Archive for February, 2008

Prayer Redux

Just in case your wondering, the two quotes about praying as you can found in italics I borrowed from poster at the Spirituality forum of Catholic Answers Forums under praying the Little Office of the BVM.  I found them rather appropriate in regards to prayer.

Prayer

“I’m gonna have to heal you. We have got to pray! We have got to pray! We have got to pray to make it through the day!” License to Wed

While I actually haven’t seen this movie, the line does spark an important part of Lent: PRAYER.  Particulary the fact that we are called to pray without ceasing, as mentioned by St. Paul in his letter to…well, I have to look up which letter.  Prayer is something we all struggle with, either trying to find the time or the words or the desire to pray. 

Myself, I just don’t pray.  Oh, I pray before Mass and after receiving the Eucharist but that’s about it.  But I should be doing more.  We all want to do more.  I know of those that believe that everyone should be praying the same devotions and prayers that they are.  I know of people who told me that I needed to do was pray the Rosary.  Sorry, I’ve tried but then I spent years in Catholic school being forced to pray the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross.  I just never made the connection.  Now, I have no problem with the Blessed Virgin and the Rosary and people who feel called to that devotion are free to pray that devotion.  But it is not a mandatory prayer.  The only mandatory prayer in the Church is the Mass.  There are those that believe if you don’t pray this prayer or don’t do that devotion you aren’t really praying and are not really Catholic. 

The thing is, not everyone prays the same or is called to pray in the same way.  We each come to prayer and pray in our own way.  One way may work for one and not for another.  Or one way may not work for one and may work for another.  Forcing people to pray the exact same prayer in the exact same way (not talking about the Mass which will eventually a whole post to itself) makes prayer ineffective and forces the prayee to view prayer in a negative light.  Prayer then comes to mean something that is a chore instead of talking with God.

Pray as you can, not as you can’t” and “If you can pray well do so. Otherwise pray badly like the rest of us.”

Just a thought.  Prayer is not something to be forced or done on someone else’s terms.  You pray as you will to do God’s will in whatever way you can.  Don’t use someone else’s way if it doesn’t work for you.  Use your own.  And if someone tells you you aren’t praying correctly, tell them to take it up with God because He doesn’t have a problem with you praying.

1st Sunday of Lent

Well, second attempt.  I forgot tags on the first attempt, went back and edited, and then lost the whole thing.  Great. Lovely. 

I had the intention of writing a reflection on the readings for the 1st Sunday of Lent.  It’s Tuesady.  I think I may not have met that objective.  I’ve been busy dealing with the last few weeks of the quarter at school and have several projects and lengthy essays to write.  Plus, the fact that I have limited computer access and time.

So here it goes, again.

1st Reading: Genesis 2

The Fall.  Here we learn about the entrance of sin and death into our lives.  All sin is caused by disobedience, disobeying God, God’s will.  We also see, through the eyes of those who know the rest of the story, about God’s plan to send His son to save us.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 51

The Miserere. The Penitential Psalm. “Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.”  How very true.  True in the fact that we are sinners.  True in the fact that God is indeed merciful.  He sent His only Son.  His Son instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  God is just in His Mercy.

2nd Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans 5

Here we have the history of salvation from Adam to Jesus.  We can also see the beginning and end of Lent in the same passage.   We learn of what Christ did for us on the Cross.

Gospel: Matthew

I love the fact that the 1st Sunday of Lent we always read about Jesus going into the desert to fast and pray.  Two of the three focuses of Lent we see Christ doing Himself before He ever started his ministry.  Even though the Devil tempts Him, Jesus resists. If Jesus, who is both God and Man, prayed, we should surely pray.

The readings for the First Sunday of Lent are a guideline, to Lent and to what Lent is about.  Genesis gives us the reason for a savior along with why sin and death entered the world.  The Psalm reminds us that we are sinners, yet God is indeed Merciful.  The Letter to the Romans summarizes the history of salvation while allowing us to see that Lent does indeed have a point.  And the Gospel reminds us that even Jesus fasted, prayed, and was tempted, all things we can do and have happen to us.

Have a blessed Lent.

Four Things continued

Here are the Catechism references to the post I made last night.

Death: http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p123a11.htm#II “Dying in Christ Jesus”  “Death” “The Meaning of Christian Death”

Particular Judgement, Heaven, Hell : http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p123a12.htm

I also suggest reading the preceeding sections since they deal with the Creed.

Have a Blessed Lent.

The Four Final Things

I meant to start this much earlier so as to go into fuller depth but at this point I’ll just post what I intend to blog about and write the depth tomorrow.  Hopefully.

Yesterday morning as I was driving into school, waiting in traffic, and listening to Evanescence, I thought about the Four Final things: Death, Judgement, Heaven, and Hell.  We as Catholics do not give as much emphasis on these topics as we used to.  Now that is not to say they are never mentioned but rather the depth and consideration they are due have been lacking.

Now we will all die.  That’s a fact of life and cannot change, regardless of those that search after immortality and super long lives.  It ain’t gonna happen folks.  Now death is not something to be feared.  We should always be aware that at any moment we could die.  Everyone dies.  Jesus died and did so for us, to save us from death.  From the consequences of our sin.  To save us from ourselves.  Lent reminds us not only about physical death but about spiritual death caused by sin.  Lent is a season of repentence, penance.  We walk the path that Jesus did: through temptation (1st Sunday of Lent Gospel reading) which leads to sin, His entrance into Jerusalem (Passion/Palm Sunday), to the Institution of the Eucharist (Holy Thursday), His handing over to be crucified (Holy Thursday and Good Friday), His Crucifixion (Good Friday), and His Resurrection (Easter Vigil, Easter Sunday).  His Death broke death’s hold over us.

We are reminded that we are sinners in need of a Savior and that that Savior is Jesus who knew what it was like to be human, who understands our weaknesses.  We are called to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to repair the damage, the death to our souls caused by sin.  Not only that but to repair the “death” in our relationship with Jesus that was caused by our sin.  When we sin, we kill our relationship with Christ.  His grace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation heals that death, that injury to make us whole again, to heal our relationship with Him.  He understands that there are temptations and that by making use of this Sacrament and of Holy Communion along with prayer He will give us the grace and ability to fight these temptations and for us not to choose sin.

Judgement comes when we die.  There is the Particular Judgement which we will face completely on our own and the Final Judgement comes when Jesus returns.  When we die it will not matter if we made millions of dollars or wore the latest fashions or belonged to the best clubs or attended the best schools.  It will come down to how we lived our lives.  Did we follow Jesus’s command to Love God and Love our Neighbors as Ourselves?  Did we clothe the naked, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, visit the imprisoned, care for the sick?  In essence, did we just talk the talk or did we actually walk the walk?

Heaven and Hell are the two possible places we could end up.  We want Heaven, to be in God’s presence for eternity.  But there are those through their own choice who want to go to Hell because they do not want to be in the presence of the Loving God and God will not force His presence on those who do not want it.  We choose are destination through our actions, our desire to love God or our decision to be disobedient and reject God.  We have free will.  I suggest a reading of the Catechism for a better understanding of the Church’s teaching on Heaven and Hell.  We don’t know what Heaven or Hell will be like, only that they exist.  God desires us to be with Him but He won’t force us to love Him or follow Him.

As for Lent and Holy Week, which I briefly touched on earlier, they model many key events in our faith.  I hope to write about them in other posts.

I will clarify and add Catechism references tomorrow, hopefully.

Have a Blessed and Prayer-filled Lent.

Ash Wednesday

In a few short hours, we start the wonderful penitential season of Lent.  Forty days to focus on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  But more importantly, focusing on Jesus.  Focusing on our need for a Savior and that we are sinners who can do nothing without HIM.

It is so easy to forget about Jesus.  We get distracted.  We let other things become our focus.  We push Jesus to the sidelines or backburner or even push Him completely out of our minds. We let school or TV or work or the latest fad take over our minds and our daily lives.  Oh, we may think about Him from time to time, especially on Sundays but otherwise we put Him in a closet and take Him out only when we talk about our faith or need to demonstrate, Yeah, I know Jesus.

But do you really?  Many of us say we know Jesus, that we pray, that we receive Him body and blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist.  But we pay lip service to Him.  We say what we don’t mean.  We can talk the talk but walking the walk is hard.  We don’t want to see Jesus 24/7.  We want Him on OUR terms, NOT HIS.  And from that way of thinking we lose terribly.  We sin.  We live without Jesus in our lives and we become shadows of what we truly are, what we are truly capable of.

Thankfully, the Church and Jesus understands that we are imperfect sinners and provides us the opportunities to repent, to turn towards Jesus again and again and again.  Lent as a liturgical season provides a forty days to take the blinders or other obstacles from our eyes and allows us again to focus on Jesus.  We can remove that log from our eye and see Jesus for what and who He truly is.  It won’t happen over night.  We can learn to live HIS will and not ours.  We can repent and start anew.  Lent is an opportunity for us to fast from the things that we put in the place of Jesus and remove them from our lives.  We can turn off the TV, turn off the computer, quit eating the sweets and drinking the soda that we used to hide ourselves from Christ.  We can take our eyes off the world and turn them back to Christ.

And not just Lent but the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Such a wonderful sacrament that grants us grace and the ability to truly mend our relationship with Christ.  We offend and hurt Jesus when we sin but He gave us the means to come to Him and repair that damage.  And to give us His grace to become more holy, more like HIM.  Are we perfect and incapable of sin once we receive Reconciliation? No. We are sinners and we will unfortunately sin again.  And we can again receive Reconciliation.  We go, not to just make things right, but to truly reform ourselves with His grace and to repair our relationship with Him. 

The more often we partake of the Sacraments especially Reconciliation and Holy Communion, the more we connect to Christ, the more we are in Christ.  The graces we receive from those Sacraments helps us to be more Christ-like in our lives.  And we are called to be Christ-like.

So this Lent, clear the log from your eye, pray, and turn to Jesus.

What are you doing this Lent to turn towards Jesus and truly follow Him?


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