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.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Homily First Sunday of Lent Year B 1 March 2009

The Holy Season of Lent is a time of intense prayer, penance and self-sacrifice
which is directed towards deepening the intimacy our friendship with God
and the same time more fully embracing our baptismal identity and vocation
as children of God and members of the Body of Christ.

A vital part of the Lenten journey is introspection:
examining our consciences and patterns of behavior
according to the plan of God for our lives
and then doing penance and resolving to overcome sin.

God reveals His laws to us in the Ten Commandments,
and these are much more than commands to be observed as a routine.
God’s laws are the plan He has established for the creatures He has created.
He who made us knows what is best for us
and so His laws are the path to fulfillment and salvation.

Particularly in Lent, we focus on examination and penance
although an examination of conscience ought to be a regular activity,
as we prepare for confession monthly or so,
and even a daily activity, as we pause in prayer each night
to give thanks to God and consider how we have lived each day.

Today’s Gospel offers us the starting point for a good examination of conscience.

As the Lord Jesus responds to the Devil’s alluring temptations
temptations to food, power and comfort
He responds to the Devil by revealing God’s word in the OT:

“You shall worship the Lord, your God, and Him alone shall you serve.”

The first three of the Ten Commandments are directed towards the duty we have
to worship and to serve God above all else,
above all material things, all people, all worldly pursuits.
The latter seven deal with man’s relationship with his neighbor.

The First Commandment, as recorded in the Book of Exodus, is
“I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other Gods before me.”

Even though we no longer live in a world such as ancient Rome or ancient Greece,
where the culture includes the worship of a pantheon of idols and gods,
there remains a temptation to worship other things before God,
substituting material and human realities in place of the Lord.

As human persons, we have been made in the likeness of the one true God
and within us is placed the divine image.
There is in every person a spark of the supernatural,
calling us out of ourselves to recognize the presence of the divine Creator.
We are called to live for another,
to know, love and serve our Creator,
to love others selflessly, totally, faithfully and fruitfully, as God loves us,
and thus to make Him known in the midst of the world.
The First Commandment embraces the theological virtues: faith, hope, and love.

As we call upon God and acknowledge His presence in our midst,
we place our faith and trust in His goodness and power.
We hold fast to our hope in the Lord,
confidently seeking His divine blessing
and living with joy, knowing that He sustains our every breath.
Having experienced the love of God, which surpasses human understanding,
we have duty to love God in return and to love others in His name.

So ingrained in our flesh and souls is the divine image,
that serving God is the first and most compelling duty of the human person.
God comes before all else, in the use of our time and talents,
and in the ordering of our lives in ways both great and small.
God is everything for us!

We cannot love one whom we do not know, so prayer must be a daily routine.
Every promise, choice, word, deed, and thought of our lives
must be wholly directed to the single purpose of pleasing God
and of remaining faithful to Holy Mother Church.

All superstitions, witchcraft, idolatry, and divination,
including Reiki, the Enneagram, Ouija boards, palm reading, Tarot cards,
horoscopes and other acts of sorcery, as well as satanic worship,
are contrary to the identity of the human person
and violate the divine imperative to trust in and worship God alone.

Any obsession or pursuit after money, pleasure, power or prestige
while refusing humble submission to the will and the love of the Lord
is contrary to the command to worship no idols in place of God.

In this holy season, we consider how we have loved God.
What have we placed before Him in our daily routines?
How deeply and consistently have we prayed?
Have we maintained faith, trust and hope in God?
Have we placed our complete faith in all the Church teaches
or do we make our own way, ignoring the revelation of God?
Have we loved God passionately and shown love to all we meet?
Do we live for God always, seeking His will and direction in life’s choices
and praising Him for the gifts bestowed on us in abundance each day?

The Second Commandment is
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”

God’s name is sacred,
so much so that the ancient Israelites would not even pronounce it out loud.
Instead, in reading the Scripture they replaced it with a generic word for Lord.

It is an offense against our almighty and loving God to curse using His sacred name.

The gift of speech is bestowed on us from our creator
and we have the duty to use our words in a pure and wholesome way.
We ought never to curse another, to swear by the name of Jesus, Mary or the Saints,
or to use foul language to hurt other people.
When we speak of God, the Church or sacred things,
we should always do so with utmost reverence and respect.

In this holy season, we examine how we have shown reverence for the sacred.
Have we used God’s name in a good and reverent way?
Have we always spoken well about the Church, Mary and the Saints?
Have we sworn and cursed?

Introspection can be difficult,
and the realization of our many faults a painful experience.
Yet, the more we know ourselves, the greater opportunity we have
to root out sin and evil from our lives,
and deepen the intimacy of our friendship with God.

As children of God, we place our loving Creator above all else,
in every thought, word and deed give Him due honor and praise,
and humble our hearts before the awesome majesty of His divine presence.

With humbled and contrite hearts, we shall be ready to meet the Lord in glory.

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