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Thursday, April 2, 2015, 5:26 AM
O Lord, Lord, how small and narrow is the house of my soul for You to enter! Enlarge it Yourself. It is in ruins; repair it. I know and admit that there are things in it that are offensive in Your sight. But who will cleanse it? Or to whom but You shall I cry, purify me, Lord, from my hidden sins?” (St. Augustine).
“O good Jesus, to sustain our weakness and to stir up our love, You have chosen to remain always in our midst, although You well foresaw the way that men would treat You and the shame and outrages from which You would have to suffer. O eternal Father, how could You permit Your Son to live with us, to endure fresh insults every day? O my God! What great love in that Son! and also, what great love in that Father!
“But how, eternal Father, couldst Thou consent to this? How canst Thou see Thy Son every day in such wicked hands?… How canst Thy mercy, day by day, and every day, see Him affronted? And how many affronts are being offered today to this most Holy Sacrament! How often must Thou see Him in the hands of His enemies!
“O eternal Father! Surely all these scourgings and insults and grevious tortures will not be forgotten…. Could it be that He failed to do something to please Thee? No, He fulfilled everything…. Has He not already more than sufficiently paid for the sin of Adam?
“O Holy Father who art in Heaven, if Thy divine Son has left nothing undone that He could do for us in granting sinners so great a favor as that of the Blessed Sacrament, do not permit Him to be so ill-treated. Since Thy holy Son has given us this excellent way in which we can offer Him up frequently as a sacrifice, let us make use of this precious gift so that it may stay the advance of such terrible evil and irreverence as in many places is paid to this most holy Sacrament” (cf. Teresa of Jesus, Way of Perfection, 33-3-35)
Thursday, March 19, 2015, 8:34 PM
O St. Joseph, how much I love you! How much good it does me to think of your humble, simple life! Like us, you lived by faith. I contemplate you in the little house at Nazareth, near Jesus and Mary, busy working for them. I see you using the plane, and then wiping your forehead from time to time, and hurrying to finish the work on time for your customers. Although you lived with the Son of God, your life was very ordinary, for Jesus certainly did not perform any useless miracles. Everything in your life was just as it is in ours. And how many sorrows, fatigues and dangers! Oh! how astonished we should be if we knew all that you suffered!” (cf. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Counsels and Souvenirs, – Novissima Verba).
“I do not know how anyone can think of the Queen of Angels during the time that she suffered so much with the Child Jesus, without giving thanks to you, O glorious St. Joseph, for the way you helped them. For this reason it seems to me that those who practice prayer should have a special affection for you always.
“I wish I could persuade everyone to be devoted to you, for I have great experience of the blessings which you obtain from God. I have never known anyone to be truly devoted to you and render you particular services who did not notably advance in virtue, for you give very real help to souls who commend themselves to you. I have clearly seen that your help has always been greater than I could have hoped for. I do not remember that I have ever asked anything of you which you failed to grant. The Lord wishes to teach us that as He was Himself subject to you on earth (for, being His guardian and being called His father, you could command Him), just so in Heaven He still does all that you ask” (cf. Teresa of Jesus. Life, 6).
O dear St. Joseph, I place myself, then, with full confidence under your protection. Teach me to live as you did, in faith and abandonment to God; teach me to live solely for Him, by consecrating myself entirely to His service.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015, 10:06 PM
Through me many peoples have been reborn in God
I give unceasing thanks to my God, who kept me faithful in the day of my testing. Today I can offer him sacrifice with confidence, giving myself as a living victim to Christ, my Lord, who kept me safe through all my trials. I can say now: Who am I, Lord, and what is my calling, that you worked through me with such divine power? You did all this so that today among the Gentiles I might constantly rejoice and glorify your name wherever I may be, both in prosperity and in adversity. You did it so that, whatever happened to me, I might accept good and evil equally, always giving thanks to God. God is never to be doubted. He answered my prayer in such a way that in the last days, ignorant though I am, I might be bold enough to take up so holy and so wonderful a task, and imitate in some degree those whom the Lord had so long ago foretold as heralds of his Gospel, bearing witness to all nations.
How did I get this wisdom, that was not mine before? I did not know the number of my days, or have knowledge of God. How did so great and salutary a gift come to me, the gift of knowing and loving God, though at the cost of homeland and family? I came to the Irish peoples to preach the Gospel and endure the taunts of unbelievers, putting up with reproaches about my earthly pilgrimage, suffering many persecutions, even bondage, and losing my birthright of freedom for the benefit of others.
If I am worthy, I am ready also to give up my life, without hesitation and most willingly, for his name. I want to spend myself in that country, even in death, if the Lord should grant me this favor. I am deeply in his debt, for he gave me the great grace that through me many peoples should be reborn in God, and then made perfect by confirmation and everywhere among them clergy ordained for a people so recently coming to believe, one people gathered by the Lord from the ends of the earth. As God had prophesied of old through the prophets: The nations shall come to you from the ends of the earth, and say: “How false are the idols made by our fathers: they are useless.” In another prophecy he said: I have set you as a light among the nations, to bring salvation to the ends of the earth.
It is among that people that I want to wait for the promise made by him, who assuredly never tells a lie. He makes this promise in the Gospel: They shall come from the east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is our faith: believers are to come from the whole world.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015, 6:53 AM
This examination of the relationship between the Transfiguration and the Passion of Christ, between Mount Tabor and Calvary, makes for helpful reading either for the Feast of the Transfiguration on August 6 or during Holy Week and Lent.
Appearances can be deceiving. After all, Jesus was just another Galilean. His hands were the rough hands of a workman. People in Nazareth knew his mother. Some even remembered the man they thought was his dad.
Yet when Jesus went up on Mt. Tabor with his three closest disciples, his appearance changed. The glory of his divinity suddenly became visible, shining through his humanity, dazzling his overwhelmed disciples.
But then two others showed up--Moses and Elijah. Of all the great figures of the Old Testament, why them? The Jews were not abstract but rather very concrete thinkers. When they thought about the first five books of the Bible, “the Law,” or “Torah”, they thought of a person – Moses. When they considered the Bible’s prophetic writings, the greatest prophet came to mind-- Elijah. The Law and the Prophets. That was the Jewish way of saying “the Bible.” Moses and Elijah witness to Jesus because all of Scripture witnesses to him.
But what did the three of them talk about? His miracles? His teaching? Neither. They spoke about his “departure” soon to be accomplished in Jerusalem. This is what is predicted and described in a mysterious way all throughout the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, namely his march straight through indescribable suffering and death on his way to resurrected glory.
One thing that has troubled many people about his passion are his words from the cross “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matt 27:46). Some have even read into this a mistaken theology that Jesus, taking our place, experienced the most terrible consequence of our sin, namely being cut off from communion from the Father, separated from God and his grace. Not a chance. That fact that Jesus bore our sin cannot mean this. He is not a sinner. His communion with the Father and the Spirit can never be interrupted. The cloud overshadowing the disciples there was the same cloud of the Spirit that overshadowed Mary at the annunciation. The voice of the Father resounded forth from it. The Father and the Spirit were with Him on Mt. Tabor. The Father and the Spirit were with Him on Golgotha.
So how do we take Jesus’ words? They are a quote from a psalm. In fact the ancient Jewish practice was to designate a particular psalm not by a number but by its first few words (we still do this with conciliar documents such as “Lumen Gentium”). There is a psalm in fact that begins with this phrase, Psalm 22. Make this psalm part of your meditation on the passion this Lent. In a remarkable way it predicts the mockery that is hurled upon Christ that fateful day, the piercing of his hands and feet by a pack of “dogs” (a uncomplimentary term used in those days to refer to gentiles), the gambling for his clothing, even his eventual deliverance by the God who hears his cry. So Jesus, from the cross, is proclaiming what is manifest in the transfiguration: “all the law and the prophets bear witness to me and to what is happening right now.”
This is why Jesus came. This is why for ten chapters in Luke’s gospel, Jesus is resolutely making his way towards Jerusalem (Lk 9-19). His teaching and his miracles are remarkable. But if he had not laid down his life for us, if he had not been raised from the dead, we’d still be in our sins. The entire drama of human history finds its center and its meaning in these few tumultuous days.
Some have asked why Mel Gibson’s movie was only about Jesus’ passion, and not the entire life of Christ. This is the reason. Theologically, the page dividing the New and Old Testaments is not the gold-edged one between Malachi and Matthew, but rather the crimson-tinged page of the passion.
And if you’ve see this movie you understand why Peter, James, and John needed the glory of Tabor before enduring the horror of Golgotha.
Friday, March 6, 2015, 7:10 PM
Behold, O my God! At thy feet the rash and daring rebel, who has had the temerity and audacity to insult thee so often to thy very face, and to turn his back upon thee. Thou hast said, “Cry to me, and I will hear” (Jeremiah 33:3). Hell is too little for me; this I already know. But remember, O Lord, that I am more sorry for having offended thee, who art infinite goodness, than I would be for the loss of all my property and of my life. Ah, Lord, pardon me, and do not permit me ever to offend thee more. Thou hast waited for me that I may forever bless thy mercy and love thee. Yes, I bless thee, I love thee, and I hope, through the merits of Jesus Christ, that I shall never again be separated from thy love; thy love has rescued me from hell; it is by thy love that I am to be preserved from sin for the future. I thank thee, my Lord, for the light. and the desire thou dost give me to love thee forever. Ah! Take possession of my whole being–of my soul and body–of my powers and senses–of my will and liberty. “I am thine — save me.” Thou art my only good; thou art alone amiable; mayst thou also be my only love. Give me fervor in loving thee. I have offended thee grievously. Hence it is not enough for me to love thee; I wish to love thee ardently, in order to compensate the injuries I have done thee. From thee, who art omnipotent, I hope for this love. I also hope for it through thy prayers, O Mary, which art powerful before God.
Editor’s Note: This meditation is from St. Alphonsus Liguori’s “Preparation for Death” (1758).