Friday, January 23, 2009
My attention was focused on the stems of wheat in the etched glass in the Adoration chapel. I recalled that wheat symbolizes bread, more specifically here, the Bread of Life. At that time, I more appropriately directed my eyes to the Eucharist before me, acknowledging that He is truly present and alive in the Bread of Life. Last summer I was given a fleeting but vivid moment of grace where for the first time ever I truly understood and believed that in what I saw as the host truly was Jesus, not merely His body and blood, but His living, breathing flesh.
Reflecting on the Bread of Life brought to mind simultaneously the loaves and fishes Jesus fed to the crowds, the Last Supper, and the Mass. In each instance, the bread is always broken and distributed to all. The nugget then came --- We are each called to be broken like this bread, broken to bits, and distributed to those around us. This was quite a shocking thought, because my blunt mind actually pictured my flesh being torn apart. But of course, this is more of a spiritual reality than anything else.
Have we all not said (or screamed) - I feel pulled in a million directions? As mothers, especially, we have so many demands on us that it can feel overwhelming and frustrating. We give to our husbands, our children, our parents, our siblings, our neighbors, our friends, our co-workers, our parish, our ministries, and it goes on and on. The reality is, though, that this is part of our vocation as mothers. We must give of ourselves bit by bit until we think there is nothing left. Then, God will multiply our efforts and supply us with endless bits of Himself to give to others.
We must die to ourselves and be ready to shed every last drop of blood to give to others. This is how we love. This is also how God loves us. He wants us to hold nothing back, deplete everything we have, so we will rely exclusively on Him. When we feel pulled every which way, all we have to do is turn to Him in true surrender, and He alone will energize us and fill us to overflowing once again.
Thank you, Jesus, for loving us so much. It is too much. We surrender everything to you and your Blessed Mother. May everything we give be a portion of you and not merely a part of us.
News Flash: WE WIN!
by Fr. John Corapi
As we prepare to enter a new era in politics and perhaps society in general, keep something in mind: WE WIN! No matter what political party is in power at a given point in time, in the end those that remain faithful to Jesus Christ win the war. We may have to fight many battles outnumbered and even despised and looked upon as criminals and outcasts by a society that is unraveling and degenerating into something no one could have imagined.
What matters is that we run the race to the finish line and fight the good fight. Don't "go with the flow," for as the great Archbishop Fulton Sheen reminds us, "Dead bodies float downstream." More than ever we shall have to be strong in the faith. Regular and worthy reception of the sacraments, constant prayer, and rigorous study of the faith is now essential, not merely a luxury.
The front line and primary battle is going to be the fight for life: the dignity of every human life from the moment of conception to the last moment of natural life. If we lose that one, every other battle space will be compromised. If the government succeeds in establishing abortion as an inalienable "right", then the elderly and sick will be next. It will then be a short and slippery step to the government deciding who lives and dies regardless of their inherent human dignity.
If you don't already pray the Rosary every day, please start at once. The prayer of the holy Rosary is the prayer of the holy Gospel, and that means it is the prayer of the Good News Who is Jesus Christ, the LIFE of the world. Many saints will be forged in the crucible of the coming years. Make sure you are among them.
God bless you,
Fr. John Corapi
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Note: These Sunday & Holy Day Gospel Reflections are written so that mothers may prepare for Holy Mass in advance either as a small group or individually (especially since we are so often necessarily distracted during Mass itself).
After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
"This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel."
As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;
they were fishermen.
Jesus said to them,
"Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.
"Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.
He walked along a little farther
and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They too were in a boat mending their nets.
Then he called them.
So they left their father Zebedee in the boat
along with the hired men and followed him.
This Gospel reading always amazes me! These men see their Savior and drop everything to follow Him! They recognize Him and do not hesitate to respond to His invitation to become fishers of men.
A wise priest taught me to not hesitate when the Lord is calling. He generally gave this instruction to those of us considering a religious vocation, but it applies to all. If you know God wants something of you, why hesitate? He urged men who heard the call to the priesthood to go to seminary at the earliest possible time, not to "give it a few years" to confirm the calling. He urged women who felt called to religious life to go and see that life without waiting.
I have applied this advice throughout my life as a married woman and still do. There have been many decisions my husband and I have had to make where we know the Lord is directing us on a particular path, to move to another state or take a certain job. Trusting in our own ability to hear the Lord's call is a challenge, but it is a gift, as well! For an example that all of us can act on today, we are all called to a greater holiness. What are we doing to grow in that way? Our prayer life must come first. Nothing will go well unless our prayer life is in line.
That does not mean that we have set times each day where we do certain forms of prayer. I used to think my prayer life was failing, because I did not get in a Rosary every day or read Scripture a few times a week. As a wife, mother, and homeschooler, I know this is just not always practical. It means that our relationship with God is solid, that we take time for silent prayer of some sort daily and have a Holy Hour once a week to really connect with Him. More importantly, it means we are in constant conversation with Him throughout the day through aspirations, praise, and petitions.
During my Holy Hour the other day, I was being attacked. I could not concentrate on prayer. I was either in between sleeping and waking, or my thoughts were on strange worries and fears (that do not actually exist in my life and were quite disturbing). I knew satan was trying to keep me from being with God. So, I picked up a spiritual book and began reading. I was tempted to quit praying, to give up, to go home, but my heart longed to be with God. And, I knew from experience that if I persevered in prayer during that time, the Lord would bless me in the end with a nugget of intimacy and insight, as he has done countless times before. As I read, the torments stopped, and He gave me a glimpse of His will for my life at this time.
Jesus is calling each of us now to a deeper union with Him. He may be calling some of us to more specific callings, vocations, or decisions at this time in our lives. We cannot hesitate to respond. Every moment we delay is a moment of doubt. If we move forward in faith, all will be well, despite how difficult the path appears. Simon, Andrew, James, and John most certainly had no idea what their relationship with Jesus would become, but they instantly recognized Him and responded to His call. Do we do the same?