Tuesday 1st Week of Lent – Daily Reading and Reflection on the Gospel from the Mass – Discerning Hearts

“If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you”

an excerpt from today’s reflection by Don Schwager:

We can approach God confidently because he is waiting with arms wide open to receive his prodigal sons and daughters. That is why Jesus gave his disciples the perfect prayer that dares to call God, Our Father. This prayer teaches us how to ask God for the things we really need, the things that matter not only for the present but for eternity as well. We can approach God our Father with confidence and boldness because Christ has opened the way to heaven for us through his death and resurrection. When we ask God for help, he fortunately does not give us what we deserve. Instead, he responds with grace, mercy, and kindness. He is good and forgiving towards us, and he expects us to treat our neighbor the same. God has poured his love into our hearts through the gift of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). And that love is like a refining fire – it purifies and burns away all prejudice, hatred, resentment, vengeance, and bitterness until there is nothing left but goodness and forgiveness towards those who cause us grief or harm.

Do you treat others as you think they deserve to be treated, or do you treat them as the Lord has treated you – with mercy, steadfast love, and kindness?

“Father in heaven, you have given me a mind to know you, a will to serve you, and a heart to love you. Give me today the grace and strength to embrace your holy will and fill my heart and mind with your truth and  love that all my intentions and actions may be pleasing to you. Help me to be kind and forgiving towards my neighbor as you have been towards me.”

for the full reflection visit : Daily Reading and Meditation

IP#141 Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC – 33 Days to Morning Glory on Inside the Pages

What is Marian Consecration?  What is the role the Blessed Virgin Mary in our lives?  How can this bring us even more fully into the heart of Divine Mercy? What a joy to talk with Fr. Michael Gaitley, who serves as director of the Association of Marian Helpers, about   “33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Marian Consecration”.  He answers the above the questions above and so much more.

The goal of the retreat contained in the book is to learn how to ponder more deeply in our hearts what it means to enter into Marian consecration.  With the help of not only St. Louis de Montfort, but also St. Maximilian Kolbe, Bl. John Paul II, and Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Fr. Gaitley reveals to us the great connection between the heart of Mary and beautiful depth of Divine Mercy…and the key to it all is…TRUST.

 

Find the book here

 

To learn more about the “All Hearts A Fire” parish programs that Fr. Michael spoke of  click here

 

“Teach Us How To Pray” – A series on prayer with Msgr. John Esseff Episode 5 – A 90 Day Challenge – to grow in union with Jesus Christ. – Discerning Hearts

Msgr. Esseff offers a 90 day challenge!  The object of Lent and the Easter season is to become more and more transformed into Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit we may glorify the Father through our honor and praise and obeying his Divine will, through the intercession of Mary and all the Saints, for the salvation of the World.  But instead of 40 days, but to set our sights on 90 days…all the way to Pentecost.  To become a 90 Day Wonder!

 

Remember the object is union with Jesus Christ.  It’s not about a 40 yard dash, but a 24/7 marathon.  What are some of the challenges that might arise, what are the remedies?

Be sure to visit Msgr. Esseff’s website “Building A Kingdom of Love”

Pray the Liturgy of Hours

Morning Prayer
Mid-morningPrayer
Mid-dayPrayer
Afternoon Prayer
Evening Prayer
Night Prayer
Office of Readings

St. Peter Damien, the lowliest servant of the monks, doctor of the Church

Saint Peter Damian

from Vatican.va

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

During the Catecheses of these Wednesdays I am commenting on several important people in the life of the Church from her origins. Today I would like to reflect on one of the most significant figures of the 11th century, St Peter Damian, a monk, a lover of solitude and at the same time a fearless man of the Church, committed personally to the task of reform, initiated by the Popes of the time. He was born in Ravenna in 1007, into a noble family but in straitened circumstances. He was left an orphan and his childhood was not exempt from hardships and suffering, although his sister Roselinda tried to be a mother to him and his elder brother, Damian, adopted him as his son. For this very reason he was to be called Piero di Damiano, Pier Damiani [Peter of Damian, Peter Damian]. He was educated first at Faenza and then at Parma where, already at the age of 25, we find him involved in teaching. As well as a good grounding in the field of law, he acquired a refined expertise in the art of writing the ars scribendi and, thanks to his knowledge of the great Latin classics, became “one of the most accomplished Latinists of his time, one of the greatest writers of medieval Latin”

He distinguished himself in the widest range of literary forms: from letters to sermons, from hagiographies to prayers, from poems to epigrams. His sensitivity to beauty led him to poetic contemplation of the world. Peter Damian conceived of the universe as a never-ending “parable” and a sequence of symbols on which to base the interpretation of inner life and divine and supra-natural reality. In this perspective, in about the year 1034, contemplation of the absolute of God impelled him gradually to detach himself from the world and from its transient realties and to withdraw to the Monastery of Fonte Avellana. It had been founded only a few decades earlier but was already celebrated for its austerity. For the monks’ edification he wrote the Life of the Founder, St Romuald of Ravenna, and at the same time strove to deepen their spirituality, expounding on his ideal of eremitic monasticism.

One detail should be immediately emphasized: the Hermitage at Fonte Avellana was dedicated to the Holy Cross and the Cross was the Christian mystery that was to fascinate Peter Damian more than all the others. “Those who do not love the Cross of Christ do not love Christ”, he said (Sermo XVIII, 11, p. 117); and he described himself as “Petrus crucis Christi servorum famulus Peter, servant of the servants of the Cross of Christ” (Ep, 9, 1). Peter Damian addressed the most beautiful prayers to the Cross in which he reveals a vision of this mystery which has cosmic dimensions for it embraces the entire history of salvation: “O Blessed Cross”, he exclaimed, “You are venerated, preached and honoured by the faith of the Patriarchs, the predictions of the Prophets, the senate that judges the Apostles, the victorious army of Martyrs and the throngs of all the Saints” (Sermo XLVII, 14, p. 304). Dear Brothers and Sisters, may the example of St Peter Damian spur us too always to look to the Cross as to the supreme act God’s love for humankind of God, who has given us salvation.

This great monk compiled a Rule for eremitical life in which he heavily stressed the “rigour of the hermit”: in the silence of the cloister the monk is called to spend a life of prayer, by day and by night, with prolonged and strict fasting; he must put into practice generous brotherly charity in ever prompt and willing obedience to the prior. In study and in the daily meditation of Sacred Scripture, Peter Damian discovered the mystical meaning of the word of God, finding in it nourishment for his spiritual life. In this regard he described the hermit’s cell as the “parlour in which God converses with men”. For him, living as a hermit was the peak of Christian existence, “the loftiest of the states of life” because the monk, now free from the bonds of worldly life and of his own self, receives “a dowry from the Holy Spirit and his happy soul is united with its heavenly Spouse” (Ep 18, 17; cf. Ep 28, 43 ff.). This is important for us today too, even though we are not monks: to know how to make silence within us to listen to God’s voice, to seek, as it were, a “parlour” in which God speaks with us: learning the word of God in prayer and in meditation is the path to life.

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IP#139 Paula Huston – Simplifying Your Soul on Inside the Pages

Here is the book for Lent (and any other time of the year for that matter), “Simplifying Your Soul:  Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit” is “simply” wonderful!  Paula Huston has such a gentle way of helping us to penetrate into what our hearts so we can draw closer to what we truly long for…a deeper relationship with God…the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  A Benedictine oblate, Paula, draws from the best of the monastic traditions and helps us to apply those practices in our modern day circumstances.  I have to believe that Sts. Benedict and Scholastic would be overjoyed how this 21-century daughter of the church has responded to their initial teachings offered so a long ago.  NOT TO BE MISSED…HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

You can find it here

From the book description:

Our temptation in this era of self-fulfillment is to dismiss humility as a relic of the unsophisticated past. Yet for centuries, Christians have considered it a key component of a healthy spiritual life, and the journey toward humility to be one and the same as the journey toward Christlikeness.

The beauty of the Lenten season is that it encourages the development of a humble heart. Structured as an individual Lenten retreat, Simplifying the Soul presents daily readings from Jesus and the desert fathers and mothers, along with a meditation focused on a specific activity that can be carried out that day. Many of these activities come straight out of Catholic tradition, but others are adaptations of old wisdom woven into contemporary life (cleaning out a junk drawer, walking instead of driving, etc.) All are designed to lead to conversion of heart and a transformed life.

 

SOP6 – The School of Prayer: Reflections on the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI w/ Deacon James Keating

Episode 6- The School of Prayer: Reflections on the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI –  What is the authentic understanding of “conversion” in the context of prayer.  Deacon Keating discusses the reflection offered by the Holy Father of  the encounter of Elijah with prophets of Baal.

Deacon James Keating, PhD, the director of Theological Formation for the Institute for Priestly Formation, located at Creighton University, in Omaha.

From  Pope Benedict’s 6 audience on prayer:

Firstly”, he said, “is the priority of the first commandment of God’s Law: having no god but God. When God disappears man falls into slavery, into idolatry, as has happened in our time under totalitarian regimes and with the various forms of nihilism which make man dependent on idols and idolatry, which enslave”. Secondly, he continued, “the main objective of prayer is conversion: the fire of God which transforms our hearts and makes us capable of seeing God and living for Him and for others”. Thirdly, “the Church Fathers tell us that this story is … a foretaste of the future, which is Christ. It is a step on the journey towards Christ”.

IPF logo small ROHC#6 Deacon James Keating – Heart of Hope part 6 from Resting On the Heart of Christ

For more information on the “Institute of Priestly Formation” and for other material available by Deacon Keating, just click here

Communion with Christ ROHC#6 Deacon James Keating – Heart of Hope part 6 from Resting On the Heart of Christ

Don’t forget to pickup a copy of “Communion with Christ” , it is one of the best audio sets on prayer…ever!

Check out Deacon Keating’s “Discerning Heart” page

The Seven Founders of the Order of the Servites – giving up all and following Our Lady to her Son



Today is the Church remembers the Seven Founders of the Order of Servites from the 13th Century.

In the mid-13th Century, morals were low and religion seemed nearly meaningless in the political city of Florence. In 1223, seven men from that city decided to form into a small group and go off to a silent place to serve God direct. The Order was founded that day on the Feast of the Assumption as Mary appeared to the seven men. Two of them were widowers and two were still married and brought their families to live together in faith.

They meant to live in solitude, but the group was continually disturbed by visitors. They all left Florence and went to Monte Senario. In 1244, under the direction of St. Peter of Verona, O.P., this group adopted a religious habit similar to the Dominicans and chose to live in accord with the Rule of St. Augustine. They adopted the name of the Servants of Mary.

The men were beatified on December 1, 1717 and canonized in 1887. The original founders were the following:

Saint Alexis Falconieri
Saint Bartholomew degli Amidei
Saint Benedict dell’Antella
Saint Buonfiglio Monaldi
Saint Gherardino Sostegni
Saint Hugh dei Lippi-Uguccioni
Saint John Buonagiunta Monetti

“Teach Us How To Pray” – A series on prayer with Msgr. John Esseff Episode 3 – Morning Prayer – Discerning Hearts

Msgr. Esseff teaches the importance of the Liturgy of Hours. He breaks open each portion of Morning Prayer. The Hymn, the psalm, the canticle, again the psalm … we sing praise to God with this section of Morning Prayer. Then God speaks to us in the reading. Then we respond to with the a short psalm. Then he helps us to appreciate the power of the Benedictus. That is followed by the intentions of the Church. Concluding with the great Our Father. We then bless the Lord and give Him thanks. Jesus unites the world in our prayer of praise to the Father when we enter into the Divine Office.

Be sure to visit Msgr. Esseff’s website “Building A Kingdom of Love”

Pray the Liturgy of Hours

Morning Prayer
Mid-morningPrayer
Mid-dayPrayer
Afternoon Prayer
Evening Prayer
Night Prayer
Office of Readings

Pope Benedict on Prayer 23 – We never fall from God’s embrace

Vatican City, 15 February 2012 Vatican Radio-

In his catechesis in Italian, to a packed Paul VI audience hall, the Holy Father said “In our school of prayer last week I spoke about Christ’s prayer on the Cross, taken from Psalm 22 “My God, my God why have you forsaken me”. Now I would like to continue to meditate on the prayers of Jesus on the cross in the imminence of death and today I would like to focus on the narrative that we encounter in the Gospel of St. Luke. The Evangelist has handed down three words of Jesus on the cross, two of which – the first and third – are explicitly prayers to the Father. The second one consists of the promise made to the so-called good thief crucified with him, answering, in fact, the thief’s prayer, Jesus reassures him: “Truly I tell you today will be with me in Paradise” (Lk 23 , 43). The two prayers of the dying Jesus and the acceptance of the repentant sinner’s supplication to Him are suggestively entwined in Luke’s account. Jesus both prays to the Father and hears the prayer of this man who is often called latro poenitens, “the repentant thief.”

Let us dwell on these three prayers of Jesus. The first pronounced immediately after being nailed to the cross, while the soldiers are dividing his garments as sad reward of their service. In a way this gesture closes the process of crucifixion. St. Luke writes: “When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. [Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”] They divided his garments by casting lots “(23.33 to 34). The first prayer that Jesus addresses to the Father is one of intercession: He asks forgiveness for his executioners. With this, Jesus in person carries out what he had taught in the Sermon on the Mount when he said: ” But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you ” (Lk 6:27) and also promised to those who can forgive, “then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High ” (v. 35). Now, from the cross, He not only forgives his executioners, but speaks directly to the Father interceding on their behalf.

This is attitude of Jesus’ finds a moving ‘imitation’ in the story of the stoning of St. Stephen, the first martyr. Stephen, in fact, coming to an end, “knelt down and cried with a loud voice:” Lord, do not hold this sin against them”. That said, he died “(Acts 7.60). It was his last word. The comparison of the prayer for forgiveness of Jesus and that of the martyr is significant. Stephen turns to the Risen Lord and calls for his murder – a gesture clearly defined by the expression “this sin” – is not imputed against those who stone him. Jesus addresses the Father on the cross and not only asks for forgiveness for his executioners, but also offers a reading of what is happening. In his words, in fact, the men who crucify him “know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). He gives that ignorance, “not knowing” as the reason for the request for forgiveness from the Father, for this ignorance leaves the way open to conversion, as is the case in the words that the centurion spoke at Jesus’ death: ” This man was innocent beyond doubt”(v. 47), he was the Son of God”. It is a consolation for all times and for all men that the Lord, both for those who really did not know – the killers – and those who knew and condemned him, gives ignorance as the reason for asking for forgiveness – he sees it as a door that can open us up to repentance “(Jesus of Nazareth, II, 233).

The second prayer of Jesus on the cross as told by St. Luke is a word of hope, is His answer to the prayer of one of the two men crucified with Him. The good thief before Jesus returned to himself and repents, he feels himself to be before the Son of God, who reveals the Face of God, and prays: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (v. 42). The Lord’s answer to this prayer goes far beyond the supplication, he says: ” Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (v. 43). Jesus is aware of entering directly into communion with the Father and of reopening the path for the man to God’s paradise. So through this response gives the firm hope that the goodness of God can touch us even at the last moment of life and that sincere prayer, even after a life of wrong, meets the open arms of the good Father who awaits the return of his son.

“no matter how hard the trial, difficult the problem, heavy the suffering, we never fall from the hands of God”

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“Teach Us How To Pray” – A series on prayer with Msgr. John Esseff Episode 2 – The Psalms and Prayer – Discerning Hearts

Msgr. Esseff offers his second lesson in “Teach Us How To Pray”.  He speaks of the importance of Morning and Evening prayers in our lives.  The Holy Spirit inspires us to pray and the Church teaches prayer through the Liturgy of the Hours.  Msgr. Esseff goes on to teach on the Psalms.  Those who pray the psalms offer powerful praise to the Father. Who actually praises?  In the deepest level of our heart, it’s actually Jesus who praises the Father in us when we pray the Psalms and the Father loves us in return.  What is essential is that we listen to what God says to us in prayer…Listen.

Pray the Liturgy of Hours

Morning Prayer
Mid-morningPrayer
Mid-dayPrayer
Afternoon Prayer
Evening Prayer
Night Prayer
Office of Readings
Be sure to visit Msgr. Esseff’s website: Building a Kingdom of Love