Thursday, March 31, 2011

Willing to be Re-created

Lord Jesus, you became a servant to show us the path to true greatness. We pray that through our Lenten prayer and practice, your Holy Spirit may shape us into true disciples capable of serving you and our sisters and brothers. Give us the strength and courage to put your words into practice each day. Help us to recognize our sin and whatever is holding us back from you. Make us willing to change so that we can be the people you are creating us to be. Amen.
~from Living Faith: Jan/Feb/Mar 2011 issue
Reader, as you travel into the depths of your own inner wilderness may Gos's strength, courage and wisdom travel with you to the end that you will be re-created in the likeness of Christ.  ~Friar Rex

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"Some are inclined to replace exaggerated attitudes of the past with other exaggerations: From seeing sin everywhere they pass to not recognizing it anywhere; from too much emphasis on the fear of eternal punishment they pass to preaching a love of God that excludes any punishment deserved by sin; from severity in trying to correct erroneous consciences they pass to a kind of respect for conscience which excludes the duty of telling the truth." ~ Pope John Paul II


My prayer for you today, dear reader, is that you will take an opportunity during your Lenten pilgrimage to celebrate the Father's love through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. ~Friar Rex

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pope Benedict's Lenten Message, Part 6

The Sunday of the man born blind presents Christ as the light of the world. The Gospel confronts each one of us with the question: “Do you believe in the Son of man?” “Lord, I believe!” (Jn 9: 35. 38), the man born blind joyfully exclaims, giving voice to all believers. The miracle of this healing is a sign that Christ wants not only to give us sight, but also open our interior vision, so that our faith may become ever deeper and we may recognize him as our only Savior. He illuminates all that is dark in life and leads men and women to live as “children of the light”.
Dear Reader, This Lenten journey may God's grace bring you ever closer to the Light who is Christ Jesus.
~Friar Rex

Friday, March 25, 2011

Feast of the Annunciation

Hey, Everybody!!

The Lord give you peace.

Just a quick note to say happy feast day on this Feast of the Annunciation. Today we celebrates Our Lady's "YES" to God's invitation to help bring Christ into the world some 2000 years ago. Through our Baptism and Confirmation each of us has been given the grace to echo Mary's YES to the invitation to bring Christ into the world today through our words and deeds. Bringing Christ to the world, being Christ's representative in the world is in fact every Christians primary vocation.

Each time we receive Christ in the Eucharist, the Holy Trinity Who is really, truly, substantially present in what used to be bread and wine enters more deeply into us and we into Christ. We are transformed little by slowly into the sort of woman or man God has created us to be; the sort of person who can bring the life-giving message of Jesus Christ to a world sorely in need of the happiness, healing and hope that can be found fully, definitively, finally only through Him, with Him, and in Him.

In short, I pray you enjoy this day!

As for me, since the rule of abstinence from meat on Friday during Lent is lifted on this particular Feast, I am going to eat a pound of bacon for breakfast, a big fat double decker hamburger for lunch, and a then make a pot of chilly for supper. I burp just thinking about it. :-)

Grace & Peace,
Friar Rex

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Love The One You're With

Many years ago I was gifted with a perpetual calendar that has a different quote from Blessed Mother Teresa for each day of the year. On the day my father died, March 24, 2008, the quote was as follows:

"We need each other. Our lives would be empty without each other. How can we love God and His poor if we do not love each other with whom we live."

I did not do as Mother Teresa suggests (at least not very well) with regards to my relationship with my father before he died. As a result he suffered, I suffered, and my witness for the kingdom of God suffered too.

I've never flipped the calendar ahead or back since my father died three years ago today. I see that quote every morning as I prepare breakfast. I now pray often for the grace to have the strength, courage and the wisdom to love those close to me as a way of putting into practice the love I claim to have for God and His poor.

Dear Reader, may you love those with whom you live in such a way that your words and deeds will witness to the love you say you have for God.

~Friar Rex

Friday, March 18, 2011

Pope Bebedict's Lenten Message 2011, Part 5

The question that Jesus puts to the Samaritan woman: “Give me a drink” (Jn 4: 7), is presented to us in the liturgy of the third Sunday; it expresses the passion of God for every man and woman, and wishes to awaken in our hearts the desire for the gift of “a spring of water within, welling up for eternal life” (Jn 4: 14): this is the gift of the Holy Spirit, who transforms Christians into “true worshipers,” capable of praying to the Father “in spirit and truth” (Jn 4: 23). Only this water can extinguish our thirst for goodness, truth and beauty! Only this water, given to us by the Son, can irrigate the deserts of our restless and unsatisfied soul, until it “finds rest in God”, as per the famous words of St. Augustine.
Dear Reader,
May the Holy Spirit irrigate the desert of your restless and unsatisfied soul as you continue to make your way on the Lenten journey. ~Friar Rex

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Feast of St. Patrick

The following is a literal translation from the old Irish text of a prayer composed by St. Patrick, popularly known as ‘St. Patrick’s Breast-Plate.’

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.

I bind to myself today
God’s Power to guide me,
God’s Might to uphold me,
God’s Wisdom to teach me,
God’s Eye to watch over me,
God’s Ear to hear me,
God’s Word to give me speech,
God’s Hand to guide me,
God’s Way to lie before me,
God’s Shield to shelter me,
God’s Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.

I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.
Christ, protect me today
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ on the deck,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pope Benedict's Lenten Message, Part 4

The Gospel of the Transfiguration of the Lord puts before our eyes the glory of Christ, which anticipates the resurrection and announces the divinization of man. The Christian community becomes aware that Jesus leads it, like the Apostles Peter, James and John “up a high mountain by themselves” (Mt 17: 1), to receive once again in Christ, as sons and daughters in the Son, the gift of the Grace of God: “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor. Listen to him” (Mt 17: 5). It is the invitation to take a distance from the noisiness of everyday life in order to immerse oneself in God’s presence. He desires to hand down to us, each day, a Word that penetrates the depths of our spirit, where we discern good from evil (cf. Heb 4:12), reinforcing our will to follow the Lord.
Dear Reader, may you find some distance from the noise of the world this Lenten season and draw closer to Christ who announces your divinization. ~Friar Rex

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pope Benedict's Lenten Message, Part 3

In order to undertake more seriously our journey towards Easter and prepare ourselves to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord – the most joyous and solemn feast of the entire liturgical year – what could be more appropriate than allowing ourselves to be guided by the Word of God? For this reason, the Church, in the Gospel texts of the Sundays of Lent, leads us to a particularly intense encounter with the Lord, calling us to retrace the steps of Christian initiation: for catechumens, in preparation for receiving the Sacrament of rebirth; for the baptized, in light of the new and decisive steps to be taken in the sequela Christi and a fuller giving of oneself to him.

The First Sunday of the Lenten journey reveals our condition as human beings here on earth. The victorious battle against temptation, the starting point of Jesus’ mission, is an invitation to become aware of our own fragility in order to accept the Grace that frees from sin and infuses new strength in Christ – the way, the truth and the life (cf. Ordo Initiationis Christianae Adultorum, n. 25). It is a powerful reminder that Christian faith implies, following the example of Jesus and in union with him, a battle “against the ruling forces who are masters of the darkness in this world” (Eph 6: 12), in which the devil is at work and never tires – even today – of tempting whoever wishes to draw close to the Lord: Christ emerges victorious to open also our hearts to hope and guide us in overcoming the seductions of evil.
The greatest trick at Satan's disposal is the ability to convince human beings that he does not exist. Ignorant priests and pew-sitters proclaim that Satan is not real, that belief in the Devil went out with the Second Vatican Council.

Dear Reader, may you, an otherwise intelligent human being, not be so ignorant as to think Satan does not exist. Battle with Satan was part of the journey of God Incarnate; battle with Satan is part of your life as a follower of God Incarnate, too. May your Lenten journey of bring you ever closer to Christ, into whose victory over Satan, sin, and death you were incorporated at Baptism.

~Friar Rex

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pope Benedict's Lenten Message, Part 2

A particular connection binds Baptism to Lent as the favorable time to experience this saving Grace. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council exhorted all of the Church’s Pastors to make greater use “of the baptismal features proper to the Lenten liturgy” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum concilium, n. 109). In fact, the Church has always associated the Easter Vigil with the celebration of Baptism: this Sacrament realizes the great mystery in which man dies to sin, is made a sharer in the new life of the Risen Christ and receives the same Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead (cf. Rm 8: 11). This free gift must always be rekindled in each one of us, and Lent offers us a path like that of the catechumenate, which, for the Christians of the early Church, just as for catechumens today, is an irreplaceable school of faith and Christian life. Truly, they live their Baptism as an act that shapes their entire existence.
Dear Reader, 
May your Lenten journey help to rekindle the fire of new life in Christ you received at Baptism.
~Friar Rex

Saturday, March 12, 2011

In Him You Are Beloved

Over the past couple of days of my Lenten journey voices have been screaming into the ears of my heart “You are not enough. Who you are in God’s Eyes matters less than who men and women think you are.” And again, “You are what you do. And what you do for God, this thing you call ‘prayer’, and the life you lead, this thing you call ‘contemplative’ is just so much worthless, contemptible nonsense.”

This morning I was talking about this inner hurricane of voices with Will, a friend mine, a man whose walk with the Lord is as steady as any man’s walk I have ever seen, and whose words to me very often carry with them grace and mercy straight from Our Father in Heaven.

In response to my struggles Will read out loud a paragraph from Henri Nouwen’s book The Return of the Prodigal Son. I want to share the paragraph with you. To set context I’ll begin with the paragraph just prior to the one Will read to me.

Here’s Nouwen:

Sensing the touch of God’s blessing hands and hearing the voice calling me Beloved are one and the same. This became clear to the prophet Elijah. Elijah was standing on the mountain to meet God. First there came a hurricane, but God was not in the hurricane. Then there came an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake. Then followed a fire, but God was not there either. Finally there came something very tender, called by some a soft breeze and by others a small voice. When Elijah sensed this, he covered his face because he knew that God was present. In the tenderness of God, voice was touch and touch was voice.

But there are many other voices, voices that are loud, full of promises and very seductive. These voices say, “Go out and prove that you are worth something.” Soon after Jesus had heard the voice calling him the Beloved, he was led to the desert to hear those other voices. They told him to prove that he was worth love in being successful, popular, and powerful. Those same voices are not unfamiliar to me. They are always there and, always, they reach into those inner places where I question my own goodness and doubt my self-worth. They suggest that I am not going to be loved without my having earned it through determined efforts and hard work. They want me to prove to myself and others that I am worth being loved, and they keep pushing me to do everything possible to gain acceptance. They deny loudly that love is a totally free gift. I leave home every time I lose faith in the voice that calls me the Beloved and follow the voices that offer a great variety of ways to win the love I so much desire.

After hearing Nouwen’s words I told Will he had shared exactly what the Lord knew I needed to hear for the hurricane in my heart to subside. And subside it has.

Dear Reader, my hope and prayer for you is this: As you walk the Lenten journey through the desert of your own heart and hear the voices that will tell you in a million different ways “you are not enough”, may you remember that Christ has walked this Lenten journey before you. He has heard the same voices. He has fought the same fight. He walks with you now. He is THE Beloved. In Him you are Beloved too. And may the hurricane of voices that want to convince you otherwise go to the Hell from whence they came.

In the Beloved,
~ Friar Rex

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday After Ash Wednesday

Last weekend I visited a Jesuit retreat center. Inside the front door of the mail building was a plaque with this paraphrase of the "Foundation and First Principle" of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Consider, dear brother or sister, carrying these words with you throughout your desert pilgrimage this Lenten season as you make your way toward Jerusalem, Calvary and beyond.
Pax et Bonum,
Friar Rex
The goal of our life is to live with God forever.
God, who loves us, gave us life.
Our own response of love allows God’s life
to flow into us without limit.

All the things in this world are gifts of God,
presented to us so that we can know God more easily
and make a return of love more readily.

As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God
insofar as they help us develop as loving persons.
But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives,
they displace God and so hinder our growth toward that goal.

In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance
before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice
and are not bound by some obligation.

We should not fix our desires on health or sickness,
wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one.

For everything has the potential of calling forth in us
a deeper response to our life in God.
Our only desire and our one choice should be this:
I want and I choose what better leads
to God’s deepening his life in me.
          – St. Ignatius of Loyola as paraphrased by David L. Fleming, SJ 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Give Up -- Take Up

While talking with some friends last weekend the question came up "what are you giving up for Lent?" Each of us in turn shared what she or he was going to "sacrifice" during the Lenten season. I then asked the question "what is everyone taking up for Lent?" Silence. Just as I expected. 

Many of us think only of what we can give up for Lent. Giving something up is a good and useful thing. But what if we decided this Lent to do something extra to help nurture our spiritual life? Pray the rosary, go to daily mass, pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. All of these are worthy endeavors. Here are some other worthwhile disciplines to take up for for Lent:

Give up complaining—— take up gratitude.
Give up pessimism——take up optimism.
Give up harsh judgments——take up kindness, especially toward your 'enemies'.
Give up worry——take up a deeper trust in God.
Give up discouragement——take up hope.
Give up bitterness——take up the process of forgiveness.
Give up hatred——take up returning good for evil.
Give up negativism——take up a more positive attitude.
Give up anger——take up patience, tolerance, love.
Give up pettiness——take up being mature.
Give up gloom——take up seeing the beauty that is all around you.
Give up jealousy——pray for trust.
Give up gossiping——take up control of your tongue.
Give up sin——take up the universal call to holiness.
Give up yourself------take up the life Christ has waiting for you.
Be assured of my prayers for you this Lenten season, dear reader, as part of my cyber family. Please pray for me, a sinner. ~Friar Rex

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday

Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith.

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.

Silence is then kept for a time, all kneeling.

The Celebrant says the following prayer:
Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

The ashes are imposed with the following words:
Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
Excerpted from the Book of Divine Worship approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and confirmed by the Apostolic See for use by Catholics of the Latin Rite coming from the Anglican tradition.
Dear Reader, I pray you a blessed and fruitful Lent. Please pray for me, a sinner. ~ Friar Rex