Sunday, 24 April 2016

In His Presence

Each year, the gospel text for the second Sunday of Lent is the account of the Transfiguration of Jesus. "His face shone like the sun and his face became as white as light." This unexpected experience overwhelmed Peter, James and John whom Jesus had brought with him onto the mountain to pray. "They fell prostrate and were very much afraid." 

As the saying goes, "seeing is believing." Do we not ourselves, especially in those dark times when confidence in faith escapes us, wish for even a little "sign" to help us. 

Actually, seeing is believing, but not seeing with the eyes of the flesh, rather, seeing with the eyes of faith. Jesus does want us to see him present with us, and he has planned  a way for that to be available to us always. It is not like that of Peter, James and John, it is like that of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. 
And it happened that, while he was with them at table, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him … Lk. 24:30
Whenever we are in the presence of the Eucharist, we are in the real presence of Jesus. Notice it does not say, they opened their eyes, it says "... their eyes were opened, and they recognized (saw) him."

Everyone sees the Eucharist, but not everyone recognizes Jesus. The Eucharist is that wonderful way Jesus gave us to be the instrument that connects us to him present. 
“Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” Lk. 24:32
The grace of recognition is the grace that St. Ignatius calls "consolation." It operates on a level deeper than the eyes, deeper than rational argument, it penetrates to the centre of one's being, to the heart. My spirit encounters the Lord's spirit, sending reverberations raising up through one's whole being. Now I see, now I recognize, now I understand and am convinced. Now my faith is alive and I see - with the eyes of faith.

I would suggest that praying before the blessed sacrament adds a special dynamic to our prayer, especially in those uncertain times in our faith journey.

Here is some information on St. Ignatius and consultation/desolation.  

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Preparing for a New Pentecost

Easter Time runs from Easter to Pentecost. During these days, the liturgy takes for its first reading, texts from the Acts of the Apostles. It begins by recalling the forty days after the resurrection that Jesus spent appearing to his disciples, up to his ascension. At this point, the disciples are instructed: not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for, “the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak; … in a few days you will be baptized with the holy Spirit.” After the Ascension, they entered the city, went to the upper room where they were staying, and devoted themselves with one accord to prayer.

I have said much about “Baptism In the Holy Spirit” throughout this blog. In this post, I will provide links to some of these references.

In one of the parishes in which I served, I develop a yearlong series of Eucharistic Devotions that were devoted to prayer for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The complete series was recorded, 13 in all, and I have them posted on this blog. I would like to suggest that you might find in them, especially #10, #11, #12, #13, a unique resource for a prayerful preparation for Pentecost.

Each is just over one hour in length, complete with music, scripture, meditation and instruction; as well as the printed text of the group prayers. These recordings are primarily a “listening” experience. You might think of yourself as now being there, joining with those who first gathered in the presence of the Eucharist, seeking the gift of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

The recordings are of good quality, so you might want to choose a listening device that will compliment your listening experience. You might also consider the time and place that will provide an environment free from interruption. May it be a true prayer experience, rich in God’s grace, for you.

Here is the link to the Eucharistic Devotions Page. [… LINK …]

In Acts, there are five accounts of the actual moment when those praying, received the Baptism In the Holy Spirit. In the year, 2013, Our posts, that followed Easter, included meditations on these passages, as well as prayers for the Baptism of the Spirit. On the Special Series Page, I have listed the links to these posts. 
Special Series Page [… LINK …]

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Mercy and the Dark Night of the Soul

So often today, you hear of a young person who has attempted to end their life, and tragically, in some cases, succeeding. They have descended down into an unimaginable darkness of soul, that has swallowed up all hope. Even though there may be help around them, they cannot see it. Like one cast into deep waters, they sink down into the murky blackness of despair.

One of the essential characteristics of life is that all life has a purpose. From the smallest insect to the human person that can gather it up into their hand to study it. Life unfolds as it is intended. Every time a scientist discovers a new life form, the question is asked, what does it do? Ultimately, if that purpose is denied it, it dies.

For human kind, life is supremely complex. There are many lairs, many purposes that motivate us to wake up each day and go out in pursuit of these goals. Beginning with the simplest, we navigate through each, all the while,
measuring our achievements against the goal we otherwise understand as success.

Who am I, why am I here, how am I doing, is the measure operating behind the decision-making we employ throughout our lives. I have been watching a pair of Mourning Doves who have a nest just outside my window. I have observed them from nest, to eggs, to squabs, to first flight; and that accomplished, starting all over again, four more times until winter returns. How perfectly they fulfill each task, each stage. Who has taught them? Do they even know why they devote their entire existence to fulfilling this purpose for their lives?

I'm sure doves do not ask such questions. After all, they are not philosophers, but we are. The need to know and understand is built into us, just as instinct is built into doves. Being right with nature answers some of life's questions. We know so by the positive experience good health gives us. However, being social beings brings about a whole other inquiry into life's purpose, with ever more complex measures of success or failure. Health, wealth and prosperity are the general headings under which the measures of success are compiled. Failure to measure up sets up the descent into despair.

But who compiles the list against which we are to be measured? Much is being said of bullying today, society's measuring and harsh judgments pronounced - words of darkness compounding more darkness until a wounded heart descends into despair.

A person, so locked into such darkness needs to encounter someone who judges them in an entirely other way; someone who is able to mirror back to them an image of their true 
value and worth; someone who's judgement, in their favour, is irrefutable and all convincing. That One of course is Jesus. 

So Jesus said . . . “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free . . . so if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:31
As we have explored in earlier posts, evangelization is our calling today. The social engineering that society is employing today will only enshroud our world, especially our youth, in ever deeper darkness and confusion. 

The VOICES of those who have become his disciples, and who have learned of his truth must speak out, loudly and clearly. 

Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS . . . But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of  (this age) sin. Heb. 3:7,&:13.
Our message is MERCY

Already, MERCY is seeking you out, even before you know it - 
[... LINK ...]

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Fifty Days to Pentecost


Luke tells us in the opening chapter of the book of Acts, that there was a period of forty days from Jesus resurrection to his ascension. During those forty days, he tells us, “He presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”

These where important days of formation, giving the disciples a new understanding of what the resurrection from the dead really was. At that time, among the Jews, there were two schools of thought about the resurrection of the dead. The Sadducees taught that there was no resurrection of the dead. The Pharisees taught that a time was to come when the bones of the dead would take on living flesh once again, and people would leave their graves and resume a life in this world. (Ezekiel ch. 37)

Jesus appearances clearly demonstrated that there is a resurrection of the dead, but that there was an entirely new nature to that resurrected existence; no longer subject to the laws of nature as they are presently understood. (They could see, hear, and touch Jesus, yet he would appear and disappear, enter rooms with locked doors.)

The real "breath", that gives life to resurrected bodies is the Breath of the Holy Spirit.  (Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Listen! I will make breath enter you so you may come to life. Ez. 37:5) John's gospel speaks of this new breath promised, now being fulfilled: Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Jo. 20:21

Pope Francis
In the baptism rite of the 1950's as the priest received the child for baptism, he would breath lightly, three times into the face of the child saying:  “Depart from him (her) unclean spirit, and give place to the Holy Spirit, the Consoler.” Today, at the Chrism Mass, as the bishop blesses the Oil of Chrism, the ritual directs that he breath over the opening of the vessel containing the oil of chrism.

Fire is the most common symbol associated with Pentecost and the presence of Holy Spirit, but the breath of wind is no less significant. In John Jesus says of the coming of the Spirit: “What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Jo. 3:6-8

Acts' account of Pentecost begins:  “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.” Acts 1:1

Wind or breath are invisible, it is their effects that signal their presence. So it is with the presence of the spirit within the soul of one who claims to be a believer. During these fifty days leading up to the feast of Pentecost, our focus in prayer will be on the evidence of the presence of the Spirit in our personal lives. 

In Acts 19: we read: He said to them, “Did you receive the holy Spirit when you became believers?” They answered him, “We have never even heard that there is a holy Spirit.” He said, “How were you baptized?” They replied, “With the baptism of John.”
“Paul then said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul laid his hands on them, the holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” Acts 19:2-6

Many believers site their baptism as evidence of the presence of the Spirit in their lives. Pope John Paul, in his document on Catechesis 1979, points out that some who are baptized are yet to respond to the presence of the Spirit received in baptism. [JOHN PAUL II, ON CATECHESIS IN OUR TIME #19 ]

In these next weeks leading up to Pentecost, the question is put to us; "Did you receive the Holy spirit when you became a believer?"

  • The 14 part video series from Franciscan University, Steubenville OH. [... LINK ...]

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Divine Mercy Sunday - Jubilee of Mercy

This year's Divine Mercy Sunday, the second Sunday of Easter, has a special significance since this is the special Holy Year of Mercy. The following are some links to resources for your reflection and prayer.

Divine Mercy Sunday 2015 [... LINK ...]

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