Sunday, October 7, 2018

At Home With the Blessed Mother



Some of my most memorable childhood experiences took place in the kitchen with my Mom and Grandmother. In an Italian family (as, I suspect, in most families) the kitchen is mission-control - the place where all the action takes place. In our family, it was the place where meals were eaten, homework got done, tears were wiped, bruises tended to and corrections given. Even the fittings for my wedding dress took place with me standing precariously on top of my Grandmother's kitchen table while she pinned and re-pinned my dress until it was perfect.

I can't even begin to count the lessons I learned spending day after day, year after year just living life alongside my Mom and my Grandmother, sharing my thoughts, hopes and dreams with them as I watched (and sometimes helped) them perform the most mundane household tasks. What I know for sure, is that watching and working alongside them helped form me to see the world through their eyes, with their unique perspective and point of view.

I sometimes wonder what life was like in the kitchen of the Blessed Mother in the Holy Family's home at Nazareth. How many lessons did the young Jesus learn by observing his holy Mother busy about her household tasks? Paintings and artistic renditions of the Holy Family often look a little sterile, but the truth is, they lived a very real home-life, full of all the hustle and bustle, cares and concerns, struggles and triumphs that are part of family life. It was within the context of this home-life that the Blessed Mother helped form the humanity of Jesus, her Divine Son.

While we do not have the ability to physically transport ourselves back to the home of the Holy Family, Pope John Paul II, in his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae offers this beautiful thought: "The Rosary mystically transports us to Mary's side as she is busy watching over the human growth of Christ in the home of Nazareth. This enables her to train us and to mold us with the same care, until Christ is “fully formed” in us." (Article 15)

Mary is our Mother, given to us from the cross by Jesus himself. As a good Mother, she desires to form us, to help us see the world through her own eyes, with her unique perspective and point of view. When we pick up our Rosary, and deeply meditate on the mysteries we pray, we find ourselves seated at her feet in the kitchen of her home. It is there that we can pour our questions, problems, fears and doubts to our Mother who loves us. It is there that we can learn how she handled the difficulties and challenges she faced as she watched her Son, grow, suffer and die. It is there that we can allow her perspective challenge and correct our own, as she seeks always to lead us to her Son and conform us more closely to Him. It is there that we can allow her to dry our tears, soothe our fears and fill us with the courage to face another day.

The next time your pick up your Rosary, I encourage you to imagine yourself, seated in the Blessed Mother's kitchen, asking her to walk with you through the mysteries of the life of her Son.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us. 


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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Emergency Procedures

What do you do in an emergency?

Call 911 of course.

Calling 911 in the event of an emergency is a procedure I have drilled into the heads of my children since they were old enough to talk. It is second nature to most of us that this is the first thing we should do in the event of an emergency, fire, crime, poisoning or other calamity. We call 911 to quickly alert those who are in a position to help us that we are in trouble and first responders are dispatched immediately to come to our aid. The system is universal and virtually foolproof -but is it enough?

As human persons we are comprised of both temporal and spiritual components. Calling 911 addresses the temporal side of an emergency - we need to have procedures that address the spiritual side of the emergency.


Spiritual Emergency Procedures
You may be thinking  - what on earth would constitute a spiritual emergency? Aren't spiritual issues something we can just wait until Sunday Mass or our next confession to take care of?. I would submit to you that anything that qualifies as a temporal emergency, should also be addressed as a spiritual emergency.

Don't merely call 911 in an emergency - call also upon the Lord, the Blessed Mother, the Communion of Saints and the Heavenly Hosts of Angels  - our supernatural first responders. 

Specific Spiritual Emergencies....

Here are a few circumstances that always get my family and I marshaling up the help of Heaven with short prayers:
  • The sound of a siren.
  • The sight of a hearse.
  • Passing a hospital or funeral home
  • Turning onto the campus of a church (we live in the 'burbs) - you can do this when you pass a church
  • Witnessing someone with a physical, emotional or spiritual disability.
  • Finding ourselves in a situation that is difficult, uncomfortable or unsafe. 
  • Beginning a long car ride. 
  • Learning of a friend (or even a stranger) struggling with an issue or in need of intercession. 
  • Reading about a tragedy in the news. 

In these situations, our family may pray an Our Father, a Hail Mary or a Prayer to St. Michael along with a request in our own words for the Lord's assistance and presence. 

Blessed Mother Teresa's Emergency Novena
Some situations in life are so difficult and challenging that they require more than a quick "prayer".  A serious accident or illness, the death of a loved one, loss of a job, addictions and more require persistent prayer and trust in the Lord for his help and the grace to endure the cross. One of my favorite forms of persistent prayer is Blessed Mother Teresa's Emergency Novena.
"Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, Yonkers, NY re-counted his first meeting with Mother Teresa in New York. Fr. Andrew has given retreats for the Missionaries of Charity contemplative sisters in the South Bronx on several occasions. On our first meeting, Mother Teresa gave me a rosary and commented that "the Blessed Mother is all over the world bringing people to Her Son." She told me a story stating, "whenever I need a special favor, I do an Express Novena. An Express Novena is 9 Memorares in a row." (source: EWTN)



The Memorare (x9)
The Memorare is a simple prayer acknowledging the graciousness of the Blessed Mother and her steadfast help for her children in need. Relying on her maternal love and mercy, the prayer requests her intercession for our petitions.

The origin of the Memorare is unknown but it is thought to have dated back to the 12th century and is sometimes attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux. It was made popular by another French priest, Fr. Claude Bernard in the 1600's, who used it extensively in his ministry to the poor and prisoners. (source: Preces-Latinae)

I vividly remember Sister Mary Austin teaching my 4th grade class this beautiful, simple prayer and it has always been a favorite of mine.

Enlist Some Prayer Warriors
As Catholics we don't have to live as lone-rangers. By virtue of our Baptism, we are part of the Body of Christ and we can rely on other members of that Body for prayer and support. It has been a great source of comfort, consolation and encouragement to me to be able to reach out to a few trusted prayer warriors when I need some "back-up prayer" for a particular issue. I know these faithful friends will intercede from their heart for my intentions, as would I for theirs. Being able to support another person with prayers, especially during difficult times, is a source of blessing and a living out of the Jesus's great commandment to love our neighbor. If you don't have your own prayer warriors - enlist one today by asking a friend to be prayer partners and then pray for one another's intentions. 

Is This in Your Wallet?



While we are on the subject of emergencies, I have told my husband, children, friends or anyone else who would listen, to please, please, please call a priest if I am ever in danger of dying - even before you call an ambulance (or at least at the same time).

As Catholics, we believe in the power of the sacraments, and in particular the Anointing of the Sick.  The Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament of healing that can and should be received not only in the case of imminent death, but also whenever there is a serious threat to one's physical health. It is important to make any wishes that you have to receive this sacrament known to your loved ones before you are in any serious danger of death. Too often, Catholics are denied the reception of this sacrament because their loved ones do not know of their desire to receive it, and do not fully recognize or believe in the power of the sacrament.

A good practice is to carry a card in your wallet that specifically states: "I am a Roman Catholic. In case of emergency, please contact a Roman Catholic Priest." If possible, include the phone number of your parish rectory on that card. Your soul is worth it.
This post is part of the Catholic Women Blogger's Network monthly blog hop. To read more inspiring posts about Catholic prayer and devotion click here. 

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Friday, April 13, 2018

The Wisdom of Springtime




Spring! It's finally here!  Afher what seemed like a never-ending winter, the birds are chirping, the sky is blue and the flowers are blooming!

The Word of God teaches us that all of creation worships the Lord and we see his glory and wisdom shine forth in the beauty and order of the seasons.

What is the wisdom of God that springtime wishes to teach us?

Spring Always Follows Winter
"For see, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone.The flowers appear on the earth..." (Song of Songs 2:11-12)  The Song of Songs poetically speaks to us of a truth that is easy to forget in the dead of winter: spring will come again. This principle does not solely pertain to the weather but can be applied to all areas of our lives. Spring always follows winter. All of us experience seasons of suffering, darkness and pain in our lives. It is during those challenging times that the seasons that the Lord has created in nature remind us that the storms will cease, the sun will once again shine and the flowers will bloom. We have only to wait with patient trust.

"Hope springs eternal."
Alexander Pope's famous line "hope springs eternal" is never more powerfully illustrated in nature than in the picture of a spring crocus poking through the snow-covered ground. The image of new life muscling through obstacles in its path is a sign of hope in the resilience of living things. Most of us have encountered, at one point or another, someone whose life has been one of surmounting difficult, if not impossible challenges. Perhaps we are that person. For the person who struggles, hope is the virtue which drives them to rise above the day to day battles and continue to persevere.  This spring, let us ask the Lord to stir up hope in our hearts and the hearts of those who need it most.

Variety is to be celebrated.
For me, the temptation to envy the gifts and talents of others is one that I am constantly battling. Spring once again reminds me of the wise words of St. Therese of Lisieux on this matter: "...the splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not take away the perfume of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all flowers wanted to be a roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the fields would be no longer be decked out with little wild flowers." (Story of a Soul) 

The variety that God has built into nature is also present among his children. St. Paul reminds us in 1 Cor 12:4-7 "There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit."  The Lord has given us our own unique gifts for the purpose of building up his Kingdom. We don't need to be in competition with one another's gifts - instead we need to celebrate and encourage them. Together all our gifts make up a tapestry as beautiful as the meadows of spring flowers.

Take time to smell the roses.
On an early morning walk last spring, I looked up at a picture-perfect blue sky and back down again at my blue tee shirt - the color of which was labeled by the manufacturer as "blue sky."  My "blue sky" shirt paled in comparison to the vividness and depth of the blue sky above. I stopped and stood in awe. No one paints scenery quite the way the Lord does. The beauty of spring makes it the ideal season to get outdoors and admire the majesty and intricacy of God's creation. In the busyness of life in 21st century America, we don't always make time to stop, pause, and reflect on the world around us. We are missing something wonderful by not doing that. The tiny, perfect details of God's creation reveal to us something about God himself - his beauty, his goodness, his splendor and the meticulous way he cares for all he has created. This spring, don't just go out and smell the roses, stop and ponder every last detail of them and give thanks to God for them! 

Spring cleaning is a good thing. Really.
The words "spring cleaning" don't exactly cause me to jump up and down for joy. In spite of intensely disliking the process - I sure do look forward to the results of the annual spring cleaning. Closets neatly organized, winter coats and boots put away, windows scrubbed - these are the fruits of my efforts each spring. I am always shocked as to how much "stuff" I am able to accumulate in a single year. The effort of decluttering is eye-opening and freeing.  Spring cleaning for our soul can also be a good practice.  We can easily get into a rut in our relationship with the Lord leading our prayer to become routine and stale. Like our homes, our soul can accumulate a fair amount of junk and the process of cleaning it out, while not always fun, is extremely liberating and healing.  I recently found this simple yet powerful Examination of Conscience posted by Father James Searby that has really helped me get to the heart of the matter I look forward to some soul-cleaning this spring.

Spring reminds us of Resurrection. 
For all Christians, the celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord is the highlight of spring and the cornerstone of our faith. Through Jesus' life, death and resurrection we have been given the promise of eternal life and the resurrection of our own bodies. The early church apologist Minicius Felix beautifully describes the relationship between the season of spring and the resurrection of the body: "A body in the grave is like the trees in winter: They hide their sap under a deceptive dryness. Why are you in haste for it to revive and return, while yet the winter is raw? We must await even the spring of the body." (Octavius 34:11–12 [A.D. 226]) 

Thank you, Lord for the gift of spring and all the ways that it points us to you! 

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Sunday, April 8, 2018

A Thank You Note to St. Thomas

Dear St. Thomas,

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for having the courage to say what everyone else was probably thinking!

Because of you, I am unafraid to express the doubts that sometimes plague my heart. You have made me realize that doubts are not a detriment to my faith, but a natural part of my faith journey. Through your bold proclamation of "My Lord and my God", I have come to realize that vocalizing my doubts and humbly asking Jesus to help me work through them can actually lead to a stronger faith for myself and those around me.

I know you have a reputation as a "doubter" but I like to view you as someone who understood the seriousness and the full import of the Resurrection of Jesus and just wanted to be sure about something so critical and life-changing.

Please pray for me that I may always have the trust to honestly share all my doubts, troubles and concerns with the Risen Jesus, knowing that he will patiently and loving answer my questions.

With humble gratitude,
Debbie

"Do you really believe that it was by chance that this chosen disciple was absent, then came and heard, heard and doubted, doubted and touched, touched and believed? It was not by chance but in God's providence. In a marvelous way God's mercy arranged that the disbelieving disciple, in touching the wounds of his master's body, should heal our wounds of disbelief. The disbelief of Thomas has done more for our faith than the faith of the other disciples. As he touches Christ and is won over to believe, every doubt is cast aside and our faith is strengthened."
                 -St. Gregory the Great, Office of Readings, Feast of St. Thomas


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Friday, March 30, 2018

Am I The Centurion?

Scripture
The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all that was happening, and they said, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” (Mt 27:54)

Reflection
Unlike Jesus' friends and even the Pharisees, who were present at the crucifixion because of the vested interest they had in Jesus' death, the Centurion and the other guards were there because they had to be, not because they wanted to be. The scriptures tell us of how the Centurion, after witnessing the signs and wonders which occurred in nature after Jesus' death came to believe in him. The Centurion experienced conversion - a shift in his heart from cold, distant unbelief, to lively, certain faith that led him to boldly proclaim that Jesus was the "Son of God".

Father Cantalamessa, in his book Life in Christ, urges all of us to experience the Passion from the inside out, not merely as detached observers recounting a piece of history.  He says:
 "An earthquake must take place in the life of every man; he should feel in his heart something of what took place in nature as a warning, at the moment of the death of Jesus when the curtain of the temple was torn in two, the stones broke and the tombs opened. It is necessary once and for all that a holy fear of God should shatter our proud hearts, which are so sure of themselves in spite of everything." (62)
Perhaps we identify with the centurion this Holy Week - attending Holy Week services as a casual observer, not allowing ourselves to enter into the truth about what we are witnessing, just watching the clock and waiting for it all to end so we can get back to our "normal" lives.  Let us ask the Holy Spirit to allow us to experience the "earthquake" of deep conversion and  the heartfelt understanding that Jesus is the Son of God who died to save each one of us from our sins.

Prayer
Jesus, I had been keeping guard over you for hours; just doing my job, watching you suffer in agony as you endured the brutal death by crucifixion  I've seen it all before and I really couldn't allow myself to get caught up in the emotions of those people at the foot of your cross. I was just waiting for time to pass so I could leave that place of death and suffering, when suddenly I felt the earth shake beneath my feet, as if revolting at your death. More than the outward signs, I felt a revolution in my heart and mind and I am filled with the certainty that you truly are the Son of God. In an instant I know that my life will never be the same. Help me, Jesus, to understand what I have experienced - help my to truly know you.

Read Other "Who Am I? Holy Week Reflections Here:
Am I the Good Thief?
Am I Simon?
Am I Pilate?
Am I Peter?

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Am I the Good Thief?


Scripture
Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)

Reflection
Here in Luke's Gospel we witness the dialogue from the cross between Jesus and the two thieves who are crucified with him. The one thief, caught up in his own pain and self-pity, joins with the crowd in mocking Jesus, while the other thief looks upon the face of Jesus and sees him for who he truly is. In this revelation, the Good Thief, known today as St. Dismas, immediately acknowledges his own sins and begs the Lord to "remember him".  His confession is met with one of the most beautiful promises in all of scripture, "today you will be with me in Paradise."

What was the difference between the two thieves? How was it that one persisted in his own pride and misery, while the other was able to humbly face the reality of his sinful life and confess that to Jesus?  Why did two people with similar backgrounds encounter Jesus in the same way, but react to him in totally opposite ways? Why do we still today see deathbed conversions of some, while others die in bitterness and unbelief?  Father Sopocko, who was Saint Faustina's Spiritual Director, describes this dramatic conversion as an act of grace:
"How close Dismas had come to eternal condemnation! A murderer and thief, he had behind him a lifetime of sin and crime. And now suddenly a ray of grace had shone into his soul, and from a thief be became a penitent."
God's grace acting in a person's soul is a mystery - a mystery for us to bow before and accept, as the Good Thief did on the cross. Father Sopocko goes on to say that all the Good Thief had
"was a little good will that led him to sympathize with Thee, O Jesus!—to follow the call of grace and co-operate with it." (read Father's entire article here)
Perhaps we identify with the Good Thief this Holy Week - seeing our own sins and shortcomings in the light of Jesus' passion. Through the same grace that touched St. Dismas, we may even be facing the truth about ourselves for the first time. Let us ask the Lord to create in us a "new heart"  - one is open to his grace and mercy, so that we too may receive the beautiful promise of being with Jesus in Paradise. 

Prayer
Jesus, I have only just met you and I can sense that you are unlike anyone else that I have ever known. Your face is bloody and disfigured and yet in your eyes I see something I have never experienced before. You are looking at me with love and kindness. I can feel the walls that surround my heart crumbling. I see inside my heart all the terrible thing I have done, the malicious thoughts I have had and all the ways I have hurt others. Jesus, I am not worthy of receiving anything from you and yet, I am drawn to ask you to forgive me and to allow me to remain with you forever.

Read Other "Who Am I?" Holy Week Reflections Here:
Am I Peter?
Am I Pilate?
Am I Simon?
Am I the Centurion?

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Am I Simon?

Scripture
"As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross." (Mt: 27: 32)

Reflection

Simon the Cyrene was not a willing helper to Jesus. Different translations of Matthew's gospel use the verb "compelled" and "forced" to describe how Simon came to be part of Jesus' long walk to Calvary. In Luke's account Simon is described as being "seized" by the soldiers. (Luke 23:26) This was not exactly a volunteer job. And yet, through this experience, Simon was given the privilege of assisting the Lord in carrying the very cross that would be his salvation - the salvation of all the world.

The cross is the source of life and blessings, hidden under pain and suffering. However, we will only experience the life that the cross and resurrection promises us if we are willing to not only pick up our own crosses, but also help others carry theirs. St. Paul instructs the Galatians to "bear one another's burdens" ( Gal 6:2) In spite of these words, we may find ourselves, like Simon, reluctant partners in the bearing of someone else's cross. Willingly entering into the pain of another person, whether that pain is physical, spiritual or emotional, is never easy. It is far "safer" to stand aside, like the crowds surrounding Jesus, and watch from a distance. Helping to carry another's cross requires strength, perseverance, patience and love. It requires the openness to experience pain ourselves, in solidarity with that person. 

Perhaps we identify with Simon this Holy Week - finding ourselves sharing the cross with someone else. We may be embarrassed at our own reluctance to help and wondering what difference our assistance is really making. The scriptures do not tell us how Simon's help impacted Jesus. We too may never know the extent to which our help blesses another person. What we are assured of  is the promise made by the Lord himself that "whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me." (Mt 25:40)

Prayer
Why am I being asked to help you carry your cross? I don't want to be near you. I am afraid to step into your pain. What will happen to me if I do? Yet, I am drawn to your side. I am moved by your silent suffering. Struggling alongside you under the weight of the cross, this encounter with you is changing me. Help me, Jesus, to willingly and compassionately help others carry their crosses. Purify me of my reluctance to experience the pain of another's cross and give me the grace to be changed by sharing in the suffering of another.

Read Other "Who Am I?" Holy Week Reflections Here:
Am I Peter?
Am I Pilate?
Am I the Good Thief?
Am I the Centurion?


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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Am I Pilate?


Scripture
Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice." Pilate said to him, "What is truth?" (John 18:37-38)

Reflection
Pilate is full of questions for Jesus - "Are you a king?", "Are you the king of the Jews", "Where are you from?", and finally, the infamous "What is truth?" In his interrogation of Jesus, you can almost hear the desperation in his voice. Here is a man caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, desperately looking to make the decision that will bring the least amount of personal and political harm to himself. He is so entrenched in his own world that he cannot or will not recognize Jesus as the truth that he seeks. Yet, there is something compelling for him about Jesus. He clearly recognizes Jesus' innocence and his questions suggest that he recognizes in Jesus something more.

Catholic Encyclopedia describes Pilate as
"...a type of the worldly man, knowing the right and anxious to do it so far as it can be done without personal sacrifice of any kind, but yielding easily to pressure from those whose interest it is that he should act otherwise. He would gladly have acquitted Christ, and even made serious efforts in that direction, but gave way at once when his own position was threatened."
Perhaps we identify with Pilate this Holy Week. We may be in a place where cultural, societal or even familial pressures are leading us to "wash our hands" of Jesus and go along with the whims of the crowds shouting around us. We may be tempted to give in to these external pressures and ignore the nagging voice in our heart which cries out "What is truth?" and longs to know the One who is Truth Itself.

Prayer
I am so confused. All my life I have been taught to live one way. I understand the rules of my world. But now, you, Jesus are standing in front of me and all my prior assumptions are being challenged. My world is coming apart around me and I am in what appears to my human eyes as no-win situation. If I believe you, Jesus, then my career and, more than likely, my life as I know it will be over. If I don't believe you, I fear I will be making the biggest mistake of my life. Is there an answer these questions that torment me? Are you the answer, Jesus?

Read Other "Who Am I" Holy Week Reflections here:
Am I Peter?
Am I Simon?
Am I the Good Thief?
Am I the Centurion?

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Monday, March 26, 2018

Am I Peter?


Scripture
Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter, “You are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not."...Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They said to him, "Are not you one of his disciples? He denied it and said, "I am not." One of the servants of the high priest, a kinsman of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, "Did I not see you in the garden with him? Peter again denied it; and at once the cock crowed. (John 18:17, 25-27)

Reflection
The denial of Peter is one of the most-recognized moments in the passion narratives and is recorded in all four Gospels. There we see all of Peter's bravado and solemn declarations of loyalty spoken on Holy Thursday dissolve into a heap of panic and cowardice when he is faced with the reality of Jesus' arrest. Peter's repeated denial of Jesus seems to be an epic failure and an irrevocable breach of friendship. But that is simply not true. No sin or denial, no matter how grave, is ever out of the reach of the mercy of the Lord. 

In a 2006 General Audience, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about how Peter's stumbles were not unique to him, but affect the lives of Christians in every age.

"Peter's rash generosity does not protect him, however, from the risks connected with human weakness. Moreover, it is what we too can recognize in our own lives. Peter followed Jesus with enthusiasm, he overcame the trial of faith, abandoning himself to Christ. The moment comes, however, when he gives in to fear and falls:  he betrays the Master (cf. Mk 14: 66-72).
The school of faith is not a triumphal march but a journey marked daily by suffering and love, trials and faithfulness. Peter, who promised absolute fidelity, knew the bitterness nd humiliation of denial:  the arrogant man learns the costly lesson of humility. Peter, too, must learn that he is weak and in need of forgiveness. 
Once his attitude changes and he understands the truth of his weak heart of a believing sinner, he weeps in a fit of liberating repentance. After this weeping he is finally ready for his mission."

Likewise, Pope Francis, in a February 2014 homily spoke about the necessity of understanding Peter "...within the context of a long journey, after having traveled a long path. A path of grace and sin." It is "the disciple's path", the Pope said. In fact, he added, "following Jesus enables us to know Jesus. To follow Jesus through our virtues" and "also through our sins. Always following Jesus!" (L'Osservatore Romano

Perhaps we identify with Peter this Holy Week: afraid and ashamed of our own failings.  Then, like Peter, we must persist in following Jesus in spite of our weaknesses, sins, and missteps along the way. We must learn to see our life of faith as the journey which both Popes speak of - a journey which has all the drama of human success and failure. We must rely completely on  God's grace and not our own strength to help us resist the temptations along the way. When we stumble and fall into sin, we must trust Jesus' mercy and run to beg for his forgiveness, so that through the mercy of God, we too, like Peter may be "ready for our mission."  

Prayer
Lord, in the depths of my heart I desire to follow you, and to publicly demonstrate my love for you, but my fear of being persecuted by being associated with you is crippling my faith. Forgive me Lord, for the times when my fear has paralyzed me and I have denied you before others. Strengthen me, through the power of your Holy Spirit, that I may become the bold disciple that you wish me to be and declare my love for you with every fiber of my being.

Read Other "Who Am I" Holy Week Reflections here:
Am I Pilate?
Am I Simon?
Am I the Good Thief?
Am I the Centurion?

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

"Who Am I?" A Series of Reflections for Holy Week


"Who am I this Holy Week?" 

This was the question posed a few years ago by one of our parish priests during his homily on Palm Sunday. He explained further:

"Which of the people we meet in the passion narratives from the Scriptures do we most identify with?"

  • Am I Peter, full of bravado initially, but overcome by fear and unable to stand for Jesus?
  • Am I Pilate, pressured by the circumstances of the world into condemning Jesus?
  • Am I John, loving disciple of Jesus who stood at the foot of the Cross, faithful to the end?

At the beginning of each Holy Week, I ask myself this question. Each year I find that I  identify with someone different, some of whom I am not exactly proud to admit. This year, as we begin this most sacred week, let us ask ourselves which of the people present during the Lord's passion, death and resurrection do we most relate to. It is important to not be fearful of the answer, but rather to allow the Lord show us the truth about ourselves, strengthening us in our goodness, and gently correcting our weaknesses.

Beginning on the Monday of Holy Week and ending on Easter Sunday, Saints 365 will post a daily reflection entitled "Am I...." Each reflection will provide a scripture verse, an exploration of the characteristics of one of the people present during Lord's passion, and a prayer.

I invite you to subscribe or stop by each day for these reflections and pray that they help us to enter more deeply into the celebration of Christ's redeeming acts during this Holy Week.



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