Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

Check out the revised edition of this exciting and unique prayer book, filled with prayers that are sure to nourish the soul as we undertake the New Evangelization.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Living Bread Radio Reflections 10-16 February 2008

Living Bread Radio
First Sunday of Lent
10 February 2008

At some time or another, temptation afflicts us all. During Lent we might be tempted to fail in our Lenten observances: to sneak a piece of pie or a beer even through we have given those things up. The various media in our modern, technologically advanced world offer temptations amid the benefits they provide. Images on television, advertising gimmicks, and computer pop-up ads all try to lure us toward a particular agenda or product. Sometimes, the images we are flooded with or the music we hear on the radio are more than just deceitful advertising. They are a subtle – or not so subtle – temptation to sin.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus goes out into the desert to pray for forty days, where He is tempted by the Devil. He is tempted toward three sins: gluttony, vanity, and greed. These are ly root sins which most of us, in our weak humanity, struggle to over come. We can find great comfort in the realization that Jesus Himself, in His sinless humanity, knew these temptations, and did overcome them. What is more, He took upon Himself the sins of us all and washed them clean in His own . His love, which is more powerful than any human sin, was manifest in the agony of the Cross for the salvation of the whole world.
When we are tempted – taunted by what we know is wrong but what feels good to us at the moment – we ought to turn to Jesus in prayer and find comfort and strength in His love and mercy. Strengthened by God’s grace, and fortified by His Word, we can answer the temptations of the Devil as Jesus did: “I shall worship the Lord, my God, and Him alone shall I serve!”

Living Bread Radio
Our Lady of Lourdes
Monday 11 February 2008

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes. On this day in 1858, Mary first appeared to a named Bernadette, who has since been canonized a saint of the Church, in the countryside outside of Lourdes, France. To this day, thousands of pilgrims travel each year to Lourdes, to pray to Jesus through Mary at the place where she appeared. Many sick and suffering people are brought to Lourdes to bathe in the waters that flow from a miraculous spring in the hillside, which Mary showed to Bernadette. Countless men and women have been healed after washing in the spring at Lourdes.
Pope John Paul II dedicated the 11th of February as World Day of the Sick: a special day of prayer, of offering one’s suffering for the good of the Church, and of seeing in our sick and suffering brothers and sisters the face of Christ, whose own suffering achieved salvation for all mankind.
Today’s Gospel reminds us of our Christian obligation to care for and visit the sick, and to see in them the face of Christ. What we do in love for one another, or what we fail to do out of the hardness four hearts, we do or fail to do for Jesus. In this Lenten season, may we strengthen our resolve to pray and sacrifice for those in need in our midst, and so draw ever closer to the Heart of Christ. Now is the acceptable time to deepen our love. O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Living Bread Radio
Tuesday of the First Week of Lent
12 February 2008

If we pause for a moment to reflect on the first meetings we had with the people we now love dearly, perhaps a first date or a first day at school or at work where we met someone who is now a life-long friend, we can gain a valuable insight. Surely, we all will recognize that the relationships we treasure began with long conversations of getting to know the other person, and visible displays of our affection. Building a relationship is exciting.
After a time, though, relationships often change from intense contact into quiet devotion. Once we know the person fairly well, there is less exploration into who they are. We love the other person no less but we might begin to show our devotion less often. However, it is crucial for our human relationships that we continue to listen to others, and strive to discover more and more the nuances of their character.
Our relationship with God begins very intensely with Baptism, deepens later on at First Communion, and eventually Confirmation. In the early years of our formation in the faith, we begin to know God well and we show Him our love through the celebration of the Sacraments.
As we grow older it becomes possible to take our relationship with God for granted. We may love Him no less but we can easily show our affection less often. We may go to Mass less often and let our prayer life slip away. Just as with our human relationships, our relationship with God must be constantly deepened and intensified through prayer and celebration of the Sacraments.
Today in the Gospel, Jesus teaches His Disciples – and us – the perfect prayer, His prayer. When we take time every day to pray in the pattern of the Lord’s Prayer – calling on God as our Father, promising to fulfill our obligations, and trusting the God will meet our needs – we deepen our intimacy with the Lord. In this holy season of Lent, may we increase our devotion and be surprised at the wonderful things we discover about our loving God.

Living Bread Radio
Wednesday of the First Week of Lent
13 February 2008

Often when we are in need, and especially when we are enduring a difficult situation, we turn to the Lord in prayer. Our prayer may go on for weeks with no apparent answer and so we cry out: “Give me a sign, Lord, so I know you hear me.” We look for a visible, tangible sign to show us that the Lord in fact hears us. We want to know that our prayer is worthwhile. We long to experience God’s presence in a real way.
In today’s Gospel we see that the people of Jesus’ time also sought a sign. Jesus says to them: “No sign will be given to this generation except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.”
In the first reading today, we hear how Jonah was inspired by God to journey through the city of Nineveh for three days proclaiming that God’s wrath was soon to come upon the people because of their wickedness. Upon hearing Jonah’s preaching, the people believed in God and repented of their sins. They fasted and turned their hearts away from evil and back to God.
Jesus is so much greater than Jonah, as Jesus Himself says. When He was lifted high on the Cross and pierced for our sins, He became a living sign of the Father’s love for all men and women. The image of His passion remains a sign for us of the infinite love and mercy of God, a sign which speaks boldly to us, calling us to true and lasting repentance and conversion of our hearts.
Through the sacramental life of the Church, born in the saving tide of and water that flowed from the pierced side of Jesus on the Cross, we continue to have visible signs of God’s grace. In the Eucharist, where Christ is truly present, and in all the sacraments instituted by Christ, we find the fountain of grace to strengthen us in our own journey of repentance and conversion. May we continually make recourse to the Sacraments, that the abundant life of God may forever flow within us.

Living Bread Radio
Thursday of the First Week of Lent
14 February 2008

From the first moments of His public ministry, when He was baptized by John in the Jordan River, and His teaching the Disciples how to pray, through His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and the final moments of His Passion, Jesus always reveals God to us as our Heavenly Father. God is the Father of infinite mercy and justice, who welcomes back even His prodigal children if they but repent and run to Him. He is Our Father, as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer. God is the Father who sees our secret prayer, knows every hair on our heads, and gives good gifts to those who ask Him. Because God is revealed to us in Scripture in His Fatherhood, any human attempts to make inclusive or sterilize the language we use for Him fall flat and fail to express the reality of God.
God’s fatherhood is not the same as the human biological sense of the word, for there is no gender in God. Yet, He is the source of divine life, the one who begets the Son, and creator of all human life. The fatherhood of God is a comforting divine reality to which we can turn in our need and find solace. Even if one has never known a father in this world, everyone has a father in God, just as everyone has a mother in Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
This marvelous God cares for us as His very own children. If you who are parents, Jesus says, know how to give the best to your children – and certainly every parent wants the best for their children – how much more does God desire to give the very best – in this life and in eternal life to us, His sons and daughters. All we need to do is ask Him, seek Him, and knock at His door, and we will be blessed beyond measure with every good gift.

Living Bread Radio
Friday of the First Week of Lent
15 February 2008

In the Gospel today, Jesus tells His Disciples, and us: “if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother.”
We turn to the wisdom of Saint John Chrysostom to more deeply understand this teaching of Jesus. Notice that Jesus does not say to be reconciled with your brother “before making your offering” or “after your offering,” Chrysostom points out. Rather, “precisely while the very gift is lying there, when the sacrifice is already beginning, he sends you at that precise time to be reconciled with your brother.” God “desires to show how highly he values love and considers it to be the greatest sacrifice. So he does not even receive the sacrifice of worship without the sacrifice of love.”
Our religious observance, our offering gifts of prayer and tithes, is not acceptable to God if we at the same time harbor hatred in our hearts for our brothers and sisters. We cannot buy God’s love while remaining mired in sin and separated from others. Our religious devotion must be lived together with a commitment to be reconciled with, and loving toward, our brothers and sisters.
What is more, it is unacceptable to offer God our worship if we are at the same time separated from our brethren in the Church. Full communion in the Church means sharing in the sacraments and also sharing a common faith and discipline. If we have not lived up to the Church’s teachings, which are ultimately the teachings of Christ, our worship is not offered in spirit and in truth, and our reception of Holy Communion is not authentic.
God our Heavenly Father offers us a unique moment of grace in the Sacrament of Penance: an opportunity to repent of our sins and be completely reconciled with Him, with the Church, and with one another. May we seize this opportunity. In this Season of Lent, may we all be people of truth, who at the same time offer fitting worship and are reconciled to one another.

Living Bread Radio
Saturday of the First Week of Lent
16 February 2008

Instead of black and white answers, modern political and moral questions often leave plenty of gray area to sort through. Issues of economics, the environment, homeland security, and education are not easily solved. Even where the inviolable right to life is concerned, there are nuances to be considered: between different kinds of stem-cell research; or between actions which are always and in every case evil, and those which are subject to other considerations.
Today’s readings do not speak to any particular issue. Rather, they are about the attitude we ought to have as Catholic Christian people toward every issue. The attitude of the faithful disciple of Jesus is very clear. Moses offered to the Israelites a clear choice: to obey the covenant with God or to break it. There was no room to be holy some of the time or to follow only part of the Law. Jesus calls His disciples to nothing less than perfection: “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” There is no place for picking and choosing what to believe or when to believe it. Jesus leaves no room for loving some people or loving some of the time.
The attitude to which we all are called is complete fidelity to the Gospel and the teachings of the Church, which includes allowing our faith to form our consciences and guide our decisions. If we are to be authentic disciples, we cannot choose to be faithful on some issues and not on others; to love when it is convenient and not when it is difficult. Whatever the issue we face, the answer lies in the person of Jesus Christ, who is the perfect of love and life for us all. For the disciple of Jesus, there is no room for anything less than striving every day for perfection: perfect holiness, and perfect living out of the Gospel in every situation.

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