Oratory of DivineLove Weekly Bible Study Reflections Weeks 231-240
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 231: “I Pray for All Who Will Believe” : A Reflection on John 17:20
“I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word..." John 17:20
At the last supper, Jesus says, "I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word." In other words....us! Jesus prayed for us at the Last Supper, on the eve of his crucifixion. We are, after all, those who believe on the word of the apostles. Jesus will reiterate this after the resurrection when speaking to Thomas, "Do you believe because you have seen me Thomas? Blessed are they who have not seen and yet believe."
Now WHY does Jesus pray for us at the Last Supper? WHY are we more blessed than Saint Thomas who saw Jesus in his resurrected body? Because it requires more faith for us to believe. When you can plainly see what’s before your eyes, that doesn’t require faith, which is precisely why Jesus doesn’t manifest his glory to his apostles at the beginning of his ministry with them. Jesus reveals himself to his apostles a little piece at a time. He wants them to step out in faith. He wants them to connect the dots for themselves, and eventually they do.
Why then, does Jesus subsequently have to reveal himself to them after the resurrection? Shouldn’t the empty tomb be enough evidence for them that he’s risen from the dead? On one level it should be, and it is for Saint John. When Peter and John run to the tomb, it says when John entered the tomb, he saw and believed. Believed what? Jesus had risen. But it’s not enough for the others. Jesus has to reveal himself to the apostles at the end of his ministry to affirm the faith he’s been preparing them for because they had not yet received the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is the last piece of the puzzle. Because faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit, faith cannot mature, it cannot be perfected, without the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit could not arrive until Jesus leaves.
So that’s why we have to be a little bit patient with the apostles as they fumble through their three year ministry with Jesus. They keep doing and saying all kinds of foolish things because they hadn’t been touched by the Holy Spirit yet. So I guess my only question is, “What’s our excuse?” What excuse do we have about being hard hearted, thick headed, narrow minded? We HAVE received the Spirit of God in the sacraments of baptism and confirmation. We have that spirit renewed every time we go to confession and Mass.
People don't believe, and our culture is suffering from a crisis of faith. Why can’t people see God anymore? Complicated question, but the short answer is that some people don’t want to see God. Some people can’t see God because they’ve become lulled to sleep by the distractions of the culture--social media, the internet, video games, and political agendas. Some people have become too narcissistic; everything revolves around me, me, me, me. And finally, some people can’t see God because we’re not letting him shine through us.
Now I can’t do anything about one, two, or three, but that last one we can do something about.
Brothers and sisters, we have to make an effort to let the Holy Spirit shine through us. Ask. That’s all. Just ask. “Holy Spirit, shine through me so others can see your light. Holy Spirit, I offer you myself to be a tool in your hand to fix the problems in this world.” Jesus prayed for us at the Last Supper. He called us blessed in the presence of his apostles all who didn’t see him and yet believed. So believe, and ask the Holy Spirit to help others believe by your example.
And blessed be God forever.
Father Michael Anthony Sisco
Quote from a Saint: "If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!" - St.
Catherine of Siena
Prayer from a Saint: "Dear Jesus, help me to spread Thy fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Thy spirit and love. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Thine. Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus. Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be a light to others. Amen." - Saint Teresa of Calcutta
Questions for Reflection:
1. According to Father, why did Jesus pray for us at the Last Supper?
2. Father teaches us that Pentecost is the "last piece of the puzzle". What does he mean by this?
3. Our culture is suffering a crisis of faith. Father states that there are four reasons for this. Name these reasons. Can you think of any others?
4. Jesus taught us to let our light shine before God, that others might see our good works and glorify God (Matthew 5:16). What have you done today to let your light shine? What might you do in the coming weeks to shine your light and point others to God through your example?
5. Do you ask God to help you be a light to others? If you don’t, why not start?
6. Do you pray for those who don’t believe in God? What else can do you to spread the faith? Do you think God will answer this prayer?
7. Has God ever used you as an instrument of conversion for someone? Share that experience? Do you ask God to help you be his instrument?
8. Do you pray a grace before and after meals? If not, should you begin? Why?
9. If you knew that this supper would be your last, what would you say to those eating with you?
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 232: The Vocation of Marriage: A Reflection on Tobit 3
At that very moment, the prayers of both of them were heard in the glorious presence of God. So Raphael was sent to heal both of them: Tobit, by removing the white films from his eyes, so that he might see God’s light with his eyes; and Sarah daughter of Raguel, by giving her in marriage to Tobias son of Tobit, and by setting her free from the wicked demon Asmodeus.(Tobit 3: 16, 17)
In our reading from the book of Tobit today, young Tobiah, Tobit’s son, has been led by the archangel Raphael, to the home of Raguel, whose only child Sarah is tormented by a demon. She’s been married seven times. Every time she and her husband go to the bedroom, before they can consummate their marriage, a demon appears and kills the groom. This has happened to Sarah seven times! Now Tobiah comes along, and Raguel tries to warn him, “Don’t attempt to marry my daughter or you’ll surely die.”
Now the archangel Raphael has told Tobiah what to do to protect himself and Sarah, although Tobiah doesn’t realize that Raphael is an angel. He thinks Raphael is a distant relative helping him out. He marries Sarah and off they go to bed. Now what do you think a newly married couple want to do as soon as they go to bed? They don’t do it! First, they pray. Tobiah tells Sarah to get up from bed, and being the man of the house, the new head of this family, he leads his new wife in prayer. They give God praise. They pray for God’s protection. They ask God to bless their marriage. And then Tobiah says something interesting. He says, “Now, Lord, you know I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose.” What noble purpose?
Tobiah and Sarah have something in common; they’re both only children. The noble purpose is to have children so Tobit’s bloodline, and Raguel’s bloodline don’t end. They’re not just doing this for themselves, but they’re also doing this out of love for their parents. And after they pray and go to bed, the demon appears but before he can do anything, Raphael chases him half way around the world, and when he catches him, ties him up and throws him back into the pits of hell.
Why was Tobiah successful where the other husbands of Sarah failed? Tobiah did what Jesus once told a scribe to do when he asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus told him that the greatest commandment was the first –“Thou shalt love thy God with thy whole heart and thy whole mind and thy whole soul.” But then he added, “And the second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Tobiah loved God first and foremost. He married Sarah because it was the right thing to do. He consecrates himself and Sarah to God on their wedding night. And Tobiah loved his neighbor as himself. He began this journey for love of his father. He sought to relieve Raguel of his great sorrow. He wanted to help free Sarah from her curse. That’s why he succeeds. Tobiah had a noble spirit. And Tobiah recognized that marriage was a noble thing.
That’s right, marriage is noble. We’ve lost that sense today. Generally speaking, people aren’t marrying anymore because marriage is noble, and they don’t see the nobility in one another. Today most people are marrying out of lust, IF they bother to marry at all. Marriages in the Church are down across the board. Now the only people who seem to want to marry are the homosexual couples. And I suspect their motives for wanting to marry are more political than sacred. And I see Catholics, church going Catholics, post things on facebook like, “I support gay marriage.” And I think to myself, ‘What is it they don’t get?’
Marriage is a vocation. A vocation serves God and the community. Marriage does this through children. A man and a woman have children to strengthen society and enlarge the family of God, and a homosexual couple cannot NATURALLY have children. Take that out of the equation and that union doesn’t serve the larger secular community OR church community. Therefore it’s NOT a vocation and not marriage. Call it whatever you want, but you can’t call it marriage. To call it marriage diminishes the nobility of the sacrament because it serves only itself.
This isn’t restricted to homosexual couples. There’s a question on the marriage form I have to ask couples, “Do both of you intend to have children in this marriage?” If one or both of them answer “no,” they can’t validly marry in the Church for the same reason. If one or both of them suffers from impotence, (yes it is possible for women, too), and are physically incapable of having children, they cannot validly marry in the Church for the same reason. It’s not an issue of equality. It’s an issue of vocation. Pray with me today that this nation and the world has an awakening to the nobility of marriage.
And blessed be God forever.
Father Michael Anthony Sisco
Quote from a Saint: The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish. (St. John Paul II)
Prayer: O Mary Immaculate, sweet Mother of the young, to your special care I entrust the decision I am to make as to my future wife/husband. You are my guiding Star! Direct me to the person with whom I can best cooperate in doing God's Holy Will, with whom I can live in peace, love and harmony in this life, and attain to eternal joys in the next. Amen.
Questions for Reflection:
Do you pray to God for good marriages? For your own marriage?
What is the Church’s position on marriage? Why is that?
Has the world lost sight of the fact that marriage is intended for procreation? Why do you reply as you do?
How can we advance respect for the true nature of marriage?
How should you treat homosexual couples? Should you attend “marriages” of homosexual couples? Of couples who have lived together before marriage? Of non-Christians? Non-Catholics? Mixed marriages? Non-sacramental marriages? Give your reasons for each answer. Then check with a priest or the catechism of the Catholic Church for the Church’s position on these.
Do you feel St. John Paul’s statement is true? Discuss his observation.
Do you agree with the idea that marriage is to serve the secular community? Explain
--Madeline Pecora Nugent
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 233: Be Vigilant!: A Reflection on Acts 20: 28-30
"Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.…(Acts 20: 28-30)
Before his crucifixion, Jesus, knowing he’s going to be crucified the next day, prays for the protection of his apostles, his newly ordained priests. He prays for them, knowing not only what was going to happen to him but also knowing what that would put the apostles through. He prayed, “‘I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me. But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them.” (John 16: 1-4)
In the reading from the Book of Acts, Paul is warning the priests of the Church in Ephesus, “I know after my departure savage wolves will come among you and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group men will come forward perverting the truth to draw disciples after them. So be vigilant…”
Be vigilant! Evil never sleeps. The devil doesn’t take vacations. Be vigilant! Whenever you come to a new level in your spirituality, whenever something spiritually cool happens in your life, the devil is immediately going to try to rob you of your peace or convince you what happened to you is just in your mind and not real. This also applies to teachings of the Church. “From your own group men will come forward perverting the truth to draw disciples after them.” There’s always someone who wants to change Church teachings for whatever reason. Someone always wants to politicize the Church, or bend Church teaching to a political agenda, and it’s easy for people to get swept up in this.
“Well, why can’t gay couples marry?” “Abortion should be up to the individual.” “People should have the right to choose themselves when they’re ready to die.”
It comes down to these questions; Do you believe that the Holy Spirit leads the Church? Do you believe what Jesus said to Peter, “What you hold bound on earth is held bound in heaven”? And when he says to all the apostles, “Whoever hears you hears me, whoever receives you, receives me, but whoever rejects you, rejects me”? And “who do you say that I am?”
If we answer that last question by saying that Jesus is God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, then everything he said is true, because God cannot lie.If everything Jesus said was true, divine authority to judge issues of faith and morals was granted to his apostles, who in turn handed it on to their successors when the Holy Spirit descended on them at Pentecost. That means the Holy Spirit leads the Church, and if the Holy Spirit leads the Church I don’t have to. I don’t have to say “it’s time for the Church to throw out some of these obsolete teachings!” Because if they’re obsolete the Holy Spirit will do that. So be vigilant. Don’t let yourself get swept away by rhetoric.
President Obamma said recently, “The Church should focus more on helping the poor and less on abortion and gay marriage.” Now you know me. I don’t talk politics on the pulpit. But now the president in HIS comments has crossed in my realm and that gives me the right to respond. First, with the absolute botch this man has made of the country, he’s the last person to give us advice on how we run our Church. Second, the Catholic Church already gives more money and resources to the poor than all other private organizations on earth combined. Third, we can take care of the poor AND take on abortion, AND gay marriage because, after 2000 years, we’ve gotten really good at spiritual multitasking.
Be vigilant. The devil is out there, and the danger is real.
And blessed be God forever.
Father Michael Anthony Sisco
Quote from a Saint: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Matthew 7:15
Prayer: Lord Jesus, send us your Spirit, fill us with his presence to guide us in your truth to believe in your Word and in your Church. Holy Spirit, our Comforter, help us to abide in God, to bear witness in truth and in Spirit. Father, deliver us from the lies of the enemy and of evil. In Jesus’s name, through the power of the Holy Spirit and in gratitude to the Father we pray. Amen
Questions for reflection:
Why did Jesus pray for the apostles?
What did Paul warn the priests of the church of Ephesus about?
What does it mean when I believe Jesus is God?
What does it imply when when Jesus says to all the apostles, “Whoever hears you hears me, whoever receives you, receives me, but whoever rejects you, rejects me”?
In the midst of controversial teachings in the world, do I believe the Church’s teachings?
Do I believe that the Holy Spirit is still leading the Church as promised by Jesus?
What am I supposed to do as people will try to pervert the truth?
Who is Jesus is to me?
Do I live the teachings of Jesus as preached by the Church?
What am I doing as a Christian to promote sound Christian teaching?
How can I recognize erroneous arguments?
Do I know the teachings of the Catholic Church? If not, how can I find out?
Have you ever read the Catechism of the Catholic Church? A Pope’s encyclical?
How can you remain vigilant? Why should you?
--Edem Auguste Ahadjitse
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 234: Prayer is the Key: A Reflection on the Book of Tobit
Prayer is the key. One day a poor, but honest Moslem jeweler was arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, and thrown into prison. One day, after being imprisoned many months, his wife came and pleaded with the guards to let her husband have his simple prayer mat, for he was a devoutly religious man. The guards agreed, and the jeweler unrolled his mat five times a day to pray.
Weeks later, the jeweler said to the guards, “I’m so bored sitting here day after day. If you will bring me metal, and some simple tools, I can fashion jewelry for you to sell in the market place and add to your wages. Anything is better than just sitting here.” The guards agreed, and day after day provided the jeweler with metals, and he provided them with jewelry.
Some months later, the guards went to the jeweler’s cell and found him gone. No sign of his escape was evident. Shortly after, however, the real criminal was found, and arrested. One day in the bazaar, long after that, one of the guards recognized the jeweler, and quickly told him about the capture. He then asked the jeweler how he had escaped.
The jeweler said that after he had been imprisoned, his wife went to a locksmith, the same locksmith that had provided the locks for the prison doors. She obtained the blueprints of the locks and wove it into the design of the prayer mat. As his face touched the mat everyday, the jeweler began to notice a design, within a design, within a design, until he realized what he was seeing. Then from the bits of left over metal, and his simple tools, he fashioned a key, unlocked the door, and escaped. So the moral of the fable is, prayer is quite literally the key.
The book of Tobit one of my favorite stories in the Bible. Tobit and Sarah have one thing in common--both of them turn to the Lord in their distress through prayer. It’s no coincidence that Tobit loses his eye sight. Tobit is portrayed as a devout and pious man. His crime is burying the dead, an act of mercy. God is going to reward Tobit for it.
Tobit loses his sight, of all things, because our challenge is to not see through the eyes of the world, but rather see reality through the eyes of God. Losing his sight will prompt Tobit to step out in faith, and send his young son Tobiah to his kin, and there, with the help of the archangel Raphael, Tobiah will rescue Sarah, take her as his wife, have wealth and honor heaped upon him, and obtain a cure for his father’s sight.
For a blind man Tobit sees much. (this is revealed in his prayer). He sees his sinfulness, and the sinfulness of the people. He sees God is just, righteous, and merciful. Even on the edge of despair, Tobit knows God’s will should and is going to be done. And though simple and uneducated, Tobit knows that God’s ways are not the ways of the world.
Jesus reprimands the Sadduccees because they were seeing through the eyes of the world. The Sadduccees were the teachers, the experts. TODAY we’d call them theologians. They who should know better are called ‘misled’ and ‘mistaken’ by Jesus – seeing God through the eyes of the world. Jesus will also call them ‘blind guides’ trying to impose human conditions on God, and it just doesn’t work.
Jesus has to point out (to them of ALL people) that God’s ways are not our ways. And this is a lesson we have to be reminded of today. So many people ask, “Why doesn’t the church go ahead and allow contraception? Everyone does it anyway.” “Why doesn’t the church get with it, and ordain women, and allow priests to marry?” “The Church is bigoted in not allowing gay marriage.”
These statements are made by people who see the Church through the eyes of the world rather than strive to see the world through the eyes of God. So while they may have their physical sight, they’re spiritually blind. My brothers and sisters, our mission is to help people in the physical world develop spiritual eyes. Our mission is to help them see that sin is a prison, and the only true freedom comes from living a life of virtue. How do we accomplish this?
The first step is strengthening our own spirit, releasing ourselves from our own prison, freeing ourselves from our own attachment to sin. For that we must discover what the Moslem jeweler discovered: prayer is the key. Pray to understand God’s plan. See the design within the design, and trust in him.
Blessed be God forever.
Father Michael Anthony Sisco
Quote from a Saint: “Prayer is the best weapon we possess. It is the Key that opens the heart of God.” -- Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina
Prayer: Jesus our Lord, we thank you for the gift of life .By the power of your Spirit, teach us how to pray as you taught your disciples. Give us the grace to be patient and humble as we wait on you in prayer. Thank you Lord for answered prayer. Amen
Questions for Reflection:
1-What is prayer to me? How often do I pray?
2-Do I pray just when in need or all times? Do I have a prayer schedule? How can I remember to pray?
3-Is prayer a way of life for me? Do I frequently intercede for the needs of others?
4- As the Saduccees did, do I lead, asking God to follow me, instead of letting God lead me? If I’m in the driver’s seat, how can I switch places with God?
5- Do I conform to the standards of this world or to the standards of God and to what God says? Do I have my feet partly in this world and partly in the next?
6- As a follower of Christ, what do I see as true freedom? Where does true freedom come from?
7- How do I live a life of virtue? How can I encourage others to do the same?
8- What are the things that are hindering my prayer life? List resolutions to help you have a better prayer life.
--Edem Auguste Ahadjitse
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 235: Sandcastle Logic: A Reflection on Sirach 42: 16-17
"As the rising sun is clear to all, so the glory of the Lord fills all his works; yet even God's holy ones must fail in recounting the wonders of the Lord." Sirach 42:16,17a
Isn't faith so obvious to us? We can't imagine how some people cannot believe in God. We look around at creation and say, "Of course, there is a God!" And yet, even though the glory of the Lord fills all his works that is not as clear as the rising sun to everyone.
One of my classmates from school, a guy I went through Boy Scouts with and is a friend on Facebook, has in recent years turned atheist. I put a poster on my page a few days ago that said, "Atheist Logic: the sandcastle appeared as a result of millions of years of beach erosion." And the picture is a painstakingly built, intricate sandcastle that could in no way be formed by mere chance. Well, this friend went all ballistic on me, claiming the meme is an unfair caricature and atheists do not believe this. He claimed that an atheist believes that a man who evolved to intelligence over the centuries built the sandcastle. Please note, this is a guy who has NO problem taking cheap shots at Christians on HIS Facebook page. But regardless, what I posted is NOT a cheap shot, or an unfair caricature of atheists, and my friend has misunderstood the point either deliberately or not. The point of the meme is, just as this intricate sandcastle could not have come together by accident, that someone had to have built this structure with a design in mind, so too the universe is too intricate to have come together by accident. It is evident by the complexity of creation that someone had to have designed it. Now what you call that force is a completely different story. We call it God. I haven't responded to him yet, but I will when I get the time.
Even as Catholics, it's ok for us to believe in the theory of evolution, as long as we also believe God was guiding this natural selection process and at some point this stopped being an animal and started being a human and at that point God infused a soul. But it is amazing to me how easy some people see God's glory through his works, and others seem incapable of seeing that no matter how many examples we provide. Another example is a post I saw that said, "If we determine life ends when someone's heart stops, why don't we determine life begins when a heartbeat starts?" And the picture is that of a fetus in a womb and you can see the tiny heart beating. Simple logic. One of the reasons Christianity spread so rapidly in the ancient world was that early Christian apologists demonstrated the logic of Christianity to the pagans around them, and the pagans embraced Christianity because in their hearts they were seeking truth.
People aren't interested in seeking truth anymore. I make my OWN truth. People these days are seeking desire. People these days are seeking their passions. So we can have all the logic in the world on our side, it doesn't matter to them. So how do we fix it? We can be logical all we want. But we also have to remember that actions often speak louder than words. I’m talking about charity, good deeds, mercy. The OTHER thing that won so many converts to Christianity was when pagans saw how much these Christians loved one another and took care of people whom no one else wanted to bother with.
We pray to form our minds and hearts to God, but then we have to let that be manifested in the way we treat others, and the way we reach out to help others. In this way people who scoff at our beliefs cannot deny our good intentions. That's a step in the right direction. Pray for my friend John. He was a more devout Catholic than me when we were teenagers. He was the only teenage lector in our parish, and always volunteered to help the Marist fathers. Pray that he recapture the fervor he had in his youth, and pray for all unbelievers that the light of the Holy Spirit may break through their darkness.
And blessed be God forever.
Father Michael Anthony Sisco
Quote from a Saint: "We can't have full knowledge all at once. We must start by believing; then afterwards we may be led on to master the evidence for ourselves." St. Thomas Aquinas
Prayer from a Saint: Pardon us, oh Lord, pardon us. We beg to shift the blame for our sins, we make excuses. But no one can hide himself from the light of your truth, which both enlightens those who turn to it, and exposes those who turn away. Even our blood and our bones are visible to you, who created us out of dust. Blessed William of Saint Thierry
Questions for Reflection:
1. In Sirach we read that even God's holy ones must fail in recounting the wonders of the Lord.
Recall a time in your life where you failed to relate God's wonders. Why do you think this happened and how might you prevent something similar from happening in the future?
2. The use of social media such as Facebook brings us face to face with friends and acquaintances whose beliefs may differ greatly from those of our Catholic faith. How do you react when you read anti-Catholic posts or those promoting atheism or abortion, for example? How might you use social media to promote Catholic values and the culture of life?
3. St. Francis taught all of his friars to teach by their deeds. How does this relate to what Father says about allowing our hearts and minds to be formed to God and allowing this to manifest in our lives?
4. What steps might you take in your life to help combat some of the errors and evil of our culture at this present time, such as atheism and abortion?
5. Spend some time in prayer and reflection. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in ways that you might be able to reach out to others in truth and love.
-- Kimberly Lohman
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 236: Love the Lord and Do Good: A Reflection on Psalm 37:34-40
Hope in the Lord
and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.
I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
flourishing like a luxuriant native tree,
but he soon passed away and was no more;
though I looked for him, he could not be found.
Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
a future awaits those who seek peace]
But all sinners will be destroyed;
there will be no future for the wicked.
The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him. (Psalm 37: 34-40)
"The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord, their refuge in a time of distress." Psalm 37:39
"The salvation of the just comes from the Lord..." Note that salvation comes from the LORD. Not the law, not politics, not science, not education, not money, not fame, not power. Salvation comes from nothing so many people are putting their faith in these days. Salvation comes only from the Lord. And who does he give that salvation to? The just. Who are the just?
Listen to the qualities the rest of the Psalm lists. "Trust in the Lord and do good." Trust is another way of saying have faith in the Lord. What are we supposed to trust or have faith in? The way of life he's told us to follow in Dcripture. To paraphrase, the way of life laid out for us in scripture is simple "Do good!" That is the moral summary of Scripture. Do good. Do good to your neighbor.
How? By practicing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. By heeding four through ten of the Ten Commandments. Do good to God. How? By giving God his rights, acknowledging him, worshiping him and respecting him. Basically by heeding the first three of the Ten Commandments. That is how we do good.
Take delight in the Lord. What does that mean? Rejoice in the Lord and give him praise because he's given you every good thing you have and is prepared to give you more than you've ever dreamed of. Remember when you were first married, how you delighted in your spouse? You couldn't wait to get home from work. You couldn't wait to be together, even if that was just to sit and talk. Remember when you had your first child, how you delighted in that baby? You always wanted to hold the baby, play with the baby, feed the baby. That is the kind of consuming love we are all called to have with God. A kind of love where we look forward to prayer time, we enjoy talking about spiritual things with our church friends. We're interested in God and we want to learn more about him.
The Lord watches over the lives of the wholehearted...The wholehearted? Who are the wholehearted? Jesus says something interesting in the beatitudes. Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God. That's also translated, “Blessed are the single hearted.” Now why are "pure of heart", and "single hearted" interchangeable? When we're not single hearted, our love is not pure because our hearts are divided between God and the world, be that by greed, by lust, or whatever sin we're in bondage to. And I believe the psalmist is talking about the same thing. The Lord watches over the lives of the wholehearted because the wholehearted are wholly devoted to the Lord. They are not torn between their desire for God and their desire for a particular sin.
Turn from evil and do good. A life of virtue is a constant call to self conversion. It's a daily challenge to see what sins I'm still attached to and then continual weeding them out. But the fruits of that are a constant source of blessings from God in this life and eternal life in the life to come. Because the salvation of the just comes from the LORD.
And blessed be God forever.
Father Michael Anthony Sisco
Quote from a Saint: Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor...Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting. - Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Prayer from a Saint: O tender Love, I want all of You. I could not live if I thought I were to do without even a spark of You. - St. Catherine of Genoa
Questions for Reflection:
1. Read and meditate upon Psalm 37. Discuss this verse by verse. According to this psalm, what are the qualities of those to whom Our Lord gives salvation? What is to happen to those the Lord calls evildoers?
2. Are you "wholehearted" in your love for God? Or are you distracted by the cares of the world or bondage to a particular sin? If you are not whole hearted, how can you become so?
3. God wants us to delight in Him. One example to describe this type of delight is the love one feels for one's spouse. Do you feel this way toward God? If not, spend some time in the coming week in prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to show you what you might do to bring back or experience that feeling of delight when you spend time with Him.
4. According to Father, one of the ways to do good to our neighbors is to participate in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. List these works. Which are you already doing? Which others might you be able to do? Choose one of these works of mercy to do in the coming week.
-- Kimberly Lohman
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 237: Being a Witness: A Reflection on Mark 6: 1-13
He left that place and came to his home town, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, ‘Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offence at him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour, except in their home town, and among their own kin, and in their own house.’ And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.’ So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. (Mark 6: 1-13)
“Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.”You know a consistent theme in my homilies is the need to witness to others by word and example, but occasionally we all need to be reminded that we can’t be wasting our time and energy on people who just refuse to listen to us. And there will be many of them, because we are presenting a message they don’t want to hear. What is our message after all? Sacrifice, service, discipline, self-control. And this is the exact opposite of what our culture wants right now--gratification with no responsibility, indulgence, opulence, excess.
You know I really hated this diet my doctor put me on. I call it the sadistic doctor diet. Chicken, fish, vegetables, and water. And I will admit I haven’t been 100% strict with it. I feel like I’m hungry all the time, but I’ve grown to like it, not because I’m losing weight, or it’s good for me, but because it has forced me to discipline my flesh. The diet has actually become a good spiritual exercise. I can’t grab a snack whenever I have the craving. And so for that I am grateful. But that seems to be the core of Christian living--look but don’t touch. Touch but don’t take. Take but don’t taste. Taste but don’t swallow; all based on a promise of something much better when we die. And so, just as in Jesus’ day, we can expect much resistance.
It is especially hard when friends, family, people we love turn away from the faith. “Father, how can you ask me to give up on them? How can you ask me to shake the dust from my feet?” I’m not saying give up on them as much as I’m saying this: first, don’t let “Peace Robbers” rob your peace. If their rejection of the faith is causing you so much emotional stress, then you HAVE to distance yourself from them, because you can’t control their free will. And your anxiety over them is having a negative impact on your relationship with God. Sometimes the only thing left to do is pray for someone and trust them to the Lord. That can sometimes take greater faith than trying to take control yourself.
Second, don’t let their lack of faith damage your faith. Some people are “Argue-ers”. They just like arguing. Some people need to argue because they need to justify their own lack of faith. They’re convincing themselves more than trying to convince you. But if that’s causing you to question your own faith, you need to distance yourself. You need to shake the dust off your feet because no relationship you have is more important than the relationship you have with God.
Third, if their lack of faith is exhausting you, or consuming all your time and energy in trying to convince them otherwise, you need to distance yourself. Some people are “Attention Vampires.” They crave attention, even if it’s negative attention. Such people usually always have some drama revolving around them. And their goal is to make you part of their drama. So this starts with a discussion about faith, but now this relationship has developed to the point that you have become this person’s pseudo psychiatrist. They call three times a day to discuss their problems, and STILL, they don’t want to hear about faith. When their problems start becoming your problems, shake the dust off your feet. You are not here to take on someone else’s problems. That’s not your vocation. Of course we give advice, good counsel, but when this becomes chronic and constant, it ceases to be an act of mercy, and it becomes you allowing someone else to emotionally manipulate you.
Jesus says in another passage, “When they reject you in one town flee to the next.” Flee. Run away. There’s nothing wrong with a strategic retreat.There’s nothing wrong with protecting your own spirituality and mental health when dealing with others. Don’t get stressed about people who reject the faith. Witness when you can. Witness wisely. And give the rest to God.
And blessed be God forever.
Father Michael Anthony Sisco
Quote from a Saint:
Faith cannot be reduced to a private sentiment or indeed, be hidden when it is inconvenient; it also implies consistency and a witness even in the public arena for the sake of human beings, justice and truth. (Blessed Clemens August von Galen)
Prayer: Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Breathe into me Holy Spirit, that all my thoughts may be holy. Move in me, Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Attract my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy. Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy. Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.
Questions for Reflection:
Do you have friends or family who are away from the faith? What is your response to them?
Discuss “Peace Robbers”. Do you have any who rob you of your peace because your time is consumed over them? What does Fr. Sisco advise?
Do you know any “Argue-ers”? What do they argue about? How do you deal with them when the arguing begins? What is Fr. Sisco’s advice?
Do you know any “Attention Vampires”? How much time do these people take up? Is it worth your time and energy to keep going around in circles with them? What does Fr. Sisco advise?
Are you currently a pseudo psychiatrist for someone? How can you deal with this situation? What does Fr. Sisco advise?
Discuss this: Jesus says in another passage, “When they reject you in one town flee to the next.” Flee. Run away. There’s nothing wrong with a strategic retreat.There’s nothing wrong with protecting your own spirituality and mental health when dealing with others.
Discuss this: “Don’t get stressed about people who reject the faith. Witness when you can. Witness wisely. And give the rest to God.”
Jesus wants all to believe in Him. How should we respond to those closed to His message? What signs can tell us that someone is softening in their resistence to God? How might we then act?
--Madeline Pecora Nugent
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 238: “Come to Our Aid, O God of the Universe”: A Reflection on Sirach 36
Come to our aid, O God of the universe. Look upon us, show us the light of your mercies,
and put all the nations in dread of you! Thus they will know, as we know, that there is no God but you, O Lord.
Give new signs and work new wonders.
Gather all the tribes of Jacob, that they may inherit the land as of old. Show mercy to the people called by your name; Israel, whom you named your firstborn. Take pity on your holy city,
Jerusalem, your dwelling place. Fill Zion with your majesty, your temple with your glory.
Give evidence of your deeds of old; fulfill the prophecies spoken in your name. Reward those who have hoped in you, and let your prophets be proved true. Hear the prayer of your servants,
for you are ever gracious to your people; and lead us in the way of justice. Thus it will be known to the very ends of the earth that you are the eternal God. (Sirach 36:1, 4-5a, 10-17)
Not a bad prayer uttered by the prophet Sirach today, and Sirach had a lot of reasons to pray. His nation is divided…kind of like ours is. Most of the people living in the land had turned away from the covenant and worship of the true God, and instead were chasing false idols, and had given themselves over to moral debauchery…kind of like ours has. And Sirach is afraid he is looking at the destruction of his country…like many of us are.
And so what does Sirach do? Turn to the Lord. That’s the first solution to this problem. When we feel helpless, when the world seems to be spiraling out of control the first thing we have to do is turn to the Lord. And what does Sirach pray to God? “Come to our aid O God of the universe…” Help. Now we’re good at asking for help when it comes to my own needs; help ME find a job, help MY parents get well, help MY children do good in school; etc. But in our personal prayers we should also ALWAYS be praying for the world, the nation, and the Church, because prayer has to extend beyond ME. Prayer also has to include our larger family of the Church, the nation, and the world because after all, we’re all brothers and sisters.
“…look upon us…” Why? Because when Sirach was writing this they were God’s people chosen to be his own by covenant. Look upon us now because now we are your children, adopted through the blood of our brother, the Lord Jesus Christ, God himself. God has more reason to listen to us now than ever before because of this special bond. That means we can have confidence that we do not pray in vain. Our prayers are always heard, even if they are not answered in the way we want.
“…show us the light of your mercies…”, in other words, give us hope. Strengthen our resolve. Give us a reason to hang in there another day. “Once more unto the breach, dear friends!” It’s OK to ask for this. It’s OK to say to God, “Bolster my faith. Remind me why I keep fighting this fight.” Everyone needs a break sometime. Every soldier needs some time away from the front. When you’re feeling broken, ask the Lord to pick you back up. He will.
“…and put all nations in dread of you…” Manifest yourself to the unbelievers. To the atheists who deny your existence, defend your holy name! To the hedonists who shamelessly abuse themselves with overindulgence and lure others to do the same, defend your holy name! To the Islamic extremists who murder your faithful ones and spread terror in the world, defend your holy name! We’ve become so politically correct, we’ve become so brainwashed in relativism. “Well, who am I to tell someone they’re doing wrong?” You’re a child of God, that’s who you are! It’s OK to ask God to lower the boom. “Father, are you suggesting that we pray that all these people go to hell?” No. In fact, we pray for the exact opposite reason… “Thus they will know, as we know, there is no other God but you, O Lord.” We pray that God chastise the sinner precisely so they will repent of their wrong doing so that we can all live in true peace with one another, and they can enter eternal life when they die. Please note, WE chastise the sinner through words, not deeds of retribution! We can tell someone what they’re doing is wrong, but Christian zealots who shoot up abortion clinics and their ilk are wrong. You CANNOT accomplish a good through evil means. God chastises the sinner through actions. God tells us to practice charity in his Word. We practice charity in our deeds. That’s what Jesus was getting at. We practice charity IN FACT, and not just talk about it.
We should be praying for these things. Let’s follow Sirach’s example and pray for them. “Come to our aid, O God of the universe, look upon us, show us the light of your mercies, and put all nations in dread of you! Thus they will know as we know, that there is no other God but you. AMEN.”
And blessed be God forever,
Father Michael Anthony Sisco
Quote from a Saint :” If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
Prayer: Lord, strengthen me and give me the grace to avail myself totally at your service through prayer, words and deeds. Look at us with mercy and visit us with your presence. Pour out Your Spirit as on the day of Pentecost so that we may be embolded to preach and live your message. Thank you, Jesus.
Questions for Reflection:
1-Who is the first person I turn to in time of need or trouble?
2-Do I seek God’s Will in my prayer or am I just focusing on my own needs alone?
3-Why does God have more reason to listen to us now than ever before?
4- Why does my prayer have to extend beyond ME?
5-Where do you find rest and refuge in time of trouble?
6- Why do I need to pray that God will chastise the sinner?
7. It is important to point out evil by our verbal witness.What usually prevents me from doing so?
8- Do I live and practice the Gospel, in truth and in fact?
9. What should the practice of charity be?
10- How can my prayer life now be directed in the example of Sirach?
--Edem Auguste Ahadjitse
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 239: A Father’s Love: A Reflection on Exodus 11:10-2:14
Although Moses and Aaron performed various wonders in Pharaoh’s presence, the LORD made Pharaoh obstinate, and he would not let the children of Israel leave his land. The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall stand at the head of your calendar; you shall reckon it the first month of the year. Tell the whole community of Israel: On the tenth of this month every one of your families must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household .If a family is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join the nearest household in procuring one and shall share in the lamb in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it. The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish. You may take it from either the sheep or the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present, it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight. They shall take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb. That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. It shall not be eaten raw or boiled, but roasted whole, with its head and shanks and inner organs. None of it must be kept beyond the next morning; whatever is left over in the morning shall be burned up. “This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you shall eat like those who are in flight. It is the Passover of the LORD. For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every first born of the land, both man and beast, and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt—I, the LORD! But the blood will mark the houses where you are. Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thus, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you. “This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution.” (Exodus 11:10-12:14).
God is our loving Father. We all know this by faith to be true. But WHY is God our loving Father? Why do we address God as Father? This is something blasphemous to Moslems because fatherhood is an earthly reality, and to attribute earthly realities to the Divine One is insulting to Him. Well, we call God Father because that’s what Jesus told us to do; when you pray, say “Abba.” True enough, but there are others reasons also. First of all, what is the vocation of parent? A man and a woman make a sacrifice of their own flesh to create a new life. Not to beat a dead horse, but this is why the Church cannot condone gay marriage. They cannot naturally make a sacrifice of their own flesh to create new life.
Second, AFTER a man and a woman make a sacrifice of their own flesh to create new life, they then must spend the better part of their lives sacrificing themselves again and again, to continue to provide a good life for the children they have created. So Jesus sacrifices His flesh on the cross to give us life. And the Grace of that sacrifice, which is the very life of Christ Himself, the Father continues to give to us His children, again, and again and again every time a sacrament is celebrated. So God is our loving Father because He perfectly served us by perfectly sacrificing Himself for us. There’s more. God is also our loving Father because a loving Father gives His children responsibility to help them mature, but not so much responsibility as to confuse, or over load them. Our reading in Exodus is a prime example of this.
Why make the Israelites go through this ritual of slaughtering a perfect lamb, splattering the lintels of the doorposts with its blood, roasting the lamb whole with all its inner organs intact, eating it as a family meal, but dressed for travelling, and then burning up whatever is left over the next morning? I mean, wasn’t there a less complicated way to deliver the Israelites from slavery? Sure there was. God could have just spirited them away to the Promised Land.
But then the Israelites wouldn’t have learned anything. God doesn’t just want to free them from physical slavery. God wanted to free them from their slavery to sin. God wants to enlighten their minds from the slavery of darkness. He wanted to teach them something about Him. And so He makes them go through this ritual and repeat it every year on the anniversary of their deliverance, so they’ll remember what God did for them, and so they’ll be able to recognize the Messiah when He comes, because all of this was a pre-image, a symbol, of what Christ would do in reality. Christ is the perfect Lamb of God who would atone for the sins of creation. Christ would re-present His body and blood in the Mass that all people could partake in to deliver them from their slavery to sin. God couldn’t tell the Israelites this THEN. They wouldn’t have understood it. Look at how many times they messed up after leaving Egypt with what God had already showed them. Even in Jesus day, the Pharisees still didn’t understand what was intended by the law. They take a legalistic approach and condemn Jesus and the disciples for a supposed violation of the Sabbath, which Jesus quickly refutes. And even though He gives them the answer, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice”, they still don’t get it. And many people today still don’t get it. There are Christians who make the same mistake as these Pharisees and take faith from a rigid, austere position, and there’s the opposite--Christians who make no sacrifice at all and misinterpret mercy for license. This is why frequent reception of the sacraments, frequent exposure to Grace, is so important. This is why constant self-evaluation and re-evaluation in the light of the teachings of the Church is so important, so the Lord can change us from the inside out. Keep working at it, but don’t let it stress you. God is patient. God is persistent, just as a loving father should be.
Blessed be God forever,
Father Michael Anthony Sisco
Quote from a Saint: All blessings come to us through our Lord. He will teach us, for in beholding His life we find that He is the best example. ---St. Teresa of Avila
Prayer: Almighty God, my Eternal Father, from the fullness of my soul I adore You. I am deeply grateful that You have made me in Your image and likeness, and that You ever hold me in Your loving embrace. Direct me to love You with all my heart, with all my soul, and with my whole mind. Direct me to love all Your children as I love myself. O, my Father, my soul longs to be united to You, and to rest in You forever. Have the Holy Spirit touch my soul so that I may love You as He does, and as Your Beloved Son Jesus does. Amen.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
1. Ask yourself: “Do I really believe God loves me?” Why or why not?
2. Make a list of at least 3 blessings God has given you that you are grateful for.
3. Can you think of 2 or 3 reasons why He allows trials and hardships to enter into our lives?
4. Recall an incident that was so significant and shaped your life. What did you learn from this incident that changed you for the better?
5. Recall your relationship with your own father/parent. How does your relationship with your earthly father influence how you relate to God the Father?
6. List 3 ways through which God makes His will known to you.
7. List some ways you can express to God that you love Him.
8. List some ways that you can reflect the love and mercy of the Father to others who cross your path in the course of your day.
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 240: Pray with Joy and Thanksgiving: A Reflection onf Colossians 1: 9-14
“Brothers and sisters: From the day we heard about you, we do not cease praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with every power, in accord with his glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy giving thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light. He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:9-14)
So when we pray, what should we be praying for? I’ve said in many homilies before we cannot be “gimme” pray-ers; that means confining our prayers to, “God gimme this, and God gimme that”.
Prayer not only has to center around our needs but the needs of others. So what are some things we should pray for? Paul gives us some good suggestions in his letter to the Colossians.
“Brothers and sisters we do not cease praying for you…”
Helpful hint number one, prayer must be consistent and continuous. Some people ask for something once and stop. “Well, if God is omnipotent, why do I have to keep on bugging him? Isn’t once enough?” Even when we’re praying for someone else, prayer benefits us, in that it builds faith.
It’s like lifting weights, something I HAD experience with in days gone by. If you want to build muscle mass, you lift heavy weight, but only few times. If you want to build strength and endurance, you lift lighter weights, with many “reps” as they’re called, meaning you repeatedly lift the weight twenty, thirty, forty times.
One thing prayer is supposed to do is build our spiritual strength and endurance. So…, the Lord may make us repeat our prayers to strengthen virtues in us: Faith, hope, patience, fortitude, etc.
“…asking that you may be filled with knowledge of God’s will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding…”
The first thing we should always ask for ourselves, and others, is that we be granted the knowledge of what God wants from us, and we be given the wisdom and understanding to do it. Thirty years ago priesthood was the furthest thing from my mind. It took Mamma Mary breaking a spiritual 2x4 over my head to get me to see that God wanted something very different from me than what I was planning with my life. I’m grateful for Mamma Mary and the 2x4, because I think the road I was on would have led me to misery and, ultimately, self destruction.
“…to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord…”
Another thing our prayer should be doing, and we should be asking God to do in our prayers, is make us aware of our sins. Why? So we can properly repent of them. Various saints, mystics, and visionaries have told us hell and purgatory are full of souls with un-repented sins. “But what if I didn’t KNOW it was a sin?”
Sin is sin, and while it is true that if a person was unaware that their actions were sinful, their culpability is greatly diminished, but it’s still a sin, and still needs to be purged. So to minimize our purgatory time, we should actively be examining ourselves in prayer, asking God to reveal our sins to us so we can properly confess them.
“…to be fully pleasing in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God…”
We also pray to strengthen ourselves to do good works and practice charity. I think we can all agree no one did more to help more people in our modern age than Mother Theresa of Calcutta. Mother Theresa prayed before the Blessed Sacrament three hours a day, and she said she couldn’t do the work she did unless she got the strength from God in that three hours of prayer. The more we pray, the more we grow in the knowledge of God, and that compels us to work harder to bring about His Kingdom on earth.
“…with joy giving thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.”
The last thing we should pray for, for ourselves, and for others, is a joyful heart, and a heart that remembers to give thanks to God for all the good things he has given us. Giving thanks builds humility, and the Lord loves a humble heart. These are good pointers for effective praying for ourselves and the world. So let’s get busy putting our prayers to good use, because the world sorely needs them. –Father Michael Anthony Sisco
Quote from a Saint
“My little children, reflect on these words: the Christian’s treasure is not on earth but in heaven. Our thoughts, then, ought to be directed to where our treasure is. This is the glorious duty of man: to pray and to love. If you pray and love, that is where a man’s happiness lies.” – St. John Vianney
We pray to You, O Lord, who are the surpeme Truth, and all truth is from you. We beseech You, O Lord, who are the highest Wisdom, and all the wise depend on You for their wisdom. You are the supreme Joy, and all who are happy owe it to You. You are the Light of minds, and all receive their understanding from You. We love, we love You above all. We seek You, we follow You, and we are ready to serve You. We desire to dwell under Your power for You are the King of all. Amen. --St. Albert the Great
Questions for discussion:
1. Ask yourself how much time, on average, do I spend in prayer each day? Is it enough, or should I spend more time praying?
2. Ask yourself, what forms of prayer do I use? Vocal prayer? Meditation? Contemplation? Spiritual reading with reflection? Which form brings about the most benefit? Why do you think so?
3. Do you believe all forms of prayer are the same, or are some better than others? Why do you feel this way?
4. Many leaders in the spiritual life suggest praising God and giving thanksgiving, as if favors have already been granted. Why do you think they recommend that?
5. Have you experienced the powerful effects of prayer such as a healing or other special favors granted? What were they? Why do you think God heard your prayer that time? Is there a common denominator in these special favors?
6. Those times you have felt closest to God, what were you doing, saying, or how were you praying? Was there something going on in your life that you think opened you up to this experience?
7. Ask yourself what you can add to your prayer life that would enhance your relationship with God. Is it starting out a few minutes in praise and thanksgiving? Is it learning a new prayer by heart and resolving to say it for a certain amount of time, such as a novena to the Holy Spirit, or something similar?
8. Ask yourself; in what way can I enhance my intercessory prayer for others? Is it to say a Divine Mercy Chaplet for someone each day? Is it keeping a prayer journal? Is it in simply saying an Our Father or similar short prayer for your intentions, above and beyond the usual?
9. Ask yourself, in what way can my prayer be enhanced? Is it in a small act of self denial each day? An extra prayer? More time spent in praying? Participating in a public venue such as attending a Rosary procession or the Stations of the Cross?
--- Lucy Fernandez