Advent Begins

Advent is a holy season of preparation for Christmas. During these four weeks we have the opportunity to slow down and allow our hearts to be still with the Lord as we prepare for His coming into our midst.

Jesus emphatically states, “Stay awake! (Matthew 24:42). We must be alert and attentive in our spiritual lives for the coming of Jesus Christ our Savior.

Advent allows each of us time to pray a little more. To light a candle and to sing a familiar hymn in preparation for Jesus Christ to come into the open door of our hearts. If you and I are only thinking about parties and gifts and family stress, then we have missed the opportunities afforded in this holy season. Advent is intentionally a time to pray more, reflect on our beginning and our end in this life, a time to go to Confession, a time to serve the poor, a time to spend an hour in Eucharistic Adoration, and a time to go to Mass each week in preparation for Christmas.

Don’t be caught off guard sleeping through this holy season which is a preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ!

Have Mercy on Me, a Sinner

Pope Francis accepted his election to the papacy with the words: “I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ.” There is a genuine sense of humility in these words spoken by our Holy Father.

A person who sees the heart in the light of truth, recognizes its true condition is broken and sinful apart from Christ. Sin by its very definition is a separation from God in our thought, speech or conduct.

When a person begins to draw closer to God they are able to see that His goodness and mercy places light on the parts of the human heart that are stained by the darkness of sin. The most accurate prayer we can then make if we are drawing close to God is the prayer we hear in this week’s Gospel spoken by the tax collector, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner (Luke 18:13).

Humble recognition that God is Great and we are not is the start of a healthy and ordered relationship with God. This in no way implies that we spend our lives beating ourselves up over every little thing that occurs in life, rather, humble prayer in the presence of God protects us from pride and the ever present temptation of playing God in this world.

Jesus holds up the Pharisee and the tax collector for all in order to make this point clearly visible. The Pharisee is only concerned about himself in the presence of God whereas the tax collector is honest in the prayer he offers to God.

Points for prayer:

  • Do I simply talk to myself in the presence of God?
  • Do  I truly communicate my innermost thoughts, feelings and desires with God in daily prayer?
  • Am I more concerned about what other people think about me?
  • Do I care more about what God thinks about me and the state of my soul?

Persistent Prayer

Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth (Psalm 124:8).” When one reads Chapter 1 of the book of Genesis in the Bible we read of the accounts of God the Father Almighty the Creator of heaven and earth. In that Scripture we come to understand that God created the world out of nothing and that as marvelous as the land, sea and sky are and all the plants, animals and sea monsters are that the greatest creation formed by God was you and I.

In this season of autumn in Minnesota we have some marvelous days to enjoy where the contrast of warm and chill, light and darkness, growth and harvest are all around us. As we look at this wonderful season unfold before us we know that God has created all of our surroundings so that we might praise Him.

As special and detailed is every orange, yellow and red leaf on a tree or bush we know that every detail of our lives matters to God. As much precision and intentionality goes into every bird that is flying south and every gust of wind that blows across the earth God cares about you and I.

We should believe in God and love Him for Who He is not for the marvels that He has created, but if we struggle to know God we look around at our surroundings and know that we have been created better than all that we see as marvelous as it may be.

God is interested in us and desires to be in relationship with us through the continuous conversation of prayer. When we come to see how God desires our good and to protect us in all circumstances and times and to lead us to know the good, choose the good and do the good then we call upon him expectantly in all situations.

On our own we can do nothing! We read in the first reading from Exodus that Moses as a leader had to do battle with those that wanted to destroy the people of Israel. As long as he trusted in the Lord and depended upon Him they won the battle, signified with raised hands. As soon as he rested or sought his own needs the Israelites would loose the battle. Similar to our own lives of faith, when we “remain faithful to what we have learned and believed (2 Timothy 3:14),” we live our lives trusting that God has a plan for us and that we can call upon Him in all moments of life and He will win the victory for us.

Jesus in the Gospel teaches through a parable of the unyielding widow, that persistence in faith in all occasions of life is important. We must return to God again and again with outstretched hands calling upon Him with simple faith and a humble heart. As we place our lives before the Lord with all the good, bad and ugly we grow in our confidence in His merciful love.

God is truly interested in you and I and our lives and everything that we are going through, call upon Him!

Points for reflection: Do I take time everyday to pray? When was the last time I took time to read the Bible? How does God invite me to spend more time with Him in these days?

 

Life Is Short

The clock ticks away. Half of the year is gone. Not only time goes by fast, we are also moving closer to the certainty of life: death.

Instead of saying, “Life is short, let us have some fun” we must say to ourselves, “Life is short, let us get ready for God.” One essential way is to establish a solid relationship with God in prayer. We pray when we have a serious sickness or when we are faced with a difficult task. We also pray in thanksgiving for the blessings of health, family and friendship as good as they are. We place our life in the hands of God.

Our connection with God gives us the assurance of joy and peace for our temporal life now has its anchor in eternal life with God. For sure one day we shall meet God. And that day we find the fulfillment of every desire in God.

 

Power of Prayer

We should never underestimate the power of prayer. There is no limit to what God can do with his might. Jesus teaches us, “Where two or three gather in my name, I will be in their midst.” We pray not only for ourselves, but also for the church and the whole wide world.

One important need is the salvation of all souls. In prayer we realize that we are not suffering alone and our troubles are not that bad compared to the sufferings of so many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world. We know many people who do not have food, clothing, shelter, medicine, education and many other basic necessities. We also know other people who lose their way in life, suffering spiritual emptiness. We pray not only for the suffering, but also for those who inflict suffering.

In prayer we join all people together and place our needs before God the loving Father.

 

Our Lives Have God’s Quality

When the faucet leaks, we get a plumber. When the car refuses to start, we fetch a mechanic. When a child feels sick we rush him to the hospital. Living in an environment where services are available we are quick to run for help. Do we turn to God? Is there a place for God in all these?

Modern people do not see the need for God. A philosopher keenly observes that even today Christianity is not tried out yet. We must return to God. Why do we not say a prayer for the plumber to fix the leaking faucet, for the mechanic to repair the car, and for the physician to diagnose the right problems?

The day should begin with trust in God and the day should close with gratitude to God. If our daily life is moving along without God, we strip life of its beauty. St. Paul said, “If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong.” Without God and love life is impoverished. Our lives must have God’s quality.

 

Easter Pro-Life Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, we praise your Resurrection! We celebrate your triumph over the Kingdom of death! May we, your Church, proclaim, celebrate, and serve the victory of LIFE in our world. May we respond to the needs of those who are tempted to destroy the LIFE within them by abortion, and may we help to build a world which rejects every form of violence and in particular, the violence of abortion.

You live and reign forever and ever. Amen

 

Teaching Prayer

Parents should teach their children to pray with them. Parents are the first and primary teachers. This includes religious education and regular participation at Mass. Learning about the saints, sacraments especially regular confession are necessary ways to help your child grow in faith. Your example is essential as you teach them to foster a relationship with Jesus, his mother Mary, the angels and saints. – CCC [emphasis added]