Posted tagged ‘prayer’

Pentecost: Gifts, Fruits, Virtues

June 9, 2019


Blessed Pentecost!

MANY years ago,
when I visited the Sisters of St. Clare over Pentecost,
they invited me to share in their tradition
of drawing from a hat (without looking)
a piece of paper
on which was written a gift and a fruit of the Holy Spirit
(as found in Isaiah 11:2 & Galatians 5:22, respectively–
the older, longer version of Galatians)
to focus on until the following Pentecost.

I’ve carried on that tradition,
putting each on a separate slip of paper,
adding the Theological and Cardinal virtues
as well.

Faith, Hope and Love/Caritas
being the Theological Virtues,
and Prudence, Justice, Temperance
and Fortitude
being the Cardinal Virtues.

I recommend it!

It’s been a good way for me to let God tell me
what He wants to work on in my life.

Come, Holy Spirit!
Change my life!

Here are thoughts on the gifts and fruits
we’ve shared with RCIA participants:


Fear of the Lord: eager resolve to avoid anything that would hurt our relationship with God; awe and reverence at the privilege we have of being His children. “What do I really fear losing?” “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10)
fear of the Lord in action; giving God the honor He deserves as our heavenly Father, and showing appropriate honor and respect to leaders who are responsible for our welfare; doing good to all out of reverence for God (Matthew 25:40).
Knowledge: tell the difference between spiritual truth and counterfeits; helps us see created things as signposts to point us to God rather than as ends in themselves.
Fortitude: supernatural courage to do good and to avoid evil; confidence to get through tough times, protection against discouragement, supernatural patience; to stand firm, and even to face death for the sake of doing what’s right–even if we feel weak and scared.
Counsel: helps us know what choices lead to Heaven and what choices lead to hell.
Understanding: an intimate knowing that penetrates to the heart of what God’s revealed to us about Himself and about living the Christian life; going deeper into the meaning, the inner truth of the Scriptures, the Trinity, the Eucharist, etc.
Wisdom: a taste for God and for the truth about God that puts everything in a divine perspective; putting first things first; encompasses all the other gifts (see James 3:17).


Caritas (we use that word because “Love” can refer to so many different forms of attraction!): self-sacrificing love for the best good of the other
Joy: delight in our union with the God we love
Peace: perfection of joy, cannot be disturbed by trials, suffering or frustrated desires. Jewish “Shalom” is more than absence of conflict–fullness, completeness, all is well because God has everything under control
Patience: unshakable confidence that God’s got everything under control
Kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness & faithfulness: doing good for other people, including our enemies, for Jesus’ sake
Modesty: refusing to unveil what should remain hidden out of reverence and respect for the spiritual dignity proper to our bodies; down-to-earth dignity that doesn’t draw attention to itself
Self-control: mastering our desires so they serve God instead of enslaving us
Chastity: reverencing God’s sacred gift of sexuality, so that it becomes a holy giving of ourselves in self-sacrificial love (not just a passing pleasure); forming a union of body and spirit, of husband & wife. Chastity unites, while a misuse of sexuality divides.

To Admire is to Acquire (Spiritually Speaking)

May 3, 2019


This image from the life of St. Gertrude
colorfully brings home the truth that we move toward what we admire:

At Communion, as [St. Gertrude the Great]
prayed for the Church, but felt a want of fervour,
she prayed to our Lord to give her fervour,
if her petitions were agreeable to Him;
and immediately she beheld a variety of colours:
white, which indicated the purity of the virgins,
violet, which symbolised confessors and religious;
red, which typified the martyrs;
and other colours, according to the merits of the saints.
Then, as she feared to approach our Lord
because she was not adorned with any of these colours,
she was inspired by the Holy Ghost,
“who teaches man wisdom” to return thanks to God
for all those who had been elevated
to the grace and state of virginity;
beseeching Him,
by the love which made Him be born of a Virgin for us,
to preserve all in the Church,
to whom He had vouchsafed this favour
in most perfect purity of body and soul,
for His own honour and glory;
and immediately she beheld her soul adorned
with the same shining whiteness
as the souls of the virgins.

She then returned thanks to God
for the sanctity and perfection
of the confessors and religious
who had pleased Him from the beginning of the world,
beseeching Him
to bring all who were still militant in the Church
to a happy end;
and immediately she beheld her soul adorned with violet;
and as she continued to pray
for the different states and orders in the Church,
her soul was adorned with their respective virtues.
As she returned most fervent thanks to God for these favours,
she beheld herself clothed in a golden amice;
and standing thus marvellously adorned before our Lord,
He turned to the saints, and exclaimed :
” Behold her in garments of gold,
clothed round about with varieties.”
Then He opened His arms to receive her,
as she was no longer able to support
the torrent of Divine joys
with which her soul was encompassed.
~The Life and Revelations of St. Gertrude

St. Joseph Leads the Rosary

November 16, 2017


Somewhere I ran across the idea of offering the rosary to St. Joseph
as a bouquet of “spiritual roses & lilies”
for him to present to his bride.

How sweet!

I love it when husbands give flowers to their wives :).

But when I think of what sort of bouquet
my rosaries end up being,
I started asking St. Joseph to help me pray
and to fix them up for me
(he is a handyman, after all)
before presenting them to Mary.

I’ve given him a lot of work to do.
He’s been very patient with me!

Recently, the idea came to me
(thank you, guardian angel!)
of letting St. Joseph lead the rosary.

How does Joseph pray the “Our Father”?
Or the “Hail Mary”?

What perspective does he have
on the Mysteries of his Son’s life?

Those are some of the best rosaries I’ve prayed!
I recommend it :).

Autumn Ember Wednesday

September 19, 2012

Blessed Ember Wednesday!

And no, “ember” in this case has nothing to do with fire.
There are conflicting explanations of the origin & meaning of the word in this context, but they all have to do with the four seasons.

“Thus says the Lord of hosts:
The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth,
and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth
shall be to the house of Judah, joy, and gladness,
and great solemnities: only love ye truth and peace.”
-Zachariah 8:19

The Ember Days are times of prayer, fasting and partial abstinence
at the beginning of each of the four seasons–
the consecutive Wednesday, Friday and Saturday
after Ash Wednesday, after Pentecost, after the Exaltation of the Cross (Sept. 14) & after St. Lucy (Dec. 13).
One memory aid was the phrase “ashes, dove, cross, Lucy”.

They were definitely arranged and prescribed for the universal Church
by Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085),
but the practise of setting aside days to sanctify the seasons
goes back to the Early Church–Pope Leo the Great (440-461)
said that it went back to the Apostles themselves.

The partial abstinence means that meat was only taken at one meal of the day on Ember Wednesdays and Saturdays (Fridays are already meatless).

Wednesday and Friday were selected
because these were the days of penance observed by the Early Church
in place of the Jewish practise of fasting on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Christians fasted on Wednesdays (the day Christ was betrayed)
and Fridays (in honor of Good Friday).
Saturdays were added as the culmination of the Ember week,
with a procession to St. Peter’s in Rome and an all-night vigil.

The Ember Days are meant to sanctify each season as it arrives.
The purpose of these days of fasting, abstinence and almsgiving,
besides the general one intended by all prayer and fasting,
was to thank God for the gifts of nature,
to teach men to make use of them in moderation,
and to assist the needy.
They are seasonal “days of recollection”, or spiritual renewal,
as well as days to ask God to bless the fruits of the earth
and to thank Him for the blessings He has provided.
They give us time to reflect on the beauty of the seasons
and what they can teach us about God and Heaven.
St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that
“the beauty of spring, the brightness of summer,
the plenty of autumn, the rest of winter”
are foreshadowings of the wonders of our eternal home.

Ordinations came to be held during the Ember days,
so Ember Days are also good times to pray for vocations and for priests
(for Scriptural precedence for fasting and ordination going together,
see Acts 13:2, 14:23).

The Saturday of the Ember Days is the most important–
at one time an all night vigil was held at the end of the Ember Days
from Saturday night to the following Sunday morning.

With the revision of the liturgical calendar in 1969,
the Vatican left the celebration of Ember Days
up to the discretion of each national conference of bishops.
In the United States,
the bishops’ conference has decided not to celebrate them,
but many dioceses around the world still do.
Even in the U.S., a few dioceses, individual Catholics, a number of Religious orders and most Latin Mass organizations
still observe the Ember Days.

The autumn Ember Days are especially associated with the grape harvest, from which is made the wine that becomes the Most Precious Blood of Our Savior when it is consecrated in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Here’s what our “Cathedral” Daily Missal (1961) says about today:


1. Joy: The autumnal Ember Days were profoundly influenced by the two Jewish feasts of the season–The Feast of Tabernacles and the Day of Expiation. In the Lesson (Amos 9:13-15) the prophet foretold in the 8th century B.C. the return of the Jews from captivity and the restoration of their country. Later on Nehemias [Nehemiah] and Esdras [Ezra] brought back the Jewish captives into the promised land, and rebuilt the temple, and restored the reading of the Law (Offeratory) and religious services. The captivity and the restoration of the Jewish people were considered as a prophetical image of our Fall and Redemption. The rich harvests were regarded as the symbol of the bountiful graces of the new dispensation of the Spirit (Introit).

2. Repentance: The Jewish day of rigorous expiation, the Day of Atonement, has also left its impress on today’s Mass. In the first and second Collects we pray that God in His mercy and pity would uphold our weakness and renew our strength, and give us the grace to abstain from sin. In the Gospel Our Lord reminds us that demons can be cast out of our lives only “by prayer and fasting.” In the Secret we beseech the Lord to wash away our sins and sanctify us both in body and soul.

3. Remedies against future sins: How are we to meet temptations, neutralize the power of Satan, and avoid sin? Today’s Mass suggests the following remedies:
1) Faith in Christ’s divine power and the efficacy of His merits (Gospel)
2) Prayer for the help of God’s grace (I Collect)
3) fasting from food and from evil inclinations (II Collect)
4) Repentance of our sins (Secret)
5) Reception of the Eucharist, the memorial of Our Lord’s Passion and Death, by which Satan was overcome (Communion)

Freedom from sins and a virtuous life
constitute the only true joy and happiness on earth.

Religion study: Sorrow for sin

May God bless your prayers to sanctify the season
and your prayers for His priests–
and may He give you a taste for fish ;)!

St. Thérèse’s Prayer for Priests

‘O Holy Father, may the torrents of love
flowing from the sacred wounds of Thy Divine Son
bring forth priests like unto the beloved disciple John
who stood at the foot of the Cross;
priests: who as a pledge of Thine own most tender love
will lovingly give Thy Divine Son to the souls of men.

May Thy priests be faithful guardians of Thy Church,
as John was of Mary, whom he received into his house.
Taught by this loving Mother
who suffered so much on Calvary,
may they display a mother’s care and thoughtfulness
towards Thy children.
May they teach souls to enter into close union with Thee
through Mary who, as the Gate of Heaven,
is specially the guardian of the treasures
of Thy Divine Heart.

Give us priests who are on fire,
and who are true children of Mary,
priests who will give Jesus to souls
with the same tenderness and care
with which Mary carried the Little Child of Bethlehem.

Mother of sorrows and of love,
out of compassion for Thy beloved Son,
open in our hearts deep wells of love,
so that we may console Him
and give Him a generation of priests formed in thy school
and having all the tender thoughtfulness
of thine own spotless love.’

From Thy Bounty…

October 19, 2011

When my prince & I dine together, we begin with a spontaneous prayer (which usually ends up being mostly the same each time anyway ;)), but lately I’ve begun using the standard Catholic meal prayer when I eat alone (breakfast & lunch).

Bless us O Lord,
and these Thy gifts
which we are about to receive
from Thy bounty
through Christ, our Lord.

One line has been standing out to me: “from Thy bounty.”

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had the underlying instinct that “there’s not enough for me” (I’m sure the “reduce your carbon footprint” campaign didn’t help). Mom still recalls how mortified she was when the school informed her that I was writing with a little piece of pencil lead, insinuating that she was depriving me of necessary school supplies. It wasn’t that I needed a new pencil–stray pencils were easy enough to find (hallways, playground, school bus, etc.). But this stub of lead was still usable. I couldn’t bear to part with it. Waste not, want not, you know…

That has other ramifications, of course, (being a packrat is just one) which have followed me into adulthood.

Preparing (and listening to) RCIA presentations has introduced me to the truth at God created the world for man–for me–to provide the things I need. He created enough for me.

Logically I can grasp that. Changing my underlying instinct is quite another matter. I’ve been bringing this to prayer for quite a while.

Well, this week the farm where I usually get eggs (via a friend who’s their neighbor) was low…and so were we. Comparing the upcoming cooking projects with the number of eggs we had left & was not exactly reassuring (and with our dietary restrictions, adapting the menu isn’t trivial!). Should I make the deviled eggs I normally take for snacks at adult ed (which we host)? I was inclined to conserve (hoard).

…from Thy bounty

I stopped.

“Well, Lord, You own the chickens on a thousand hills!
(apologies to Psalm 50:10!)
I’m going to take a chance and be generous.”

I put an egg on to boil (I know, that doesn’t sound very generous,
but when I made more I always had leftovers).

Within hours my friend called. Her neighbor has three dozen eggs today. Would I like her to bring some when she brought her daughters for crochet advice?

Would I?!

…from Thy bounty…

Thank You, God, for eggs
from Thy bounty!

The Power of a Praying Grandmother

October 17, 2010

As I was listening to the readings at Mass this weekend (especially Exodus 17:8-13 & Luke 18:1-8), it struck me that the main characters in the stories were probably both elderly. We know Moses was–he was 80 when he led the Israelites out of Egypt! And although it’s possible for widows to be young, we tend to associate widowhood with old age. Counter to our culture’s devaluing of the elderly as not being very useful anymore, God holds them up as models of prayer–the most powerful force on earth.

I was reminded of Mike Warnke’s conversion story. He said that God had revealed to him that the reason he was even still alive was that an elderly nun had been praying for him for years. He quipped, “If you don’t know Jesus and you’ve got someone praying for you, give up. Especially if it’s your grandmother–give up! ‘Cause those little gray-haired old ladies, they don’t know how to shut up so you might as well give up!” (It was obvious that he thought the prayers were a good thing 🙂 !)

My husband and I both credit our faith in large measure to our “praying grandmothers.” We each had (still have, in my case) one and are eternally grateful. Although we don’t have children (much less grandchildren!) we’re trying to “pay forward” the favor with our Godchildren by praying for them (and a host of other people!).

Never underestimate the power of a praying Grandmother!
(or any praying man or woman…)

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