Christ as Our Brother—a quote from St. Francis of Assisi

Crucifix with Palm

“How holy and beloved, how pleasing and lowly, how peaceful, delightful, lovable and desirable above all things it is to have a Brother like this, who laid down his life for his sheep, and prayed to his Father for us, saying; Holy Father, in your name keep those whom you have given me. Father, all those whom you gave me in the world, were yours and you gave them to me. And the words you have given me, I have given to them. And they have received them and have known truly that I have come forth from you, and they have believed that you have sent me. I am praying for them, not for the world: Bless and sanctify them. And for them I sanctify myself, that they may be sanctified in their unity, just as we are. And, Father, I wish that where I am, they also may be with me, that they may see my splendour in your kingdom”—St. Francis of Assisi, “Letter to All the Faithful” (q. in Fr. John A. Hardon, S. J., The Treasury of Catholic Wisdom).

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“What are You Entitled to?”—class discussion post by Cameron Daly

Week 1 Discussion prompt for DTH 512: Spiritual Life in the Classics:

Numerous passages in Sacred Scripture highlight the necessity of changing our sinful ways. Name one of those passages, not spoken about in the lecture this week. Next, comment upon the place of gratitude in the spiritual life, particularly as it concerns the readiness to change in that Scripture passage. How does gratitude enable one to grow in holiness? Give at least one concrete example.

My response:

“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15, NABRE). These are the first words recorded to have been spoken by Christ in the Gospel According to Mark. In this account, then, the entire public ministry of Christ kicks off on the note that we should cast off our sins in light of God’s promises to man, amazingly generous promises that the Lord has made and kept.

For those who are not Adam and therefore are not responsible for the Fall of man, it is possible that one could feel that God is obligated to save him. He might feel entitled to God’s merciful plan of salvation. But in truth, man can blame only Adam’s sin, his own, and to some degree the sins of those around him, for his universally and particularly fallen condition.* God is in no way to blame, and is therefore cannot be held as obligated to step in and save man from himself. Thus, any feeling of entitlement concerning God’s rescuing us from our own follies should be banished and replaced with a profound—and much more realistic—gratitude.

We are completely dependent upon God for the beginning of our existence and the sustaining of our existence. Furthermore, over the course of our existence, we “all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). Thus, we clearly can claim no “right” whatsoever to God in any way. This further means that we do not have any “right” to anything good at all; for God is goodness itself/Himself, and therefore the goodness of any good thing—including that of the human person (see Gn 1:31)—has its source in God and only in God. Any goodness that one has, then, even the goodness of his very self, is truly a gift of God bestowed upon an unworthy recipient.** If we could live in recognition of this, our lives would be dramatically changed; for truly, we expect so much to the point of being annoyed when we don’t get what we want, yet have a “right” to so little, and should be immeasurably grateful for that which we have been given. (The preceding two paragraphs were inspired by the Week 1 definitions and lecture provided by Dr. Siegmund.)

*By which I mean man’s fallen nature as a whole and any particular ways in which a particular person has fallen. I mention the sins of others through the various scandals those sins can give.
**This isn’t to deny a person’s being able to work and earn money or food or something like that; but important to remember is that one’s ability to work, and whatever goods are earned, ultimately are sustained in existence by God, and therefore are still His gifts.

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Litany of Loreto

In honor of the month of May, the month of the Blessed Virgin Mary, pasted below* is a popular Litany to Our Lady, the “Litany of Loreto.” Please be sure to pray it, especially during the remainder of this month!

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us. 
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of heaven,
Have mercy on us. 
God, the Son, Redeemer of the world:
Have mercy on us. 
God, the Holy Ghost,
Have mercy on us. 
Holy Trinity, One God,
Have mercy on us. 
Holy Mary, pray for us. (repeat at end of each phrase.)
Holy Mother of God,
Holy Virgin of virgins,
Mother of Christ,
Mother of divine grace,
Mother most pure,
Mother most chaste,
Mother inviolate,
Mother undefiled,
Mother most amiable,
Mother most admirable,
Mother of good counsel,
Mother of our Creator,
Mother of our Savior,
Virgin most prudent,
Virgin most venerable,
Virgin most renowned,
Virgin most powerful,
Virgin most merciful,
Virgin most faithful,
Mirror of justice,
Seat of wisdom,
Cause of our joy,
Spiritual vessel,
Vessel of honor,
Singular vessel of devotion,
Mystical rose,
Tower of David,
Tower of ivory,
House of gold,
Ark of the covenant,
Gate of Heaven,
Morning star,
Health of the sick,
Refuge of sinners,
Comforter of the afflicted,
Help of Christians,
Queen of angels,
Queen of patriarchs,
Queen of prophets,
Queen of apostles,
Queen of martyrs,
Queen of confessors,
Queen of virgins,
Queen of all saints,
Queen conceived without original sin,
Queen assumed into heaven,
Queen of the most holy Rosary,
Queen of peace.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord. 
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us O Lord. 
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. 

Let us pray:
Grant, O Lord God, we beseech Thee, that we Thy servants may rejoice in continual health of mind and body; and, through the glorious intercession of Blessed Mary ever Virgin, may be freed from present sorrow, and enjoy eternal gladness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

*From http://www.ourcatholicprayers.com/litany-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary.html

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I, Peter

Public Domain Pentecost

Jean II Restout – Pentecôte; courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

 

 

I, Peter

I, Peter, sat in stillness

In hushed silence profound.

Twas but nine days since last my Savior

Did tread this passing ground.

With me united beloved John,

Simon, courageous zealot

True Israel’s son Nathaniel,

And Matthias, newly chosen prelate.

As one together Matthew prayed

And Philip, Forerunner’s guest;

Son of Thunder, James the Greater

And Jude, withal named Thaddeus 

These joined James the Lesser

And Andrew, mine own brother;

Thomas, who in past had doubted

And Mary, Most Blessed Mother.

 My soul thrilled expectantly

My Savior’s words returned,

“From the Father’s heart I will send,

Love, long ages yearned.”

 A mighty wind swept o’er my heart,

A whisper, eternity filling.

Docile to His slightest touch,

My spirit bowed, humbly willing.

Light flowed before my eyes,

As if the wings of a dove.

Drawn from the earth was I consumed,

Lost – nay, found in Trinity’s Love.

 While still my soul in heaven soared

I beheld the Father’s Word,

Illumined by the Holy Spirit,

As yet before unheard.

 His breath mine own replaced,

His Word my willing lips cried,

His love alone my pounding heart took,

Baptized in fire, my old self died.

 To this earth once more I sank,

Yet, heaven remained within.

“Courage brothers!” I sprang erect,

“Come quickly, let us begin!”

 Dazzled eyes and pounding hearts,

Face and flame, the others’ shone.

Then knew I, Peter, Love’s own gift,

I did not reach alone.

 

-©Grace Marie Urlakis

 

 

 

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“Regina Coeli,” an Easter Season Midday Prayer

I recently shared the “Angelus” prayer, which is considered a midday prayer. In the Easter Season (from Easter Sunday through Pentecost), the Angelus is replaced by the Regina Coeli/Caeli, a beautiful prayer which I quote as follows from EWTN:

 

Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia. / For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.

Has risen, as [H]e said, alleluia. / Pray for us to God, alleluia.

Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia. / 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.

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Tempted to “Cheat” by Sinning? So was Jesus, but He Never Did—by Cameron Daly

On page 722, we read that “For the first two years of the war [meaning WWII], German food supplies were adequate and the production of consumer goods continued.”

When Jesus is in the desert, He is offered great things by the devil—if only He’ll consent to the devil’s will. It may have been Bishop Barron I recently heard describing these “alternative routes” as alternative means of gaining the world to Jesus’ Passion; i.e., if Jesus were to have bowed to the devil’s will, He could have gained the world for Himself without having to suffer. Of course, that would have defeated the whole purpose, but that’s not the point. The point is, things pertaining to the world could be obtained the easy and quick way (or so it would seem–this obviously not taking Purgatory and eternity after death into account) by consenting to the devil’s will.

Would you say that the Nazi regime’s productivity (which could be applied to that of Russian communism as examined in the previous chapter) can be related to this? As if Nazism was a kind of devilish cheat to get a good economy, but at the price of goodness and justice? What similar sorts of temptations to “cheat” would you say might commonly stalk people today? Though you may or may not want to write this as a comment here, what kinds of temptations of this sort stalk you in particular?

“What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Mt 16:26, NABRE; though it seems I’ve also heard it put—perhaps in one or more other translations—“his soul” rather than “his life”).

(This is another question I asked of my classmates in my Western Civilization course; for an explanation and the source for the page number, see my post from two days ago.)

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“Bearing the Fruits of the Holy Spirit through Trials”—Annunciation Reflection/College Paper by Cameron Daly

Holy Apostles College & Seminary

 

Bearing the Fruits of the Holy Spirit through Trials

 

by

Cameron Daly

Fr. Jude Surowiec

SAS 460: Luke and the Acts of the Apostles

6 February 2018

 

St. Luke’s account of the Annunciation through Christ’s infancy is, on the outside, one of expectation and joy. It’s what served to make the Blessed Virgin the “Cause of our joy” as she’s called in the Litany of Loreto. And of course, it’s commonly known that for Mary this was often a more scary than joyful time in her life; aside from the written account that she was “greatly troubled” at Gabriel’s appearance and greeting (Lk 1:29, see 28, NABRE), understanding her situation in context makes it clear to us that to be pregnant and not living with a man in first-century Jewish culture often enough meant the persecution of the expecting mother. Yet, interwoven into all of this, there’s also a certain relatability in the Annunciation, pre-Nativity, and Nativity accounts to every person’s spiritual journey, insofar as Mary offers an inspiring example of one who is close to God, experiences trials, and bears great fruit in doing God’s will and allowing Him to work through those trials.

Jesus makes it clear that “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much” (Lk 12:48). His Mother was the only person since Adam and Eve to be entrusted with original holiness. This being the huge deal that it is, God obviously expected a lot from her. The same goes for anyone who grows very close to God: while no one else is given the “head start,” so to speak, in closeness to the Lord that Mary was, the closer we grow to Him over time, the more and more He will expect from us.

Now obviously, growing closer to God makes us stronger, both in pursuing God’s will and in avoiding sin. This growth and this strength pretty much go hand-in-hand. Does this mean that life becomes easy for us when we get closer to God, and that our struggles and trials just dissipate and let us skip happily to heaven? Most definitely not. Again, consider Mary: when Gabriel came to her, she wasn’t instantaneously brimming with jubilance because she was greeted by an angel and was going to give birth to the Son of God. She was afraid, and didn’t understand. She did God’s will, of course, and willingly bore His Son; but did so in fear and ignorance. Remember that this is someone completely free of any stain of sin from the moment of her conception, and therefore someone who was closer to God than anyone else this side of heaven. Yet, like any number of sinners, she feared God’s plan and didn’t fully understand it.

The key factor here, of course, is that Mary never hesitated to consent to God’s plan (contrastable, as I’ve heard it said, to Zechariah’s disbelief in God’s plan—see Lk 1:18). God’s plan entailed the potential shaming and persecution of Mary, along with the rejection of Joseph, for having being pregnant before living with him and not by him (see Mt 1:18-19). She may very well have seen some or all of that coming, given how strong of a rejection her culture had for alleged adulteresses and the severe manner in which adulteresses were punished (that is, by being stoned—see Jn 8:4-6). Yet, despite being asked to do something so difficult, she did not back down from doing God’s will for an instant.

Surely, once Joseph had accepted that Mary had conceived of the Holy Spirit and the concern with being rejected and/or stoned to death was past, Mary had an easy life, right? Surely she got to take a break from trials? No. For not two months later, was she told that her Son would be “a sign that [would] be contradicted,” and that “[she herself] a sword [would] pierce” (Lk 34-35); and, presumably not long after that (to take into consideration another Gospel account), God allowed her to be forced to flee to Egypt in order to prevent her Son from being murdered (see Mt 2:13-14).

After all she had been through during her pregnancy, wouldn’t you think it was time for God to give Mary a break? To let her live easily for a while? You might think just that, if you were to look past the fruits of her acceptance of God’s difficult will.

First of all, Mary had the enormous grace of being able to be the Mother of Jesus. Not only could no parent possibly hope to have a more wonderful child, but Mary, being completely free of sin and thus not having her heart or mind distracted by any harshness, coldness, cruelty, etc. toward her child, would have been able to appreciate being Our Lord’s Mother to the fullest possible extent. She literally bore the greatest “fruit of the Holy Spirit”: the Son of God. “[B]lessed is the fruit of [her] womb” (Lk 1:42).

From there, we can look at Mary as she is now. Mary is one of very, very few who were assumed body and soul into heaven prior to the Parousia; she is the Queen over heaven and Earth; she remains the Spouse of the Holy Spirit and the Mother of God; and, never having been touched by sin, she experiences the very greatest possible degree of joy in heaven and surely is able to act as our most powerful intercessor before her Son.

This is where Mary is an inspiration for those of us still here in this valley of tears. In being asked to be the Mother of God, she was being asked to do a very hard thing. Yet she willingly did it, and because of it, suffered many trials—not the least of which (something I didn’t even directly mention above) was seeing her own Son die a horrendous death on the cross. Despite all that hardship, all that pain, she did not ever turn away from God. And because of that, all that hardship and pain was and is outweighed a hundredfold by the joy (another “fruit of the Holy Spirit”) she possessed and now still does possess.

The lesson we should take away, then, is this: that no matter how hard God’s plan may be for us to live out, no matter how much pain it may cause us to do His will, if we stick by Him and do not stray from the path to life He has opened for us, our hardships will be but a speck compared with the reward Our Lord has in store for us, the joyful fruit of the Holy Spirit we too will bear both in this life and in the next. This is what we see in Mary, and it’s what we will see in ourselves if only we persevere. In our struggles, may we always keep before us Jesus’ own promise, that “everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life” (Mt 19:29). Surely, such things as time, comfort, friends, and other things could be included in this list. May we never despair, or think that God has forgotten or forsaken us. “I have spoken; I will do it—oracle of the Lord” (Ez 37:14).

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