Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Tag Archives: Prayer

Thursday Evening: Mass of the Lord’s Supper – Sustenance for the Battle

Take and Eat…

The disciples gather in the Cenacle having completed all the preparations that the Master requested (Lk 22:12-13). He had desired to share this Passover more than anything (Lk 22:15). And then, His disciples notice that this commemoration is different. They are reclining instead of standing (Ex 12:11). He has changed the words and uses the words that institute a new covenant (Mt 26:28). Then, He mandates them to “Do this in memory of me.” (Lk 22:19). They are silent. They lean upon His every word. They wonder, maybe even ponder, the significance of His actions. They have completed the third cup and then…wait, He is leaving.

We cannot help but think that some of these thoughts were running through the disciples of Jesus. What was going on? What is He doing? From the outset, our Lord intended to offer Himself as the perpetual sacrifice through the mystery of the Most Blessed Sacrament. (1 Cor 10:16).

It would not have escaped the notice of our Lord’s disciples that He left before the Passover was complete. Scripture says that they finished their hymn (Mt 26:30) and traveled to the Garden of Gethsemane as was their custom (Lk 22:39). As He walked out of Jerusalem, He would have walked through the Kidron Valley up to the Mount of Olives where the garden – so often a place of respite and peace – would quickly become a battlefield. Maybe as He passed through the valley he recalled Ps 23:4, “Though I walk through the dark valley, I shall fear no evil…”

Tonight He chooses to enter into a mortal battle. No, not a figurative one – a battle for all of creation? How do we know that? Exodus 12:22 commands that on the night of the Passover all were to stay indoors lest they succumb to the angel of death. But our Lord purposefully goes out into the night to confront that ancient serpent in order to secure what Adam lost.

The first battle in the original garden was an epic tragedy – the Garden of Eden. In Eden, we find Adam failing to obey the command of the Father to shamar (protect) and adovah (work/pray) the garden and all its inhabitants. (Gn 2:15) In this garden, Adam should have contended with the nahash (dragon – usually translated as serpent) but instead said and did nothing. The result was staggering. He saved his physical life and lost eternal life; He allowed evil to enter into the life of the garden and so allowed it to dominate his bride; and He should have been working/praying but instead, stood by doing nothing next to Eve.

Tonight, our Lord, the New Adam goes out singing into the darkness and we find Him in another garden. Only the victorious sing! Think of the Song of Roland, The Ballad of the White Horse, or the Lord of the Rings – only victors know how to sing. Our Lord knew He had already won the battle but no soldier or commander underestimates his enemy. It is for this reason why Sacred Song is so important to our liturgies. The music reminds us of the victory our Lord will win  and already won for us through this Blessed Triduum.

And the story continues…in the Garden

He enters into the garden; cares for His future Bride, the Church (embodied by His Apostles); and obeys His Father’s perfect will. (Lk 22:42) He desires them to tarry with Him so they will not be put to the test (Lk 22:40) but gives them their rest anyway. He kneels to adovah (means both work and pray). And the battle begins…

Over the next three days, we enter into the Paschal Mystery of our Lord. He will fulfill the curses of all the covenants .But tonight, he provokes a fight. He wants another battle in a garden in order to win back Eden. The curses of Eden for Adam are three-fold:

  1. “Cursed be the ground because of you! In toil shall you eat its yield all the days of your life.” (Gn 3:17;
  2. “Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you, as you eat of the plants of the field.” (Gn 3:18); and
  3. “By the sweat of your face shall you get bread to eat, Until you return to the ground, from which you were taken; For you are dirt, and to dirt you shall return.” (Gn 2:19).

Jesus answers these curses by:

  1. Toiling (remember prayer and work are the same word) on the ground and yielding the fruit of the vine that becomes the fruit of our salvation;
  2. His work is so successful that He will be crowned with the work of His hands – thorns and thistles; and
  3. His work/prayer is so intense that He sweats blood thus providing Himself as the Bread from Heaven and conquers death.

As we continue to reflect upon this mystery, let us join the solemn Tradition of the Universal Church and keep watch in our Churches until the Captain of our Salvation is stolen away from us at midnight. Every good soldier stays with their commander and every Bride with her Bridegroom. Where will the world find you tonight? Will it find you consoling your heart’s desire before His unjust arrest or out and about as if His life doesn’t hang in the balance – because it does!

The story continues but that will have to wait until we find out why Friday is so Good…

My Spy Wednesday

Most of us know that the price of Jesus’ betrayal was thirty pieces of silver. But did you ever consider what precipitated this unspeakable tragedy? Perfume, albeit expensive perfume. You remember don’t you:

Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said,  “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”  (John 12: 3-5)
At first glance, Judas seems to have a heart for the poor. But Sacred Scripture makes it very clear in verse 6 stating,
This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it.
This certainly is a warning for us to beware of the world’s trappings but I would like to suggest another thought for our consideration and meditation.

It is often suggested that our Lord’s preferential option for the poor means that He deserves the least because there is someone who could better use the resources. And, this is true – at least materially. Except, whatever happened with building churches that assisted in revealing the majesty and splendor of His Kingship and love? It seems to me that Our Lord told us that we will always have the poor (John 12:8) and in a world that has lost it’s sense of wonder, well, you know. It has also been my experience that this gutting of the sublime is not reserved to our material possessions but also with our spiritual efforts.

For myself, just a cursory reflection makes it painfully clear that I am no better than anyone else. For example, I leave my prayer for the end of the day when I have expended the days energy. I offer God my leftovers and not the first fruits of the day. Everyone else gets my best and my Lord gets the dregs.

Monday’s and today’s gospels are a painful reminder that I am just as willing to sell out my Savior for a day’s wage or even worse, the hope that people are impressed with my work product. Thirty pieces of silver is the price of a slave and for some reason I always want to put my shackles back on.

Tomorrow He gives me the strength for the Triduum journey – enough to sustain me to receive His forgiveness on Friday. Tomorrow I join my Bishop, his priests and my brother deacons at the cathedral. We will renew our commitment to the Church and liturgically enter into battle with our Lord for His bride. The Chrism Mass will stir into flame the graces of our ordination, feed us the bread of sorrow and the drink of compunction and then send us to our respective parishes in order to lead the people of God to the resurrection through Calvary.
Will you join me to redouble our efforts to make the best of this Triddum?
Jesus said, “Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial. The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” (John 12:7-8)

Confusing Prayer with Natural Contemplation

I thought this was a good reminder for me. This reflection is taken from p.72 in Temptation & Discernment by Segundo Galilea (translated by: Stephen-Joseph Ross, O.C.D.). Enjoy!

CONFUSING PRAYER WITH NATURAL CONTEMPlATION

This demon leads those who pray to replace Christian prayer, properly so-called, with spiritual pleasures that usually help them think about God. We are referring, for example, to listening to music that creates a spiritual atmosphere, to reading an inspiring book, to contemplating a landscape, to philosophical reflection. All those ‘things are good, and should have a place in the life of every human being. Indeed, they often prepare a soul for prayer. They can be a good way to enter into prayer. However, they are not in themselves Christian prayer, since that always requires a personal relationship with God through faith, hope, and love. Prayer is the experience and contemplation of God, not a pleasure of the spiritual faculties and human contemplation. The temptation consists of remaining in this pleasure and human contemplation without taking the explicit step of entering into contact with God. Prayer in the strict sense fades away. People spend time listening to religious music, reading a book on a Christian theme, preparing a celebration or a sermon. We should do these things, but in their proper time, and not during prayer. The temptation of doing the two things at the same time-contemplating beauty and praying, studying and praying-in the long run leads to cutting off authentic and profound prayer.

Fr. Longenecker on Spirituality & Religion

Yes, the  Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus  video has gone viral. Fr. Longeneker on his Standing on My Head blog wrote a beautiful response to the video. Simple, short and to the point. Decided we should should share his January 17, 2012 post. Should you want more, his original post entitled, Spiritual But Not Religious? is quite fantastic as well:  Enjoy!

Spirituality and Religion 2

What is the relationship between spirituality and religion?

  • Spirituality is subjective. The Catholic Religion is objective.
  • Spirituality is the genius. Religion is the discipline.
  • Spirituality is the heart. Religion is the mind and body.
  • Spirituality is the vine. Religion is the trellis.
  • Spirituality is the music. Religion is the notes on the page and the practice.
  • Spirituality is the drama. Religion is the script.
  • Spirituality is the cuisine. Religion is the cookbook.
  • Spirituality is making love. Religion is the marriage.
  • Spirituality is the paycheck. Religion is the work.
  • Spirituality is the free fall. Religion is the parachute.
  • Spirituality is the quest. Religion is the map.
  • Spirituality is the climb. Religion is the ladder.
  • Spirituality is the grace. Religion is the law.
  • Spirituality is the inspiration. Religion is the perspiration.
  • Spirituality is the question. Religion is the answer.

The Christmas Countdown

Children everywhere have suddenly become living saints. Consequently, parents love this time of year because we know our kids understand that ‘Ole Saint Nick is checking his list (twice) to find out who has been naughty and nice. The Church too recognizes the importance of these final days of Advent. The Christmas clock has officially begun the fateful countdown.

This sacred time countdown is liturgically framed during Vespers each day and have been called the O Antiphons. In a special way, these prayers allow the Father through the liturgy to gently woo our hearts to His Son. These scriptural texts both summarize and highlight all the promises of Father to His son’s intended.

Over the next eight days, it would benefit us to steal away and spend time in His presence reflecting on this scriptural passages. Let the Holy Spirit stir our hearts, heighten our expectations and till the soil of our hearts…the Lord will not disappoint us.

I pray that these final days of Advent prepare you to receive the Christ-child in all His splendor and glory. If our hearts are true and our preparation is not rushed, we will be able next Saturday to hear in the depths of our spirits Ero Cras!: Tomorrow, I come!

Here are the O Antiphons to assist:

Gaudete Sunday: A Season of Evangelization

The Church today has named this Third Sunday of Advent Gaudete Sunday. As we all know, Gaudete means joy but it is a very specific type of joy – a subdued, subtle joy. Not a full blown joy but more of a quiet “yay”. Why is that? Because we are still in a penitential season. The Christmas carols are not yet supposed to be playing, or at least, not constantly and at full blast. Of course that is a little hard at the office or on the Metro. That being said, we should be preparing for Christmas with an attitude of quiet and stillness. The words of Psalm 46:10 come to mind,

Be still and know that I am God.

If we do not embrace this season of Advent, how are we supposed to hear what obstacles the Lord desires to remove from our lives? If we do not make room for him in our heart, He once again will hear that there is no room in the inn.  We try to practice this at every liturgy when we say,

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

Seriously, and let’s be honest, have we used the last two weeks to make room in our hearts for the revelation or the unveiling of His presence that He desires for us at Christmas? How are we to experience Christmas joy if we are celebrating up to that day? He has a special joy for us but it means we first must be still and quiet.

But there is a more important reason for us who claim Christ as our Lord and our love. Literally two weeks ago, speaking about the United States, Pope Benedict said:

“Immersed in this culture, believers are daily beset by the objections, the troubling questions and the cynicism of a society which seems to have lost its roots, by a world in which the love of God has grown cold in so many hearts” (Pope Benedict XVI, To the Bishops from the United States of America on their ad Limina visit, Nov. 26, 2011).

We need to use this time of preparation because it is our duty and obligation to provide a reason and a context for this season…

Yesterday, I had the privilege of baptizing two baby boys, Daniel and Joshua who can now say with the prophet Isaiah,

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; (Isaiah 61:1a)

We who have been baptized also share in that anointing and thus we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to:

bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners,(Isaiah 61:1b)

In imitation of John the Baptist, we need to be that,

voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of the Lord,’”(John 1:23, cf. Isaiah 40:3)

Over the next two weeks, many of us here will be at holiday parties. And, while the culture encourages, much to its credit, a season of generosity and gift-giving…I look around and cannot help but wonder if it is not a distraction for hearts in which “the love of God has grown cold.” Bishop Loverde shared this week that he sees in the culture (and the Church) that Advent does not seem to build

“toward the coming (adventus) and reliving of the Christ Child’s birth in our lives, but rather toward some blend of sentimentalism, vacation and entertainment.”[1]

We will inevitably meet those who are not practicing Christians and who are looking at us…looking at me asking, “Does he have something that I do not? Is he any different because of Christ? Why does he celebrate this season?”

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The First Sunday of Advent: New Meditations with the Third Typical Edition

The United States this evening begins our new liturgical year with of course New Year’s. And our New Year’s gift?  The Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal. The fruit of the second Vatican Council is finally realized in Holy Mass.

I thought that we could start off this New Year’s with a resolution to pray the Divine Liturgy better. So, for the next year I am committed to looking at a portion of the Divine Liturgy each Saturday to prepare myself for “full and active participation” in Holy Mass. Should the Lord permit I will share some of the nuggets that find a place into my heart. Hopefully, they may also bear some fruit for you.

Just for kicks and giggles I have also provided for comparison the now abrogated First Typical Edition text. I think that you will agree that the revised translation provides richer material and tradition for meditation.

The Collect

First Typical Edition (1973)

God, increase our strength of will for doing good that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven.

Third Typical Edition (2011)

Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Some Nuggets for Meditation

Notice that the 2011 Collect begins by reminding us that we gather our prayers into one before not just God but Almighty God. There is no limit to His power. Creation, keeping all that is in existence, and answering our every prayer requires no effort on His part. The Collect also properly addresses what the will needs – resolution.

The Third Typical Edition also specifically tells us that we are to present to Christ our righteous deeds which is far more than just doing good. Righteous deeds are those deeds that are imbued by grace and are in accordance with His will and statues – not just the mere effort of our own will power or to meet any need we see before us. As Pope Benedict has said on numerous occassions, people do not need an social service organization but Christ Himself.

We are encouraged to run. Run what? The race of course. This is not by accident. The prayer should immediately bring a number Scriptures to mind:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.      (1 Corinthians 9: 24-25)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12: 1-2)

For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4: 6-8)

The Collect also does not leave us without instructions for the race. We are to gather at His right hand. The 1973 Collect calls us to God’s side. My question is, “To His left or right?” God’s right hand is not only a symbol of our privileged place by virtue of being part of the mystical body of Christ but the right hand of power. The hand of Christ has also pledged the power of Christ to assist us through our life if we are but willing to accept His grace. Why do we need His power? Because on our own we are unable to possess heaven:

…they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.

Of course, the revised Collect ends with the traditional invocation of the Most Blessed Trinity. Notice in contrast to the 1973 version the revised Collect is directed specifically to God the Father. This is most prominently seen in the doxology as the celebrant prays,

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

And so, our forty-year wait has ended. A richer text that throws the ancient maxim: lex ordani, lex credendi into high definition. My youngest children will never no the difference but we who feel parched now have a new wine in the Roman Missal to drink deeply from. Happy New Year!

Journeying through the Day with the Mother of God

After the Divine Office, many mark the day through the recitation of the Angelus. Now that we have entered Eastertide (Easter to Pentecost) we pray the Regina Caeli (To be more precise, it is prayed from Holy Saturday through Eastertide). It is most common to recite it at noon but also very appropriate at 6am and 6pm.

The author of the Regina Caeli is unknown but has been used since the twelfth century. Wikipedia (no comments) shares that,

It was in Franciscan use, after Compline, in the first half of the following century. Legend has it that St Gregory the Great heard angels chanting the first three lines one Easter morning in Rome, while following barefoot in a great religious procession the icon of the Virgin painted by Luke the Evangelist. He was thereupon inspired to add the fourth line.

This is a beautiful tradition to mark time throughout our day.

Regina Caeli: English and Latin

Queen of Heaven

V. Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
R. For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
V. Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
R. Pray for us to God, alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray. O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Regina caeli

V. Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia.
R. Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.
V. Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.
R. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

Oremus. Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus; ut per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

The Lord is a Warrior and Bridegroom is His Name

Paradise Lost

The mystics of the Church typically speak of five gardens: Eden, Gethsemane, the secret garden of the Beloved, the soul and the Holy Mass.  All of the gardens are meant to be sacred and set aside for the consummation of marriage.  As we continue our meditation, only two will concern us today on Good Friday.

Adam consummated his marriage in Eden and then let the nahash defile that garden with the entrance of Original Sin. Together Adam and Eve fell and ruptured their relationship with the Father while at the same time seriously wounding their relationship with each other.  They suddenly were alone.  This did not go beyond notice of the Father – He looked for them in the garden to keep Him company.  But they hid.  And so from this time forth in Sacred Scripture, the personal name of the Father is no longer uttered and we are expelled from Paradise.

Paradise being Re-established

The Lord knew they were coming for Him – He was totally in control. In fact, He went out to meet them. (Jn 18:4)  A lover always is open to reconciliation and that is precisely why He came.  As He stood under the full moon’s light, knowing how the enemy hates, “the Name above all names,” He searched out and provoked the enemy by challenging a cohort to name the one they came for under stealth of darkness. He asked, “Who is it you want? Jesus of Nazareth, they answered.” (Jn 18:5)  Notice they did not say “You!” The darkened mind can never perceive Divine Love even when He stands before them (II Cor 4:3-4). And so, they arranged for a sign…a sign of love, a treasured sign of affection.  A kiss.

The Divine Lover is betrayed by a kiss in a garden. Wait, that is not what a kiss is for!  It is a sign of affection! It is the prelude to the consummation of love! But tonight, that Divine Lover is also a Warrior (Exodus 15:3), the Captain of our Salvation (Heb 2:8-10), and a Might Man of War (Is 42:13).  He knows that a Lover fights (shamar – Gn 2:15) for his Beloved, or is supposed to. Adam loved himself more than Eve and so handed his Bride over to the enemy out of fear for his life.

Our Lord on the other hand, looks and tells them, “I AM.” (Jn 18:6) Scripture says that they were paralyzed with fear and fell over backwards upon the ground. This was the seventh and decisive “I AM” statement our Lord makes in the Gospel of St. John.  And again upon the earth, the personal name of God has re-entered the garden out of love and by way of a new covenant.  Scripture then recounts a quick skirmish with Peter’s sword, the healing of a Malchus’ ear…but the Lord is still in control.

Jesus had already begun the war by his free, conscious and deliberate sacrificial offering to atone for our sins at the Last Supper.  He now prepares to continue the liturgy and fulfill the rest of the covenantal curses from Adam through David as the High Priest.  But he cares first for His own, “If I am the man you want, let these others go” (Jn 18:8). His disciples flee…and yet, all is still according to plan. For Jesus knew that in order to accomplish this sacrifice he must be alone:

Thus he shall make atonement for the sanctuary because of all the sinful defilement and faults of the Israelites. He shall do the same for the meeting tent, which is set up among them in the midst of their uncleanness. No one else may be in the meeting tent from the time he enters the sanctuary to make atonement until he departs. When he has made atonement for himself and his household, as well as for the whole Israelite community, he shall come out to the altar before the LORD and make atonement for it also. (Lv 16:17)

The Warrior had been captured and the enemy gloats but that was all part of His plan.  He is about re-establishing His Kingdom with the unwitting help of the enemy.

A  New Tree of Life in the Garden

Fast forwarding …A kangaroo court takes place (Jewish trials are never permitted to take place under the cover of darkness) and handed over to the Gentiles to be executed.  The Jews believe that by handing over Jesus to the Romans that they will be responsible for His death.  Had that been so, we would never enter into eternal paradise.  Pilate finds no wrong in Jesus and washes his hands of this murder – skillfully recalling Deuteronomy 21:7-8.

For Scripture recounts that,

“When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all, but that a riot was breaking out instead, he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood. Look to it yourselves.” (Mt 27:24)

Then Jesus waited. He knew what needed to come next. People curse all the time in society – it is as common as the words “the” or “a” in a sentence. But this time, He needed, He wanted, everyone to utter the divine curse. Suddenly, all assembled shouted out the curse that He would transform into the blessing of our salvation,

And the whole people said in reply, “His blood be upon us, upon our children and our children’s children.” (Mt 27:25)

Curses are done in threes. Jesus in his ministry unbound people struck by the curse of sin and death…but this was a curse He was to keep bound for eternity.

They tortured Jesus and like every good soldier said nothing because in His estimation it was just a scratch. The Romans marched Him up to Golgotha to crucify Him…and He is still in control.  Jesus knew that Golgotha was one of the peaks in the mountain range of Moriah.  He intended to fulfill the ancient promise made on Mt. Moriah by Abraham to Isaac that God would provide a lamb. (Gn 22:8)  Jesus knew that He would be the perfect sacrifice fulfilling the Passover requirements of an unblemished lamb. (Ex 12:5). He was still adovah (ing) for His beloved.

Then they crucified Him upon a tree.  Taking our sins upon Him, he fulfilled the covenant requirement by offering Himself, as the High Priest, to make atonement for our transgressions:

If a man guilty of a capital offense let him be put to death and his corpse hung on a tree… (Dt 21:23)

Now the crucified Warrior looks to His mother Mary who completes the garden by becomes the New Eve when He says, “Woman, behold your son.”  Shouldn’t He have said, “Mother”?  In John’s Gospel, the first miracle of Jesus takes place on the day of the covenant, the seventh day, at which we find Jesus at a wedding.  In Genesis, Adam also meets and marries his wife on the seventh day.  Jesus calls Our Lady by the same name Adam called Eve, “isha”  The only other time we hear Him call her isha is on the cross giving John to her as His son.  There too, he does not say John but son.  A family has being born.  He recited His vows at the Last Supper, “This is my Body…take and eat.” Here the Church finds our Lord consumatling his wedding vows by His words and through His body to His Bride the Church found in Our Lady.  When we look upon Him, we cannot we hear Him, but really He is saying,

“I take you to be my wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”

The Church Fathers have always seen these last words of Jesus as His vows to His Bride the Church.  Archbishop Fulton Sheen used to always point towards the cross and shout out, “Nuptials! Nuptials! That’s what is going on here, Nuptials!”  And these vows are made fruitful and complete.  John 19:34 says,

“but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out.”

And so the Church was conceived and given life.  Jesus gives Himself freely, faithfully, fully and with fecundity to His Bride.  To the mystics, the cross is the marriage bed in which our Lord consummates His love for us.  It is no wonder that the saints say that when they unite their sufferings to Jesus on the cross the sufferings become blissful love.  Is that not the language the Bridegroom and Bride use when they describe their marital embrace?

Thus, the Lover plants a new tree in a different garden watered by His divine blood and the tears of the co-redemptrix, the New Eve. The Warrior lays down His life, unlike Adam, for His bride…and the serpent thinks that he has won.  But the story continues…on Holy Saturday.

Looking for some Spiritual Back-up

So, today my ministry needs some spiritual reinforcements.  I hope that you can join me to pray that the power of the Holy Spirit would descend upon me and the team that I am working with as pray for healing of a dear friend.

Also, wanted to share this picture by Carvaggio provided by Dom Mark Daniel Kirby at Vultus Christi.

Caravaggio’s Madonna dei Palafrenieri, first exhibited in Saint Peter’s Basilica in 1606, is wonderfully disturbing. While Grandmother Saint Anne looks on, the Virgin Mother Mary allows the Child Jesus to place His little foot on top of hers; together the Mother and the Child crush the head of the serpent under their feet. The nakedness of the Child Jesus suggests that He is indeed the New Adam who, by His innocence, inaugurates a new creation: the Kingdom of God where only little children are allowed to enter.

Please join me in the following two prayers:

St. Augustine’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.

Prayer to Mary, Queen of the Angels

August Queen of Heaven!
Sovereign Mistress of the angels!
Thou who from the beginning
hast received from God
the power and mission to crush the head of Satan,
we humbly beseech thee
to send thy holy Legions,
that, under thy command
and by thy power,
they may pursue the evil spirits,
encounter them on every side,
resist their bold attacks
and drive them hence into the abyss of eternal woe.  Amen

Thank you for the prayer support! This Deacon dearly needs committed prayer warriors to assist him. I will remember all of you today in prayer.