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Daily Prayer

Monday, Dec. 6

“Be filled with loving concern”

Father of all generosity we praise and love you, though weak and sinners, you make of us instruments of you love and mercy to others. We cannot thank you enough. But it is more than enough proof that you love and trust in our littleness. Constantly sustain us and fill us with the necessary grace we need each day to be able to help our brothers and sisters who are less fortunate than ourselves. Make us instruments of your healing presence today.

Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

St. Nicholas, pray for us.

Fr. Benidi-an, OSM

Sunday, Dec. 5

“Faith in Progress”

Father, source of faith and holiness. We thank and praise you. Today is the Second Sunday of Advent. We come to your Church together to adore and worship you with all our hearts and soul. Bless us today with the blessing of an active preparation for the coming of Jesus into our lives. May we hear his voice, through the voice of our brothers and sisters crying for help.

Make us fruitful in good works this coming week. Grant us the grace to discipline our cravings for power and worldly allurements. Make us rather productive in doing your holy will for our salvation and for your great glory.

Grant these through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Mary, help of Christians, intercede and pray for us.

Fr. Benidi-an, OSM

Saturday, Dec. 4

“Be a giver also”

God our Father, we praise and bless you today. Your Beloved Son Jesus was so busy to address the needs of your people. Grant us the grace to become channels of his saving words and deeds. Although you can surely do everything, you also need our cooperation and participation in your works of salvation for all of us.

In this Advent Season, may we be able to prepare our very selves for his coming again. He may find us watchful and vigilant in doing good words.

We ask this through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

St. John Damascene, pray for us. 

Fr. Benidi-an, OSM

Friday, Dec. 3

“Believe”

God, our Father, source of life and healing, we praise and we bless you today. Sometimes we forget to appreciate and thank you for the blessing of this new day. Thank you so much, Father.

As we constantly pray for healing and recovery of our brothers and sisters suffering from all kinds of illnesses, may we not forget to thank you for the countless blessing you have bestowed upon each one of us, each day. Increase our faith in your Beloved Son Jesus’ healing power. But most of all, make us grow in our love of Jesus and his Church, the channel of all the graces of healing and life. May we truly believe in Jesus, not just in his healing power.

We ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

St. Francis Xavier, pray for us.

Fr. Benidi-an, OSM

Thursday, Dec. 2

Your word, O Lord, is spirit and life

Jesus, help us build our lives on solid rock by following you and your Word, not building them on the sand by choosing to follow other things that cannot save us or sustain us. Your Word, Lord Jesus, is a foundation that will never change, never give way, never let us down. We rely on you completely to survive the storms of life and are confident that even times of trial, tribulation, and sorrow, you are there to sustain us and support us. Your Word, Lord, is spirit and life. Help our unbelief.

“The season of Advent restores … a hope which does not disappoint for it is founded on God’s Word. A hope which does not disappoint, simply because the Lord never disappoints! … Let us think about and feel this beauty”. – Pope Francis

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Wednesday, Dec. 1

Let us rejoice and be glad

Lord Jesus, in the Mass, you have given us an image of the magnificent banquet of heaven. In the Mass, Lord Jesus, you provide for us, your people, the spiritual nourishment of your Body and Blood. In the Mass, Lord Jesus, you wipe away the tears from our faces, for in the Eucharist, the sacrament of your death and resurrection, we have a guarantee of our own resurrection from the dead. Lord Jesus, you said: “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life and I will raise them up on the last day” (Jn.6:54). In every Mass, we can proclaim: “Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the Lord for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that the Lord has saved us!”

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Tuesday, Nov. 30

Saint Andrew the Apostle, pray for us

O Glorious St. Andrew, you were the first to recognize and follow the Lamb of God.

With your friend St. John, you remained with Jesus for that first day, for your entire life, and now throughout eternity.
As you led your brother St. Peter to Christ, and many others after him, draw us also to Him.

Teach us to lead others to Christ solely out of love for Him, and dedication in His service.

Help us to learn the lesson of the Cross and to carry our daily crosses without complaint so that they may carry us to Jesus.

Amen. Saint Andrew the Apostle is the patron saint of Fishermen and Scotland. Andrew is known as the first Apostle. He was killed by being crucified on a saltire, or x-shaped cross, for baptizing Maximilla, the wife of the Roman governor of Patras. His symbol, the saltire, is featured on the flag of Scotland, where he established the Church of Saint Andrew.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Monday, Nov. 29

Alma Redemptoris Mater (Loving Mother of the Redeemer)

Loving Mother of the Redeemer,Gate of Heaven, Star of the Sea,assist your people who have fallenyet strive to rise again.To the wonderment of natureyou bore your Creator,yet remained a virgin after as before.You who received Gabriel’s joyful greeting,have pity on us, poor sinners.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Sunday, Nov. 28

Our Lady of Advent be our Inspiration

Mother Mary, as you carried your dear Son in your immaculate womb, you also carried your dear Son in your heart. Pray for us, this Advent, that we may surrender ourselves to the will of the Father in imitation of you. You said “Yes” to all that God asked of you and never hesitated to fully embrace His divine will. Pray that we may imitate your perfect example to share a deeper union with you and your divine Son.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Saturday, Nov. 27

Mary, Mother of Divine Hope, pray for us!

O Mary, Mother of Hope, guide and strengthen your children who are struggling with the difficulties and disappointments of life. Help us to keep our trust in God and never despair of His help, no matter how great our suffering may be. You who stood by the Cross of Jesus, be with us in our times of sorrow, and through your motherly intercession, give us the hope and courage to struggle on in the face of all life’s sorrows. Grant that, through your prayers and intercession, we may always live as good citizens of this world, with our hearts fixed on the world to come, and so receive what we look forward to in faith, the fulfillment of all our hope. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Friday, Nov. 26

Mary, Mother of our Faith, pray for us!

Mother, help our faith!Open our ears to hear God’s word and to recognize God’s voice and call.Awaken in us a desire to follow in His footsteps.Help us to be touched by His love,Help us to entrust ourselves fully to God and to believe in His love,especially at times of trial,beneath the shadow of the cross,when our faith is called to mature.Sow in our faith, the joy of the Risen One.Remind us, that those who believe are never alone.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Thursday, Nov. 25

Thanksgiving Day

Loving God, thank you for everything that you have done for us. Thank you for everything that we have received from your bountiful mercy and kindness. Today, as we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, may we be ever grateful for your love, especially for the gift of Your Son, Jesus, our Savior and the Holy Spirit, the giver of life, and for the communion of saints who help us on our journey of faith.

Loving God, let us always be aware that all gifts come from you: we thank you for the gift of our family, friends & relatives; we thank you for the gift of food and housing; thank you for our health and work. And we pray that all those who are alone, sick, homeless, hungry and suffering, may receive your help through the helping hands of others around them. May you open our hearts that we may be able to give to others as you have given us from your love, mercy and kindness. We ask you this, O God, through Christ Jesus, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Wednesday, Nov. 24

St. Andrew Dung Lac and Companions

All powerful God, today we remember St. Andrew Dung Lac and Companions, Christians who suffered cruel martyrdom in Vietnam. In time of persecution, you were their strength to witness to their faith in you. They have shown to us, their fellow Christians, how to persevere through the suffering for the Kingdom of God. May their example help us to live our lives worthy of your Kingdom. May we constantly give ourselves to you and bear witness to our faith daily in our struggles. May you be our strength that we do not follow the worldly allurements but may we focus our attention in pursuing the joy of your heavenly realm where you live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

St. Andrew Dung Lac and Companions, Pray for us!

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Tuesday, Nov. 23

Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life

Lord God, in times of hardship and difficult circumstances, we thank you for sending us a redeemer, Jesus Christ, Your Son. He saved us from sin and death by his death on the Cross. We are grateful that we never journey alone in this journey of faith; Jesus always walks with us and encourages us to “remain faithful until death.” Encourage us Lord that we be the people of faith who walk with Jesus to make a difference in our world. With Jesus beside, in front and next to us, may we be able to build bridges of compassion in the midst of the terrible divisions among us. May we become faith-filled people and work for the common good. May the poor, the vulnerable, the afflicted and abandoned in our society experience Jesus’ presence through the work that we do. And may Jesus fill our hearts with his mercy and compassion, and may we be able to share his mercy and compassion for others around us. We ask all of this through Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns, now and forever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Monday, Nov. 22

But she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood

Lord Jesus, thank you for waking us up from our ‘sleep’ and for calling us to give from our ‘surplus wealth.’ Thank you for giving us all the blessings. Forgive us if we have failed to realize your presence through our neighbors who are in need, through the poor standing at the corner of our streets. Forgive us for the time that we count everything before giving our helping hand to others. Open our hearts and minds, Lord, and encourage us to be grateful for what we have received from your bounty and inspire us with your Spirit to give from our ‘poverty.’ Open our hearts to commit ourselves in pursuing justice and peace for all your children. We ask you this, through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Sunday, Nov. 21

Christ, King of the Universe

O King of the Universe, we love you for you came “to testify to the truth.” May we listen to your voice that we may focus on being truthful in assessing how we are trying to live our faith-filled lives. Help us to learn to “testify to the truth” and in so doing, be more open and accepting of your unconditional love. May your love and your voice resound universally to all peoples of the world and personally within the hearts of all believers. May all feel your presence throughout the universe and in our own hearts, for you are the King of the Universe who live and reign forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Saturday, Nov. 20

He is not God of the dead, but of the living

God of the living, thank you for reminding us that we “all are alive” in your eyes. In this month when we remember all the saints and all the faithful departed whose faith you alone know, we recognize your power as an ever living God. Thank you God of life, for in you we are the People of Life and in you we find our sure salvation, Life eternal. Today, help us to “rejoice in your salvation” and in the life that you have given us. Help us to live a life worthy of your Kingdom by loving you above all else and by loving our neighbors as ourselves, especially to love and to care for the needy, the poor, the afflicted and abandoned in our society. May our actions bear witness to the world that we are the children of the living God and not the God of the dead, for we know, God, you live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Friday, Nov. 19

“My sheep hear my voice … I know them and they follow me.”

Lord Jesus, thank you for knowing each one of us and for entering ‘the temple’ of our hearts. Forgive us if you find that our hearts are full of earthly power, dominions and possession. Forgive us when we destroy that temple by our words and actions. Help us, Lord, that we may be strong in faith; make this temple ‘a house of prayer’ Lord, with the help of your grace. May we listen to Your Words that we may be drawn to them and not to the words of this world.
May we follow you and be known to you, for you live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Thursday, Nov. 18

Optional Memorial of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, Virgin

Please Lord, mold me, fashion me and guide me to become the person you want me to be. Pour me with your energy so that as I go out to serve you, I do it according to your Holy Will. Send forth your Holy Spirit to grant me the fortitude to carry my cross while I undertake my itinerary today. Please Lord, help me and guide my heart to remain strong when trials come my way. In Jesus’ Name, I pray, Amen.

Saint Rose Philippine, Pray for us.

Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne’s Story

Born in Grenoble, France, of a family that was among the new rich, Rose learned political skills from her father and a love of the poor from her mother. The dominant feature of her temperament was a strong and dauntless will, which became the material – and the battlefield – of her holiness.

Allan Sabroso
Liturgy Coordinator

Wednesday, Nov. 17

Memorial of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious

Almighty God, by whose grace your servant Elizabeth of Hungary recognized and honored Jesus in the poor of this world: Grant that we, following her example, may with love and gladness serve those in any need or trouble. In the name and for the sake of and through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, Amen.

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Pray for us.

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary’s Story

In her short life, Elizabeth manifested such great love for the poor and suffering that she has become the patroness of Catholic charities and of the Secular Franciscan Order. The daughter of the King of Hungary, Elizabeth chose a life of penance and asceticism when a life of leisure and luxury could easily have been hers.

Allan Sabroso
Liturgy Coordinator

Tuesday, Nov. 16

Optional Memorial of St. Gertrude, virgin

Lord, Bless the work of my hands so that all that I do today may be fulfilling to me, helpful to humanity and may I do it according to your Holy Will and for the greater glory of your name.

Angel of the Lord, appointed by the Divine Mercy to be my guardian, enlighten, protect, direct and govern me this day. Amen.

St. Gertrude’s Story

Today’s saint, known as Saint Gertrude the Great, is one of the most provocative spiritual writers in the long and rich history of the Church. St. Gertrude was born in 1263, at Eisleben, in the county of Mansfield, in Upper Saxony. She and her sister, St. Mechtilde, were of the family of the Counts of Lachenborn. Gertrude lived a “nuptial mysticism ”in which she was Christ’s bride and the Mass was the wedding banquet at which a chaste self-giving consummated the sacred bond of lover and beloved. Gertrude’s vowed virginity was the proof and basis of her enduring commitment to Christ, a promise made in the company of his mother, Mary, and all the angels and saints. Gertrude composed her spiritual diaries at the express command of her spouse, Christ. Their hymns, prayers, and reflections also show a profound concern for the holy souls in purgatory. Gertrude continually begged Christ’s mercy on them, and Christ responded that merely petitioning for the release of such souls was sufficient for Him to grant the favor.

Allan Sabroso
Liturgy Coordinator

Monday, Nov. 15

Optional Memorial of St. Albert the Great
Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Lord, thank you for your abounding love. Thank you for your providence. Thank you for your abundant and unconditional graces. Whenever I fall by the wayside and whenever I sin, whisper to me your unconditional love and remind me of your abundant mercies and your love for a repentant sinner. My God, I pray that you guide me, guard me, protect and govern me the whole of this day, and may the work of my hands bring praise and glory to you. I pray all this through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

St. Albert the Great, Pray for us!

Saint Albert the Great’s Story

Albert the Great was a 13th-century German Dominican who decisively influenced the Church’s stance toward Aristotelian philosophy brought to Europe by the spread of Islam. Students of philosophy know him as the master of Thomas Aquinas.

Allan Sabroso
Liturgy Coordinator

Sunday, Nov. 14

God and Life Eternal is Forever

I adore you, O my God, and I love you with all my heart. Father I give thanks to you for having created me, made me a Christian and preserved me. I offer to you the actions of this day; granted that all of them may be according to your holy Will, and for your greater glory. Save me from sins and from all evil. Let your grace always be with me.

Amen.

Allan Sabroso
Liturgy Coordinator

Saturday, Nov. 13

Memorial of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Virgin

Almighty and Eternal Father, Giver of all Gifts, show us your mercy, and grant, we beseech you, through the merits of your faithful Servant, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, that all who invoke her intercession may obtain what they desire according to the good pleasure of your Holy Will.

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Pray for us.

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini’s Story

She was the first United States citizen to be canonized. Her deep trust in the loving care of her God gave her the strength to be a valiant woman doing the work of Christ.

Allan Sabroso
Liturgy Coordinator

Friday, Nov. 12

Memorial of Saint Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr

Saint Josaphat, you gave your life attempting to bring East and West together. Give us your spirit of unity so that our prayers bring all Christians into common union under the leadership of a common head, the successor of Saint Peter.

We pray, O Lord, to send us your Spirit that filled Saint Josaphat as he laid down his life for the sheep, so that through his intercession we, too, may be strengthened by the same Spirit and not be afraid to lay down our life for others.

Saint Josaphat, Pray for us.

Saint Josaphat’s Story

In 1595, the Orthodox bishop of Brest-Litovsk in present-day Belarus and five other bishops representing millions of Ruthenians, sought reunion with Rome. John Kunsevich – who took the name Josaphat in religious life – was to dedicate his life, and die for the same cause.

Allan Sabroso
Liturgy Coordinator

Thursday, Nov. 11

The Kingdom of God is Among You

O Lord, our God, you sent your Son to bring the kingdom of God among us. He came to bless, forgive, heal, love and serve those he came into contact with and asked his disciples to do the same in his name. He sent his disciples to do the same. He brought the Kingdom Of God among us.

Give me the grace today to be a faithful disciple in my love, forgiveness, blessing, and service of others, and healing divisions in our world today by the actions of my life to the extent that you have given me the grace to do so. Mother Teresa reminds us that we may not be perfect but we can be faithful to the Kingdom of God. Give me the grace today to be a faithful messenger of your Kingdom.

Amen.

Fr. Ignatius Kissel, OSM

Wednesday, Nov. 10

Feast of St. Gregory the Great

O Lord, my God , St. Gregory was responsible for the Council of Chalsidon for proclaiming the divinity and humanity of Christ ending years of discussion. Give me the grace today Lord to appreciate the deep meaning of this dogma of the Church. To love the Lord, Jesus more deeply, serve him more readily and follow him joyfully and proclaim him more surely.

Give the grace today, give him thanks daily for the gift of his humanity and divinity to save me from my sins, and offer me eternal life by receiving the Eucharist regularly. As God/man he saved me to join him in life eternal. Thank you Lord, Jesus, through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Fr. Ignatius Kissel, OSM

Tuesday, Nov. 9

Dedication of St. John Lateran

O Lord, today we commemorate the dedication of the Mother Church in Rome of all Churches. The Church is the the location all of us join the Body of Christ through Baptism, receive the Eucharist, Confirmation, make vows in marriage and are ordained for ministry as Deacons, Priests, Bishops, and our sins are forgiven in Reconciliation. We are incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ. We become the living stones of the Body of Christ. We prepare ourselves for the eternal dwelling for Christ. Help me to be a living member of the Church, fed by the Eucharist, forgiven of my sins, anointed by Baptism and Confirmation and pledged to my spouse in Christ and anointed for mission of spreading the Word of the Gospel. Keep me close to the fonts of my salvation through the Mass and Sacraments.

I ask today this through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Fr. Ignatius Kissel, OSM

Monday, Nov. 8

Faith is powerful, let us ask for greater faith

O Heavenly Father, in today’s Gospel the apostles ask for an increase of faith. You promised that if I have the faith of the tiniest of seeds it can uproot a mulberry tree. Let me join with the apostles in praying for more faith and belief, even if faith may be lacking, you Jesus will answer my prayer. Increase my faith that you can and defeat any sinful tendencies in my life. Increase my power of faith to forgive, and in the power of the sacraments to give me your divine mercy, to allow the Holy Scriptures to speak your word to me, and you will be there to assist me in the trials and tribulations of life. I trust you can make my weak faith grow, flourish and give you the glory you deserve.

I ask this through Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Fr. Ignatius Kissel, OSM

Sunday, Nov. 7

The willingness to be generous

O Lord, today in Mark’s Gospel you show us what true generosity is like in the widow’s offering in the temple. Sometimes I can be so close handed, and tend to be possessive, let me find the willingness to let go and give to the extent of my love for you. Because in your eyes, no matter how little my offering or how great it may be, if it is done out of generosity, it pleases you.

Give me a generous heart, as yours was, in giving your all for my salvation. Let me be open-handed, open-hearted in my generosity in time, talent and giving you glory.

I ask this in Jesus’ name, through the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Fr. Ignatius Kissel, OSM

Saturday, Nov. 6

A Prayer for Today

O Lord our God, in today’s Epistle to the Romans you show us the friendships your apostle St. Paul had assisting him in his missionary journey preaching the Gospel.

He mentions more than twenty-six in various letters in the New Testament. Let us give thanks today for the number of people who support us in our efforts to be good co-workers with others in proclaiming Your Word, when convenient and inconvenient. Help us to remember to support them as they have supported us to spread the message of the Gospel.

In Jesus’ name and in the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Fr. Ignatius Kissel, OSM

Friday, Nov. 5

Gift of Prudence

O Lord, Our God, in Jesus Christ you have given us the parable in today’s Gospel of St. Luke, to show us the prudence of the dishonest steward. Help us to see that through the gift of the Holy Spirit you have already gifted us with prudence as one of the Spirit’s sevenfold gifts. Enlighten our minds and move our wills to make use of this gift we have been given, to choose wisely in all we do today, to give you honor and glory by our choices that we are called to make this day.

I ask this in the name we of your Son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Fr. Ignatius Kissel, OSM

Thursday, Nov. 4

Let us draw close to the source of love: Jesus

God and our loving Father, you teach us today that love is the foundation of a true and lasting relationship. The tax collectors and sinners in the gospel today draw closer to Jesus for that reason. It proves that true happiness is nowhere to found but in your beloved Son Jesus alone.

May we who have found you remain and stay with Jesus and in his Church. And as we stay, may we also grow in holiness and bear good deeds abundantly each day.

Grant all these in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop, pray for us.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Wednesday, Nov. 3

Ready to grow and perfect in love

Father, fountain and source of perfect love, help us to make you the source of our love. Let your love, and not our human love, be our standard of loving you. What you are saying in the gospel today is true. Help us to redirect our love. The kind of love that is capable of letting go. The kind of love capable not only leaving everything or everyone, but even to offer one’s life for the sake of life eternal. That sometimes, it is better to be separated from anything or anyone only to be with you in eternity. Prepare and lead us to a more mature and lasting love.

Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Tuesday, Nov. 2

Death is the gateway to eternal life and love

Eternal Father, you are the God not of dead but of the living. You are calling each of us by each name to establish a loving relationship with you, not only to temporal life, but life eternal. Love is the key. For to love is to live and to live is to love. And love never dies. There is nothing more dreadful than being separated from you who is Love. And to be separated from you is worse than death. And so, we pray for all our departed bredren who, due to human weakness while on earth, fell short in their love of you. Help us therefore love you each day. Make us grow in love so that even when we die, we will surely live eternally with you.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit, Who Is Love. Amen.

All the Saints, pray for us and all our departed.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Monday, Nov. 1

Love until it no longer hurts

Father of infinite love, we are indeed blessed precisely because you love us unconditionally. We celebrate today the Solemnity of all the Saints. While still on earth, they were sustained by your love. In response, they remained in your love, and so they were able to endure all the hardships they had to face, only not to be separated from Jesus, and now they enjoy being with you eternally.

Grant us also perseverance and endurance in all life difficulties like them. Increase our faith, hope and charity so that someday we may be one with them in your loving presence. Grant us the grace of humility and obedience. Make us your living saints today.

Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

All the Saints, Blessed and Martyrs, pray for us.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Sunday, Oct. 31

To live is to love

Father of holiness,

Thank you for giving us the Ten Commandments to be our guide in loving you and our brothers and sisters. They are indeed your gifts to us. May we not consider your Commandments as purely legalistic law to be obeyed, but as guides to help us truly love you and our neighbor. Help us to live our Baptismal promise to love each day. May our love be constant and pure today.

Grant these through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Mary, help of Christians, intercede and pray for us.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Saturday, Oct. 30

Choose to help but be not choosy

Father of love, you choose to love each of us with the same love as your children, and you also choose to remain and stay with us, though others denied or ignored your presence or existence because of pride and arrogance. We pray for those who have gone astray. Draw them back to your Fatherly love.

Help us choose what is right and good for others. Grant us the grace to always choose to love you and our brothers and sisters like Jesus did.

We ask this through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Mary, Mother of all Christians, intercede and pray for us.      

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Friday, Oct. 29

It is always right to do what is right and good

Righteous Father, source of what is right and good,
You created and established everything out of your goodness. Most of all, you created man and woman according to your “image and likeness,” to imitate you in your kindness and love. Help us to seek what is right and good. May we always desire for the good of others and not for their destruction. Grant us the spirit of your love and care for others. Like Jesus, may we be able to please and follow your holy will today. 

We ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

St. Eusebia, pray for us.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Thursday, Oct. 28

Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles, Pray for us

Jesus, Lord and Savior, you called Simon and Jude to be your apostles. Simon and Jude heard your call and responded confidently by following in your footsteps. Lord, you also call each of us to be your disciples, to follow in your footsteps. Grant us, Lord Jesus, the grace and the strength we need to respond wholeheartedly, that we my walk in your footsteps in faith and hope. Your Word is life. May we hear and appreciate with joy the Word of your calling and respond generously each day.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Wednesday, Oct. 27

The Lord has been good to me

Heavenly Father, we often feel uneasy when we come to you in prayer. Lord, we often do not know how to pray as we ought. It is the Holy Spirit, that you have poured into our hearts, that helps us in our weakness? It is the Holy Spirit that helps us in so many ways, especially in inspiring us to call upon you confidently as Our Father? We realize that the most important aspect of our prayer to you is our loving relationship with you, for you see within each one of us the person of your Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Father, help us to confide in the action of your Holy Spirit in us, and not be anxious about what we are to say. Help us always speak to you as the loving Father that you are. With Jesus, we pray: “Abba, Father”.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Tuesday, Oct. 26

We hope for what we do not see

Lord God, Father of all, you call us to patience and to cooperation with your plan of salvation for all of creation. Give us courage to continue to hope and to wait, even though it might seem slow and impossible to detect. At times, Father, it seems that darkness and insecurity increase as we see ever-increasing threats of war and violence, the scourge of poverty and homelessness, the pain and suffering of so many. May we not lose hope and trust in your promise of redemption. We know clearly that our ways are not your ways. May we place our confidence and hope in your continued presence among us through your grace, your love and your compassion. Lord God, we place our trust in you.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Monday, Oct. 25

Blessed John Angelo Porro, Servant of Mary, Pray for Us

God our Father, your son and servant, John Angelo, in seeking an ever-deepening intimacy with you in prayer, was drawn to times of solitude and contemplation. We pray that we, in following his example, will make time and space to be in your presence, and listen to you through the promptings and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that we may grow ever more confident and secure in your loves for us. John Angelo shared the knowledge and grace which you granted him in the Christian education of children. Through John Angelo’s intercession, may the children in our families come to know and experience the love of God for each of them.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Sunday, Oct. 24

Lord, I want to see

Jesus, as you stand before me, loving me and asking me, “What do you want me to do for you?”, give me the courage to call out to you, “Lord, I want to see”.

Jesus, open my eyes that I may see what you want me to see and give me the grace to respond with love and concern for those in need around me.

Lord, grant me the confidence to know that you are with me as I encounter painful and difficult situations around me, and inspire me to respond with love and compassion.

May I see with your eyes of love and feel with the warmth of your heart as I reach out in faith to those in need in my family or in my surroundings.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Saturday, Oct. 23

Mary, Queen and Mother of Mercy, Pray for Us

God our Father, grant that Mary, Queen and Mother of mercy, intercede for us, as we call upon her help in our time of distress, time of need, time of illness. May our Mother stretch out her arms and embrace us all who take refuge in her and seek her intercession. Grant, Heavenly Father, that Mary, Queen and Mother of Mercy, be attentive to our voice and win for us your compassion and the forgiveness of our sins. Father of goodness, that you may strengthen us in our weakness and give us your grace, our Mother never ceases to pray for us, now and at the hour of our death.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Friday, Oct. 22

Prayer to St. John Paul II

St. John Paul, grant us your blessing. Bless the Church that you loved and served and guided, courageously leading her along the paths of the world 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 to the heavens again to find the light that illuminates the paths of life here on earth. May you bless each family. St. John Paul, with your prayer, may you protect the family and every life that blossoms from the family. You opposed war by invoking dialogue and planting the seeds of love: pray for us so that we may be advocates of peace.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Thursday, Oct. 21

Almighty God, the source of our protection,

Thank you for always watching over us and protecting us. We acknowledge, Lord, that all too often we fall prey to our impulses, emotions, or learned patterns of behaviors. We look for pleasure and happiness in material things.
Help us Lord to realize that our true happiness is in you alone. Help us all the time that you are watching over us, even when there is a division in the world. May we always recognize your presence in every moment of our life, especially when the going gets tough.

We ask this, through Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Wednesday, Oct. 20

St. Paul of the Cross

Lord Jesus, you called us today to be attentive and alert so we will take responsibility for putting good into the world. You invited us to open our minds and hearts to your grace and mercy, and to notice the gifts that are inherent in our daily lives. With our open mind and heart, we may fully appreciate your presence in our life, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Tuesday, Oct. 19

Sts. John de Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues and Companions

“Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.”

Jesus, Master and Lord,

You teach us today to be vigilant, to be ready for your arrival. Many times, we have grown accustomed to instant gratification, and we have been impatient. It is difficult for us to be patient and wait for what is yet to come – especially something that you promise us – something greater and for our best. We might get frustrated sometimes because your plans, O God, do not always move at the same pace as our expectations.

We pray today that you may grant us the ability to embrace the quiet and the waiting, so that we may be ready to hear you and welcome your grace into our lives.

We ask this though Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Monday, Oct. 18

St. Luke, Evangelist

“Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.”

Lord Jesus, you called St. Luke to be counted among the Evangelists, to bring forth your Gospel of love and your healing power. May his works continue to grow and bear fruit abundantly for your Kingdom. And through his intercession, may we deepen our faith and our understanding of your Gospel. And may St. Luke continue to intercede for the Church that many people will come to believe in you, Lord, be able to make known the glorious splendor of your Kingdom where you live forever and ever. Amen.

St. Luke, pray for us.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Sunday, Oct. 17

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant.” Lord Jesus, you yourself came into the world “not to be served but to serve.” You showed us that to be a servant leader, we need to be enriched by God’s mercy, so that we can pour blessings out on those we serve. You showed us, Lord Jesus, that as a servant leader, you knew and loved your followers. You also taught us that to be a servant leader, we need to show mercy to all people whom we serve.Lord Jesus, through baptism, you called all the baptized to enter into the servant leadership. May your Spirit, O Lord, challenge us to be merciful in our service to others. May, through our servant leadership, Christ be made visible to all people, for he lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Saturday, Oct. 16

St. Hedwig
St. Margaret Mary Alocoque

The Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.” O Holy Trinity, we praise you for your countless blessings that we have received from your goodness. Lord, we must admit that sometimes our faith is weak, and we don’t believe. Forgive us for the times when we think that you are far away from us, or you do not care about us. Many times, we are more persistence in asking for signs rather than trusting in your goodness, in your love and in your ‘real presence’ in the Sacraments.We pray that you continue to send the Holy Spirit to strengthen our faith and to believe in you totally. May the Holy Spirit teach us what wee need to know to be able to be faithful to your love and your statutes.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Friday, Oct. 15

St. Teresa of Jesus

“Even the hairs of your head have all been counted … You are worth more than many sparrows.”

God, our Creator,
You allowed St. Teresa of Jesus to experience a deep intimacy and union with Christ. You also gave her the courage that she needed to speak out during the Reformation and Counter Reformation of her time. We are grateful that you allow us to celebrate her remembrance and her example. May, like St. Teresa, we also continue to seek things of heaven and to be in union with Christ all our life. May St. Teresa of Jesus help us with her intercession and prayer that we may be worthy in the presence of our Creator, who lives and reigns now and forever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Thursday, Oct. 14

Be a builder of love

Father and intelligent builder and sustainer of everything that is good, thank you for the beauty of your creation. Must of all, thank you for the gift of life and health. Thank you also for the family and friends, though imperfect, surely, they become perfect and beautiful instruments where we can build loving relationships while still here on earth. Sustain us in your perfect love. For only in your love will we become indestructible and inseparable.

We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

St. Callistus, pope and martyr, pray for us.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Wednesday, Oct. 13

Blessed are you who are humble

Heavenly Father, make us remain humble and simple but with a generous heart. Grant us grace when we correct one another. Help us avoid judgment toward one another. May we seek after unity not division, forgiveness not hatred, healing not hurting each other. Let us become instruments God’s reconciliation and forgiveness today.

Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

St. Theophilus, pray for us.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Tuesday, Oct. 12

Be attractive inside and out

Loving Father, sorry for sometimes being selective, partial, one-sided or a hypocrite. For sometimes being pretentious. For lying and being too cowardly to admit or tell the truth. We humbly beg you, forgive us. Renew in us once again the grace of pure heart and humble spirit. Heal our troubled conscience. Make us clean inside and out. Make us humble and kind whether we are with or without others. May we be able to pleased you today.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Mary, Our Lady of the Pillar, intercede and pray for us.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Monday, Oct. 11

Christian Generation

Loving Father, we constant struggle in our human frailty and weakness. Many of us sometimes doubt your existence because of what others say. They rather listen to unbelievers than to us believers. Grant us patience in order to accompany others, those who wish to hear the wisdom of Jesus, the wisdom that truly liberates us from pride and arrogance. May, like “the queen of the south,” we always seek and remain with the Lord Jesus, the eternal Wisdom of the Father, so that in every choice and decision we make is pleasing to God and always for the good of all.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

St. John XXIII, pope, pray for us.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Sunday, Oct. 10

Being in love with God

Father of infinite love, keep us in your Love. Thank you for showing to us the true essence and meaning of life. That eternal life cannot be attained by any human mastery or expertise, but by humbly accepting you into our lives as Lord and guide to a more meaningful and fruitful life. Grant us, therefore, the courage and determination to renounce anything that hinders us from being your true, credible and reliable children. Make us more generous and just to our brothers and sisters who are less fortunate than our selves. Make us truly rich in love, mercy, understanding and forgiveness.

All these we ask through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Mary Help of Christians, intercede and pray for us.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Saturday, Oct. 9

We are all blessed by God each day

Lord God, thank you for this new life and a new day. These alone are proof that you constantly bless and sustain us each day. Grant us a sense of gratitude and thankfulness to you, starting from small and routine things which sustain us in all we do. For precisely this is what you meant, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” So, help me God. This we ask through Jesus Christ.

Amen. Mary, Queen of your Servants. pray for us. 

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Friday, Oct. 8

Power that heals and unites

All powerful God, you show us today your almighty power through Jesus Christ, your Only Begotten Son, who expelled all evils that oppressed and made people suffer in bondage. Drive away from us anything that hinders us to come closer to you. Send forth you holy angels to protect and guide us throughout this day. We ask this through Christ, our Lord.

Amen.

St. Demetrius, pray for us.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Thursday, Oct. 7

Our Lady of the Rosary, Pray for Us

O Mary, just as there is no saint who loves God more than you love him, so we neither have, nor could we have, after God, anyone who loves us more than you, our most loving Mother. If it were possible to bring together the love of all mothers for their children, of all wives for their husbands, of all the saints and angels for those who have devotion to them, it would not equal the love you have for one single soul. Let others ask for what they will: health, riches, worldly advantages; I come to ask you, O Mary, for those things which you yourself desire for me and which are very dear to your heart. You, who were so humble, obtain for me humility and a love for contempt. You, so patient in the sorrows of this life, obtain for me patience in adversity. You who were filled with love for God, obtain for me the gift of pure, holy love. You were all charity toward your neighbor; obtain for me charity toward all, and especially toward those who are opposed to me.

(Saint Alphonsus)

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Wednesday, Oct. 6

St. Marie-Rose Durocher, Pray for All Children and Youth

Marie-Rose Durocher,
You founded your congregation for the education of children.
Look on our young people with love.
Accompany them in their formation.
May your intercession with Jesus and Mary obtain for them the desire to live and express their values.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Tuesday, Oct. 5

A Prayer to Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, C.Ss.R.

God of strength, we cry out to you in this time of doubt and fear as we face the Coronavirus epidemic.

But even during this epidemic, still we praise you O Lord, for the witness of your servant, Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, who ministered to the needs of the sick and suffering during the yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans.

He overcame his own fear so that he might offer to others your loving care.

Give to us, O Lord, his courage.

By the help of his prayers, sustain all doctors, nurses and hospital staff in their ministry of care to those afflicted with the virus.

Protect them as they answer the call to serve their sisters and brothers.

May his loving compassion for victims of sickness be ours.

May we, like him, search and find you in those who suffer during this time of crisis.

Grant that we may they learn from the example of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos and gain comfort from his patient endurance, hope amid suffering and joy in the practice of the kingdom, where you Father, Son and Holy Spirit reign for ever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Monday, Oct. 4

A Song of Praise by St. Francis

You are holy, Lord, the only God, and your deeds are wonderful.
You are strong.
You are great.
You are the Most High.
You are Almighty.
You, Holy Father, are King of heaven and earth.
You are Three and One, Lord God, all Good.
You are Good, all Good, supreme Good, Lord God, living and true.
You are love.
You are wisdom.
You are humility.
You are endurance.
You are rest.
You are peace.
You are joy and gladness.
You are justice and moderation.
You are all our riches, and you suffice for us.
You are beauty.
You are gentleness.
You are our protector.
You are our guardian and defender.
You are our courage.
You are our haven and our hope.
You are our faith, our great consolation.
You are our eternal life, great and wonderful Lord, God Almighty, merciful Savior.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Sunday, Oct. 3

Prayer for Blessing Pets

Blessed are you, Lord God, maker of all living creatures. In your infinite wisdom, Lord God, when you created the universe you blessed us with all living creatures. You called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired Saint Francis of Assisi to call all of them his brothers and sisters.

We especially thank you for giving us our pets who are our friends and who bring us so much joy in life. Their presence very often helps us get through trying times. Kindly bless our pets. May our pets continue giving us joy and remind us of Your power.

By the power of your love, enable them to live according to your plan. May we always praise you for all your beauty in creation. Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures!

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Saturday, Oct. 2

Prayer to Your Guardian Angel

Angel of God,my guardian dear,To whom God’s love commits me here,Ever this day (night),be at my side,to light and guard,to rule and guide.

Amen.

“From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their (the angels) watchful care and intercession. Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading them to life. Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and people united to God.” (Catechism of Catholic Church, #336)

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Friday, Oct. 1

St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Pray for Us

Dearest Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, you said that you would spend your time in heaven doing good on earth. Your trust in God was complete. Pray that God may increase our trust and confidence in his goodness and mercy.Pray for us that we, like you, may have great and innocent confidence in the loving promises of our God. Pray that we may live our lives in union with God’s plan for us and may we one day see the Face of God whom you loved so deeply.St. Thérèse, you were faithful to God up until the moment of your death. Pray for us that we may be faithful to our loving God. May our lives bring peace and love to the world through faithful endurance of our love for God, our loving Father.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Thursday, Sept. 30

“The Kingdom of God is at hand”

God, King of the universe, we honor you for you goodness is immeasurable. You created the universe with your goodness and announced everything good. Lord, “the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few,” so we ask you to send more laborers, our brothers and sisters, to your field and help them to be ready to harvest for your kingdom. Help them with your spirit to welcome your peace into their hearts and make them the heralds of your good news that “your kingdom is at hand,” where you live and reign forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Wednesday, Sept. 29

Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael

“In the sight of the angels I will sing your praise, Lord” (Psalm 138).

Blessed be your name, O Lord, for you sent the archangels for us: Michael who protects us from all principalities and powers of darkness and evil; Gabriel who comes to announce good news for us; and Raphael who guides us in our journey.

Through their intercessions, may the Church and all your children be defended against all principalities and powers of darkness and the spirit of wickedness; may we be guided by God’s light and be transfigured in God’s joy; and may we receive strength in this journey of faith.

With all the archangels, may God’s name be praised now and forever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Tuesday, Sept. 28

St. Wenceslaus, Martyr

St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs


“Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”


God of peace,

We praise you for giving us all your saints who shed their blood for their faith. In times of trouble and persecution, you never left them, but you were always there with and for them to strengthen their faith and to encourage them to endure suffering for the sake of your Kingdom. May your Church and all your people learn from their examples to stand strong in faith and to realize your presence in difficult times. Be with us Lord and never leave us alone.


Amen.


Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Monday, Sept. 27

St. Vincent de Paul


God of justice and mercy,


We are grateful that through the example of St. Vincent de Paul, you have shown us that we need to serve and help the poor, nurse the sick, the abandoned, and the ignored in our societies. Inspire us, Lord, by his example to do good works for the needy, to feed the hungry, to help the sick and the homeless and to offer hope to those who are hopeless. May we commit ourselves to do charitable works that St. Vincent did in his life. May the poor, the sick and the needy find you through all the helping hands of those around them. We offer this prayer, through Christ, our Lord.


Amen.


Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Sunday, Sept. 26

Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ … will surely not lose his reward

Lord Jesus,

Thank you for teaching us about tolerance as an exercise of Christian humility and charity. And thank you for all the gifts and talents which you have given to each person in this world. May we use all our gifts and talents for the glory of your name and for for the common good of all. May we humble ourselves enough to recognize that all our gifts and talents are from you, and help us to not be jealous of other gifts and talents that other people have received from your abundant love. Grant us, Lord, the grace to receive and to use our gifts and talents with humility, hope and trust in your goodness, and be led to a deeper knowledge about you, who live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Saturday, Sept. 25

The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock

Almighty and powerful God,

Praise be your name!

May all peoples continue to sing and rejoice for your mighty deeds in their midst. God, in this difficult time, we humbly beg you to come with your power to protect all your children – your flock, and shepherd all with your loving care, we pray especially for those who experience illnesses, for those who have to leave their home and country to find a better life, and for all those who have lost their loved ones. With your powerful love, may you turn their mourning into joy.

We ask this through Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Thursday, Sept. 23

Keep on seeing the Lord

Forgiving God,

Your love and compassion are greater than any illness or sin.

Despite of our differences, may we always choose and unite in your name. May we always seek or look for the common grand to start building a just and humane society. As Catholic Christians, may we always be the source and instruments of unity and harmony.

We ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

St. Padre Pio, pray for us.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Wednesday, Sept. 22

Jesus summons you today

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for this new day. We dedicate this day to you. Make us fruitful today. Make us busy in doing good works for others, but make us find quality time with you alone. For we can never be good and holy without you. Make us grow in love of you and our neighbor today. Make us rich in good works.

Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

St. Thomas of Villanova, pray for us.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Tuesday, Sept. 21

Get up and follow Jesus

Father, source of lasting joy,

Regardless of status and life situation, you are calling everyone to follow your Son back to you. Like St. Matthew, help us to answer your call and follow you. For to be called by you is a privilege. May we respond immediately and begin to entrust and leave everything at your disposal, and let you be the one to manage our belongings as well as our daily lives for your glory and our salvation. Help us to surrender everything to you.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit. Amen.

St. Matthew, apostle and evangelist, pray for us.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Monday, Sept. 20

No one conceals good deeds

Loving Father, you called to be witnesses of your graces in the world around us. However, because of so much darkness or cowardness, we sometimes hide the light of your grace. As a matter of fact, we are even ashamed to publicly express our faith through the sign of the Cross. Father, grant us courage always. Like our Vietnamese brethren Saints and Martyrs for today, fill us with so much determination to witness our faith even if it demands our very lives.

Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

St. Adrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions, pray for us.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Sunday, Sept. 19

The one who loved much suffered much

Father, source of Infinite love. After a thousand generations have passed, finally you found the perfect sanctuary for your Only Begotten Son: Mary. Finally, there happened the encounter of two perfect loves: God’s Infinite love and Mary’s perfect “Yes” to that love.

As we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary at the Foot of the Cross, we remember not the sorrows and pains but the ultimate expression of the greatest love of a mother to her dying Son on the Cross. May our love for Jesus also grow andmature daily. The kind of love capable to “bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things” (1 Cor 13:7).

All these we ask through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Mary at the Foot of the Cross, intercede and pray for us.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Saturday, Sept. 18

A good person sows good deed

Father of all goodness, you created everything good, including human beings, out of your infinite love. As a matter of fact, you have given us freedom to choose you, the Ultimate Good. But sometimes, we choose not to do good but rather evil. Because of so many things that the world has to offer, we easily get blinded and so get lost. Your word gets easily withered or uprooted in our hearts. So, we never bear fruits in due season.

Grant us humility to allow your Holy Spirit to constantly cultivate us, in order to soften our hearts for your word to grow and bear sweet and quality deeds. 

This we ask through Jesus Christ. Amen.

St. Joseph of Cupertino, pray for us. 
      
Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Friday, Sept. 17

Loving Father,

Sustain us in our journey toward you. Fill the heart of your people with generosity and love, that, like the women who constantly followed Jesus and his disciples, we may constantly serve one another’s needs. So that by doing so, no one will ever be hungry in our midst. Grant us caring people in our company. Teach us to be more generous today.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

St. Robert Bellarmine, Pray for Us.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Thursday, Sept. 16

St. Cornelius, Pope and Martyr

Saint Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr, Pray for us.

God our Father, as you sustained Saint Cornelius and Saint Cyprian when their faith was challenged and their lives were threatened, we pray that you sustain us in our faith struggles and challenges. Like them, may we trust that in your constancy and fidelity you will encourage us in our time of need, doubt, or uncertainty. Saints Cornelius and Cyprian were good friends and supported and encouraged each other to lead self-sacrificing and loving lives. We pray, Father, for our good friends that encourage and sustain us in our times of need and suffering. Bless them, Lord, with your grace in gratitude for their friendship and support.

Through the intercession of Saints Cornelius and Cyprian, we pray, Lord, for all who have left the Church but want to return, that they may be welcomed.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Wednesday, Sept. 15

To the Virgin at the Foot of the Cross

Holy Mary, woman of sorrow, Virgin bride at the Cross, where love is consummated, and life comes forth.

Mother of disciples, inspire us to serve.

Teach us to stand with you at the foot of the countless crosses where the Son of Man is still being crucified.

Make us living witnesses of Christian love, welcoming everyone as brother and sister.

Help us to escape our blindness to follow Christ, The Light of all peoples.

Amen. (Adapted from OSM Vigil of Our Lady)

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Tuesday, Sept. 14

For God so loved the world

Loving Father in the gift of Jesus Christ, your Son, we see clearly the greatness of your love for all of your creation. Your love and your grace have no end and it is through your Son, Jesus Christ, that you pour out your love and grace upon us. Jesus extended his arms on the Cross in obedience to your will for our salvation. The Cross reminds us always of Jesus’ victory over sin and death through his crucifixion, death and resurrection. Our faith assures us that the Cross is an instrument of your saving love and grace. We thank you, Father, for, although we are not worthy or deserving, you loved us and sent your Son to proclaim the good news of your love and of the gift of eternal life. We praise and glorify, Father, through your Son, Jesus Christ, united in the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Monday, Sept. 13

St. John Chrysostom, Pray for Us

Lord, Jesus Christ my God, forgive the faults and sins which I, your unworthy servant, have committed from my youth to this day and hour, whether knowingly or in ignorance, whether by words, deeds, intentions, or thoughts and whether by habit or through any of my senses.

By the prayers of your pure and Virgin Mother, make me worthy without condemnation to receive your precious, immortal, and life-giving Mysteries for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

May the Eucharist sanctify, enlighten, strengthen, and heal my soul and body and thus destroy my evil thoughts, intentions, and prejudices.

For yours, Christ our God, is the Kingdom, the power, the glory, the honor, and worship with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Sunday, Sept. 12

Take up your cross

Jesus, Lord and Savior of all the world, look upon us and give us the grace to serve you with all our hearts, to take up our cross and follow you, that we may come to know the power of your love and the forgiveness you freely give, turning us away from self-love and turning us to new life in you.

“We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is our salvation, our life and our resurrection; through him we are saved and made free.” Gal 6:14

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Saturday, Sept. 11

Teach us, Mary, to say “yes” as you did

All the humility, availability, listening, and obedience that the human heart can hold were already made visible forever in Mary’s “FIAT”. Loving God, grant that Mary’s “YES” may always be on our lips and in our hearts even when, and indeed especially when, in our anguish and confusion, we ask, “How can this come about”? Loving Creator God, may ours be the joy of saying, “Let what you have said be done unto us.”
Teach us, Mary, to recognize God’s voice. Teach us to say “YES” as you did.
Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Friday, Sept. 10

Lord that I may see clearly

Lord Jesus, we come before that you may contemplate us with your loving look. We ask that you remove any speck or plank that may be in our eye, so that we may have the clarity of vision that you have. Give us contrite hearts. Grant us humility to see how far from perfect we are and how earnestly we need your grace and your mercy. Help us to become more fully aware of when we are being judgmental of others. May the Holy Spirit inspire us with the capacity to perceive God’s presence and action around us. Lord Jesus, grant us your help so that we may honor you with every word that comes from our mouth and every action we take throughout the day.
Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Thursday, Sept. 9

St. Peter Claver, Priest

Loving God,
You called St. Peter to serve the most abused, rejected and lowly of all people in Cartagena. As he served the slaves in his time, you empowered him to honor the dignity of all the slaves who arrived in Cartagena. Through his intercession, may we become aware of our own potential to work for justice and peace and of our need to open ourselves more to the power of the Holy Spirit. May all the leaders of the world work together to create a common good for all peoples, to honor each person’s dignity, and stop all kinds of slavery in our time in its varied ways. We ask you this, through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
Amen.


Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Wednesday, Sept. 8

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Blessed are you, holy Virgin Mary, deserving of all praise; from you rose the sun of justice, Christ our God (Acclamation before the Gospel).
O Blessed Virgin Mary, you were born into a family of saints. Through your intercession, o Blessed Virgin Mother, may we walk in the true light, Christ our Savior. And may through your prayers, many family will know your Son and all families may live more holy, like your family.
You are our model of discipleship and faith, o dear Mother of God, may today, as we celebrate your birthday, the Lord Jesus pour upon us all the blessings that we need to walk in a newness of life. 
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Tuesday, Sept. 7

Merciful God,

Through the Sacrament of Baptism, you have empowered us to walk in you, rooted in you, build upon you and be established in the faith. With the help of your Holy Spirit, may we stay true to this calling to make your peace and love be felt by all those we encounter in our lives. And may through our words and actions, you will bring others to the Church, to experience your peace and love in their lives. May your name be praised, Lord, now and forever.
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Monday, Sept. 6

Labor Day

Oh Lord, our God,
You called us to work not only for our own benefit but for the common good. We thank you for the opportunity to labor. Be with us as we work, guide us and govern our world. May all people have job that enhances human dignity and bounds us to one another. Help us to build a better world through our labor. May your spirit help us to value each worker. Help us this Labor Day to work for justice and peace where all people share in the abundance which you have given us.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord.
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Sunday, Sept. 5

“Ephphatha!” – that is, “Be opened!”

Almighty and All-Powerful God,
We are grateful for your love for us. You continue to be with us and free us from all our affliction. Help us Lord to feel your presence in our lives. Increase our faith in you, especially when everything goes not according to our plan. May your will be done.
Lord, we pray today especially for all our brothers and sisters who are in need of your healing power: may you touch them with your healing Spirit, give them strength and restore their health. May your name be praised for all wonderful gifts that you have bestowed upon your people.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns forever and ever.
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Saturday, Sept. 4

The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath

Lord Jesus, Lord of the sabbath,
We give thanks to you for all that you have given us, especially for your sacrifice; through your death, you wish to present us “holy, without blemish, irreproachable before him” (Col. 1:21-23). Help us, Lord, that through your power, we may “persevere in the faith, firmly grounded, stable, and not shifting from the hope of the Gospel that [we have] heard.” As we celebrate your death and resurrection at your Altar, may we come with humble hearts and may you fill our hearts with your love. For you are our Lord, who lives and reigns forever and ever.
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Friday, Sept. 3

Memorial of St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor

Father,
You guide your people with kindness and govern us with love.

By the prayers of St. Gregory give the Spirit of wisdom to those you have called to lead the Church.
May the growth of your people in holiness be the eternal joy of our shepherds.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Thursday, Sept. 2

Be caught by God

Loving God, your love always caught us but never imprisoned us. You always respect our freedom. Thank you for your free love. Free us from our human and calculative love. Make our love boundless and endless like yours. Grant us true freedom. Liberate us from selfishness inspired by shallow ideology. You are always generous and just. May we always imitate you in your kindness and love. We thank you and praise you, through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, in the Holy Spirit. Amen.

St. Ingrid of Sweden, pray for us.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Wednesday, Sept. 1

Alone with God

Heavenly Father thank you for this new day. We dedicate this day to you. Make us fruitful today. Make us busy in doing good works. But make us find quality time with you alone. For we can never be good and holy without you. May us grow in love of you and our neighbor today. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

St. Giles, intercede and pray for us.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Tuesday, August 31

Come to heal and restore us Lord

Father of life and healing, we praise and bless you today. Thank you for preserving us from every danger and harm, especially from the power of the evil one and his minions. Through the guidance and protection of our guardian angels, constantly abide with us today. May we able to please you today in everything that we thing, say and do. We ask this through Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

St. Raymund Nonnatus, intercede and pray for us.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Monday, August 30

Come to heal and restore us Lord

Father of life and healing, we praise and bless you today. Thank you for preserving us from every danger and harm, especially from the power of the evil one and his minions. Through the guidance and protection of our guardian angels, constantly abide with us today. May we able to please you today in everything that we thing, say and do. We ask this through Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

St. Raymund Nonnatus, intercede and pray for us.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Sunday, August 29

Love/God is the foundation of tradition

Loving Father, thank you for your boundless love. Make us today the instrument of that love so that we may be able to show consideration and respect to the weakness and short comings of others. Let us follow your love, the kind of love that never fades and changes but grows all the more. May your love be the only source and basis of any tradition we establish here on earth to help strengthen our relationship with you, with one another and with all your creation. We ask this through Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit.  
Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Saturday, August 28

Share what you have received from God

God our loving Father, your forgiveness is also your love. No matter how serious is our sins or offences, but with our contrite heart and humble spirit, you cancel them out. May we also forgive our brothers and sisters out of love as you did to the first servant. Grant us today the grace of humility and meekness. Like St. Augustine, may we share also your forgiveness and love to those whom we meet today. St. Augustine, pray for us. This we ask through Jesus Christ, the Healer.
Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Friday, August 27

Stay Awake in Faith

Loving Father, as your dearest children, you called to be holy as you are holy. Grant us today the grace to do your holy will. Like St. Paul in the first reading today, may we also caution and encourage one another. May we be equipped with holiness and kindness like lambs constantly burning and shining in our hearts. Through the intercession of St. Monica, make us safe and fruitful today. We ask this through Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Thursday, August 26

A Prayer for God’s Light

Lord,

Let me be still and at peace just for a few moments.
In the busyness of this day, filled as it is with so many cares, doubts, and fears, let me be attentive to where I have been, where I am standing, and where I am headed.
Above all, let me see, with the purity of your eternal Light, where you have been present in my life today.
And make me a reflection of that same divine light as I serve the many needs of my sisters and brothers who might be struggling in any way.

Amen.

Wednesday, August 25

Prayer of Saint Louis IX, King of France

May the three Persons of the Holy Trinity and all the saints protect you from every evil. And may the Lord give you the grace to do his will so that the Lord may be served and honored through you, that in the next life we may together come to see the Lord, love the Lord, and praise the Lord unceasingly.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Tuesday, August 24

Saint Bartholomew, Apostle, Pray for us

O Jesus, Saint Bartholomew’s greatest desire was to know the truth. When first informed about you, his initial reaction was, “How can anything good come from Nazareth?” But as soon as he met you, he wanted to become one of your disciples. You said of him, “Here is a man in whom there is no deception.” I ask Saint Bartholomew to pray against the deceptions that are influencing me and the people I know. Help us to experience your affirmation when we are honest, give us courage to resist lying as a means of self-protection, and inspire our minds to recognize the truth when we hear it.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Monday, August 23

Feast of St. Philip Benizi, Servant of Mary

By your grace, Lord, Saint Philip Benizi was a disciple of the Seven First Fathers and learned to harmonize in his life authority and service, discipline and compassion, prayer and apostolate.

Grant that, through the intercession of Saint Philip Benizi, we may follow Christ, your Son, witness to the Gospel and dedicate our lives to the coming of your kingdom. May we be always open to the voice of your Spirit and attentive to his presence encouraging us to be instruments of joy and peace. May we always be inspired by the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary and offer her our service of love.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Sunday, August 22

Triduum in Honor of St. Philip Benizi, Servant of Mary

Day 3

St. Philip Benizi: Man of Reconciliation and Peace

Blessed are you, Lord God of peace. In Your merciful goodness, you gave Saint Philip to the family of Servants as a model of reconciliation and an apostle of peace. A humble servant of the Blessed Virgin, for his brothers and sisters he was a bond of love and a sign of unity. A faithful disciple of Christ, he responded to violence with gentleness, conquered hatred with love and overcame personal offences with pardon. In cities torn by war and families divided by misunderstanding, he preached the Gospel of reconciliation and peace. He was a sign of your mercy and an instrument of your forgiveness.
Father, grant that our lives reflect gentleness and pardon, friendship and harmony, justice, love and peace.
Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Saturday, August 21

Triduum in Honor of St. Philip Benizi, Servant of Mary

Day 2

St. Philip Benizi: Servant of Life

We bless you, Father, because you gave us Saint Philip Benizi and made him a servant of life according to the image of your Son. He was a brother serving others, a father feeding his children, a friend to those in need.
Through the intercession of Saint Philip Benizi, grant that we may serve life with our words and with our deed. Grant that we be compassionate, sensitive to the expectations of others, and unhesitating in our response to the needy. Make us defenders of justice and agents of peace.
Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Friday, August 20

Triduum in Honor of St. Philip Benizi, Servant of Mary

Day 1

St. Philip Benizi: A light place by God on the lampstand of the Order of Servants of Mary

Blessed are you, Lord, God of glory: in your loving plan, you gave the family of Servants the brilliant light of St. Philip Benizi. In his humility, the servant of your handmaid sought to conceal this light but you, who raise up the lowly, wonderfully revealed it. His was a light of knowledge and understanding in the study of sacred doctrine; of wisdom and prudence in the direction of the Order entrusted to his care; of sanctity and grace in service to others.

Through the intercession of St. Philip, grant us, Father, lover for your Word which enlightens us on our journey through life; grant us genuine faith, confident hope and resplendent love.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Thursday, August 19

Many are invited, but few are chosen

Praise be to you, Lord, for you have entrusted your mission to your Church. Praise be to you for calling your sons and daughters to proclaim your Word in the world. May you continue to strengthen the few who are chosen to bring the message of salvation to all corners of the earth.
May your Spirit be with them to give them wisdom to work according to your commands and for the glory of your Kingdom. May you also continue to call others to participate in your salvation work. May you make them zealous in making you known for the salvation of all, for you live and reign, forever and ever.
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Wednesday, August 18

Are you envious because I am generous? (Mat. 20:15)

Generous God,
We praise you and we honor you for your generosity. You have given us many blessings in our lives. Forgive us if we have not been grateful to all your gifts for us. Forgive us when we are so jealous of your gifts for others when we ourselves receive a different gifts. Help us, Oh God, to always be grateful for all your abundant gifts that we have received in our lives, and grant that with the help of the Holy Spirit, we may become as generous as you are to us. May our generosity reflects yours that people may know that we are your children. We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Tuesday, August 17

Loving and merciful God,

In this difficult and trying time, we give you thanks for the many blessings that you have bestowed upon us, especially the gift of love and life. In all that we experience in this life journey, increase our faith that you are always there with us, nurturing and caring for us. Forgive us at times when we feel like you have abandoned us and have left us alone in our difficult time. Give us the grace to realize your presence even when we cannot see or feel it. Be with Lord, for without you we cannot do anything. Keep us all in your loving embrace and in your powerful protection. 
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Monday, August 16

Loving and merciful God,

Thank you for your patience, your love and mercy. Sometimes we get distracted and drawn away by our egoistic lifestyle, and we abandon or neglect your commandments. With your abundant love, you give us the Holy Spirit to help us be reconciled to you and our neighbor. Increase in us the willingness to share your love with others around us, especially those in need of our help. Grant that through us, many more people will come to know you and your love, be reconciled with your loving mercy and forgiveness. May what we do in this life bear fruit for eternal glory, where you live and reign forever and ever.
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Sunday, August 15

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Solemnity)

Almighty God,
It is with grateful hearts and humble spirit that we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. You called the Blessed Virgin Mary to take part in your work of salvation. And she, as the model of our faith and discipleship, has inspired us to be faithful to the mission entrusted to each one of us. May you strengthen us that we too may be able to stand at the foot of the crosses of our suffering brothers and sisters and at the end complete our joy be seeing you face-to-face in your Kingdom, where you live and reign forever and ever.
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Saturday, August 14

St. Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr

I adore you, O our heavenly Father, because you placed in the most pure womb of Mary your only-begotten Son. I adore You, O son of God, because you condescended to enter the womb of Mary and became truly her actual Son. I adore you, O Holy Spirit, because you deigned to form in her immaculate womb the Body of the Son of God. I adore you, O most Holy Trinity, O one God in the Holy Trinity, for having ennobled the Immaculate in such a divine way. And I will never cease daily, from the first moment I awake, to adore you most humbly, O Divine Trinity, with my face to the ground, repeating three times: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.
Amen.

St. Maximilian’s Prayer to the Holy Trinity

Friday, August 13

Dear God,

We thank you for all that you have given us, especially the gift of life and the gift of love. Increase in us, we pray, our love for you and for our brothers and sisters. Don’t let our hearts be hardened because of our pride, but help us to understand what you want from us. And throughout our lives, may we continue to live out our vocation that you have written for us. And may we continue to cling faithfully to your Son, Jesus Christ, and labor for the salvation of all. This we ask through Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Thursday, August 12

Forgive from the heart


Forgiving Father, grant us forgiveness for sometimes we fail to forgive one another. We use to count and calculate. But today you are teaching us the right way how to forgive, that is, to forgive from the heart. Thank you for reminding us who we really are to you and to each other. That you are our Loving Father and we are brothers and sisters to each other. We are one family. We thank you, through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, in the Holy Spirit.


Amen.


Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Wednesday, August 11

Father in heaven,


Today we thank you for your loving forgiveness. Grant us the grace to correct others fraternally. Grant the grace of humility and true remorse from our wrong doings as well. Make us grow in love and friendship daily. Grant this through Christ our Lord.


Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Tuesday, August 10

Father of Life Eternal,


We thank you for you gift of life nourishment. Today you teach us the true meaning Christian life, that is, to undergo a little dying daily in order for us to truly live with you and others. We know its not an easy process, but the outcome is priceless. Grant us the grace to endure the painful process brought about by selfishness and indifference so that others may live. We ask this through Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit.

Amen.


Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Monday, August 9

Love Abiding Citizens


God of Love, thank you for loving us to the end. You prefer to apply the law of love than just the law of the land. You offer your life to save us, while sometimes we only give when expecting something in return. May we do everything out of love. Make us faithful members your church and make us godly citizens, responsible enough to fulfill our social duties. We ask this through our Lord Jesus, your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.    


Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Sunday, August 8

“They shall all be taught by God.”

Provident Father,
We thank you for giving us Jesus Christ, the eternal Bread. You are indeed the Loving Father who provides and cares. Please forgive us that sometimes we are so impertinent and ungrateful like some of the disciples. Sometimes we forgot how to appreciate or say thank for all the blessings you have given to us every day. Have mercy on us. We ask this through Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit.
Amen. 
     
Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Saturday, August 7

Heavenly Father,

Your Son Jesus came into the world not just to heal us from all infirmities, but to save us from sin and death and bring us back to you. Help and increase our little faith. May this faith, though little, be trusting not doubting. Defend our brothers and sisters from the power of the evil one. Heal those who suffered life threatening deceases. Through the intercession of St. Peregrine, grant them healing in body and spirit. This we ask through Jesus Christ, the Healer.  
     
Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Friday, August 6

“His Clothes Became Dazzling White”

Loving Father,
Jesus is the summary of the Law and the Prophets. Grant us the grace to always listen and follow His voice in our thoughts, words and actions. May we always spend quality time with you in our individual and community prayers, especially in the Eucharist. Nourish us with your Word and Sacraments so that we will attain constant transformation as your children. Please constantly abide with us.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus, your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.
Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Thursday, August 5

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God
Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, receive our prayer as we seek your maternal protection and intercession. When sin oppresses us, may you inspire us to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. When we experience pain and sorrow in our lives, walk with us to encourage and sustain us in our need. Be near us, your sons and daughters, in our homes and forever in our hearts, now and at the hour of death.
Amen. 
Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Wednesday, August 4

Prayer to St. John Vianney: Cure of Ars

Holy Cure of Ars, your whole life was a single-minded offering of yourself to God for the service of all. Through your intercession, may the Holy Spirit lead us now to respond without faltering in our daily lives to the call which God has given to each one of us.

You were steadfast in adoring Christ in the tabernacle: Teach us to draw close, in faith and reverence, to the Eucharist, to relish the silent presence of God in the Blessed Sacrament.

You were the friend of sinners: increase in us repentance for our sins. Give us a true understanding of the way the Father looks upon us, tirelessly waiting for the return of the prodigal son or daughter.

You were the sustainer of the poor: Teach us to give up our comfort so that we may share with those in need.

You were a loving son of the Virgin Mary: Teach us to turn to her with the trust and simplicity of a child.

You have become an outstanding model for the parish priests of the whole world. Give pastors a love for the Church, apostolic zeal, and steadfastness in trials. Awaken in the hearts of young people an awareness of the splendor of the priestly ministry and the joy of responding to the call of the Good Shepherd. Holy Cure’ of Ars, intercede for us to God.

Amen.

(Adapted from prayer by Father Guy Bagnard, Bishop of Belley-Ars)

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Tuesday, August 3

In Jesus’ Name we Pray

Loving Father, forgive us for any feelings of jealousy or envy which we know are not righteous and are very detrimental to our well-being, our health, and our relationships. Keep us from looking at the attributes and achievements of others and wishing we had their gifts and graces. Help us, Lord, to develop an attitude of contentment and peace, which we know only comes from you. Lord, help us to develop an attitude of gratitude for all that we are and all that we have. And Lord, we pray that you would give us the grace to think about whatever is true and good, whatever is right and pure, whatever is lovely and admirable, and whatever is excellent and praiseworthy and to fix our mind and heart on such things. Help us Lord, for we know that all things are possible with you. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Thank You Father. 
Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Monday, August 2

No Other Treasure Besides You, Jesus

I will have no other treasure besides you, Lord Jesus! My heart shall no longer seek its Beloved; it has found you. My love shall no longer languish far from you, now that I know your dwelling-place. Oh, draw me now entirely to you, Lord Jesus, my mind with all its thoughts, my heart with all its desires and affections, my will with all its actions, my body with all its senses, that I may live no longer in myself but in you.

St. Peter Julian Eymard

Sunday, August 1

Jesus, Source of Life and Nourishment

Lord Jesus Christ,
You are the Bread of life come down from heaven. You alone can satisfy the hunger in my heart and quench the thirst in my soul. May I always find in you, the true Bread from heaven, the source of life and nourishment I need to sustain me on my journey. Only you, Jesus, can fill the empty spot in my heart and in my soul. Jesus, Bread of Life, strengthen me and sustain me through the challenging days I face. I believe in you, Lord Jesus. I praise you, Lord Jesus. I give you thanks, Lord Jesus.
Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM
Mo

Saturday, July 31

Saint Ignatius Loyola, Pray for Us

Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess You have given me: I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace; with these I will be rich enough and will desire nothing more.

Prayer of Self Offering ~ St. Ignatius of Loyola

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Friday, July 30

Lord Jesus, Help our Unbelief

Lord Jesus, we come to you with faith, and trust that you hear our prayers and respond to our needs. We pray that you help our unbelief when doubt arises, or when we stray from our faith and trust in you. Send us your Holy Spirit to bless us with trust and hope in you and an eagerness and readiness to receive what you offer us. Help us to be docile to your Holy Spirit, so that the Spirit can do miracles in our lives. Thank you, Lord, for not giving up on us due to our lack of faith and trust. We want to allow you to have total control over our life. Today pour out your grace and your blessing upon us, our family members, and those most in need of your healing touch and love.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Thursday, July 29

Living God,

You valued and honored your friendship with Martha, Mary and Lazarus and you even called your followers ‘Your friends’ and not ‘servant.’ You are our Truest Friend, Lord, to whom we can trust all our life stories with its ups and downs. We “have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God …” As you valued and honored your friendship with Martha, Mary and Lazarus, may we value and honor our friendship with you, Holy Trinity, with the Blessed Virgin Mother, with your Saints and with our neighbors. May we befriend all people without separation and divisions of our color, race, religion, political stance and many other walls in our lives; but let us be united to your friendship. This we ask through Christ, our True Friend.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Wednesday, July 28

The Kingdom of heaven is like …

Lord Jesus,

We thank you for your constant reminder of heaven as our final destination.

Thank you especially for reminding us that heaven starts now and right here if we are willing to sacrifice anything and everything for the sake of Your Kingdom. Today, we may ask this question, “What is the Kingdom of heaven like for me and for my community?”

Renew in us, Lord Jesus, the authenticity of the discipleship that we may continue to be the real images of God who created us and called us to build his Kingdom on earth. May nothing hinder our faith journey to make your Kingdom known throughout the world. For you live and reign forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Tuesday, July 27

Oh kind and merciful Lord,

Thank you for your bountiful love, mercy and forgiveness.

We are a stiff-necked people, yet you pardon our sins and receive us as your own.

Renew in us, Lord, our understanding of your loving kindness, and direct our hearts to the things of heaven since “so surpassing is [your] kindness toward those who fear [you].”

May we always learn from you how to love and forgive others around us since you are the source of all love and forgiveness, and you love us unconditionally.You who live and reign forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Monday, July 26

Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Loving God,

We thank You because You gave the Church the example of holy life through Saints Joachim and Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Their righteousness and their respected lives helped our Blessed Virgin Mother, Mary, to be a woman of faith in You, O Lord, grew while she lived in the house of Joachim and Anne. What a privilege it must be for Joachim and Anne knowing that Mary was chosen to be the Mother of God’s Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. What a joy it must be for them knowing that the Messiah came into the world through their family.

Lord Jesus, it’s also a privilege for us knowing that You and the Blessed Mother Mary want to come into our lives and into our homes. It’s a great joy knowing that Mother Mary will always intercede for us whenever we come to her and ask her intercession and prayer and that You, Lord, come to our lives to save us and to love us unconditionally. As we receive You and Your love into our life, may we be strengthen to share that love with everyone around us.

Lord Jesus, may your love live in us now and forever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM
W

Sunday, July 25

Merciful God,

We are grateful for all that we have received from You, especially Your abundant blessing that we have experienced through the Eucharist. Make us worthy to receive You in the Eucharist “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace …”.

Inspire us with Your Spirit to be courageous witnesses of Your mercy and kindness every days of our lives.
We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Saturday, July 24

We will do everything that the LORD has told us.

Oh Lord,
We come to you with our humble hearts to give you thanks for all your ordinances.
Lord, we thank you that we have all your Words to live our lives in Your path and righteousness. Forgive us when we fail to do what You have told us to do and for all that we have done not in accordance with Your commandments. Help us to “humbly welcome the word that has been planted in [us]” that our faith may grow and bear fruit for your kingdom. And may our lives reflect what we have received from you. We ask this through Christ, our Lord.
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Friday, July 23

The one who hears the Word and understands it will bear much fruit.

Almighty God,

You have planted all your commandments in our hearts.

We thank you for your life-giving Word.

We humbly ask you to make Your Word and commandments dwell and grow stronger in us and be rooted in the love of Christ that we may bear fruit and yield a hundred or sixty or thirty fold.

May Christ continue to inspire us to love You above all things, for You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Thursday, July 22

“Go to my Bothers.”

Lord our God, we thank you for your gift of eternal life. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead was the proof that love triumphs over sin and death.

As we celebrate today the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, called the apostle to the apostles, may we always become the modern witnesses of your resurrection. May our faith be strengthened in the midst of countless discouraging. Like Mary Magdalene, may we also come to a clearer vision of seeing you as the One true God.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus, your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Wednesday, July 21

“A sower went to sow.”

Provident Father, everything that is good is from you. We owned nothing but sin. Grant us the grace of fruitfulness. May your life-giving words grow within us. Constantly nurture in us the seed of your Word. Grant us the grace of constant humility so that we may become good and fertile soul, in order for the word of your Son, our Lord and Saviour, to bear fruit each day. Heal us in our woundedness.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus, your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Tuesday, July 20

“Here are my Mother and my Brothers.”

Heavenly Father, help us to grow in our relationship with you through your Son. Grant us the grace of brotherly and sisterly relationships that transcends race, culture, color and even blood relationships. To have a baptismal certificate is one thing, but to establish personal relationship with you is another. May we be able to live out these two aspects of our identity, that we are baptized and called your children because we believe and love you.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus, your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Monday, July 19

“Wish to see a sign from you.”
Loving Father, we feel sorry that sometimes we are treating Jesus your Son, our Lord and Savior, like the scribes and Pharisees, asking too much but without faith. Sometimes we treat the Lord Jesus like a magician or like someone performing on stage just to amuse or entertain us. We all know that you don’t need an audience nor viewers but believers. As your children, may we follow more you closely each day.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus, your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.
Amen.
Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Friday, July 16

A Prayer of Welcome

Gracious God,

We are blessed to have this beautiful Sanctuary in the city.

May pilgrims and visitors feel welcomed as they are surrounded by the majesty of the tall cedars.

May the bird song, the rustling leaves, branches and the greeting of our staff allow all who visit to lay down their burdens here.

May they feel your loving mercy, and be inspired by the images of angels and saints to follow your Son Jesus more sincerely.

And may Blessed Mary offer her humble encouragement as visitors pray, explore, seek and learn.

As our visitors leave this place may they be filled with the gift of compassion and hope.

We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Thursday, July 15

“Come to me all who labor and are burdened”

Saint Peregrine, Servant of Mary, you heard Jesus’ call to come to Him and place your burdened before Him and He “will give you rest”. You did not hesitate to go to Jesus with your burden of illness and your need for healing seeking Jesus’ solace and blessing. Jesus heard your cry, healed you and lifted the burden from your shoulder.

Saint Peregrine, through your powerful intercession, we pray for ourselves and for all in our family that “labor and are burdened” by cancer, by other life-threatening disease or any sinful inclination. As you trusted and confided, may we too trust and confide in Jesus that we shall find rest and healing now and always. As you lived praising and thanking Jesus and sharing the good news with many, so may we imitate you in praising the Lord for his loving and healing mercy and in sharing this good news with others.

Saint Peregrine, pray for us!

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Wednesday, July 14

Make us meek and humble

Heavenly Father, make us meek and humble that we may know and understand You and that your love and mercy be manifested in us. By the help of your grace and love may we overcome being full of pride and self-worth. We seek to be meek and humble, to be childlike before you, our loving God, and before our brothers and sisters so that we may receive and understand the Good News. May we be meek and humble, childlike, so that we may not miss out on the joy, blessings and goodness that comes from knowing, loving, serving, and praising you.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Tuesday, July 13

“. . . You who seek God, take heart . . . “

Lord, let us not be distracted by evil nor by what others say or do. Let us seek God and take heart. Let us constantly be aware that God is alive and is with us here and now. God walks with us at every moment and wherever we go. May the awareness of God’s presence in our life and in the life of those around us make a difference in the way we live.

Lord, it is your continuing presence, love, guidance, and care of all your creation that is the greatest and most commonplace miracle you perform. We give you thanks that, even though we may not always recognize or give you thanks for your merciful and compassionate love, you do not abandon us or forget us. Be with us and draws us to the wonder of your love and lead us to serve and love others in your name.

Lord, may I seek you always and take heart.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Monday, July 12

Joy of God’s Ransomed People

I give you thanks, O Lord;
though you have been angry with me,
Your anger has abated, and you have consoled me.
God indeed is my Savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the Lord,
and He has been my Savior.
Give thanks to the Lord, acclaim His name;
among the nations make known His deeds,
proclaim how exalted is His name.
Sing praise to the Lord for His glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Glory to the Father, and to Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. (Isaiah 12:1-6)

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Sunday, July 11

Messengers of Love and Mercy

Jesus, you want us to tell people about your love for us and to reach out and help others in Your name. You send us to share your message of love and mercy with others. You do not expect us to so alone but always in union with others. Jesus, You gave us the Church as our community of support and encouragement. Bless the Church’s efforts to fulfill Your mission and to support all of us as we seek to live out our Baptismal consecration in Christian discipleship. May all that we say and do be said and done in your name, Lord Jesus.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Saturday, July 10

Mary, Help of Christians, Pray for us

Most Holy Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, how sweet it is to come to your feetimploring your perpetual help.
If earthly mothers cease not to remember their children,how can you, the most loving of all mothers forget me?
Grant then to me, I implore you, your perpetual help in all my necessities,in every sorrow, and especially in all my temptations.

I ask for your unceasing help for all who are now suffering.

Help the weak, cure the sick, convert sinners.

Grant through your intercessions many vocations to the religious life.

Obtain for us, O Mary, Help of Christians, that having invoked you on earth wemay love and eternally thank you in heaven. – St. John Bosco
Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Friday, July 9

Martyrs of China, Pray for us

God our loving and merciful Father, source of strength and courage for St. Augustine Zhao Rong and his companions, the Martyrs of China, in their time of sorrow and suffering as they professed fidelity to you, may we place our trust in You. We are confident that as our loving and merciful God, You will never abandon us or leave us alone in our time of greatest need. We trust that you are always ready to help us. We pray that the Holy Spirit will always inspire and guide us, nourishing our hope and trust in You. Jesus Christ, Your Son, assures us that you love us and will reward our faithfulness one day when we will see you face to face.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Thursday, July 8

…let your peace come upon it.

Lord Jesus, send us your Spirit that we too may become your hands and feet to bring your healing words, your peace and joy to all people around us especially in this world where healing is most needed, relationships needs to be restored, peace and joy have been waited for. Grant that we may become your truth and light wherever we go. Let your peace be upon all those we meet everyday. May your joy be with those who welcome you in their hearts. We ask you this, Lord Jesus, who live and reign, now and forever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Wednesday, July 7

The kingdom of heaven is at hand

Christ Jesus, through Baptism, you have called us to be the witnesses of the reign of your Kingdom. Send us, Lord, to proclaim to all people that “your kingdom is at hand.” May our actions simply become the reflection of our willingness to make your kingdom be visible and available for all who open their hearts. May your grace be upon us as we celebrate your presence in our midst. For you live and reign forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Tuesday, July 6

“… so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”

God of the harvest, we thank you for all those whom you have sent and have labored for your harvest. May you continue to give them wisdom and strength to bear fruit abundantly for you Kingdom. We ask you, God of the harvest, to send more laborers for your harvest. Let your spirit call and guide their hearts to be attentive to the signs of the times and always ready to do your will. We ask you this, Oh God of the harvest, through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Monday, July 5

“If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured.”

Jesus, our dear physician, in this world that is still suffering from many illnesses and death, come and be with your people. Let your people touch your cloak of healing that they may be strengthened in their faith and may they be healed from their burdens of life. Restore our life and give us the grace to believe in your healing power which is available for each of us who put our trust in you. Nothing can separate us from your love, Lord, not even death. You have destroyed the sting of sin and death so that we may live with you and the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Sunday, July 4

Independence Day

Almighty God, source of freedom, peace and justice,

We give you thanks today for all the blessings that this country, the United States of America, has received, especially the gift of peace, justice and freedom.

As we celebrate the Independence Day, help us to continue to love one another and to see each other as brothers and sisters, as people of one nation and not divided by our race and color.

Free us, O God, from every fear and sin, but bring us the joy of celebrating your love this Independence Day. We ask this through Christ, Our Lord.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Saturday, July 3

St. Thomas the Apostle, “…. I will not believe”

Lord Jesus,

Thank you for not giving up on us. Sometimes, we act like St. Thomas the Apostle: we don’t put our trust in you especially when things don’t work out well as we plan them. We often forget the prayer of the Blessed Virgin Mother, “Be it done to me according to your word!” And the prayer that Jesus taught us, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!”

Help us, Lord, to believe in you even when we don’t see a sign. Sustain us with Word and your Sacraments, nourish us with your presence especially in the Eucharist, that we may have a complete trust in your saving work in and through us. We ask you this, for you live and reign forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Friday, July 2

Follow me

Lord Jesus, you called St. Matthew to follow you, and he left everything and followed you. Call other sons and daughters now to follow you as priests, religious men and women, and lay ministers to proclaim the wonderful truth of salvation to the end of the earth. Make the heralds of your unfailing love and mercy. May through their sacrifice and witnesses, people’s faith in you be strengthened and may your Church continue to grow everywhere. For you live and reign forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Thursday, July 1

Loving God,

We recognize that in many ways we are also paralyzed. Whenever we ignore someone in need, we are like the paralytic man in the gospel today. Heal us and restore us to health. Grant us a clear vision to see clearly around us that we have so much to do. Grant us the heart that bleeds whenever we see people deprived of their rights and needs. Grant us the grace to be able to extend our hands to help and save others. We ask this through our Lord Jesus, your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Wednesday, June 30

Father in Heaven,

The world is sick. The world doesn’t just need of your healing hand but also of your word that expel all forms of evil that torment the most vulnerable. Grant us the grace to help ease the pain and sufferings of others. Drive all evil seen and unseen. Expel the spirit of indifference in us. We ask this through our Lord Jesus, your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Tuesday, June 29

God our loving Father,

Help us grow our knowledge and love of you, especially the young. May we come to know and love you more. May our faith become personal, not hearsays, so that when you ask us, like Peter, we can also give the right answer about who you really are to each of us. Each of us is very personal to you. May You also be very personal to each one of us. We ask this through our Lord Jesus, your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Monday, June 28

Lord God,

Grant us courage to follow and do your will today. May we not hesitate to do what is right and good. May we not allow the day to pass unproductive. Help us undo our excuses, our cowardice or indifference. Help us to be generous. We ask this through our Lord Jesus, your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Sunday, June 27

God our Father,

Sorry if sometimes we easily give up or quit coming to you for help. Sometimes we lose our patience and confidence in your loving providence. Sometimes, in our need, we need to wait, or we need to exert so much effort in order to prove to you that we really believe and love you. Like the woman in today’s Gospel, give us strength and perseverance in following you, that in the midst of life’s difficulties, we may be constantly sustained by that same grace, and finally restored life and health with you. We ask this through our Lord Jesus, your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Saturday, June 26

Lord God,

You showed us today another model to faith. That you listen and answer to the prayers of someone who truly trusts and believes in you. That you are not after the social status of the person, but rather, you are after our humble and contrite heart. Like the centurion, we may also learn how to entrust all our worries and afflictions unto you. We ask this through our Lord Jesus, your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Friday, June 25

Lord God,

Sorry if sometimes we act as if we entitled to ask anything. That we have right to ask this or that. May we imitate the attitude of the leper in the gospel today, though he suffered a lot from that miserable situation. Your will is not just to heal each one of us but to save us from sin and death.We ask this through our Lord Jesus, your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Thursday, June 24

John is his name

God, our Father,

You blessed Saint John the Baptist with the gifts of joy and humility. In his mother’s womb, Saint John leaped with joy as he recognized the presence of Jesus in their midst. Saint John humbly accepted his mission as the precursor of the Lord and his joy was complete when he heard Jesus’ voice and recognized that the time had come for Jesus to increase as he was to decrease. Saint John prepared the way for Jesus to begin his ministry here on earth. May we follow Saint John’s example of being open to the will and the Word of God and recognize Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Like Saint John, may we prepare the way of the Lord in the lives of our sisters and brothers.

Amen.

Litany of St. John the Baptist

St. John, illustrious Precursor of the Lord… Pray for usSt. John, foretold by the angel and the prophets… Pray for usSt. John, who received your name from God… Pray for usSt. John, who was conceived by a miracle… Pray for usSt. John, who leaped with joy in your mother’s womb… Pray for usSt. John, whose birth was accompanied by marvels… Pray for usSt. John, who was proclaimed great from your birth… Pray for usSt. John, at whose birth many rejoiced… Pray for usSt. John, who grew and became strong in the Spirit… Pray for us

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Wednesday, June 23

Every Good Tree Bears Good Fruit

Lord Jesus,

Grant us the grace and strength that we need so that we may repent of our sin and receive You as Lord of our lives. Change our hearts and make of us a new creation. May the fruit that is produced from our heart, a heart in tune with You as Lord, be love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Through the action of the Holy Spirit in us change our attitudes, actions, words, and perspectives that we may seek always to serve you and our sisters and brothers, especially those most in need.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Tuesday, June 22

Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, you both crafted a keen conscience and paid with your lives to follow it, pray for us!

Prayer of Saint Thomas More

O Lord, give us a mind that is humble, quiet, peaceable, patient and charitable, and a taste of your Holy Spirit in all our thoughts, words, and deeds.

O Lord, give us a lively faith, a firm hope, a fervent charity, a love of you.

Take from us all lukewarmness in meditation and all dullness in prayer.

Give us fervor and delight in thinking of you, your grace, and your tender compassion toward us.

Give us, good Lord, the grace to work for the things we pray for.

Amen.
St. Thomas More, Saint and Martyr, Pray for us
St. Thomas More, Patron of Statesmen, Politicians and Lawyers
St. Thomas More, Patron of Justices, Judges and Magistrates
St. Thomas More, Model of Integrity and Virtue in Public and Private Life
St. Thomas More, Servant of the Word of God and the Body and Blood of Christ
St. Thomas More, Model of Holiness in the Sacrament of Marriage
St. Thomas More, Teacher of his Children in the Catholic Faith
St. Thomas More, Defender of the Weak and the Poor
St. Thomas More, Promoter of Human Life and Dignity

“A good person is not a perfect person; a good person is an honest person, faithful and unhesitatingly responsive to the voice of God in their life.” – Saint John Fisher, Bishop, Martyr

Monday, June 21

A Prayer for our Visitors

Gracious God,
May we extend your boundless hospitality to all who visit our Sanctuary.
May we approach each person not as a mere visitor, but as a guest that we have prepared for and anxiously awaited their arrival.
May we encounter each and every Pilgrim as a brother or sister seeking you.
May our words, and actions, as well as the gardens, shrines, artwork, and chapels here surround them with your eternal message of hope, love and salvation.

Amen.

Sunday, June 20

Happy Father’s Day
Strength of a Mountain


God took the strength of a mountain,

The majesty of a tree,

The warmth of a summer sun,

The calm of a quiet sea,

The generous soul of nature,

The comforting arm of night,

The wisdom of the ages,

The power of the eagle’s flight,

The joy of a morning in spring,

The faith of a mustard seed,

The patience of eternity,

The depth of a family need,

Then God combined these qualities,

When there was nothing more to add,

He knew His masterpiece was complete,

And so, He called it … Dad

– Author Unknown

Saturday, June 19

Feast of St. Juliana Falconieri, Servant of Mary

We praise you, Father, and we bless You, because in your merciful providence You called forth in your Church the Seven Saints, our fathers and brothers, Saint Juliana, and, down through the centuries, many men and women to serve Mary, your servant and mother of your Son.

By your grace, O God, Juliana, together with the first Servites, strengthened in faith by the sacraments and nourished with the Word of life, proclaimed the wonders of your love, and prayed for the health of the sick and for the conversion of sinners.

By your kindness, O God, Juliana, like the first Servites, was attentive to the promptings of the Spirit, and carried out your will. With compassion and mercy, Juliana stood beside the crosses of her brothers and sisters with her eyes turned toward Christ and His Sorrowful Mother.

By your gift, O God, Juliana, from the first Servites,, learned to honor Mary as her Lady, to sing her praises, and to take refuge under her mantle.

Stir up in us, O Lord, through the intercession of Saint Juliana, a love for that silence which gives space to the Word, a thirst for You,a nd a hunger for the Bread of Life.
To You, Father, life giving fountain, through Christ your faithful servant ,in the Spirit who renews all things all honor and glory forever.

Amen.

(In Praise of Saint Juliana of Florence)

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Friday, June 18

Triduum in Honor of St. Juliana Falconieri

Day 3

God, our Father,

You allowed St. Juliana to received the Body of Christ in her heart when she was unable to consume the host because of her illness. You called her home joyfully after receiving the Eucharist.

May the Eucharist deepen our love for you and for one another and may it become a source of strength in time of distress, our food in time of fasting and our healing in time of sickness. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Thursday, June 17

Triduum in Honor of St. Juliana Falconieri

Day 2

Father in heaven, guided by your Spirit, St. Juliana became the loving motherand wise teacher of women who wished to be disciples of Jesus and servants of his mother Mary.

May her life and holiness bring joy to your Church. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Liturgy of the Hours – OSM

Wednesday, June 16

Triduum in Honor of St. Juliana Falconieri

Day 1

God, our Father,
You called Juliana, who was a model of penance and chaste love, to form a new community of sisters, Servants of Mary.

Grant that your Church, as the loving bride of Jesus, may always witness this gift of total love in the lives of consecrated women. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Liturgy of the Hours, OSM

Tuesday, June 15

Lord Jesus,

You invite us today to love not only those who love us but also those who hate us. Your command of love our enemies is set in parallel with the invitation to pray for those who persecute us. Help us your followers to work toward building up your Kingdom where peace, justice and truth prevail. Help us to recognize your image in all people and to love them as you would love them. May we see in in each other the need of redemption. May we continue to pray for our “enemies” and may our hearts reach out their hearts so that they may find restoration and reconciliation. Gracious and compassionate God, help us your children to be gracious and compassionate as you are.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Monday, June 14

Lord Jesus,

You give us a new standard today based on the law of love and mercy. You transform the law of justice and mercy with grace and loving-kindness. You call us to seek the good of those who wish us ill. Help us with your Spirit to treat others not as they deserve but as you wish them to be treated – with loving-kindness and mercy. May we love not only those who love us, but all those who are ungrateful and selfish towards us.

Lord Jesus, free us from the tyranny of malice, hatred, revenge and resentment and give us the courage to return evil with good. Teach us to pray for those who despitefully use us that we may bear fruit for your Kingdom, where you live and reign forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Sunday, June 13

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lord Jesus, you taught us today that even the smallest of all the seeds on the earth can become the largest of plants. Sometimes we feel that our small actions and simple words are insignificant. But with faith and love that we have in you, our small actions and simple words can make a difference in someone else’s life and faith journey. Mother Theresa of Calcutta once said, “We can do small things with great love.”

Make us aware, dear Lord, that you have the power to make us and our actions be the means of your salvation to others around us, that you have the power to make us the largest plants where many people come and find peace and reconciliation. For you live and reign forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Saturday, June 12

The Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Almighty God, you prepared the heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary to be your dwelling place. You made her heart pure, immaculate and undefiled to welcome you in her life. Thus she was found favor with you and she made room for you in her heart.

Purify our hearts, we pray, that we too may have a room in our hearts to welcome you all the time. Wash our hearts from all the stain of sin that we may treasure your Word and ponder it like Mary did. Help us to have pure hearts to know the power of your Word and help us to know who we are and who we are to become. Be the king of our hearts, Lord, now and forever.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Friday, June 11

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Lord Jesus,

Amid all your suffering, there is nothing more painful than to see your side pierced by a soldier’s lance, even when you are already dead on the Cross. But we know, Lord Jesus, that you are alive because your heart was still full of love for all, including those who persecuted you, for you yourself prayed for them, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:24).

Forgive us, Lord Jesus, for the times that we thrust your side ‘in [our] thoughts and in [our] words, in what [we] have done and in what [we] have failed to do.”Let your blessing flow out from your Sacred Heart and bring us peace and joy knowing that you love us unconditionally. May we continue to experience your love in our lives and be grateful for all the ups and downs that we may encounter. And may we praise your Most Sacred Heart, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Thursday, June 10

Loving God,

Make us grow in our commitment as Christians in this changing world. Make us stay so as to grow and mature. May we not be contented with only seeking justice or what is due to others and all your creatures. For indeed, what good is it for us if even unbelievers do the same? May we grow more in our commitment of love, that we do not render only justice, but love. That when someone asks us for a cup of water to drink, we also give her or him food to eat as well, etc. We ask this through our Lord Jesus, your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Wednesday, June 9

Father in heaven,

As your children, you are expecting from each of us more than from anything else. Increase our faith, hope and love for you today. May we not only fulfil the legality of the law or commands but perfect even the very spirit of law. For you, this is perfection. May we do everything and accept everyone with love. Like you, may the measure of our love be to love without measure. We ask this through our Lord Jesus, your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Tuesday, June 8

God our loving Father,

Like your love, let our love be felt or tasted by others through our loving care of others, especially the less fortunate. Let the light of your truth be the words spoken by our mouths. Like the light, may our goodness be also boundless. We ask this through our Lord Jesus, your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Monday, June 7

Lord God,

You taught us today, that the mother of all virtues is humility. Unless we are humble, we cannot be generous or kind enough. Teach our hearts to be humble. Humble our sinful pride. Remove form us the tendency of entitlement. Rather, instill in us the spirit of love. The kind of love that breaks every kind of barrier or division. We ask this through our Lord Jesus, your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Sunday, June 6

God our Father,

We use to content ourselves with food and drinks that not only perishes, but also destroys our health in the process and eventually shortens our lives. In today’s feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of your Son Jesus, may we desire Him, our true and lasting Food, the Food that not only will sustain us here on earth, but also can bring us back to You. May we also come to your altar of sacrifice at Mass, the highest form of Christian prayer, where can completely receive Jesus, you Son, as our lasting Food both through the words we hear in the Scripture and in partaking of His Sacred Body and Blood. We ask this through our Lord Jesus, your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Saturday, June 5

Lord God,

Today you revealed to us the truth, that you are not just the son of David with regards to you human and Jewish origin, but you revealed as well that you are more than that, that you are greater than king David.

Help us grow in knowing and loving you and our brothers and sisters daily.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus, your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Friday, June 4

St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs of Uganda

“It is as if you are pouring water on me. Please repent and become a Christian like me.” – Saint Charles Lwanga to his executioner

We thank you Jesus for loving us so much and caring so deeply that we love one another. Help us to love as you love. May the Holy Spirit inspire us to always love you, Lord and God, with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

May we love you with all our heart and so love you exclusively. May we love you with all our soul for in you we find our true fulfillment. May we love you with all our mind as we seek to obey and follow your command. May we love you with all our strength for we place our trust and confidence in you as we face trials and difficulties.

Lord Jesus, help us to love those you put in our way today and so bring glory to your name and show them your love. May we marvel always at the blessings that come our way today from you, our loving God, and give you praise.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Thursday, June 3

St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs of Uganda

“It is as if you are pouring water on me. Please repent and become a Christian like me.” – Saint Charles Lwanga to his executioner

We thank you Jesus for loving us so much and caring so deeply that we love one another. Help us to love as you love. May the Holy Spirit inspire us to always love you, Lord and God, with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

May we love you with all our heart and so love you exclusively. May we love you with all our soul for in you we find our true fulfillment. May we love you with all our mind as we seek to obey and follow your command. May we love you with all our strength for we place our trust and confidence in you as we face trials and difficulties.

Lord Jesus, help us to love those you put in our way today and so bring glory to your name and show them your love. May we marvel always at the blessings that come our way today from you, our loving God, and give you praise.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Wednesday, June 2

“Blessed are You, O Lord, Merciful God”

The foundation of our faith rests on the lives of the holy men and women of the early Church who willingly gave themselves over to the faith, courageous and joyful in their martyrdom. Sts. Marcellinus and Peter, pray for us!

God our Father, as you heard the cry of Tobit and of Sarah in their severe affliction and desperation, listen to our prayers for ourselves and our sisters and brothers who suffer today due to physical, spiritual, or emotional pain and sorrow. As you sent the Archangel Gabriel as your messenger of healing, hope and strength for Tobit and Sarah, so also today grant healing, hope and strength to those who cry out to you in their need, their pain, their sorrow. With Tobit we pray: “Lord, command me to be delivered from such anguish” … With Sarah we praise your goodness: “Blessed are you, O Lord, merciful God and blessed is your holy and honorable name. Blessed are you in all your works forever!”

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Tuesday, June 1

“To God what belongs to God”

“The greatest grace God can give someone is to send them a trial they cannot bear with their own powers … and then sustain them with His grace so they may endure to the end and be saved.” – St. Justin, Martyr

Prayer

Loving and merciful Father, we ask for Your grace that we may always “greatly delight in your commands” with a “heart that is firm and trusting” in you.
Lord, we are weak, and even though the desire to do what is right and pleasing to you resides in our hearts, too often we fail and fall short.
Lord, we ask you to reign in our heart and soul and in the world around us, that our hearts may be steadfast in loving you and our sisters and brothers, especially those most in need.
May we turn away from every sinful and evil inclination and commit our lives totally and completely to you, to give to you God, what belongs to you, through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.
Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Monday, May 31

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Magnificat, taken from Luke’s Gospel (1:46-55), is the Blessed Virgin Mary’s hymn of praise to the Lord.

My soul magnifies the Lord And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; Because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid; For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed; Because He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name; And His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear Him. He has shown might with His arm, He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and has exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has given help to Israel, his servant, mindful of His mercy Even as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever.

How about you? Does your soul magnify the Lord? We may never be able to approach the Lord from Mary’s level of sanctity as the Mother of God. Still, we are all called to be saints, nonetheless. Your good example, like our Blessed Mother’s, can help others in their spiritual growth. Do people see Christ’s love and goodness in you? Are you letting God work within you to accomplish His will?

Let Mary help give you the graces you need to follow her Son and His Church in praying the Magnificat.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Sunday, May 30

Glory be to the Holy Trinity, Now and Forever

“We believe in one God, the Father almighty.”
“We believe in Jesus Christ His only-begotten Son, our Lord.”
“We believe in the Holy Spirit.”

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Glory be to the Father, Who by His almighty power and love created me, making me in the image and likeness of God.

Glory be to the Son, Who by His Precious Blood delivered me from hell, and opened for me the gates of heaven.

Glory be to the Holy Spirit, Who has sanctified me in the sacrament of Baptism, and continues to sanctify me by the graces I receive daily from His bounty.

Glory be to the Three adorable Persons of the Holy Trinity, now and forever.

Amen.

O most Holy Trinity, bless us with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Please give us wisdom so that we may recognize the importance of others and keep God central in our life.  With our voice and our heart, we glorify You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You are great and do wonderful things. You alone are our God. All praise and honor and glory are yours now and forever, O most Holy Trinity!

Amen.

Saturday, May 29

Make us worthy, Lord

St. Paul VI (1897-1978) 

“Humankind today is seeking a new earth: new not because it will be filled with the superfluous luxuries that technological and industrial progress can provide; but new because the hungry will be fed, the homeless housed, the ill cared for, the illiterate educated – a world where all can live more humanly. This will be a new earth of justice and love in which those who have been blessed with much will share what they have with those who have less. And for the Christian who has received the gift of eternal life the chance to help others becomes the occasion to express gratitude for the salvation received from the Lord.”

“Make us worthy Lord, to serve our brothers and sisters throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them, by our hands this day their daily bread, and by our understanding love, peace, and joy. Amen.”

St. Paul

Friday, May 28

“Have faith in God” (Mk. 11:22)

Jesus wants us to place our faith and trust in God and to have no doubts in our heart. Jesus wants us to turn to the Father in prayer for all our needs trusting that whatever we ask for in prayer shall be ours. According to God’s will and in his time, God always keeps promises and answers prayers. We are never alone. We can trust that God will work.

Prayer

Father, help us to deepen our faith and trust in you by believing instead of doubting. When we come to you in prayer, entrusting to you our thoughts and ways, it is then that you will provide in ways more marvelous than we could ever ask or imagine. We can rest in you knowing that you will take care of the rest. May the joy of the Lord be our strength and hope. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Thursday, May 27

Keep moving in faith

He began to cry out, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! – Mk 10:47

Bartimaeus is one of my favorite Bible characters. From his story, I learned several things. First, active faith. The story of Bartimaeus often rebukes me if I just pray and pray without doing anything. Even though I know that prayer is powerful, prayer without action is like we hope to walk ten miles but are reluctant to take the first step. It also reminds me of James’ words that faith without works is empty.

The second thing, strong faith. When we read the story of Bartimaeus, we realize that when Bartimaeus shouted at Jesus, some people told him to be quiet. Many things sometimes tell us to be quiet when we cry out to Him. Disappointment, boredom, impatience, and disbelief often tell us to be quite and stop asking the Lord. Today Bartimaeus teaches us never to give up. Have a strong faith and believe that Jesus will never ignore us, even though we may not see any signs that our prayers will be answered. Keep believing, keep moving in faith because only active faith can make our faith big, strong, and strong.

Prayer

May the Holy Spirit continue to strengthen our faith and help us to remember Bartimaeus whenever we want to give up on our faith. May the Lord come to our aid whenever we call out his name in our need.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Wednesday, May 26

To be first

This is not the case among you. If anyone wants to be great among you, let him be your servant. – Mark 10:43

Most people know that I love playing soccer. Often in games with friends, I want to be a “star.” Indeed, this is what those who consider themselves experts in a certain sport are usually pursuing. In every match they certainly hope to be number one, because it is a matter of pride. We certainly realize that as human beings; we love competition very much and always try to be the first. Sometimes we fail to understand that it takes process and time to be the first, and many want to get there with a shortcut.

Talking about being the first, have we ever realized that it turns out that the Lord Jesus wants other things for us in living life? We can see it in the gospel today with the request of the children of Zebedee that the Lord Jesus share the glory with them. For us, glory is when we become the main character, but that is not glory to Jesus. The main thing that must be achieved is to be a servant. I personally feel rebuked and reminded again that my position in the church is an invitation to be a servant – to serve people so that they can worship and grow in faith and hope. Do I think about my accomplishments as a service for God? Oftentimes, we praise ourselves for our accomplishments and forget to praise God who has everything written on His book.

Prayer

May God, who calls us to serve, help us to recognize that our strength comes from him. May we understand that God will call us his friends if we truly do what he commands us to do. And through our service to our fellow human beings, may we bear fruit abundantly for the Kingdom of God.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Tuesday, May 25

“We have given up everything and followed you.”

Whoever wants to follow Jesus, he must leave the things that he has in the world. Of course, these sayings should not be taken for granted. In Jesus’ day, the disciples left behind jobs, families, and possessions. Along with the times, there are many choices to express love for God, such as choosing to serve full time by giving life completely to God either as a religious life or as a single lay person. Other expressions that can be done include using materials to help others in need, or by being actively involved in church life, as well as many other expressions.

But the most important of all in life is leaving the things that can lead us to sin. Choose to live in God’s truth which is shown daily through attitude and actions, even though they look like simple things. There is no need to be discouraged when we can only do simple things to glorify God. No matter how great it is, if it is done wholeheartedly and lovingly to God, the value is the same before Him. Whatever we have given up as a form of sacrifice to God, give it with joy. God will see a heart that gives and is pleased with what we offer to Him.

Prayer

Almighty God, help us to constantly set our eyes on nothing but you. Enable us to reject the things that lead us to sin, but bring us to a realization that to do your command is what you desire from us. You who live and reign forever and ever. 

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Monday, May 24

The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church

“Woman, behold, your son!”

Today we celebrate the memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. This celebration was first taught by St. Ambrose in the fourth century. Then, at the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council’s third session on November 21, 1964, Pope Paul VI proclaimed the title of “Mother of the Church” for the Virgin Mary. And on February 11, 2018, Pope Francis decided that this celebration be inscribed in the General Roman Calendar and be observed on the Monday following Pentecost Sunday.

Today’s celebration is a significant one for us because the Blessed Virgin Mary comes to our life in a very personal way as our mother. In many apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, she called herself in a deeper and relational way as “your mother” and she called us “my [child] children.” Our relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary is one that will last for all eternity.

She will continue to be the Mother of the Church who will always pray, intercede, guide and protect her children, Jesus’ brothers and sisters.

When Jesus offered us to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he acknowledged the Blessed Virgin Mary’s strong faith and fidelity in following Christ until the end. Jesus entrusted all of us into Mary’s intercession and guidance that we too may have a strong faith like hers and follow the commands of the Lord until the end.

Prayer

Almighty and ever living God, we thank you for the Blessed Virgin Mary, who has always been a great Mother for us and a model of faith as we follow your Son, Jesus Christ. May through her faithful intercession for the Church and all her children, our faith be stronger and may fully live our mission in the Church for the salvation of the world.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Sunday, May 23

Pentecost Sunday

Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

Today we celebrate Pentecost Sunday. Our readings for this celebration pictured everything about how the disciples received the Holy Spirit that “enables them to proclaim” and to forgive or retain the sins of others. And in his letter, Saint Paul reminds the Galatians (and us) that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, selfcontrol.”

We have received the gift of the Holy Spirit through the sacrament of Baptism. Thus, since the beginning, we have been gifted to carry out in our lives the work of the Holy Spirit. What do we do with that gift? Have we been fulfilling its mission in and through our lives? Have we been sharing the love of God? Have we been bringing joy to the poor and the sick? Have we been patient with our spouses and with our children or with our parents? If you have not done so, this is a great time to invite the Holy Spirit to help you to be able to share God’s love and mercy.

With the pandemic still rampant in the world, our Responsorial Psalm calls us to cry out, “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth!”

There is no better time for us to implore God’s mercy and pray that the Holy Spirit helps the leaders of the nations to make better planning for the common good of all people in the world, and may the Holy Spirit renew the face of the earth.

Amen.

Saturday, May 22

St. Rita of Cascia, Religious

Saint Rita was born in 1381 in the town of Roccaporena in Umbria, Italy. Her name was Margherita Lotti. She was married to a brutal husband named Paolo Mancini and had two sons. After the death of her husband and her two sons, Rita became an Augustinian nun. She spent some forty years in prayer, contemplation and service to the poor and the sick. St. Rita died in 1457. She was buried at the Basilica of Cascia and was later discovered to be incorrupt. She was canonized by Pope Leo XII on May 24, 1900.

Along with the memorial of St. Rita, we have come to the end of both Readings today. Both St. John and St. Luke (the author of the Acts of the Apostles) call us all to continue to “testify” and “to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to teach about the Lord Jesus Christ.” With the Solemnity of the Pentecost approaching, let us implore the Holy Spirit to inspire us, to encourage us and to live in us that we may become courageous witnesses of God’s love and mercy.

What do we need to testify? Like St. John, we are called to testify that Jesus loves us and that is enough. We do not need to be like Peter who was so curious about what the Lord would do with others. As the beloved disciple was special to Jesus, each one of us is also incredibly special to Jesus. He loves us justly and unconditionally. That is what we need to testify.

Prayer

May the Lord who strengthened St. Rita in her service also give us the strength that we need to serve God and his people who are poor and sick.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Friday, May 21

St. Christopher Magallanes, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs

Saint Magallanes, along with twenty-one diocesan priests and three lay men were executed for their association with the Cristero uprising which opposed the anti-Catholic Mexican government in the 1920’s. The Cristero motto was “Long live Christ the King and the Virgin of Guadalupe!” Saint Christopher Magallanes was arrested when he was on the way to say Mass, and he was killed four days later without a trial. Before his death, he prayed for the unity of all his Mexican brethren. On May 21, 2000, he was canonized by Pope John Paul II.

These martyrs “followed” the Lord not only in their loving service during their lifetime, but also and especially by shedding their blood and in enduring the pain for the sake of their faith. They loved the Lord and Our Lady of Guadalupe to the point of death.

Their martyrdom teaches us that we have been endowed by the gift of the Holy Spirit, with whom we are strengthened, to follow and to love the Lord in our daily lives.

Prayer

May the Holy Spirit continue to guide our ways that we continue to follow the path of the Lord, even when the other paths are the direct and simple ones. May we faithfully carry out the Lord’s command to love God and our neighbor.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Thursday, May 20

Everyone is Welcome

We have become accustomed to putting up walls and boundaries with others, and will even limit what we do for them. However, in regards to ourselves, the sky is the limit. That has become common in this technological world. But for Jesus, everyone is welcome, and the door of possible encounter and growth is wide open for all.

We heard today the last part of the prayer of Jesus. He prayed not only for the believers – those who accepted and followed Him – but also for those who still resisted His free gift of love.

Jesus never stops working with us. Even though He is already with His Father, His presence remains. We remain close to Him and one with Him in everything that He asks us to say and do. In Christian life, there is no such thing as day off, or off duty. At work, yes. In Christian life, no.

Prayer

Lord, make us always active in faith, hope and love. Grant us the strength we need today that we may be able to share your goodness to those we meet today.

Amen.

Fr. Benedi-an, OSM

Wednesday, May 19

Being Not Having

The world used to condition and encourage us to always acquire and want for more, and sometimes we even apply this principle to each other. Even to the point that we claim the other as “mine,” as if the person is a property.

Life’s meaning and fulfilment cannot be found in “having” but “being.” In fact, true love is the way of “being” not “having”. To love means to set the other free, that is, to let him/her love you back freely without coercion. It means that a true relationship is “being free”. That’s the only way for both parties to grow and mature in loving each other.
We heard in the Gospel today Jesus continuing to pray to His Father. He wants each of us follow, believe and love him freely. Only by constantly prayer and with so much hope he may eventually hear their free “yeses” to his free gift of love. Though their relationship will soon become a long-stance relationship, all the more that their love must grow, for each one becomes freer. For in a long-distance relationship, it’s there that the person is allowed to be truly free to love, to allow him/her “to be”.

We belong to the Lord not because we are His “possessions” or “property” or “collections”. After all, heaven is not a warehouse or a stockroom. Rather, our belonging to God is “to be,” that is, “being” His children. Heaven this way is nothing but home. It is home for those who freely respond to God’s free gift of love.

Jesus left to us His free gift of love in the Church. It is up to us to respond to his love freely or not at all. His only desire is not to “have” us in heaven but to be free citizens, “being with” Him in love.

Prayer

Lord God, free us from enslavement of materialism and consumerism. Direct our eyes to what really endures, and to what can bring us back to You, our true and lasting Home. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Fr. Benedi-an, OSM

Tuesday, May 18

Total Reliance

There is no easy way to win or gain the trust of another, to win one’s love. In short, there is no shortcut or instant way to establish a true and lasting relationship but by patiently and constantly learning to forgive and understand one another. And most of the time, it needs a lot of kneeling, a lot of time spending at prayer – our charging station. 

We heard Jesus praying to his Father for the disciples then and for us now. Why did he pray for them? In the context of Easter Season, Jesus will soon ascend to where he was before, to be with God his Father. So, as Jesus was about to leave them, he knew the disciples will surely become more vulnerable. And so he entrusted them to his Father as he prayed.

Christian life is always a “we” existence. In fact, we can summarize the life and mission of the first Christian believers in the Acts of the Apostles into one word: “We.” St. Paul and others never claimed their failures and successes as “my” but always “our.” Heaven means “we,” that is, a total reliance on God in a totally loving relationship.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, help to work together and help one another. May you become our source of strength and inspiration in everything that we do. Help us to imitate you today.

Amen.

Fr. Benedi-an, OSM

Monday, May 17

Take Courage

“I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. You will suffer in the world, but take courage: I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)

Lord,
There is so much suffering in the world!
Help us keep our eyes fixed on you so that we may not lose hope.
Conquer our fears and help us to follow your example to make this world a better place.
Show us the way to create a world where suffering is minimized,
where justice is sought and achieved,
where peace is found and cherished,
where truth and integrity are valued,
and where kindness, respect, and love can flourish.

Amen.

Sunday, May 16

Love one another

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us,and his love is brought to perfection in us” (1 John 4:11-12).

Loving God,
We give thanks that your love for each one of us is unconditional.
Help us, in turn, strive to love those around us without conditions as well.
In spite of our many imperfections, you can still find the good that lives within us;
Open our eyes so that we may always find the good that dwells
within our family members, our friends, our coworkers, and our neighbors.
Help us to be slow to judge others;
help us to be quick to respond with love, insight, and encouragement. 

Amen.

Saturday, May 15

Ask and you shall receive

Lord Jesus, you told your disciples, “ask and you shall receive, so that your joy may be complete” (John 16:24).

On this spring morning, as I see renewed life awakening in the trees and flowers around me, I ask for new growth and insight within my own heart;
I ask for greater wisdom, so that I may be more understanding;
I ask for greater faith, so that I may trust that you are near;
I ask for compassion, so that I may reach out to those in need;
I ask for joy, so that I may always see the good that surrounds me.

Amen.

Friday, May 14

Faith is not a Job

Faith is not a job, though it requires hard work by means of words and deeds. Faith is a very personal affair. Holiness is not simply given, but earned through constant conversion and perseverance. The secret is our constant abiding or remaining in the Lord Jesus and in his Church.

We need to grow constantly in faith and loving concern with each other and our fellow men, the kind of growth making us capable of laying down our life for a friend. Today is the feast day of St. Matthias. He was the one chosen by the eleven apostles to replace Judas, one of the twelve. His election was not out of popularity nor out of majority vote, but the fruit of intense prayer and trust in God of the community.

Since it is the Holy Spirit that truly discerns, they were able to choose Matthias, even though he was not chosen by Jesus to be among the twelve in the beginning. Yet, like the rest of the apostles, he has been following Jesus from the moment he was baptized in the river Jordan by John. This means that to be given an office or in order for one to be trusted of something by the Lord, one must be a follower, a believer or a witness of him.

The way we treat others should always be in a Christian way, that is, Christ’s way: treat everyone not as slaves but as friends, not as objects but subjects. That is our criteria of living and leading.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, may we desire and aspire nothing but you. Like St Matthias, may we not wait to be called or chosen before we start doing what is good and right. Give us the grace of initiative to help contribute building our family and parish community, a true Christian home, that we treat everyone not just friend but as brother and sister in your name.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Thursday, May 13

Our Lady of Fatima

The Blessed Virgin Mary is venerated under this title following apparitions to three shepherd children — Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco — in Portugal in 1917. The message of Fatima includes a call to conversion of heart, repentance from sin and a dedication to the Blessed Virgin Mary, especially through praying the Rosary.

The three children who received the apparitions had been brought up in an atmosphere of genuine piety: Lucia dos Santos and her two younger cousins, Francisco and Jacinta. On Sunday, May 13, 1917, toward noon, a flash of lightning drew the attention of the children, and they saw a brilliant figure appearing over the trees of the Cova da Iría. The “Lady” asked them to pray for the conversion of sinners and an end to the war, and to come back every month, on the 13th.

Further apparitions took place on June 13 and July 13. On August 13, the children were prevented by local authorities from going to the Cova da Iría, but they saw the apparition on the 19th. On September 13, the Lady requested recitation of the Rosary for an end to the war. Finally, on October 13, the “Lady” identified herself as “Our Lady of the Rosary” and again called for prayer and penitence.

Mary gave the children three secrets. Following the deaths of Francisco and Jacinta in 1919 and 1920 respectively, Lucia revealed the first secret in 1927. It concerned devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The second secret was a vision of hell. Pope John Paul II directed the Holy See’s Secretary of State to reveal the third secret in 2000; it spoke of a “bishop in white” who was shot by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows into him. Many people linked this vision to the assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981.

Official recognition of the “visions” which the children had at the Cova da Iria came on October 13, 1930, when the bishop of Leiria – after long inquiry – authorized the cult of Our Lady of the Rosary at the site. The two younger children had died: Francisco (who saw the apparition but did not hear the words) on April 4, 1919, and his sister Jacinta on February 20, 1920. Sister Lucia died on February 13, 2005 at her Carmelite convent in Coimbra, Portugal, after a long illness. Pray the rosary today for our troubled world, for an end to the suffering attributed to the coronavirus.

Prayer

Most Holy Virgin Mary, Queen of the most holy Rosary, you were pleased to appear to the children of Fatima and reveal a glorious message. We implore you, inspire in our hearts a fervent love for the recitation of the Rosary. May we obtain the graces and virtues that we ask, through the merits of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Wednesday, May 12

Blessed Francis of Siena, Servant of Mary

Francis was born in Siena in 1266. Francis felt the calling to religious life at an early age, but he judged it his duty to help his blind mother. After her death, Francis, then twenty-two years of age, entered the Servants of Mary in Siena. Three years later he was ordained to the priesthood.

He was known for his obedience, zeal in preaching and, above all, for his love of the Eucharist and his devotion to Our Lady. Francis showed a constant concern for his confreres, for the needy and for the suffering whom he sought to counsel and console. He celebrated Mass with great devotion every day and honored Our Lady with many acts of reverence, and he dedicated to her all his actions as priest and friar.

His actions on the last day of his life form a wonderful synthesis of his spirituality: a loving concern for others, because of which, he went to visit his friends and those dear to him, although he sensed his imminent death; an affection toward his confreres, with whom he wished to eat a last meal; his love of the Eucharist, which he celebrated that same day, the vigil of the Ascension; his zeal in preaching and his obedience, for he started out toward the village of Prisciano, where he was to preach, even though he was weak and fainting; his love for Our Lady, before whose small altar he genuflected while he placed a bouquet of roses there in her honor.

Francis died on May 26, 1328. Francis was beatified by Pope Benedict XIV in 1743. His body is venerated in the Basilica of Santa Maria dei Servi in Siena.

Prayer

Fill us, Lord God, with the same dedication and gentleness with which Blessed Francis devoutly served the Mother of God and provided spiritual direction for your people. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Tuesday, May 11

Holy Spirit, we praise and thank you

We need to keep seeking God’s perspective, to see others as God sees them, to judge as God judges.

Think back to some circumstances of the crucifixion. Those who plotted the death of Jesus did so out of a false piety by which they pretended to be doing the will of God. But the fact is that Jesus was not guilty of sin; they were guilty of sin by not believing in Jesus as Son of God. Some people ridiculed Jesus for calling God His Father and jeered that if God were His Father God would save him. They did not understand that it was precisely through His death that Jesus would return to His Father in glory. Some saw the death of Jesus as the triumph of Satan, the prince of this world, over good. But it was the death of Jesus which reduced evil to powerlessness, for it was in dying that Jesus destroyed death.

It is the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, who gives us God’s perspective. It is he who enables us to see as God sees, to know as God knows, to be wise as God is wise. That is why we need the Holy Spirit to keep filling the hearts of the faithful.

Prayer

Holy Spirit we praise and thank You for the love lavished upon us. Holy Spirit, we seek and so earnestly crave to be in Your presence, to feel the inner work of You in our own hearts and minds. You so graciously give comfort, truth, and love. Holy Spirit, we welcome You this very day. In the Name of Christ Jesus.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Monday, May 10

Father Damien of Molokai (1840-1889)

The Gospels record that Jesus reached out to lepers with kindness and healing. Centuries later, Father Damien heard the same cry and responded with mercy. He devoted his life to bringing the touch of Jesus to the outcasts of society.
Joseph de Veuster was born in Belgium, the son of well-to-do farmers. While at college, he decided God was calling him to be a priest. He joined the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the same community his older brother had joined, and he took the name Damien. When illness prevented his brother from sailing to the missions in Hawaii, Damien offered to go in his place.

For nine years Damien served the people of Hawaii in different villages. But he was most interested in a settlement for people with leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. The colony was very poor, and there was not a single doctor or priest on the island. Father Damien offered to go to Molokai and work with lepers.

In 1873, all the lepers who could walk came to meet the boat to see the priest who wanted to work with them. They were sure he wouldn’t stay very long. Fr. Damian got busy cleaning up the huts, caring for the sick and trying new medicines. Those able to help were put to work building houses. Father Damien not only preached and offered Mass, but also built roads, water systems, orphanages, and churches, and acted as sheriff, counselor, and undertaker. He made the people feel they were important, so they began to take better care of themselves and their property.

For 10 years Father Damien was the only priest on the island. At Mass on Sundays, Father Damian always began his homily with “My dear lepers”. One day he said, “My fellow lepers”. At first it was incredibly quiet. The people began to sob. They knew their beloved Father Damien had contracted the disease. He carried on his work until a month before his death.

Father Damien died on April 15, 1889, having served sixteen years among the patients with leprosy. In 1995, Father Damien was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Brussels. On October 11, 2009 Pope Benedict XVI raised Father Damien to the rank of “sainthood.”

Prayer

Damien, brother on the journey, happy and generous missionary, who loved the Gospel more than your own life, who for love of Jesus left your family, your homeland, your security, and your dreams. Teach us to give our lives with joy like yours, to be in solidarity with the outcasts of our world, to celebrate and contemplate the Eucharist as the source of our own commitment. Help us to love to the very end and, in the strength of the Spirit, to persevere in compassion for the poor and forgotten so that we might be good disciples of Jesus and Mary.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Sunday, May 9

No one has greater love than this …

A mother is understanding: her words calm, her caresses heal and her kisses comfort. No one knows their children better than their own mother; she can understand the different factors that influence their mood and behavior. A mother’s high level of perception, developed by that strong bond with the child, ultimately makes her the ultimate bearer of the value of understanding.

A mother is a responsibility: a mother watches over the well-being of her children and home at all costs, assumes her role with fortitude, fulfills her duties, and recognizes the great responsibility assigned to her by entrusting her with the upbringing of human beings to make them wonderful creatures.

A mother is patience: patient in the face of the arduous and inescapable situations of life, patient in the face of natural conflicts that arise in the family nucleus, patient with the tireless teachings to make her children whole and courageous people: work that she will do relentlessly for years and that she may never see finished. A mother lives patience to an excellent degree.

A mother is love: love for children is unique and perpetual, transparent, devoid of selfishness and personal ambition. For this love, the mother defies even her own abilities and performs truly incredible acts to protect or benefit her children.

Love is the beginning and end of human values; it is the one that provides the starting point of all the other virtues. Looking at the root of each of the above, the center where they converge is love. Because love does not mean sacrifice but selflessness, it does not mean resentment but forgiveness, it does not mean selfishness but tolerance, love is … MOTHER.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we thank you for the life we have received from our mothers and recognize in them your love and tenderness. Mothers, like Mary, give everything for their children; they are present in all the moments of our existence, loving us, guiding us, educating us and, above all, teaching us to love You and our brothers and sisters. We thank you for this gift that fills us with deep joy and makes us understand the value of life.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Saturday, May 8

The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother and Mediatrix of Grace

“The maternity of Mary in the order of grace began with the consent which she gave in faith at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross and lasts until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this salvific duty, but by her constant intercession continued to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into the happiness of their true home. Therefore, the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Help, and Mediatrix. These, however, are to be so understood that they neither take away from nor add anything to the dignity and efficacy of Christ the one Mediator.” – II Vatican Council: Lumen Gentium, n.62

As Mediatrix, Mary places herself between her Son and those in need because of her role as mother. The one Mediator grants to His mother the role of Mediatrix of the graces of redemption because she has uniquely shared in his work of redemption. The gift of eternal redemption comes from Calvary and the redeeming work of the Savior, the one Mediator, Jesus Christ. His mother Mary has been given the role by God to bring the gifts of eternal salvation as Mediatrix. Christ is the fountain of Salvation and Mary is the conduit from which the graces flow.

Prayer

Mary, Holy and Immaculate Mother of God, we come to you, who are Mediatrix of all grace. Receive our prayer, Most Holy Mother of God, that we may obtain the grace to ensure that all our life, all we desire, all we do be to praise and serve our Lord in everything. Mother, Queen of our hearts, have mercy on us who are sinners, help us cleanse our souls from the stain of sin, so that one day we may be resurrected with Christ and enjoy the glory of God the Father in heaven, for ever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Friday, May 7

Love one another as I have loved you (Jn. 15:12)

As we look at the world around us, we see bitterness, hatred, and strife. The unsettled conditions in many parts of the world all testify to the absence of a true and just peace in our world.

Today’s gospel reading is from St. John who is often called the apostle of love. His words today show us why. He quotes Jesus as Jesus tells his disciples about love. Jesus’ message is a remarkably simple yet a very profound one. It emphasizes the importance of true love. And it seems that the message of Jesus about love speaks to us as we ponder the condition of the world today. This simple message of love provides a remedy for all the bitterness, hatred, and strife we see in our world.

To understand the meaning of Jesus’s command, we must understand what love is. We use the word love all the time, but the true meaning of that word is not always clearly understood. The dictionary defines love as follows: “A deep and tender feeling of affection for or attachment or devotion to a person or persons.” When we love someone, we are genuinely concerned for their wellbeing. And one of the ways to show love to another is to pray for them and for their wellbeing. This is the message that Jesus had for his disciples and that he has for us today: love one another. To be concerned for the wellbeing of one another. To wish one another well. These are remarkably simple words, but they convey a very profound meaning. To show our love for another we must be really concerned about their welfare.

But how would the commandment of love help to bring true peace to the world? By showing those around us that there are many loving people in the world who want just the opposite of the violence and enmity that are so prevalent today. By giving those around us an example of love and helping them to see the fruits of our love. It may be true that one person or a few persons cannot do much to change the world. But as Our Lord showed us when he gave his life because of his love for us, the example of love can be immensely powerful and influence many. We see the same thing in the lives of the saints who loved very much and influenced many other people by their love. Today, if all of us who believe in and follow Jesus really demonstrate our love for one another, we can have an influence on the world around us.

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Thursday, May 6

In love there is joy, and joy will be complete

Jesus not only loves, but He is “the love” itself. In Him, the Father shows His care for all human beings without exception. Even sinners cannot escape the touch of His love. Forgiveness is offered to all who are willing to repent.

The world offers happiness according to its own version, which is temporary but turns out to be deadly. Worldly pleasures tend to center on the personal ego. This kind of happiness is not a solution to true (complete) joy in our life. God wants to give the best for us. Joy that does not depend on our situation, but joy because Jesus Himself gives us all the abilities, solutions and the best results from every problem we experience. The condition is not difficult, he only wants us to stay in his love and obey all His commands.

In love there is joy, and joy will be complete if we abide in the love of Jesus and the Father. For a world twisted by individualism, the Christian proclamation of charity faces a formidable challenge, but it is also very relevant. If we want to be honest, every human craves love from God and others.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, enable us to live in Your love and guide us so that we always carry out Your will, so that our joy will be full.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Wednesday, May 5

If you remain in me and my words remain in you …

Sometime ago, someone asked me, “Fr. Leo, what do you think of hell?” To respond to this question, I said that the Church’s teaching is very clear on this. Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states that Hell is eternal separation from God … an eternal life alienation from God and God’s love (CCC 1035 & 1057). God gives us freedom, yet at times this freedom makes us wander away from God and not listen to God’s merciful voice to call us to do God’s will: to remain in God and His word.

To remain means to stay connected with something: a source. To remain means to stay. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines ‘remain’ as “to be a part not destroyed, taken or used up.” These definitions make it easier for us to understand what Jesus was saying, “If you remain in me … ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.” He is the source of our life and when we are connected to this source, we will live and he will provide whatever we need to bear fruit for His Kingdom.

To remain in Jesus means to depend fully on his grace, because without him we cannot do anything. If we rely only on our own, we will not bear fruit for his Kingdom. To remain in Jesus, we need to humble ourselves and surrender ourselves totally. If we remain in him, we can overcome everything that life brings because we have the strength from the source of life itself, Christ Jesus, the true vine.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, the true vine, our source of life, we thank you for the life and faith. With you we can do many things. Help us to remain, to stay in you, connected with our source of life and love, that we, too, may be able to share your love with those around us, especially those who need us the most. Increase our faith in you that we can do all things for your Kingdom, where you live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Tuesday, May 4

The Feast Day of St. Peregrine Laziosi, OSM

Today, May 4, is the Feast Day of St. Peregrine, a Servite Saint who lived from 1265-1345. He is the patron saint of those with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

The lesson of St. Peregrine’s life is not to promise miraculous cures; he is simply the one who placed his life and concerns in the loving care of a merciful and forgiving God. He knew that the Lord was with him through all the trials of life. St. Peregrine’s trust in God can be a model for us in dealing with the pain, sickness and the crosses of our lives.

Prayer

St. Peregrine, kindly listen to my supplication.

You who were patient and strong in infirmity, help our infirm brothers and sistersto carry the cross of their infirmity with gentleness.

You who were miraculously healed by the hand of the crucified Christ, pray to the Lord for the sick: so that their infirm and weak bodies may recover health and vigor, and their uncertain and afflicted souls may find again peace, serenity and confidence.

And above all, St. Peregrine, grant like Christ and the Virgin Mary, we may all say: “Father, thy will be done”.
St. Peregrine, pray for me that I may know healing in body, mind and soul.

Amen.

Monday, May 3

The Triduum in Honor of St. Peregrine
Day 3: To Love is To Suffer

The Gospel of John 3:16 said, “For God so loved so he gave his only Son …” We are loved by God that he allowed his Son to live in our world, experience suffering and death. He loved us so much to the point that he himself would suffer for us.

With abundant love of others, Saint Peregrine lavished a wealth of charity on the poor. Above all else, he was outstanding in his love for penance; he confessed frequently and reflected on the errors which thought he had made. In his penance, he would stand in front of the Cross begging for God’s mercy; when he was tired, he would not go to bed but stand on the bare earth. As a result, he suffered from varicose veins which degenerated into cancer of his leg. His leg refused to heal. A doctor was summoned and decided that the only hope of saving his life would be to amputate the leg.

Saint Peregrine was in a lot of pain, physically and mentally. Mentally, he considered everything: operations at that time could be grim affairs, there were no pain killers or disinfectant. But spiritually, Saint Peregrine was closer to his Lord. The night before the operation, he dragged himself to the monastery chapel to pray before the image of the Crucifix. He fell asleep and in a dream Jesus came down from the cross and touched his leg. The next morning, the doctor was in awe to find out that his leg was healed and there was no sign of malignancy. Thus, there was no operation. His recovery was well-known throughout the town. And Saint Peregrine returned to his ministry for the poor and the sick.

The story of Saint Peregrine reminds us that God continues to love us even at times when we feel like He does not care. He only invites us to look for him at all times and to ask him to help us out of our suffering.

Prayer

God our Father, in Peregrine you gave us an outstanding example of the virtue of penance and patient suffering. Encouraged by his example, and supported by his prayers, we ask that the penance we do and the suffering we endure become for us sources of health and life, through Christ, our Lord.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Sunday, May 2

The Triduum in Honor of St. Peregrine
Day 2: From the Door to the Lord

As a priest, I am humbled that many have trusted me unconditionally to pray for them in their particular needs. And with my community members, we continue to pray for all those who have asked for our prayers. It was the same with Saint Peregrine. In his earlier years as a Servite friar, he was entrusted to answer the door of the monastery. He would open the door and welcome all the people who visited the monastery. He showed them who the Servites were by his hospitality.

Many times people visited the monastery asking for prayers and God’s guidance in their lives, and St. Peregrine would be there to listen to their stories, their problems and challenges in their lives. Later on, St. Peregrine would stand in front of the Cross and bring all their petitions to the Lord.

Each one of us has been entrusted with the same calling to listen to each others’ stories and to pray for each other in our lives. Each of us has a door to welcome all those who need the Lord’s mighty deeds, and we bring them closer to the Lord. We bring to the Lord, especially, all those who come to us with their struggles, and we, like St. Peregrine, invoke God’s infinite goodness and love to come to their aid and respond to their petitions.

Prayer

Lord God, through the intercession of Saint Peregrine, may we draw close to you and bring our brothers and sisters to your care, especially those who have asked for our prayers. We bring all their prayers to you, Lord, and may your abundant goodness guide them, bring them peace and consolation, and bless them with your strength that they may be the witnesses of your saving power. All these we ask, through Christ, our Lord.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Saturday, May 1

The Triduum in Honor of St. Peregrine
Day 1: From Hatred to Love

On these first three days of May, the Friar Servants of Mary, the Servites, will reflect on the life of Saint Peregrine Laziosi, Patron Saint of cancer and other life-threatening diseases. St. Peregrine’s Feast Day is celebrated by the Order on May 4.

St. Peregrine was born at the end of the twelve century. He was born in Forly, Italy. At that time, Forly was divided by civil war. Half of the people in Forly were loyal to the Papacy of Pope Martin IV, while the other half obeyed the Roman Emperor. Pope Martin called Saint Philip Benizi, OSM, who was the Prior General of the Friar Servants of Mary at that time, and asked him to go to Forly.

Pope Martin knew how intelligent St. Philip was, and believed that by sending him to Forly, peace could be brought to that city, so St. Philip went to Forly to talk to the people about peace and reconciliation. Like in Jesus’s days, however, the preaching of St. Philip was not accepted by all. One day, while he was still preaching, a group of young men came forward to confront him and young Peregrine punched St. Philip in the face.

St. Philip left Forly without seeking vengeance for what the people did to him; after all, he came to talk about peace and reconciliation and to pray for the conversion of the people of Forly. St. Philip’s talks and his prayers for the conversion of the people of Forly finally hit Peregrine’s heart. Later, he came to the Order and begged for forgiveness from St. Philip, who forgave him and welcomed him into the Order.

St. Peregrine’s conversion is a great reminder for all of us that no matter how far we have been gone astray, if we listen carefully to the voice of the Spirit, we can come back and ask for God’s mercy and forgiveness. And our loving God will always reach out his hands to welcome us back, to walk in God’s path of love all the days of our lives.

Prayer

Loving God, thank you for shepherding us throughout our lives. We acknowledge that without your help, we will go astray. But with you as our guide, we know that we will reach our destination, your heavenly kingdom. May we continue to share your love among us that your Kingdom will reign forever on earth as it is in heaven. For you live and reign forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Friday, April 30

Known and Loved Individually

Today is the third and last day of our triduum Mass in honor of St. Joseph the Worker. To remember him means to show our love and honor to the stepfather of the Jesus our Lord. Though some may belittle his role as stepfather to Jesus, his love for the Lord Jesus was more than the love of those who claimed to fathered one or two children of their own. That’s why God chose him to be the one to take care of Jesus and Mary.

St. Joseph was a just and righteous man. He is a man with “a heart of a true father.” He was a man who simply loved God. That’s why he was known to God and loved by God in a very personal way.

We are known and love by God individually. That is the meaning of the gospel for today. Like St. Joseph, each of us has a special place in the heart of God. We have an individual room in his kingdom, that is, if we have also prepared God a special place in our own hearts.

We can imagine, therefore, what heaven is like. The focus is not the place. Rather, it is about a loving relationship. Heaven is a place where a loving relationship reigns. Heaven is not a place where you only step on, but a state of life we live by. But like Thomas, we may ask, “Lord, how can we know the way?” And Jesus will give us the same answer, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Meaning, he is the way itself. Our way to God is a Person: Jesus. To put it another way, love is the answer. God himself is the way “for God is love” (1 Jn 4:8).

In short, love is the only way to God. Christianity is a religion of love. That is what our Lord gave to His church. While it is true that the Church cannot save us, it is also wrong to say that we don’t need the Church and the Sacraments. The church is like a vehicle. It is impossible to travel without a means of transportation. He gave to us the church. Not only that, he is the one driving. So, my brothers and sisters, Jesus is the only way to God. And the only ticket is love.

Prayer
Lord God, teach us to grow in your love daily. And let this same love be the one we offer to others. Like St. Joseph, may we build a quality relationship with you and with our fellowmen.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Thursday, April 29

History means Quality

History is likened to a sidemirror of a vehicle. Small yet a very important part of a car. However, for those who have no interest in driving, it doesn’t matter at all. But history, however, is not totally like sidemirror. Whether you are driving or not, we need to know it. We should accept, as one whole thing, the good and the bad things of history. There were both sinners and saints in our history books. The bad side of history teaches us lessons and warns us, while the good side of the past gives us memories and inspiration. It is true that “history repeats itself”, that is, for those who forget and never learned from history. And that’s a crisis of our time. People today think that what really matters is “the now.” Some prefer to preach a Christ without human parents, without Mary and Joseph. They only want a Christ without the institution, the Church. St. Joseph as a carpenter knows very well about “quality” product. He knows that a Christ without human parents is like a church without history, or a vehicle without a sidemirror. In the context of St. Joseph, that is poor carpentry.

Today is the second day of our triduum in honor of St. Joseph the Worker. We heard today in the first reading, St. Paul, a great theologian, a convert to Christianity and a well-versed historian, narrate how the history of salvation in the Old testament was fulfilled in the Person of Jesus in the New Testament. As if Paul is telling us today, unless you know the history of your faith, you will never understand, appreciate and love the faith you have now. That part of our faith’s history is the people, our ancestors like St Joseph. Unless we to history we will not be assured of our future. We would surely end up repeating the bad things done by our ancestors.

Prayer

Lord, help us to be transparent. Help us to accept both bad and good things which happened in the past. Help us to also accept and learn from the bad and good things which happened in our individual past. Help us to accept who we really are. and not just want we wanted to be. Heal the wounds caused by the evil of the past and help us let go and move on with confidence in your loving care. St. Joseph the worker, pray for us.

Amen.

Fr Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Wednesday, April 28

Protector of One Mediator

There is only one mediator between God and humanity: Jesus Christ. And there is also one mediator between Christ and us: The Blessed Virgin Mary, his Mother. But there is one protector of them both: St. Joseph. This is what we call one family of faith in one God.

Today is the first day of our triduum in honor of St. Joseph the Worker. In the gospel, we heard Jesus telling the crowd and us that “to believe in him” means to believe in God. And seeing him is seeing God himself. What does this mean? It means there is no shortcut to heaven. We have to pass through Christ and his Church. It also fallows that we need to love and respect the people who reared, protected and trained Jesus, especially during childhood, and that is St. Joseph. For unless we love those the Lord loves, we cannot really say we love him.

In our faith journey towards the Father, it is very important to know who is leading us and to where he/she is leading us. In the life of the early Christians, this was vital since, at that time, there were many already claiming to be the Christ. That is why the narrative about Thomas, one of the disciples, was not totally a negative story in this matter. But it was one of the instances, wherein, the disciples had to make sure that the Jesus in front of them was the real one.

And what’s proof? The nail marks on his hands and feet and the wound on his side. This Jesus is the true “mediator” between us and God, the crucified one. He is the Christ speaking to us in today’s reading. He is the one being spoken by Barnabas and Saul in the first reading.

Where do you belong? Who is leading you? To where are they leading you? For us, it is Jesus leading us to the Father. Who is leading Jesus? It is Mary and St. Joseph, his parents.. That is why we revere the saints, especially St. Joseph, and the Blessed Mother Mary so much.

Prayer

Lord our God and loving Father, we thank you for sending your very self in the person of your Son, our savior and mediator to you. It is true that hearing him means hearing you and seeing him is seeing you. Sustain us and make us grow and mature in Catholic faith every day. May the Blessed Mother Mary intercede and accompany us towards your Son.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM 

Tuesday, April 27

Don’t Explain; Just Tell Us

In order for us to remain, love and defend the faith, we have to know it through and through. It’s like when you try build a loving relationship with another person. You have to know the person. For doing is different from knowing. We don’t do faith; rather, we know faith. Faith has to be studied and lived. It needs dedication and commitment.

The ritual is part of it. Academic is another. This is the meaning of what Sts. Augustine and Anselm have said, “Faith seeking understanding”. A faith that is not founded on reason is nothing if not fanaticism. In today’s gospel reading, Jesus is asked to say plainly if he is the Christ, that is, the anointed one of God.Catholic faith needs constant abiding, following, knowing and imitating of the Lord Jesus. That’s the only way for us to truly learn to love and serve our fellow men. After all, it’s not us who are the ones trying to know him. It’s him who is patiently trying to let us know who he really is. We don’t just follow him. For just by following, there is no unity or oneness between a follower and the one being followed. Faith must come to the point of identifying oneself to the one being followed. That is why it is called imitation. That is why are called Christians.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, help us to not just follow you, but imitate you. Give us today the grace we need in order to stay, learn and grow in our love in your company, together with others. Keep us and sustain us.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Monday, April 26

It Hurts But I’m Better Now

Truth hurts sometimes. However, along the way it makes us better. It can truly heal us. When we feel hurt by the truth it means we are human, we can still change, we can still grow and mature; that the Lord can still heal us in our woundedness and brokenness brought about by our pride and arrogance. Let us not live in a comfortable lie. It will not make us a better Christian. It will not make us grow and mature.

In the first reading today, we heard Peter overcome his rigidity and inflexibility. We cannot remain selective in terms of what and what not to hear from the Lord. That, like the Lord in the Gospel, we should know the voice of the true shepherd, not because of the flowering words or sweet words spoken, but because of him who speaks the truth to us.

Prayer
Lord, give us today the grace of openness to hear and accept your words. Though they may sometimes hurt us, but it is for our true healing and wellness as your disciples. Help us in our hard-headedness and close-mindedness. Like Peter, help us understand and imitate your ways.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Sunday, April 25

Vocation Comes out of Good Shepherding

You cannot give what you don’t have. Therefore, no one should expect anything more from anyone beyond what they can give. This applies to everything. It is true with priestly and religious vocations as well. If there is good shepherding, there will be no problem with vocations to the priesthood and religious life in the Church today.
When we speak of shepherding, it means those who have the role of educating, caring and nurturing others – those in charge of others under their care – like pastors, educators, elders and parents.

The Church declared this third Sunday of Easter a “Good Shepherd and World Day of Vocations”. And the Holy Father, Pope Francis, presented to us St. Joseph, the husband of Mary, to be our model and guide in this endeavor. This also to reminds us of our calling and responsibility, that, by virtue of our baptism, we, Catholic Christians, are called by the Lord Jesus every day to be good shepherds to our respective flocks. We have been entrusted by the Lord the responsibility to shepherd his flock.

Shepherding means to be a shepherd with Christ; to be a witness and servant of the Good Shepherd, to share in the Lord’s pastoral concern and duty” (cf. from one of Benedict XVI homilies). And, it is summarized in the statement “The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” (Jn 10:11)

What makes St. Joseph an exemplar model of shepherding? Surely, his shepherding did not come from himself but from someone else – it came from God, the Eternal Shepherd. Our shepherding can only be sustained and credible once we draw everything we need from the very source: Jesus, the Godly Shepherd.

There are three essential points that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, mentioned in his message for “the 2021 World Day of Vocations.” They are: dream, service and fidelity. These three are all grounded and founded on love. St. Joseph is said to have had “the heart of a father.” It means love, Christian love. This element is vital in every and all kinds of shepherding. Without it, everything, including our talents and expertise, will not be enough, if not in vain.
St. Joseph and other saints showed us that each of us must have “the heart of a father,” that is, the heart of God. How? We need to constantly draw to the very source of such a perfect love: to Jesus. May we seek and thirst for him in our daily lives through our constant reading and listening to his words in the Scriptures, with the Eucharist as our daily nourishment.

The world today needs not just excellent and brilliant workers whose performance is measured according by salaries or rewards, but rather shepherds who seek not earthly rewards, but citizenship in heaven. The shepherds whose desire is “to be with”- not to have.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, our true and loving shepherd, constantly sustain us in your church, that, as we constantly abide and remain with you, may grow and mature in your love and our love for each other, especially with the little flock you entrusted to each one of us.

With your sustaining grace and care, may we be able to love and protect this little flock from being devoured by wolves that are constantly roaming around looking for prey. We are so weak and vulnerable without you. So constantly help and sustain us, your flock.

By our constant care, may we be able to produce quality members who are capable to dare answer your call to holiness in the context of single, married, and religious and priestly life.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM 

Saturday, April 24

You become what you eat

Environment plays a major part in shaping ourselves, our attitude and our character. In the same way, the kind of food and drinks we intake determines the kind of body and health we have. In short, we become what we eat.
Growth in faith is not simply like eating and drinking. Faith needs the grace of God. Faith needs daily perseverance. It should be based on the will and decision to grow and improve, not based on appetite only.

As we unfold the faith-story of the early followers of Jesus in the gospel of John, we learn that some of them quarreled and complained about Jesus’ discourse on the Bread of Life. It seems that they preferred to accept the bread for the stomach and not the “bread of life,” the bread that leads to eternal life, Jesus Himself.

Sometimes in our decision and choices in life, we are already satisfied or contented to what is good according to our standard, and no longer for what is best prepared for us by the Lord. This is the lesson of the readings for today. Unless we allow the Lord to teach us more than what we already know, we will never grow and mature in our Christian life. We need to let him order the food for us – the food that can bring us to heaven – his very self in the Eucharist, the food which came down from heaven.

Unlike processed food, Jesus’s is real and heavenly food. Unlike in commercials, the Eucharist cannot be photoshopped or edited to be attractive to make it sellable. After all, he is not for sale. Heaven is not cheap, though he is priceless. He is not after buyers nor consumers. He is after believers. Therefore, let us not just make him pay our bills, our sins. Let us rather be transformed into his “image and likeness” as we constantly listen to the words of Scriptures, and as we constantly partake to his body and blood in the Eucharist every day.

May we become what we eat. May we become like Christ the Lord.

Prayer

Lord, help us to grow and mature every day as we follow and imitate you. Grant us the grace to desire you more every day in the Eucharist, to sustain us in our good works as your true disciples. May our Blessed Mother Mary accompany and leads us to you.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Friday, April 23

Do you believe the unbelievers?

How many members of your family or friends have abandoned their Catholic faith simply because they listened to someone who said that God does not exist? That what the Church teaches is false? People can be easily persuaded by the statements of unbelievers, yet remain in disbelief or doubt the statements of the eyewitnesses.

Who is telling the truth then? Have our elders, parents, ancestors – all the way back to the apostles – been handing us lies about this faith? Are the strangers, the passers-by, or those who mock – are they the one’s who are telling the truth then? Do you think our martyr-saints during the first two hundred years of Christianity would dare to lay down their lives for a lie? Would you dare to lay down your life for a lie? You would rather lay down your life for the truth, for something that you personally witnessed and have experienced. That’s for sure.

Who do you think is the authoritative and credible interpreter of the life of Jesus? His enemies? Or those who knew him?

Yesterday we heard Philip, one of the followers of the risen Lord, one who personally encountered and was an eyewitness of Jesus, interpreting the Scripture passage to the Ethiopian eunuch who got attracted to the faith. St Philip, one of our ancestors in the faith, is one of the credible and reliable interpreters of the truth about our faith. He learned everything from his constant following and listening to what Jesus had said and done. Like what we heard in the Gospel reading today, this has been handed down from one generation of believers to the next until it reached our generation.
Ignorance of the truth about our faith is not an option today. We the believers must tirelessly spread the Good News, whether in season or out of season, by the witness of our own lives.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, grant us today a heart that values our Christian family, the Church. We know that we have still so much to know and to grow as your children. Give us patience and humility. Grant us a listening heart, that we may accept the truth your Church teaches and not only what we like to hear. Grant us humility and a true sense of Christian identity. May we listen and accept what our pastors say and not that of strangers.

Amen.

Fr Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Thursday, April 22

A Reflection for Earth Day

God, Creator of Al,

We offer our prayer in gratitude and humility that we might heed your call to care of the least, the lowest and the most vulnerable of all your blessed creation.

Grant, we pray, the courage to speak on behalf of the soft soil under our feet, the running and still waters, the warmth of the sun on our face, and all the crawling, flying, swimming creatures you love.

May our courage to speak translate into action that protect our planet – so that our children and their children might enjoy the fruits of what we sow.

In your name, we pray.

Amen.

To view a shorty video about Earth Day, click here.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM 

Wednesday, April 21

St. Anselm of Canterbury, Pray for Us 

Saint Anselm entered the Monastery of Bec in Normandy, France, as a young man and quickly impressed his superiors with his character and incisive mind. He was elected prior, then abbot, at a young age. He was a deeply prayerful abbot who was close to his monks and who hated to be away from the cloister. The monastery had many dealings with England due to its proximity to that country, however, so Anselm travelled there regularly. These visits eventually led to his appointment as the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Anselm spent many years as archbishop in conflict with English civil power over who had the authority to “invest,” or empower, a bishop with the symbols of office at his installation Mass. The lay investiture controversy was a long simmering dispute throughout Europe. It was eventually resolved in favor of the Church’s right to invest its own bishops with crozier, miter, and ring.  Much more than his role as a pastor in church-state conflicts, Saint Anselm’s most enduring legacy is as a philosopher and theologian. Thinking was his avocation even as the monastery was his vocation. Anselm’s famous definition of theology as “Faith seeking understanding” has guided centuries of Christian thinkers. Anselm was a working intellectual who produced erudite works on a range of complex subjects.   Anselm argued that God is a being than which none greater can be imagined. Supposing that the mind can imagine nothing greater than God, and further supposing that what exists is greater than what exists only in the mind, then God must exist in reality.  Anselm died in 1109 A.D. and was canonized a saint by the Church in 1494 A.D. He is considered a doctor of the Church and one of the leading philosophical and theological scholars of the middle ages.

Quotes of St. Anselm:

“I do not endeavor, O Lord, to penetrate thy sublimity, for in no wise do I compare my understanding with that; but I long to understand in some degree thy truth, which my heart believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand.”

“Lord, give me what you have made me want; I praise and thank you for the desire that you have inspired; perfect what you have begun, and grant me what you have made me long for.”

A Prayer by St. Anselm of Canterbury

O my God, teach my heart where and how to seek You,
where and how to find You.
You are my God and You are my all and I have never seen You.
You have made me and remade me,
You have bestowed on me all the good things I possess,
Still I do not know You.
I have not yet done that for which I was made.
Teach me to seek You.
I cannot seek You unless You teach me or find You unless You show Yourself to me.
Let me seek You in my desire,
let me desire You in my seeking. Let me find You by loving You,
let me love You when I find You.
Amen.
Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM 

Tuesday, April 20

The Martyrdom of St. Stephen

St. Stephen was the first Christian martyr. In the earliest days of the Church only those who, like St. Stephen, suffered a martyr’s death were recognized as Saints. The reason was that sanctity is conformity to Christ, and one who died as Christ did, a witness to the truth, was seen to be truly holy. When the period of persecution ended and martyrdom became rare, the Church examined its understanding of sanctity. The Church recognized that being like Christ is the correct criterion of sanctity, but she realized that physical martyrdom was not the only sign of such conformity.

Today we recognize a large number of people as saints who underwent natural death. Each one of these saints manifested some special characteristics of Christ since no one saint can completely reflect the sanctity of Jesus himself. In St. Vincent de Paul we see the love and care which Jesus had for the poor. We observe in St. Francis of Assisi the poverty of Jesus himself. St. Therese, the Little Flower, shows us his simplicity and devotion to His Father. St. Piux X, who lowered the age for first communion from twelve to about seven, manifests the love which Jesus had for little children.

Each one of us is called to be a saint. We may never be canonized by the Church, but our basic vocation in life is to live as Jesus did. We need not try to determine the specific way we will be like Jesus. Rather we must draw upon the important source for becoming like Jesus, and that is the Holy Eucharist. Jesus in the gospel today proclaims: “I am the bread of life”.  Jesus wishes to give us a share in His own life, and that is what sanctity is all about.

Prayer

O glorious St. Stephen, faithful imitator of Jesus Christ martyr in will and in reality, so full of charity, zeal, love, and purity, intercede for us; you who are so high in the favor of God, we do entreat you to procure for us a little spark of that divine love which animated your heart, that we too one day may have the happiness of seeing our God face to face. Obtain for us that virtue for which you were so eminent: Charity.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM 

Monday, April 19

St. Stephen, Deacon & Martyr, Pray for Us

Being misunderstood is probably one of the most disheartening of human experiences. Jesus worked great signs among the people and yet the people failed to understand Jesus. Jesus wanted to draw people to himself as their Savior, but they were interested only in satisfying their human needs.

St. Stephen, a deacon, followed in the footsteps of Jesus. He too worked great wonders and signs among his own people. His only intention was to draw them in faith to the person of Jesus Christ as their Savior. Not only did some of his own people fail to understand, but they also actually turned against him and went so far as to bring false witness against him before the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of the Jews. Tomorrow we will see how Stephen suffered a martyr’s death.

Both Jesus and his follower, Stephen, were strengthened by the realization that they were doing God’s will. Their pain was not lessened, but their determination was left undeterred.

No matter how careful we are with others, no matter how loving our intention, we will face misunderstanding, sometimes even actual rejection. The natural reaction is simply to give up on another person. But God calls us to an attitude and way of acting which at times may even be courageous. It is not the Christian approach to meet misunderstanding with disdain or rejection with contempt. God calls us to use every avenue possible to communicate properly with others and to overcome misunderstandings. Such an approach is especially vital toward those with whom we live or work. And through all our efforts at reconciliation, we should have a certain serenity and peace of mind derived from the realization that we are following the example given us by Jesus and St. Stephen.

Prayer

Our gracious and loving Father, You have promised that You will never leave us nor forsake us, whatever may be the circumstances. You are the same yesterday, today and forever. Father, fill our hearts and minds with Your peace which surpasses all understanding. Help us to live in peace with one another. Fill us with that peace which the world can never give. Take control of all our thoughts, words, and deeds. Help us to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM 

Sunday, April 18

“Have you anything here to eat?”

Did you ever notice how many of the resurrection appearances of Jesus involve food? The Gospels report seven different resurrection appearances. Four of them involve a meal.

Mark reports that Jesus appeared to the disciples while they were at table. Luke tells the story of being with the two disciples on their way to Emmaus, and when they got there, they sat down to supper, and that’s when they recognized Jesus.

In today’s passage from Luke, Jesus asks if they have anything to eat, and he enjoys some baked fish.

John’s Gospel describes an appearance on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Seven of the disciples come in from fishing and there is Jesus cooking some bread and fish on a charcoal fire. And he says to them, “Come, have breakfast.”
Four of the seven appearances involve food. Through his appearances Jesus wanted to teach that he is still present to us and, most important, he is not present simply to be looked at, simply to be adored. He came to engage us, to connect with us, and to draw us into his living and dying and passing through death to life. Jesus ate with his disciples the night before he died. And he continues to do the same thing after he rises from the dead.

Think for a moment: it’s one thing to be part of a crowd when a great celebrity comes to town and to se and to see him or her in person. You might even get to shake hands with them. But… to have a meal with them. What a difference. There’s something about having dinner with a person.

So when you come to the Eucharist, always think of those meals the Risen Lord shared with his disciples. He is doing the same thing with us. I like to picture that scene in John’s Gospel when seven of the disciples land their fishing boat on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The Risen Lord is standing on the shore waiting for them. The text reads: “When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.” Then Jesus says to them: “Come, have breakfast.” Just picture that scene, and catch the spirit of it, and you understand what we are going at Eucharist.

Prayer

Lord, Father all-powerful and ever-living God, I thank You, for even though I am a sinner, your unprofitable servant, not because of my worth but in the kindness of your mercy, You have fed me with the Precious Body & Blood of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that this Holy Communion may not bring me condemnation and punishment but forgiveness and salvation.
May it be a helmet of faith and a shield of good will. May it purify me from evil ways and put an end to my evil passions.
May it bring me charity and patience, humility and obedience, and growth in the power to do good.
May it be my strong defense against all my enemies, visible and invisible, and the perfect calming of all my evil impulses, bodily and spiritual.
May it unite me more closely to you, the One true God, and lead me safely through death to everlasting happiness with You.
And I pray that You will lead me, a sinner, to the banquet where you, with Your Son and holy Spirit, are true and perfect light, total fulfillment, everlasting joy, gladness without end, and perfect happiness to your saints. grant this through Christ our Lord,
Amen.- St. Thomas Aquinas

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM 

Saturday, April 17

Mary, Mother of Hope 

As we continue our celebration of the glorious Resurrection of Our lord Jesus Christ, let us also consider the joy that Mary, the Mother of Jesus experienced. Just as her sorrow was so intimate and profound, so much so that it pierced her soul, in the same way her joy was intimate and profound. Having experienced the death and resurrection of her Son as the supreme expression of God’s love, Mary’s heart has become a source of peace, comfort, hope, and mercy. 

After Jesus is placed in the tomb, Mary is the only one who keeps alive the flame of faith, preparing to welcome the joyful and surprising proclamation of the Resurrection. The expectation that the Mother of the Lord lives on Holy Saturday is one of the highest moments of her faith: in the darkness that surrounds the universe, she fully trusts in the God of life and, remembering the words of her Son, hopes for the full realization of the divine promises.

The Risen Christ appears to his Mother. The Gospels do not narrate the appearance of the Risen Christ to his Mother. It is something that belongs to the Son’s intimacy with his Mother. If the Risen Christ appears to women and to the apostles, it is logical that the first person to see the Risen Christ would be his Mother.

From Friday morning to Sunday morning, Mary did not lose hope: we have contemplated her as Mother of Sorrows, but, at the same time, as Mother full of hope. Mary is the Mother of all the disciples, the Mother of the Church and Mother of hope.

Prayer

V. Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia. R. For He whom you merited to bear, alleluia.

V. Has risen, as he said, alleluia. R. Pray for us to God, alleluia.

V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia. R. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray.

O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM 

Friday, April 16

St. Bernadette Soubirous, Pray for Us

Bernadette Soubirous was born January 7, 1844, in Lourdes, France. She was the oldest of nine children, most of whom died at young ages. The family was extremely poor. While still a small child, Bernadette contracted cholera and struggled with awfully bad asthma which continued the rest of her life. Constant illness may have been the reason for her small size as she stood only 4 feet 7 inches tall. By the time Bernadette was 14, her family was in such dire circumstances they were living in a one-room basement once used as a jail.  On February 11, 1858, she went out to gather firewood with one of her sisters and a friend near the grotto of Massabielle. While there, an extraordinary thing happened to Bernadette. She suddenly heard a rushing wind but saw nothing moving except a wild rose in a niche of the grotto. A dazzling light and white figure emerged from the alcove behind the niche. Her sister and friend saw nothing. Three days later, Bernadette returned to the grotto with another sister and friends. She saw the vision again, knelt and fell into a trance. Again, the other girls did not see the apparition. She returned to the grotto again on February 18. This time the vision asked her to return to the grotto each day for two weeks. Almost the entire time the visions (18 in total) occurred. Bernadette never identified the apparition as the Virgin Mary. It was not until the sixteenth vision that the white-veiled woman identified herself as the Virgin Mary, saying “I am the Immaculate Conception.”


During her vision on February 25, Bernadette claimed the apparition told her “to drink of the water of the spring, to wash in it and to eat the herb that grew there.”. Bernadette did as the woman asked her, and the next day the water of the grotto that was once muddy was now flowing, clear water. It would later become the place at Lourdes where millions of pilgrims pray and drink from the miraculous water to obtain healing. What else did Mary ask for during Bernadette’s visions? She asked for a small chapel to be built for her on the site and a procession to be formed. Mary focused her message to Bernadette on the need for prayer and penance.

Bernadette joined the Sisters of Charity of Nevers at the age of 22. She died at the age of 35 after suffering long-term illness and was canonized on December 8th, 1933. Her body is placed in the Chapel of St. Bernadette at Nevers, France.   The Marian Apparitions at Lourdes are approved by the Catholic Church. The healing water of Lourdes has cured many miraculously. Today, millions of pilgrims from all over the world visit Lourdes annually. 

Let Us Pray with St. Bernadette Soubirous

“O Jesus, give me I pray … the bread of humility, the bread of obedience, the bread of charity, the bread of strength to break my will, and make it one with yours, the bread of patience to bear the pain my heart endures, the bread to see you and you alone in all things and always! I put my hope in you, Lord.  Be my house of refuge because you are my strength.” 

Amen

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM 

Thursday, April 15

Accepting God’s Offer of Eternal Life

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God will remain upon him (John 3:36). Reading a scripture like this, we might ask ourselves, “Is God so harsh and authoritarian? Is it true that an unbelieving and disobedient person should be punished with God’s wrath? Aren’t they the ones who deserve pity?

When we pause and ponder further, it seems that it is not God who punishes those unbelievers. They are the ones who punish themselves. By not accepting God’s messenger who offers eternal life, people inevitably lose eternal life itself.
The attitudes and decisions of the human person determine whether she/he accepts or rejects eternal life. God always gives salvation for every human being.

Eternal life is indeed a gift from God to all people. Even so, after all, God does not want to force humans to accept it. God is not a dictator who imposes His will, but respects human freedom so that ultimately a person must be responsible for all his/her attitudes and decisions. When one, with his/her freedom, agrees with and make amends to this work of salvation, God will surely rejoice; on the other hand, if with his freedom humans refuse, God will surely mourn.

Eternal life means living in fellowship with God, not living physically and not dying. Therefore, we can feel eternal life right now. How wonderful life is, when we choose freely without compulsion, to accept God’s offer of eternal life.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM 

Wednesday, April 14

Whoever lives the truth comes to light

The purpose of writing the Gospel of John is to lead people to believe in Jesus as the Son of God, because He is the one who was sent by God to save mankind. Therefore, people will either be saved or perish, depending entirely on their decision. For those who choose to believe, surely survivors. Certainly a belief that is lived right in the heart, words and actions. And whoever does not believe then chooses his own way of life, he separates himself from God. He alone sets himself apart from God.

We need to understand this because many times we associate bad things with God. If someone experiences a disaster, it is not uncommon for someone to associate this disaster as a punishment from God.

Through this gospel we are reminded that God never punishes. He did not send His Son to judge but to save. God’s love is unconditional. He is still kind to everyone. No matter how big a human sin is, there is still a door of forgiveness from God. If the sinner is willing to repent, God is there waiting to forgive you. So for the sinner there can be two possibilities, namely being saved or perishing. It all depends on personal decisions.

Do my life decisions or choices bring my life closer to God and others? Or is it the other way around: people are further away from me, my life is getting boring and so on?

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Tuesday, April 13

Born again in Spirit

Who is Nicodemus? He was a Pharisee, a Jewish religious group known for their obedience to the law. He was also the leader of the Jewish religion. Thus his knowledge and piety could not be doubted.

Nicodemus came to Jesus because he was attracted to Jesus and respected Him. Jesus said that Nicodemus needed to be born again in order to have a share in the kingdom of God. This is interesting because Jesus explained it to Nicodemus, who had such a strong Jewish religious background. Jesus then explained that new people can enter into the Kingdom of God if they are born of water and the Spirit. This refers to Ezek. 36: 25-27. These verses make it clear that water is a sign of cleansing, whereas the Spirit is given to provide renewal. This confirms that sin has made all people unworthy of entering into the glory of God, unless they are renewed by the Spirit.

Nicodemus’ answers show that he did not understand at all what Jesus was talking about, even though he was a scholar of the Scriptures. It turns out that a person with strong religious knowledge and piety like Nicodemus did not necessarily understand and experience the new birth. In fact, people must be born again in order to enjoy and experience a heavenly life. How can people be born again? John 1: 12-13 explains that those who accept Jesus and believe in His name will become children of God. If we believe in Jesus we will be born again and therefore will receive eternal life.

The new birth can only take place in faith in Jesus Christ, the One who came down from heaven and returned to heaven. That is the new birth in the Spirit. Like the birth of a baby, the transition from old life to new life often requires going through things that are uncomfortable, make doubts, maybe cause you to wonder about it. The transition of new birth in the Spirit is not easy for everyone to accept. Just as a baby does not receive when he/she escapes the comfort of the womb by weeping, so too a person who is born again in the Spirit is accompanied by a mighty cry. If the cry is not coming from yourself, it is very likely that it is coming from other people, people around him, who may also be trying to obstruct the process of the new birth.

Fellowship with Jesus Christ is what makes our lives new. Without it we are still in the old man. That fellowship makes our lives comfortable again, our lives can bear fruit, we have guaranteed safety in them.

Do we have the courage to be born again in the Spirit? The promise of the hope of being born again in the Spirit is eternal life and salvation.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM 

Monday, April 12

Blessed are they who take refuge in the Lord

Today, the Servite Family celebrates the 350th Anniversary of the Canonization of St. Philip Benizi, OSM. He was a priest, and he is considered to be the leading light, both spiritually and intellectually, of the early Servite Order. He was chosen as the fifth prior general of the Order Servants of Mary.

Because of his intelligence, St. Philip was asked by the Pope to help in the Papal – Imperial conflict. He was sent to Forli to try and persuade people to return to loyalty to the Pope. While he was talking to the crowd, a violent group of young people heckled him and then physically attacked him. One young man by the name of Peregrine even punched St. Philip in the face. But St. Philip, who “took refuge in the Lord” refused to retaliate in the face of violence. This reaction made a huge impact on Peregrine Laziosi who had a complete change of heart and later joined the Order.

One of the many popular tales that became associated with him tells how St. Philip prayed during a famine when the friars had no food, and that two baskets of bread were found at the door. He was blessed because he “took refuge in the Lord.”

We ask St. Philip’s intercessions this day for us to continue to put our trust in the Lord and to take refuge in God that he may protect and guide us through our own faith journey.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Sunday, April 11

The Doubting Thomas

Today, we are introduced to Thomas, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, who is also called Didymus. In Jesus’ first appearance to the apostles, this Thomas did not witness himself. Because of that, he sincerely emphasized that he did not believe in the risen Jesus, because he did not witness it himself. To some extent, Thomas’s honest attitude is understandable because Jesus rose and appeared in a physical body in the state before His death. Bu,t His resurrected body is no longer bound by physical-biological conditions like any other. De facto as told in the Gospel of John, Jesus can now appear and disappear again through closed doors (cf. John 19:20). Therefore, we are required to acknowledge and believe that God is capable and powerful to act or act in a way that transcends our experiences and abilities as humans.

Here it appears that Jesus was always faithful to His promises to His disciples. So, having risen and before leaving them, He empowered them to carry on the work of salvation that He carried out, namely the work of God who is merciful. Now, one of the works of salvation, the work of mercy entrusted to the apostles by His performance, is the forgiveness of sins. As told in the Gospel of John, the risen Jesus, before leaving His apostles, breathed the Holy Spirit to those who were given the task of continuing His mission, which is especially to forgive sins. The forgiveness of sins that Jesus performed was accomplished through suffering, death, and also by His resurrection. He gave the power of the Holy Spirit to the apostles to participate in carrying out the forgiveness of sins. And all of that is an expression or clear evidence of God’s mercy. That is also why the Church’s second Sunday of Easter is also called Divine Mercy Day. What is called eternal happiness is being eternally in heaven with God. But that is only possible, when one realizes and confesses his/her sins. Whoever does not realize and confess his/her sins cannot be forgiven.

Thomas can be seen as an example of a person who experienced that having faith or truly believing is not an easy thing. Faith is something that must be fought for. Obedience to faith is not a mere gift. Thomas is a man who wants to be sure. But after being convinced, he was also brave and able to face the demands of faith, which he had to fulfill. And his loyalty as an apostle was proven and ended with his death as a martyr or a witness of faith in India.

Let us ask God, that by means of St. Thomas the Apostle, our faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is present among us in this Eucharistic celebration and also in the midst of our society today, will always be deepened and strengthened.

Amen.

Saturday, April 10

Born again in Spirit

Who is Nicodemus? He was a Pharisee, a Jewish religious group known for their obedience to the law. He was also the leader of the Jewish religion. Thus his knowledge and piety could not be doubted.

Nicodemus came to Jesus because he was attracted to Jesus and respected Him. Jesus said that Nicodemus needed to be born again in order to have a share in the kingdom of God. This is interesting because Jesus explained it to Nicodemus, who had such a strong Jewish religious background. Jesus then explained that new people can enter into the Kingdom of God if they are born of water and the Spirit. This refers to Ezek. 36: 25-27. These verses make it clear that water is a sign of cleansing, whereas the Spirit is given to provide renewal. This confirms that sin has made all people unworthy of entering into the glory of God, unless they are renewed by the Spirit.

Nicodemus’ answers show that he did not understand at all what Jesus was talking about, even though he was a scholar of the Scriptures. It turns out that a person with strong religious knowledge and piety like Nicodemus did not necessarily understand and experience the new birth. In fact, people must be born again in order to enjoy and experience a heavenly life. How can people be born again? John 1: 12-13 explains that those who accept Jesus and believe in His name will become children of God. If we believe in Jesus we will be born again and therefore will receive eternal life.

The new birth can only take place in faith in Jesus Christ, the One who came down from heaven and returned to heaven. That is the new birth in the Spirit. Like the birth of a baby, the transition from old life to new life often requires going through things that are uncomfortable, make doubts, maybe cause you to wonder about it. The transition of new birth in the Spirit is not easy for everyone to accept. Just as a baby does not receive when he/she escapes the comfort of the womb by weeping, so too a person who is born again in the Spirit is accompanied by a mighty cry. If the cry is not coming from yourself, it is very likely that it is coming from other people, people around him, who may also be trying to obstruct the process of the new birth.

Fellowship with Jesus Christ is what makes our lives new. Without it we are still in the old man. That fellowship makes our lives comfortable again, our lives can bear fruit, we have guaranteed safety in them.

Do we have the courage to be born again in the Spirit? The promise of the hope of being born again in the Spirit is eternal life and salvation.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM 

Friday, April 9

Believe and Live

The end of Mark’s gospel states that the disciples did not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, even though Mary Magdalene and the two disciples from Emmaus who experienced the presence of the resurrected Jesus had told them. Finally, Jesus appeared to the eleven disciples and condemned their unbelief.

Do we really believe in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus? What consequences does this belief have in our lives? As long as the belief is only informative, it often does not change anything in us. If we really believe, then we will be moved to proclaim it, because this is the message of Jesus, “Go into the whole world, and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

There are many people who claim to believe in Christ, followers of Christ, but do not feel compelled to proclaim Him at all. They still live for themselves, hide behind their busy lives and completely do not want to be bothered with church work and preaching. They need to feel the presence of the Lord Jesus Himself.

Many changes occur when people really feel the presence of the living Lord Jesus, whether it’s through extraordinary events in his life: recovering from illness, escaping accidents, being needed back by his family, etc., or through activities held by the Church: De Taize, Lectio Divina, Adoration, Meditation. Realizing the presence of the living Lord Jesus changes the orientation of our lives and changes our awareness of what is most important in life, so that we are active in proclaiming and serving God.

May we truly believe and live out our resurrected faith in all our words and deeds, and may the God continue to strengthen our faith in his risen Son, Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur , OSM 

Thursday, April 8

Worth Remembering

During my early childhood, I could still remember how innocent, as well as naïve, my faith was. I thought that every time I entered the church all my sins would automatically be gone. But as I grow older, everything is becoming clear to me. That kind of faith I had then no longer works when faced with more serious problems in life. An elementary faith will never win when faced with college trials and problems. Faith must grow and level up. Like any academic pursuit, faith must be studied and nurtured every day. It must not remain an academic requirement though. Faith must be something very personal. Otherwise, everything would be obligatory, routine and mechanical.

We have a lot to remember with regards to our faith. There are a lot of significant events in the past that demand our serious attention. In order for our Catholic faith to grow and mature, we need not only to remember them, but keep them alive in our lives. One thing worth remembering is the Easter event, and in our readings today we heard Peter and the other disciples recalling the past events in the company of Jesus. What keeps us in harmony and unity with them is the Last Supper, the Eucharist. We received the “Peace,” the same Lord. As a matter of fact, this peace is none other than Jesus himself. Jesus is our true Peace, Christ our Lord, and Savior.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-An, OSM

Wednesday, April 7

You Owe Me

How do we give? What is the manner of our giving? Is it only because we have a lot of surplus? Or is it out obligation? Or is it because a person keeps bothering you? Giving is not measured by these. Giving is not a matter of amount. It’s not a matter of quantity, but quality. Giving is a matter of love. For after all, to give is more joyful than to receive. As St. Paul says, “God loves a cheerful giver.”(2 Cor 9:7)

In the first reading today, we heard Peter and John going up the temple of Jerusalem to pray. Like our usual experience, as they were on their way, they’ve met a crippled man begging for alms. Let us focus on the man. He was said to be “crippled from birth.” Let’s deal with that for a moment. Imagine his state … being crippled can mean anything. It can be anyone of us. Due to selfishness and total indifference, we could have been crippled for many years. Not able to share, to love, to forgive, to understand, etc, are signs that we are still crippled.

The Resurrection of Christ is the cure. Let Him free us. Like the experience of the two disciples on their way to Emmaus, let the Lord enter into our lives. Let us allow him to speak to us. The problem to us, sometimes, is that we have so much to say to the point that the voice or the Word of God can no longer be heard in our midst. When that happens, we can no longer see clearly as the Lord sees every encounter in our daily lives. Since we couldn’t see as the Lord’s sees, little wonder then that our everyday decisions, reactions as we encounter people are nothing but a matter of work, an obligation and a routine. We can even use as an argument what Cain said to God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9). And the Lord will say to you in reply, “You said so!” Let us bear in mind that, as Christians, we owe something to others. This is the mission of the Church; this is our mission. For to be a Christian means to be for others. Yes, we cannot solve the problem in the world. Yet, you can and have to address the need of someone near you.

May we, like Peter and John, be able to respond positively to the needs of our brothers and sisters in love. May we be able to give them the necessary things they really need. May our giving truly address their needs and not just because we want to give this or that. Finally, may we be able to give what Peter and John gave to the crippled man saying, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have, I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk.” (Acts 3:6)

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM 

Tuesday, April 6

From Need Love to Give Love

Just recently I tried to console a family that was mourning the death of their dog. Among the family, it was the mother who was very much affected. I consoled them, but I hope I made them realize something more. No matter how hard we try, human relationships can never be replaced or supplied by anything, not even by a dog or a cat. Human relationships are incomparable and irreplaceable.

For sure Mary of Magdala didn’t cry for the death of her pet. She cried because aside from the death of Jesus, now the body or her Lord was gone. It doubles her agony, her mourning. Undoubtedly Mary of Magdala loved Jesus beyond all telling. But we ask, was Mary’s love for the Lord already matured? No. Not yet. She was still on the level of “need love”. That’s the reason why she still keeps looking for the lifeless body of the Lord.

All of us in some way are still on the level of “need love.” The Resurrection of the Jesus invites all of us to another level of love. The Lord is calling each one of us this time to “give love.” When the Lord offered Himself on the Cross, he gave us his overflowing and total love. In the first reading, St. Peter is showing to each one of us how to share the overflowing love and forgiveness he received from the Lord after all he had done before.

Let us share our Easter faith!

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-an, OSM

Monday, April 5

Easter Faith

Faith is matter of life. Everything we say and do begins and ends with faith. We believe in natural occurrences. We believe that we will surely be alive tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. We believe that Covid will end. Many believe that they have enough money in their bank account as indicated by electronic or digital numbers in it. This kind of faith is called natural.

More than that, there is much higher faith and that is supernatural. This is exactly the context of Easter event. Easter is not just another stage of event in the life of the disciples. Easter is a much higher event that requires or demands total attentiveness and listening more the than what the eye can see. But unless we understand the reason of the coming and public ministry of the Lord, it will be more difficult for us to comprehend his Resurrection. This is the invitation of the gospel to story for today, to the two Marys and to us in the narrative.

Sometimes the words “to see is to believe” does not always coincide. To see is one thing, to believe is another. Not everything that we see is believable. Isn’t that ironic? But true, isn’t it? When it happens there must be something wrong with our human freedom and will. Perhaps unbelief brought about by pride and arrogance is the one thing already reigning or controlling our hearts. That is why many times we have heard in the gospel the words “hardness of hearts” or “their hearts were closed” or “stony hearts”. This is the main if not the only obstacle why many find it so hard to move up into the supernatural level of what we call, faith. However, faith is a gift.

Faith is not innate. Rather, faith is given to us. It is being received from a giver. Faith is not purely academic. All we need to do is accept it and constantly nurture it. But sometimes, like other gifts, faith is also being put aside, ignored if not thrown away altogether.

Let us therefore follow and imitate St. Peter in the first reading. That like him, we may also show courage and determination that comes from our growing and maturing discipleship, brought about by our faith in the Lord Jesus. As Easter people, we are called to be bold in proclaiming Jesus as we sharing our faith in a lively, Easter way.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-An, OSM 

Easter Sunday, April 4

“This is the day the Lord has made”

This is the day that makes sense of all our days: routine days, days of suffering, of joy and of fulfillment. It is the day of the new birth. A day of light and life, which overcomes darkness.

Darkness is a symbol of death, pain, suffering, injustice, violence, and is present in our world where children, women and the elderly are the most violated and abused. Darkness is present in so many situations where there is terrorism and war, especially in those places where Christians are persecuted simply because they choose to live their faith.
Jesus is the light of the world. Let us rejoice on this day: “the day the Lord has made”. To Jesus we say: be my light, be our light.

We thank the Lord for the celebrations we have experienced these days. We ask the Lord Jesus: “Make us witnesses of your light in our family, in our surroundings, in our world.

Jesus never stops loving us. Jesus is with us until the end of time. This is our hope: Christ is risen! Alleluia!

Prayer of Praise

From the darkness of the grave

Blood poured out, a crown of thorns

Christ the Lord is risen today

Alleluia!

From the triumph that is won

Over the power and fear of death

Christ the Lord is risen today

Alleluia!

Walking from the empty tomb

Opening wide the gates of life

Christ the Lord is risen today

Alleluia!

Lord of life

You defeated death

To show that we can rise

From all that binds us to the world

Pride, envy, anger, fear

The debt of sin that holds us here

Christ the Lord is risen today

Alleluia!

Lord of life

You defeated death

To demonstrate a love that is

Beyond our understanding

That reaches out even to me

Saving Grace to all who hear

Christ the Lord is risen today

Alleluia!

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Holy Saturday, April 3

The Easter Vigil

With this celebration we remember the central mystery of our Christian faith: The Son of God rises from the dead to share with us, by baptism and faith, His victory over death and sin.

The Easter Vigil is one of the greatest liturgies of the Church year. In the early Church the community kept vigil for much of the night to await the dawn and to bring those joining the Christian community to the Sacraments of new life.
The Easter Vigil consists of four parts: the first one is the liturgy of light, where we have the Easter candle, a sign of Christ, light of nations. We begin in darkness and experience it. Then a fire is struck and passed around the room. Then a wonderful Eucharistic Prayer is sung exalting the Light among us: “This is the night …”

The second part is the Liturgy of the Word, which is one of the central elements of this holy night. It celebrates the story of our salvation reminding us of the various moments of God’s revelation to us in the Sacred Scriptures, recognizing that God never ceases to speak to us and continues to seek us and offer us his tender love. The third part is the baptismal Liturgy, which is preserved as a beautiful tradition, since the first Christians celebrated baptisms on this blessed night. The fourth part is the Liturgy of the Eucharist, where we recognize Christ alive in the breaking of bread.
Tonight, we are the people who believe the Good News. Jesus is alive! And, Death has no power over us! Let us renew our faith and our desire to meet our God who breaks the silence of death and manifests Himself in life, in the resurrection.

Brothers and sisters: Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection. (Rom 6:3-11)

Prayer

O Lord, How amazing is your love,

A love that overcomes, endures and redeems.

How astounding is your life,

A life that sustains, heals and creates.

How awesome is your hope,

A hope that promises, restores and inspires.

How absorbing is your truth,

A truth that releases, changes and rebuilds.

How we worship you, as we remember the moment when your love conquered. When out of the cave of sorrow Jesus arose to release forgiveness to the world. And each time we encounter this resurrection day we are again lifted to an eternal place. Our sin, brokenness and darkness fall away and your light and peace flood our lives. How we thank you for this incredible celebration that is Easter.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Good Friday, April 2

“God is Not Dead. But Died for YOU.”

Those who love much, suffered much. Those who love less, suffered less. In the end, only God, in the Person of Christ, has proven to have loved us fully and perfectly. After all, “God is not dead”, but he died for each one of us. He died for the atheists, the agnostics, the rebels, the saints and the sinners alike.

Good Friday speaks of the prodigality of God’s love for all humanity, for all of us. Love in some sense is defenseless. When you love, be ready to be hurt, ignored, rejected, and even killed. This is Christian love, Christ love. We might say no one deserves such a kind of love. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “God is dead.” I’m not really interested to what he said. Rather, I am more curious why he said that.

To deny God’s existence or presence is not actually the best or practical solution to our many problems in life. To believe in Him and to accept him as our only Hope and Savior is the most practical answer and solution to our many problems. Many of us killed God because of our sins. But the most dreadful of all, many killed and continue to kill God because of pride and arrogance. Who among the followers of Jesus remained steadfast until the end?

Who among us can say, “I’ve been always faithful to Jesus since then?” No one. Not you. Not even me. Not Peter. Not Judas! The only one who remained steadfast was Mary, the Mother of the Lord. She remained standing at the foot of the cross of her Son.

We might ask, was Peter or Judas or the women of Jerusalem or Simon of Cyrene or Joseph of Arimathea or the two thieves deserving of the love of God? The answer is both yes and no. No, because according to our human calculation, due to our weaknesses and limitations, no one is worthy of such great love God. At the same time, yes; simply because God loves us so much. He is just simply God. He is just simply Love. The question is not so much about whether we are faithful or constant in our Christian life or not. The focus of the gospel narrative today is about the faithfulness of Christ to God and to each one of us. Indeed, God is prodigal in his love. Is the love of God wasted for unbelievers? No … God’s love remains effective and alive even though man constantly rejects it.

In some sense, love should not only be shared but shed for the sake of others. Unless you shed your love, no one will be saved, no one will ever live. We are all his beloved children. For loving parents, their children are worth dying for. God is really our true God. God loves us so much. His death is the concrete proof to that.

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through him. (Jn 3:16)

God is not dead. God died for you.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-An, OSM

Holy Thursday, April 1

When God “walked through”

Our first reading on this Holy Thursday explains the meaning of the Passover which was celebrated by the Israelites. The word has the root ‘psh’ from a Semitic family of languages (including Arabic, Ugaritic, and Hebrew) which means “to walk through.”

Through this Passover ritual, the Israelites later would remember a very important event in their history when God saved (“walked through”) them from slavery in Egypt. This event celebrated the climax of the liberation of the people of Israel, when God gave the tenth plague in the form of the death of the firstborn of all Egyptian families except in the household of Israel. This celebration was in the form of the sacrifice of the lamb whose blood was written on the door of the house of the Israelites, so that they would avoid the death of the firstborn (verses 7,12,13). The lamb is then roasted and eaten with unleavened bread and bitter vegetables. They must eat it fully clothed to travel. This shows the haste and readiness to leave Egypt. Later when this celebration is repeated, it should be followed by a week-long celebration of the day of unleavened bread. The Israelites were ordered to do a dramatic return to what had happened at that time in Egypt. Remembering this event means that they will always remember God’s love for them in the history of the salvation of the Israelites.This Passover event is a way of reminding the Israelites in Egypt and their descendants that God was really present, punishing the Egyptians, and saving the Israelites. God became real in this incident.
Likewise in Jesus Christ, God’s presence is real. In Jesus Christ, God is present in the hearts of those who believe in Him. Christ is the Passover lamb who atones for the sins of humankind (John 1:29). After washing his disciples’ feet, Jesus asked the question, “Do you realize what I have done for you?” The washing of the feet helps the disciples to clean their hearts and motivation in following Jesus. The feet symbolize the willingness to act, so that they would be ready to act and testify.

Holy Thursday is a celebration that invites us to act in humble service for one another that when God walks through, He will know that we are Christ’ brothers and sisters, and His children.

Prayer

Almighty God, in your greatness you humble yourself to show us what love really means. Help us learn from you in our humble service to one another. Do not let pride win over us but let your Spirit work with and in us that we become your witnesses in spreading and sharing your love in all our words and deeds. For you live and reign forever and ever.

Amen

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Wednesday, March 31

See, the Lord GOD is my help; who will prove me wrong? Isaiah 50:9a

The prophet Isaiah poses the question: The Lord God is my help; who will prove me wrong? So often we take the short view. The short term. Isaiah invites us to take God’s view, the long view. What if we were to stop Holy Week after the Last Supper when Jesus is arrested? Or at the Crucifixion? Even after the Resurrection. If we stopped at the Resurrection, we would not experience the many revelations that come during the celebration of the Easter Season, or Pentecost. And after Pentecost – the conversion of St. Paul … The Martyrs … None can prove us wrong. And the story of God’s help and Salvation continues up to and including this year, this Lent, this Holy Week and Easter.

Let us Pray

Lord God, you are my help. Today I prepare my heart to enter the celebration of the Sacred Triduum – three holy days that cannot be separated. I opened my heart to your message, your presence, and your will. May my whole hearted observation of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday/Easter strengthen my devotion to you, and increase my love and commitment to all those around me.

Amen.

Tuesday, March 30

For you are my hope, O LORD (Ps 71:6b)

This phrase from today’s Psalm is what our heart must cling to as we remember, mark and celebrate the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus. If and when all other people, constructs, expectations and hopes are dashed or disintegrate before our eyes, it is God – Only God – who is our hope, our help, our safety, our Salvation.

Let us Pray

Today I will love and serve others with my whole heart; Because you are my hope O, Lord. I will let go of the false hope that I seek from the belongings I have and my accomplishments; Because you are my hope O, Lord. Today, O Lord, because you are my hope, I offer each minute of my day back to you in humble gratitude.

Amen.

Monday, March 29

Until he establishes justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait for his teaching. Isaiah 42:3-4

Through our prayer, our words, our actions, we partner to help establish God’s justice on earth. The prophet Isaiah says until that time, there are many corners of the world that wait to know and encounter God’s will, God’s way.
It is our Baptism into Christ Jesus that commits us to this effort. Remember that after Holy Week comes Easter. And after Easter comes Pentecost. God continues to offer us support, encouragement, healing, vision, and grace that we may spread the Good News in all that we say and do.

Let us Pray

Gracious God of Heaven and Earth, take my hands and heart. I lift them up to you that you may use me today to share your vision of justice with those around me. I know that I am limited in my understanding of it. I do know that it includes mercy, reconciliation, healing and hope. May I become a living instrument of your justice and mercy.

Amen.

Sunday, March 28

He emptied Himself (Philippians 2:7)

Today’s liturgy and readings take us on a roller coaster of emotions. We begin with the triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. So many pinned their hopes on Jesus, believed in Jesus, celebrated Jesus. It seems that just about everyone misunderstood what the Kingdom that Jesus was preaching would look like. As he entered the City to celebrate Passover, we come to understand the Salvation that Jesus Brings. This Mass begins with joyful song. It ends with us departing in silence.

The idea is that this solemn posture is our focus from now until we celebrate the Holy Thursday Liturgy. The line from Philippians reminds each one of us that Jesus emptied himself. He emptied himself as he healed and reconciled others, as he taught and ministered to people during his public ministry. But he especially emptied himself as he washed his disciple’s feet, as he shared a meal, as he was beaten, and as he died on the Cross.

Let us Pray

Most Holy God, through your son Jesus, you emptied yourself and took the form of a slave that we might be reconciled into an eternal covenant with you. I pray that I, too, have emptied myself of the many obstacles, clutter and misdeeds that take up space within me. I pray that you fill me with your healing presence and the grace of your Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Saturday, March 27

What are we going to do?

We approach the doorway into our most Holy Week. During this Lenten journey we have opened our hearts, our minds, and our souls to the Sacred Scriptures. We have fasted from bad habits. Maybe we have begun some new habits to enhance our spiritual lives. We have given of our resources to those who are less fortunate.

In today’s Gospel, the Scribes and Pharisees ask one another “What are we going to do?” This, too, is the question we must ask. Have we prepared sufficiently to follow Jesus to his Suffering and Death so we can whole heartedly and with a renewed spirit, celebrate the Triduum and the 50 days of the Easter Season?

Let us Pray

O Lord, through out these 40 days I have tried to open my heart to you, to those in need, and to the of your Holy Spirit that I may mature into the faithful follower of your Son Jesus. As I journey through this Holy Week, may my observances and actions give glory to you and your Son Jesus.

Amen.

Friday, March 26

My God, my rock of refuge (Psalm 18: 3b)

In today’s readings, the prophet Jeremiah and Jesus are surrounded by people of closed mind, antagonism, and suspicion. Between these two readings is a Psalm that exclaims their response to these challenging people and situations: “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.” The unified message of these readings is the proclamation: “My God, My rock, of refuge.”

With God we can endure any and all hardships and challenges. God is with us. We can walk confidently toward our most Holy Week. We know that we are not alone.

Let us Pray

Gracious and Eternal God, I loudly proclaim today that you are my God, my rock of refuge. I know that whatever pain or challenge comes my way today that you accompany me, never leaving me alone. Help me to extend that support and mercy to those I encounter today.

Amen.

Thursday, March 25

“May it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38

As we approach the pinnacle of our Christian story, today’s feast takes us back to the beginning – the Annunciation. Our goal should be to echo Mary’s reply to the Angel Gabriel: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Mary did not know the details, and surely did not know how her life, and the life of her Son, would unfold. But, she had faith in God and trusted God’s way, God’s plan, God’s word within her.

So, let us go back to the beginning of our individual story with God: Celebrations of each of the Sacraments, especially the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist are formal celebrations of our “Yes” to God’s word. In recalling these events in each of our lives, you and I can reaffirm that we, too, wish to be handmaids – servants of God’s Word – Jesus. Servants of Love, of peace-making, hospitality, forgiveness, mercy, and hope.

Let us Pray

Almighty One, may your way, your will, your kingdom be active within me. May I, like Mary, approach you with humility and enthusiasm to do your will today and every day. With your help, may I draw others into fullness of life in you. I ask this through the intersession of Blessed Mary, and in union with Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Wednesday, March 24

Let’s Make Room

Jesus said “A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So, if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free. I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you. I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence;” (John 8: 35-37)

How can I make room? Where can I make more room for the words of Jesus? In my heart, in my thoughts, in my home? In the first reading, King Nebuchadnezzar sees that God made room next to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego even in the midst of the fire. God longs to accompany us. Let us make room.

Let us Pray

O Most Holy God, your Son Jesus embodies your word through his ministry – his living and his dying. Help me today to remove all that clutters up my spiritual life so that I can make more room for Jesus – your Holy Word to reside and remain with me and within me. Today and forever.

Amen.

Tuesday, March 23

“O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you” Ps 102:2

Today, in John’s Gospel, Jesus echoes the same reply that God gave Moses at the burning bush: I AM in response to the question. Who are you? What Moses and the disciples of Jesus heard with that phrase is: I AM is the self-sufficient, self-sustaining God who was, who is, and who will be. A clearer translation today would be “I will be what I will be.” As the account states, many came to believe after Jesus said this. The Jewish people would clearly understand the reference back to the one true God that led Israel from slavery into the promised land.

In our upcoming celebration of the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday) and Easter, we celebrate that the promised land of our Salvation is Jesus. So, in these final days of our Lenten journey, we are called to ask: What am I enslaved by? What is my “to do” list? My phone? Social media? Selfishness? Self-righteousness? Pride? Ignorance? Am I in some way dragging my feet into the promised land? Like the Israelites in the desert, do we complain about how much easier it was before we started this Lenten journey? Before we took a closer look at ourselves and our relationships and habits?

Let us Pray

O holy One: The one who will be what will be. I know that you created me to love and serve you and all who are my neighbor. Help me to let go of all the things that hold me back from growing into the faithful follower that you call me to be. In these final days of my Lenten desert journey, may the help of Jesus and your Holy Spirit continue to heal me, and reconcile me to you.

Amen.

Monday, March 22

O eternal God, you know what is hidden

The first reading from the Book of Daniel tells the story of Susanna. She was falsely accused and cried out to God for help. In the Gospel, a woman was about to be stoned because she was caught in the act of adultery.

In the first reading, the Prophet Daniel spoke on her behalf and affirmed her innocence. In the Gospel, Jesus takes another approach: He states that the person without sin may cast the first stone.

Jesus opened their eyes to the reality that each and every one of us have sinned, have fallen short. He does not hold a scale to judge the severity of one’s sin. Instead, he does the most powerful thing: Jesus forgives her and charges her to sin no more.

Can we forgive others this freely? Can we confess our sins and then let go of the guilt so we can love others more deeply?

Let us Pray

O eternal God, you know what is hidden; you know my fears, my motivations, my weakness, my failures and successes. And still, you love me and call me to follow you more closely every day. I lift up to you my wounded but open heart that you may plant your word deep within me so I too may grow closer to your Son Jesus through the power of you loving, and Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Sunday, March 21

I am the resurrection and the life

The story of Lazarus from John’s Gospel is chosen for the 3rd Scrutiny. This is the final special time set aside for Catechumens and Candidates (and all of us) to scrutinize our faith, our practices, our habits, and mindset. We hold all of them up to Christ as our model and measure.

As each of us hold up our shortcomings and infractions, these words of Jesus are directed at us: “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Jesus sees all of the issues that have come up for us during this Lenten Journey. He knows of the bad habits, harbored feelings, what we have done, and what we have failed to do. Those weaknesses, or illness as he calls them, bind us up, and trap us – keeping us at a distance from God and his Church.

Like Lazarus, Jesus calls us to come forth as a new life, a new person—changed from our old ways into new life with Jesus.

Let us Pray

Lord Jesus, just as you raised Lazarus up to new life, raise me up from those things that are death dealing to me, my loved ones, my community, and the world. Transform my heart, that I lay open for you, so that I may walk in the light and life that you promise.

Amen.

Saturday, March 20

O searcher of heart and soul (Ps 7:9)

Today’s readings tell of those who oppose God’s word. In the first reading some are plotting to kill the Prophet Jeremiah. In John’s Gospel ‘some from the crowd, chief priests and Pharisees do not like what Jesus is saying and doing. The people of Jesus’ time are trying to figure out who he is. The closest that they can figure is that Jesus may be a prophet.

Prophets were God’s spokesperson. They did not realize that Jesus was God’s Word ENFLESHED. His words, actions, teachings, miracles, and healings were all God acting within and among the people. It was just too uncomfortable for some.

Most of us have had the experience of not wanting to hear what someone has to say. Often the words hit too close to home. God is the searcher of heart and soul. Only God knows our desires, our motivations, our hopes and where we fall short. Growth takes work, it can be challenging and even painful.

Are there words that are hard for you to receive? Words like: Compromise, Inclusive? Unconditional? I’m Sorry? Trust Me?

Let us pray

O God, Searcher of my Heart and Soul, help me to sit with you in this uncomfortable place. I know you have the words of everlasting life. Surround me with your loving grace so that I may accept those words and teachings that my heart sees as difficult. Show me how to enact your words of love and truth to all around me.

Amen.

Friday, March 19

Solemnity of St. Joseph

READINGS: 2 Samuel 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16 Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22
GOSPEL: Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a

“RIGHTEOUSNESS BASED ON THE LAW OF LOVE”

Was Joseph really a just and righteous man according to his religion as a Jew? In Judaism religion, righteousness means faithful obedience to the teaching of the law. It means that whatever is stipulated by and in the law, from the smallest to the greatest command, must be followed faithfully. But that’s not the case in Christianity. Righteousness in Christianity is total obedience to love. Or in other words, righteousness based on the law of love. What does it mean? Is there a contradiction between the two? In what sense was Joseph called a “just and righteous man?”

According to the gospel narrative, Joseph found Mary with a child, not of him but through someone else, that is, through the Holy Spirit. If we follow the dictate of the Jewish law, Mary must be put to death, for she conceived a child not through her husband Joseph. And Joseph had to do that if he indeed a “just and righteous man”. But he didn’t. Yet Matthew called Joseph a “just and righteous” man.

Joseph is called “just and righteous” not according to law but according to love. He was a kind of person whose obedience to God’s law transcends to its rigidity. Besides, the one who commanded him was God. And the child in Mary’s womb was the Son of God. That Mary conceived Jesus in her womb through the power of the Spirit of God, and so the child is called holy.

In today’s feast of St. Joseph, we are also invited to reflect and imitate the example of the man of God. St. Joseph is like anyone of us, an ordinary man with extraordinary faith and obedience to God. His faith and obedience transcended the legal requirements of the law. He followed the law of love. Now we know why he was called by St. Matthew a “just and righteous man”. Sometimes our holiness and righteousness are confined to that of legalism, that is, according to law not according to love.

May our concept of “just and righteous” go beyond the law. May it become the law of love.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-An, OSM 

Thursday, March 18

The Seven Sorrows and Seven Joys of St. Joseph

Each of them stems from seven powerful moments in the life of St. Joseph.

THE SEVENTH SORROW: When the child Jesus was twelve years old they went to Jerusalem, as was the custom. When they left at the end of the feast, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem without his parents realizing this. They returned to Jerusalem to look for him.

THE SEVENTH JOY: On the third day they found him in the temple, seated among the elders, listening to them and asking them questions. All those who had listened to him were amazed by his intelligence and his responses. The child returned with them to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother faithfully kept all these memories in her heart.

REFLECTION: To be away or separated from a beloved is one of the saddest moments in life. But worse is when one is separated from the love of God because of sin of pride. No matter how far we run away, God, as prodigal Father, he is ready give away his love in search of us, just to bring us back into his loving presence.

St Joseph, as a loving father, immediately looked for Jesus when he found out that the latter was not in their company back home. For St. Joseph, to be away from Jesus meant to be away from God. After all, Jesus was not lost. He was in the place he meant to be.

I think the lessons of this gospel are, first and foremost, about relationship. The narrative is telling us how sorrowful Joseph and Mary were when they found out that Jesus was not with them. It simply tells us how sad or empty life is when we are not in the presence of God, when he is not the center of everything.

Many people continue to believe that complete happiness can be found in worldly things. What a restless and endless search that must be. No… complete joy and happiness can only be found in finding Jesus and following the Lord in his Church. Joseph and Mary found Jesus in the temple, the perfect place where to find perfect happiness. If you feel that there seems to be lacking or missing in your life’s journey, perhaps you’ve missed something or better, you’ve missed someone. Maybe you need to return to God, where we can find complete happiness and joy: Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-An, OSM

Wednesday, March 17

The Seven Sorrows and Seven Joys of St. Joseph

Each of them stems from seven powerful moments in the life of St. Joseph.

THE SIXTH SORROW: In Egypt, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying: “Get up and return to the land of Israel with child and his mother, for those who wanted to kill the child have died.” … But Joseph was afraid to return to Judah, knowing that Herod’s son was now king.

THE SIXTH JOY: They returned to Galilee and to their own town of Nazareth. There the child grew and matured, day by day growing in wisdom. The grace of God was in him.

There is nothing that concerns a loving father more than the safety of his family. The constant hardships he endures is nothing compared to the great joy and consolation he feels seeing his children growing in wisdom, respect and love of God and neighbor. But greater than the love of parents is the love of God to all. For the Lord says in the first reading today, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you” (Is 49:15). These are indeed assuring and consoling words from the mouth of our loving God.

Today is the six day of the Septenary in honor of St Joseph. We remember his sixth sorrow and joy. Joseph as a “holy and righteous man” (Mt 1:19) was afraid to return to Judea because of the threat that awaits them, especially to the child Jesus, knowing that Archelaus, son of Herod, was the one who replaced his father Herod as king. But because it was God who told him to do so, he goes.

To feel afraid is perfectly human. But to be holy and righteous, like St Joseph, are the proofs of trust and obedience to God. We all feel afraid and threatened as St. Joseph did. What is lacking in us sometimes is trust and obedience to God’s commands. Trust and obedience do not totally remove fear; rather, they vanquish fear and can establish a closer relationship to God. After all, threats are always there. Threat does not end to Herod. It can be prolonged or heightened by another next to him anyway. But again, let us not forget that the love of God is greater than anything that could harm us in this world, and even greater than the love and promises of anyone.

Therefore, threats and fears are nothing compared to the loving presence of God in the life of St. Joseph. This is exactly what reassured and constantly sustains St. Joseph as played his role being guardian and protector of Jesus and Mary. In fact, he was consoled by the fact, that, “Jesus grew and matured, day by day growing in wisdom” (Lk 2:40). How happy is the father to witness his children growing in this manner?

The tragedy in many families today is the fact that children grew full of pride and arrogance instead of love and respect. Many children are showing ungrateful attitudes and no sense of respect. Why do they behave and act that way? What’s wrong with our young? Or rather, what’s wrong with us pastors, educators and parents? What else have we not given them? Sometimes, the problem lies on what is given. They may lack nothing in their needs. Perhaps, what we have forgotten to give or to teach them is God.

Prayer

May we learn anew from the example of St Joseph, who never spoke a single word in the Bible, ye, he tirelessly labored day and night for the good and safety of Jesus and Mary. Drawing inspiration and example from St. Joseph, may we also become true protectors and guardians of family and the young. 

Amen.

Fr. Edgar Benedi-An, OSM

Tuesday, March 16

The Seven Sorrows and Seven Joys of St. Joseph

Each of them stems from seven powerful moments in the life of St. Joseph.

THE FIFTH SORROW: Joseph’s concern and anxiety during the flight into Egypt.
THE FIFTH JOY: He is happy at the final safety of Jesus and Mary.

Like a deer with an arrow in its body while running for its safety, Saint Joseph’s journey couldn’t have gotten any worse. When everything seemed to settle down, his son’s life was threatened by Herod. What did this infant do so wrong that Herod wanted him dead? An innocent baby who couldn’t even crawl yet now need to run far away for his own life. And Saint Joseph’s sorrow seemed to never end. “Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is searching for the child in order to kill him” (Mat. 2:13).

That is the worst thing a father will ever hear. And of course, he will do anything to safe his child’s life. Is there any greater suffering than the suffering of a newborn baby whose mother is in poverty, forced to flee with her and her father? Where do they live and where do they provide for their daily needs? Saint Joseph listened, and followed the angel.

With all these things going on in Saint Joseph’s mind, he would be relieved to hear that Herod died (Mat. 2:14). Although he knew that anything still could happen to his child, Saint Joseph’s burden must’ve been lifted knowing that his child was once again safe and free from danger.

We are invited to learn honesty, sincerity, humility and especially strong faith from St. Joseph, and to be able to understand the events that happens in our life every day.

Prayer

Saint Joseph, with fear and sorrow you learned that you and your family would have to flee to Egypt; what joy you must have felt when you found safety there. Help us to face difficult and uncertain moments with trust and confidence that the Lord will always walk beside us.

Amen.

Monday, March 15

The Seven Sorrows and Seven Joys of St. Joseph

Each of them stems from seven powerful moments in the life of St. Joseph.

THE FOURTH SORROW: The great sorrows of our lady are predicted by the prophet.
THE THIRD FOURTH JOY: The prophet Simeon foretells the salvation of many souls.

It would be impossible for anyone to hear from someone else that his or her loved ones would experience so much pain in their lives. How would you react to something like that? In Luke’s Gospel, St. Joseph heard from the mouth of Simeon that a sword shall pierce Mary’s heart (Luke 2:3-35). As Mary’s husband, St. Joseph wouldn’t want to hear that, let alone to let that happen to Mary. But again, he would rather follow God’s will than to do what he would do. He trusted God even when he knew the bad news.


Simeon prophesied, “I have seen a salvation, which you have prepared for all the nations to see: a light to guide all people and to show the glory of your people Israel” (Luke 2:28-33). This was a marvelous news for St. Joseph, although he knew it from the beginning. Although we don’t know whether St. Joseph was alive to see what Simeon prophesied, we know that he would become a proud (foster) father to see that many people have been guided by the light of Jesus to be reconciled with God. and with one another.

The fourth sorrow and joy of St. Joseph remind us that whatever bad news we have in our lives, at the end of the tunnel, we will see the light again. Don’t give up, and trust God for what he wants to bring into our lives. He wants something great for each and everyone of us.

Prayer

Saint Joseph, with sorrow you heard the words that Mary’s heart would be pierced with a sword; you found joy in the promise that Jesus would bring us salvation. Please obtain for us the grace to have compassion for the sorrows of others, and to share the good news of salvation that Jesus offers us.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Sunday, March 14

THE THIRD SORROW: Joseph sorrowfully witnesses the circumcision of our Lord.
THE THIRD JOY: His delight when the holy name of Jesus is given to the infant.

Jesus’ birth brought happiness to many people – his parents, Simeon and Anna, the shepherds and all peoples of all ages, including all of us. His birth in Bethlehem would mean that he would follow all laws there since his earlier years. And Joseph knew that. Joseph would want this divine child to do whatever he wanted and not to follow the human laws; however, God had a different plan. God wanted His Son to experience humanity through following the law, “On the eight day, the child was circumcised according to the law” (Luke 2:21a)

Joseph recognized the importance of following the law, but it must have hurt him to see his son being circumcised in that early age. No one would ever want to see a child in that circumstance at that age, but St. Joseph continued to trust in God’s plan of salvation through his Son. In his sorrow, St. Joseph continued to follow God’s command. He was delighted that the child was named Jesus, “the name the angel had given him before he was born” (Luke 2:21b).
That is a father’s greatest joy, to be able to call his child’s name, especially when the name was given before the child was even born. And St. Joseph’s joy to call Jesus was so great that he did not care what he would go through in his own life. The name of Jesus was already enough assurance for him.

The third sorrow and joy of St. Joseph remind us that whatever situation we are in right now, however painful our lives look like, we know that when we call on the name of Jesus to help us, to guide us and to journey with us, he will be delighted to come to us and be with us. So, call Jesus to be with you today and may he bring you all the blessings you need today, and every days of your life.

Prayer

Saint Joseph, your heart was pierced with sorrow at the sight of the blood which flowed from the infant Jesus at his circumcision; you found joy when the child was given the name of Jesus. Through your prayers, may the name of Jesus remain in our hearts and guide our daily lives.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Saturday, March 13

The Seven Sorrows and Seven Joys of St. Joseph

Each of them stems from seven powerful moments in the life of St. Joseph.

THE SECOND SORROW: Joseph is denied hospitality to Mary for the birth of the Savior
THE SECOND JOY: He exults in the angelic tribute of glory at the birth of Christ

“And while they were in Bethlehem, the day arrived for Mary to give birth. She gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the place where travelers lodge. The angel said to the shepherds: ‘You have nothing to fear! I come to proclaim good news to you – tidings of great joy to be shared by the whole people. This day in David’s city a savior has been born to you, the Messiah and Lord. … in a manger you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes.’ The shepherds went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger …” (Lk. 2:6-7, 10-11,16)

What grief Joseph must have felt that, when the time came for the Child to be born, he was not able to provide an appropriate environment and surrounding for the Mother and newborn Child. Joseph perhaps wondered if he should have made more preparations or if there was something more that he could have done. He must have felt distraught and inadequate in fulfilling his role.

And then the shepherds appear to adore the newborn Child and to share with Joseph and Mary all that the Angel announced to them and about the choirs of Angels singing: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among all with whom God is pleased.” Joseph is filled with joy to know that, despite his feeling of grief for failing to provide an appropriate surrounding, God’s plan has been realized.

Prayer

Glorious St. Joseph, faithful guardian of Jesus, great was your SORROW when you thought yourself a failure when you could only provide a stable for the birth of the Christ Child. But great was your JOY when you experienced the wonder when the shepherds came to tell of angel choirs, and wise men came to adore the King of Kings. Through your example and prayers, help us St. Joseph and all we love to become sinless mangers where the Savior of the world may be received with absolute love and respect.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Friday, March 12

The Seven Sorrows and Seven Joys of St. Joseph

Each of them stems from seven powerful moments in the life of St. Joseph.

THE FIRST SORROW: Joseph is perturbed about the Motherhood of the Virgin Mary.
THE FIRST JOY: An angel reveals to him the mystery of the Incarnation.

“When Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit, and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit, she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ … When Joseph woke from sleep, his did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife into his home…” (Mt. 1:18-25)

Joseph and Mary are already married. In Jewish culture at the time of Mary and Joseph, the couple would be betrothed, married formally, legally husband and wife and then later they would move in together. Joseph contemplates what he has learned, probably from Mary herself, and is filled with awe at the thought that he would be married to the Mother of the Savior. Was he ready for such an honor? Joseph decides to quietly divorce her in order to allow God’s plan to be carried out. Imagine the profound sorrow he experienced as he came to this decision! He was betrothed to the love of his life and a most beautiful woman but felt he was not worthy. He did not understand that God wanted him to play a significant role in the life of the Holy Family.

And then the Angel is sent by God to assure Joseph of his role in God’s plan. Joseph is filled with joy! Perhaps with some trepidation as well, but filled with joy when the mystery of the Christ’s incarnation is revealed to him and he realizes he is to be the guardian of the Messiah. Joseph did not wait! Joseph immediately took Mary into his home. He heard the voice of God and he did it.

Prayer

St. Joseph, chaste lover of Mary, great was your SORROW when, in a state of uncertainty, you were inclined to quietly divorce Mary. But great was your JOY when the angel revealed to you the mystery of Christ’s incarnation and you realized that Mary would be your wife and you would be the guardian of the Messiah. Help us, St. Joseph, help our families and all our loved ones to overcome anxieties about their doubts and their futures and to overcome all sadness of heart and develop an absolute trust in God’s goodness.

Amen.

Thursday, March 11

Lent invites us to help the needy and the stranger

The Prophet Jeremiah and Jesus both emphasize that we must not be stiff-necked, but faithful, listening and responding to God, and call for consistency, fidelity, in our relationship with God and with our neighbors, even the refugees in our midst.

Lent invites us to help the needy and the stranger, that these basic virtues become second nature to us. Then we will be acting under the finger of God and promoting the kingdom of God in our world.

Prayer

Father, You have asked us to continue to love one another, for love comes from You. Anyone who loves is Your child and knows You. Those who do not love do not know You, for You are love. You have shown how much You loved us by sending Your one and only Son, Jesus, into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love – not that we loved You, but You loved us and sent Your Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Thank You, Jesus, for giving Your life for ours. We were not worthy, yet, You made us worthy to love and know You. Thank You! Today, we confess that we will love You with all our hearts, souls, strength, and minds, and we will love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Amen.

Wednesday, March 10

Your children’s children

“…take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you listen to my voice; you live, but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.” Dt. 4:8-9

We teach through word, and reinforce it with action. We must share the good news of what God has done for each of us. How has God protected you? Has God answered a prayer? Brought healing? Hope?

Moses is speaking to the Israelites. Wandering in the desert for 40 years tended to make them forget that they were freed from slavery. It is important for us to remember, share and celebrate God working within our hearts, our homes, our families and relationships. When times get difficult or challenging, it is easy to forget the blessings.

Let us Pray

O Gracious God of my ancestors, help me to be grateful for all that you have shared and blessed me with in my life. Thank you for the insights and challenges that have helped me grow during this Lenten season. May I have opportunities to share the gifts you have given me. I ask all this through your son Jesus, in union with the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Tuesday, March 9

70 x 7 times

I remember hearing this Gospel story as a child: “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18: 21, 22.

I attempted to do the math, 70 x 7, and then, of course I must multiply that by my four sibliings … that was a lot of forgiving! At times I attempted to tabulate how close I was getting to the number when I could say “Alright, I did it, I no longer have to forgive my little sister.”

The number seven is very significant in the Bible. It took God seven days to complete creation. So the fact that Jesus used the number seven multiplied is significant. The Jewish listeners would understand that one must forgive until it is complete. Wholly forgive someone. Completely forgive would mean to continue to forgive, continually forgive. Wow.

Let us Pray

God of infinite mercy. Thank you for your patience and guidance as I fail and falter. Thank you for reconciling me to you. Help me to grow in my capacity to forgive. I know that the limits and boundaries on my love and forgiveness are constructed not by you, but by me. Let these constructs fall, that I may more closely reflect the image your Son Jesus.

Amen.

Monday, March 8

Recognize the face of Christ

Today’s first reading from the second book of Kings, and the Gospel, speak about curing a leper. Jesus recalls the story of Naaman, who was not only a leper, but also a Syrian. That would make him a ‘double outcast’. Yet he is the one that the prophet Elisha cures. These two readings, especially Jesus’ interpretation of this story calls to mind the words of Pope Francis in speaking about this season: “Lent is a favorable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ.”

Are there people that you consider ‘untouchable? Outsiders? Too difficult to deal with? We are called to open the doors of our hearts to all of these. We must open our eyes and see others as God sees – each person a blessed creation of God – a child of God.

Let us Pray

Gracious God of infinite love, open my eyes to see as Jesus sees, to love as Jesus loves. Break open my heart and expand my thinking, and my capacity for forgiveness. When others encounter me, may they experience YOU.

Amen.

Sunday, March 7

“Give me a drink” Jn 4:7

Today’s Readings, and the readings for the next three Sundays, are Cycle A readings which are used when people are preparing to join the Church at the Easter Vigil. These three weeks we scrutinize our faith with the Catechumens and Candidates. We will explore the themes of Water, Light and Life.

Today’s readings are about water. The Gospel story is the Woman at the Well. The first thing that Jesus says in his encounter with this woman is: “Give me a drink”. Jesus goes on to speak about Living waters. The woman is changed through her conversation with Jesus. She believes in Jesus and is empowered to tell others about him. Because of her story, others come to believe in Jesus.

We too are changed though our encounters with Jesus, in the reading of the Gospels, in prayer, in the celebration of the Eucharist. Each and every encounter with Jesus has the power to change us.

Is your mind, heart and soul open to be transformed? Change/growth/healing is not for the faint of heart. It takes focus, commitment, and effort. Can you, like the woman at the well, share how your encounter with Jesus today is changing you for the better?

Let us Pray

God of all that is, I am seeking you: your presence, your ways, your direction. Clear a path in my mind and heart that I may focus myself on you above all else. I want to love and serve you, love my neighbor, and grow in faith, hope, and love.

Amen. 

Saturday, March 6

What was lost and has been found

Today we hear the Gospel story of the Prodigal Son. Many of us hear this story, and comfortably align ourselves with the son who remained with his Father. The other Son took his inheritance and squandered it. He only returned home after he was destitute and had hit rock bottom. The Father was overjoyed at his son’s return, and celebrated extravagantly.

Actually, in this story two were/are lost. The son who left and squandered his inheritance, and returned humble and destitute is one. The other is the son who remained. He is lost in self-righteousness, resentment and jealousy. His inability to accept his father’s generous actions pulls him away from his father.

God, like the Father in this story is extravagant, unbounded, unconditional, and generous with his love and joy. Sometimes it is we who believe that we are more worthy than another, more faithful than another. God’s love is like the rain that pours down on all of us. We should stand in humble gratitude that God loves us rather than judging if another is worthy of that free gift.

Let us Pray

Eternal God of love and mercy I humbly ask that you remove the barriers that I place around my heart. I wish to rend open my heart to that your extravagant love can pour into me, and surround me with your Grace. I truly want to reflect your love and joy, not my own insecurities and limitations. Stretch my heart, and expand my understanding of what it means to be faithful. I ask this through Christ Jesus, through the power of your Spirit.

Amen

Friday, March 5

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone (Mt 21:43)

In today’s readings we hear the story of the brothers of Joseph abandoning him in a well. And in the Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the tenants at the vineyard who kill the landowner, and the servants that he sent to prepare for his return.

In both of these stories people allowed jealousy, selfishness, arrogance, self-righteousness, feelings of superiority, and fear to navigate their decisions and behaviors. Jesus says that the Kingdom will be given to others because of this.

Do I allow myself to be influenced by others who are not focused on true Kingdom values? How can I counteract some of these negative trends around me? Are any of these negative navigators attempting to take root in me.

Let us Pray

Gracious God, healer of my soul, lead me far from these negative attributes – these sins. Though some rejected your Son Jesus, I choose Him as the cornerstone of my life. Lead me into the light of your healing love, that I may radiate you, and you alone in things that I say and do.

Amen.

Thursday, March 4

“I, the Lord alone, probe the mind and test the heart” Jer 17:9

Jesus tells the story of the rich man who died. He quotes Abraham saying to the rich man: “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)

These readings for today remind us that God only knows our true thoughts, the motivations of our heart. This final line of the parable is meant to shake us awake.

Each of us must ask: Do I really listen to Jesus? Do I regularly seek to focus my priorities around the values and virtues lived out by Jesus?

Today we must allow ourselves to be moved by Jesus, changed by Jesus.

Let us Pray

Gracious God of all the Ages, I lift my mind and heart up to you in prayer today. Examine them. Help me to root out thoughts and feelings that place distance between me and those around me. Cleanse me from the resentments and regrets that distract me from listening to your law of love. I ask this through Jesus your Son, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Wednesday, March 3

God, in your hands is my destiny. Ps 31:16

Today Jesus speaks to his disciples about true discipleship. With that, Jesus turns the expectations and common practice of society around him upside down: “Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.” Mt. 20:27

So if I am striving to be great, noticed, ‘successful’ by the world’s standards, I have it wrong? Yes. Humility must be at the forefront of one’s goals. Service must the central action and central effort toward all those around us: strangers, neighbors, enemies, and friends, family. Humble service is modeled for us by Jesus.

The deeper we go into our Lenten journey, the closer we come to the life-giving, humiliating events of Holy Week. How will remembering and praying through these events this year change us?

Let us Pray

Christ Jesus, beloved Lord of my life, you have shown me through your teachings, healings, and actions, how to be a loving, humble child of God. Change my heart, and my way of thinking if it is keeping me from faithfully following you.

Amen.

Tuesday, March 2

Hear the Word of the Lord

In today’s first reading, the prophet Isaiah is preaching to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. His words should ring in our ears and rend open our hearts:

“Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow. Come now, let us set things right, says the LORD” Is 1:3-6
I encourage each of us to take a few moments and close our eyes. Imagine your heart beating in the middle of your chest. Now, imagine God taking your hand and together, God opens the door of your heart, and fills it with grace to set all things right.

Let us Pray

Eternal and ever-loving God, Today I stand in need. Teach me your ways.
I want to hear the orphan, and the widow’s plea; I want to hear the cry of the poor above my own wants and the racket and clutter I surround myself with.

Teach me about your justice that is woven so tightly with forgiveness, mercy, and your boundless love. Help me learn to do your good in the world.

Strengthen me to attach myself tightly to the teachings of your Son Jesus, and the tenants of Catholic social teaching.

Amen.

Monday, March 1

Be Merciful

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” Luke 6:36-38

The words of Jesus are directed straight into each of our hearts. Be merciful, nonjudgmental, forgiving, and generous.

Where, when, and how am I falling short?

Let us Pray

Eternal and Compassionate God, increase my capacity to show mercy, to forgive, and to not judge others – enlarge my heart that I may generously give of myself and my time.

Amen.

Sunday, Feb. 28

If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rm 8:31b)

God is for us. God created each of us and desires an intimate and loving relationship with us. God desires our whole self. God longs to be with us in our past, in our present and in our future.

That is what God was trying to communicate with Abraham. By ‘testing’ Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac, God wanted to know if Abraham was ‘all in’. Could Abraham entrust his beloved, his future, his dreams to God?

The Transfiguration in today’s Gospel is assurance of the same truth. God is for us. God affirms that Jesus is the Fulfillment of the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah). All of God’s communications with humanity are now integrated and magnified in Jesus. And Jesus – the new covenant – is our hope, our dream, our future.

Let us Pray

Gracious and Eternal God, you transfigured-changed Jesus, giving the disciples a glimpse of his Glory. May my prayer and practices during this Lenten season allow you to transfigure-change me. May I, too, radiate your love and glory to those around me.

Amen.

Saturday, Feb. 27

Observe God’s statutes and decrees with your whole heart and soul.” Dt. 26:16

This phrase from Deuteronomy calls to mind the important Jewish prayer called the Shema. Shema is Hebrew for the word ‘hear’. This Jewish confession of faith is made up of three scriptural texts (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:13-21; Numbers 15:37-41), which, together with appropriate prayers, form an integral part of evening and morning prayers.

Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. Blessed is His name, whose glorious kingdom is forever and ever. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your might. These words that I command you today shall be upon your heart.

Jesus takes this important prayer and adds the phrase: ”and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Are there areas of my life where I am not whole-hearted? Is my soul invested in God-like views of others? Are there activities, habits, practices that are draining my might – wasting time or energy on things that distract me from, or are obstacles to my relationship with God and neighbor?

Let us Pray

Gracious and Blessed God, I seek your help today, and every day to weave my relationship with you into my heart, and soul. May I use all my mind and strength to spread your loving presence into every corner of my life. May the way I speak to others reflect your compassion; may the way I treat others reflect your boundless love, and may my thinking be transformed into hopeful action. I ask this through Jesus who shows me the way.

Amen.

Friday, Feb. 26

“Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.” Mt 5:21

Wow, I am sure that these words shook Jesus’s followers to the core. The Scribes and Pharisees seemed like that had it all together, and were doing the right ‘things’ to be seen as righteous. Jesus wants his followers to dig deeper. Their relationship with God, and one another must be greater than external actions deemed moral.

In today’s Gospel (Mt 5:20- 26) Jesus is teaching about INTEGRITY. What does it mean? Integrity means that a person’s beliefs, thoughts, actions (in public and in private) are the same. If I say that I believe we must love our enemies – my words and actions should reflect that weather someone is watching me or not.

If you have children in your life, they are wonderful ‘integrity checkers’. I remember many times my siblings and I questioning our Mother about something she said or did. Her reply: “Do as I say, not as I do”. What we believe, and say, and think and do should weave a fabric of integrity. Think about it. Jesus spoke of love and healing, he actually loved and healed others.

Especially through the events of our Holy Week. we see Jesus pouring out his love through words and actions – through the Last Supper and his suffering and Death.

Let us Pray

God, the gift of your son Jesus shows us how to live, by loving and serving you and all those around me. During these Lenten weeks may I grow in my understanding of mercy, reconciliation, healing and hope. May your tender care increase the ways that I integrate my faith into every corner and relationship in my life.

Amen.

Thursday, Feb. 25

Ask, Seek, Knock

In today’s Gospel we are reminded that as followers of Jesus we are not to be passive or inactive. Jesus invites us to speak, look, and take action. In our prayer we lay open our heart, our hopes and desires. We make room for Jesus to reply with his desire/will for us. Then we must be ready to seek that will, and take action to make God’s will happen.

God’s will – God’s way – is about forgiveness, healing, feeding, bringing together, and compassion.

What can you do today that can make God’s will palpable to another today?

Let us Pray

Gracious God of action, I ask you to instill in me a sense of urgency to share your love and bring your will – your way – to all those around me. Give me energy, courage and stamina to seek you and share your merciful presence today and every day.

Amen.

Wednesday, Feb. 24

“There is something greater than Jonah here” Luke 11:32

The prophets, like Jonah in today’s first reading, were seen as God’s mouth-piece. Prophets are not future tellers. They see the current situation around them and begin to see it all from God’s perspective. In the Gospel today, Jesus explains that he is greater than Jonah – More than a prophet- Jesus is God’s Word made flesh. This means that Jesus embodies all the values and traits of God. Yes, in his words, but also in his actions and interactions with others. Jesus did not just speak about forgiveness and healing, Jesus forgave and healed.

Jesus shows us how to change our hearts and change our ways to align ourselves more closely to God’s will. If Jesus loved, welcomed, forgave, and healed indiscriminately, how can I justify withholding love from another? Or fostering hate for another? Or wounding another with my words or actions?

Let us Pray

Holy Jesus, God’s Word incarnate, help me to immerse myself in your teachings, and your values that I too may reveal God’s saving love to those around me who so desperately need it.
Amen.

Tuesday, Feb. 23

“This is how you are to pray” Mt 6:7-12

Today let us walk through the prayer that Jesus taught us and reflect on our own prayer life:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name …

How do I reverence God as the One, Holy Creator of the Universe? Do I honor God even in the way that I speak God’s name?

Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven …

I pray for God’s Kingdom to come, and say I want God’s will done – Do I ask God, to assist me in living Kingdom values? Where the last are first and the first are last? Where all people are loved and cared for, fed and clothed? Am I quick to forgive? To offer assistance to another?

Give us this day our daily bread …

Here I ask not for what I want, but for what I really need to live. What does my heart, soul and body need daily?

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us …

God, help me to love without limits, and forgive without conditions – just as you have loved and forgiven me.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

God, sometimes trouble seems to find me. Lead me away from selfishness, hatred, arrogance and false devotion; Lead me straight to you and your heart.

Amen.

Monday, Feb. 22

Feast of the Chair of St. Peter

This feast celebrates the mission of teacher and pastor conferred by Christ on St. Peter, and continued in an unbroken line down to the present Pope.
In the Gospel account from Matthew, Peter’s response to the question Jesus posed: “Who do you say that I am?” is the exclamation on each of our lips: ”You are the Christ, Son of the Living God!”

We proclaim these words in how we allow Jesus Christ to guide and direct our thoughts, our words, and our actions. Remember, that it is Peter who later denies that he knows Jesus at all. But that is not the end of the story. The passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus saved Peter, and continues to save us from the many ways that we distance ourselves from one another and Jesus.

What can I do today that shows that I know and love Christ Jesus and that my life revolves around the Living God?

Let us Pray

Living and Eternal God, Jesus, your anointed one calls me to know and follow him.

Help me focus on the mercy, love and reconciliation that Jesus taught about and lived out in his daily life.

Give me the courage to let go of the habits, thoughts, and actions that deny that I even know Jesus, or obscure his light from shining through me today.

Amen.

Sunday, Feb. 21

One does not live on bread alone

One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. Mt. 4:4b

Today we are asked to think about what feeds us. Yes, physical food feeds our physical body. I could compare nutritious items to junk food … Instead let us look at what feeds our heart, our soul, our hopes and dreams.

God’s Word and God’s presence are food for the heart and soul. Devotions and prayer feed the heart and the soul. Spiritual reading and spiritual practices feed heart and soul. Nourished by these things our hopes and dreams can grow and flourish. Our family and other relationships benefit too. But wait … is there ‘junk food’ that I am feeding my heart and soul? Am I harboring resentment, or hesitating to forgive someone? Do I spend too much time on social media? Do I spend time in idle gossip? Do I fill my time with meaningless chatter or activity? Do I spend the majority of my prayer time asking God for things, rather than listening to God?

Let us Pray

God of all that is, Fill my heart and soul with your words, your ways. Teach me how to intentionally dedicate myself and my free time to you and in service of others for you. May the nourishment of your loving presence renew my strength and focus that I may grow in faith, in hope and in love this Lent.

Amen.

Saturday, Feb. 20

Then light shall rise for you in the darkness

If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday; Isaiah 58: 9b-11

The prophet Isaiah tells us when light/Christ will come. Through his teachings, healings and the breaking of bread Jesus Christ embodies each of these saving acts. Christ is our light. To walk in the light, and be people of light, we too must do as Jesus did- not just pray about it, or think about it- we must serve, heal and feed.

Let us Pray

God of all that is – Shine your loving light into the dark corners of my heart; places where I have given fear, judgement, anger or mistrust an opportunity to take root.

Surround me with your infinite mercy that I may soak in your compassion, and forgiveness.

May I become an instrument of reconciliation within my family, my community and my world.

Amen.

Friday, Feb. 19

This is the fasting that I wish

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; (Isaiah 58: 6-8)

Let us Pray

God of all that is – I try to wrap my head around your ways and your will. So often, I fall short.

I see now that my fasting must be fasting from the many ways my thinking, words and actions can oppress another.

Help me to fast from ideas and people that dehumanize and degrade individuals and groups of people.

Empower me to grow in compassion and provide concrete assistance to those in need around me.

Amen.

Thursday, Feb. 18

Choose Life

“Today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom … I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God … ” Dt. 30: 13;15

Most of us will not have a “life or death” situation to address today. But in this reading from Deuteronomy, Moses wants to shake up the people of Israel (and us) to realize that each moment is an opportunity to Choose Life or Death.

What words, actions, thoughts, habits, practices are lifegiving to me and to others? What words, actions, thoughts, habits, practices are death dealing to me and to others? These are words and actions that harm oneself, or others.
Think of the Seven deadly sins: Lust + Gluttony + Greed + Sloth + Wrath + Envy + Pride. Have I lapsed into old bad habits? Have I developed new bad habits? Some bad habits can grow into addition, obsession. Are there individuals or groups of people I consider less than me? Do I treat them poorly? What have I done or failed to do that are choices toward a cursed life?

Let us Pray

God of all that is – Today I choose Life! I choose you.

Help me to weed out the habits, thoughts, and actions that do not promote the mercy-filled compassionate person that you call me to be.

I ask for your care and guidance today and throughout Lent that I become a Lifeline for others.

May my words and actions build others up rather than tear them down, may I give from my possessions, my time and my heart to those who stand in need.

I humbly ask this through your Son Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17

Lent at The Grotto

“Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God.” – Joel 2:13

Throughout these 40 days of Lent, and Holy Week we will reflect on the many ways God may be asking us to open our hearts, change our thinking or our habits, our priorities. God may be asking us for more time in prayer; more time in service, more time in reflection. Lent provides opportunities for us to increase a spiritual practice (like reading the daily readings, praying the stations of the cross, the Rosary, or spiritual reading) By ‘rending our hearts’ we provide room for God to grace us with mercy, insight, understanding, and a greater capacity to love and serve others. Think of the many phrases around the image of the human heart: Heart of stone, hollow heart, heartless, heartfelt, cold heart, black heart, big heart. During this Lenten Season as we ‘rend’ our hearts may our gracious God gently stretch, heal, warm and soften our hearts that we may grow closer to Him.

Ash Wednesday

In the Hebrew Scriptures there are many situations and circumstances where individuals, families, and even large crowds of people tear/rend their garments. Many times it is a sign of grief. Sometimes a sign of fear of what is to come. Other times it serves as a gesture of great sorrow/remorse and a desire to repent. The prophet Joel is trying to tell the people that the gesture ‘tearing open your clothing’ is an external gesture. If one really wishes to return to God you must have internal- intimate movement: tear open your heart! Make your heart vulnerable, not merely your external self! Change your heart not your clothes!”

Let us Pray

God of all that is- As I prepare to enter into this Lenten Journey, I open up my heart. Clear it of all obstacles and bad habits that keep me distant from you. This Lent I seek to open up my heart until it hurts. Expand my capacity to love, expand my thinking, expand my time in prayer, that I may better reflect my Faith and Love for your Son Jesus.
Amen.

Tuesday, Feb. 16

Our Seven First Fathers

They lived a common life.

The Seven First Fathers were an authentic community. Before the foundatíon of the Order, in Florence they were active members of the “Great Society of Our Lady”, and alter the foundation of the Order they continued lo live in this spirit of community. The Legenda de Origine refers to the fact that they made all their important decisions collegially, and, among those with whom they were in frequent contact, they were an inseparable community. As a result, they were canonized as if only one person: The Seven Holy Founders. This is the only instance in the history of the Church when speaking of canonization of a group of non-martyrs.
Our Constitutions give us a truly clear idea about the importance of fraternal communion in our life. Jesus’ prayer to the Father (e.Jn.17:11), the witnessing life of the first Christian community (Acts 4:32), the community lifestyle proposed by S. Augustinc, and finally the exemplary life of the Seven Holy Founders help us understand the importance of fraternal communion as an essential element of our life. Without this, we would not be authentic Servants of Mary.

They lived with a Marian spirit.
The veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary – whose origin is traced lo the Marian spirituality of the lay community to which they belonged before the foundation of the Order – was assumed by these men as a unique characteristic. In fact, Our First Fathers called Mary their Lady and Lady of the Order and they received the name of Servants of Mary. With firm conviction, they themselves affirmed that it was Mary who inspired then to begin this experience and gave them the indications to take on this name. It is because of this that, in times of difficulties or crises in their lives, the Seven always confided themselves to the intercession of the Virgin Mary and took refuge in their “Mother and Lady”

The total dedication to the Blessed Virgin Mary is essential element of the life of the Order. It is rooted in the same experience of the seven holy Fathers at the beginning of their spiritual itinerary: “As they were aware of their imperfection, they humbled themselves, and with much devotion surrendered themselves at the feet of the glorious virgin Mary, the Queen of heaven, because she as a mediator and advocate, reconciled them to her Son and made them bear much fruit.”

They lived a life of service
Our Seven Holy Founders placed themselves at the service of others inspired by their desire to fulfill the evangelical commandment of love. The Legenda de Origine speaks about them as men that never refused to give to be of service no matter how simple or humble it was. The same Legenda likewise narrates that they never refused the persistent requests of the people that “day and night” appeared at Monte Senario, seeking their counsel and spiritual guidance. The later decision to establish in the city of Florence a priory and a church highlights their authentic desire to be closer to the people and to place themselves at their service.

In the Constitutions of the Order, we find an epilogue that synthesizes the figure of the Mother of God in the mystery of the Redemption: “In our commitment of service, the figure of the Mary at the feet of the Cross shall be our model. Since the Son of God is still being crucified in his brothers and sisters, we, Servants of his mother, wish to be with her at the foot of those countless crosses in order to bring comfort and redemptive cooperation.”

Litany in Honor of the Seven Holy Founders

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Monday, Feb. 15

Day 2 of the Seven Holy Founders Triduum:

A Reflection on the Charism of the Order of Friar Servants of Mary
“Moved by the Spirit, we commit ourselves, as did our First Fathers, to witness the gospel in fraternal communion and to be at the service of God and all people, drawing abiding inspiration from Mary, Mother and Servant of the Lord” (Constitution, 1).
Right at the beginning of our Constitution, the Servites are already called to live out the Charism of the Order: fraternity, service and Mary. As Servites, we live in fraternal communion with one another. Our First Fathers had given us the example; they did not know each other… they called each other brother and they cared for each other that they could not bear to be absent from each other for even an hour without great annoyance (Legenda de Origine, 29).

Fraternity means to live as brothers (and sisters), to share with our brothers (and sisters) in the community. Fraternity is not limited only in living together as brothers, but also and most importantly, how we support, help and strengthen each other in all aspects of our life. “We are loyal to the community in good times and in bad. Within community we strive for brotherly friendship by giving ourselves and accepting one another with each other’s talents and limitations” (Constitution, 10). And this brings us to the second charism: Service.

As we learn to accept each other’s talents and limitations, We are “sent to extent its fraternity to the people of today who are divided by reason of age, nationality, race, religion, wealth and education” (Constitution, 74). Every member of the Order is called to serve God and His people. Our service is the form of our active collaboration with God in manifesting his redeeming work in our world. We are called to do the humble apostolic service wherever God calls us to be.
In our service to God and his people, we carry out Jesus own legacy, “to serve and not to be served” (Matt. 20:28). But the Servite service is service like Mary’s. “The soul and fundamental inspiration of Mary’s service can be found in a total faith and total readiness to serve: faith as her response to God; readiness to serve as her response to humankind and the Church.”
In our service, we, like Mary, radiate the love of Christ so that Christ’ presence and faithfulness can be experienced in the lives of the people we serve.
The third Charism of the Servite is Mary: drawing abiding inspiration from Mary, Mother and Servant of the Lord. This is a unique identity of the Order of Friar Servants of Mary. The Blessed Virgin Mother is the inspiration for all the members of the Order. She is our model and example in following and serving the Lord until He finishes his redeeming work on the Cross. Thus, the Servants of Mary are called to stand at the foot of other crosses where Jesus is still being crucified. Blessed Virgin Mary has taught us to love and to serve Christ, the Word who became Flesh.
Prayer
Almighty and ever-living God, through the Blessed Virgin Mary, you called our First Fathers to live in fraternal communion and to serve you and your people.
Through Mary’s example, may we live out our fraternal commitment in our service to you and our brothers and sisters, children of the same Father.
Give us your strength, O God, that we may serve and help those who carry heavy crosses and bring them to you, the source of salvation.
May they come to know you and your redeeming work and may you lift up all their crosses and bring them peace and love.
Amen.
Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Sunday, Feb. 14

Day 2 of the Seven Holy Founders Triduum:

A Reflection on the Charism of the Order of Friar Servants of Mary

“Moved by the Spirit, we commit ourselves, as did our First Fathers, to witness the gospel in fraternal communion and to be at the service of God and all people, drawing abiding inspiration from Mary, Mother and Servant of the Lord” (Constitution, 1).
Right at the beginning of our Constitution, the Servites are already called to live out the Charism of the Order: fraternity, service and Mary. As Servites, we live in fraternal communion with one another. Our First Fathers had given us the example; they did not know each other… they called each other brother and they cared for each other that they could not bear to be absent from each other for even an hour without great annoyance (Legenda de Origine, 29).

Fraternity means to live as brothers (and sisters), to share with our brothers (and sisters) in the community. Fraternity is not limited only in living together as brothers, but also and most importantly, how we support, help and strengthen each other in all aspects of our life. “We are loyal to the community in good times and in bad. Within community we strive for brotherly friendship by giving ourselves and accepting one another with each other’s talents and limitations” (Constitution, 10). And this brings us to the second charism: Service.
As we learn to accept each other’s talents and limitations, We are “sent to extent its fraternity to the people of today who are divided by reason of age, nationality, race, religion, wealth and education” (Constitution, 74). Every member of the Order is called to serve God and His people. Our service is the form of our active collaboration with God in manifesting his redeeming work in our world. We are called to do the humble apostolic service wherever God calls us to be.
In our service to God and his people, we carry out Jesus own legacy, “to serve and not to be served” (Matt. 20:28). But the Servite service is service like Mary’s. “The soul and fundamental inspiration of Mary’s service can be found in a total faith and total readiness to serve: faith as her response to God; readiness to serve as her response to humankind and the Church.”

In our service, we, like Mary, radiate the love of Christ so that Christ’ presence and faithfulness can be experienced in the lives of the people we serve.

The third Charism of the Servite is Mary: drawing abiding inspiration from Mary, Mother and Servant of the Lord. This is a unique identity of the Order of Friar Servants of Mary. The Blessed Virgin Mother is the inspiration for all the members of the Order. She is our model and example in following and serving the Lord until He finishes his redeeming work on the Cross. Thus, the Servants of Mary are called to stand at the foot of other crosses where Jesus is still being crucified. Blessed Virgin Mary has taught us to love and to serve Christ, the Word who became Flesh.

Prayer

Almighty and ever-living God, through the Blessed Virgin Mary, you called our First Fathers to live in fraternal communion and to serve you and your people.

Through Mary’s example, may we live out our fraternal commitment in our service to you and our brothers and sisters, children of the same Father.

Give us your strength, O God, that we may serve and help those who carry heavy crosses and bring them to you, the source of salvation.
May they come to know you and your redeeming work and may you lift up all their crosses and bring them peace and love.

Amen.
Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM
To view the reflection for the First Day of the Triduum, the story of the Seven Holy Founders, please click here.

Saturday, Feb. 13

A Triduum of Reflection and Prayer in Honor of the Seven Holy Founders of the Friar Servants of Mary

What is a Triduum?

A triduum is a three-day period of prayer, usually in preparation for an important feast or in celebration of that feast. The best-known triduum is the Paschal or Easter Triduum, which begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on the evening of Holy Thursday and continues until the start of second vespers (evening prayer) on Easter Sunday; “three days.”


The Origin of the Term Triduum is a Latin word, formed from the Latin prefix “tri” (meaning “three”), and the Latin word “dies” (meaning “day”). Like its cousin the “novena” (from the Latin “novem,” or “nine”), a triduum was originally any prayer recited over the course of multiple days (three for triduums; nine for novenas). As every novena recalls the nine days that the disciples and the Blessed Virgin Mary spent in prayer between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday, in preparation for the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, every triduum recalls the three days of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection.

Why are we having a “Triduum” during February?

Every Feb. 17, the Order of Friar-Servants of Mary celebrates the Feast of the Seven Holy Founders of the Order. We, the Servite Friars here at The Grotto, the National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, as well as our staff and all of you, our friends, will therefore be celebrating a special “Triduum of Preparation for the Feast of the Seven Holy Founders” on Feb. 13, 14, and 15, in anticipation of the Feast, which, this year (only) will be celebrated on Feb. 16. It is usually celebrated on Feb. 17, but this year that day happens to be Ash Wednesday.

The Servite Community and the staff of The Grotto joyfully invite all of you, our good friends, to prepare heart, mind, and soul, to celebrate this great, annual, Feast of commemoration of our Seven Holy Founders … may their holy and compassionate service to God and all people, in the name of, and honoring the Blessed Mother of God, Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, lift us all up, inspire us to service, and to the love of Christ and His Mother!

Day 1 of the Triduum – Saturday, Feb. 13

A REFLECTION ON THE EARLY HISTORY OF THE SEVEN HOLY FOUNDERS OF THE ORDER OF FRIAR-SERVANTS OF MARY

As the legend tells us, the Servite Order was founded in 1233 in Florence, Italy, by seven wealthy wool and textile merchants. They were canonized in 1888, By Pope Leo XIII, as the “Seven Founders of the Servants of Mary.”

History points to the early 13th century as being a time of rapid societal, religious, and political, change in Florence. The merchant class was forming, emerging strongly out of the development of trade, commerce, and banking, and becoming increasingly rich and influential across society.

The city of Florence became famous far and wide for textiles manufacturing. Its fine fabric materials were sought throughout Europe, Africa, and the East. In turn, Florence imported spices, scents, ivory and silks. As a sign of its prosperity and power, the city’s gold “florin,” bearing the imprint of her emblem, the lily, and her patron, St John the Baptist, went into international circulation as a basic monetary unit. Florence was built on the banks of the river Arno. Her prosperity was evident in the tremendous building development along the long, low, banks of the river. Cloth manufacturers, wool dyers, and allied crafts, were established on those banks. It was a time of political change, even upheaval, as well. The rise of the “commune,” a new type of democratic administrative body, made it possible for the merchants and craftsmen to have a say in governing the city, 4 and not just the traditional noble families, as before. The power of the landed gentry was broken. No longer would land be the sole criterion for having a say in government. Moreover, peasants and farmers left the land and small villages and poured into the city. They were looking for a share in the wealth that marked the life of people in Florence. Lastly, but not least, political conflict erupted between the Pope’s political supporters and the new, local “Middle Class” of merchants and artisans.

This was the world of the Seven Holy Founders. The Order of Friar-Servants of Mary traces its earliest expression to those days of political, economic, and religious ferment which were the dominant atmosphere of central Italy at the beginning of the 13th Century. Before the Servites ever existed as an official religious Order of the Church, seven men came together in that proud and prosperous city of Florence, Italy. It was by no means the first time that they had met. For some years, a firm friendship among them, based upon a common, mutual, understanding of Christian ideals drawn from the Gospels and the New Testament, had been growing among the seven friends. As a reflection of the penitential spirit of the times, it had been the custom of these seven men to meet regularly as members of a religious society established specifically to honor and praise Mary, the Mother of God.

Gradually, the seven wealthy merchants began drawing further and further away from the predominant values and concerns of the citizens, specifically the rampant thirst for wealth, for status, for prestige. And instead of falling in with the bitter hatred and open violence of the period, (the results of political strife), the seven original Servites were busily shaping their lives on the pattern displayed in the Gospel, a life of shared poverty, mutual esteem, love, and of concern for, and service to, the poor. One by one, the seven companions entered a group of penitents responsible for the running of a hospice dedicated to the care of the sick, the poor, and of pilgrims. The group was called the “Society of Our Lady,” and its members “Servants of Mary.”

Interestingly enough, in those early days of their association, the seven continued to live at home with their families, but they added to their lives a special “rule of life” which outlined their shared spirituality. They dedicated themselves to the Mother of God, and to the service of her Son through service to the poor and those persons on the fringe of society. Penance was a key aspect of the lives of the seven from the beginning of their association. Through penance, they prayed that Mary, their “Lady,” would reconcile them to her Son, Jesus. Living with the poor, faced with the raging injustices of the time, and forced to reject the compromised values of the society at large, the seven evolved a radical change in their lives. They became literally poor themselves, not by accident of birth (they were all merchants), but by choice, as they renounced their personal wealth…and put it to the service of those who truly lived in need.

“Tradition” and scientific history sometime differ in their presentation and interpretation of facts. So, the written, historical, documentation preserved in the Servite archives witnesses to a very special, “providential,” combination of persons and circumstances, movements, and ideals, which culminated in the founding of the Order. But the Servite tradition of “legends and stories” shows that “their Lady,” Mary, the one to whom they had dedicated their service for the love of Christ and His poor, revealed herself to the seven merchants in a powerful and symbolic vision in the year 1233. As a direct result of that revelation, the seven abandoned all their business interests, left their comfortable homes, put aside the finery which announced a person’s standing in society, and then went to live together in a very humble, run-down, building at the edge of the city of Florence. But as radical a move as that was, the seven felt that it was a reasonable enough price to pay for what they gained, i.e., a life shared as brothers in search of the Lord. The holiness and penitential lifestyle of the seven quickly attracted visitors, and then others, many of whom wished to join them in their newly found joy of fraternal living for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus. A new “Order” was coming to birth…!

Finally, the entire group decided to move from the “busyness” and chaos of the city of Florence, to more peaceful surroundings, and the seven men established a hermitage on the summit of a nearby mountain, called “Mount Senario” (“Mount Scenario” translates as something like “Sounding Mountain”). Servite tradition tells that the holy “sound” of the first Servants’ life of dedication and love went out from their mountaintop refuge to the entire countryside and was “heard” by many! Coming to be known finally as the “Friar-Servants of Mary,” the first Seven were joined by others on Mount Senario, and as the group continued to grow, the seeds of a new religious Order took root. Today, “Monte Senario” (as it is known in Italy, where it is located) is considered to be the “cradle of the Servite Order.” It is the “Mother House” of all the priories, and communities, of the Servants of Mary from then till today.

The Order of Friar-Servants of Mary was originally approved as a religious Order by the bishop of Florence sometime between the years 1240 and 1247. The Servants decided to live by the Rule of St. Augustine, and they added to the Rule their own expression of Marian devotion and dedication to Mary under the title of “Mater Dolorosa,” or “Mother of Sorrows.” We also know that by 1250, there were, besides the original Seven, a number of other individuals who were ordained to the priesthood within the Order, thus creating an Order with both priests and nonordained brothers.

By 1267, the Servite Order had come under the leadership of St. Philip Benizi, an extraordinary Friar-Servant, who was so renowned that the College of Cardinals in Rome attempted to elect him Pope of the universal Church…in his utter humility, he refused! By the year 1256, the Servants had received an official approval from Pope Alexander IV which allowed for continued expansion of the Community to other places where the needy 8 awaited. And finally, In the year 1304, the Order of Friar-Servants of Mary received definitive approval as a religious Order in the Church by Pope Benedict XI.

Since the time of the Seven Holy Founders, the Servite Friars have sought to live the Gospel way of life in the service of Mary, Mother and Servant of the Lord. Our Lady’s “most special” Order spread throughout Italy and the rest of Europe, and then around the globe to North America, South America, South Africa, Asia, and Australia. In 1870, Servite Fathers Morini, Ventura, Giribaldi, and Brother Joseph Camera, at the request of Bishop Joseph Melcher of Green Bay, Wisconsin, took up a mission in America, at Neenah, Wisconsin. Father Morini went on to establish the monastery and parish of Our Lady of Sorrows in Chicago, Illinois, in 1874. A novitiate for training young men for the Servite Order was opened at Granville, Wisconsin, in 1892. And the first American Province of the Order of Friar-Servants of Mary was formally established in 1908. The land for The Grotto, The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, here in Portland, was purchased in 1924, by Servite Father Ambrose Mayer, and “the rest is history”!

A Prayer for Day 1 of the Triduum

We turn to you, our first Fathers, as children, disciples, and friends, to learn from you how to be followers of Christ:

How, together, to sing the praises of God, and share the bread of life as children gathered at the Father’s table;

How, in silence, we can hear the voice of the Spirit, and in listening, give words to our faith;

How, in faith, we can live without attachment to clothes, food, or home, seeking only the Kingdom of God and its justice;

How, living, suffering, and dying for the Church, we can announce to all the Gospel of peace.

O Holy Fathers, may your example of searching for God, and of service to Mary, remain with us, and may your prayer support us today and all the days of our life.

Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Friday, Feb. 12

Happiness and fulfillment are found only in God

The Book of Genesis presents, in symbolic and imaginative language, the origin of sin in this world. The serpent is the symbol of all temptations. The two people, who elsewhere are called Adam and Eve, are referred to simply as the man and the woman to indicate that they are no different from any other human being. They, in a way, stand for the entire human race.

This story is a rather tragic one. The man and the woman attempted to become like God by abandoning God and abandoning God’s will. They wanted to put themselves in the place of God. The result, of course, was the opposite of what they hoped for. Instead of becoming like God, they fell from favor and were separated from God. Rather than being satisfied with all the gifts God had given them, they wanted more, yet they went from good to evil.

In a sense all of us are that man and that woman. Every temptation which comes to us is basically a drive to abandon God’s will, to put ourselves in the place of God.

Jesus himself is the cure for the poison of sin. It was at our Baptism that we were made clean. In Baptism, Jesus reaches out to us in our time of need just as he reached out to the deaf and dumb man in the gospel passage. In Baptism, Jesus freed us from sin and gave us the gift of faith which opened our ears to hear the word of God, a word that gives meaning and purpose to our life as well as the grace to follow that meaning and purpose. Our faith, above all, teaches us that happiness and fulfillment are found only in God and through commitment to follow God’s will.

Prayer

O God, help me to fully accept your invite, and concentrate only on you: I cannot do this alone.

In me there is darkness but with you there is light. I am lonely but you do not leave me. I am feeble in heart but with you there is help. I am restless but with you there is peace. In me there is bitterness but with you there is patience. I do not understand your ways but you know mine.

O God, restore me to liberty, and enable me so to live now that I may answer before you and before me. Lord, whatever this day may bring, may your name be praised forever.

An Invitation (Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Adapted)

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Thursday, Feb. 11

Our Lady of Lourdes

Today we celebrate the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1858 to fourteen-year-old Marie Bernade, well-known as St. Bernadette Soubirous, near Lourdes in France within the cave of Massabielle. The Blessed Mary, who presented herself as “the immaculate Conception,” called sinners through St. Bernadette (a young and humble girl) to conversion, prayer and charity.

St. Bernadette was questioned many times about the apparition. She was asked to give an account of what she saw. St. Bernadette responded, “I saw a pretty young girl with a rosary over her arm. A white robe was encircled by a blue girdle. She wore a white veil. There was a yellow rose in each foot.”
Through that humble girl, Bernadette, the Blessed Virgin Mary revitalized and continues to revitalize the faith of millions of people. Lourdes has become a place of pilgrimage and healing, and even more of faith. There have been many miraculous healings happening in Lourdes performed at the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Prayer

Mighty God, through the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes, may you continue to bring many people to know you and to receive your mercy. We pray especially for the healing of those who are infected by Covid-19 and all those who suffer from life-threatening illnesses. May you, O Powerful God, send your Spirit to heal them and strengthen them in their suffering.
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Wednesday, Feb. 10

St. Scholastica, Virgin

St. Scholastica was born in Norcia, Italy about the year 480 to a wealthy family. She is a twin sister of St. Benedict of Norcia. The twins were so close to each other that when St. Benedict established his famous monastery in Monte Cassino, Scholastica also founded and governed a monastery of nuns, about five miles from that of St. Benedict.

The twins visited each other once a year in a farmhouse because Scholastica was not permitted inside the monastery of her brother. They spent these times discussing spiritual matters and praising God together.
Before her death, St. Scholastica and St. Benedict spent the last day together in prayer and conversation. They were involved in their conversation that they did not realize that the hour grew late. St. Benedict was ready to go back to his monastery, but St. Scholastica asked him to stay with her until morning. St. Benedict refused her request to spend the night outside the monastery (thus breaking his own rule). Then, St. Scholastica prayed and asked God to let her brother stay with her. Suddenly, there was lightning and thunder and such a heavy downpour of rain preventing St. Benedict to return to his monastery. When St. Benedict complained, she replied, “Well, I asked you and you would not listen; so I asked my God and He did listen. So now go off, if you can, leave me and return to your monastery.” So, he stayed with her the whole night, involved in their conversation about the spiritual life.

Three days later, St. Benedict was in his monastery praying and he saw the soul of his sister rising heavenward in a form of a white dove. He then announced her death to his monk and later buried her in the tomb he had prepared for himself.

St. Scholastica’s intercession is always asked against storm and lightning and to obtain rain.

Prayer in Honor of St. Scholastica

O God, to show us where innocence leads. You made the soul of Your virgin Saint Scholastica soar to heaven like a dove in flight. Grant through her merits and her prayers that we may so live in innocence as to attain the joys everlasting. This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Tuesday, Feb. 9

God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good.

I always enjoy walking around the gardens of the Grotto (not to mention my hiking adventures around the state) because I can see and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. One of the things that I enjoy the most these days is waking up in the morning by the sound of the birds, from the smallest ones to the biggest ones. I also admire the beauty of other animals living in this property. Seeing them helps me understand what the Book of Genesis was trying to tell us. God was pleased with his creation and he wants us to continue to preserve and to take care His wonderful creation.

As God’s own image, God shows us his creation to us that we would take care of this creation just as God would do. If we continue to love and care for God’s creation, we connect more with God. When we abuse God’s creation, we destroy something that is good in God’s eyes. As we reflect on this creation story, let us remind ourselves to live our lives in the sacred way. We need to preserve, enjoy and take care of this world so that the next generations will also see God’s goodness in His creation.

Prayer (from The Cry of the Earth)

Lord, grant us the wisdom to care for the earth and till it. Help us to act now for the good of future generations and all your creatures. Help us to become instruments of a new creation, founded on the covenant of your love.
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Monday, Feb. 8

St. Josephine Bakhita

St. Josephine Bakhita was born around 1869 in Olgossa in the Darfur region of southern Sudan. At the age of seven, she was kidnapped, sold into slavery and given the name Bakhita, which means fortunate or lucky one. Bakhita was sold several times to different masters. At the age of twelve, she was sold to Callisto Legnani, an Italian consult in Khartoum, Sudan.

Two years later, Legnani took Bakhita to Italy and gave her to his friend Augusto Michieli. She became a nanny to Mimmina Michieli, whom she accompanied to Venice’s Institute of the Catechumens, run by the Canossian Sisters. While Mimmina was instructed, Bakhita felt drawn to the Catholic Church. She was baptized and confirmed and taken the name Giusepina or Josephine. Eventually, she was granted her freedom.

Giusepina joined the Canossian Daughters of Charity in 1896. Three years later, she made her vows. In 1902, she was transferred to the city of Schio, northeast of Verona. She served her sisters through cooking, sewing, embroidering, and welcoming visitors at the door. She was especially loved by the students attending sister’s school and the local citizens. St. Josephine Bakhita died in 1947 after a long illness.

Pope St. John Paul canonized her Oct. 1, 2000. She is the first Sudanese saint and is the patron saint of Sudan.

Prayer

Loving God, rewarder of the humble, you blessed St. Josephine Bakhita with charity and patience. May her prayers help us, and her example inspire us to carry our cross and to love you always. Pour upon us the Spirit of wisdom and love with which you filled St. Josephine Bakhita. By serving you as she did, may we please you by our faith and our actions. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Sunday, Feb. 7

If I preach the gospel … I too may have a share in it

Do you remember a time when you visited a place for a noticeably short time? You probably did not have time to even make the lists of things to do; you probably did, but you could not do them all. And if you made the list, you would list all the important things first, right?

I remember visiting Bali, Indonesia. Bali is a beautiful place and it is only an hour and forty-five minutes away from Flores Island, where I am from. But, I could not visit because of some reasons. Finally, I had the chance to be there. It was such a short time that I did not get to see many beautiful places in Bali.

Brothers and sisters, our Scripture Readings this Sunday speak about important things in a very short time. Our first reading from Job reminds us that our days “are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle; they come to an end without hope. Remember that [our lives] are like the wind.” Job tells us that everything that we have, even days of our life, come and go in an instant.

Our second reading from First Corinthians encourages us to use this short time of our life to preach the Good News, to preach the gospel to all people. St. Paul has given us an example. And what is the Good News, the gospel that Paul calls us to preach?

Saint Mark in today’s Gospel passage calls us to follow Jesus to continue his mission. Jesus was continuously on the move in today’s passage. He healed many people and drove out many demons but he was never disconnected with his Heavenly Father: he prayed.

And that is important for us to remember: no matter how busy we are, let our relationship with our Heavenly Father be connected all the time. If we are disconnected with Him, we will lose our mission. And what is our mission? Our mission is to preach the gospel through our words and actions. Or as Dom Helder Camara, a Brazilian bishop, puts it, “Your lives may be the only Gospel your listeners will ever read.”

Brothers and sisters, be on the move with Christ, and preach his healing power through your words and actions. That’s what we need in our world today and may Christ share the joy of everlasting happiness.

Prayer

Gracious Lord,

You powerfully healed the sick and drove out demons. You continue to work wondrous deeds and show us your love. Strengthen us, we pray, through your Holy Spirit, that we too may be able to be like you, to love others around us. May we become the living Gospel that many people will come to you because they see you in us. This we ask through Jesus Christ Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Saturday, Feb. 6

St. Paul Miki and companions, Martyrs

St. Paul Miki was born into a healthy Japanese family in Kyoto, Japan. His father was a Japanese military leader. Paul Miki was educated at the Jesuit College of Anziquiama. Later, in 1580, he joined the Jesuits and preached the Gospel to the people with great success. Because of his preaching, many people converted to Catholicism.

However, the ruler of Japan, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, began persecuting Catholics for fear of the Jesuits’ influence and intentions, and probably that of European visitors. St. Paul Miki was arrested along with 25 others – priests, brothers, lay people, Fransiscans, Jesuits, and members of the Secular Fransiscan Order. Catechists, doctors, simple artisants and servants, old men and innocent children all shed their blood for their faith, for their love for Jesus and his Church.

They were forced to walked six hundred miles from Kyoto to Nagasaki. On this long journey, they all sang the Te Deum. In Nagasaki, they were all crucified. While hanging upon a cross, St. Paul Miki preached to the people gathered for their execution: “The sentence of judgment says these men came to Japan from the Philippines, but I did not come from any other country. I am a true Japanese. The only reason for my being killed is that I have taught the doctrine of Christ. I certainly did teach the doctrine of Christ. I thank God it is for this reason I die. I believe that I am telling only the truth before I die. I know you believe me and I want to say to you all once again: Ask Christ to help you to become happy. I obey Christ. After Christ’s example I forgive my persecutors. I do not hate them. I ask God to have pity on all, and I hope my blood will fall om my fellow men as a fruitful rain.

St. Paul Miki and companions were canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1862.
Today, Nagasaki has the largest Catholic population in Japan, the Church is respected, and has total religious freedom in Japan.

Prayer

Dear Lord,
We thank you for giving us your martyrs, St. Paul Miki and companions, as an example of holiness.
Help us to imitate the devotion to you he showed throughout their lives and martyrdom.
Help us, Lord, that we may be courageous in practicing our faith, to share our faith to others as your martyrs did.
Strengthen us that we too can forgive those who persecute your Church and bring others to conversion for the love of you.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Friday, Feb. 5

St. Agatha – Virgin, Martyr

Brothers and sisters, this week, just before we come to the Lenten Season, the Church celebrates many Saints. I believe it is good for our spiritual life to learn from all these Saints, our brothers and sisters in faith, who have shown us the way of holiness, that we too, during the Lenten Season may find God’s love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness in our lives.

Today, we celebrate the memorial of St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr.
St. Agatha lived during the 3rd Century. She was born around 231 in Sicily to a rich and noble family. Her name, Agatha, means “good.” She was truly good, for she lived as a child of God. Her goodness coincides with her name and way of life. She won a good name by her noble deeds, and by her name she points to the nobility of those deeds. She teaches others by her example to hasten with he to the true Good, God alone.

From her exceedingly early years, the notably beautiful Agatha dedicated her life to God. At the age of fifteen, Agatha made a vow of virginity and rejected the amorous advances of the Roman Prefect Quintianus, who thought he could force her to turn away from her vow and marry him. Agatha was persistent and rejected Quintianus. So Quintianus, knowing that Agatha was a Christian, reported her to the authorities. Quintianus himself was governor of the district. He expected Agatha to give in to his demands when she was faced with torture and possible death. Agatha simply reaffirmed her belief in God saying, “Jesus Christ, Lord of all, you see my heart, you know my desires. Possess all that I am. I am your sheep: make me worthy to overcome the devil.”

Agatha experienced many hardships and was tortured because of her faith. She was also sentenced to be burn at the stake, but an earthquake saved her from that fate. She was sent to prison, where St. Peter the Apostle appeared to her and healed her wounds.

She died in prison in the year 251. She said this prayer before she died, “Lord, my creator, you have protected me since I was in the cradle. You have taken me from the love of the world and given me patience to suffer. Now receive my spirit.” 

Prayer

All-Powerful God, you invited St. Agatha to live in her vow of virginity and to pour her blood in love of you; strengthen us, we pray, that we may be steadfast in practicing and living out our faith, to continue to be the witnesses of your goodness in the world. Through the intercession of St. Agatha, may you make us worthy to overcome the devil just as she did. 

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Thursday, Feb. 4

Dear reader, friend,

As you proceed through the Daily Reflections, you may wonder where in the Scriptures I found the quotations used to frame the Reflection of the day. Fortunately, that is a question which is easy to answer. Each of the Scriptures in these Reflections is taken from the celebration of the Mass of that day. And so, if you wish to go back and look at the fuller segment of the Scripture, by which I mean the entire passage from the Mass, please refer to any book or Catholic periodical which will show the readings of the day. I highly encourage you to do so, as it is in the daily contemplation of the Sacred Scriptures, even if just for a few minutes, that we will find wisdom, inspiration, and hope to live a better, more deeply fulfilled life. God bless you all, my brothers and sisters, and I hope you enjoy a spiritual uplift as you reflect with me on God’s Word.

Thursday, Feb. 4

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick–no food, no sack, no money in their belts. Mark 6:7-8

Whenever I read these two verses from the Gospel of Saint Mark, it hits me right on my “funny bone,” because it reminds me of a particular thing in my life which is a bit “challenging!” That challenging thing is the problem I always have before I go on a trip and the very strong tendency I have to simply pack everything that I see and 10 times as much as I need for the trip. So, I may be preparing for a mere weekend away, but I look at what I have packed and it’s a giant suitcase! It’s ridiculous. But that is the way I am. I think it’s probably an old security issue that I have, LOL. I must think that if I haven’t packed for every possible outcome, some strange unknown disaster is going to befall me! And so, when I read the two simple verses from the Gospel as quoted above, my eyes and my mind land on that image of Jesus sending the disciples out on a ministry trip and yet he is telling them to take nothing for their journey, only a walking stick! He tells them to not care about any food, any luggage or sack, not even any money in their belts. So, I smile to myself as I imagine what I would be like if I left on a trip with no food, no bags, and no money! Disaster disaster disaster! LOL. And if someone told me to go on a trip to an unknown destination and ordered me not to take anything with me, as Jesus ordered his disciples, I would probably respond to that person, “you’ve got to be crazy, you’re kidding me, aren’t you?”

So just what is going on in this Scripture other than tickling my funny bone? Well, there is something quite serious here, but serious in a particularly good way. Yes, Jesus does instruct his disciples as he sends them off, to take nothing with them but a walking stick. But he does in fact send them off with the most important thing of all, and that is a companion, a friend, we might even say a “comrade in arms.” What impresses me about this passage, therefore, is that an especially important theme woven throughout all four of the Gospels is placed front and center here in the context of this story. And that theme is the theme of community. Jesus “makes community” wherever he goes. Jesus values the common bond between people of goodwill. Jesus knows the value of human relationship. Jesus knows that when we accompany one another on the various journeys of life, that we will likely do better than if we were alone or solitary. I have a fundamental recognition of this truth in my own life, insofar as I am a member of a religious community, the Servite Order, with which I have been affiliated by “Promises,” and then “Vows,” since the late 1970s.

In the sense of community presented by the Gospel today, we are not talking about a community which is defined by sharing the same address or domicile. The kind of community created by Jesus, and which is presented in the Gospel today, as disciples being sent off “2 by 2,” is the kind of community which is an affiliation of the heart, a shared vision of faith, and a mutually supportive hope which allows us (and the original disciples of Jesus so long ago…) to flourish in our humanity and to cope with the difficulties and challenges with which we are faced each and every day. There is no indication in the Gospel that the Apostles or the many disciples of Jesus had an easy time. Life was difficult and every day presented new challenges. But Jesus was no “Lone Ranger,” so to speak. He began his ministry by immediately selecting the 12 individuals from diverse backgrounds, who then became his most valued and trusted assistants, the Twelve Apostles.

Friends, I pose this question to all of you today: Just what IS the state of our community, in the Church, in our families, amongst our fellow citizens, in our cities, in our state, and in our nation? If I pose this very question to myself, I find myself pausing, slowing my breathing down, bowing my head, closing my eyes, exhaling a deep sigh. Why? To be truthful, sisters and brothers, I am disappointed in the state of the community in which we live. I do not, of course, mean community in the narrowest sense but community in the broadest sense. I honestly feel that the community of humanity, the community of our common concern for one another as human beings, as children of the one God, therefore one worldwide family, is, now, a far-off vision, perhaps just a dream. I see the sins of humanity largely concentrated in, and expressed by, a refusal to accept our common ground as God’s family, as sisters and brothers to everyone, as servants of one another for the common good. When I read the Gospel, I see Jesus building community. When I look at the world around me now, I see so many of us attempting to destroy this fundamental, crucial aspect of what God has intended for us, for the purpose of achieving everything that he has created us to be. What a misfortune. Can we do something about this? Is there any will to turn ourselves around and to conform ourselves more profoundly to the will of God … which I honestly believe to be that we form a stronger human family, respecting all persons no matter who they are? As we strengthen our human bonds, do we not, at the very same time, also strengthen our relationship with God…and vice-versa?

Ahhhh, questions, so many questions! Friends … let us accept the “mission” today; We are ALL, sent out “two by two,” to sow peace, healing, unity, and LOVE wherever we go, and in the perfect and powerful name of JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD. I pray that none of us will shrink from this sacred task, and even if we fail from time-to-time, to achieve all we would want, at least we gladly, humbly, accept our roles of service, compassion, forgiveness, and reconciliation. “So be it!”

Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Wednesday, Feb. 3

Dear reader, friend,

The Scriptures in this week’s Daily Reflections are taken from the celebration of the Mass of that day. And so, if you wish to go back and look at the fuller segment of the Scripture, by which I mean the entire passage from the Mass, please refer to any book or Catholic periodical which will show the readings of the Mass of the day. I highly encourage you to do so, as it is in the daily contemplation of the Sacred Scriptures, even if just for a few minutes, that we will find wisdom, inspiration, and hope to live a better, more deeply fulfilled life. God bless you all, my brothers and sisters, and I hope you enjoy a spiritual uplift as you reflect with me on God’s Word.

Wednesday, Feb. 3

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples … “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So, he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. Mark 6:1; 4-6

My dear friends, I do not think it would be very much of a surprise to any of you if I shared with you the fact that that I have varying reactions or responses to the passages of Scripture which I read. But I wonder if it would surprise you to know that the passage above from the Gospel of Saint Mark, from today’s Mass, is a passage which I find fairly shocking, if truth be told. Why, you ask? The reason I am shocked Is not so much what happens in the passage, but rather what does NOT happen, as told to us in the passage.
What happens in the passage is that Jesus comes back to his town of origin, Nazareth, and spends some time in the company of the townspeople who have seen him grow up, who know him as the child of his parents, Mary and Joseph, as the person with whom they have been very familiar over a good number of years. One would, I suppose, think that everything would fall into a familiar pattern, and that Jesus would have been warmly welcomed and even celebrated. His fame and reputation had been spreading like a holy fire all over Galilee and Judea! People were calling Jesus a great prophet … and many had decided He was, indeed, the Messiah promised by God from of old.

But, to the great disappointment and distress of Jesus, this good and holy man, our blessed Lord, the Messiah Of God, he was greeted only with question, with doubt, with derision, with insult, with dismissal. This is all made extremely clear and evident in the passage from Mark’s Gospel at the beginning of Chapter 6. And so, I come to the part which I find shocking, the part of the passage which describes not what Jesus was able to do but what Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, was NOT able to do in his own hometown, among his own people. Saint Mark, In the simplest of terms, simply tells us that Jesus was virtually powerless in Nazareth. He could perform no “mighty deed” there, as Saint Mark says. He was able only to interact with a few individuals and heal their illnesses.

What seems so shocking to me is that everything I assume and take for granted about Jesus as the Son of God, as the Messiah, is utterly challenged in this brief passage; that Jesus could do anything he wished at anytime. But that does not seem to be the case at all. It does not seem to be possible for Jesus to be who he really is unless he is able to engage the people in (a “dialog” of) faith. And the people of Nazareth, his very own people, lacked the faith in him which would unlock miracles of healing love for them all. The “shocking truth” of this passage in St. Mark, seems to be that they who have no faith in Jesus have no real access to his power, to his love, to his healing, and is that not the most profoundly sad and even disturbing reality?

As I meditate on this amazing passage, so mysteriously sad, I ask myself this question: do I have enough faith in Jesus Christ to allow him, to actually empower him, to work miracles in my life? That is a profound question my friends, and I share it with you because I want to pose that same question to all of you today. Do YOU, my brothers and sisters, have enough faith in Christ Jesus, to allow him to work miracles in your life, to change your life for the better, to lift you up, to heal you, to make you a new person? I have asked you this question in this particular way because it seems clear to me that unless I (or you) place a humble, trusting, “whole” faith in Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior, that I (or you) have no right to expect that that same Messiah and Savior can do what we so much want from him.

Perhaps I should apologize if this sounds just a little bit depressing, because I do not mean it to be so. But I do believe quite firmly that a little dose of reality, based in simply what the Scripture says in this passage which we have read together today, is good for us to contemplate if it is exactly what we need to get us up, out of our spiritual doldrums, our self-involved “navel gazing” and too much self-pitying. I suppose there comes a time, once in a while at any rate, when I have to look at myself in the mirror and honestly evaluate myself as somewhat pathetic or at least lazy in my spiritual life and in my exercise of an active, alive and outgoing faith in God. Is that also true for you brothers and sisters?

And so here is my proposition for all of you today, and certainly for myself as well. I shall seek out a crucifix, one in my home or perhaps one in a neighboring church or shrine. It does not really matter. But I shall place myself today before that crucifix, and I shall look upon the figure of Jesus hanging on the cross, the son of God who died for me, for all of us, and I shall simply say this simple affirming prayer:

Jesus, Lord, I love you. I trust you. I place my faith in you. Be my help and be my guide. Strengthen me for the challenges of life. You know better than I exactly what I need, and so I ask of you in all the faith which I can gather in this moment, to grant me whatever miracle, whatever change it is that YOU deem that I need the most at this time. I give you thanks oh blessed Lord, holy God, divine companion and friend, for everything you are, and for everything you do for me, every day of my life, Amen. Amen. Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Tuesday, Feb. 2

Dear reader, friend,

The Scriptures in this week’s Daily Reflections are taken from the celebration of the Mass of that day. And so, if you wish to go back and look at the fuller segment of the Scripture, by which I mean the entire passage from the Mass, please refer to any book or Catholic periodical which will show the readings of the Mass of the day. I highly encourage you to do so, as it is in the daily contemplation of the Sacred Scriptures, even if just for a few minutes, that we will find wisdom, inspiration, and hope to live a better, more deeply fulfilled life. God bless you all, my brothers and sisters, and I hope you enjoy a spiritual uplift as you reflect with me on God’s Word.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Tuesday, Feb. 2

“Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted-and you yourself a sword will pierce-so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:34-35

Before going any further with this passage from the Gospel of St. Luke, let us get some context so we know what is going on here, who is speaking, who is being spoken to, and where is this happening? Note the fact that this passage is in the 2nd chapter of the Gospel, and it is a part which is known as the infancy narratives. The scene takes place in the Temple courtyard, where Mary and Joseph have brought their newborn child Jesus to be dedicated according in the traditions laid out in the Law of Moses. In the courtyard they encounter the Prophet known as Simeon. The Prophet immediately approaches Mary and Joseph, while praising God as he recognizes the child in their arms; that he has indeed found the Messiah for whom he has been waiting all his life. During his exclamatory prayer he turns his attention to Mary, the mother, and tells her that she is destined for sorrow in her life, that a “sword shall pierce” her and will join her to the “thoughts of many hearts.” This scene is truly one which mixes joy, sorrow, and great mystery.

This scene presented to us in today’s Gospel, is known as the “Presentation of the Lord.” It is a great liturgical Feast as well, celebrated on this day in February every year. But what I wish to call to everyone’s attention is the sorrow which we must see, which we must feel, which we know must have struck deeply in the heart of Mary, the mother of Jesus our Lord. This particular scene is also “enshrined” as the First Station in what we know as the “Way of the Mother,” or somewhat more familiarly, in Latin, as the Via Matris.” Altogether, the seven stations of the Via Matris comprise what we describe as the Seven Sorrows of our Blessed Mother, and which give her the title of Our Lady of Sorrows, or Our Most Sorrowful Mother. For the Servite Order, to which I (and the other Friars here at The Grotto) belong, this first station, the “Prophecy of Simeon,” is a first glimpse into the sorrows in the life of our Blessed Mother, the Mother who stands with all of us as we experience suffering in our fragile, human lives.

To fill out this picture just a little bit more fully, let me list for you all the “Seven Sorrows of our Blessed Mother,” which together give us the Via Matris, and which tell the story of Our Lady of Sorrows through her life.
The Seven Stations of the Via Matris, The Way of Our Sorrowful Mother, are:1. The Prophecy of Simeon.2. Mary flees with Jesus and St. Joseph to Egypt.3. Mary and St. Joseph search for their lost son in the Temple.4. Mary meets Jesus on the road to Calvary.5. Jesus dies on the Cross.6. Mary receives the body of Jesus from the Cross (The Pieta’).7. Jesus is laid in the tomb.

In a wonderful way, my brothers and sisters, today’s Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple gives me the opportunity to share with you an extraordinarily important part of the tradition of the Servite Order, the Order of Servants of Mary, founded in the 13th century in Florence, Italy. The “iconic figure” of Our Lady of Sorrows, the Principal Patroness of the Servite Order, comes “alive” to us in the devotion to her Seven Sorrows…as exemplified in the Via Matris or “Way of the Sorrowful Mother” described above. “The Grotto,” the name our holy shrine here in Portland, OR., is commonly called, is more formally named “The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother.” Our shrine, its grounds, buildings, art, and all of us who “staff” the shrine, are dedicated to her, the Mother of the Lord, the Mother of Sorrows…whose “First Sorrow,” as recorded in the Sacred Scripture, forms an essential moment in the Gospel passage as read in today’s Mass.

I would like to conclude today’s Reflection with an invitation to all of you reading this, to further explore the spiritual richness and significance of Mary under the title of Our Lady of Sorrows, and of the history and charism of the Order of Friar-Servants of Mary, the Servite Order, which has honored her in a special way since the founding of the Order by The Seven Holy Founders in the early part of the 13th Century, in Florence, Italy.

Let us pray:

O Mother of Sorrows, with strength from above you stood by the Cross, sharing in the sufferings of Jesus your Son, and with tender care you bore Him in your arms, mourning and weeping.

We praise you for your faith, which accepted the life God planned for you. We praise you for your hope, which trusted that God would do great things in you. We praise you for your love in bearing with Jesus the sorrows of His passion. Holy Mary, may we follow your example, and stand by all your children who need comfort and love.

O Most Blessed Mother of God, stand by us in our trials and care for us in our many needs. Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Monday, Feb. 1

Dear reader, friend,

As you proceed through the Daily Reflections, you may wonder where in the Scriptures I found the quotations used to frame the Reflection of the day. Fortunately, that is a question which is easy to answer. Each of the Scriptures in these Reflections is taken from the celebration of the Mass of that day. And so, if you wish to go back and look at the fuller segment of the Scripture, by which I mean the entire passage from the Mass, please refer to any book or Catholic periodical which will show the readings of the day. I highly encourage you to do so, as it is in the daily contemplation of the Sacred Scriptures, even if just for a few minutes, that we will find wisdom, inspiration, and hope to live a better, more deeply fulfilled life. God bless you all, my brothers and sisters, and I hope you enjoy a spiritual uplift as you reflect with me on God’s Word.

Monday, Feb. 1

Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened to the possessed man and to the swine. Then they began to beg him to leave their district. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him. Mark 5:16-18

Dear friends, the brief passage which you read above from the Gospel according to Saint Mark is near the end of the full story as related by the Evangelist. Saint Mark was not known for wasting many words. His Gospel is rather brief and “to the point,” rather succinct. The story from which the passage above is taken is unusual, therefore, in the fact that it is 20 verses long, stretching from Verse 1 of Chapter 5, and concluding with verse 20. It is a story full of rich detail, a lot of color, and is actually rather terrifying. I hope you take the time to go back and read the entire story beginning with verse 1 through verse 20 in Chapter 5 of Saint Mark’s Gospel.

Now all that being said, the length of the story is not the most important point I wish to share with you today, but rather the bit of peculiar information which is related by Saint Mark in verses 16 through 18. The point upon which we can meditate, is the fact that after a great miracle of healing is performed for the benefit of one man possessed by a “legion” of demons, the reaction of the people of that place was to beg Jesus to leave the area rather than stay (only the man cured of the possession begged to remain close to Jesus). Jesus performed a great miracle of healing and compassion, and yet the people want Jesus to go away because, for some reason which is not particularly explained by Saint Mark, they are afraid. So, I ask you, brothers and sisters, if Jesus performed an incredible miracle for you or for your family, would you then beg him to leavebecause you were afraid of him, afraid of his power afraid that he might be more than you could handle? Or would you ask him to leave you because you simply felt that you were not worthy of such an amazing presence, not worthy of God standing by you, and performing a miracle in your life?

And so, we are presented with the reality and power of FEAR in our lives once more. Perhaps this is yet another time when I may remind you that in the entirety of the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the words (or some version of them), “Do not be afraid!” are the words most often used by Jesus.

Unfortunately, over the many years in which I have been a priest, one of the most provocative challenges I have encountered in my ministry has been to confront the fear that people have in God’s presence rather than to simply experience a dialogue of love and mercy. That unfortunate reality is perfectly presented in the Gospel of Saint Mark in the passage above, in the story of the demoniac in Chapter 5, verses 1 through 20. That reality of fear in the presence of a loving God, a God filled with compassion and tenderness for all of us, His children, seems to still be as true today as it was 20 centuries ago … how sad.

The essence of this simple meditation today, dear sisters and brothers, is simply to repeat the words of Jesus, that is, “Do not be afraid.” I know it seems difficult; I know sometimes we fall prey to our weakness instead of trusting the love of God in our lives. But I can do nothing else but repeat what I know is true. Friends, I would not share this with you if I merely thought it to be true in my mind. No, much more, I know it to be true in my heart, in every fiber of my being, in my deepest soul. That is challenging, it is difficult, to simply surrender all into God’s love. There is something about God’s power, about God’s greatness, perhaps, which puts us in a position of being overwhelmed by awe. Hopefully, our spiritual lives can be an exercise in letting go of our fear, and allowing ourselves to rest in the peaceful, gentle, embrace of a God who loves us no matter who we are or even what we have done, right down to the worst sin we can think of in our lives. We have nothing of which to be afraid because as we also know from the Gospels, “God is love.” Let me repeat that, God is love. Friends let me repeat it a third time, God is love. And because that is absolutely true, it is then simply up to us to accept the truth of it, and to live, not in fear, but rather in the warmth of that eternal Love which forgives, which holds us close, which heals us, which lifts us up, which gives us every reason to smile and to know that no matter what burdens or problems we are experiencing in the present moment, we have hope, because we have a God who loves us and who saves us each and every day.

Dear brothers and sisters, may your day be filled with God’s love and may you not be afraid but rather take God’s love with you wherever you go and share it freely with everyone with whom you meet.

Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Sunday, Jan. 31

Dear reader, friend,

The Scriptures in this week’s Daily Reflections are taken from the celebration of the Mass of that day. And so, if you wish to go back and look at the fuller segment of the Scripture, by which I mean the entire passage from the Mass, please refer to any book or Catholic periodical which will show the readings of the Mass of the day. I highly encourage you to do so, as it is in the daily contemplation of the Sacred Scriptures, even if just for a few minutes, that we will find wisdom, inspiration, and hope to live a better, more deeply fulfilled life. God bless you all, my brothers and sisters, and I hope you enjoy a spiritual uplift as you reflect with me on God’s Word.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Sunday, Jan. 31

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts. (Ps. 95:8)

Verse 8 of the 95th Psalm is one of the most familiar sung refrains in all the psalms that we sing in church. I have heard it many times and I can always recall it instantly and clearly. It is particularly lovely and simple melody, but, of course, it is always the content of the verse which is the most important part. I must confess that I change the wording just a little bit to make the meaning of the line “stick with me” and become my own. I would like to share that change with you today, sisters and brothers, and offer it as a slightly different way to meditate on this verse of the 95th Psalm.

The refrain begins, “If today you hear his voice,” and I change the words to read, or to be sung, to this: “WHEN today you hear his voice…” Then I complete the verse with the words as contained in the original. That small change of a word from “if” to “when” changes the meaning for me and reminds me of two important things: First, that God’s voice is always around me in many ways, shapes, and forms. And second, that it will be up to me whether I hear that resonance of God’s voice in the world around me; in people, and in the various situations which unfold in my daily life … or not.

The fact of the matter is that my life (yours!) and its unfolding is a matter of the choices I make, and what the quality of those choices is. It’s quite plain in the Scripture verse that I have the ability to “harden my heart,” as it were, and therefore not to hear God’s voice, whether by accident or even by intention.

What a downright shame it is if I miss God’s voice by accident, and what a ridiculously foolish sin it is to intentionally miss God’s voice coming to me in the richness of His creation, in people, in places, and in things. Therefore, the verse of Psalm 95 which we see in the meditation today becomes for me a daily invitation to keep my eyes and my ears open, to keep my mind and my heart open, to keep my awareness of the world around me and everyone in it, as wide a “net” as possible in order to “catch” all of God’s Word and Life coming to me. This now becomes the foundation of how I might pray constantly, that is, by simply being fully “in the moment” of NOW as much as I am able; moment to moment to moment.

Dear friends, let us pray:

O most blessed God, Holy One, Compassionate and Loving One, hear my prayer! “Tune me in” to your voice everywhere. Help me find you in the world around me, in the people I see and with whom I live or work, in the animals and the plants, even in the sea and the sky, the wind, the sun, or the rain; in light or dark, heat or chill, early or late … Let me hear you, O God of love and life. Help me keep my heart supple and soft, flexible and receptive. Inspire me to reach out and to be the best person I can be, the person that I know you truly want me to be, fully aware of the power and beauty I possess as your unique child. Help me see in everyone else around me, and in the world, the reflection of your holiness, your dignity, and your vitality. Let me not only hear your voice everywhere O blessed Lord, help me BE your voice everywhere as well. I offer you this prayer in the name of Christ Jesus your Son, and our Lord.

Amen!

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Saturday, Jan. 30

Dear reader, friend,

The Scriptures in this week’s Daily Reflections are taken from the celebration of the Mass of that day. And so, if you wish to go back and look at the fuller segment of the Scripture, by which I mean the entire passage from the Mass, please refer to any book or Catholic periodical which will show the readings of the Mass of the day. I highly encourage you to do so, as it is in the daily contemplation of the Sacred Scriptures, even if just for a few minutes, that we will find wisdom, inspiration, and hope to live a better, more deeply fulfilled life. God bless you all, my brothers and sisters, and I hope you enjoy a spiritual uplift as you reflect with me on God’s Word.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Saturday, Jan. 30

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” (Mark 4:39-40)

Brothers and sisters, sometimes it isn’t an entire passage or story or event in the Sacred Scriptures which stands out in our minds, and which we remember easily, but rather just a single verse. That seems to be the case in today’s offering for reflection. The single verse which you read above from the Letter to the Hebrews is taken from today’s Mass. The power and truth of that simple statement leaves us much to ponder, much to consider, as well as to try to put into practice. It is a statement of deep wisdom, and yet rooted in the rock-solid faith which we place in God.

Faith is clearly the subject of this first verse in the 11th chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews, but it is what faith implies in our life and how we conduct our lives that is the crux of the issue. Faith implies HOPE, which is directed to the future. But faith also implies a reality which we do not see in an ordinary physical way. Therefore, Faith (as the Virtue of Faith), though very real in our lives, becomes a distinct challenge which is not always easy, but demands a certain kind of discipline of mind and heart, the discipline of Patience.

I would go so far as to say that the Faith which is referenced in this Brief passage of scripture is a virtue which requires patience and practice. Faith requires that we deal in, and with, the realm of the invisible. We cannot genuinely nor accurately see into the future with any certainty. And yet we constantly search out the comfort that comes with knowing that something IS certain, that life has order and a “plan.” In this one small verse from the Letter to the Hebrews, Faith becomes our map, as it were, to the future. It gives us a confidence in that which we cannot see, as being part of God’s Providence and his embrace with eternal love and compassion for all of us his children.

Faith in God’s Providence and his love for us leads me to share the second bit of Scripture in today’s reflection, the small part of the story contained in the Gospel from today’s Mass. The story is the memorable one in which Jesus is sleeping in the rear of a boat which is being tossed on the waves of the sea of Galilee in a rather bad storm. The disciples are in the boat with Jesus, and afraid that the boat will be filled with water, capsize, and sink, sending them all to their deaths. They wake Jesus in their panic and he responds with “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” And so, we find ourselves back at, and with, the reality of the need for faith and its power to change our (apparent) destiny.

With the boat being tossed by the waves on the sea of Galilee, all the disciples see is an imminent disaster and they need hope that Jesus can save them. What is important to notice here, not only in the story, but for ourselves, is that faith WILL drive out fear, and in driving out fear we have a better, open way to the future. The disciples, if they cast away their fear and place their faith in Jesus, will indeed be saved from the storm. And for us, dear friends, analogously, if we place out faith in Jesus, our “hope in things unseen” will be fulfilled! There is so much in our lives which is unclear and murky. Our faith in Jesus will bring us clarity, confidence, and a steady hope for all things which are good.

Friends, remember the old phrase, “Keep the faith, baby!”? Let that simple old phrase be our guide today.

Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Friday, Jan. 29

Dear reader, friend,

As you proceed through the Daily Reflections for the coming week (Jan. 29 – Feb. 5), you may wonder where in the Scriptures I found the quotations used to frame the Reflection of the day. Fortunately, that is a question which is easy to answer. Each of the Scriptures in these Reflections is taken from the celebration of the Mass of that day. And so, if you wish to go back and look at the fuller segment of the Scripture, by which I mean the entire passage from the Mass, please refer to any book or Catholic periodical which will show the readings of the day. I highly encourage you to do so, as it is in the daily contemplation of the Sacred Scriptures, even if just for a few minutes, that we will find wisdom, inspiration, and hope to live a better, more deeply fulfilled life. God bless you all, my brothers and sisters, and I hope you enjoy a spiritual uplift as you reflect with me on God’s Word.

Friday, Jan. 29

Therefore, do not throw away your confidence; it will have great recompense. You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:35-36

He said, “To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” Mark 4:30-32

Friends, those two verses from the Letter to the Hebrews, which we read for today’s reflection, really throw me for a loop. Those verses are mind-blowingly “to the point,” aren’t they? They remind me of the reality of my own life, and those words seem to strike me, out of all the experience I have had speaking with people over the many years of my priesthood, to be applicable to just about anybody with whom I have spoken. I am certain that you will agree with me about this.

With everything as it is these days, I find it almost ridiculously easy to throw away my confidence in just about everything! I often feel that I have confidence in no one, and nothing. So many things fail to inspire confidence in me. And then when it comes to endurance, I have the same doubts. I wonder if I can go on one more month, or one more week, and sometimes even one more day. Confidence and endurance are huge challenges for me right now. Are they for you as well my friends? STRESS appears to be, and feels like, the ONLY thing which persists.

So, what shall I do? What can I offer to all of you out there, dear friends, as a counsel, or a bit of helpful advice? Perhaps it would be good to turn to the other bit of scripture which I offered at the top of the page, which comes from the Gospel of Saint Mark in today’s Mass. It is the familiar, meaningful, simple image and story of the mustard seed and what happens to it when it is planted in the ground. Jesus simply relates in the parable that the mustard seed is very tiny, and of course any one of you who works in a kitchen and uses spices, will understand just how small it is. When that tiny seed, however, is planted in the ground and left to grow, it becomes a large shrub, like a tree. And that tree fulfills a destiny that belies its small origins and its tiny size. Should we say then, as the old phrase goes, “good things come in small packages?”

So, my advice today is to remind all of you, and myself as well, that it is not the amount of confidence and endurance which we have to begin with, it is that we take whatever little bit of confidence and endurance we might have and place it in the “earth” of God’s power, strength, and love. For people like ourselves, people of faith, we do not have to be overly concerned with the limits of our humanity. We do not have to worry that we are weak and small. God is there to take up the slack in our lives, and that is not only a huge comfort, but also a promise of divine presence and intervention in our daily living. Our personal confidence and endurance, though weak, when it is sourced in God, becomes powerful, becomes effective, becomes life-sustaining, and gives us and others hope.

I would like to conclude with a line, a refrain, from a hymn that we sometimes sing in church: “Take the word of God with you as you go.” Today, my friends, I am asking you (and reminding myself!) to take the word of God with us as we go. Let our confidence and our endurance flourish in God’s care and let us hope for better days in the future, days of health, joy, peace, and love between and among us all.

Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Thursday, Jan. 28

Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas

Born in Italy in 1225, Thomas was a Dominican friar, philosopher, Catholic priest, and Doctor of the Church. Thomas was an immensely influential scholastic philosopher, theologian, and jurist. He is the patron Saint of all Catholic Education establishments.

Here is a quote by St. Thomas: “Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do.”

Let us Pray

God of all that is, I am seeking you: your presence, your ways, your direction.
Clear a path in my mind and heart that I may focus myself on you above all else.
I want to love and serve you, love my neighbor, and grow in faith, hope, and love.
Amen.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Wednesday, Jan. 27

A sower went to sow some seed …

+ Some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up …

+ Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil …

+ Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it …

+ And some seed fell on rich soil. Mk 4:1-10

I have always loved this parable. I have had small gardens. Even maintaining the parking strip out in front of our house lends images that clarify this story.

We sometimes try to compartmentalize our life: Work, Home, Friends, Fun, and Church. In reality, our life of faith must be woven into the fabric of our every day. Every corner of our life should yield the fruits of our faith. I often use these images to examine my conscience.

In reality we, too, are a mixture of soil types. What parts of my life/relationships are shallow? Are rocky with little substance? What habits and actions are choking or stifling my faith life? Where is my faith life flourishing?

Let us Pray

Gracious God, you are the sower of seeds, and the keeper of the garden of my heart. I am grateful for the care and tenderness that you show to me. Grow the seeds of faith within me. Increase my capacity to listen, care, and tend to the needs of others. I ask this through Jesus, your Son.
Amen.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Tuesday, Jan. 26

Feast of Saints Titus and Timothy

As I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and that I am confident lives also in you.For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.” Tim 1:5-7

On this feast of Saints Titus and Timothy, we read an excerpt from St. Paul’s letter to Timothy. While giving words of encouragement, St. Paul draws on the roots of Timothy’s faith – his Grandmother, and his Mother. It is important to remember that Saints, Martyrs and other holy women and men did not grow up in a vacuum. They grew up within a family and a community. The people around them taught them about the faith. Sometimes they taught with words, stories, and songs. More often faith was learned by WATCHING what others said and did.

Faithful every day folks who pray, forgive, serve, and look out for those in need leave an indelible mark on those around them.

Let us Pray

Gracious and eternal God, I thank you for the men and women of faith you have gifted to me over the years. I ask that through the intersession of St. Timothy, Titus, and your beloved son Jesus, I too may be counted as a source of faith and encouragement for people around me.
Amen.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Monday, Jan. 25

The Conversion of St. Paul

Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

On this Feast of St. Paul let us be mindful, and thankful that because of his conversion to Christianity, and his call to bring the Good news to those outside of Judaism, we – and much of the world – has had the Gospel proclaimed to them.

Most of us do not have such a dramatic conversion story – being knocked to the ground and spoken to directly by our Lord. But each of our stories do include an encounter with Christ Jesus. Through the Sacraments, through the Scriptures, through the powerful, faithful witness of a loved one or neighbor.

Let us Pray

Gracious and Eternal God, your Son Jesus called St. Paul to preach the message of our Salvation. Infuse me with some of St. Paul’s enthusiasm, courage, and deep, loving trust in Jesus so that I too may proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
Amen.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Sunday, Jan. 24

Am I ‘All In”?

“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel…. Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. Mark 1:15;17

Mark’s Gospel jumps right into the Call of the Disciples. There is an urgency in the call of Jesus. It is brief and concise. The first disciples drop everything and follow Jesus.

The Call to Follow Jesus requires more than words. It requires action. It requires an: “I’m all in” response. These fishermen immediately attached themselves to the person of Jesus. They literally followed Jesus.

The question we must ask today is: Am I “all-in” with Jesus? Are there areas or relationships of my life where I am saying “ just give me a few more days-weeks-months, Lord, to wrap this up, then I will focus more fully on you and your teachings.”

Let us Pray

Lord Jesus, my heart’s desire is to be all in. I know that my mind and heart are distracted by many things. Help me to place you as my number one priority. I know, with you as my number one, all my other duties, obligations, and efforts will fall into proper order, or fall away as unnecessary. Thank you Lord for your patience, and know that my heart belongs to you and your message of reconciliation, peace, hope, and mercy.
Amen.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Saturday, Jan. 23

Worship the Living God

For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer’s ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the Blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God? Heb 9:13-14

In Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, he continues to speak of covenant and sacrifices. Christ’s blood cleanses our conscience from “dead works to worship the living God.” When I hear the phrase ‘dead works’, I think of the phrase ‘dead weight’. Are their things that I am doing that are dead works? Allowing me to carry dead weight? A bad habit? An addiction? excessive grief? Do I place undue burdens on others? Do I weigh others down with anger? Feelings of guilt? Worry? Frustration? …

The Blood of Christ, poured out for us continues to sanctify us – to make us holy. We must reflect that in the ways that we speak to others, the ways we interact with others, and the way we view others and the world around us.
How will your plans today – your efforts, words, and actions – worship the living God?

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Friday, Jan. 22

God’s law written on our hearts

But this is the covenant I will establish with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds and I will write them upon their hearts. I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his fellow citizen and kin, saying, “Know the Lord,” for all shall know me, from least to greatest. Heb 8:10-11

Paul’s letter to the Hebrews compares and contrasts Jesus with the significant people and events of Old Testament – the Hebrew Scriptures. In the quote above, St. Paul is reminding the Hebrew’s about God’s desire to be in Covenant with them. Jesus is the New Covenant that is being spoken of. What is a Covenant? It is a solemn agreement between two parties.; yes, but a Covenant in the Bible has a more expansive meaning.

· Covenants make two into one.

· Covenants involve promises.

· Covenants are intended to last for generations.

· Covenants are spiritually charged. “With God as my witness”

· Covenants are not easily broken.

The passion, death and resurrection of Jesus ushers in a Covenant where God’s law of love and mercy should shelter, save, protect, and promote every and any human life – from conception to natural death. These laws are written in our minds and hearts. This law supersedes the law of the land – city / county / state / country.

God’s law calls us to be instruments of shelter, safety, protection, and promotion of each and every life – even strangers, enemies, criminals – even lives that have yet to be.

Let us pray

Lord and Giver of life may I actively offer your love, mercy, opportunity, safety and protection to all the most vulnerable lives around me today, and every day.
Amen.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Thursday, Jan. 21

St. Agnes (192-304)

Today’s saint assures us that holiness does not depend on age. Agnes, a 12 or 13-year-old girl, willingly gave her life out of life for Christ.

The traditional story of Agnes is that she was beautiful, and many men wanted to marry her. She refused each one, because she wanted to be a bride of Christ. One of her suitors was so angry that he reported to the governor that she was a Christian. The governor summoned Agnes to the palace. He threatened her with torture and punishment. Agnes looked at the instruments of torture with heroic calmness. The governor then had her sent to a house of prostitution, but everyone who saw her courage was afraid to touch her. One man who looked at her lustfully was struck blind, but Agnes prayed for him, and he regained his sight. The governor, seeing that Agnes was determined to remain a virgin, had her condemned and executed. Saint Ambrose wrote that Agnes went to the place of execution more cheerful than others go to their weddings.

St. Agnes is widely known as the patron saint of young girls. She is also the patron saint of chastity, rape survivors and the Children of Mary. She is often represented with a lamb, the symbol of her virgin innocence, and a palm branch, like other martyrs. The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Agnes is a vibrant community of religious women that remain committed to transformation of the world, the Church and themselves, and do so by promoting systemic change for the quality of life, justice for the economically poor, furtherance of the role of women in the Church and society, and mutuality, inclusivity, and collaboration.

Invocations to St. Agnes

Blessed spouse of Christ, help us be faithful to our commitments.

Victim of divine love, may we love unconditionally. Glorious martyr of Jesus Christ, lead us into paths of nonviolence.

Wonderful example of fortitude, give us courage in the face of diversity. Despiser of torment and death, grant us the grace of a happy death.

Model of humility, enable us to put our gifts at the service of others.

Protectress of the weak, make us fearless in the defense of human dignity.

Special patroness of youth, bless our efforts to protect children.

St. Agnes, pray us!

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Wednesday, Jan. 20

Saints Fabian and Sebastian, Martyrs

“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church” (Tertullian)

Fabian was a pope and Sebastian was a soldier in the Roman army. What do they have in common?  Soldier and Pope, Sebastian and Fabian were faithful followers of Christ, faithful until the end.

The traditional story told about St. Sebastian is that he was an army officer who was condemned to death for his belief in Jesus. His fellow soldiers shot him with arrows. Sebastian survived, so he was clubbed to death.

Fabian was pope in 236, when the political situation was very unstable. The Emperor Decius send out an edict that commanded the death penalty for all who would not give up following Christ. Pope Fabian showed to whom he gave his loyalty by dying for the faith. Decius hoped that without a pope and with so many Christians defecting, the Church itself would disband and disappear. But he did not realize that a power stronger than the power of human beings was protecting the Church. Jesus said: “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt. 28:20).

Martyrdom according to the Catechism is “the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death” (#2473). Rather than renounce their faith, the martyr bears witness with extraordinary fortitude to the belief that Christ suffered, died, and rose from the dead for our salvation, and to the truths of our Catholic faith. (The word martyr itself means “witness.”)

Therefore, we must be mindful of the martyrs of our Church, for their witness encourages us and gives us great hope. By the grace of God, may we be as committed to our Lord, His Church, and the faith as they were. Let us take to heart the words of St. Paul, “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every encumbrance of sin which clings to us and persevere in running the race which lies ahead; let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Prayer for Christian Martyrs

Lord, so great is our love for you that even though we walk in a world where speaking your name can mean certain death, your faithful still speak it and speak it all the louder.

Help us work for a world where all may speak their creeds and pray their prayers without fear of violence.

Hear the prayers of those who abide with you in dangerous times and in dark valleys, and who die with your name on their lips.

Draw them quickly to your side where they might know eternal peace.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Tuesday, Jan. 19

Jesus reminds the Pharisees that God is bigger even than Sabbath law. God commands respect and reverence because God is creator, sustainer, and redeemer. Psalm 111 speaks of God’s deeds, not just as Creator, but that God continues loving us daily.

Mark reminds us: “The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” There is no way to box God in or to measure God’s power or worth. It is well beyond our imagining. As God loves me and you, God simply asks each of us to acknowledge His covenant by returning that love – to God and with one another.

We can pause today and remember that God’s love for us is faithful. We are not alone. Our Savior came to us in the messiest of places and died for us on the greatest sign of rejection, so that we would know an unconditional love and be called to love others the same way.

The challenge of these days, as Jesus indicates in his battle with the scribes and Pharisees, is realizing that faith it is not about obeying a few rules. Faith is about a relationship with God.  It is about allowing the Holy Spirit, whom the Father and Jesus left us (so that we would not be orphans in this world), to open our hearts to love and serve as Jesus did.

Prayer

Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you, All things are passing away: God never changes.
Patience obtains all things Whoever has God, lacks nothing; God alone suffices.
Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila) 

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Monday, Jan. 18

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks to us:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

“Hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love.”

“Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love … violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.”

“One day we will learn that the heart can never be totally right when the head is totally wrong.”

“If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.”

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

“We must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future.”

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Sunday, Jan. 17

Come, and you will see

The first words that Jesus speaks, in the Gospel of St. John, are: “What are you looking for?”  Jesus is addressing the disciples of John the Baptist who are seekers. In response to Jesus’ question, the disciples of John could not come up with an answer except to ask: “Where are you staying?”. They really did not know what they were looking for. So, Jesus answers: “Come, and you will see”.

Jesus does not offer any explanations. Jesus simply tells them to join him. If they go with him, they will find what they are looking for. By the end of the day, Andrew proclaims: “We have found the Messiah!”.

Jesus’s response “Come and you will see” was not an invitation to see where he was staying. It was an invitation to come and find what they were really seeking. The disciples had no idea what was in store for them. They could not have imagined the cross, the resurrection, their own mission to world, martyrdom, eternal life. When they went with Jesus, they entered a path of healing, forgiveness, compassion and love.

Jesus invites us “Come and you will see” where I may be found today. Come and see the fullness of life to which I will lead you.

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, take all my freedom, my memory, my understanding, and my will. All that I have and cherish you have given me. I surrender it all to be guided by your will. Your grace and your love are wealth enough for me. Give me these, Lord Jesus, and I ask for nothing more.
Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Saturday, Jan. 16

The Blessed Virgin Mary, Cause of Our Joy

Christ Jesus came into the world to bring peace and joy to the human family. At his birth Jesus filled the humble shepherds with joy, at his Resurrection Jesus brought joy to the disciples, at his Ascension Jesus left the apostles in great joy; from his place at the right hand of the Father Jesus sent upon the infant Church the Spirit of love and joy.

The Church as the Bride of Christ has always found joy in its Bridegroom and returned his love with ever-increasing joy. Since Jesus had come to us through Mary, the Church came gradually to understand that the Blessed Virgin, because of her cooperation in the incarnation of the Word, is the cause or origin or source of this great joy; the Church has known too that the sorrow brought into the world by Eve’s disobedience has been changed into joy by Mary’s obedience, and so it began to honor her with the title “Cause of Our Joy”.

The Holy Spirit filled the heart of Mary with a joy that we can only begin to fathom. She knew deep in her the Father’s love for her. This is what she wants us to know. Mary desires that we too find joy in God our Savior. With Mary at our side as our loving mother, we can walk joyfully along the path of life, both in good times and in bad. In our joys and our sorrows, she walks with us; she accompanies us. And as Queen of heaven, she waits for us with loving care until we too may join her and all the saints in glory. May Mary, the cause of our joy, pray for us!

Prayer

Lord our God, you were pleased to bring joy to the world through the Incarnation of your Son.
Grant that we who honor his Mother, the cause of our joy, may always walk in the way of your commandments with our hearts set on true and lasting joy.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. 
Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Friday, Jan. 15

Blessed James, Servant of Mary – Defender of the poor and oppressed

James was born in Città della Pieve, a commune in the Province of Perugia in the Italian region Umbria, located about 50 km southwest of Perugia, around 1270.  A devout young boy, he frequently attended services at the nearby Servite Church. There are indications that he studied both law and letters at Siena, gaining proficiency in both. Even at that time he became concerned about the poor and the sick; he spared no sacrifice in defense of orphans, widows and the needy. Later, to fulfill better the commandment of the Lord, he gave all his possessions to the poor and dedicated himself completely to the care of the sick. During Mass one day, James was struck by the words of the Lord:

“If anyone comes to me without turning his back on his father and mother, his wife and his children, his brothers, and sisters, indeed his very self, he cannot be my follower. In the same way, none of you can be my disciple if you do not renounce all your possessions.”

He felt that these words were addressed to him, and so he left all and dedicated himself to the service of God and his neighbor.

He restored a church and hospice which had fallen into disrepair, and there he received the poor of the town. He fed them, treated their wounds, and cared for their needs. When a powerful man of Chiusi usurped the possessions of the hospice, James defended the rights of the poor at the Roman Curia and won his case. The usurper then invited James to come to Chiusi on the pretense of desiring to resolve their differences. This avaricious man then arranged to have assassins attack and kill James on his way back to Città della Pieve.

Thus James, defender of the poor and oppressed, died in 1304, giving a witness of justice and love with his own blood. In 1806 the Sacred Congregation of Rites approved the cult of Blessed James and in 1846 Pope Pius IX permitted the Servite Order to celebrate a Mass and Office in his honor.

Prayer

Father in heaven, your love inspired James to risk his life in defense of the rights of the poor and oppressed. Make us strong and courageous against opposition as we work for peace and justice, building a community of love. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Thursday, Jan. 14

He spread the report abroad

Imagine for a moment how happy that leprous person was. That long disease that kept him far away from his loved ones, his spouse, his children, his friends and relatives, was now cured. He could go back home to love and hug his loved ones once again. What else could he ever ask for?
That was a joyous moment for him and he just couldn’t hold in his happiness, and he wanted to share that with everyone around him. I won’t blame him for spreading that great news to all – that was not a bad idea after all. I would be be doing the same thing.

Jesus only asked this leprous person to fulfill the law and offer the testimony that Moses commanded in such case.

Brothers and sisters, you and I have experienced God’s love and mercy. In case like this, God only invites us to come back to him and thank him for his goodness and offer ourselves as living sacrifice for him. It means that we live out his commandments in our lives. And the greatest commandment is “you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31).

Let us live out these commandments faithfully and may God bless us.

Amen. 

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Wednesday, Jan. 13

The fever left her and she waited on them

Brothers and sisters, you have probably noticed by now how Mark’s Gospel is. There is not too much conversation going on in this Gospel and things happen immediately. Today we read that as Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew, “they immediately told Jesus about her [fever].” Upon knowing that Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with fever, Jesus did not say anything. Jesus’ healing power was beyond his words that he just “approached, grasped her hand and helped her up.” Now, how awesome is that?! She probably did not realize what happened; but those around were struck in awe being in that situation. Although fever was not as bad as leprosy or other life-threatening illnesses, she was unable to serve others because of it. Jesus, by helping her and healing her illness, brings her back to a new life, full of commitment to serve others around her. And since the fever was gone, she [immediately] jumped into action of serving them.

There are three things that we can learn from this Gospel. First, we need others to intercede or to pray for us. We are encouraged to pray for each other all the time. How wonderful does it feel knowing that others are praying for you? Second, Jesus hears our prayers, of course. And sometimes, he doesn’t say a thing; but he wants you to experience his love. You might experience his love through your good life, your great health, great financial condition, happiness, a loving family and wonderful friends, a successful career etc. Third, when you experience God’s love in your life, God invites you to share it and serve others around you.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we know that you already foreknew our struggles. Look kindly in all of us.
Come and help us in dealing with whatever struggles we might have. Lord, we believe that you have prepared a way out for us. Make us always put our trust and hope in you.
We believe that you will bring joy and goodness in our lives. Strengthen us, Lord, to look out and help others around us and so furthering your Kingdom on Earth, where you live and reign forever and ever.
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Tuesday, Jan. 12

Servite St. Anthony M. Pucci

Servite Saint Anthony Pucci was born in 1819 at Poggiole, in the diocese of Pistoia, Italy. He entered the Order of Friar Servants of Mary, the Servites, at the age of eighteen. After his ordination to the priesthood, he was sent to Viareggio, where he was soon made pastor, an office he held for forty-five years, until his death.

He was also a prior provincial of the Tuscan Province. As a provincial, he preferred to be regarded as brother in the service of others rather then as a superior. He gave himself up totally to the service of God and our Lady, and with loving care he was a father to all his parishioners, especially the needy.
St. Anthony Pucci died on January 12, 1892. In 1962, Pope John XXIII canonized him as a saint.

Prayer

God in heaven, you made Saint Anthony Pucci exemplary as Servant of Mary and pastor of your people. May our devotion to Mary help us be generous servants of your people, building your Kingdom on earth. Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Monday, Jan. 11

They left their nets and followed him

Brothers and sisters, welcome back to the Ordinary Time. We start this Ordinary Time by listening to Jesus calling his first disciples. These first disciples were ordinary people. There was nothing special about them – at least we don’t have more details about their lives. But here is the paradox of many stories in the Scriptures: ordinary people were called to silence people who thought of themselves better than others. That is not the matter here, however; the issue here is how these disciples reacted to Jesus’s call. This was their first time meeting Jesus. They didn’t know him well. They didn’t know his mission. They didn’t know what the future might look like for them if they followed him. Despite all this, they just listened, left everything and followed Jesus. It was an immediate response from these disciples, and that first meeting brought about a radical change in their lives.

We might ask these questions: What does it mean to follow Jesus? What does Jesus want from us?

Jesus also comes in our lives while we are busy with our lives, with our job, with expanding our careers. He also calls us to follow him while we are at the same time ‘busy.’ Well, Jesus calls us to leave our comfort zone ‘nets’ and reshape our lives in response to God’s call. In order to follow Jesus wholeheartedly, we need to let go of our old nets and listen to what Jesus wants us to do in our lives.

So, what is your comfort zone ‘net’ that you need to leave in order to follow Jesus?

Prayer

Christ Jesus, help us to be better listeners to your calling. Make us understand who we are as your followers and carry out in love the mission that you entrusted us to do. Help us to cling to you closer that we may be able to leave our comfort zone and help others around us. Lord Jesus, may your Kingdom live in us and through us, you who live and reign forever and ever.

Amen. 

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Sunday, Jan. 10

The Lord will bless his people with peace

Brothers and sisters, today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. One of the Responsorial Psalms offered for this feast is: The Lord will bless his people with peace. And this celebration, just before Jesus begins his public ministry, we hear God the Father declare, “You are my beloved Son; with whom I am well pleased.” This beloved Son of God will bring peace to His people. He, who was anticipated by John the Baptist, comes to be baptized by John, is a sign of renewal for humanity.

Brothers and sisters, Jesus’ baptism foreshadows our own baptism: we are God’s daughters and sons, filled with God’s Spirit, commissioned to bring God’s love, justice, and peace to the world. We are invited through this feast to think of the very foundation of our faith as Christians – as God’s beloved daughters and sons. If we are God’s children, has our life pleased God?

Prayer

God our Father, through his baptism you announced Jesus Christ as your beloved Son. May our baptism give us not only the recognition as your daughters and sons, but also fill us with the Holy Spirit, help us live our lives according to your will, and please you in all that we do. Through Christ, our brother and Lord!

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Saturday, Jan. 9

What is your mission?

Jesus was just starting his ministry after John the Baptist baptized him, and now people were already worried that Jesus would take over John’s job. They let John know about this situation in hopes that John would be bothered with it. Unlike them, John knew that his job was only to prepare a way for Jesus so that when Jesus began his ministry, John would feel joy that he finished his job. He let the Messiah’s light to shine and enlightened all those who live in darkness and the shadow of death.

Brothers and sisters, John the Baptist knew what his mission was. Ask yourselves: What is your mission? Do you have a clear vision of your own mission in the world? If not, ask John the Baptist to help you to find your own mission and ask him to help you carry it out with all your heart and mind and body that when you are finished, you may rejoice with John in completing your mission.

Prayer

O God, help us to become your witnesses of your great love.
May we, like John the Baptist, bring others to you so that they may know that you are God.
Lord, increase in us the courage that we need to proclaim your Kingdom to your people.
Through our own mission, may your Kingdom continue to increase in the world, for you live and reign forever and ever.
Amen. 

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Friday, Jan. 8

Lord … you can make me clean.

What better Readings do we need today to recognize God’s infinite goodness than the Gospel of Matthew 5:12-16?

Don’t we all need God’s willingness to make us clean – to heal the world? Yes, we all need God’s willingness to help us and help the world to be a better world. And he wills that all people should live in a better world. All we are asked to do is to be in line with ‘the leper’ who “fell prostrate and pleaded with Jesus.” We need to put our attention into God’s mercy and love for all of us and humbly ask God: “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean!”

Brothers and sisters, whatever it is that you have asked for from the Lord? If you ask Him with your humble heart, He will also say to you, “I do will it.” His answer might be different from what you expect God to answer but in His time, your prayers will also be answered. Don’t lose hope. Trust in His goodness.

Prayer

God of infinite goodness,
We humbly ask you to send down your mercy and love for all of us.
We pray for healing for our nation and for the world that you, O God, may make it clean from all that harm your people.
We call upon you O Lord, to lead us into a better life where you live and reign as Our God and King, forever and ever.
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Thursday, Jan. 7

If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

NO! I did NOT think that up and write it for your “education”! Those incredibly powerful, “no nonsense,” “where the rubber hits the road” words are from the First Reading taken from today’s celebration of the Mass, “The Thursday following Epiphany.” The specific quote from Scripture is 1 John 4:20-21.

St. John, as he so typically does, inflects the teachings of Christ Jesus, his Lord, master … and dear friend … in just such a way that it sounds just like Jesus Himself uttering them. The utter finality, the clarity, the “nonnegotiability” of the words echo in the most straightforward manner, the way in which Jesus presented God’s eternal Law of universal, unmitigated Love as the “sine qua non” (aka “the bottom line”) of Christian life and identity. YUP! “There ain’t no two ways about it,” love of God and love of our neighbor, NO MATTER WHO IT MIGHT BE, forms the basis of living in God’s life.

As always, grasping an intellectual understanding of St. John’s teaching (Jesus’ teaching!) is the easy part. The “gritty,” daily, mundane, exercise of living a fully realized Christian life is the particularly challenging part. Right up there, on the surface itself, is the “in your face” need to see the world and all the people in it, right around us, through the “lens” provided to us by Sacred Scripture, God’s Word.

I present this difficult teaching in my homilies and other notes and writings (like this one) quite often because, first, I myself need to remind “hesitant and timid ME” of the need for reform of heart, focusing of mind, and purging of spirit … in order to go out and do the ministry God has given me as my vocation. And then I offer the same to all of you who may be reading these words … as an encouragement, to be sure, but also as a “cautionary tale” of warning. For if we do NOT “do” this difficult work of living the life of Christ in loving praise of God and loving care for our neighbor, well, then we are indeed LOST.

I do not, to be sure, have any “magic wand” to change myself into a better person. And never, EVER, would I assume I could, in any way, “command” change in another. But, as I look around me, at the world in which I live, and as I reflect upon and experience my life from the viewpoint of over seven decades of living, I surely see how things could be better, and how I could “do” or “be” a better person. I must admit and face my prejudices, my fickleness, my fears and all the various weaknesses which effectively prevent me from fulfilling exactly what St. John calls me to be in the words of his First Letter, i.e., someone who loves, without limit or condition, God AND neighbor.

Friends, it’s 2021, a NEW YEAR, and time to “dig in” and renew our commitments to Christ-like living and to the realization in small and large “gestures,” God’s eternal Law of Love … There are (and always will be!) lots of powerful enemies of Love, such as poverty, hatred, racism, selfishness, abuse of power, narrow-mindedness, “stinginess” of heart, judgmentalism, materialism; need I go on? The list is LONG. But, I firmly believe in, and reaffirm my dedication to, the absolute certainty that JESUS CHRIST is the “rock” upon which we will find our steady, sure, solid foundation to bring salvation to all, and make a fundamentally better place of our world. Let’s get busy! 

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Wednesday, Jan. 6

Hello everyone!

Today’s liturgy has a simple name, just “The Wednesday after Epiphany.” That does not tell us much; no “saint of the day,” no special Feast. But just take a quick read of that First Reading (from Chapter 4 of the 1st Letter of St. John — there are three altogether in the New Testament) and you’ll immediately see how, and from where, we get some of the most evocative, and provocative teachings in the entire New Testament. So …

1 Jn 4:11-18

Beloved, if God so loved us,

we also must love one another.

No one has ever seen God.

Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us,

and his love is brought to perfection in us.

This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us,

that he has given us of his Spirit.

Moreover, we have seen and testify

that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world.

Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,God remains in him and he in God.

We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.

God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.

In this is love brought to perfection among us,

that we have confidence on the day of judgment

because as he is, so are we in this world.

There is no fear in love,

but perfect love drives out fear

because fear has to do with punishment,

and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.

These are not words to be, an any way, lightly taken, no, on the contrary, they have the solemn finality of the words of Jesus himself … and much of the same totality or universality. What do I mean?

You may remember, some time back now, I wrote a “Daily Reflection” which deliberated on the “no if’s, ands, or buts” in so many of the teachings, sayings, or directives of Jesus. “It is what it is,” or perhaps, “they are what they are.” Jesus offers little to the person who wishes to equivocate, parse, and just “beat around the bush. What Jesus asks, DEMANDS, from we who believe in him, is a faith which is rooted in God, in God’s universal LOVE, and then reflects OUTWARD to the world and every person, in terms of self-sacrificing SERVICE, COMPASSION, and the building up of a COMMUNITY of and for GOD (“CHURCH”)I very much think St. John, in this segment from his 1st Letter, is repeating and evangelizing the very same realities of faith and concerted action based on our experiential understanding of God’s Love … it’s impact on us, and the CHANGE in us for which it calls, which it DEMANDS. “…we also must love one another. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.” The injunction brought on by the word, “MUST,” is powerful, and it is tied to the stunning declaration that God’s very Love is brought to perfection … IN US! How, then, could it be possible, at one and the same time, to call oneself a Christian and NOT absolutely love one another??? This flies in the face of the daily calls for violence, hatred, rejection, and vilification of a host of “enemies,” or “undesirables” of every description, depending on who is talking and who is listening.

So, dear Christian, sister, and brother … to WHOM are YOU listening today? To a voice of division, violence, hatred, and judgement? Or to GOD; GOD who demands we love one another without judgment, without limit … ALL people? I can tell you one thing: I am virtually certain that, these days especially, the voices of hatred and division are LOUDER than the ones calling for peace, for reconciliation, for the kind of LOVE which will build the Kingdom of God. Is that satisfying? Is that good? Is that loud call for divisiveness enough to drown out the call to LOVE? Here is the TRUTH, and I quote the 1st Letter again, “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.” And that statement begs the question, “Do I remain in LOVE, or do I opt out due to social pressure, or any other reason?”

I will end here with one final, brief quote from John’s beautiful and “dangerous” Letter, and those words are a cautionary tale, a warning, if you will, or perhaps just a clarion call to remember: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear.” So many of us cower and live in fear … which drives out LOVE! We fear criticism, we fear rejection, we fear being “weird,” or being judged “not good enough,” or not right, proper, or “woke.” We fear not being “in the crowd,” of being left behind, of being the “oddball” or “out-of-step.” We fear being different, being “small,” being powerless, being weak, being “less” than … oh MY! I could go on and on. Friends … GOD IS LOVE, and when we LOVE, we are part of GOD … no matter what “others” may say. Truly, “the sky’s the limit,” so strive for Heaven, and while striving for Heaven, grab onto your family, your friends, your neighbors, to strangers, to the lonely and the dispossessed; to the last person you would ever normally think of … GRAB on and make a Community out there! Because, as good St. John wrote, and which the Lord Jesus himself taught:

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.”

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Tuesday, Jan. 5

St. John Neumann

Oh, sisters and brothers! Friends “out there,” near and far … what a richness in teaching, example, inspiration and challenge we have in the Saints of this week’s liturgical celebrations! Today, following so eloquently and perfectly from yesterday’s honoring of Mother Seton (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton), America’s first “native-born” saint, we have today, another first, America’s first “immigrant saint,” St. John Neumann … born in “Bohemia”, (now the Czech Republic). He came to America because he had a missionary spirit “second to none,” and a heart bigger than his body could contain. Here is a brief biography of yet another “American saint:”

John Neumann was born in Prachatice, Bohemia, on March 28, 1811. He studied theology in the seminary of Budweis. Zealous for the missionary life and to lead souls to Christ, he decided to leave his homeland to dedicate himself to the European immigrants in America, who were deprived of spiritual support.

Neumann was ordained a priest by the bishop of New York in June 1836, and gave himself to the pastoral care of people in the vast area around Niagara Falls.

Wanting to live in a religious community that corresponded more to his missionary vocation, in January 1842 he entered the Redemptorists. A tireless missionary, Neumann busied himself in particular with the German immigrants, first in Baltimore, then in Pittsburgh.

Having filled the role of vice-provincial superior of the Redemptorists from 1846- 49, he became the parish priest of St. Alphonsus Church in Baltimore. In 1852, at the age of 41, he was named bishop of Philadelphia.

Neumann had a strong effect on the religious life of the United States by founding Catholic schools and promoting devotion to the Eucharist. He founded a new religious institute – the Third Order of Saint Francis of Glen Riddle. The School Sisters of Notre Dame likewise regard Neumann as their secondary founder, their “Father in America.” In just seven years, he built 89 churches, as well as several hospitals and orphanages. As a bishop, Neumann was untiring in visiting his vast diocese.

On January 5, 1860, at the age of 48, he died suddenly of a heart attack on a Philadelphia street. Neumann was beatified during the Second Vatican Council on October 13, 1963, and was canonized on June 19, 1977. In the homily on the occasion of Neumann’s canonization, Pope Paul VI summarized the activity of the new saint: “He was close to the sick, he loved to be with the poor, he was a friend of sinners, and now he is the glory of all emigrants.” St. John Neumann is invoked as a patron of sick children and of immigrants.

It strikes me VERY plainly, that given we are just entering this “new year of promise,” we are also being taught by Scripture and the personal example of our “heroes in faith,” the saints, by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and by St. John Neumann, to re-focus and re-dedicate our efforts for reform and improvement on our society’s great treasure, and a VERY fragile one, i.e., our children!

As I pointed out yesterday, with statistics of disturbing clarity, the children in America (to say nothing of the rest of world) are in deep suffering. Yet, if we are a People of Hope, if we are a People of Faith, if we are a People of God’s Love … if we are CHURCH … then we must respond with generous hearts to the needs of the very innocent among us everywhere, our children … most especially, perhaps, those with a lack of proper shelter, clothing, food and education.

Will this be an easy, carefree task? No, I’d be a fool to say that. But is it impossible to better care for the weak, the sick, the poor, and the vulnerable? Can any of us claim to be Christian, Catholic, and ignore the needs around us? In this severe time of “Covid-19 challenge” to our stability and safety, it might be all too easy and tempting to simply remain satisfied with “looking after our own,” and ignoring the rest. But Christ always taught that we have meaning when we share, and fulfillment when we sacrifice … for others. St. John is a perfect example for each of us, of a person, who, for the love of the Christ he saw every day in the poor, in the children, in the immigrants from foreign lands … served those same marginal people as he would have served Jesus in the flesh.

The new year of 2021 is bringing with it a lot of promise for a better year than 2020. In so many ways we are all being invited by God, through the Scripture, the lives of the saints, and by the inspiring work and sacrifices made by family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, to “lend a hand,” to “share the burden,” to “bear the load,” to “offer a cup of water” to all in need. Who of us does not see the need, the NEEDS of the many? Who of us can look away and not care? Who of us, we who “claim Christ Jesus,” can deny the “cry of the poor”?

God bless you all, friends … and may St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. John Neumann guide us today and this year!

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Monday, Jan. 4

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

Friends, today is the liturgical “Memorial” of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, often called, simply, “Mother Seton.”

She was, indeed, a mother, both in the regular, “natural” sense, as well as in the religious sense.

Here’s a bit of her story: Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, originally Elizabeth Ann Bayley, was born in New York City on August 28, 1774, to a prominent Episcopal family, and lost her mother at the age of three. In 1794, at the age of 19, Elizabeth married William Magee Seton, a wealthy businessman with whom she had five children. William died of tuberculosis in 1803, leaving Elizabeth a young widow.

After discovering Catholicism in Italy, where her husband had died, Elizabeth returned to the United States and entered the Catholic Church in 1805 in New York. After several difficult years, Elizabeth moved in 1809 to Emmitsburg, Maryland, where she founded the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s, the first community for religious women established in the United States. She also began St. Joseph’s Academy and Free School, planting the seeds of Catholic education in the United States. Her legacy now includes religious congregations in the United States and Canada, whose members work on the unmet needs of people living in poverty in North America and beyond.

Mother Seton, as she is often called, was canonized on Sunday, September 14, 1975, in St. Peter’s Square by Pope Paul VI. She was the first citizen born in the United States to be given the title of “Saint.” Her remains are entombed in Emmitsburg in the Basilica at the National Shrine that bears her name.

Mother Seton’s appeal to us resides in her dual role as a devoted, caring and generous mother to her children, as well as that of “mother” to the congregation of Sisters which she founded … and through them to all the children she “mothered” in schools and orphanages. Without Mother Seton, there might not have been Catholic Education in our country until many, many years after her time. Without Mother Seton, so many innocent children would have suffered needlessly from a lack of shelter and food.
Should Mother Seton be “saying something” to us today, faced with so many needy children in our country? YES!

Children in this country are suffering at an enormous rate. Here is a compiled list of pretty upsetting (or shocking!) statistics:

• 11.8% – This was the official poverty rate in America in 2018, the most recent year for which Census Bureau statistics were available.
• 11.9 million – This was the number of children under the age of 18 who were living in poverty in 2018, according to the Census Bureau’s official poverty measure.
• 39.1 % – Nearly two in five children under the age of 18 who lived in households headed by single women experienced poverty, according to the Census Bureau.
• 73% – Nearly 73 percent of children living in poverty are children of color. According to a recent report from the Children’s Defense Fund, nearly one in three Black and Native American/Alaska Native children were poor. For Hispanic children, it was one in four. Among white children, one in 11 lived in poverty.
• 1,508,265 – The number of school-aged children who were reported to be homeless during the 2017-2018 year.

Have you ever heard the words, the question, popular a few years back, “What Would Jesus Do?” And I might add today, “What would Mother Seton think?”

“What would Mother Seton do?”

Brothers and sisters … you KNOW what Mother Seton would think and/or do, and you KNOW “what Jesus would do.” The only question remaining for me, for you, for our Church, for the Nation, is, therefore, “What are WE going to do???” 

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Sunday, Jan. 3

The Epiphany of the Lord

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you…Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow… Is 60:1,4a

During these days of Celebrating Christmas, we hear of many who encounter or discover our newborn King: shepherds, animals in the stable, and King Herod. Today the we hear of the Magi. All of these are outsiders. Some are poor, some are foreigners, animals, and a fearful king. They all know that something amazing is happening. Most seek to come close to Jesus. The King, in fear, wished to destroy the newborn king.

We too are outsiders – we took time and made effort to come close to Jesus this season. Today, like the Magi, we are asked to lay our treasures and riches before him.

What are those gifts and treasures that you offer to Jesus today?

Let us Pray

Gracious and Glorious Lord,
Help me this day to radiate your light, your love, your splendor, in every word, every thought, every action.
Like the Star the guided the Magi, may my attachment to you draw others to your infinite and unconditional loving mercy. 
Amen.

Saturday, Jan. 2

Memorial of St. Basil and St. Gregory

And now, children, remain in him, so that when he appears, we may have confidence and not be put to shame by him at his coming. 1 John 2:28

Remember during Advent we talked about the celebration of Advent and Christmas being about the Historical event of Christ’s birth and also the anticipation of Christ’s return? This quote from 1 John is our charge: Now that we have prepared, reflected, reconciled, celebrated and rededicated ourselves to God in Christ, and the service of the Gospel, we must remain attached to Christ.

We attach ourselves through Scripture, prayer, our faith communities, and the inspiration of Mary and the Saints. May we all remain in Christ.

Do you feel closer to Christ than you did at the beginning of Advent?

Let us Pray

Eternal Father,
I ask your grace and blessing today that my prayer, my service to others, my words and actions cultivate a deep attachment to your Son Jesus.
I know that I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but as one of your children, I seek to remain with you and in you today and always.
Amen.

Friday, Jan. 1

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Luke 2:21
On this feast of Mary, Mother of God, we seek to follow her example of treasuring her life with Jesus, and her journey of faithful discipleship.

Mary did not dwell on the past, or allow her mind to reach into the future of what might be. Mary was present in the moment.

She devoted her heart to encountering the people and circumstances in her life as a gift to be honored, savored and celebrated. Why? Because Jesus was with her.

How will you devote your heart today? 

Let us Pray

Blessed and Holy Mary, Mother of God, increase my capacity to remain in the present moment. Even if that moment is painful.
Help me to invite you and your Son Jesus into the conversations, activities, and challenges of my day.
Confident that I am not in this moment alone, may I devote my heart and my efforts to the peace, unity and hope of others.
Amen.

Thursday, Dec. 31

Seventh Day of the Christmas Octave

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him. And without him nothing came to be. John 1:1-2

All things came to be in and through Christ. You and I came to be. Neighbors, strangers, oceans, galaxies, and mountains. Large and small, young and old.

Ponder this: Nothing came to be without him. Blessed are all things created and touched by God.

Let us Pray

Maker of the Stars, the heavens, and each and every life. Create in me a sense of awe and wonder at the gift of life that you have given to me. May you multiply my gratitude and wonder so that I may become more generous, patient and merciful.
Amen.

Wednesday, Dec. 30

Sixth Day of the Christmas Octave

The LORD is king. He has made the world firm, not to be moved; he governs the peoples with equity. Ps 96:10

Rediscover the Lord of all, the King – Our Eternal ruler.

God does not come as we expect: A small helpless newborn. God rules differently – with humility, equity, mercy, justice and reverence.

What must you humble within yourself to lead and serve like God our King?

Let us Pray

Heavenly King, Lord of my Life,
Rule me with your love and mercy, guide and teach me of your justice and wisdom that I may grow as a person of faith, of hope, and great charity.
Amen.

Tuesday, Dec. 29

Fifth Day of Christmas Octave

This is the way we may know that we are in union with him: whoever claims to abide in him ought to walk just as he walked. 1 John 2:4

St. John tells us to literally say and do as Jesus did – walk as Jesus walked. This is how others will know that we are in union with Jesus. This is a call to be a person of integrity. What one thinks, says in public and in private, as well as what one does to and for others, should be the consistent.

Jesus spoke of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness, and he acted with love, mercy and forgiveness. What he shared with the multitudes he also said to his closest friends. In the days leading up to his crucifixion and death – The Last Supper, prayer at Gethsemane, and his dying, were all acts of love, mercy and forgiveness.

Today let’s walk as Jesus. What will you do differently?

Let us Pray

God of Love and Mercy, plant your words, your truth, your love deep within my mind and heart so that I may reflect your Son Jesus to all I encounter today.
Amen.

Monday, Dec. 28

Feast of Holy Innocents

God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:1b

No darkness at all. This is why in this Season there are so many lights – on trees, houses, mantles. candles. We celebrate the light that came to transform the world.

There is darkness in the world: depression, grief, addiction, hatred, bigotry, ignorance. Our Baptism implores us to become a light on a light stand. We are born to shine.

How can you bring light to another, or dispel the darkness in another today?

Sunday, Dec. 27

Feast of the Holy Family

Today’s Scripture and Reflection are St. Paul’s Words

Brothers and sisters: Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Col 3:12-17

Saturday, Dec. 26

Feast of St. Stephen

“Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people.” John 1:14

St. Stephen was the First Martyr of the Church. As we continue to celebrate the Birth of our Savior, may we too be filled with grace and power that we lead others to Christ Jesus. May our words today speak of light, life, hope and mercy.

Let us Pray

Emmanuel – God With Us – fill my heart, mind, and soul with your eternal grace and power.

Help me today to show the world the love and devotion that I have for you.

May my words and actions be a sign to others of your abundant mercy, faithfulness, and love for us.

Amen.

Christmas Day

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing, as they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as people make merry when dividing spoils. For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, and the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed, as on the day of Midian. For every boot that tramped in battle, every cloak rolled in blood,will be burned as fuel for flames. For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David’s throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this!
Isaiah 9:1-6

Christmas Eve

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Bible Verse of the Day: Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for he has come to his people and set them free. (Luke 1:67)

On this Christmas Eve, read and reflect on the Canticle of Zechariah, the Gospel for the day:

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of his servant David. Through his prophets he promised of old that he would save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us. He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant. This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from the hand of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life. You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Luke 1:67-79

Tuesday, Dec. 22

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Bible Verse of the Day: Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. (Luke 1:46)

Sit today with Mary. The anticipation; the discomfort; the uncertainty; In the midst of all of this, she joyfully proclaims God’s greatness.

In the midst of your preparations and ‘to dos’, allow Mary to focus your thoughts and efforts on celebrating Christ’s birth, and the gift of our faith.

Let us Pray

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Guide me in the ways of waiting in joyful hope and anticipation.
May I, like you, become a confident and faithful follower of your Son Jesus.
Amen.

Monday, Dec. 21

Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Bible Verse of the Day: Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song. (Psalm 33: 1a, 3a)

We have celebrated many Advents, and many Christmases. How can my song be new? God makes all things new in Christ Jesus.

Have you gained new insights about yourself this Advent? Have you tended to areas of your life that needed attention? What has God revealed to you?

Let us Pray

Ever-living, Ever-loving Lord,
Reveal to me in some small way the new life, the new beginnings, the new habits, and the ideas that you have begun growing within me.
Help me to celebrate your marvelous deeds today.
Amen.

Sunday, Dec. 20

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Bible Verse of the Day: The promises of the LORD I will sing forever; through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness. (Psalm 89:2a)

We can proclaim God’s faithfulness through our own fidelity – faithfulness to our friends, our family, neighbors, and strangers.

Will our children, and our children’s children, speak of God’s promises? Do I reflect that unconditional love?

Let us Pray

Gracious God,
You are the ultimate promise keeper. Guide me today that I may make meaningful preparations to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Help me not get caught up in superficial and commercial attempts to make the coming feast about me. Instead, may I celebrate you, and all that you are in these coming days.
Amen.

Saturday, Dec. 19

Saturday of the Third Week of Advent

Bible Verse of the Day: My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory! (Psalm 71:8)

The word Glory means high honor, and great beauty. Are my thoughts, words, and actions today honoring God? Are they beautiful?

Let us Pray

Almighty God, Wonderful – Counselor,
I sit in silence. My mouth is closed and my heart is open. Pour your blessings upon me so I may share your hope, joy, and glory this day.
Amen.

Friday, Dec. 18

Friday of the Third Week of Advent

Bible Verse of the Day: Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; This is the name they give him: “The LORD our justice.” (Jeremiah 23:5)

The prophet Jeremiah asks us to take notice of new life – a new shoot. By using the Bible phrase ‘raised up’ we remember not only Christ’s birth, but his death and resurrection. We anticipate his coming again as The Lord, our Justice.

How can I promote love and justice to someone today, especially someone who has been neglected or mistreated?

Let us Pray

Dear God,
As we quickly approach the celebration of the Birth of Jesus – Lord of Justice – help me to reconcile with individuals and groups of people with whom I have withheld your unconditional love and mercy.
Amen.

Wednesday, Dec. 16

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

Bible Verse of the Day: In the LORD shall be the vindication and the glory of all the descendants of Israel.” (Isaiah 45:25)

We are descendants of Israel and we stand vindicated and justified in Christ Jesus.

How does my life reflect this? Do I share that forgiveness and mercy with others?

Let us Pray

Heavenly Father,
I come to you in prayer today focusing not on myself, but for all those who will come after me.
May my words and actions sow seeds of faith, so that their life of faith will flourish.
Amen.

Tuesday, Dec. 15

Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

Bible Verse of the Day: I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth. (Psalm 34:2)

Words are very powerful. They can comfort, incite another, wound, celebrate. God’s Word became flesh. You and I give form to God’s love and mercy with our words and actions.

Today, be mindful of the words you utter. How are they praising God? Sharing God’s good news?

Let us Pray

O Most Holy God,
I pray that today each and every word, thought, effort and gesture gives praise to you. For ever and ever.
Amen.

Monday, Dec. 14

Monday of the Third Week of Advent

Bible Verse of the Day: A star shall advance from Jacob, and a staff shall rise from Israel. (Numbers 24:17a)

The image of a Star and a staff both represent royalty. Already, but not yet, Our King is on his way.

Each of us is like the Star rising. Through our words and actions, we shine: “Christ is Coming” and “Christ is Among us!” The teachings and actions of Jesus, like the staff, sturdy us in our faith journey.

What can you do today that shines bright like that star? Or sturdies another’s walk of faith?

Let us Pray

Heavenly Lord, Creator of the stars,
Help me today that I, like a star, may provide light, direction, and guidance so that others will find their way to you and your saving love.
Amen.

Sunday, Dec. 13

Gaudete Sunday (Third Sunday of Advent)

Light the pink candle on your Advent wreath and rejoice that we are over halfway through our Advent journey.

Bible Verse of the Day: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, (Luke 1:46a)

Mary’s words echo the joy that we spoke of yesterday: Spirit and soul together rejoice and proclaim God’s greatness.

Reflect on the words of the Magnificat today, and consider how you can rejoice and proclaim.

Magnificat

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked with favor on His humble servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed, the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name.

He has mercy on those who fear Him in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm.

He has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of His servant Israel for He has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise He made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever. (Luke 1:45-56)

Saturday, Dec. 12

Saturday of the Second Week of Advent

Bible Verse of the Day: Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD. (Zech 2:14)

Joy is not a momentary emotion of happiness. Rejoicing, or experiencing joy, is a posture of gratitude, hope, and humility. God dwelling among us, as one of us: EMMANUEL – is not far away, remote, or distant – God IS with us, among us. How will you embody that joy today?

Let us pray
Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof – plant the seeds of true joy, humility and gratitude within me, and help me foster these virtues.
Amen.

Friday, Dec. 11

Friday of the Second Week of Advent

Bible Verse of the Day: Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life. (John 8:12)

As the days get shorter we have these words of encouragement. Pope Francis writes: “Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey. To those who suffer, God does not provide arguments which explain everything; rather, his response is that of an accompanying presence, a history of goodness which touches every story of suffering and opens up a ray of light.”

No matter what darkness comes into our life, or is within our community or world, we are enlightened by Christ. Accompanied by Christ, disperse the darkness for someone today.

Let us Pray

Gracious God,
You are the source of all light and life. Accompany me today so that I radiate the light of your abundant love and mercy in all I do.
Amen.

Thursday, Dec. 10

Thursday of the Second Week of Advent

Bible Verse of the Day: Let the clouds rain down the Just One, and the earth bring forth a Savior. (Isaiah 45:8)

Isaiah says that God’s Justice pours down upon us like the rains. And, from that justice comes our Savior: Cause and Effect.

Today, with God’s help, how will you make those around you see, feel, and know Jesus? Offer forgiveness? Take a task or duty off of another person? Comfort someone?

Let us pray

God of power and might,
I humbly ask that you rain down your mercy and justice upon our world.
Help me to be more just and merciful so that I may serve as a minister of your justice and mercy.
Amen.

Wednesday, Dec. 9

Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent

Bible Verse of the Day: Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. (Mt 11:28)

Jesus the Lord calls each one of us to come to him and be unburdened, healed, refreshed, and rested. Take a few moments right now to call to mind all those burdens, worries, issues and relationships that are weighing you down today. Ask Jesus to gather all of these intentions and worries, so that you may rest in him today.

How can you help another ‘rest’ today?

Let us pray

Almighty and Eternal God, I come to you today.
There are many things that I am trying to work on while laboring to be a more faithful follower of your Son Jesus. It gives me great comfort to remember that you are the source of my inspiration, my strength, and my hope. Help me to take extra time to rest in you. 

Amen.

Tuesday, Dec. 8

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Bible Verse of the Day: Bible Verse of the Day: “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you. Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” ( Lk 1:27)

The Angel Gabriel greets Mary with these words. As Children of God, included under Mary’s watchful care, we too have found favor with God. If each of us is wrapped in God’s loving mercy, how can we share that blessing with someone who feels ‘out of favor’? Someone who lives alone? Someone grieving the loss of a loved one? Someone experiencing mental anguish or physical suffering?

How can your words and actions make these words real and palpable for another today?

Let us pray

Blessed Mary,
You model for each of us the way of a faithful disciple. On this, the feast of your conception, I ask for your guidance, protection and inspiration to know and follow God’s will today and every day.
Amen.

Monday, Dec. 7

Monday of the Second Week of Advent

Bible Verse of the Day: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God….(Isaiah 35:4)

It is so easy to get overwhelmed these days: the pandemic, isolation, violence, unrest, expectations of others, daily chores, the wants and needs of family and loved ones. Add to all of this our attempts to make our Advent and Christmas meaningful and spiritually nourishing.

Isaiah speaks to us: God is right here with us. The word become flesh and dwelt among us. God’s loving presence is within us. It surrounds us in the hustle and bustle of the day, as well as in the silent times. Offer up all our fears and worries today.

Let us pray

Mighty God,
I ask that you to enfold me with your strength and courage. I know that my time spent in fear and anxiety is counter-productive. I lift up to you all of my fears and anxieties, worries and burdens. Please gather them up and dissolve them that I may courageously love you and others today.
Amen.

Sunday, Dec. 6

Second Sunday of Advent

Bible Verse of the Day: A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the LORD! (Isaiah 40:4)

The prophet Isaiah calls us to prepare God’s way – in the desert. Yes, it is a foreshadowing of John the Baptist. But, what does it call us to today? Where is a desert in your life? A dry weary, lifeless place. A place in dire need of life, refreshment, God’s loving mercy? This is where you are asked to prepare God’s way – is it within your heart? A particular relationship? Others who stand in dire need?

Today, how can you prepare God’s way of love, mercy, healing, hope and peace?

Let us pray

Lord God,
Today may I listen more attentively to your voice within my heart. Prepare me to celebrate your coming with an open mind, a clean heart, and a generous spirit.
Amen.

Saturday, Dec. 5

Saturday of the First Week of Advent

Bible Verse of the Day: Blessed are all who wait for the Lord. (Isaiah 30:18d)

St. Charles Borromeo summed up our Advent waiting this way: ‘We must meditate before, during and after everything we do.” The prophet says “I will pray, and then I will understand.”

This is the way we can easily overcome the countless difficulties we have to face day after day, which, after all, are part of our work. In meditation we find the strength to bring Christ to birth in ourselves and in others.

Let us pray

Blessed and ever-living God,
Help me today to understand in a deeper way that your time line, and your time keeping, take precedence over my wants, needs and schedule. Foster in me a reverence for your time, and your will in all I do.
Amen.

Friday, Dec. 4

Friday of the First Week of Advent

Bible Verse of the Day: The Lord is my light and my salvation (Psalm 27:1)

During this Advent season we move toward the longest night of the year. With the length of days shortening, and nights lengthening, one could be disheartened. With the Birth of Christ we celebrate the Light of the World. A light that dispels all darkness.

How can I dispel the darkness (loneliness, grief, suffering, despair) within another today?

Let us pray

Ever-living God,
Enlighten me today with your loving presence. Save me from my bad habits, and my efforts to distract myself from the needs of others. May I shine your light today.
Amen.

Thursday, Dec. 3

Thursday of the First Week of Advent

Bible Verse of the Day: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. (Psalm 118:26a)

The prophets spoke on behalf of the Lord; Jesus came in the Name of the Lord. Each of us, having been baptized in the Name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, comes in Christ’s Name … we are blessed.

Are you grateful? How can you share your blessing with another today?

Let us pray

Gracious and Mighty Lord,
Guide me today that I may come in your name. May my efforts draw others closer to you and your Son Jesus. 
Amen.

Wednesday, Dec. 2

Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

Bible Verse of the Day: The Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces (Isaiah 25:9)

We don’t have to look far to see pain, suffering, despair, fear, and frustration. The prophet Isaiah assures Israel, and us that God will come with compassion, comfort and healing. Christ Jesus embodies the comfort, compassion and healing of God. To whom can you offer comfort, compassion and healing today?

Let us pray

Oh Holy One: Father, Son and Spirit,
Today I lift up those whom I love that are suffering. Gather these beloved into your loving presence and tend to their grief and pain. Help me to bring comfort and care in all I do today.
Amen.

Tuesday, Dec. 1

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

Bible Verse of the Day: A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse….”(Isaiah 11:1)

God’s plan from the beginning is to offer us new life. The New life that we are offered in Christ Jesus comes from the long lineage of Jesse/ David. The image of a sprout, or shoot, coming up from a dead stump is often used as an Advent symbol. It comes from this Isaiah passage. The stump looked dead. The people of Israel felt cut off from God … but in the fullness of time – God’s time – God is at work.

Bring to mind a virtue, a relationship, or emotion that seems dead, or cut off. Seek the new life that God is spouting within you around this.

Let us pray

God of Life and Hope,

Help me today to nurture new shoots: new habits and practices that not only strengthen my faith, but shine and share that faith with others.

Amen.

Monday, Nov. 30

Monday of the First Week of Advent

Bible Verse for Today: Your Words, O Lord are Spirit and Life (John 6:63)

God’s word inspires, nourishes and sustains us. The people of Israel fed on the words of the Prophets. The Sacred Scripture feeds our heart and soul.

This passage today calls us to give thanks and praise that God’s Word: Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us. Christ Jesus is our Spirit and Life! How can I share that Spirit and Life with another today?

Let us pray

Heavenly Father,

Today I ask that you fill my heart, my lips, and my every action with your Words.

Words and actions that reconcile, heal, bring hope and life to others.

Amen.

Sunday, Nov. 29

First Sunday in Advent

Bible Verse for Today: Be watchful! Be alert! (Mt 13:33)

We echo this sentiment as a response to the Lord’s Prayer at every Mass: “We wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ.”

Waiting in joyful hope calls us to be attentive. This means NOT DISTRACTED. There is so much around us to distract us: our phones, social media, commercial Christmas trappings, our own worries, burdens, and wants.

As we begin our journey of preparation for Christ’s coming, we are called to be watchful, alert – ATTENTIVE. We must take our eyes off of ourselves, off of the ads, the ‘to do’ lists, and the clutter within and around us, and consciously watch for God acting within us and within our lives.

Remember that Christ’s birth went mainly unnoticed. Only outsiders like the shepherds, foreigners like the Wise Men, and antagonists like King Herod saw what God was doing in the midst of the people.

What unexpected and new ways is Christ seeking to enter your heart? Your Home? And your Family this Advent?

Let us pray

Gracious God, As I begin this Advent journey prepare my heart to open and receive the wisdom, insight, healing and discovery that you will share with me, that I may become a more kind, loving and faithful follower of your Son Jesus.
Amen.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Saturday, Nov. 28

Back to the beginning

John said: An angel showed me the river of life-giving water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the street. On either side of the river grew the tree of life that produces fruit twelve times a year, once each month. (Rev 22:1-2)

For believers, John speaks to us with images of our faith. The tree of life calls to mind the Garden of Eden, yes – but more importantly, the Tree of Life is the cross. The river of life – giving water is the waters of Baptism. As we start a new Church year tomorrow with the First Sunday of Advent, we prepare our hearts to be made new with the Season.

Let us pray

Heavenly Lord, as I reflect on my own Baptism, I take a few moments to renew my commitment to you. I reject hatred, bigotry, fear, mistrust, and despair. I commit myself to hope, forgiveness, mercy, patience, and compassion. I commit myself to my faith community, to daily devotion and service, and to continually seek your guidance. May I continue to grow and shine the gift of my faith to all I meet. Amen.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Friday, Nov. 27

God’s Words Remain

“God’s Words remain,

Heaven and earth will pass away,

but my words will not pass away.” (Luke 21:29)

So much has changed since this time last year. Almost every facet of our lives have ‘passed away’. The ways we celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday, and the ways we will celebrate Advent and Christmas.

This is the second to last day of the Church year- even the liturgical year is passing away.

As we shift from gratitude to the anticipation of Advent, one thing is very clear: God’s Words remain. God remains within us, and among us. God’s words: Love, peace, mercy, hope, and redemption remain.

Our prayer today is that God surrounds each of us with His word. And that God’s words take root in our hearts and homes.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Thanksgiving Day

Thursday, Nov. 26

Let Us Give Thanks to The Lord

Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.

Worship the Lord with gladness;

Come into His presence with singing.

Know that the Lord is God.I

t is He that made us,We are His;

We are His people,

And the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving,

And His courts with praise.

Give thanks to the Lord, bless His name.

For the Lord is good;

His steadfast love endures forever,

And His faithfulness to all generations.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,

And to the Holy Spirit.

As it was in the beginning, is now,

And ever shall be, world without end.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM, Rector of The Grotto

Wednesday, Nov. 25

St. Catherine of Alexandria

As a young girl, Catherine always had her nose in a book. If she didn’t have her nose in a book, she was asking the wisest men and women of the land all sorts of questions. There were plenty of books and plenty of wise people around, because Catherine lived in the great port city of Alexandria, Egypt. It was through some of these books and wise people that Catherine first learned about Christianity. While her studies sparked her curiosity about the Christian faith, it was a vision of the Blessed Mother and the child Jesus that fanned it into a roaring, passionate fire. Catherine began to study the faith with great zeal, proclaiming it to all she met.

When the Roman emperor, Maxentius, began persecuting Christians, Catherine traveled to Rome to rebuke him for his cruelty. At first, Maxentius was merely amused by this beautiful, hot-headed girl (she was only eighteen at the time). He didn’t really want to put her in prison or kill her, so he summoned fifty of his greatest philosophers to persuade her to give up here faith. Instead, she persuaded them, one by one, until all fifty had converted to Christianity!

Now the emperor was really angry. He had the wise philosophers killed and Catherine flogged. Then he threw her into the dungeon and left on a trip. While he was gone, his wife the empress went to visit Catherine; she was curious about this wise young woman. Before long, Catherine had used her great learning to persuade the empress to follow the way of Christ—along with two hundred of the emperor’s best soldiers! When the emperor returned from his trip, he turned twenty shades of purple and had all those people, even his wife, killed as well.

Maxentius still didn’t want to kill Catherine, so he offered t o marry her and make her empress if only she would deny her faith. “No,” said Catherine. “My heart belongs only to Christ.” That was the last straw. The emperor ordered Catherine to be tied to a large wheel with sharp spikes on it. He thought this would surely silence this wise and stubborn young woman; but instead, the ropes miraculously fell off and the wheel flew apart in all directions. Finally, Maxentius had Catherine beheaded.

Catherine is the patron saint of philosophers, young maidens, and female scholars. 

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM, Rector of The Grotto

Tuesday, Nov. 24

Saint Andrew Dũng-Lac and Companions, Martyrs

Patron Saints of Vietnam

The persecutions of the Church in Vietnam displayed characteristics that are similar to anti-Catholic attacks carried out in other Asian countries. In its first wave of missionaries, Catholicism’s arrival in Asia was seen as intriguing, beautiful, and new. Its priests were educated, heroic in their zeal, and culturally sensitive. Yet as its hold on the native population grew, Asian leaders became jealous and suspicious. They saw the Church either as foreign to their ancient culture’s long- established habits of life and thinking, or as an actual arm of a colonial power seeking to slowly subjugate an entire people for commercial benefit.

There are 117 martyrs in this group and although they died at different times, they were all canonized by Pope John Paul II on June 19, 1988. Of the group, 96 were Vietnamese, 11 were Spaniards, and 10 were French. There were 8 bishops, 50 priests and 59 lay Catholics in the group.

Vietnam’s communist government sent not a single representative to the canonization Mass for today’s martyrs in 1988, but thousands of Vietnamese faithful attended nonetheless, mostly from Vietnamese diaspora communities. Today Vietnam has over two thousand parishes and almost three thousand priests. Its population is about eight percent Catholic. The faith survived, even thrived, due to the exemplary witness of so many staunch disciples who did not bend to the powerful gusts that blew against them.

Prayer

Almighty, everlasting God, look with compassion on all those who suffer persecution for justice’ sake.

Grant them grace to carry their cross with patience in the name of Your beloved Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Let the chalice pass from them is such be Your Will:yet, in all things, may Your Will be done.

Grant to those who persecute, light to see the truth, and the grace of mercy and forgiveness, for they know not what they do.

Mary, Mother of Jesus, Comforter of the Afflicted, help your children in their time of bitter trial.

St Andrew Dung-Lac and all those who were martyred in Vietnam – Pray for us.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM, Rector of The Grotto

Monday, Nov. 23

She gave all she had

The widow who gives her all to support the temple reminds us of how Jesus, who went on to give all He had, his very life, for others. Although what she gave had little monetary value, her gift meant more than the larger gifts of others, because she gave all she had.

Generosity of spirit is not easy to measure. People, who seem to be doing little, may in fact be making more effort than others who seem to be doing a lot. At the end of the day, only the Lord can measure generosity because the Lord alone knows what each one is able to give. 

Whereas we can measure only what is tangible and visible, God looks deeper, into the heart. The widow’s coins would make little impression on those who saw them, but her gift so impressed Jesus that He singled her out as an example.Even when we feel we have little to offer actually giving that little is what the Lord may want of us.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous.

Teach me to serve you as you deserve,

To give and not to count the cost,

To fight and not to heed the wounds,

To toil and not to seek for rest,

To labor and not to seek reward,

Except that of knowing that I do you will.

-St. Ignatius Loyola

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM, Rector of The Grotto

Sunday, Nov. 22

The Solemnity of Christ the King

On the last Sunday of each liturgical year, November 22, 2020, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Christ the King.

Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in 1925 with his encyclical Quas Primas (“In the first”) to respond to growing nationalism and secularism. He recognized that these related societal ills would breed increasing hostility against the Church. His encyclical reminds the faithful that while governments and philosophies come and go, Christ reigns as king forever.

Jesus is the center of creation; and so the attitude demanded of us as true believers is that of recognizing and accepting in our lives the centrality of Jesus Christ, in our thoughts, in our words and in our works.

The kingdoms of this world at times are sustained by arrogance, rivalries and oppression; the reign of Christ is a ‘kingdom of justice, love and peace.’ For a Christian, speaking of power and strength means referring to the power of the Cross, and the strength of Jesus’ love: a love which remains steadfast and complete, even when faced with rejection, and it is shown as the fulfillment of a life expended in the total surrender of oneself for the benefit of humanity.

Pope Francis

LITANY OF PRAISE: “Praise you, Jesus”

My life, My love

The Name above all names

Emmanuel, God with us

King of Kings

King of Creation

King of Glory

King of the Universe

Lord of Lords

Christ, the King

The Way,

The Truth,

The Life,

Prince of peace

Light of the World

Our Redeemer

The Messiah

The Anointed one

The Savior of the World

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM, Rector of The Grotto

Saturday, Nov. 21

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

How would you answer someone who asked: “Why do you pray to Mary? Why does the Church honor Mary with special feast days?”

Pope Paul VI said to us that Mary was to be honored and imitated because in her own life she fully accepted the will of God. We ask her to pray for us so that we can accept God’s will for us.

This Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrates an important truth about Mary: from the beginning of her life, she was dedicated to God, given over to God’s will for her. God chose to dwell in Mary in a special way. Mary placed her whole self at the service of God.
In Baptism, God chose to live in us through grace and the Holy Spirit. We become a temple of the living God. Mary became a temple of the living God in an even greater way, because from her childhood Mary did the will of God and was ready to become the temple of God’s Son at the time of God’s choosing. 

We too are called to do the will of the Father in heaven, so that we too can become temples of the Lord: people who carry the presence of the Lord to others. As St. Paul says: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple”?

We ask Mary to pray for us now so that we may always do the will of the Father and so become living temples of God as Mary did.

Prayer

Hail Mary, Mother of God, you have given the world its true light, Jesus, your Son – the Son of God. You abandoned yourself completely to God’s call and thus became a wellspring of the goodness which flows from Him. Show us Jesus. Lead us to Jesus. Teach us to know and love Jesus, so that we too can become capable of true love. And be fountains of living water in the midst of a thirsting world.

Amen (Benedict XVI)

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM, Rector of The Grotto

Friday, Nov. 20

The Lord is my strength and my shield

The Book of Revelation is filled with symbols and figures of speech. It was written in a veiled style to hide its meaning from the pagans who were persecuting the Church. One result is that some of its meaning remains obscure for us today.No one is absolutely sure of the meaning of the scroll in today’s passage. One sound interpretation is to see the bitter-sweet taste of the scroll as a symbol of the Christian life. The scroll is sweet because it proclaims the great triumph of Jesus Christ through His death and resurrection, a triumph in which the whole Church shares. The scroll is bitter because the triumph of Christ was achieved through his sufferings, and the people of the Church must share in His sufferings too.

All this is a reminder to us that the ways of God are mysterious, that they are different from our own, that they represent values which are in direct contrast with those of the world. No human person would have thought that the best way to achieve the salvation of the world is through suffering and death. No human parent would want to subject their only son to anything similar to the passion of Jesus. And it is quite understandable that all of us, left to our own inclinations, would shun suffering and seek pleasure and comfort.

The great Christian message is that in God’s plan for Jesus: pain led to joy, suffering led to happiness, and death led to life. The same is true for us. We are called to live as Jesus did. We are to unite ourselves with Jesus and accept our sufferings and ultimately our death as the way to everlasting life.

Prayer

God our Father, may I not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; for you, everlasting Father, who care for me today will take care of me tomorrow and every day. Either You will shield me from suffering, or You will give me unfailing strength to bear it. May I be at peace, then. May I put aside all anxious thoughts, imaginations, and say continually:

“The Lord is my strength and my shield. My heart has trusted in the Lord and I am helped. The Lord is not only with me but in me, and I in Him.”

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM, Rector of The Grotto.

Thursday, Nov. 19

Seven Days of Holy Scriptures to guide my next week
“Taste and see … how good the Lord is!” (Ps. 34:8)

Each of the Scriptural selections for the Seven Days of this ongoing set of Reflections is taken from the Scripture Readings of the “Mass of the Day.” You can find those readings in full in any Mass companion, or by going directly to the website of the US Catholic Bishops, USCCB.org, and clicking on “Daily Readings.” 

Day 7 – Thursday, Nov. 19

RV 5:9“…for you were slain and with your Blood you purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue, people, and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests for our God, and they will reign on earth.”

Ahhhh! The Book of Revelation … AGAIN! Yesterday we looked at Chapter 4, and began with verse 11 … building that small part into a meditation upon the entire Chapter of 11, that powerful, completely awe-inspiring vision “of the seer,” describing the almost indescribable beauty of God’s Throne Room in the glorious Kingdom of Heaven.

The vision in Chapter 4 continues in Chapter 5, so it ought not to surprise at all by the ongoing offering of powerful images and dramatic scenes of God’s glory. However, in this particular verse quoted above from today’s Mass Readings (the last day, BTW, of our “Seven Days with the Scriptures” set of reflection), we have something quite important, and that is the recognition (a reminder?), of the role WE are to occupy in the vision of God’s “Kingdom to come.”


Look above, and read it again, noting that it is not the full sentence, but a part of the full sentence from verse 9. “The Lamb” I the figure “who was slain,” and the Blood of the Lamb is, in the Book of Revelation, always a deeply moving reference to the sacred blood of Jesus Christ, Our Lord, and the incarnate Second Person of the Holy Trinity … GOD. Jesus, the Christ, the “Lamb of God, shed His divine and human blood on the Cross so that we (ALL!) might be redeemed, saved, “ransomed,” by the infinite power of God’s redemptive action on our behalf. The result of that saving sacrifice was to bring ALL humanity into a new Community of Love and forgiveness, of compassion and grace. Because of Christ, the Lamb’s great sacrifice for us, we have an entirely NEW kind of life and hope, one in which we will live forever transformed into beings of light and joy.

But in addition to all that “glory and power,” what I’d invite us to contemplate today is the description of the “who” that are being saved, the “who” that come under the protection of God, the “who” that inherit the name of God’s own, very family … ”those from every tribe and tongue, people, and nation.” Friends, God means for ALL of us, the entire human family, to be seen, understood, felt, and lived as ONE! That is an enormously important fact and point of constant consideration and meditation precisely because there are SO many powers and authorities on this Earth who do NOT share that unifying, peace-filled vision of God’s Family. So many governments, and forces within governments, thrive and extend their power by dividing us from one another, and preaching various “creeds” of hatred, divisiveness, suspicion, condemnation and judgment. That is NOT God’s way, and we are called to be MORE than that. We are called, by the words of Scripture, to recognize our UNITY as God’s beloved children, ALL “purchased for God” by the Blood of the Lamb, “from every tribe and tongue, people, and nation.”

On this final day of our reflective journey, let us renew and strengthen our decision to say “YES!” to God’s vision for us and our dear world, and a resounding “NO!” to the voices of division, oppression, hatred and judgment which we hear on a daily basis from “high and low” alike. As Chapter 5 of the Book of Revelation ends, we “see” a vision again of God’s Kingdom, where we are all united, COUNTLESS in number, and all joining our voices to praise and worship God and to enjoy our innate, God-given gift of being ONE family in God’s name:

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe, cry out: “To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever.” (Rv. 5:13)

God bless all of you, dear friends, and may we all thrive in God’s love for us, and for our love for one another!

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Wednesday, Nov 18

Seven Days of Holy Scriptures to guide my next week
“Taste and see…how good the Lord is!” (Ps. 34:8)

Each of the Scriptural selections for the Seven Days of this ongoing set of Reflections is taken from the Scripture Readings of the “Mass of the Day.” You can find those readings in full in any Mass companion, or by going directly to the website of the US Catholic Bishops, USCCB.org, and clicking on “Daily Readings.” 

Day 6 – Wednesday, Nov. 18

RV 4:11 “Worthy are you, Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things; because of your will they came to be and were created.”

It’s pretty well understood that PRAYER has a “perfect form” or “format.” The following words set it all out pretty simply: Catholic prayer consists of five important components. A well-rounded, “full” prayer includes these elements or parts: 1) adoration, 2) supplication, 3) thanksgiving, 4) intercession, and 5) confession. Catholics believe that daily prayer forges a strong relationship with God and develops each individual’s sense of spirituality.

If you look at the words of the verse for today’s Scripture meditation, I think it’s pretty plain and easy to see/read the fact that it sounds like a … PRAYER, one of praise and worship; the “first element” of prayer, as defined above. The next question might reasonably be, “Where is this prayer, and is there any more of it?” We thus return to one of my favorite methods of absorbing Scripture, i.e., discovering the fuller context of any given, single verse.

Here’s something to help us today: The verse above, vs. 11 from Chapter 4 of the Book of Revelation, is the very last verse of the entire Chapter. Yes, that’s right, Chapter 4 of the Book of Revelation is only 11 verses long! And the “prayer” which we read in verse 11 appears to be an “incomplete” prayer, as it forms the END of the Chapter, and does not continue to include the other four “elements” of a (so-called) complete and “perfect” prayer. BTW: for reference, see “The Lord’s Prayer,” spoken and taught by Our Lord Jesus Christ, of course, in two of the Gospels, Matthew 6:9-13, and Luke 11:1-4. “The Lord’s Prayer,” as we commonly call it, is understood, as brief as it is, to be one of those “perfect prayers.” It includes all of the “parts” or “components” which, according to tradition, make a complete and perfectly composed prayer. Now, honestly, my friends, WHERE ELSE would we expect to find a PERFECT PRAYER but from the mouth of The Lord himself? LOL … but I digress!

To return to the original point of today’s meditation … verse 11 of Chapter 4 of The Book of Revelation does seem to be part of a prayer. But actually, it is the culmination of an amazing, shall we say “mindblowing” scene, part of a grand vision by “the seer,” the person narrating what he is observing in the Kingdom of Heaven … in the Throne Room of God, no less! The first three verses read like this:

After this I had a vision of an open door to heaven, and I heard the trumpetlike voice that had spoken to me before, saying, “Come up here and I will show you what must happen afterwards.” At once I was caught up in spirit. A throne was there in heaven, and on the throne sat one whose appearance sparkled like jasper and carnelian. Around the throne was a halo as brilliant as an emerald.

Impressive? To say the least! So, what we have in Chapter 4 of Revelation is not so much “just” a prayer of worship and adoration, but rather an incredibly complex scene imagining the Throne Room of a majestic God, with all the power, glory, honor and richness which would surround the Creator of the Universe.

The rest of the Chapter, which culminates in the single verse of worshipful praise of Almighty God, is a continuing description, pretty “fantastical,” to be sure, of the immediate surroundings of God “in glory.” May I suggest God’s GLORY as a point of our meditation for today, then?

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come.” (Rv. 4:8)

Those words of utter praise of God’s glory are uttered before His throne by “the four living creatures,” representing all Creation in adoration … and more. I like them! I can say them myself, and often, even every day, to remind myself of God’s glory, and of my desire to worship God at all times. So … meditation is always something I might do in complete isolation or “quiet,” no, rather it could be just a spontaneous offering of some of the worshipful words and phrases contained almost everywhere in the Sacred Scriptures. The words given to us today, in the Book of Revelation, Chapter 4, verses 1-11 give us a clue, a help, and a good, practical reminder of how easy it is to PRAY … praising God, and making ourselves like thee 24 elders” in the passage quoted, who “throw down their crowns” before God, and call on Him for help.

May God indeed bless you ALL today!

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Tuesday, Nov. 17

Seven Days of Holy Scriptures to guide my next week
“Taste and see…how good the Lord is!” (Ps. 34:8)

Each of the Scriptural selections for the Seven Days of this ongoing set of Reflections is taken from the Scripture Readings of the “Mass of the Day.” You can find those readings in full in any Mass companion, or by going directly to the website of the US Catholic Bishops, USCCB.org, and clicking on “Daily Readings.” 

Day 5 – Tuesday, Nov. 17

RV 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.” LK 19:10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”

Well, once more I am using TWO scriptural excerpts from today’s Mass Readings to offer a reflection … the first from the (often mysterious and challenging) Book of Revelations, and the second from the Gospel according to St. Luke. Why two; why both? The simple answer is that the two verses just seem to “go together,” and complement nicely, i.e., the image of Christ Jesus “standing at our door,” and knocking for someone to notice and admit him, right on to the “purpose” which Jesus has in coming to our “doorways” to seek entrance in the first place! Let’s “break that open” a bit, as the Scripture scholars are fond of saying when they delve into the meaning of the Sacred Word!

Revelation is a book of, well … ”revelations,” often presented by St. John (the author of the Book) as visions, dreams and sometimes even pretty “fanciful” images. Without getting overly abstract nor academic, let me just say that there is a familiar “homeliness” to the image (or picture) of Jesus, calmly, peacefully standing at the door of my house, knocking (or pressing the doorbell) PERSISTENTLY, until I notice that someone is there, and recognize just WHO IT IS that is there! In the image from Revelations, Jesus wants to invite himself to dinner! HOW cool is that?! Who would NOT open the door for Him?

But there’s more, and that “more” in this case, is the image provided by St. Luke in the accompanying Gospel passage for our meditation today, in which Jesus announces with His characteristic sureness and authority, that He “has come to seek and to save what was lost.” Ahhhh, what a combination, and HOW could anyone “in his right mind,” resist? Jesus, the Lord, the Son of God, the Redeemer and Savior, our Divine Friend, has come knocking on MY door, asking to come in, sit down for a homey meal, and chat about … SAVING me! You can be doggone sure that I feel beaten down, defeated, “LOST” a lot … especially these days, in this terrible year of 2020 (!!!), and so the very idea, the image, the story in Sacred Scripture, which serves to remind, inform, and assure me that Jesus desires to serve ME in my deepest needs and wants, in my darkness and sense of loss and lack of direction, is something for which to be not just grateful, but relieved, over-joyed, ECSTATIC!

I often speak about (or write about) the fact that Jesus, as we find Him in the Gospels, uses the most basic, “elemental” images, to tell us of His love for us, His care, concern and good, loving intentions for us. Jesus, as I see it, “bends over backwards” to share with us the Truth of God’s love for us, but only using the most common, visible, accessible images possible … a doorway, a meal setting, a good “fireside chat.” Yes, Lord, I am RESTING already in your warmth and loving presence to me …a nd OH MY, do I ever need it! THANK-YOU, Lord! I’d counsel everyone reading this today, therefore, to try NOT to make the encounter with Jesus too difficult by introducing the most abstract, “ethereal,” or “heady” analysis of Jesus as we see and feel Him to be near … and seek, instead, only to come even closer to Him by just letting Him ENTER through the “open door” of our hearts so as to touch and embrace the most profound center of our being.

To share, to confide a simple truth about myself … as I grow older, I want to “think” less and just “feel” more. I’ve spent a major part of my life in education pursuits. That’s fine and good. But I am also coming to (or have arrived at) the conclusion that all my academic pursuits, all my book learning, though invaluable and useful in a thousand ways, has not been the “instrument” by which I have found myself closest to the Lord. No, rather, it’s been in the moments when I have merely felt myself emotionally reaching out, from my heart, not necessarily my head, to a God who seems to be as close as my most fleeting thought or stray imagining as to my most concentrated effort at deductive, analytical thinking. I guess when you’re as old as I am, it’s not totally surprising that I value finding Jesus in the dreams I have during my perfectly lovely afternoon naps! Friends, please don’t judge me harshly if I “confess” to enjoying naps and dreams as much or MORE than sitting and “thinking hard!” LOLOL …

So, today, dear sisters and brothers, look back over those two beautiful, simple and compelling images of Jesus “knocking at YOUR door,” and wanting to come in, dine with you, and talk about how He wishes more than anything to find you (when you feel lost), teach you, accompany you in the adventure and struggle of “life as we know it.”

God bless you ALL!

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Monday, Nov. 16

Seven Days of Holy Scriptures to guide my next week
“Taste and see…how good the Lord is!” (Ps. 34:8)

Each of the Scriptural selections for the Seven Days of this ongoing set of Reflections is taken from the Scripture Readings of the “Mass of the Day.” You can find those readings in full in any Mass companion, or by going directly to the website of the US Catholic Bishops, USCCB.org, and clicking on “Daily Readings.” 

Day 4

LK 18:35-42 A blind man was sitting by the roadside begging, and hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” The people walking in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent, but he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me!” Then Jesus stopped and ordered that he be brought to him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He replied, “Lord, please let me see.” Jesus told him, “Have sight; your faith has saved you.”

This part of the passage from St. Luke’s Gospel about the blind man begging by the side of the road is from the Gospel of today’s Mass celebration. It’s a really beautiful story of courage, tenderness, and the goodness of Jesus in response to human need. We have the chance, in meditating for a brief moment on this scene, to think of ourselves in the predicament of the blind man of the Gospel … Do we CRY OUT to God in our needs, and (perhaps even more important), are we persistent, even in the face of overt discouragement and difficulty, in LOUDLY and COURAGEOUSLY defying “convention” in calling out to God? Just how deep and “clear” is our faith? Would we, perhaps (or not?) embarrass ourselves in front of others to demonstrate our faith?

Today, in the story of the blind man’s cure, we touch upon, I think, a quite sensitive subject, and one which makes me (and you?) a bit uncomfortable … why? Well, to be honest, although I feel myself to be a man of faith, I prefer to keep it a bit private and personal, rather discreetly to myself. Yes, surely in my “public role” as a priest I preach out loud in church … but would I stand on a street corner and proclaim my faith loudly to all the passers-by? Hmmmm, I probably would choose not to do that. How about you? Would you? Have you ever proclaimed your faith out loud … even when you did not have to, or when it might bring you “attention,” or … embarrassment? “That’s the rub,” isn’t it? My faith is fine as long as it does not bring me unwanted attention.

So, what then is my faith for? It was, after all, the FAITH of the blind man which saved him, according to the words of Jesus in the story. BUT, if the blind man had not had the courage to stand up, to YELL out his faith, to SHOUT it loudly from the side of the road where he was literally swallowed by the crowd, would Jesus have even heard him? The blind man even had to endure the REBUKES of the people around him telling him to “be quiet,” and then yelled all the louder, “Son of David, have pity on me!” Would I, even in desperate need, have the courage to do all that? To be perfectly honest, I don’t really know.

That is worth meditating on today … what IS my faith all about, really, and does it make any difference to anyone but me? Is my faith a public, joyful act, or is it most often hidden away, to be experienced more like a private devotion in my most private, quiet moments only? Is my faith “in my head,” or worn openly, publicly, even proudly? Would I be willing to endure the scorn and mockery of others to share my faith candidly … for all it’s worth? Those are difficult questions, and, again to be perfectly honest, they make me “squirm” a bit.

Brothers and sisters … friends in Christ Jesus … how does your faith feel, or look, or sound today? Is it on display, for any and all to see, to hear, to experience, to be shared? Or perhaps it’s just neatly hanging in your “closet” at home, waiting for another day? Hmmm?

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Sunday, Nov. 15

Seven Days of Holy Scriptures to guide my next week
“Taste and see…how good the Lord is!” (Ps. 34:8)

Each of the Scriptural selections for the Seven Days of this ongoing set of Reflections is taken from the Scripture Readings of the “Mass of the Day.” You can find those readings in full in any Mass companion, or by going directly to the website of the US Catholic Bishops, USCCB.org, and clicking on “Daily Readings.” 

Day 3 – Sunday, Nov. 15

MT 25:29 “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
Wow…just WOW! Do you have any trouble with this brief verse in the Gospel of St. Matthew? I do … it just sounds so … mean! It almost sounds like that awful saying we’ve heard so many times, “The rich get richer, while the poor get poorer.” And THAT certainly has bothered me a lot because of the obvious injustice it announces. Is Jesus saying the same thing? Is He accepting that as true … or worse … even as GOOD?

My thought here is that Jesus is NOT saying that it’s somehow “OK” for the “rich to get richer while the poor get poorer.” In fact, the meaning here is quite other than that. The important thing to remember is that one can get a very skewed view of the Sacred Scripture by merely looking at one verse standing totally apart from it’s context. Now, sometimes that’s perfectly fine, but at other times (we call it “cherrypicking”) it sends us along a poorly chosen path.

So, what DOES Jesus mean in Matthew 25:29? Well, to understand that more clearly, we’d have to read the entire passage from the Gospel of the day, MT 25:14-30.

First, we ought to notice that the “meditation passage,” the one mentioned at the beginning of the page, comes just before the end of the complete reading. The entire reading, except for the last verse or so, is actually commonly called “the Parable of the Talents.” The parable which Jesus relates tells the story of a Master who, before he departs on a trip, leaves his riches in the hands of three servants … to whom he apportions various amounts and tasks them with safeguarding everything until he should return. When the Master does return and asks for an accounting of his possessions, two of the servants report how they have stewarded well and have actually increased, through work and investment, the original amount given by the Master … and they are rewarded by the Master for their industriousness and responsibility. The third servant confesses to the Master that, out of fear, he buried the Master’s treasure and just presents it back to him as it was given … with no growth or “interest earned.” That servant is then punished and disinherited completely for his lack of attention to the expectations and demands of the Master.

So, when Jesus offers His “commentary” on the parable he has just shared with His disciples, He says, “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Therefore, there is no “meanness” here, but there IS a bit of a challenge and (let us say) a warning of sorts: That the “Master,” God, is one who is a giver of the greatest, richest, most profound gifts to us, his “servants.” But God expects “something” back from us with His gifts, like “hard work,” or “investment,” or “interest,” to use rather common human analogies of what we would do with an inheritance given to us …s o as not to waste it away, and to GROW it, and NURTURE it, and IMPLEMENT it in our lives for the good of ourselves and even the good of the world around us.

The meditation verse is not harsh, but it IS “REAL,” meaning that God’s love, while rich and diverse, does come with a bit of “cost,” insofar as God really does expect us to “sow the good seed” so that it comes back “thirty, or sixty, or a hundredfold,” to use an image Jesus uses in yet another parable which more or less explains the same thing.

Today … what have I received from God? What are the gifts given to me? What have I done with them? Have I done enough? How will I evaluate the good which is my potential? Have I shared God’s gift/s to me with others … my family, my friends, strangers, the world? I’d say we ALL have some work to do so that we are not left in the unenviable position of the third servant in the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25 … trying vainly to explain to God just why we’ve done little to nothing with the riches entrusted to us by the very God who has given us Life itself.

So, my friends, sisters and brothers: LET’S GET TO WORK!

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Saturday, Nov. 14

Seven Days of Holy Scriptures to guide my next week
“Taste and see…how good the Lord is!” (Ps. 34:8)

Each of the Scriptural selections for the Seven Days of this ongoing set of Reflections is taken from the Scripture Readings of the “Mass of the Day.” You can find those readings in full in any Mass companion, or by going directly to the website of the US Catholic Bishops, USCCB.org, and clicking on “Daily Readings.” 

Day 2 – Saturday, Nov. 14

3 JN 5-6; 8: “Beloved, you are faithful in all you do for the brothers and sisters, especially for strangers;…Please help them in a way worthy of God to continue their journey…Therefore, we ought to support such persons, so that we may be co-workers in the truth.”LK 18:8: “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

We’re in St. John (The Evangelist’s) THIRD Letter today … so, did you all know that there are THREE letters by St. John in the New Testament? They are well worth a more than casual perusal. We mostly emphasize, in Church (liturgical) reading, the Letters of St. Paul. But the other Letters, (John’s, Peter’s and James’s) are amazing! Take some extra Sacred Scripture “reading down time,” and enjoy “another view” from one of the other Apostles!

The lines quoted for today’s brief meditation are from the liturgy of today, and serve to emphasize a teaching of the Lord which found special pre-eminence in the Gospels, i.e., Jesus’ lifting the virtue of hospitality and “sanctuary” to a level of the sacred. Those two concept-realities were already a part of Jewish (indeed, Middle-Eastern) culture already, but they took on a new importance with Jesus’ referencing them often. It’s not at all far-fetched to see the direct connection of hospitality and sanctuary to the essential Commandment of love of neighbor.

By now it ought to be plain to any of us who regularly look at the Scriptures to understand how ALL the virtues and examples Jesus presents and explains to His followers sooner or later come back to the “basic,” or fundamental “Greatest Commandment,” the two-part “love God and love your neighbor” (“upon these the whole of the Law and the Prophets depend”). I honestly believe that the greatest strength we have as Christians is to simply follow that/those Commandment/s. And I often counsel congregations when I preach to try to imagine what the world would look like, or be like, if we but followed, put into action, the command to love … more effectively than we do; IMAGINE!

I harbor no illusion that the goal is difficult – which I also share in a lot of my homilies – and that’s why I included the second brief quotation from today’s liturgical Scriptural in this meditation, i.e., LK 18:8: “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Yup, it’s difficult and challenges even the best, the most altruistic or faithful of us to “love without limit.” There are just SO many people who seem so UNdeserving of love! And the temptation to harshly judge is a tendency I think which is deeply ingrained in human experience … as a way of just feeling better about ourselves (self-righteousness). But, once more, the Gospels are adamant about it, the words of Jesus are clear … to love, protect, serve and honor God and our neighbor IS “the Christian way.”

How are you doing with that today???

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Friday, Nov. 13

Seven Days of Holy Scriptures to guide my next week

“Taste and see…how good the Lord is!” (Ps. 34:8)

Each of the Scriptural selections for the Seven Days of this ongoing set of Reflections is taken from the Scripture Readings of the “Mass of the Day.” You can find those readings in full in any Mass companion, or by going directly to the website of the US Catholic Bishops, USCCB.org, and clicking on “Daily Readings.” 

Day 1

2 JN 5-6: “But now…I ask you, not as though I were writing a new commandment but the one we have had from the beginning: let us love one another.”

St. John the Evangelist writes to his friends (which, of course, reach to us all these centuries later), and reminds us of the BASIC Commandment of Christ, and “the other side of the coin,” so to speak, of the Commandment to love God always as we love our neighbor, or, as St. John writes to us today, that we “love one another.”

St. John puts this reminder of “the Great Commandment” in the same, plain, direct, unequivocal language which Jesus used in His ministry. As I’ve noted before in such reflections as these, there are no “ifs, ands, or buts,” when Jesus instructs His disciples in the necessity to love God and to love others, our neighbor. St. John writes that we’ve heard this command of the Lord “from the beginning.” What he writes in this 2nd Letter, therefore, only repeats a familiar, although no less challenging message.

I wonder what the early Christians made of this Command to love? After all, they, like us today, reflected a remarkably diverse group of people, many of them absolutely new to the Faith. People came and went from all over the Middle East, over sea and over land … but all were, if they were to be called Christian, called to believe and LIVE the same radical, new way: to love one another with none of the usual “strings,” or conditions, or limitations which people put on human relationships. I’m of the opinion that the people of old were as challenged and perhaps even dubious (as we might be) that the ideal of Christian love was a high ideal … maybe too high?

And that question (“too high an ideal?”) brings us face-to-face with the age-old question of the viability of our Christian, Catholic faith. We KNOW it’s a good thing, but is it possible? Of course, dear friend, I’m going to say it IS … but I’m also going to say (remind?) that the ideal to “love as we have been loved” by God is a daily, repetitive, focused, disciplined, spiritual task with no “easy out.” What we must do is WORK AT IT, and not give up when we fail to achieve the ideal. In fact, I am not even convinced that we ever have to really succeed in getting to “the perfect love” of our neighbor, but rather it’s sufficient that we TRY our very best to do so. Failure is NOT as important, therefore, as the WILL to succeed, and remain hopeful that we will progress in the (high) ideal of Christian love. As the old hymn goes, “Christians, let us love one another …”

Brothers and Sisters, don’t give up, don’t lose hope, keep the faith, and just “go for it,” and “do it.” THE WORLD NEEDS YOU!!!

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Thursday, Nov. 12

The Kingdom of God is among you

To live a happy and peaceful life is everyone’s dream. And this is our common goal. The embodiment of the purpose of life can only be experienced if each person has the will and sincerity to do good and give each other love. Where there is love, there is God.

Jesus asserts that the kingdom of God is already around us and within us. Often in this life, we demand too much of God’s presence and inclusion. We want God to guide, help and accompany our duties and works. In fact, God is and always is present, and works for our lives every day. His love transcends what we think and His generosity exceeds what we ask for. It’s just that we’re less able to catch it all, maybe also because we’re less grateful and too demanding.

God’s presence is worth seeing through the eyes of faith. He is not only present when we are happy to make results, but also when we are in difficult situation or when we fail. It’s just that we’re often like Pharisees, wondering about God’s presence. He’s always there and with us. Not a second does He leave us. Therefore, let us make room to realize His presence, respond to His greetings, and feel His grace.

Prayer

God our Father, we are grateful for Your presence in our lives. Help us with Your grace. We pray that we are always able to realize Your presence in our daily lives. May we also be able to see all the good in our lives which comes from you. And may we share your goodness with our brothers and sisters around us.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Wednesday, Nov. 11

Give thanks to God

For many of us who have experienced or have seen ‘miracles’ in our lives, the Gospel touches us deeply. I feel like life itself is a miracle and we are grateful for it. As the terrible Covid-19 has taken so many lives, we who continue our journey in fear are encouraged to practice social distancing and follow all health protocols to ensure that this miracle, this breath that we receive from God is protected, not only our own breath, but also the breath of others around us. Have the courage, my brothers and sisters, to ask the Master of our breath to “Have pity on us.”

Whether we realize it or not, every time we ask God’s mercy, the miracle happens. God cleanses us all the time when we come to him and ask for his mercy. God doesn’t need us to pay for his mercy; he only wants us to come back and give him thanks. The question is: Can we give ourselves time to thank God? Or are we too busy celebrating our recovery?

Prayer

God, the source of our strength, keep us, we pray, as the apple of your eye and help us to understand your love for us. Thank you for all the blessings and miracles that we have received in our lives. We ask for your mercy, for without you, we are nothing. We praise you God forever and ever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Tuesday, Nov. 10

St. Leo the Great

Leo was born in Rome. He embraced the sacred ministry, was made Archdeacon of the Roman Church by Saint Celestine, and under him and Sixtus III, had a large share in governing the Church. On the death of Sixtus, Leo was chosen Pope, and consecrated on Saint Michael’s day, A.D. 440, amid great joy.

It was a time of terrible trial. Vandals and Huns were wasting the provinces of the empire, and Nestorians, Pelagians and other heretics wrought more grievous havoc among souls. While Leo’s zeal made head against these perils, the new heresy of Eutyches arose, confounding the two natures of Christ. At once the vigilant pastor proclaimed the true doctrine of the Incarnation in his famous ‘tome’; but fostered by the Byzantine court, the heresy gained a strong hold amongst the Eastern monks and bishops. After three years of unceasing toil, Leo brought about its solemn condemnation by the Council of Chacedon. The Fathers all sang his tome, and exclaimed, “Peter has spoken though Leo.”

Soon after, Attila with his Huns broke into Italy, and marched through it burning cities, then headed toward Rome. Leo went out boldly to meet him, and prevailed on him to turn back. Astonished to see the terrible Attila, the “Scourge of God”, fresh from the sack of Aquileia, Milan, Pavia, with the rich price of Rome within his grasp, he turned his great host back to the Danube at the saint’s word. His chiefs asked him why he had acted so strangely. He answered that he saw two venerable personages, supposed to be Saint Peter and Saint Paul, standing behind Leo, was impressed by this vision and withdrew.

Two years later the city fell a prey to the Vandals; but even then Leo saved it from destruction. Leo died A.D. 461, having served the Church for twenty years.

Prayer

O God, you are the Church’s sure help in times of trouble, we pray that through the intercession of Pope Saint Leo the Great, the Church may be strengthened to faithfully continue her mission on earth and be protected by your mercy. May all her children be courageous witnesses to your great love, as Pope Saint Leo the great was.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Monday, Nov. 9

Dedication of St. John Lateran

Most Catholics think of St. Peter’s Basilica as the Pope’s main church, but that is incorrect. Saint John Lateran is the Pope’s church, the Cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, where the Bishop of Rome presides.

The first basilica on the site was built in the fourth century when Constantine donated land he had received from the wealthy Lateran family. The structure and its successors suffered fire, earthquake and the ravages of war, but the Lateran remained the church where popes were consecrated until the popes returned from Avignon in the 14th century to find the church and adjoining palace in ruins.

Pope Innocent X commissioned the present structure in 1646. As one of Rome’s most imposing churches, the Lateran’s towering façade is crowned with 15 colossal statues of Christ, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist and 12 doctors of the Church. Beneath its high altar rest the remains of the small wooden table on which tradition holds Saint Peter himself celebrated Mass.

Prayer

Oh God, You called your people to be your Church. Increase in your Church the grace you have bestowed that we may faithfully revere you, love you and follow you, and may be led by you to attain your promises in heaven.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Sunday, Nov. 8

My Sacrifice to the Lord today is …

One of my sisters video-called me last Wednesday evening and told me that one of our cousins had been missing from home since 2 a.m. He is 27 years old and is not married. Everyone in the house was worried, of course.

Morning came and they let the other villagers know about it. He came back later around 8 a.m. with an elder from the village. When he arrived, there were many people in the house who were out searching for him. Then, he told them what happened.

He woke up at 2 a.m. to go to the restroom when he saw a lady dressed like a bride; she covered her face so he couldn’t recognize her. She then led my cousin, walking through all rough turf (which felt like paved roads), to a cemetery which was about seven miles away from our village. The next thing my cousin found out was that someone woke him up in the middle of a cemetery. He slept in that cemetery for almost four hours without any jacket or blanket, yet he felt that he was fine. That person then gave my cousin water before letting him get back home. If only my cousin knew that she wasn’t the bride whom he needed to follow.

I imagine following the bridegroom in today’s Gospel as an extraordinary experience for the wise virgins. Imagine how joyful it was for them to be able to come to the wedding party with the bridegroom? It is joyful because everyone knows that the party is going to be extravagant and there is no need to worry about anything, including everyone’s safety.

But to be in this feast – to be in this party with the bridegroom – the wise virgins showed to us that there is a sacrifice needed. They bought and brought with them extra oil for their lamps. Ohhhh, there is that extra thing – that something – which would help us to be able to come to the feast.
Do you know what is that extra thing that you need to buy and bring with you to the feast of the Lord? It could be something that you need to do or say to someone which would lead you to a right relationship; it could be a small gift or a smile on your face (nowadays we recognize a smile from someone’s eyes) which would make someone’s day.

Whatever it is, however small or big it is, if you do it with your love for the Lord, may he find it worthy and let you come to the feast with all your other brothers and sisters, God’s loving children.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Saturday, Nov. 7

You cannot serve both God and mammon

You have heard an old saying, “You cannot buy happiness (or whatever) with money!” Today, Jesus invites us to step out of the happiness which is offered by earthly things. The word “mammon” is not only for money; it includes other things which can tie us up and make us think that we have enough for our ‘temporary’ happiness. So, Jesus explicitly offers these two for us to choose: God or mammon?

Jesus doesn’t ask us to leave money and other material things behind. If it is difficult for us to smile when we don’t have money, or when we have enough but are too busy shopping, realize that our lives may have been bound by mammon.

Jesus invites us to choose God and move according to God’s will. Only our relationship with God leads us to true happiness. In this materialistic and consumeristic world, let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us choose God and not mammon.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, free us from the bonds of earthly idols and enable us to be faithful to you and your commands in this journey of life.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Friday, Nov. 6

Tears of Encouragement

Could you feel Paul’s tears in his Letter to the Philippians in today’s reading? I certainly could. Like Paul, my tears were dropped from my eyes reading this letter! I am in tears because I realize that it is also addressed to me. Paul’s words touched me deeply when he said that my mind too is “occupied with earthly things.” There are far too many [earthly] things that have occupied my mind these days which make me focus my attention more into them.

But thanks to Paul, who reminds me with his tears of encouragement, to put my attention toward the heavenly things because “our citizenship is in heaven.” Imagine for a moment being a citizen in heaven! What would you expect? To be a citizen of heaven, however, we need to “conduct [ourselves] according to the model [we] have in the [Apostles].”

The Letter to the Hebrews also reminds us, “Consider the outcome of their life and imitate their faith” (Hebrew 13:7). We can do this, brothers and sisters, paso a paso.

Prayer

Loving God, who trusted us with many wonderful things in life, we are grateful for all that you have given to us.

May we never idolize anything in this world but let our hearts be filled with love for you.

Let our love for you remain strong forever.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Thursday, Nov. 5

Lost and Found (Luke 15:1-10)

Jesus tells the parable of the lost sheep, and the woman and the lost coin, in response to questions regarding the company he keeps. “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

It brings to mind the words of St. Peter later in the Gospel ”surely you don’t mean me Lord?” Or when a Toddler sees an infant, or a child their age, or even a little older and says, ”baby”. Why do we as humans like to assume that we are different, or often ‘better than’ another human being?

At the beginning of Mass, during the penitential rite we ask forgiveness: “for what I have done, and what I have failed to do…” I am a child of God, my life is Sacred. I am also imperfect. Sometimes I intentionally hurt someone with my words or actions, often I assume I know another’s motives or situation.

Today’s Gospel asks us to focus on the fact that each one of us has been found. God rejoices in finding us. How can I show my gratitude today? How can I show God’s mercy and unrelenting love to others?

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Wednesday, Nov. 4

Saint Charles Borromeo

St. Charles Borromeo (Oct. 2, 1538 – Nov. 3, 1584) is the patron saint of bishops, catechists, cardinals, seminarians, and spiritual leaders. His faith and teaching inspired, supported and advised many on their faith journey.
Here is a wonderful quote from St. Charles to reflect upon:
“If we wish to make any progress in the service of God we must begin every day of our life with new eagerness. We must keep ourselves in the presence of God as much as possible and have no other view or end in all our actions but the divine honor.”

Let us Pray

Gracious and ever-loving God, St. Charles Borromeo was a great teacher and leader. Help me to take his words to heart.

May I start this day energized by his faithful example, and by the teachings and actions of your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ.

May others who encounter me today come to know you better.

Amen.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Tuesday, Nov. 3

Come and Dine (Luke 14:15-24)

When hearing this story of the Master who invited many to dinner. Those who were invited all had excuses not to attend. We must remember that we are the ones that were gathered when the Master dispatches his servants to bring in people from the highways and bi-ways. God’s invitation is indiscriminate, His love, unconditional.

Let us pray

Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus invites and welcomes all to come and dine with Him. Help me not to judge the person on either side of me, nor those in front and behind me. I know that your mercy is great because you have called and welcomed me. Take my weakness, my pre-judgement, my short-sightedness and transform my heart to see all those around me as your beloved children. Fill my heart instead with mercy, gratitude and hope. I ask all this through Jesus our Lord.
Amen.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Monday, Nov. 2

The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed

The older I get, the more I understand and honor this feast day. As a young person, those who we prayed for on this day were distant relatives and parishioners whom my parents knew. Now, four of the seven members of my immediate family have died, as well as my husband’s parents and a sibling. Many friends, family, classmates have gone before me.

On this day we not only recall those who have died this past year, but all those that we remain connected to through Christ Jesus.

Each time we celebrate the Mass and are gathered at the Table of the Lord, I can close my eyes and almost see all those faithful filling the sanctuary and celebrating the Heavenly feast right along with us. Oh, what a great comfort to know that my beloved friends and family remain close to me in and through Christ Jesus.

Here is the refrain from the Song of Farewell:

May the choirs of angels come to greet you.

May they speed you to paradise.

May the Lord enfold you in his mercy.

May you find eternal life.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Sunday, Nov. 1

Beloved, we are God’s Children now

The Solemnity of All Saints is a joyous celebration. We remember and celebrate all Saints, known and unknown: Men and women who loved God and used their particular gifts, talents, and life circumstances to make God’s mercy and loving presence known to those around them.

Spending time in the Chapel of Mary, or even outside the Chapel of Mary and Visitor Center buildings, we are surrounded by images of Saints. On this feast we focus on the truth that these Saints are with us still – for they are with God – in God.

Today let us reflect on those women and men in our lives who may not be canonized but their life supported, nourished and nurtured your faith journey.

Prayer
Gracious God, I pray in thanksgiving for the women and men of faith that call to mind now _______
Their life of sacrifice, love, service and faith have help me grow in Faith, Hope and Love.
Hold each one in your loving embrace until we meet again in your heavenly kingdom.
Amen.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Saturday, Oct. 31

All Hallows Eve

I shall continue to rejoice … now as always, Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. (Philippians 1:19, 22)

On this All Hallows Eve, the day before All Saints Day, I am reminded of my first Halloween working at a parish in Eastern Washington. There was a small local Church that was telling all that would listen that Halloween was an evil holiday to be avoided. Some of my religious education teachers and I sat down to prepare how we wanted to present the Catholic view of this holiday. We used the jack-o-lantern as our visual. Each person – filled with the Light of Christ at Baptism – can shine Christ’s light brightly just like the jack-o-lantern. Christ transforms us from an ordinary pumpkin to rejoice in sharing his light with the world.

Christ will be magnified in my body! Smile! Rejoice!

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Friday, Oct. 30

Partnership for the Gospel

I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the Gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:2-5)

The Body of Christ – the Church- is diverse, and worldwide. We have a treasure trove of cultures, traditions, and languages. Our daily life may look very different from someone across the street, the country or the globe. St. Paul reminds us that all of us, everywhere, are in partnership with one another for the Gospel, and the Good work that God has begun in us, through Christ Jesus, will continue until Christ comes again.

Today, let each and every one of us give thanks and praise.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Thursday, Oct. 29

“Put on the armor of God”

With this warning, St. Paul encourages us to be ready for battle. But, of course, St. Paul is not speaking of bloody conflicts motivated by political, economic, and territorial considerations. St. Paul is speaking of the conflict with sin, the ultimate cause of evil. Even Jesus himself met with this conflict: Herod was planning to kill Jesus. We cannot expect to be immune.

More is needed of us than the determinate effort to treat everyone justly and charitably. We are called to help right wrongs. The securing of justice for worker, dignity for the downtrodden, assistance to the poor are all Christian concerns. Jesus met conflict head-on by insisting on the dignity and rights of individuals. We must continue the concern which Jesus showed for the indigent and the underprivileged. 

Prayer

We pray for the Church throughout the world, that she may be a voice for those who lack even the basic necessities of life, tirelessly serving them and calling for change. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for the world’s leaders, that they may not hide behind their power or abuse it, but work for the good of all humanity, particularly the poor throughout the world. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 We pray for our local community, that we may show our love through our respect for each other and for our environment, gladly sharing what we have with those in need. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM, Rector of The Grotto

Wednesday, Oct. 28

Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles

Scripture tells us precious little about Saints Simon and Jude. We do know that Simon was referred to as the “zealot”, which meant that he was a member of a political party in Palestine that sought the end of Roman occupation of Israel. Jude was known as the son of James. Tradition holds that they traveled to Persia, where they converted many people and were eventually martyred. Even though we don’t know much about Simon and Jude, the church honors them as saints because they responded in faith to Jesus’ invitation and were among the first eyewitnesses to God’s plan of salvation.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the church “is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles”.  The Church was built on the foundation of the teaching of apostles like Simon and Jude – people whose lives were radically transformed by the experience of the risen Christ. All members of the Church share in this apostolic mission. We are all invited to love Jesus and become vessels of grace for God’s honor. In Christ, with Christ, and through Christ, let us give glory to God and fulfill the call God has given to us.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the Church “continues to be taught, sanctified and guided by the apostles until Christ’s return, through their successors” – the bishops, assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Pope.

Spend time interceding for the shepherds of the Church. Ask that the Lord fill them with wisdom and compassion in leading their flock to Christ.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank you for choosing men like Simon and Jude to build your Church and for preserving their teachings for the past two thousand years. Thank you for the apostolate to which you have called us. Lord, come and make your home in us.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM Rector of The Grotto

Tuesday, Oct. 27

What would Christ do now?

As Christians we all have one model, one hero whom we should try to imitate. Whether we are male or female, young or old, married or single, the one model for all of us is Jesus Christ.  St. Paul directs husbands to model themselves on Jesus Christ: “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church.” St. Paul could have held up Christ as a model for wives in their relationship to their husbands: “Wives, love your husbands as Christ loved the Church”. The fact is that Christ is the model for all of us.
Jesus became human like us in all things but sin, so that we could see in him what it means to live as a child of God. That is our basic calling, to be children of God.

St. Vincent de Paul developed the practice of asking himself this question in any situation: “What would Christ do now?”  What the Son of God would do is the example to be followed by all the children of God. 

Prayer

Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow, and every day. Either he will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then. Put aside all anxious thoughts and say continually: “The Lord is my strength and my shield. My heart has trusted in Him and I am helped. He is not only with me but in me, and I in Him.” – St. Francis de Sales

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM, Rector of The Grotto

Monday, Oct. 26

“…now you are light in the Lord” 

Jesus healed the woman “crippled by a spirit,…,completely incapable of standing erect”, in the posture of dignity that sets humans apart from animals. Jesus showed that He came to heal the wounded and forgive the sinner. Jesus, through the forgiveness of our sins, has lifted us up and given us the ability to stand erect. Jesus expects that we will live with the dignity He has given us. 

This is what St. Paul had in mind when he wrote: “Follow the way of love, even as Christ loved you”. Every sin is not only an offense against God but a blow against our dignity. Sin demeans us and pushes us downward toward a stooped position. In the posture, we become self-centered, incapable of looking up to God or even looking outward to our neighbors. 

Once again, St. Paul reminds us: “There was a time when you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord”. When we are caught up in darkness, we are unable to see either God or others around us. But, when we are light, we recognize God as our Creator and Savior and appreciates the worth of our fellow human beings.

Prayer

Give us faith to say with the psalmist, “Lord, you light my lamp; my God illuminates my darkness.” May your light of hope shine in the darkness for families today. Show us glimpses of your presence with us and the comfort you bring. In the busyness of today, help us to take a moment to be still and sit with you.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM, Rector of The Grotto

Sunday, Oct. 25

Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. 

The Shema is regarded by many Jews as the most important prayer in Judaism. This is because it reminds them of the key principle of the faith – there is only one God. This part of the Shema is taken from the Torah : Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.

Shema, (Hebrew: “Hear”), the Jewish confession of faith made up of three scriptural texts (Deuteronomy 6:4–9, 11:13–21; Numbers 15:37–41), which, together with appropriate prayers, forms an integral part of the evening and morning services.

Cover your eyes with your right hand and say:Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.Recite the following verse in an undertone:Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever.You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you today shall be upon your heart. You shall teach them thoroughly to your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road, when you lie down and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for a reminder between your eyes. And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates.

And it will be, if you will diligently obey My commandments which I enjoin upon you this day, to love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, I will give rain for your land at the proper time, the early rain and the late rain, and you will gather in your grain, your wine and your oil. And I will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be sated. …Therefore, place these words of Mine upon your heart and upon your soul, and bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be for a reminder between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, to speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road, when you lie down and when you rise. And you shall inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates – so that your days and the days of your children may be prolonged on the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give to them for as long as the heavens are above the earth.

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the children of Israel and tell them to make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to attach a thread of blue on the fringe of each corner. They shall be to you as tzizit, and you shall look upon them and remember all the commandments of the Lord and fulfill them, and you will not follow after your heart and after your eyes by which you go astray – so that you may remember and fulfill all My commandments and be holy to your God. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God; I, the Lord, am your God.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM, Rector of The Grotto

Saturday, Oct. 24

St. Anthony Mary Claret

Anthony Claret had been thinking for a long time about preparing priests to proclaim the Gospel and bring together a group of priests who shared his vision to accomplish work he could not do alone. Through his evangelizing missionary work in Catalonia and the Canary Islands he was convinced that people needed to be evangelized and there were not enough priests who were sufficiently prepared or zealous enough for this mission. He was a humble man who knew that his vision came from God and not through his own means. Anthony founded a congregation called the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, or “Claretians”.

“A Son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a man on fire with love, who spreads its flames wherever he goes. He desires mightily and strives by all means possible to set everyone on fire with God’s love. Nothing daunts him: he delights in privations, welcomes work, embraces sacrifices, smiles at slander, rejoices in all the torments and sorrows he suffers, and glories in the cross of Jesus Christ. His only concern is how he may follow Christ and imitate him in praying, working, enduring and striving constantly and solely for the greater glory of God and the salvation of humankind.” ̴ Saint Anthony Mary Claret (Autobiography nº. 494)

Prayer

O my God and Father!

Grant that I may know You and make You known

That I may love You and bring others to love youThat I serve You and persuade others to serve you

That I praise you and work that all your creatures praise you

Grant my father that all sinners be converted

That all the just persevere in grace.

And all of us reach eternal glory.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM, Rector of The Grotto

Friday, Oct. 23

“… filled with his Holy Spirit, may (we) become one body, one spirit, in Christ.”

The Holy Spirit is personified love and, as such, is a unifying force. From all eternity, the Holy Spirit unites the Father and the Son in an unbreakable bond of love. At the appointed time, the Holy Spirit united the divine and the human in the person of the Son of God incarnate in the womb of Mary.

And in the womb of the Church, through the Sacrament of Baptism, the Holy Spirit has united us with each other through our oneness with Christ.
The Holy Spirit is at work in you and me. The Holy Spirit has formed us into the mystical body of Christ. It is especially through the Eucharist that the Holy Spirit is at work within us. To grow in that unity is one of the primary purposes for celebrating Mass together. The Spirit wishes to unite us so that we are one in mind and one in heart. As Christ excludes no one, so, by the working of the Holy Spirit, we must strive to include everyone in our affection.

Prayer

God of our Lord Jesus Christ,

the Father of glory,

may you give to all Christians,

especially to those entrusted with leadership at the Church,

the spirit of wisdom and revelation.

With the eyes of our hearts,

may we see the hope to which you have called us:

one body and spirit,

one Lord, one faith, one baptism,

one God and Father of all,

who is above and through all and in all.

This we ask through Jesus Christ, our Lord,

Who lives and reigns with you,

In the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM, Rector of The Grotto

Thursday, Oct. 22

The Redwood Highway

In a private section of The Grotto’s property, there is an old narrow, winding, access road. It leads, generally speaking, from the Monastery where the Servite Community of Friars lives (Frs. Vidal, Ignatius, Leo, and Richard) down to a gate which will deliver one onto one of Portland’s main street arteries. It’s been called “The Redwood Highway” for a long, long time … I don’t really know how long, but the property has been part of The Grotto for just under 100 years.

The “highway” is lined on either side by tall and extremely beautiful trees … thus its name. I’d have to say that taking a stroll down the Redwood Highway, from the Monastery to the gate at the end, is one of the regular and most loved “little time-outs”, and it is definitely a favorite of the Friars who desire just such a brief respite in a busy day. It’s restful, beautiful (no matter the weather), and even awe-inspiring when you look up, up, up, only seeing the towering trees peak out at 100 feet … or more! And I was reflecting recently on my walk along that path, how its physical appearance made a good analogy for life and our “life-paths.” To further the reflection, then …

As I already wrote, our rather unassuming Redwood Highway is full of curves. Although not long in its entirety, one absolutely cannot see very far down the road at all because the curves and the trees obscure the path before you. It’s also BUMPY, just riddled with obstacles (tree roots!) lifting and shifting the old asphalt covering. It’s got tons of potholes and ruts, and it’s even slippery in places as the wetness seeps in and creates patches of bright moss, rendering steps into “slides.” In addition, on occasion, one could even be surprised by a “critter” who, as dear Mother Nature provides, lives in the thickets on either side of the highway … a raccoon, a squirrel or two, an opossum, plenty of birds (large and small, finches to horned owls), some “slithery things” (slugs and garden snakes), or even (if you’re lucky and quiet!), a COYOTE!

So, you’re no doubt wondering … WHY am I taking “y’all” on this little Grotto “tour”? Simple, really … please go back and re-read everything I wrote about the Redwood Highway. I mentioned at the beginning of this reflection, “an analogy.” The analogy is that our little, hidden “highway” is a very fine analogy for life itself. And managing to get down the redwood highway is both a bit of an adventure, and also a study in taking care not to “trip up” too often; to “watch where you step,” and “keep focused on the destination.” Our Christian lives are not “magical mystery tours,” they are to be lives well-lived, and carefully curated. They are to be reflections of God’s glory (which is also plainly evident on the Redwood Highway) but will always have to be responsive to the ordinary pitfalls of human frailty and the occasional unplanned, accidental “aggressiveness” (surprises!) of the world in which we live.

So, walking the Redwood Highway, as we Friars often do, is more than just a walk. It’s also a meditation, a thoughtful consideration of a Christian’s place in the world, and an evaluation of how we might be standing, and re-assessing how we’re going to “get there.” Which now leads me to my final point … When you walk the length of the Redwood Highway, it rather unceremoniously “dumps one out” right onto a very busy, trafficky, well used street and sidewalk; VERY much the “REAL WORLD,” unvarnished and hard-scrabble. NO more time to meditate! The world “out there” is right at your feet and filling up your senses. It’s not particularly pretty, either; more “in your face” than orderly and polite.

Good Christian! Listen up! We’re people whose hearts might be in heaven, but our feet are most definitely still on EARTH. Every day we live, we can live for the Lord, but we also live for our brothers and sisters around us … at the end of “The Redwood Highway.”

Fr. Richard Boyle

Wednesday, Oct. 21

“I see dead people”

… A dialogue line from a 20-year-old movie, in which a young, terrified boy, is describing his terror to an investigator. Who would ever believe that we would all be, today, in a deeply poignantly way, muttering the same line, reflecting on the news we see around us each day?

Dear friends everywhere, by the time you read this, there will likely be right around 225,000 deaths from Covid-19, the “coronavirus,” pandemic raging wildly in our country. What an almost incomprehensible number; how much anguish and pain. It stretches my mind and soul to evoke words which match this tragedy, this horror. And I want to shrink from it.

But I feel compelled to face it … why? Because, for all that would tend to speak against it, I maintain HOPE. As a Christian, I can do no other. I think St. Paul’s letters can guide us along this path. In his Letter to the Romans (a particular early Community of Christians who were under constant pressure, ridicule and deadly persecution!) there are a number of verses which powerfully remind us of our heritage as Christians, and also a challenge to retain and maintain HOPE even when Faith and Love may weaken.

Romans 5:2-5 goes like this:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access [by faith] to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.

And later in the same Letter, Romans 8:24-25, reads this way:

For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.

And in a third bit, Paul writes these words:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Very simply, what is hope? Hope, just by basic definition, is our desire to see something happen or become true. Hope is not abstract, nor particularly difficult to grasp or understand. It’s commonly expressed in quite ordinary statements like, “She gave up hope,” or “The team hoped they’d win the game,” or “We hope that rain won’t ruin the backyard barbeque!”

It’s really challenging for us to survive without hope. Because of that, we often place our hope in objects, experiences, and people, which leads to disappointment for us when our expectations are unrealistic and therefore, mismanaged. What we should be doing is placing our hope in our God … and that’s what led me to offer those amazing, wonderful, inspiring verses from St. Paul, above.

The Apostle Paul wrote that hope doesn’t put us to shame because of God’s love that’s been poured out on us. Romans 5:5

He also wrote that the pedestrian, “earthly” hope which we can see isn’t the more “real” and theological, spiritual hope which we hear about in Romans 8:24.

And the best thing we can learn about hope is that our God authored it, and as we learn to trust in Him. God fills us with so much hope that we’re overflowing with it. Romans 1:13

Hope is an anticipation and expectation that God is working even if we can’t see it. It’s a spiritual optimism that actually leads to building our faith. We might say that faith and hope go hand in hand. While faith is the belief that God is who He says He is and that we should trust in Him, hope is the expectation that He’s there. So, when we have hope in God, it actually propels our faith.

Living our lives with hope often comes down to knowing how to navigate our thoughts. We can become overwhelmed and even feel defeated in things that have little to no eternal impact. When plans fail and we are disappointed, we can still have hope despite earthly disappointments. We choose to hold onto the hope that God has us in His mind and heart at all times, never, ever forgetting that we are His children, eternally so! Thus, when hope feels far off, it’s likely that we had only a “situational” hope, the kind of hope that we place on temporary things, and often brings despair.

So, dear friends, Brothers and Sisters, take a minute to analyze where you’ve directed your hope. If you’ve placed your hope in anything in this world, redirect that hope toward God. Our hope is secure when we’re grounded firmly in the heart of God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, and are genuinely expectant about sharing in His life, “life to the full!”

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Tuesday, Oct. 20

Prayers I found on the Internet “Google Prayers”

Yes, yes, we DO spend way too much time on our computers, transfixed, our rears glued to our chairs in front of screens all day, or at least hours at a time, our eyes becoming strained and sore, vision blurry, all because “we have to,” and sometimes, yes sometimes, because we are just SO BORED! And, you ALL know that in this “Age of Covid-19” in front of a computer screen, on the internet, is where lots of us are working pretty much full-time now … what a “world” of change from the “world” of just one oh-so-fleeting year ago!

But, as always, there may just be a bright side or two to this situation, and that would be … PRAYER and inspiration; yup, I said it! If I enter the right words in “a search,” or sometimes just by accident, or maybe just because some mysterious Internet or website algorithm “found me,” I get to pray … ONLINE! All I do is read what’s right there, “popped up,” and dancing in fancy fonts, even with uplifting pictures or illustrations. It’s difficult to actually get to church these days, but it’s never too difficult to pray … all I have to do is “search, click, and take a little rest in the Lord!” Here’s a little selection of items I found recently, and I share them with you, friends, sisters, brothers…as today’s reflection/s.

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O Christ, our Morning Star, Splendor of Light Eternal, shining with the glory of the rainbow, come and waken us from the grayness of our apathy, and renew in us your gift of hope. Amen.
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Father and maker of all, you adorn all creation with splendor and beauty, and fashion human lives in your image and likeness. Awaken in every heart reverence for the work of your hands and renew among your people a readiness to nurture and sustain your precious gift of life. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
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God of love and mercy, you call us to be your people, you gift us with your abundant grace. Make us a holy people, radiating the fullness of your love. Form us into a community, a people who care, expressing your compassion. Remind us day after day of our baptismal call to serve, with joy and courage. Teach us how to grow in wisdom and grace and joy in your presence. Through Jesus and in your Spirit, we make this prayer. Amen.
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Loving Father, faith in Your Word is the way to wisdom. Help me to think about Your Divine Plan that I may grow in the truth. Open my eyes to Your deeds, my ears to the sound of Your call, so that my every act may help me share in the life of Jesus. Give me the grace to live the example of the love of Jesus, which I celebrate in the Eucharist and see in the Gospel. Form in me the likeness of Your Son and deepen His Life within me. Amen.
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O Christ Jesus, when all is darkness and we feel our weakness and helplessness, give us the sense of Your presence, Your love, and Your strength. Help us to have perfect trust in Your protecting love and strengthening power, so that nothing may frighten or worry us, for, living close to You, we shall see Your hand, Your purpose, Your will through all things. Amen.
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Lord, I come before you today knowing that all power is in Your hand. I know that you are the Lord and that you care for your people. Right now, my friend is struggling with a difficult trial. I can see her/his strength is faltering, Lord, and know that you have all the strength that she/he needs. I pray that you will reach down and touch her/him right now wherever she/he is at this moment. Let your presence fill the room where she/he is and let her/him feel an extra portion of your strength that can help her/him to get through this day. She/he needs you now, Lord, and I thank you in advance for meeting her/him where she/he is and shoring up her/his strength during this difficult time. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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O Heavenly Father, I commend my children unto Thee. Be Thou their God and Father; and mercifully supply whatever is wanting in me through frailty or negligence. Strengthen them to overcome the corruptions of the world, to resist all solicitations to evil, whether from within or without; and deliver them from the secret snares of the enemy. Pour Thy grace into their hearts, and confirm and multiply in them the gifts of Thy Holy Spirit, that they may daily grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; and so, faithfully serving Thee here, may come to rejoice in Thy presence hereafter. Amen.
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Dear Lord! Fill our parents with Thy choicest blessings; enrich their souls with Thy holy grace; grant that they may faithfully and constantly guard that likeness to Thy union with Thy Church, which Thou didst imprint upon them on their wedding day. Fill them with Thy spirit of holy fear, which is the beginning of wisdom; inspire them to impart it to their children. May they ever walk in the way of Thy commandments, and may we their children be their joy on earth and their crown of glory in heaven. Finally, Lord God, grant that both our father and mother may attain to extreme old age and enjoy continuous health in mind and body. May they give Thee abundant thanks because Thou bast bestowed upon them the great gift of parenthood. Amen.
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Almighty and Eternal God, Give me, I beseech You, the great gift of inward peace. Command the winds and storms of my unruly passions. Subdue, by Your grace, my proneness to love 15 created things too much. Give me a love of suffering for Your sake. make me forbearing and kind to others, that I may avoid quarrels and contentions. And teach me constantly to seek after and to acquire that perfect resignation to Your Holy Will which alone brings interior peace. Amen.
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Heavenly father, I am your humble servant, I come before you today in need of hope. There are times when I feel helpless, There are times when I feel weak. I pray for hope. I need hope for a better future. I need hope for a better life. I need hope for love and kindness. Some say that the sky is at it’s darkest just before the light. I pray that this is true, for all seems dark. I need your light, Lord, in every way. I pray to be filled with your light from head to toe. To bask in your glory. To know that all is right in the world, 16 as you have planned, and as you want it to be. Help me to walk in your light, and live my life in faith and glory. In your name I pray, Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Monday, Oct. 19

Wisdom from Pope Francis

For the Reflection today I’m going to take a bit of a “short cut,” by selecting some of my favorite “bits of wisdom” from Pope Francis … from his writings, from his homilies, from other sources.

I love Pope Francis. He’s a real Shepherd and leads gently, with compassion and gentleness. I pray that God will always sustain him in his incredibly challenging ministry of service to the Body of Christ, the Church, and that our Blessed Mother will constantly accompany him with a Mother’s special love and protection.

Brothers and sisters “out there,” pray for our Holy Father, Pope Francis, daily!

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“Establishing love is a work of skilled craftsmanship, the work of patient people, people who do their utmost to persuade, to listen, to bring people together. This skillful work is carried out peacefully and wonderfully by creators of love. It is the task of the mediator. A mediator is a person who, in order to bring two sides together, personally pays the price to do so. He wears himself out in the process.”
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“Whenever we encounter another person in love, we learn something new about God.”
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“The Jesus who was weak and insignificant in the eyes of politicians and the powerful of the land revolutionized the world.”
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“But what kind of a king is Jesus? Let us take a look at him: he is riding on a donkey, he is not accompanied by a court, he is not surrounded by an army as a symbol of power. He is received by humble people, simple folk who have the sense to see something more in Jesus.”
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“Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey. To those who suffer, God does not provide arguments which explain everything; rather, his response is that of an accompanying presence, a history of goodness which touches every story of suffering and opens up a ray of light.”
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“It’s best not to confuse optimism with hope. Optimism is a psychological attitude toward life. Hope goes further. It is an anchor that hurls one toward the future, it’s what lets you pull on the line and reach what you’re aiming for … ”
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“The Gospel is for everyone! This reaching out to the poor does not mean that we must become champions of poverty or, as it were, “spiritual tramps”! No, no, this is not what it means! It means we must reach out to the flesh of Jesus that is suffering, but also suffering is the flesh of Jesus of those who do not know it with their study, with their intelligence, with their culture. We must go there!”
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“An evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral.”
+++++
“In fidelity to the Gospel, and in response to the urgent needs of the present time, we are called to reach out to those who find themselves in the existential peripheries of our societies, and to show particular solidarity with the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters: the poor, the disabled, the unborn and the sick, migrants and refugees, the elderly and the young who lack employment.”
+++++
“If (gay people) accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them?”
+++++
“Christians know that suffering cannot be eliminated, yet it can have meaning and become an act of love and entrustment into the hands of God who does not abandon us; in this way it can serve as a moment of growth in faith and love.”
+++++
“Francis of Assisi tells us we should work to build peace. But there is no true peace without truth! There cannot be true peace is everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this earth.”
+++++
“Let us invoke the intercession of Mary who is the Woman of the “yes.” Mary said “yes” throughout her life! She learned to recognize Jesus’ voice from the time she carried him in her womb. May Mary, our Mother, help us to know Jesus’ voice better and better and to follow it, so as to walk on the path of life!”
+++++

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Sunday, Oct. 18

A Gospel about Loyalties and Priorities

The Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech. They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status. Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed him the Roman coin. He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”(Matthew 22:15-21)

Jesus gave an enigmatic answer to the question about paying the Roman tax. He replied “Render to Caesar what is due to Caesar and to God what is due to God.” Instead of answering the trick question about the tax, Jesus simply states a principle, without spelling out what is precisely owed to Caesar, who, for us reading this Gospel passage today, represents all secular authorities. This is a particular and peculiar challenge which affects each of us today. It’s a VERY contemporary problem insofar as the complex politics of today present us more frequently than ever, questions not merely of “legality,” but of MORALITY; is “legal” even the right thing to do”?

Our true home is in heaven, to be sure, as St. Paul tells us (Philippians 3:20), but we are also citizens of the world. Yes, we all have a basic duty to respect the government of the country in which we live, and to obey the laws which it enacts. That includes paying taxes to finance health, security, roads etc. and to promote development. BUT, while we must recognize our civic obligations, our final loyalty is to GOD. Where there’s a clash over the demands made on us from various sides, secular and civil, God’s will must always come first. In such cases it may be our duty to protest, to resist, or even disobey unjust laws, or injustice enacted by the State … even at the risk of being punished.

This is the basis of a truly Christian observance of the laws of a Nation … and no Christian is bound to obey a fundamentally flawed or unjust law despite the fact that it is “legal,” or enacted and enforced by due authority. In fact, Christians are actually bound to oppose and resist unjust laws and work for their change or abolition. Need I remind any of us of the basis for one of the deepest divisions in the history of our Country, The Civil War, and how it faced the horrific injustice of “legal,” institutional slavery. Sadly, the “ripple effect” from that dreadful war and its consequences in pervasive, long-lasting racism in our society is not at an end. We still struggle.

And Christians who hear and obey God’s Word must follow God’s Truth, not human waywardness or complicity with Evil. Once more, Jesus, in his response to his questioners, reminds us that we are all citizens of two dominions – the spiritual and the temporal. We have duties to each. Generally, these loyalties are not in conflict. However, there are nonetheless occasions when we need to speak – out of love – against neglect or inequitable behavior by our Government, especially regarding social injustice. Jesus’ life and preaching calls each of us to live in whole-hearted allegiance to God, while navigating real-life contexts that often pull at that allegiance.

Such navigation is not easy, and we would do well to seek God’s wisdom and discernment as we desire to follow Jesus in a world full of powerful people all too content with making gods of themselves instead of encouraging us to follow theOne, True God. Jesus is the source of God’s wisdom, and his wisdom shows through in his answer to this test by the Pharisees and Herodians. We must emulate the Lord, make our loyalties and our priorities truly emulate those of Jesus. The old hymn says it very well, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love; they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Saturday, Oct. 17

Does Mary Pray?

Mother of God, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church, Mother of Divine Grace, Mirror of Justice, Seat of Wisdom, Spiritual Vessel, Mystical Rose, Tower of David, House of Gold, Gate of Heaven, Morning Star, Queen of Angels, Queen of Prophets, Queen of Martyrs, Queen Assumed into Heaven … Those are just SOME of the traditional titles which we lovingly give to Our Blessed Mother, Mary, in her Litany.

Of course we pray to her!!! But today I asked myself, “Does Mary herself ever pray? Would she even need to?”

Hail, Mary, full of grace,

the Lord is with you.

Blessed are you among women

and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,

pray for us sinners,

now and at the hour of our death.

Amen.

That prayer is spoken uncounted times every day, every moment of the day, from East to West, from North to South, in every corner of the Earth, in every Land and in every tongue. WHY would The Lady, Queen and Mother, need to pray at all? But that last phrase “need to pray at all?” is my point … she does not “need” to pray. I FIRMLY BELIEVE THAT MARY LOVES AND WANTS TO PRAY … CONSTANTLY; why and to whom … ?

Mary is constantly in the presence of God, Farther, Son, and Holy Spirit. She looks directly upon God, enjoys God’s eternal favor, and, as we Christians believe, PRAYS, like any other soul in heaven, along with the angels, to God, her Creator. I don’t think it too far-fetched or “stretching” theology to say that God might pay particular attention to Mary’s prayer(s) compared to, say … oh, mine, for instance!!!??? I laugh gently at myself as I say this. But, again, of course, I MUST think that Our Blessed Mother’s prayers are much, much purer, and more direct, more sincere and simple than mine.

Mary loves to pray; she wants, desires, to pray. As the “Chosen Woman,” Mother of the Divine Son and God Incarnate, she, above all human beings, understands her intimate relationship to God, her Creator and Redeemer. She is, therefore, the model for ALL human prayer to God. Yet, as perfect as I believe her prayer to be, I also believe that the “objects” of her prayer are … simply you and me. Yes, “us,” all of us, her human sisters and brothers, all humanity, from time immemorial, past, present, and future. She prays for US! And that, my friends, comforts me. Does it comfort you as well? I hope (and pray!) that it does.

Let us pray

Dearest Mary, Queen and Mother,

Pray for me today in God’s holy presence, and allow me to feel that beautiful prayer of yours resonate in my heart as the soft and vibrant string of a harp or lute, creating a melody of love and peace in my whole being.
Touch my brow, O Sweetest Mother, with the warmth and gentleness of your hand, brushing away my cares, my worries, my anxieties, my sorrows … even if for just a moment.

Be for my lips, O Most Blessed One, a cool drink of water in the heat of seemingly constant dryness of spirit and soul, refreshing and uplifting me.
Soothe my aching heart, hold me close to you, wrap me in your soft cloak, as you must have wrapped your child, Jesus, protecting me from the wind and chill of painful memories or the harsh reality of daily life.

Whisper ever so lovingly, as the dove you are, into my ear, a soft and holy “lullaby,” to remind me that no matter how old I am or become in body, that I will always be as a young child to you, your child, to be tenderly caressed and comforted.

Blessed Mary, Holy Mary, Mother Mary … thank you for praying for ME today, tomorrow, and every day. Show me the Face of your beloved son, Jesus, the Lord.

Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Friday, Oct. 16

The 3 a.m. Phone Call

Remember the political ad from some years back about “the 3 a.m. phone call”?

Now, to assure you, the subject of this brief reflection is NOT politics, but rather the general idea of a phone call which might ring in at 3 a.m. I could certainly tell you that, in MY mind (and heart), any phone call which came ringing in to me at that “dark hour” would not merely wake me, but would strike FEAR and apprehension straight into my heart, mind and soul! WHO would be ringing me at that hour? THAT cannot be good news!!! I do not want to even pick up the phone and answer! Whatever it is, I don’t want to hear it; BAD NEWS!

But this reflection is not about ME listening to my phone ring at 3 a.m. and reacting in fear and hesitation. No, it’s the opposite. It’s about ME calling OUT for someone, anyone, at 3 a.m., because I’m in a panic over … whatever. I’ve been worried, stressed, “panicked” over 100 different things, and I’m feeling totally overwhelmed. This particular 3 a.m. phone call is FROM me, and it’s about WHOM I can “call,” or depend upon to always answer that desperate phone call of MINE. Who will respond to MY need to be heard, to catch MY “lifeline,” to listen patiently, calmly, and compassionately while I scream or moan or cry out with pain and panic? WHO would that be? You all know the answer already … it’s God.

It doesn’t really matter who you are, what the situation of your life is, nor one’s status. Fear and apprehension, stress and depression, attack us all. Yes, good and decent people ARE in our lives, and they will try to help us out of the sheer goodness of their hearts. But there are many times when I do not wish to “burden” another with my problems, crises, and issues, or I know that it isn’t “the right time” to connect or cry out. What to do? Well … as I said before … THAT is precisely why our loving, compassionate, INFINITELY patient and present LORD and GOD is there; to listen, to receive, to comfort, console and heal us in “ALL our infirmities.”

God isn’t just someone we find in church, or in prayer, or in sacred space. God is the all-present, all-inclusive, all-welcoming “ONE” Person, who is ALWAYS THERE to respond to our “3 a.m. phone call” from the neediest part of soul, heart, and mind.

Friends … CALL OUT TO GOD FROM YOUR HEARTS today! God is there to listen, to embrace you with compassion, to help you begin the road to healing. DO IT! Call on God … NOW! Peace be with all of you today, dear friends, sisters and brothers everywhere!

Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Thursday, Oct. 15

St. Teresa of Avila, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada was born in Avila in 1515. Educated by Augustinian Nuns, at twenty she entered the Carmelite convent of her native city. Her writings tell of her mystical experiences and ecstatic visions. She was named a Doctor of the Church in 1970 by Pope Paul VII, the first woman so honored along with St. Catherine of Siena.

Teresa spent much of her time and energy seeking to reform herself the Carmelite, to lead them back to the full observance of the primitive Rule. She founded over a half-dozen new monasteries. She traveled, wrote, fought – always to renew, to reform. In herself, in her prayers, in her life, in her efforts to reform, in all the people she touched, she was a woman for others, a woman who inspired and gave life.

Prayer

God, you raised up St. Teresa by your Spirit so that she would manifest to the Church the way to perfection.

Nourish us with the food of heaven, and fire us with the desire for holiness and grow in loving devotion to You.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Wednesday, Oct. 14

St. Callistus I, Pope and Martyr

Saint Callistus was born a Christian slave, the ‘property’ of a man named Carpophorus, also a Christian. Put in charge of the bank by his master, he lost the money deposited, fled and was caught. After serving time for a while, he was released to make some attempt to recover the money. Apparently he carried his zeal too far, being arrested for brawling in a Jewish Synagogue. This time, he was sentenced to hard labor in Sardinia, but was later freed and ransomed by the Christian community.

Pope Zephyrinus called him to Rome to look after the Christian cemetery near the catacombs, later known as Calistus Cemetery. Pope Zephyrinus ordained him as a deacon and made him his friend and advisor. St. Callistus later succeeded Pope Zephyrinus as he was elected a pope by a majority of vote of the clergy and laity in Rome, and thereafter was bitterly attacked by the losing candidate, St. Hyppolytus, who let himself be set up as the first antipope in the history of the Church.

St. Callistus was martyred during a local disturbance in Trastevere, Rome, in 222, and is the first Pope (except for Peter) to be commemorated as a martyr in the earliest martyrology of the Church.

He is the Patron Saint of the Cemetery Workers.

Prayer

O God, who raised up Pope Saint Callistus I to serve the Church, strengthen us, we pray, by his witness to the faith, so that rescued from the slavery of corruption, we may merit an incorruptible inheritance.
Through Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with you, and the holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM 

Tuesday, Oct. 13

Wash your hands before the meal

Healthwise, we have been encouraged to wash our hands before the meal, not only during this pandemic, but also before we knew of Covid-19. During the pandemic, adding to washing our hands, we also use hand-sanitizers. It is a simple but a healthy activity to keep us away from the germs that we might encounter somewhere.

The Gospel today talks about Jesus who dined at a Pharisee’s house. Jesus had already started eating when the host realized that Jesus did not observe the tradition of washing hands before the meal. Jesus did not want to oppose or to remove this tradition; Jesus wanted to transform it to its fullness.

Saint Luke wanted to explain to all Christians the importance of the sanctity of hearts. Jesus invites this Pharisee and all of us to put off hypocrisy, falsehood, arrogance, lies, etc., and cleanse our hearts of the germs of life and fill it with love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness; and thus, the attitudes and behaviors we express reflect sincerity and honesty. Therefore, if our internal parts have been perfected, then external one will also be perfected.

The Eucharist is our celebration where we are challenged not only to wash our hands to worthily receive our Lord, but also to clean our hearts from our thoughts, from what we have done, what we have failed to do to our brothers and sisters. To receive the Lord, we are asked to let go of our ego – of our pride.

Let us then, brothers and sisters, clean what is inside and reflect on our motivations. As Christians, how is our inner self, is it clean? Let’s wash not only our hands but also our hearts.

Prayer

Lord Jesus,
Wash us clean inside and outside.
Help us to make your love the foundation of our lives.
May our love for you express itself in our eagerness to do good for others.
Forgive our failings, keep us in your peace and lead us in the way of salvation.
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Monday, Oct. 12

Lord, show me the sign!

The year of 2020 has been insane, hasn’t it? And in this seemingly never-ending tragic year, perhaps we too are waiting or longing expectantly for a sign. That sign could be different for each one of us, and it could lead us to get back to our feet.

But what sign is greater than the Sacraments with which our hope and faith is nourished and strengthened? ”The Sacraments are efficacious SIGNS of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1131).

Through these Sacraments, we receive God who is love, peace, healing, forgiveness etc., through the outward signs.

The only thing we need to have is faith. Because without faith, we will not understand these outward signs. But with faith, we can be saved like Jonah. And our faith is deepened through our prayers.

Prayer

Almighty God,

We thank you for your love, peace, forgiveness and healing that we have received through your Holy Sacraments.

Continue to strengthen our faith that we can be your signs in the world.

Help us to courageously bring your love, peace, forgiveness and healing to others around us.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Sunday, Oct. 11

“I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.”

How would you picture the house of the Lord? Have you ever been in awe when you enter a place? I picture the house of the Lord, not as a building, but as a feeling of full of love, peace, tranquility … as a place where prosperity flows so rich to everyone.

Prophet Isaiah sees this house where people get rich food and choice wines, a place where joy awaits all the time. And, St. Paul assures the Philippians and all of us that in this house, we “can do all things in [Christ] who strengthens us.”

But, to be in this house, we are invited to respond to God’s call and come to it with a right attitude, because He who calls us to his house will see us through.

Everyone of us is welcomed to the celebration in the Lord’s house. The Celebration of the Eucharist is the foretaste of the eschatological banquet in heaven. We are grateful for God’s invitation and for God’s love in this Celebration in hope that we might enjoy His fullness in the Heavenly banquet.

After each Mass, each one of us is called to be the house of the Lord. However, God gives us a choice whether to allow him to dwell in us or not. We will know that God dwells in us when all we have is love, peace and forgiveness, which we show in our words and actions.

Prayer

Come, Almighty Lord, and live in us.
Come and shine within us.
Move our hearts with your Spirit that we may bring your love and peace to others around us.
Ignite our enthusiasm to proclaim your love in our words and actions.
Teach us to forgive one another as you have forgiven our sins.
And let us live in your house forever and ever.
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Saturday, Oct. 10

True Blessedness

In the Gospel of Luke, both Mary and Jesus were acclaimed “blessed” by two different women. When Mary visited Elizabeth, her relative, Elizabeth cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Luke 1:42) Mary’s humility and willingness to accept God’s creative work of salvation make her the blessed one among all God’s children.

And today, Luke highlights that humility and willingness of Mary when Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” (Luke 11:28) In doing so, Jesus agreed to the woman who called out, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.”

Mary was attentive to God’s word and observed it; for Jesus, those who listen and do God’s will are more important than those with a biological relationship to him. Are you among them?

Prayer

Oh Lord,
Help us with your Holy Spirit to listen to your Word and to act on it.
Open the eyes of our heart to listen, to understand and to do your Word in our lives.
Shine within our hearts, O Lord, with your Wisdom and Knowledge that we not only read your Word but also are able to act on it.
May your Word bring joy to the sorrowful and healing to the sick, lift the burdens of your people, strengthen our faith, and give hope to those who are hopeless.
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Friday, Oct. 9

St. Denis, Bishop, and Companions, Martyrs

St. John Leonardi, Priest

In responding to the crowd’s reaction for driving out demons, Jesus explained to his opponents (and us) how the devil works in human’s life. The devil has power to lead us astray. The devil will not lose easily. If it loses, it will try to come back with a stronger power to destroy its target.

How can we then defeat the power of the devil? St. Paul urges us to have faith and to act on that faith, like the faith of Abraham. We will not be able to fight against the devil on our own; only when we have faith in God and in his Son that we can destroy the power of the devil. And for those who have faith, God will drive out demons with His finger, “If it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.”

To destroy the demons by His finger means that God’s power is surpassing – more powerful than the power of the devil, even when it “brings back seven other spirits.” God doesn’t have to use a huge punch to drive them out because for God the devil is a little enemy which doesn’t require an amount of energy to get rid of.

Jesus has shown us the way to drive out demons and its power. To follow Christ means to defeat the evil way of life and to walk in his path. The Saints whom we commemorate today are our examples. They gave up everything for their faith and for the love of the Church.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, be with us in our journey of life and never leave us alone.

Help us to be faithful to your commands and to serve you with everything that we have.

May your Kingdom continue to come upon all people through the good work of your faithful people.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM 

Thursday, Oct. 8

Ask and you will receive

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds … If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:11 –13)

I can clearly recall hearing, I mean listening to, this verse at Mass while I was in grade school. I remember thinking “WOW, all I have to do is ask?” Many petitions came into my mind: a new bike, my own room, a puppy….

I did not hear the rest of the verse. I’m not sure I fully hear it even today. “If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

I should be asking to hear you, know you. I should be seeking your will, your values and vision for the people and world around me. And I must be willing to knock – to act on your behalf.

Let us Pray

Dear Father in Heaven, so often my mind and heart are focused on myself: My loved ones, my worries, my wants and needs.

Please gift me with a spirit of selfless generosity, an open heart, and a mind that welcomes your creative movement into my thoughts and imagination.

As your precious child, help me to set my sights on YOU.

It is you, Creator, Redeemer, Inspirer – Father – Son and Spirit whom I wish to love, serve, preach and embody in my daily life.

Amen.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Wednesday, Oct. 7

Our Lady of the Rosary

Saint Pius V established this feast in 1573. The purpose was to thank God for the victory of Christians over the Turks at Lepanto – victory attributed to the praying of the rosary. Clement XI extended the feast to the universal Church in 1716.

If you have an opportunity, come to The Grotto and view the Mysteries of the Rosary: Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous. The artwork adds an emotional depth to my prayer of these Mysteries. Such a powerful prayer – to reflect on the Mystery and pray these prayers that we have known since childhood.

Reciting these prayers over and over elevates our mind and heart beyond ourselves to a place where we can rest in God.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div. 

Tuesday, Oct. 6

Attached to Jesus

Mary and Martha both Love Jesus very much. In today’s encounter, Martha is frustrated because her sister is not helping her serve the people whom are gathered to listen to Jesus. (Luke 10: 38-42)

Jesus admonishes Martha, not because she is serving, but because she wishes to hold her sister to her own standards. Martha is ‘anxious and worried abut many things’. Her way of coping with that is to keep busy. Surely Mary, too, had worries. But she chose to attach herself to Jesus, his words and his presence.

I, too, can sometimes get caught up in my own mind, worrying and fretting about situations in my life, and in the world around me.

Let us Pray

Ever-loving, ever-living God,
Help me to take more time for you today.
I can sit at your feet and listen to your word, in the silence of my heart, and in the pages of Scripture.
Slow me down to be with you, to rest in you this day.
Amen.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Monday, Oct. 5

Who is my neighbor?

It is important to remember that Jesus telling the story of the Good Samaritan was his answer to the Question: “Who is my neighbor?”

In the time of Jesus, there had already been hundreds of years of ill will between the Jews and Samaritans. The Jews saw the Samaritans as ‘half breeds’ who ‘contaminated’ the Jewish religion with outside beliefs. That Jesus answers the question from a devout Jew, “who is my neighbor”, by telling of a merciful Samaritan was meant to give the listener pause.

My neighbor could be someone I would cross the street to avoid, who I would think the most unlikely. Close your eyes for a moment and think of the individual, or groups of people that you dislike, and wish to avoid.

Now, imagine being mugged and beaten. Imagine some people see you, and yet, walk right past you. Then you see this ‘undesirable’ coming toward you. That person shows you extreme compassion, mercy and care. They transport you to urgent care and pay your medical bills.

Jesus is asking us to see all whom we encounter as our neighbor, AND he wants us to love them as we love ourselves.

Let us Pray

Gracious and merciful God,
Your Son Jesus revealed your boundless love and mercy.
His words and actions showed us how to be neighbor to all people.
Purify my heart to remove the prejudgments and assumptions that hold me back from loving others.
I humbly ask this through Christ Jesus my brother. 
Amen.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Sunday, Oct. 4

Feast of St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis is dear to the hearts of many. The Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Family taught and served in my home parish and school. I share with you today one of the prayers that St. Francis wrote. He places all things that God created on equal ground with humanity. If God created it, and it is part of our world and our human experience, then it is our brother or sister.

I encourage you to spend time with it in prayer and reflection.  O Most High, all-powerful, good Lord God,

To you belong praise, glory, honor and all blessing.

Be praised, my Lord, for all your creation, and especially for our Brother Sun, who brings us the day and the light; he is strong and shines magnificently. O Lord, we think of you when we look at him.

Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Moon, and for the stars which you have set shining and lovely in the heavens.

Be praised, my Lord, for our Brothers Wind and Air and every kind of weatherby which you, Lord, uphold life in all your creatures.

Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Water, who is very useful to us, and humble and precious and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, for Brother Fire, through whom you give us light in the darkness: he is bright and lively and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Earth, our Mother, who nourishes us and sustains us, bringing forth fruits and vegetables of many kinds and flowers of many colors.

Be praised, my Lord, for those who forgive for love of you; and for those who bear sickness and weakness, in peace and patience – you will grant them a crown.

Be praised, my Lord, for our Sister Death, whom we must all face.

I praise and bless you, Lord, and I give thanks to you, and I will serve you in all humility.

Amen.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Saturday, Oct. 3

Blessed are We

“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” Luke 10:24

Holy Mother Mary,

Help me today to remember and celebrate how God has blessed me.

As I recall what you saw and heard in your life on earth, it raises up for me some of the powerful encounters that I have had with Christ Jesus – encounters at Mass, while reading Scripture, in prayer.

I, too, have seen God heal, reconcile, and shower peace.

I have been blessed with courage at times when I was sure I had no strength left, inspiration in times of turmoil.

Blessed Mother of our Lord, may I, like you, bear witness to the work of God in my life so that others too may come to know and love Christ Jesus.

Amen.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Friday, Oct. 2

Feast of Guardian Angels

There are so many ways that God tries to remind and reassure us of his closeness and care for each one of us. Today’s feast is another example. In addition to God’s eternal care, the redeeming love of Christ, and the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, each life is gifted with our own minister of divine care – Guardian Angel. Wow. God’s gracious and loving protection and presence permeates every corner of our life, our being, and our world. Natural disasters happen, illness happens, violence happens, yes – but God surrounds us and never leaves us alone to deal with all the people, events and situations that come our way.

Here is a quote from Pope Benedict on the Feast of Guardian Angels given in 2011:

“Dear friends, the Lord is ever close and active in humanity’s history and accompanies us with the unique presence of his Angels, whom today the Church venerates as “Guardian Angels”, that is, ministers of the divine care for every human being. From the beginning until the hour of death, human life is surrounded by their constant protection.” 

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Thursday, Oct. 1

Saint Therese of Liseux, Virgin and Doctor

Therese never traveled far from home. She was never awarded a medal. She never built a hospital, nor did she ever start a religious community. Yet her biography, The Story of a Soul, was translated into 35 languages and read by millions. Why is this young woman so popular?

Therese proved that we could become saints by doing ordinary things extraordinarily well. Therese explained: “I want to seek a way to heaven, a new way, very short, very straight – the way of trust and self-surrender … I am a little soul, who can offer only little things to Our Lord.”

Therese set out to be a saint by what she called the “Little Way”. This entailed having a commitment to the tasks and to the people we meet in our everyday lives. Whatever tasks or assignments in the convent were ways of manifesting her love for God and for others. Whether it was her work as a sacristan taking care of the altar and the chapel, or serving in the refectory or in the laundry room, she tried to show a love for all the nuns in the community. Her life sounds so routine and ordinary. It is called the “Little Way” precisely because it entailed great fortitude and commitment.

What does Therese teach us today with her “Little Way”? That we are called to live out our days with confidence ins God’s love for each and everyone of us. We are to realize that each day is a gift in which we can make a difference by the way we choose to live it. Therese knew the difference love makes by allowing love to be the statement she made each day of her life.

Litany to St. Therese of Lisieux

St. Therese of the Child Jesus,

pray for us.

St. Therese of the Holy Face,

pray for us.

St. Therese, child of Mary,

pray for us.

St. Therese, devoted to Joseph,

pray for us.

St. Therese, angel of innocence,

pray for us.

St. Therese, converter of hardened hearts,

pray for us.

St. Therese, healer of the diseased,

pray for us.

St. Therese, filled with love for the Blessed Sacrament,

pray for us.

St. Therese, filled with an Apostle’s zeal,

pray for us.

St. Therese, filled with a tender love for the Church,

pray for us.

St. Therese, filled with love for God and neighbor,

pray for us.

St. Therese, patient in sufferings,

pray for us.

St. Therese, consumed with love,

pray for us.

Pray for us, St. Therese.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM, Rector of The Grotto

Wednesday, Sept. 30

St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor

Do you think you could ever read the whole Bible? How about writing it out – no, not using a computer – with a pen? How long do you think that would take? St. Jerome did even more. He translated the whole Bible and wrote it out by hand.

Pope Damasus, having noticed Jerome’s talents, summoned him to Rome to be a papal secretary. The Pope also knew of Jerome’s love of Scripture, so he commissioned Jerome to translate the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin. Jerome was just the person to do this because he had great knowledge and self-discipline. This was a long and exhausting work. It took Jerome 30 years! His translation became the official text of the Catholic Church. Jerome’s translation was known as the Vulgate because it was written in Latin, the common language of the people.

Prayer to St. Jerome

You are responsible for translating most of the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin. You wrote many essays on the faith and shaped a great deal of Christian thought. You were a spiritual director to many wealthy Roman women, writing letters to them and encouraging them in their faith. You toured all around the Holy Land, visiting many of the places where Jesus lived and taught. You spent years in the desert as an ascetic, spending your time in penance and study. You died in Bethlehem at the age of seventy-three.

St. Jerome, you are a Father, Doctor, and the most prolific writer of the Church. Pray that we may grow and develop our faith by the study of Sacred Scripture. St. Jerome, though you were a passionate defender of orthodox faith, you often came across as irascible and short-tempered. Pray for all who are zealous in their faith but prone to anger and irritability. St. Jerome, you were hard on others, but even harder on yourself. Pray that we may be gifted with the virtue of humility and patience so that our charity to others may not be hindered by self-love.

Amen.

St. Jerome, pray for us!

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM, Rector of The Grotto

Tuesday, Sept. 29

What’s in a Name?

SAINTS MICHAEL, GABRIEL AND RAPHAEL, ARCHANGELS

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that angels are created spiritual beings with intellects and wills. “With their whole being the angels are servants and messengers of God.” (CCC, 327-336).

Michael, whose name means “Who is like God?”, is the principal fighter in the battle against Lucifer, or Satan, as related in the Book of Revelation.
Gabriel, whose name means “Strength of God”, is God’s main messenger, bringing good news to God’s people. Gabriel announced to Mary that she would give birth to the Savior.

Raphael, whose name means “God Heals”, is associated with healing (Tobit 12:1-22) In times of temptation, pray to Michael; to know and carry out God’s will, call on Gabriel; and travelers and those seeking healing turn to Raphael. The angels assure us that God cares for and is with us.

Prayer

Heavenly King, You have given us archangels to assist us during our pilgrimage on earth.

Saint Michael is our protector; I ask him to come to my aid, fight for all my loved ones, and protect us from danger.

Saint Gabriel is a messenger of the Good News; I ask him to help me clearly hear Your voice and to teach me the truth.

Saint Raphael is the healing angel; I ask him to take my need for healing and that of everyone I know, lift it up to You and deliver back to us the gift of recovery.

Help us, O Lord, to realize more fully the presence of archangels and their desire to serve us.

Holy Angels, pray for us.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM, Rector of The Grotto

Monday, Sept. 28

Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions

Martyrs Lorenzo’s father was Chinese and his mother was Filipino. The family lived in the Chinese section of Manila, in the Philippines. Lorenzo learned Spanish from the Dominican Friars, for whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. Lorenzo married and became the father of two sons and a daughter. His life took an abrupt turn when he was accused of murder. To avoid arrest, Lorenzo joined a missionary group of three Dominican priests, another priest and a layman. Only on the ship did Lorenzo learn that the group was headed for Japan, where Catholics were being persecuted.

In Japan, the six men were arrested. After being imprisoned for a year, they were sent to Nagasaki to be tried. When asked by the officials: “If we grant you life, will you renounce your faith?” Lorenzo replied: “That I will never do, because I am a Christian and I shall die for God, and for God I will give many thousands of lives if I had them. And so, do with me as you please”. Lorenzo and fifteen others were martyred in or near Nagasaki, Japan. They were canonized by St. Pope John Paul II in 1987. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first canonized Filipino martyr.

Prayer

Beloved SAINT LORENZO RUIZ, confronted with death, you proclaimed your readiness to die a thousand times for your Christian faith.

Today the whole world admires your courage.

You, a family man, protect our families.

Keep them united in love.

You, who bore your sufferings with patience and resignation, intercede for those who suffer in mind or body; help them to receive the grace of God’s miraculous healing.

You, an example of Christian fortitude, sustain our faith and make it spread and grow strong all around us.

Amen

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM, Rector of The Grotto

Sunday, Sept. 27

Saint Vincent de Paul

Have you ever heard of the St. Vincent de Paul Society? Many parishes throughout the world have organized these charitable groups to provide food, clothing and other basic material needs for the poor on a regular basis. Perhaps you are now or have been a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in your parish. Perhaps you have received assistance from the St. Vincent de Paul Society at a time when you were in need. The St. Vincent de Paul Society usually involves a few members of a parish community, but there is always opportunity for all in the parish to participate in responding to the needs of their brothers and sisters by donating food, household items, clothing, or making financial contributions.

The St. Vincent de Paul Society is one of the many projects organized by St. Vincent. Vincent also saw another kind of poverty, a spiritual poverty. Many of the people had no real understanding of their faith. So, Vincent organized priests who would go out and preach to the people. Eventually this group of priests became the Congregation of the Mission, also known as the Vincentian Fathers. Vincent helped to begin a religious congregation for women: the Daughters of Charity, opened hospitals, homes for orphans and for the aged, established training programs and retreats for seminarians, raised money for victims of war, and sent missionaries to other countries.

Prayer

Saint Vincent de Paul, beloved servant of the poor, may we follow your example and do good works among those whom society has abandoned, enslaved, or forgotten.

Inspire us to feed the hungry, to love a child, to provide comfort and medicine to the sick, to clothe those whose garments are threadbare, and to offer hope and our Lord’s words to all who need respite.

Pray for us to our beloved God that we may commit ourselves selflessly to doing the same charitable acts that you did all your life.

Amen.

Saturday, Sept. 26

Sts. Cosmas and Damian, Physicians and Martyrs

Little is known about Cosmas and Damian except that they suffered martyrdom for their faith in Syria sometime during the persecutions of Diocletian (around 303). We do know that their witness to the faith was so strong that people turned to them for prayerful help and passed their story on to others.

According to these stories, Cosmas and Damian were twin brothers, born in Arabia, who went to Syria to study and practice medicine. They were concerned about more than healing bodies. They brought their belief in Christ to those to whom they ministered. They also served people without charging fees, as a result, they have been given the name “the moneyless ones”. When Lysias, the Governor of Celicia, heard about these two brothers, he summoned them before him. When Cosmas and Damian proclaimed that they were Christians, Lysias had them tortured and finally beheaded.

Devotion to these two brothers grew and many cures were said to have been worked through their intercessions. Their lives can inspire us and encourage us to be faithful during our trials and sorrows.

Along with St. Luke the Evangelist, Saints Cosmas and Damian are the patrons of doctors, surgeons, and pharmacists. Let us ask their intercession on behalf of all medical professionals, our own personal doctors, surgeons, pharmacists. Let us pray for the many women and men, medical professionals, who are on the front line during this pandemic, risking their own lives and health for the benefit of others. St. Cosmas and Damian, pray for each of them!

Prayer

O Saints Cosmas and Damian, we honor and venerate you with all the humility and interior affection of our hearts.

We invoke you, glorious martyrs of Jesus Christ, who during life exercised the art of healing with admirable charity and sacrifice, curing the incurable and ministering to dangerous illnesses, not so much with the aid of medicine and skill, but by the invocation of the all-powerful Name of Jesus Christ.

Now that you are more powerful in heaven, graciously bestow your merciful glance upon us; and at the sight of the many ills which oppress us, the many spiritual and corporal diseases that surround us, hasten your help.

Assist us, we pray, in every distress.

We do not ask for ourselves only, but for all our relatives, families, friends, and enemies, so that, restored to health of soul and body, we can give glory to God, and honor to you, our saintly protectors.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM, Rector

Friday, Sept. 25

A time for everything under the heavens

We say that time heals wounds. When we are uncertain about the outcome of some event, we reluctantly admit that time will tell. Time is truly God’s gift. We often complain that we do not have enough time, but for many of us nothing would get done even if we had all the time in world. How we use the time we have is more important than how much time we have.

In our fast moving and noisy world, we need to take time for peace and quiet to pray and to think about life itself and its values. For at least some time of our life, some part of our day, we need to make time to be alone with God, to listen and hear God speaking to us and to be aware of God’s presence and action in our life.

Life is short. It would be a shame to waste it on simply meaningless activity. The book of Proverbs tells us that there is a time for everything, but time itself accomplishes nothing. It is an opportunity, nothing more. It is up to us to use our time well for what really counts in life.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Rector of The Grotto

Thursday, Sept. 24

Gates and Fences

Every time I either leave The Grotto, our Monastery grounds, or anywhere in the Sanctuary, or when I return, whether it is by car or on foot, I must use a gate. And at either end of the gate, for as far as the foliage will permit me to see, there is a fence separating inside from outside. On a few occasions, and for any number of reasons, I’ve found myself on “the wrong side” of the fence, the gate keeping me isolated outside, or “trapped” inside … frustrating! Now, of course, all things considered, I was at home, and it didn’t take me long to figure out how to get in … or out. But the other day (as I was paused, waiting for a gate to automatically open) I began thinking about “gates and fences,” and what they mean or represent … perhaps in a broader sense. Maybe this question: Do I “build” gates and fences in my life, and why? What happens as a result? Does anyone notice … or care?

So, why do we have gates and fences?

Hmmm, seems pretty simple; maybe to define a boundary, to “keep in” that which is mine, and also to “keep out” whatever doesn’t “belong.” The gates? Just convenient “breaks” in the fence that are the standard, defined ways to get in or out … yes, as I just wrote, very simple. Or is it? Thus, if I happen to use the simple image of a fence or a gate as a SYMBOL of how I live my life, then it gets a bit complicated!

Here’s the problem in a nutshell: My faith instructs me to live my life openly, simply, honestly, in a hospitable fashion. YES! Just as Christ would want me to! BUT (yeah, “that” word!), what if I can’t seem to do what Christ would want me to do? I am fearful, I am hesitant, I am suspicious …”danger, danger!” Over the years, in my human weakness, I carefully build “fences and gates” to protect myself and keep others away from “me and mine.”

OK, now we’re really into it. I see and understand the ideal of living as a Christian; the Sacred Scriptures describe it well and often. But I am confronted with my own weakness and fear, and I capitulate to what seems “safe.” And in capitulating, I find myself, well, lonely and isolated. And then even more fear creeps in, a sense that I am truly, terrifyingly ALONE. Yes, I’m protected in my “cocoon of comfort,” but it’s cold and empty in there, and I cry a LOT more than I smile. What kind of a life is that??? Not much … WHAT to do?

I’m sure that anyone reading this is waiting for me to provide a magic pill, or some other “sweet nothing” to fix up everything, and to solve everyone’s problems, right? “Hey, the priest has the answers, just listen!” But, friends … the bad news is that I have NO “magic fix” at all. All I have is the benefit and result of my own experience in trying to deal with the awkward realities in my own life … and what my relationship with God (in Christ Jesus), and my filial relationship (as a Servite Friar) with Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows provides for me. I hope that is some small taste of good news, if not the complete and simple solution we all sometimes want!

The reality is that life is the art of balancing all that is good along with all that is bad … all the while doing one’s best at remaining in a steady relationship with God. Said another way, the “work” of living is getting comfortable with seeing that many of my inner barriers, psychological and spiritual “gates and fences” are not doing me much good. In a word, it’s FAITH which makes and creates the crucial difference; a dynamic, breathing, ebb-and-flow life lived as a journey, an adventure, and not lived all closed up in a “fortress of solitude.”

Jesus said many times, and in so very many ways, “Do not be afraid.” Today, let’s NOT be afraid, but rather Let us rejoice in life, in one another, and in God! … to be continued … at some later time!

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Wednesday, Sept. 23

“I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

The words above, so telling and compelling, clear, direct, and challenging, come from the Gospel of St. Matthew, chapter 9, vs. 13. But in order to understand the context which gives those words incredible power, we must see the other verses which immediately precede it, and are often referred to, as “The call of Matthew,” he who was, as we know, a tax collector, and therefore a “public sinner” in the eyes of a “just Jew” of the time. Here’s the entire passage:

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Matthew 9:9-13)

Jesus was not merely teaching, but he was critiquing and correcting his listeners, specifically the Pharisees, the religious authorities, about the deeper nature of faith … as it relates to religious practice. That was a VERY touchy subject in the time of Jesus, and, in fact, remains so today in our Christian faith and practice. How and why?

A simple, somewhat sad fact was that in the time of Jesus, the “practices” of the religion of the Chosen People had become the heart of their faith. What was originally given by God to the Jews first and fundamentally to be an interior reality, defined in a “Covenant relationship” with God, along with various ritual ways to remind and practice that Covenant in a physical way, had become (now hundreds of years after the original Covenant had been established with Abraham and Sarah, down through Moses and the Prophets, etc.) pretty much ONLY the exterior practice of the religion, with it’s “inner spirit” almost absent. Any person (like Matthew, or others) could be judged, and judged severely, on the observation of whether the “practices,” the rituals of the religion, were being performed “perfectly,” or not.

So, in this passage we observe, hear, Jesus call Matthew, (who was a “public sinner” because of his “outlawed” profession as a tax collector, i.e., basically an employee of the hated ruling Romans) to “follow him,” and thereby giving him instant status in the “new Covenant” of Jesus’ Community of Love, his Body, that which we now know as “the CHURCH.”

But this was just the beginning. Immediately after Matthew’s call, we find Jesus gathered with Matthew and LOTS of other “sinners,” eating and drinking at a beautiful banquet … ALL forbidden by the many rules, regulations, customs, and laws of a religion defined by external conformity to many “little laws.” The Pharisees offer their judgmental opinion in the form of a question to the disciples, and Jesus reacts and responds with that definitive, corrective, and instructive verse 13, quoted and highlighted above.

What are WE to take away from that episode from so long ago? This: We must never, ever think that the mere repetition of any amount of religious ritual or practice can just completely replace the genuine, interior faith which underpins it. There is clearly a set of accepted, traditional “rules and regulations, “laws,” regarding the practice of our faith today; all good. But, if we “lull” ourselves into thinking that the rituals themselves have value outside of the personal and collective faith of “the Church,” the Body of Christ, expressed as a collection of countless faith-filled people, then we are misled. Jesus would certainly appear to take this approach on many occasions when he was confronted by the religious authorities of his day. He indeed contended with them, and clearly disagreed that it was enough to “practice” a faith without LIVING that faith, in heart, mind, soul and body TOGETHER, as one.

So, friends, sisters and brothers, do you practice “sacrifice,” or “mercy”? Is your body alone the main practitioner of your faith, or your WHOLE BEING, inside and out? Does your body alone come to Mass, or is your heart, mind, and soul IN that body when it attends and participates??? Is your priority just being awake, or being fully ALIVE? Are you merely “going through the motions” in church, or are you WORSHIPPING GOD WITH EVERY FIBER OF YOUR BEING?

May I suggest the well-known Prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola (founder of the Jesuits) for all of us to pray today … or whenever we “slack off” in our understanding of the true practice of our faith and religion.

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will.
All I have and call my own, You have given all to me, to you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.
Amen.

Tuesday, Sept. 22

My Car is my Inspiration Today

LOLOLOL … YES, I know you’re ALL thinking I’m now “officially” crazy! And, in a way, I suppose I am, but I tend to think EVERYTHING we are (even “crazy”) can be a gift from God, or at least blessed by God, if we ALLOW it to be.

So, WHY is my car my inspiration for me today (and maybe for YOU)?
Simple: I drive a “hybrid” sort of car, one which has both a regular engine AND some electric motors. Those two parts were designed and engineered to work together seamlessly to produce certain results: efficient, high mileage, for example. The analogy here is this: I believe God created and “engineered” us to work like a “hybridtandem” car as well, that is, with BOTH our physical and spiritual “sides” or “parts,” to effectively become a single, “meshed” organism which is “programmed” or intended for a good result. Like, for example, a happy, productive, balanced, kind of life which benefits from a direct connection with God (the spiritual side), as well as a solid, positive, connection with physical creation (our bodily side).

When I read the Sacred Scriptures, and most especially the Gospels which tell the marvelous stories of Jesus, the Son of God, who “perfectly possessed” both a physical and spiritual nature united in ONE person, I am inspired to look again (and again, and again…) at my own life, in order to assess (and re-assess, and re-assess…) how I “measure up,” and how, why, or when, I might need to make adjustments to get myself closer to living the kind of life which would be more pleasing to God, and be a real contribution to life and Creation! So, in a strange and wonderful way, even getting in my car and driving to do the most mundane chore could also become a little “push” or reminder that I need a “tune-up,” or tweak in my overall “performance.” I mean, after all, even my car has all sorts of gauges and “messages” which read out to me constantly how it’s doing … or if something is wrong and needs some “extra attention.”

Isn’t life like that too, if we “stay awake” and keep focused on our daily living … and how it ought to best reflect a “life well-lived” in the Lord, and at peace with God’s creation, and especially our fellow human beings; brothers and sisters all?


Of course, I know that all the huge pressures and stresses with which we live these days make it difficult (even to breathe!), but the reward of our Christian lives remains ever achievable, provided we make the “regular operation and maintenance” of that life (just like my car!) a priority.
I don’t mean to be overly simplistic, but sometimes there is an undeniable truth in the old acronym, “KISS,” which stands for “Keep It Simple, Sweetheart.

Let’s offer this prayer together today:

Blessed Lord, Holy One, God of Life and all Creation,

Help me be constantly aware of you in my life, accompanying and inspiring me to open my eyes, my heart, my mind, to the power within me … given by you … to become a better person and a better “steward” of your Creation.

As I perform this mission of life, all in your most holy name, let my efforts be your efforts, my hopes and dreams be the result of your inspiration within me to make your Heavenly Kingdom part of daily life here on Earth.
Help and strengthen me to do good, to lift up, to include, to create community.

When I fail, forgive me, and remind me that your Love impels me to just start over … never giving up, because YOU, O Most Blessed Lord, NEVER GIVE UP ON ME!

Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Monday, Sept. 21

A Prayer for Conversion from the Racism in My Heart

Dear and Blessed Lord,
Forgive me, forgive me, forgive me.
Open the eyes of my heart! Help me to change … to grow, to HEAL;
to loosen the bonds which hold my heart and mind constricted
as if by some giant twisting serpent …
killing my soul and heart, and even my conscience
as I indulge the depths of my need to make myself
somehow better than, more than, higher than, others;
“my Sisters and Brothers in the one Family of God.”
Oh Blessed Lord and God,
Forgive the secret, prejudicial, negative, hurtful, and judgmental thoughts I harbor against:
people who do not look like me,
people who do not think like me,
people who come from other cultures, or nations,
people who speak languages foreign to mine,
people whose ancestry is different from mine,
people whose skin color differs from what I see when I gaze at the mirror;
all the people I have learned from either long ago or perhaps even just last week, to:
reject, revile, demean, denigrate, insult, ignore, or even … hate!
The people I always think of as “THEM,” “THOSE,” anything but MY Brother or Sister …
Blessed Lord of Compassion,
Teach me, please:
to measure others as you measure, with equal measure;
to lift up everyone I see or meet with your arms, arms which embrace;
to stop and listen to a brother or sister with your patience and forbearance;
to search for the dignity of every single person, the dignity you placed within them at their conception;
to cultivate awe toward the other, because every human being’s source is in you;
to manifest solemn respect for the singular humanity we ALL share as your ultimate creation;
to speak to each and every one just as you speak, with forgiveness and forbearance;
to touch all people with your touch, which is gentle, kind, and soothing;
to see all people, without any exception, with your eyes of reverence, honor, and love;
to build up each person as you build, with care, concern, and selflessness;
and finally, to love others as I myself have been loved by you …
abundantly, vibrantly, effusively, richly, and even unto death.
In Jesus’ powerful name, his holy name, his eternal name, I pray …
Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Sunday, Sept. 20

Our Lady of Sorrows

On the Solemnity of Our Lady of Sorrows, the Servite Order honors Mary as our “principal patron,” the “icon” to whom we look, as the Order singularly dedicated to her and the remembrance and celebration of her Seven Sorrows … indeed, her entire life of compassionate service.

The Solemnity, the liturgical celebration of Our Lady’s Seven Sorrows, has a bit of history attached to it … its roots date to the 12th century and the Cistercian Order, but it was especially promoted by the Servites, beginning in the 13th century, so much so that by the 14th and 15th centuries it was widely celebrated throughout the entire Church.

In 1482, the feast was added to the Roman Missal under the title of “Our Lady of Compassion.” Pope Benedict XIII added it to the Roman (liturgical) Calendar in 1727 on the Friday before Palm Sunday. In 1913, Pope Pius X changed and fixed the date on September 15th. In a number of Servite shrines and churches, the Order will also celebrate this Solemnity on the Sunday following the actual date of September 15th. Here at The Grotto, that date is TODAY!

Sacred Scripture gives us this scene as Mary and Joseph presented the baby Jesus for his dedication ceremony as a first born son: “Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his Mother, “This child is destined to be the downfall and the rise of many in Israel, a sign that will be opposed; and you yourself shall be pierced with a sword.’” (Luke 2: 34-35)

Contemplating Mary the Mother of Jesus at the foot of the cross, suffering as she watched her divine Son be killed so cruelly and mercilessly, a saint once wrote about in these beautiful, simple words:

“She stood there in awe of the love with which God loved the world, and the Son’s obedience to his Father. She marveled at her son’s strength in combating the demons, and his patience in such great suffering. She stood there filled with wonder before the mystery of human salvation, and she was model and example for the entire Church of unwavering strength in adversity. With courage she drank of the most bitter chalice, prepared for her by God. In this way she fully participated in the passion of her son.

“If Christ suffered and left us an example to follow, so, too, did Mary in her sufferings. Together with her son she has left us an example so that we might do as she did, never taking our eyes from the divine model given us on Calvary. Let us contemplate this example so that we can deliberately imitate Christ and his most holy Mother. Let us reflect again on the contradictions she suffered because of sinners so that we might not become discouraged or lax on our journey toward sanctity and salvation. May Mary remain for us a model of constant and victorious endurance and unwavering virtue and courage, so that neither tribulation nor worldly creatures may ever separate us from the love of Christ.”

The Solemnity of Our Lady of Sorrows commemorates the seven great sorrows which Mary lived in relation to Her Son, as they are recorded in the Gospels or through Tradition. Today we invite all of you to reflect on Mary’s deep suffering.

The Seven Sorrows of Mary

1. The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)

2. The flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15)

3. Loss of the Child Jesus for three days (Luke 2:41-50)

4. Mary meets Jesus on his way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31; John 19:17)

5. Crucifixion and Death of Jesus (John 19:25-30)

6. The body of Jesus being taken from the Cross (Psalm 130; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:31-37)

7. The burial of Jesus (Isaiah 53:8; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42; Mark 15:40-47)

Prayer to Our Lady of Sorrows

Oh, Mother of Sorrows, Mother of Jesus, with strength from above you stood by the cross, sharing in the sufferings of Jesus, and with tender care you bore him in your arms, mourning and weeping.
We praise you for your faith, which accepted the life God planned for you.
We praise you for your hope, which trusted that God would do great things in you.
We praise you for your love in bearing with Jesus the sorrows of his passion.
We praise you for your compassion, which, in Jesus’ name extends to all of us, your children.
Holy Mary, may we follow your example, and stand by all your children who need comfort and love.
Oh, Most Blessed Mother of God, stand by us in our trials and care for us in our many needs.
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

Amen!

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Saturday, Sept. 19

“No ifs, ands, or buts”

Have your ever heard that phrase? It might be a bit old-fashioned, but it’s usually meant to declare that, whatever the subject, there ought not to be ANY straying from the central truth or declaration described. So, for example, if your boss at work comes to tell you of a project deadline which HAS to be respected and met, and your work is crucial for meeting the deadline, well … you will have to get that work done, with “No ifs, ands or buts” with which to object, deflect, defer, or deny.

The reason I place this before us as something upon which to reflect today is that just recently I got to thinking about the implications in a Responsorial Psalm at Mass which went like this: “If today your hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts …” And it struck me that the most important word in the response was the first little, hugely important, condition-setting word, “IF.” Because “if” I happened to NOT hear God’s voice, that would make all the difference. Right? The question then becomes, not the validity or importance of God’s voice and Word, but whether or not I even “hear” it at all!

As I think of the Scriptures and its many teachings, instructions, inspirations, and (yes!) even warnings, I can also remember the frequency of the call to not delay in putting into good, daily practice all that God has to say to us … whether through history, the voices of the prophets and holy ones, or, of course, from Jesus the Word of God, himself. It’s not really a discussion, it’s much more a reminder of the responsibilities which come from the light (and privilege) of experiencing our faith in God … Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and in the Church, the Body of Christ in our world and our lives.

Being a Christian is not as simple as “ticking a box” on a form, not just “being” a Christian, but also ACTING as a Christian as a “one-to-one” link to that of “being” one. We cannot afford to separate the two, “being” and “acting.” And, we cannot ignore the constant challenge to listen, look for, and accept God’s reality and Law which make our lives meaningful … and effective. It’s a conscious, daily, intentional CHOICE, I believe, to “hear God’s voice,” as the Psalm said, so as to make the BEING AND ACTING as a Christian something effective and REAL. Nothing less is acceptable.

In the final tally, God’s Law is simple and eternal: To love God and to love neighbor. The original Ten Commandments boil down to just those two, and those two, as Jesus said many times, are the sum and summit of what God wants of us. There are “NO IFS, ANDS, OR BUTS” in this project of faith. We will either “hear God’s voice” or we won’t. There is SO much which depends on that conditional choice we have; everything really, all creation and our future.

The reflection today is, quite simply, “Am I tuned in, am I listening, am I discerning with all my strength, and am I ready to choose and act, to receive God’s Voice in whatever moment or context, and therefore to realize my integrity, and my responsibilities as a Christian?”

“If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts.” 

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Friday, Sept. 18

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Back in the late 1950’s, a wonderful Quintet, “The Platters,” came out with a hit song titled, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” That title came back to me, perhaps not unexpectedly, as all of us here on the West Coast, in California, in Oregon, and in Washington, are suffering from the actual smoke of numerous destructive wildfires “getting in our eyes.” So, when I wondered about the old song, I went back to listen to it. The song is a plaintive, beautiful, love song, and part of the lyrics went like this:

Something here inside cannot be denied,They said “someday you’ll find all who love are blind”When your heart’s on fire,You must realize, smoke gets in your eyes.

After listening to the song, it seemed to me that from the two things, the lyrics from an old song, and the actual smoke in the air these days, irritating and burning my eyes, I had something to think about in a spiritual context: that like the smoke from a fire in my eyes, (or the effects of a love relationship) … life is not always simple, easy, or carefree. There are many, many, stumbling blocks, many disappointments, many moments of desperation or disillusionment in just getting from today … to tomorrow.

From that point, and it might just be a very “low point” in life, I have a much greater appreciation for the power and healing strength which comes from a renewal of my faith in God, and a “re-purposing” of my life to get myself back on track, and ready to deal realistically with the “smoke in my eyes,” whether as a physical discomfort or a spiritual challenge or crisis. My faith in God, and in God’s eternal Love for me expressed in so many ways, WILL give me the strength to get up, get going, look forward, WITH HOPE AND NOT DESPAIR!

You all know I live and work here at The Grotto, ”The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother,” in Portland, Oregon. We who live and work here, the Servite Community of Friars, the Sisters who support our ministry, and the wonderful staff who keep us open and “going,” all know and experience this sacred place as a sacred “Sanctuary,” but which is also a “practical sanctuary.” We all hope and pray for every one of YOU out there, wherever you are reading this, that the Sanctuary of The Grotto will always be a “sanctuary” for ANYONE who needs a respite, a break, a place to breathe, a place to feel safe, accepted, whole, affirmed, and good.

The Grotto is your “medical center” for the heart and soul, offering healing, and a place to stop and deeply feel God’s love and Nature’s beauty. The Blessed Mother of God, Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows (her iconic title for the Servite Friars), is the one we also particularly invoke as a heavenly presence and guide to remind us to always “…Do whatever He (Jesus, her son) tells you.” In that directive and reminder resides our full hope and faith.

Friends, everywhere … when “smoke gets in your eyes,” please remember that despite the problems which life presents to us, there is always comfort, company, and HOPE here at The Grotto for you!

May God bless you today and always, and may Our Blessed Mother of Sorrows protect you under her mantle of compassion!

Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Thursday, Sept. 17

Your Faith has saved you; go in peace!

Both readings today talked about forgiveness and healing. Paul, who sees himself as the ‘least of the Apostles,’ received the grace of forgiveness and healing and “toiled harder than all of them.” He doesn’t want to keep this grace by himself, so he shares it to others so they believed.

Jesus forgives the sins of the woman who did what Simon the Pharisee didn’t do to Jesus. Simon’s inability to perceive the woman correctly blinds him to the true identity of Jesus, as the prophet and the true Coming One. She realizes Jesus’ healing power and pours out everything that she has, her tears and her troubled heart (her sins), and in turn, she receives forgiveness of her sinfulness.

We all are in need of Jesus’ healing power, not necessarily for our physical or bodily illness only, but also our mental and spiritual healing. We come to Mass, we go to Confession and we ask for each other’s prayers because we are in need of God’s grace.

God’s healing power and forgiveness brings us into a new life and joy. As we receive this new life and joy, let us pour out our love to God through our service to others. St. Paul and the woman in the Gospel received the grace of forgiveness and they lived out their lives in according to Christ’s love May we, too, receive God’s forgiveness and healing, and live our lives with love.

Prayer

Gracious and loving God,
We thank you for your bountiful grace and mercy.
Forgive us for all our sins.
Forgive us for all the times that we have failed to love and serve youthrough our sisters and brothers who are in need.
We ask you, O God, that as we receive your grace, may we love and serve you with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength.
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Wednesday, Sept. 16

Saints Cornelius (Pope) & Cyprian (Bishop)

Cornelius and Cyprian lived in constant communion without ever meeting.
Cornelius was a pope, elected in 251. Opposed by dissident priests, he had the support of Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, who authoritatively defended his legitimacy.

In 2553, during the persecution ordered by the Emperor Gallus, Cornelius was exiled to Civitavecchia, where he died. Cyprian died a martyr under Valerian in 258.

Prayer

God our Father,
You gave Saints Cornelius and Cyprian the courage to suffer death for Christ.
May their prayers be a source of help for us, and may their example of courage be our inspiration.
Give us, O God, the courage to live in faithful witness to your truth, you who live and reign now and forever.
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Tuesday, Sept. 15

Our Lady of Sorrows

Today we celebrate the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.

When you come down from the Upper Level of the Grotto, you will hear this in the elevator, “He (Fr. Ambrose Meyer, OSM) began the Shrine dedicated to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the woman of faith who stood compassionately beneath the cross of her Son.”

In both relationships between the Virgin Mary and Jesus and Fr. Ambrose and his mother, we could see a strong connection. The relationship of mother to her children is unique, and it’s not only a physical relationship, but also goes deep into their spiritual relationship.

There is a saying in our language that says, “Surga ada di telapak kaki ibu!” which literally means, “Heaven is under the feet of a mother!” This saying reminds us that a mother’s love helps her children experience heaven here and right now.

The Blessed Virgin Mary’s love and faith was, however, far beyond our understanding. She suffered a lot so that humanity can be saved. She accepted all in order to bring our Ssalvation. Her ‘fiat’ was one that leads her to a sorrowful journey. But her faith was so strong that she, at the foot of the cross of her Son, was crowned the Mother of the Church. She is our Mother and our Model in carrying out our faith.

Prayer

Lord, we rejoice in your gracious love, for looking upon the humility of the Virgin Mary, you made her the mother of your own Son and our Mother.
Knowing her sorrow at the cross, you strengthened her fidelity to the Passion of her Son and filled her with the joy of his resurrection.

Grant, O Lord, that we who reflect on the example of the Virgin Mary may learn to place our joy and hope in you.

You revealed your goodness to those who fear you, you strengthen those who believe in you, and give salvation to those who hope in you.

Give us your strength, Lord, that we who follow Our Sorrowful Mother will be courageous to “stand at the foot of those crosses where the Son of Man is still being crucified” (Servite Vigilia).

We beseech you, O Lord Jesus Christ, that the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose most holy soul was pierced in the hour of your Passion by the sword of sorrow, may intercede for us with Your mercy now and at the hour of our death.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Monday, Sept. 14

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

About two weeks ago, the Oregonian newspaper published a Gospel verse. It was from John 3:16. I was fascinated to see this not only because I know what John 3:16 was about, but also because the verse was written in four different languages: Japanese, Korean, Mandarin and Persian. I thought, “This is cool!”

John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
This is the essence of the entire Gospel, in whatever language we want to hear or read it from: God’s offer of eternal life through the sacrifice of Christ, the sacrifice out of love, for us. Yes, God loves you and I that he gives us the greatest gift, God’s own Son, so that we may live in His love and peace.

In response, God calls us to believe that we “might have eternal life” and to continue God’s message of love to others. Let our lives be the living witness of God’s presence and love to all those around us today and everyday.

Prayer

Dear God of love,

Thank you for your infinite love for us.

Thank you for your greatest gift, Your own Son.

May the Holy Cross of your Son be exalted high above all, and may Christ protect and deliver us all from all harm and the scourge of evil.

May the Holy Cross of Your Son heal the world, especially those who are in need of Your healing power from every kind of illnesses.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Sunday, Sept. 13

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Forgiveness

I remember as a boy, I used to fight with one of my two sisters. Both of us were training as martial artists. So, most of our fights were physical, not just verbal. The best thing from the sibling fight, however, is that no matter how many times we fought, we would always apologize and would continue to love each other. One time, after a fight, we were apologizing to each other when our little brother and our cousin came in the house; they heard everything and later on talked about it to our parents.

The theme of our readings this Sunday is on forgiveness. Jesus’ response to his disciples (and all of us), “not seven times but seventy-seven times” seems straightforward. Jesus wants us to forgive as many times as we should. At the end of Our Father, we pray, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We humbly ask God to let the experience of being forgiven transform our hearts that we may likewise forgive others.

During this trying time, let us implore God for his mercy and forgiveness for all our sins, “in my thoughts, in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do” and let us ask God to give us a transformative heart, so with the help of the Holy Spirit, we too forgive those who have hurt us.

“May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins and bring us to everlasting life!”

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Saturday, Sept. 12

The Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary

This day was chosen to honor the Holy Name of Mary. God the Father is glorified by the exalted role of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Thus, her name is a name of honor, a holy name, a maternal name, and a mama’d responsive to the needs of the Church (Ordo).

The feast was granted in 1513, but only in the diocese of Cuenca, Spain; it was then suppressed by Pius V and revived by Sixtus V. It was extended to the Kingdom of Naples and Milan in 1671, and became a universal feast on September 12, 1683, at the will of Pope Innocent XI, as thanks to the victory over the Turks who besieged Vienna and threatened Christianity.

The feast recalls the significance of Mary, she who is the bearer of light, light that illuminated her soul and who has become the light for many souls.

Prayer

All powerful God,
We rejoice in the protection of the Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary.We ask that, by the help of her prayers, we too may come to share the fullness of your grace and come to the joy of your peace.
Through Christ, our Lord.
Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Friday, Sept. 11

9/11 Prayer – We Remember

Lord, our ever-living God, how lovely is your dwelling place.(Resp. Psalm 84: 3, 4, 5-66, 12)

Today, we remember all our brothers and sisters who have gone to you, those who died in the event of 9/11.

We trust their souls, O Lord, into your loving embrace, that they may enjoy your dwelling place in heaven.

May they sing with the Angels in your eternal home.

We remember also their families and friends, who lost their loved ones in that horrible event.

May you, O Lord, be their comfort and bring your healing power into their lives.

We remember the bravery of the first responders.

We remember, O Lord, that you are their strength and their shield.

May you, O Lord, be always with them.

As we remember what happened that day, and honor our brothers and sisters lost, give us, O God, our strength, a peaceful and brave heart, to help, to heal and to carry each other in times of need, as we did on 9/11.

Amen.

Thursday, Sept. 10

Wonderful are your works

Today’s responsorial is taken from Psalm 139:

“O LORD, you have probed me and you know me … Truly you have formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made; wonderful are your works.”

While in middle school at St. Paul Catholic School in Eugene, we had an opportunity to choose an elective 4-week class. Our teacher and one of the moms taught this class. As I recall, we met once a week for a 20-minute lesson. Some of us brought our projects to work on during the rainy lunch recesses. The adults were great teachers, and all of us made progress. 
The adults made it look so easy. It was like they hardly even had to pay attention while they were knitting. Their rows multiplied quickly. Mine, not so much. I had visions of making winter scarves for my whole family. I ended it up with a scarf that was about 9” long and 6” wide. A couple of weeks after the class ended, my project ended up in the bottom of a drawer somewhere.

While on retreat as a sophomore in high school, Psalm 139 was the main theme throughout the weekend. When I returned home, I dug through my drawers and rediscovered my project.

This little scarf became part of my prayer time. I examined it carefully. I reviewed the rows, and recalled the effort, the focus, and care that I had taken to create it. There were some dropped stitches. It was not perfect. But it was unique, and it was mine.

Each of us is a partial scarf , knit together in our Mother’s womb. And as the Psalmist says: “ I give you thanks that I, (and YOU) am fearfully, wonderfully made; wonderful are your works.”

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Wednesday, Sept. 9

Feast of St. Peter Claver

St. Peter Claver was born in Spain. He became a Jesuit priest and served in Columbia.

Cartagena, Columbia, was one of two ports where slaves from Africa arrived to be sold in South America. Between the years 1616 and 1650, Peter Claver worked tirelessly every day to minister to the needs of the 10,000 slaves who arrived each year. He is known for this quote about ministry and preaching: “We must speak to them with our hands by giving, before we try to speak to them with our lips.”

Peter Claver is the patron saint of slaves, and the Republic of Columbia.
Today, let us too try to ‘speak’ of God’s love, mercy, compassion, and hope with our hands (actions) first.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div

Tuesday, Sept. 8

Celebrating Blessed Mary’s Birthday

On this special feast day we celebrate Mary’s birth. And yes, you can do the math: September 8 is exactly 9 months after the Feast of her Immaculate Conception. Both of these feast days help us to remember and to celebrate that God’s ideas, plans, and his workings in time and history are much broader, wider, deeper, and longer than our human understanding.

Salvation History is God’s Story – with us from the beginning of time – not just from your beginning, or my beginning.

Celebrating Mary’s birth today reminds us that each birthday – everyone’s birthday – is a celebration that one exists: Because she was conceived and born, Jesus was born to save us. 

Each person’s birthday is merely not the marking of years, it is acknowledgement of the gift that God gave us within that person. The talent, personality, hopes, dreams and potential are a unique combination in each and every wonderful person.

Prayer

Blessed Mary, As I remember and celebrate your birth today, help me to show your fidelity, your humility, your strength and compassion, as well as your unwavering faith in God.

Amen.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Monday, Sept. 7

The Dignity of Labor

“The work human beings do is nothing other than the continuation of God’s work. Human work is the vocation received from God. Work is what makes the person similar to God, because with work one is a creator, is capable of creating, of creating many things, including creating a family to keep going. And this gives dignity to the human person. The dignity that makes one resemble God. The dignity of labor.” – Pope Francis

Prayer

Lord God, Master of the Vineyard,

How wonderful that you have invited us who labor by the sweat of our brow to be workers in the vineyard and assist your work to shape the world around us.

As we seek to respond to this call, make us attentive to those who seek work but cannot find it.

Help us listen to the struggles of those who work hard to provide for their families but still have trouble making ends meet.

Open our eyes to the struggles of those exploited and help us speak for just wages and safe conditions, the freedom to organize, and time for renewal.
For work was made for humankind and not humankind for work.

Let it not be a vehicle for exploitation but a radiant expression of our human dignity.

Give all who labor listening hearts that we may pause from our work to receive your gift of rest.

Fill us with your Holy Spirit that you might work through us to let your justice reign.

Amen.

Sunday, Sept. 6

To the Virgin at the Foot of the Cross

“Near the Cross of Jesus were his mother…” Undoubtedly, this is not where Mary expected to find herself at this time in her life: at the foot of the Cross on which her Son, Jesus, hangs. But, at the same time, it is where she confidently stands, accompanying her Son as he willingly accepts death and death on the Cross in fulfillment of the Father’s will. As Mary stands there, she remembers the words prophesied by Simeon that a “sword” would pierce her heart. In her sorrow, Mary clings to her faith that this truly part of God’s plan for her and for the salvation of all of humanity.

Mary’s example at the foot of the Cross offers us hope as we too encounter afflictions and challenges in our own lives. In those moments when we feel desperate, bewildered, dreading what is happening to us or to our loved ones, Mary encourages us to confide and trust in the saving power of God who will not abandon us. We may not understand. We may be full of questions and doubts, yet Mary assures us that her Son, Jesus, is ever at our side to accompany us in our time of need and bring us peace, healing, joy.

As we experience God’s action in our lives may we reach out to those around us who are hurting and in need and, through Mary’s intercession, bring them hope, compassion, peace and joy.

Prayer

Mother of disciples inspire us to serve.Teach us to stand with you at the foot of those countless crosses where the Son of Man is still being crucified.Make us living witnesses of Christian love, welcoming everyone as brother and sister.Help us to escape our blindness to follow Christ, the light of all peoples.O Holy Virgin of Easter, and glory of the Spirit, receive the prayers of your Servants.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM, Rector

Saturday, Sept. 5

To the Virgin of the “Magnificat”

And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savor”.

Mary’s song of praise to the Lord is her response to God’s action in her life: “For God has looked with favor on the lowliness of his handmaid”. Mary continues: “For the One who is mighty has done great things for me”, recognizing her poverty, her lowliness, and God’s greatness.

Mary’s song of praise to the Lord gives us confidence to trust and believe that God is willing to look upon our lowliness and to do great things for us. God’s action in our lives, his response to our needs, and the pouring out of his Spirit into our hearts is not based on our own merits, but on God’s unconditional love for each and everyone one of us, for all of his creation. May we, too, burst out in song and rejoice in the God who is our Savior and our life.

Elizabeth Johnson writes: “People in need in every society hear a blessing in this canticle. The battered woman, the single parent without resources, those without food on the table or without even a table, the homeless family, the young abandoned to their own devices, the old who are discarded – all who are subjected to social contempt are encompassed in the hope Mary proclaims.” (Dangerous Memories: A Mosaic of Mary in Scripture)

Prayer

Virgin of Hope and bright promise of a new age,

join us as we sing your song of praise …

Help us create with our sisters and brothers an ever-richer communion of love in Christ.

May we too glorify the mercy of God and sing his praise for the gift of life and salvation.

Holy Virgin, Ark of the Covenant, and first born of the Church, receive the prayer of your Servants.

Amen.

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM

Friday, Sept. 4

To the Virgin of the “Fiat”

“Be it done to me according to your word” are words spoken by Mary, at the Annunciation, in response to the invitation received from God through the message of an Angel. It is Mary’s “fiat”. Mary’s “yes” to the will of God, which becomes for all of us an example of openness and willingness to accept and embrace the will of God in our own life.

How can we discover what is God’s will for our life? What do we learn from Mary’s example?

Mary is a woman of faith, immersed in the promises of God to Abraham and his descendants, living in hopeful expectation of God’s saving action in her life and in the life of her community of faith. When God speaks through the message of the angel, Mary is attentive to that word and open to the Spirit at work in her.

Mary inspires us to be people of prayer, attentive to God’s word proclaimed and preached and open to the outpouring of the Spirit, so that we can say “yes” to God’s invitation to us. May we, like Mary, make room for God in our heart and in our life. May we too become sacred bearers of the Word to those around us.

Faithful Virgin, teach us to be aware of the call of the Spirit and to know life in the hearing of the Word; the Word we hear in the profound depths of our own hearts, the Word spoken in the lives of our sisters and brothers, the Word spoken in the world around us and in the crisis of our times Attentive Virgin and woman of prayer, receive the prayer of your Servants.

Amen

Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM, Rector

Thursday, September 3

Lord, I’m your Fool

Brothers and sisters:

Let no one deceive himself.

If anyone among you considers himself wise in this age,

let him become a fool, so as to become wise.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God.

I Corinthians 3:18-19

Gracious God, Give me your eyes to see. Help me to seek your wisdom, and not the wisdom of the world. The world says exterior proof of one’s success is measured by fame, power, money, and physical strength. Yet your Son entered the world as a helpless child, born in a stable. Jesus spent his time with the poor, the sick, the lost, the broken and disenfranchised. Jesus saw the world, and humanity, as you do. Jesus is your wisdom personified. May I seek your wisdom, and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, that I may be the most compassionate and faithful fool that I can be.

Amen.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

For information about how to contact Vinci Paterson, our Director of Community Engagement, please click here.

Wednesday, September 2

Heart and Soul

Blessed are the people the Lord has chosen to be his own,

Our soul waits for the Lord,

Who is our help and our shield,

For in him our hearts rejoice

In his holy name we trust.

(Psalm 33:20-21)

Gracious and ever-loving, ever-living God, I know that I often say that I want to be ‘all in’ in my commitment to you. When my mind races with worry and anxiety, help me remember that my heart and soul not only belong to you, but wants and needs to rest in you. I know that you are my shield and protection; help protect me from my own projections of what happens next, from my self-doubt, and my pity. Help me today to take clear steps that show you and the world that my heart and soul belong to you. May I continue to grow in faith, hope and love.

Amen.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

For information about how to contact Vinci Paterson, our Director of Community Engagement, please click here.

Tuesday, September 1

The Lord Giveth

I remember hearing this saying often as a child: “The Lord Giveth, and the Lord Taketh Away”.

As I approach 60, I do not believe that this phrase is accurate at all. My parents, grandparents, two siblings, and many dear friends and mentors have entered their Eternal reward. I do not believe that any of them were ‘taken’ by God. Their fragile, mortal bodies expired: illness, accident, old age. I believe the quote should be: The Lord Giveth, and Giveth, and Giveth, and Giveth! Through death, grief, illness, and isolation, God offers peace, wholeness, reconciliation, hope, consolation, wisdom, mercy, inspiration, and the promise that we are never alone.

It is that promise that we are not alone that allows us to journey through the dark and difficult times that challenge our faith, our heart and our hope.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div. 

Monday, August 31

Everything for God

If you are familiar with the entire grounds of the Grotto, you can probably tell your family and friends where your favorite place to spend time and listen to the voice of God is.

I want to tell you my favorite place is at the Peace Garden on the upper level. I enjoy sitting on one of the benches in the Peace Garden, the one looking toward the Via Matris. From this bench, I can see the whole creation in “thirty seconds.” However, that is not what amazes me every time I sit in this bench. What amazes me the most is looking toward the Via Matris and realizing how powerful God’s love has been for humanity, and that He gives EVERYTHING. ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING! Not only does He give us beautiful nature, but also he humbles himself to come in our history and gives up his life for our sake. That is exactly what St. Paul was saying to the people of Corinth, to know about Jesus’ love “and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2).

That is how Jesus lived out his mission, “to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, recover sight to the blind, let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord” (Luke 4: 18-19).

Each one of us has the same mission through our baptism. Will it be easy? Of course not! However, at this challenging time, we are called to take care not only of our own family members and friends, but also God’s ‘little ones’ around us.

Whatever you do to help someone today, do it with love, because you do it for Jesus himself, who has loved you first. May God bless you and give you strength to carry out your own mission today.

Amen.

Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Sunday, August 30

Take up your Cross and Follow after Me

One of the stories that I remember the most about St. Augustine’s Confession is when his best friend died. They had grown up together as boys, gone to school together, and played together. As friends, they shared same superstitious, soul – destroying fallacies which brought St. Monica to tears over St. Augustine. Well, long story short, after the death of his best friend, St. Augustine grew somber with grief and wherever he looked he saw only death. That was one of his crosses that St. Augustine carried in his Spiritual journey.

My brothers and sisters, we can relate to this story to some extend. I have lost two friends over the years due to some illnesses and always wonder why were they gone so fast and so young. Perhaps, that is why Peter rebuked Jesus, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” Most of us are like Peter. We are happy to hear about the peace, love and joy that our faith bring us, but we don’t want to hear about the cross.

However, as many time as we have seen/read about it, Peter seems to have misunderstood Jesus’ mission. Many things that Jesus said were beyond Peter’s ability to comprehend. It would have been too much for us to understand, too, if we had been there.

In respond to Peter, Jesus simply gives a ’CHOICE’, “whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Well, here we are with some degree of cross on each of our shoulders. For us today, carrying the cross involves the day-to-day effort to overcome our selfishness and to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. The cross is for most of us, as St. Paul says in today’s second reading, “to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, our spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1-2).

There might also be some other crosses some of us have to carry: health issues, our advanced age, financial issues, problems at work or at home, and so on. Whatever those crosses are, may we who continue to follow him, and through the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist that we receive at every Mass, be strengthened by his love, so that we can offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, our spiritual worship.

Amen.

Saturday, August 29

The Passion of St. John the Baptist

St. John the Baptist is the only saint who has two feast days, for his birth (June 24) and for his death (August 29).

Today, we celebrate St. John the Baptist. John’s life and death were a giving- over of self for God and other people. His vocation was one of selfless giving.

John’s humble way of life was one of complete detachment from earthly possessions. While in the wilderness, John’s strength came from God who nourished him, and the Holy Spirit was always settled in his heart. His relationship with God strengthened him to speak words of condemnation or repentance, of salvation.

John attracted countless people to the banks of Jordan; it occurred to some people that he might be the Messiah. But, John never allowed himself the false honor of receiving these people for his own glory. He knew his calling was one of preparation: to point the way to Christ.

St. John challenges all of us to the fundamental attitude of total dependence on God and in Christ. Each of us has the calling to which we must listen. It is our mission to witness to Jesus in our daily life. Whatever we do in this world, we are called to be disciples of Christ. Be Christ to all, that others may realize that we live in the joy of knowing that Christ is Lord. We can draw strength from the vastness of Christ’s saving grace. 

Reflection provided by Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Friday, August 28

Be the Change the World Needs

It would be very convenient for us to say “poor virgins” to the five foolish women in the Gospel Reading today. However, let’s face it: we too have been foolish in times; we’re not that wise. You and I have some aspects of the foolish virgins within.

There are many things we have been wanting to change in our life. There are people in our lives that we want to forgive but oftentimes we hold back. There are people who are hurt because of our words or actions to whom we owe an apology. There are people whom we want to be in peace with, and so on. We always try to do all of these things SOME OTHER TIME. Not now, and not right here. LATER.

St. Augustine’s Mother, St. Monica, whose Feast Day we celebrated yesterday, is an example of a wise virgin we can learn from. She did not delay asking God for her son’s future. Because of her prayers, her son turned from his immoral way of life and became a saint. St. Augustine, whose Feast Day we celebrate today, inspires many people to continue to seek the “Beauty of ancient days, yet ever new!”

We too, brothers and sisters, have the aspect of wise ones within, like that of St. Monica and St. Augustine. With the Word of God that we hear and read everyday, and with the Eucharist that we receive at Mass, and with all the prayers of our brothers and sisters around us, we can light the world with our (ever new) wisdom.

As we light the world, let us continue to pray for our brothers and sisters who haven’t entered fully into a relationship with God. Whatever their circumstances, may God open their hearts to conversion and may the God of love welcome them into God’s Peace and Presence.

Reflection provided by Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM

Thursday, August 27

The Feast of St. Monica

Today is the Feast of St. Monica. She is the mother of St. Augustine. She endured a marriage scarred with infidelity and abuse. Her faith and witness brought about the conversion of her husband and mother-in-law, as well as St. Augustine’s return to the faith, and eventually to the priesthood.
She is the patron saint of wives, mothers, conversion, alcoholics and abuse victims.

A Prayer to St. Monica

St. Monica, your faithful witness drew others to Christ. May your example inspire me to be compassionate, loving, and hopeful. May what I say and do today serve as instruments of mercy and reconciliation to all those I meet.

Amen.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Vinci is The Grotto’s Director of Community Engagement. For information about how to contact her, please click here.

Wednesday, August 26

Blessed Mary

Holy Mary,

You are the first faithful disciple.

You are a loving mother.

You are a strong believer.

You are a passionate teacher.

You are a humble apostle.

Mary, blessed are you among women, blessed are you among disciples, mothers, believers, teachers and apostles.

Guide me today and every day to love, serve, teach, follow and preach through my loving words and actions.

Amen.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

To contact Vinci, please click here.

Tuesday, August 25

A Prayer of Encouragement

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word.”

2 Thessalonians 2:14-17

I can close my eyes and almost see St. Paul dictating this letter to the people of Thessalonica. They are reacting to things that they are hearing and seeing around them. They are wondering if they are in the ‘end times’ and if the Lord’s Second Coming is near. The people are anxious, worried, fearful. They are disagreeing with one another.

St. Paul is absolutely right: God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ (in union with the Holy Spirit) loves us and gives us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his Grace!

Today, right now, just STOP and drink in that truth. Let us attach ourselves to Christ.

To his word: The Sacred Scripture, to his loving example, and to the Bread of Life. God’s strength is poured out over us and our good deeds and words will share this truth with the world.

Vinci Paterson, M. Div.

Vinci is The Grotto’s Director Community Engagement. To learn about Vinci and how to contact here, please click here.

Monday, August 24

Hospitality

Do you, brothers and sisters know that the word (and concept/meaning) of “hospitality” comes from the same root origin word for the word “hospital”? Now THAT has me thinking and “contemplating” a bit …

Hospitality has become almost a “sacred” topic, one which appears is all sorts of books and articles about spirituality. Hospitality, the gracious welcoming and serving of a guest (or guests) is certainly found all over the Scriptures, both in the Old Testament and in the New.

The LORD appeared to Abraham by the oak of Mamre, as he sat in the entrance of his tent, while the day was growing hot. Looking up, he saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them; and bowing to the ground, he said: “Sir, if it please you, do not go on past your servant. Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet, and then rest under the tree. Now that you have come to your servant, let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves; and afterward you may go on your way.” “Very well,” they replied, “do as you have said.” (Genesis 18:2-5)

OR:

As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary [who] sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

What we see in these Scriptures of hospitable behavior is people caring for one another, seeing to their needs, going OUT OF THEIR WAY to make sure the guest/s are getting nourished, “soul and body,” refreshed, revived, renewed, welcomed, healed and loved. Hospitality, like “hospital for the soul,” is a place to go for “getting and feeling better.” When we are treated as honored guests, we leave the place of hospitality and hospitable people, actually in a better state then when we entered.

Therefore, today, as a matter of our personal spiritual development, let’s reflect on, and ACT on becoming “hospitable,” welcoming, caring, forgiving, healing and loving.

Think of the implications of becoming hospitable in the spirit of Jesus! Think of what a positive difference each one of us could eventually make to the world, or our community, our city or town, or to our family and friends if we practiced “sacred hospitality” to everyone we met … as a conscious act of faith? Creating a “welcoming space” for others is at the center of Gospel spirituality, and at the center of the “Christ-action” of inclusion and solidarity.

In a hospitable home, church or community there is no room for hatred, racism, oppression, judgment, homophobia, injustice of ANY kind. Hospitality, in the spirit of Jesus, touches the hearts and lives of all people with the gentle and loving eye and hand of God … NO substitute (or equal) to that.

Let us pray:

Holy and Hospitable Lord, teach me YOUR “way.”

I want to make my home, my life, my heart like yours … whose look was always deeper than the surface, whose look was always to “the heart of the matter,” to the core of Being.

Please let me see others with your eyes, please help me judge less and build a stronger community of respect and protections and SANCTUARY for every person who needs it.

Help me quell the FEAR that keeps people away (from me), or isolates rather than builds another “room” to welcome in the family you’ve given to me as a Christian … everyone!

All the wonderful attitudes and “gratitudes” of the Gospel are rippling through my mind now … help me “sift” for the one or another which today will make the life of another just a little bit better, a little bit safer, a little bit more healed and healthy … a place where people can “BREATHE.”

And I thank you, Lord, for walking with me and being my hospitable teacher, friend, companion, and Lord.

Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Sunday, August 23

Blessed Lady, Holy One, Filled with Sorrow, Filled with Love

We Servite Friars (more formally known as The Order of Friar-Servants of Mary) here at The Grotto have Mary, our Blessed Mother, as our “icon,” our focal point of devotion, always orienting us to Jesus, her Son … as she reminded us so simply and eloquently when she instructed the servers at the Wedding Feast at Cana long ago, “Do whatever He tells you.”

Ever since the founding of the Order, almost 800 years ago in Florence, Italy, we Friars, brothers in spirit and a common life together, have tried our best, despite human failings, to do just that, i.e, listen to Christ Jesus and follow His dual commands to all believers: Love God and love you neighbor.
Our Lady herself gave to the Order, at the very beginning, the special image of herself as Mother of Sorrows, Our Lady of Sorrows, as the particular focus she wished us to have and to present to the world, and share with all people everywhere, in every time and place.

This image has been enshrined in art as The Pietà, the image which shows Mary at the foot of the Cross, holding the body of Jesus taken down and laid in her arms before His burial.

There is perhaps, other than the crucifix itself, with our dying Lord and Savior suspended between earth and heaven, no other image so sad and evocative of our prayer as the The Pietà, joining the indescribable sorrows of the Holy Mother with the suffering and death of the Divine Son.

Everyone who comes to The Grotto for peace, for solitude, for prayer, stops by the classic statue of Michelangelo’s Pietà in The Grotto cave (or up on the Upper Gardens in the Meditation Chapel) to send up a prayer to God, through Mary … in our own sorrows and sufferings of the moment.

In those moments of prayer, I like to think of EVERYONE as a member of the Servite Order … ”in spirit.” And in that spirit of unity and community, with ALL of you who might read this today, I offer a prayer to say anytime, even daily, to honor Mary, woman of Sorrow, woman of Faith, Mother of Jesus:

O Blessed Mother, filled with sorrow and pain, my own sorrows can and do overwhelm me! They paralyze my heart, my thoughts … sometimes even my body. In desperation, and feeling alone, I come to you, Blessed Mother, my Mother, and place my heart in your hands to hold and soothe for a moment. In these times when I do not trust myself to think clearly, I ask you clarity and light to show me the way to get up and move forward in life, trusting that although I may feel alone and abandoned, I AM NOT, because you, and your Son are with me always, walking with me, companions on my life’s journey. With this renewed trust and confidence, help me, in a spirit of compassion like yours, to reach to others who are similarly suffering, and in serving them and praying for them, to find my own peace.

Praise to you Blessed Mother of Sorrows, and to your Son, Our Lord.

Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Saturday, August 22

Love your neighbor as yourself

My friends, here are four verses from the Gospel of St. Mark which will probably sound very, very familiar to you:

One of the scribes, when he came forward and … asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)

The meaning, intent, and purpose seem clear, right? But, then again, sometimes I wonder about that LAST verse, Vs. 31. Maybe it’s “just me,” but in case it isn’t all that simple, perhaps some of you have had this same thought or feeling … What I mean is this: What does it mean to “love yourself,” and if I don’t really “love myself,” very well (or much) how then will I love my neighbor “as myself”??? Just HOW does all that work, and what does it mean?

My concern, and the point at the center of this reflection today, is a response to a “question-challenge” I’ve heard now and then from various folks: “If you don’t know how to love yourself (well, properly and healthily), HOW are you going to know how to love anyone else?”… or treat them as being loved, accepted, included, forgiven, etc.? Yes! How will I fulfill the second part of “the Great Commandment” of Jesus the Lord, if I can’t (or don’t) love MYSELF first …” well, properly, and healthily”?

So, I’m looking at myself in the mirror as I pray today…maybe all of you, dear sisters and brothers “out there” who might be reading this, can try the same thing???

LORD! Holy and Blessed One! Dear Friend and Divine Companion … I’m thinking of you, Lord Jesus, trying to focus my prayer of the day, and yet I’m looking right at my own image in the mirror, and I feel, well, all KINDS of things … fear, some shame, a tad bit disgusted, a dusting of pride, a pinch of justification and rebellion, a list of excuses, “deferrals,” procrastinations and “oooops, there you go agains.” I just read your words in St. Mark’s Gospel where you tell me that I ought to “love my neighbor as myself;” it’s THE LAW! And the raw fact of the matter is that I don’t feel very loving of or about myself AT ALL … and so I also know that my “love for my neighbor” must be pretty poor too. In fact, I KNOW it is … I judge others hard and often!

Lord, here’s my very special “ask” of you today: Please help me accept myself as YOU accept me, with all my defects, shortcomings, limitations, weaknesses …sins … and then LAUGH OUT LOUD with your all-encompassing forgiveness.

Lord, help me GET OVER MYSELF! You know me just as I am (with all the aforementioned items …), and yet I feel and know your Love anyway. Help me to know that I cannot and must not do other than you yourself do, which is to love ME.

Help me to look in this mirror, and look into the eyes of that person (ME!) staring back, and say to myself: You silly soul, you’re going to be “who you are,” and that’s enough. Just keep trying to do better, try not to take yourself SO seriously, and try to smile (or even LAUGH?) at yourself more often. God loves you…now, O Self, do the same!

Lord, now that I’ve done a bit of honest soul-searching, I just think I’m going to go out and spend the rest of this day LOVING MY NEIGHBOR AS MYSELF!

AMEN and HOORAY!

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Friday, August 21

Now that I am old

I just had my 73rd birthday about a month ago. You know, dear friends, there was a time I did not think I had all that time to live. The sad fact was that a lot of my forbears did not live long lives … most died fairly young, and many well before their 73rd birthday.

So, here I am, sometimes feeling OLD, definitely more “creaky” and sore than I ever used to be, having experienced the quite off-putting reality of “things breaking” in my body, etc., (UGH!) and the huge inconvenience of not being able to do just whatever comes into my mind at “the drop of a hat.” I even looked up the definition of the word “curmudgeon,” and found it occasionally fit me pretty well, i.e., according to the dictionary, “a bad-tempered, difficult, cantankerous (OLD) person.”

Well, I HAVE to laugh at all that, I guess! So … are any of you out there feeling or acting OLD? Do you HATE it? Are you “resigned”? Are you “sick and tired” of just about…everything??? Hey, I HEAR YA!

But, you know, I’m also laughing a bit, because I’ve also found that my age has brought me things I NEVER had before, and those are things I enjoy a great deal. And the more I accept and understand the gifts of being older (not merely the obvious deficits), the more I also understand, as a follower of The Lord, and a “son of the Blessed Mother” (as a Servite Friar), I also have a particular opportunity to assist others in life, and draw great JOY from that!

Here’s some of what I am enjoying now (as a “Senior”) as never before:
I have a pretty nice WHITE beard, and the little ones think I’m a “grandpa”! How sweet! Around Christmastime for the past several years, a number of children told me I “looked like Santa.” OK, I’m utterly charmed, and had the chance to say something welcoming a warm to the parents as well as the child.

I’ve experienced the opportunity to be the “elder statesman” and offer the wisdom of my fairly long experience in life … not to preach, but to counsel and give comfort.

I’ve welcomed the moments when people felt I was OK to chat with because my face looked gentle and “weathered” a little … maybe like I’d “been there and done that.”

I’ve enjoyed the freedom which comes from being older and just SMILING at perfect strangers … who cares if they think I’m a little crazy? Aren’t most of us older folks a little crazy in the best way?
I get to take more time off.

I get an occasional break in line, when someone feels a little sorry for me. I’ve had heavy front doors of stores and restaurants held open for me more than a few times … and then had the opportunity to say a gracious “thank-you, and GOD BLESS YOU FOR YOUR KINDNESS.”

There’s lots more, but I’m hoping that all my older sisters and brothers who might be reading this are getting the point of this reflection:

Enjoying and USING one’s current state of being, no matter what it is, no matter how old one may be, is still a GIFT from God to help ourselves and others find joy and fulfillment, or even just a moment of “sunshine” on an otherwise VERY dreary day.

I don’t have to run around and be active every moment, but rather just take my time, slow down, and meet the world a little more slowly, more graciously, more consciously, more charitably … and thereby rise to the constantly repeated invitation of The Lord, and his Compassionate Mother: Be gentle, be thoughtful, be wise … be OLD, and “love it” just a little more!

Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Thursday, August 20

Walking in the Garden

In Chapter 2 of the Book of Genesis, you’ll read about the Garden of Eden, although it seems more correct from the verse that the Garden is IN Eden.

“The LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and placed there the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground, the LORD God made every tree delightful to look at and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

From there we listen to what Scripture scholars call the “2nd story of creation.” YES! There are actually TWO separate, and quite different, accounts of the creation … and without elaboration here, I’ll just recommend to all that you read Genesis, Chapters 1 AND a few chapters after. But the point for this particular reflection is the beauty of the garden itself, and that it was a place for Adam and Eve to live and flourish.

We have lovely gardens here at The Grotto. The paths are lined with every sort of flora and fauna, and various birds and other critters appear and disappear, to the ongoing delight of eye and ear.

It’s a place to flourish in one’s soul and heart … a place we have here, for all of you who can visit, whether physically, or virtually through our website, to stay for a while and rest.

We also frequently use the word “sanctuary” to describe the entire Grotto property, and sometimes to identify The Grotto by its full, formal name, The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother. In either case, or in whatever circumstance, walking at one’s own pace through the gardens here (and also remaining aware of the wild, untended parts of The Grotto adjacent to all the tended gardens), is what God intended for the use of the original Garden in Eden. And, it is just about the same as what we intend for all our visitors … a place to know God’s peace, God’s beauty in nature, and to find a way to rest in God’s presence while walking through the beauty, basking in grace.

In today’s not just busy world, but a world literally assaulted by illness, suffering, oppression, and other chaos, we invite you to “walk in the garden,” at peace, and find the solace and security of “SANCTUARY,” a safe place for all God’s children.

Jesus, in the Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 11:28-29, utters these comforting words: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.”

We NEED that comfort and support from the Lord, and we are here at The Grotto to offer you a time and place and “space” to experience just that … so … let us pause and pray for a few moments … (here, please close your eyes, if you can, and “get quiet inside your mind and heart” for a few moments; clear away the “cobwebs,” and open yourself to the Lord’s loving presence.)

Pray now, intently and calmly:

Lord, Oh Blessed, loving Lord, my own Divine Friend … how I long for your peace to fill me up and fill me out; to calm me down and fire me up; to give me a warm and solid shoulder upon which to rest my weary head; to feel a supportive, strong arm around me helping me to stand; to hear your sure and steady voice in my ear, with words of hope and encouragement; to give me your own ear gently bent to my lips to listen to my complaints, my sorrows, my hurts, my disappointments, even my deepest secrets and darkest fears … all without worry about your judgment, and only to hear your complete comfort with me just as I am; to know that in every moment when I feel completely lost, that you are there to reassure me that I am truly found; to make sure that even if I despair I will not be alone, and even if faith and love fail me, hope in you will never fail; to walk with you in the Garden of Life, today, tomorrow, forever.

Thank you Blessed Lord, Savior, Friend, Companion … God.

Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Wednesday, August 19

Prayer of St. Richard

Way back in 1971 there was a brand new musical play titled, “Godspell.” Here’s a little bit about that story: The timeless tale of friendship, loyalty and love, based on the Gospel According to St. Matthew.

Godspell was the first major musical theatre offering from three-time Grammy and Academy Award winner, Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin, Children of Eden), and it took the world by storm.

Led by the international hit “Day by Day,” Godspell featured a parade of beloved songs, including “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord,” “Learn Your Lessons Well,” “All for the Best,” “All Good Gifts,” “Turn Back, O Man” and “By My Side.”

As mentioned in the paragraph above, probably the best know song from Godspell is the extremely simple, and hauntingly beautiful “Day by Day.”

These were the lyrics:

Day by day,Day by day,Oh Dear Lord,Three things I pray,

To see thee more clearly,Love thee more dearly,Follow thee more nearly,Day by day.

And I, like so many people, have always been uplifted by those prayerful songwords. What I did not realize for the longest time, and only rediscovered a few years ago, was the fact that the words to that song, written in 1971, were actually based on a VERY old prayer, from the 1200’s in England, and written by St. Richard of Chichester … MY OWN PATRON SAINT! … LOLOL … wow, did I ever love that accidental discovery.

So, what I wish to offer and share with all of you today is the FULL, original “Prayer of St. Richard” as the daily reflection. I pray this prayer often, as it is both simple and heartfelt, and renewing my faith in Jesus and my love for His goodness to me.

Here it is, and I PRAY that you too will find it comforting and expressive of your heart’s desire as well!

Saint Richard’s Prayer

Thanks be to thee, my Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits thou hast given me, for all the pains and insults thou hast borne for me.

O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may I know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly, Day by day.

Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Tuesday, August 18

Bread and Wine

Have you ever noticed that Jesus never uses anything but the MOST common things of this world to make the MOST sublime points? It’s truly amazing, and just a powerful reminder to me that “complexity” does not mean wisdom or “better/best.” Often the simplest of things, the most basic examples, understandable to anyone, make for the best material for teaching and learning.

There is a story, for example, about St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the most learned, theologians in the history of the Church, who, as an old and very accomplished, famous writer about God, faith and the Church, witnessed a simple peasant, likely unable to even read or write, praying before the Blessed Sacrament on one of the great churches in Paris, France (where Thomas was a Professor of Theology). On seeing the peasant in fervent prayer, he said, “ALL of my writings are as much as straw to be burned, compared to the worth of the prayer I see being offered by this peasant.” WOW! What a stunning admission and realization.

Well, when I take the time to slow down and READ AND CONTEMPLATE the Scriptures, I see that Jesus uses much the same approach to God, faith, and good works, i.e., “keep it simple!” I don’t think that Jesus had in mind that His listeners (or us today) were too dull of mind to understand something more complex. Rather, I think the simplicity of Jesus, in his exposition and use of examples, was, in itself, the depth of the truth: GOD IS SIMPLE … GOD IS LOVE … GOD IS MERCY … GOD IS COMPASSION. Forgive and be forgiven, treat others the way you would have them treat you, pray always, feed the poor, seek out the abandoned, heal the sick; do I need to go on? So, it’s no surprise at all that, at the end of His life, in order to assure that the Apostles and other disciples would remember Him, Jesus left them with a simple prayer-blessing using BREAD AND WINE … the simplest things He had at hand during the Last Supper meal He shared just before His death … to make sure He could and would be remembered and be PRESENT to His beloved friends … and to all of us today.

The Holy Eucharist, the bread and wine we break which is the Body and Blood of Christ, is so simple that we really cannot forget it, even to the point that EVERY time I take a bite of bread, or a sip of wine, I can actually be reminded of the Eucharist … and of Jesus full presence to me, to us, to Creation. WONDERFUL!

And the many other things Jesus used to convey His truths and teachings, like water, air, flowers, wheat, sparrows, weed, light, darkness, stones, wind, rain, storms, blood, baskets, fish, animals of every kind, etc., etc., etc. … each thing we see can actually remind us of some truth about Jesus and His teachings for us: to be sure to love God and love our neighbor … not to judge, and not to hate; that God’s creation is to be cared for … we are stewards in God’s name in His garden, the world.

Let us pray

O Most Blessed Lord and God, all-holy, all-knowing … help me find the “eternal YOU” in the simplest things and moments of my daily life, in my waking, in my living, in my work and in my play, in my eating and in my fasting, in my coming and in my going, in my resting and in my sleeping … let everything lead me to YOU. As I read your Holy word daily, show me the truth in the simplest way, and when I want to share with others, let me be simple, caring, nurturing, accepting, patient and loving … always, and thereby praise you.

Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Monday, August 17

Overwhelmed

Do you, dear friends, have those moments when, out of absolutely nowhere, come feelings or memories of such power that you feel overwhelmed? The entire world, for at least some moments, stops on its axis, and you might even skip a breath … or two?

Depending on what that feeling might be, or the specific memory, I will find myself either giggling with pure joy, little sounds of laughter (or out loud guffaws) escaping my mouth. Or, quite the opposite, and I am suddenly grabbing for a towel to dry the FLOOD of tears erupting from my eyes and trying hard to stifle the sobs which accompany.

Oh, sometimes the raw experience of our humanity IS overwhelming. Usually I keep those experiences to myself … they seem so absurd, so uncontrollable, so dominating. I’ll even wonder, from time to time, after the strong feelings (and accompanying gales of laughter or flood of tears), “Am I OK?” “Is there something wrong with me?”

But here I am, sharing theses thoughts with you today, friends, because the more I think about those events and those feelings, the more I come to see myself as a pretty ordinary human being, with all the ups and downs of anyone else. In fact, it seems the more I “own” my deepest feelings (either positive or negative), the more I seem to be able to relate to someone else’s feelings and life, and world.

As a priest and counselor THAT is very helpful. But what about YOU, my friends? Aren’t ALL of us, EACH of us given the capacity, or privilege and responsibility, as followers of Christ, to be “present” to others who need to “own” their own feelings, and still feel “OK,” that even being overwhelmed from time to time is … perfectly NORMAL?

Indeed, I am fortunate enough in my life to have a few, very selected persons to whom I can confide and share with them the “laughing times and the crying times.” I think of them as my “Jesus-friend.” HEARING someone say, “It’s OK, I’m here, it’s OK,” is just about the best thing to hear.

So, with this reflection, with this meditation today, I’m asking everyone to reach out with all the talents God gives you, to be able to be “present” to others who might be feeling overwhelmed. When you send out “feelings of peace, love, acceptance and inclusion,” people are going to pick that up and respond. And in doing so (the both of you), it’s a “win-win” in which God’s WILL is done, i.e., that we “love one another,” because we are of God.

God bless ALL of you today!

Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Sunday, August 16

For whom shall I pray?

I pray for myself and my own intentions all the time … who doesn’t? But, I also remember that it’s my responsibility and privilege to pray for others … of course!

So, I wondered today, “Whom should I pray for?”

The first ones who came to my mind, perhaps not at all surprisingly, are all those who are sick with the coronavirus, Covid19. And, of course, for those who have passed away from that awful scourge of a pandemic … but where to start?

I decided to turn to “the numbers,” those rather solid things which help me (us) “get real” about “reality.” And since just the number by themselves sometimes lose significance because “I can’t count that high,” I made images, maps so to speak, to bring my prayer into a more precise focus …
Lord, I wish to offer up to you today, as my reflection on sadness and fear, in a prayer of solidarity, all the people who are sick all around the country. Lord, I looked it up, and there are over 5 million people ill right now … and I didn’t really know how to count that high … how big is that?

I looked up the number again … here’s what I found, and now I’m sadder than ever because now I know how bad it really is, and how many people I need to pray for. Five million people are ill, and that’s basically equal to the ENTIRE population of my own State Oregon, PLUS the entire State of Alaska, a little way up north from where I am. ALL THOSE PEOPLE???

Oh, Lord, how can I pray for all of them? If I tried to offer even the briefest, shortest prayer for them, one by one, it would take me weeks, months, years to get to all of them. I had NO idea how big the “job” of prayer could be. Lord, would it be OK for me to give them ALL to you, then?

Lord, I’m now beginning to understand why you are, and have to be, “infinite,” because there’s just too much, too many, here on Earth for me to handle in prayer. Lord, help me, please … I want to pray for everyone, and when I get my feet on the ground and realize just how small I really am, then I am grateful for your infinite life, heart, and love … YOU can receive my small, weak, but well-intentioned, sincere prayer for the many, and just as you multiplied food for the thousands of hungry mouths on the grassy hillsides of Judea long ago, YOU can MULTIPLY my prayer of solidarity and compassionate concern for the millions who are ill.

Lord, that’s what I ask of you today: Take my prayer, sincere and from the heart, and please make your loving presence and life known to those who are ill, who are suffering, who are alone, who are afraid, who are abandoned, who are dying this day … HELP THEM … in my name. OK?

Please?

Thank-you, Blessed Lord Jesus.

Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Saturday, August 15

Night

I must admit that there are times when the night frightens me … it’s DARK (obviously) … I cannot see everything which is or might be there.

I tend to think that what I cannot see or sense might harm me … or worse. BEWARE, therefore.

Night is the time to be at home, safe, and in a very familiar space. Tucked rather cozily in bed on a chilly winter’s night (or one of the frequent rainy ones here in Portland) is a comforting image.

But am I entirely correct in that underlying fear and hesitation about the night? Didn’t God create the night as well as the day, darkness as well as light? Is it really all that bad, or have I just learned to be fearful and hesitating rather than “creative” in thinking about what the night may bring to me which will also draw me closer to God?

So … as a bit of a story-teller, I remember the night a year or two back, when it was cold and snowing here, and deep, deep into the night I awoke and rose to just get a glass of water. I passed by a window in my room and happened to look out. There on the snowy lawn below the window, in silence, and almost in a “dance” of joy, were three coyotes romping in the snow, enjoying it, playing with one another!

Since I was above and out of their sight, I was able to watch them for several minutes before they scampered off into the woodsier part of the grounds here. Delightful … Beautiful … Graceful … Joyful!
Are those not God-feelings and experiences? And yet, in the middle of a dark and cold night.

Hmm … other stories? Yes, I have many now that I begin to think about them. I remember stories and feeling evoked when, on camping trips, away from the lights of the city and “civilization,” I could observe the uncounted millions of pin-point lights of the twinkling lights of the Milky Way galaxy, and see both single points of light as well as the blur of stars which gives us the description “milky” for our galaxy. OH, WONDER!

Or the times I was lucky enough to be by the ocean at night, listening to the mysterious crashing of waves, and see a particular phosphorescent light flash in the water of the breaking wave itself … I later learned that it was a form of algae which give off that light, so awesomely mysterious and lovely … Nature’s miracle.

Or … in the middle of the night when I can get a much better sense of what “quiet” really means … no traffic, no voices, no TV, no radio, no REST.

Yes, night really isn’t so bad after all … and Jesus often prayed in the night, through the night. Maybe I could do the same sometime.

O Blessed God of Light and DARK, of day and NIGHT, help me find you everywhere, at all hours, and in all conditions. May I find you where I even least suspect you’ll be. Surprise me with you quiet presence, your holy warmth, or your soothing cool. Refresh me as I rest, and nourish me while awake. Let me not fear, but only assure myself of your loving presence surrounding me with peace.

Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Friday, August 14

Let us pray to the Lord

There is always SO much to pray for … and Jesus told us to, “Pray always…” (cf. Luke 18:1).

Today, therefore:

• For all the people in the world who are dealing with, and suffering with, Covid-19, that they receive proper medical care, let us pray to the Lord!
• For the hundreds of thousands of persons who have died from the coronavirus all over the world, that they may rest in God’s peace forever, let us pray to the Lord!
• For my family and for my friends, that every single one of them be kept safe from every harm, every accident, every disease, let us pray to the Lord!
• For all the people who have neither family nor friends, that I and we may learn to love better and provide for the lonely, let us pray to the Lord!
• For the desperately poor, that we who are wealthier, either as individuals or as communities and Nations, may find ways to extend and share our security with them, let us pray to the Lord!
• For persons of color, for migrants, for LGBTQI people, for ethnic or religious minorities, for those enslaved in any way, that our world, beginning with ourselves, come to accept diversity as God’s gift and as an invitation to create a greater human community, let us pray to the Lord!
• For the leaders of Nations, and in a special way for the elected leaders of OUR Nation, that the morality of Jesus, to love without measure and without judgment, to value and support every person as a child of God, to address injustice and live out mercy and compassion … that ALL this replace the present conflicts, hatred, divisiveness and oppression with Jesus’ own way of living, let us pray to the Lord!
• For the ability to live with less fear, and more loving confidence, in God’s providence, let us pray to the Lord!
• For a greater concern and respect for lovely “Mother Earth,” that, as Pope Francis has instructed us, we might have better “care for our common home,” let us pray to the Lord!
• For all those working in healthcare, who, currently under so much pressure, need a good word of encouragement…let it come from me, let us pray to the Lord!
• That our land will continue to provide healthy nourishment for all, and that the goods of the land may be shared by all, equally, let us pray to the Lord!
• For anyone I might have insulted, demeaned, “profiled,” objectified, disrespected, oppressed, disregarded, treated rudely, ignored, marginalized, or treated as less than myself, I ask the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness form all, I pray to the Lord!

“So many prayers, so little time.” I’m going to pray a little MORE EVERY DAY, Lord.

Lord, help me pray.

Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Thursday, August 13

The “Little Ones”

In Chapter 18 of St. Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus gets this question from one of the Disciples: “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” The passage continues, “He (Jesus) called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, ‘Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.’”

On a first reading we might easily think that Jesus, in this Gospel passage, is referring to children, and children alone, “little ones.” But look again: Jesus is speaking ABOUT children, but TO the Disciples, telling them to become LIKE children, i.e., “humble.”

As the passage continues, there is a “Part II,” as well, and Jesus attaches a further teaching mandate: Not only must we (like the children) BE humble, but we must also TREAT OTHERS as Jesus would receive and treat them.
As in many passages in the Gospels, Jesus “ups the ante,” or intensifies His teaching, by commanding us to be MORE than we are, to grow and mature in every sense, to “evolve” from the narrowness and limits of a self-centered life, and open ourselves to a “broader view,” or a “bigger world,” or a “deeper life” in His spirit and in His love.

What we often perceive as “enough” is often challenged by Jesus in the Gospels as just the beginning … Open up! Let go! Give it another try! There’s work to be done!

So, in looking around a needy and hurting world, beginning with the children everywhere, but also all the “little ones,” Jesus becomes the inspiration and impetus for every Christian’s ever-renewed focus of thought, word, and deed; remain humble, simple, honest and true, and SERVE others, every hurting person, no matter who they are or where you find them, in such a way that would honor their dignity and integrity as God’s own child.

It’s yet another expression, in action and life, of Jesus’ constant reminder that there are only TWO COMMANDMENTS: to love God with all our being, and to love (serve) our neighbor with all our strength.

Friends, let us re-dedicate ourselves again to this Mission.

Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Wednesday, August 12

Acceptance

I like “accepting,” but “acceptance” can be quite another matter.
Accepting is what I think of or remember when I accepted a gift, or a word of encouragement, congratulations, or praise. It just feels good, plain and simple.

But “acceptance”? Well, that makes me think of the times when life was (or is!) difficult … when things just have NOT gone my way, or when I was countered and opposed and I had to give in, or give up, or just “accept it.” “It is what it is.” I might have to accept that … but I sure don’t like it!

Today I’m going to pray that I “accept acceptance,” not as a strange sort of penance, but more as a discipline of life and of spiritual growth and opportunity.

Jesus can and will be my MODEL for it. Jesus, Lord, God, Friend, Companion … He knew how to accept suffering and turmoil with dignity, with focus … because God his Father was always with Him. That’s what I want to learn … or re-learn today: to accept life with courage, with dignity, with a sense that I am valued and loved; lovable just because “God made me that way.”

So I can pray:

Lord, when I want to shrink away and down, when I want to make myself small, or even invisible, when I don’t want to face the day ahead, or the hour or even the minute … Give me YOUR presence, YOUR dignity, YOUR courage, YOUR sense of blessing and worth, because of my heritage with you as an intimate part of God’s loving plan for all creation. Help me to rise UP, O blessed Lord, from my bent-over life, and look straight at You, and therefore knowing my true worth as a child of God. Thank You, Lord, for helping me to understand that acceptance isn’t always a burden, but a way of knowing Your trust in ME.

Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Tuesday, August 11

Compassion … Just what is it?

Commiseration? Feelings? Sympathy? Condolence? Empathy? Or … much, much more?

The Bible is filled with stories of compassion. Many compassionate Bible characters inhabit the pages of the Old Testament, and examples of the compassion of Jesus Christ are plentiful in the Gospels. These examples of compassion are a call and challenge to the followers of Jesus. They speak of a God who has compassion for Israel. They tell of a Savior who suffers for the world, and they ask us to live and act compassionately.

I will tell of the kindness of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us — yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindness. (Isaiah 63:7)

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:13-14)

Compassion, therefore, as the prophets of the Old Testament demonstrated, as the Apostles understood it, as Mary the Mother of the Lord showed it, and as Jesus Himself lived it … was nothing less than identifying with the lives of others in all their complexity, and reaching out to others with a HEALING WORD AND TOUCH. Compassion is not only a thought, nor merely a word, but A DEED … Love made concrete, Love made real, “Love Incarnate.” Jesus is “The Compassion of God”!

Let us pray

Lord and God, Jesus, Companion of my heart and life … show me your compassion today and always. And that I might remember what your compassion truly is, remind me to SHOW COMPASSION to everyone I meet … with my thoughts, my words, MY DEEDS. When I love others as YOU loved me, I know what peace, joy, and fulfillment truly is. Let me SERVE, in your most Holy Name, and share with You in the healing of the world.
Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Monday, August 10

A New Day

I didn’t have an alarm set for today. I decided I could, and therefore I DID, “sleep in” a bit. I wanted to wake naturally, and a bit slowly, just opening my eyes when, somewhere deep inside my body and mind, Nature’s own alarm-clock (of sorts) decided I had had enough “snooze,” and I was rested sufficiently to “meet the world.”

When I woke it was still, utterly quiet and peaceful, outside the wide open window right next to the bed … the window which I literally NEVER close except on the most freezing of winter nights. And in the stillness, in the slow waking of my body, sense by sense … sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing … one beautiful birdsong, clarion bright and crisp, rang out from the nearby trees. And with that lovely and pure “invitation,” I woke up fully, and rose to begin the day.

God is like that … a clarion, bright call to my listening heart at the break of day, inviting me to rise and greet all Creation as experienced in my small corner of the world and existence. What God manages to give me today, like the early bird’s bright song, is a “signal” point from which to start, and also a particular purity and sweetness to remember to focus upon off and on, throughout the day, however it goes.

I know I can’t predict of force every moment, thing, or person to “do it my way,” but the good and gracious Lord of All will be by my side, and as my Divine Friend, will make sure there is, as the writer once wrote, a “still point in the turning world.” And I’m grateful for that, for the Lord … Friend, Companion.

Today is a new day, and tomorrow will be another new day, and the day after that … on and on. With God, my Lord, at my side, and also “inside,” I can make something of this day which will be worth far more than my own small efforts could produce on their own.

Peace, calm … now, my soul: BREATHE!

Amen.

Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Sunday, August 9

A Tiny Whispering Wind 

Today’s first reading from the First Book of Kings is a favorite. Elijah is told to go up to the Mountain and wait for God to speak to him. First, there is heavy wind and rain, and then falling rocks. Later, there was an earthquake and a fire. God was not found in any of these loud, flashy, mighty “expected” ways. Instead, God came in a tiny whispering sound.

Ahh … quiet … tiny … whisper.

It is most often in the quiet that we can hear God speaking most clearly. Beyond the noise of physical sound there is the rumble of worry, the fire of anger and jealousy, the rain of sorrow and winds, and other emotions that can clutter up the quiet of our mind and heart.

Today I encourage you to make space for quiet so that you can hear God speaking to you:

God of all light and life, I come to you today wanting to be still, quiet, and open to you. May I listen with my heart, and remove expectations so you may come to me in your own time, and in your own way.

Amen.

Saturday, August 8

The Feast of St. Dominic 

St. Dominic is the founder of the Dominicans. The initials after their name are O.P., standing for Order of Preachers. The Dominicans are a world-wide order. Much of their focus is on preaching, teaching.

A Prayer for Today

Gracious God, you raise up faithful women and men to challenge and inspire us to live consistently as a faith-filled follower of your Son, Jesus. Bless the women and men who are members of Dominican religious communities. With the help of your grace, may I grow in compassion, in the comprehension of my faith, and charity of heart.

Amen.

Friday, August 7

Take up your cross and follow me

My Grandmother used to say “everyone has a cross.” Until I was an adult, I did not understand what she meant.

Jesus speaks to each of us today: “Take up your Cross and follow me”.
Jesus knows us, and the cross that we must carry. No one else can tell us what our cross is, or how to carry it. For some it may be a chronic illness. For others it may be a struggle with addiction, or a trying relationship with a loved one. Yes, everyone has a cross.

The good news is that Jesus carried his cross first, and he carried it for each of us. So, as we struggle with the pain and burden of our cross, we must remember that we do not carry our cross alone – EVER – Jesus is ahead of us, along side us, and behind us with constant words of love and encouragement.

Thursday, August 6

Transfiguration

Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration. Here is the definition of the word: a complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state.

Jesus took James and John away with him to pray. In the midst of praying, Moses and Elijah joined Jesus. Moses represented the Law, and Elijah, the prophets – the past, present and future of Israel together in one place. And in that moment, James and John caught a glimpse of the fullness of who Jesus really is. I am sure this experience made little sense until after the resurrection.

Let us pray

Ever-loving, ever-living God, I pray that my attachment to you through prayer, reading of the Scriptures, and belonging to a community of faith will transfigure/transform me. In my daily living may I somehow allow others a glimpse of your life and love. I long to be a beautiful reflection of you.

Amen.

Wednesday, August 5

A Hope-filled Vision

“At that time, says the LORD, I will be the God of all the tribes of Israel, and they shall be my people … With age-old love I have loved you, and kept my mercy toward you. Again I will restore you, and you shall be rebuilt … you shall go forth dancing with the merrymakers. Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; those who plant them shall enjoy the fruits.” (Jeremiah 31: 1,5-6)

Today the prophet Jeremiah describes a vivid image of joy and hope for the people of Israel – and us.

What a beautiful line: “With an age-old love I have loved you, and kept my mercy toward you.”

God loves us, is committed to us. God’s love heals, restores, reconciles, cultivates joy, and bares fruit through us.

Let us pray

Gracious God, help me to live my commitment to you as fervently as you live your commitment to me and all your people.

May my efforts today promote healing, hope and joy.

Amen.

Tuesday, August 4

Feast of St. John Vianney

St. John Vianney was a French priest. Although he struggled with studies, especially Latin, his desire to serve God as a priest was very strong. He persevered with the help of a tutor, and became a parish priest. He was known for his love of the Eucharist, his dedication to Mary, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He is the patron saint of priests.
Below find two of his famous quotes on prayer. May they enrich your faithful reflection today:

“My little children, your hearts are small, but prayer stretches them and makes them capable of loving God. Through prayer we receive a foretaste of heaven and something of paradise comes down upon us. Prayer never leaves us without sweetness. It is honey that flows into the souls and makes all things sweet. When we pray properly, sorrows disappear like snow before the sun.”

“Prayer is the inner bath of love into which the soul plunges itself.”

Monday, August 3

Take courage, it is I

I find comfort and humor in the fact that the intimate followers of Jesus often misunderstood his words, or actions. Sometimes they even let pride, or fear take over their hearts and minds.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus was alone praying on the shore when the storm rose up. He then approached the boat walking on water. His disciples were so afraid that they did not even recognize Jesus!
I have seen first-hand how suddenly storms can come up on a body of water. As in daily life, events and issues can come out of nowhere. We feel surrounded by a storm and distant from Jesus. Fear is an antagonist of, and barrier to faith.

Let Us Pray
Gracious God, and Lord of Love, help me to focus myself on you – to trust you completely. Dissolve the fear, worry and anxiety that I often let navigate my efforts. Help me to be an instrument of hope, and faith, and love.
Amen.

Sunday, August 2

The Hand of the Lord Feeds Us 

Today’s Responsorial Psalm is definitely food for thought. “The Hand of the Lord feeds us; He answers all our needs”.

I enjoy cooking and baking. I enjoy it most when I am preparing food for others. I love this image of the Lord’s hand feeding us. When our son was learning to eat solid foods, and even as he progressed to utensils, my husband or my hands were right there directing, encouraging, and cutting up foods to be eaten.

I am happy to repeat the response to the psalm a few times to let it sink in: “The Hand of the Lord feeds us; He answers all our needs”. The beauty of this phrase is that we do not just stop with the fact that the Lord feeds us. It does not say: The Lord feeds us whatever we wish. It says that God answers all our needs. Often I know that I am hungry, but I do not know what I am hungry for. God knows our wants, our hopes, and our needs. What I want may be out of convenience, or pride, or even envy.
God hears all of those things – but he hones in our what we truly need. Not what I think I need, or someone else thinks I need, but what God knows and lovingly provides for each of us.

I encourage you to shift your thinking here regarding hunger. Move it beyond food. What are you hungry for? Peace, health, hope, justice, mercy? God extends his hand to you with your answer.

Saturday, August 1

St. Alphonsus Ligouri

St. Alphonsus Ligouri is the founder of the Redemptorist Order of priests and brothers. Today is his Feast Day.

He is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote in the field of spiritual theology. His “Glories of Mary ” is one of the great works on that subject, and his book “Visits to the Blessed Sacrament” went through 40 editions in his lifetime.

St. Alphonsus was a very practical man. He simplified preaching to be a practical breaking open of the Scriptures so that the people of God could be nourished and inspired to live more faithfully. Also, with the Sacrament of Reconciliation, he focused on encouraging true repentance by changing one’s actions rather than just the repetition of penitential prayers and actions.

Let Us Pray

St. Alphonsus, you challenged believers to allow God to change their minds and hearts.

Help me to be open to the many ways that God is asking me to change and grow to more truly reflect the image of Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Amen.

Friday, July 31

St. Ignatius

Today, along with the Jesuits, we celebrate the Feast Day of St. Ignatius. Pope Pius XI declared him the patron saint of all spiritual retreats. He is also the patron saint of soldiers and the Jesuit Order.

St. Ignatius and his prayer practices have enriched the life of the Church. He encouraged his Jesuit brothers, and the many lay people that sought his direction, to involve their whole self in their prayer. He encouraged people to imagine themselves within the Gospel stories they read – maybe in the crowd listening to Jesus teach, or as the man born blind.

Another practice is called Lexio Divina. With this practice, one slowly reads a Bible passage two or three times, with a few minutes of silence in between each reading. After the third reading of the scripture, the reader discovers which word or image resonates in their heart? Whatever that word or image is, it what they ponder the rest of the day.

Let us pray

St. Ignatius,
Your missionary work, your educational efforts, and your many works of charity inspire me to dedicate myself wholeheartedly to Christ
Help me, this day, discover simple ways that I can reach out to others, teach the faith through my actions, and grow in charity. 
Amen.

Thursday, July 30

You are the potter, I am the clay

Today’s reading from the prophet Jeremiah gives us another great image – God as an artist.

In high school and college, I took a couple of ceramics classes. I could not wait to begin working with clay on the potter’s wheel. My teacher made it look so easy. 

It takes many hours of practice to even begin to ‘work the clay’. First, it has to become centered on the wheel. It must have proper moisture while working with it. The artist must have some intent, or idea of what they wish to create. The artist must be strong to move the clay, The artist must be focused, purposeful, and willing to get messy to create a masterpiece.

There were many times when I was working on the wheel that nothing useful came from my efforts. The Good News is that God is focused, God is purposeful, God is intimately close to the inner-workings of our lives. My prayer is not to be the largest or most beautiful of God’s creations, but to be continually made and remade into something useful to God and in the service of His Kingdom.

Wednesday, July 29

A Prayer for Today

Blessed St. Martha,

You did not hesitate to share your worries, questions, and burdens with the Lord Jesus. Help me to openly share my anxieties and troubles with Jesus.

In turn, the Lord reminded you to remain attached to Him and not get caught up in ’doing’ for the sake of keeping busy. Help me today and every day to proclaim like you, “ Jesus is my Lord and Savior”.

Help me proclaim this by growing as a person of faith, a person of hope and a person of charity.

Amen.

Tuesday, July 28

Reality Check

The prophet Jeremiah was overwhelmed by the destruction and evil around him. But in the midst of all of it, the one thing he knew for sure was that God was with him and God would not abandon him.

Wow, lately with news of violence, bigotry, health and safety concerns, today’s readings help us pull the focus away from ourselves and back to God. God accompanies all of us – especially in our weakness, our sadness, our frustration.

In our prayers today, let us ask God to use our words, our actions, and our life as a vivid reminder to those around us that they are surrounded by God’s loving presence.

Monday, July 27

Hidden Potential

The parables of the mustard seed and the yeast are two of my favorites. The smallest seed can grow a large tree; a couple of grains of yeast can leaven a whole lot of dough.

These very practical and vivid images remind us that God can grow and multiply even the smallest good in us.

During this pandemic time there are days that I feel I have only a thimble-full of patience, hope, or mercy. So in my morning prayer I ask God to take the little I have and multiply it.

As we seek to do God’s will by embodying His love and compassion, we become leaven to the people and situations around us. God the Father creates and sustains us; Jesus His Son redeems and heals us; and the Holy Spirit inspires and empowers us.

Let us pray

Gracious and eternal God, I humbly ask that you transform those parts of my mind, heart, and actions that do not reflect your saving love. I ask you to grow in me the virtuous actions that show the world around my that you are the Lord of my Life.

Amen.

Sunday, July 26

An Understanding Heart

God tells King Solomon to ask for whatever he wants. Solomon answers: “Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.”

Wow, I’m sure that this would not be my first request if God asked me what I wanted. King Solomon was a good leader because of his humility and the gift of an understanding heart that he requested from God.

Let us pray today for our leaders – local, national, and international. Let us pray for those who direct medical staff and first responders, and those who lead work teams, families and churches:

Gracious and loving God, I pray that you bless all leaders with an understanding heart. An understanding heart that listens, respects, forgives, hopes and loves.

Lord help me also grow in understanding of those who are different than I, my neighbors, family members and strangers.

May my words and actions reflect your generosity, fidelity and love.
Amen.

Saturday, July 25

A Pilgrim’s Patron

Today is the feast of St. James. He is the patron saint of pilgrims.

“What is a pilgrim?” you might ask. Here is the definition: a person who journeys to a sacred place for religious reasons.

We consider all who visit The Grotto a pilgrim whether they identify themselves as such or not. But, in a wonderful way. each of us is a pilgrim. We are on a journey toward a sacred place (heaven) and for religious reasons we live our lives in a certain way – with specific beliefs and practices to help witness to a gracious and infinitely-loving God.

May the enthusiasm and dedication of St. James serve as a model for each of us.

Friday, July 24

Soil and Seeds

The parable of the sower and the seeds is so great because most of us can walk outside to a planter box, or flower bed, or even the easement between the road and the sidewalk, and see the visual laid out before us … rocky soil, weeds, shallow ground and rich soil.

Think of our life like a flower bed or garden. It is a mixture of all of those examples: there are weeds, some parts of us are shallow, other parts are rocky, and yes, there is some rich soil, too.

Anyone who has worked in a garden knows that the ground must be cultivated: turned over, fertilized, weeded, and tended. So too with us: work, family, relationships, conversations, free time, goals, all of it must be tended to.

Thank the Good Lord that he is a patient gardener. Nourish your mind and heart with prayer, fellowship, and scripture.

Thursday, July 23

The Fountain of Life

Well, the summer weather has arrived. These warm days draw us to water … an ice cold glass of water, kids in the sprinkler, a walk around The Grotto ponds. Water is life.

In today’s responsorial Psalm we are reminded that it is God who satisfies our thirst; who refreshes our soul; with whom we can recreate.

I encourage you today to take a few minutes with water. While watering your plants, drinking a glass of water, washing your hands, or looking over a pond, lake, river, or stream. God, like that water, is full of life. God cleanses us. Take time to soak in God’s wisdom, mercy and peace.

Let Us Pray

God, thank you for the gift of my life – especially your life within me.
Today I offer mercy, refreshment and peace to those around me.
Amen.

Wednesday, July 22

A New Creation

Today is the feast of St. Mary Magdalene. The words from St. Paul’s reading today rang true in her heart, and was reflected throughout the rest of her life: “So whoever is in Christ is a new creation,the old things have passed away;behold, new things have come.”

In our daily life, conversion more often is a gradual turning rather than an about face. What of my old ways must I let pass away? What habits must I change?

Let us pray

Lord, I want my life to be a reflection of you.
Please take my burdens my bad habits and my stubbornness and make them new.
Make me new so that those who encounter me see that I am attached to Christ Jesus.
Amen.

Tuesday, July 21

St. Martha is the patron saint of butlers, cooks, domestic servants, homemakers, hotel keepers, housemaids, laundry workers, and servers.

Martha was the “busy” sister, anxious and tending to everyone’s needs. Jesus reminded her that her sister Mary had “chosen the better part”.

As followers of Jesus we know that there is much to be done, and tending to the needs of others is important. Jesus reminds us that being busy, and “doing” cannot overshadow our attachment to his words, his teachings and his presence. We attach ourselves to Jesus through our prayer, in the reading of the Gospels, and our connection to a faith community.

Our prayer today is for the balance of prayer and action, God and neighbor:

Lord, I ask you to take my desire to serve you along with my brothers and sisters and help me balance with my needed time with you.

I know that spending time with you in prayer and reading the Gospel will ensure that my ego or personal wants don’t overshadow my efforts.

Amen.

Monday, July 20

What do you want from me?

There were a number of times when our son was younger that he began doing extra chores without being told, or doing his daily chores regularly … my parental wisdom would ask “what does he want?”

In today’s first reading, the prophet Micah poses this question on behalf of the people of Israel: With what shall I come before the Lord? (Lord, what do you want from me/us?)

We often seek a complicated and elaborate answer, but the answer is simple:

“You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you. Only to do right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Act Justly, Love Tenderly, and Walk Humbly with your God. Living these words daily is our challenge.

Let us Pray

Gracious God,

Your Son Jesus showed us through his words and actions how to be just, loving and humble.

Infuse my words, thoughts and actions with your presence that I may serve you and you alone.

Amen.

Sunday, July 19

“And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind” (Wis 12:19).

The wise sage of the Book of Wisdom praises God for the clemency, justice and care with which God governs humanity. Having the power and right to judge and punish people for not adhering to the covenant, instead God chooses love and justice in caring for His people.

God’s justice is expressed in kindness. God’s kindness is experienced in the abundant mercy and unconditional love that He freely showers upon us. An act of kindness honors the dignity of the other. It is the willingness to invest a bit of oneself for the good of another.

Acts of kindness, whether small or great, can give peace a chance to have a better foothold in the world. God’s actions towards us teaches that kindness is the virtue that births justice and gives peace a chance.

Today, thank God for his kindness by being kind to someone close to you.

Saturday, July 18

“Many people followed him” (Mt 12:15).

Why did people follow Jesus? The Gospels tell of various moments when the crowds listening to Jesus moved from one place to another when He did. Why? Were they amazed at the miracles he accomplished? Were they captivated by Christ’s sermons? Did they hope for a healing from Him or to receive His blessing? Did they follow Jesus because they believed Him to be the Messiah, the Holy One of God? There was something about Jesus that made the people want to follow Him.

Faith is a powerful force. It moves us to want God and to be in God’s presence. Like the crowds of Jesus’ day, we too follow where He leads. Why?

There are many reasons, but the only one that suffices, that makes sense, is that we need a Savior. We need one who loves us beyond ourselves to shepherd us to a place of peace where we can experience God’s unconditional love. God’s love is the constant reality we need in an uneasy and ever-changing world.

I follow Jesus because His love makes sense. Why do you follow Jesus?

Friday, July 17

“The sabbath” (Mt. 12:8).

The sabbath was God’s moment to look upon all He made and celebrate its goodness. As God rested from creating, He smiled with joy. Creation, including humanity, was a part of Him.

Creation took its life from God. It still does. Stop and think about all that surrounds you: grass, sky, sun, ocean, mountains, pets and loved ones. God made all there is with His love. God created to favor with His blessing.

The Lord invites us to take sabbath time each day to enjoy creation and to celebrate our goodness. As we do, we rest in the knowledge that God is close and favors us as we are the best of what He created.

Thursday, July 16

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28).

One of the greatest blessings in life is having that one friend, or group of friends who know us well. They know what to say when we are struggling, and they know how to care for us when we are ill or feeling down. They support us, love us and nurture us. They are always honest with us.

Often life can feel labored and burdensome. We turn to our friends for assistance and support. Today, the Lord reminds us that in His friendship with us we can always turn to Him when we feel labored and burdened. Our friend’s support gives us joy. The Lord’s support brings peace to our tired souls.

Let Us Pray:
Lord, thank you for being a part of my day.
Give me rest when I have labored and comfort when my burdens weigh heavily.
You are my hope.
In your love I can rest today.
Amen.

Wednesday, July 15

“Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will”

The gracious will of the Father is to share His love with all who will receive it.

God offers many opportunities for us to understand Him more deeply. A colorful sunset is a glimpse into the peace God offers a troubled soul. The majesty of the ocean reminds that God is great, and we live in the shadow of that greatness. The love received from a spouse or dear friend is a reminder that God loves us immensely.

God’s gracious will is that we be surrounded by His presence and feel secure in His love. We have a place in God’s heart. Receiving God’s love is to know God’s will and to bask in the blessings that God showers abundantly.

Tuesday, July 14

Prayer of a Sick Person

O Jesus Savior, who in your crucified body bore the sorrows of the world, I come to you, with my sick body and my tormented soul.

I come to you just as Saint Peregrine dragging his wounded leg came to your feet.

With him and like him I implore you: “Jesus, Son of David, who healed the leper and gave sight to the blind, have mercy on me.”

You know my need, you see my suffering, but I say to you with faith: “Lord, if you wish, you can heal me.”

Extend your hand over me just as you stretched it over Saint Peregrine, so that my weak and sick body might be well and strong again.

Jesus, healer of souls and bodies, with the grace of healing, make me a part of your victory over sin and death; so that well again, I may be a witness of your merciful love, a sign of your saving power, and like Saint Peregrine, I may live every day in service to you and the Church.

To you, Jesus, crucified and risen, every glory and honor forever and ever.

Amen.

Monday, July 13

“make justice your aim” (Isa 1:17)

‘If God really cares for the world and for us, why does He not give us peace?’ I often get this question and similar from people. Well, He has given us peace.

Remember Genesis 1? Out of the chaos God lovingly created everything, including you and me.

Remember Genesis 3? There was harmony and peace throughout and within creation, but we made a mess of this by disobeying God.

Remember Jesus, the Son of God? He was the face of God’s love and mercy in human history. His Gospel teaches us to love God and love others as we are loved.

In recent weeks our nation and world have struggled with the coronavirus, age-old societal sins, and poverty. Maybe we need to stop blaming God and do what Jesus God instructs us in Isaiah 1, to “make justice your aim”.

We have to the tools needed to bring justice to the world: minds that are informed about ways to heal and make positive changes; consciences that know right from wrong; hearts moved to compassion; and souls touched by the unconditional love of God.

Let’s stop blaming God and live as He has taught; loving others and making justice our aim. Peace is possible. It takes us wanting peace enough to work for justice. And God is with us in this work.

Sunday, July 12

“seeds” (Mt 13:1-23)

Seeds are the potential of life. A little seed contains all the necessary elements for new life to begin and flourish.

For the new life to grow and thrive, a seed needs good soil, plenty of water and lots of sunlight. When these are available the tallest and largest of plants are produced giving food to nourish the living and beauty to the world.

In telling the parable of the sower of seeds, Jesus is proclaiming the potential of life that resides in each of us. Jesus, as the sower, lovingly sows seeds of new life in our souls. The new life produced by these seeds is the potential to remain hopeful and peaceful in tough times; the ability grow past our weaknesses, sins and hurts into better and more confident versions of ourselves; and to form a relationship with God where love and kindness are always available.

For this seed to grow we need to let our lives be formed by the Gospel and have the willingness to be led by the Lord. The seed of new life has been panted in our hearts. To grow and flourish the seeds await our faithful trust in the Lord’s love.

Saturday, July 11

“I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, with the train of his garment filling the temple” (Isa 6:1).

There are many ideas of what heaven is like. It seems that as many Christians there are, that’s how many ideas of what heaven is like.
Scripture gives us some clues as well. Jesus says that “in my Father’s house there are many dwelling places” (Jn 14:2). The prophet Isaiah shares with us what he saw in prayer. While we do not know exactly what heaven will look like, we do know that heaven is most importantly the experience of total union with God in perfect love.

The catechism teaches that heaven is “this perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity – this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed – is called “heaven.” Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness” (1024).

Faith is necessary to get to the union with God in heaven. We express this desire of faith by the way we live the Gospel of Jesus here on earth. Our faith expressed in good works here announces our hope of sharing eternal life with God in heaven.
May we let this hope give us courage to build a better world on earth like the one we will live in heaven.

Friday, July 10

“I am sending you” (Mt 10:16).

A person once said to me ‘Father, I wish I could do some ministry, but presently I am unable to do so.’ Knowing that this person prayed the rosary for the intentions of many people, I encouraged her to say a rosary weekly for those who minister in the Church. She smiled because not only could she do this task, but she felt a part of the Church’s ministry.

Like the Apostles, Jesus sends us out to minister to the needs of others. One does not need to be a professed consecrated religious sister or brother, or a priest or deacon, to do ministry in the Church. What is necessary for ministry is love for the Lord and a willingness to share the faith with others through good deeds.

What kind of ministry should one do? Start by praying Matthew 25:31-40. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and courage. Then contact your local parish to see what ministries it has that you might be able to assist with. If you are unable to help, then pray for the ministry of the Church.
Ministry is living the faith as we help others. Whether one helps fill food boxes for the poor or prays for others, ministry is letting Jesus send us to share His love with others.

Thursday, July 9

“You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know” (Psalm 139:13-14).

During a retreat many years ago, the spiritual director leading me through the retreat asked me what my favorite scripture passage was. At first, I had a difficult time choosing from the many sacred passages that I found helpful and uplifting. After some thought I quoted verses 13 and 14 of Psalm 139. I have always found these verses a gift from the Lord because these holy words remind where I stand with the Lord. No matter what is happening in life, Psalm 139 reminds me that the Lord and I are always good with each other.

Because I am created by God, I am a part of His wonderful creation. I am always on God’s mind. This gives me hope and confidence in all moments of life. What is your favorite scripture passage? Memorize it, and let the sacred words by your guide, your hope and your joy today.

Wednesday, July 8

“The names of the Twelve Apostles are these…” (Mt 10:2).

Being chosen for a team is exciting. Being chosen is an affirmation of our talents, gifts and abilities. Jesus chose the 12 Apostles because they possessed the most important quality, faith. Each of the 12 had faith in Jesus and each wanted to believe more deeply.

Being a follower of Jesus does not mean that one’s faith has to be perfect. The desire to grow deeper in faith is necessary to follow Jesus. Like other aspects of life, faith develops and grows when given a good environment (a welcoming heart), proper nourishment (quality prayer), and wholesome rest (trust in the Lord).

When the Apostles let their faith develop, they became fearless preachers of Jesus. As we let our faith develop, we begin to find hope and peace in the midst of life’s challenges. We know the unconditional love of God at all moments. Jesus chooses us because we have faith. He chooses us because our faith is precious to Him.

Tuesday, July 7

“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest” (Mt 9:38).

Throughout the many months of this pandemic we have heard the profound stories of the heroics of those on the frontlines. Medical professionals, EMTs, police and fire personnel, and so many others who have given time and talents to care for those suffering from COVID-19. Likewise, our hearts have warmed with the stories of neighbors using creative methods to care for each other.

Today, as we read Jesus’ words to pray for more laborers needed for the harvest, let us remember another group of heroes: the chaplains, lay ministers, and pastoral care persons who continue to serve the suffering. Whether lending a listening ear, celebrating the sacraments or praying with and for the ill and their families, the clergy and all pastoral care persons offer a necessary service to lift the spirits of all who feel the many burdens of fighting the coronavirus.

The cruelty of the virus has moved us all to greater kindness and compassion for each other. Today, offer a prayer for all who serve the ill and their families. Also, thank a medical person, EMT or clergy person today for their service. Let us be grateful for the service of so many heroes who labor for a healthy harvest.

Monday, July 6

“I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy; I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the LORD” (Hosea 2:21-22).

In these uncertain times how can a person find joy? Our joy is found in the fact that God has chosen us to receive the blessing of His love. Always close to us, God involves Himself in our lives bringing love and mercy in abundance.

To know God’s presence is to experience His faithfulness in all moments of life. Our joy is that God has chosen us and He will always choose us no matter what.

Sunday, July 5

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. (Mt 11:28).

One of the greatest blessings in life is having that one friend, or group of friends who know us well. They know what to say when we are struggling, and they know how to care for us when we are ill or feeling down. They support us, love us and nurture us. They are always honest with us.

Often life can feel labored and burdensome. We turn to our friends for assistance and support. Today, the Lord reminds us that in His friendship with us we can always turn to Him when we feel labored and burdened.

Our friend’s support gives us joy. The Lord’s support brings peace to our tired souls.

Saturday, July 4

A Prayer for Our Nation

Lord, our nation is blessed by your providence.
Bless those who govern and all citizens.
Grant us the wisdom to work for the common good that all living in this land may experience the joy of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
May we thirst so deeply for peace that we passionately and diligently work for equal justice for all.
Give us the resolve to uphold the dignity of all that we see each other as friends and neighbors, teachers and mentors, forever learning that we are more similar than different.
Father, bless our land.
Amen.

Friday, July 3

Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Jn 20:29

The Apostle Thomas could only believe if he saw the marks of Jesus’s passion. When he did, Thomas believed. Thomas now saw life with a different perspective.

Faith does this. It changes our perspective. We are able to see the good in others. We find strength in illness. We have hope in challenging times. We become compassionate to the needs of others.

The perspective that faith gives is the ability to experience the faithful presence of God accompanying us in all of life’s moments. We may not be able to physically see Jesus, but we feel Him near: holding us, loving us and empowering us to share His love with others. In Jesus we walk by faith and not by sight. 

Thursday, July 2

And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” (Mt 9:2).

Mom, Rose and Fr. Bob. These three people, among many, taught me a great deal about how to live my faith in God. Often, these three prayerfully carried me to Jesus.

Our lives are filled with people whose faith in God inspires our relationship with the Lord. How blessed was the paralytic to have friends who brought him to Jesus. Displaying great love for their friend and faith in the Lord, they bring their sick friend to Jesus. We are not sure of the faith of the paralytic person, but the faith of his friends moved Jesus to forgive his sins and heal him.

Today, think of the people whose faith has inspired you. Think of the people who are praying for you. Maybe telephone or message them expressing your gratitude that their faith in Jesus and their love for you blesses your life. 

Wednesday, July 1

A Prayer for Today

Lord, today many things, temporal and spiritual, wage war against me.
Be my defender, my confidant and my peace.

Let me not get lost in the struggle, but let me learn that because you are with me I will move through this struggle to peace with you at my side.
Lord, strengthen my faith, for you are my hope.

Amen.