Weeks 501-510

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 501: Good Gifts: Reflection on Lk 11:9-13

 

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?” -Lk 11:9-13

 

Many people misinterpret our gospel today to mean, ask God for any old thing and he’ll give it to you, as long as you pester him long enough. No. Jesus says, “If you know how to give GOOD gifts to your children…” Sometimes our children ask us for things that are not good, and we must say no. So too with God. We can ASK for any old thing, but that doesn’t mean God will grant it. God, like any good parent, only gives us what is good for us, even if what is good for us, seems unappealing to us! We, for OUR part, must train ourselves to ask God for GOOD things. Like what? Let’s start with Jesus’ suggestion; “How much more will the Father in heaven give the HOLY SPIRIT to those who ask?” How often do we pray to receive the Holy Spirit?

 

Father, why do I have to ask for the Holy Spirit? Wasn’t I already GIVEN the Holy Spirit in baptism? Wasn’t the Spirit empowered in me when I was confirmed? Why do I have to ask for something I already have? Because the sacraments are vehicles of Grace, not magic tricks. The sacraments are not a matter of the priest saying the magic words, and we’re suddenly transformed into saints. To become holy takes a lifetime, and it takes effort. It won’t just happen. So every day we have to be asking God that we will grow in holiness. Every day we have to be asking God to help us grow in virtue. Every day we have to be asking God to forgive us our sins, and give us the grace not to sin ever again. And God responds by sending us the Holy Spirit.

 

God has given us great tools to aid us in that goal- the sacraments, the intercession of the saints, our guardian angels, the rosary. Practically every Saturday, the Mass intention at my church is for the people of Saint John Paul II parish and their intentions. When I elevate the chalice at Mass, and I’m praying for that intention, I always say, “Lord, hear the prayers of those who call out to you, and be pleased to answer them if those intentions are within your Divine Will. But may our first desire always be your glory, and your eternal kingdom.” My brothers and sisters, by all means, may we always persevere in prayer, and may we always be praying for good things. - Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

During Mass, I thanked the Lord Jesus for having deigned to redeem us and for having given us that greatest of all gifts; namely, His love in Holy Communion; that is, His very own Self. At that moment, I was drawn into the bosom of the Most Holy Trinity, and I was immersed in the love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. These moments are hard to describe. -St. Faustina’s diary

 

Prayer

O almighty and eternal God, you have adopted me as your child in the holy sacrament of Baptism; granted to me the remission of my sins at the tribunal of penance; and have fed me with the bread of angels; perfect in me, I beseech you, all these benefits. Grant unto me the spirit of Wisdom, that I may despise the perishable things of this world, and love the things that are eternal; the spirit of Understanding, to enlighten me and to give me the knowledge of religion; the spirit of Counsel, that I may diligently seek the surest ways of pleasing God and obtaining heaven; the spirit of Fortitude, that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation; the spirit of Knowledge, that I may be enlightened in the ways of God; the spirit of Piety, that I may find the service of God both sweet and amiable; the spirit of Fear, that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God, and may dread in any way to displease him. Seal me, in your mercy, with the seal of a disciple of Jesus Christ, unto everlasting life; and grant that, carrying the cross upon my forehead, I may carry it also in my heart, and confessing you boldly before men, may merit to be one day reckoned in the number of your elect. Amen.

-Golden Manual

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. How often do you pray to receive the Holy Spirit? If you are not praying for this, why not?

  2. Why should we ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit?

  3. Describe an experience you have had in which the Holy Spirit has helped you.

  4. Describe an experience in which the Holy Spirit has helped another person or has acted in way so as to influence many people.

  5. What gifts has God given us? Which would you consider to be most important? Why? Would you consider any of these gifts to be of minimal importance? Why or why not?

  6. What sort of gifts can you ask God to give you for Christmas? List at least three.

  7. Have you had any experiences in which God gave you something other than what you were asking for? How did it turn out?

  8. How is Father Sisco’s message different from the “prosperity gospel” so prevalent today?

  9. Why do you think we do not become saints overnight?

  10. If we believe that God will always grant our request for the Holy Spirit, how should we respond once we have asked God for His gift?

  11. What can we do to prepare to receive the Holy Spirit when God chooses to send Him to us? What should our attitude be if God seems to answer slowly?

  12. How can we more conform our desires and requests to what God wills for us?

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 502: Jesus, Mary, and John the Baptist: Reflection on Lk 1:39-45

 

During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” -Luke 1:40-45

 

After the Annunciation, when Mary first discovered that she was chosen to bring the Messiah into the world, what’s the first thing she does? She brings him to others. Mary learns that her old kinswoman Elizabeth is pregnant (with John the Baptist), and so Mary makes a long, dangerous, journey to help Elizabeth during the pregnancy. As soon as she enters the house and Elizabeth hears Mary’s voice, John the Baptist, STILL in his mother’s womb, leaps for joy and Elizabeth is then filled with the Holy Spirit and praises God. It’s quite a dramatic but telling little scene. Mary had Christ, physically dwelling inside of her. Mary is motivated by charity, on hearing the news of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Mary is willing to sacrifice for charity’s sake, making this long, uncomfortable, and dangerous journey. Because the trip is dangerous, it also speaks to Mary’s faith, that she trusts God so completely that she knows no harm will come to her. Mary’s faith is also reinforced by her response to the Archangel Gabriel at the Annunciation when she accepted being the mother of the Messiah, knowing that to be caught pregnant without a husband in her culture carried a death sentence. ALL of these ingredients are what make the scene we see unfold before us.

 

Notice something interesting here: Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit because of the intercession of three other people; Jesus, the Blessed Mother, and John the Baptist. We all know people whom we want to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We all know people whom we want to come to the faith and go to heaven when they die. I would propose, for their sake, that we follow this same model. First, it means that we need the Eucharist. If we want to bring Jesus to others, we need him dwelling within us. Attending Mass and receiving the Eucharist accomplish this. Second is charity. We have to become people who are mindful of charity. That means we have to look for opportunities to practice charity, and we have to go out of way to practice charity. We can’t confine this to charity with our wallets. We also have to be charitable with our time, our words, and our thoughts.

 

To become charitably minded is quite a challenge. Why do we have to do this? Because the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love, dwells within the charitable heart. So, we can’t expect the Holy Spirit to fill someone whom we love if we are not also allowing him to fill us. Third, we have to sacrifice. In this way we model ourselves after the Blessed Mother AND John the Baptist, who both lived a life of sacrifice. I don’t think many of us really comprehend the power of fasting and sacrifice. If you have people in your life whom you want to come back to a life of faith, start fasting and offering sacrifices for their souls. The Blessed Mother has said in every apparition approved by the Church that prayer and sacrificing can change hearts and avert wars and natural disasters. There’s incredible power there! That’s why finally, fourth and last, I recommend that you pray for the intercession of the Blessed Mother who lived all of this so well.

 

So, there we have it. If we want others to also be filled with the Holy Spirit, we can’t do it alone and we just can’t wish for it to happen. We need the help of Jesus in the Eucharist, charity to make room for the Holy Spirit in OUR hearts, the intercession of the Blessed Mother, and the fasting and sacrificing of John the Baptist. Spend your energy thus, and I’ll bet you start to see some results. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

Here again there is a motive of piety, there is even a doctrinal teaching: it must indeed be remarked that the superior comes to the inferior to help the inferior: Mary to Elizabeth, Christ to John; as well, later, to consecrate the baptism of John, the Lord came to this baptism (Matt., III, 13).

And immediately the blessings of the arrival of Mary and the presence of the Lord manifest themselves: for "when Elizabeth heard the salvation of Mary, the child shuddered in her womb, and she was filled with the Holy Spirit. ". Notice the choice and precision of each word. Elizabeth first heard the voice, but John was the first to feel grace: the latter, according to the order of nature, heard, the latter shuddered under the effect of mystery; she perceived the arrival of Mary, that of the Lord: the woman that of the woman, the child that of the child. -St. Ambrose

Prayer

O GLORIOUS St John the Baptist, of those born of women the greatest of prophets (Luke vii, 28); thou, though sanctified from thy mother’s womb and most innocent, didst nevertheless will to retire into the desert, there to practice austerities and penance; obtain for us from our LORD the grace to be detached, at least in the affections of our hearts, from all earthly treasure, and to practice Christian mortification with interior recollection and a spirit of holy prayer. PATER, Ave, and Gloria. -Raccolta

 

Questions for Reflection

 

1. Why do we need Jesus, Mary, and John the Baptist?

2. Why isn’t it enough to bring God to others ourselves?

3. Reflect on a time that you tried to bring Christ to someone or a time when someone brought Christ to you. How was sacrifice involved in the process? Could the same effect have come about without sacrifice?

4. How does Mary lead us to Jesus?

5. How does John the Baptist lead us to Jesus?

7. Which of the three people mentioned by Father Sisco do you feel closest to? Why?

6. What does Elizabeth teach us about encountering Christ in others?

8. How can you become more mindful of charity?

9. How do attending Mass and receiving the Eucharist help us to bring Christ to others?

10. What other saints give good examples of bring Christ to others?

11. How does charity make room for the Holy Spirit in our hearts?

12. How does Mary’s response of charity reflect her faith? How do our works of charity show our faith?

--Erin Wells

 
 
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 503: When Peter was Wrong: Reflection on Gal 2:11-14

 

And when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong. For, until some people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to draw back and separated himself, because he was afraid of the circumcised. And the rest of the Jews [also] acted hypocritically along with him, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.

 

But when I saw that they were not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of all, “If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” -Galatians 2:11-14

 

What is Paul talking about in his letter to the Galatians? Who is Cephas? Cephas is the Greek word for Peter. So, Paul had a clash with Peter in Antioch. What did they clash over? There was a group of early heretics called the Judaizers. They were Jewish converts to Christianity who were now insisting that Gentile converts to the faith had to observe the Law of Moses and become Jewish before they could become Christian, which included getting circumcised. The apostles met in Jerusalem to discuss the issue, and what they decide is, no. Gentile converts don’t have to go through this burden.

 

When Peter comes to Antioch though, at dinner time, he and James only sit with Jewish converts to Christianity, not the Gentile converts. Why? The Mosaic Law. You don’t break bread with sinners; and in the Jewish mind, that automatically included tax collectors, and Gentiles. So, Peter is back paddling. And Paul lambastes him for it! “If you, a Jew are living like a Gentile, by what logic do you force Gentiles to live like Jews?”

 

And when Paul is done, Peter relents. Peter backs down. But Peter’s the Pope! That’s right. He is. Popes have not always been right, starting with Peter! There have been absolute disastrous decisions made by Popes throughout history. But isn’t the Pope supposed to be infallible? Yes, under certain conditions. When the Pope speaks in union with the Bishops of the Magisterium on an issue of faith or morals, THEN his word is infallible. That’s it. In not sitting with the Gentiles to eat, Peter was expressing his opinion about the Gentiles. But that wasn’t infallible. When Peter decided with the other apostles that the Gentiles were NOT obliged to follow the Mosaic Law that WAS infallible. So, Paul was perfectly justified in reprimanding Pope Peter I, for not heeding an infallible decision of the Church.

 

Pope Francis feels that no one has any business owning a gun unless you’re in the military or a police officer. OK, that’s his opinion. And, being the head of the Catholic Church, he’s certainly entitled to express his opinion on a social, moral, issue. However, that is NOT Church teaching. Church teaching states that everyone has the right to defend their own lives and the lives of other innocent people, and, while it is preferred that deadly force NOT be used, the Church recognizes that, regrettably, sometimes deadly force is necessary. So, when Pope Francis expresses his opinion on this subject, he is NOT speaking infallibly, because he does NOT speak this opinion in union with the bishops of the Magisterium, so it’s alright to disagree with the Pope on this, which I do. Bad guys have guns. You’re never going to change that. So, if law abiding citizens also want to arm themselves for their protection and the protection of their families, under Church teaching, they have that right.

 

Recently, Pope Francis also asked that people say the rosary and the Saint Michael prayer every day, for the protection of the Church. That’s a request. And being the leader of prayer in the Catholic Church, the Pope is entitled to ask the faithful to pray a certain devotion, for a particular intention, but again, because he did this on his own, and NOT with the Bishops, it’s not infallible. So, it is NOT a sin if you choose to NOT pray the rosary or the Saint Michael prayer daily for the protection of the Church. This is simply a request, but a request I personally agree with. Nothing bad ever came from prayer.

 

So, it’s important to remember that not everything the Pope says is infallible, and when the Pope is NOT speaking infallibly, it’s OK to disagree, and it’s even OK to tell the Pope he’s wrong, when he says or does something in contradiction to Church teaching, as Paul did to Peter today. Just keep those truths stored in the back of your head as current events begin to unfold. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

“Most holy and blessed father in Christ sweet Jesus: your poor unworthy little daughter Catherine comforts you in His precious Blood, with desire to see you free from any servile fear. For I consider that a timorous man cuts short the vigour of holy resolves and good desire, and so I have prayed, and shall pray, sweet and good Jesus that He free you from all servile fear, and that holy fear alone remain...Up, father, like a man! For I tell you that you have no need to fear. You ought to come; come, then. Come gently, without any fear. And if any at home wish to hinder you, say to them bravely, as Christ said when St. Peter, through tenderness, wished to draw Him back from going to His passion; Christ turned to him, saying, "Get thee behind Me, Satan; thou art an offense to Me, seeking the things which are of men, and not those which are of God. Wilt thou not that I fulfill the will of My Father?" Do you likewise, sweetest father, following Him as His vicar...” -From a letter of St. Catherine of Siena to Pope Gregory XI, urging to continue in his resolve to return to Rome from Avignon

http://www.domcentral.org/trad/cathletters.htm#2Gregory4

 

Prayer

 

MOST holy and immaculate Virgin Mary, our most tender Mother, and powerful Help of Christians ...enlighten and strengthen bishops and priests and keep them ever united in obedience to the Pope, their infallible master. Preserve incautious youth from irreligion and vice. Promote holy vocations and increase the number of thy sacred ministers, that by means of them the Kingdom of JESUS CHRIST may be preserved among us and extended to the farthest boundaries of the earth. -Raccolta, Prayer to Mary our Helper

 

Questions for Reflection

 

1. Why is the teaching of papal infallibility important for Catholics?

2.When is it OK to disagree with the pope?

3. How should you handle disagreements you may have with public, but not infallible, statements of the pope or any prelate?

4. How does papal infallibility reveal Divine Providence for the Church?

5. How do mistakes of our popes, past and present, reveal Divine Providence for the Church?

6. How would you respond to those who question the authority of the Church because of bad decisions made by various popes?

7. What can you learn from St. Catherine of Siena’s writing style when addressing Pope Gregory XI?

8. Why is it important for priests and bishops to be united in obedience to the pope?

9. As a lay person, how should you be obedient to the pope? (ask your pastor if you are unsure)

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 504: First Installment: Reflection on Eph 1:11-14

 

“In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ.

 

In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory.” Eph 1:11-14

 

The Holy Spirit, Paul tells the Ephesians, is the first installment of our inheritance. The first installment: that means there’s more to come and that, of course, is heaven. Think for a moment of all that God has given us ALREADY. Aside from life and this world, this creation, he gave us HIMSELF. He became ONE of us to give us his example, his teaching, his forgiveness, and he gave us himself sacramentally; because he wanted to touch us, and be intimately connected to us, and help us to be like him. And if that wasn’t enough, he finally will give us his home; heaven. The FINAL installment of our inheritance is that we get to live in God’s presence, in peace and joy with him forever, and be in intimate union with everybody else in heaven FOREVER.

 

So why give it to us in installments? So that, once we receive the first installment, we’ll want the rest. And THAT’S why God starts with the Holy Spirit. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to help us desire the rest, so that we’ll turn our backs on sinful things and worldly desires, because with His help nothing will mean more to us than getting that last installment of our inheritance. But in order for that to work, we have to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. Now, clearly that means praying, going to confession, going to Mass, all of the usual stuff. But that also means looking for opportunities to practice virtue, to be charitable.

 

And here’s the hitch--you have to practice virtue and charity with the intention of NOT having it recognized! Because if we do it for praise or recognition, we’re being like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day who did EVERYTHING for praise and recognition. Jesus says, “There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.” What does that mean? At our judgment, just as all of our sins will be revealed for all of heaven to see, so also all our virtuous deeds will be known for all of heaven to see. THAT’S when we receive our praise. THAT’S when we get our acknowledgment. If we get our recognition HERE we don’t get it THERE.

 

So, do we ask the Holy Spirit to help us desire the right things? I think I just told you recently, but we always try to schedule one Mass every week, usually Saturday, for the intentions of all of our parishioners. When I’m praying that intention during consecration, I’m saying, “Lord, I offer up all the prayers of the parish of Saint John Paul II. Be pleased to hear and answer ALL prayers that conform to your Holy will, but Lord, may our first and foremost desire ALWAYS be your Glory and your Kingdom.” That should ALWAYS be our first desire; God’s glory and his kingdom. And if it’s not, we should be asking the Holy Spirit every day to MAKE that our first and foremost desire; because the Holy Spirit IS the first installment of our inheritance, given to us to help us desire the LAST installment.

 

Blessed be God forever. - Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

Quote from a Saint

 

An act of virtue may be taken in two ways: first materially, thus an act of justice is to do what is just; and such an act of virtue can be without the virtue, since many, without having the habit of justice, do what is just, led by the natural light of reason, or through fear, or in the hope of gain. Secondly, we speak of a thing being an act of justice formally, and thus an act of justice is to do what is just, in the same way as a just man, i.e. with readiness and delight, and such an act of virtue cannot be without the virtue.

 

Accordingly, almsgiving can be materially without charity, but to give alms formally, i.e. for God's sake, with delight and readiness, and altogether as one ought, is not possible without charity. -St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa, from newadvent.org

 

Prayer of Adoration to the Holy Spirit

 

I ADORE Thee also, O HOLY GHOST, the PARACLETE, my GOD and my LORD, and in union with all the heavenly host I render Thee infinite thanks for every grace and favour Thou hast granted to the most blessed Virgin, thy most loving Spouse, and, above all, for that most perfect and divine charity with which Thou didst inflame her most holy and most pure heart in the act of her most glorious Assumption into heaven. In the name of thy most chaste Spouse, I humbly beg of Thee to grant me the grace of remission of all my most grievous sins which I have committed from the first moment when I was able to sin until this day, for all of which I grieve exceedingly, firmly purposing rather to die than ever again offend thy Divine Majesty; and relying on the high merits and most powerful protection of this thy most loving Spouse, I beg of Thee to grant me the most precious gift of thy grace and Divine love, by vouchsafing me those lights and special helps whereby thy eternal providence has determined to will my salvation, and to bring me to Thyself. -Raccolta


 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. Why is it important to practice charity without the intention of being noticed?

  2. How should you respond if you are noticed for your charity despite your intention not to be?

  3. Why does God give His gifts in installments?

  4. What is the difference between a merely “material” act of almsgiving and a “formal” act of almsgiving, according to St. Thomas? Why is only the latter true charity?

  5. What motive, according to St. Thomas, is necessary for “good deeds” to be true acts of charity?

  6. What else does Jesus say about receiving praise on judgment day? How can this help you when doing acts of charity?

  7. What motives does Fr. Sisco suggest for acts of charity?

  8. How does the Holy Spirit help us to prepare to receive the “final installment”, heaven?

  9. According to the prayer of Adoration above, what should we ask the Holy Spirit for?

  10. Why should we adore the Holy Spirit for the gifts He has given to Mary? How will this help us toward salvation?

-Erin Wellsà

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 505: Turn to Me and Be Safe: Reflection on Is 45:22-25

 

Turn to me and be safe,

all you ends of the earth,

for I am God; there is no other!

By myself I swear,

uttering my just decree,

a word that will not return:

To me every knee shall bend;

by me every tongue shall swear,

Saying, “Only in the LORD

are just deeds and power.

Before him in shame shall come

all who vent their anger against him.

In the LORD all the descendants of Israel

shall have vindication and glory.” Isaiah 45:22-25 NAB

 

Turn to me and be safe. How often do we pray for protection? How often do we pray for the protection of those we love? This should be a regular in our prayer intentions. Don’t ASSUME because you’re a devoted, practicing, Catholic, that your protection is automatic. Protection is something we should be regularly asking the Lord for; protection for ourselves, protection for our loved ones, protection for our nation, protection for our church.

 

How often do you pray for the protection of the Catholic Church? How often do you pray for the protection of the Pope, the Bishops, your priests, your PASTOR? WE need protection more than anyone, because the devil knows if he takes down a priest, he takes down an entire parish. Saint John Vianney, the patron Saint of parish priests, said, “A priest goes to heaven or a priest goes to hell with a thousand people behind him.” THAT’S a scary thought! It’s a statement that reminds me of the awesome responsibility we have. We need prayers for our protection.

 

But Father, how can Isaiah say, “turn to me and be SAFE all you ends of the earth,” when we KNOW people who HAVE turned to the Lord and WEREN’T safe, like the martyrs? Good question. It is true, people who have lived their lives trusting the Lord have lost their lives, but does that mean they’re not safe? You see again, we have to abandon this mentality that this life is the end all and be all. If we turn to the Lord, we WILL be kept safe…for ETERNITY! We WILL be kept safe for HEAVEN! THAT’S what’s truly important. And this is what is meant in that end of the passage, “In the Lord shall be the vindication and the Glory of all the descendants of Israel.” Don’t worry about being treated justly. The LORD will avenge those who wrong us! Those who cheat us, abuse us, persecute us, hold us in disdain, make GOD their enemy! God will avenge us. God will do justice for us. And God will reward us for staying true to him even when the pressure was on.

 

So my brothers and sisters, you see we really are SAFE when we turn to the Lord. Let’s pray today that everyone turns to him in good times and in bad. Blessed be God forever.

- Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

Again I give Thee thanks, and yet again, O merciful almighty Christ, that Thou hast hitherto been pleased to deliver me, worthless and insignificant as I am, for Thine own sake and Thy Holy Name’s sake, from many straits, many tribulations, calamities, and sicknesses; to save me from many pits, snares, scandals, and sins; from many treacheries of foes visible and invisible; from many evils and most serious perils; marvelously and mercifully guiding my life’s course between adversity on the one hand, and prosperity on the other, so that neither should the one deject me nor the other too much elate. For Thou hast put a bridle on my jaws, and hast not left me altogether at the disposal of my own will, having care for me in Thy fatherly compassion, and not suffering me to be tempted beyond my power of endurance (1 Cor. 10. 13). Where there was opportunity for sinning, often there was not the will; or where there was the will, opportunity was wanting.

 

Therefore be praise and benediction and thanks giving rendered unto Thee, O Lord my God, for all Thy gifts and largesses, and for all the benefits which Thou dost lavish on me both in soul and body, and hast lavished incessantly even from my cradle, such has been Thy mercy and Thy goodness, no merits of mine requiring; nay, rather, my sins notwithstanding. But I pray Thee, Lord, I pray Thee, let me not be unthankful for such great benefits, nor unworthy of so many mercies. -Meditations of St. Anselm

 

Prayer

 

Saint Michael the archangel, defend us in battle,

be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.

May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,

and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host,

cast into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world

seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. Do you ask the Lord for protection for yourself?

  2. Do you ask the Lord for protection for others?

  3. Why do our pastors and church leaders need protection?

  4. For whom else should you be asking protection?

  5. Why do we also ask St. Michael for protection?

  6. You were also given a guardian angel for your protection. How often do you ask your guardian angel for help?

  7. Consider what St. Anselm praises God for providing in his life. How has God done the same for you?

  8. What has God protected you from?

  9. Why does God not always “protect” us from material suffering?

  10. Since God will vindicate us, how should we respond when we are being persecuted?

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 506: Saving the World :Reflection on Psalm 77:12-15

 

 

I will recall the deeds of the LORD;

yes, recall your wonders of old.

I will ponder all your works;

on your exploits I will meditate.

Your way, God, is holy;

what god is as great as our God?

You are the God who does wonders;

among the peoples you have revealed your might.

With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,

the children of Jacob and Joseph. Psalm 77:12-15

 

Charles Spurgeon who was an English Baptist Preacher once said, “The greatest enemy to human souls, is the self-righteous spirit which makes men look to themselves for salvation.” Isn’t that where we are at right now? Christianity has sold itself to this mentality that WE can save the world. WE can make paradise HERE. NO! Only GOD can save the world. We’re here to build the kingdom of God on earth, so GOD can save the world. The “WE can save the world” mentality is behind this one world government agenda, which I believe is demonic in nature.

 

Why do I believe that? Is it Christian to have one governing body for the whole world? That depends on what kind of government they want to govern, and folks, they are NOT basing this model on our constitution. This is a handful of very rich, very powerful people, that are consolidating their power and trying to insure their power can never be taken away. And they do this all under the pretext of saving the world, when really what I believe they’re trying to do is enslave the world.

 

Scripture NEVER says one world government is in the plan of God. Whenever God addresses the world it’s always as God addressing the NATIONS-ZZ. Plural. He talks about nations being at war and nations coming together in peace, but he never addresses the world as one nation. I can see the book of Revelation playing out one chapter at a time.

 

I can even see this mentality in some of our church hymns such as “Let there be Peace on Earth.” Oh Father! What’s wrong with that song? “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with GOD?” No. ME! Let peace begin with ME. The problem with that is peace can’t begin with ME, because I don’t know about you, but I’M a sinner! Peace has to begin with God, and I have to cooperate with God’s grace to become a peaceful person. But that’s NOT what the song says.

 

“Gather Us In.” I won’t let Bob play the last verse of THAT song because in my opinion it borders on heresy. “Not in the dark of buildings confining…” OK. So God isn’t in the Church. “Not in some heaven light years away…” OK, So God isn’t there either. And what the verse IMPLIES is that God is somehow generated by the congregation. God comes from US. NO! WE come from GOD!

 

“Go make a difference, WE can make a difference. Go make a difference in the world.” There it is again…WE. Church hymns are supposed to glorify God, not glorify WE. These are all examples of our arrogance. We look to ourselves for salvation when we should be looking to God. And the sooner we can switch that around, the happier we all will be. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

When Abba Macarius was returning from the marsh to his cell one day carrying some palm leaves, he met the devil on the road with a scythe. The latter struck at him as much as he pleased, but in vain, and he said to him, ‘What is your power, Macarius, that makes me powerless against you? All that you do, I do, too; you fast, so do I; you keep vigil, and I do not sleep at all; in one thing only do you beat me.’ Abba Macarius asked what that was. He said, ‘Your humility. Because of that I can do nothing against you.’ -Sayings of the Desert Fathers, St Macarius

 

Prayer

 

O my LORD JESUS CHRIST, King of eternal glory, restorer of all things in heaven and on earth, supreme and omnipotent, who with infinite wisdom reunitest at thy feet things scattered and dispersed; enlighten the Kings of the earth, the rulers of nations; instill thy spirit into all civil institutions, into every form of government, into laws and armies; grant that all the powers of earth may recognize in Thee the majesty of the eternal GOD, the source from which all authority is derived; illuminate the nations that they may understand that Thou art the origin of rights and duties, that it is through Thee that the Kings of the earth rule, and that it is to Thee that Kings and people alike owe obedience. - Raccolta

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. Why can only God save the world?

  2. What is the problem with human attempts to save the world?

  3. Does this mean that it is wrong to pursue programs aimed at “social justice”? Why or why not?

  4. What are some good examples of hymns that glorify God rather than us?

  5. Besides the hymns which Father Sisco quoted, where else do you see the “we can save the world” mentality in Christian culture?

  6. Where do you see the “we can save the world” mentality in secular culture today?

  7. How can you combat this mentality?

  8. How did humility save Macarius from the devil?

  9. How does humility combat the “we can save the world” mentality?

  10. How would obedience to God bring peace to nations?

  11. How would reflecting on the deeds and wonders of God help us grow in humility?

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 500: Longing for God: Reflection on Psalm 84:2-6

 

How lovely your dwelling,

O LORD of hosts!

My soul yearns and pines

for the courts of the LORD.

My heart and flesh cry out

for the living God.

As the sparrow finds a home

and the swallow a nest to settle her young,

My home is by your altars,

LORD of hosts, my king and my God!

Blessed are those who dwell in your house!

They never cease to praise you. Psalm 84:2-6 NAB

 

Do we long to see the Lord? I’m not just saying do we have a fleeting desire. Do we have a longing to see God, speak to God, and be in his presence? Sometimes, usually at the coalition of the funeral of a relative or friend, especially for someone who was really faithful during his life, I express how I envy the deceased, how I’d gladly trade places with him. And people look at me with horror in their faces! They think I’m nuts! And I have to explain to them that I’m not morbid. I just want to be in the presence of God. Sometimes I’ve spoken like this and people have mistaken me for being suicidal! NO! I’m NOT going to do myself in! I just can’t wait to experience heaven! And people say to me, “Well, yeah, Father, I want to go to heaven, just not right now.” WHY NOT?! What’s wrong with right now? What could you POSSIBLY have to look forward to that’s better than HEAVEN?

 

They don’t get it! Just as they’re confused by ME, I’M confused by THEM! I don’t understand why anyone would cling to this life a second longer than he absolutely had to! I look forward to seeing my dad and all my relatives again. I want to give my guardian angel a big hug for all the grief I’ve put him through and thank him for all the times he saved my neck without me even realizing it!           But mostly I just want to be in the presence of God. I want to be relieved of the constant temptation to sin! You know the person I empathize most with in scripture? Lazarus! The brother of Mary and Martha, Lazarus, gets sick, he suffers, he dies, and he’s buried. He’s resting in the bosom of Abraham, and then Jesus resurrects him! I’ve often wondered what his reaction was when they got the burial wrappings off his face; “Oh no! Not THIS place again!!” Poor Lazarus! And THEN at some point in the future, Lazarus had to die AGAIN!

 

Saint Paul describes himself as a prisoner for Christ. In a sense, we’re ALL prisoners! We ALL have what Saint Augustine will describe as concupiscence, this downward pulling of the soul as a result of Original Sin, that makes us all so vulnerable to sin. I can’t WAIT to be relieved of that! I can’t WAIT to experience what it’s like to be a state of perfect peace with God, others, and myself. We are all prisoners of so many things. Our fears. Our desires. Our dreams. Is it REALLY so odd to want to be in a place where NONE of those things affect us anymore?

 

One of the hardest things to experience or see in those we love is suffering. I would say that is one of our most basic and profound fears. Again, this is baffling for people with no faith, but WE know suffering serves three purposes. First it purifies the soul of sin when the person offers up their sufferings to Christ. Second, it gives US opportunities of charity, when we comfort those in suffering. Third, it detaches us from our first and last earthly possession; our own bodies.         Think about it; our flesh is the first thing we’re given in this life, and it’s the last thing we cling to. Suffering helps us let that go and makes us LONG for God. That is the gift of suffering.

 

My brothers and sisters, pray with me today that all the world, LONGS to see the face of God. Because with that longing comes the desire for holiness of life. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint:

O Lord, if Your holy will has not yet been entirely fulfilled in me, here I am, ready for everything that You want, O Lord! O my Jesus, there is only one thing which surprises me, namely, that You make so many secrets known to me, but that one secret- the hour of my death- You do not want to tell me. And the Lord answered me, Be at Peace: I will let you know, but not just now, Ah, my Lord, I beg Your pardon for wanting to know this. You know very well why, because You know my yearning heart, which is eagerly going out to You. You know that I would not want to die even a minute before the time which You have appointed for me before the ages. -St. Faustina’s Diary

 

Prayer:

O JESUS, while adoring thy last breath, I pray Thee to receive mine. In the uncertainty whether I shall have the command of my senses, when I shall depart out of this world, I offer Thee from this moment my agony and all the pains of my passing away. Thou art my FATHER and my SAVIOUR, and I give back my soul into thy hands. I desire that my last moment may be united to the moment of thy death, and that the last beat of my heart may be an act of pure love of Thee. Amen. -Raccolta

 

Questions for Reflection

  1. Should a Christian fear death?

  2. What counsel would you give someone who greatly fears his death or the death of a loved one?

  3. How does Christ’s death change our view of death?

  4. How does Christ’s resurrection change our view of death?

  5. Why should we long for heaven?

  6. What is keeping you prisoner right now?

  7. Reflect on a recent experience of suffering. How do you see the three purposes of suffering which Father Sisco mentions reflected in you experience?

  8. What is the goal or meaning of our life on Earth?

  9. Do you have any reasons to want to linger on Earth? Are these good reasons?

  10. What should our reasons be for wanting to continue to live on Earth?

  11. Obtain a copy of Offer It Up Prayer Card, for offering up your suffering. Card is available from the CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN 46803 USA. One copy free by sending in a self-addressed, stamped envelope and requesting a free copy of the Offer It Up Prayer. Quantities 25c each.

-Erin Wells

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Oratory of Divine Love Weekly Bible Study, c/o Confraternity of Penitents, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN 46803 USA  OratoryDivineLove@gmail.com   260-739-6882