By faith Sarah herself, though barren, received power to conceive, even when she was too old, because she considered him faithful who had promised. (Hebrews 11:11)
It seems to me we are too easily discouraged in prayer. When God does not answer in the way or the time we would prefer, our faith is weakened. We start to wonder if God is really listening. Does he really answer prayers? Then why doesn’t he answer mine?
Let us take the example of Abraham. When Abraham was 75 years old, God promised him that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. But Isaac and Sarah had to wait another 25 years before Isaac was born! Their faith was certainly tested!
Ephesians 1:17-19 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.
Dear friends, most often I end my article with an excerpt from my prayer journal, but this time I wish to begin with one:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)
“Beloved child, be always littler. Recognize your abject lack, your total need. Not only are your pockets empty but you come into the world without pockets and you leave the same way. All is gift. All. You have no virtue, nothing to sustain you in any way outside of grace. Recognize your utter dependence on Providence. But go beyond this recognition and celebrate that you are a miserable beggar before your gracious Lord. My child, the beggars are the ones who receive the most because of their utter reliance on their beloved Lord. They never stop looking at him with a gaze of love and gratitude, for they cannot believe their good fortune in serving such a generous, kind Lord. Children, my heart cannot resist a beggar with love and gratitude in their eyes. The heavenly treasure is theirs!”
John 21:17 [Jesus] said to [Peter] the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.’”
What a Lent! What an Easter! We mourn with the world the death of Mother Angelica, and at the same time we rejoice in the glorious sign of her passing on the Day of Resurrection. All glory and praise to our risen Lord!
I felt this Lent and Easter were significant in ways we cannot understand. I was given some little hints to that effect, which I would like to share here.
First of all, Lent was a time of severe trial for so many—in the world, in the Church, and likely in each of our circles of acquaintance, including mine. One of my sisters has a saying when one of us has a trial during Lent, as often happens: “Aahh…Lent!” Faithful Christians in general, and penitents in particular, must not shy away from the cross during Lent. Our time on the cross with Christ is a treasure whose value we will only appreciate in the next life. When you hang with Jesus, you hang on the cross. Just ask Mother Angelica.
(The woman with the hemorrhage) came up behind (Jesus) in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she had said “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. (Mark 5:28)
On the night of June 1, 2011, Nik Wallenda walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. The event was televised. It didn’t watch it live myself, but I did watch the video on the internet a day or so later. It was a spectacular stunt. Nik Wallenda walked that rope at night, in the mist and fog with nothing but the dizzying thunder of raging water below him.
I must say that what surprised me most was that the whole way across, with almost every step, Wallenda thanked Jesus and praised God. The video showed him in a prayer huddle before his walk and, as he had a microphone on while on the wire, you can hear him praying frequently all the way across.
So (the shepherds) went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. (Luke 2:16)
So little is said about Mary in Scripture. She remained largely hidden in Scripture. In our day, the expectation of many is that the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart is near and will usher in the Kingdom of the Divine Will, the Sabbath rest, the Era of Peace. Oh Mother! How we long for peace! May God will it!
Providentially, a few Marian graces have lined up for me recently. December 12, feast of Our Lady of Tepeyac (Guadalupe) will mark the 10th anniversary of my total consecration to Mary. For the last nine years I have used St. Louis de Montfort’s consecration preparation to renew my consecration annually. This year, as I missed my regular start date, I decided to use the simpler format of “33 Days to Morning Glory”. This book had been recommended to me numerous times over the years, but I always went back to de Montfort. This year, am I ever glad I missed my start date! “33 Days” is a jewel that cites the superb teachings of St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Mother Teresa, and St. John Paul II to lead us to Jesus through the bosom of our Mother.
“Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” (1 Corinthians 10:17)
One bread, one body. In the wax and wane of life it is easy to let some of the simpler and more beautiful truths of the faith go un-pondered. The feast days of the Church give us an opportunity to pause and reflect. On the feast of Corpus Christi we have a chance to reflect on what it means to be members of the Body of Christ, to imitate the Trinity in unity and peace.
“Thus says the Lord: Is this not the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?” (Isaiah 58:6-7)
What a sublime passage from Isaiah about the fasting that God desires! Certainly its message is echoed in much of what Pope Francis has taught since becoming Pope. Those of us who are living a penitential lifestyle have much to ponder here. We fast regularly. Does this passage negate the fasts we observe as part of our Rule? Not at all, but it does warn us that without charity, our fasting cannot please God. The fact that our Rule also requires that we give to the poor, testifies to the Scriptural solidity of our Rule. Thanks be to God for the great gift he has given us through St. Francis.
“I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)
In his Christmas address to the Roman Curia in 2010, the Pope Benedict had some very strong words in reference to the future of modern society. He compared it to the decline of the Roman Empire and also said, “The very future of the world is at stake.”
“Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni. Repeatedly during the season of Advent the Church’s liturgy prays in these or similar words. They are invocations that were probably formulated as the Roman Empire was in decline. The disintegration of the key principles of law and of the fundamental moral attitudes underpinning them burst open the dams which until that time had protected peaceful coexistence among peoples. The sun was setting over an entire world. Frequent natural disasters further increased this sense of insecurity. There was no power in sight that could put a stop to this decline. All the more insistent, then, was the invocation of the power of God: the plea that he might come and protect his people from all these threats.
“Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni. Today too, we have many reasons to associate ourselves with this Advent prayer of the Church. For all its new hopes and possibilities, our world is at the same time troubled by the sense that moral consensus is collapsing, consensus without which juridical and political structures cannot function. Consequently the forces mobilized for the defence of such structures seem doomed to failure.”
“You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet.” (Luke 7:45)
What a beautiful image of one who is thirsty for God! This woman had no regard for the opinions of those who looked on her with contempt both for what she had been, and for what she was now doing. This forgiven sinner had tasted the sweetness of the Lord, the living water and she would let nothing come between her and her beloved. This rich Gospel story has so many levels and lessons, one of which is to teach us what it means to truly desire God.
“Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
If I were to take a poll of the people reading this blog post, how many do you think would say they were praying for the conversion of friends or family members? I do not think it is an exaggeration to say probably 100% of us are. For many of us it is the most fervent prayer in our minds and hearts.
But how many of us are worried that the Lord will not hear our prayers? Or will somehow be prevented from answering them and our loved ones will be forever lost? Do we feel despair over their eternal souls? Or do we approach the throne of grace with boldness, confidence, trust, and gratitude?