Tag Archives: prayer

PSA- St. Andrew Christmas Novena Starts Today!

I know I haven’t posted in forever, but I am breaking my silence today to remind you to start your St. Andrew Christmas Novena!

I try to make a point of sharing this novena with you all every year. It is one of my favorite ways to prepare for Christ’s coming at Christmas.  A couple of years ago, I ordered a handful of 5x7s of this graphic to be printed out so I would be reminded every day to meditate on the prayer. Feel free to download the image and do the same!

(The “rules” are to pray the following 15x each day from now through Christmas Eve. Fix a specific intention to offer to our Lord each time you pray it, and trust that the same Jesus who humbled Himself to be born at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold over 2,000 years ago, will hear your prayer and answer it according to His perfect will.)


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By the way, Blessed Is She has a great devotional today reflecting on who St. Andrew was in the ministry of Jesus. Here is a brief excerpt:

Throughout his life, Saint Andrew played second fiddle to his dynamic and well-known brother Simon Peter. Peter was an incredible teacher. He was the first Pope. He resurrected Tabitha. Everyone remembers Peter, few remember Andrew—he is often only referred to as Peter’s brother. However, without Andrew, there is no way to know who would have introduced Peter to Jesus. (John 1:40)

-Emily Wilson-Hussem via BlessedIsShe.net

Happy Advent!

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I believe in Jesus Christ

Say what you will about the state of our culture.  Personally, I think that one we have going for us is that—for better or for worse—people do not take the statement, “I believe in Jesus Christ,” lightly.

To say, “I believe in Jesus Christ” implies much more than an affirmation of the existence of an historical person.  It implies a whole set of beliefs, a certain lifestyle.  To proclaim belief in Jesus Christ is a bold statement.

Why?  Because “belief” means more than you might realize on the surface.

You can’t believe in a dead person.  Many admirable men and women have gone before us, and we can certainly acknowledge their achievements and seek to emulate them, but we would not say, for example, “I believe in Martin Luther King Jr.”  It sounds weird, right?  We could certainly say, “I believe in what MLK Jr. stood for,” or, “I believe we should all try to be more like him,” but to say “I believe in him” today sounds odd to us.  And it should.  You can’t believe (present-tense) in a person that is not alive.

So when you say, “I believe in Jesus,” you’re saying that you believe Jesus is alive today.  That’s huge; and that by itself would be enough to make you pause and reflect before speaking, but it goes even deeper.

When you profess belief in Jesus, you’re professing belief in a living person, but this belief means more than acknowledging the existence of a living person.  Think about the people you know in your life today.  I have a close friend named Jaclyn.  For me to say, “I believe in Jaclyn,” of course implies a lot more than if I were to simply say, “I believe that a person named Jaclyn exists today.”  We all know this from experience.  For me to say, “I believe in Jaclyn” means that I have confidence in the person that Jaclyn is.  It means that I know her on some sort of deeper level; and it means that I trust her based on my relationship with her.

Apply this to the claim, “I believe in Jesus Christ” and you will spend your lifetime realizing the implications.  Do we have confidence in the Person of Jesus Christ?  Do we know who He is and what he stands for?  Can we trust Him?  Can we really say we believe in Jesus Christ if we only half-heartedly believe in His teachings?

The bottom line of all of this is that you can’t claim to believe in somebody you don’t know.  This should be a wakeup call to us all, because there is always room to grow in our relationship with Jesus.  If we’re not growing in relationship, our confidence—our belief—will start to fade.  So let’s boldly proclaim belief in Jesus, but let’s make sure that claim constantly reminds us of our need to grow in deeper relationship with Him.

 

“Are you meditating?”

Back when I was about 15 years old, I happened to be sitting against a wall by myself after school one day, waiting for my mom to pick me up.  I didn’t much feel like socializing that day, so I decided to take advantage of the down time and start praying a rosary.

I didn’t want to make a scene or draw attention to myself (…and when you’re in high school you feel like everyone is staring out you no matter what you do), so I shifted my eyes down slightly toward the concrete and tried to hold my rosary in my lap so as not to be “showy”.  But somewhere in the middle of the tension pulling me at one end to mentally escape my high school campus and on the other to remain aware of my surroundings so as not to look like a weirdo, I didn’t notice that someone I knew was standing next to me.

I guess I didn’t pull off my prayerful nonchalance as well as I’d hoped, because I was startled mid Hail-Mary by a familiar female voice asking, “Are you meditating?”

It was an honest question and I knew right away that she was not at all asking because she thought it was weird.  But as startled as I was by the abrupt question, I was even more surprised by the answer forming around my lips:

“Well…um—Yes,” I replied.  But silently I finished the newly developed thought to myself: “…I guess I am meditating”

She nodded and kept on walking, and that’s really the end of the memory.  I have no recollection of anything else I did that day—before or after that brief exchange.

The reason that story sticks with me to this day is because, prior to that moment, if someone had asked me hypothetically what the rosary is (or what we as Christians are called to in prayer), I would have told them in so many words that we are to meditate on the life of Christ.  I may have even used the word, “meditation.”  But it wasn’t until I was actually called out and asked by name, smack in the middle of my prayer: “Is that meditation?” that it actually hit me.  What I am supposed to be doing with the rosary is meditating. 

I think what kept me from grasping that concept up until that point was a false understanding of what mediation is.  When I heard, “meditation,” I always pictured a Yoga class full of a bunch of women chanting with their hands pressed together, surrounded by burning candles.  As I understood it, meditation was what you did when you wanted to “clear your head,” and essentially empty yourself of your emotions, desires, and thoughts.   But that’s no way to enter into a conversation, and it’s certainly no way to seek a deeper understanding of who you are as a person.

In order for meditation to mean anything, you have to have a subject on which it I worth meditating.  And what better a subject than the One to whom we owe our very life?  Surely He understands our thoughts and our deepest longings; and desires to use those for His greater glory and our eternal happiness.  If our meditation doesn’t lead us to seek true and lasting happiness, it’s a wasted effort.

CCC 2705: Meditation is above all a quest. The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking. The required attentiveness is difficult to sustain. We are usually helped by books, and Christians do not want for them: the Sacred Scriptures, particularly the Gospels, holy icons, liturgical texts of the day or season, writings of the spiritual fathers, works of spirituality, the great book of creation, and that of history the page on which the “today” of God is written.

CCC 2708: Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him.

On My Guilty Conscience

So, I read this clever gem on Sunday night, and it painted a nice little visual for me during the offertory yesterday at mass.  I highly recommend a read, as it’s a nice start to Holy Week.

After mass, I sat in on a class about the New Evangelization.  Self-reflection set in.  A mini form of depression followed, with the horrifying revelation of, “wow, maybe I’m not as awesome at this as I thought.”

“This” being evangelization.  There seem to be many right ways to go about it, that is, to bring the good news to others.  However, there are many wrong ways of going about it as well.  And while it’s easy to pretend that you have all of the answers and do it all right when you’re writing a blog, it is of course another thing entirely to actually live it out in your daily life.  In other words: You know that feeling you get during a homily at mass when the priest says something and you feel like he’s speaking directly to you?  And you can’t be sure, but – oh my gosh – he’s definitely looking right at you.  Basically the entire [three hour] class session I felt like that.  A healthy serving of humble pie, just in time for Holy Week :)

Sincerity of heart.  Loving those with whom we speak.  Not debating just to win.  Not letting pride get in the way of the pursuit of the Truth.  Having the courage to admit you were wrong and to say you’re sorry.

Yep, lots of stuff to continue to pray for this Holy Week.

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In other news: I’m planning to write Thursday’s post about why you should participate in the Easter Triduum.  But incase you don’t see it in time, here’s a spoiler: You should definitely take part in the Triduum (mass on Holy Thursday evening, Good Friday service, and the Easter Vigil).  If nothing else, you should do everything you can to get to the Easter Vigil (especially if you’ve never been before).  Just trust me on this one.

5 Reasons Why YOUNG Catholics Should Pray a Daily Rosary

Let’s be honest.  The rosary isn’t the most popular prayer amongst our age group.  It’s the prayer that we sometimes got guilt-tripped into reciting on long car rides with the family, or guilt-tripped into reciting while at the Lenten prayer service, or guilt-tripped into reciting when…well, you get the picture.  For many of us, the rosary is pretty much just the result of a guilt trip.

However, despite what preconceived notions or feelings you may have towards the rosary, I submit to you that it should be a regular part of your daily life as a young Catholic.  Why?  Five main reasons:

1. In the fight against temptation and against Satan, a wimpy and sporadic prayer life simply will not do.

What does the prayer life of most people our age look like?  Most likely: whatever we feel like that day.  This is, quite simply, a recipe for disaster, and a fast-track to grave sin.

If you’re not accustomed to it, developing the habit of praying a daily rosary (or any consistent daily prayer) is difficult.  Because of this, we can easily come up with a thousand reasons why getting in a rosary every day is just not all that important.  The Catechism describes this battle of prayer:

2725 Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort. The great figures of prayer of the Old Covenant before Christ, as well as the Mother of God, the saints, and he himself, all teach us this: prayer is a battle. Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God. We pray as we live, because we live as we pray. If we do not want to act habitually according to the Spirit of Christ, neither can we pray habitually in his name. The “spiritual battle” of the Christian’s new life is inseparable from the battle of prayer.

So, we turn to the one of the most powerful weapons in our arsenal: the rosary.

“The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results.” -Saint Josemaria Escriva

“No one can live continually in sin and continue to say the Rosary: either they will give up sin or they will give up the Rosary” -Bishop Hugh Doyle

2. Because “World Peace” isn’t just a go-to answer for beauty pageant contestants

Prayer may be described both as an internal struggle and as a spiritual battle, but as Christians, we are always faced with the task of bringing the peace of Christ to a confused and hurting world.  How are we even to begin to go about this?

Mary literally gave us the answer to this herself.  And then she made the sun dance.

If you’re not familiar with Mary’s apparitions at Fatima, she appeared several times to three children at the beginning of the twentieth century.  Her message:

Our Lady stressed the importance of praying the Rosary in each of Her apparitions, asking the children to pray the Rosary every day for peace. Another principal part of the Message of Fatima is devotion to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart, which is terribly outraged and offended by the sins of humanity, and we are lovingly urged to console Her by making reparation. She showed Her Heart, surrounded by piercing thorns (which represented the sins against Her Immaculate Heart), to the children, who understood that their sacrifices could help to console Her.

Again and again, Mary has appealed to us in her apparitions to pray the rosary daily.  Why not do as she says?

3. Because Jesus listens to his mom

We see this in John’s account of the gospel, when Jesus transforms the water into wine after Mary tells him they had run out at the wedding (John 2:1-11).  In a similar way to the Old Testament, when the King listened to and respected the Queen Mother, so Jesus respects and listens to his Mother, Mary, Queen of Heaven.

“And the king said to her, ‘Make your request, my mother; for I will not refuse you” -1 Kings 2:20

Of course we can go straight to Jesus, but he has given us his Mother as well (John 19:27).  And as we know from the gospel, Jesus hastens to answer his Mother’s requests.

4. Miracles Happen

“Among all the devotions approved by the Church, none has been so favored by so many miracles as the devotion of the Most Holy Rosary.”  -Pope Pius IX

Books could be filled (and, in fact, have been filled) with stories of miraculous healings, conversions, and other events brought about by the regular recitation of the rosary.  There’s no reason to expect the rosary not to bring about some dramatic and powerful change in your life as well.

5. Because meditation helps us to “see for the first time”

The rosary is meant to be the “epitome of the entire Gospel”.  When we pray the rosary, we are engaging in the practice of mediation

CCC 2708: Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him.

Mediation is meant to lead us as a step along the way to true knowledge of the Lord, to personal union with Jesus.  As GK Chesterton said, “If you look at a thing 999 times, you are perfectly safe; if you look at it for the 1000th time, you are in danger of seeing it for the first time.”  This is what we attempt to do in mediation – to see for the first time.  We meditate on the stories of the Gospel as we pray with Mary to help us see Jesus for the first time, to fall in love with Him by meditating upon his life.

So get the beads out and start praying!  You won’t regret it :)