God making a masterpiece of His own, but rather than a little school project the masterpiece God was creating was His people, a nation that would spread the good news of His presence to the surrounding nations. But we hear that this wonderful masterpiece that God made didn’t turn out exactly as He had desired it. God put in a great effort to shape this people, this vineyard of the Lord, as our responsorial psalm calls to mind. He gets the best soil, sets up the terrain perfectly, builds all of the necessary elements, and plants the choicest grapes. And what does He get in return? Wild grapes that you can’t do a thing with other than leave it for the animals to devour. And so He does. Their mission to be the light of the world came, in the end, to them simply snuffing our their lights to remain in the darkness of sin. And with their choice made, the Lord had to change plans and choose a new path.

The Gospel account gives us the same tale but in a different form. This vineyard produces the fruits God desires, but here the tenants are the ones symbolizing the people of Israel and they refuse to give up the fruits that belong to the owner. This is the story of the Israelites. The servants were sent in the form of prophets and they were killed by the Israelites because they didn’t want to turn from sin. More prophets were sent, with the same results. Finally, the only son of the landowner is sent and he, too, is killed, as the people thirst for power, wealth, and honor. Rather than give the landowner what was rightly his, they sought to take it by force. Rather than wait for blessings from God that would come in the end, the Israelites sought to take blessings for themselves from the hand of the Lord, much like Adam & Eve in the beginning. They failed in their mission and because of that, new tenants were brought in that would cooperate – the gentile people, which includes most of us. The mission to spread the good news of God now falls to us and it is we who have the obligation to accomplish what was left undone before – to produce good fruits and to give them to the Lord for His glory, knowing that we will receives our inheritance at the end of our labors.

This weekend we celebrate Respect Life Sunday. This is a weekend each year where the Church invites us to reflect upon the dignity of the human person. That our dignity comes not from anything we do or possess, not from where we live or what ethnicity we are, nor from any characteristic other than that we have been created by God in His own image and likeness. The world doesn’t get this reality, but instead places the value of a person in how much they can produce, what they can do, what others can benefit from their presence. I’ve encountered it numerous times in my ministry and have heard of it many others secondhand. For instance, on several occasions I have visited with people who had a family member who was non-responsive, in a vegetative state, as it is often described. And the advice from doctors to these families was ‘if we withdraw artificial nutrition and hydration, it will help speed up the process of their death, since they really don’t have a purpose.’ Basically, the suggestion was ‘lets stop feedings them and giving them water so they can die, since they aren’t worth much as they are’. The families instinctively said, “Father, that doesn’t sound like it’s moral.” And I agreed. It’s likened to saying ‘well, if we just remove their oxygen, it’ll speed things along.’ Foolishness! I read recently about a woman in Oregon who had cancer and the chemo treatment she was offered by the doctors gave a 45% chance of extending her life over a year; most of us would likely jump at such odds. The problem was that her insurance wouldn’t support such a move. BUT they suggested that if she would pursue physician-assisted suicide, they would pay the bill in full. Respect for life? Or what about the 1.2 million children killed each year through abortion because ‘they aren’t really children; it’s more like a clump of cells’ or some other specious argument that never gets at the truth of the dignity of the child who is alive in the womb. Even in Louisiana, the most pro-life state in the country according to laws, we have men lined up at Angola waiting to be put to death because a judge has deemed them no longer worthy of having life; they aren’t productive anymore.

And the one that really gets at me because of the madness of it: furbabies. That’s right. Furbabies. How many in my generation and others don’t want to be inconvenienced with the gift of life that is a child, so they get a cat or dog as a substitute. They make a child created in the image and likeness of God equal to or even inferior to an animal, treating the animals as if it were a person. You may have seen the signs around town sometimes that say “Fill the void in your life” and it has a cutout of a cat next to a person. What?! Y’all, if the void in your life is filled with a cat, we have some serious problems to address! I love animals as much as anyone, but they aren’t people! To act otherwise is to blatantly reject the truth of the goodness of the human person.

The world around us doesn’t have a clue sometimes about the value of human life, so they need us to show them. They need us to bring them to an understand of their own worth and that of every other person on this earth from the smallest in the womb to those who are moments from crossing deaths door. We need to help the world see, but we have to make sure we can see it ourselves. There was an article recently about a museum where a janitor picked up what he thought was a bag of garbage, only to find later that it was an artist’s work of art. While I think that is an insightful commentary on the state of modern art, it also highlights the fact that sometimes we are like the janitor and can easily look upon others and see ‘trash’ where God sees a masterpiece that He has shaped and molded in His image.

The world needs our witness and the Lord longs to see zealous laborers in His vineyard producing great fruits. May the Eucharist we come to celebrate and receive today transform us, that we might be able to love as God loves and see as God sees, that in the face of each person we encounter we might recognize the image of God Himself and rejoice in the gift of yet another masterpiece form the Divine Artist.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

HWP: St. Therese's Morning Offering

It is a great practice to begin each day with a Morning Offering, a prayer that entrusts ourselves and our day to the gracious hands of our God. There are numerous varieties of such prayers available, but as we celebrate the feast of St. Therese of Lisieux today, it seems appropriate to pray one written by the Little Flower herself. Enjoy this week's Half-Way Prayer:

A Morning Offering
O my God! I offer Thee all my actions of this day for the intentions and for the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I desire to sanctify every beat of my heart, my every thought, my simplest works, by uniting them to Its infinite merits; and I wish to make reparation for my sins by casting them into the furnace of Its Merciful Love. 
O my God! I ask of Thee for myself and for those whom I hold dear, the grace to fulfill perfectly Thy Holy Will, to accept for love of Thee the joys and sorrows of this passing life, so that we may one day be united together in heaven for all Eternity.