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Monthly Archives: August 2010

PRAYERS TO GOD THE FATHER (1)

PRAYERS TO GOD THE FATHER (1) 

FRANCISAN PRAYER FOR THE MILLENIUM 

Creator God,

We praise and thank You for this millenium

which is drawing to a close.

We especially thank You for the gift that

Francis and Clare have been for our world.

We pray for forgiveness and healing

for the wrongs of this past era.

We welcome with faith and hope this coming

millenium and ask your blessing upon it.

May we, as Franciscans, work with You

and with each other to bring about

Your reign of love,

as we strive to be Gospel people

in the spirit of Francis and Clare.

In the name of the Father, and the Son,

and the Holy Spirit, Amen. 

Taken from FRANCISCAN DOCUMENTATION, Vo. 8, No. 32, 1999 No. 4. Note: With a slight change and modification, this prayer can be said anytime. 

Read Jn 6:22-29. Father, we constantly long to know Your will for us. If we know what You want us to do, then we hope that we will do it.

Jesus has told us that to do Your will is to believe in Him, whom You have sent. And believing in Him means to keep the Commandments, to listen to His teaching, to accept Him into our lives. 

We pray for the understanding to accept Christ into our lives. We want to be open to His presence, so that His light floods all the chambers of our hearts, driving out the darkness, warming us where we have been cold, touching us where we have been slow to respond. Father teach us to do Your will; to know Your Son, to live in Him and with Him, to accept all that He is meant to be for us.  Amen.

[Father Killian Speckner, OFMConv., THE PRAYERS OF FATHER KILLIAN] 

A FRANCISCAN PRAYER 

O Lord, our God, creator of heaven and earth, we thank You and praise You for Your love, for Your wisdom, for You kindness and mercy. Make us instruments of love, peace, unity and harmony between people independently of race, colour and creed. Grant us to respect all of Your creation and to look at one another and all your creatures as brothers and sisters. Help us to serve one another in humility, simplicity and joy. Take away from the hearts of people the spirit of hatred, violence and rivalry. Amen. 

Taken from FRANCISCAN DOCUMENTATION, Vo. 5, No. 20, 1996 No. 4. 

Jakarta, August 30, 2010 

Compiled by A Christian Pilgrim

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Posted by on August 30, 2010 in A TREASURY OF PRAYERS

 

A STATEMENT ABOUT JESUS BY POPE PAUL VI

A STATEMENT ABOUT JESUS BY POPE PAUL VI

The Christian understanding of Jesus surpasses and fulfills religious and humanistic interpretations of Him. For Christians, He and He alone can bring every human person, together with the whole of humanity and the cosmos, to full realization.

 The following text of Paul VI is a model statement about Jesus:

 Jesus is at the summit of human aspirations,

the end of our hopes and our prayers,

the focal point of the desires of history and civilization;

He is the the Messiah, the center of humanity,

He who gives value to every human action,

who is the joy and the plenitude of the desires of all hearts;

He is the true man, the type of perfection, beauty, holiness

whom God has set up to embody the true model,

the true concept of man; He is the brother of all,

the irreplaceable friend,

the only one worthy of all confidence and love:

He is the Christ-man.

And at the same time Jesus is at the source

of all our true happiness,

His is the light by which the space of the world

takes on proportions, form, beauty, and shadow;

He is the world that defines everything, explains everything,

classifies everything, redeems everything;

He is the principle of our spiritual and moral life;

He tells us what we must do and He gives us the strength,

the grace to do it;

His image, indeed, His presence reverberates

in every soul that makes itself a mirror

to receive the ray of His truth and life,

who believe in Him

and welcomes His sacramental contact;

He is the Christ-God, the Master, the Savior, the Life.

[Allocution of February 3, 1964]

Source: JESUS CHRIST, WORD OF THE FATHER – THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD, Prepared by the Theological-Historical Commission for the Great Jubilee Year 2000.

 Jakarta, August 29, 2010 [The 22nd Ordinary Sunday] 

Taken from the book by A Christian Pilgrim

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2010 in NOTES ON JESUS CHRIST

 

THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS PRESENT EVERY TIME WE CELEBRATE THE EUCHARIST

THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS PRESENT EVERY TIME WE CELEBRATE THE EUCHARIST

(A biblical reflection on the 22nd Ordinary Sunday, August 29, 2010) 

Gospel Reading: Lk 14:1.7-14 

First Reading: Sir 3:17-18.20.28-29; Psalm: 68:4-7.10-11; Second Reading: Heb 12:18-19.22-24 

Scripture Text

One Sabbath when He went to dine at the house of a ruler who belonged the Pharisees, they were watching Him.

Now He told a parable to those who were invited, when He marked how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; and who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host come he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Lk 14:1.7-14 RSV)

“Great is the might of the Lord; He is glorified by the humble” (Sir 3:20 RSV).

Nowhere is the greatness of God’s mighty power more evident than in the CROSS. Jesus, the second person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God (God the Son), the King of Creation, King of all kings, humbled Himself, took the form of a servant, and died on the a cross.  Great though He was, He did not presume upon His equality with God. Instead, He entered into His own creation. This is how He glorified God. Sounds ironic? Amazing? It is indeed amazing, that because of such humility, God the Father raised Him from the dead and exalted Him above all creation (Phil 2:6-11).

Every time we attend “His banquet” (the Holy Mass), we commemorate this pairing of humility and glory. We are invited to come humbly to the table of the Lord and sing praises to His name – and in the process be lifted up to heaven ourselves. He has given us, who were desolate, a home to dwell in (Ps 68:6) – His very own home. He has led us, who were captives to sin, into freedom (Ps 68:7) – the freedom of new life in Christ.

Wow!!! What an awesome God we have! He is greater than a mountain blazing with fire, a raging storm, the blare of trumpets, or a terrifying voice (see Heb 12:18-19). And yet He calls us, who are weak and sinful, to His heart. At the Holy Mass, we can come into His presence, joining with countless angels, singing His glory and be joyful in His love – all because He humbled Himself and offered us a share in His inheritance.

Now, do you really believe that the Kingdom of God, in all its glory and power, is present every time we celebrate the Eucharist? His life, His grace, His mercy, and His love are all contained in the consecrated host we receive. What greater glory could be contained in such a humble setting? And what could we possibly desire but to have Jesus dwell in us, lifting us up with Him?

Short Prayer: Jesus Christ, I bow before You in awe that You died and rose for me. I want to lay down my life and everything I hold dear, so that I can worship You, Who are worthy to receive  glory and honor and power. Amen.

Jakarta, August 26, 2010  

A Christian Pilgrim

 
 

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LET US LEARN FROM JEREMIAH AND JOHN THE BAPTIST

LET US LEARN FROM JEREMIAH AND JOHN THE BAPTIST

(A biblical reflection on the memorial of the Beheading of John the Baptist, August 29) 

Gospel Reading: Mk 6:17-29; Old Testament Reading: Jer 1:17-19 

John the Baptist spoke the word of God to princes and kings, to priests and people alike, with little regard for the consequences. Like the prophet Jeremiah, he spoke out against the tide of moral corruption and spiritual apathy that characterized Israel’s leaders. He stood for God’s righteousness and spoke out fearlessly when those in leadership were making a mockery of the law of the LORD. Ultimately, he paid the price for his faithfulness to God – it cost him his head. 

All Christians face challenges similar to the ones that John the Baptist faced. Who among us has not had to swim against the prevailing culture – and paid a price for it – in trying to maintain our commitment to Jesus? Who has not experienced some form of persecution or harassment for their beliefs? There is a saying that Jesus came not just to comfort the troubled, but to trouble the comfortable as well. Does not this in some way describe our presence as Christians in the world

In practice, this may mean holding unpopular positions in your school or workplace. It may mean being called “backward”, “old-fashioned”, “hypocrite” because of your beliefs or lifestyle. When you seek to share the Good News, you may be rejected or accused of meddling or imposing your beliefs. That has always been the experience of God’s servants, like Jeremiah or John the Baptist. Faithfulness to God and the Lord Jesus can be costly

Despite rejection or persecution, the promise that we can hold onto – which Jeremiah and John the Baptist held onto – is that God is always with us and He will strengthen us. Jesus is Emmanuel, which means God with us (see Mt 1:23). He promised His disciples: “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20). He suffers with those who suffer, and He offers endless depths of consolation and encouragement. He will continue to form us and teach us how to minister His truth with love and compassion, and He will continue to strengthen us for whatever struggles lie ahead. If John the Baptist could handle months in prison and even martyrdom, we can handle whatever is given to us – not by our might or natural endurance, but by hiding ourselves in the presence of God. 

Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, I pray now for all Christians throughout the world who are facing persecution and hostility. Give them deep consolation by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Lord, be their strength and comfort! Amen.

 Jakarta, August 26, 2010  

A Christian Pilgrim

 

GOD HAD BROUGHT ME SAFELY HOME: STORY OF A JESUIT MISSIONARY

GOD HAD BROUGHT ME SAFELY HOME: STORY OF A JESUIT MISSIONARY 

On October 12, 1963, I landed at New York’s Idlewild Airport after having spent twenty-three years in the Soviet Union and most of that time in prison or the slave labor camps of Siberia. Some of my friends and family on hand that day said that I stepped off BOAC flight No. 501 like some new Columbus, about to rediscover America and take up again the life of a free man. I felt nothing of that. Nor did I know that I had officially been listed as dead since 1947, and that my Jesuit colleagues had said Masses for the repose of my soul when it was thought I had died in a Soviet prison. I felt only a simple sense of gratitude to God for having sustained me through those years and, in His providence, bringing me home again at last.

It was shortly after I left home and family in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, to join the Jesuits in 1928 that I first volunteered for the “Russian missions.” Pope Pius XI wrote a letter in 1929 to all seminarians, “especially our Jesuit sons,” asking for men to enter a new Russian center being started at Rome to prepare young clerics for possible future work in Russia. I studied my theology there, and learned to say Mass in the Byzantine rite in preparation for work in Russia. But after I was ordained, there was no way to send priests into Russia, so I was assigned instead to an Oriental rite mission staffed by Jesuits in Albertyn, Poland.

I was working there when war broke out in September 1939. The German Army took Warsaw, but the Red Army overran eastern Poland and Albertyn. In the confusion and aftermath of these invasions, I followed many Polish refugees into Russia. Disguised as a worker, I accompanied them in the hope of being able to minister to their spiritual needs. But I didn’t fool the Soviet secret police. As soon as Germany invaded Russia in June 1941, I was picked up by the NKDV and put into prison.

I was taken by train to the dread Lubianka Prison in Moscow for interrogation as a “Vatican Spy.” I remained there all through the war years, undergoing periodic and often intense questioning by the NKDV. Then, after five years, I was sentenced to fifteen years at hard labor in the prison camps of Siberia. Along with thousands of others, I was put to work in labor brigades doing outdoor construction in the extreme arctic cold, or in coal and copper mines, ill clothed, ill fed, and poorly housed in the timber barracks surrounded by barbed wire and a “death zone.” Men died in those camps, especially those who gave up hope. But I trusted in God, never felt abandoned or without hope, and survived along with many others. I never looked on my survival as anything special or extraordinary, but I did give thanks to God for sustaining and preserving me through those years.

When my term at last ran out, I was not completely free. Because I had been “convicted” on a charge of espionage, I could not leave Siberia and return to the main cities of Russia, let alone leave the country. So I remained on in the villages and towns of Siberia, working as an auto mechanic among other things, until I was finally exchanged in 1963 for two convicted Russian spies, thanks to the efforts of family and friends and the good offices of the U.S. State Department. Upon my arrival, my religious superiors and a number of publishers convinced me that there was a great deal of public interest in the story of my years inside the Soviet Union, those years when I had actually been given up for dead. So I agreed to tell that story and did so in the book With God in Russia. 

Yet, to be perfectly honest, that was not the book I wanted to write. I felt that I had learned much during those years of hardship and suffering that could be of help to others in their lives. For every man’s life contains its share of suffering; each of us is occasionally driven almost to despair, to ask why God allows evil and suffering to overtake Him or those He loves. I had seen a great deal of suffering in the camps and the prisons in those around me, had almost despaired myself, and had learned in those darkest of hours to turn to God for consolation and to trust in Him alone.

“How did you manage to survive?” is the question most often asked me by newsmen and others ever since my return home. My answer has always been the same: “God’s providence.” Yet I knew that simple statement could never satisfy the questioner or ever begin to convey all I meant by it. Through the long years of isolation and suffering, God had led me to an understanding of life and His love that only those who have experienced it can fathom. He had stripped away from me many of the external consolations, physical and religious, that men rely on and had left me with a core of seemingly simple truths to guide me. And yet what a profound difference they had made in my life, what strength they gave me, what courage to go on! I wanted to tell others about them – indeed, I felt one reason that God in His providence had brought me safely home was so that I might help others understand these truths a little better.

Jakarta, August 25,  2010

Taken from Walter J. Ciszek,  SJ [1904-1984], with Daniel Flaherty, SJ, HE LEADETH ME – An Extraordinary Testament of Faith, by A Christian Pilgrim 

 

UNDER THE FIG TREE

UNDER THE FIG TREE

(A biblical reflection on the Feast of St. Bartholomew, August 24, 2010) 

Gospel Reading: Jn 1:45-51 

First Reading: Rev 21:9-14; Psalms: Ps 145:10-13,17-18 

The Scripture Text

Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” Nathanael said to Him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus anwered him, “Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.” And He said to him, “Truly,  truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” (Jn 1:45-51)

Today, the 24th of August, is the feast of St. Bartholomew – also known as Nathanael. We do not know much about this apostle, but the Gospel of John does show us how Nathanael’s friend Philip introduced him to Jesus. When Nathanael heard from Philip that Jesus came from Nazareth, he was not impressed at all. Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (Jn 1:46 RSV). But out of respect for Philip, Nathanael decided to “come and see” (Jn 1:46) for himself. 

Nathanael’s skepticism gave way to faith and amazement when he met Jesus. This rabbi could read his heart like an open book! He saw in Nathanael a prayerful man, a “true Israelite” who knew no falsehood: “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” (Jn 1:47). In responding to Nathanael’s question, Jesus made a remark: “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you” (Jn 1:48). “Under the fig tree” was a common Jewish expression used to describe a person who prayerfully studied the words of Scripture. The fig tree was a symbol of God’s blessing and peace, and it provided shade from the midday sun and a cool place for a person to retreat and pray. The Gospel of John seems to be hinting that Nathanael was meditating on the promises of God that day and praying that he would live to see the Messiah. So when Nathanael did meet Jesus, his heart was already open to recognize that this One was indeed the “King of Israel” who would rule as the “Son of God”: “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (Jn 1:49). 

As He found Nathanael (Bartolomew), Jesus also invites all of us to sit “under the fig tree.” He invites us to find a place of peace and quiet reflection where we can meditate upon His word. He promises that if we do, heaven itself will be opened to us: “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man” (Jn 1:51). 

Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, God wants to write His word upon our hearts and open our minds to His ways. He only asks us to make room in our hearts to receive His word. Just as our bodies need food every day, so our souls need to be nourished every day by the word of God. Today, let us allow Jesus to fill us with the knowledge of His love and wisdom. Let us allow Him to renew our minds and transform our lives through His word. Let us take up the exhortation of Scripture itself: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col 3:16). 

Short Prayer: Almighty Lord and Father, strengthen in us that faith with which Saint Bartholomew gave himself wholeheartedly to Christ Your Son. Grant, at his intercession, that Your Church may become the sacrament of salvation for all the nations of the earth. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. (taken from THE DIVINE OFFICE III). 

Jakarta, August 15, 2010 [Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary] 

A Christian Pilgrim

 

STRIVE TO ENTER BY THE NARROW DOOR

STRIVE TO ENTER BY THE NARROW DOOR

(A biblical reflection on the 22nd Ordinary Sunday, August 22, 2010) 

Gospel Reading: Lk 13:22-30 

First Reading: Is 66:18-21; Psalms: Ps 117:1-2; Second Reading: Heb 12:5-7,11-13 

Scripture Text

He went on His way through towns and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. And some one said to Him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us.’ He will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ But He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity!’ There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” (Lk 13:22-30 RSV)

“Strive to enter by the narrow door” (Luk 13:24 RSV). We can naturally expect two responses from people who read or hear these words of Jesus. One response comes from an over-confident attitude that one can do anything. As if we say, “I can do this, just give me the chance to prove I’ve got what it takes.” The other response is a negative one. We feel deflated, convinced that we will never measure up. The narrow door seems just too narrow, giving us the sense that unless our life is all together the doors will close on us. 

Neither of these responses is exactly what Jesus was looking for when he spoke these words. Rather, the “striving” He wants from us is the effort to remain rooted in faith and trust, not hard work nor despair. Jesus’ arms are always open wide. He is  always beckoning us to come to Him and receive His grace. He knows that we will never be at peace as long as we believe salvation is something we have to earn. We will either be too busy working hard, or we will be preoccupied by our weaknesses wondering what we have to do just to squeak by. 

We know our hearts belong to Jesus when we are willing to walk with Him all the way to His death in Jerusalem. The “narrow door” is our willingness to embrace His cross as it touches our lives. Why? Because the cross – and the death to self that it embodies – is the only access to the Father. Jesus knows that the only way we can avoid the judgment that our sins deserve is by allowing Him to put to death the sinful drives within us on a day-to-day basis. This is the whole purpose of baptism and of a living faith in Him. 

At Holy Mass today, Jesus invites us to come to the feast not because our lives are perfect but because we have freely embraced His gift of mercy. All He askes us to do is strive to hold on to Him. All He asks is that we hold on to our confidence that He will never abandon us. 

The door may be narrow, but it is open to all. Our calling is great, but God’s provision for us is greater still. God loves us immeasurably. This can be so hard to believe when our natural reaction is to prove our worth. We somehow think that if we work hard enough, God will be happy with us, but Jesus stands by us saying, “It’s not your hard work but your heart that I desire.” 

So sisters and brothers, lay your heart bare before Him and fall into the arms of your Father. Because of God’s love for us, we can do what is humanly impossible: We can enter through this narrow door. God wants all of us to accept His salvation and enter into our true home. Remember: The door may be narrow, but it is always open. 

Short Prayer: Heavenly Father, I worship You. You are both righteous Judge and loving Father. Thank You for providing my righgteousness and entrance through the narrow door in Christ! Amen. 

Jakarta, August 15, 2010 [Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary] 

A Christian Pilgrim