Archive for October 2010

Novena to All Saints

October 23, 2010

In anticipation of the Solemnity of All Saints, I am beginning today a simple novena to all of the saints in heaven, and invite you to join me.

In CCC n. 956, the Church teaches us:

….”Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness…. They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus…. So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped.”

My novena will consist of daily praying the Litany of the Saints, followed by this prayer:

Novena Prayer to All Saints

My heavenly brothers and sisters, from those most renowned to those of greatest obscurity, I come before you now in all humility and commend myself, and all who are dear to me, to your intercession.

Pray for us always, that we may awake each day with a burning desire for the Lord whose Face you behold, that we will maintain an intimate personal relationship with Jesus, our Savior and Head, and that we will not hesitate to proclaim God’s greatness to others, and love them as the Lord loves us.

As you offer your continual praise before the throne of God,   I raise my heart to you now to implore your powerful intercession for these special needs:  (………).

I am confident that your prayers on our behalf will be graciously heard by our loving and merciful Lord.  By his grace, may we someday join you in the glory of the Father’s house.

For those unfamiliar with making a novena:

The word “novena” has its origins in the Latin word “novem” referring to “nine each” (per Webster Online).

The post-Ascension novena (leading to Pentecost) made by the Apostles in the Upper Room is the normal model: pray the novena prayers on each of the nine days prior to the feast — in this case, All Saints. Then express gratitude on the feast day.

Sometimes you’ll find that people start the novena eight days before the feast, and include the feast as the ninth day. That’s OK too. Just a matter of personal preference, I think.

A faith-building answer to prayer

October 17, 2010

The newsworthiness of the ordeal and rescue of the Chilean miners will subside all too quickly.  This article will help us to remember what a tremendous example it was of an answer to persistent prayer, about which we were taught by today’s Mass readings.  Also, it’s a great testament to the efficaciousness of the Rosary as a prayer of intercession, especially in the month of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Psalm 121

October 16, 2010

In doing a bit of lectio divina on this Sunday’s Mass readings, I spent some extra time on the Responsorial Psalm, finding that Pope Benedict XVI had given a teaching on this one.  In fact, it was in only his second General Audience since becoming Pope that he taught on Psalm 121:

[1] I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
[2] My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
[3] He will not let your foot be moved,
he who keeps you will not slumber.
[4] Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
[5] The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade
on your right hand.
[6] The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
[7] The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
[8] The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and for evermore.

(Revised Standard Version – Second Catholic Edition)

The Holy Father first points out the twofold meaning of the mountains, the second of which would probably be missed by most of us (it never occurred to me!):

The song begins with the Psalmist raising his eyes “to the mountains”, that is, to the hills crowned by Jerusalem: from up there comes help, for there, in his temple, the Lord dwells (cf. vv. 1-2).

However, the word “mountains” can also conjure up images of idolatrous shrines in the so-called “high places”, which are frequently condemned in the Old Testament (cf. I Kgs 3: 2; II Kgs 18: 4). In this case, there would have been a contrast: while the pilgrim was advancing towards Zion, his eyes would have lit on pagan temples that were a great temptation to him. But his faith was steadfast and he was certain of one thing alone: “My help shall come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Ps 121[120]: 2).

After covering other aspects of Psalm 121, Pope Benedict concludes by introducing us to Barsanuphius of Gaza, from whom he quotes an encouraging litany of blessings.

In the chapter on Psalm 121 in their book “Praying the Psalms with the Early Christians,” co-authors Mike Aquilina and Christopher Bailey present an excerpt from St Augustine’s preaching on this psalm, which includes this explanation:

How are feet moved?
….nothing moves the feet, except pride:  nothing moves the feet to a fall, except pride.  Charity moves them to walk and to improve and to ascend; pride moves them to fall….
Choose for yourself him who will neither sleep nor slumber, and your foot shall not be moved.

There are some aspects of my life that are currently a source of distracting anxiety for me.  This psalm is truly a reminder to me of the vigilant love that my Heavenly Father has for me.  At the same Mass in which I hear/pray this psalm tomorrow, I will have an encounter with Jesus, and receive his sacramental Presence.  I will strive to have unfailing trust that He will be with me through the power of the Holy Spirit to guide me through the vicissitudes of life.

Exploring the New Evangelization

October 15, 2010

Over the past few days, I listened to the first four talks from the Institute for Priestly Formation’s 2010 symposium which was held back in March.

I don’t often listen to talks given specifically to priests and seminarians.  However, in this case, I was attracted first by the lineup of speakers, and also by the theme of “The New Evangelization.”  [Now that the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization is underway, it’s cool to listen to talks on that subject!]

The first four talks are on the first DVD of the two-disc set (I haven’t gotten to the second disc yet).  They were given by Deacon James Keating, Ralph Martin, Dr Mary Healey, and Fr John Riccardo.  In sum, the talks delivered a sobering assessment of the deep need for a heightened focus on the mission of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, both within the Church and throughout the world.  They suggested aspects of priestly formation that would support that goal.  Very, very inspiring!  And highly recommended.

Perhaps you might want to consider the DVDs as a gift for your Pastor or a seminarian that you know [Question to Fr Leo:  Do priests like getting stuff like this as gifts?].  The two-disc DVD set costs $20 including shipping, and can be obtained from:

Kelsa Brazell, Program Coordinator
Institute for Priestly Formation
Campion House
Ph:  402.280.3486 or 402.546.6384
Fx:  402.280.3529
Email:  kelsabrazell@creighton.edu

father, child, love

October 10, 2010

Authentic male leadership, Gail indicated, is not domineering, but able to focus on what is best in the lives of others. Men who find their true identity and vocation in Christ, he said, must show others how to “find themselves in him.” Through this way of spiritual fatherhood, he said, “the light of Christ in families” becomes manifest, and the Church can experience renewal for what Gail speculated was its “final conflict” with hostile forces.

So said Brian Gail, the author of the book “Fatherless” in an address in Denver this past week, as this news report informs us.  Brian and his wife have been married for 40 years, and have seven children.  They live in the Philadelphia area.  You can listen to Brian’s entire address here.  I highly recommend it! (don’t miss his indirect reference to Bp Martino early in the talk, who may well be in the audience!)

The subject at our GOTR CMF meeting in Ashley yesterday morning was “Signposts” Lesson 37, entitled “In My Father’s House:  A Man and His Father.”  The lesson began by having us read some Scripture and Catechism selections about Jesus’ experience as an earthly son, and about sonship and family life in general.  It encouraged each of us to consider our experiences and interaction with our own father, and the resulting lessons learned about fatherhood.  We had a lively discussion!

Later on yesterday, I encountered a section in George Weigel’s book “The End and the Beginning” in which he was explaining the importance of paternal love in John Paul II’s character. After reviewing JP2’s relationship with his father and with father-figure Cardinal Sapieha (under whom he entered the clandestine seminary during the Nazi occupation), Weigel offers this:

Wojtyla’s concept of spiritual paternity was also shaped by his meditation on St Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, about whom he wrote the 1989 apostolic exhortation Redemptoris Custos [Guardian of the Redeemer].  More than a decade later, in Alzatevi andiamo!, John Paul II returned to the largely unknown figure of Joseph while making a striking theological observation about what the “guardian” had contributed to the human formation of Christ, and to the Christian understanding of God:

We know that Jesus addressed God with the word “Abba” – a loving, familiar word that would have been used by children in first-century Palestine when speaking to their fathers.  Most probably Jesus, like other children, used this same word when speaking to Saint Joseph.  Can any more be said about the mystery of human fatherhood?  Jesus himself, as a man, experienced the fatherhood of God through the father-son relationship with Saint Joseph.  This filial encounter with Joseph then fed into Our Lord’s revelation of the paternal name of God….Christ in his divinity had his own experience of divine fatherhood and sonship within the Most Holy Trinity.  In his humanity, he experienced sonship thanks to Saint Joseph.

From the point of view of Karol Wojtyla’s Trinitarian faith then, paternity was the source of all that is.  He put that conviction most concisely in concluding his 1964 essay, “Reflections on Fatherhood”:

And in the end….everything else will turn out to be unimportant and inessential, except for this:  father, child, love.
And then, looking at the simplest things, all of us will say:  could we have not learned this long ago?  Has this not always been embedded at the bottom of everything that is?

Interesting confluence of things on fatherhood, eh?
Now if I could just be that kind of father!!

Perfect thanks

October 10, 2010

When I attend Mass, I do my best to be fully engaged.  I concentrate on the Scripture readings, the homily, and the prayers.  I’m not easily distracted at Mass. My post-Communion prayer is always a time when I express my gratitude to our Lord.  Still, I’m sometimes left with the feeling after Mass that my thanksgiving to God has been feeble, lacking, insufficient.  In his teaching on this Sunday’s Gospel, Msgr Pope helps me to understand why I feel that way:

We cannot thank God the Father adequately, but Jesus can. And in every Mass we join our meager thanksgiving to his perfect thanksgiving. Jesus takes up the cup of salvation and shows it to us at every Mass through the priest. This is the perfect and superabundant thanks that only Jesus can offer the Father. And he joins us to his perfect sacrifice of thanks in every Mass. This is how we give thanks in a way commensurate with the manifold blessings we have received.

Manliness matters

October 7, 2010

Here’s a great article on the manliness of St Thomas Aquinas and how his appearances to a Serbian abortionist caused him to stop performing abortions.