(The Image is a holy card I purchased in Rome several years ago. The Seven Principles is by Michael Casey, a Cistercian Abbot. The article below I wrote fro a publication in 2002)
An important part of any prayer is the act of listening. Certainly when we come to God we ask for what we need and we praise God for his goodness. But we must also come with an openness seeking to listen to his will and to his way. Worship means that we listen to the Master’s voice and respond. The Holy Father in our own day, and even our own spirituality as members of a family call us to listen to the voice of Jesus’ Blood which speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.
The scriptures speak of the Good Shepherd who brings out his flock and goes before them. They follow him because they know his voice. (John 10:1-10) If many of us do not live on farms this image may not speak to us, but if we have ever had a family dog, we know that the sound of our voice is enough to call the pet to our side. This is the kind of listening we need to develop with God.
How do we listen to God? How do we pay attention to his heart, to his way and to his word? The ancients used a practice known as Lectio Divina or Sacred Reading. There are many ways of using this practice down through the centuries and it is described in many ways. Lectio is a reading of the Bible or other sacred texts like the Fathers of the Church or St. Gaspar and Blessed Maria de Mattias in a prolonged contemplative prayer and dialogue. This is different from spiritual reading where one might read several chapters of a spiritual book in one sitting. In Lectio one reads a passage slowly in a way that enables one to “chew” the words, to taste them in much the same way as Ezekiel took the scroll on which the Word of God was written and ate it. (Ezek 3:3) Some find it helpful to read the text aloud and this was very common as an ancient practice. It may take an hour or so to read the Gospel of Mark, but with Lectio it would take several weeks or months.
The first task is to bring yourself, your life and situation to a place of prayer. Prayer is not about a life we imagine we might want to live, but about the life we are living. Then select a passage from a book in the bible or from another of our sacred texts. Read the passage over a few times. Maybe read the passage aloud. Try not to form any response to the text, but listen to what is being said. Go beyond to the text to the person speaking. Now sit for a few moments of silence with what you have heard. What was said? What did God say? Then read the passage again a few more times. This time ask yourself how the passage made you feel. What feelings did these words or this situation provoke in you? Try to avoid thoughts, opinions or judgments but stay with the feelings. What is the heart of Jesus saying? How does my heart respond to his feelings? Then rest for a time in silence with these feelings. Read the passage again a few times. This time ask yourself how God wants you to put his word into action. What is the invitation or the challenge? What must I do to see the Word made flesh in me? Select one concrete action that you can accomplish in the coming day or week. Make sure that it is something you can do, and commit to doing it. Close with a short prayer, maybe the Our Father or another favorite prayer.
Lectio is a reading of God’s word with the eyes and ears of a spouse. It is not a prayer to confirm my own understanding of life. It is a word that desires to break in, to upset my prejudices and lead to a fuller revelation. Lectio is long term activity, not a source of immediate gratification. Lectio is about vocation, the call of God. We are to hear God as he is and not as we want him to be, and we are called to respond. This is a prayer that is to be applied to my own life situation. This time of prayer is supposed to be purposelessness with a sense of gratuity, leisure, and peace. It is about a relationship of love and is not intended to be utilitarian. Reading and praying is not just for the mind. The body must be involved. At the end of the prayer take a passage, a sentence or a word to remember through the day and to bring us back to the encounter.
Because Lectio Divina is dialogue it is therefore reception, self-gift and communion. It is reception by attention and reflection; self-gift through our response; communion through encounter. Our companion on this journey is Mary who kept all these words in her heart.
What used to be a regular event in former times is now an occasional event with fellow believers. The only difference between the former parish and this one is that this was a gathering of friends, no heterodox priests, DREs or others.
It was a simple five course Italian Menu
Fusilli Pomodoro con Basilico
Pollo Aglio Arrosto
At The Cathedral of St. Eugene
Wednesday, September 5, 2018
Rosary begins at 5:00pm
Mass is at 5:30pm
The plot thickens... This was a difficult read from a believable source
“For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5:1) For Paul, true freedom was the opposite of license. God had given us the Commandments and the essence of the Commandments was love, love of God and neighbor. True love of neighbor cannot happen if you do not love God. To love someone as they are, in and of themselves, is to love them as God loves them. Another way to describe this love is: to serve.
Paul continues that a person is free when he is led by the Spirit. The Spirit enables him to overcome the inclinations of the flesh. When you are not led by the Spirit, the sensible appetites are allowed to have full reign. When you live for the flesh, you live for yourself - what you want, when you want it and how you want it. All of that is governed by love of self, giving full reign to the selfishness inflicted on us by Original Sin. Everything which stems from that disordered love for self is called “a work of the flesh.
”This doesn’t mean just simply impurity. It also means any kind of intemperance or sins against fraternal charity. Often you can find clues for some kind of impurity if the subject is also abusing the liturgy.
Living by the Spirit, one is no longer merely human, but found also in Christ, in the Divine. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are visible.
Recent days have made me most grateful for the Church’s teaching on ex opere operato. This is a little Latin expression which means “from the work worked.” This basically means that the liturgy is a bearer of divine grace and not dependent on the priest being in the state of grace. If the recipient of the sacrament is well disposed toward God’s grace, then God’s grace is abundant. A priest in the state of mortal sin does the work, but cannot be well-disposed toward grace and so he receives nothing for his work.
I remember when a priest who once served as associate at the parish where I was pastor was revealed as having abused and forced himself on several young men. Many people began to wonder whether their baptisms, confessions, and weddings were valid. I was grateful that the Church was clear on this topic. They had no need to worry.
I am not here to judge (Cardinal) McCarrick. That will be up to God at this point. But he has been a vehicle of grace even if he was never able to benefit or experience that grace. In his many years as priest, bishop and cardinal, I am sure he said Mass countless times, heard confessions, ministered at baptisms and witnessed marriages. For anyone who participated and was disposed toward the grace of the event, I am sure that grace was present. I am not talking about the memories of such events, such memories can take many forms. Go ahead and treasure the pictures, but in prayer, ask that you may receive the grace of such encounters, not with Cardinal McCarrick, but with the Lord.
Now there are several things we may disregard: his preaching, his writings and any counseling or advice he may have given. These things are not covered by ex opere operato. Only the liturgy and the sacraments have such a guarantee.
Pray for Cardinal McCarrick. If he did not receive the proper formation as a young man to realize the gifts of the Spirit and that habitual living in Christ and the Spirit is a sure antidote for living by the flesh, I am sure such a conversion will be difficult in his eighties, especially if he is off licking his wounds and feeling misunderstood and unappreciated.
“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit” (Gal 5:24-25) It really is up to us to respond to grace and to seek the holiness to which we have been called.
In the confessional this morning, I asked guys where they were accessing porn. Almost all of them said it was on their phone. So their penance became: Find a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary and make it the Desktop or lock screen photo on their phone. Then every time they access their phone they are to say a "Hail Mary." And I said I would put a sample on my blog that they could steal. So here are a couple of examples.
Ian and Trina, you have chosen for your wedding a favorite passage from the Gospels. I have given many mission talks on this passage, and I consider this homily probably my most important mission talk. At the wedding feast of Cana, marriage was sanctified, made holy, and it was the first sign of the coming kingdom of God. The Word made flesh came down from heaven to make human nature His own as a bridegroom takes a bride. Here human nature is the bride and Jesus is the bridegroom. Psalm 19: “he comes forth like a bridegroom from his chamber.” He came to claim all of us as He had already joined Himself to us in the womb of the Blessed Virgin. It is no wonder that He came to this house for a wedding because He had already come to this world for the marriage of heaven and earth. And by the way, this event did not take place in the halls of power or any important place in the eyes of the world. This was not in the Holy City of Jerusalem, but in Gentile territory.
People are sometimes surprised because Mary is mentioned first. Jesus and His disciples, at least initially, were a bit of an afterthought. Yes, she is first. Her “yes” is first. Hers was a gracious quality of presence. She was more than likely doing what women would do in that time: helping in the kitchen, preparing of the food, and providing hospitality to guests. This could be why she noticed that the wine had failed.
Yes, she is the one to come and present to the Son of God, “they have no wine.” Here she takes our part, she is the intercessor, the mediatrix of all graces, bearing in her human hands the possibilities, the hope and dreams of her children.
And why would she think that He could do anything about this sad situation? She had seen many and great wonders. The angel had greeted her with such honor; she had been called “Mother of my Lord” by Elizabeth; a star had announced His birth; Magi had come from the East bearing gifts; shepherds had come from the fields to worship Him; Anna had greeted her with such joy in the Temple; and she had treasured all these things in her heart.
What is a bit of wine after all these miracles? “What do you have to do with me?” He asks. The answer is, “plenty!”
Yes, this is a gospel of gracious abundance and the more deeply you dig, the more the abundance increases. “Do whatever He tells you,” is an echo of the book of Genesis when those words bring seven years’ worth of grain and here at this wedding produces 150 gallons of the best wine ever.
So, for your wedding today, what do I propose that you take from this?
First, the wine has failed. The world is against us. The world opposes the kind of commitment you are making today. The world stands squarely against your devotion to the sacredness of life. There will be trials and difficulties in this life, many of which are in the distant future. The Church, the world, society, economics, our sin, the worldly powers will always fail us; and you will fail each other.
The ability to pray together and the ability to develop an interior life will bring you face to face with the only person you may trust, Jesus Christ. If you both keep your eyes on Him the communion between you cannot but grow stronger. The six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification speak of a dependence on externals that do not bring fulfillment and do not purify. Without Jesus they remain just empty jars. With Jesus, the water becomes rich wine, the life in the womb of Mary is revealed as the second person of the Blessed Trinity and the defeated criminal in the tomb rises to the fullness of life as the Lord of Glory.
Secondly, “Do whatever He tells you.” The word of God must have a special place in your home. I am not speaking about a big bible enshrined on an end-table that no one opens. I am speaking of a couple of worn out, marked up bibles with memories of great discussions and even arguments over what it all means. You will lead busy and productive lives, so this means some discipline. Open the bible or the breviary both when you feel like it and when you don’t. Make time for this. My own experience tells me that when I make time for listening and adoration I have time for everything else. When I try to do it all by myself, I run out of time and often nothing gets done. Couples who don’t pray and listen to God often communicate about events and details and projects. But couples who do pray (and pray together) will communicate on a much deeper level that feeds the intimacy and communion that the world thirsts for.
And finally, “draw some out now and take it to the steward.” Many people don’t think of baptism when they read this. But the Apostolic Fathers sure do. Baptism is the first sacrament and it is the basis for everything else. It is what makes what you do today a sacrament. Baptism places you inside the Trinity and is what makes this unbreakable bond of love and peace unbreakable. Baptism is what makes this union a sign of Christ’s gift of grace. The steward had no idea where this rich wine came from, but the servants do know. If you remain humble servants of this love it will promise to change into the new wine of the Covenant each and every day of your lives. So always draw from your baptism and participation in Christ for the strength you will need in the days ahead.
His Hour had not yet come. When the Hour came, He was pierced by a lance; his side was opened, and what pours forth even now is the blood and water, the new wine of salvation flowing continually, bringing life through the sacraments. In the mysteries of the cross and resurrection, untrammeled by the limits of space and time, this Blood is still poured out from his side, now sanctifying and making Holy this marriage. In your consent the Love that is the gift of the Savior becomes tangible and real. My prayer for you is that this love will grow and each day you are more and more transformed into his likeness.
On this feast of St. Joachim and Anna, we blessed a new chalice and consecrated it for sacred use. This chalice, purchased with funds left over from my silver jubilee and other vacation funds, is solid sterling silver and will be considered my silver jubilee chalice.
St. Anne was prayer to by wood cutters in the middle ages, she was considered the root of the tree, Mary was the flower whose fruit was Jesus.
So I prayed for the silversmiths who handmade this chalice. Mary being the Chalice, Christ the saving blood.
Omnia Christus Est Nobis
Christ is everything for us!
I am a Roman Catholic Priest from California. I spent 13 wonderful years years as a member of the Province of the Pacific in the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. The outline of my life can be traced here.