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Monthly Archives: April 2012

ASPIRATIONS FOR ANY OCCASION

We adore thee, O Christ, and we praise thee, because by thy holy Cross thou hast redeemed the world.

May the Heart of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament be praised, adored and loved with grateful affection, at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even to the End of Time! Amen.

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BIBLE STORY OF JESUS CHRIST’S LIFE, PART XVIII

Dear Brothers and Sisters without a Bible – this is the story that changes everyone’s life for ever: the Gospel. (Part 18)

John 18:1-40

THE ARREST OF JESUS:

When Jesus had finished speaking, he went with his disciples to the other side of the Kidron Valley. There was a garden there. Jesus entered with his disciples.

Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, since Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas took soldiers and some servants from the chief priests and Pharisees, and they went to the garden with lanterns, torches and weapons.

Jesus knew all that was going to happen to him; he stepped forward and asked, “Who are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus said, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, stood there with them.

When Jesus said, “I am he,” they moved back and fell to the ground. He then asked a second time, “Who are you looking for?” and they answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus replied, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, let these others go.” So what Jesus had said came true: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”

Simon Peter had a sword; he drew it and struck Malchus, the High Priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me?”

The guards and the soldiers, with their commander, seized Jesus and bound him; and they took him first to Annas. Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was the High Priest that year; and it was Caiaphas who had told the Jews, “It is better that one man should die for the people.”

Simon Peter with another disciple followed Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the High Priest, they let him enter the courtyard of the High Priest along with Jesus, but Peter had to stay outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the High Priest, went out and spoke to the maidservant at the gate and brought Peter in. Then this maidservant on duty at the door said to Peter, “So you also are one of his disciples?” But he answered, “I am not.”

Now the servants and the guards had made a charcoal fire and were standing and warming themselves, because it was cold. Peter was also with them warming himself.

The High Priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in places where the Jews meet together, either at the assemblies in synagogues or in the Temple. I did not teach secretly. Why then do you question me? Ask those who heard me, they know what I said.”

At this reply one of the guards standing there gave Jesus a blow on the face, saying, “Is that the way to answer the High Priest?” Jesus said to him, “If I have spoken wrongly, point it out; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?”

Then Annas sent him, bound, to Caiaphas, the High Priest.

Now Simon Peter stood there warming himself. They said to him, “Surely you also are one of his disciples.” He denied it, and answered, “I am not.” One of the High Priest’s servants, a kinsman of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you with him in the garden?” Again, Peter denied it, and at once the cock crowed.

Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the headquarters of the Roman governor. It was now morning. The Jews didn’t go inside, lest they be made unclean by entering the house of a pagan, and therefore not allowed to eat the Passover meal. So Pilate came out and asked, “What charge do you bring against this man?”

They answered, “If he were not a criminal, we would not be handing him over to you.” Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your own law.” But they replied, “We ourselves are not allowed to put anyone to death.”

It was clear from this what kind of death Jesus was to die, according to what Jesus himself had foretold.

Pilate then entered the court again, called Jesus and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “Does this word come from you, or did you hear it from others?”

Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingship does not come from this world. If I were a king, like those of this world, my guards would have fought to save me from being handed over to the Jews. But my kingship is not of this world.”

Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” And Jesus answered, “Just as you say, I am a king. For this I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is on the side of truth hears my voice.” Pilate said, “What is truth?”

Pilate then went out to the Jews again and said, “I find no crime in this man. Now, according to custom, I must release a prisoner to you at the Passover. With your agreement I will release to you the King of the Jews.” But they insisted and cried out, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.

 

WHAT IS ‘THE CULTURE OF DEATH’ AND WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?

MANIFESTATIONS OF THE CULTURE OF DEATH IN TODAY’S SOCIETY:

Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the little shepherds of Fatima, “gives two clues why ‘saying yes to life’ is becoming heroic in our day. The first clue…: ‘It is sad that so many are allowing themselves to be dominated by the diabolical wave that is sweeping the world and they are so blind that they cannot see their error.’ The second…: ‘The principal cause of evil in the world…is the lack of union with God in prayer. If we are not careful and attentive in obtaining the strength from God, we will fail because our times are very bad and we are weak.’

Support for Sister Lucia’s claim that our evil times are the result of a ‘diabolical wave sweeping the world’ is to be found in the revelations of a modern mystic, Alexandrina da Costa, who died in Balasar, Portugal on October 13, 1955.

Her biographer, the late Francis Johnston, writes at one point: ‘During this arduous, rapturous period, her ecstasies gravitated more towards the state of the Church and the world. She received a piercing gift of prophesy and foretold many events that subsequently happened… Frequently, while in ecstasy, Alexandrina was heard lamenting and praying aloud for the Church, which she saw in danger of a ‘great crisis’ and threatened by a ‘wild beast’. She was heard quoting Our Lord as follows: ‘Tell My ministers to be vigilant, for the devil is preparing a massive assault on the Church. But pray and trust; victory will be Mine.’
(For over thirteen years, Alexandrina maintained a perfect fast, neither eating nor drinking anything except for the reception of Holy Communion. Rome is studying her case for possible beatification.)

It is a curious fact that those who are most ardent in their belief in God also believe strongly in the devil. The reverse is also true: Those who are not on fire with the love of God, either do not believe in the devil at all, or they do not think that he is very powerful, which is just the way the devil would have it. A great deal of his success and/or his power and influence comes from people’s failing to acknowledge either his existence or his activity – or both!

To the testimony of Sister Lucia and of Alexandrina da Costa – not only to the existence of Satan but to his powerful influence – I would like to add a third voice, that of Sister Josefa Menendez, who died in Poitiers, France, in 1923 after barely four years as a Religious of the Sacred Heart.

In her biography, written by another Religious of the Sacred Heart, we read the following: ‘The hour of the Prince of Darkness had struck, and Josefa entered the lists against him. She was now to meet him at every turn. But Our Lord fought in her and was preparing the most humiliating of defeats for Satan…by means of the frail instrument that Josefa was, we can see a combat between God and Satan, between Charity and hatred.

‘All the demon’s efforts during that long period of nine months were centred and concentrated on the destruction of Josefa’s religious vocation. [She was a novice at the time.] He spared nothing to bend her to his will, violent temptations, fear of crushing responsibility by which he terrified her, perfidious falsehoods that alarmed her conscience, obsessions that, so to speak, endowed her with a dual personality, and made her think what she did not believe, and do what she did not want to do, without allowing her at the time to discern that she was under diabolic domination, [which included], deceptive and menacing appearances, blows, abductions and burnings…all [of which] were hurled at the frail child as a tornado, in which it would seem she must suffer shipwreck.’

In this last case, Satan worked quite openly, as in the case of St John Vianney, the holy Cure of Ars, implicitly acknowledging thereby the ineffectiveness of his disguises. But almost always, and as a general norm, he prefers to work quietly, indirectly and THROUGH OTHERS, who are more susceptible to his wiles. Today, Sister Lucia asserts that there are many ‘who are allowing themselves to be dominated by the diabolical wave that is sweeping the world and are so blind they cannot see their error.’

We must keep in mind [all through the following section] that the true Christian spirit is one of love, of life and of sacrifice. [The problem is] the contrast, the wide gulf between this true Christian spirit and the spirit of the world, dominated by the evil spirit as it is”: (1)

The attitudes and laws of many states have been changes in ways that are contrary to the respect of human life.

ABORTION is the intentional killing of a child between conception and birth. It is wrong because it attacks the sanctity of a life made in the image of God. Modern contraceptive pills, which are partly and sometimes entirely based on synthetic progesterone, also sometimes act as abortifacients.

EUTHANASIA is assisted suicide, which prevents God’s completion of a life and corrodes respect for the old and infirm. It also prepares the way for the more general and involuntary killing of those judged unfit to live.

HUMAN CLONING is the artificial duplication of human beings. IN VITRO FERTILISATION (IVF) is artificial non-sexual procreation. They attack the dignity of the child, the sanctity of natural procreation and lead in practice to the mass destruction of embryos.

DIVORCE, COHABITATION AND CIVIL PARTNERSHIPS destabilise and devalue the dignity of natural Marriage and the family as the true foundations of society.

ARTIFICIAL CONTRACEPTION AND HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVITY separate the gift of sexuality from procreation or married love altogether, contributing to a sexually irresponsible and sterile culture.

WHAT WE CAN DO:

1. It is a work of mercy to avoid these practices ourselves and to help others avoid them by word and example.

2. The message of Fatima has been given to us by the Mother of God Herself. In 1917 she spoke to the three shepherd children and through them told us to stop offending God, because He is already too much offended by the sins of mankind. Perhaps we know the message well, but are we doing all we can to actually live it and spread it to others? Enormous perils face our troubled and sinful world of today. Here a summary of what we should do in order to respond to Our Lady’s Motherly plea to her children:

– OFFER UP OUR DAILY DUTIES AS A SACRIFICE for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for our sins and those of others. Jesus said: “The penance that I request and require now is the sacrifice demanded of everybody by the accomplishment of his own duty and the observance of My Law.”

– SAY THE ROSARY EVERY DAY – at least five decades – whilst meditating on the various mysteries, ending each mystery with the prayer: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.” The Rosary is the scourge of the devil and a prayer which is pleasing to God.

– WEAR THE BROWN SCAPULAR as a sign of our personal consecration to Our Lady and make acts of reparation to Her Immaculate Heart.

– ATTEND HOLY MASS EVEN DAILY, if possible, and spend more time in ADORATION BEFORE THE MOST BLESSED SACRAMENT. This will prove to be the most valuable time of our life.

– PRAY AND OFFER SACRIFICES FOR THE CONVERSION OF POOR SINNERS saying the prayer which Our Lady gave to the three shepherds: “O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of poor sinners and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

– PRACTISE THE FIVE FIRST SATURDAYS OF THE MONTH.

– CONSECRATE OURSELVES AND OUR FAMILIES TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY. Our Lady told the children that “God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.

Pope Pius XII said: “The time for doubting Fatima is past; it is now time for action. In the Old Testament God repeatedly sent the Prophets to remind His people of their eternal destiny and to warn and even punish them when they strayed from the path of salvation. Today He send the Queen of Prophets Herself, entrusted with the same message to all people of today’s world: “Pray, do penance for your sins, amend your lives, or God will be compelled to let fall the arm of His justice.”

Fatima is a loud warning bell for us all to amend our lives; a loving invitation for sincere contrition on our part.

Part(1) quoted from: Msgr. Joseph A. Cirrincione

 

“WHAT IS WRONG, GOD HEARS OTHER PEOPLE, BUT HE DOES NOT SEEM TO LISTEN TO MY PRAYERS?”

[GOD IS NOT A VENDING MACHINE; WE DO NOT EXPECT TO THROW IN A PRAYER AND THE REQUEST WE ASKED FOR ‘AUTOMATICALLY’ COMES OUT THE OTHER END BECAUSE WE ‘PAID FOR IT’ WITH OUR PRAYER]

2735 In the first place, we ought to be astonished by this fact: when we praise God or give him thanks for his benefits in general, we are not particularly concerned whether or not our prayer is acceptable to him. On the other hand, we demand to see the results of our petitions. What is the image of God that motivates our prayer: An instrument to be used? or the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?

[HUMILITY IS THE BASIS FOR PRAYER:]

2779 Before…[we call unto God the Father in prayer], we must humbly cleanse our hearts of certain false images drawn “from this world.” HUMILITY makes us recognise that “no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him,” that is, “to little children.” (cf. Mt 11:25-27) The PURIFICATION of our hearts has to do with paternal and maternal images, stemming from our personal and cultural history, and influencing our relationship with God. God our Father transcends the categories of the created world. To impose our own ideas in this area “upon him” would be to fabricate idols to adore or pull down. To pray to the Father is to enter into his mystery as he is and as the Son has revealed him to us…

2780 We can invoke God as “Father” because HE IS REVEALED TO US by his Son become man and because his Spirit makes him known to us. The personal relation of the Son to the Father is something that man cannot conceive of nor the angelic powers even dimly see: and yet, the Spirit of the Son grants a participation in that very relation to us who believe that Jesus is the Christ and that we are born of God. (cf. Jn 1:1; 1 Jn 5:1).

[ARE WE ASKING GOD FOR WHAT IS GOOD FOR US?]

2736 Are we convinced that “we do not know how to pray as we ought”? (cf. Rom 8:26) Are we asking God for “what is good for us”? Our Father knows what we need before we ask him (cf. Mt 6:8), but he awaits our petition because the dignity of his children lies in their freedom. We must pray, then, with his Spirit of freedom, to be able truly to know what he wants. (cf. Rom 8:27)

[PERSEVERING IN LOVE]

2742 “Pray constantly…always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.” (cf. 1 Thess 5:17; Eph 5:20) St Paul adds, “Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance making supplication for all the saints.” (cf. Eph 6:18) For “we have not been commanded to work, to keep watch and to fast constantly, but it has been laid down that we are to pray without ceasing.” This tireless fervour can come only from love. Against our dullness and laziness, the battle of prayer is that of humble, trusting, and persevering LOVE. This love opens our hearts to three enlightening and life giving facts of faith about prayer.

[1. It is always possible to pray,
2. Prayer is a vital necessity,
3. Prayer and Christian life are inseparable.]

[GOD IS MOST CONCERNED WITH THE WELFARE OF OUR IMMORTAL SOULS:]

2737 “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (cf. Jas 4:3; cf. The whole context: Jas 4:1-10; 1:5-8; 5:16) If we ask with a divided heart, we are “adulterers” (cf. Jas 4:4), God cannot answer us, for he desires our well-being, our life. “Or do you suppose that it is in vain that the scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit which he has made to dwell in us?'” (cf. Jas 4:5) That our God is “jealous” for us is the sign of how true his love is. If we enter into the desire of his Spirit, we shall be heard.

“Do not be troubled if you do not immediately receive from God what you ask him; for he desires to do something even greater for you, while you cling to him in prayer.” (Evagrius Ponticus, De oratione 34: PG 79, 1173)

(from: Catechism of the Catholic Church)

 

SHORT PRAYER TO OUR MOTHER OF PERPETUAL HELP

O Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever evoke thy most powerful name, which is the safeguard of the living and the salvation of the dying.
O purest Mary, O sweetest Mary, let thy name henceforth be ever on my lips.
Delay not, O Blessed Lady, to help me whenever I call on thee, for, in all my temptations, in all my needs, I shall never cease to call on thee, ever repeating thy sacred name, Mary, Mary.
O what consolation, what sweetness, what emotion fill my soul when I pronounce thy sacred name, or even only think of thee. I thank God for having given thee, for my good, so sweet, so powerful, so lovely a name.
But I will not be content with merely uttering thy name; let my love for thee prompt me ever to hail thee: Mother of Perpetual Help.
Amen.

 

WHAT IS THE STORY OF THE DIVINE MERCY IMAGE?

On February 22, 1931, Sister Faustina* records in her Diary: “I saw Jesus dressed in a white garment. He held one hand raised in blessing and the other hand was touching his garment at the breast. From under the garment came two rays of light, one red, the other pale.”

Jesus said: “Paint a picture according to the vision you see and with the signature ‘Jesus, I trust in You’. I desire that this picture be venerated first in your chapel and then throughout the whole world.”
Later, Sr Faustina’s Spiritual Director told her to ask Jesus what the rays signified, and Jesus explained to her:

“The rays represent the Blood and Water which gushed forth from the depths of My Mercy when My agonising Heart was pierced on the cross. The pale rays symbolise the water, which cleanses and purifies the soul; the red rays represent the blood, which gives new life to the soul. These rays will shield the soul before the justice of My Father. Fortunate are those who live in this shelter, for the justice of God will not reach them there.”

St Faustina writes in her Diary: “The Lord permitted me to see the immensity and greatness of His Mercy. If souls could only realise how much God loves them! Earthly human understanding is only a pale shadow of the reality.” Jesus pleaded for help in seeking the return, through His Mercy, of all who have lost their faith and offended God.

“Write, the greater the sinner, the greater the Mercy. Summon all those to confidence in the incomprehensible depth of My Mercy, for I desire to save all. The well of Mercy was opened wide with a lance on the cross, for all souls. I do not exclude anyone.”

Again and again, Our Lord visited Sister Faustina and repeated His appeal to sinners, calling them to His open arms. “Know, My daughter, that My Heart is Mercy Itself. From this sea of mercy graces pour out upon the whole world. No souls that come to Me depart without being comforted. All misery vanishes in My Mercy: and every grace, redemptive and sanctifying, stems from this source.”

On another occasion, Jesus complained of our lack of trust in Him: “Distrust tears at My Heart. The lack of confidence in chosen souls hurts Me most. Despite My inexhaustible love, they do not trust Me.

Tell ailing mankind to draw close to My Merciful Heart and I will fill them with peace. Mankind will not find solace until it turns with confidence to My Mercy and love.”

PROMISES:

Our Lord instructed St Faustina to paint His Image with the signature “Jesus I trust in You”. Our Lord wished the Image to be venerated and attached a great promise to it:

I promise that the soul that will venerate this Image will not perish. I further promise to that soul victory over enemies here on earth especially at the hour of death. I Myself shall defend that soul as My own glory…”

There is considered opinion that Jesus meant each of us to personally sign this Image: “Jesus I trust in You”.

*ABOUT SAINT FAUSTINA:

Helena Kowalska was born on August 25, 1905, in the village of Glogowiec, in Poland. She was the third of ten children. Her parents were poor but they taught their children the love of God, and respect for other people. Her whole life was characterised by those virtues.
When she was twenty years old, she entered the apostolic congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, where as a humble and hard-working sister, she lived the final thirteen years of her short life. Fervent love of God and all humanity led her to the summit of self-sacrifice and heroism. She distinguished herself by a special devotion to Jesus with great trust in His Divine Mercy, which she endeavoured to instill into everyone who came to know her.
She died in the odour of sanctity on October 5th, 1938, in the convent of her congregation at Lagiewniki in Cracow, Poland, and was buried there in her community’s cemetery. During the informative process of her beatification, her remains were transferred from the cemetery to the convent chapel, where they now lie in a reliquary at the side of the altar. The remains may in time be moved to a final resting place in the new basilica now complete, beside the convent.

 

ST ETHELREDA – PRAYER MEDITATION

ST ETHELREDA +679

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You place your trust in God. Trust also in Me.” (Jn 14:1)

REFLECTION:
Peace does not reside in outward things, but within one’s soul; we may maintain it in the midst of the bitterest pain, if our will remains firm and submissive.
Peace in this life springs from obedience, not from the absence of suffering.
– Francois Fenelon

PRAYER:
Dear St Ethelreda, let me recognise in my sufferings the opportunity to grow nearer to the Lord as you did.
Amen.