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Conversion Faith Formation Ink Slingers Kerri Prayer

Lectio Divina: The Fifth Sunday of Lent (Year A)

What does it take for you to believe in Jesus? Or what did it take? Was it being knocked over and struck with blindness like St. Paul. Or maybe it was witnessing a miracle. Do miracles even happen any more? I believe they do, if we’re open and willing to see them. This Sunday’s Gospel had me thinking about miracles. As we approach Easter I’m trying to look at Jesus’ miracles in a new way.

It’s hard to approach something in a new way, especially if we’ve been hearing it our whole life. I believe this is why the Church year is set up in a cyclical fashion, so we are challenged to continuously read the life of Jesus and see it in new ways each time. Which brings us to the beauty of lectio divina. Lectio is the ultimate challenge of praying with the text and allowing God to show you some new aspect of it. When you are praying with this passage remember that you are not necessarily trying to understand everything from the passage (and this one is a long one!) you are giving God the opportunity to point out something to you that you need to hear today. A year from now you may read the same passage and God will want to tell you something different. What he shares with you may be very different from what he has shared with me.

With that in mind I invite you to locate the Gospel for this coming Sunday (in your own missal or other publication or you can find it on the USCCB website) and join me as we read, reflect, respond, and rest in God’s Word. For a brief review of the lectio divina steps, I recommend this brief explanation from the Archabbey of St. Meinrad.

READ

  • I am the resurrection
  • Jesus wept
  • Thank you for hearing me
  • Began to believe in him

REFLECT: What is God saying to you?

I really have to step back and put myself in the mindset of the people in this reading who are witnessing the miracle Jesus performs. I forget how absolutely astounding it must have been to see a dead man walk out of his tomb. I feel like the last sentence of this very long Gospel passage is a bit of an understatement. I also wonder who walked away not believing. It doesn’t say that “all” began to believe, but that “many” began to believe. How could you not believe?? Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. He was bound in burial bands and his face was wrapped in a cloth. And yet, he walked out of the tomb! It’s miraculous!

Miracles are something that we forget about often. We are surrounded by so much technology and the modern world has made it it’s mission to prove everything by science. It’s easy to forget that miracles are not just something that happened once upon a time. They still surround us today if we just open our eyes to see them. For me, I used to find it rather useless to pray for things that seemed an impossibility. More recently I was reminded that Jesus is a worker of miracles. This Gospel passage pretty much drives home that message. Now when I go to the adoration chapel for my weekly hour, I regularly thank Jesus for the miracles he performs and I ask him to work miracles for the intentions I bring before him. No matter how impossible they seem to me, I continue to beg him for the miracles I know, sincerely know, he can perform.

Something else that stuck out to me in this reading was just before Lazarus is raised from the dead, Jesus prays to God the Father and the first thing he does is thank him for hearing him. Sometimes I feel as if my prayers consist entirely of thanking God for my blessings. Which is all good, but then I forget to pray for other things, too. I was reminded here that God likes to receive our prayers of thanksgiving. Even Jesus, his own son, begins his prayer with a prayer of thanksgiving. It’s a nice reminder that when we pray, we should offer all our thanks to God first before asking him to then consider our intentions.

RESPOND: What do you want to say to God?

Reflecting on the miracles that God works each and every day, I’m reminded of some particular prayer intentions I’m always bringing before God. Sometimes I find it difficult to imagine that these particular intentions could come to fulfillment. But then I remind myself that God works miracles and nothing is impossible for him. What may look impossible from my perspective may look very possible from his. I only have to trust. This passage reminded me that even impossible things can happen.

Thank you, God, for the blessings in my life and for the many small miracles that happen each day. I pray for those who do not believe in you that they may be reminded of your love and presence in their life and will come to believe.

REST

Read the passage one final time and spend a few moments in quiet contemplation, rest in the words of the Gospel.

YOUR TURN

What do you feel God is saying to you in this passage? How would you respond to him? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Saints

Not Feeling Saintly

Earth, Purgatory, Heaven
Earth, Purgatory, Heaven

As I write this, it is All Saints’ Day, and I’m not feeling saintly.  My Facebook newsfeed today displayed pic after pic of beautiful Saints with encouraging words, reminding me it is my calling to be a saint, too.  And each time I gazed on one, I felt far from this goal.  Be a saint, they say.  Be a saint, the Church says.  Be a saint, Christ says.  Be a saint.

I read the lives of the Saints.  These holy women and men often began their Earthly pilgrimages as your average sinner.  Sts. Augustine and Dominic are the first to come to my mind with the havoc of their adolescent and young adult lives.  Yet, as they matured in their relationship with Christ, the work these holy men did for God while on Earth, their dedication to the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy are, well, saintly, untouchable it seems. 

I see personal friends endure trials the likes of which I have never known, and their faith in God puts me to shame as I see how weak and hole-filled my own faith is.  Other friends dwell in the peace of Christ and in a devotion to His Mother to a degree that my own soul detects that holiness when I am around them.  Their peacefully confident demeanor is a white back drop which proununciates the black of my sinful attitude – my pride, my wrath, my gluttony, my sloth, oh, so ugly.

I even hear these friends speak so humbly about how they, too, struggle with sins, and I can’t help but attribute this directly to their humility. To the eye of my soul, these friends are nearly sinless and may as well be canonized now, and yet in their humility they can’t even see it. 

Is it possible that one can participate regularly in the Sacraments and not eventually be made holy by them?  I feel like that could be the case with me, but that is my sinful despair talking.  The truth is, if I remain faithful to Christ, faithful to His Grace which He imparts to my soul in the Sacraments of the Most Holy Eucharist and in Reconciliation, then I have no choice but to know that He, in return, is faithfully working to make me holy, saintly.

Indeed, the truth is, when I reflect on my own Earthly pilgrimage,  I am compelled to notice how His Grace has healed my broken will, my injured heart, dwelling in my soul.  It wasn’t so long ago that I didn’t know what any of the Sacraments really were for, nor cared.  It wasn’t so long ago that I embraced the world’s teachings on morality and cast off the Church’s teachings as old fashioned.  It wasn’t so long ago that prayer never entered my mind, and now prayer is often flowing through my mind.  I suppose, God’s grace is indeed sufficient, for even my own soul.  Perhaps Christ is making a saint of me, too.

“He must increase; I must decrease.”

John the Baptist, speaking of Jesus.  Jn 3:30

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.”

Jesus, to his disciples.  Jn 6:54

“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.” 

Jesus, to the skeptical Jews.  Jn 10:27

“Remain in me, as I remain in you.”

Jesus, to his disciples, the night before he died.  Jn 15:4

 

 

All you Holy Men and Women, pray for us!

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4th Commandment Adrienne Doctrine Faith Formation Ink Slingers Mary Prayer Sacred Scripture Saints Ten Commandments

Commanded to Love Mary

As Catholics, we wholly love our triune God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Every day  we attend mass we literally sit at the feet of our Lord Jesus, mystically united in time to the moment He gave His life for us on the cross.  Before the altar of the most Blessed Sacrament we are privileged to worship Him, thank Him, love Him, and depend on Him.  We are beside everyone that has ever attended the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, beside all of the angels, beside all of the saints, and beside everyone who was at the foot of His cross at Golgotha…  we are beside His Mother, Mary.

Jesus’s life was bookended with Mother Mary, she was present at His birth, and at His death.  Before God sent us our Savior, He first created the vessel by which that Savior would come.  Instead of celebrating Christmas each year, we could be celebrating the Descension of Jesus, or some other event by which God sent our Savior.  God’s plans are always perfect and always have more meaning than we can ever humanly fathom.  In all of His infinite wisdom and in His love for us, God included a mere human in His plan for our salvation.  Our Father gave Himself a human mother.

In the book of John it is recorded that during the Last Supper Jesus reminded his disciples, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” In fact, He mentioned keeping the commandments many times.  The first three commandments all deal with how we are to have a relationship with our Lord.  Then, surprisingly, the fourth commandment, listed before don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t bear false witness… is to honor your father and mother.  This particular commandment is oddly out of place between the first three dictating proper worship of our Lord God and the latter six thou shall nots.  It must be important.

Jesus entrusts his mother to his disciple John.

We are commanded to honor our father and mother.  We are also called to follow Jesus as our example of Christian living.  Jesus lived a life perfectly without sin, He upheld every one of the ten commandments, daily.  He perfectly honored both His Father, our Lord God, and His Mother, Mary.  Isn’t it interesting that God created a commandment to honor our father and mother, then when He came down to Earth He provided Himself a mother which allowed Him to perfectly fulfill the fourth commandment?  In His plan for our salvation, God submitted Himself to honoring a human.  Jesus showed us how to perfectly follow the first commandment and all the while have the most perfect honor for His mother with the fourth commandment. At the wedding feast at Cana, Jesus performed His first miracle at the behest of Mother Mary (John 2), and while hanging on the cross He made sure not to expire before arranging proper care for her (John 19).  He did not shy away from loving His mother out of fear of offending His Father.  He did not ignore His mother or feel indifferent toward her.  Jesus was still submitting Himself to honoring His mother while dying to provide us eternal life, that is how important she is to Him.  He wholly and perfectly loves His mother out of His love for His Father.

So, how is your relationship with Mary?  Do you forget she’s even there?  Imagine a family in which, day after day, the children lovingly flock to the father while it is as if their adoring mother is not even in the room.  Imagine the pain God must feel when day after day we ignore or even actively reject the Mother He gave Himself, the Mother that He loves with a child-like love, the Mother that He commands us to love.  Your relationship with Mother Mary should be a proportionate indicator of your love for Our Father.

Don’t know how to begin a relationship with Our Lady?  Pray for God to assist you in beginning a relationship with His Mother.  Remember to talk with Mary at mass, as she is there beside you, at the foot of Her Son’s holy cross.  Ask for her prayers.  Ask her to pray for you to have a devotion to the Father like the devotion she is privileged to have.  Ask both Our Lady and Our Father for forgiveness for not including her in your life the way we are commanded to.

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

Please share about your relationship with Our Lord’s most blessed Mother!