newyear

As the Father Has Chosen you O Mary

Today I wanted to share with you my favourite prayer. It’s a consecration to Mary used by the Community of St John – and I love it because it reminds me of the beauty of my vocation. I think it does that for any vocation, but being a lay-person, it reminds me of the amazing things that are going on in the background to the hum-drum everyday choices to love (or not!) my friends, my family, and those who I encounter. This is the vocation of Mary, the vocation of the Royal Priesthood of which all Christians are a member – to live a normal life with love. We do not always see the angels playing in the background, but we believe firmly that in our struggles Jesus spreads his victory in the world.

As the Father has chosen you, O Mary, to be His Immaculate Child.Joseph’s spouse, and the Mother of His beloved Son and of the whole Church, in full communion with the Holy Spirit, so we choose you this day as Mother and Queen of our whole family; and we consecrate to you our souls and our bodies,all that we do and all that we have, without exception. Envelop each one of us with your most maternal mercy, Teach us to love Jesus and the Father always more, and in and through them, to love one another in the Holy Spirit, discovering one another ever more profoundly in the light of Jesus, respecting one another, and choosing one another each day with a more divine and simple love. O Mary, Grant that each of us fulfil the Father’s will each day, in a more personal gift of ourselves, so that our whole family may bear witness, in the midst of the world, to the love of Jesus victorious over evil. Amen.

Litany of Humility

Today I wanted to share with you all a really great prayer, the Litany of Humility. This prayer was written by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930) and can actually be a very hard prayer to truly pray – humility is not really valued by many in the world today. Jesus was not only incredibly humble himself, but preached often on the value and importance of humility. I challenge you to pray this prayer daily for the next week – I’ll be doing it too – and really take notice of the fruits it brings in your life. It would be awesome to hear how it goes for you so if you would like to share, leave a comment to let me know!
O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.prayer
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
AMEN

This same person…

A read an article last weekend that mentioned a book written about ‘the historical Jesus’, ie using non-biblical historical sources to explain who Jesus was.

This reminded me that our unity with God is indeed through a person who lived in time and space. When I pray do I remember this? I try to. But sometimes my prayer is really only to my conception of ‘Jesus’ as I comprehend him, not actually to him in truth.

Acknowledging that Our Lord is not merely some misty cloud out there but really a person (so is more than just my comprehension of him) helps me to be present to him in truth. What splendid grace that by the Holy Spirit we can speak to and be united with somebody who lived so long ago! And not just anybody, but God himself!

This same person is the one we await, choosing to live holy lives now because of his salvation and in hope of the life to come:

For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ
Titus 2:11-13 (from today’s first reading)

eucharist

Open-Novels

Marks of a Catholic Novel

Dr Taylor Marshall, a Catholic theologian and author, recently released a video discussing some of the best Catholic novels from the last century. In it, he asks:

What makes a Fiction Catholic?
A sacramental world-view, or demonstrates the Catholic way of seeing the world.

Open novel /book on a tableHe’s saying that Catholic novels aren’t just any novel written by a baptised Catholic, and nor are they any novel which features Catholics in them. Rather, a piece of Catholic fiction is a story that looks at the world with Catholic-tinted glasses. “Catholic fiction has a Catholic perspective” on the world.

So what is this Catholic perspective? I think there are three key things that identify a novel as authentically ‘Catholic':

  1. Sacramentality – “that our God is ever present, and that we respond through the ordinary and everyday.” (source) This is the idea that there’s a deeper meaning within all of creation; everything has been made by a loving God, and thus everything ‘proclaims’ Him. Joy, hope and salvation can be communicated through all aspects of life!
  2. Purpose or Intention – trusting that our loving God hasn’t just abandoned us to our devices and the events of this world aren’t just random! Gandalf puts this well in The Fellowship of the Ring: “…there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-maker. I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought.”
  3. Hope – hope is what gives all people the strength to continue through difficult times and works of fiction which contain hope are therefore grounded in reality, no matter how fantastical they may appear. the Catholic novelist is in a unique position to inspire this hope, for they work within the wellspring of hope: the imagination. This is covered more fully in the post Hope, Fear and the Imagination.

Want to read some more about Catholic authors and their work? Check out the posts Adventure of a Lifetime and The Classics. Or if you’re more into watching things, check out Taylor Marshall’s video below.

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Judas the Hammer & Trust

The Office of Readings – from the Divine Office – is always a good place to start when you don’t have much inspiration to pray. It starts off with psalms – to get you in the right relationship of praise, petition, and trust in God. Then there’s the meat – two beefy readings – one from scripture and one from the Fathers of the Church (you know, the ones with fantastic names like Athanasius, Irenaeus, John Chrysostum. I want to name a dog after one of these) or writings of the saints. If you follow along for a few days, you’ll see the scripture follows on, and sometimes the commentary from the Church Fathers does too. You can find it everyday online at Universalis.

Today’s readings were very pertinent for me (actually, God always finds a way of speaking though the readings for a day). The first one was from the very Catholic book of 1Maccabees, and is about the exploits of Judas Maccabeus (literally ‘the Hammer’). No, it’s not about Thor – but if you can find a good picture of Judas Maccabeus then tell me!

Judas had become the leader of the Jewish rebellion against the Seleucid rulers, who were preventing them from worshiping God and keeping the law. He was being hunted by a far superior force led by Seron:

He had nearly reached the descent of Beth-horon when Judas went out to confront him with a handful of men. But as soon as these saw the force advancing to meet them they said to Judas, ‘How can we, few as we are, engage such overwhelming numbers? We are exhausted as it is, not having had anything to eat today.’ ‘It is easy’ Judas answered ‘for a great number to be routed by a few; indeed in the sight of heaven deliverance, whether by many or by few, is all one; for victory in war does not depend on the size of the fighting force; it is from heaven that strength comes. They are coming against us in full-blown insolence and lawlessness to destroy us, our wives and our children, and to plunder us; but we are fighting for our lives and our laws, and he will crush them before our eyes; do not be afraid of them.’

Judas’ trust in God, his mustard seed of faith really did move the mountain of soldiers before him.

But confronted with the difficulties and stresses of everyday life, I wonder if I have that sort of faith. I want to be free – ready to go into battle for God though the odds seem stacked against me. But getting through my exams seems a big enough hurdle. Is there something missing in my faith life? The answer comes in the second reading from St Cyril of Jerusalem – there are two types of faith – one dependent on me, the other on God:

The one word “faith” can have two meanings. One kind of faith concerns doctrines. It involves the soul’s assent to and acceptance of some particular matter. It also concerns the soul’s good according to the words of the Lord: Whoever hears my voice and believes in him who sent me has eternal life, and will not come to be judged. And again: He who believes in the Son is not condemned, but has passed from death to life.

This first kind depends on me, or at least partially. It is my trusting and believing in God, being attracted by God, and is the faith that saves me.

 The other kind of faith is given by Christ by means of a special grace. To one wise sayings are given through the Spirit, to another perceptive comments by the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing. Now this kind of faith, given by the Spirit as a special favour, is not confined to doctrinal matters, for it produces effects beyond any human capability. If a man who has this faith says to this mountain move from here to there, it will move. For when anybody says this in faith, believing it will happen and having no doubt in his heart, he then receives that grace.

This second kind is God’s gift. God wants to grant us the gift of faith that will move mountains – but it is not an achievement of ours or something we can give ourselves. It depends entirely on God, but we can dispose ourselves to it with our little acts of faith in Jesus – making the effort to believe in him and have a relationship with him each day.

So may you have the faith which depends on you and is directed to God, that you may receive from him that faith too which transcends man’s capacity.

-St Cyril of Jerusalem.

“If someone among you hears…”

If someone among you hears Christ’s call to a complete gift of self in the religious life, do not reject such a noble, though demanding, proposal. Have the courage to say yes generously and firmly; this can give an incomparable depth of meaning to your whole life.
Saint John Paul II
JPII gave this message to young people in 1982. He often encouraged people to give generously to Christ who gives generously to us, all to the glory of the Father (as we read in todays first reading, Phillipians 2). How great!This call to generosity has really helped me recently to actively live my faith – living a Christian life does not just happen; we must constantly choose to humbly give of ourselves, like Christ! Choose to live generously in every moment!

St Charles Borromeo, Pray for us
Christ's Blessing
PS found this cool website; ‘totus tuus’ was one of JPII’s mottos. Check out the ‘prayer’, ‘vocation’ and ‘universal’ tabs (you can find stuff from JPII’s visit to NZ under universal!)