Friday, October 18, 2013

Five Truths About Prayer

Prayer is inconceivably powerful!   
Prayer is the most powerful form of energy a person can generate.  
Prayer exerts a force on reality: a force as real as the force of gravity.   
Prayer DOES influence the outcome of events.  
Prayer CAN change the lives of people. 
For example: The deconstruction of Soviet Communism in Russia, and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, were not achieved by the leaders, nor by diplomats, nor by the military. The wall, and Soviet Communism, came down because of the Rosary.  Our Blessed Mother asked us to pray for the conversion of Russia. It took 28 years of praying. And the wall came down.

Prayer positively affects our bodies and minds.
The influence of prayer on the human mind and body is just like the influence that the hundreds of glands inside our bodies have on us.  Those glands work without us being aware of them -- and so does prayer. 

We must persevere at praying. 
To experience the power of prayer, to exert prayer’s  force upon reality, we must do what Moses did in Exodus 17:8-13.  The Amalekites came and waged war against Israel. As long as Moses kept his hands raised up in prayer to GOD, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight. When Moses got tired after hours and hours of praying, in order to continue praying, Moses asked for support from his companions, Aaron and Hur, who held up his arms so he could continue praying. They also joined Moses in praying.

You and your spouse or family members or friends can agree to pray every morning or evening at the same time, whether together or privately, even “long-distance.” 
It helps to know that while you are praying in your room, your spouse or child or parent or friend is praying simultaneously but in another room, or even another city.
But, persevering in a daily period of prayer still is not enough!  
We must also persevere from day-to-day and from week-to-week.  
We must become persistent in praying.  
Just as persistent as the Widow was in seeking a just decision from the corrupt Judge, in Saint Luke’s Gospel -- Luke 18:1-8 --
Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, "There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared GOD nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, 'Render a just decision for me against my adversary.'  For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, 'While it is true that I neither fear GOD nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'"
The Lord said, "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.  Will not GOD then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.  But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
We must have a regular time for praying, every day! 
These days, everyday life places huge demands on our time.  
Everyone is in a hurry, with too much to do.  
So, unless we schedule a regular time to pray every day, we probably won't pray at all! 
When something becomes important to us, we schedule it right into our daily life. We don’t leave it to chance. 
We usually won't miss a meal. 
We stop everything to watch our favorite TV show.
We text or phone people to share the latest gossip. 

If we want to deepen a friendship with someone, we schedule times and places to meet with that person: we never leave these meetings to chance; we battle to make space for them in our day. 
And, yet, we do not make any time for GOD:  GOD, who keeps us in existence from second to second!  
What is true for relationships between human beings is true between human beings and GOD.  
If we want to deepen our friendship with GOD we must schedule times and places to meet Him in prayer.  We cannot leave these meetings with GOD to chance, to when we get around to them.  
We must persevere in prayer, if we want to experience the power of prayer day-to-day, week-to-week,  year-to-year!

We should not look for immediate results when we pray.
While we must persevere in our praying, we should not look for immediate results when we pray.
We are so accustomed to having everything done instantly: 
Instant Coffee, Instant Banking, Instant Potatoes, Same-Day Delivery!  We want immediate results.
Warning: Cancel out that ‟instant” stuff when you approach GOD in Prayer! 
GOD never sleeps.  
GOD hears our prayers. 
GOD keeps rearranging  re-synchronizing events, keeps offering us the answer to our prayer –  His answer to our prayer!
GOD responds to every prayer —  in His own time and in His own way.  
GOD’s time may be years after we first prayed.  

GOD’s response, His answer to our prayer may be very different from what we expected or wanted. 

Our Lord gives us what we need, not what we want.

For example:
I think I need a car to travel around the city.

So, I pray, using the song written by Janis Joplin, 

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz ? 

Instead, GOD gives me a bicycle: 
Because I did not need a Mercedes Benz!  
I merely, selfishly wanted one! 

However, my prayer was answered: 
I got where I needed to go.

Prayer has power. 

To tap that power, we must persevere at it, and not look for overnight results.

Why all this emphasis on praying?


We are obligated to pray!

We are obligated to pray, but we often ignore it or do it poorly. 

Our Lord Jesus imparted several teachings about the importance of prayer and how to do it:
Luke 18:1-8 -- Then he told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. Please see the full excerpt above.  

Matthew 6:5-13 -- “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.“This is how you are to pray:Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,your will be done, on earth as in heaven.Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts,as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to the final test,but deliver us from the evil one."
Matthew 7:7–8 -- “Ask and it will be given to you; 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; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."
Luke 11:5–8 -- And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’  and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence."
After Our Lord's Ascension, His Apostles continued to instruct and guide the early Christians about their obligation to pray, and how to pray worthily.  

For example:

Saint John said, in his First Letter, 1 John 3:21–22 -- 
Beloved, if [our] hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.

Saint Paul wrote in the Letter to the Hebrews -- Hebrews 4:16 --  
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

Saint Paul, in his Letter to the Colossians --Colossians 4:2 -- said: 
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."

Saint Paul wrote to the Thessalonians -- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:  
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Saint Paul wrote to the Ephesians -- Ephesians 6:18
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people."
The apostles laid a heavy emphasis on faithful praying because...

Our Lord Jesus constantly prayed to His Father.  
Luke 5:15-16 -- The report about [Jesus cleansing a leper] spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.
Many, many  times, Our Lord Jesus spent His whole night in prayer.  
Luke 6:12 -- In those days he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God.

So, if He considered praying
to be that important,
so should we.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October - Month of the Rosary

A few days late for the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (October 7th), but remember this is the month of the Rosary!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Taking Back the Sabbath...One Diocese at a Time

Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans recently instructed the Catholic schools of the archdiocese to stop scheduling activities, especially sporting events, on Sundays.  His stated intention is to redirect the lives of his flock toward worship on Sundays and family activities close to home.  So far, his directive is meeting with cooperation and even some relief among the Catholics of his diocese.

The Archbishop explained his decision by saying:
“It’s rooted in the fact that people have a number of obligations and commitments. Our society is fast-paced...In living such a hectic life, people neglect sometimes, not purposefully, the very basics of faith and family.”  (via The Advocate)
Upon re-reading the first few books of the Old Testament recently, it was striking how frequently God the Father emphasized that we are to keep holy the Sabbath.  A quiet, family-centered Sunday was the norm in our culture for a very long time, up until about 40 years ago when things started to descend into a 7 day frenzy of constant activity.  Recently I've been trying to scale back activities on Sunday and the spiritual benefits have become increasingly evident.  It actually hasn't even been that difficult.  Just knowing that there will be no shopping or running errands on Sunday makes the day more peaceful without much more effort.

The good that comes from  setting aside one day a week in order to worship God and to nourish family life seems like it should be self-evident   But, sometimes we really don't know what is good for us and even if we do know, we're not always sure how to do it.  It's a little bit like children who don't want to take their regular nap.  They resist the nap because they don't want to miss out on anything and it doesn't seem necessary.  But, then when they're sleep deprived they become restless and irritable and they spiral into a melt down.

God's plan for us is always for the good.  Try keeping the Sabbath as a day of rest.  Guarantee you'll be the better for it.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Two Popes, One Faith, One Message

Despite what the media might try to say, Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI have the same message with the same ideas in mind.  Though the popes have different personalities (all people do) and different ways in which they go about communicating the Gospel message, for both popes the ultimate goal and message are the same.  I even fell into an initial mindset, where I saw the two popes as different.  It is easy for people to pin a predecessor up against a successor (often happens with bishops), yet there is no comparison to be made.

The pictures above (thanks to Catholic Memes) show the beautiful fact that both popes share a similar message; a message that supports the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church.

In the end these two men of faith are dear friends, they share similar beliefs and the unity that is faith in Christ Jesus and his holy Church.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pope's Solution for Kids Who Won't Move Out - "Stop Ironing His Shirts!"

Pope Francis met with  many different groups in Assisi today.  At one stop, a mother asked how to get her 30 something year old son to propose to his girlfriend and move out of the house. The pope's answer?  "Stop ironing his shirts!"  Good advice, no?

Some other thought provoking lines from the pope today (paraphrased since the official transcripts are not out yet):
“What is the peace which (Saint) Francis received, experienced and lived, and which he passes on to us? It is the peace of Christ, which is born of the greatest love of all, the love of the cross,” 
Marriage is a real vocation just like priesthood and religious life.
Celibacy is not a negative decision, but a great "yes" to God
A Christian cannot co-exist with the spirit of the world,  Worldliness “leads us to vanity, arrogance, pride. And this is an idol, it is not of God.”
On visiting the disabled children:  “We are among the wounds of Jesus.  Jesus is hidden in these kids, in these children, in these people. On the altar we adore the flesh of Jesus, in them we find the wounds of Jesus.”

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Remembering Assisi - A Little Oasis of Peace

Last year I was blessed to be able to visit Assisi for a couple of days as a side trip during a stay in Rome.  All I can say is that if you have never been there...Go, Just Go!

The village is nestled into a hillside overlooking a beautiful valley, and it emanates a transcendence and serenity that isn't found in too many other places.  Somehow just driving up the hill lifts your soul out of the hustle and bustle of daily annoyances and drops you into a pillow of calm and quiet.  In addition to the medieval charm of the stone shops and buildings, the frequent passing to and fro of sandal clad friars and sisters adds to the gentle and quiet ambience.  And, of course, the beautiful basilicas housing the mortal remains of St. Francis and St. Clare anchor the town in sanctity and beauty.

As we look forward to the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi and the visit of Pope Francis to that holy place tomorrow, I wanted to share a few photos of that beautiful place.

The Transitus - Passing of St. Francis to Eternal Life

Today is the celebration of the "Transitus."  The day that Franciscans around the world remember the passing of St. Francis of Assisi to eternal life.

The Transitus is celebrated on the eve of the feast day of St. Francis and is a time dedicated to remembering with joy his life and holiness.  More information can be found at the Franciscan Spiritual Center website.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

When Does God Give Us Our Guardian Angel?

One of the most fascinating gifts we receive from God is our guardian angel.  But, when do we receive our guardian angel.... before we're born?  While we're in the womb?  

Peter Kwasniewski at New Liturgical Movement posts an interesting quote from St. Thomas Aquinas on this topic.  Here's what the angelic doctor has to say:
As Origen observes, there are two opinions on this matter [of when a man receives his guardian angel]. For some have held that the angel guardian is appointed at the time of baptism, others, that he is appointed at the time of birth. The latter opinion Jerome approves, and with reason. For those benefits which are conferred by God on man as a Christian, begin with his baptism; such as receiving the Eucharist, and the like. But those which are conferred by God on man as a rational being, are bestowed on him at his birth, for then it is that he receives that nature. Among the latter benefits we must count the guardianship of angels. Wherefore from the very moment of his birth man has an angel guardian appointed to him.
Remember to say a prayer to your Guardian Angel today... and every day!  I remember clearly one morning driving to a meeting with a client in downtown Brooklyn.  For some reason I prayed the guardian angel prayer, something that I was not in the habit of doing on a daily basis.  About fifteen minutes later, absorbed in thought, I started to go when the light turned green without checking the crossing traffic.  Anyone in New York City will tell you to always wait a few seconds when the light changes before moving your car. Well, a big truck came hurtling through the intersection and missed my car by inches.  Immediately my mind went back to the guardian angel prayer I had said only minutes earlier.   For obvious reasons, I try to remember to thank my guardian angel and pray for his assistance very day since then.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Thank You, Little Flower

Thank you, St. Therese.  For your love.  For your example.  For your generosity in spreading the love of the Lord.

“Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant, count as nothing.” 
“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.” 
“When I die, I will send down a shower of roses from the heavens,I will spend my heaven by doing good on earth.” 

                                                                                -  St. Therese of Lisieux 

Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!

Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!
Take a moment and visit the MOSJ website.