This makes me think… about what it takes to know and embrace God…

Grant me, O Lord,
an ever-watchful heart that no alien thought can lure away from you;
a noble heart that no base love can sully;
an upright heart that no perverse intention
can lead astray;
an invincible heart that no distress can overcome;
an unfettered heart that no impetuous desires can enchain.

Grant me, O Lord my God,
a mind to know you,
a heart to seek you,
wisdom to find you,
conduct pleasing to you,
faithful perseverance in waiting for you,
and a hope of finally embracing you.

Amen.

-St Thomas Aquinas-

“I Shall Not Want” – my current fav from Audrey Assad’s new recording = Songprayer

You can take the girl outta radio, but you cannot take the radio outta the girl… or something like that. Though I have long left being a radio deejay to be a fond memory from my younger life, I will forever remain a music lover and promoter of what I find beautiful.

I’m a believer in the transformative power of the arts, especially music. My tastes are a bit more eclectic that my friends, but this one piece, above, and lyrics below, is a thing of beauty. It is like a modern psalmist’s addition to Psalm 23′s verse: “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Or better yet, a meditative and contemplative lectio divina on those four words.

I proudly backed this album project on Kickstarter when this gifted woman wanted to produce an indie record. I’m all for that. Let’s let the artists create their art, not the record companies. Get this album at iTunes, or your favorite music outlet.

:::

“I Shall Not Want”

From the love of my own comfort
From the fear of having nothing
From a life of worldly passions
Deliver me O God

From the need to be understood
From the need to be accepted
From the fear of being lonely
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

And I shall not want, I shall not want
when I taste Your goodness I shall not want
when I taste Your goodness I shall not want

From the fear of serving others
From the fear of death or trial
From the fear of humility
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

Written by Audrey Assad & Bryan Brown
© 2013 Audrey Assad Inc (BMI)

Lyrics and more here.

When you need a prayer that wraps you like a blanket from God — Pray what St Patrick prays.

When you need a prayer that wraps you like a blanket from God — Pray what St Patrick prays.

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Lorica of Saint Patrick

I arise today

Through a might strength,

the Invocation of the Trinity,

Through a belief in the Threeness,

Through confession of the Oneness

Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,

Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,

Against incantations of false prophets, against false laws of heretics,

Against the craft of idolatry, against spells of women and smiths and wizards,

Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.

Christ shield me today

Against poison, against burning, against drowning, against wounding,

So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation

- St. Patrick-

(ca. 377)

The news we’ve all been waiting for…

The news we’ve all been waiting for…

I love that photo of the American Cardinals in Rome. It was posted by my good friend, Fr Chip Hines, a pastor and a film reviewer at Catholic TV– one of the many media-savvy priests I know! This is a very exciting time to be a Catholic! I have some very good friends who are big time newsy bloggers, and they are doing us all a great service by writing about the conclave. I admire the way they become channels for the news and the political commentary that accompanies it, all while being beacons of light through what they write and say. Me, I’m not that blogger. I’m not the breaking-news kind of writer, despite my first aspirations in journalism.

I started out in broadcast news as a young woman — working for a news radio station for the morning anchor desk covering and researching stories on Long Island. After several months I found I did not have the stomach for it. I became too emotionally involved in it and never found that right combination of professional detachment and the intense inquisitive savvy to ask the burning questions and to push unrelentingly for the answers. I knew I wanted to write, but was momentarily adrift when deciding against journalism. The professionals advised, “use the tools already in your toolkit”, and “find a field where they are appreciated.” Eventually I shifted out of news and went into copywriting, and the programming side of radio.

Along the way, I learned to use my voice for good, both on the page and behind a microphone. Being a deejay that played music made people happy… it took their minds off the harshness of the ever-changing news cycles and the troubles of the day. It seemed a form of  announcing “good” news. It gave me a chance to offer encouragement and to lead with a smile. But that too, while fun and uplifting, still only went so far. The deepest satisfaction career-wise was still to come… It took me a long time to discover that what fascinated me most was what was unchanging: God. I wanted a field where I could use media and talk about God.

Decades later, I’m still that same girl. Both behind the microphone and on the page I pray to be an encourager, and someone who offers the good news… Sure, I appreciate those writers whose gift it is to find and shift through the daily news for the worthy nuggets to report, and those who survey and analyze the news and offer their opinions. We need them. I read them and I salute them. But I look for what is unchanging, I look for the moments that in some way lift the veil on the present circumstance to reveal the God who was, who is, and will be.

“Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and for ever.”

- Hebrews 13: 8 -

That’s not just great copy, that’s the truth.

That’s what we Catholics are about.

That’s Who the Church is built upon, the Rock of Ages. And the man whose lot it will be to sit in Peter’s Chair will have the premier duty to announce that. The next Pope will remind us that the GOOD NEWS of JESUS CHRIST is real, and meant to be shared.

In those early fleeting media moments when cameras and microphones worldwide are trained on the new pope — when his name is finally known to the world — be sure to pray for him that he uses his voice to speak of that news. Underneath that new white zucchetto is a man whose whole life brought him to that precise moment… to lead a billion Catholics, and to give witness behind a microphone, on camera, and on the page to billions more besides. Let us pray that God might use his gifts, his lifelong field of experiences. We do not know what may yet be in his tool kit, but we do know that God will add to it a measure of grace that comes from his anointing and the graces of Orders.

The names of  the popes may change, but the mission never does. That is why we are waiting for white smoke, and anticipating the announcement of a name that will be etched into our history. Let us simply pray for this man, this priest, this Bishop, this Prince of the Church, this future Holy Father.

Regardless of the papal elections, Jesus is King and Lord of All; the greatest news ever told or recorded. News that is unchanging and worthy of our belief. And soon, his Vicar, his herald, will again be in our midst.

May he bring Good News.

 

Take three minutes and pray with me today, for life. Day #9 of the USCCB’s Nine Days of Prayer novena to build a culture of life (Prayers & links here)

Screen Shot 2013-01-16 at 4.13.04 PMEven though this is the last day of the Nine Days, if you’ve missed out on joining in, you can start your own nine day novena for life right now! There’s no limit to how and when this novena gets prayed. Learn more about the Nine Days initiative and find PDF’s with the prayers, as well as more links here.

This is from the USCCB website...

Intercession: For repentance, healing and peace, in every heart and every nation.

 

Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

 

Reflection: Today is the memorial of St. Angela Merici, foundress of the religious community now known as the Ursuline nuns. Living in northern Italy in the early 1500s, she was moved by the needs of young girls in the community, who were poor and uneducated. She responded to the girls’ needs by educating them in the Gospel. Her example reminds us that to share Christ with those in need is to share news of great joy. “…for today is holy to our LORD. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10) We hear these words proclaimed in today’s first reading. The message of the Gospel of Life is one of great joy! Our call to live this Gospel is not marked with sadness and despair, but with hope, expectation and exuberant joy. “It is up to you, young followers of Christ, to show the world that faith brings happiness and a joy which is true, full and enduring.… The Gospel is the “good news” that God loves us and that each of us is important to him. Show the world that this is true!” (Pope Benedict XVI, Message for the 27th World Youth Day, March 15, 2012).

 

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Spend quality time with a family member or friend; ask them if they would like to help out at a local charity with you.
  • Say three Hail Mary’s for your parish priest. Without our priests, we could not have the sacraments.
  • Make a “quiet hour” today, turning off all electronic devices (cell phone, iPod, computer, television, radio, video game system), and retreat to your room.

Take three minutes and pray with me today, for life. Day #8 of the USCCB’s Nine Days of Prayer novena to build a culture of life (Prayers & links here)

Screen Shot 2013-01-16 at 4.15.16 PMGet caught up on the Nine Days initiative here.

This is from the USCCB website...

Intercession: For an end to legal abortion in our nation and for the conversion of all hearts, so that the inherent rights of every human being—especially those most at risk of abuse and rejection—will be upheld.

 

Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

 

Reflection: On this memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, we hear St. Paul’s words to them: “do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord.” These words ring true for us today, especially as we speak the truth that life is worth living, and that every person, without exception, deserves the chance to live his or her life, and experience its beauty and goodness. Blessed John Paul II reminds us that our first step in giving our testimony is to have an outlook of wonder on the beauty of life, “discovering in all things the reflection of the Creator and seeing in every person his living image” (Evangelium Vitae, 83).

 

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Read about a Church teaching you don’t understand in the Catechism.
  • Make an honest assessment of your “giving finances” – are you giving too little? Make a resolution to give a set weekly or monthly donation to your parish or favorite local charity.
  • Do you love your cup of tea or coffee in the morning? Fast from caffeine today or try your coffee black.
Why the Canticle of Zechariah is my new go-to pro-life prayer

Why the Canticle of Zechariah is my new go-to pro-life prayer

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,

for he has visited and redeemed his people,

and has raised up a horn of salvation for us

in the house of his servant David,

as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,

that we should be saved from our enemies,

and from the hand of all who hate us;

to perform the mercy promised to our fathers,

and to remember his holy covenant,

the oath which he swore to our father Abraham,

to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,

might serve him without fear

 in holiness and righteousness before him

all the days of our life.

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,

to give knowledge of salvation to his people

in the forgiveness of their sins,

through the tender mercy of our God,

when the day shall dawn upon us from on high

to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

(The Canticle of Zechariah, Luke 1: 68-79 rsv)

In Morning Prayer from the Divine Office (aka the Liturgy of the Hours), the Canticle of Zechariah is prayed aloud every day. The Canticle, or song, is Zechariah’s prophetic exhortation about the greatness of God in sending his son, John the Baptist, as the Forerunner to announce the coming of Christ.There are many words and themes in this canticle prayer that can prepare our hearts and minds for the work of evangelization, and the bringing of the Gospel of Life to our society in a positive, loving, and peace-filled way.

Here’s my take on it, line by line, for it stirs my heart.

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,

for he has visited and redeemed his people,

The first line blesses God. We must keep God first in all things, in all that we do, including pro-life activities. Everything must start with prayer, continue with prayer, and end with prayer. We work for the God who came to His People, as one like them — first, as an unborn baby in the womb, then as man who walked among us. This is a God that is personally involved with us – as persons. And he increases our dignity as persons through redemption. Jesus’ birth is still one of the biggest celebrations our world has ever known – Christmas is the joy of the Incarnation – that God is with us.

and has raised up a horn of salvation for us

in the house of his servant David,

Horns, or trumpets, in the bible, announce things, like victory. They sing of victory marches, royal strength and power. David was renown as the king who brought all the tribes of Israel together under his leadership. Jesus, from the Davidic line, is King of the Universe. He is ever the Victor over sin and death, the source of our salvation. The New Testament (1 Thes 4:16) says that Christ’s second coming will be accompanied by the blast of the trumpet.

as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,

For centuries, Jesus’ coming was announced by the Prophets. Christians come from a long line of God-worshippers, freedom fighters, and justice seekers. The holy prophets of old knew what it was like to face down a society that was hostile to their message, even among their own people. Yet the stood bravely and delivered the truth all the same.

Our baptism, in the Name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, links us to every single person who has ever borne the name of God on their lips and lived and announced this faith in their respective cultures. The Prophets of old are standing with the prophetic voice of new generations… in and through Christ.

that we should be saved from our enemies,

and from the hand of all who hate us;

The enemies of life and truth are the denial of human personhood as sacred from conception to natural death, and the institutions in our society that destroy or degrade life. The people who hold those views should be treated with respect, as they, as persons, are not our true enemies but, ultimately, our brothers and sisters in need of the Gospel. Their ideology – what Blessed John Paul II labeled as the culture of death –is what leads people to ruin. The tricky part for us in the pro-life cause is to delivers a message of love and life even in the face of powerful opposition without degrading the personhood of those opposing us. See the earlier paragraph about praying all the time. We cannot do this without the import of grace.

Our model for this is always Jesus, who asks that we pick up our own cross to follow him. This is not easy to do. Remember what Jesus did; on the way to Calvary, many people lined the streets and hated him, mocking his message. Still, he carried on, with love and fortitude. He was pained and burdened but did not lift a hand in violence to them nor did he shout anyone down. He loved people, even his detractors and persecutors. Jesus, with the prophets and martyrs, teaches us that even being put to death for one’s beliefs is still a “win”, for it leads to eternal life.

to perform the mercy promised to our fathers,

and to remember his holy covenant,

the oath which he swore to our father Abraham,

Jesus = mercy. That’s the equation we must bring to all pro-life work. The love of God for us in Jesus is fantastic, forgiving, mind-blowing, redeeming, deep mercy.

Notice the twice-mentioned fatherhood language in these verses. The life of the family, of nations, is ever under the mercy of God. We are God’s children by virtue of our baptism, born into the family of God, besides our families of origin. It also means, though it seems very distant, we are the children of Abraham, too.

to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,

might serve him without fear,

Again, the canticle lifts the concern of being delivered from enemies. Just in case we didn’t get it the first time, the prayer repeats this strength of conviction. We must need this reminding and assurance.

Let’s face it; we live in a feel-good society. We prefer pleasure to pain, and prize being liked, loved, and well thought of by others. But as Christians, our life of redemption begins by standing in the shadow of the cross, like Mary did. Even the most sinless, perfect human person on earth, Mary, still had heartaches and difficulties to endure.

Jesus’ mission to save, as Zechariah points out, includes deliverance from our enemies. If that is the case, we should not fear our own mission, as Christians in imitation of Jesus, to offer to the world a path to peace, healing, freedom, and justice in His Name. Mary had perfect grace to assist her to endure the imperfections of life. We, too, through the graces of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation, have the graces to serve Christ without fear, or, if we are fearful, to do the right thing in spite of it.

in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life.

This is the call to holiness for all of us. God longs for us to be holy, to be saints, all the days of our life. That’s a tall order isn’t it? In pro-life work, we must be strong, loving, and secure. We must radiate all manner of decency to those we meet – people within our cause, and the people we hope to win over.

That word “life” stands out now, doesn’t it? How grateful we must be for our own lives. Our righteousness must spring from that deep awareness and gratitude of being alive, that each human life is a gift to be received and celebrated.

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,

to give knowledge of salvation to his people

in the forgiveness of their sins,

A father’s love is exemplified in Zechariah’s words to John. He already knows, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that his son is destined to announce God’s message.

If we read these verses as God’s Word to us, we see God the Father handing on a mission to us, in imitation of his Son, Jesus. Again, our own baptismal call includes the Church’s mission to evangelize, to help make disciples. Praying this prayer every morning in Morning Prayer is a reminder for all the People of God — priests, religious, and laity — to live their Christian vocation to spread the Gospel with love.

through the tender mercy of our God,

when the day shall dawn upon us from on high

to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.

God tenderly loves us. With deep compassion for our weaknesses and sin, He illuminates our ways and lifts us out of the shadows. That tender mercy that He extends to us is what we must extend in our pro-life work. We must be characterized by tender compassion as we attempt to shine as lights in the darkness with the light of the Gospel of Life.

Those final words about guiding “our feet into the way of peace” merit our reflection.

When we follow the ways of the Lord, there is great peace, despite the challenges and demands of standing against a culture of death. St Paul said it best, I think, in the Letter to the Philippians, that God’s peace is the hallmark of the presence of the Spirit that “keeps” us, that affirms and protects us, that unites us with Jesus.

Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4: 6-7.

Let our feet, our ways, be guided mercy, that we may know such peace.

 image

 

 

Take three minutes and pray with me today, for life. Day #7 of the USCCB’s Nine Days of Prayer novena to build a culture of life (Prayers & links here)

We’re on Day 7 of a 9-day novena! The home stretch!

Get caught up on the Nine Days initiative here.

This is from the USCCB website...

Intercession: For elected leaders who oppose any restriction on the abortion license: may God allow them to grasp the brutal violence of abortion and the reality of post-abortion suffering experienced by countless women and men.

 

Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

 

Reflection: Today’s reading from Acts tells the story of St. Paul’s conversion. Before, he was “breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord.” After encountering Christ, Paul became a “chosen instrument,” filled with the Holy Spirit, and ready to suffer for Jesus’ name. There is absolutely nothing and no one outside of the power of God’s loving embrace. Today we remember the children, the mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and all those who have been involved in or affected by abortion. We entrust them to the unfathomable healing mercy of God, recalling the words of Jesus to St. Faustina: “The greater the misery of a soul, the greater its right to My mercy” (Diary, 1182).

 

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Go to Confession—today, if possible—or during this week.
  • Fast from snacking today. Eat three meals only.
  • Today, go visit an adoration chapel and spend an hour with Jesus.

Take three minutes and pray with me today, for life. Day #6 of the USCCB’s Nine Days of Prayer novena to build a culture of life (Prayers & links here)

Pray to support life initiatives in this country –especially the events taking place in Washington DC over this weekend. Are you late to this novena? No problem! Start today. Any and all prayer counts.

Get caught up on the Nine Days initiative here.

This is from the USCCB website...

Intercession: For those whose work involves promoting abortion and contraceptive use:may God help them understand that the casual sex they foster undermines the capacity for the self-giving, faithful and enduring love that is the longing of every heart.

 

Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

 

Reflection: On this feast of St. Francis de Sales, let us consider these words of the great saint: “All that we do must be motivated by love and not force. We must love to obey rather than fear to disobey.” St. Francis reminds us that all of our actions must be borne of a spirit of love, and that we find our freedom in living the truth. As we defend the dignity of human life, let us ask St. Francis to pray for us so that everything we say and do for unborn children and their grieving parents is imbued with both compassion and truth.

 

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Learn how to pray the Angelus. . . prayer, and get into the habit of saying it every day—at noon or 6 pm or on awakening (or all three times).
  • Today ignore your sweet tooth. Make healthy eating choices.
  • Clean a room in your house without being asked or without telling anyone. Pray for your family members while you clean, “and your Father who sees in secret will repay you” (Matthew 6:6).

Take three minutes and pray with me today, for life. Day #5 of the USCCB’s Nine Days of Prayer novena to build a culture of life (Prayers & links here)

IMG_1087Pray with Americans from all over the country  in support of life! Get caught up on the Nine Days initiative here.

This is from the USCCB website...

Intercession: For scientists and pharmaceutical employees who help create and manufacture contraceptive and abortifacient drugs: that the Lord will open their eyes to the moral danger and health risks these drugs pose for women and prompt them to work only on medications that benefit human life.

 

 

Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

 

 

Reflection: In today’s Gospel, we hear how Jesus grieved the hardness of heart of the Pharisees, as he heals the man with the withered hand. Let us open our hearts in faith, entrusting our culture to the healing power of Christ, the One who has overcome sin and the power of evil. We recall the words of Pope Benedict XVI, having faith that “this God exists, and hence that this power to ‘take away the sin of the world’ (Jn 1:29) is present in the world” (Saved in Hope [Spe Salvi], 36).

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Gratitude helps us love God and neighbor. Today try to not complain or be negative. Say a prayer of thanksgiving instead.
  • Sometimes we forget to quiet ourselves and spend quality time with God. Fast from Facebook or Twitter today. Spend that extra time meditating on a Gospel passage.
  • Don’t push the snooze button. Get right out of bed and offer your day in prayer to God. “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light” (Ephesians 5:14).