I propose the following three “sacrifices” for this Lenten Season ahead:
1. Pray more and pray better- perhaps going to daily Mass a few days a week, meditating on Sacred Scripture, making more time for adoration/Eucharistic visits or the daily rosary, or praying for the intentions of others.
2. Choose the most difficult person in your daily life and make a real effort to practice extra patience and love toward that person. Allow Christ to love that person through you!
3. Small sacrifice in food or drink that could be a “crutch” or an unhealthy attachment in your life…as a means to foster greater self discipline, detachment, and love for Our Lord. Continue reading
“I want to greet all the grandmothers and grandfathers to thank them for their special place in families and for their importance to the new generations.” (Pope Francis, July 26, 2015)
The photo is of the 11 am daily Mass at Nuestra Señora del Carmen y San Luis, a parish built in the 17th century. It’s right next to my Spanish class so most days I try to make a visit and sometimes attend Mass. There usually isn’t anyone under the age of 65 and the priest must be at least in his 70’s. It takes Father two and a half minutes to walk from behind the altar and make his way down the stairs, clutching Jesus to his chest with one hand as he uses the handrail with the other. It could be easy to think these people don’t have a place in the New Evangelization, but they are the backbone of it. They are the ones holding us up in many ways. I see them every day praying for Spain, for vocations, for young people and families, for political leaders, for the Pope and the Church. I’m sure many have experienced the pain and aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, the brutal persecution for being Catholic in the country that gave us Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Ignatius of Loyola and so many more. Their faith is humbling. Continue reading
Christ meets the disciples, as they caught nothing. When we feel the frustration of not being up to the challenges of life, it is then when Christ wants to come into our boat as He did with the disciples today in the gospel. At first, He doesn’t solve their problem and almost seems to ignore it. It can seem that when we go to Christ looking for help that He doesn’t care about what is happening to us. This is because He wants us to see that there are more important things. He just wants to be with us. He wants a little bit of our attention and then He puts order back in our life. After they sat and listened for a little, He then gets to their problem, He invites them to do the impossible. And then He changes their life completely. He gives them a whole new perspective on fishing. He shows them how they can make their fishing worth something for eternal life. He takes away their frustration by showing them the way to continue their work, but even through the frustrations of not catching anything, they can make it into a continual encounter with Him and then share that experience with others. He is the only one who can change it, but we need to let Him in.
This post originally appeared in the IPS Virtual Chapel
Several weeks ago I did a 7 day silent retreat, and the silence was sweet indeed. But maybe silence isn’t even the right word since, to be honest, it wasn’t actually all that silent. It was more like a moment of intense listening: listening to the voice of God, listening to his call, listening to his invitation to follow him along a path I can’t fully see.
In his message for Lent Pope Francis touched on the importance of listening to God. “As a man, Jesus of Nazareth is a true son of Israel; he embodies that perfect hearing required of every Jew by the Shema, which today too is the heart of God’s covenant with Israel.” The Holy Father goes on to explain what this means by quoting the book of Deuteronomy. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deut. 6:4-5).” And he concludes with this stirring reminder of what we hear when we actually listen: “As the Son of God, Jesus is the Bridegroom who does everything to win over the love of his bride, to whom he is bound by an unconditional love which becomes visible in the eternal wedding feast.”
When we listen to God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength, we begin to understand the true meaning of mercy. We begin to sense deep in our souls that the eternal feast of heaven awaits, and that God’s mercy, made visible in Jesus, is drawing us home. With that in mind, here are some suggestions for enhanced Lenten listening.
- Daily Commitment to Prayer. Just 10 minutes a day, every day. As part of this try out the Liturgy of the Hours (the Magnificat magazine is very helpful for this). The Liturgy of the Hours is the prayer of the whole Church, with Christ, to the Father. You can’t do much better than that.
- Early to Bed and Early to Rise… Maybe we’re not seeking to be wealthy, but healthy and wise aren’t all that bad. Why not cut out that 11:00 news and go to bed earlier? That translates into an earlier wake up, and more quality time for daily prayer.
- A Retreat. If you can’t make it to an actual retreat, check out the online retreats at the RC Spirituality Center.
- Read. My favorite Lenten book is Richard John Neuhaus’s Death on a Friday Afternoon. It’s an inspiring and challenging exploration of Christ’s 7 last words from the Cross, and of their enormous relevance for our daily life. What’s yours?
God’s mercy is gently insistent; God’s mercy is transforming; God’s mercy is without end. All he asks is that we listen.
Massimo’s home, Civitella
If we could see the expression on Christ’s face when we came into his Eucharistic presence, what would it be like, I wonder.
Once or twice a month, my community gets out into the Italian countryside on a Saturday to get some fresh air and ventilate out our brains, which have been saturating themselves in philosophical juices for the past fortnight. It is always a much needed disconnect from the lofty things like “being,” “essence,” and “truth,” which are our daily bread at the university. I love the country: the winding mountain roads, the olive groves, the sheep, the vineyards. My favorite sights are the cities on the mountains. They are really something to behold, as if crowning the entire panorama. The sand-tinted plastered houses, glistening in the sun, are compacted into a dense, impenetrable bundle that practically hangs off the mountain. These cities never cease to strike me with awe. Continue reading
Fit for a Queen
“ i Love You mis Queen”
A very energetic kindergarten student marched up to me one morning, holding out her hand with a wrinkled post-it note. I was just popping my head into their classroom, but as soon as she spotted me, she made a bee-line over to the door.
“Here! Can you give it to her?”
Glancing at the note she had given me, I looked back to her and asked, “to who?”
She looked shocked. After a dramatic sigh, she said, “Mother Mary!”
Oh, of course. THE Queen.
She wanted to make sure I took her note straight to the chapel, to deliver her message.
How simply and matter-of-factly! With a relationship like that with our Heavenly Mother, daily worries and anxieties melt away. Mother Mary will take care of me, and that’s all that matters.
January was the month of birthdays here in Cerro del Coto. There were a total of five this month only days apart (and three of whom are named Maria…coincidence?). With that many different people, the initial excitement of being a new community wearing off and exams looming overhead, it would be perfectly reasonable for celebrations to be quick and similar.
But! They have not been, and I would like to take this opportunity to applaude my community for affirming a value the world needs so much. Each birthday this year and especially this month has been unique, simple, full of love and a real understanding of the person. How so? Let the examples speak. For one, some members of the community brought a bag of real potato chips (wow) to school with a fresh bottle of Valentina Mexican hot sauce (GREAT stuff) and Tajin (also Mexican chili) so she could have a tasty snack to share at school. I don’t know how many of the Spaniards enjoyed those chips, but it was wonderful to see her excitement. Continue reading
After some amazing grace-filled days the 51st International Eucharistic Congress is over. Our team is waiting for our connection flight in Doha, Qatar. Some are praying their morning meditation, other checking emails; others are having a quick bite. Final exams wait for us in the Eternal City.
Now that we have a quiet pause in the airport, we look back and realize that we received so many blessings from God these last two weeks. I think we received three very special gifts. Continue reading
Today was a very important date in the history of the Regnum Christi Movement in Asia. Kiko officially joined Regnum Christi as the first member from Hong Kong. It was a very nice moment as RC family. There were Legionary brothers and fathers, consecrated, and lay people all gather in the Congress’ Chapel for the rite of incorporation. The example of Kiko is very inspiring to all of us.
In the afternoon we went to together to the closing Mass of the Eucharistic Congress. The weather forecast said rain. Instead, the afternoon was pleasant. The Mass took place by the sea, and during the whole time refreshing breeze eased the heat. Hundreds of thousands were present around the altar. At one point, I looked around me and saw groups from Canada, Panama, Thailand, Italy, Bahamas, Taiwan: Every one united like brothers and sisters. Continue reading
Anyone approaching Rome’s magnificent basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls through the front courtyard comes face to face with an extraordinary statue of the basilica’s namesake. Cloaked, hooded, and wielding a massive sword, this particular representation of St Paul can have a disconcerting effect upon the visitor – “passive” is not exactly the word I would choose to describe it. It’s more like he’s poised to unleash some tremendous force, or embark energetically upon some titanic endeavor. He has a purpose in life so patent that it seems to burst forth from the rock itself.
And that’s why this particular statue of St Paul is a bit uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable because it forces me to realize the responsibility of being a Christian. I see the effect that one person with a vision and a message can have upon the course of history, and I realize that because I’m a baptized Catholic I share in that vision and in that message. Continue reading