On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the Last Day of the Year of Saint Joseph, we welcome Fr Matthias Sasko of the Franciscans of the Immaculate with some insight into the life of St Joseph and how to approach a relationship with him.
As we head through Lent towards Good Friday and then onto Easter. It can be power to meditate on what is called the 'Last 7 Words of Christ'.
1) Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
2) Today you will be with me in paradise.
3) Woman, behold, thy son! Behold, thy mother!
4) My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
5) I thirst.
6) It is finished.
7) Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.
St Joseph is mentioned in all the Gospels, but no words of his are ever recorded in scripture. You could say St Joseph is the strong silent type. The Gospel of Matthew tells us that when Mary was betrothed to him but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit, and Joseph since he was a righteous man, and unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly., but then an angel appeared in a dream and told him not to be afraid. St Joseph did as the Lord commanded when he awoke. It must have been a stressful situation for him. Advent can be a stressful time, but if we take St Joseph as our model, we can find some holy silence, listen for Our Lord and Not be Afraid.
Advent comes with some challenges …for us in the northern hemisphere the days are now short and dark. Another challenge especially for children is patience. Waiting for those wrapped gifts under the tree to be opened. Celebrating Advent means learning how to wait. We hear in Psalm 130 - My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for daybreak. But what if Advent is the opportunity YOU have been waiting for? That time to grow in your faith, to better know your faith, to make that commitment to a regular time of prayer each day? In the famous hymn Joy to the World. We hear the words” Let every heart prepare him room” this is not just a line directed at the innkeepers of Nazareth that had no room for in at the inn, but rather a reminder for all of us, especially at this busy time of year to turn our waiting into a time to prepare a room for God in our hearts.
Happy New Year! Advent is the beginning of a new liturgical year in the Church. Do you have a New Years Resolution for this New Liturgical Year? Let me recommend a simple one… To Begin Again.
Venerable Bruno Lanteri, who founded the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, had a popular phrase he often used… Begin Again.
What a great phrase to embrace for Advent. Each Year we have an opportunity to Begin Again with each Advent. If we have struggled in the past year to become better Christians, if we feel like we have stumbled in our faith, now is the time to Begin Again.
St Paul in the 3rd chapter of his letter to the Philippians encourages us to focus on one thing:
Forgetting what lies behind and instead devoting our efforts forward to what lies ahead.
This Advent let us find the courage to Begin Again as our New Liturgical Year’s Resolution.
A Deliverance Prayer of Command for the Laity.
Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted Him
and bestowed on Him the name which is above every other name.
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You;
Because, by Your holy cross, You have redeemed the world...
When Jesus arrives at the Tomb of Lazarus, Mary his sister kneels before Jesus and said, “Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died”. Jesus was friends with Lazarus and his sisters. When he sees her weeping, he is moved and The gospel tell us, Jesus Wept. Those 2 words. Are the shortest sentence in the Gospels. "Jesus wept."
Think of that person in your life you have a hard time reconciling with…if he or she doesn’t come immediately to your mind ask your guardian angel to help you discern who this person is. Pray for that person every day throughout the rest of Lent, even if you can’t stand them. What good is it to fast and obey every discipline of Lent but still end up after 40 days not reconciled with each other? The Lord’s Prayer is an important prayer to revisit on a deeper level during Lent.
There is a lot of depth and interesting details in the story of the woman at the well.. Jesus asks a Samaritan woman for a drink while his disciples are off to buy food... and this request leads to a fascinating conversation. Jesus reveals to her that he has living water that will cause those who drink it to never thirst again, he also reveals he knows the details of her relationship with several husbands and even tells her a non-Jew that he is the Christ, the long-awaited Messiah. We are told that the woman leaves her water jar at the well and goes off to tell the people in town... it’s as if she completely abandons her important mission for water she abandoned bodily comforts for more important things.
When Saint Pope John Paul the 2nd added the Luminous Mysteries to the Holy Rosary back around 2002, I found the Transfiguration to be the most difficult mystery for me to meditate on. I knew its story but didn’t know to relate it to my life. Years later after dealing with medical struggles, I realized that to experience the Transfiguration was to grasp a small sense of God’s grace in my life...
It’s OK for Lent to be a struggle. Christ never promised us fame, riches, or happiness in this life, but rather suffering poverty and sacrifice. The desert of lent helps us discern the need for God. We must realize in most cases the desert is more of a path then a place for us to live. If we follow in the path of Christ, that is in His Way of the Cross, we find not a crown of gold but a crown of thorns.
I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. In me is all grace of the way and of the truth; in me is all hope of life and of virtue. Come to me all that desire me and be filled with my fruits (Sirach 24: 24-26).
O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Grace, Hope of the world.
Hear us, your children, who cry to you
Let Us Pray
O God, who by the marvelous protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary has strengthened us firmly in hope, grant we beseech You, that by persevering in prayer at her admonition, we may obtain the favors we devoutly implore. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Prayer to Our Lady of Hope
O Mary, my Mother, I kneel before you with heavy heart. The burden of my sins oppresses me. The knowledge of my weakness discourages me. I am beset by fears and temptations of every sort. Yet I am so attached to the things of this world that instead of longing for Heaven I am filled with dread at the thought of death.
O Mother of Mercy, have pity on me in my distress. You are all-powerful with your Divine Son. He can refuse no request of your Immaculate Heart. Show yourself a true Mother to me by being my advocate before His throne. O Refuge of Sinners and Hope of the Hopeless, to whom shall I turn if not you?
Obtain for me, then, O Mother of Hope, the grace of true sorrow for my sins, the gift of perfect resignation to God's Holy Will, and the courage to take up my cross and follow Jesus. Beg of His Sacred Heart the special favor that I ask in this novena.
(Make your request. )
But above all I pray, O dearest Mother, that through your most powerful intercession my heart may be filled with Holy Hope, so that in life's darkest hour I may never fail to trust in God my Savior, but by walking in the way of His commandments I may merit to be united with Him, and with you in the eternal joys of Heaven. Amen.
Mary, our Hope, have pity on us.
Hope of the Hopeless, pray for us.
3 Hail Marys
Devotion to Our Lady of Hope is one of the oldest Marian devotions. The first shrine bearing that title was erected at Mezieres in the year 930.
Peace A Gift and a Task
This 3rd week of Advent begins with Gaudete Sunday.. This is the week of the rose-colored candle on the Advent wreath. Gaudete means rejoice, and rejoice means to feel or show great joy, We are getting closer and closer to the celebration of the birth of our Savior, truly a cause of great joy. When the angel first appeared to the shepherds in fields outside of Bethlehem, the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” As we light the rose colored candle this week, let us remember not to be afraid, because we have the good new to rejoice about! As the old introit goes: Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico Gaudete… that is: Rejoice in the Lord always I say again Rejoice!
The majority of the details about the nativity all come from the Gospel of Luke, but before St Luke tells us anything about Jesus, he tells us about John The Baptist. In a way, I often think of John the Baptist as the patron of Advent...
Adorable Heart of Jesus, glowing with love for us and inflamed with zeal for our salvation. O Heart that understands the misery to which our sins have brought us, infinitely rich in mercy to heal the wounds of our souls, behold me humbly kneeling before You to express the sorrow that fills my heart for the coldness and indifference with which I have so long returned the numberless benefits which You have bestowed upon me.
With a deep sense of the outrages that have been heaped upon You by my sins and the sins of others, I wish to make reparation to Your most Sacred Majesty. It was our sins that filled Your Heart with bitterness; it was the weight of our guilt that pressed down Your face to the earth in the Garden of Olives and caused you to die in agony on the Cross. But now, repentant and sorrowful, I implore Your forgiveness.
Adorable Heart of Jesus, Source of true consolation and ever merciful to the penitent sinner, impart to our hearts the spirit of penance that we may be sincerely sorry for our sins. Pardon them, O Lord, in Your mercy, and let all who have sinned against You in the Sacrament of Your love be converted and return to You. Deliver us from our sins. And in order to repair the sins of ingratitude by which we have grieved Your most tender and loving Heart, may we love and honor You in the most adorable Sacrament of the Altar, where You are present to hear and grant our petitions and to be the food and life of our souls.
Merciful Jesus, be our Mediator with Your heavenly Father, whom we have so grievously offended. Help us to amend our ways. As Your Sacred Heart is our refuge and our hope when we have sinned, so let it be the strength and support of our repentance, and nothing in life or death shall ever separate us from You. Amen.
It maybe December, but it’s NOT the Christmas season yet. Even if the department stores starting Advertising Christmas immediately after Halloween, it is still several weeks away. We are really just beginning Advent.
7 Minute Holy Week Daily Reflection
Mary my mother,
you were the first to live the Way of the Cross...
Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
Many Christians are familiar with the story where the Pharisees bring a woman caught in adultery to Jesus and try to test him for charges against the Law’s of Moses. Jesus had been showing all sorts of mercy that was unusual to them, eating with sinners and tax collectors, driving demons out of gentiles, and even curing people on the sabbath, they thought they could trap him, but Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground,we can assume he was writing out their sins. He then said “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her. And in response, they went away one by one. Jesus then says, "Has no one condemned you?”..."then neither do I condemn you..." But Jesus continues “ Go and sin no more” it is fine for us to meet people where they are at with mercy, but we can’t leave them there, we must help them come to a place free of sin in their lives.
The Devil’s third temptation for Jesus in the Wilderness is Doubt. He leads Jesus to Jerusalem the city where he will soon be rejected and crucified. There he made him stand on the edge of the temple roof, and said to Him “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here “ then flipping the script he tries to trap Jesus with some scripture quoting of his own” for it is written: He will command his angels to guard you, With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone. But again Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy knowing he’s trying to make him doubt God’s care and rebukes him by saying,“It also says, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’” Jesus is referring back to the times the Israelites where tempted in Exodus. Lent is like a mini exodus leading us to the victory of Easter. We must always keep God as our refuge and fortress in whom we trust to see us to victory.
Obedience is the 2nd Temptation of the Devil for Jesus in the Wilderness. The evil one showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. Then he said to Jesus , “I shall give to you all this power and their glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. ...All this will be yours, if you worship me.” but Jesus again quotes from Deuteronomy and says” ‘You shall worship the Lord, your God,and him alone shall you serve. Unlike the Israelites who gave into the false worship of The Golden Calf when they grew impatience of Moses up on Mt Sinai, Jesus says firm and loyal to the 1 st commandment of the law to not worship false gods or Idols and to remain obedient to God his Father alone. Let us reflect on any false gods, idols, or priorities in our lives during this week of Lent.