Oliver Plunkett (July 1)

Irish judges refused to hear the case against Oliver Plunkett, a priest who was ordained in Rome in 1654. Oliver had been a professor of theology and was archbishop of Armagh, Ireland. Opponents brought absurd charges against Plunkett during an Irish politico-religious upheaval. Authorities arrested him and took him to London for a more objective trial.

He summarized the accusations against him, in a letter from jail: My accusers swore I had 70,000 Irish men to promote the Catholic cause, that I had the harbor of Carlington ready to bring in the French, and that I levied monies upon Irish clergy for their maintenance – such romances as would not be believed by any jury in Ireland. Because there was no evidence against him, the London court dismissed his case. A hastily arranged second trial found him guilty of “propagating the Catholic religion.”

Oliver had no fear of death and wanted to be an encouraging example for others. Christ by his fears and passion merited for me to be without fear. I daily expect to be brought to the place of execution, where my bowels are to be cut out and burned before my face and then my head to be cut off, etc. Which death I embrace willingly. He was hanged, drawn, and quartered on July 1, 1681, at Tyburn, the principal location in London for public executions. (Butler’s Lives of the Saints)

O God, who in your holy Martyrs have wonderfully made known the mystery of the Cross, graciously grant, that drawing strength from this sacrifice, we may cling faithfully to Christ and labor in the Church for salvation for all. Amen.

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Lectio Divina

Pope Benedict XVI recommends  Lectio Divina to more ably appreciate and understand Scripture.  In Verbum Domini 87, September 30, 2010, he reviews its basic steps:  lectio: reading of a text, meditatio: meditation, oratio: prayer, contemplatio: contemplation. What does the biblical text say in itself?  What does the biblical text say to me?  What do I say to the Lord in response to his word?  What conversion of mind, heart, and life is the Lord asking of me?

Becky and I have recently taken up the practice of Lectio Divina in our daily prayer time through these following steps:

SIGN OF THE CROSS

INVOCATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT:

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.

Send forth your Spirit, and we shall be created.

And you shall renew the face of the earth.

ACT  OF CONTRITION

LECTIO:  Read the Gospel of the day.

 MEDITATIO:  What does the Gospel say to me?  God has willed me to be here, now, today, for a reason.  Now is the time to reflect, and find that reason, and hear what God has chosen to tell me.

 ORATIO:  God has spoken to me.  What do I reply?

 CONTEMPLATIO:  Sometimes we may be led into a quiet resting in the presence of God.

Another aspect of this prayer process is the ECHO.  Following our individual process of Lectio Divina, Becky and I share the words in the day’s passage that have had the most impact along with the message it has conveyed to us individually.  While not a necessary component of the process, these sharings and the accompanying discussion have enrichened our prayer life and our appreciation of Scripture.

Sons (and Daughters) of Destruction?

In St. John’s Gospel, Chapter 17, Jesus speaks of none being lost whom the Father has entrusted to him but the “son of destruction,” Judas.  As I thought more about Judas and Jesus’ great love for him, I realized how much Judas’ grave sin must have cut into Jesus’ heart – a friend who had walked with him, a friend who had heard his message, a friend he loved.  I thought about how devastated Jesus must have felt when Judas turned away and betrayed his love and friendship.

And then my thoughts segued into us.  Are we also “sons (and daughters) of destruction” when we sin?  Are we any different from Judas when we betray the love and friendship of Jesus?  Are we any different from Judas when we sin?

Oh, I would never sin like Judas!  My sins are slight compared to his sin of betrayal.  My sins are small.  I remember Father Francis coming into our Confirmation class a few years ago when we were talking about sin: the difference between mortal and venial sin.  One of the kids said that venial sins were small sins.  Father Francis interjected that there is no such thing as a small sin:  all sins cause Jesus pain; all sins are a betrayal of his love, his friendship, his message.

So, let us think about our sins.  Let us think about Judas.  Let us think about the pain our sins hurt Jesus – no matter how “small” we may think they are; we who have walked with him; we who have heard his message; we whom he loves.

 May God be praised!

Cleaning Therapy

I have heard that there is something very therapeutic about cleaning. Cleaning our external dwelling places provides a valuable lesson in cleaning our spiritual homes as well. How often we let cobwebs of doubt and fear clutter the corners of our hearts. How frequently we let guilt and regret accumulate in the closets of our minds. Just as it is necessary to give our house Spring (Summer/Fall/Winter) Cleaning, so it is also necessary to periodically cleanse our souls.

What areas of my spiritual or emotional life need cleaning? What mental junk drawer can I begin to straighten?

From 365 SAINTS – Woodeene Koenig-Bricker

PRAYER FOR THE WEEK

Holy Spirit, be with me throughout this day and guide me in all I do. Give me the patience to wait for You, and the trust to believe You truly love me and will guide my very life. Teach me never to be satisfied until I have yielded fully to Your Loving and Perfect Will for my life. Amen.

Clouds and Sins

Have you ever been enjoying a sunny day when over the horizon appears a little cloud? Soon that little cloud is joined by other – some white and fluffy – others tinged with grey. Those small seemingly innocent clouds slowly are joined by more ominous grey clouds until the whole sky is darkened and the sun is blocked out altogether.

I think that is what happened with Judas. Scripture tells us he was the holder of the communal money back and that he used to dip into it for his own use – maybe just a few coins at first – little sins – white clouds with a tinge of grey but the Son still shining – gradually Judas’ clouds got darker – his sins becoming slowly more serious – the day he went to the Jewish leaders and sold Jesus – the day he led the soldiers into the garden – the day he hung himself in despair – didn’t come like a flash of lightning – these things – these grave things – the dark cloud that blocked out the Son came upon him gradually.

The same with us – the so-called small sins are like the little clouds – left unchecked they accumulate and grow more serious. The clouds get darker and darker and then we can no longer see the Son – like Judas.

Some sins may be less serious than others but like the gathering clouds, unless cleared away, they eventually block out our path with God.

In our Passion narrative today, Peter is asked if he is a disciple of the Jesus. His reply: I AM NOT. When we sin, both in serious and in less serious ways, our reply as to whether we are disciples of Jesus is a resounding, I AM NOT!

 

Don’t be afraid of what God desires for you

I turned over my recent copy of Columbia, the Knights of Columbus magazine, and there he was: Christopher Floersh. Apparently, a non-practicing Catholic as a young adult practicing mixed martial arts and working in the film industry, he found an old rosary and started wondering why he considered himself a Catholic, but neglected his faith. He said that rosary and found himself drawn to attending daily Mass, which led to a drastic change in his life.

He is now Father Christopher Floersh, a priest of the Knoxville Diocese. What a change finding that old rosary brought about – what a change responding to the graces he received as he prayed that rosary for the first time in a while.   To quote him, “I realized that my love of material comforts was rooted in my desire for the infinite and that I would never be fully satisfied without God.”

St. Francis de Sales tells us that God sends us many inspirations, but unless we respond to and act on these inspirations, they become nothing – they float away. How many of us in prayer have had a thought, a good thought, that we realized could make a difference in our lives, but let it float away? I know I have – not purposefully – but simply have forgotten about it.

Following the advice of St. Francis and the example of Fr. Floersh, the next time God sends an inspiration your way, grab it, write it down, pray on it, act on it. It just might change your life.

Fr. Floersh’s new motto: “Live every day as though you are being called for greatness.” His advice: “Don’t be afraid of what God desires for you.”

May God be praised!

 

Power of the Tongue

St. James speaks to us of the “Power of the Tongue” (Letter of James – Chapter 3). He tells us “the tongue is a small member but has great pretentions (verse 5). He goes on to say in verses 7, 8, 10, “…for every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed…but no human being can tame the tongue. It is restless evil, full of deadly poison…from the same mouth come blessing and cursing.”

As we continue our journey through Lent, we can see this very clearly illustrated in our Scriptures: On Palm Sunday we hear in the Gospel of Mark the people proclaiming, “Hosanna!…Hosanna in the highest!” as the people greet Jesus as he approaches the gates of Jerusalem…”Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” And then a few days later, we hear in the Passion and Death of Jesus from the same mouths, “Crucify, him! Crucify him!”

“From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.”

 Are we guilty of the same hypocrisy? Do we speak from both sides of our mouths, so to speak? Do we claim Jesus as our Lord one minute and then violate his message of love in the next? Are we guilty of using our tongues for innuendo, slander, gossip? Do we use the same tongues to praise the Lord and to use his name in vain? Are we permitting our tongues for both “blessing and cursing”? Sadly, I think, as St. James warns us, our tongues can become our downfall. As we get closer to the Sacred Triduum of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus, may we examine our lives in this regard.

A Morning Offering

A number of years ago when a young man told me his life was so busy he had no time to pray, I suggested to him that he begin each day with A Morning Offering offering each part of the coming day as prayer. That way, everything he did that day would become a prayer.

St. Francis de Sales, in his Introduction to the Devout Life, suggests the following guidelines for doing just that same thing.

  • Thank God, and adore Him, asking forgiveness for any way you have offended Him.
  • Call to mind the day ahead and make a resolution to use the day for good.
  • Think of the ways through the day that may enable you to serve God, what temptations to sin may get in the way, making a firm resolution to resist whatever may hinder your salvation and God’s Glory.
  • Humbly realize that of yourself you cannot carry out any of your resolutions; asking God for His Grace to be with you throughout the day.
  • Throughout your day remember your resolutions for good and God’s Graces working within you.

Refreshed in this way as you begin your day, all your day, every part of your day, every interaction of your day becomes prayer.

DEAR JESUS, THROUGH THE INTERCESSION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, I OFFER YOU MY PRAYERS, WORKS, JOYS, AND SUFFERINGS OF THIS DAY FOR ALL THE INTENTIONS OF THY SACRED HEART, IN UNION WITH THE SACRIFICE OF THE MASS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD, IN REPARATION FOR MY SINS, AND FOR THE INTENTIONS OF THE POPE. AMEN

The Daily Examen

A number of years ago, my wife Becky and I took the trip to Pittsburgh to the Strip District to meet with a Jesuit priest, Father Jim Conway, to be trained in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.   Instead of the regular month-long Ignatian retreat, Father Jim met with us every Wednesday for three months. It was an amazing and life-changing experience for both of us giving insight and understanding of the Scriptures, the man Jesus, and ourselves we had not before imagined.

I want to give you a little insight into the Exercises by sharing a part of the Exercises through what St. Ignatius called the Daily Examen. “He believed that if we could discover God’s presence, we could experience His personal love more deeply and have a greater sense of what He was calling us to do.” (The Word Among Us) I am including the five steps that can help you do it.

The Daily Examen

  • Become aware of God’s Presence
  • Review the day with gratitude
  • Pay attention to your emotions
  • Choose one feature of the day and pray from it
  • Look to the coming day

This is only a glimpse of the power of the Spiritual Exercises. I highly recommend the Ignatian experience for anyone who wants to get closer to God.

Suscipe (Latin word for receive)

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 your love and grace, that is enough for me. Amen.

A Lenten Prayer

My wife, Becky, has been praying this Lenten Prayer for a number of years and asked me to share it with you. She is not sure of the source.

Lenten Prayer at the Start of the Day

(If you have holy water in your home, it may be used for the Sign of the Cross.)

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

Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will proclaim your name.

Glory 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

Lord Jesus, you give us living waters: Kyrie eleison.

Christ Jesus, your are Light from Light: Christe eleison.

Lord, Jesus, you raise us from death to life: Kyrie eleison.

Our Father, who art in Heaven,

hallowed be thy name.

Thy Kingdom come,

The Will be done,

on earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

Amen.

Guard us, Lord, during this day. Keep us faithful to your Word and your Way, and help us to live as true disciples of Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

May Almighty God grant us a grace-filled day and lead us safely home. Amen