GOD, loving Father, you are always by me when I need you. You wait patiently when I stray. You never tire of forgiving me when I contradict your Holy Will. You sustain me even when I am foolish enough to think that I do not …
Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category
Many people go to Mass with the expectation that they are supposed to “get” a lot out of it. But, what you get out of Mass is dependent on what kind of changes you are willing to make in your efforts before, during and after Mass, because what you put into Mass determines what you get out of it.
Let me give you eight pointers that have helped me in the past:
1 – Properly prepare for Mass.
- Read and study the readings before you go to Mass, and then listen to them intently while The Word is proclaimed. You can find the Sunday readings here.
- Study the Church’s teachings. The more you know about Christ and His Church, the more there is to love. – You can’t love what you don’t know.
- Go to Confession regularly. This will help prepare you spiritually.
- Pray daily. Without prayer you have no spiritual power!
- Dress appropriately. You are going to meet the King of Kings. Don’t dress the same as you would for a lunch date, a party, or class. Make it special.
- Get there early and sit up front. Less distractions and more time for prayer before Mass.
- Once inside, don’t talk or people-watch…pray.
2 – Make sure your attitude is adjusted properly
- Don’t expect to be entertained. It isn’t as much about what God is doing for you, but what you are doing to worship God.
- Look for God in every part of the Mass.
- Don’t let outside distractions disturb your internal peace.
- Find one nugget in the preaching to take home with you.
3 – Participate
- Sing, even if your voice is bad.
- Respond and pray with gusto. Give it all to God and don’t worry about others.
- Remember that during Mass isn’t socializing time.
- Offer your pain, sufferings, joys and prayers to God.
4 -Listen to the Word and be open to it changing you
- Are you open to letting God change you? If not, then you won’t be changed.
- Listen to the Word proclaimed and let it challenge you.
- Find something in the Homily and apply it for the week.
5 – Know, understand, and proclaim your Faith
- Don’t just recite the Creed – proclaim it like you mean it and understand what you are proclaiming.
6 – Tithe
- If every Catholic tithed…think what we could accomplish in spreading the Gospel.
- Yes, it is our duty to support the Church. But, it does more for our own faith than it does for the Church.
- Most people “tip” not “tithe” – so be a tither, not a tipper.
7 – When you receive Jesus in the Eucharist – understand what it is you are doing
- You are taking the Body, blood, soul, and divinity of GOD into you
- You are joining in heaven on earth
- You are becoming one with The Body of Christ
- Be reverent
- Realize that He is in everyone else that received Him as well.
8 – Tell other people about Him
- You are now empowered to evangelize (share the Good News of Christ) – which is what the Church exists for.
“If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy.” - Saint Jean Vianney
God our Father, we give you thanks
for the gift of marriage: the bond of life and love,
and the font of the family.
The love of husband and wife enriches your Church with children,
fills the world with a multitude of spiritual fruitfulness and service,…
When I was dating my wife, I wanted to spend as much time as I possibly could with her. Why? Because I wanted to know her personally. I wanted to know what she liked and what she didn’t. I wanted to get to know her pet peeves and what her passions were. I wanted to know everything I could about her. But, above all, else I made the choice to love her.
This is what happens when you love someone – you want as close, intimate, and personal of a relationship as you can; appropriate to the kind of relationship it is, of course.
The same goes with Jesus. If you are a Christian, you must have a close, intimate, and personal relationship with him. But, if you are not sure how to do this, it is simple:
- As with any relationship, you choose how close you want to be with someone. It is a choice only you can make. Your parents (once you get old enough to do it yourself) can’t choose faith for you. Nor can the Church as a whole. Many who are Catholic (and other Christians also) have merely an intellectual or emotional connection to God, but not a personal one they have chosen in faith. To intellectually know Jesus (I know about Jesus) or have a movement of the emotions (I feel good about Jesus) isn’t enough. Remember that even the demons know about Jesus and that we will all have times we don’t feel good about Jesus (“take up your cross”).
This is why we must choose Jesus in faith, with is done through an act of our will.
- Once you choose Jesus in faith, you have to do it again and again. It isn’t a one-and-done deal. This relationship is lived out primarily in prayer, the Sacraments, growing in virtue (primarily love of God and others), and service to God and others. Jesus is Lord of all and as a servant to our King, we must serve Him and others. This is what He commands of us. He also calls us to grow in virtue.
This concept of having a personal relationship with Jesus sometimes sounds too Protestant to some Catholics. That simply isn’t true, it is as Catholic as all concepts. We have been using the language long before our Protestant brothers and sisters were ever around and the universal Church has never lost touch with this language, even if some individuals or communities have. For example, here are some quotes from some of our most recent Popes and one from the Catechism:
“Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms. If you have been indifferent, take a risk: you won’t be disappointed. If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid, trust him, be confident that he is close to you, he is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do.” -Pope Francis
“Being a Christian means having a living relationship with the person of Jesus; it means putting on Christ, being conformed to him.” -Pope Francis
“It is necessary to awaken again in believers a full relationship with Christ, mankind’s only Savior.” Pope Saint John Paul II
“Christian faith is not only a matter of believing that certain things are true, but above all a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” -Pope Benedict XVI
“Only in this personal relationship with Christ, only in this encounter with the Risen One do we truly become Christians.” -Pope Benedict XVI
“This mystery (of faith), then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer.” -CCC 2558
So, not only should we not be scared of talking about a personal relationship, we need to start practicing it too. Thus, every time you do the following things you are working on your personal relationship with Jesus:
- set time apart daily to pray.
- go to Mass
- go to Confession
- read the Bible
- choose to act virtuously
- perform an act of mercy or kindness
When I promised that I would love my wife in our wedding vows, it wasn’t merely an emotional act (it was and there is nothing wrong with that) or that I know a lot about her (there is and that is good). Rather, I chose to love my wife that day and every time I choose to love her again, I affirm that initial commitment I made in my vows.
The same is true for my relationship with Jesus. This is how you have a personal relationship with Jesus. As Thomas a Kempis says:
“You cannot live well without a friend, and if Jesus be not your friend above all else, you will be very sad and desolate. Thus, you are acting foolishly if you trust or rejoice in any other. Choose the opposition of the whole world rather than offend Jesus. Of all those who are dear to you, let Him be your special love. Let all things be loved for the sake of Jesus, but Jesus for His own sake. Jesus Christ must be loved alone with a special love for He alone, of all friends, is good and faithful. For Him and in Him you must love friends and foes alike, and pray to Him that all may know and love Him.”
A close, intimate, and personal relationship with Jesus doesn’t happen by accident. You must choose it. It must be intentional.
“Choose this day whom you will serve…as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” -Joshua 24:15
“Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 3 We put no obstacle in any one’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry” -2 Cor 6:2-3
A Saint is someone who has died that the Catholic Church declares is now in heaven. This is what we might call a Saint with a capital “S”. Those of us in the grace of God here on earth might be called saints with a small “s”. This is because the word “saint” can be used in different ways. St. Paul frequently refers to those he writes his letters to as “saints”. This is merely someone who lives in the grace of God.
With that being said, the Catholic Church holds up, as examples of holy lives, certain men and women as Saints. Can they hear us? How do they become Saints? Why do we pray for them? All this and more found below.
This is all very relevant, because this Sunday the Church will declare John XXIII and John Paul II as Saints!
The book of James says this:
“The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.” – James 5:16
Now, who is more righteous than those perfected in heaven? Thus, we ask the Saints to pray for us, because the Bible tells us they have powerful prayers.
There are several reasons that Catholics believe that the Saints in heaven can hear our requests for their intercession. First, let us start with the Biblical evidence.
“And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, `I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” --Matthew 22:31-32
—-Note that Jesus is telling us that those in heaven are alive. But, they now have a new and higher way of living. They have been glorified in Christ once they enter into heaven. In fact, it could be said that they are much more alive than those of us still on earth.
“And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” –Matthew 17:3-5
—-Here, during the Transfiguration, Jesus talks to Moses and Elijah, who are very aware of what has been happening on earth. So, from this we can come to the conclusion that death does not separate those in heaven from those on earth.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us” –Hebrews 12:1
What I believe is the most amazing evidence from the Bible of the Saints in heaven hearing our prayers is from the book of Revelation.
“When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones.” –Revelations 5:8
—-We see that the elders and four living creatures (who represent the Saints and Angels in heaven) are offering the prayers of those on earth before Jesus. I don’t think it could get much clearer. In Revelation 8 there is another incident of heavenly intercession.
“Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with burning coals from the altar, and hurled it down to the earth. There were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.” –Revelation 8:3-5
Lastly, we have evidence from Christ himself.
“I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance. “Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, `Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’ In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” –Luke 15:7-10
—-Those in heaven could not rejoice over a sinner repenting on earth unless they knew about it.
This is why we pray to Saints.
The Church also know we need examples of holy men and women to look up to and to try to imitate. This is why we declare some of them Saints.
John XXIII and John Paul II pray for us!
This video answers that question:
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